ARCs, Uncategorized

3 Kick Butt Books About Women

Today I want to share some mouth-watering ARCs I picked up recently in Auntie’s freight room. Unfortunately, none of them are fiction.

Women and the World, 2019 Edition

BeneathBeneath the Tamarind Tree: A Story of Courage, Family, and the Lost Schoolgirls of Boko Haram by Isha Sesay
Hardback, $27.99
On Street July 9 / Dey Street (an imprint of William Morrow)
Do you remember the morning of April 14, 2014? Most Americans don’t. In the wee hours in Chibok, Nigeria, Islamic militants kidnapped 276 young schoolgirls. Although the horrific act and those that followed sparked global outrage and the #BringBackOurGirls movement, it was quickly buried by America’s 24-hour news cycle and forgotten.

Why it’s Worth Choosing

  • As an award-winning female journalist from Sierra Leone, this author’s perspective is unique. She also led CNN’s Africa reporting for over a decade.
  • The book is told in the only way that readers can transcend macro events and empathize with the victims: through their personal stories on a micro level.
  • The focus of the book is on how one person can make a difference, including the one who is telling the story.

Yale Needs Women: How the First Group of Girls Rewrote the Rules of an Ivy League Giant by Anne Gardiner PerkinsYale
Hardcover, $25.99

On Street: September 10 / Sourcebooks
Summer, 1969. Girls and women all across America begin sending their applications to Yale University for the first time since the Ivy League school was founded in 1701. Originally dedicated to graduating “One thousand (male) leaders per annum”, this landmark policy reversal seems to be a huge step forward. But is it? Many of the first girls at Yale find themselves isolated, treated as oddities and/or sex objects, and barred from many of the privileges an elite education is supposed to offer.

Why it’s Worth Choosing

  • While unflinching, this account is ultimately inspiring as it focuses on strength, resilience, and courage
  • Again, this female author has an insider’s view of how chauvinism not only looks, but feels. She received her undergrad degree from Yale in 1977, something the first female students made possible. She received her PhD from U Mass, Boston, at 52.

MotherhoodMotherhood So White: A Memoir of Race, Gender & Parenting in America
by Nefertiti Austin
Hardback, $25.99 
On street: September 24 / Sourcebooks
Imagine you’re a single American woman and you want to adopt a Black baby from the foster care system. Now imagine that people are asking you why you would bother with a “crack baby” and telling you that you can’t handle a Black son on your own. And you are Black. This honest and raw memoir tells Nefertiti’s story of having to fight to create the family she always knew she was meant to have.

Why it’s Worth Choosing

The secret of a great memoir, dating all the way back to the philosopher Montaigne’s 1592 Essais, is to take a highly personal story and craft it into something universal. Although as a white, married woman who never wanted children I am far from this book’s target audience, I was still drawn in by the global questions of how we surmount racial divides in this country, how we overcome obstacles when people repeatedly say we can’t, and how kind people of goodwill can create their own non-blood-tie family groups based solely on love.

And there you have it: three fascinating books about women, by women. May your reading empower you!



3 Books 4 Readers 8 to 13

I love middle readers. These are the books for kids between the ages of eight and thirteen. While they may have adult themes, you won’t find adult issues being presented in an edgy way–those are teen books. Many of my favorite childhood classics are middle readers: The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Bunnicula, and The Wolves of Willowby Chase. That’s why I’m happy to see today’s authors keep coming out with compelling novels to give kids the magical adventures I was lucky to enjoy. And, who am I kidding, grown-ups still read them too!

Pages.jpegPages and Co.: The Bookwanderers
Anna James
Paperback, $16
On Street: September 24, 2019  /Philomel (Penguin RH Kids)

At first glance, 11-year-old Tilly Pages’ life looks perfect. Her grandmother owns a wonderful bookshop called Pages & Company and Tilly can indulge in her favorite stories whenever she likes. But there is pain in Tilly’s life too–many years ago now, her mother disappeared. When some of Tilly’s fictional friends show up at the shop–literary characters like Anne Shirley and Alice from Wonderland–Tilly’s adventures become very real. It seems she has a magical ability to “bookwander” into the real world of any story, and danger could be lurking on the very next page…

Note: Paola Escobar’s cover art for this book alone will make you want to grab it. It promises magic, adventure, and wish fulfillment all at once.

Why it’s Worth Choosing

  • The illustrations! The charming illustrations…
  • What bibliophile of any age wouldn’t love to have the ability Tilly does? Much better than mere invisibility or being able to fly.
  • The author feels we are all made of books.
  • For adult fans of Jaasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series.

Lisa Howorth
Hardback, $22.95
On Street: August 6, 2019 / Doubleday

Summer 1959. Washington, D.C. Behind every door you will find a Nazi sympathizer, a foreign diplomat’s family, Holocaust refugees, or even a Russian spy. At least that’s what young John and his friends Ivan, Beatriz and Max think. The kids are convinced that the inexplicable spider infestation is evidence of “insect warfare” by the Soviet Union and are determined to capture a rare, poisonous vinegaroonfor their own purposes. At a party in John’s grandparents’ backyard, the boys doctor the punch with Brazilian rum causing the adults to let down their defenses. Finally, John’s Aunt Elena–who already raises eyebrows due to her Ukrainian birth, swinging social life, and outspokenness on behalf of refugees–roars off with a stranger on his motorcycle. Held together with Bazooka bubblegum and Cold War paranoia, this story is gorgeously written, sweet, and ultimately heartbreaking.

Why it’s Worth Choosing

  • Julia Claiborne Johnson, the author of Be Frank With Me, says “Summerlings is the To Kill a Mockingbird of the Cold War generation.”
  • Of special interest is the way the author chose to play out global issues in the small street of one neighborhood
  • Lisa Howorth is a librarian and bookseller, having founded Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi, in 1979.

CurseThe Curse of the Werepenguin
Hillan Woodrow
Hardback, $17.99
On Street: August 13, 2019 / Viking (Penguin RH Kids)

“This book is full of lies and slander. Do not read it or I will hang you from a flagpole by your armpit hairs and raise you up and down for a week!”   –Baron Chordata

Orphan Bolt Wattle dreams of finding his true family. But once he has accepted a mysterious Baron’s invitation to far-off Brugaria, the locals warn him that he’s in terrible danger, scream at him, and threaten to hit him with a stale loaf of bread–and that’s just within the first five minutes. The road to the Baron’s manor takes Bolt through a dark forest filled with ruthless but extremely tidy bandits. And everywhere Bolt goes, he can hear the distant, eerie barking of penguins. Then things get worse. Much, much worse.

Why It’s Worth Choosing

  • If the reverse psychology of Baron Chordata’s threats sound happily familiar to you Lemony Snicket fans, then this book is for you. Ditto you readers who love Eva Ibbotson, Dav Pilkey, and The Princess Bride by William Goldstein.
  • Also for those who love jokes about fish sticks.






3 Mysteries That Thrill

I can’t decide whether these gripping novels are mysteries that thrill or thrillers that mystify. However, they all look like they will deliver a satisfying brain teaser in an interesting setting with a non-stereo-typical detective. Enjoy.

Heaven, My HomeHeaven
Attica Locke
Hardcover, $27
On Street September 17, 2019 / Mulholland Books

Texas Ranger Darren Matthews is on the hunt for a missing 9 year old boy. Did I mention that the lawman is African- American, and the boy’s family are white supremacists? Levi King knew he should have gone home sooner, instead of dawdling in the way of small boys–now he is alone in the dark on Caddo Lake, and his boat’s motor has just died. Meanwhile, the one man who can help him (Matthews) must avoid his own mother’s emotional blackmail and rely on people from a small town up Highway 59 for help–a town where the racial attitudes of the antebellum era are alive and well.

Why It’s Worth Choosing

  • The author has a large list of credits behind her name: A former writer for the TV show Empire, her first mystery, Bluebird, Bluebird,  won a 2018 Edgar Award. Her novel Pleasantville won a 2016 Harper Lee Award for Legal Fiction.
  • The novel’s subplot could be ripped from today’s headlines as Matthews battles suspicions and prejudices that are centuries old as well as new threats reignited in today’s political climate.

BodyThe Body Lies: A Novel
Jo Baker
Hardback, $25.95
On Street: 19 June, 2019 / Knopf

When a young writer accepts a job at a university in the remote English countryside, escaping the scene of a violent assault, she has no idea of what she is in for. One of her students starts turning in chapters that blur the line between fiction and reality. Magical realism  is one thing; recognizing yourself as the main character in your student’s book is quite another. And the student has written his professor a horrific fate. Can she stop life from imitating art before it’s too late?

Why it’s Worth Choosing

  • This timely, riveting novel of psychological suspense explores the question of how we live as women in the world when the stakes are dangerously high.
  • Are you a fellow Anglophile? Then nothing more needs to be said.

ValleyIn the Valley of the Devil: A Mystery
Hank Early
Hardcover, $26.99
On Street: July 10, 2019 / Crooked Lane

This ain’t Earl Marcus’s first rodeo in the North Georgia mountains. The PI has encountered the dark abyss of depravity before–for example, when confronting the unspeakable evil unleashed by his father’s fundamentalist Church of the Holy Flame. Unfortunately, that is just the beginning. Tasked with what appears to be a routine job, Earl stumbles into a mysterious cornfield where an old mountain legend appears to have been awakened. And just as he starts hearing rumors of a creepy place in the woods behind the cornfield–a place where a killer collects skulls–Earl’s partner Mary  Hawkins vanishes. Now, on an old train trestle over a river at the cornfield’s, Earl must confront his worst fears, or lose Mary forever.

Why It’s Worth Choosing

  • For those who like harrowing mysteries that make you sweat as you race through the pages, as desperate as the detective (or more) to solve the mystery
  • You know the author has a sense of humor because his bio states that he “spent much of his youth in the mountains of North Georgia, but never held a snake or got struck by lightning.”