BOOK NOTES: More book news, July 12, 2014

Compiled by Mary Louise Ruehr, Books Editor Published:

BOOK CLUBS

• Book Group @ the Market: Noon, July 12, Haymaker Farmers’ Market, located on the corner of Franklin St. and Summit St. under the Haymaker Overpass — “The $64 Tomato: How One Man Nearly Lost His Sanity, Spent a Fortune, and Endured an Existential Crisis in the Quest for the Perfect Garden” by William Alexander. Bring a lawn chair. No registration required. Copies available at the Kent Free Library. Information: 330-673-4414 or kflinfo@kentfreelibrary.org.

• Pierce Streetsboro Library’s Book Discussion Club: 3 p.m. July 14 in the library’s meeting room, 8990 Kirby Lane — “The Orchardist” by Amanda Coplin about a solitary orchardist who provides shelter to two runaway teenage girls in the untamed American West at the turn of the century.  Light refreshments. Register:  330-626-4458. 

• Pizza and Pages: Noon, July 15, Kent Free Library, 312 W. Main St. — “Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong” by Prudence Shen. Teens in grades six to nine are invited for lunch, a book discussion, games and crafts. Registration is required and closes at 6 p.m. on the Friday before each program. Register at Youth Services Desk: 330-673-4414 or kflinfo@kentfreelibrary.org.

• Read the Classics Book Club: 7 p.m., July 15, Kent Free Library, 312 W. Main St. — “Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad. No registration required. Copies available. Information: 330-673-4414 or kflinfo@kentfreelibrary.org.

• Teen Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Group: 7 p.m., July 16, Kent Free Library, 312 W. Main St. — “The Maze Runner” by James Dashner.  For teens entering grades nine to 12 who love sci-fi and fantasy books. No registration required. Information: 330-673-4414 or kflinfo@kentfreelibrary.org.

• Adult Book Discussion: 7 to 8 p.m. Aug. 13, Reed Memorial Library, 167 E. Main St., Ravenna — “True Grit” by Charles Portis. This book tells the story of Mattie Ross, who is just 14 years of age when she leaves home to avenge her father’s death with Rooster Cogburn, the meanest available U.S. Marshal, by her side. Copies available. Information: 330-296-2827, ext. 200.

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AUTHOR VISITS

• Betty Weibel will bring her book, “Cleveland Grand Prix: An American Show Jumping First,” to the Learned Owl Bookshop, 204 N. Main St. in Hudson, from 1 to 3 p.m. July 12. Information: 330-653-2252.

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Best Sellers

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST-SELLERS

The Associated Press

Week ending 6/29/14

HARDCOVER FICTION

1. “Invisible” by Patterson/Ellis (Little, Brown)

2. “Top Secret Twenty-One” by Janet Evanovich (Bantam)

3. “Silkworm” by Robert Galbraith (LB/Mulholland)

4. “Mr. Mercedes” by Stephen King (Scribner)

5. “The City” by Dean Koontz (Bantam)

6. “Written in My Own Heart’s Blood” by Diana Gabaldon (Delacorte Press)

7. “The Goldfinch” Donna Tartt (Little, Brown)

8. “All Fall Down” by Jennifer Weiner (Atria)

9. “The One & Only” by Emily Giffin (Ballantine)

10. “Born of Fury” by Sherrilyn Kenyon (St. Martin’s)

11. “The Matchmaker” by Elin Hilderbrand (Little, Brown)

12. “William Shakespeare’s The Jedi Doth Return” by Ian Doerscher (Quirk)

13. “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr (Scribner)

14. “Unlucky 13” by Patterson/Paetro (Little, Brown)

15. “The Vacationers” by Emma Straub (Riverhead)

HARDCOVER NONFICTION

1. “Blood Feud: The Clintons vs. The Obamas” by Edward Klein (Regnery)

2. “Hard Choices” by Hillary Rodham Clinton (Simon & Schuster)

3. “How the World Sees You” by Sally Hogshead (HarperBusiness)

4. “One Nation” by Ben Carson (Penguin/Sentinel)

5. “All in Startup” by Diana Kander (Hachette/FaithWords)

6. “Instinct” by T.D. Jakes (FaithWords)

7. “The Family of Jesus” by Karen Kingsbury (Howard Books)

8. “Think Like a Freak” by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner (William Morrow)

9. “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” by Thomas Piketty (Harvard/Belknap)

10. “Good Call” by Jase Robertson (Howard Books)

11. “Everything I Need to Know I Learned From a Little Golden Book” by Diane Muldrow (Golden Books)

12. “America” by Dinesh D’Souza (Regnery)

13. “The Doctor’s Diet” by Travis Stork (Bird Street books)

14. “Grain Brain” by David Perlmutter (Little, Brown)

15. “The Closer” by Mariano Rivera (Little, Brown)

MASS MARKET PAPERBACKS

1. “Takedown Twenty” by Janet Evanovich (Bantam)

2. “The Promise” by Robyn Carr (Mira)

3. “Bombshell” by Catherine Coulter (Jove)

4. “Deadline” by Sandra Brown (Vision)

5. “The Perfect Hope” by Nora roberts (Jove)

6. “Second Honeymoon” by Patterson/Roughan (Vision)

7. “Kiss and Tell” by Fern Michaels (Kensington/Zebra)

8. “Until We Touch” by Susan Mallery (Harlequin)

9. “The Escape” by Mary Balogh (Dell)

10. “Hotshot” by Julie Garwood (Signet)

11. “Inferno” by Dan Brown (Anchor)

12. “The 9th Girl” by Tami Hoag (Signet)

13. “Luke Jensen Bounty Hunter: Bloody Sunday” by William W. Johnstone (Pinnacle)

14. “The Last Boyfriend” by Nora Roberts (Jove)

15. “Long, Tall Texans, Vol. 1” by Diana Palmer (Harlequin)

TRADE PAPERBACKS

1. “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn (Broadway Books)

2. “And the Mountains Echoed” by Khaled Hosseini (Riverhead)

3. “Doctor Sleep” by Stephen King (S&S/Gallery)

4. “The Longest Ride” by Nicholas Sparks (Grand Central Publishing)

5. “The Signature of All Things” by Elizabeth Gilbert (Penguin)

6. “The Boys in the Boat” by Daniel James Brown (Penguin)

7. “Heaven Is for Real (movie tie-in)” by Todd Burpo (Thomas Nelson)

8. “The Silver Star” by Jeannette Walls (Scribner)

9. “The Cuckoo’s Calling” by Robert Galbraith (LB/Mulholland)

10. “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” by Neil Gaiman (William Morrow)

11. “How to Read Literature Like a Professor” by Thomas C. Foster (Harper Perennial)

12. “Beautiful Oblivion” by Jamie McGuire (Atria Books)

13. “Sweet Salt Air” by Barbara Delinsky (St. Martin’s)

14. “Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls” by David Sedaris (Back Bay)

15. “10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse” by J.J. Smith (Adiva)

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

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WALL STREET JOURNAL-BEST SELLERS

The Associated Press

Best-Selling Books Week Ended June 29

FICTION

1. “Invisible” by James Patterson and David Ellis (Little, Brown)

2. “Top Secret Twenty-One” by Janet Evanovich (Bantam)

3. “Insurgent” by Veronica Roth (Katherine Tegen Books)

4. “Allegiant” by Veronica Roth (Katherine Tegen Books)

5. “Silkworm” by Robert Galbraith (Mulholland Books)

6. “Mr. Mercedes” by Stephen King (Scribner)

7. “Tales From a Not-So-Glam TV Star” by Rachel Renee Russell (Aladdin)

8. “Save Rafe” by James Patterson, Chris Tebbetts, Laura Park (Little, Brown)

9. “The City” by Dean Koontz (Bantam)

10. “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green (Dutton Books)

NONFICTION

1. “Blood Feud: The Clintons vs. The Obamas” by Edward Klein (Regenry Publishing)

2. “Minecraft: Redstone Handbook” by Scholastic (Scholastic)

3. “Hard Choices” by Hillary Rodham Clinton (Simon & Schuster)

4. “Minecraft: Essential Handbook” by Scholastic (Scholastic)

5. “Unbroken: A World War II Story” by Laura Hillenbrand (Random House)

6. “How the World Sees You” by Sally Hogshead (HarperBusiness)

7. “One Nation: What We Can All Do” by Ben Carson (Sentinel)

8. “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (Thomas Nelson)

9. “All in Startup” by Diana Kander (Hachette/FaithWords)

10. “Strengths Finder” by Tom Rath (Gallup Press)

FICTION E-BOOKS

1. “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green (Penguin)

2. “Beautiful Oblivion” by Jamie McGuire (Atria Books)

3. “Invisible” by James Patterson and David Ellis (Little, Brown)

4. “Top Secret Twenty-One” by Janet Evanovich (Random House)

5. “The Neighbor” by Dean Koontz (Bantam)

6. “The City” by Dean Koontz (Bantam)

7. “The Silkworm” by Robert Galbraith (Little, Brown)

8. “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt (Little, Brown)

9. “Pulse—Part Four” by Deborah Bladon (Deborah Bladon)

10. “All Fall Down” by Jennifer Weiner (Atria)

NONFICTION E-BOOKS

1. “Unbroken: A World War II Story” by Laura Hillenbrand (Random House)

2. “Orange Is the New Black” by Piper Kerman (Random House)

3. “Blood Feud: The Clintons vs. The Obamas” by Edward Klein (Regenry Publishing)

4. “The Boys in the Boat” by Daniel James Brown (Viking Press)

5. “The Men Who United the States” by Simon Winchester (HarperCollins)

6. “We Two” by Gillian Gill (Random House)

7. “The Big House” by George Howe Colt (Simon & Schuster)

8. “Ask More, Get More” by Michael Aiden (Emerald)

9. “Franklin and Winston” by Jon Meacham (Random House)

10. “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown (Hazeldon Publishing)

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

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USA TODAY BEST-SELLERS

The Associated Press

1. “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green (Dutton Children’s)

2. “Invisible” by James Patterson and David Ellis (Little, Brown)

3. “Top Secret Twenty-One” by Janet Evanovich (Bantam)

4. “The City” by Dean Koontz (Bantam)

5. “Beautiful Oblivion” by Jamie McGuire (Atria Books)

6. “The Silkworm” by Robert Galbraith (Little, Brown)

7. “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand (Random House)

8. “If I Stay” by Gayle Forman (Speak)

9. “Divergent” by Veronica Roth (Katherine Tegen Books)

10. “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt (Little by Brown)

11. “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn (Broadway Books)

12. “Mr. Mercedes” by Stephen King (Scribner)

13. “Spice Box” by Raine Miller, Cathryn Fox, Gabrielle Bisset, Erika Wilde, Nina Lane, A.C. James, Kathy Kulig, Stephanie Julian, Geri Foster, Jan Springer, Riley J. Ford, Christina Thacher, Lisa Alder, Sarah Makela, Travis Luedke, Maureen O. Betita (Published via Kindle Direct Publishing)

14. “Launch” by Jeff Walker (Morgan James Publishing)

15. “Looking for Alaska” by John Green (Speak)

16. “Insurgent” by Veronica Roth (Katherine Tegen Books)

17. “The Promise” by Robyn Carr (Harlequin MIRA)

18. “Blood Feud: The Clintons vs. The Obamas” by Edward Klein (Regnery Publishing)

19. “Allegiant” by Veronica Roth (Katherine Tegen Books)

20. “The Neighbor” by Dean Koontz (Bantam)

21. “The Maze Runner” by James Dashner (Delacorte Books for Young Readers)

22. “All Fall Down” by Jennifer Weiner (Atria Books)

21. “Shattered” by Kevin Hearne (Del Rey)

22. “Inferno” by Dan Brown (Anchor)

23. “The Escape” by Mary Balogh (Dell)

24. “Takedown Twenty” by Janet Evanovich (Bantam)

25. “Paper Towns” by John Green (Speak)

For the extended, interactive and searchable version of this list, visit http://books.usatoday.com/list/index

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

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The Romance Reader: ‘Forever’

By Lezlie Patterson | McClatchy News Service (MCT) 

“Forever” by Nora Roberts; Silhouette (480 pages, $7.99)

Don’t get excited — this isn’t a new release by Nora Roberts. It isn’t even a new re-release.

“Forever” is a book that combines two of Roberts’ oldies but goodies — “Rules of the Game,” and “The Heart’s Victory.” The two-in-one was released last summer, but is popping back up now.

And why not? They’re both sports stories that are good summer reads.

“Rules of the Game” features a major league baseball player, Parks, and his soul mate, Brooke. Brooke has to work with Parks and is determined not to date players. But Parks convinces her to make an exception with him, and a whirlwind romance ensues.

But Brooke has her issues. This is very annoying at times. Fortunately, Parks is patient enough (and in love enough) to work through them with her.

The ending is dramatic, but perhaps a bit contrived. It was written in 2002, but still reads well 12 years later.

“The Heart’s Victory” is the story of retired race car driver Lance and Cynthia, whose nickname is Foxy. Cynthia grew up on the race circuit, since her brother is a race car driver. She had a crush on Lance, but he broke her young heart.

Years later, Cynthia is back on the circuit because of her job, and Lance is a car owner. This time, she’s not too young for Lance and he takes advantage of that. But for some reason, Lance ends up holding part of his feelings back and keeps things to himself. It makes for a very rocky start to a marriage.

This story was written in 1988 and it too holds up well.

HOW IT STACKS UP

Overall rating: 4 of 5. Nora Roberts was awesome even at the beginning of her career, and these are old-fashioned romances that are easy and fun to read. Each has an annoying character — Brooke in “Rules of the Game” and Lance in “The Heart’s Victory.” But they end up breaking bad habits at the end.

Hunk appeal: 10. Athletes make great heroes. Lance is a bit annoying with his secret agenda and not being honest about his feelings, but he has the powerful stature that makes him appealing. Parks is probably closer to a 10-plus. His patience with Brooke is admirable.

Steamy scene grade: XXXX. Some things never change.

Happily-Ever-After: Good. In “Rules of the Game,” the ending is rather dramatic, but it manages to open Brooke’s eyes. In “The Heart’s Victory” Lance finally tells Foxy the truth which allows them to embark on their happily-ever-after — finally!

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ALSO THIS WEEK

“Undercover Marriage,” by Terri Reed (2014, paperback) 3 of 5. Finally, the bad guys who are responsible for an illegal adoption ring are caught and stopped in this Harlequin “Witness Protection” series. Josh and Serena have been working on the case for a while, so when they are assigned to go undercover as a couple desperate to adopt a baby, they agree. But both have personal reservations. Both have had feelings for the other for years, but neither knows they are reciprocated. And both are still mourning the death of Serena’s brother, Josh’s former partner. But as secrets unravel and the bad guys are finally stopped, Josh and Serena manage to find their happily-ever-after — with each other.

Lezlie Patterson is a former columnist for The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C. Readers may send her email at lezlie.patterson@gmail.com. To read more of her romance reviews go to lezlie-romance.blogspot.com.

© 2014, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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Here are this week’s book reviews from McClatchy-Tribune:

“Do Not Sell at Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78 rpm Records” by Amanda Petrusich; Scribner (260 pages, $25)

Tracing the rise of the record collectors’ market, Amanda Petrusich follows the souls whose restless drive to unearth obscure recorded sounds has helped shape America’s musical memory, helping bring to a mainstream audience artists such as Robert Johnson, Skip James and Ma Rainey.

While documenting the culture and its characters, Petrusich examines the impulses and often sanity-testing ways in which chasing elusive platters can lead men toward pettiness, hoarding and isolation, as well as her own role as a female in a mostly male realm.

To the chosen few, a pristine 78 on the right label is a nugget of history that might contain creations as transcendent as titles made famous by record crate diggers like the late artist Harry Smith. His 1952 collection, “Anthology of American Folk Music,” is considered by many to be the first great curatorial gathering of the nation’s early American folk and blues music. Smith made connections between white and black music when the public’s tastes were still mostly segregated. Petrusich works to discover what happened to Smith’s 13,000-piece collection after his passing. The answer is predictably depressing.

Now, the Internet has unlocked the attic to a new generation searching for 78s not in dumpsters but in avenues such as eBay. Petrusich follows this evolution and provides a counterpoint by profiling collectors searching other continents for exciting and otherwise lost recordings.

Quoting Jonathan Ward, whose library of African records is featured on his Grammy-nominated compilation “Opika Pende,” Petrusich conveys the 78 hunter’s view that “certain visions may have dictated certain narratives about American music, especially when it comes to blues.”

“There’s music all over the world that’s equally rare,” says Ward, while acknowledging that blues records nonetheless represent “a very interesting piece of Americana.” However, he adds, “That same thing exists in many other places. It’s just, does it captivate white dudes?”

It’s a question to ask not only of the “blues mafia” but also the accepted narrative that places a handful of black men at the center of the story to the diminishment of women, immigrants and the diaspora of disappeared musicians whose work hides in sheds and riverbeds awaiting resurrection.

—Randall Roberts, Los Angeles Times

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“Birdmen: The Wright Brothers, Glenn Curtiss, and the Battle to Control the Skies” by Lawrence Goldstone; Ballantine Books (428 pages, $28).

The flight was not even really a flight, just a short hop — some 120 feet. But in successfully flying a controlled, powered aircraft on the beach of Kitty Hawk, N.C., in 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright did what many had tried and failed to do before.

Their accomplishment, a combination of American ingenuity, pluck and perseverance, is familiar fodder for high school reports. The story that Lawrence Goldstone tells in “Birdmen,” his enthralling new account of flying’s wild early years, is a much darker version. The brothers’ ingenuity is not in question, but they were also petty, vindictive, litigious businessmen who, Goldstone suggests, impeded the progress of American aviation.

At stake was a central issue: Was powered flight a concept open to all who could master it, or a patented process that could be owned? The Wrights insisted it was the latter, and moved to patent flying itself, and their decisive innovation of lateral control, a twisting of the wings that provided stability. The patent claim was breathtaking in its sweep. Yet, as Goldstone shows, flying could not be contained.

The joyless Wrights eschewed showmanship. They may have a place in the history books, but Goldstone shows how innovation curdled into obsession, keeping the brothers earthbound when they could have soared to even greater heights.

—Matthew Price, Newsday

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“Green: The History of a Color” by Michel Pastoureau; Princeton University Press (240 pages, $35)

In his latest book, Michel Pastoureau clocks trends in the uses of green in centuries, rather than the weeks or months of today’s fashion watchers. This is the natural outcome of chronicling a color from prehistory to present. The generalizations that result, though, are often fairly meaningless.

I think the way to take in this book might be with a glass of wine — red, perhaps — and the expectations you might bring to the pages of Vogue. In other words, flip the pages leisurely, soak up the luscious images and, if you’re lucky, pick up bits of information along the way.

From the ample green gown in Jan van Eyck’s painting “The Arnolfini Wedding” to the chartreuse and shamrock in Paolo Veronese’s work, from Paul Cezanne’s apples to Kees van Dongen’s Fauvist use of mint and jungle greens, there’s much to sink your eyes into. Most of it is from the history of art. The book does little to explore green in contemporary culture, save the obvious references, such as the golf course, military garb and little green men.

Still, you’ll glean why green was associated with the Roman emperor Nero, why Goethe believed it was the color of the middle class, why Judas often appears in green in paintings and why Wassily Kandinsky and the Bauhaus rejected the color. That, and Jane will look fabulous on the coffee table. But that’s about it.

—Mary Louise Schumacher, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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“Everything I Never Told You: A Novel” by Celeste Ng; Penguin Press (298 pages, $26.95)

The demise of Lydia Lee, the teenage daughter of a Chinese-American professor and his Virginia-born wife, is announced in the very first sentence. “Lydia is dead,” Ng writes. “But they don’t know this yet.”

With this as a starting point, “Everything I Never Told You” can’t help but feel a little like a mystery, and the pages that follow do reveal, gradually, the cause of Lydia’s death. At its core, though, Ng’s book is a conventional, domestically centered novel about an American family.

The Lees are outwardly successful. The father, James, is a professor at a college in a small Ohio town; Marilyn, his wife, is a former Harvard student who has put her ambitions on hold to raise their three children.

The novel unfolds in the 1970s, a time when the term “oriental” was tossed about freely. Still, despite the Lees’ interracial status, issues of ethnic and cultural identity are largely secondary to the emotional wounds that have scarred the family.

These wounds have been inflicted by the universal difficulties faced by intelligent people in the late 20th century. And James and Marilyn are never cruel to their children. But they aren’t especially loving either.

To begin with a teenager dying may be a melodramatic device, but Ng’s portrait of the relationship between Lydia and Marilyn, especially, feels true and fully realized. It’s also heart-wrenching. Without realizing it, Marilyn is slowly killing her daughter with impossibly high expectations.

In the end, the novel casts a powerful light on the secrets that have kept an American family together — and that finally end up tearing it apart.

—Hector Tobar, Los Angeles Times

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“Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands” by Chris Bohjalian; Doubleday (288 pages; $25.95)

Surprisingly, one of the few companions that Emily Shepard — a cutter, dope smoker and OxyContin popper, and sometimes a reluctant “prositot” for truckers — selects is Emily Dickinson, the Belle of Amherst. Shepard leans on Dickinson’s poetry and life story the way other teens might lean on rap music or the Bible: as a source of inspiration and pleasure, and as a filter for trying to make sense of her own experiences.

If you’ve already formed a mental Polaroid of Shepard, I suggest you tear it up. She’s more complicated than that — more innocent, wiser and possibly mentally ill.

She’s on the run because a nuclear plant has melted down catastrophically, killing 19 people and devastating the area. She fears that father, a casualty (along with her mother) and one of the plant’s main operators, is being blamed for the disaster. She’s afraid that she’ll be forced to testify about her father’s drinking problem, and that public vengeance will descend upon her.

After introducing this big what-if premise, Bohjalian writes about the nuclear aftermath in a scrupulously realistic way. He doesn’t blow the slightest apocalyptic or dystopian wind on those fuel rods. It’s nonetheless a scary scenario.

Shepard’s life as a runaway is scary, too. But she has resources, including a sense for danger that develops quickly. While admitting the option of killing herself exists, she finds purposes for living —a maternal desire to protect Cameron, a boy who has run away from an abusive foster home.

“Close Your Eyes” is a novel for adults — I don’t think Emily Shepard has enough control over her own fate to label this book YA. But readers of any age who love John Green’s novels might also find Shepard’s story, sobering as it is, an awesome one.

—Jim Higgins, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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“Fourth of July Creek” by Smith Henderson; Ecco (466 pages, $26.99)

In “Fourth of July Creek,” stability is hard to come by, particularly in this time and place (rural Montana in the early 1980s). And the trouble isn’t just with this one family; it’s everywhere. In and around Tenmile, the remote outpost where he lives in a cabin without running water, Pete has seen just about every bad thing you can think of — families living in the woods, abused and neglected children, gas-huffing teenagers, drug-addled parents. His workday could involve patiently writing reports or running from aggressive Rottweilers. His nights inevitably involve booze.

But Pete’s experience hasn’t prepared him for what happens when he meets skinny, sickly Benjamin Pearl, an 11-year-old who shows up in town one day. When Pete tries to return the boy to his family, he runs afoul of Benjamin’s survivalist father Jeremiah, a paranoid zealot.

The novel is too unsparing and serious to serve up a saintly social worker: Pete, for all his good intentions, is hiding just like Jeremiah Pearl. He has abandoned his unfaithful wife and his daughter, Rachel, now a hostile teenager. They move to Texas, and Rachel goes missing.

Tension builds as Pete roams from home to work and across the country searching for Rachel. He hikes high into the mountains with Benjamin and Jeremiah, who has offered him a glimmer of trust. But Pete can’t help but wonder: Where are the rest of the Pearls?

“Fourth of July Creek” reveals social, cultural and economic complexities that define us even now, and it’s never just an examination of the people who fall through the cracks. Henderson is offering something bigger and more vital here: incisive commentary on the inevitable dysfunction that’s the byproduct of poverty and how that dysfunction passes itself on to future generations.

—Connie Ogle, The Miami Herald

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“The Queen of the Tearling” by Erika Johansen; Harper Collins (448 pages, $26.99)

You could write “The Queen of the Tearling” off as yet another young-adult female fantasy novel, but that would be doing it an injustice. Unfortunately, the predictable plot has only a few quirks to make it more original. It is obviously a setup for more books to come.

As a baby, Kelsea Raleigh was sent away by her mother, the feckless Queen Elyssa, and hidden on a small farm. When Kelsea is 7, Elyssa dies, and her daughter inherits the throne of Tearling.

On her 19th birthday, a group of soldiers show up to escort Kelsea to the capitol to be crowned, since it turns out she has a price on her head that many would like to earn. She arrives just in time to witness the cost of the peace with the neighboring bully state, Mortmesne, ruled by the evil Red Queen — a monthly tribute of captive men, women and children from Tearling to keep the peace.

By interrupting the shipment, Kelsea basically steps onto the world stage and is instantly becomes the target of the Red Queen, the Church and everyone who has a stake in keeping the status quo intact in Tearling, including the clinically evil Arlen Thorne.

The world created by Johansen is solidly drawn with interesting characters — all with hidden pasts, traumas and flashing swords.

—Tish Wells, McClatchy Washington Bureau

© 2014, McClatchy-Tribune

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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