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The Booklist Review of the Day, posted to the top of the Booklist Online home page each day of the week, spotlights exceptional upcoming titles that are notable for different reasons—they may be starred, in high demand, or especially relevant to the current issue’s spotlight.
The Reviews of the Week, posted each Monday, offers a comprehensive look at the previous week’s awardees—while also piquing interest for the week ahead. Catch up on the week of March 14 below, then dive into the week at hand with today’s Review of the Day, Rosa’s Song, by Helena Ku Rhee and illustrated by Pascal Campion. For more Reviews of the Week and other exciting lists, check out the always freely available Booklist Blog.
Monday, May 23
Phil: The Rip-Roaring (and Unauthorized!) Biography of Golf’s Most Colorful Superstar, by Alan Shipnuck
This biography of golfer Phil Mickelson might have been just another sports book about an outstanding athlete with a Jekyll-and-Hyde personality—until author Shipnuck released an excerpt in which Mickelson discusses his decision to help promote the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Tour. Mickelson admits the Saudis are “bad guys” but callously claims it was worth dealing with them to gain leverage in negotiations with the PGA Tour. That response went viral. So what of the other 80 percent of the book?
Tuesday, May 24
★ Yonder, by Ali Standish
When his friend Jack disappears, Danny fears the worst. Though Jack is considered a hero in the town of Foggy Gap for rescuing two kids from drowning in the Great Flood of 1940, he was regularly beaten and neglected by his father. After Danny’s concerns are dismissed by adults, he takes it upon himself to find out what happened to Jack. Could he have been killed, enlisted in the war, or did he runaway to Yonder, a magical place with no war that Jack once mentioned to Danny? As he follows the clues with the help of a former friend, Danny begins to challenge his cozy assumptions about Jack, the residents of Foggy Gap, and even himself.
Wednesday, May 25
★ The Half Life of Valery K, by Natasha Pulley
Historical fantasy has been British writer Pulley’s speciality in her previous novels, including The Kingdoms (2021), but in this galvanizing tale, the facts need no such embellishment. Valery, a gracious man of quiet courage and righteous ferocity, has shrewdly survived more than half of a ten-year sentence as a wrongfully convicted political prisoner in a Siberian prison labor camp. Suddenly, in 1963, he’s taken to City 40, a top-secret Soviet compound containing plutonium-producing nuclear reactors and a research center ringed by a dying forest. This is Kyshtym, where unbeknownst to most of the world, and this is true, a 1957 nuclear-waste explosion released more radiation than the Chernobyl disaster.
Thursday, May 26
★ Valiant Ladies, by Melissa Grey
Looks can be deceiving. Eustaquia (Kiki) de Sonza and Ana Lezama de Urinza know this intimately, since they aren’t quite what they appear to be. During the day, Eustaquia and Ana are steeped in the proper social mores of Potosi’s upper-class society, which neither of the girls wants to be a part of. But the nights belong to Kiki and Ana, because that is when both girls can shed their fancy gowns and jewelry, don slacks and boots, and serve justice in the streets of the Bolivian city. These sword-wielding heroines are content with their double lives until Kiki’s brother is murdered and the corruption the girls have been fighting so diligently to eradicate shows up closer to home than they ever imagined.
Friday, May 27
★ Mercury Pictures Presents, by Anthony Marra
In 1941, Maria Lagana has risen to the rank of associate producer at Mercury Pictures, a fledgling movie studio run by Artie Feldman, the fast-talking, quick-witted impresario of B-movies constantly seeking the imprimatur of the Production Code. Maria’s ascent from the typing pool is partially due to her moxie but is largely owing to her lifelong passion for film; she attended the cinema instead of church every Sunday with her father, Giuseppe. Maria fled Italy with her mother years earlier when Giuseppe, once a prominent defense attorney in Rome, was imprisoned for subversive activities against Mussolini’s fascist regime.
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