Subscriber-Only Content; You must be a PW subscriber to access the backissue database. PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital edition via our app or online. For more information on PW's new integrated subscription plan, click here. If you are currently a PW subscriber, click "Login" for full access to the site (if you have not done so already, you will need to set up your account for the new system by going here), or click the "Subscribe" button to become a PW subscriber. Email service@publishersweekly.com with questions.

Login or Subscribe
The Gracekeepers

Kirsty Logan. Crown, $25 (304p) ISBN 978-0-553-44661-6

Logan (The Rental Heart and Other Fairytales) combines elements of folk and fairy tales with a near-future landscape in her debut novel. Rising sea waters have turned Earth into a series of archipelagos and its population into two types: landlockers, who control the dwindling resources on land, and damplings, who make their home on boats at sea. Callanish is a so-called gracekeeper, living in self-imposed solitude on an isolated island, taking payment in food and supplies for providing underwater burial rituals for damplings. North—along with her beloved dancing bear companion—is the star of a ramshackle circus that travels by boat from island to island. Both young women have secrets, and when they meet each other in the wake of a tragedy, they begin to imagine a possibility for a third kind of life, one that might bridge the divide between land and sea. The narration incorporates the voices of North and Callanish, other circus folk, and Callanish's family and acquaintances, building a convincing world. Filled with evocative images, including cruise ships transformed into itinerant revival meetings, and with classic fairy tale elements such as world trees and selkies, Logan's novel imbues what is essentially an environmental fable with the heft of myth. (May)

Reviewed on 05/15/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Royal We

Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan. Grand Central, $26 (464p) ISBN 978-1-4555-5710-3

Cocks and Morgan, the bloggers behind Go Fug Yourself, charm readers with this modern-day Cinderella tale. When American Rebecca "Bex" Porter decides to travel to Oxford, U.K., as an exchange student in the fall of 2007, the last thing she imagines is that she might fall in love with the country's future king. Prince Nicholas—also known as Nick Wales—is used to the hassles of the monarchy, but in Bex he sees his future and a chance for a normal, real relationship. Bex's American-ness bothers some of the upper crust Brits, and the press relentlessly focuses on her. A series of breakups ensues, and familial missteps further complicate matters, but readers will root for Bex to get her happy ending. Parallels to the love story of Prince William and Kate Middleton are obvious, but the authors create their own unique and endearing characters with Bex and Nick—along with an entertaining cast of characters including lovable rogue Prince Freddie, Nick's younger brother; Bex's twin, Lacey; and a bunch of colorful school chums. Royal watchers and chick-lit fans alike will delight in this sparkling tale. Pure fun. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 05/15/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Other Joseph

Skip Horack. Ecco, $25.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-06-230085-0

This exciting, well-plotted sophomore novel from Horack (The Eden Hunter) explores how war affects the lives of two close-knit brothers. The novel begins with a note from Tommy Joseph, who joined the Navy SEALs, ended up in the Gulf War, and was officially declared dead when he disappeared. Tommy introduces the reader to the memoir of his kid brother, Roy. Roy's globe-trotting trip begins when he receives an unexpected email from a woman named Joni, who claims the missing Tommy is her biological father, but Roy's attempts to reach her fail. Hoping to reconnect with his disappeared brother, Roy leaves Louisiana for San Francisco, where Joni lives with her standoffish poet mother, Nancy. However, Roy is a registered sex offender (he slept with a 16-year-old when he was 19), and can only travel out of his home state temporarily. En route, he visits Tommy's SEAL friend, the unforgettable Lionel Purcell (who's worthy of his own book), in Nevada. Lionel advises against the trip, and Roy's plans don't go as he hoped once he reaches San Francisco. Horack delivers satisfying plot turns and shows great empathy for his troubled protagonist, Roy, who only seeks to honor the memory of his big brother Tommy. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 05/15/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
Old Heart

Peter Ferry. Unbridled, $16 (256p) ISBN 978-1-60953-117-1

In this standout novel, Ferry (Travel Writing) depicts one man's post-WWII struggle with love, loss, and personal freedom. Widower Tom Johnson is an 85-year-old retired Midwestern schoolteacher who's secretly planning to search for his first love of 60 years ago, a Dutch translator named Sarah van Praag. Before Tom was shipped home from a post in the Netherlands, he and Sarah quarreled and never said goodbye. He returned to America, married and had three children; a disappointing marriage has always left Tom wondering about Sarah and the divergent paths they took. When his children insist on moving him to assisted living, Tom carefully plans his exit for Holland without telling anyone but his trusted granddaughter. Surprises and setbacks challenge Tom as he searches for Sarah; he is forced to fight his children in court for the freedom to remain abroad and live on his own terms. A lesser writer might muddle the myriad themes and shifting time frames, but Ferry's superb writing—including a deft treatment of a story within a story—allow them all to mesh seamlessly, resulting in a life-affirming novel about love and second chances; the rights, integrity, and freedom of the elderly; and the toll of mistakes and disappointments. Tom counsels himself near the end: "[L]ife is both tragic and beautiful... every day is a carefully wrapped present." (June)

Reviewed on 05/15/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Star Side of Bird Hill

Naomi Jackson. Penguin Press, $25.95 (304p) ISBN 978-1-59420-595-8

Jackson's debut novel is a bittersweet coming-of-age tale of heartbreak and loss. Dionne and Phaedra, 16 and 10, are two sisters who go to Barbados in the summer of 1989, in the care of their grandmother Hyacinth, when their depressed mother is no longer able to take care of them in New York. Dionne acts out and meets boys, while Phaedra immerses herself in her grandmother's world. When their circumstances suddenly change and dictate a more permanent stay in Barbados, the girls are angry and confused. Their unfamiliar situation is further compounded by the reappearance of their long-gone father. He presents a chance to return to America, if they can trust him, and if they choose to leave their grandmother. Jackson's story becomes stronger and stronger as we get to know these characters. The themes she touches on—mental illness, immigration, motherhood, sexual awakening—are potent and deftly juggled, anchored in the vivid locale of Bird Hill yet universally relatable. Readers will be turning the pages to follow Phaedra and Dionne's memorable journey. (June)

Reviewed on 05/15/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
All Together Now

Gill Hornby. Little, Brown, $26 (336p) ISBN 978-0-316-23474-0

Hornby's (The Hive) newest is an uneven, familiar tale set in smalltown England. The Bridgeford Community Choir saw its glory days a decade ago, but still holds on in the present. When their singing coach gets into an accident right before a regional competition, they realize how desperate their current state is. They start roping in new members from across the village, whose lives become interconnected. Bennett, separated from his wife and laid off from his job, starts a whole new life in middle age. Tracy is a single mother with a secret who is struggling with her son leaving for Africa to find himself. Jazzy is a young woman who yearns for national stardom and feels confined by her small town. Annie has always put everyone ahead of herself and wants to rekindle her marriage. They band together with the rest of the choir to try to win the competition and bring the spark back to their lives and to Bridgeford. Readers familiar with smalltown ensemble-cast stories will find no real surprises here. The characters are broadly drawn and well-intentioned, their goals are modest, and sweetness suffuses the story. Hornby draws the central romance between Tracy and Bennett together well, but readers may come away feeling that they've read this story before. (July)

Reviewed on 05/15/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
Badlands

C.J. Box. Minotaur, $26.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-312-58321-7

Edgar-winner Box’s superior thriller carries some characters and themes over from his two previous standalones, The Highway and Back of Beyond, as investigator Cassie Dewell relocates to North Dakota’s boomtown oil fields. In the subzero prairie, the little town of Grimstad is bursting with thousands of roughnecks, its infrastructure and law enforcement system are almost overwhelmed, and ruthless drug dealers are flocking to a wide-open new frontier. Cassie arrives just as a series of brutal murders signals a war between drug gangs—although the missing duffle bag the criminals are searching for has accidentally wound up in the hands of a special-needs paperboy, 12-year-old Kyle Westergaard. Kyle just wants a stable home life, but his possession of the bag full of drugs and money sets off more violent deaths. The story’s brisk action is broken into alternating sections as Cassie and Kyle try to figure out what’s going on and what they must do. The vulnerable boy’s plight gives emotional heft to the criminal investigation, balancing cynicism with warm empathy. 250,000 first printing; author tour. Agent: Ann Rittenberg, Ann Rittenberg Literary Agency. (July)

Reviewed on 05/15/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
Wanderlust

Edited by Kojo Black. Sweetmeats (Perseus, dist.), $16.95 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-909181-52-6

Black sweeps readers away with five astonishing tales of women on the move and the alluring sex that stops them short or propels them into new adventures. Annabeth Leong’s “The Passenger,” which starts the collection off, is the sultry tale of an onanistic woman walking out of an unsatisfying marriage and getting far more than she bargained for when she sneaks into the back of a truck bound for a sex museum. The surprising twist of that story leaves readers hot and ready for Lana Fox’s “Packing Steel,” in which a lively character voice and a series of escalating encounters tease readers through the tale of a jaded hit woman’s last job and the delectably sexy mark she can’t let pass. Fulani’s “Love Gun” is a sweet and surreal tale about unexpected adventure, featuring a delightfully unusual sex interest and a poignant final note. The final two stories, Lily Harlem’s “Going Up” and Stella Harris’s “Heat,” don’t have quite the same sense of indulgence, but they’re just as scintillating and satisfying. Black gleefully shatters the reader’s preconceived notions of erotic fiction, creating an outstandingly sexy collection that will stand up to repeated rereading. (July)

Reviewed on 05/15/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
Time Salvager

Wesley Chu. Tor, $25.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-7653-7718-0

James Griffin-Mars, a highly trained “chronman,” travels from 26th-century Earth to past eras on numerous planets, salvaging coveted relics and materials to maintain humanity’s power supply without breaking Time Laws (for instance, bringing someone back from the past) or affecting the time line. An apparently unstoppable plague has made Earth one of the least desirable places to live; fortunately, advanced technology lets James communicate by thought, provides powerful armor, and shields him from environmental discomforts. Haunted by people he has left to die in the past (his sister; a Nazi soldier; “the legendary Grace Priestly”) and wishing only to complete his contract, James accepts a dangerous mission from menacing private corporation Valta, leading to life-changing choices. Like James, intriguing secondary characters such as High Auditor Levin and James’s handler, Smitt, wrestle with increasingly complex ethical dilemmas; meanwhile, 21st-century scientist Elise, for whom James breaks the first Time Law, becomes his moral conscience and romantic interest, as well as a source of hope for a dying planet. Chu (The Lives of Tao) creates a fascinating world, strange and familiar, infused with humor, sorrow, courage, greed, and sacrifice. This page-turner is a riveting, gratifying read. (July)

Reviewed on 05/15/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
Null Set

Ted Mathys. Coffee House (Consortium, dist.), $16 trade paper (72p) ISBN 978-1-56689-403-6

“This is not going to be/ transcendent,” writes Mathys (The Spoils) in his third book, a collection of cultured, emotionally vulnerable poems in which he seeks meaning within the bounds of the absolute while simultaneously reaching toward the unknowable, even via negation and denial. Mathys alternates between two poles, employing a “smooth mindlessness” as he luxuriates in making phoneme smash-ups and, more often, constructing logical arguments in an effort “To routinize/ failure into a form of hoping.” Perhaps skeptical of conventional poetic means of exploring vulnerability, Mathys overloads the system, crashes the hard drive, and then sorts through the bits. When an airline companion lists trinkets he once collected from the sea, Mathys “seek[s] these objects in clouds, work[s] to assemble them into a master scene,” realizing that “Content is irrelevant if I can find a pattern, but I can’t.” It’s possible for something to exist outside of the knowable set, a concept Mathys expands upon in the book’s final poem, “All,” as he meanders deep into stored memories for surprising, idiosyncratic details. The result is overwhelming: “I meant to do some good/ from inside the blown fuse, but confronted/ personhood.” In confronting the fear “that I’ve already said too much,” Mathys finds that it is “better to light a candle than curse darkness.” (June)

Reviewed on 05/15/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
X
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.