Publishers are preparing to release an avalanche of fiction and nonfiction titles for the summer, which this column will be sampling in the months to come. Meanwhile, these may serve to keep readers happy as they wait.
Start with nonfiction
Inspiration comes in many forms, including this trio:
For more than 20 years, the “Chicken Soup For the Soul” group has compiled themed books of stories by real people, told in heartwarming ways. “Best Mom Ever” is “101 Stories of Gratitude, Love and Wisdom” and could make a thoughtful Mother’s Day gift ($15, 368 pages).
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Another “Chicken Soup” title is “Inspiration for Teachers,” a cheerleader for “101 Stories About How You Made a Difference,” reminding educators and everyone else that satisfaction often comes from sacrifice ($15, 400 pages).
“Driving Miss Norma” is a yearlong road trip with the the extraordinary Norma Jean Bauerschmidt, who at age 90 was diagnosed with a terminal illness (HarperOne, $27, 256 pages). Instead of surrendering, she climbed aboard her son and daughter-in-law’s motor home and took off on a 13,000-mile cross-country journey of discovery. She died Sept. 30, 2016.
New Yorker staff writer David Grann is a master of narrative nonfiction, as demonstrated in “The Lost City of Z,” now a motion picture playing in area theaters. “Killers of the Flower Moon” revisits a forgotten slice of drama from the 1920s, when members of the oil-rich Osage Indian nation were being murdered by persons unknown (Doubleday, $29, 352 pages). Enter the fledgling FBI, whose botched investigation led J. Edgar Hoover to connect with a former Texas Ranger in a last-ditch effort to solve the case. The publicist for the book calls it “the centerpiece of Doubleday’s spring nonfiction list.”
The Marine Conservation Institute reminds us that “the oceans are the Earth’s largest life-support systems,” a fact that dovetails with Jonathan White’s “Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean” (Trinity University Press, $28, 360 pages). The sailor-surfer-conservationist takes us on a global travelogue-scientific expedition (including a stop at Mavericks off Santa Cruz) to explore how the world’s tides – “the elemental, mysterious paradox” – keep Earth’s oceans “in constant motion.” For climate-change deniers, he also shows how rising sea levels are reshaping our cultures.
Three brothers enlisted in the Navy in World War II; one was captured by the Japanese and held as a POW. This saga of the search for Barton Cross by brothers Bill and Benny was a 10-year labor of love for Sally Mott Freeman, detailed in “The Jersey Brothers” (Simon & Schuster, $28, 608 pages). The author tracked down “archives around the world, conducted interviews with Barton’s fellow shipmates and POWs, and pored over diaries, unpublished memoirs and letters half-forgotten in basements.”
“The Spectacular Sisterhood of Wonderwoman” by Hope Nicholson is a fun way to prep for the June 2 release of the movie “Wonder Woman” (Quirk, $25, 240 pages). In this humorous survey of “awesome female characters from comic book history” are the likes of Madame Strange (1940s), Supergirl (1950s), Vampirella (1960s), Friday Foster (1970s), Vanity (1980s), Jaguar (1990s) and Rose Harvester (2000s). And, of course, Wonder Woman herself, on the scene since her cover debut in Sensation Comics in 1942. At the time, one critic noted, “Wonder Woman is not sufficiently dressed.” Not much has changed.
Moving to fiction
Through 17 novels, Sara Paretsky’s seminal P.I. character V.I. Warshawski has worked the mean streets of Chicago, proving over and over she’s as tough as a bucket of nails and as independent as a cat. In the new “Fallout,” Warshawski journeys to Kansas (where Paretsky grew up) in pursuit of a young filmmaker and a veteran actress who have vanished together – seemingly (William Morrow, $28, 448 pages). Paretsky is one of only four living writers – the others are Sue Grafton, John le Carré and Lawrence Block – to hold both the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America and the Cartier Diamond Dagger Award from the Crime Writers’ Association of Great Britain. She has appeared for The Bee Book Club.
Michel Stone explores a timely immigration issue in “Border Child,” about a Mexican couple who have been separated from their young daughter, Alejandra, during their forays into the U.S. (Nan A. Talese, $27, 272 pages). Back in Mexico four years later, they get word about her whereabouts and decide to mount a “rescue mission.”
In best-seller Scott Turow’s tense 10th legal thriller, “Testimony,” Bill Boom is a new prosecutor at The Hague’s International Criminal Court, whose first case becomes a labyrinthine journey to unmask those responsible for a decade-old war crime (Grand Central, $28, 496 pages; on sale May 16). In typical style, Turow intertwines multiple characters who are hiding secrets, against a landscape of threats and danger.
Pulitzer Prize-winner Richard Russo is among the deans of American fiction, as he has proven with more than 10 poignant and hilarious novels. He steps out of the box with the squirmingly ironic “Trajectory,” a collection of four character-driven stories whose protagonists’ quests for self-discovery are blind-sided by their own self-deception (Knopf, $26, 256 pages).
Pulitzer Prize-winner Elizabeth Strout literally follows the main character from her best-selling novel “My Name Is Lucy Barton” into her story collection “Anything Is Possible” (Random House, $27, 272 pages). Barton returns to her hometown, interacting with friends and family who tell their own stories about knowing her as a youth, which make up the rest of the book.
The Penguin Random House imprint Puffin Books has teamed with color specialist Pantone for a paperback reissue of six classic titles for younger readers, with each cover in a different eye-catching color ($10).
Look for “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” by Mark Twain (1876), “Heidi” by Johanna Spyri (1879), “Treasure Island” by Robert Louis Stevenson (1883), “The Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum (1900), “Anne of Green Gables” by Lucy Maud Montgomery (1908) and “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett (1911).
On the self-published front
Jon Budd is an archaeologist with expertise in American Indians who lived and work around Reno and Lake Tahoe during the l990s. His novel “The Legend of the Washoe Gold” tells the story of how the peaceful Indian tribe struggled to survive the sea-changes brought by the California Gold Rush (CreateSpace, $10, 232 pages).
“The Humanthropist” by Matthew Bishop follows the journey of two brothers, one a lauded football star in his first year of college, the younger one tasked with writing about his older brother’s glory for the hometown newspaper (CreateSpace $12, 284 pages). Seeking his own identity, the younger brother “embarks down a rocky path of self-discovery.”
Two brothers are also at the center of the action in “The Cave” by Jim Allen (Strategic, $12, 158 pages). Exploring nooks and crannies in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, they discover a hidden cave that contains remarkable artifacts lost in time. That’s when their real adventure begins.
In “Dancing Up the Ladder,” Loy Holder of Elk Grove tells the story of a wife and mother whose top priority is protecting her two children from her abusive husband (CreateSpace, $12, 318 pages). Seeking independence, she gets a job dancing at a nightclub – and also finds a second chance at happiness.
Spiritual philosopher J. Jaye Gold offers his autobiography, “Justin Time,” peppered with life lessons based on his experiences and insights (Peradam, $13, 312 pages).
Sisters in Crime, the global association of women mystery writers, celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. As part of that, Sacramento chapter Capitol Crimes will feature SIC president and mystery novelist Diane Vallere as its guest speaker at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 20. Join them for the free event at the Rancho Cordova Library, 9845 Folsom Blvd., Sacramento. Information: Cindy Sample, 916-337-0692, email@example.com.
Bookstores continue to host author appearances:
• At Avid Reader in Davis (617 Second St., 530-759-1599): Amy Block Joy for “Blowback: The Unintended Consequences of Exposing a Fraud,” 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 5.
Judith Newton for “Oink: A Food For Thought Mystery,” 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 12.
• At Avid Reader in Sacramento (1945 Broadway, 916-441-4400): “Mosaic of Voices” presented by the Sacramento Poetry Center, 1 p.m. Sunday, May 7, and 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 24.
Gregg Ward Matson for “Living in 1984: America’s Flirtation with Fascism,” 1 p.m. Saturday, May 13.
Elizabeth Podolinsky for “Pretending to Pray in French,” 1 p.m. Saturday, May 20.
Jordan Okumura for “Gaijin,” 3 p.m. Saturday, May 20.
Cheryl Anne Stapp for “Before the Gold Rush,” 1 p.m., Saturday, May 27.
• At Face In a Book (4359 Town Center Blvd., El Dorado Hills, 916-941-9401): Karin Salvalaggio for “Silent Rain,” 6:30 p.m. May 9. Plus, children’s authors Linda Whalen and Danna Smith, 11 a.m., Sunday, May 21.
At Barnes & Noble (1256 Galleria Blvd., Roseville, 916-788-4320): Jack Parker for “The Valley of Tranquility” and his four-title “Adventure” series, 1 p.m. Saturday, May 20.