Every weekday, we feature a different review on Booklist Online that highlights starred reviews, high-demand titles, and/or titles especially relevant to our current issue’s spotlight. We’ve collected the reviews from August 29 through September 2 below so that you can revisit the week’s best books.
Monday, August 29
Salem’s Cipher, by Jess Lourey
Fans of Lourey’s whimsical Murder-by-Month mysteries (February Fever, 2015) should be prepared for a shock. Her latest has neither quirky characters nor humorous dialogue. Instead, it’s a fast-paced, sometimes brutal thriller reminiscent of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code (2003). Lifelong friends, cryptoanalyst Salem Wiley and Chicago police officer Bel Odegaard are on the run, and their mothers have been kidnapped. A putty-faced, cold-blooded killer able to change his appearance at will is intent on eliminating them. He’s not the only one.
Tuesday, August 30
Blood Red, Snow White, by Marcus Sedgwick
Sedgwick’s at it again with another novel pushing YA boundaries. Opening with a dreamy account of Tsar Nicholas II’s rise and fall, Sedgwick’s novel links fairy tales to Russian history, likening the growing populist movement to a rampaging bear hungry after months of cold and starvation. It’s in this hair-trigger environment that Arthur Ransome, real-life author of classic children’s literature and British correspondent in Russia, finds himself, and after befriending both Bolsheviks and British nationals during his career as a journalist, his political allegiances are dangerously muddy.
Wednesday, August 31
The Edge, by Roger Pielke
The head of the Sports Governance Center at the University of Colorado uses his expertise in public policy to scrutinize current issues in athletics. The book’s title refers to athletes pushing the limits of the spirit of sport to gain advantage in an ultracompetitive market—Tom Brady and Deflategate, Lance Armstrong and doping, for example. Pielke posits that sports’ governing bodies adhere to an outdated set of rules with regard to amateurism, cheating, technology, and sexual identity, and he offers a pragmatic approach that features better science, objectivity, and statistics to find solutions to the problems plaguing professional and amateur sports.
Thursday, September 1
Time Traveling with a Hamster, by Ross Welford
In a time-travel tale that combines adventure with brain-bending cosmic and philosophical propositions, Albert Einstein Hawking Chaudhury, 12, receives letters from his long-dead father that lead him to a homemade time machine and back to 1984 to prevent events that led to his dad’s demise. This entails much guilty sneaking out at night and repeated trips back and forth in time as Al manages to leave both his hamster and his smartphone behind. Throughout, Welford gives him (and readers) much to mull over in epistolary disquisitions on the stranger aspects of Einsteinian space-time.
Friday, September 2
Ghost, by Jason Reynolds
Castle “Ghost” Cranshaw has been running for three years, ever since the night his father shot a gun at him and his mother. When he gets recruited by a local track coach for a championship team, they strike a deal: if Ghost can stop getting into fights at school, he can run for the Defenders, but one altercation and he’s gone. Despite Ghost’s best intentions, everyone always has something to say about his raggedy shoes, homemade haircut, ratty clothes, or his neighborhood, and he doesn’t last 24 hours without a brawl.