Saturday, September 20, 2014

"Planet of the Bugs"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Planet of the Bugs: Evolution and the Rise of Insects by Scott Richard Shaw.

About the book, from the publisher:

Dinosaurs, however toothy, did not rule the earth—and neither do humans. But what were and are the true potentates of our planet? Insects, says Scott Richard Shaw—millions and millions of insect species. Starting in the shallow oceans of ancient Earth and ending in the far reaches of outer space—where, Shaw proposes, insect-like aliens may have achieved similar preeminence—Planet of the Bugs spins a sweeping account of insects’ evolution from humble arthropod ancestors into the bugs we know and love (or fear and hate) today.

Leaving no stone unturned, Shaw explores how evolutionary innovations such as small body size, wings, metamorphosis, and parasitic behavior have enabled insects to disperse widely, occupy increasingly narrow niches, and survive global catastrophes in their rise to dominance. Through buggy tales by turns bizarre and comical—from caddisflies that construct portable houses or weave silken aquatic nets to trap floating debris, to parasitic wasp larvae that develop in the blood of host insects and, by storing waste products in their rear ends, are able to postpone defecation until after they emerge—he not only unearths how changes in our planet’s geology, flora, and fauna contributed to insects’ success, but also how, in return, insects came to shape terrestrial ecosystems and amplify biodiversity. Indeed, in his visits to hyperdiverse rain forests to highlight the current insect extinction crisis, Shaw reaffirms just how crucial these tiny beings are to planetary health and human survival.

In this age of honeybee die-offs and bedbugs hitching rides in the spines of library books, Planet of the Bugs charms with humor, affection, and insight into the world’s six-legged creatures, revealing an essential importance that resonates across time and space.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 19, 2014

"Skink--No Surrender

New from Random House Children's Books: Skink--No Surrender by Carl Hiaasen.

About the book, from the publisher:

The #1 New York Times bestselling author Carl Hiaasen serves up his unique brand of swamp-justice in Skink—No Surrender.

Classic Malley—to avoid being shipped off to boarding school, she takes off with some guy she met online. Poor Richard—he knows his cousin’s in trouble before she does. Wild Skink—he’s a ragged, one-eyed ex-governor of Florida, and enough of a renegade to think he can track Malley down. With Richard riding shotgun, the unlikely pair scour the state, undaunted by blinding storms, crazed pigs, flying bullets, and giant gators.

Carl Hiaasen first introduced readers to Skink more than twenty-five years ago in Double Whammy, and he quickly became Hiaasen’s most iconic and beloved character, appearing in six novels to date. Both teens and adults will be thrilled to catch sight of the elusive “captain” as he finds hilariously satisfying ways to stop internet predators, turtle-egg poachers, and lowlife litterbugs in their tracks. With Skink at the wheel, the search for a missing girl is both nail-bitingly tense and laugh-out-loud funny.
--Marshal Zeringue

"Epilogue: A Memoir"

New from Liveright: Epilogue: A Memoir by Will Boast.

About the book, from the publisher:

Will Boast thought he'd lost his family, until a deeply held secret revealed a second chance he never thought he’d have.

Having already lost his mother and only brother, twenty-four-year-old Will Boast finds himself absolutely alone when his father dies of alcoholism. Numbly settling the matters of his father's estate, Boast is deep inside his grief when he stumbles upon documents revealing a secret his father had intended to keep: He’d had another family before Will's—a wife and two sons in England.

This revelation leads to a flood of new questions. Did his father abandon this first family, or was he pushed away? Still reeling from loss, Boast is forced to reconsider the fundamental truths of his childhood and to look for traces of the man his father might truly have been. Setting out in search of his half brothers, he attempts to reconcile their family history with his own, testing each childhood memory under the weight of his father's secret. Moving between the Midwest and England, from scenes of his youth to the tentative discovery of his new family, Boast writes with visceral beauty about grief, memory, and his slow and tender journey to a new kind of love.

With the piercing gaze of a novelist, Boast transforms the pain and confusion of his family history into an achingly poignant portrait of resilience, revising the stories he's inherited to refashion both his past and his present. Heartbreaking and luminous, Epilogue is the stunning account of a young man’s struggle to understand all that he has lost and found, and to forge a new life for himself along the way.
Visit Will Boast's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 18, 2014

"The Haunting Ballad"

New from Minotaur Books: The Haunting Ballad: A O'Nelligan and Plunkett Mystery (Volume 2) by Michael Nethercott.

About the book, from the publisher:

The Seance Society introduced mystery lovers to Mr. O’Nelligan and Lee Plunkett, an unlikely pair of sleuths on an equally unlikely case with a supernatural twist. Having taken over his father's PI business, Lee enlists O'Nelligan, a dapper Irishman with a flair for solving mysteries, to help catch a killer. Now, in Michael Nethercott's The Haunting Ballad, this sleuthing "odd couple" are back in another witty, charming, and wonderfully written mystery, this time set in 1957 in the burgeoning music scene of New York City's Greenwich Village.

It's the spring of 1957, and O'Nelligan and Plunkett are summoned to New York to investigate the death of a controversial folk song collector. The trail leads the pair to a diverse group of suspects including an eccentric Beat coffee house owner, a family of Irish balladeers (who may be IRA), a bluesy ex-con, a hundred-and-five-year-old Civil War drummer boy, and a self-proclaimed “ghost chanter” who sings songs that she receives from the dead. To complicate matters, there's a handsome, smooth-talking young folk singer who Lee's fiancée Audrey is enthralled by. And somewhere in the Bohemian swirl of the Village, a killer waits...
Visit Michael Nethercott's website and Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: The Séance Society.

--Marshal Zeringue

"Zombies and Calculus"

New from Princeton University Press: Zombies and Calculus by Colin Adams.

About the book, from the publisher:

How can calculus help you survive the zombie apocalypse? Colin Adams, humor columnist for the Mathematical Intelligencer and one of today's most outlandish and entertaining popular math writers, demonstrates how in this zombie adventure novel.

Zombies and Calculus is the account of Craig Williams, a math professor at a small liberal arts college in New England, who, in the middle of a calculus class, finds himself suddenly confronted by a late-arriving student whose hunger is not for knowledge. As the zombie virus spreads and civilization crumbles, Williams uses calculus to help his small band of survivors defeat the hordes of the undead. Along the way, readers learn how to avoid being eaten by taking advantage of the fact that zombies always point their tangent vector toward their target, and how to use exponential growth to determine the rate at which the virus is spreading. Williams also covers topics such as logistic growth, gravitational acceleration, predator-prey models, pursuit problems, the physics of combat, and more. With the aid of his story, you too can survive the zombie onslaught.

Featuring easy-to-use appendixes that explain the mathematics necessary to enjoy the book, Zombies and Calculus is suitable for recent converts to calculus as well as more advanced readers familiar with multivariable calculus.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

"Gutenberg's Apprentice"

New from Harper: Gutenberg's Apprentice: A Novel by Alix Christie.

About the book, from the publisher:

An enthralling literary debut that evokes one of the most momentous events in history, the birth of printing in medieval Germany—a story of invention, intrigue, and betrayal, rich in atmosphere and historical detail, told through the lives of the three men who made it possible.

Youthful, ambitious Peter Schoeffer is on the verge of professional success as a scribe in Paris when his foster father, wealthy merchant and bookseller Johann Fust, summons him home to corrupt, feud-plagued Mainz to meet “a most amazing man.”

Johann Gutenberg, a driven and caustic inventor, has devised a revolutionary—and to some, blasphemous—method of bookmaking: a machine he calls a printing press. Fust is financing Gutenberg’s workshop and he orders Peter, his adopted son, to become Gutenberg’s apprentice. Resentful at having to abandon a prestigious career as a scribe, Peter begins his education in the “darkest art.”

As his skill grows, so, too, does his admiration for Gutenberg and his dedication to their daring venture: copies of the Holy Bible. But mechanical difficulties and the crushing power of the Catholic Church threaten their work. As outside forces align against them, Peter finds himself torn between two father figures: the generous Fust, who saved him from poverty after his mother died; and the brilliant, mercurial Gutenberg, who inspires Peter to achieve his own mastery.

Caught between the genius and the merchant, the old ways and the new, Peter and the men he admires must work together to prevail against overwhelming obstacles—a battle that will change history ... and irrevocably transform them.
Visit Alix Christie's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

"Silent Murders"

New from Minotaur Books: Silent Murders: A Roaring Twenties Mystery by Mary Miley

About the book, from the publisher:

Vaudeville actress Leah Randall took on her most daring role ever when she impersonated missing heiress Jessie Carr in order to claim Jessie’s inheritance in The Impersonator. Now that the dust has settled around that tumultuous time in her life, Leah has adopted Jessie’s name as her own and moved to Hollywood, where she's taken a modest but steady job in the silent film industry.

Jessie’s thrilled when Bruno Heilmann, a movie studio bigwig, invites her to a party. She’s even more delighted to run into a face from her past at that party. But the following day, Jessie learns that sometime in the wee hours of the morning both her old friend and Bruno Heilmann were brutally murdered. She’s devastated, but with her skill as an actress, access to the wardrobes and resources of a film studio, and a face not yet famous enough to be recognized, Jessie is uniquely positioned to dig into the circumstances surrounding these deaths. But will doing so put her own life directly in the path of a murderer?

With Silent Murders, MB/MWA First Crime Novel Competition winner Mary Miley has crafted another terrifically fun mystery, this time set in the dizzying, dazzling heart of jazz-age Hollywood.
Learn more about the book and author at Mary Miley's website, blog, and Facebook page.

Writers Read: Mary Miley (September 2013).

The Page 69 Test: The Impersonator.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

"The Amazons"

New from Princeton University Press: The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women across the Ancient World by Adrienne Mayor.

About the book, from the publisher:

Amazons--fierce warrior women dwelling on the fringes of the known world--were the mythic archenemies of the ancient Greeks. Heracles and Achilles displayed their valor in duels with Amazon queens, and the Athenians reveled in their victory over a powerful Amazon army. In historical times, Cyrus of Persia, Alexander the Great, and the Roman general Pompey tangled with Amazons.

But just who were these bold barbarian archers on horseback who gloried in fighting, hunting, and sexual freedom? Were Amazons real? In this deeply researched, wide-ranging, and lavishly illustrated book, National Book Award finalist Adrienne Mayor presents the Amazons as they have never been seen before. This is the first comprehensive account of warrior women in myth and history across the ancient world, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Great Wall of China.

Mayor tells how amazing new archaeological discoveries of battle-scarred female skeletons buried with their weapons prove that women warriors were not merely figments of the Greek imagination. Combining classical myth and art, nomad traditions, and scientific archaeology, she reveals intimate, surprising details and original insights about the lives and legends of the women known as Amazons. Provocatively arguing that a timeless search for a balance between the sexes explains the allure of the Amazons, Mayor reminds us that there were as many Amazon love stories as there were war stories. The Greeks were not the only people enchanted by Amazons--Mayor shows that warlike women of nomadic cultures inspired exciting tales in ancient Egypt, Persia, India, Central Asia, and China.

Driven by a detective's curiosity, Mayor unearths long-buried evidence and sifts fact from fiction to show how flesh-and-blood women of the Eurasian steppes were mythologized as Amazons, the equals of men. The result is likely to become a classic.
--Marshal Zeringue

"Wouldn't It Be Deadly"

New from Minotaur Books: Wouldn't It Be Deadly: An Eliza Doolittle & Henry Higgins Mystery by D.E. Ireland.

About the book, from the publisher:

Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins make an incomparable pair of sleuths in the start of a delightful new series

Following her successful appearance at an Embassy Ball—where Eliza Doolittle won Professor Henry Higgins’ bet that he could pass off a Cockney flower girl as a duchess—Eliza becomes an assistant to his chief rival Emil Nepommuck. After Nepommuck publicly takes credit for transforming Eliza into a lady, an enraged Higgins submits proof to a London newspaper that Nepommuck is a fraud. When Nepommuck is found with a dagger in his back, Henry Higgins becomes Scotland Yard’s prime suspect. However, Eliza learns that most of Nepommuck’s pupils had a reason to murder their blackmailing teacher. As another suspect turns up dead and evidence goes missing, Eliza and Higgins realize the only way to clear the Professor’s name is to discover which of Nepommuck’s many enemies is the real killer. When all the suspects attend a performance of Hamlet at Drury Lane, Eliza and Higgins don their theatre best and race to upstage a murderer.

This reimagining of George Bernard Shaw’s beloved characters is sheer pleasure. Wouldn’t It Be Deadly transports readers to Edwardian London, from the aristocratic environs of Mayfair to the dangerous back alleys of the East End. Eliza and Henry steal the show in this charming traditional mystery.
Visit D. E. Ireland's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 15, 2014

"A Deadly Wandering"

New from William Morrow: A Deadly Wandering: A Tale of Tragedy and Redemption in the Age of Attention by Matt Richtel.

About the book, from the publisher:

From Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Matt Richtel, a brilliant, narrative-driven exploration of technology’s vast influence on the human mind and society, dramatically-told through the lens of a tragic “texting-while-driving” car crash that claimed the lives of two rocket scientists in 2006.

In this ambitious, compelling, and beautifully written book, Matt Richtel, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the New York Times, examines the impact of technology on our lives through the story of Utah college student Reggie Shaw, who killed two scientists while texting and driving. Richtel follows Reggie through the tragedy, the police investigation, his prosecution, and ultimately, his redemption.

In the wake of his experience, Reggie has become a leading advocate against “distracted driving.” Richtel interweaves Reggie’s story with cutting-edge scientific findings regarding human attention and the impact of technology on our brains, proposing solid, practical, and actionable solutions to help manage this crisis individually and as a society.

A propulsive read filled with fascinating, accessible detail, riveting narrative tension, and emotional depth, A Deadly Wandering explores one of the biggest questions of our time—what is all of our technology doing to us?—and provides unsettling and important answers and information we all need.
Learn more about the book and author at Matt Richtel's website.

Richtel is a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times technology journalist and novelist. His first book, Hooked, was a critically acclaimed bestseller. His fiction, like his journalism, focuses on the impact of technology on how people live, behave, and love in the 21st century. He won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting for his series on distracted driving.

The Page 99 Test: Hooked.

The Page 69 Test: Devil’s Plaything.

--Marshal Zeringue