Monday, January 31, 2011


New from The Penguin Press: Moneymakers: The Wicked Lives and Surprising Adventures of Three Notorious Counterfeiters by Ben Tarnoff.

About the book, from the publisher:

The lively and enthralling tale of three notorious counterfeiters offers insights into the makings of the American financial mind.

In Moneymakers, Ben Tarnoff chronicles the lives of three colorful counterfeiters who flourished in early America, shedding fresh light on the country's financial coming of age. The speculative ethos that pervades Wall Street today, Tarnoff suggests, has its origins in the craft of counterfeiters who first took advantage of a turbulent American economy.

Few nations have as rich a counterfeiting history as the United States. Since the colonies suffered from a chronic shortage of precious metals, they were the first place in the Western world to use easily forged paper bills. And until the national currency was standardized in the last half of the nineteenth century, the United States had a dizzying variety of banknotes, making early America a counterfeiter's paradise.

In Moneymakers, Tarnoff recounts how three of America's most successful counterfeiters-Owen Sullivan, David Lewis, and Samuel Upham- each cunningly manipulated the political and economic realities of his day, driven by a desire for fortune and fame. Irish immigrant Owen Sullivan (c. 1720-1756) owed his success not just to his hustler's charm and entrepreneurial spirit, but also to the weak law enforcement and craving for currency that marked colonial America. The handsome David Lewis (1788-1820) became an outlaw hero in backwoods Pennsylvania, infamous for his audacious jailbreaks and admired as a Robin Hood figure who railed against Eastern financial elites. Shopkeeper Samuel Upham (1819-1885) sold fake Confederate bills to his fellow Philadelphians during the Civil War as "mementos of the rebellion," enraging Southern leaders when Union soldiers flooded their markets with the forgeries.

Through the tales of these three memorable counterfeiters, Moneymakers spins the larger story of America's financial ups and downs during its infancy and adolescence, tracing its evolution from a patchwork of colonies to a powerful nation with a single currency. It was only toward the end of the Civil War that a strengthened federal government created the Secret Service to police counterfeiting, finally bringing the quintessentially American pursuit to an end. But as Tarnoff suggests in this highly original financial history, the legacy of early American counterfeiters lives on in the get-rich-quick culture we see on Wall Street today.
Visit Ben Tarnoff's website.


New from Henry Holt: Revolution: The Year I Fell in Love and Went to Join the War by Deb Olin Unferth.

About the book, from the publisher:

Rising literary star Deb Olin Unferth offers a new twist on the coming-of-age memoir in this utterly unique and captivating story of the year she ran away from college with her Christian boyfriend and followed him to Nicaragua to join the Sandinistas.

Despite their earnest commitment to a myriad of revolutionary causes and to each other, the couple find themselves unwanted, unhelpful, and unprepared as they bop around Central America, looking for "revolution jobs." The year is 1987, a turning point in the Cold War. The East-West balance has begun to tip, although the world doesn't know it yet, especially not Unferth and her fiancé (he proposes on a roadside in El Salvador). The months wear on and cracks begin to form in their relationship: they get fired, they get sick, they run out of money, they grow disillusioned with the revolution and each other. But years later the trip remains fixed in her mind and she finally goes back to Nicaragua to try to make sense of it all. Unferth's heartbreaking and hilarious memoir perfectly captures the youthful search for meaning, and is an absorbing rumination on what happens to a country and its people after the revolution is over.
Read an excerpt from Revolution.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

"Someone’s Watching"

New from Oceanview Publishing: Someone’s Watching by Sharon Potts.

About the book, from the publisher:

Twenty-something Robbie Ivy wants to keep her life as simple and commitment-free as possible. Who needs a high-pressure career, a relationship, or a family anyway? But Robbie’s life gets inextricably complicated when her estranged father shows up with a shocking revelation about two teenage girls who disappeared in South Beach. One of the missing girls is Robbie’s sister Kate—a sister Robbie never knew existed.

Unwilling to reestablish family ties, Robbie is hesitant to get involved—until the body of her sister’s friend washes up in Indian Creek. Desperate to find her missing sister, Robbie immerses herself in the unfamiliar world to which Kate may have fallen prey: the sexy, sizzling South Beach club scene. Swept up in a corrupt, destructive society, Robbie searches for a cold-blooded killer in the hottest South Beach hotspots. But in this see-and-be-seen world, everyone is dressed to kill, people are dying for a chance to get beyond the velvet rope ... and someone is watching. Robbie may have to choose between saving her sister—and saving herself.
Learn more about the book and author at Sharon Potts' website.

My Book, The Movie: In Their Blood.

"A Cup of Friendship"

New from Ballantine Books: A Cup of Friendship by Deborah Rodriguez.

About the book, from the publisher:

From the author of the “bighearted ... inspiring” (Vogue) memoir Kabul Beauty School comes a fiction debut as compelling as real life: the story of a remarkable coffee shop in the heart of Afghanistan, and the men and women who meet there—thrown together by circumstance, bonded by secrets, and united in an extraordinary friendship.

After hard luck and some bad choices, Sunny has finally found a place to call home—it just happens to be in the middle of a war zone. The thirty-eight-year-old American’s pride and joy is the Kabul Coffee House, where she brings hospitality to the expatriates, misfits, missionaries, and mercenaries who stroll through its doors. She’s especially grateful that the busy days allow her to forget Tommy, the love of her life, who left her in pursuit of money and adventure.

Working alongside Sunny is the maternal Halajan, who vividly recalls the days before the Taliban and now must hide a modern romance from her ultratraditional son—who, unbeknownst to her, is facing his own religious doubts. Into the café come Isabel, a British journalist on the trail of a risky story; Jack, who left his family back home in Michigan to earn “danger pay” as a consultant; and Candace, a wealthy and well-connected American whose desire to help threatens to cloud her judgment.

When Yazmina, a young Afghan from a remote village, is kidnapped and left on a city street pregnant and alone, Sunny welcomes her into the café and gives her a home—but Yazmina hides a secret that could put all their lives in jeopardy. As this group of men and women discover that there’s more to one another than meets the eye, they’ll form an unlikely friendship that will change not only their own lives but the lives of an entire country.

Brimming with Deborah Rodriguez’s remarkable gift for depicting the nuances of life in Kabul, and filled with vibrant characters that readers will truly care about, A Cup of Friendship is the best kind of fiction—full of heart yet smart and thought-provoking.
Visit Deborah Rodriguez's website.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


New from Knopf: Swamplandia! by Karen Russell.

About the book, from the publisher:

From the celebrated twenty-nine-year-old author of the everywhere-heralded short-story collection St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves (“How I wish these were my own words, instead of the breakneck demon writer Karen Russell’s ... Run for your life. This girl is on fire”—Los Angeles Times Book Review) comes a blazingly original debut novel that takes us back to the swamps of the Florida Everglades, and introduces us to Ava Bigtree, an unforgettable young heroine.

The Bigtree alligator-wrestling dynasty is in decline, and Swamplandia!, their island home and gator-wrestling theme park, formerly #1 in the region, is swiftly being encroached upon by a fearsome and sophisticated competitor called the World of Darkness. Ava’s mother, the park’s indomitable headliner, has just died; her sister, Ossie, has fallen in love with a spooky character known as the Dredgeman, who may or may not be an actual ghost; and her brilliant big brother, Kiwi, who dreams of becoming a scholar, has just defected to the World of Darkness in a last-ditch effort to keep their family business from going under. Ava’s father, affectionately known as Chief Bigtree, is AWOL; and that leaves Ava, a resourceful but terrified thirteen, to manage ninety-eight gators and the vast, inscrutable landscape of her own grief.

Against a backdrop of hauntingly fecund plant life animated by ancient lizards and lawless hungers, Karen Russell has written an utterly singular novel about a family’s struggle to stay afloat in a world that is inexorably sinking. An arrestingly beautiful and inventive work from a vibrant new voice in fiction.

"The Fates Will Find Their Way"

New from Ecco: The Fates Will Find Their Way by Hannah Pittard.

About the book, from the publisher:

Sixteen-year-old Nora Lindell is missing. And the neighborhood boys she's left behind are caught forever in the heady current of her absence.

As the days and years pile up, the mystery of her disappearance grows kaleidoscopically. A collection of rumors, divergent suspicions, and tantalizing what-ifs, Nora Lindell's story is a shadowy projection of teenage lust, friendship, reverence, and regret, captured magically in the disembodied plural voice of the boys who still long for her.

Told in haunting, percussive prose, Hannah Pittard's beautifully crafted novel tracks the emotional progress of the sister Nora left behind, the other families in their leafy suburban enclave, and the individual fates of the boys in her thrall. Far more eager to imagine Nora's fate than to scrutinize their own, the boys sleepwalk into an adulthood of jobs, marriages, families, homes, and daughters of their own, all the while pining for a girl–and a life–that no longer exists, except in the imagination.

A masterful literary debut that shines a light into the dream-filled space between childhood and all that follows, The Fates Will Find Their Way is a story about the stories we tell ourselves–of who we once were and may someday become.

Friday, January 28, 2011

"Open City"

New from Random House: Open City by Teju Cole.

About the book, from the publisher:

“The past, if there is such a thing, is mostly empty space, great expanses of nothing, in which significant persons and events float. Nigeria was like that for me: mostly forgotten, except for those few things that I remembered with outsize intensity.”

Along the streets of Manhattan, a young Nigerian doctor doing his residency wanders aimlessly. The walks meet a need for Julius: they are a release from the tightly regulated mental environment of work, and they give him the opportunity to process his relationships, his recent breakup with his girlfriend, his present, his past. Though he is navigating the busy parts of town, the impression of countless faces does nothing to assuage his feelings of isolation.

But it is not only a physical landscape he covers; Julius crisscrosses social territory as well, encountering people from different cultures and classes who will provide insight on his journey—which takes him to Brussels, to the Nigeria of his youth, and into the most unrecognizable facets of his own soul.

A haunting novel about national identity, race, liberty, loss, dislocation, and surrender, Teju Cole’s Open City seethes with intelligence. Written in a clear, rhythmic voice that lingers, this book is a mature, profound work by an important new author who has much to say about our country and our world.
Visit Teju Cole's website.

"Fadeaway Girl"

New from Viking: Fadeaway Girl by Martha Grimes.

About the book, from the publisher:

The beguiling young sleuth Emma Graham returns.

Martha Grimes returns to her twelve-year-old heroine, Emma Graham, in this suspenseful sequel to the bestselling Belle Ruin. Emma continues her investigation into the strange disappearance of the four- month-old Slade baby from the Belle Ruin Hotel more than twenty years before. The sudden appearance in town of the baby's father, Morris Slade, makes her even more determined to learn the truth. Then a mysterious drifter named Ralph Diggs appears at the Hotel Paradise, looking for work, ingratiating himself with everyone there. Everyone, that is, except Emma.

The perceptive Emma is bound once again to delight fans of the previous books Hotel Paradise, Cold Flat Junction, and Belle Ruin, and certain to win new readers with her intuition and humor.
Visit Martha Grimes' website.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

"The Diviner’s Tale"

New from from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: The Diviner’s Tale by Bradford Morrow.

About the book, from the publisher:

Walking a lonely forested valley on a spring morning in upstate New York, having been hired by a developer to dowse the land, Cassandra Brooks comes upon the shocking vision of a young girl hanged from a tree. When she returns with authorities to the site, the body has vanished, leaving in question Cassandra's credibility if not her sanity. The next day, on a return visit with the sheriff to have another look, a dazed, mute missing girl emerges from the woods, alive and the very picture of Cassandra's hanged girl.

What follows is the narrative of ever-deepening and increasingly bizarre divinations that will lead this gifted young woman, the struggling single mother of twin boys, hurtling toward a past she'd long since thought was behind her. The Diviner's Tale is at once a journey of self-discovery and an unorthodox murder mystery, a tale of the fantastic and a family chronicle told by an otherwise ordinary woman.

When Cassandra's dark forebodings take on tangible form, she is forced to confront a life spiraling out of control. And soon she is locked in a mortal chess match with a real-life killer who has haunted her since before she can remember.
Visit Bradford Morrow's website.

"Bad Bird"

New from Minotaur/Thomas Dunne Books: Bad Bird by Chris Knopf.

About the book, from the publisher:

Jackie Swaitkowski may not be the most buttoned-up lawyer in the Hamptons, but a plane crash before her very eyes is hard to miss. Just before the struggling air taxi takes a nosedive, its female pilot tosses out a camera case. To Jackie, the accident’s only witness, the case (so to speak) seems meant for her.

The camera's memory card holds an unusual set of photos. Jackie recognizes more than a few of the faces in those pictures. Are they telling her the story of the crash? The pilot, a hard-nosed biker chick named Eugenie Birkson, came from a family tree filled with ex-cons, and boasted a passenger list packed with high society. And Jackie soon learns that solving the mystery of Eugenie’s death will mean uncovering some dark secrets from her own past as well.

All this and a freshly revived romance with gentle giant Harry Goodlander, and Jackie yet again has her heart and her hands full.

Award-winning mystery writer Chris Knopf returns to Southampton, a one-of-a-kind small town where the rich and the rest of us rub shoulders on a daily basis, generating all the frictions that might imply.
Visit Chris Knopf's website.

Coffee with a canine: Chris Knopf & Sam.

My Book, The Movie: Short Squeeze.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"Miracles, Inc."

New from Simon & Schuster: Miracles, Inc. by T.J. Forrester.

About the book, from the publisher:

Vernon L. Oliver, still a young man, lives in a six-by-ten cell in a Florida prison. He has chosen the needle over the chair, has no desire to smell burned flesh on the day the state snuffs out his life. When his attorney suggests he write an autobiography to generate funds to cover legal fees incurred during the appeals process, Vernon sits down to pencil and paper and begins his narrative.

Miracles, Inc., Forrester's debut novel, tells the story of a charismatic slacker in love with Harley Davidson motorcycles and Rickie Terrell, a beautiful woman who quotes poetry and will not discuss her past. They live in an RV, smoke weed and drink beer, play Scrabble late into the night. His boss, a brilliant businesswoman with a far-reaching vision, offers him the chance to make more money than he ever thought was possible. He buys into the faith-healing scheme without reservation, and so begins the journey that leads to the stunning event that changes his life forever.
Visit T.J. Forrester's website and blog.

"The Intimates"

New from Farrar, Straus and Giroux: The Intimates by Ralph Sassone.

About the book, from the publisher:

A powerful and compassionate debut novel about friendship and how it helps shape us into the people we are

The Intimates is a brilliant and deeply moving first novel about the varieties of romance. Spanning years and continents, beginnings and endings, it is about two gifted and striving people who discover themselves in the reflection they see in each other, and how their affinity anchors them at critical points in their lives.

Maize and Robbie are drawn to each other from the first time they meet in high school. When it becomes obvious that their relationship won’t be sexual, they establish a different kind of intimacy: becoming each other’s “human diaries.” Their passionate Friendship plays out against a backdrop of charged connections: with lovers and would be lovers, family members, teachers, and bosses. For the better part of a decade they’re inseparable fellow travelers, but ultimately they must confront the underside of the extreme and complicated closeness that has sustained them since they were teenagers.

Full of indelible characters, engrossing situations, and observations as sharply witty as they are lovely and profound, The Intimates renders the wonders and disappointments of becoming an adult, the thrills and mesmerizing illusions of sex, and the secrets we keep from others and ourselves as we struggle to locate our true character. The Intimates marks the emergence of a remarkable new voice.
Visit Ralph Sassone's website.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"Exit the Actress"

New from Touchstone: Exit the Actress by Priya Parmar.

About the book, from the publisher:

While selling oranges in the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, sweet and sprightly Ellen "Nell" Gwyn impresses the theater's proprietors with a wit and sparkle that belie her youth and poverty. She quickly earns a place in the company, narrowly avoiding the life of prostitution to which her sister has already succumbed. As her roles evolve from supporting to starring, the scope of her life broadens as well. Soon Ellen is dressed in the finest fashions, charming the theatrical, literary, and royal luminaries of Restoration England.

Ellen grows up on the stage, experiencing first love and heartbreak and eventually becoming the mistress of Charles II. Despite his reputation as a libertine, Ellen wholly captures his heart—and he hers—but even the most powerful love isn't enough to stave off the gossip and bitter court politics that accompany a royal romance.

Telling the story through a collection of vibrant seventeenth-century voices ranging from Ellen's diary to playbills, letters, gossip columns, and home remedies, Priya Parmar brings to life the story of an endearing and delightful heroine.
Visit Priya Parmar's website.

"The King of the Crags"

New from Roc: The King of the Crags (The Memory of Flames, Book II) by Stephen Deas.

About the book, from the publisher:

In his "utterly fascinating" (Book Smuggler) debut, The Adamantine Palace, Stephen Deas "restored [dragons] to all their scaly fire- breathing glory" (Daily Telegraph). Now, as the Realms teeter on the brink of war, the fate of humanity rests in the survival of one majestic white dragon.

Prince Jehal has had his way-now his lover Zafir sits atop the Realms with hundreds of dragons and their riders at her beck and call. But Jehal's plots are far from over, for he isn't content to sit back and watch Zafir command the earth and sky. He wants that glory for himself- no matter who he must sacrifice to get it. The one thing Jehal fears is that the white dragon still lives-and if that is so, then blood will flow, on all sides...
Read an essay by Stephen Deas on the "Memory of Flames" trilogy.

Visit the official Stephen Deas website.

The Page 69 Test: The Adamantine Palace.

Monday, January 24, 2011

"Shot Through Velvet"

New from Signet/Penguin: Shot Through Velvet: A Crime of Fashion Mystery by Ellen Byerrum.

About the book, from the publisher:

Fashion reporter Lacey Smithsonian is touring a failing velvet factory in Virginia on its final day of operations-and finds one of the factory owners dead, lashed to a spool of velvet and soaked in blue dye. The workers are delighted, since they blamed the "Blue Devil" for killing their jobs.

But when another nickname, the "Velvet Avenger", makes the rounds, and ribbons of blue velvet start popping up, it could be more than Lacey's job at stake-it could be her life...
Visit Ellen Byerrum's website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: Ellen Byerrum's Crimes of Fashion mysteries.


New from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: Solo by Rana Dasgupta.

About the book, from the publisher:

With an imaginative audacity and lyrical brilliance that puts him in the company of David Mitchell and Aleksandar Hemon, Rana Dasgupta paints a portrait of a century though the story of a hundred-year-old blind Bulgarian man in a first novel that announces the arrival of an exhilarating new voice in fiction.

In the first movement of Solo we meet Ulrich, the son of a railroad engineer, who has two great passions: the violin and chemistry. Denied the first by his father, he leaves for the Berlin of Einstein and Fritz Haber to study the latter. His studies are cut short when his father’s fortune evaporates, and he must return to Sofia to look after his parents. He never leaves Bulgaria again. Except in his daydreams—and it is those dreams we enter in the volatile second half of the book. In a radical leap from past to present, from life lived to life imagined, Dasgupta follows Ulrich’s fantasy children, born of communism but making their way into a post-communist world of celebrity and violence.

Intertwining science and heartbreak, the old world and the new, the real and imagined, Solo is a virtuoso work.
Visit Rana Dasgupta's website.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

"Shortcut Man"

New from Scribner: Shortcut Man by p.g. sturges.

About the book, by the publisher:

A smart and entertaining crime series debut set in the underbelly of Los Angeles, with a cast of characters that runs the gamut from saints to sinners.

In the City of Angels, not everyone plays by the rules. When people need a problem fixed fast, and discreetly, they call Dick Henry. Henry is known as a "shortcut man," someone who believes that the shortest answer to many problems may not always be legal. As he cuts through the red tape for his clients, who range from an elderly woman ripped off by shady contractors to a landlord with a tenant many months behind on the rent, Henry always gets the job done, no matter what the cost. In Shortcut Man, Henry spends his days hunting down slimy con men and his nights seducing Lynette, an intoxicating, long-legged vixen. But when Henry gets an assignment from porn producer Artie Benjamin, his life suddenly becomes much more complicated. Now Henry must complete the job, avoid being killed, and somehow figure out what to do with Lynette. Filled with dark comedy, whip-smart writing, and a memorable cast of characters, Shortcut Man evokes Chandler and Hammett—hard-boiled crime at its best—and is an exciting beginning to a crackling new series.
Visit p.g. sturges' website.

"The Red Garden"

New from Crown: The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman.

About the book, from the publisher:

The Red Garden introduces us to the luminous and haunting world of Blackwell, Massachusetts, capturing the unexpected turns in its history and in our own lives.

In exquisite prose, Hoffman offers a transforming glimpse of small-town America, presenting us with some three hundred years of passion, dark secrets, loyalty, and redemption in a web of tales where characters' lives are intertwined by fate and by their own actions.

From the town's founder, a brave young woman from England who has no fear of blizzards or bears, to the young man who runs away to New York City with only his dog for company, the characters in The Red Garden are extraordinary and vivid: a young wounded Civil War soldier who is saved by a passionate neighbor, a woman who meets a fiercely human historical character, a poet who falls in love with a blind man, a mysterious traveler who comes to town in the year when summer never arrives.

At the center of everyone’s life is a mysterious garden where only red plants can grow, and where the truth can be found by those who dare to look.

Beautifully crafted, shimmering with magic, The Red Garden is as unforgettable as it is moving.
Visit Alice Hoffman's website.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

"Cinderella Ate My Daughter"

New from Harper: Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture by Peggy Orenstein.

About the book, from the publisher:

The acclaimed author of the groundbreaking bestseller Schoolgirls reveals the dark side of pink and pretty: the rise of the girlie-girl, she warns, is not that innocent.

Pink and pretty or predatory and hardened, sexualized girlhood influences our daughters from infancy onward, telling them that how a girl looks matters more than who she is. Somewhere between the exhilarating rise of Girl Power in the 1990s and today, the pursuit of physical perfection has been recast as a source—the source—of female empowerment. And commercialization has spread the message faster and farther, reaching girls at ever-younger ages.

But, realistically, how many times can you say no when your daughter begs for a pint-size wedding gown or the latest Hannah Montana CD? And how dangerous is pink and pretty anyway—especially given girls' successes in the classroom and on the playing field? Being a princess is just make-believe, after all; eventually they grow out of it. Or do they? Does playing Cinderella shield girls from early sexualization—or prime them for it? Could today's little princess become tomorrow's sexting teen? And what if she does? Would that make her in charge of her sexuality—or an unwitting captive to it?

Those questions hit home with Peggy Orenstein, so she went sleuthing. She visited Disneyland and the international toy fair, trolled American Girl Place and Pottery Barn Kids, and met beauty pageant parents with preschoolers tricked out like Vegas showgirls. She dissected the science, created an online avatar, and parsed the original fairy tales. The stakes turn out to be higher than she—or we—ever imagined: nothing less than the health, development, and futures of our girls. From premature sexualization to the risk of depression to rising rates of narcissism, the potential negative impact of this new girlie-girl culture is undeniable—yet armed with awareness and recognition, parents can effectively counterbalance its influence in their daughters' lives.

Cinderella Ate My Daughter is a must-read for anyone who cares about girls, and for parents helping their daughters navigate the rocky road to adulthood.
Visit Peggy Orenstein's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Peggy Orenstein's Waiting for Daisy.

"Sometimes I Feel Like A Nut"

New from William Morrow: Sometimes I Feel Like A Nut by Jill Kargman.

About the book, from the publisher:

Demonstrating Woody Allen's magical math equation, comedy = tragedy + time, a sensational collection of witty essays about life, love, hate, kids, work, school, and more from the author of The Ex-Mrs. Hedgefund and Arm Candy

Jill Kargman is a mother, wife, and writer living the life in New York City ... a life that includes camping out in a one-bedroom apartment with some unfortunate (and furry) roommates, battling the Momzillas of Manhattan, and coming to terms with her desire for gay men. In this entertaining collection of observations, Kargman offers her unique, wickedly funny perspective as she zips around Manhattan with three kids in tow.

Kargman tackles issues big and small with sharp wit and laugh-out-loud humor: her love of the smell of gasoline, her new names for nail polishes, her adventures in New York City real estate, and her fear of mimes, clowns, and other haunting things. Whether it's surviving a family road trip or why she can't stand Cirque du So Lame, living with a mommy vagina the size of the Holland Tunnel or surviving the hell that was her first job out of college, Kargman's nutty self triumphs, thanks to a wonderfully wise outlook and sense of fun that makes the best of everything that gets thrown her way. And if that's not enough, Kargman illustrates her reflections with doodles that capture her refreshing voice.
Visit Jill Kargman's website.

Writers Read: Jill Kargman.

Friday, January 21, 2011

"The Mother Who Stayed"

New from Free Press: The Mother Who Stayed: Stories by Laura Furman.

About the book, from the publisher:

In nine strikingly perceptive stories set miles and decades apart, Laura Furman mines the intricate, elusive lives of mothers and daughters—and of women who long for someone to nurture. Meet Rachel, a young girl desperate for her mother's unbridled attention, knowing that soon she'll have to face the world alone; Marian, a celebrated novelist who betrays the one person willing to take care of her as she is dying—her unclaimed "daughter"; and Dinah, a childless widow uplifted by the abandoned, century-old diaries of Mary Ann, a mother of eleven.

The Mother Who Stayed is an homage to the timeless, primal bond between mother and child and a testament that the relationships we can't define can be just as poignant, memorable, and inspiring as those determined by blood. Tender and insightful, Furman's stories also bravely confront darker realities of separation and regret, death and infidelity—even murder. Her vividly imagined characters and chiseled prose close the gap between generations of women as they share their wisdom almost in chorus: Although our lives will end, we must cherish the sanctity of each day and say, as did Mary Ann ages ago, "I done what I could."
Among the early praise for the book:
"With wonderfully rendered scenes of American landscape, the stories form a kind of national portrait..."
--Julie Metz

"Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer"

New from Picador: Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer by Wesley Stace.

About the book, from the publisher:

England, 1923. A gentleman critic named Leslie Shepherd tells the macabre story of a gifted young composer, Charles Jessold. On the eve of his revolutionary new opera’s premiere, Jessold murders his wife and her lover, and then commits suicide in a scenario that strangely echoes the plot of his opera---which Shepherd has helped to write. The opera will never be performed.

Shepherd first shares his police testimony, then recalls his relationship with Jessold in his role as critic, biographer, and friend. And with each retelling of the story, significant new details cast light on the identity of the real victim in Jessold’s tragedy.

This ambitiously intricate novel is set against a turbulent moment in music history, when atonal sounds first reverberated through the concert halls of Europe, just as the continent readied itself for war. What if Jessold’s opera was not only a betrayal of Shepherd, but of England as well?

Wesley Stace has crafted a dazzling story of counter-melodies and counter-narratives that will keep you guessing to the end.
Wesley Stace is a celebrated musician and songwriter who performs under the name John Wesley Harding. His books include Misfortune and by George (which appeared at the Page 69 Test).

Thursday, January 20, 2011

"The Adults"

New from Scribner: The Adults by Alison Espach.

About the book, from the publisher:

In her ruefully funny and wickedly perceptive debut novel, Alison Espach deftly dissects matters of the heart and captures the lives of children and adults as they come to terms with life, death, and love.

At the center of this affluent suburban universe is Emily Vidal, a smart and snarky teenager, who gets involved in a suspect relationship with one of the adults after witnessing a suicide in her neighborhood. Among the cast of unforgettable characters is Emily's father, whose fiftieth birthday party has the adults descending upon the Vidal's patio; her mother, who has orchestrated the elaborate party even though she and her husband are getting a divorce; and an assortment of eccentric neighbors, high school teachers, and teenagers who teem with anxiety and sexuality and an unbridled desire to be noticed, and ultimately loved.

An irresistible chronicle of a modern young woman's struggle to grow up, The Adults lays bare—in perfect pitch—a world where an adult and a child can so dangerously be mistaken for the same exact thing.
Visit Alison Espach's website.

"Eyes of the Innocent"

New from Minotaur/Thomas Dunne Books: Eyes of the Innocent by Brad Parks.

About the book, from the publisher:

Carter Ross, the sometimes-dashing investigative reporter for the Newark Eagle-Examiner, is back, and reporting on the latest tragedy to befall Newark, New Jersey, a fast-moving house fire that kills two boys.

With the help of the paper’s newest intern, a bubbly blonde known as “Sweet Thang,” Carter finds the victims’ mother, Akilah Harris, who spins a tale of woe about a mortgage rate reset that forced her to work two jobs and leave her young boys without child care. Carter turns in a front-page feature, but soon discovers Akilah isn’t what she seems. And neither is the fire.

When Newark councilman Windy Byers is reported missing, it launches Carter into the sordid world of urban house-flipping and Jersey-style political corruption. With his usual mix of humor, compassion, and street smarts, Carter is soon calling on some of his friends—gay Cuban sidekick Tommy Hernandez, T-shirt-selling buddy Tee Jamison, and on-and-off girlfriend Tina Thompson—for help in tracking down the shadowy figure behind it all.

Brad Parks’s debut, Faces of the Gone, won the Shamus Award and Nero Award for Best American Mystery. It was heralded as an engaging mix of Harlan Coben and Janet Evanovich. Now Parks solidifies his place as one of the brightest new talents in crime fiction with this authentic, entertaining thriller.
Learn more about the book and author at the official Brad Parks website and Facebook presence.

The Page 69 Test: Faces of the Gone.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

"The Curse-Maker"

New from Minotaur/Thomas Dunne Books: The Curse-Maker by Kelli Stanley.

About the book, from the publisher:

When Roman physician Arcturus and his stunning wife Gwyna arrive at Bath for a holiday, a dead body is floating in the sacred spring. It turns out that the murdered man is a curse maker whose curses actually come true, and as murder follows murder, it looks like there’s now a curse on Arcturus.

An exciting and exotic look at the sideshow world of fake healers, ghost-raisers and medicine men, The Curse-Maker is the story of a spa town where people go to heal. . . only to wind up dead. And it takes the doctor protagonist on a dark road—into Roman cemeteries, silver mines, underground water tunnels, and the twisted mind of a killer bent on revenge.
Learn more about the novel and author at Kelli Stanley's website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: Nox Dormienda.

The Page 69 Test: City of Dragons.

My Book, The Movie: City of Dragons.

Coffee with a Canine: Kelli Stanley & Bertie.

"A Box of Darkness"

New from St. Martin's Press: A Box of Darkness: The Story of a Marriage by Sally Ryder Brady.

About the book, from the publisher:

In the tradition of Joan Didion’sThe Year of Magical Thinking, comes a poignant memoir about a marriage that was as deep and strong as it was mysterious and complex

Upton and Sally Brady were a rare breed: cultivated and elegant, they lived a life of literary glamour and high expectations. Sally a debutante; Upton a classics major from Harvard, they met at the Boston Cotillion. He was articulate, witty, and worldly, and he danced like Fred Astaire. How could she resist? Despite raising four children on Upton’s modest wage as the editor-in-chief of the Atlantic Monthly Press, theirs was a world of champagne, sailboats, private islands, famous writers, family rituals, and ice-cold martinis. They lived life on their terms. But as time wore on, Upton, the charming and brilliant husband, the inventive, beguiling partner, grew opinionated, cranky, controlling, and dangerous.

When Upton died suddenly one evening in their Vermont cottage, Sally began uncovering secrets. As she went through his papers, she discovered that her husband of forty-six years had desired the love of other men. Her riveting, charismatic husband was not quite the man he appeared to be, and a year of mourning became for Sally a time to unravel the dark and unexpected web he had left behind. Hers is a moving and powerful story of coming to terms with what cannot be changed. It is also a story of great love.
Visit Sally Ryder Brady's website.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

"The History of History"

New from Knopf: The History of History by Ida Hattemer-Higgins.

About the book, from the publisher:

A ferociously intelligent debut novel about a young amnesiac’s descent into madness in contemporary Berlin, and a country wrestling with its dark past.

A young woman named Margaret stumbles one morning from a forest outside Berlin, hands dirty, clothes torn. She can remember nothing of the night in the woods, nor—she soon realizes—anything of the previous months. She returns home to her former life.

Two years later, she receives a letter from a mysterious doctor, who summons her to an appointment, claiming to be concerned for her fate. Margaret keeps the appointment, but when she leaves the doctor’s office, the entire city is transformed. Nazi ghosts manifest as preening falcons; buildings turn to flesh; reality itself wheels.

This is the story of Margaret’s race to recover her lost history—the night in the forest, and the chasm that opened in her life as a result. Awash in guilt, careening toward a shattering revelation, Margaret finds her personal amnesia resonating more and more clamorously with a nation’s criminal past, as she struggles toward an awakening that will lead her through madness to the truth, and to the unanswerable agony of her own actions.

Ida Hattemer-Higgins has written a novel about amnesia—individual, cultural, historical—about memory and oblivion, fantasy and reason, myth and redemption in our time. An unforgettable story from a bold and prodigiously gifted young talent
Visit Ida Hattemer-Higgins' website.

"The Bird House"

New from Washington Square Press: The Bird House by Kelly Simmons.

About the book, from Publishers Weekly:

Simmons (Standing Still) smoothly shifts between past and present in her complex and poignant second novel, told from the point of view of a courageous woman suffering from dementia. Ann Biddle, a venerable Main Line lady, may have trouble remembering current dates and times, but she clearly remembers the details of her daughter's death, her troubled marriage, and the man who has always truly loved her. When a school project gives Ann the opportunity to spend time with her eight-year-old granddaughter, Ellie, Ann is determined not to allow Tinsley, her controlling daughter-in-law, to sabotage their burgeoning relationship, even if it means a little extortion. By the end, Ann can declare: "We had our own constitution now, our little family, built on a solid foundation of lies, secrets, regrets, and debts. But even dark underpinnings can support something solid and light, can they not?" Enthralled readers will agree.
Visit Kelly Simmons' website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Standing Still.

My Book, The Movie: Standing Still.

Monday, January 17, 2011


New from Kensington Publishing: Delirious by Daniel Palmer.

About the book, from the publisher:

In Daniel Palmer’s blistering, fast-paced debut, one man is taken to the edge of sanity in a mind-bending novel of paranoia, deception, and revenge…

Charlie Giles is at the top of his game. An electronics superstar, he’s sold his startup company to a giant Boston firm, where he’s now a senior director. With his dog, Monte, at his side, Charlie is treated like a VIP everywhere he goes.

Then one day, everything in Charlie’s neatly ordered world starts to go terrifyingly wrong. His prestigious job and his inventions are wrenched away from him. His family is targeted, and his former employers are dying gruesomely, picked off one by one. Every sign, every shred of evidence, points to Charlie as a cold-blooded killer. And soon Charlie is unable to tell whether he’s succumbed to the pressures of work and become the architect of his own destruction., or whether he’s the victim of a relentless, diabolical attack.

In a desperate struggle to save his life, Charlie races to uncover the truth, all the while realizing that nothing can be trusted—least of all his own fractured mind…
Visit Daniel Palmer's website.

"Kings of Colorado"

New from Simon & Schuster: Kings of Colorado by David E. Hilton.

About the book, from the publisher:

A heartfelt portrait of a bygone age.

William Sheppard had never ventured beyond his Chicago neighborhood until, at thirteen, he was sent away to the Swope Ranch Boys' Reformatory, hundreds of miles from home, for stabbing his abusive father in the chest with a pocketknife. Buried deep in the Colorado mountains, Swope is shrouded in legend and defined by one prevailing rumor: that the boys who go in never come out the same.

Despite the lack of fences or gates, the boundaries are clear: prisoners are days from civilization, there exists only one accessible road—except in the wintertime, when it's buried under feet upon feet of snow, and anyone attempting escape will be shot down without hesitation in the shadow of the peaks. At 13,000 feet above sea level, the mountains aren't forgiving, and neither are the guards.

With twenty-four months of hard time ahead of him, Will quickly learns to distinguish his allies from his enemies. He also learns about the high price of a childhood lost. At Swope, herds of mustangs are trucked in to be broken by a select group of inmates. Once the horses are gentled, they are sold to ranchers and landowners across the Southwest. Horses come and go, delinquent boys come and go. The boys break the horses, Swope Reformatory breaks the boys. Throughout this ordeal, Will discovers three others who bring him into their inner circle. They are life preservers in a sea of violence and corruption.

But if the boys are to withstand the ranch, they must first overcome tragedy and death—a feat that could haunt them for years to come.
Visit David E. Hilton's website.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

"The Witch's Daughter"

New from Thomas Dunne Books: The Witch's Daughter by Paula Brackston.

About the book, from the publisher:

My name is Elizabeth Anne Hawksmith, and my age is three hundred and eighty-four years. Each new settlement asks for a new journal, and so this Book of Shadows begins…

In the spring of 1628, the Witchfinder of Wessex finds himself a true Witch. As Bess Hawksmith watches her mother swing from the Hanging Tree she knows that only one man can save her from the same fate at the hands of the panicked mob: the Warlock Gideon Masters, and his Book of Shadows. Secluded at his cottage in the woods, Gideon instructs Bess in the Craft, awakening formidable powers she didn’t know she had and making her immortal. She couldn't have foreseen that even now, centuries later, he would be hunting her across time, determined to claim payment for saving her life.

In present-day England, Elizabeth has built a quiet life for herself, , tending her garden and selling herbs and oils at the local farmers' market. But her solitude abruptly ends when a teenage girl called Tegan starts hanging around. Against her better judgment, Elizabeth begins teaching Tegan the ways of the Hedge Witch, in the process awakening memories--and demons--long thought forgotten.

Part historical romance, part modern fantasy, The Witch’s Daughter is a fresh, compelling take on the magical, yet dangerous world of Witches. Readers will long remember the fiercely independent heroine who survives plagues, wars, and the heartbreak that comes with immortality to remain true to herself, and protect the protégé she comes to love.

"The Hidden Reality"

New from Knopf: The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos by Brian Greene.

About the book, from the publisher:

From the best-selling author of The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos comes his most expansive and accessible book to date—a book that takes on the grandest question: Is ours the only universe?

There was a time when “universe” meant all there is. Everything. Yet, in recent years discoveries in physics and cosmology have led a number of scientists to conclude that our universe may be one among many. With crystal-clear prose and inspired use of analogy, Brian Greene shows how a range of different “multiverse” proposals emerges from theories developed to explain the most refined observations of both subatomic particles and the dark depths of space: a multiverse in which you have an infinite number of doppelgängers, each reading this sentence in a distant universe; a multiverse comprising a vast ocean of bubble universes, of which ours is but one; a multiverse that endlessly cycles through time, or one that might be hovering millimeters away yet remains invisible; another in which every possibility allowed by quantum physics is brought to life. Or, perhaps strangest of all, a multiverse made purely of math.

Greene, one of our foremost physicists and science writers, takes us on a captivating exploration of these parallel worlds and reveals how much of reality’s true nature may be deeply hidden within them. And, with his unrivaled ability to make the most challenging of material accessible and entertaining, Greene tackles the core question: How can fundamental science progress if great swaths of reality lie beyond our reach?

Sparked by Greene’s trademark wit and precision, The Hidden Reality is at once a far-reaching survey of cutting-edge physics and a remarkable journey to the very edge of reality—a journey grounded firmly in science and limited only by our imagination.
Deborah Solomon asked Greene: All of this speculation [about the universe] seems so devoid of practical application. Why not just use your time to try to improve life on earth by coming up with a new source of fuel? Read his answer.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

"The Cypress House"

New from Little, Brown & Company: The Cypress House by Michael Koryta.

About the book, from the publisher:

A journey to Florida's coast becomes an inescapable nightmare in the newest supernatural thriller from international bestseller Michael Koryta.

Arlen Wagner has seen it in men before--a trace of smoke in their eyes that promises imminent death. He is never wrong.

When Arlen awakens on a train one hot Florida night and sees death's telltale sign in the eyes of his fellow passengers, he tries to warn them. Only 19-year-old Paul Brickhill believes him, and the two abandon the train, hoping to escape certain death. They continue south, but soon are stranded at the Cypress House--an isolated Gulf Coast boarding house run by the beautiful Rebecca Cady--directly in the path of an approaching hurricane.

The storm isn't the only approaching danger, though. A much deadlier force controls the county and everyone living in it, and Arlen wants out--fast. But Paul refuses to abandon Rebecca to face the threats alone, even though Arlen's eerie gift warns that if they stay too long they may never leave. From its chilling beginning to terrifying end, The Cypress House is a story of relentless suspense from "one of the best of the best" (Michael Connelly).
Learn more about the author and his work at Michael Koryta's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Envy the Night.

The Page 69 Test: So Cold the River.

"Electric Barracuda"

New from HarperCollins: Electric Barracuda by Tim Dorsey.

About the book, from the publisher:

Serge Storms, that loveable thermonuclear vigilante and one-stop-Florida-trivia-shop, has been leaving corpses strewn across the Sunshine State for more than a decade. The authorities—especially one tenacious state agent—have begun to notice the exponential body count, and send a police task force to track down Serge. Could his luck finally have run out?

Meanwhile, armed with his perpetually baked sidekick, Coleman, Serge decides to blitz the state and resurrect his Internet travel-advice website—which, of course, must be the finest and the final word on trekking the Sunshine State. To up the ante, Serge concocts a theme vacation for his cyberspace audience. And that theme? You, too, can experience Florida through the eyes of a fugitive.

Off they go blogging along a getaway route through the state's most remote bayous, back roads, and bars, where the number of cadavers begin stacking up like Serge's website hits. And in the middle of all his make-believe close brushes, Serge finally wises up to his pursuers and realizes that the manic gumball rally is genuinely on "in the tradition of the great American chase movie."

Clues and questions mount:

* Who are all the women being photographed naked in the swamp?

* What made Coleman draw on his face with magic markers?

* Where is the cruise-to-nowhere taking its drunk prisoners?

* When was the last time a Civil War reenactment involved a sports car?

But Serge also has some personal business to tidy up. His grandfather's old Miami Beach gang suddenly had their life savings wiped out, and there's a good bet it was no accident. Too much action for Serge to juggle? Not when it all dovetails nicely into his Secret Master Plan. And especially if it involves Serge's favorite new obsession: tracking Al Capone's little-known escapades in the Everglades.

So gas up the car, say good-bye to the relatives, and join Serge on the lam as he drives straight for the deepest bowels of Florida to unravel the final mysteries of Electric Barracuda.
Visit Tim Dorsey's website.

The Page 69 Test: Atomic Lobster.

Friday, January 14, 2011

"Why Everyone (Else) Is a Hypocrite"

New from Princeton University Press: Why Everyone (Else) Is a Hypocrite: Evolution and the Modular Mind by Robert Kurzban.

About the book, from the publisher:

We're all hypocrites. Why? Hypocrisy is the natural state of the human mind.

Robert Kurzban shows us that the key to understanding our behavioral inconsistencies lies in understanding the mind's design. The human mind consists of many specialized units designed by the process of evolution by natural selection. While these modules sometimes work together seamlessly, they don't always, resulting in impossibly contradictory beliefs, vacillations between patience and impulsiveness, violations of our supposed moral principles, and overinflated views of ourselves.

This modular, evolutionary psychological view of the mind undermines deeply held intuitions about ourselves, as well as a range of scientific theories that require a "self" with consistent beliefs and preferences. Modularity suggests that there is no "I." Instead, each of us is a contentious "we"--a collection of discrete but interacting systems whose constant conflicts shape our interactions with one another and our experience of the world.

In clear language, full of wit and rich in examples, Kurzban explains the roots and implications of our inconsistent minds, and why it is perfectly natural to believe that everyone else is a hypocrite.
Visit the official website for Why Everyone (Else) Is a Hypocrite.

"Heart of the City"

New from Da Capo Press: Heart of the City: Nine Stories of Love and Serendipity on the Streets of New York by Ariel Sabar.

About the book, from the publisher:

“The couples in this book hail from across America and the world. Most don’t live in New York City. Some never did. What mattered to me was that they met there, in one of its iconic public places. Each of the nine stories begins just before that chance meeting—when they are strangers, oblivious to how, in moments, their lives will irrevocably change.”
—from the Introduction

The handsome Texas sailor who offers dinner to a runaway in Central Park. The Midwestern college girl who stops a cop in Times Square for restaurant advice. The Brooklyn man on a midnight subway who helps a weary tourist find her way to Chinatown. The Columbia University graduate student who encounters an unexpected object of beauty at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

A public place in the world’s greatest city. A chance meeting of strangers. A marriage. Heart of the City tells the remarkable true stories of nine ordinary couples—from the 1940s to the present—whose matchmaker was the City of New York.

Intrigued by the romance of his own parents, who met in Washington Square Park, award-winning author Ariel Sabar set off on a far-ranging search for other couples who married after first meeting in one of New York City’s iconic public spaces. Sabar conjures their big-city love stories in novel-like detail, drawing us into the hearts of strangers just as their lives are about to change forever.

In setting the stage for these surprising, funny, and moving tales, Sabar, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, takes us on a fascinating tour of the psychological research into the importance of place in how—and whether—people meet and fall in love.

Heart of the City is a paean to the physical city as matchmaker, a tribute to the power of chance, and an eloquent reminder of why we must care about the design of urban spaces.
Learn more about the author and his work at Ariel Sabar's website and blog.

Ariel Sabar covered the 2008 U.S. presidential campaigns for the Christian Science Monitor and is an award-winning former staff writer for the Baltimore Sun and the Providence (RI) Journal. His work has also appeared in the New York Times, The Washington Monthly, Mother Jones, Moment, Christianity Today and other publications.

The Page 99 Test: My Father’s Paradise.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

"Alone Together"

New from Basic Books: Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other by Sherry Turkle.

About the book, from the publisher:

Consider Facebook — it's human contact, only easier to engage with and easier to avoid. Developing technology promises closeness. Sometimes it delivers, but much of our modern life leaves us less connected with people and more connected to simulations of them.

In Alone Together, MIT technology and society professor Sherry Turkle explores the power of our new tools and toys to dramatically alter our social lives. It's a nuanced exploration of what we are looking for — and sacrificing — in a world of electronic companions and social networking tools, and an argument that, despite the hand-waving of today's self-described prophets of the future, it will be the next generation who will chart the path between isolation and connectivity.
Visit Sherry Turkle's website.

"Other Eyes"

New from Forge Books: Other Eyes by Barbara D'Amato.

About the book, from the publisher:

Blue Eriksen is a famous forensic archaeologist based at Northwestern University. She and her team are traveling the globe, testing mummies to research the use of hallucinogens in the development of ancient religions. Armed with evidence from ancient peoples, Blue has become convinced that psilocybin--a hallucinogen derived from mushrooms--can prevent or cure drug addiction. She hopes to develop testing and treatment centers.

Leeuwarden Associates is the cover name for a deeply secret international organization that facilitates the production, delivery, and sale of illegal drugs worldwide, much as OPEC facilitates the sale of oil. Leeuwarden considers Blue a long-term threat and sends Felix Hacker--one of their enforcers--to kill her. Blue has no idea she's being stalked and prepares for a dig high in the Peruvian mountains...
Visit Barbara D'Amato's website.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

"The KenKen Killings"

New from Minotaur/Thomas Dunne Books: The KenKen Killings: A Puzzle Lady Mystery by Parnell Hall.

About the book, from the publisher:

The Puzzle Lady just can’t stay out of trouble. When the late Chester T. Markowitz, a man she never met, leaves $10,000 to his beloved wife, Cora Felton, the Puzzle Lady can’t help cashing the check. Quicker than you can say legal proceedings, Cora’s least favorite ex-husband, Melvin, shows up in Bakerhaven with an attorney and a young bimbo, demanding that her alimony be terminated on the grounds she remarried.

When a key witness in the alimony hearing gets murdered, a KenKen puzzle is left at the scene of the crime. Is someone trying to tell Cora something? Before she can find out, she runs into more murders, more puzzles (both KenKen and crossword) and a murder weapon that seems to point to Melvin as the killer! At least it might have, if Cora hadn’t suppressed it.

Does the Puzzle Lady still have feelings for the scoundrel she once married? Don’t ask. She might kill you!

This twelfth in the Puzzle Lady series is sure to please fans, and make some new ones.
Learn more about the book at the author's website.

The Page 69 Test: Hitman.

"The Best Laid Plans"

New from Ballantine Books: The Best Laid Plans by Lynn Schnurnberger.

About the book, from the publisher:

From Lynn Schnurnberger, bestselling co-author of Mine Are Spectacular! and The Botox Diaries, comes a novel of big secrets, family ties, and a reminder that sometimes The Best Laid Plans can lead to delightful surprises.

Tru Newman is one of the Upper East Side “M&Ms”—the wealthy stay-at-home moms who are into personal Maintenance and Mothering. Having been raised by a beauty queen mother who constantly picked on her, Tru loves looking after her investment banker husband, Peter, and their twin teen daughters. But her perfect world spins off its axis the night Tru throws a charity benefit and discovers that Peter’s been out of work for three months. Even worse, the family’s been living on a house of cards—specifically, Visa and Amex—that’s about to collapse.

Suze Orman tells Tru to “Get a job!” But doing what? When Tru’s best friend, Sienna Post, loses her position as an anchor on the local nightly news, the two hatch a profitable if illegal plan: They’ll open an escort service with “working girls” all over the age of forty. Modeling themselves on Carla Bruni (“after she married the president of France, not before, when she was dating Mick Jagger”), their smart, sexy, seasoned escorts become a big hit with a roster of thirty-year-old clients.

If only Tru’s legit life could fall so easily into place: Her husband’s new job has him working side by side with a flirtatious neighbor, her fourteen-year-old twins are competing over a two-timing, Clearasil-using Casanova, and after suffering a heart attack in her bodybuilding class, Tru’s hypercritical mother moves in with her. Not to mention that the gossip columns get wind that Tru and Sienna’s “temp agency” isn’t on the up-and-up—and the DA is on their case.

But for the savvy and spirited Tru, these new obstacles bring unexpected benefits—from Geisha facials, to massage toys that are “better than chocolate,” to the realization that at midlife, she’s more comfortable than ever before in her own skin and more grateful for all that she has. By turns touching and laugh-out-loud funny, this is a must-read for every woman who knows it’s never too late to make a fresh start.
Visit Lynn Schnurnberger's website.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

"Smoking Typewriters"

New from Oxford University Press: Smoking Typewriters: The Sixties Underground Press and the Rise of Alternative Media in America by John McMillian.

About the book, from the publisher:

How did the New Left uprising of the 1960s happen? What caused millions of young people-many of them affluent and college educated-to suddenly decide that American society needed to be completely overhauled?

In Smoking Typewriters , historian John McMillian shows that one answer to these questions can be found in the emergence of a dynamic underground press in the 1960s. Following the lead of papers like the Los Angeles Free Press, the East Village Other, and the Berkeley Barb, young people across the country launched hundreds of mimeographed pamphlets and flyers, small press magazines, and underground newspapers. New, cheaper printing technologies democratized the publishing process and by the decade's end the combined circulation of underground papers stretched into the millions. Though not technically illegal, these papers were often genuinely subversive, and many of those who produced and sold them-on street-corners, at poetry readings, gallery openings, and coffeehouses-became targets of harassment from local and federal authorities. With writers who actively participated in the events they described, underground newspapers captured the zeitgeist of the '60s, speaking directly to their readers, and reflecting and magnifying the spirit of cultural and political protest. McMillian pays special attention to the ways underground newspapers fostered a sense of community and played a vital role in shaping the New Left's highly democratic "movement culture."

Deeply researched and eloquently written, Smoking Typewriters captures all the youthful idealism and vibrant tumult of the 1960s as it delivers a brilliant reappraisal of the origins and development of the New Left rebellion.
Visit John McMillian's website.

"J. D. Salinger: A Life"

New from Random House: J. D. Salinger: A Life by Kenneth Slawenski.

About the book, from the publisher:

One of the most popular and mysterious figures in American literary history, J. D. Salinger eluded fans and journalists for most of his life. Now comes a new biography that Peter Ackroyd in The Times of London calls “energetic and magnificently researched”—a book from which “a true picture of Salinger emerges.” Filled with new information and revelations—garnered from countless interviews, letters, and public records—J. D. Salinger presents an extraordinary life that spanned nearly the entire twentieth century.

Kenneth Slawenski explores Salinger’s privileged youth, long obscured by misrepresentation and rumor, revealing the brilliant, sarcastic, vulnerable son of a disapproving father and doting mother and his entrance into a social world where Gloria Vanderbilt dismissively referred to him as “a Jewish boy from New York.” Here too are accounts of Salinger’s first broken heart—Eugene O’Neill’s daughter, Oona, left him for the much older Charlie Chaplin—and the devastating World War II service (“a living hell”) of which he never spoke and which haunted him forever.

J. D. Salinger features all the dazzle of this author’s early writing successes, his dramatic encounters with luminaries from Ernest Hemingway to Laurence Olivier to Elia Kazan, his surprising office intrigues with famous New Yorker editors and writers, and the stunning triumph of The Catcher in the Rye, which would both make him world-famous and hasten his retreat into the hills of New Hampshire.

Whether it’s revealing the facts of his hasty, short-lived first marriage or his lifelong commitment to Eastern religion, which would dictate his attitudes toward sex, nutrition, solitude, and creativity, J. D. Salinger is this unique author’s unforgettable story in full—one that no lover of literature can afford to miss.
Visit the Dead Caulfields website.

Monday, January 10, 2011

"Cold Shot to the Heart"

New from Minotaur Books: Cold Shot to the Heart by Wallace Stroby.

About the book, from the publisher:

Crissa Stone is a career criminal. A complete pro, she never works too close to her New York City home, rarely signs on with the same crew, and never rushes a job. These are the rules that have kept her from getting caught, from doing time. They’re the rules her mentor and lover taught her, rules he didn’t follow as closely as he should’ve. Now he’s up for parole, and Crissa needs to come up with some real money real fast to help grease the wheels.

Word is that there’s an illegal card game set for less than a week from now. The take? As much as seven figures. Desperate, Crissa slaps a plan and a crew together.

It’s robbery, not murder. But when one of her crew loses his cool and they have to abandon the plan, she catches the attention of Eddie the Saint. A hit man recently released from prison, Eddie is no less of a pro than Crissa, and he could use the work, not to mention all that money.

One of the most talented writers working in crime fiction today, Wallace Stroby has written a tight, propulsive story that will hold readers captive until well after all the crooks have fled the scene.
Learn more about the author and his novels at the official Wallace Stroby website and The Heartbreak Blog.

The Page 69 Test: Gone 'til November.

"World's Greatest Sleuth!"

New from Minotaur Books: World's Greatest Sleuth!: A Holmes on the Range Mystery by Steve Hockensmith.

About the book, from the publisher:

In 1893, the Amlingmeyer boys venture forth from the west in response to a summons from Otto’s (“Big Red”) publisher— they are to come to Chicago immediately, to the World’s Columbian Exposition, and compete with some of the most famous detectives in the world. Set to coincide with the closing days of the first World’s Fair and the publication of the story revealing the death of Sherlock Holmes, Gustav (“Old Red”) will be competing for the title of World’s Greatest Sleuth! Hating train travel and cities, the real draw is the chance to meet up again with the intriguing and elusive Diana Corvus. But the competition has barely begun before there is a murder in “the White City”—the organizer of the contest is discovered face down in the Mammoth Cheese from Canada—and from there, the game is really afoot.
Visit Big Red's blog to learn more about Steve Hockensmith and his writing.

The Page 69 Test: On the Wrong Track.

My Book, The Movie: Holmes on the Range.

The Page 99 Test: The Black Dove.

The Page 69 Test: The Crack in the Lens.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


New from Tor Books: Farlander by Col Buchanan.

About the book, from the publisher:

The Heart of the World is a land in strife. For fifty years the Holy Empire of Mann, an empire and religion born from a nihilistic urban cult, has been conquering nation after nation. Their leader, Holy Matriarch Sasheen, ruthlessly maintains control through her Diplomats, priests trained as subtle predators.

Ash is a member of an elite group of assassins, the Roshun, who offer protection through the threat of vendetta. Forced by his ailing health to take on an apprentice, he chooses Nico, a young man living in the besieged city of Bar-Khos. At the time, Nico is hungry, desperate, and alone in a city that finds itself teetering on the brink.

When the Holy Matriarch’s son deliberately murders a woman under the protection of the Roshun; he forces the sect to seek his life in retribution. As Ash and his young apprentice set out to fulfill the Roshun orders, their journey takes them into the heart of the conflict between the Empire and the Free Ports…into bloodshed and death.
Visit Col Buchanan's website.

"Stolen World"

New from Crown: Stolen World: A Tale of Reptiles, Smugglers, and Skulduggery by Jennie Erin Smith.

About the book, from the publisher:

Tortoises disappear from a Madagascar reserve and reappear in the Bronx Zoo. A dead iguana floats in a jar, awaiting its unveiling in a Florida court. A viper causes mayhem from Ethiopia to Virginia. In Stolen World, Jennie Erin Smith takes the reader on an unforgettable journey, a dark adventure over five decades and six continents.

In 1965, Hank Molt, a young cheese salesman from Philadelphia, reinvented himself as a “specialist dealer in rare fauna,” traveling the world to collect exquisite reptiles for zoos and museums. By the end of the decade that followed, new endangered species laws had turned Molt into a convicted smuggler, and an unrepentant one, who went on to provide many of the same rare reptiles to many of the same institutions, covertly.

But Molt soon found a rival in Tommy Crutchfield, a Florida carpet salesman with every intention of usurping Molt as the most accomplished reptile smuggler in the country. Like Molt, Crutchfield had modeled himself after an earlier generation of natural-history collectors celebrated for their service to science, an ideal that, for Molt and Crutchfield, eclipsed the realities of the new wildlife-protection laws. Zoo curators, caught between a desire for rare animals and the conservation-minded focus of their institutions, became the smugglers’ antagonists in court but also their best customers, sometimes simultaneously.

Crutchfield forged ties with a criminally inclined Malaysian wildlife trader and emerged a millionaire, beloved by some of the finest zoos in the world. Molt, following a string of inventive but disastrous smuggling schemes in New Guinea, was reduced to hanging around Crutchfield’s Florida compound, plotting Crutchfield’s demise. The fallout from their feud would result in a major federal investigation with tentacles in Germany, Madagascar, Holland, and Malaysia. And yet even after prison, personal ruin, and the depredations of age, Molt and Crutchfield never stopped scheming, never stopped longing for the snake or lizard that would earn each his rightful place in a world that had forgotten them—or rather, had never recognized them to begin with.
Visit Jennie Erin Smith's website.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

"Caribou Island"

New from Harper: Caribou Island by David Vann.

About the book, from the publisher:

The prize-winning author of Legend of a Suicide delivers his highly anticipated debut novel.

On a small island in a glacier-fed lake on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula, a marriage is unraveling. Gary, driven by thirty years of diverted plans, and Irene, haunted by a tragedy in her past, are trying to rebuild their life together. Following the outline of Gary's old dream, they're hauling logs to Caribou Island in good weather and in terrible storms, in sickness and in health, to build the kind of cabin that drew them to Alaska in the first place.

But this island is not right for Irene. They are building without plans or advice, and when winter comes early, the overwhelming isolation of the prehistoric wilderness threatens their bond to the core. Caught in the emotional maelstrom is their adult daughter, Rhoda, who is wrestling with the hopes and disap-pointments of her own life. Devoted to her parents, she watches helplessly as they drift further apart.

Brilliantly drawn and fiercely honest, Caribou Island captures the drama and pathos of a husband and wife whose bitter love, failed dreams, and tragic past push them to the edge of destruction. A portrait of desolation, violence, and the darkness of the soul, it is an explosive and unforgettable novel from a writer of limitless possibility.
Visit David Vann's website.

"Buffalo West Wing"

New from Berkley: Buffalo West Wing by Julie Hyzy.

About the book, from the publisher:

With a new First Family, White House executive chef Olivia Paras can't afford to make any mistakes. But when a box of take-out chicken mysteriously shows up for the First Kids, she soon finds herself in a "no-wing" situation. After Olivia refuses to serve the chicken, the First Lady gives her the cold shoulder. But when it turns out to be poisoned poultry, Olivia realizes the kids are true targets.
Learn more about the books and author at Julie Hyzy's website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: the White House Chef mysteries.