Sunday, April 5, 2020

"The Year 1000"

New from Scribner: The Year 1000: When Explorers Connected the World-and Globalization Began by Valerie Hansen.

About the book, from the publisher:

From celebrated Yale professor Valerie Hansen, a groundbreaking work of history showing that bold explorations and daring trade missions connected all of the world’s great societies for the first time at the end of the first millennium.

People often believe that the years immediately prior to AD 1000 were, with just a few exceptions, lacking in any major cultural developments or geopolitical encounters, that the Europeans hadn’t yet reached North America, and that the farthest feat of sea travel was the Vikings’ invasion of Britain. But how, then, to explain the presence of blonde-haired people in Maya temple murals at Chichén Itzá, Mexico? Could it be possible that the Vikings had found their way to the Americas during the height of the Maya empire?

Valerie Hansen, an award-winning historian, argues that the year 1000 was the world’s first point of major cultural exchange and exploration. Drawing on nearly thirty years of research, she presents a compelling account of first encounters between disparate societies, which sparked conflict and collaboration eerily reminiscent of our contemporary moment.

For readers of Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel and Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens, The Year 1000 is an intellectually daring, provocative account that will make you rethink everything you thought you knew about how the modern world came to be. It will also hold up a mirror to the hopes and fears we experience today.
The Page 99 Test: The Silk Road.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 4, 2020

"Why We Swim"

New from Algonquin Books: Why We Swim by Bonnie Tsui.

About the book, from the publisher:

An immersive, unforgettable, and eye-opening perspective on swimming—and on human behavior itself.

We swim in freezing Arctic waters and piranha-infested rivers to test our limits. We swim for pleasure, for exercise, for healing. But humans, unlike other animals that are drawn to water, are not natural-born swimmers. We must be taught. Our evolutionary ancestors learned for survival; now, in the twenty-first century, swimming is one of the most popular activities in the world.

Why We Swim is propelled by stories of Olympic champions, a Baghdad swim club that meets in Saddam Hussein’s palace pool, modern-day Japanese samurai swimmers, and even an Icelandic fisherman who improbably survives a wintry six-hour swim after a shipwreck. New York Times contributor Bonnie Tsui, a swimmer herself, dives into the deep, from the San Francisco Bay to the South China Sea, investigating what about water—despite its dangers—seduces us and why we come back to it again and again.
Visit Bonnie Tsui's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

"Like Nothing Amazing Ever Happened"

New from Delacorte Books for Young Readers: Like Nothing Amazing Ever Happened by Emily Blejwas.

About the book, from the publisher:

A poignant story of a boy picking up the pieces of his life after the unexpected death of his father, and the loyalty, concern, and friendship he finds in his small-town community.

Justin doesn’t know anything these days. Like how to walk down the halls without getting stared at. Or what to say to Jenni. Or how Phuc is already a physics genius in seventh grade. Or why Benny H. wanders around Wicapi talking to old ghosts. He doesn’t know why his mom suddenly loves church or if his older brother, Murphy, will ever play baseball again. Or if the North Stars have a shot at the playoffs. Justin doesn’t know how people can act like everything’s fine when it’s so obviously not. And most of all, he doesn’t know what really happened the night his dad died on the train tracks. And that sucks.

But life goes on. And as it does, Justin discovers that some things are just unknowable. He learns that time and space and memory are grander and weirder than he ever thought, and that small moments can hold big things, if you’re paying attention. Just like his math teacher said, even when you think you have all the information, there will be more. There is always more.

Set during the Gulf War era, Like Nothing Amazing Ever Happened is a story about learning to go on after loss, told with a warmth that could thaw the coldest Minnesota lake.
Visit Emily Blejwas's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 3, 2020

"Truths I Never Told You"

New from Graydon House Books: Truths I Never Told You by Kelly Rimmer.

About the book, from the publisher:

From the bestselling author of The Things We Cannot Say comes a poignant post-WWII novel that explores the expectations society places on women set within an engrossing family mystery that may unravel everything once believed to be true.

With her father recently moved to a care facility, Beth Walsh volunteers to clear out the family home and is surprised to discover the door to her childhood playroom padlocked. She’s even more shocked at what’s behind it—a hoarder’s mess of her father’s paintings, mounds of discarded papers and miscellaneous junk in the otherwise fastidiously tidy house.

As she picks through the clutter, she finds a loose journal entry in what appears to be her late mother’s handwriting. Beth and her siblings grew up believing their mother died in a car accident when they were little more than toddlers, but this note suggests something much darker.

Beth soon pieces together a disturbing portrait of a woman suffering from postpartum depression and a husband who bears little resemblance to the loving father Beth and her siblings know. With a newborn of her own and struggling with motherhood, Beth finds there may be more tying her and her mother together than she ever suspected.
Visit Kelly Rimmer's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

"The Lightness of Hands"

New from Balzer + Bray: The Lightness of Hands by Jeff Garvin.

About the book, from the publisher:

A quirky and heartfelt coming-of-age story about a teen girl with bipolar II who signs her failed magician father up to perform his legendary but failed illusion on live TV in order to make enough money to pay for the medications they need—from the author of Symptoms of Being Human. Perfect for fans of Adi Alsaid, David Arnold, and Arvin Ahmadi.

Sixteen-year-old Ellie Dante is desperate for something in her life to finally go right. Her father was a famous stage magician until he attempted an epic illusion on live TV—and failed. Now Ellie lives with her dad in a beat-up RV, attending high school online and performing with him at birthday parties and bars across the Midwest to make ends meet.

But when the gigs dry up, their insurance lapses, leaving Dad’s heart condition unchecked and forcing Ellie to battle her bipolar II disorder without medication.

Then Ellie receives a call from a famous magic duo, who offer fifteen thousand dollars and a shot at redemption: they want her father to perform the illusion that wrecked his career—on their live TV special, which shoots in Los Angeles in ten days.

Ellie knows her dad will refuse—but she takes the deal anyway, then lies to persuade him to head west. With the help of her online-only best friend and an unusual guy she teams up with along the way, Ellie makes a plan to stage his comeback. But when her lie is exposed, she’ll have to confront her illness and her choices head-on to save her father—and herself.
Visit Jeff Garvin's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 2, 2020

"Miss Aluminum"

New from Farrar, Straus and Giroux: Miss Aluminum: A Memoir by Susanna Moore.

About the book, from the publisher:

A revealing and refreshing memoir of Hollywood in the 1970s

In 1963 after the death of her mother, seventeen-year-old Susanna Moore leaves her home in Hawai’i with no money, no belongings, and no prospects to live with her Irish grandmother in Philadelphia. She soon receives four trunks of expensive clothes from a concerned family friend, allowing her to assume the first of many disguises she will need to find her sometimes perilous, always valorous way.

Her journey takes her from New York to Los Angeles where she becomes a model and meets Joan Didion and Audrey Hepburn. She works as a script reader for Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson, and is given a screen test by Mike Nichols. But beneath Miss Aluminum’s glittering fairytale surface lies the story of a girl’s insatiable hunger to learn and her anguished determination to understand the circumstances of her mother’s death. Moore gives us a sardonic, often humorous portrait of Hollywood in the seventies, and of a young woman’s hard-won arrival at selfhood.
Learn more about the book and author at Susanna Moore's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Life of Objects.

Writers Read: Susanna Moore (October 2012).

--Marshal Zeringue

"Death of an American Beauty"

New from Minotaur Books: Death of an American Beauty (A Jane Prescott Novel, Volume 3) by Mariah Fredericks.

About the book, from the publisher:

Death of an American Beauty is the third in Mariah Fredericks's compelling series, set in Gilded Age New York, featuring Jane Prescott.

Jane Prescott is taking a break from her duties as lady’s maid for a week, and plans to begin it with attending the hottest and most scandalous show in town: the opening of an art exhibition, showcasing the cubists, that is shocking New York City.

1913 is also the fiftieth anniversary of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation speech, and the city's great and good are determined to celebrate in style. Dolly Rutherford, heiress to the glamorous Rutherford’s department store empire, has gathered her coterie of society ladies to put on a play—with Jane’s employer Louise Tyler in the starring role as Lincoln himself. Jane is torn between helping the ladies with their costumes and enjoying her holiday. But fate decides she will do neither, when a woman is found murdered outside Jane’s childhood home—a refuge for women run by her uncle.

Deeply troubled as her uncle falls under suspicion and haunted by memories of a woman she once knew, Jane—with the help of old friends and new acquaintances, reporter Michael Behan and music hall pianist Leo Hirschfeld—is determined to discover who is making death into their own twisted art form.
Visit Mariah Fredericks's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Girl in the Park.

The Page 69 Test: A Death of No Importance.

Writers Read: Mariah Fredericks (April 2018).

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

"No Going Back"

New from William Morrow: No Going Back: A Novel by Sheena Kamal.

About the book, from the publisher:

From Strand Critics Award winner Sheena Kamal, comes the third novel featuring the brilliant, fearless, deeply flawed Nora Watts whose vendetta against a triad enforcer escalates when he places a target on her daughter's back.

Find your enemy. Before he finds you.


Nora Watts has a talent for seeing what lies beneath strangers’ surfaces, and for knowing what they’re working hard to keep hidden. Somehow, it’s the people closest to her she has trouble truly connecting with. In the case of Bonnie, the teenage daughter Nora gave up for adoption, she has to keep trying. For Bonnie has a target on her back—and it’s all because of Nora.

Two years ago, Bonnie was kidnapped by the wealthy Zhang family. Though Nora rescued her, she made a powerful enemy in Dao, a mysterious triad enforcer and former head of the Zhangs’ private security. Now Dao is out for revenge, and she needs to track him down in order to keep herself—and Bonnie—safe.

On Dao’s trail, Nora forms an unlikely partnership with Bernard Lam, an eccentric playboy billionaire with his own mysterious grudge to bear, and reunites with Jon Brazuca, ex-cop turned private investigator and Nora’s occasional ally. From Canada to southeast Asia they pursue Dao, uncovering a shadowy criminal cabal. But soon, the trail will lead full circle to Vancouver, the only home Nora’s ever known, and right to the heart of her brutal past.
Visit Sheena Kamal's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Lost Ones.

My Book, The Movie: It All Falls Down.

--Marshal Zeringue

"Mary Underwater"

New from Amulet Books: Mary Underwater by Shannon Doleski.

About the book, from the publisher:

Inspired by Joan of Arc, a girl builds and pilots a submarine to prove just what girls can do in this masterful middle-grade debut

Mary Murphy feels like she’s drowning. Her violent father is home from prison, and the social worker is suspicious of her new bruises. An aunt she’s never met keeps calling. And if she can’t get a good grade on her science project, she’ll fail her favorite class.

But Mary doesn’t want to be a victim anymore. She has a plan: build a real submarine, like the model she’s been making with Kip Dwyer, the secretly sweet class clown. Gaining courage from her heroine, Joan of Arc, Mary vows to pilot a sub across the Chesapeake Bay, risking her life in a modern crusade to save herself.

Mary Underwater is an empowering tale of persistence, heroism, and hope from a luminous new voice in middle-grade fiction.
Visit Shannon Doleski's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

"Making it Personal"

New from Oxford University Press: Making it Personal: Algorithmic Personalization, Identity, and Everyday Life by Tanya Kant.

About the book, from the publisher:

Targeted advertisements, tailored information feeds, and recommended content are now common and somewhat inescapable components of our everyday lives. With the help of searches, browsing history, purchases, likes, and other digital interactions, technological experiences are now routinely "personalized." Companies with access to this information often downplay the fact that users' personal data serves as a key form of monetization, and their privacy policies tend to use the terms "personalization" and "customization" to legitimize the practice of tracking and algorithmically anticipating users' daily movements. In Making it Personal, Tanya Kant sheds light on the dilemmas of algorithmic personalization, exploring such key contemporary questions as: What do users really know about the algorithms that guide their online experiences and social media presence? And if personalization practices seek to act on our behalf, then how can users constitute, retain, or relinquish their autonomy and sense of self?

At the heart of the book are new interviews and focus groups with web users who-through a myriad of resistant, tactical, resigned or trusting engagements-encounter algorithmic personalization as part of their lived experience on the web. Tanya Kant proposes that for those who encounter it, algorithmic personalization creates epistemic uncertainties that can emerge as trust or anxiety, produces an ongoing struggle for autonomy between user and system, and even has the power to intervene in identity constitution. In doing so, algorithmic personalization does not just generate "filter bubbles" for individuals' worldviews, but also creates new implications for knowledge production, the deployment of cultural capital as an algorithmic tactic, and, above all, formations of identity itself.
--Marshal Zeringue