Tag Archives: Leonardo da Vinci

Walter Isaacson tackles, quite brilliantly, the genius of Jennifer Doudna, one of the prime inventors of CRISPR, a system that can edit DNA

We’ve always loved the works of Walter Isaacson. Leonardo da Vinci. Einstein. Steve Jobs. He has established himself as the biographer of creativity, innovation and genius. Einstein was the genius of the revolution in physics, and Steve Jobs was the genius of the revolution in digital technology.

We are now on the cusp of a third revolution in science—a revolution in biochemistry that is capable of curing diseases, fending off viruses, and improving the human species. The genius at the center of Isaacson’s upcoming book, The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race (Simon & Schuster, $35), is American biochemist and Nobel prize winner Jennifer Doudna, who is considered one of the prime inventors of CRISPR, a system that can edit DNA. (CRISPR has been used in China to create “designer babies” that are immune from the AIDS virus and in the U.S. to cure patients of sickle cell anemia.)

The Code Breaker

Doudna is also a pioneer in discovering the structure of RNA, the molecule that powers CRISPR and also the revolutionary new COVID vaccines that were approved last month. As we roll up our sleeves to get the shots, this book explains how they work. Isaacson shares how the development of CRISPR and the race to create vaccines for coronavirus will hasten our transition to the next great innovation revolution. The past half-century has been a digital age, based on the microchip, computer and internet.

Now we are entering a life-science revolution: Children who study digital coding will be joined by those who study the code of life—and all the moral dilemmas this brings.

Another winner!

February is a month of love, and what better than binge watching PBS programs with Russell Stover?

February is a month of love, and what better to love than binge watching PBS programs with an armful of chocolates?

Enjoy!

MASTERPIECE: Sanditon
Andrew Davies, Britain’s national treasure, has given Jane Austen fans what they have been waiting over a century for: the completion of Austen’s last piece of work, unfinished due to her death in 1817. Now Davies takes the first 11 beautifully crafted chapters of the final Austen masterpiece and creates an epic drama for all to enjoy. The lavish adaptation stars Rose Williams as Austen’s lively, but levelheaded heroine Charlotte Heywood and Theo James as the humorous, charming (and slightly wild) Sidney Parker.

Charlotte observes hypochondria, avarice and attempted seduction run amok. Lady Denham is playing matchmaker for her destitute nephew, Sir Edward, who is determined to seduce Lady Denham’s ward, Clara and become the primary heir to his aunt’s estate. Then, the arrival of wealthy, mixed-race heiress Miss Lambe, under the guardianship of Tom’s upright brother Sidney, adds another interesting complication.


MASTERPIECE: Howards End
Written by Kenneth Lonergan, comes the four episode adaptation of E.M. Forster’s, Howards End. Starring Matthew Macfadyen as Henry Wilcox, Philippa Coulthard as Helen Schlegel, Julia Ormond as Mrs. Wilcox, Hayley Atwell as Margaret Schlegel and Tracey Ullman as Aunt Juley,

this is a fresh take on the story of two independent and unconventional sisters and the men in their lives seeking love and meaning as they navigate an ever-changing world. Also starring Joseph Quinn, Rosalind Eleazar and Alex Lawther.


American Experience: McCarthy
The legacy of Joseph McCarthy’s relentless search for anyone he deemed a communist or enemy of the state will forever be shrouded in infamy. The Wisconsin Senator’s crusade is now the centerpiece of any conversation involving the government’s role in decency, democracy and ethical conduct. This witch hunt, completely free of restraint or oversight, led to the trials and imprisonment of many celebrities, Americans and immigrants.

This program details the rise of McCarthy’s political life which led to his belief that there was a great conspiracy threatening America, culminating in a chilling campaign full of groundless accusations, bullying intimidation, grandiose showmanship, cruel victimization and a web of lies to keep public opinion on their side.


NOVA: Decoding da Vinci
On the 500th anniversary of Leonardo’s death, with guidance from historian Walter Isaacson, NOVA pulls back the curtain to investigate what led to da Vinci’s ahead of his time, legendary successes.

The program examines how Leonardo’s scientific studies, from dissecting humans to studying optics, led to a host of brilliant inventions, like hang gliders, armored tanks, parachutes and many others. Decoding da Vinci further explains how this deep scientific curiosity was behind the most captivating work of art in history, The Mona Lisa. Viewers now have the chance to delve deep into Leonardo da Vinci’s Renaissance genius.


NOVA: The Violence Paradox
Violence is ubiquitous in our every day lives. We see it in the news, in movies, on TV and video games so why do some experts say that violence is decreasing and that we’re living in the most peaceful time in history? Can this actually be true?

The Violence Paradox addresses these questions and explores the intricacies of how violence permeates our life, psychology and every day thoughts and actions. The program takes us through time and the human mind to investigate what impacts the violence rates and what people are doing now to reduce violence in the world.


NOVA: Animal Espionage
Studying animals that are incredibly hard to approach or observe without them being aware has always been a constant struggle for wildlife experts. Though now, with the technological advancements of the camera industry, experts and viewers are able to get an intimate view of these species behind closed doors during their everyday lives. Camera traps and drones, completely hidden from the animal’s view, are allowing for revolutionary findings in wildlife biology, allowing viewers to get closer than ever before to animals like whales, tigers and elusive giant armadillos.

NOVA: Animal Espionage DVDThe recordings featured on this program capture everything from the unexpected to the comical, and these technologies are giving wildlife analysts insights that could ultimately help them fight extinction and habitat loss.

PETRUCELLI PICKS: GIFT GUIDE 2019: THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR (PART DEUX)

Without a doubt, our favorite (read: best) holiday book of the year. The 1942 Sears Christmas Book (Dover Publications, $19.99) is a faithful facsimile of the retailer’s 1942 Christmas edition . . . weeks after first “reading” it, I am looking forward to reliving those bygone years again and again.
The 1942 Sears Christmas Book also provides an interesting look at how merchandise has evolved over the years. In 1942, Sears shoppers could purchase toys as well as housewares, clothes, furniture, candy, and gifts to send to servicemen (all at prices that now seem astonishingly low). The wartime catalog even includes information about the importance of saving scrap metal for munitions and encourages readers to buy war bonds.
Nostalgia has never been nicer!


Picking this book as one of the year’s best is easier than picking a guitar. Guitar: The World’s Most Seductive Instrument (Workman Publishing),s an obsessive, full-color book presented in an irresistible slipcase, features 200 instruments in stunning detail.
Get thisclose to Prince’s Yellow Cloud; Willie Nelson’s “Trigger”; Muddy Water’s Thunderbird; and “Rocky,” lovingly hand-painted by its owner, George Harrison. Met historic instruments—Fender’s Broadcaster; Les Paul’s “Log”; the Gibson Nick Lucas Special, the very first artist model—and stunning acoustics from a new wave of women builders, like Rosie Heydenrych of England, who’s known to use 5,000-year-old wood retrieved from a peat bog, and quirky one-of-a-kind guitars, like Linda Manzer’s Pikasso II, a musical marvel consisting of four necks, 42 strings and a thousand pounds of pressure.


War sucks. Yet Vicksburg: Grant’s Campaign That Broke the Confederacy (Simon & Schuster, $35) tells the full story of  the last stronghold of the Confederacy on the Mississippi River. It prevented the Union from using the river for shipping between the Union-controlled Midwest and New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico. The Union navy tried to take Vicksburg, which sat on a high bluff overlooking the river, but couldn’t do it. General Grant moved his army south and joined forces with Admiral Porter, but even together they could not come up with a successful plan.
At one point Grant even tried to build a canal so that the river could be diverted away from Vicksburg.is year-long campaign to win the city.
Donald L. Miller brings to life all the drama, characters, and significance of Vicksburg, a historic moment that rivals any war story in history.


Cute book, clever design. The Queeriodic Table: A Celebration of LGBTQ+ Culture (Summersdale , $13.99) plays on the periodic table to celebrate all aspects of the culture in small, easy-to-digest sections.
Celebrate the richness of modern queer culture and its vast history with this fascinating introduction to all the essential elements that helped sculpt the queer community up to the present day.


Stephen King calls the book “one hell of a suspense novel.” We couldn’t agreed more.  ?—Stephen King
Linwood Barclay’s Elevator Pitch (William Morrow, $26.99) begins on a Monday, when four people board an elevator in a Manhattan office tower. Each presses a button for their floor, but the elevator proceeds, non-stop, to the top. Once there, it stops for a few seconds, and then plummets.
Right to the bottom of the shaft.
It appears to be a horrific, random tragedy. But then, on Tuesday, it happens again, in a different Manhattan skyscraper. And when Wednesday brings yet another high-rise catastrophe, one of the most vertical cities in the world—and the nation’s capital of media, finance and entertainment—is plunged into chaos.
You expect us to give more away?
Take the elevator to the bottom floor and go get your copy!


People from all over the United States visit Nantucket Island to celebrate Christmas in a charming Early American setting. From the Christmas Stroll along cobblestoned Main Street to the Festival of Trees held each year at the historic Whaling Museum, Nantucket celebrates the holiday season with traditions and decorations that transform the island into a winter wonderland.
Can’t make it this year? Opt for Lesley Linsley’s Christmas on Nantucket (Globe Pequot, $29.99) as she takes readers on a holiday tour through this picturesque island, offering her own ideas for recreating a quaint Nantucket-style Christmas along the way.


The Wild Bunch has been named one of the greatest Westerns of all time by the American Film Institute. With good reasonSam Peckinpah’s film is the story of a gang of outlaws who are one big steal from retirement. When their attempted train robbery goes awry, the gang flees to Mexico and falls in with a brutal general of the Mexican Revolution, who offers them the job of a lifetime. Conceived by a stuntman, directed by a blacklisted director, and shot in the sand and heat of the Mexican desert, the movie seemed doomed. Instead, it became an instant classic with a dark, violent take on the Western movie tradition.
In The Wild Bunch: Sam Peckinpah, a Revolution in Hollywood, and the Making of a Legendary Film  Bloomsbury Publishing, $28), W.K. Stratton tells the fascinating history of the making of the movie and documents for the first time the extraordinary contribution of Mexican and Mexican-American actors and crew members to the movie’s success. The Wild Bunch is an authoritative history of the making of a movie and the era behind it.


Written in Gary John Bishop’s  irreverent, in-your-face style that resonated with the hundreds of thousand of fans who read his  Unfu*k YourselfStop Doing That Sh*t: End Self-Sabotage and Demand Your Life Back (HarperOne, $22.99) reveals our deepest subconscious machinery, with a real-world approach to powerfully translate our most negative thoughts and behaviors into a vitalizing, sabotage-free future.
Think you’ve unfucked yourself? Yet why do you act the way you do? Do you ever feel like you get stuck in destructive cycles that hold you back from living the life you really want? In a dynamic, compelling and aha-filled journey, the book helps you connect the dots of your “stuff” all the way from your past to the present. You’ll make sense of yourself as you uncover how to interrupt those destructive cycles of yours and make the kind of profound shift needed to get your life on track.


Greek to Me: Adventures of the Comma Queen ( W. W. Norton & Company, $25.95) is a charming account of Mary Norris’s lifelong love affair with words (pencils and punctuation kept her busy in The New Yorker’s celebrated copy department)  and her solo adventures in the land of olive trees and ouzo.
Along the way, Norris explains how the alphabet originated in Greece, makes the case for Athena as a feminist icon, goes searching for the fabled Baths of Aphrodite, and reveals the surprising ways Greek helped form English. Filled with Norris’s memorable encounters with Greek words, Greek gods, Greek wine―and more than a few Greek men―Greek to Me is the Comma Queen’s fresh take on Greece and the exotic yet strangely familiar language that so deeply influences our own.


Since the moment we first entered Downton Abbey in 1912, we have been swept away by Julian Fellowes’ evocative world of romance, intrigue, drama and tradition. Now, in 1925, as Downton Abbey prepares to close its doors for the final time, Jessica Fellowes leads us through the house and estate, reliving the iconic moments of the wonderfully aristocratic Crawley family and their servants as they navigate the emerging modern age.
St. Martin’s Press has released two scumptions books that fans will relish. Downton Abbey A Celebration: The Official Companion to All Six Seasons ($22.99) is crammed with  in-depth cast interview, as well as a complete episode guide for the first five seasons and a teaser for the sixth.
Downton Abbey: The Official Film Companion (St. Martin’s Press, $29.99) brings the world and the characters of our favorite fictional country house to life.
Featuring spectacular photographs from the production, interviews with the cast and crew, and a look into the historical and geographical backdrop of the film, this official guide to the film is made to be treasured and loved by fans across the globe.
The film revolves around the King and Queen making an official visit to Downton in 1927, and not only sees the return of all the main cast from the final television series, but also introduces some great British actors to the world of Downton, as we meet the royal family and their retinue. The accompanying book is lavishly illustrated with stunning shots from both behind and in front of the camera, which capture some wonderful off-guard moments during filming, as well as the original costume illustrations.


Did you know that one of the world’s sharpest and most forensic minds inhabited the persona of an attractive old lady, with pink cheeks and blue eyes and a gentle, rather fussy manner? Discover the secrets of Miss Marple in Murder, She Said: The Quotable Miss Marple (William Morrow, $16.99).
It’s a tiny tome of her quotes and sayings, and an essay by Agatha Christie (the Queen of Crime who created MM) appearing for the first time in any book.


Experience the work of Leonardo da Vinci, one of the greatest painters, inventors, and scientists of all time, in a brand-new way. Courtney Watson McCarthy has crafted many brilliant pop-up books, and Leonardo Pop-Ups (Thames & Hudson, $34.95) is the most dynamic.
Featuring many of Da Vinci’s most enduring artworks, both as illustrations and pop-ups, including The Vitruvian ManThe Last Supper, and, of course, the Mona LisaLeonardo Pop-Ups also includes Da Vinci’s self-portrait, an overview of his architectural designs, and inventions such as a flapping ornithopter.


Spanning every episode of Game of Thrones across all eight seasons, Kim Renfro goes deep into how the show was made, why it became such a phenomenon and explores every detail you want to know.
The Unofficial Guide to Game of Thrones is the perfect book to look back at all you may have missed or to jump-start you on a second viewing of the whole series. Valar morghulis!


We would not have honey without honeybees. Without the pinhead-sized chocolate midge, cocoa flowers would not pollinate. No cocoa, no chocolate. The ink that was used to write the Declaration of Independence was derived from galls on oak trees, which are induced by a small wasp. The fruit fly was essential to medical and biological research experiments that resulted in six Nobel prizes. Blowfly larva can clean difficult wounds; flour beetle larva can digest plastic; several species of insects have been essential to the development of antibiotics. Insects turn dead plants and animals into soil. They pollinate flowers, including crops that we depend on. They provide food for other animals, such as birds and bats. They control organisms that are harmful to humans. Life as we know it depends on these small creatures.
With ecologist Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson as our capable, entertaining guide into the insect world, we’ll learn that there is more variety among insects than we can even imagine and the more you learn about insects, the more fascinating they become. Buzz, Sting, Bite: Why We Need Insects (Simon & Schuster, $26) is an essential introduction to the little creatures that make the world go round.


Nelson DeMille and Alex DeMille’s blistering thriller The Deserter (Simon & Schuster, $28.99) is and features a brilliant and unorthodox Army investigator, his enigmatic female partner, and their hunt for the Army’s most notorious—and dangerous—deserter.
When Captain Kyle Mercer of the Army’s elite Delta Force disappeared from his post in Afghanistan, a video released by his Taliban captors made international headlines.
But circumstances were murky: Did Mercer desert before he was captured? Then a second video sent to Mercer’s Army commanders leaves no doubt: The trained assassin and keeper of classified Army intelligence has willfully disappeared.
And we ain’t telling you anything else: Why spoil the read?


1973 was the year rock hit its peak while splintering―just like the rest of the world. Ziggy Stardust travelled to America in David Bowie’s Aladdin Sane. The Dark Side of the Moon began its epic run on the Billboard charts, inspired by the madness of Pink Floyd’s founder, while all four former Beatles scored top ten albums, two hitting #1. FM battled AM, and Motown battled Philly on the charts, as the era of protest soul gave way to disco, while DJ Kool Herc gave birth to hip hop in the Bronx. The glam rock of the New York Dolls and Alice Cooper split into glam metal and punk. Elvis Presley’s Aloha from Hawaii via Satellite was NBC’s top-rated special of the year, while Elton John’s albums dominated the number one spot for two and a half months.
Just as U.S. involvement in Vietnam drew to a close, Roe v. Wade ignited a new phase in the culture war. While the oil crisis imploded the American dream of endless prosperity, and Watergate’s walls closed in on Nixon, the music of 1973 both reflected a shattered world and brought us together.
Celebrate the year with 1973: Rock at the Crossroads (Thomas Dunne Books, $29.99). You will be glad you did.


 

Da Vinci pops up in 3D in the stunning “Leonardo Pop-Ups”

Ask to name the greatest artist/architect/scientist/mathematician/astronomer/cartographer, and Leo’s name pop ups. He may be called Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci by his family, but most know Leo as Leonardo da Vinci.

He’s still popping up, and so wonderfully in Leonardo Pop-Ups (Thames & Hudson, $34.95), paper engineer Courtney Watson McCarthy’s nifty book offering a variety of dramatic 3-D pop-ups showcasing Leo’s many talents.

 “Today, da Vinci is among the few historical figures whose names are universally recognized,” writes Watson McCarthy in her introduction. “The Mona Lisa is undoubtedly the most famous painting in the world, with The Last Supper a close second. Neglected for centuries, the sketches, diagrams and prescient ideas in his notebooks provoke awe for the eyes that saw so deeply and in such detail; for his exhilarating mind that could leap from mystery to mystery and unravel every one using only the powers of observation and intellect. This book is intended as a fun and engaging tribute to that great mind.”

Indeed.

Featuring many of da Vinci’s most enduring artworks, both as illustrations and pop-ups, Leonardo Pop-Ups includes the Vitruvian ManThe Annunciation, the ornithopter, Da Vinci’s self-portrait, as well as an overview of his architectural designs. The book also features explanatory text and complementary quotes, culminating in a beautiful new way of looking into one of the greatest minds of all time.

A beautiful new way of looking into one of the greatest minds of all time, Leonardo Pop-Ups is fun for experienced art historians and budding artists alike.

Was Leonardo da Vinci a true renaissance man . . . or a fraud?

His notebooks contain plans for hundreds of inventions, including the machine guns, diving suits, construction cranes, robots and flying machines that would be created hundreds of years later. Was Leonardo da Vinci a genius? A prophet who anticipated the modern age by 500 years? Or was there another explanation?

The answer can be found in Secrets of the Dead: Leonardo, the Man Who Save Science. Da Vinci is, of course, best known as one of the world’s greatest artists. At his death in 1519, he was famous for such masterpieces as the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. But he was more than a painter: He was also a musician, writer and showman. In the pages of his notebooks, written in a secretive reverse script, and unpublished for more than 400 years, we discover yet another Leonardo, the man of science.

https://youtu.be/byQFzbZhX8s

Secrets of the Dead: Leonardo, the Man Who Save Science (PBS Distrbution) will be available on DVD May 2; the program will also be available for digital download.

One of the many inventions attributed to Leonardo is the parachute. But did he actually invent it? In 1968, researchers discovered sketches from the studio of 15th-century Italian inventor Mariano do Jacopa, known as Taccola, which were similar to Leonardo’s study for such a device.

Taccola, who was 70 years older than Leonardo and died the year before Leonardo was born, was an engineer of the early Renaissance and among the first to use drawings as a design tool. But just as Leonardo copied from him, Taccola’s idea is copied from a Muslim inventor, Abbas Ibn Firnas.

The program features drawings of da Vinci’s most famous ideas and inventions, some of which trace their original creation to ancient Greece while others were a product of the scientific inventions of the golden age of Islamic learning. Leonardo never affirmed that his projects came from his original ideas.

Is Leonardo just a copycat?  Or, as the program suggests, did he, in reinventing ancient technology, spark a renewed interest in scientific experimentation lost in Europe during the Dark Ages until the Renaissance. “Dealing with a problem or understanding a phenomenon for him meant to see how it is related to other phenomena,” says Fritjof Capra, historian of science. “In this way, I think, he generated what we now call the scientific method, and he single-handedly created the scientific method.”

 As one of PBS’s ongoing limited primetime series, Secrets of the Dead is a perennial favorite among viewers, routinely ranking among the 10 most-watched series on public television. Currently in its 16th season, Secrets of the Dead continues its unique brand of archaeological sleuthing and employing advances in investigative techniques, forensic science and historical scholarship to offer new evidence about forgotten mysteries. Secrets of the Dead has received 10 CINE Golden Eagle Awards and six Emmy nominations, among numerous other awards.

 

Holiday Gift Guide 2016: The Year’s Best Books for Kids

Even the wee ones can be a handful at bedtime. Kangeroo Kisses (Otter-Barry Books ( $17.99) follows one mischievous child as she delays getting ready for bed, and has some amazing wildlife encounters along the way. A perfect picture book for reading aloud at bedtime . . . or any time. Cute words by Nandana Dev Sen, cuter illustrations from Pippa Curnick.

We always knew bananas had appeal. So does Anna Banana. Join Anna and her beloved wiener dog Banana for some entertaining adventures with the first four books in the illustrated Anna, Banana chapter book series. The delightful series about a third-grader named Anna, who navigates the joys and challenges of elementary school friendships with her beloved wiener dog Banana by her side.  the charming Anna, Banana, and Friends (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, $64.99) box set includes Anna, Banana, and the Friendship Split; Anna, Banana, and the Monkey in the Middle; Anna, Banana, and the Big-Mouth Bet; and Anna, Banana, and the Puppy Parade.

We have no problem sticking out our neck and praising Giraffes Can’t Dance (Scholastic, $14.99)The gift set includes a book as well as an adorable plush doll of Gerald the giraffe. Giraffes Can’t Dance is a touching tale of Gerald the giraffe, who wants nothing more than to dance. With crooked knees and thin legs, it’s harder for a giraffe than you would think. Gerald is finally able to dance to his own tune when he gets some encouraging words from an unlikely friend.

Art isn’t easy. But learning about great artists is, thanks to Kid Artists: True Tales of Childhood from Creative Legends (Quirk Books, $13.95). Hilarious childhood biographies and full-color illustrations reveal how Leonardo da Vinci, Beatrix Potter, Keith Haring and other great artists in history coped with regular-kid problems. Kid Artists tells their stories and more with full-color cartoon illustrations on nearly every page.

Make learning math fun by sharing hands-on labs with your child. Math Lab for Kids (Quarry Books, $24.99) presents more than 50 activities that incorporate coloring, drawing, games, and items like prisms to make math more than just numbers. Add up what kids can do and learn! Platonic solids, Möbius strips, tangrams and mind-bending fractals with straight lines and repeat shapes. Everything needed to complete the activities can be found in the book or around the house.

The newest book in the LEGO line, Factastic (Scholastic, $19.99), takes on the biggest subject of all: Our world and everything in it! There’s a whole world of information inside on almost every subject under the sun, from science to technology, from history to geography to popular culture. Each spread contains a LEGO scene to facilitate the learning journey: a vignette, mini story, or icon featuring LEGO models, characters, and sensibility. Graphic design combines the LEGO illustration with real-world photography and facts for an immersive experience.

A 6000-pound wrecking ball is about to demolish Benjamin Pratt’s school…and he only has 28 days to figure out how to stop it. In the four-volume fast-paced and action-packed mystery series Benjamin Pratt & the Keepers of the School Collection (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, $35.99), Benjamin Pratt and his friends Jill and Robert must figure out who is trying to destroy his school and why. At first having the school demolished to make room for an amusement park sounds pretty awesome. But when Ben stumbles upon the truth behind this grand scheme, and the ancient history buried deep within the school that goes all the way back to the Founding Fathers, he decides he’s got no choice but to stop the bulldozer before it starts and protect his school.

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in this groundbreaking novel, which mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling new kind of reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets 16-year-old Jacob Portman journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Together for the first time, this slipcased collection holds Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and its two sequels, Hollow City and Library of Souls.  Also included: a special collector’s envelope of twelve peculiar photographs, highlighting the most memorable moments of this extraordinary three-volume fantasy.

An undercover teen agent discovers the ups and downs of espionage in the first six books of the CHERUB series, now available together in CHERUB Collection (Simon Pulse, $63.99). CHERUB agents are highly trained, extremely talented—and all under the age of seventeen. For official purposes, these agents do not exist. It is a tough job, but these agents have one crucial advantage: adults never suspect that teens are spying on them. Follow James through his training and his action-packed missions as he learns what it means to be a true CHERUB agent. This action packed boxed set includes The Recruit, The Dealer, Maximum Security, The Killing, Divine Madness, and Man vs. Beast.

Get your dork on with the ultimate Dork Diaries Squee-tastic Collection (Aladdin, $153.99). This complete collection contains books one through 10 (including three-and-a-half) in the wildly popular series. This collectible boxed set chronicles the oh-so-fabulous life of Nikki Maxwell as she navigates the halls of middle school, mean girls, BFF drama, and first crushes. From the first not-so-fabulous adventure, to the interactive How to Dork Your Diary, to the latest pet-sitting catastrophe, these books are filled with dorktastic fun!

Ella keeps her cemetery visits secret. Her father died before she was born, yet she knows they have a supernatural connection. And she may not be the only one with secrets. Ella’s mother might be lying about how Dad died 16 years ago. Newfound evidence points to his death in a psychiatric hospital, not as a result of a tragic car accident as her mother always claimed. Yikes! When a hand print much like the one Ella left on her father’s tombstone mysteriously appears on the bathroom mirror, at first she wonders if Dad is warning her of danger as he did once before?  We’re not telling, so find out in Yvonne Ventresca’s thrilling Black Flowers, White Lies (Sky Pony Press, $16.99).