Reviews of the Week with James McBride, Al Gore, Celeste Ng, and more!

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 July 31 through August 4 so that you can revisit the week’s best books.

July 31

Five-Carat Soul, by James McBride

McBride’s (Kill ’em and Leave, 2016) short stories joyfully abound with indelible characters whose personal philosophies are far wiser than their circumstances allow, including the teenage members of the inner-city Five Carat Soul Bottom Bone Band—Buck Boy, Ray-Ray, Blub, and Goat. Then there’s the lion, jaguar, and whale in “Mr. P & the Wind.” A fierce loyalty forged on an Italian battlefield during WWII unites Carlos, Lillian, and the Judge in a Harlem ballroom in “The Christmas Dance,” while a black Civil War orphan, Abraham Henry Lincoln, believes he will finally meet his father when President Lincoln visits the troops in Richmond. A priceless toy train once belonging to Robert E. Lee brings a vintage toy dealer much wealth but little joy in “The Under Graham Railroad Box Car Set.”

August 1

Say Zoop! by Hervé Tullet

The creator of Press Here (2011), Mix It Up! (2014), and Let’s Play (2016) here enhances his explorations of color and motion by adding sound to the mix. To be clear, there’s no actual audio present; instead, Tullet conveys auditory cues through visual symbols. He begins with a single blue dot (Oh) whose volume varies with his size. Oh can count, change speed, vary his pitch, shiver, and cry. The introduction of a similarly accomplished red dot (Ah) allows the two to interact: conversing, singing, roaring, arguing, and making up. Finally, they are joined by Waahoo! (a yellow dot surrounded by smaller yellow dots), and real play begins.

August 2

Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng

Shaker Heights, Ohio, is a by-the-books kind of town. Longtime residents know the well-established rules of conduct. Newcomers, such as itinerant artist Mia Warren and her teenage daughter, Pearl, must find out for themselves what is acceptable and what is not. Renting an apartment from city-native Elena Richardson should give Mia and Pearl a leg up. Instead, it throws them into the midst of a fraught custody battle concerning a Chinese American baby; engenders fierce rivalries between brothers Moody and Trip Richardson for Pearl’s attention; and casts Mia as the unlikely confidant of the Richardson daughters, popular Lexie and outcast Izzy.

 

August 3

An Inconvenient Sequel, by Al Gore

Ever since the publication of An Inconvenient Truth (2006) and the release of the Academy Award–winning film of the same name, former vice president Gore has worked steadfastly and creatively on the climate-change front, closely attending to the increasingly obvious and dire manifestations of a warming planet; expertly supporting the equally rapid and hopefully corrective rise of the sustainable-energy industry; and avidly overseeing smart, positive, and effective programs and strategies for activists. In a new book and a new movie sharing the title An Inconvenient Sequel, he reports on the current state of the climate and the climate movement. Vibrantly illustrated with photographs and infographics, the book can and should be read before, after, or in lieu of seeing the film, its vital information readily accessible and useful in print.

August 4

Magicians Impossible, by Brad Abraham

Although most magical children are trained at a school for mages, Jason Bishop’s father hid him from both good and evil magical forces. But quickly after his father’s funeral, Jason is discovered by both sides of the magical world and must be protected and trained by the mages. The mages are the good guys, who come by their power naturally, while the wizards and witches are evil and steal magic. Jason is extremely gifted and makes his way through his studies at a rapid rate. While it is clear that Jason is exceptional, he is also a cog in the good-magic machine that is fighting evil.

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About the Author:

Michael Ruzicka, Office Manager, was raised in suburban Los Angeles, received a BA in Creative Writing/Poetry at UC Santa Cruz, then moved to Birmingham, AL, where he spent five years owning an independent bookstore and earned an MLIS. He has brought his librarian skills to Vanderbilt’s Television News Archive, Battle Ground Academy, The Museum of Contemporary Art-Chicago, and the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Michael is very excited to be a part of Booklist and call Chicago his home.

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