Mass Bookshelf for March 2015

Here are the titles published by Massachusetts authors this month. Did we miss your book published in March 2015?  If so, email bookawards@massbook.org with the information.  Thanks!

CHILDREN/YOUNG ADULT

The Penderwicks in Spring – Jeanne Birdsall’s latest installment in her winning series about the Penderwick family – is “…chock full of all the qualities fans love (humor, heart, and the honest exploration of emotions…” (Booklist)

FICTION

Josh Cook’s debut, An Exaggerated Murder, is “A beautifully written postmodern novel of deduction that merrily, wittily blows up its genre’s conventions while at the same time re-energizing possibilities for the 21st-century detective story.” (Kirkus Reviews)

Camille DeAngelis’ coming-of-age-meets-horror story Bones & All is “A dark and delicious tale full of unexpected twists that will keep readers turning the pages.” (John Searles, Help for the Haunted)

Of Laura Lebow’s debut novel, D.E. Ireland (author, Wouldn’t It Be Deadly) writes, “Set in the glittering imperial world of 1786 Vienna, The Figaro Murders is fast paced, richly detailed, and peopled with real life figures.  If you love Amadeus, opera, or just enjoy a riveting read, you’ll agree that The Figaro Murders is highly entertaining.”

Ellen Meeropol’s On Hurricane Island is a chilling, Kafkaesque story about what happens when the United States does to citizens at home what it has done to others abroad. Meeropol puts the reader right into the middle of these practices through characters about whom you really care and a story you can’t put down; a really good book.” (Michael Ratner, Center for Constitutional Rights)

Rona Simmons’  Postcards from Wonderland  “does a memorable job of capturing the long-disappeared days of Revere’s Shirley Avenue neighborhood, … a swirl of intrigue … and the glitz and fun of the beach amusements … with fine detail and smooth prose.”  (Roland Merullo, Revere Beach Boulevard

Jessica Treadway’s Lacy Eye is “An intricately plotted psychological thriller…the story of a mother trying to figure out what happened to her family and why.” (Chicago Tribune)

Sylvia True’s The Wednesday Group is “A brilliantly perceptive novel of betrayed wives and female friendship…with fierce tenderness and uncompromising honesty.” (Beatriz Williams, author, A Hundred Summers)

NONFICTION

In Linda Blum’s  Raising Generation Rx: Mothering Kids with Invisible Disabilities in an Age of Inequality, “Mother and feminist sociologist Blum takes a scholarly look at how ‘mother blame’ and financial difficulties add to the challenge of raising children with conditions such as ADHD, Asperger’s, and autism.” (Booklist)

Robert Crawford’s Young Eliot: A Biography coincides with the 50th anniversary of T. S. Eliot’s death, and “the story it tells of a great poet’s early life is enthralling.” (The Guardian)

Barney Frank’s autobiography, Frank: A Life in Politics from the Great Society to Same-Sex Marriage “isn’t just revealing; it may be the most fun you can have reading about the United States Congress.” (Kirkus)

Sulmaan Wasif Kahn’s first book, Muslim, Trader, Nomad, Spy: China’s Cold War and the People of the Tibetan Borderlands, “sheds light on an untold aspect of the Tibetan story. [It] is a welcome contribution to the debates in the field…” (Xiaoyuan Liu, author, Recast All Under Heaven: Revolution, War, Diplomacy and Frontier China in the 20th Century.)

In The Whistleblower: Rooting for the Ref in the High-Stakes World of College Basketball, Bob Katz explores the challenges faced by a different kind of sports hero, the referee.  “Katz is a talented writer who provides a vivid account of a world not seen by college basketball fans.”—Chicago Tribune

Acclaimed investigative reporter Stephen Kurkjian examines the mystery of the 1990 Gardner Museum heist in Master Thieves: The Boston Gangsters Who Pulled Off the World’s Greatest Art Heist, which “has the grit and intelligence of a lifelong gangster and the high tension of a midnight caper.” (Ben Bradlee Jr., author, The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams)

In Hammer Head: The Making of a Carpenter, Nina MacLaughlin recounts the story of how she left a newspaper job to be a carpenter’s assistant. “Though MacLaughlin may be an apprentice carpenter, she is a master writer, with the rare combination of acute observation and astute word choice that characterizes writers like Annie Dillard or Joan Didion.” (Boston Globe)

Roseanne Montillo’s The Wilderness of Ruin: A Tale of Madness, Fire, and the Hunt for America’s Youngest Serial Killer is “A riveting true-crime tale that rivals anything writers in the 21st century could concoct. … [Montillo is] a masterly storyteller.” (Publishers Weekly)

From Robert D. Putnam (author of the oft-cited Bowling Alone) comes Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis, in which he explores inequality and opportunity among American young people. “Robert D. Putnam is technically a Harvard social scientist, but a better description might be poet laureate of civil society. In Our Kids, Putnam brings his talent for launching a high-level discussion to a timely topic. . . . No one can finish Our Kids and feel complacent about equal opportunity.” (The New York Times Book Review)

In Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger’s ISIS: The State of Terror, “Stern and Berger pull back the curtain to expose facts and myths about the violent Salafi apocalyptic cult calling itself the Islamic State. A must-read.” (Mike Walker, former undersecretary and acting secretary of the United States Army)

Benjamin Wittes and Gabriella Blum explore the implications of increased access to potentially dangerous technology in The Future of Violence: Robots and Germs, Hackers and Drones—Confronting A New Age of Threat. “Rather than arousing fear in order to advocate some dogmatic ideological agenda, Wittes and Blum offer a good example of a productive response to the world’s multiplying horrors: thoughtful and realistic analysis of potential solutions.” (Daily Beast)

POETRY

Henri Cole’s book of poetry, Nothing to Declare, is a “sumptuous new collection of poems . . . Cole is known for his hair-raising erotic intimacy . . . but these poems are emphatically universal.” (The New Yorker)

Marge Piercy’s Made in Detroit: Poems ranges from her childhood in Detroit to her current home on the Cape. “Writing poignantly of social injustice, Jewish holidays, marriage, and age, Piercy, frank, caustically witty, and caring, generates suspense, drama, and arresting images…” (Booklist)

— Compiled by Kirstie David, Mass Center for the Book.

© 2017 Massachusetts Center for the Book, Inc. All rights reserved.