Monday, April 30, 2012

"All Woman and Springtime"

New from Algonquin Books: All Woman and Springtime by Brandon W. Jones.

About the book, from the publisher:

Before she met Il-sun in an orphanage, Gi was a hollow husk of a girl, broken from growing up in one of North Korea’s forced-labor camps. A mathematical genius, she has learned to cope with pain by retreating into a realm of numbers and calculations, an escape from both the past and present. Gi becomes enamored of the brash and radiant Il-sun, a friend she describes as “all woman and springtime.” But Il-sun’s pursuit of a better life imperils both girls when her suitor spirits them across the Demilitarized Zone and sells them as sex workers, first in South Korea and then in the United States.

This spellbinding debut, reminiscent of Memoirs of a Geisha, depicts—with chilling accuracy—life behind North Korea’s iron curtain. But for Gi and Il-sun, forced into the underworld of human trafficking, their captivity outside North Korea is far crueler than the tight control of their “Dear Leader.” Tenderhearted Gi, just on the verge of womanhood, is consigned to a fate that threatens not only her body but her mind. How she and Il-sun endure, how they find a path to healing, is what drives this absorbing and exquisite novel—from an exciting young Algonquin discovery—to its perfectly imagined conclusion.
Visit Brandon W. Jones's website.

"The Great Inversion and the Future of the American City"

New from Knopf: The Great Inversion and the Future of the American City by Alan Ehrenhalt.

About the book, from the publisher:

In The Great Inversion and the Future of the American City we travel the nation with Alan Ehrenhalt, one of our leading urbanists, as he explains how America’s cities are changing, what makes them succeed or fail, and what this means for our future.

Just a couple of decades ago, we took it for granted that inner cities were the preserve of immigrants and the poor, and that suburbs were the chosen destination of those who could afford them. Today, a demographic inversion is taking place: Central cities increasingly are where the affluent want to live, while suburbs are becoming home to poorer people and those who come to America from other parts of the world. Highly educated members of the emerging millennial generation are showing a decided preference for urban life and are being joined in many places by a new class of affluent retirees.

Ehrenhalt shows us how the commercial canyons of lower Manhattan are becoming residential neighborhoods, and how mass transit has revitalized inner-city communities in Chicago and Brooklyn. He explains why car-dominated cities like Phoenix and Charlotte have sought to build twenty-first-century downtowns from scratch, while sprawling postwar suburbs are seeking to attract young people with their own form of urbanized experience.

The Great Inversion is an eye-opening and thoroughly engaging look at our urban society and its future.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

"The Emerald Storm"

New from Harper: The Emerald Storm (Ethan Gage Series #5) by William Dietrich.

About the book, from the publisher:

The year is 1803. Swashbuckling, ribald, and irreverent hero Ethan Gage has outsmarted wily enemies and survived dangerous challenges across the globe, from the wilds of the American frontier to the pyramids of Egypt. Now the rakish hero finds himself in the Caribbean with his wife, Astiza, on a desperate hunt to secure the lost treasure of Montezuma—a legendary hoard rumored to have been hidden from Cortés's plundering Spanish conquistadors. Hot on his heels are British agents who want the gold to finance a black slave revolt in Saint-Domingue, robbing hostile France of its richest colony. The French, too, seek the treasure for the secrets it contains, the key to an incredible new means of invasion that can ensure Britain's defeat—on its own land.

Caught between the French and the rebel slave forces, Ethan and Astiza are in a race for gold and glory that will thrust them into the center of a bloody struggle for freedom as they try to rescue their son. And this time, Gage's luck may be running out.

Brilliantly combining science, history, mythology, and wit, William Dietrich has woven a larger-than-life tale that sees Ethan embroiled in the Napoleonic era's ideals, opportunism, and inventions, which gave rise to the modern world. Filled with intrigue, voodoo, a hurricane, violent political unrest, and unexpected passion, The Emerald Storm is Dietrich's most captivating work to date.
Visit William Dietrich's website.

"The Water Children"

New from Simon & Schuster: The Water Children by Anne Berry.

About the book, from the publisher:


From the icy banks of a secluded country pond to the fevered core of a historic London heat wave and immersion in an abandoned underwater village in the Tuscan mountains, four young people—each of whose lives has been irrevocably altered by water— converge in this brilliantly plotted drama of passion, betrayal, revenge, and redemption.

Owen is haunted by nightmares of the Merfolk. He believes they have stolen his little sister, who vanished while he was meant to be watching her on the beach. But he was only a child himself. Is it fair for his mother to have blamed him all these years?

Catherine’s perfect Christmas was ruined when she went skating on a frozen pond with her cousin and the other girl nearly died. Yet it is Catherine who feels, as she says, “permanently trapped under the ice.”

Sean grew up on a farm in Ireland. Learning to swim in the River Shannon was his way of escaping the bitter poverty of his childhood, but communing with the river spirits incurred his superstitious father’s wrath.

Naomi never feared the water. She was orphaned, cruelly abused, and the sea offered a cleansing balm; she reveled in the ocean’s power. But Naomi has another secret buried deep within her, and during one searing hot summer she will be the catalyst for the coming together—and tearing apart—of the water children.
Visit Anne Berry's website.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

"An Uncommon Education"

New from Harper: An Uncommon Education: A Novel by Elizabeth Percer.

About the book, from the publisher:

A young woman tries to save three people she loves in this elegant and remarkably insightful coming-of-age debut.

Afraid of losing her parents at a young age—her father with his weak heart, her deeply depressed mother—Naomi Feinstein prepared single-mindedly for a prestigious future as a doctor. An outcast at school, Naomi loses herself in books, and daydreams of Wellesley College. But when Teddy, her confidant and only friend, abruptly departs from her life, it's the first devastating loss from which Naomi is not sure she can ever recover, even after her long-awaited acceptance letter to Wellesley arrives.

Naomi soon learns that college isn't the bastion of solidarity and security she had imagined. Amid hundreds of other young women, she is consumed by loneliness—until the day she sees a girl fall into the freezing waters of a lake.

The event marks Naomi's introduction to Wellesley's oldest honor society, the mysterious Shakespeare Society, defined by secret rituals and filled with unconventional, passionate students. Naomi finally begins to detach from the past and so much of what defines her, immersing herself in this exciting and liberating new world and learning the value of friendship. But her happiness is soon compromised by a scandal that brings irrevocable consequences. Naomi has always tried to save the ones she loves, but part of growing up is learning that sometimes saving others is a matter of saving yourself.

An Uncommon Education is a compelling portrait of a quest for greatness and the grace of human limitations. Poignant and wise, it artfully captures the complicated ties of family, the bittersweet inevitability of loss, and the importance of learning to let go.
Visit Elizabeth Percer's website.

"A Gift for My Sister"

New from Atria/Emily Bestler Books: A Gift for My Sister: A Novel by Ann Pearlman.

About the book, from the publisher:

Ann Pearlman's The Christmas Cookie Club enthralled readers everywhere with a heartwarming and touching story about the power of female friendship.

Now, in A Gift for My Sister, she once again explores the depth of the human heart, and this time it’s through the eyes of two sisters. Tara and Sky share a mother, but aside from that they seem to differ in almost every way. When a series of tragedies strikes, they must somehow come together in the face of heartbreak, dashed hopes, and demons of the past. The journey they embark on forces each woman to take a walk in the other’s shoes and examine what sisterhood really means to them. It’s a long road to understanding, and everyone who knows them hopes these two sisters can find a way back to each other.
Visit Ann Pearlman's website and blog.

Friday, April 27, 2012


New from Ace/Penguin: Deadlocked (Sookie Stackhouse / Southern Vampire Series #12) by Charlaine Harris.

About the book, from the publisher:

It’s vampire politics as usual around the town of Bon Temps, but never before have they hit so close to Sookie’s heart…

Growing up with telepathic abilities, Sookie Stackhouse realized early on there were things she’d rather not know. And now that she’s an adult, she also realizes that some things she knows about, she’d rather not see—like Eric Northman feeding off another woman. A younger one.

There’s a thing or two she’d like to say about that, but she has to keep quiet—Felipe de Castro, the Vampire King of Louisiana (and Arkansas and Nevada), is in town. It’s the worst possible time for a human body to show up in Eric’s front yard—especially the body of the woman whose blood he just drank.

Now, it’s up to Sookie and Bill, the official Area Five investigator, to solve the murder. Sookie thinks that, at least this time, the dead girl’s fate has nothing to do with her. But she is wrong. She has an enemy, one far more devious than she would ever suspect, who’s set out to make Sookie’s world come crashing down.
The Stackhouse family is one of Jennifer Lynn Barnes's top 10 supernatural families. Eric Northman of the Southern Vampire Series is one of Will Hill's top ten vampires in fiction and popular culture.

See--Coffee with a Canine: Charlaine Harris & Scrunch, Rocky, and Oscar.

"Here Lies Hugh Glass"

New from Hill and Wang: Here Lies Hugh Glass: A Mountain Man, a Bear, and the Rise of the American Nation by Jon T. Coleman.

About the book, from the publisher:

How one man’s tale of survival and revenge transformed the American West

In the summer of 1823, a hunter named Hugh Glass was brutally mauled by a grizzly bear in the brush along a tributary of the Yellowstone River. She bit his head, punctured his throat, and ripped hunks from his body. Two comrades stayed with him at first, but soon abandoned him to the wilds. But Glass wouldn’t die. He crawled and heaved his way to safety, then vowed revenge on those who had left him for dead.

It all sounds too epic to be true, more like a campfire tale than actual history. And with good reason—nearly all we know of this story comes from secondhand accounts published in journals and magazines that promised readers back east stories of the “true” untamed West. In Here Lies Hugh Glass, the acclaimed Western historian Jon T. Coleman delves into these often contradictory accounts, looking for both the real Hugh Glass and the myth that made him something more. The Glass who emerges provides a rich, eye-opening look at the trials of life on the early frontier. At the same time, the stories told about Glass offer a window onto the imagined frontier as it developed in the minds of a young nation. These and other stories inspired a generation of Americans to go West in search of fortune and adventure. Written in engaging, vivid prose with a healthy dose of humor throughout, Here Lies Hugh Glass is a triumph.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

"Private Empire"

New from Penguin: Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power by Steve Coll.

About the book, from the publisher:

In Private Empire Steve Coll investigates the largest and most powerful private corporation in the United States, revealing the true extent of its power. ExxonMobil’s annual revenues are larger than the economic activity in the great majority of countries. In many of the countries where it conducts business, ExxonMobil’s sway over politics and security is greater than that of the United States embassy. In Washington, ExxonMobil spends more money lobbying Congress and the White House than almost any other corporation. Yet despite its outsized influence, it is a black box.

Private Empire pulls back the curtain, tracking the corporation’s recent history and its central role on the world stage, beginning with the Exxon Valdez accident in 1989 and leading to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. The action spans the globe, moving from Moscow, to impoverished African capitals, Indonesia, and elsewhere in heart-stopping scenes that feature kidnapping cases, civil wars, and high-stakes struggles at the Kremlin. At home, Coll goes inside ExxonMobil’s K Street office and corporation headquarters in Irving, Texas, where top executives in the “God Pod” (as employees call it) oversee an extraordinary corporate culture of discipline and secrecy.

The narrative is driven by larger than life characters, including corporate legend Lee “Iron Ass” Raymond, ExxonMobil’s chief executive until 2005. A close friend of Dick Cheney’s, Raymond was both the most successful and effective oil executive of his era and an unabashed skeptic about climate change and government regulation.. This position proved difficult to maintain in the face of new science and political change and Raymond’s successor, current ExxonMobil chief executive Rex Tillerson, broke with Raymond’s programs in an effort to reset ExxonMobil’s public image. The larger cast includes countless world leaders, plutocrats, dictators, guerrillas, and corporate scientists who are part of ExxonMobil’s colossal story.

The first hard-hitting examination of ExxonMobil, Private Empire is the masterful result of Coll’s indefatigable reporting. He draws here on more than four hundred interviews; field reporting from the halls of Congress to the oil-laden swamps of the Niger Delta; more than one thousand pages of previously classified U.S. documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act; heretofore unexamined court records; and many other sources. A penetrating, newsbreaking study, Private Empire is a defining portrait of ExxonMobil and the place of Big Oil in American politics and foreign policy.

"The Girl in the Park"

New from Schwartz & Wade: The Girl in the Park by Mariah Fredericks.

About the book, from the publisher:

When Wendy Geller's body is found in Central Park after the night of a rager, newspaper headlines scream,"Death in the Park: Party Girl Found Strangled." But shy Rain, once Wendy's best friend, knows there was more to Wendy than just "party girl." As she struggles to separate the friend she knew from the tangle of gossip and headlines, Rain becomes determined to discover the truth about the murder. Written in a voice at once immediate, riveting, and utterly convincing, Mariah Frederick's mystery brilliantly exposes the cracks in this exclusive New York City world and the teenagers that move within it.
Visit Mariah Fredericks's website.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

"Border Run"

New from Scribner: Border Run by Simon Lewis.

About the book, from the publisher:

From the author of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize—nominated Bad Traffic, a fast-paced adventure novel about two young backpackers who find themselves in serious trouble in the jungle of Southeast Asia

On the Burmese border, two naïve backpackers, Will and Jake, follow a tour guide into the jungle, tantalized by the possibility of dalliances with the tribal women who live there. At an idyllic waterfall, they discover that nothing is as it seems and their guide has his own agenda. It is not long before the two young men slip into a nightmarish spiral of murder and moral decay, their chance of survival determined by a game of hideand- seek played out with deadly crossbows. As the stakes get increasingly higher, the bonds of friendship are tested and lives are put on the line. Simon Lewis has written a gripping, amphetaminepaced novel about the hidden perils that can lurk in paradise, and the fine line that we draw for ourselves between what is “civilized” and what is not.
Learn more about the book and author at Simon Lewis' website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Simon Lewis's Bad Traffic.

"Ignorance: How It Drives Science"

New from Oxford University Press: Ignorance: How It Drives Science by Stuart Firestein.

About the book, from the publisher:

Knowledge is a big subject, says Stuart Firestein, but ignorance is a bigger one. And it is ignorance--not knowledge--that is the true engine of science.

Most of us have a false impression of science as a surefire, deliberate, step-by-step method for finding things out and getting things done. In fact, says Firestein, more often than not, science is like looking for a black cat in a dark room, and there may not be a cat in the room. The process is more hit-or-miss than you might imagine, with much stumbling and groping after phantoms. But it is exactly this "not knowing," this puzzling over thorny questions or inexplicable data, that gets researchers into the lab early and keeps them there late, the thing that propels them, the very driving force of science. Firestein shows how scientists use ignorance to program their work, to identify what should be done, what the next steps are, and where they should concentrate their energies. And he includes a catalog of how scientists use ignorance, consciously or unconsciously--a remarkable range of approaches that includes looking for connections to other research, revisiting apparently settled questions, using small questions to get at big ones, and tackling a problem simply out of curiosity. The book concludes with four case histories--in cognitive psychology, theoretical physics, astronomy, and neuroscience--that provide a feel for the nuts and bolts of ignorance, the day-to-day battle that goes on in scientific laboratories and in scientific minds with questions that range from the quotidian to the profound.

Turning the conventional idea about science on its head, Ignorance opens a new window on the true nature of research. It is a must-read for anyone curious about science.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

"In the Bag"

New from William Morrow Paperbacks: In the Bag by Kate Klise.

About the book, from the publisher:

A European vacation. A luggage mix-up. A note from a secret admirer.

Meet two single parents who think they're too busy to date.
And two teenagers who can't stop writing flirty emails.
This is a tale of connections—missed and made—in a universe that seems to have its heart set on reuniting Ms. 6B and Mr. 13C.

I can't believe I picked up the wrong bag at the airport. My dad is never going to let me hear the end of it.

I don't understand why Mom told me to pack my worst underwear. And now I've lost my bag? Ack!

I cannot stop thinking about that woman in seat 6B on the flight to Paris.

I don't have time to worry about the creep sitting in 13C who slipped a note in my purse. I have to find my daughter's missing bag before this ruins our vacation.

In the Bag is a smart and stylish story that explores the old-fashioned art of romance in a modern world, where falling in love can be as risky as checking a bag on an international flight. Buckle your seat belt—it's going to be a bumpy vacation!
Visit Kate Klise's website.

"Masters of Command"

New from Simon & Schuster: Masters of Command: Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar, and the Genius of Leadership by Barry Strauss.

About the book, from the publisher:

In Masters of Command, Barry Strauss compares the way the three greatest generals of the ancient world—Alexander, Hannibal, and Caesar—waged war and draws lessons from their experiences that apply on and off the battlefield.

Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar—each was a master of war. Each had to look beyond the battlefield to decide whom to fight, when, and why; to know what victory was and when to end the war; to determine how to bring stability to the lands he conquered. Each general had to be a battlefield tactician and more: a statesman, a strategist, a leader.

Tactics change, weapons change, but war itself remains much the same throughout the centuries, and a great warrior must know how to define success. Understanding where each of these three great (but flawed) commanders succeeded and failed can serve anyone who wants to think strategically or has to demonstrate leadership. In Masters of Command, Barry Strauss explains the qualities these great generals shared, the keys to their success, from ambition and judgment to leadership itself.

The result of years of research, Masters of Command is based on surviving written documents and archeological evidence as well as the author’s travels in Italy, France, Greece, Turkey, and Tunisia in the footsteps of Alexander, Hannibal, and Caesar.
Learn more about the book and author at Barry Strauss's website.

Barry Strauss is a professor of history and classics at Cornell University as well as the director and a founder of its Program on Freedom and Free Societies. His books include The Battle of Salamis, named one of the Best Books of 2004 by the Washington Post, and The Trojan War: A New History, a main selection of the History Book Club.

The Page 99 Test: The Spartacus War.

Monday, April 23, 2012


New from Crown: Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden--from 9/11 to Abbottabad by Peter L. Bergen.

About the book, from the publisher:

The gripping account of the decade-long hunt for the world's most wanted man.

It was only a week before 9/11 that Peter Bergen turned in the manuscript of Holy War, Inc., the story of Osama bin Laden--whom Bergen had once interviewed in a mud hut in Afghanistan--and his declaration of war on America. The book became a New York Times bestseller and the essential portrait of the most formidable terrorist enterprise of our time. Now, in Manhunt, Bergen picks up the thread with this taut yet panoramic account of the pursuit and killing of bin Laden.

Here are riveting new details of bin Laden’s flight after the crushing defeat of the Taliban to Tora Bora, where American forces came startlingly close to capturing him, and of the fugitive leader’s attempts to find a secure hiding place. As the only journalist to gain access to bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound before the Pakistani government demolished it, Bergen paints a vivid picture of bin Laden’s grim, Spartan life in hiding and his struggle to maintain control of al-Qaeda even as American drones systematically picked off his key lieutenants.

Half a world away, CIA analysts haunted by the intelligence failures that led to 9/11 and the WMD fiasco pored over the tiniest of clues before homing in on the man they called "the Kuwaiti"--who led them to a peculiar building with twelve-foot-high walls and security cameras less than a mile from a Pakistani military academy. This was the courier who would unwittingly steer them to bin Laden, now a prisoner of his own making but still plotting to devastate the United States.

Bergen takes us inside the Situation Room, where President Obama considers the COAs (courses of action) presented by his war council and receives conflicting advice from his top advisors before deciding to risk the raid that would change history--and then inside the Joint Special Operations Command, whose "secret warriors," the SEALs, would execute Operation Neptune Spear. From the moment two Black Hawks take off from Afghanistan until bin Laden utters his last words, Manhunt reads like a thriller.

Based on exhaustive research and unprecedented access to White House officials, CIA analysts, Pakistani intelligence, and the military, this is the definitive account of ten years in pursuit of bin Laden and of the twilight of al-Qaeda.
Visit Peter Bergen's website.

"Wicked Eddies"

New from Midnight Ink: Wicked Eddies by Beth Groundwater.

About the book, from the publisher:

Book two in the RM Outdoor Adventure Mystery series by Agatha Award finalist Beth Groundwater.

Fly fishing is dangerous? River ranger Mandy Tanner had no idea until days before a huge tournament in Salida, Colorado. True, the Arkansas River can be a man-eater, but the rapids weren’t responsible for driving a hatchet into the neck of would-be competitor Howie Abbott—a secretive man who may have been cheating. While casting about for suspects, Mandy seeks clues from Abbott’s family members, including her best friend, bartender Cynthia Abbott. But when Cynthia becomes the prime suspect, Mandy realizes that trolling for the true killer has plunged her way too deep into wicked eddies.
Visit Beth Groundwater's website and blog.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

"The Future Was Here"

New from The MIT Press: The Future Was Here: The Commodore Amiga by Jimmy Maher.

About the book, from the publisher:

Long ago, in 1985, personal computers came in two general categories: the friendly, childish game machine used for fun (exemplified by Atari and Commodore products); and the boring, beige adult box used for business (exemplified by products from IBM). The game machines became fascinating technical and artistic platforms that were of limited real-world utility. The IBM products were all utility, with little emphasis on aesthetics and no emphasis on fun. Into this bifurcated computing environment came the Commodore Amiga 1000. This personal computer featured a palette of 4,096 colors, unprecedented animation capabilities, four-channel stereo sound, the capacity to run multiple applications simultaneously, a graphical user interface, and powerful processing potential. It was, Jimmy Maher writes in The Future Was Here, the world’s first true multimedia personal computer.

Maher argues that the Amiga’s capacity to store and display color photographs, manipulate video (giving amateurs access to professional tools), and use recordings of real-world sound were the seeds of the digital media future: digital cameras, Photoshop, MP3 players, and even YouTube, Flickr, and the blogosphere. He examines different facets of the platform--from Deluxe Paint to AmigaOS to Cinemaware--in each chapter, creating a portrait of the platform and the communities of practice that surrounded it. Of course, Maher acknowledges, the Amiga was not perfect: the DOS component of the operating systems was clunky and ill-matched, for example, and crashes often accompanied multitasking attempts. And Commodore went bankrupt in 1994. But for a few years, the Amiga’s technical qualities were harnessed by engineers, programmers, artists, and others to push back boundaries and transform the culture of computing.
Visit Jimmy Maher's blog.

"Fun House"

New from Pegasus Books: Fun House (John Ceepak Series #7) by Chris Grabenstein.

About the book, from the publisher:

What if a reality TV show like Jersey Shore set up production in the fictional seaside resort Sea Haven? What if hitting the gym, tanning, and doing a little laundry aren't the only things the contestants get into?

By-the-book officer John Ceepak and his wisecracking young partner, Danny Boyle, have to babysit the buff and boozy kids partying it up in a Jersey shore rental house for TV 's summertime hit Fun House while simultaneously trying to stop the rowdy kids from breaking the law up and down the beach.

But even Ceepak and Danny can t stop one young cast member from being murdered and others from being threatened with the same fate.
Learn more about the author and his work at Chris Grabenstein's website.

The Page 69 Test: Hell Hole.

The Page 99 Test: Mind Scrambler.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Chris Grabenstein & Fred.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

"The Killing Moon"

New from Orbit Books: The Killing Moon by N. K. Jemisin.

About the book, from the publisher:

In the desert city-state of Gujaareh, peace is the only law. Along its ancient stone streets, there is no crime or violence. Priests of the dream-goddess, known as Gatherers, maintain order: harvesting the dreams of the citizens, healing the injured, and guiding the dreamers into the afterlife… whether they’re ready to die or not.

When Ehiru — the most famous of the city’s Gatherers — is sent to harvest the dreams of a diplomatic envoy, he finds himself drawn into a conspiracy that threatens to drag the dreaming city into war.

So begins a hugely ambitious tale of culture and empire, war and religion…and the realm of dreams.
Visit N. K. Jemisin's website.

"Objects of My Affection"

New from Touchstone: Objects of My Affection by Jill Smolinski.

About the book, from the publisher:

In the humorous, heartfelt new novel by the author of The Next Thing on My List, a personal organizer must somehow convince a reclusive artist to give up her hoarding ways and let go of the stuff she’s hung on to for decades.

Lucy Bloom is broke, freshly dumped by her boyfriend, and forced to sell her house to send her nineteen-year-old son to drug rehab. Although she’s lost it all, she’s determined to start over. So when she’s offered a high-paying gig helping clear the clutter from the home of reclusive and eccentric painter Marva Meier Rios, Lucy grabs it. Armed with the organizing expertise she gained while writing her book, Things Are Not People, and fueled by a burning desire to get her life back on track, Lucy rolls up her sleeves to take on the mess that fills every room of Marva’s huge home. Lucy soon learns that the real challenge may be taking on Marva, who seems to love the objects in her home too much to let go of any of them.

While trying to stay on course toward a strict deadline—and with an ex-boyfriend back in the picture, a new romance on the scene, and her son’s rehab not going as planned—Lucy discovers that Marva isn’t just hoarding, she is also hiding a big secret. The two form an unlikely bond, as each learns from the other that there are those things in life we keep, those we need to let go—but it’s not always easy to know the difference.
Visit Jill Smolinski's website.

Friday, April 20, 2012

"On the Origins of Jewish Self-Hatred"

New from Princeton University Press: On the Origins of Jewish Self-Hatred by Paul Reitter.

About the book, from the publisher:

Today, the term "Jewish self-hatred" often denotes a treasonous brand of Jewish self-loathing, and is frequently used as a smear, such as when it is applied to politically moderate Jews who are critical of Israel. In On the Origins of Jewish Self-Hatred, Paul Reitter demonstrates that the concept of Jewish self-hatred once had decidedly positive connotations. He traces the genesis of the term to Anton Kuh, a Viennese-Jewish journalist who coined it in the aftermath of World War I, and shows how the German-Jewish philosopher Theodor Lessing came, in 1930, to write a book that popularized "Jewish self-hatred." Reitter contends that, as Kuh and Lessing used it, the concept of Jewish self-hatred described a complex and possibly redemptive way of being Jewish. Paradoxically, Jews could show the world how to get past the blight of self-hatred only by embracing their own, singularly advanced self-critical tendencies--their "Jewish self-hatred."

Provocative and elegantly argued, On the Origins of Jewish Self-Hatred challenges widely held notions about the history and meaning of this idea, and explains why its history is so badly misrepresented today.
Read the introduction to On the Origins of Jewish Self-Hatred.

"The Solitary House"

New from Delacorte Press: The Solitary House by Lynn Shepherd.

About the book, from the publisher:

Lynn Shepherd’s first acclaimed novel of historical suspense, Murder at Mansfield Park, brilliantly reimagined the time of Jane Austen. Now, in this spellbinding new triumph, she introduces an unforgettable duo of detectives into the gaslit world of Dickens.

London, 1850. Charles Maddox had been an up-and-coming officer for the Metropolitan police until a charge of insubordination abruptly ended his career. Now he works alone, struggling to eke out a living by tracking down criminals. Whenever he needs it, he has the help of his great-uncle Maddox, a legendary “thief taker,” a detective as brilliant and intuitive as they come.

On Charles’s latest case, he’ll need all the assistance he can get.

To his shock, Charles has been approached by Edward Tulkinghorn, the shadowy and feared attorney, who offers him a handsome price to do some sleuthing for a client. Powerful financier Sir Julius Cremorne has been receiving threatening letters, and Tulkinghorn wants Charles to—discreetly—find and stop whoever is responsible.

But what starts as a simple, open-and-shut case swiftly escalates into something bigger and much darker. As he cascades toward a collision with an unspeakable truth, Charles can only be aided so far by Maddox. The old man shows signs of forgetfulness and anger, symptoms of an age-related ailment that has yet to be named.

Intricately plotted and intellectually ambitious, The Solitary House is an ingenious novel that does more than spin an enthralling tale: it plumbs the mysteries of the human mind.
Visit Lynn Shepherd's website.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

"Powers of Arrest"

New from Poisoned Pen Press: Powers of Arrest: A Cincinnatti Casebook by Jon Talton.

About the book, from the publisher:

Cincinnati homicide Detective Will Borders now walks with a cane and lives alone with constant discomfort. He’s lucky to be alive. He’s lucky to have a job, as public information officer for the department. But when a star cop is brutally murdered, he’s assigned to find her killer. The crime bears a chilling similarity to killings on the peaceful college campus nearby, where his friend Cheryl Beth Wilson is teaching nursing. The two young victims were her students. Most homicides are routine, the suspects readily apparent. These are definitely not. Once again, this unlikely pair teams up to pursue a sadistic predator before he kills again. But finding him will mean uncovering some of the darkest secrets in a Midwestern metropolis where change is slow, tradition and history lay as thick as the summer humidity, and lethal danger can hide in the most respected places.
Visit Jon Talton's website.

The Page 69 Test: South Phoenix Rules.

Writers Read: Jon Talton.

My Book, The Movie: Jon Talton's David Mapstone mysteries.

"What Money Can't Buy"

New from Farrar, Straus and Giroux: What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets by Michael J. Sandel.

About the book, from the publisher:

Should we pay children to read books or to get good grades? Should we allow corporations to pay for the right to pollute the atmosphere? Is it ethical to pay people to test risky new drugs or to donate their organs? What about hiring mercenaries to fight our wars? Auctioning admission to elite universities? Selling citizenship to immigrants willing to pay?

In What Money Can’t Buy, Michael J. Sandel takes on one of the biggest ethical questions of our time: Is there something wrong with a world in which everything is for sale? If so, how can we prevent market values from reaching into spheres of life where they don’t belong? What are the moral limits of markets?

In recent decades, market values have crowded out nonmarket norms in almost every aspect of life—medicine, education, government, law, art, sports, even family life and personal relations. Without quite realizing it, Sandel argues, we have drifted from having a market economy to being a market society. Is this where we want to be?

In his New York Times bestseller Justice, Sandel showed himself to be a master at illuminating, with clarity and verve, the hard moral questions we confront in our everyday lives. Now, in What Money Can’t Buy, he provokes an essential discussion that we, in our market-driven age, need to have: What is the proper role of markets in a democratic society—and how can we protect the moral and civic goods that markets don’t honor and that money can’t buy?
Visit Michael Sandel's website.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

"A Difficult Woman"

New from Bloomsbury USA: A Difficult Woman: The Challenging Life and Times of Lillian Hellman by Alice Kessler-Harris.

About the book, from the publisher:

A revelatory and provocative biography of one of the most controversial women of the twentieth century, by one of America's most renowned historians.

Lillian Hellman was a giant of twentieth-century letters and a groundbreaking figure as one of the most successful female playwrights on Broadway. Yet the author of The Little Foxes and Toys in the Attic is today remembered more as a toxic, bitter survivor and literary fabulist, the woman of whom Mary McCarthy said, "Every word she writes is a lie, including 'and' and 'the.'" In A Difficult Woman, renowned historian Alice Kessler-Harris undertakes a feat few would dare to attempt: a reclamation of a combative, controversial woman who straddled so many political and cultural fault lines of her time.

Kessler-Harris renders Hellman's feisty wit and personality in all of its contradictions: as a non-Jewish Jew, a displaced Southerner, a passionate political voice without a party, an artist immersed in commerce, a sexually free woman who scorned much of the women's movement, a loyal friend whose trust was often betrayed, and a writer of memoirs who repeatedly questioned the possibility of achieving truth and doubted her memory.

Hellman was a writer whose plays spoke the language of morality yet whose achievements foundered on accusations of mendacity. Above all else, she was a woman who made her way in a man's world. Kessler-Harris has crafted a nuanced life of Hellman, empathetic yet unsparing, that situates her in the varied contexts in which she moved, from New Orleans to Broadway to the hearing room of HUAC. A Difficut Woman is a major work of literary and intellectual history. This will be one of the most reviewed, and most acclaimed, books of 2012.

"A Surrey State of Affairs"

New from Pamela Dorman Books: A Surrey State of Affairs by Ceri Radford.

About the book, from the publisher:

Constance Harding's comfortable corner of Surrey is her own little piece of heaven. She lives in a chocolate box house complete with an Aga and a parrot, her bell-ringing club is set to dominate the intercounty tournament, and she is sure she can get her son, Rupert, to settle down if she just writes the perfect personal ad for him. Naturally, things turn disastrous rather quickly. And she's about to learn that her perfect home conceals a scandal that would make the vicar blush.

Her Lithuanian housekeeper's undergarments keep appearing in her husband's study and her daughter is turning into a Lycra-clad gap-year strumpet. As her family falls apart, Constance embarks on an extraordinary journey. From partying in Ibiza to riding bareback with a handsome Argentinean gaucho whose only English words are "Britney" and "Spears," Constance is about to discover a wider world she thought it was too late to find.

Hilarious, inventive, and ultimately heartwarming, A Surrey State of Affairs will appeal to fans of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand and the novels of Alexander McCall Smith.
Visit Ceri Radford's website and like her Facebook page.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

"Compassion, Inc."

New from the University of California Press: Compassion, Inc.: How Corporate America Blurs the Line between What We Buy, Who We Are, and Those We Help by Mara Einstein.

About the book, from the publisher:

Pink ribbons, red dresses, and greenwashing—American corporations are scrambling to tug at consumer heartstrings through cause-related marketing, corporate social responsibility, and ethical branding, tactics that can increase sales by as much as 74%. Harmless? Marketing insider Mara Einstein demonstrates in this penetrating analysis why the answer is a resounding “No!” In Compassion, Inc. she outlines how cause-related marketing desensitizes the public by putting a pleasant face on complex problems. She takes us through the unseen ways in which large sums of consumer dollars go into corporate coffers rather than helping the less fortunate. She also discusses companies that truly do make the world a better place, and those that just pretend to.
Visit the Compassion, Inc. blog and Facebook page.

"The Story of Us"

New from Simon Pulse: The Story of Us by Deb Caletti.

About the book, from the publisher:

A fresh and bittersweet story of love and family from National Book Award finalist Deb Caletti.

Cricket’s on a self-imposed break from her longtime boyfriend—but she’s picked a bad week to sort out her love life. For one thing, her mother’s romance is taking center stage: After jilting two previous fiancés, her mom is finally marrying Dan Jax, whom Cricket loves. But as wedding attendees arrive for a week of festivities at a guesthouse whose hippie owners have a sweet, sexy son—Ash—complications arise:

Cricket’s future stepsisters make it clear they’re not happy about the marriage. An old friend decides this is the week to declare his love for Cricket. Grandpa chooses to reveal a big secret at a family gathering. Dan’s ex-wife shows up. And even the dogs—Cricket’s old, ill Jupiter and Dan’s young, lively Cruiser—seem to be declaring war.

While Cricket fears that Dan is in danger of becoming ditched husband-to-be number three, she’s also alarmed by her own desires. Because even though her boyfriend looms large in her mind, Ash is right in front of her....
Learn more about the author and her books at Deb Caletti's website and Facebook page.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Deb Caletti and Tucker.

Monday, April 16, 2012

"Wanted: Elevator Man"

New from Switchgrass Books: Wanted: Elevator Man by Joseph G. Peterson.

About the book, from the publisher:

Balladeer of the city’s broken and forgotten men, Joseph G. Peterson looks for inspiration in urban side streets and alleys, where crooked schemes are hatched, where lives end violently, and where pretty much everyone is up to no good. Depicting the lives of people who have woefully lost their way in the world—criminals and victims, the unemployed and unemployable, the neglected and the indigent, the lonely and the alone—Peterson nonetheless brings a poet’s touch to his work, which is redolent with allegory, allusion, and Nabokovian wordplay. His last novel, Beautiful Piece, garnered praise from across the literary spectrum. Enter Wanted: Elevator Man, his powerful and ambitious new novel and the story of Eliot Barnes Jr., a man at the end of his proverbial rope.

Haunted by the larger-than-life shadow of his father, a scientist who may have helped develop the atomic bomb, twenty-nine-year-old Eliot Barnes, Jr., is an apple that’s fallen far from the tree. Saddled with a useless degree in literature, caged in a rundown apartment he can’t afford, and embittered by his failure to live up to the future’s promise, Barnes, who dreams of a corner office—an aerie roost high above the city, working with the higher-ups—begrudgingly accepts a job as an elevator man in a downtown Chicago skyscraper. Thus begins a profound but comedic meditation on failure in this life, how one comes to terms with not achieving one’s dreams, the nature and origin of such dreams, and, fittingly, the meaning of the American dream itself.

As unflinching as Nelson Algren and as romantic as Saul Bellow, Peterson’s novel boasts wildly surreal plot twists and a lethal wit that frequently erupts into full-on hilarity. Wanted: Elevator Man is the perfect tale for learning to cope with diminished expectations in these dark and desperate times.
Learn more about the book and author at Joseph G. Peterson's website.

The Page 69 Test: Beautiful Piece.

"White Horse"

New from Atria/Emily Bestler Books: White Horse by Alex Adams.

About the book, from the publisher:

The world has ended, but her journey has just begun.

Thirty-year-old Zoe leads an ordinary life until the end of the world arrives. She is cleaning cages and floors at Pope Pharmaceuticals when the president of the United States announces that human beings are no longer a viable species. When Zoe realizes that everyone she loves is disappearing, she starts running. Scared and alone in a shockingly changed world, she embarks on a remarkable journey of survival and redemption. Along the way, Zoe comes to see that humans are defined not by their genetic code, but rather by their actions and choices. White Horse offers hope for a broken world, where love can lead to the most unexpected places.
Visit Alex Adams's website and blog.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

"Let's Pretend This Never Happened"

New from Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam: Let's Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson.

About the book, from the publisher:

For fans of Tina Fey and David Sedaris—Internet star Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess, makes her literary debut.

Jenny Lawson realized that the most mortifying moments of our lives—the ones we’d like to pretend never happened—are in fact the ones that define us. In Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Lawson takes readers on a hilarious journey recalling her bizarre upbringing in rural Texas, her devastatingly awkward high school years, and her relationship with her long-suffering husband, Victor. Chapters include: “Stanley the Magical, Talking Squirrel”; “A Series of Angry Post-It Notes to My Husband”; “My Vagina Is Fine. Thanks for Asking”; “And Then I Snuck a Dead Cuban Alligator on an Airplane.” Pictures with captions (no one would believe these things without proof) accompany the text.
Visit Jenny Lawson's blog.

"Red, White, and Blood"

New from Putnam: Red, White, and Blood by Christopher Farnsworth.

About the book, from the publisher:

The Presidential Campaign Trail, 2012:

A political operative and a volunteer are brutally murdered while caught in a compromising position. Written in their blood on the wall of the crime scene: IT’S GOOD TO BE BACK.

And with that, a centuries-old horror known only as the Boogeyman returns to taunt Nathaniel Cade, the President’s Vampire. Against the backdrop of the 2012 presidential race, with the threat of constant exposure by the media, Cade and Zach must stop the one monster Cade has never been able to defeat completely. And they must do it before the Boogeyman adds another victim to his long and bloody list: the President of the United States himself.
Learn more about the book and author at The President's Vampire website.

The Page 69 Test: Blood Oath.

Writers Read: Christopher Farnsworth.


New from Crown: Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton.

About the book, from the publisher:

The school is on fire. Her children are inside.

Grace runs toward the burning building, desperate to reach them.

In the aftermath of the devastating fire which tears her family apart, Grace embarks on a mission to find the person responsible and protect her children from further harm. This fire was not an accident, and her daughter Jenny may still be in grave danger. Grace is the only one who can discover the culprit, and she will do whatever it takes to save her family and find out who committed the crime that rocked their lives. While unearthing truths about her life that may help her find answers, Grace learns more about everyone around her -- and finds she has courage she never knew she possessed.

Powerful and beautiful, with a riveting story and Lupton’s trademark elegant style that made Sister such a sweeping success, Afterwards explores the depths of a mother’s unswerving love.
Visit Rosamund Lupton's website.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


New from St. Martin's Press: Goliath by Susan Woodring.

About the book, from the publisher:

When Percy Harding, Goliath’s most important citizen, is discovered dead by the railroad tracks outside town one perfect autumn afternoon, no one can quite believe it’s really happened. Percy, the president of the town’s world-renowned furniture company, had seemed invincible. Only Rosamond Rogers, Percy’s secretary, may have had a glimpse of how and why this great man has fallen, and that glimpse tugs at her, urges her to find out more.

Percy isn’t the first person to leave Rosamond: everybody seems to, from her husband, Hatley, who walked out on her years ago; to her complicated daughter Agnes, whose girlhood bedroom was papered with maps of the places she wanted to escape to. The town itself is Rosamond’s anchor, but it is beginning to quiver with the possibility of change. The high school girls are writing suicide poetry. The town’s young, lumbering sidewalk preacher is courting Rosamond’s daughter. A troubled teenaged boy plans to burn Main Street to the ground. And the furniture factory itself—the very soul of Goliath—threatens to close.

In the wake of the town’s undoing, Rosamond seeks to reunite the grief-shaken community. Goliath, a story of loss and love, of forgiveness and letting go, is a lyrical swoon of a novel by an exceptionally talented newcomer.
Visit Susan Woodring's website.

"One Red Bastard"

New from Minotaur/Thomas Dunne Books: One Red Bastard by Ed Lin.

About the book, from the publisher:

In One Red Bastard, Ed Lin's thrilling sequel to the highly acclaimed Snakes Can’t Run, “reminiscent of Elmore Leonard… Compulsively readable” (Don Lee), it’s the fall of 1976. New York's Chinatown is in turmoil over news that Mao's daughter is seeking asylum in the U.S. The series hero Robert Chow is a neighborhood detective in training, and he is thrilled when his girlfriend Lonnie scores an interview with the Chinese representative of Mao's daughter. But hours after the interview, the man is found dead. Lonnie, the last person to see him alive, is the main suspect.

As Lonnie is subjected to increasing amounts of intimidation from his fellow policemen, who want to close the case, Robert is tempted to reach into his own bag of dirty tricks. Will he stay on the right side of the law, or will his loyalty to Lonnie get the better of him? Find out in this exciting and fast-paced mystery set in one of New York’s most fascinating neighborhoods.
Learn more about the book and author at Ed Lin's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Ed Lin's Snakes Can't Run.

Friday, April 13, 2012

"Truth Like the Sun"

New from Knopf: Truth Like the Sun by Jim Lynch.

About the book, from the publisher:

A classic and hugely entertaining political novel, the cat-and-mouse story of urban intrigue in Seattle both in 1962, when Seattle hosted the World's Fair, and in 2001, after its transformation in the Microsoft gold rush.

Larger than life, Roger Morgan was the mastermind behind the fair that made the city famous and is still a backstage power forty years later, when at the age of seventy he runs for mayor in hopes of restoring all of Seattle's former glory. Helen Gulanos, a reporter every bit as eager to make her mark, sees her assignment to investigate the events of 1962 become front-page news with Morgan's candidacy, and resolves to find out who he really is and where his power comes from: in 1962, a brash and excitable young promoter, greeting everyone from Elvis Presley to Lyndon Johnson, smooth-talking himself out of difficult situations, dipping in and out of secret card games; now, a beloved public figure with, it turns out, still-plentiful secrets. Wonderfully interwoven into this tale of the city of dreams are backroom deals, idealism and pragmatism, the best and worst ambitions, and all the aspirations that shape our communities and our lives.
Visit Jim Lynch's website.

"City of Scoundrels"

New from Crown: City of Scoundrels: The 12 Days of Disaster That Gave Birth to Modern Chicago by Gary Krist.

About the book, from the publisher:

The masterfully told story of twelve volatile days in the life of Chicago, when an aviation disaster, a race riot, a crippling transit strike, and a sensational child murder transfixed and roiled a city already on the brink of collapse.

When 1919 began, the city of Chicago seemed on the verge of transformation. Modernizers had an audacious, expensive plan to turn the city from a brawling, unglamorous place into "the Metropolis of the World." But just as the dream seemed within reach, pandemonium broke loose and the city's highest ambitions were suddenly under attack by the same unbridled energies that had given birth to them in the first place.

It began on a balmy Monday afternoon when a blimp in flames crashed through the roof of a busy downtown bank, incinerating those inside. Within days, a racial incident at a hot, crowded South Side beach spiraled into one of the worst urban riots in American history, followed by a transit strike that paralyzed the city. Then, when it seemed as if things could get no worse, police searching for a six-year-old girl discovered her body in a dark North Side basement.

Meticulously researched and expertly paced, City of Scoundrels captures the tumultuous birth of the modern American city, with all of its light and dark aspects in vivid relief.
The Page 69 Test: Gary Krist's The White Cascade.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

"Dixie Dharma"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: Dixie Dharma: Inside a Buddhist Temple in the American South by Jeff Wilson.

About the book, from the publisher:

Buddhism in the United States is often viewed in connection with practitioners in the Northeast and on the West Coast, but in fact, it has been spreading and evolving throughout the United States since the mid-nineteenth century. In Dixie Dharma, Jeff Wilson argues that region is crucial to understanding American Buddhism. Through the lens of a multidenominational Buddhist temple in Richmond, Virginia, Wilson explores how Buddhists are adapting to life in the conservative evangelical Christian culture of the South, and how traditional Southerners are adjusting to these newer members on the religious landscape.

Introducing a host of overlooked characters, including Buddhist circuit riders, modernist Pure Land priests, and pluralistic Buddhists, Wilson shows how regional specificity manifests itself through such practices as meditation vigils to heal the wounds of the slave trade. He argues that southern Buddhists at once use bodily practices, iconography, and meditation tools to enact distinct sectarian identities even as they enjoy a creative hybridity.

"Murder of Gonzago"

New from Soho Press: Murder of Gonzago: An Antonia Darcy and Major Payne Investigation by R. T. Raichev.

About the book, from the publisher:

Lord Remnant’s eccentric parties on his privately owned Caribbean island of Grenadin are the stuff of legends ... but then the 12th Earl suddenly dies in the course of an amateur production of The Murder of Gonzago, the play within a play in Hamlet. The Times obituary gives the cause of death as “heart attack.” However, an anonymous video tape showing Lord Remnant’s final moments makes it clear that the nobleman’s demise was far from natural.

As it happens so often, Antonia and Hugh Payne get involved in the sinister events surrounding Lord Remnant’s death entirely by accident. They are intrigued by the boldness of the murder, which seems to have been committed within a full view of Lord Remnant’s wife Clarissa and their four guests. Who killed Lord Remnant? Was it his drug-addicted stepson Stephan? Was it Clarissa’s Aunt Hortense, whose past contains a dark and shocking secret? Was it, as Stephan claims, the demonic “Grimaud”? Or perhaps it is the elusive Mr. Quin, who is left a vast amount of money in Lord Remnant’s will, for no apparent reason.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"Lucky Bastard"

New from Gallery Books: Lucky Bastard by S.G. Browne.

About the book, from the publisher:

Meet Nick Monday: a private detective who’s more Columbo than Sam Spade, more Magnum P.I. than Philip Marlowe. As San Francisco’s infamous luck poacher, Nick doesn’t know whether his ability to swipe other people’s fortunes with a simple handshake is a blessing or a curse. Ever since his youth, Nick has swallowed more than a few bitter truths when it comes to wheeling and dealing in destinies. Because whether the highest bidders of Nick’s serendipitous booty are celebrities, yuppies, or douche bag vegans, the unsavory fact remains: luck is the most powerful, addictive, and dangerous drug of them all. And no amount of cappuccinos, Lucky Charms, or apple fritters can sweeten the notion that Nick might be exactly what his father once claimed—as ambitious as a fart.

That is, until Tuesday Knight, the curvy brunette who also happens to be the mayor’s daughter, approaches Nick with an irresistible offer: $100,000 to retrieve her father’s stolen luck. Could this high-stakes deal let Nick do right? Or will kowtowing to another greedmonger’s demands simply fund Nick’s addiction to corporate coffee bars while his morality drains down the toilet? Before he downs his next mocha, Nick finds himself at the mercy of a Chinese mafia kingpin and with no choice but to scour the city for the purest kind of luck, a hunt more titillating than softcore porn. All he has to do to stay ahead of the game is remember that you can’t take something from someone without eventually paying like hell for it....
The Page 69 Test: Breathers: A Zombie's Lament.

"An Unexpected Guest"

New from Little, Brown: An Unexpected Guest by Anne Korkeakivi.

About the book, from the publisher:

Clare Moorhouse, the American wife of a high-ranking diplomat in Paris, is arranging an official dinner crucial to her husband's career. As she shops for fresh stalks of asparagus and works out the menu and seating arrangements, her day is complicated by the unexpected arrival of her son and a random encounter with a Turkish man, whom she discovers is a suspected terrorist. More unnerving is a recurring face in the crowd, one that belonged to another, darker era of her life. One she never expected to see again. But it can't be him--he's been dead for 20 years....

Like Virginia Woolf did in Mrs. Dalloway, Anne Korkeakivi brilliantly weaves the complexities of an age into an act as deceptively simple as hosting a dinner party.
Visit Anne Korkeakivi's website.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

"The Taste of Tomorrow"

New from Harper: The Taste of Tomorrow: Dispatches from the Future of Food by Josh Schonwald.

About the book, from the publisher:

A fascinating look at the people, trends, and technologies transforming the food of today and tomorrow

In The Taste of Tomorrow, journalist Josh Schonwald sets out on a journey to investigate the future of food. His quest takes him across the country and into farms and labs around the globe. From Alice Waters' microfarm to a Pentagon facility that has quietly shaped American supermarkets, The Taste of Tomorrow is a rare, behind-the-scenes glimpse at what we eat today—and what we'll be eating tomorrow.

Schonwald introduces us to a motley group of mad scientists, entrepreneurs, renegade farmers, and food engineers who are revolutionizing the food we eat. We meet the Harvard-trained pedia-trician who wants to change the way humans raise fish; a New York chef who believes he's found the next great ethnic cuisine; a lawyer-turned-nanotechnologist who believes he can solve human nutritional needs without using food.

In this lively and fascinating book, Schonwald explains how new foods happen; why some foods explode on the scene virtually overnight while others take decades—and countless failures—to catch on. And he doesn't shy away from controversy. Although the book begins as a simple search for "the salad, meat, seafood, and pad Thai of the future," Schonwald becomes increasingly focused on finding environmentally friendly foods of the future. Ultimately, he comes to believe that emerging scientific breakthroughs—genetic engineering, nanotechnology, food processing—are essential to feeding the globe's expanding (and hungry) population.
Visit Josh Schonwald's website.

"The Man Who Planted Trees"

New from Spiegel & Grau: The Man Who Planted Trees: Lost Groves, Champion Trees, and an Urgent Plan to Save the Planet by Jim Robbins.

About the book, from the publisher:


“When is the best time to plant a tree? Twenty years ago. The second best time? Today.”—Chinese proverb

Twenty years ago, David Milarch, a northern Michigan nurseryman with a penchant for hard living, had a vision: angels came to tell him that the earth was in trouble. Its trees were dying, and without them, human life was in jeopardy. The solution, they told him, was to clone the champion trees of the world—the largest, the hardiest, the ones that had survived millennia and were most resilient to climate change—and create a kind of Noah’s ark of tree genetics. Without knowing if the message had any basis in science, or why he’d been chosen for this task, Milarch began his mission of cloning the world’s great trees. Many scientists and tree experts told him it couldn’t be done, but, twenty years later, his team has successfully cloned some of the world’s oldest trees—among them giant redwoods and sequoias. They have also grown seedlings from the oldest tree in the world, the bristlecone pine Methuselah.

When New York Times journalist Jim Robbins came upon Milarch’s story, he was fascinated but had his doubts. Yet over several years, listening to Milarch and talking to scientists, he came to realize that there is so much we do not yet know about trees: how they die, how they communicate, the myriad crucial ways they filter water and air and otherwise support life on Earth. It became clear that as the planet changes, trees and forest are essential to assuring its survival. The Man Who Planted Trees is both a fascinating investigation into the world of trees and the inspiring story of one man’s quest to help save the planet. This book’s hopeful message of what one man can accomplish against all odds is also a lesson about how each of us has the ability to make a difference.
Visit Jim Robbins's website.

Monday, April 9, 2012

"The Springsweet"

New from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: The Springsweet by Saundra Mitchell.

About the book, from the publisher:

Heartbroken over the tragic death of her fiancé, seventeen-year-old Zora Stewart leaves Baltimore for the frontier town of West Glory, Oklahoma, to help her young widowed aunt keep her homestead going. There she discovers that she possesses the astonishing ability to sense water under the parched earth. When her aunt hires her out as a “springsweet” to advise other settlers where to dig their wells, Zora feels the burden of holding the key to something so essential to survival in this unforgiving land.

Even more, she finds herself longing for love the way the prairie thirsts for water.

Maybe, in the wildness of the territories, Zora can finally move beyond simply surviving and start living.
Learn more about the book and author at Saundra Mitchell's website and blog.

Writers Read: Saundra Mitchell (October 2009).

My Book, The Movie: The Vespertine.

"Why Calories Count"

New from the University of California Press: Why Calories Count: From Science to Politics by Marion Nestle and Malden Nesheim.

About the book, from the publisher:

Calories—too few or too many—are the source of health problems affecting billions of people in today’s globalized world. Although calories are essential to human health and survival, they cannot be seen, smelled, or tasted. They are also hard to understand. In Why Calories Count, Marion Nestle and Malden Nesheim explain in clear and accessible language what calories are and how they work, both biologically and politically. As they take readers through the issues that are fundamental to our understanding of diet and food, weight gain, loss, and obesity, Nestle and Nesheim sort through a great deal of the misinformation put forth by food manufacturers and diet program promoters. They elucidate the political stakes and show how federal and corporate policies have come together to create an “eat more” environment. Finally, having armed readers with the necessary information to interpret food labels, evaluate diet claims, and understand evidence as presented in popular media, the authors offer some candid advice: Get organized. Eat less. Eat better. Move more. Get political.
Learn more about the book and author at Marion Nestle's website.

The Page 99 Test: Marion Nestle's Pet Food Politics.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

"When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man"

New from Riverhead: When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man by Nick Dybek.

About the book, from the publisher:

Every fall, the men of Loyalty Island sail from the Olympic Peninsula up to the Bering Sea to spend the winter catching king crab. Their dangerous occupation keeps food on the table but constantly threatens to leave empty seats around it.

To Cal, Alaska remains as mythical and mysterious as Treasure Island, and the stories his father returns with are as mesmerizing as those he once invented about Captain Flint before he turned pirate. But while Cal is too young to accompany his father, he is old enough to know that everything depends on the fate of those few boats thousands of miles to the north. He is also old enough to feel the tension between his parents over whether he will follow in his father's footsteps. And old enough to wonder about his mother's relationship with John Gaunt, owner of the fleet.

Then Gaunt dies suddenly, leaving the business in the hands of his son, who seems intent on selling away the fishermen's livelihood. Soon Cal stumbles on evidence that his father may have taken extreme measures to salvage their way of life. As winter comes on, his suspicions deepening and his moral compass shattered, he is forced to make a terrible choice.
Visit Nick Dybek's website.

"The Next Right Thing"

New from The Dial Press: The Next Right Thing by Dan Barden.

About the book, from the publisher:

Southern California home builder extraordinaire Randy Chalmers has to admit he’d be dead or in prison were it not for his best friend, lawyer, and Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor, Terry Elias. A former police officer, Randy narrowly escaped being an evening news highlight during years ravaged by anger and alcohol. Thanks to Terry’s coaching and an endless stream of caffeine-fueled AA meetings, Randy’s been off the booze for eight years, has a successful new career, and is thriving in a healthy relationship with his vegan yoga-instructor girlfriend. All is well ... until Terry, himself supposedly sober for fifteen years, is found dead of a heroin overdose.

How could Terry, who had dragged so many others from the edge, jump off himself? Convinced that something (or someone) must have pushed him, Randy is soon off on a dry-drunk quest for answers—and possibly revenge. He discovers a trail of dirty secrets that lead to missing persons, shady real estate deals, hydroponic pot farms, and Internet pornography. When his suspicions ultimately connect Terry’s death to the activities of a recently appointed Superior Court judge—who just happens to be dating Randy’s ex-wife—Randy has to ask himself: Is he really onto something or just suffering from grief and paranoia? Will his increasingly frenzied behavior ruin his current relationship and his chances of regaining custody of his daughter? Will he destroy the life that he has worked so hard to achieve? Will he reach for a drink?

The Next Right Thing is a hilarious and harrowing combination of thriller and recovery tale, equal parts hard-earned wisdom and old-fashioned suspense.
Visit Dan Barden's website.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

"Heart of Dankness"

New from Broadway: Heart of Dankness: Underground Botanists, Outlaw Farmers, and the Race for the Cannabis Cup by Mark Haskell Smith.

About the book, from the publisher:

Reporting for the Los Angeles Times on the international blind tasting competition held annually in Amsterdam known as the Cannabis Cup, novelist Mark Haskell Smith sampled a variety of marijuana that was unlike anything he’d experienced. It wasn’t anything like typical stoner weed, in fact it didn’t get you stoned. This cannabis possessed an ephemeral quality known to aficionados as “dankness.”

Armed with a State of California Medical Marijuana recommendation, he begins a journey into the international underground where super-high-grade marijuana is developed and tracks down the rag-tag community of underground botanists, outlaw farmers, and renegade strain hunters who pursue excellence and diversity in marijuana, defying the law to find new flavors, tastes, and effects. This unrelenting pursuit of dankness climaxes at the Cannabis Cup, which Haskell Smith vividly portrays as the Super Bowl/Mardi Gras of the world's largest cash crop.
Mark Haskell Smith is the author of three novels: Moist, Delicious, and, most recently, Salty, which was a Book Sense Notable Book. He is also is a screenwriter whose feature film credits include Playing God and the award-winning Brazilian film A Partilha.

The Page 69 Test: Salty.

My Book, The Movie: Salty.

"The Storytelling Animal"

New from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human by Jonathan Gottschall.

About the book, from the publisher:

Humans live in landscapes of make-believe. We spin fantasies. We devour novels, films, and plays. Even sporting events and criminal trials unfold as narratives. Yet the world of story has long remained an undiscovered and unmapped country. It’s easy to say that humans are “wired” for story, but why?

In this delightful and original book, Jonathan Gottschall offers the first unified theory of storytelling. He argues that stories help us navigate life’s complex social problems—just as flight simulators prepare pilots for difficult situations. Storytelling has evolved, like other behaviors, to ensure our survival.

Drawing on the latest research in neuroscience, psychology, and evolutionary biology, Gottschall tells us what it means to be a storytelling animal. Did you know that the more absorbed you are in a story, the more it changes your behavior? That all children act out the same kinds of stories, whether they grow up in a slum or a suburb? That people who read more fiction are more empathetic?

Of course, our story instinct has a darker side. It makes us vulnerable to conspiracy theories, advertisements, and narratives about ourselves that are more “truthy” than true. National myths can also be terribly dangerous: Hitler’s ambitions were partly fueled by a story.

But as Gottschall shows in this remarkable book, stories can also change the world for the better. Most successful stories are moral—they teach us how to live, whether explicitly or implicitly, and bind us together around common values. We know we are master shapers of story. The Storytelling Animal finally reveals how stories shape us.
Visit Jonathan Gottschall's website.

Friday, April 6, 2012

"L.A. '56"

New from Thomas Dunne Books: L.A. '56: A Devil in the City of Angels by Joel Engel.

About the book, from the publisher:

Los Angeles, 1956. Glamorous. Prosperous. The place to see and be seen. But beneath the shiny exterior beats a dark heart. For when the sun goes down, L.A. becomes the noir city of James Ellroy’s L.A. Confidential or Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins novels. Segregation is the unwritten law of the land. The growing black population is expected to keep to South Central. The white cops are encouraged to deal out harsh street justice. In L.A. ’56, Joel Engel paints a tense, moody portrait of the city as a devil weaves his way through the shadows.

While R&B and hot jazz spill out of record shops and clubs and all-night burger stands, Willie Fields cruises past in his dark green DeSoto, looking for a woman on whom he can bestow the gift of his company. His brilliant idea: Buy a tin badge in the five-and-ten to go along with his big flashlight and Luger and pretend to be an undercover vice cop. The young white girls doing it with their boyfriends in the lovers’ lanes dotting the L.A. hills would never say no to a cop. Into the car they go for a ride downtown on a “morals charge,” before he kicks out the young man in the middle of nowhere and takes the girl for a ride she’ll spend a lifetime trying to forget.

There’s a bad guy on the loose in the City of Angels.

Enter Detective Danny Galindo—he’d worked the Black Dahlia case back in ’47 as a rookie. The suave Latino—one of the few in the department—is able to move easily among the white detectives. Maybe it’s all those stories he’s sold to Jack Webb for Dragnet. When Todd Roark, a black ex-cop, is arrested, Galindo knows he’s innocent. But there’s no sympathy for Roark among the white cops on the LAPD; Galindo will have to go it alone.

There’s only one problem: The victims aren’t coming forward. The white press ignores the story, too, making Galindo’s job that much more difficult. And now he’s fallen in love with one of the rapist’s first victims. If he’s ever found out, he can kiss his badge good-bye.

With his back up against a wall, Galindo realizes that it will take some good old-fashioned Hollywood magic to take down a devil in the City of Angels.
Visit Joel Engel's website.