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 April 10 through 14 so that you can revisit the week’s best books.
Monday, April 10
The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For, by David McCullough
Very few among us possess the encompassing and informed perspective on America’s past and present that historian and best-selling author McCullough has gained over decades of research. McCullough, whose subjects include the Wright Brothers, Harry S. Truman, John Adams, and the American Revolution, is a beloved public intellectual. With an eye to this “time of uncertainty and contention,” McCullough presents 15 speeches he has given over the last 25 years. In these clarifying and uplifting presentations, rich in historical anecdotes and portraits, he speaks of freedom and responsibility and “courage and patience.”
Tuesday, April 11
Firebrand, by A. J. Hartley
Nationalistic feelings continue to rise in the cosmopolitan city of Bar-Selehm, and former teen steeplejack Anglet Sutonga, who now works as a sort of secret agent for junior member of Parliament Josiah Willinghouse, finds herself following leads that involve weaponry, illegal immigrants, and high-ranking members of Bar-Selehm’s ruling class. The well-crafted adventures of this feisty, diverse protagonist continue in this worthy sequel, evoking Sherlock Holmes with its Victorianesque setting, and James Bond in its espionage-laced plot. Hartley has composed another electrifying fantasy that buzzes with intrigue and timely political and social issues.
Wednesday, April 12
Fallout, by Sara Paretsky
Hard to believe anything could drive V. I. Warshawski out of Chicago, but here she is, in this eighteenth series entry, in Lawrence, Kansas. The case starts in Chicago, where she’s hired to track down a missing film student and a black actress popular in the 1980s. In Lawrence, she learns of secrets, murders, and unsolved disappearances related to 1980s protests against a missile silo, and, since these turn out to be critical to her current case, she persists, putting her life in jeopardy. Paretsky is at the top of her game here, evidenced by the satisfying, layered puzzle peopled by a vividly described and intriguing cast.
Thursday, April 13
Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy, by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant
Sandberg teams up with Wharton’s top professor, Grant, in this powerful treatise about overcoming life’s toughest challenges. Sandberg and Grant weave Sandberg’s personal journey into a larger, more inclusive framework of adversity in this well-researched book of facts and sound advice that will serve as a guide to those impacted by life’s wicked curve balls. Option B is not simply a self-help book for those who are suffering; rather, it is a richly informed, engaging read that will broaden readers’ understanding of empathy and reveal the strength of the human spirit.
Friday, April 14
Now I Rise, by Kiersten White
White’s captivating sequel revolves around three individuals questing for power: Lada, the girl who desires to be Wallachia’s prince; Sultan Mehmed, who wants Constantinople in order to fulfill a promise to his god; and Radu, brother to Lada, who wishes only to have power over Mehmed’s heart. White works effectively with historic fact but she reimagines and shapes it to tell a compelling story. It is historical fiction at its best, situated in an evocative setting with characters that capture the imagination, and yet are human enough to keep readers thoroughly invested. So often the bridge book in a trilogy functions as a placeholder for the beginning and ending novels, but this one soars on its own. Gorgeous, rich, and rewarding.