Monday, February 28, 2011

"Rizzo's Fire"

New from Minotaur Books: Rizzo's Fire by Lou Manfredo.

About the book, from the publisher:

As twenty-year NYPD veteran Joe Rizzo edges closer to retirement, things only seem to get harder: a new partner, a promise to his wife to quit smoking, and the most baffling case of his career—a murder investigation.

The victim, Robert Lauria, was practically a hermit and was dead ten days before anyone found him. Fired from his job as a shoe salesman weeks ago, he rarely left his apartment and had no visitors except his cousin, who says she hardly knew him. So who strangled him late one night as he made tea in his kitchen? And could there be a connection to the headline-grabbing murder of a Broadway producer a day earlier?

Armed with more street smarts than the FBI agents assigned to the more glamorous case, Rizzo and his new partner, Priscilla Jackson, are tasked with navigating the twin labyrinths of the case and NYPD politics in order to find the killer and bring him to justice.

Full of the sounds and sights of walking the beat in Bensonhurst, Rizzo’s Fire comes on the heels of Lou Manfredo’s acclaimed debut, Rizzo’s War, and brings the streets of Brooklyn to life in a way that no New York City crime novel has before.
The Page 69 Test: Rizzo's War.

"Your Wildest Dreams, Within Reason"

New from Tin House Books: Your Wildest Dreams, Within Reason by Mike Sacks.

About the book, from the publisher:

Ever accidentally sent a mass e-mail to your office describing your Not Safe-For-Work fantasy kingdom? Or been confused about the ground rules at a cuddle party? Looking to rent an overpriced room in the Hamptons from a co-dependent sociopath with a checkered past (and a hot tub)? Good.

Your Wildest Dreams, Within Reason collects Mike Sacks’s unique humor pieces—Craigslist ads, lesser-known tantric positions, letters to famous authors, Shaft living in the suburbs, a classic-rock DJ suffering a nervous breakdown, the occasional list—into one handsome, convenient volume. Originally published in The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Esquire, and McSweeney’s, among other venerable publications, Sacks’s writing is original and sharp, yet broadly funny. Whether it’s a groom tweeting his wedding and honeymoon in real time, or a publisher offering editorial suggestions for The Diary of Anne Frank, Sacks’s work tangles contemporary social satire with his absurdist sensibilities.
Visit Mike Sacks's website.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

"The Night Season"

New from Minotaur Books: The Night Season by Chelsea Cain.

About the book, from the publisher:

With the Beauty Killer Gretchen Lowell locked away behind bars once again, Archie Sheridan—a Portland police detective and nearly one of her victims—can finally rest a little easier. Meanwhile, the rest of the city of Portland is in crisis. Heavy rains have flooded the Willamette River, and several people have drowned in the quickly rising waters. Or at least that’s what they thought until the medical examiner discovers that the latest victim didn’t drown: She was poisoned before she went into the water. Soon after, three of those drownings are also proven to be murders. Portland has a new serial killer on its hands, and Archie and his task force have a new case.

Reporter Susan Ward is chasing this story of a new serial killer with gusto, but she’s also got another lead to follow for an entirely separate mystery: The flooding has unearthed a skeleton, a man who might have died more than sixty years ago, the last time Portland flooded this badly, when the water washed away an entire neighborhood and killed at least fifteen people.

With Archie following the bizarre trail of evidence and evil deeds to catch a killer and possibly regain his life, and Susan Ward close behind, Chelsea Cain—one of today’s most talented suspense writers—launches the next installment of her bestselling series with an electric thriller.
Learn more about the author and her work at Chelsea Cain's website and blog.

The Page 99 Test: Sweetheart.

The Page 69 Test: Evil at Heart.

"The Priest"

New from Scribner: The Priest by Gerard O'Donovan.

About the book, from the publisher:

From the most riveting writer to come out of Ireland since John Connolly, the first in a series of Dublin-based thrillers introducing Inspector Mike Mulcahy, who is pitched into a deadly battle with a religion-obsessed serial killer.

Gerard O'Donovan puts Dublin on the map with this gripping tale featuring a diabolical serial killer steeped in Ireland's Catholic history. Struggling to find his feet back in Ireland after a lengthy posting with Europol in Spain, drugs specialist Mike Mulcahy is plunged into unfamiliar territory when the daughter of a politician suffers a horrific sex attack. Dragged into the case against his will, Mulcahy becomes convinced there is more to it than a random frenzied sexual assault, especially when he discovers that the weapon used by the attacker to torture the victim was a crucifix. But know-it-all colleagues and politically motivated bosses, eager for a quick, uncontroversial result, ignore his belief that the attack had religious rather than sexual motivations. Sidelined and overruled, Mulcahy sets about his own investigation, but frustrations abound at every turn—until reporter Siobhan Fallon turns up asking awkward questions. As more young women are attacked and assault turns to murder, Mulcahy and Fallon are drawn into an uneasy alliance, and each step they take hurtles them ever closer to the monstrous killer known only as The Priest and a final showdown that is as explosive as it is unforgettable.
Visit Gerard O'Donovan's website.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

"The Wise Man's Fear"

New from DAW/Penguin: The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss.

About the book, from the publisher:

"There are three things all wise men fear: the sea in storm, a night with no moon, and the anger of a gentle man."

My name is Kvothe.

I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.

You may have heard of me.

So begins the tale of a hero told from his own point of view-a story unequaled in fantasy literature. Now in The Wise Man's Fear, Day Two of The Kingkiller Chronicle, an escalating rivalry with a powerful member of the nobility forces Kvothe to leave the University and seek his fortune abroad. Adrift, penniless, and alone, he travels to Vintas, where he quickly becomes entangled in the politics of courtly society. While attempting to curry favor with a powerful noble, Kvothe uncovers an assassination attempt, comes into conflict with a rival arcanist, and leads a group of mercenaries into the wild, in an attempt to solve the mystery of who (or what) is waylaying travelers on the King's road.

All the while, Kvothe searches for answers, attempting to uncover the truth about the mysterious Amyr, the Chandrian, and the death of his parents. Along the way, Kvothe is put on trial by the legendary Adem mercenaries, is forced to reclaim the honor of the Edema Ruh, and travels into the Fae realm. There he meets Felurian, the faerie woman no man can resist, and who no man has ever survived...until Kvothe.

In The Wise Man's Fear, Kvothe takes his first steps on the path of the hero and learns how difficult life can be when a man becomes a legend in his own time.
Visit Patrick Rothfuss's website and blog.

Patrick Rothfuss's "The Name of the Wind," the movie.

"Minding Frankie"

New from Knopf: Minding Frankie by Maeve Binchy.

About the book, from the publisher:

Maeve Binchy is back with a tale of joy, heartbreak and hope, about a motherless girl collectively raised by a close-knit Dublin community.

When Noel learns that his terminally ill former flame is pregnant with his child, he agrees to take guardianship of the baby girl once she’s born. But as a single father battling demons of his own, Noel can’t do it alone.

Fortunately, he has a competent, caring network of friends, family and neighbors: Lisa, his unlucky-in-love classmate, who moves in with him to help him care for little Frankie around the clock; his American cousin, Emily, always there with a pep talk; the newly retired Dr. Hat, with more time on his hands than he knows what to do with; Dr. Declan and Fiona and their baby son, Frankie’s first friend; and many eager babysitters, including old friends Signora and Aidan and Frankie’s doting grandparents, Josie and Charles.

But not everyone is pleased with the unconventional arrangement, especially a nosy social worker, Moira, who is convinced that Frankie would be better off in a foster home. Now it’s up to Noel to persuade her that everyone in town has something special to offer when it comes to minding Frankie.

Friday, February 25, 2011

"Tiger, Tiger"

New from Farrar, Straus and Giroux: Tiger, Tiger: A Memoir by Margaux Fragoso.

About the book, from the publisher:

One summer day, Margaux Fragoso meets Peter Curran at the neighborhood swimming pool, and they begin to play. She is seven; he is fifty-one. When Peter invites her and her mother to his house, the little girl finds a child’s paradise of exotic pets and an elaborate backyard garden. Her mother, beset by mental illness and overwhelmed by caring for Margaux, is grateful for the attention Peter lavishes on her, and he creates an imaginative universe for her, much as Lewis Carroll did for his real-life Alice.

In time, he insidiously takes on the role of Margaux’s playmate, father, and lover. Charming and manipulative, Peter burrows into every aspect of Margaux’s life and transforms her from a child fizzing with imagination and affection into a brainwashed young woman on the verge of suicide. But when she is twenty-two, it is Peter—ill, and wracked with guilt—who kills himself, at the age of sixty-six.

Told with lyricism, depth, and mesmerizing clarity, Tiger, Tiger vividly illustrates the healing power of memory and disclosure. This extraordinary memoir is an unprecedented glimpse into the psyche of a young girl in free fall and conveys to readers—including parents and survivors of abuse—just how completely a pedophile enchants his victim and binds her to him.

"Rodin's Debutante"

New from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: Rodin's Debutante by Ward Just.

About the book, from the publisher:

Tommy Ogden, a Gatsbyesque character living in a mansion outside robber-baron-era Chicago, declines to give his wife the money to commission a bust of herself from the French master Rodin and announces instead his intention to endow a boys’ school. Ogden’s decision reverberates years later in the life of Lee Goodell, whose coming of age is at the heart of Ward Just’s emotionally potent new novel.

Lee’s life decisions—to become a sculptor, to sojourn in the mean streets of the South Side, to marry into the haute-intellectual culture of Hyde Park—play out against the crude glamour of midcentury Chicago. Just’s signature skill of conveying emotional heft with few words is put into play as Lee confronts the meaning of his four years at Ogden Hall School under the purview, in the school library, of a bust known as Rodin’s Debutante. And, especially, as he meets again a childhood friend, the victim of a brutal sexual assault of which she has no memory. It was a crime marking the end of Lee’s boyhood and the beginning of his understanding—so powerfully under the surface of Just’s masterly story—that how and what we remember add up to nothing less than our very lives.
See Ward Just's list of six books with an “autumnal” quality.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


New from Viking: Moby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists, and Fools, Including the Author, Who Went in Search of Them by Donovan Hohn.

About the book, from the publisher:

A revelatory tale of science, adventure, and modern myth.

When the writer Donovan Hohn heard of the mysterious loss of thousands of bath toys at sea, he figured he would interview a few oceanographers, talk to a few beachcombers, and read up on Arctic science and geography. But questions can be like ocean currents: wade in too far, and they carry you away. Hohn's accidental odyssey pulls him into the secretive world of shipping conglomerates, the daring work of Arctic researchers, the lunatic risks of maverick sailors, and the shadowy world of Chinese toy factories.

Moby-Duck is a journey into the heart of the sea and an adventure through science, myth, the global economy, and some of the worst weather imaginable. With each new discovery, Hohn learns of another loose thread, and with each successive chase, he comes closer to understanding where his castaway quarry comes from and where it goes. In the grand tradition of Tony Horwitz and David Quammen, Moby-Duck is a compulsively readable narrative of whimsy and curiosity.
Visit Donovan Hohn's website.


New from AmazonEncore: Shaken by J.A. Konrath.

About the book:

Since her debut in Whiskey Sour, Lieutenant Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels has dealt with her fair share of criminals. But she may have finally met her match in “Mr. K,” the brutal serial killer who has eluded Jack not once, but twice, over the years.

Mr. K is the essence of evil, credited with more than two hundred horrific homicides. Now, on a hot August night, Jack finally gets the chance to face the maniac—unfortunately, she must do so while bound and gagged in a storage locker, primed to be his next victim. As she awaits her fate, Jack looks back on her career, from her first homicide case to her recent retirement.

The twenty-five years in between saw Jack’s attitude toward justice, the law, her job, and her personal life shift drastically. She is a different woman now…but is she good enough to stop a madman? Konrath’s trademark blend of suspense and wry humor are on full display in this tense thriller, a gripping tale that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.
Learn more about J.A. Konrath and his writing.

The Page 99 Test: Dirty Martini.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

"Cleaning Nabokov's House"

New from Touchstone: Cleaning Nabokov's House by Leslie Daniels.

About the book, from the publisher:

"I knew I could stay in this town when I found the blue enamel pot floating in the lake. The pot led me to the house, the house led me to the book, the book to the lawyer, the lawyer to the whorehouse, the whorehouse to science, and from science I joined the world."

So begins Leslie Daniels's funny and moving novel about a woman's desperate attempt to rebuild her life. When Barb Barrett walks out on her loveless marriage she doesn't realize she will lose everything: her home, her financial security, even her beloved children. Approaching forty with her life in shambles and no family or friends to turn to, Barb must now discover what it means to rely on herself in a stark new emotional landscape.

Guided only by her intense inner voice and a unique entrepreneurial vision, Barb begins to collect the scattered pieces of her life. She moves into a house once occupied by Vladimir Nabokov, author of the controversial masterpiece Lolita, and discovers a manuscript that may be his lost work. As her journey gathers momentum, Barb deepens a connection with her new world, discovering resources in her community and in herself that no one had anticipated. Written in elegant prose with touches of sharp humor and wit, Cleaning Nabokov's House offers a new vision of modern love and a fervent reminder that it is never too late to find faith in our truest selves.
Visit Leslie Daniels's website.

"Nude Walker"

New from Farrar, Straus and Giroux/Sarah Crichton Books: Nude Walker by Bathsheba Monk.

About the book, from the publisher:

“I think the most beautiful things in the world are things in flux,” says Kat Warren-Bineki, the heroine of Nude Walker. Everything about Kat’s world is in flux. She hails from Warrenside, Pennsylvania, a once prosperous town named after her mother’s family. With the death of the steel industry, Warrenside has fallen on hard times; when its economy falters, Kat and her parents are among the few citizens still eking out a living there.

And then there’s Kat’s love life. As the young, beautiful granddaughter of a proud old-guard industrialist, she has plenty of suitors and a longtime boyfriend; certainly she has no business falling in love with Max Asad. After all, Max is the aloof only son of a newly arrived Lebanese entrepreneur who, despite the resistance of Warrenside’s traditionalists, has bought up most of its dilapidated downtown and is trying to get it off life support.

But when Max and Kat return from Afghanistan, where both served with the National Guard, they share a series of intriguing encounters, and soon neither can deny that their romance has changed them. Kat forfeits her social standing by declaring love for a bitterly resented foreigner, and when Max’s heart wins out, he jeopardizes his father’s dreams for a brighter, better Warrenside. As their families feud (sometimes comically, sometimes ferociously), the old town braces for an epic flood, and the city’s denizens try frantically to realize their ambitions—with love, lust, insurance fraud, hallucinations ... any means of outrunning their obsolescence.

Above all, Nude Walker is a story of forbidden love seen through the prism of post-industrial America. Bathsheba Monk writes with flinty wit and warm spirit, but she’s unlike other writers we know. In a voice as true as it is disarming, she depicts the kaleidoscopic tensions between generations and cultures. As Library Journal said about her, “Monk makes us see that we are all exiles in a changing world.” In Nude Walker, she offers an unlikely romance about the fantastical myths we weave to define ourselves in unmoored times.
Visit Bathsheba Monk's website and blog.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"These Things Hidden"

New from Mira: These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf.

About the book, from the publisher:

When teenager Allison Glenn is sent to prison for a heinous crime, she leaves behind her reputation as Linden Falls' golden girl forever. Her parents deny the existence of their once-perfect child. Her former friends exult in her downfall. Her sister, Brynn, faces whispered rumors every day in the hallways of their small Iowa high school. It's Brynn—shy, quiet Brynn—who carries the burden of what really happened that night. All she wants is to forget Allison and the past that haunts her.

But then Allison is released to a halfway house, and is more determined than ever to speak with her estranged sister.

Now their legacy of secrets is focused on one little boy. And if the truth is revealed, the consequences will be unimaginable for the adoptive mother who loves him, the girl who tried to protect him and the two sisters who hold the key to all that is hidden.
Visit Heather Gudenkauf's website and journal.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Heather Gudenkauf and Maxine.

"When You Were Mine"

New from Touchstone: When You Were Mine by Elizabeth Noble.

About the book, from the publisher:


Susannah has been living with Doug for eight years, acting as stepmother to his three unappreciative children and wondering why she doesn't mind much when he sometimes sleeps in his study. She's known her best friend Amelia since they were teenagers. Amelia never minces words, and Susannah doesn't like hearing what Amelia has to say about her noncommittal relationship.

At her brother's wedding, Susannah runs into Rob—her first love, the love of her life. There's no band on his ring finger, and Susannah begins to fantasize. Her fantasies turn to reality when Rob gives her a call. Susannah's world is rocked by her rekindled feelings for Rob, then totally turned upside down by a revelation from Amelia. Just when Susannah and Amelia need each other the most, they are facing a crisis that threatens to tear their friendship apart. Without her familiar guiding star, Susannah must finally make some hard choices in order to grow up for good, no matter who or what she has to leave behind.

Heartwarming, wise, and sophisticated, When You Were Mine is a story about first loves, best friends, and choices that will resonate with readers everywhere.
Visit Elizabeth Noble's website.

Monday, February 21, 2011

"The Sweet Relief of Missing Children"

New from W.W. Norton: The Sweet Relief of Missing Children by Sarah Braunstein.

About the book, from the publisher:

In New York City, a girl called Leonora vanishes without a trace. Years earlier and miles upstate, Goldie, a wild, negligent mother, searches for a man to help raise her precocious son, Paul, who later discovers that the only way to save his soul is to run away. As the narrative moves back and forth in time, we find deeper interconnections between these stories and growing clues about Leonora—this missing girl whose face looks out from telephone poles and billboards—whom one character will give anything to save.

The Sweet Relief of Missing Children is a suspenseful novel about the power of running and the desire for reinvention. It explores the terror and transcendence of our most central experiences: childhood, parenthood, sex, love.
Visit Sarah Braunstein's website.

"Night Vision"

New from Putnam: Night Vision by Randy Wayne White.

About the book, from the publisher:

Doc Ford is on a collision course with death in this extraordinary new novel from the New York Times bestselling author.

A lot is going on in the trailer park known as Little Guadalajara, inhabited principally by illegal laborers. The park manager is the hired gun of a financial syndicate that wants to develop the property, and he's prepared to do whatever it takes-but he can't figure out what to do about the teenage girl, the one the laborers believe has some sort of gift.

When she witnesses him killing a man, though, and runs, there's nothing left to figure: He's got to find her fast and shut her up good. Her only hope for survival: a marine biologist (and sometimes more) named Doc Ford, who along with his friend Tomlinson, must undertake a search through an underground, invisible nation...and just hope he reaches her first.
Visit Randy Wayne White's website.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

"And I Shall Have Some Peace There"

New from Grand Central Publishing: And I Shall Have Some Peace There: Trading in the Fast Lane for My Own Dirt Road by Margaret Roach.

About the book, from the publisher:

Margaret Roach worked at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia for 15 years, serving as Editorial Director for the last 6. She first made her name in gardening, writing a classic gardening book among other things. She now has a hugely popular gardening blog, "A Way to Garden." But despite the financial and professional rewards of her job, Margaret felt unfulfilled. So she moved to her weekend house upstate in an effort to lead a more authentic life by connecting with her garden and with nature. The memoir she wrote about this journey is funny, quirky, humble--and uplifting--an Eat, Pray, Love without the travel-and allows readers to live out the fantasy of quitting the rat race and getting away from it all.
Visit Margaret Roach's website.

"Learning to Swim"

New from Crown: Learning to Swim by Sara J. Henry.

About the book, from the publisher:

“If I’d blinked, I would have missed it. But I didn’t, and I saw something fall from the rear deck of the opposite ferry: a small, wide-eyed human face, in one tiny frozen moment, as it plummeted toward the water.”

When she witnesses a small child tumbling from a ferry into Lake Champlain, Troy Chance dives in without thinking. Harrowing moments later, she bobs to the surface, pulling a terrified little boy with her. As the ferry disappears into the distance, she begins a bone-chilling swim nearly a mile to shore with a tiny passenger on her back.

Surprisingly, he speaks only French. He’ll acknowledge that his name is Paul; otherwise, he’s resolutely mute.

Troy assumes that Paul’s frantic parents will be in touch with the police or the press. But what follows is a shocking and deafening silence. And Troy, a freelance writer, finds herself as fiercely determined to protect Paul as she is to find out what happened to him. What she uncovers will take her into a world of wealth and privilege and heedless self-indulgence—a world in which the murder of a child is not unthinkable. She’ll need skill and courage to survive and protect her charge and herself.

Sara J. Henry’s powerful and compelling Learning to Swim will move and disturb readers right up to its shattering conclusion.
Visit Sara J. Henry's website and blog.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

"My Father's Fortune"

New from Henry Holt: My Father's Fortune: A Life by Michael Frayn.

About the book, from the publisher:

For the first time, Michael Frayn, the "master of what is seriously funny,"* turns his humor and narrative genius on his own family's story, to re-create the world that made him who he is

Whether he is deliriously funny or philosophically profound, as a novelist and a playwright Michael Frayn has concerned himself with the ordinary life lived by erring humans, which is always more extraordinary than people think. In My Father's Fortune, Frayn reveals the original exemplar of the extraordinary-ordinary life: his father, Tom Frayn.

A clever lad, a roofing salesman with a winning smile and a racetrack vocabulary, Tom Frayn emerged undaunted from a childhood spent in two rooms with six other people, all of them deaf. And undaunted he stayed, through German rockets, feckless in-laws, and his own increasing deafness; through the setback of a son as bafflingly slow-witted as the father was quick on his feet; through the shockingly sudden tragedy that darkened his life.

Tom Frayn left his son little more than three watches and two ink-and-wash prints. But the true fortune he passed on was the great humor and spirit revealed in this beguiling memoir.

* Anthony Burgess

"A Widow's Story"

New from Ecco: A Widow's Story: A Memoir by Joyce Carol Oates.

About the book, from the publisher:

In a work unlike anything she's written before, National Book Award winner Joyce Carol Oates unveils a poignant, intimate memoir about the unexpected death of her husband of forty-six years and its wrenching, surprising aftermath.

"My husband died, my life collapsed."

On a February morning in 2008, Joyce Carol Oates drove her ailing husband, Raymond Smith, to the emergency room of the Princeton Medical Center where he was diagnosed with pneumonia. Both Joyce and Ray expected him to be released in a day or two. But in less than a week, even as Joyce was preparing for his discharge, Ray died from a virulent hospital-acquired infection, and Joyce was suddenly faced—totally unprepared—with the stunning reality of widowhood.

A Widow's Story illuminates one woman's struggle to comprehend a life without the partnership that had sustained and defined her for nearly half a century. As never before, Joyce Carol Oates shares the derangement of denial, the anguish of loss, the disorientation of the survivor amid a nightmare of "death-duties," and the solace of friendship. She writes unflinchingly of the experience of grief—the almost unbearable suspense of the hospital vigil, the treacherous "pools" of memory that surround us, the vocabulary of illness, the absurdities of commercialized forms of mourning. Here is a frank acknowledgment of the widow's desperation—only gradually yielding to the recognition that "this is my life now."

Enlivened by the piercing vision, acute perception, and mordant humor that are the hallmarks of the work of Joyce Carol Oates, this moving tale of life and death, love and grief, offers a candid, never-before-glimpsed view of the acclaimed author and fiercely private woman.

Friday, February 18, 2011


New from Doubleday: Snowdrops by A.D. Miller.

About the book, from the publisher:

An intense psychological drama that echoes sophisticated entertainments like Gorky Park and The Talented Mr. Ripley.

Nick Platt is a British lawyer working in Moscow in the early 2000s—a place where the cascade of oil money, the tightening grip of the government, the jostling of the oligarchs, and the loosening of Soviet social mores have led to a culture where corruption, decadence, violence, and betrayal define everyday life. Nick doesn’t ask too many questions about the shady deals he works on—he’s too busy enjoying the exotic, surreally sinful nightlife Moscow has to offer.

One day in the subway, he rescues two willowy sisters, Masha and Katya, from a would-be purse snatcher. Soon Nick, the seductive Masha, and long-limbed Katya are cruising the seamy glamour spots of the city. Nick begins to feel something for Masha that he is pleased to think is love. Then the sisters ask Nick to help their aged aunt, Tatiana, find a new apartment.

Of course, nothing is as it seems—including this extraordi­nary debut novel. The twists in the story take it far beyond its noirish frame—the sordid and vivid portrayal of Moscow serves as a backdrop for a book that examines the irresistible allure of sin, featuring characters whose hearts are as cold as the Russian winter.
Visit the official Snowdrops website.

"The Paris Wife"

New from Ballantine Books: The Paris Wife by Paula McLain.

About the book, from the publisher:

A deeply evocative story of ambition and betrayal, The Paris Wife captures a remarkable period of time and a love affair between two unforgettable people: Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley.

Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness—until she meets Ernest Hemingway and her life changes forever. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group—the fabled “Lost Generation”—that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.

Though deeply in love, the Hemingways are ill prepared for the hard-drinking and fast-living life of Jazz Age Paris, which hardly values traditional notions of family and monogamy. Surrounded by beautiful women and competing egos, Ernest struggles to find the voice that will earn him a place in history, pouring all the richness and intensity of his life with Hadley and their circle of friends into the novel that will become The Sun Also Rises. Hadley, meanwhile, strives to hold on to her sense of self as the demands of life with Ernest grow costly and her roles as wife, friend, and muse become more challenging. Despite their extraordinary bond, they eventually find themselves facing the ultimate crisis of their marriage—a deception that will lead to the unraveling of everything they’ve fought so hard for.

A heartbreaking portrayal of love and torn loyalty, The Paris Wife is all the more poignant because we know that, in the end, Hemingway wrote that he would rather have died than fallen in love with anyone but Hadley.
The Page 69 Test: Paula McLain's A Ticket to Ride.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

"One Rough Man"

New from Dutton: One Rough Man by Brad Taylor.

About the book, from the publisher:

Vince Flynn and Brad Thor, move over: introducing a pulse-pounding new international thriller series by a former Delta Force commander.

They call it the Taskforce. Their existence is as essential as it is illegal. Commissioned at the highest level of the U.S. government. Protected from the prying eyes of Congress and the media. Built around the top operators from across the clandestine, intelligence, and special forces landscape. Designed to operate outside the bounds of U.S. law. Trained to exist on the ragged edge of human capability.

Pike Logan was the most successful operator on the Taskforce, his instincts and talents unrivaled-until personal tragedy permanently altered his outlook on the world. Pike knows what the rest of the country might not want to admit: The real threat isn't from any nation, any government, any terrorist group. The real threat is one or two men, controlled by ideology, operating independently, in possession of a powerful weapon.

Buried in a stack of intercepted chatter is evidence of two such men. The transcripts are scheduled for analysis in three months. The attack is mere days away. It is their bad luck that they're about to cross paths with Pike Logan. And Pike Logan has nothing left to lose.
Visit Brad Taylor's website.

"Instruments of Darkness"

New from Penguin: Instruments of Darkness by Imogen Robertson.

About the book, from the publisher:

An intricate historical page-turner about a forbidding country estate and the unlikely forensic duo who set out to uncover its deadly secrets.

In the year 1780, Harriet Westerman, the willful mistress of a country manor in Sussex, finds a dead man on her grounds with a ring bearing the crest of Thornleigh Hall in his pocket. Not one to be bound by convention or to shy away from adventure, she recruits a reclusive local anatomist named Gabriel Crowther to help her find the murderer, and historical suspense's newest investigative duo is born.

For years, Mrs. Westerman has sensed the menace of neighboring Thornleigh Hall, seat of the Earl of Sussex. It is the home of a once- great family that has been reduced to an ailing invalid, his whorish wife, and his alcoholic second son, a man haunted by his years spent as a redcoat in the Revolutionary War. The same day, Alexander Adams is slain by an unknown killer in his London music shop, leaving his children orphaned. His death will lead back to Sussex, and to an explosive secret that has already destroyed one family and threatens many others.

Instruments of Darkness combines the brooding atmosphere of Anne Perry with the complex, compelling detail of Tess Gerritsen, moving from drawing room to dissecting room, from coffee house to country inn. Mrs. Westerman and Mr. Crowther are both razor-sharp minds and their personalities breathe spirit into this gripping historical mystery.
Visit Imogen Robertson's website.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

"The Old Romantic"

New from Riverhead: The Old Romantic by Louise Dean.

About the book, from the publisher:

A long-estranged family discovers that blood is thicker than water in this hilarious and moving domestic comedy.

It's been a couple of decades since Nick cast off his impossible, contentious, embarrassingly working-class parents: gruff, stingy, explosive Ken and June, who seemed to revert to a primal state of nature after a divorce that both of them managed to blame on Nick. Enjoying the life of the country gentleman that he's made for himself with impeccably turned-out Astrid and her teenage daughter, Laura, Nick has kept only the slenderest family connection to his brother, Dave, who's stuck with the role of ambassador in a family that's long settled into cold war.

But then Ken decides that the year of his death has arrived, and thus kicks off an ill-conceived quest to reunite his family before he meets his fate. Bringing to this tinderbox just the spark it needs, Louise Dean sends up the whole clan, each of them fatally flawed yet saved by hidden grace, and illuminates with her incomparable acuity their clashes of generation, gender, class, and temperament, in a riotous and compassionate conflagration.
Visit Louise Dean's website.

"Strange Stirring"

New from Basic Books: Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s by Stephanie Coontz.

About the book, from the publisher:

n 1963, Betty Friedan unleashed a storm of controversy with her bestselling book, The Feminine Mystique. Hundreds of women wrote to her to say that the book had transformed, even saved, their lives. Nearly half a century later, many women still recall where they were when they first read it. In A Strange Stirring, historian Stephanie Coontz examines the dawn of the 1960s, when the sexual revolution had barely begun, newspapers advertised for “perky, attractive gal typists,” but married women were told to stay home, and husbands controlled almost every aspect of family life. Based on exhaustive research and interviews, and challenging both conservative and liberal myths about Friedan, A Strange Stirring brilliantly illuminates how a generation of women came to realize that their dissatisfaction with domestic life didn’t reflect their personal weakness but rather a social and political injustice.
The Page 69 Test: Stephanie Coontz's Marriage, A History.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"Skipping a Beat"

New from Washington Square Press: Skipping a Beat by Sarah Pekkanen.

About the book, from the publisher:

What would you do if your husband wanted to rewrite the rules of your relationship?

Julia Dunhill, a thirty-something party planner, seems to have it all: Married to her high school sweetheart and living in a gorgeous home in Washington D.C., she imagines her future unfolding very much as it has for the past few years, since she and her husband Michael successfully launched their companies. There will be dinner parties to attend, operas to dress up for, and weddings and benefits to organize for her growing list of clients. There will be shopping sprees with her best friend, Isabelle, and inevitably those last five pounds to shed. In her darker moments, she worries that her marriage has dissolved from a true partnership into a façade, but she convinces herself it’s due to the intensity of their careers and fast-paced lifestyle.

So as she arranges the molten chocolate cupcakes for the annual Opera benefit, how can she know that her carefully-constructed world is about to fall apart? That her husband will stand up from the head of the table in his company’s boardroom, open his mouth to speak, and crash to the carpeted floor… all in the amount of time it will take her to walk across a ballroom floor just a few miles away. Four minutes and eight seconds after his cardiac arrest, a portable defibrillator jump-starts Michael’s heart. But in those lost minutes he becomes a different man, with an altered perspective on the rarified life they’ve been living and a determination to regain the true intimacy they once shared. Now it is up to Julia to decide — is it worth upending her comfortable world to try to find her way back to the husband she once adored, or should she walk away from this new Michael, who truthfully became a stranger to her long before his change of heart?
Visit Sarah Pekkanen's website.

"The Rise and Fall of the Bible"

New from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: The Rise and Fall of the Bible: The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book by Timothy Beal.

About the book, from the publisher:

In this revelatory exploration of one of our most revered icons, a critically acclaimed author and professor takes us back to early Christianity to ask how a box of handwritten scrolls became the Bible, and forward to see how the multibillion-dollar business that has brought us Biblezines and Manga Bibles is selling down the Bible’s sacred capital. Showing us how a single official text was created from the proliferation of different scripts, Beal traces its path as it became embraced as the word of God and Book of books. Among his surprising insights:

• Christianity thrived for centuries without any Bible—there was no official canon of scriptures, much less a book big enough to hold them all. Congregations used various collections of scrolls and codices.

• There is no “original” Bible, no single source text behind the thousands of different Bibles on the market today. The farther we go back in the Bible’s history, the more versions we find.

• The idea of the Bible as the literal Word of God is relatively new—only about a century old.

Beal’s is an inspiring new take on the Bible. In calling for a fresh understanding of the ways scriptures were used in the past, he offers the chance to rediscover a Bible, and a faith, that is truer to its own history—not a book of answers but a library of questions.
Visit Timothy Beal's website.

Monday, February 14, 2011

"Finding Jack"

New from St. Martin's Press: Finding Jack by Gareth Crocker.

About the book, from the publisher:

When the war ends, how do you leave your best friend behind?

After losing his young family in a tragic accident, Fletcher Carson joins the flagging war effort in Vietnam. Deeply depressed, he plans to die in the war. But during one of his early missions, Fletcher rescues a critically wounded yellow Lab whom he nurses back to health and names Jack. As Fletcher and Jack patrol and survive the forests of Vietnam, Fletcher slowly regains the will to live.

At the end of the war, the U.S. Government announces that due to the cost of withdrawal, all U.S. dogs serving in the war have been declared “surplus military equipment” and will not be transported home. For the hundreds of dog handlers throughout Vietnam, whose dogs had saved countless lives, the news is greeted with shock and disbelief. For Fletcher, he knows that if he abandons Jack, then he too will be lost. Ordered to leave Jack behind, he refuses—and so begins their journey.

Based on the actual existence and abandonment of canine units in Vietnam, Gareth Crocker’s Finding Jack is a novel of friendship and love under desperate circumstances that will grab your heart and won’t let go.
Visit Gareth Crocker's website.

"House of Prayer No. 2"

New from Nan A. Talese: House of Prayer No. 2: A Writer's Journey Home by Mark Richard.

About the book, from the publisher:

In this otherworldly memoir of extraordinary power, Mark Richard, an award-winning author, tells his story of growing up in the American South with a heady Gothic mix of racial tension and religious fervor.

Called a “special child,” Southern social code for mentally—and physically—challenged children, Richard was crippled by deformed hips and was told he would spend his adult life in a wheelchair. During his early years in charity hospitals, Richard observed the drama of other broken boys’ lives, children from impoverished Appalachia, tobacco country lowlands, and Richmond’s poorest neighborhoods. The son of a solitary alcoholic father whose hair-trigger temper terrorized his family, and of a mother who sought inner peace through fasting, prayer, and scripture, Richard spent his bedridden childhood withdrawn into the company of books.

As a young man, Richard, defying both his doctors and parents, set out to experience as much of the world as he could—as a disc jockey, fishing trawler deckhand, house painter, naval correspondent, aerial photographer, private investigator, foreign journalist, bartender and unsuccessful seminarian—before his hips failed him. While digging irrigation ditches in east Texas, he discovered that a teacher had sent a story of his to the Atlantic, where it was named a winner in the magazine’s national fiction contest launching a career much in the mold of Jack London and Mark Twain.

A superbly written and irresistible blend of history, travelogue, and personal reflection, House of Prayer No. 2 is a remarkable portrait of a writer’s struggle with his faith, the evolution of his art, and of recognizing one’s singularity in the face of painful disability. Written with humor and a poetic force, this memoir is destined to become a modern classic.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

"The Other Life"

New from Putnam: The Other Life by Ellen Meister.

About the book, from the publisher:

If you could return to the road not taken, would you?

Happily married and pregnant, Quinn Braverman has an ominous secret. Every time she makes a major life decision, she knows an alternate reality exists in which she made the opposite choice-not only that, she knows how to cross over. But even in her darkest moments-like her mother's suicide-Quinn hasn't been tempted to slip through...until she receives devastating news about the baby she's carrying.

The grief lures her to peek across the portal, and before she knows it she's in the midst of the other life: the life in which she married another man, and is childless. The life in which her mother is still very much alive.

Quinn is forced to make a heartbreaking choice. Will she stay with the family she loves and her severely disabled child? Or will an easier life-and the primal need to be with her mother-win out?
Visit Ellen Meister's website.

"The Gospel of Anarchy"

New from Harper Perennial: The Gospel of Anarchy by Justin Taylor

About the book, from the publisher:

In landlocked Gainesville, Florida, in the hot, fraught summer of 1999, a college dropout named David sleepwalks through his life—a dull haze of office work and Internet porn—until a run-in with a lost friend jolts him from his torpor. He is drawn into the vibrant but grimy world of Fishgut, a rundown house where a loose collective of anarchists, burnouts, and libertines practice utopia outside society and the law. Some even see their lifestyle as a spiritual calling. They watch for the return of a mysterious hobo who will—they hope—transform their punk oasis into the Bethlehem of a zealous, strange new creed.

In his dark and mesmerizing debut novel, Justin Taylor ("a master of the modern snapshot"—Los Angeles Times) explores the borders between religion and politics, faith and fanaticism, desire and need—and what happens when those borders are breached.
Learn more about the book and author at Justin Taylor's website.

The Page 69 Test: Everything Here Is the Best Thing Ever: Stories by Justin Taylor.

Writers Read: Justin Taylor.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

"Separate Beds"

New from Viking: Separate Beds by Elizabeth Buchan.

About the book, from the publisher:

A story of economic breakdown and romantic recovery from the author of Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman.

Tom and Annie's kids have grown up, the mortgage is do-able, and they're about to get a gorgeous new, state-of-the-art French stove. Life is good- or so it seems. Beneath the veneer of professional success and domestic security, their marriage is crumbling, eaten away by years of resentment, loneliness, and the fall out from the estrangement of their daughter, and they've settled into simply being two strangers living under the same roof.

Until the economy falls apart.

Suddenly the dull but oddly comfortable predictability of their lives is upended by financial calamity-Tom loses his job, their son returns home, and Tom's mother moves in with them. As their world shrinks, Tom and Annie are forced closer together, and the chaos around them threatens to sweep away their bitterness and frustration, refreshing and possibly restoring the love that had been lying beneath all along.

In Separate Beds, Elizabeth Buchan has captured the concerns and joys of contemporary women, and her timely, warm, and funny novel tracks the ebb and flow of family, fortune, and love that is familiar to so many readers.
Visit Elizabeth Buchan's website.

"Black Gotham"

New from Yale University Press: Black Gotham: A Family History of African Americans in Nineteenth-Century New York City by Carla L. Peterson.

About the book, from the publisher:

Part detective tale, part social and cultural narrative, Black Gotham is Carla Peterson's riveting account of her quest to reconstruct the lives of her nineteenth-century ancestors. As she shares their stories and those of their friends, neighbors, and business associates, she illuminates the greater history of African-American elites in New York City.

Black Gotham challenges many of the accepted "truths" about African-American history, including the assumption that the phrase "nineteenth-century black Americans" means enslaved people, that "New York state before the Civil War" refers to a place of freedom, and that a black elite did not exist until the twentieth century. Beginning her story in the 1820s, Peterson focuses on the pupils of the Mulberry Street School, the graduates of which went on to become eminent African-American leaders. She traces their political activities as well as their many achievements in trade, business, and the professions against the backdrop of the expansion of scientific racism, the trauma of the Civil War draft riots, and the rise of Jim Crow.

Told in a vivid, fast-paced style, Black Gotham is an important account of the rarely acknowledged achievements of nineteenth-century African Americans and brings to the forefront a vital yet forgotten part of American history and culture.

Friday, February 11, 2011

"The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady"

New from Doubleday: The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady by Elizabeth Stuckey-French.

About the book, from the publisher:

This lively, intricately plotted, laugh-out-loud funny, and surprisingly touching family drama combines the wit of Carl Hiaasen with the southern charm of Jill McCorkle.

Seventy-seven-year-old Marylou Ahearn is going to kill Dr. Wilson Spriggs come hell or high water. In 1953, he gave her a radioactive cocktail without her consent as part of a secret government study that had horrible consequences.

Marylou has been plotting her revenge for fifty years. When she accidentally discovers his whereabouts in Florida, her plans finally snap into action. She high tails it to hot and humid Tallahassee, moves in down the block from where a now senile Spriggs lives with his daughter’s family, and begins the tricky work of insinuating herself into their lives. But she has no idea what a nest of yellow jackets she is stum­bling into.

Before the novel is through, someone will be kidnapped, an unlikely couple will get engaged, someone will nearly die from eating a pineapple upside-down cake laced with anti-freeze, and that’s not all...

Told from the varied perspectives of an incredible cast of endearing oddball characters and written with the flair of a native Floridian, this dark comedy does not disappoint.
Visit Elizabeth Stuckey-French's website.


New from Serpent's Tail: Outsourced by Dave Zeltserman.

About the book, from the publisher:

Following on from his ultra noir trilogy – Small Crimes, Pariah and Killer - is Outsourced, Zeltserman's most commercial book to date. A classic heist thriller pitched somewhere between Ocean's Eleven and Dog Day Afternoon, it’s the story of a group of software engineers who lose their jobs due to an industry push to outsourcing. Desperate, and seeing their middle class lives crumbling apart, they come up with a brilliant plan to use their computing skills to rob a bank. But not even a systems analyst can foresee every eventuality, so the group falls foul of the Russian Mafia.
Learn more about the author and his work at Dave Zeltserman's website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: Small Crimes.

The Page 69 Test: Pariah.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


New from Bloomsbury USA: Wrecker by Summer Wood.

About the book, from the publisher:

Set amid the giant trees of northern California's magical Lost Coast, Wrecker is the story of a nearly broken boy who unexpectedly finds a family.

After foster-parenting four young siblings a decade ago, Summer Wood tried to imagine a place where kids who are left alone or taken from their families would find the love and the family they deserve. For her, fiction was the tool to realize that world, and Wrecker, the central character in her second novel, is the abandoned child for whom life turns around in most unexpected ways. It's June of 1965 when Wrecker enters the world. The war is raging in Vietnam, San Francisco is tripping toward flower power, and Lisa Fay, Wrecker's birth mother, is knocked nearly sideways by life as a single parent in a city she can barely manage to navigate on her own. Three years later, she's in prison, and Wrecker is left to bounce around in the system before he's shipped off to live with distant relatives in the wilds of Humboldt County, California. When he arrives he's scared and angry, exploding at the least thing, and quick to flee. Wrecker is the story of this boy and the motley group of isolated eccentrics who come together to raise him and become a family along the way.
Visit Summer Wood's website.

"Between a Rock and a Hot Place"

New from Harper: Between a Rock and a Hot Place by Tracey Jackson.

About the book, from the publisher:

A funny, fearless, no-holds-barred look at aging—hormone replacement therapy, online dating, eye lifts, and all

As she approached her fiftieth birthday, Tracey Jackson found herself bombarded—at the gym, at parties, in conversations with friends—by a catchphrase on everyone's lips. "Fifty is the new thirty" and the endless magazine articles, photos, and T-shirts proclaiming the new aphorism had apparently bloomed out of a collective sense of denial, masking the true fears of a generation unwilling to relinquish their youth.

With a comedy writer's training and a screenwriter's eye for detail, Jackson skewers the myth in Between a Rock and a Hot Place, a hilarious, bare-knuckled, and ultimately practical appraisal of what middle age really means today. Willing not only to face the elephant in the room, but to put him under a (large) microscope, Jackson confronts the truth about death, work, and sex in what the French call the "third age," using poignant, laugh-out-loud stories from her life. Jackson examines the changing roles of motherhood and wifehood; the necessity of planning a "career after your career"; the unvarnished reality of our aging bodies; and the generational shift in our perception of age ("Tight abs was not a phrase my grandmother had ever heard. And even if she had, her response would likely have been, Who needs that when you have a girdle?").

Turning fifty is a wake-up call—but one that can be greeted with a plan. Recounting the changes she went through, the things she learned (and things she didn't) en route to fifty, Between a Rock and a Hot Place navigates, with unsparing honesty and unerring wit, the confusion and uncertainty of the most significant uncharted transition in our lives.
Visit Tracey Jackson's website.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

"Strange New Worlds"

New from Princeton University Press: Strange New Worlds: The Search for Alien Planets and Life beyond Our Solar System by Ray Jayawardhana.

About the book, from the publisher:

Soon astronomers expect to find alien Earths by the dozens in orbit around distant suns. Before the decade is out, telltale signs that they harbor life may be found. If they are, the ramifications for all areas of human thought and endeavor--from religion and philosophy to art and biology--will be breathtaking. In Strange New Worlds, renowned astronomer Ray Jayawardhana brings news from the front lines of the epic quest to find planets--and alien life--beyond our solar system.

Only in the past fifteen years, after millennia of speculation, have astronomers begun to discover planets around other stars--hundreds in fact. But the hunt to find a true Earth-like world goes on. In this book, Jayawardhana vividly recounts the stories of the scientists and the remarkable breakthroughs that have ushered in this extraordinary age of exploration. He describes the latest findings--including his own--that are challenging our view of the cosmos and casting new light on the origins and evolution of planets and planetary systems. He reveals how technology is rapidly advancing to support direct observations of Jupiter-like gas giants and super-Earths--rocky planets with several times the mass of our own planet--and how astronomers use biomarkers to seek possible life on other worlds.

Strange New Worlds provides an insider's look at the cutting-edge science of today's planet hunters, our prospects for discovering alien life, and the debates and controversies at the forefront of extrasolar-planet research.

"Fortunate Sons"

New from W.W. Norton: Fortunate Sons: The 120 Chinese Boys Who Came to America, Went to School, and Revolutionized an Ancient Civilization by Liel Leibovitz and Matthew Miller.

About the book, from the publisher:

The epic story of the American-educated boys who changed China forever.

At the twilight of the nineteenth century, China sent a detachment of boys to America in order to learn the ways of the West, modernize the antiquated empire, and defend it from foreigners invading its shores. After spending a decade in New England’s finest schools, the boys re-turned home, driven by a pioneering spirit of progress and reform. Their lives in America influenced not only their thinking but also their nation’s endeavor to become a contemporary world power, an endeavor that resonates powerfully today.

Drawing on diaries, letters, and other first-person accounts, Fortunate Sons tells a remarkable tale, weaving together the dramas of personal lives with the momentous thrust of a nation reborn. Shedding light on a crucial yet largely unknown period in China’s history, Fortunate Sons provides insight into the issues concerning that nation today, from its struggle toward economic supremacy to its fraught relationship with the United States.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

"You Know When the Men Are Gone"

New from Amy Einhorn Books/ Penguin: You Know When the Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon.

About the book, from the publisher:

Reminiscent of Raymond Carver and Tim O'Brien, an unforgettable collection of intercollected short stories.

In Fort Hood housing, like all army housing, you get used to hearing through the walls... You learn too much. And you learn to move quietly through your own small domain. You also know when the men are gone. No more boots stomping above, no more football games turned up too high, and, best of all, no more front doors slamming before dawn as they trudge out for their early formation, sneakers on metal stairs, cars starting, shouts to the windows above to throw them down their gloves on cold desert mornings. Babies still cry, telephones ring, Saturday morning cartoons screech, but without the men, there is a sense of muted silence, a sense of muted life.

There is an army of women waiting for their men to return in Fort Hood, Texas. Through a series of loosely interconnected stories, Siobhan Fallon takes readers onto the base, inside the homes, into the marriages and families-intimate places not seen in newspaper articles or politicians' speeches.

When you leave Fort Hood, the sign above the gate warns, You've Survived the War, Now Survive the Homecoming. It is eerily prescient.
Visit Siobhan Fallon's website and blog.

"The Heroes"

New from Orbit: The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie.

About the book, from Publishers Weekly:

This blood-drenched, thought-provoking dissection of a three-day battle is set in the same world as Abercrombie's First Law Trilogy (The Blade Itself, etc.), but stands very well alone. Union commander Lord Marshal Kroy coordinates the fight with the aid of a motley group of incompetent, self-important officers. The strangely sympathetic Col. Bremer dan Gorst is officially a royal observer who nurses a burning desire to kill or be killed. Leading a much smaller army against the Union is Black Dow, whose grip on the throne of the Northmen is tenuous and based on fear and brutality. Calder, a slippery and cunning egotist, advocates peace while plotting to take Black Dow's place. Abercrombie never glosses over a moment of the madness, passion, and horror of war, nor the tribulations that turn ordinary people into the titular heroes.
Learn more about the author and his work at Joe Abercrombie's website and blog.

Writers Read: Joe Abercrombie.

The Page 69 Test: Best Served Cold.

Monday, February 7, 2011

"The Omega Theory"

New from Touchstone: The Omega Theory by Mark Alpert.

About the book, from the publisher:

"The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid. And a child shall lead them." She smiled. "That's you, Michael. That's why Brother Cyrus needs you. You're going to help us fulfill the prophecy."

The Omega Theory opens with media reports that, despite U.S. warnings, Iran has tested a nuclear bomb. But the blast from the device is different and far more dangerous than that of any previous nuclear weapon. Surveillance instruments show that for one split second an event occurred that had not taken place since the Big Bang fourteen billion years ago. Meanwhile, science historian David Swift and quantum physicist Monique Reynolds learn that their autistic son, Michael, has been kidnapped by a militant cult called the True Believers. Michael, a descendant of Albert Einstein, has inherited Einstein's remarkable intelligence and is the only person in the world who knows Einstein's last secret—the Final Theory, a set of equations that could explain all the forces of nature. Only those who understand the key to creation could know how to destroy it. The Iranian nuclear blast is a demonstration of this understanding. Soon David and Monique realize their desperate search for Michael is also a desperate race to stop the horrific power of the theory from being unleashed. Joining forces with FBI Agent Lucille Parker, David and Monique race from the Old City of Jerusalem to the deserts of Turkmenistan to rescue Michael and stop the cult's fanatic leader. Their journey proves just how difficult it is to stop those who are willing to die in the name of God. Praised by bestselling peers such as Douglas Preston and James Rollins, Mark Alpert shows he is at the top of his writing game and the cutting edge of science, seamlessly weaving fact and fiction with nonstop heart-pounding action in this explosive thriller. We will never see our universe in quite the same way again.
Visit Mark Alpert's website.

"West of Here"

New from Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill: West of Here by Jonathan Evison.

About the book, from the publisher:

Set in the fictional town of Port Bonita, on Washington State’s rugged Pacific coast, West of Here is propelled by a story that both re-creates and celebrates the American experience—it is storytelling on the grandest scale. With one segment of the narrative focused on the town’s founders circa 1890 and another showing the lives of their descendants in 2006, the novel develops as a kind of conversation between two epochs, one rushing blindly toward the future and the other struggling to undo the damage of the past.

An exposition on the effects of time, on how something said or done in one generation keeps echoing through all the years that follow, and how mistakes keep happening and people keep on trying to be strong and brave and, most important, just and right, West of Here harks back to the work of such masters of Americana as Bret Harte, Edna Ferber, and Larry McMurtry, writers whose fiction turned history into myth and myth into a nation’s shared experience. It is a bold novel by a writer destined to become a major force in American literature.
Learn more about the book and author at Jonathan Evison's website.

The Page 99 Test: Jonathan Evison's All About Lulu

Sunday, February 6, 2011

"The Hemlock Cup"

New from Knopf: The Hemlock Cup: Socrates, Athens and the Search for the Good Life by Bettany Hughes.

About the book, from the publisher:

We think the way we do because Socrates thought the way he did; in his unwavering commitment to truth and in the example of his own life, he set the standard for all subsequent Western philosophy. And yet, for twenty-five centuries, he has remained an enigma: a man who left no written legacy and about whom everything we know is hearsay, gleaned from the writings of Plato, Xenophon and Aristophanes. Now Bettany Hughes gives us an unprecedented, brilliantly vivid portrait of Socrates and of his homeland, Athens in its Golden Age.

His life spanned “seventy of the busiest, most wonderful and tragic years in Athenian history.” It was a city devastated by war, but, at the same time, transformed by the burgeoning process of democracy, and Hughes re-creates this fifth-century B.C. city, drawing on the latest sources—archaeological, topographical and textual—to illuminate the streets where Socrates walked, to place him there and to show us the world as he experienced it.

She takes us through the great, teeming Agora—the massive marketplace, the heart of ancient Athens—where Socrates engaged in philosophical dialogue and where he would be condemned to death. We visit the battlefields where he fought, the red-light district and gymnasia he frequented and the religious festivals he attended. We meet the men and the few women—including his wife, Xanthippe, and his “inspiration” and confidante, Aspasia—who were central to his life. We travel to where he was born and where he died. And we come to understand the profound influences of time and place in the evolution of his eternally provocative philosophy.

Deeply informed and vibrantly written, combining historical inquiry and storytelling élan, The Hemlock Cup gives us the most substantial, fascinating, humane depiction we have ever had of one of the most influential thinkers of all time.
Visit Bettany Hughes' website.

"The Clockwork Universe"

New from Harper: The Clockwork Universe: Isaac Newton, the Royal Society, and the Birth of the Modern World by Edward Dolnick.

About the book, from the publisher:

The Clockwork Universe is the story of a band of men who lived in a world of dirt and disease but pictured a universe that ran like a perfect machine. A meld of history and science, this book is a group portrait of some of the greatest minds who ever lived as they wrestled with nature’s most sweeping mysteries. The answers they uncovered still hold the key to how we understand the world.

At the end of the seventeenth century—an age of religious wars, plague, and the Great Fire of London— when most people saw the world as falling apart, these earliest scientists saw a world of perfect order. They declared that, chaotic as it looked, the universe was in fact as intricate and perfectly regulated as a clock. This was the tail end of Shakespeare’s century, when the natural and the supernatural still twined around each other. Disease was a punishment ordained by God, astronomy had not yet broken free from astrology, and the sky was filled with omens. It was a time when little was known and everything was new. These brilliant, ambitious, curious men believed in angels, alchemy, and the devil, and they also believed that the universe followed precise, mathematical laws—a contradiction that tormented them and changed the course of history.

The Clockwork Universe is the fascinating and compelling story of the bewildered geniuses of the Royal Society, the men who made the modern world.
Learn more about the book and author at Edward Dolnick's website.

The Page 69 Test: Edward Dolnick's The Forger's Spell: A True Story of Vermeer, Nazis, and the Greatest Art Hoax of the Twentieth Century.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

"The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore"

New from Grand Central Publishing: The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore by Benjamin Hale.

About the book, from the publisher:

Bruno Littlemore is quite unlike any chimpanzee in the world. Precocious, self-conscious and preternaturally gifted, young Bruno, born and raised in a habitat at the local zoo, falls under the care of a university primatologist named Lydia Littlemore. Learning of Bruno's ability to speak, Lydia takes Bruno into her home to oversee his education and nurture his passion for painting. But for all of his gifts, the chimpanzee has a rough time caging his more primal urges. His untimely outbursts ultimately cost Lydia her job, and send the unlikely pair on the road in what proves to be one of the most unforgettable journeys -- and most affecting love stories -- in recent literature. Like its protagonist, this novel is big, loud, abrasive, witty, perverse, earnest and amazingly accomplished. The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore goes beyond satire by showing us not what it means, but what it feels like be human -- to love and lose, learn, aspire, grasp, and, in the end, to fail.
Visit Benjamin Hale's website and blog.

"House Arrest"

New from Red Hen Press: House Arrest by Ellen Meeropol.

About the book:

Home-care nurse Emily Klein can’t get out of her new assignment – weekly prenatal visits to Pippa Glenning, a young cult member under house arrest for the death of her daughter during a Solstice ceremony. But Emily takes her work seriously and plays by the rules. She is determined to take good care of her high-profile and unconventional patient.

With two other cult members in prison, Pippa Glenning struggles to keep the household intact. If she follows the rules of her house arrest, she may be allowed to keep her baby; but as the pregnant woman in the family it’s her duty to dance for Isis at the upcoming winter Solstice ceremony. To escape the house arrest without being caught, Pippa needs Emily’s help.

Set in Springfield, Massachusetts and in Maine, and told from the alternating points of view of four characters, House Arrest questions the necessity of breaking rules to serve justice.
Read about Ellen Meeropol's interviews at Publishers Weekly and with Caroline Leavitt.

Visit Ellen Meeropol's website and blog.

Friday, February 4, 2011

"The Oracle of Stamboul"

New from Harper: The Oracle of Stamboul by Michael David Lukas.

About the book, from the publisher:

An elegantly crafted, utterly enchanting debut novel set in a mystical, exotic world, in which a gifted young girl charms a sultan and changes the course of an empire's history

Late in the summer of 1877, a flock of purple-and-white hoopoes suddenly appears over the town of Constanta on the Black Sea, and Eleonora Cohen is ushered into the world by a mysterious pair of Tartar midwives who arrive just minutes before her birth. "They had read the signs, they said: a sea of horses, a conference of birds, the North Star in alignment with the moon. It was a prophecy that their last king had given on his deathwatch." But joy is mixed with tragedy, for Eleonora's mother dies soon after the birth.

Raised by her doting father, Yakob, a carpet merchant, and her stern, resentful stepmother, Ruxandra, Eleonora spends her early years daydreaming and doing housework—until the moment she teaches herself to read, and her father recognizes that she is an extraordinarily gifted child, a prodigy.

When Yakob sets off by boat for Stamboul on business, eight-year-old Eleonora, unable to bear the separation, stows away in one of his trunks. On the shores of the Bosporus, in the house of her father's business partner, Moncef Bey, a new life awaits. Books, backgammon, beautiful dresses and shoes, markets swarming with color and life—the imperial capital overflows with elegance, and mystery. For in the narrow streets of Stamboul—a city at the crossroads of the world—intrigue and gossip are currency, and people are not always what they seem. Eleonora's tutor, an American minister and educator, may be a spy. The kindly though elusive Moncef Bey has a past history of secret societies and political maneuvering. And what is to be made of the eccentric, charming Sultan Abdulhamid II himself, beleaguered by friend and foe alike as his unwieldy, multiethnic empire crumbles?

The Oracle of Stamboul is a marvelously evocative, magical historical novel that will transport readers to another time and place—romantic, exotic, yet remarkably similar to our own.
Visit Michael David Lukas' website.

"The Foremost Good Fortune"

New from Knopf: The Foremost Good Fortune by Susan Conley.

About the book, from the publisher:

Susan Conley, her husband, and their two young sons say good-bye to their friends, family, and house in Maine for a two-year stint in a high-rise apartment in Beijing, prepared to embrace the inevitable onslaught of new experiences that such a move entails. But Susan can’t predict just how much their lives will change.

While her husband is consumed with his job, Susan works on finishing her novel and confronting the challenges of day-to-day life in an utterly foreign country: determining the proper way to buy apples at a Chinese megamarket; bribing her little boys to ride the school bus; fielding invitations to mysterious “sweater parties” and tracking down the faux-purse empire of the infamous Bag Lady; and getting stuck in an elevator, unable to call for help in Mandarin.

Despite the distractions, there are many occasions for joy. From road trips to the Great Wall and bartering for a “starter Buddha” at the raucous flea market to lighting fireworks in the streets for the Chinese New Year and feasting on the world’s best dumplings in back-alley restaurants, they gradually turn their unfamiliar environs into a true home.

Then Susan learns she has cancer. After undergoing treatment in Boston, she returns to Beijing, again as a foreigner—but this time, it’s her own body in which she feels a stranger. Set against the eternally fascinating backdrop of modern China and full of insight into the trickiest questions of motherhood—How do you talk to children about death? When is it okay to lie?—this wry and poignant memoir is a celebration of family and a candid exploration of mortality and belonging.
Visit Susan Conley's website.