Win the March ’17 bookshelf of signed thrillers!

March 1, 2017

Welcome to the March bookshelf of signed thrillers! Tons of new books to win – some favorite authors or find a new author. To enter, go to the Win Books page. Best of luck!

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VICIOUS CIRCLE by C. J. Box: Rescuing his daughters from the violent Cates family, game warden Joe Pickett realizes that his new adversaries have plotted revenge against his entire family before teaming up with his friend, Nate, to take defensive steps.

 MISSISSIPPI BLOOD by Greg Iles: The exhilarating, highly anticipated final volume in the epic trilogy featuring Penn Cage from #1 New York Times bestselling author Greg Iles. Grief-stricken and with his world collapsing around him, Penn Cage is shut out of trial preparations by his once-revered Southern doctor father, who is about to be tried for murder in the wake of revelations about a mixed-race child and KKK associations.

RIGHT BEHIND YOU by Lisa Gardner: After a double murder begins a shooting spree through the wilds of Oregon, Quincy and Rainie’s main suspect is the older brother of the 13-year-old orphan they plan to adopt. By the #1 New York Times best-selling author of Find Her.

MOST DANGEROUS PLACE by James Grippando: Defending a woman accused of murdering the man who sexually assaulted her, Miami lawyer Jack Swyteck must uncover where the truth lies between innocence, vengeance, and justice in this spellbinding tale of suspense—based on shocking true-life events—from the New York Times bestselling author of Gone Again.

IN FARLEIGH FIELD by Rhys Bowen: World War II arrives at the ancestral home of Lord Westerham and his five daughters when a soldier with a failed parachute falls to his death on the estate and MI5 operative and family friend Ben Cresswell is covertly tasked with investigating at the same time one of the daughters takes a secret job at Bletchley Park.

FACIALS CAN BE FATAL by Nancy J. Cohen: When a major donor to a historic building preservation society winds up dead in Marla Vail’s day spa, Marla investigates, uncovering a scandal involving a greedy land developer, a mortician, and the Asian mob.

SNOWBLIND by Ragnar Jonasson: Ari Thâor Arason, a rookie policeman on his first posting in a Northern Iceland fishing village, confronts the secrets and lies of a community he cannot trust after a young woman is found bleeding and unconscious in the snow and an elderly writer falls to his death.

POLICE AT THE STATION & THEY DON’T LOOK FRIENDLY by Adrian McKinty: In 1988 Belfast, a man is killed with a crossbow in front of his own house, and uncovering who is responsible for the murder will take Detective Sean Duffy down his most dangerous road yet, a road that leads to a lonely clearing on a high bog where three masked gunmen will force Duffy to dig his own grave.

BEFORE SUNRISE by Rick Mofina: Before Sunrise is based on an earlier Rick Mofina short story, “The Last Pursuit,” and includes scenes and characters from that work. Coming in at about the same length as The Old Man and the Sea, Before Sunrise is a powerful, heart-wrenching story of love, heartbreak, courage and enduring human spirit. (e-book)

BLOOD’S ECHO by Isabella Maldonado: Detective Veranda Cruz leads an elite task force on the Phoenix Police Drug Enforcement Bureau. Bartolo Villalobos is the ruthless heir apparent to the most powerful cartel in the world. No one on the department suspects the secret motive behind Veranda’s obsession with the cartel . . . until an operation goes horribly wrong.

SAY NOTHING by Brad Parks: When their children are abducted by a man who blackmails them to follow instructions at the risk of the children’s lives, a judge and his wife endure a terrorizing ordeal of no-holds-barred deceit and bond-breaking suspicions.

BLOOD’S ECHO by Isabella Maldonado: Detective Veranda Cruz leads an elite task force on the Phoenix Police Drug Enforcement Bureau. Bartolo Villalobos is the ruthless heir apparent to the most powerful cartel in the world. No one on the department suspects the secret motive behind Veranda’s obsession with the cartel . . . until an operation goes horribly wrong.

SWANN’S WAY OUT by Charles Salzberg: A friendly poker game leads Henry Swann out to Hollywood where he tries to find the man, Rusty Jacobs, responsible for embezzling $1,000,000 from his client, and then bring back the dough.

NEVER LET YOU GO by Chevy Stevens: Ending a marriage to an abusive man sentenced to prison, Lindsey starts over with a new business while raising a traumatized daughter who she is challenged to protect when her ex is released and someone begins stalking through their new hometown.

NO DARKER PLACE by Debra Webb: Searching for the serial killer who murdered her husband and child, Detective Bobbie Gentry, fueled by rage and revenge, becomes more and more reckless in her attempts to lure the Storyteller out of hiding—until she meets, and falls under the protection, of Nick Shade, who is on the same mission.

You can win autographed copies of all these books! If you are new to the site, each month I run a contest in conjunction with the International Thriller Writers organization. We put together a list of books from debut authors to bestsellers, so you can win some of your favorites and find some new favorites.

What makes this contest really special is that all of the books (except eBooks) are signed by the author! Books with multiple authors will be signed by at least one of the authors. Penguin Random House books for giveaway were provided by the publisher. #PRHpartner

Don’t forget, if you subscribe to the newsletter or follow this blog, you get an extra entry into every contest you enter. Check out the Win Books page for more information on all these books and how you to enter this month’s contest.

Thanks for reading, and good luck!


THE OUTSIDER by Anthony Franze

March 29, 2017

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Anthony Franze debut novel, The Advocate’s Daughter, was so good that it made my best books of 2016 list. I always worry about the so-called “sophomore slump” – writers generally have years to work on their first novel and a much, much tighter timeline for the second. I’m happy to report that The Outsider is a terrific legal thriller as well. And with the Supreme Court in the news, it’s also timely.

Franze is an attorney who has argued before the Supreme Court, and that’s where he sets his thrillers. He offers a wonderful backstage tour of our highest court, complete with notes at the end so you know what is true and what is made up. Plus his stories are riveting, as is the case here.

The “outsider” is Grayson Hernandez, a young man who graduated from a non-Ivy League law school and is working as a messenger in the Supreme Court building. Hernandez grew up in a poor part of D.C., and his best friends really related with S.E. Hinton’s Outsider. In fact, Hernandez’s nickname was Pony Boy.

The day he stumbles onto an assault against the Chief Justice in the parking lot changes his life – in more ways than is at first obvious. Hernandez saves the Chief Justice but the attacker escapes. Shaken, the Chief Justice decides to offer Hernandez a clerkship, the most sought after position for law school graduates.

Most, if not all, the clerks are from top tier law schools, the brightest of the brightest. Hernandez is bright, but had to stay home to help run his family business so those opportunities didn’t come his way. And then the Justice offers him some perks along with the job; his apartment in Georgetown, which comes with a new Audi. Hernandez is overwhelmed but the justice convinces him to accept the offer.

Hernandez loves his new job, discussing law with these brilliant scholars and the smartest one of all, the beautiful Lauren Hart. He has a hard time fitting in, of course, but the Justice offers advice from time to time and eventually he finds his place.

Meanwhile, it appears a serial killer is at work in the D.C. area, and the murder sites all have one thing in common; a feather quill pen, a gift that the justices present to all attorneys who come before them, is found at all the crime scenes. Hernandez is approached by the FBI to help, and he quickly gets in over his head.

There are enough plot twists to keep the pages turning and the suspense just keeps ratcheting up until the final denouement. If you’re a fan of legal thrillers, or just fast paced adrenaline reads, you won’t want to miss this one.

3/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE OUTSIDER by Anthony Franze. Minotaur Books (March 21, 2017). ISBN 978-1250071668. 320p.

Kindle


WHAT YOU BREAK by Reed Farrel Coleman

March 27, 2017

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A Gus Murphy Novel, Book 2

Setting a thriller out in Suffolk County, Long Island, New York immediately drew my attention. I went to high school in that area and still have friends there. Nelson DeMille may own Nassau County, Long Island, NY (love the John Corey books and all his earlier thrillers) but now Coleman owns Suffolk. It’s always fun to see places you know pop up in a book and it adds another level of enjoyment. Of course, if you’ve never been to New York you get an interesting overview of an area even most visitors don’t see.

When I got married (in Nassau County) one of my bridesmaids was my roommate from the University of Miami. She was from Kansas City, Missouri and had never been to New York. She was shocked at Long Island. She thought all of New York was like the city, Manhattan, which is heavily featured in most NY films and TV shows. And in reality, Manhattan is only 23.7 square miles while the state of NY is 54,556 square miles, so you can see it is just a drop in the bucket. But I digress.

Gus Murphy is a retired Suffolk County detective who lost a child and never really recovered from it. His marriage fell apart, and he took a job as security at the Paragon hotel near MacArthur Airport in Islip, a sleepy little airport that mostly shuttles snowbirds back and forth to Florida. He also runs the shuttle to and from the airport and the train. In exchange for his services, he lives for free in a hotel room, a rather dreary existence but one that suits his needs.

Gus’s friend, former priest Bill Kilkenny, introduces him to a wealthy businessman, Micah Spears, whose granddaughter had been murdered and he wants to know why. Having lost a child himself, and being offered remuneration that would help keep his son’s name alive, Gus can’t say no despite not liking or trusting the man.

Gus is friendly with another hotel employee, Slava, who has a shadowy past that comes to the forefront. Gus delivers a new hotel guest to the Paragon and something about him just sets off Gus’s cop spidey-sense. When he sees the guest go off with Slava, he follows them to Brooklyn.

Gus parks down the street and watches as they talk to a man outside a house there and leave, and the man is brutally assassinated immediately after. After witnessing the cold blooded execution, Gus ends up protecting his friend from a Russian mercenary, street gangs and even some cops.

The pages fly in this ultimately dark and violent thriller. I didn’t read the first book in the series, but didn’t feel like I missed anything because Coleman offers enough back story to fill in the blanks. Coleman delivers another very good thriller.

3/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

WHAT YOU BREAK by Reed Farrel Coleman. G.P. Putnam’s Sons (February 7, 2017).  ISBN 978-0399173042. 368p.

Kindle


SHEET PAN by Kate McMillan

March 26, 2017

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Delicious Recipes for Hands-Off Meals

Sheet pan cooking is the latest trend I’ve noticed and there are several new cookbooks out or coming out. Recently released are 150 Recipes in a 13×9 Pan by Gooseberry Patch; One-Pan Wonders from Cook’s Country; One Pan & Done by  Molly Gilbert; and Dinner: Changing the Game by Melissa Clark (Clark is one of the food writers for the NY Times, and I’m hoping to get my hands on this one soon for review.)

Sheet Pan is a smaller, hard cover cookbook with nice, heavy paper and great photos that are perfect for inspiration. The chapters:

Easy & Delicious One-Pan Meals
Sheet-pan basics
Meat
Seafood
Vegetables

The first thing that caught my eye was “Garlicky Shrimp with Asparagus Fries and Meyer Lemon Aioli.” I didn’t have asparagus but zucchini, squash or mushrooms were suggested as substitutes. I had just gotten some zucchini in my CSA box so that was perfect.  I also had just picked up a bag of Meyer lemons at Trader Joes – when I see them, I buy them because they have a short growing season. I actually have a Meyer lemon tree in my yard but usually only get 2-3 fruit each year. It’s a baby tree, no taller than me yet so we are hopeful that as it grows it will fruit more. But I digress.

I was a little nervous about overcooking the shrimp and/or undercooking the zucchini so I put the zucchini fries in the hot oven for five minutes or so before I added the shrimp. It was a quick dinner to put together, about 10 minutes prep time and 12 minutes cooking and it was really delicious, my family loved it. And by lining the pan with parchment paper, cleanup was a breeze.

Not all the recipes are that quick. “Pork Chops with Apricots, Red Cabbage & Blue Cheese” takes about 15 minutes prep and cooks for 40 minutes or so. “Stuffed Eggplant Three Ways” takes about 25 minutes or so in the oven, “Roasted Caesar Salad with Salmon” only 15 minutes and “Vegetable Pizza Tarts” made with frozen puff pastry takes about 20 minutes.

I don’t mind if all I have to do is wait, that still seems like an easy dinner to me. And again, clean up is only one pan – and that’s why people are loving these sheet pan cookbooks. I work full time and I love to cook, but cleaning up is not fun so I really appreciate how easy it is to only have to deal with one pan.

This is a great cookbook for anyone who likes to cook but maybe doesn’t have all that much time or energy, especially after working all day. I made this tart but subbed green onion for the leeks, used creminis, and almonds for the hazelnuts. It was really good and really easy. Try it yourself — 

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

MUSHROOM & GRUYÈRE TART WITH HAZELNUT HARICOTS VERTS

All-purpose flour, for dusting
1 sheet frozen puff pastry (half of a 17.3-oz/490-g package), thawed
5 ounces (155 g) Gruyère cheese, shredded
2 leeks, trimmed, halved lengthwise, white and pale parts thinly sliced
¼ lb (125 g) white mushrooms, brushed clean and thinly sliced
4½ tablespoons (70 ml) olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large egg beaten with
1 tablespoon water
¾ lb (375 g) haricots verts, trimmed
¼ cup (11/4 oz/40 g)
hazelnuts, roughly chopped

SERVES 2–4

1 Preheat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC). Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

2 On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the puff pastry into a 121/2-by-15-inch (32-by-38-cm)
rectangle. Fold into thirds, transfer to the prepared pan, and unfold, positioning the dough so there will be
room for the haricots verts on the pan. Fold over about 1 inch (2.5 cm) of each side of the dough to create a border.

3 Sprinkle the dough with the cheese, leaving the borders uncovered. In a bowl, toss together the leeks,
mushrooms, and 3 tablespoons of the oil, and season with salt and pepper. Spread the mixture over the cheese. Brush the borders with the egg mixture. Bake for 10 minutes.

4 In a bowl, toss together the haricots verts and the remaining 1½ tablespoons oil, and season with salt and pepper. Place in a single layer on the pan next to the tart. Continue baking until the tart is golden brown and the haricots verts are fork-tender, about 15 minutes longer. During the last 5 minutes of cooking, sprinkle the hazelnuts over the haricots verts.

5 Let the tart cool slightly, then cut into slices and serve the haricots verts on the side.

3/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

SHEET PAN by Kate McMillan. Weldon Owen (January 3, 2017). ISBN 978-1681881379. 112p.


THE DIME by Kathleen Kent

March 25, 2017

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It’s been just over two years since Betty and her girlfriend, Jackie, relocated from Brooklyn to Dallas. Betty, a narcotics officer with Dallas PD, has finally been given lead on a huge case: a local has been in contact with one of the big Mexican cartels and a drop has been scheduled. Betty and her team have spent hours staking out the location where it’s to take place, but an incident with a bystander throws everything off kilter. As bodies stack up, the case becomes more complicated – worse so when it becomes clear that Betty herself has become a target. But a target of exactly what is unclear.

While this is by no means Kathleen Kent’s first rodeo, it is her first crime novel. And I have to say it’s a resounding success.

Betty Rhyzyk is a tall redhead, born and bred in Brooklyn. And she’s just the latest of a string of cops in the family. Her Polish roots run deep and the narrative is peppered with pieces of translated family wisdom. By the time the meat of the story begins, however, Betty is the only surviving member of the Rhyzyk clan.

Not that she’s alone in the world by any means. Her girlfriend, Jackie, a nurse who spends much of her time worrying over Betty’s diet, is steadfast and supportive even when the story begins to take a nasty turn. And Betty is supported by her fellow police officers as well, more or less. Kent does a fantastic job portraying the difficulties of being a female cop in what is still a very male centric career.

She also does a wonderful job bringing Dallas and Texas to life in this tale, so much so that the city becomes more than just a setting. The sense of place is true to its inspiration, as I’m sure anyone in the DFW area can attest (which makes sense because it’s the place Kent calls home.), imbuing the story with a distinct flavor and characteristic.

The Dime is the kind of book that begins with a bang and still manages to become increasingly intense. And the pacing and plot never falter. It is a dark one, so do be warned, but definitely one that’s joining the ranks of my own personal favorites. No word yet on whether Betty will be a new series lead, but I for one certainly hope that will be the case.

3/17 Becky LeJeune

THE DIME by Kathleen Kent. Mulholland Books; First Edition/First Printing edition (February 14, 2017).  ISBN 978-0316311038. 352p.

Kindle


Debut Novels | Six Picks

March 24, 2017

Read It Forward editors Abbe and Emma give six recommendations for debut novels! If you’re not familiar with the website, you really should check it out, there is some great content there for readers.

SYMPATHY by Olivia Sudjic

A STUDY IN CHARLOTTE by Brittany Cavallaro

RICH AND PRETTY by Rumaan Alam

THE NEST by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

THE CHILBURY LADIES’ CHOIR by Jennifer Ryan

DODGERS by Bill Beverly

 


FOR THIS WE LEFT EGYPT? by Dave Barry, Alan Zweibel & Adam Mansbach

March 23, 2017

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A Passover Haggadah for Jews and Those Who Love Them

My parents are gone, my children are adults and aren’t always home for the holiday, and we usually end up celebrating with friends. So I like to switch things up with new and different haggadahs, and there are many beyond the Maxwell House Coffee* Haggadah that I grew up on – and fell asleep during the long, long readings. (*free at many supermarkets for years.)

A few years ago I got the NEW AMERICAN HAGGADAH: A New Translation by Nathan Englander, edited by Jonathan Safran Foer. It is beautiful and different. There is a timeline created by Mia Sara Bruch and commentaries by Nathaniel Deutsch, Jeffrey Goldberg, Rebecca Newberger Goldstein and Lemony Snicket (really!) This is a beautiful book with gorgeous calligraphy and subtle contemporary artwork. This book is a thought provoking translation that, at least for my guests, inspired conversation and discussion of many things, from the actual Seder to contemporary politics.

But this year I am really mixing things up with this new Haggadah written by one of the funniest gentiles on the planet (Barry) and two of his Jewish and funny friends. It is laugh out loud funny and I love the illustrations, too, looking very much like 1960’s children’s book illustrations.

If you’re ready for a change and want to laugh instead of sleep through your seder, order as many copies as you need today from Amazon and you’ll have them in plenty of time for Passover. The first night is Monday, April 10th.

From the publisher:

The book you hold before you is no ordinary Haggadah. If you’ve ever suffered through a Seder, you’re well aware of the fact that the entire evening can last as long as the exodus from Egypt itself. There are countless stories, dozens of blessings, and far too many handwashings while the meal turns cold. Now prepare to be entertained by another version of the book that’s responsible for this interminable tradition.

With this hilarious parody Haggadah from the comedic minds of Dave Barry, Alan Zweibel, and Adam Mansbach, good Jews everywhere will no longer have to sit (and sleep) through a lengthy and boring Seder. In For This We Left Egypt?, the authors will be take you through every step of the Seder, from getting rid of all the chametz in your home by setting it on fire with a kosher blowtorch to a retelling of the Passover story starring Pharaoh Schmuck and a burning bush that sounds kind of like Morgan Freeman, set against the backdrop of the Promised Land―which turned out not to be a land of milk and honey but rather one of rocks and venomous scorpions the size of Yorkshire terriers. You then eat a celebratory brisket and wrap up the whole evening by taking at least forty-five minutes to say good-bye to everyone.

So gather all the Jews in your life (even the few who don’t appear to be long-suffering) and settle in for a fun way to pass the time while waiting for Elijah to show up.

I can’t wait.

3/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

FOR THIS WE LEFT EGYPT? by Dave Barry, Alan Zweibel & Adam Mansbach. Flatiron Books (March 7, 2017). ISBN 978-1250110213. 144p.


IF NOT FOR YOU by Debbie Macomber

March 22, 2017

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Beth Prudhomme recently moved to Portland, Oregon from Chicago and landed a job as a high school music teacher. Her favorite Aunt Sunshine, a famous artist and old hippie, lives nearby. Beth’s mother is super controlling, but she’s back in Chicago and has promised not to visit for one year.

Beth makes a good friend at school, another teacher named Nichole. Nichole is married and has a baby. She invites Beth over for dinner, wanting to fix her up with her husband’s best friend, Sam.

The two clash almost immediately. Sam is a tattooed, bearded auto mechanic and thinks Beth is a stuck up priss. Sam just makes her uncomfortable, she’s never met anyone like him and can’t understand why her friend would fix them up. They both decide to duck out early, and are driving away when Sam witnesses Beth get into a terrible accident. He jumps from his car and rushes to her, holding her hand and telling her she is going to be all right, but he is really scared that this woman he just met is going to die.

He ends up visiting her at the hospital, and feels compelled to keep going back and they fall into an easy friendship as she starts down the long road to recovery. He brings his guitar and plays for her, and they realize their shared love of music and that maybe they have more in common than they thought.

Eventually, they fall in love but neither of them wants to admit it or have that sort of relationship. He’s been burned before, and burned badly, and she’s in a panic about what her parents might think – her father’s a scholar and her mother’s a snob.

Eventually they work through all the early hurdles only to find even bigger ones down the road. Nevertheless, they get their happily ever after.

It is a truly compelling read – I read it in one night. The story has real depth but still moves fast. It’s the characters that really drew me in, and I’m sure they’ll stay with me for some time to come.

3/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

IF NOT FOR YOU by Debbie Macomber. Ballantine Books (March 21, 2017).  ISBN 978-0553391961.  384p.

Kindle

 


BLUSH FOR ME by Kristen Proby

March 21, 2017
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A Fusion Novel, Book 3

Katrina Meyers manages Seattle’s hottest wine bar, Seduction. Deathly afraid of flying, nonetheless she finds herself on “a death trap with wings” with some scary turbulence to boot. Her seatmate is hot, hot, hot Ryan “Mac” MacKenzie, and he’s only too happy to help out the scared gorgeous woman in the next seat. And then he can’t stop thinking about her.

Mac runs an super-successful wine touring business and ends up at Seduction. Mac and Katrina are having quite the physical relationship but neither wants to admit there is more to it than that.

There is great chemistry here, and well developed characters that are believable, making this a terrific scorcher of a romance. Love this series!

3/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

BLUSH FOR ME by Kristen Proby. William Morrow Paperbacks (March 21, 2017).  ISBN 978-0062434791. 304p.

Kindle


SAY NOTHING by Brad Parks

March 20, 2017

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When will I learn not to start a thriller at 11:00 at night when I have to be at work at 7:30 the next morning?! Using every ounce of self discipline I have (which isn’t very much, I’m sorry to say) I read a little more than half of this book by 2:00 a.m, when I forced myself to go to bed. Sleep was slow in coming and I found myself waking at 3:45 and again at 5 to check on my daughter. No, she’s not a young child, but she’s mine and apparently this plotline was weighing heavily on my mind.

This is a hybrid domestic/legal thriller, two of my favorites mashed up together. Judge Scott Sampson is the happily married father of young twins. Wednesday afternoons he picks up the kids and they go swimming, so he’s really disappointed when Allison, his wife, texts him and says she forgot they have a doctor’s appointment that afternoon so she would pick them up.

Except she didn’t. And he didn’t. But someone who resembles Allison and was driving a gray Honda minivan did and both kids are now missing.

The judge is told to say nothing and how to rule in a case coming before him the next day. They are both frightened and freaking out, to say the least. The judge’s first impulse is to call the courthouse cops, but Allison is adamant they follow instructions exactly. But that first instruction is only the beginning. It turns out a much bigger case is in play.

The tension is almost unbearable at times in this fast paced, emotionally riveting read. This is Park’s first standalone thriller. I loved his Carter Ross mystery series but this is a big departure and extremely well done.

Parks’ Say Nothing got the trifecta of starred reviews, an enviable feat, from Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal, and Kirkus Reviews. And if I starred reviews, he’d get mine, too. Don’t miss it.

3/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

SAY NOTHING by Brad Parks. Dutton (March 7, 2017).  ISBN 978-1101985595. 448p.

Kindle


Author Shorts – Andrea Davis Pinkney

March 19, 2017

Author Andrea Davis Pinkney on her career before writing, and writing process | Author Shorts– Author Andrea Davis Pinkney (A POEM FOR PETER) discusses her job as an editor at a mechanics magazine and where she finds inspiration for her characters.

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A POEM FOR PETER by Andrea Davis Pinkney

The Story of Ezra Jack Keats and the Creation of The Snowy Day

 

Illustrated by Steve Johnson

A celebration of the extraordinary life of Ezra Jack Keats, creator of The Snowy Day.

The story of The Snowy Day begins more than one hundred years ago, when Ezra Jack Keats was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. The family were struggling Polish immigrants, and despite Keats’s obvious talent, his father worried that Ezra’s dream of being an artist was an unrealistic one. But Ezra was determined. By high school he was winning prizes and scholarships. Later, jobs followed with the WPA and Marvel comics. But it was many years before Keats’s greatest dream was realized and he had the opportunity to write and illustrate his own book.

For more than two decades, Ezra had kept pinned to his wall a series of photographs of an adorable African American child. In Keats’s hands, the boy morphed into Peter, a boy in a red snowsuit, out enjoying the pristine snow; the book became The Snowy Day, winner of the Caldecott Medal, the first mainstream book to feature an African American child. It was also the first of many books featuring Peter and the children of his — and Keats’s — neighborhood.

Andrea Davis Pinkney’s lyrical narrative tells the inspiring story of a boy who pursued a dream, and who, in turn, inspired generations of other dreamers.

A POEM FOR PETER by Andrea Davis Pinkney. Viking Books for Young Readers (November 1, 2016).  ISBN 978-0425287682. 60p.