YOUNG READERS: Chosen by Karen Watterson, a bookseller at Royal River Books in Yarmouth.
“The Blood of Olympus” by Rick Riordan
Disney-Hyperion. Oct. 7. Hardcover. 528 pages. $19.99.
Percy Jackson is back in the fifth book of “The Heroes Olympus” series. How can he and a handful of other demi-gods hope to defeat the dangerous earth mother, Gaea, and her powerful army of giants? This book is for lovers of adventure, suspense and mythology. It is the thrilling follow-up to “The House of Hades” that middle readers have been excitedly anticipating for months.
“LeRoy Ninker Saddles Up: Tales from Deckawoo Drive, Volumn 1” by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen
Candlewick. Out now. Hardcover. 96 pages. $12.99.
This whimsical spin-off from the hugely popular “Mercy Watson” series features the colorful LeRoy, who wants to be a cowboy more than anything. He’s got the spurs, hat and lasso – he just needs a horse. Enter Maybelline, the spaghetti-eating sidekick who becomes LeRoy’s best friend. Their first hilarious adventure proves that a cowboy will do anything for his horse. With cameo appearances by Mercy and the other Deckawoo Drive characters, this is a story of friendship and big dreams for early readers, from the winning duo of Kate DiCamillo and Maine’s own Chris Van Dusen.
“Once Upon an Alphabet” by Oliver Jeffers
Philomel. Oct. 14. Hardcover. 112 pages. $26.99
This new release from popular children’s storybook author Oliver Jeffers (“Stuck,” “The Incredible Book Eating Boy”) is gorgeously illustrated and fantastically creative. It is way more than a mere alphabet book. Using sly humor, Jeffers tells a tale for each letter of the alphabet in a series of interconnected stories. Spare but silly text pairs with delightful, simple illustrations and some classic Jeffers characters from other books even pop up occasionally. Preschoolers and kindergarteners – and their parents – will find this book irresistible and inventive.
FICTION: chosen by Barbara Kelly’s, an independent bookseller specializing in conferences and special events, at
“Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel
Random House. Sept. 9. Hardcover. 352 pages. $24.95.
I loved this book for so many reasons. Yes, it’s in the dystopian genre, but it is definitely a literary gem. It weaves the magic of Shakespeare, classical music and survival with interesting characters. They learn that living a good life is better than living a famous one.
“A Sudden Light” by Garth Stein
Simon and Schuster. Sept. 30. Hardcover. 416 pages. $26.95.
Another gem from the author of “The Art of Racing in the Rain,” this novel is a compelling family story. Trevor desperately wants his parents to get back together as he goes with his father to the old family estate in Puget Sound. While there, he makes some incredible discoveries about his family’s history and uncovers the secrets of the ghost in the house.
“An Italian Wife” by Ann Hood
W.W. Norton & Co., out now. Hardcover. 288 pages. $25.95.
Ann Hood is a master storyteller, and this time she has given us a multigenerational saga. The wife in the title starts as a young girl in Italy who is betrothed to a man who has gone to the United States. They marry when he comes back for a short time, and then she stays in Italy until she is sent for later. As too often happens, life does not follow an easy course for her or those around her.
NONFICTION: chosen by Josh Christie, a bookseller at Sherman’s Books & Stationery
“The Secret History of Wonder Woman” by Jill Lepore
Knopf. Oct. 28. Hardcover. 432 pages. $29.95.
Being a fan of American history, I’ve followed the work of Harvard’s Jill Lepore for years. Lepore’s books examining 18th century America are a great window into the country’s past. However, I’m even more excited than usual for the author’s upcoming book, which takes a look at a figure in modern popular culture – the comic character Wonder Woman. Lepore offers a biography of both the character of Wonder Woman and her creator, William Moulton Marston. From the conception of the first feminist superhero to her soaring popularity (which at one time rivaled Superman and Batman) to her relevance today, Lepore draws a fascinating history and makes a compelling case for Wonder Woman as an unrecognized pillar in the struggle for women’s rights.
“The Essential Danby” by George Danby
Islandport Press. Oct. 16. Hardcover. 208 pages. $22.95.
In recent years, Yarmouth’s Islandport Press has distinguished itself as perhaps the best independent publisher in Maine. With fiction, non-fiction and children’s titles, the publisher provides a mix of new titles and collections and reissues of local classics. “The Essential Danby” falls into the latter camp, collecting more than 150 of the 25,000 cartoons Danby has drawn in his four decade career as an editorial cartoonist. With examinations of life in Maine and afield, ranging from politics to everyday mundanity, the book promises to be a treat for Danby fans new and old alike. Like many Mainers, I’ve been familiar with Danby for decades thanks to his Bangor Daily News cartoons, but I hope the collection introduces many more to his unique point of view and energetic cartooning.
“Censors at Work: How States Shaped Literature” by Robert Darnton
W.W. Norton & Co. Sept 22. Hardcover. 304 pages. $27.95.
Like many booksellers (and our bookish brothers- and sisters-in-arms, librarians), I think a lot about how books and free speech are intertwined and how important book-pushers are in the fight against censorship. So, of course, I’m terribly excited for “Censors at Work,” which looks at how censorship has shaped literary expression. Darnton looks at three specific cases from the last few centuries – the monarchy’s censors in 18th-century France, British suppression of Indian publications in the 19th century, and Communist censorship in Cold War Berlin. The book (properly) frames suppression of literature as a government cudgel and looks at how regimes, recognizing the power of books, looked to suppress them. Most encouragingly, it examines how literary culture survived in the face of this and even how suppressing books can inadvertently fuel popular uprisings. ¡Viva literatura!

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