Wednesday, April 30, 2008

"Severance Package"

Coming soon from St. Martin's Minotaur: Severance Package by Duane Swierczynski.

About the book, from the publisher:

Jamie DeBroux’s boss has called a special meeting for all “key personnel” at 9:00 a.m. on a hot Saturday in August.

When Jamie arrives, the conference room is stocked with cookies and champagne. His boss smiles and tells his employees, “We’re a cover for a branch of the intelligence community. And we’re being shut down.” Jamie’s boss then tells everyone to drink some champagne, and in a few seconds they’ll fall asleep---for good. If they refuse, they’ll be shot in the head.

Escape is not an option. Jamie’s boss has shut down the elevators and rigged the fire towers with chemical bombs. Panic sets in, chaos erupts, and no one is sure whom to trust. Jamie quickly realizes that there’s only one way he’s ever going to see his family again: the hard way.
Visit Duane Swierczynski's website.

"The Drunkard's Walk"

New from Pantheon Books: The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives by Leonard Mlodinow.

About the book, from the publisher:

In this irreverent and illuminating book, acclaimed writer and scientist Leonard Mlodinow shows us how randomness, change, and probability reveal a tremendous amount about our daily lives, and how we misunderstand the significance of everything from a casual conversation to a major financial setback. As a result, successes and failures in life are often attributed to clear and obvious cases, when in actuality they are more profoundly influenced by chance.

The rise and fall of your favorite movie star of the most reviled CEO--in fact, of all our destinies--reflects as much as planning and innate abilities. Even the legendary Roger Maris, who beat Babe Ruth's single-season home run record, was in all likelihood not great but just lucky. And it might be shocking to realize that you are twice as likely to be killed in a car accident on your way to buying a lottery ticket than you are to win the lottery.

How could it have happened that a wine was given five out of five stars, the highest rating, in one journal and in another it was called the worst wine of the decade? Mlodinow vividly demonstrates how wine ratings, school grades, political polls, and many other things in daily life are less reliable than we believe. By showing us the true nature of change and revealing the psychological illusions that cause us to misjudge the world around us, Mlodinow gives fresh insight into what is really meaningful and how we can make decisions based on a deeper truth. From the classroom to the courtroom, from financial markets to supermarkets, from the doctor's office to the Oval Office, Mlodinow's insights will intrigue, awe, and inspire.

Offering readers not only a tour of randomness, chance, and probability but also a new way of looking at the world, this original, unexpected journey reminds us that much in our lives is about as predictable as the steps of a stumbling man fresh from a night at the bar.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

"Baby Shark's High Plains Redemption"

New from Capital Crime Press: Baby Shark's High Plains Redemption by Robert Fate.

About the book, from the author's website:

May 1957. When Kristin Van Dijk aka Baby Shark and Otis Millett are hired to deliver the ransom for redheaded Savannah Smike, the mysterious piano-playing girlfriend of an Oklahoma bootlegger, they find themselves involved in more trouble than they bargained for. It is kill or be killed from day one.

This action-crime-adventure is quintessential Baby Shark. It careens across two states, leaving a trail of blood and destruction from the tough side of Fort Worth through the southern Ozarks of Oklahoma to the lonesome high plains of the Texas panhandle.
Visit Robert Fate's website.

"The Beautiful Struggle"

New from Spiegel & Grau: The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

About the book, from the publisher:

An exceptional father-son story about the reality that tests us, the myths that sustain us, and the love that saves us.

Paul Coates was an enigmatic god to his sons: a Vietnam vet who rolled with the Black Panthers, an old-school disciplinarian and new-age believer in free love, an autodidact who launched a publishing company in his basement dedicated to telling the true history of African civilization. Most of all, he was a wily tactician whose mission was to carry his sons across the shoals of inner-city adolescence—and through the collapsing civilization of Baltimore in the Age of Crack—and into the safe arms of Howard University, where he worked so his children could attend for free.

Among his brood of seven, his main challenges were Ta-Nehisi, spacey and sensitive and almost comically miscalibrated for his environment, and Big Bill, charismatic and all-too-ready for the challenges of the streets. The Beautiful Struggle follows their divergent paths through this turbulent period, and their father’s steadfast efforts—assisted by mothers, teachers, and a body of myths, histories, and rituals conjured from the past to meet the needs of a troubled present—to keep them whole in a world that seemed bent on their destruction.

With a remarkable ability to reimagine both the lost world of his father’s generation and the terrors and wonders of his own youth, Coates offers readers a small and beautiful epic about boys trying to become men in black America and beyond.
Visit Ta-Nehisi Coates' website.

Monday, April 28, 2008

"Scream for Me"

New from Grand Central Publishing: Scream for Me by Karen Rose.

About the book, from the publisher:

Special Agent Daniel Vartanian has sworn to track down the culprit of multiple killings that mimic a 13-year-old murder linked to a collection of photographs that belonged to his brother, Simon, the ruth-less serial killer who met his demise in Die for Me. Daniel is certain that someone even more depraved than his brother committed these crimes, and he's determined to bring the current murderer to justice and solve the mysterious crime from years ago.

With only a handful of images as a lead, Daniel's search will lead him back through the dark past of his own family, and into the realm of a mind more sinister than he could ever imagine. But his quest will also draw him to Alex Fallon, a beautiful nurse whose troubled past reflects his own. As Daniel becomes attached to Alex, he discovers that she is also the object of the inspired murderer. Soon, he will not only be racing to discover the identity of this macabre criminal, but also to save the life of the woman he has begun to love.
Visit Karen Rose's website.

"The Crowd Sounds Happy"

New from Pantheon Books: The Crowd Sounds Happy: A Story of Love, Madness, and Baseball by Nicholas Dawidoff.

About the book, from the publisher:

From the author of the best-selling The Catcher Was a Spy, his most original work yet: a memoir of two cities (New Haven and New York), a family (troubled), a time (the 1970s), a boy who never quite fits in anywhere--and how baseball helps him find his place in America.

The Crowd Sounds Happy is the story of a spirited boy's coming-of-age in a doomed hometown, with a missing father, a single mother, and the professional ballplayers who gradually become the men in his life as he listens to them every night on the bedside radio. This is a childhood shaped by remarkable characters, foremost Nicholas Dawidoff's mother, a stoical, overwhelmed, enterprising woman committed to securing a more promising future for her children. It also tells, with the same arresting candor of Dawidoff's celebrated New Yorker magazine memoir of his father, what it's like to grow up with a disturbed, dangerous parent. Here are the events and places that come to define a young boy's outlook: a local playground, a kidnapping and a murder, rock 'n' roll, the steamy awkwardness of adolescence and first love, and the private world of baseball--the inner game as it has never been described before.

The Crowd Sounds Happy is a beautifully written, moving piece of personal history that transforms ordinary moments into literature.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

"The Execution of Willie Francis"

New from Basic Civitas: The Execution of Willie Francis: Race, Murder and the Search for Justice in the American South by Gilbert King.

About the book, from the publisher:

On May 3, 1946, a seventeen-year-old boy was scheduled to die by the electric chair inside of a tiny red brick jail in picturesque St. Martinsville, Louisiana. Young Willie Francis had been charged with the murder of a local pharmacist. The electric chair-three hundred pounds of oak and metal- had been dubbed “Gruesome Gertie” and was moved from one jailhouse to another throughout the state of Louisiana. The switch would be thrown at 12:08 P.M., but Willie Francis did not die. Miraculously, having survived this less than cordial encounter with death, Willie was soon informed that the state would try to kill him again in six days. Letters began pouring into St. Martinsville from across the country-Americans of all colors and classes were transfixed by the fate of this young man. A Cajun lawyer just returned from WWII, Bertrand DeBlanc would take on Willie’s case-in the face of overwhelming local resistance. DeBlanc would argue the case all the way from the Bayou to the U.S. Supreme Court. In deciding Willie’s fate the courts and the country would be forced to ask questions about capital punishment that remain unresolved today.
Visit Gilbert King's website.

Read King's New York Times Op-Ed, "Cruel and Unusual History."


New from Atlantic Monthly Press: Leisureville: Adventures in America's Retirement Utopias by Andrew D. Blechman.

About the book, from the publisher:

From the author of Pigeons comes a first-handlook at America’s senior utopias, gated retirementcommunities where no kids are allowed.

Andrew Blechman’s first book, the critically acclaimed and commercially successful Pigeons, was a charming look at the much-maligned bird and the quirky subcultures that flock to it. In Leisureville, Blechman investigates another subculture, but one with more significant consequences.

When his next-door neighbors in a quaint New England town suddenly pick up and move to a gated retirement community in Florida called “The Villages,” Blechman is astonished by their stories, so he goes to investigate. Larger than Manhattan, with a golf course for every day of the month, two downtowns, its own newspaper, radio, and TV stations, The Villages is a city of nearly one hundred thousand (and growing), missing only one thing: children. Started in the 1950s and popularized by Del Webb’s Sun City, age-segregated retirement is an exploding phenomenon. More than twelve million people will soon live in these communities, under restrictive covenants, with limited local government, and behind gates that exclude children. And not all of the residents are seniors, or even retirees.

Blechman delves into life in the senior utopia, offering a hilarious first-hand report on all its peculiarities, from ersatz nostalgia and golf-cart mania to manufactured history and the residents’ surprisingly active sex life. He introduces us to dozens of outrageous characters including the Villages press-wary developer who wields remarkable control over the community, and an aging ladies man named Mr. Midnight, with whom Blechman repeatedly samples the nightlife.

But Leisureville is more than just a romp through retirement paradise: Blechman traces the history of the trend, and travels to Arizona to show what has happened to the pioneering utopias after decades of segregation. He investigates the government of these “instant” cities, attends a builder’s conference, speaks with housing experts, and examines the implications of millions of Americans dropping out of society to live under legal segregation. This is an important book on an underreported phenomenon that is only going to get bigger, as baby boomers reach retirement age. A fascinating blend of serious history, social criticism, and hilarious, engaging reportage, Leisureville couldn’t come at a better time.
Visit Andrew Blechman's website.

The Page 69 Test: Pigeons.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

"The Outlander"

New from Ecco: Gil Adamson's The Outlander.

About the book, from the publisher:

In 1903 a mysterious young woman flees alone across the West, one heart-pounding step ahead of the law. At nineteen, Mary Boulton has just become a widow—and her husband's killer. As bloodhounds track her frantic race toward the mountains, she is tormented by mad visions and by the knowledge that her two ruthless brothers-in-law are in pursuit, determined to avenge their younger brother's death. Responding to little more than the primitive fight for life, the widow retreats ever deeper into the wilderness—and into the wilds of her own mind—encountering an unforgettable cast of eccentrics along the way.

With the stunning prose and captivating mood of great works like Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain or early Cormac McCarthy, Gil Adamson's intoxicating debut novel weds a brilliant literary style to the gripping tale of one woman's desperate escape.
Visit Gil Adamson's website.

"Patriot Pirates"

New from Pantheon Books: Patriot Pirates: The Privateer War for Freedom and Fortune in the American Revolution by Robert H. Patton.

About the book, from the publisher:

They were legalized pirates empowered by the Continental Congress to raid and plunder, at their own considerable risk, as much enemy trade as they could successfully haul back to America’s shores; they played a central role in American’s struggle for independence and later turned their seafaring talents to the slave trade; embodying the conflict between enterprise and morality central to the American psyche.

In Patriot Pirates, Robert H. Patton, grandson of the battlefield genius of World War II, writes that during America’s Revolutionary War, what began in 1775 as a New England fad--converting civilian vessels to fast-sailing warships, and defying the Royal Navy’s overwhelming firepower to snatch its merchant shipping--became a massive seaborne insurgency that ravaged the British economy and helped to win America’s independence. More than two thousand privately owned warships were commissioned by Congress to prey on enemy transports, seize them by force, and sell the cargoes for prize money to be divided among the privateer’s officers, crewmen, and owners.

Patton writes how privateering engaged all levels of Revolutionary life, from the dockyards to the assembly halls; how it gave rise to an often cutthroat network of agents who sold captured goods and sparked wild speculation in purchased shares in privateer ventures, enabling sailors to make more money in a month than they might otherwise earn in a year.

As one naval historian has observed, “The great battles of the American Revolution were fought on land, but independence was won at sea.”

Benjamin Franklin, then serving at his diplomatic post in Paris, secretly encouraged the sale of captured goods in France, a calculated violation of neutrality agreements between France and Britain, in the hopes that the two countries would come to blows and help take the pressure off American fighters.

Patton writes about those whose aggressive speculation in privateering promoted the war effort: Robert Morris--a financier of the Revolution, signer of the Declaration of Independence, member of the Continental Congress who helped to fund George Washington’s army, later tried (and acquitted) for corruption when his deals with foreign merchants and privateers came to light, and emerged from the war as one of America’s wealthiest men . . . William Bingham… John R. Livingston--scion of a well-connected New York family who made no apologies for exploiting the war for profit, calling it “a means of making my fortune.” He worried that peace would break out too soon. (“If it takes place without a proper warning,” said Livingston, “it may ruin us.”) Vast fortunes made through privateering survive to this day, among them those of the Peabodys, Cabots, and Lowell's of Massachusetts, and the Derbys and Browns of Rhode Island.

A revelation of America’s War of Independence, a sweeping tale of maritime rebel-entrepreneurs bent on personal profit as well as national freedom.

Friday, April 25, 2008

"She Was"

New from William Morrow: She Was by Janis Hallowell.

About the book, form the publisher:

Doreen Woods is many things: a successful dentist who donates time and skills to the needy, a loving wife and mother, a sister who cares for her dying brother. She has carefully built an exemplary life. But all of this is threatened when a comrade from the seventies shows up. Over the next week Doreen's past rushes in as she is forced to admit to her family and herself the actions that caused her to change her name and identity three decades earlier.

In 1970 she was impressionable and idealistic Lucy Johansson. When her brother, Adam, came home from Vietnam damaged and bitter, they moved to California, where she raged against the war and the Establishment with many others of her generation. She joined an antiwar group and participated in increasingly militant protests designed to bring attention to their cause and to change the world for the better. But all the best intentions and careful planning couldn't keep things from going terribly wrong.

Told from a twenty-first-century perspective, She Was spans the width of the American continent and the depth of social upheaval of the second half of the twentieth century. She Was explores the violent, determining act in one woman's life that mirrors the formative trauma of her age. She Was is a story about the indelible nature of the past, about hiding in the ordinary, and, ultimately, about making amends.
Visit Janis Hallowell's website.

"A Voyage Long and Strange"

New from Henry Holt & Co.: A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World by Tony Horwitz.

About the book, from the publisher:

The bestselling author of Blue Latitudes takes us on a thrilling and eye-opening voyage to pre-Mayflower America

On a chance visit to Plymouth Rock, Tony Horwitz realizes he’s mislaid more than a century of American history, from Columbus’s sail in 1492 to Jamestown’s founding in 16-oh-something. Did nothing happen in between? Determined to find out, he embarks on a journey of rediscovery, following in the footsteps of the many Europeans who preceded the Pilgrims to America.

An irresistible blend of history, myth, and misadventure, A Voyage Long and Strange captures the wonder and drama of first contact. Vikings, conquistadors, French voyageurs—these and many others roamed an unknown continent in quest of grapes, gold, converts, even a cure for syphilis. Though most failed, their remarkable exploits left an enduring mark on the land and people encountered by late-arriving English settlers.

Tracing this legacy with his own epic trek—from Florida’s Fountain of Youth to Plymouth’s sacred Rock, from desert pueblos to subarctic sweat lodges—Tony Horwitz explores the revealing gap between what we enshrine and what we forget. Displaying his trademark talent for humor, narrative, and historical insight, A Voyage Long and Strange allows us to rediscover the New World for ourselves.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

"Panther Soup"

New from Knopf: Panther Soup: Travels Through Europe in War and Peace by John Gimlette.

About the book, from the publisher:

In 2004, John Gimlette set off across Europe, following in the footsteps of one of the greatest armies ever assembled: the United States forces of 1944–45. His guide (emotionally if not geographically) was Putnam Flint, an eighty-six-year-old Bostonian who had landed in Marseille in the midst of World War II with his tank destroyer battalion, nicknamed The Panthers. With Flint’s help, Gimlette traveled back through the war to try to grasp the physical, social, and psychological realities of the smashed and sodden continent that Europe had become. Panther Soup is the heartfelt, keenly observed—and often unexpectedly humorous—chronicle of that journey: a brilliant hybrid of travelogue and personalized military history.

From Marseille, north to Dijon and Alsace, Paris and Lorraine, across the Rhine into Germany, and eventually south through the Alps into Austria, Gimlette provides a vivid impression of the route as it is today, from spectacular landscapes to cities that have risen from cinders. He reveals the ways in which the war is both memorialized and buried, and meshes his account with recollections from Flint and other survivors they meet along the way: former enemies and refugees, heroines and résistants, children of the blitzkrieg.

Here is an uncommonly evocative mixture of past and present, a meeting of cultures, and a deeply personal assessment of one of the most tumultuous moments in world history.
Visit John Gimlette's website.

"In the Wind"

New from St. Martin's Minotaur: In the Wind by Barbara Fister.

About the book, from the publisher:

Anni Koskinen is out of a job. After ten years in the Chicago Police Department, her moral compass led her across the thin blue line to testify against a fellow cop – and, in the aftermath, she lost the only career she ever wanted.

As she is putting a new life together, a gentle church worker appears on her doorstep and asks for a ride out of town. It’s not until the FBI gets involved that Anni realizes she has helped a fugitive escape. And not just any fugitive.

It’s hard to grasp that Rosa Saenz, a popular figure in her largely Latino parish, was once involved with a radical faction of the American Indian Movement. It’s even harder to believe that Rosa was responsible for the murder of an FBI agent in 1972.

But even a close friend in the Bureau urges Anni to work with Rosa’s defense team to find out what happened all those years ago. Because it soon becomes clear that it’s more important to the authorities to find Rosa guilty than to find the truth.

Caught in the vortex of a no-holds-barred federal investigation, angry cops who believe she's once again working for the wrong side, and a dangerous group of white supremacists bent on establishing their own version of history, Anni’s investigation into crimes of the past throws her in the path of a clear and present danger. And this time, she stands to lose much more than her job.

Drawing on parallels between counterintelligence practices of the Vietnam War era and today’s hostile climate for civil liberties, In the Wind gathers gale-force strength as the events of the past collide with the present – and, for Anni, the political becomes all too personal.
Visit Barbara Fister's website.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

"The German Bride"

New from Ballantine Books: Joanna Hershon's The German Bride.

About the book, from the publisher:

Berlin, 1865. Eva Frank, the daughter of a benevolent Jewish banker, and her sister, Henriette, are having their portrait painted–which leads to a secret affair between young Eva and the mercurial artist. This indiscretion has far-reaching consequences, more devastating than Eva or her family could have imagined. Distraught and desperate to escape her painful situation, Eva hastily marries Abraham Shein, an ambitious merchant who has returned home to Germany for the first time in a decade since establishing himself in the American West. The eighteen-year-old bride leaves Berlin and its ghosts for an unfamiliar life halfway across the world, traversing the icy waters of the Atlantic and the rugged, sweeping terrain of the Santa Fe Trail.

Though Eva’s existence in the rough and burgeoning community of Sante Fe, New Mexico, is a far cry from her life as a daughter of privilege, she soon begins to settle into the mystifying town, determined to create a home. But this new setting cannot keep at bay the overwhelming memories of her former life, nor can it protect her from an increasing threat to her own safety that will force Eva to make a fateful decision.

Joanna Hershon’s novel is a gripping and gritty portrayal of urban European immigrants struggling with New World frontier life in the mid-nineteenth century. Vivid and emotionally compelling, The German Bride is also a beautiful narrative on how far one must travel to make peace with the past.
Visit Joanna Hershon's website.

"Spider Star"

Recently from Tor Books: Spider Star by Mike Brotherton.

About the book, from the publisher:

The human colony on the planet Argo has long explored and exploited the technology left behind by an alien race, a race gone for hundreds of thousands of years. But then an archeology team accidentally activates a terrible weapon: a weapon that will destroy the entire colony, and its star, if they cannot deactivate it.

Evidence at the site suggests that the weapon was created for the ancient Argonauts by another race, a race of traders. And within that evidence are a map of their interstellar trading empire, and the coordinates of their main trading station. Although the information is a hundred thousand years out of date, the only hope for Argo is to send a ship and crew into the unknown, to try to negotiate for a way to shut down the weapon.
Visit Mike Brotherton's website.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

"Losing You"

New from St. Martin's Minotaur: Losing You by Nicci French.

About the book, from the publisher:

It’s Nina Landry’s birthday, and she’s supposed to have her kids ready to leave in a few hours for a Christmas holiday in Florida with her new boyfriend, but her fifteen-year-old daughter Charlie spent the night at a friend’s and hasn’t come home yet. Not by ten a.m., not by eleven. Nina is getting angry---they have a plane to catch, and Charlie hasn’t even bothered to pack. As time passes, though slower and slower by the minute, Nina becomes uneasy. Her anger gives way to worry, and that worry quickly builds into panic.

By one p.m., she’s wondering, has Charlie run away, or has something far worse happened? And why won’t anyone---not the cops, not Charlie’s friends, not Charlie’s father---take her disappearance seriously?

As day turns to night on their home of Sandling Island sixty miles from London, and a series of ominous secrets leads Nina from sickening suspicion to deadly certainty, the question becomes less whether she and her daughter will leave the island in time and more whether they’ll ever leave it again.

In Losing You, the newest thriller from the long-acclaimed master of psychological suspense, Nicci French unravels one mother’s life and replaces it with every mother’s worst nightmare.

"What Burns Within"

New from Dorchester Publishing: Sandra Ruttan's What Burns Within.

About the book, from the publisher:

One year ago, a brutal case almost destroyed three cops. Since then they’ve lost touch with one another, avoiding painful memories, content to go their own ways. Now Nolan is after a serial rapist. Hart is working on a string of arsons. And Tain has been assigned a series of child abductions, a case all too similar to that one. But when the body of one of the abduction victims is found at the site of one of the arsons, it starts to look like maybe these cases are connected after all….
Visit Sandra Ruttan's website and her blog.

The Page 69 Test: What Burns Within.

Monday, April 21, 2008

"The Billionaire's Vinegar"

New from Crown: The Billionaire's Vinegar: The Mystery of the World's Most Expensive Bottle of Wine by Benjamin Wallace.

About the book, from the publisher:

It was the most expensive bottle of wine ever sold.

In 1985, at a heated auction by Christie’s of London, a 1787 bottle of Château Lafite Bordeaux—one of a cache of bottles unearthed in a bricked-up Paris cellar and supposedly owned by Thomas Jefferson—went for $156,000 to a member of the Forbes family. The discoverer of the bottle was pop-band manager turned wine collector Hardy Rodenstock, who had a knack for finding extremely old and exquisite wines. But rumors about the bottle soon arose. Why wouldn’t Rodenstock reveal the exact location where it had been found? Was it part of a smuggled Nazi hoard? Or did his reticence conceal an even darker secret?

It would take more than two decades for those questions to be answered and involve a gallery of intriguing players—among them Michael Broadbent, the bicycle-riding British auctioneer who speaks of wines as if they are women and staked his reputation on the record-setting sale; Serena Sutcliffe, Broadbent’s elegant archrival, whose palate is covered by a hefty insurance policy; and Bill Koch, the extravagant Florida tycoon bent on exposing the truth about Rodenstock.

Pursuing the story from Monticello to London to Zurich to Munich and beyond, Benjamin Wallace also offers a mesmerizing history of wine, complete with vivid accounts of subterranean European laboratories where old vintages are dated and of Jefferson’s colorful, wine-soaked days in France, where he literally drank up the culture.

Suspenseful, witty, and thrillingly strange, The Billionaire’s Vinegar is the vintage tale of what could be the most elaborate con since the Hitler diaries. It is also the debut of an exceptionally powerful new voice in narrative non-fiction.
Visit Benjamin Wallace's website.

"The Pearl"

New from Yale University Press: The Pearl: A True Tale of Forbidden Love in Catherine the Great's Russia by Douglas Smith.

About the book, from the publisher:

Filled with a remarkable cast of characters and set against the backdrop of imperial Russia, this tale of forbidden romance could be the stuff of a great historical novel. But in fact The Pearl tells a true tale, reconstructed in part from archival documents that have lain untouched for centuries. Douglas Smith presents the most complete and accurate account ever written of the illicit love between Count Nicholas Sheremetev (1751-1809), Russia’s richest aristocrat, and Praskovia Kovalyova (1768-1803), his serf and the greatest opera diva of her time.

Blessed with a beautiful voice, Praskovia began her training in Nicholas’s operatic company as a young girl. Like all the members of Nicholas’s troupe, Praskovia was one of his own serfs. But unlike the others, she utterly captured her master’s heart. The book reconstructs Praskovia’s stage career as “The Pearl” and the heartbreaking details of her romance with Nicholas—years of torment before their secret marriage, the outrage of the aristocracy when news of the marriage emerged, Praskovia’s death only days after delivering a son, and the unyielding despair that followed Nicholas to the end of his life. Written with grace and style, The Pearl sheds light on the world of the Russian aristocracy, music history, and Russian attitudes toward serfdom. But above all, the book tells a haunting story of love against all odds.
Visit Douglas Smith's website.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

"All Things Must Fight to Live"

New from Bloomsbury USA: All Things Must Fight to Live: Stories of War and Deliverance in Congo by Bryan Mealer.

About the book, from the publisher:

A foreign correspondent’s gripping account of his experiences in Congo, told through the long scope of the country’s dark and brutal history.

After covering a brutal war that claimed four million lives, journalist Bryan Mealer takes readers on a harrowing two-thousand-mile journey through Congo, where gun-toting militia still rape and kill with impunity. Amid burned-out battlefields, the dark corners of the forests, and the high savanna, where thousands have been massacred and quickly forgotten, Mealer searches for signs that Africa’s most troubled nation will soon rise from ruin.

At once illuminating and startling, All Things Must Fight to Live is a searing portrait of an emerging country devastated by a decade of war and horror and now facing almost impossible odds at recovery, as well as an unflinching look at the darkness and greed that exists in the hearts of men. It is nonfiction at its finest—powerful, moving, necessary.

"The Story of Forgetting"

New from Random House: The Story of Forgetting by Stefan Merrill Block.

About the book, from the publisher:

In Stefan Merrill Block’s extraordinary debut, three narratives intertwine to create a story that is by turns funny, smart, introspective, and revelatory.

Abel Haggard is an elderly hunchback who haunts the remnants of his family’s farm in the encroaching shadow of the Dallas suburbs, adrift in recollections of those he loved and lost long ago. As a young man, he believed himself to be “the one person too many”; now he is all that remains. Hundreds of miles to the south, in Austin, Seth Waller is a teenage “Master of Nothingness”–a prime specimen of that gangly, pimple-rashed, too-smart breed of adolescent that vanishes in a puff of sarcasm at the slightest threat of human contact. When his mother is diagnosed with a rare form of early-onset Alzheimer’s, Seth sets out on a quest to find her lost relatives and to conduct an “empirical investigation” that will uncover the truth of her genetic history. Though neither knows of the other’s existence, Abel and Seth are linked by a dual legacy: the disease that destroys the memories of those they love, and the story of Isidora–an edenic fantasy world free from the sorrows of remembrance, a land without memory where nothing is ever possessed, so nothing can be lost.

Through the fusion of myth, science, and storytelling, this novel offers a dazzling illumination of the hard-learned truth that only through the loss of what we consider precious can we understand the value of what remains.
Visit Stefan Merrill Block's website.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


New from Overlook Press: Enlightenment by Maureen Freely.

About the book, from the publisher:

In October 2005, only a few months after her Turkish husband is detained and her five-year-old son distributed to a foster family by US border patrol, Jeannie Wakefield disappears. She leaves behind in Istanbul a 57-page letter to M, an anonymous investigative journalist who Jeannie begs to write about her plight. The letter tells the story of Jeannie’s first arrival in Turkey 34 years earlier, when she was a bright-eyed 16-year-old innocent shimmering with open-hearted idealism. The letter reveals a convoluted tale of complex political intrigue, of retired intelligence operatives and Turkish teenage radicals willing to die for their right to speak out against the humanitarian outrages of their government, of a grisly murder and a dismembered body in a trunk. It is a grim and heartbreaking history of first loves shattered and best friends betrayed, and M finds herself, against her will, tangled in Jeannie’s narrative. But in the “deep state” of post-911 Turkey, nobody is who they say they are, and everyone is a suspect—exactly how much will M inadvertently sacrifice to save the woman who stole her only true love?


New from Kunati Books: Janeology by Karen Harrington.

About the book, from the author's website:

Jane, a loving mother of two, has drowned her toddler son and is charged with his murder in this powerful examination of love, loss, and family legacy. When a prosecutor decides Jane's husband Tom is partially to blame for the death and charges him with "failure to protect," Tom's attorney proposes a radical defense. He plans to create reasonable doubt about his client's alleged guilt by showing that Jane's genealogy is the cause of her violence, and that she inherited her latent violence in the same way she might inherit a talent for music or a predisposition to disease. He argues that no one could predict or prevent the tragedy, and that Tom cannot be held responsible.

With the help of a woman gifted with the power of retrocognition—the ability to see past events through objects once owned by the deceased—the defense theory of dark biology takes form. An unforgettable journey through the troubled minds and souls of eight of Jane's ancestors (named below), spanning decades and continents, this debut novel deftly illustrates the ways nature and nurture weave the fabric of one woman's life, and renders a portrait of one man left in its tragic wake.
Visit Karen Harrington's website, her blog, and her MySpace page.

Friday, April 18, 2008

"The Misadventures of Justin Hearnfeld"

New from St. Martin's Press: The Misadventures of Justin Hearnfeld by Dan Elish.

About the book, from Publishers Weekly:

From the author of Nine Wives comes this amusing tale of an insecure college grad who wants nothing more than to drop a few pounds, write the great American novel and lose his virginity. Raised on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Justin Hearnfeld is plagued by his lackluster track record with the opposite sex. After landing a job teaching English at the Clarke School for Boys, his abhorrent former high school, Justin becomes obsessed with striking yet unattainable co-worker Beverly Kinney. But his friend and fellow teacher David Grinstein, persuades him to instead try for Sadie Black, a teacher at Clarke's sister school. To add to the complication, Justin's pious ex-girlfriend, Abigail Wilson, comes back into his life with a newfound enthusiasm for sex. Enmeshed in an awkward and slightly unbelievable love triangle, Justin has to contend with the many uproarious obstacles standing between his virginal self and sex....
Read an excerpt from The Misadventures of Justin Hearnfeld.

"Shut Up, I'm Talking"

New from Free Press: Shut Up, I'm Talking: And Other Diplomacy Lessons I Learned in the Israeli Government--A Memoir by Gregory Levey.

About the book, from the publisher:

Shut Up, I'm Talking is a smart, hilarious insider take on Israeli politics that reads like the bastard child of Thomas Friedman and David Sedaris. Now a political writer for Salon, Gregory Levey stumbled into a job as speechwriter for the Israeli delegation to the United Nations at age twenty-five and suddenly found himself, like a latter-day Zelig, in the company of foreign ministers, U.S. senators, and heads of state. Much to his surprise, he was soon attending U.N. sessions and drafting official government statements. The situation got stranger still when he was transferred to Jerusalem to write speeches for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Shut Up, I'm Talking is a startling account of Levey's journey into the nerve center of Middle Eastern politics at one of the most turbulent times in Israeli history. During his three years in the Israeli government, the Second Intifada continued on in fits and starts, Yasser Arafat died, Hamas came to power, and Ariel Sharon fell into a coma. Levey was repeatedly thrust into highly improbable situations -- from being the sole "Israeli" delegate (even though he's Canadian) at the U.N. General Assembly, with no idea how "his" country wanted to vote; to nearly inciting an international incident with his high school French translation of an Arab diplomat's anti-Israel remarks; to communicating with Israeli intelligence about the suspected perpetrators of suicide bombings; to being offered leftover salami from Ariel Sharon's lunch. As Levey got better acquainted with the personalities in the government's inner sanctum, he witnessed firsthand the improvisational and ridiculously casual nature of the country's behind-the-scenes leadership -- and realized that he wasn't the only one faking his way through politics.

With sharp insight and great appreciation for the absurd, Levey offers the first-ever look inside Israel's politics from the perspective of a complete outsider, ultimately concluding that the Israeli government is no place for a nice Jewish boy.
Visit Gregory Levey's website.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

"All We Ever Wanted Was Everything"

New from Spiegel & Grau: All We Ever Wanted Was Everything by Janelle Brown.

About the novel, from the publisher:

A smart, comic page-turner about a Silicon Valley family in free fall over the course of one eventful summer.

When Paul Miller’s pharmaceutical company goes public, making his family IPO millionaires, his wife, Janice, is sure this is the windfall she’s been waiting years for — until she learns, via messengered letter, that her husband is divorcing her (for her tennis partner!) and cutting her out of the new fortune. Meanwhile, four hundred miles south in Los Angeles, the Millers’ older daughter, Margaret, has been dumped by her newly famous actor boyfriend and left in the lurch by an investor who promised to revive her fledgling post-feminist magazine, Snatch. Sliding toward bankruptcy and dogged by creditors, she flees for home where her younger sister Lizzie, 14, is struggling with problems of her own. Formerly chubby, Lizzie has been enjoying her newfound popularity until some bathroom graffiti alerts her to the fact that she’s become the school slut.

The three Miller women retreat behind the walls of their Georgian colonial to wage battle with divorce lawyers, debt collectors, drug-dealing pool boys, mean girls, country club ladies, evangelical neighbors, their own demons, and each other, and in the process they become achingly sympathetic characters we can’t help but root for, even as the world they live in epitomizes everything wrong with the American Dream. Exhilarating, addictive, and superbly accomplished, All We Ever Wanted Was Everything crackles with energy and intelligence and marks the debut of a knowing and very funny novelist, wise beyond her years.
Visit Janelle Brown's website.

"Roux Morgue"

New from Poisoned Pen Press: Roux Morgue by Claire M. Johnson.

About the book, from the publisher:

San Francisco pastry chef Mary Ryan is back at her old alma mater. Initially ecstatic to be teaching, Mary finds herself trying to straddle both worlds, caught between her original mentors and her contemporaries.

To make matters worse, Homicide Detective O‚’Connor has enrolled as a student, claiming to be on disability from the San Francisco Police Department.

In the middle of this turf war, Mary is confronted by the dean Robert Benson. Mary must either force Coolie Martin to leave the school or lose her job. Why would Coolie‚’s father, a member of the Board of Directors, allow this to happen? But when faculty and staff begin dying, Mary thinks that Coolie‚’s forced exit might only be part of a larger, more sinister plot.

Acting on a hint from O‚’Connor, Mary contacts the only person who can help her: nemesis Thom Woods. Will Mary and Thom uncover the truth before another chef bakes his last pie?

Visit Claire M. Johnson's website.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

"Forgive Us Our Debts"

New from Yale University Press: Forgive Us Our Debts: The Intergenerational Dangers of Fiscal Irresponsibility by Andrew L. Yarrow.

About the book, from the publisher:

In this immensely timely book, Andrew Yarrow brings the sometimes eye-glazing discussion of national debt down to earth, explaining in accessible terms why federal debt is rising (and will soon rise much faster), what effects it may have on Americans if debt is not brought under control, why our government borrows, and what it will take to pay it all back.

The picture Yarrow paints should concern all Americans. Specifically, he brings to light how rising Medicare, Social Security, and other spending on one hand, and insufficient government revenues on the other, make a mockery of fiscal responsibility. Deficits and debt, Yarrow asserts, are crowding out spending on needed investments in science, environment, infrastructure, and other domestic discretionary programs and could severely harm our nation’s and our citizens’ future. But he makes clear that this does not have to be a doomsday scenario. If we act in a bipartisan fashion to restore fiscal health, our legacy to the next generation can be much more than trillions of dollars of IOUs.

"Death Will Get You Sober"

New from St. Martin's Minotaur: Death Will Get You Sober by Elizabeth Zelvin.

About the book, from the publisher:

On Christmas Day, Bruce Kohler wakes up in detox on the Bowery in New York City. He knows it’s time to change his life, but how can he stay sober without dying of boredom?

When homeless alcoholics start to die unexpectedly, Bruce is surprised to find he cares enough to want to find out why. Most of them had been down and out for many years, but Bruce’s friend Guff was different: a cynical aristocrat with a trust fund and some secrets.

Two old friends give Bruce a second chance and agree to help him with his investigation: his best friend, Jimmy, a computer genius and history buff who’s been in AA for years, and Jimmy’s girlfriend Barbara, a counselor who sometimes crosses the line between helping and codependency.

Barbara works a night shift at the detox and confronts a counselor who might still be dealing drugs. Bruce gets a job temping for Guff’s arrogant nephew. Between the three of them, suspects start piling up. The trail leads back to the detox. Or does it?

In Death Will Get You Sober, Bruce discovers that the church basements of AA are a small world in the big city of New York. As he grapples with staying sober, he finds that not drinking is only the beginning of coming back to life--a life he finds he wants to keep when it’s threatened by a killer.

Debut author Elizabeth Zelvin has used her expertise as an addiction councilor to pen a riveting mystery filled with memorable, realistic characters who are as flawed as they are heroic.

Visit Elizabeth Zelvin's website.

The Page 99 Test: Death Will Get You Sober.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Coming soon from St. Martin's Griffin: LoveHampton by Sherri Rifkin.

About the book, from the publisher:

It’s almost summer, and in certain circles, summer means summer share. After an intervention by her three best friends forces her out of a breakup-induced personal hiatus (read: depression), TV producer Tori Miller ditches her old look with the help of a makeover on a reality show pilot. She premieres her new-and-improved self in a rented Hamptons summer house she's sharing with seven complete strangers. Over the next three months, Tori becomes the wing-woman to a glamorous new B.F.F., attempts to win over her house’s prickly Resident Alpha Female, is drawn into a web of secrets by a charming Brit, and suddenly finds herself entangled in one too many complicated romances. But it isn’t long before Tori starts getting tripped up by the many Hamptons Unwritten Rules of Survival, which threaten not only to implode her new, carefully cultivated social standing but more importantly, call into question Tori’s ability to see people for who they truly are, including herself. Ultimately, Tori must decide who she really is, what she wants, and what she’s willing to give up to get there—all by Labor Day.
Visit Sherri Rifkin's website.

"Howling in Mesopotamia"

New from Beaufort Books: Howling in Mesopotamia: An Iraqi-American Memoir by Haider Ala Hamoudi.

About the book, from the publisher:

"ON JULY 14, 2003, I left Kuwait on a C-130 transport plane bound for Baghdad, the city of my ancestors and a place I had not been for thirteen years. Two nations could legitimately claim me as their native son. The first was the United States, where I was born and raised. The second was Iraq."

So begins this groundbreaking memoir of hope and hardship. Haider Ala Hamoudi spent two years living in Iraq outside the relative safety of the Green Zone working to help rebuild a country he loves.

The intimate stories he shares—from a walk on a busy Baghdad street, to the momentous day Saddam Hussein's sons were killed, to the tragic killing of hundreds of civilians on one of Shi'a Islam's most holy days, and even the joyous occasion of Hamoudi's own wedding— invite the reader to experience a new side of the country that has featured so prominently in our nightly news. Hamoudi draws on his unique perspective as the American-born son of two Iraqis to bring new insight to the question: What went wrong in Iraq?

Monday, April 14, 2008

"The Darkest Hour"

Coming soon in Australia from Pan Macmillan: Katherine Howell's The Darkest Hour.

About the book, from the author's website:

Paramedic Lauren Yates stumbles into a world of trouble the night she discovers a killer and his victim in an inner Sydney alley. When the killer threatens to make her life hell if she tells the police what she’s seen, she believes him – he’s Miles Werner, her sister’s violent ex, father to Lauren’s niece, and not a man to cross.

But when another victim of a stabbing reveals to Lauren with his dying breath that Werner attacked him, too, she finds herself with blood on her hands and Detective Ella Marconi on her back. Ella is keen to cement her temporary placement in the homicide squad and views Lauren as the perfect witness for this latest murder because she can testify to the victim’s last words.

Ella soon realises Lauren is hiding something, however, and while her colleagues label her suspicion an obsession, she begins her own investigation. But the harder Ella pushes, the more Lauren resists, and the worse the threat from Werner becomes, putting them both in increasingly serious jeopardy.

Visit Katherine Howell's website.

The Page 69 Test: Katherine Howell's Frantic.

"White House Ghosts"

New from Simon & Schuster: White House Ghosts: Presidents and Their Speechwriters by Robert Schlesinger.

About the book, from the publisher:

In White House Ghosts, veteran Washington reporter Robert Schlesinger opens a fresh and revealing window on the modern presidency from FDR to George W. Bush. This is the first book to examine a crucial and often hidden role played by the men and women who help presidents find the words they hope will define their places in history.

Drawing on scores of interviews with White House scribes and on extensive archival research, Schlesinger weaves intimate, amusing, compelling stories that provide surprising insights into the personalities, quirks, egos, ambitions, and humor of these presidents as well as how well or not they understood the bully pulpit.

White House Ghosts traces the evolution of the presidential speechwriter's job from Raymond Moley under FDR through such luminaries as Ted Sorensen and Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., under JFK, Jack Valenti and Richard Goodwin under LBJ, William Safire and Pat Buchanan under Nixon, Hendrik Hertzberg and James Fallows under Carter, and Peggy Noonan under Reagan, to the "Troika" of Michael Gerson, John McConnell, and Matthew Scully under George W. Bush.

White House Ghosts tells the fascinating inside stories behind some of the most iconic presidential phrases: the first inaugural of FDR ("the only thing we have to fear is fear itself ") and JFK ("ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country"), Richard Nixon's "I am not a crook" and Ronald Reagan's "tear down this wall" speeches, Bill Clinton's ending "the era of big government" State of the Union, and George W. Bush's post-9/11 declaration that "whether we bring our enemies to justice or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done" -- and dozens of other noteworthy speeches. The book also addresses crucial questions surrounding the complex relationship between speechwriter and speechgiver, such as who actually crafted the most memorable phrases, who deserves credit for them, and who has claimed it.

Schlesinger tells the story of the modern American presidency through this unique prism -- how our chief executives developed their very different rhetorical styles and how well they grasped the rewards of reaching out to the country. White House Ghosts is dramatic, funny, gripping, surprising, serious -- and always entertaining.

Visit the official website for White House Ghosts.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

"Headline: Murder"

New from Second Story Press: Headline: Murder by April Lindgren.

About the book, from the publisher:

How far will a reporter go to get her story when a politician is viciously murdered?

When feisty Pia Keyne, an energetic political reporter, becomes entertainment editor at a large urban newspaper she finds herself embroiled in the vicious murder of a high-profile politician. Pia quickly uncovers sexual overtones to the killing, as well as a possible cover-up of Nazi stolen art. The ink might just run red when Pia’s involvement draws the attention of the murderer.

And will she be putting her life at risk? Or just her heart…

What starts out as a simple headline story quickly turns into something more dangerous. Having spent years trying to overcome the painful secrets of her own past, Pia Keyne must now choose who to trust, who to love, and who to track down as a possible source – for her story, and for murder.

"Winter Study"

New from Putnam: Winter Study by Nevada Barr.

About the book:

It is January, and Park Ranger Anna Pigeon is sent to Isle Royale in Lake Superior to learn about managing and understanding wolves, as her home base of Rocky Mountain National Park might soon have their own pack of the magnificent, much-maligned animals. She’s housed in the island’s bunkhouse with the famed wolf study team, along with two scientists from Homeland Security, who are assessing the study with an eye to opening the park each winter—effectively bringing an end to the fifty-year study—so that it can be manned to secure the scrap of border with Canada.

Soon after Anna’s arrival, the wolf packs under observation begin to act in peculiar ways. Giant wolf prints are found, and Anna spies the form of a great wolf from a surveillance plane. The discovery of wolf scat containing alien DNA leads the team to believe that perhaps a wolf/dog hybrid has been introduced to the island. When a female member of the team is savaged, Anna is convinced she is being stalked, and what was once a beautiful, idyllic refuge becomes a place of unnatural occurrences and danger beyond the ordinary. Alone on an island without electricity or running water, with temperatures hovering around zero both day and night, Anna fights not only for the wolves, but for also her own survival.

Filled with the nail-biting suspense, richly drawn characters and gorgeous nature writing that are her hallmarks, Winter Study is vintage Barr, proving once again that she’s “a real writer, in every sense of the word” (The Denver Post).
Visit Nevada Barr's website.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

"Ensuring Greater Yellowstone's Future"

New from Yale University Press: Ensuring Greater Yellowstone's Future: Choices for Leaders and Citizens by Susan G. Clark.

About the book, from the publisher:

How can environmental problems be solved when they cross boundaries and involve diverse people? What kind of leadership and institutions will bring success? From experience in the greater Yellowstone region, Susan G. Clark looks at leadership and policy in managing natural resources. She assesses accomplishments toward sustainability over the past forty years.

Focusing on The Greater Yellowstone Coordinating Committee, a federal group of heads of national parks, national forests, and national wildlife refuges, Clark identifies fundamental leadership tasks needed, explains what changes in skill will be required, and makes many practical recommendations for every leader, citizen, and group involved with large-scale conservation anywhere worldwide.

"The Genius"

New from Putnam: The Genius by Jesse Kellerman.

About the book, from the publisher:

The sinister and provocative thriller from crime writing's freshest new voice.

Ethan Muller is struggling to establish his reputation as a dealer in the cut-throat world of contemporary art when he stumbles onto a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: in a decaying New York slum, an elderly tenant named Victor Cracke has disappeared, leaving behind an enormous trove of original artwork. Nobody can say anything for certain about Cracke except that he came and went in solitude for nearly forty years, his genius hidden and unacknowledged.

All that is about to change.

So what if, strictly speaking, the art doesn't belong to Ethan? He can sell it—and he does just that, mounting a wildly successful show. Buyers clamor. Critics sing. Museums are interested, and Ethan's photo looks great in The New York Times.

And that's when things go to hell.

Suddenly the police are interested in talking to him. It seems that Victor Cracke had a nasty past, and the drawings hanging in the Muller Gallery have begun to look a lot less like art and a lot more like evidence.

Is Cracke a genius? A murderer? Both? Is there a difference? Sucked into an investigation four decades cold, Ethan will uncover a secret legacy of shame and death, one that touches horrifyingly close to home.

Kellerman's tight, assured prose is electrifying, exhilarating, and compulsively readable. Part confessional, part philosophical inquiry, The Genius is the detective novel reimagined like never before.
Visit Jesse Kellerman's website.

Friday, April 11, 2008

"The Disagreement"

New from Simon & Schuster: The Disagreement by Nick Taylor.

About the book, from the publisher:

It is April 17, 1861 -- the day that Virginia secedes from the Union and the sixteenth birthday of John Alan Muro. As the Commonwealth erupts in celebration, young Muro sees his dream of attending medical school in Philadelphia shattered by the sudden reality of war.

Muro's father, believing that the Disagreement will pass, sends his son instead to Charlottesville. Jefferson's forty-year-old University of Virginia has become a haven of rogues and dilettantes, among them Muro's roommate, Braxton Baucom III, a planter's son who attempts to strike a resemblance to General "Stonewall" Jackson. Though the pair toasts lightheartedly "To our studies!" with a local corn whiskey known as "The Bumbler," the war effort soon exerts a sobering influence. Medical students like Muro are pressed into service at the Charlottesville General Hospital, where the inexperienced Dr. Muro saves the life of a Northern lieutenant, earning the scorn of his peers.

As the war progresses, Muro takes up yet another cause -- winning the affections of the beguiling Miss Lorrie Wigfall. Here, too, Muro faces a cunning adversary. Just as the fighting is closing in, Muro is forced to make a choice that will shape the rest of his life. In this story of love, loyalty, and unimaginable sacrifice, a doctor struggles to balance the passions of youth with the weight of responsibility.
Visit Nick Taylor's website.

"The God of War"

New from Simon & Schuster: The God of War by Marisa Silver.

About the book, from the publisher:

The year is 1978. Ares Ramirez, age 12, lives with his mother, Laurel, and his younger brother Malcolm in a trailer at the edge of the Salton Sea, an unintentionally man-made body of water in the middle of the Southern California desert. It is a desolate, forgotten place, whose inhabitants thrive amidst seemingly impossible circumstances.

Where birds fly by day across the desert sky, by night government fighter planes and helicopters make training runs using live ammunition, and an anonymous dead body floats in from the sea. These events inspire Ares, on the cusp of his adolescence, to enact elaborate fantasies of mortal combat. His membership in a troubled family marks Ares as a casualty of a different kind of war. Malcolm, age 7, is mentally handicapped, and his mother chooses not to do anything about it.

Ares' struggle with the burden of responsibility -- to himself and to others -- draws him into a world of drugs, violence, and sex that he is not prepared for, launching him into a very personal battle for his own identity, one that has a lethal outcome.
Visit Marisa Silver's website.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

"Falun Gong and the Future of China"

New from Oxford University Press: Falun Gong and the Future of China by David Ownby.

About the book, from the publisher:

On April 25, 1999, ten thousand Falun Gong practitioners gathered outside Zhongnanhai, the guarded compound where China's highest leaders live and work, in a day-long peaceful protest of police brutality against fellow practitioners in the neighboring city of Tianjin. Stunned and surprised, China's leaders launched a campaign of brutal suppression against the group which continues to this day. This book, written by a leading scholar of the history of this Chinese popular religion, is the first to offer a full explanation of what Falun Gong is and where it came from, placing the group in the broader context of the modern history of Chinese religion as well as the particular context of post-Mao China.

Falun Gong began as a form of qigong, a general name describing physical and mental disciplines based loosely on traditional Chinese medical and spiritual practices. Qigong was "invented" in the 1950s by members of the Chinese medical establishment who were worried that China's traditional healing arts would be lost as China modeled its new socialist health care system on Western biomedicine. In the late 1970s, Chinese scientists "discovered" that qi possessed genuine scientific qualities, which allowed qigong to become part of China's drive for modernization. With the support of China's leadership, qigong became hugely popular in the 1980s and 1990s, as charismatic qigong masters attracted millions of enthusiastic practitioners in what was known as the qigongg boom, the first genuine mass movement in the history of the People's Republic.

Falun Gong founder Li Hongzhi started his own school of qigong in 1992, claiming that the larger movement had become corrupted by money and magic tricks. Li was welcomed into the qigong world and quickly built a nationwide following of several million practitioners, but ran afoul of China's authorities and relocated to the United States in 1995. In his absence, followers in China began to organize peaceful protests of perceived media slights of Falun Gong, which increased from the mid-'90s onward as China's leaders began to realize that they had created, in the qigong boom, a mass movement with religious and nationalistic undertones, a potential threat to their legitimacy and control.

Based on fieldwork among Chinese Falun Gong practitioners in North America and on close examinations of Li Hongzhi's writings, this volume offers an inside look at the movement's history in Chinese popular religion.

"Viewpoints Critical: Selected Stories"

New from Tor Books: Viewpoints Critical: Selected Stories by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.

About the book, from the publisher:

This is the first story collection ever from the bestselling fantasy and science fiction writer L. E. Modesitt, Jr. He began publishing as a short story writer in the SF magazines in the 1970s, mostly in Analog. Some of the earliest stories are kernels for his early SF novels, others display the wide range of his talents and interests, from satire to military adventure.

This collection includes selections of stories from his entire career, as well as three new stories that have never been published before: “Black Ordermage,” set in the world of Modesitt’s bestselling Recluce series; “Beyond the Obvious Wind,” set in his Corean Chronicles universe; and “Always Outside the Lines,” which is related to the Ghosts of Columbia books.
L. E. Modesitt, Jr. is the bestselling author of over forty novels encompassing two science fiction series and three fantasy series, as well as several other novels in the science fiction genre.

Learn more about the author and his many books at L. E. Modesitt, Jr.'s website and his blog.

My Book, The Movie: L. E. Modesitt, Jr.'s Flash.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

"The White Tiger"

New from Free Press: The White Tiger by by Aravind Adiga.

About the book, from the publisher:

Introducing a major literary talent, The White Tiger offers a story of coruscating wit, blistering suspense, and questionable morality, told by the most volatile, captivating, and utterly inimitable narrator that this millennium has yet seen.

Balram Halwai is a complicated man. Servant. Philosopher. Entrepreneur. Murderer. Over the course of seven nights, by the scattered light of a preposterous chandelier, Balram tells us the terrible and transfixing story of how he came to be a success in life -- having nothing but his own wits to help him along.

Born in the dark heart of India, Balram gets a break when he is hired as a driver for his village's wealthiest man, two house Pomeranians (Puddles and Cuddles), and the rich man's (very unlucky) son. From behind the wheel of their Honda City car, Balram's new world is a revelation. While his peers flip through the pages of Murder Weekly ("Love -- Rape -- Revenge!"), barter for girls, drink liquor (Thunderbolt), and perpetuate the Great Rooster Coop of Indian society, Balram watches his employers bribe foreign ministers for tax breaks, barter for girls, drink liquor (single-malt whiskey), and play their own role in the Rooster Coop. Balram learns how to siphon gas, deal with corrupt mechanics, and refill and resell Johnnie Walker Black Label bottles (all but one). He also finds a way out of the Coop that no one else inside it can perceive.

Balram's eyes penetrate India as few outsiders can: the cockroaches and the call centers; the prostitutes and the worshippers; the ancient and Internet cultures; the water buffalo and, trapped in so many kinds of cages that escape is (almost) impossible, the white tiger. And with a charisma as undeniable as it is unexpected, Balram teaches us that religion doesn't create virtue, and money doesn't solve every problem -- but decency can still be found in a corrupt world, and you can get what you want out of life if you eavesdrop on the right conversations.

Sold in sixteen countries around the world, The White Tiger recalls The Death of Vishnu and Bangkok 8 in ambition, scope, and narrative genius, with a mischief and personality all its own. Amoral, irreverent, deeply endearing, and utterly contemporary, this novel is an international publishing sensation -- and a startling, provocative debut.
Read an excerpt from The White Tiger.

"South by South Bronx"

New from Akashic Books: South by South Bronx by Abraham Rodriguez, Jr.

About the book, from the publisher:

When Puerto Rican ladies' man Alex awakes one morning to find a mysterious woman in his bed, he assumes he's suffered another embarrassing blackout. He soon learns, however, that Ava is no one-night stand--in fact, he's never met her before. As her story begins to unfold, and her reason for appearing in his bed emerges, it is not just Alex's life that she risks, nor her own, but the entire character of the South Bronx ...��
Visit Abraham Rodriguez, Jr.'s MySpace page.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

"Pelham Fell Here"

Coming soon from Mundania Press: Pelham Fell Here by Ed Lynskey.

About the book, from the publisher:

Ex-MP and part-time gunsmith Frank Johnson finds his cousin Josh Chapman killed by a twelve-gauge shotgun. Enraged, Frank wants some answers, and fast. Was Josh involved in an arms smuggling scheme?

The mystery grows when a pair of murderous deputy sheriffs ambush Frank. Killing them in self-defense, Frank must take it on the lam while he continues his investigation.

Eventually he discovers a group of Neo-Nazis, holed up at a remote castle, who may be behind his cousin's murder. Luckily, a couple of bounty hunter pals throw in with Frank to even up the odds.

"The Conversion"

New from St. Martin's Press: The Conversion by Joseph Olshan.

About the book, from the publisher:

Russell Todaro, a young American translator, moves to Paris to take stock of his life and goals only to further lose himself in the surprising twists fate has in store for him. One night, two men waving guns and knives break and enter their Paris hotel room, terrorizing Russell and his much older companion, a famous American poet named Edward Cannon. The intruders, not finding what they seemingly expected, leave without further incident but the baffling, traumatic events overwhelm Cannon who dies in his sleep later that night. Now Russell is left to ponder the meaning of the attack, what to do with the poet’s unfinished, problematic memoir and, perhaps most importantly, how to reconstruct and move forward with his own life.

Hearing of the disturbing circumstances of Cannon’s death, an Italian writer, Marina Vezzoli, invites Russell to recuperate at her villa in Tuscany. But what at first seems like a generous invitation slowly reveals itself to be a calculated offer. As Russell’s stay in Italy lengthens, he begins to realize that the people in his life are using or manipulating him, most of all the poet’s New York publishers who, against the dying man’s wishes, are trying to acquire his unfinished manuscript. Looming over everything is the long and fascinating legacy of Villa Guidi, where during Word War II a Jewish family hid in the subterranean floors, later undergoing a conversion to Catholicism. In an echo of this dramatic history, Russell is forced to undergo a conversion of his own in order to find redemption and meaning in his life.
Visit Joseph Olshan's website.