Tuesday, February 27, 2007

"X-Rated Bloodsuckers"

Coming in March: Mario Acevedo's X-Rated Bloodsuckers.

From the publisher:

Felix has survived Operation Iraqi Freedom, being turned into a vampire, and a ravenous horde of nymphomaniacs. Now he faces his toughest task ever—navigating the corrupt world of Los Angeles politics to solve the murder of a distinguished young surgeon turned porn star. But both human and vampire alike have reasons to want the secret to stay buried....
Don't want to come to the story late? X-Rated Bloodsuckers is the sequel to The Nymphos of Rocky Flats. From the publisher:
The first and only vampire book to be declassified by the federal government . . .

Felix Gomez went to Iraq a soldier. He came back a vampire.

Now he finds himself pulled into a web of intrigue when an old friend prompts him to investigate an outbreak of nymphomania at the secret government facilities in Rocky Flats. He'll find out the cause of all these horny women or die trying! But first he must contend with shadowy government agents, Eastern European vampire hunters, and women who just want his body . . .

Skewering sexual myths, conspiracy fables, and government bureaucracy, The Nymphos of Rocky Flats reveals the bizarre world of the undead with a humorous slant and a fresh twist.
Further reading:

Monday, February 26, 2007

"The Soulful Science"

New from Princeton University Press: Diane Coyle's The Soulful Science: What Economists Really Do and Why It Matters.

Synopsis, from the publisher:

To many, Thomas Carlyle's put-down of economics as "the dismal science" is as fitting now as it was 150 years ago. But Diane Coyle argues that economics today is more soulful than dismal, a more practical and human science than ever before. Building on the popularity of books such as Freakonomics that have applied economic thinking to the paradoxes of everyday life, The Soulful Science describes the remarkable creative renaissance in how economics is addressing the most fundamental questions--and how it is starting to help solve problems such as poverty and global warming. A lively and entertaining tour of the most exciting new economic thinking about big-picture problems, The Soulful Science uncovers the hidden humanization of economics over the past two decades.

Coyle shows how better data, increased computing power, and techniques such as game theory have transformed economic theory and practice in recent years, enabling economists to make huge strides in understanding real human behavior. Using insights from psychology, evolution, and complexity, economists are revolutionizing efforts to solve the world's most serious problems by giving policymakers a new and vastly more accurate picture of human society than ever before. They are also building our capacity to understand how what we do today shapes what the world will look like tomorrow. And the consequences of these developments for human life, for governments, and for businesses are only now starting to be realized--in areas such as resource auctions, pollution-credit trading, and monetary policy.

The Soulful Science tells us how economics got its soul back--and how it just might help save the planet's.


Sunday, February 25, 2007

"It Can Happen Here"

Joe Conason's new book, It Can Happen Here: Authoritarian Peril in the Age of Bush, was released last week.

A synopsis, from the publisher:

“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag, carrying a cross.”
---Sinclair Lewis, author of It Can’t Happen Here, 1935

For the first time since the Nixon era, Americans have reason to doubt the future---or even the presence---of democracy. We live in a society where government conspires with big business and big evangelism; where ideologues and religious zealots attack logic and the scientific method; and where the ruling party encourages xenophobic nationalism based on irrational, manufactured fear. The party in power seems to seek a perpetual state of war to hold on to power, and they are willing to lie, cheat, and steal to achieve their ends. The question must be asked: Are we headed toward the end of American democracy?

Nobel Prize-winning author Sinclair Lewis depicted authoritarianism American-style in his sardonically titled dystopian novel It Can’t Happen Here, published in 1935. Now, bestselling political journalist Joe Conason argues that it can happen here—and a select group of extremely powerful right-wing ideologues are driving us ever closer to the precipice.

In this compelling, impassioned, yet rational and fact-based look at the state of the nation, Conason shows how and why America has been wrenched away from its founding principles and is being dragged toward authoritarianism.

"The Welsh Girl"

Published this month: The Welsh Girl, by Peter Ho Davies.

Synopsis, from the publisher:

From the acclaimed writer Peter Ho Davies comes an engrossing wartime love story set in the stunning landscape of North Wales during the final, harrowing months of World War II.

Young Esther Evans has lived her whole life within the confines of her remote mountain village. The daughter of a fiercely nationalistic sheep farmer, Esther yearns for a taste of the wider world that reaches her only through broadcasts on the BBC. Then, in the wake of D-day, the world comes to her in the form of a German POW camp set up on the outskirts of Esther's village.

The arrival of the Germans in the camp is a source of intense curiosity in the local pub, where Esther pulls pints for both her neighbors and the unwelcome British guards. One summer evening she follows a group of schoolboys to the camp boundary. As the boys heckle the prisoners across the barbed wire fence, one soldier seems to stand apart. He is Karsten Simmering, a German corporal, only eighteen, a young man of tormented conscience struggling to maintain his honor and humanity. To Esther's astonishment, Karsten calls out to her.

These two young people from worlds apart will be drawn into a perilous romance that calls into personal question the meaning of love, family, loyalty, and national identity. The consequences of their relationship resonate through the lives of a vividly imagined cast of characters: the drunken BBC comedian who befriends Esther, Esther's stubborn father, and the resentful young British "evacuee" who lives on the farm -- even the German-Jewish interrogator investigating the most notorious German prisoner in Wales, Rudolf Hess.

Peter Ho Davies has been hailed for his "all-encompassing empathy that is without borders" (Elle). That trancendent compassion shines through The Welsh Girl, a novel that is both thought-provoking and emotionally enthralling.

Peter applied The Page 69 Test to his book.

Saturday, February 24, 2007


Due out this week:

Redbone: Money, Malice, and Murder in Atlanta by Ron Stodghill

From the publisher:

Lance Herndon was at the top of his game. A self-made millionaire, he was the owner of the computer consulting company Access, Inc. As a prominent member of black Atlanta's young, wealthy, and powerful set, he was surrounded by the city's "beautiful people," whom he wined and dined with finesse. But when he failed to show up for work one day, friends and family started to worry. Their concern soon turned to horror when he was found murdered in his own home, in what appeared to be either an act of jealousy-fueled rage or a seedier sex crime. Now, with a laundry list of ex-wives and lovers, competitors, critics, and admirers in hand, detectives must break through the city's upper crust to discover his killer.

Part investigative exposé, part social commentary, Redbone is a thrilling work of literary reportage.

Friday, February 23, 2007

"The Collaborator of Bethlehem"

New this month from Soho Press: Matt Beynon Rees' The Collaborator of Bethlehem.

A synopsis, from the publisher:

For decades, Omar Yussef has been a teacher of history to the children of Bethlehem. When a favorite former pupil, George Saba, a member of the Palestinian Christian minority, is arrested for collaborating with the Israelis in the killing of a Palestinian guerrilla, Omar is sure he has been framed. If George is not cleared, he faces imminent execution.

Then the wife of the dead man, also one of Omar Yussef’s former pupils, is murdered, possibly raped. When he begins to suspect the head of the Bethlehem al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades is the true collaborator, Omar and his family are threatened. But as no one else is willing to stand up to the violent Martyrs Brigades men, who hold the real power in the town, it is up to him to investigate.

Watch a brief video of Matt introducing the world of Omar Yussef from the streets of Bethlehem.

Matt applied The Page 69 Test to his book: the results will be posted soon.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

"Ask Again Later"

Due out this week:

Ask Again Later by Jill A. Davis

From the publisher:

Emily has a tendency to live with one foot out the door. For her, the best thing about a family crisis is the excuse to cut and run. When her mother dramatically announces they've found a lump, Emily gladly takes a rain check on life to be by her mother's side, leaving behind her career, her boyfriend, and those pesky, unanswerable questions about who she is and what she's doing with her life.

But back in her childhood bedroom, Emily realizes that she hasn't run fast or far enough. One evening, while her mother calls everyone in her Rolodex to brief them on her medical crisis and schedule a farewell martini, Emily opens the door, quite literally, to find her past staring her in the face. How do you forge a relationship with the father who left when you were five years old? As Emily attempts to find balance on the emotional seesaw of her life, with the help of two hopeful suitors and her Park Avenue Princess sister, she takes a no-risk job as a receptionist at her father's law firm and slowly gets to know the man she once pretended was dead.

From the brainy, breezy writer who "writes like a professional comic" (The Onion) and is "hard to stop reading once you start" (USA Today) comes a laugh-out-loud tale that confirms you can recover from your parents, the bad habit of missed opportunities, and men who romance you with meat. When opportunity knocks, it's time to stop running and start living.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

"Christine Falls"

Coming in March:

Benjamin Black's Christine Falls. (Benjamin Black is John Banville's crime-writing psuedonym.)

Sarah Weinman tagged the novel as a "Pick of the Week" with this note:

Is this the bridge book between literary and crime fiction? I'll debate that later, I suppose, but at the moment I'd rather wholeheartedly recommend Banville's maiden genre foray because he gets it: understands the Grand Guignol aspect of families with corrosive secrets, gets the genre conventions while developing characters in all their unholy motivations, and writes within conventions without looking down upon them. But I must say, I can't wait to see the reviews and reaction upon its publication in March...

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

"Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain"

Published last month: Sharon Begley's Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain.

Synopsis, from the publisher:

Is it really possible to change the structure and function of the brain, and in so doing alter how we think and feel? The answer is a resounding yes. In late 2004, leading Western scientists joined the Dalai Lama at his home in Dharamsala, India, to address this very question–and in the process brought about a revolution in our understanding of the human mind. In this fascinating and far-reaching book, Wall Street Journal science writer Sharon Begley reports on how cutting-edge science and the ancient wisdom of Buddhism have come together to show how we all have the power to literally change our brains by changing our minds. These findings hold exciting implications for personal transformation.

For decades, the conventional wisdom of neuroscience held that the hardware of the brain is fixed and immutable–that we are stuck with what we were born with. As Begley shows, however, recent pioneering experiments in neuroplasticity, a new science that investigates whether and how the brain can undergo wholesale change, reveal that the brain is capable not only of altering its structure but also of generating new neurons, even into old age. The brain can adapt, heal, renew itself after trauma, and compensate for disability.

Begley documents how this fundamental paradigm shift is transforming both our understanding of the human mind and our approach to deep-seated emotional, cognitive, and behavioral problems. These breakthroughs show that it is possible to reset our happiness meter, regain the use of limbs disabled by stroke, train the mind to break cycles of depression and OCD, and reverse age-related changes in the brain. They also suggest that it is possible to teach and learn compassion, a key step in the Dalai Lama’s quest for a more peaceful world. But as we learn from studies performed on Buddhist monks, an important component in changing the brain is to tap the power of mind and, in particular, focused attention. This is the classic Buddhist practice of mindfulness, a technique that has become popular in the West and that is immediately available to everyone.

With her extraordinary gift for making science accessible, meaningful, and compelling, Sharon Begley illuminates a profound shift in our understanding of how the brain and the mind interact. This tremendously hopeful book takes us to the leading edge of a revolution in what it means to be human.
Read The Page 69 Test

Monday, February 19, 2007

"Lost Echoes"

Joe R. Lansdale's latest novel, Lost Echoes, is out this month.

From the publisher:

Since a mysterious childhood illness, Harry Wilkes has experienced horrific visions. Gruesome scenes emerge to replay themselves before his eyes. Triggered by simple sounds, these visions occur anywhere a tragic event has happened. Now in college, Harry feels haunted and turns to alcohol to dull his visionary senses. One night, he sees a fellow drunk easily best three muggers. In this man, Harry finds not only a friend that will help him kick the booze, but also a sensei who will teach him to master his unusual gift. Soon Harry’s childhood crush, Kayla, comes and asks for help solving her father’s murder. Unsure of how it will affect him, Harry finds the strength to confront the dark secrets of the past, only to unveil the horrors of the present.

"Heart-Shaped Box"

Joe Hill's Heart-Shaped Box was released last week.