In Cannon’s alternative version of early-20th-century London, an invisible spy walks the streets, airships are a preferred form of travel, and two rival explorers join forces to learn who is trying to kill them and why.
In Ethiopia, men abduct a strong and clever girl to sell her. One of the men sees the girl as an ideal vessel for an evil spirit whose coming will forever alter the world, but the girl escapes, eventually establishing herself as Trafalgar the explorer. Lady Dorothy Boone grew up knowing she was different from other girls. She felt most comfortable with a sword in hand and markedly uncomfortable at the idea of being married off to a man. Fortunately, her spirited grandmother Eula teaches her to embrace her unique qualities and bequeaths her a fortune so that Boone can become a globe-trotting archaeologist—that is, when she’s not home in London with her attendant and lover, the mysterious and magical Beatrice Sek. Boone and Trafalgar meet and butt heads due to their similar professions and strong wills, but after a mysterious killer tries to murder them both, as well as other well-known London explorers, the two unite to solve the mystery. Author Cannon (Cinder and the Smoke, 2015, etc.) populates his story with a bright, complex array of characters, mostly women and many LGBT and/or of color. It’s refreshing to see such classically underrepresented groups overcome adversity and save the day in smart, sexy style. While graphic scenes of sex and violence make this one for more mature readers, one won’t find many better examples for young girls of the importance of being true to oneself than Trafalgar and Boone.
An imaginatively wrought, steampunk-influenced feminist adventure.
Short stories haunted by the longings of their connection-starved characters but mediated by the wry intelligence of their narrators.
In this latest collection of tales that previously appeared in literary magazines, Appel (Einstein’s Beach House, 2015, etc.)—a physician, attorney, and bioethicist—presents characters who feel stuck in isolation, their despair often masked by a scrim of absurdity. The title piece begins with an Appel trademark, a bravura opening line that’s like a map to the whole story: “Zïgfrids Imants Lenc did not have a name on his home planet, because names were superfluous, but in Lummings, Alabama, where he operated the Latvian restaurant opposite the abortion clinic, his regulars called him Red Ziggy.” Like many Appel characters, Ziggy feels alienated (in this case, literally) and unable to tell the complete truth. His mission is only to observe—but he pursues Erin, a lovely young abortion protestor, anyway; he remembers his home planet’s proverb, “A lonely tree bends to all winds.” This invention has the instant ring of truth, a mark of Appel’s skill in distilling experience into poetic images. Loss and waste preoccupy these characters: one mourns “the tragic mire” of an orchard’s “crushed windfall fruit”; another, “the number of stories that perish unheard.” Loneliness can blind them from seeing how they treat their desired one as a prize to win—a stance that justifies all manner of evasions and deceptions. Loneliness can also lead to self-pity, to which Appel’s characters are prone, though they express it with sophistication. “Adolescent heartbreak shouldn’t be underestimated,” maintains one character, and it’s a credo that’s taken to extremes in “Phoebe with Impending Frost.” In that tale, a climatologist is rejected by a now-married woman on whom he had a crush in high school, and the coldness bears direct comparison to catastrophic global cooling: “we will manage to endure it, convincing ourselves that life could not be any other way.” In the hands of another writer, this might have seemed like melodrama, but Appel’s sure touch instead draws out the emotional truth.
A fine collection of memorable stories with a delicately surreal edge.
A fun guide helps kids discover what makes New York City special.
For families planning to travel to New York or kids who have always wanted to see the Big Apple, Roche’s debut is a solid introduction to the city. Right away it’s clear that this is no staid travel guide; what do Einstein’s eyeballs and George Washington’s tooth have to do with NYC? Readers will find out as they quickly move from one subway stop to the next on this whirlwind tour. Destinations include all the best-known sights: the Museum of Natural History, the Empire State Building, Central Park, Times Square, just-built One World Trade Center, and, saving the best for last, FAO Schwarz (which closed in July). Be sure to take this book along for tips on what to see and do at each location. The guide ventures beyond the most famous tourist stops to lesser-known attractions, such as the Tenement Museum and Merchant’s House. Roche keeps the text lively and fills the pages with intriguing trivia, quizzes, maps, color photographs, and sketches. The formatting, which resembles a scrapbook more than a guidebook, is engaging, though sometimes the text is cut off midsentence, leaving readers hanging. Minor formatting errors aside, it’s clear that Roche has done her research, and she translates all these facts into relatable information. Who knew that over 800 languages are spoken in New York? You’d need more than a half-hour just to say “hello” in all of them. Descriptions are often chuckle-worthy: “If you think your grandparents are old, wait until you learn about quasars.” A glossary at the end defines some difficult words, but other unfamiliar terms—burlesque, art deco, etc.—could have used additional explanation. Although packed with information, the guide doesn’t delve too deeply into any subject. A short bibliography of picture books and early readers comes at the end, but more nonfiction suggestions would have been helpful for in-depth exploration after piquing reader interest.
A lighthearted travel companion for families planning to take a bite out of the Big Apple.
An in-depth study of what it takes to develop and maintain superior relationships with clients.
Every business that provides a service has clients, and any successful service business understands how to cultivate lasting client relationships. Rynowecer has discovered the “secret sauce” to do just that, which he eloquently describes in this debut work. The author enumerates 17 “specific and unique activities driving superior client relationships” derived from an exhaustive study in which, over decades, he collected insight in 14,000 telephone interviews with senior executives. Rynowecer organizes this intelligence into a “Clientelligence Matrix” that divides the activities into four quadrants. The top right of the quadrant, which represents “high differentiation” and “higher importance,” is labeled “Relationship Bliss” and contains what Rynowecer claims are the four most important activities: commitment to help, client focus, understanding the client’s business, and providing value for the dollar. The author explains the portions of the quadrant and provides sufficient detail about each of the 17 activities, tossing in some pertinent war stories along the way. The genius of Rynowecer’s approach is twofold: first, he delivers his treatise within the context of solid research, which provides a great deal of credible support. Second, by employing such a facts-based approach, the author can address even the most emotionally charged aspects of client relationships in an objective way. Rynowecer’s sage observations are doled out at the end of each short chapter in sections called “Clientelligence Master Class.” Here, he offers specific, sometimes-blunt advice: “Superheroes don’t stop until the client’s goal has been met,” he writes. Superheroes “take bullets for their clients [and] tell clients the truth, no matter how unpopular the opinion may be.” A cleverly devised road map closes the book to help professionals master their client service skills.
Deftly written and well-presented; principals of any service firm will appreciate this treasure trove of useful intelligence for business improvement.