December 1, 2015 Booklist 35 www.booklistonline.com
deeply perceptive memoir. Growing up in
1970s Tehran, Tabazadeh was only eight when
two unrelated life events made a lasting impact
on her: first, Uncle Mah-mood gave her a chemistry
kit, sparking her lifelong love
of science. Shortly thereafter, 11-year-old Najmieh,
a village girl from northern
Iran, moved in as household help. Their friendship
deeply shaped Tabazadeh’s
awareness of class and gender differences,
eventually ending when Najmieh was shipped
back to her village to be married, and Tabazadeh found herself swept up in the tidal forces
of the Iranian revolution. The author recounts
her resistance to sharia, the Islamic law that
forces even teenagers to adopt the veil, ending
her story rather abruptly as she immigrates to
the U.S. at 17 and leaving one hopeful for a
follow-up volume. This is a sobering, enlightening glimpse of growing up in the shadow of
a revolution—a struggle that merely replaced
one kind of oppression with another.
YA: The coming-of-age story will draw
teen readers to this strong multicultural
By Jeri Parker.
2015. 330p. Winter Beach, paper, $15 (9780983629436).
When the narrator of this richly imagined
novel begins telling her story in 1992, her
tyrannical father has just died in a mysterious house fire. Was it an accident? Suicide?
Murder? This question compels Idaho painter
and writer Rennie England
to take stock of her life at
age 59. A shimmer of ambiguity envelops all the
players in this Proustian
memory-drama: the violent
but sometimes tender father;
Rennie’s sweet twin brother,
who descends into madness;
her fearful, compliant mother; her doomed adopted son; and the love of her life, who dies in
Tel Aviv amid a cloud of political intrigue. Best
of all, we have Rennie’s wise grandmother, who
serves even in death as Rennie’s emotional anchor. Parker knows well the vast beauty of the
American West and writes beautifully—and
unsentimentally—about Rennie’s traumas. She
perfectly captures the morning-after shock of
the fatal fire: “This isn’t how we lived—what’s
on this lawn, this blackened house. We got up
each morning, loved each other. . . . We drank
from glasses, forks on the left. We washed the
Buick once a week.” Of such tense verbal precision and depth of feeling is this enthralling
family saga made.
Walking with Herb: A Spiritual Golfing
Journey to the Masters.
By Joe S. Bullock.
2015. 154p. iUniverse, paper, $15.95 (9781491757963).
“Hello, Joe. This is God! I have chosen you
for a special mission.” Anyone receiving this
Leeching the Sirens.
By T. M. Prince.
2015. 398p. Little Red Leaf, paper, $14. (9780996520690).
This debut thriller follows a traumatized art
student who kidnaps women, siphons their
blood, and uses it to paint their portraits. The
novel’s recurring themes of power, subjugation,
truthfulness, personal responsibility, and art as
subjective and objective expressions of beauty
add dimension and maturity to a story that often flashes back to the character’s adolescence.
The novel begins when college student Jessica
Shawsen is abducted. She awakens naked and
bound to a chair. Her blood drips into glass
beakers from needles inserted in her arms. A
masked man stands at an easel before her. Terrified, Jessica realizes he’s painting her portrait
with her blood. She eventually learns that she’s
part of the artist’s series titled the Five Sirens,
after the singing seductresses from Greek mythology. As the story unravels, Jessica finds
herself bewildered by her mixed feelings for
the artist. Prince’s portrayal of the psychological and emotional tension between the two is
the novel’s strong point. Leeching the Sirens is
intelligently written and intense, never relying
on gratuitousness for its suspense. Despite a
rushed ending, the story presents a compelling
grotesquerie that will connect with thriller fans.
The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen.
By Collins Hemingway.
2015. 188p. AuthorHouse, paper, $16.95
Few authors so unknown in their lifetimes
have achieved such enduring popularity as Jane
Austen. Hemingway’s book rises above many
of the recent Austen pastiches by placing a very
human Jane into a vibrant,
turbulent, early nineteenth-century England. The story
begins with the clumsy entrance of ebullient young
Ashton Dennis to a circle
of gowned, eligible young
ladies awaiting the start of a
ball. Dennis and his sister, of
good family, have long been friends with Jane
Austen and her sister. Dennis has a passion for
new inventions and scientific discoveries, and
Jane eventually succumbs to his entreaties to
please join him on a hot-air-balloon ride—a
ride that drifts far afield, creating a whiff of
scandal that divides the two families. When
Dennis undertakes a scientific expedition
to the West Indies, a more mature character
emerges—as does the potential for the couple
to redefine their relationship. Hemingway captures the energy of the times and the irony and
sly humor of Austen herself, complete with the
language of the Regency period. A worthy addition to the Jane Austen legacy.
The Sky Detective.
By Azadeh Tabazadeh.
2015. 233p. iUniverse, paper, $19.95 (9781491760604). 955.
An award-winning atmospheric scientist
recounts her coming-of-age against the backdrop of the Iranian revolution in this engaging,
message on a computer screen would first
think it a joke and then wonder if they were
going crazy—as does banker Joe Goodman,
63. Then Joe really doubts his sanity when
God tells him that Joe will play in and possibly win the Masters golf tournament the
following spring. God sends Herb—a likable
older gentleman with an ever-present golf
cap—to mentor and caddy for Joe, who then
embarks on the ride of his life, ultimately delivering the message that, through God, all
things are possible. This is a charming book
for anyone who loves golf or enjoys a spiritual
parable. The character of Herb offers sensible
advice on how to make the most of each day
and work toward a goal. Meanwhile, Joe is
relatable because he’s no different than the
rest of us. Those who appreciate a practical
demonstration of faith in the form of fiction
will be reminded by this endearing story that
God is approachable and willing to help with
any of our problems.
Nickerbacher: The Funniest Dragon.
By Terry John Barto. Illus. by Kim
2015. 32p. AuthorHouse, paper, $15.15
(9781496954541). Gr. K– 2.
This charming picture book celebrates big
dreams and the importance of following
your heart. Nickerbacher is a young dragon
destined to do what all dragons do: guard
a princess. But he has bigger dreams than
standing outside the princess’ tower awaiting
the inevitable battle with the rescuing prince:
Nickerbacher spends his days practicing his
comedy chops on Princess Gwendolyn and
dreams of making it big as a stand-up comedian. Princess Gwendolyn believes in him,
but when Nickerbacher shares his career preference with his father, the dragon is reminded
of his place in life. Still, with some unexpected support from the prince, Nickerbacher
pursues his goal, finally making his comedic
debut in the big city. Barto has a knack for
delivering giggles along with a positive message. His character’s humor will delight young
readers, and Nickerbacher’s struggle to find
his way is a charming spin on a common motif. While the colorful illustrations are not a
stylistic surprise, they still add sparkle to this
delightful tale—one highly recommended for
fans of Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri’s
Dragons Love Tacos (2012) and David LaRo-chelle’s The Best Pet of All (2004).
From Nickerbacher: The Funniest Dragon.