Friday, July 31, 2009

"The Cavalier of the Apocalypse"

New from Minotaur/Thomas Dunne Books: The Cavalier of the Apocalypse by Susanne Alleyn.

About the book:

In the icy winter of 1786, hunger, cold, and seething frustration with the iron grip of France’s absolute monarchy drive poor and rich alike to outright defiance. Slums, fashionable cafés, and even aristocratic mansions echo with discontent and the first warning signals of the approaching turmoil of 1789.

Paris’s cemeteries are foul and disease-ridden during the last decades of the eighteenth century, but no one, including penniless writer Aristide Ravel, expects to find a man with his throat cut lying dead in a churchyard, surrounded by strange Masonic symbols. Already suspected of stirring up the people’s anger by writing against the royal court, Ravel must now evade the ever-present police and clear his name of murder. His search for answers amid the city’s literary and intellectual demimonde--with the aid of friends who, he quickly learns, may not be all that they seem--leads him into a bewildering tangle of conspiracy, secret societies, royal scandal, and imminent revolution, which grows only more complex when the corpse disappears...

From the author of Game of Patience and A Treasury of Regrets comes the third Aristide Ravel historical mystery, a prequel steeped in the atmosphere of the brilliant, perilous world of Paris in the final years before the French Revolution.
Visit Susanne Alleyn's website.

"Blood Lines"

New from Minotaur Books: Blood Lines by Kathryn Casey.

About the book, from the publisher:

Readers loved Sarah Armstrong, the feisty and vulnerable profiler in Kathryn Casey’s first mystery, Singularity. She’s back in this second book in the series with her hands full with two cases at once: A persistent and potentially lethal stalker pursues pop mega-star Cassidy Collins, and a high-energy Houston businesswoman is found dead in her house.

Though the businesswoman’s death is being called a suicide, when Sarah is shown photographs of the scene, something seems off. It looks too perfect, almost staged, and Billie Cox apparently had every reason to live. The victim’s sister is convinced Billie was murdered and urges Sarah to take a closer look. During her investigation, Sarah uncovers a multimillion-dollar scam and traces a trail of greed to Billie’s murderer.

Meanwhile, teenage idol Cassidy receives threatening e-mails and text messages and hears creepy whispers over her headset at performances. Cassie’s next performance is at a Houston rodeo, for which her handlers request extra security. Sarah once again teams up with FBI agent David Garrity, and together they plot to outwit and capture the stalker, but at the concert the unthinkable happens. . . .

Kathryn Casey spins a tight plot with memorable characters and great action scenes, while paying close attention to Sarah’s struggles as a widow and mother, to create a multilayered, exciting, and satisfying read.
Visit Kathryn Casey's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Singularity.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

"Sleeping Naked is Green"

New from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: Sleeping Naked is Green: How an Eco-Cynic Unplugged Her Fridge, Sold Her Car, and Found Love in 366 Days by Vanessa Farquharson.

About the book, from the publisher:

No one likes listening to smug hippies bragging about how they don't use toilet paper, or worse yet, lecturing about the evils of plastic bags and SUVs. But most of us do want to lessen our ecological footprint. With this in mind, Farquharson takes on the intense personal challenge of making one green change to her lifestyle every single day for a year to ultimately figure out what's doable and what's too hardcore.

Vanessa goes to the extremes of selling her car, unplugging the fridge, and washing her hair with vinegar, but she also does easy things like switching to an all-natural lip balm. All the while, she is forced to reflect on what it truly means to be green.

Whether confronting her environmental hypocrisy or figuring out the best place in her living room for a compost bin full of worms and rotting cabbage, Vanessa writes about her foray into the green world with self-deprecating, humorous, and accessible insight. This isn't a how-to book of tips, it's not about being eco-chic; it's an honest look at what happens when an average girl throws herself into the murkiest depths of the green movement.
Visit Vanessa Farquharson's website.

"Cold: Adventures in the World's Frozen Places"

New from Little, Brown: Cold: Adventures in the World's Frozen Places by Bill Streever.

About the book, from the publisher:

From avalanches to glaciers, from seals to snowflakes, and from Shackleton's expedition to "The Year Without Summer," Bill Streever journeys through history, myth, geography, and ecology in a year-long search for cold--real, icy, 40-below cold. In July he finds it while taking a dip in a 35-degree Arctic swimming hole; in September while excavating our planet's ancient and not so ancient ice ages; and in October while exploring hibernation habits in animals, from humans to wood frogs to bears.

A scientist whose passion for cold runs red hot, Streever is a wondrous guide: he conjures woolly mammoth carcasses and the ice-age Clovis tribe from melting glaciers, and he evokes blizzards so wild readers may freeze--limb by vicarious limb.
Visit Bill Streever's website.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

"Inherent Vice"

New from Penguin: Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon.

About the book, from the publisher:

Part noir, part psychedelic romp, all Thomas Pynchon— private eye Doc Sportello comes, occasionally, out of a marijuana haze to watch the end of an era as free love slips away and paranoia creeps in with the L.A. fog

It’s been awhile since Doc Sportello has seen his ex-girlfriend. Suddenly out of nowhere she shows up with a story about a plot to kidnap a billionaire land developer whom she just happens to be in love with. Easy for her to say. It’s the tail end of the psychedelic sixties in L.A., and Doc knows that “love” is another of those words going around at the moment, like “trip” or “groovy,” except that this one usually leads to trouble. Despite which he soon finds himself drawn into a bizarre tangle of motives and passions whose cast of characters includes surfers, hustlers, dopers and rockers, a murderous loan shark, a tenor sax player working undercover, an ex-con with a swastika tattoo and a fondness for Ethel Merman, and a mysterious entity known as the Golden Fang, which may only be a tax dodge set up by some dentists.

In this lively yarn, Thomas Pynchon, working in an unaccustomed genre, provides a classic illustration of the principle that if you can remember the sixties, you weren’t there ... or ... if you were there, then you ... or, wait, is it...

"Missing Mark"

New from Doubleday: Missing Mark by Julie Kramer.

About the book, from the publisher:

In this page-turning sequel to Stalking Susan, TV reporter Riley Spartz pursues a curious story of a bride left at the altar and finds herself caught in a dangerous missing-person case.

When Riley Spartz sees a want ad reading “Wedding Dress for Sale: Never Worn,” her news instincts tell her that the backstory might make an intriguing television sweeps piece.

The groom, Mark, last seen at the rehearsal dinner, never showed up for the wedding, humiliating his bride, Madeline—and her high-strung, high-society mother—in front of 300 guests. His own mother, eager to spare him further embarrassment, waited weeks before filing a missing-person report and then learned how difficult it is to get police, or the media, interested in missing men.

Now Riley is up against a boss who thinks that finding a famed missing fish will net the station higher ratings, a meth cartel trying to assassinate a K-9 dog because of his powerful nose for drugs, and a neighbor who holds perpetual garage sales that attract traffic at odd hours.

When her missing-person case leads to a murder investigation, Riley discovers a startling motive for Mark's disappearance—and a TV exclusive guaranteed to win the ratings ... if she lives to report it.
Visit Julie Kramer's website.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

"$20 Per Gallon"

New from Grand Central Publishing: $20 Per Gallon: How the Inevitable Rise in the Price of Gasoline Will Change Our Lives for the Better by Christopher Steiner.

About the book, from the publisher:

Imagine an everyday world in which the price of gasoline (and oil) continues to go up, and up, and up. Think about the immediate impact that would have on our lives.

Of course, everybody already knows how about gasoline has affected our driving habits. People can't wait to junk their gas-guzzling SUVs for a new Prius. But there are more, not-so-obvious changes on the horizon that Chris Steiner tracks brilliantly in this provocative work.

Consider the following societal changes: people who own homes in far-off suburbs will soon realize that there's no longer any market for their houses (reason: nobody wants to live too far away because it's too expensive to commute to work). Telecommuting will begin to expand rapidly. Trains will become the mode of national transportation (as it used to be) as the price of flying becomes prohibitive. Families will begin to migrate southward as the price of heating northern homes in the winter is too pricey. Cheap everyday items that are comprised of plastic will go away because of the rising price to produce them (plastic is derived from oil). And this is just the beginning of a huge and overwhelming domino effect that our way of life will undergo in the years to come.

Steiner, an engineer by training before turning to journalism, sees how this simple but constant rise in oil and gas prices will totally re-structure our lifestyle. But what may be surprising to readers is that all of these changes may not be negative - but actually will usher in some new and very promising aspects of our society.

Steiner will probe how the liberation of technology and innovation, triggered by climbing gas prices, will change our lives. The book may start as an alarmist's exercise.... but don't be misled. The future will be exhilarating.
Visit Christopher Steiner's website.

"Crow Planet"

New from Little, Brown: Crow Planet: Essential Wisdom from the Urban Wilderness by Lyanda Lynn Haupt.

About the book, from the publisher:

There are more crows now than ever. Their abundance is both an indicator of ecological imbalance and a generous opportunity to connect with the animal world. CROW PLANET reminds us that we do not need to head to faraway places to encounter "nature." Rather, even in the suburbs and cities where we live we are surrounded by wild life such as crows, and through observing them we can enhance our appreciation of the world's natural order. CROW PLANET richly weaves Haupt's own "crow stories" as well as scientific and scholarly research and the history and mythology of crows, culminating in a book that is sure to make readers see the world around them in a very different way.
Visit Lyanda Lynn Haupt's website and blog.

Monday, July 27, 2009

"Of Bees and Mist"

New from Simon & Schuster: Of Bees and Mist by Erick Setiawan.

About the book, from the publisher:

Raised in a sepulchral house where ghosts dwell in mirrors, Meridia grows up lonely and miserable. But at age sixteen, she has a chance at happiness when she falls in love with Daniel-a caring and naive young man. Soon they marry, and Meridia can finally escape to live with her husband's family, unaware that they harbor dark secrets of their own. There is a grave hidden in the garden, there are two sisters groomed from birth to despise each other, and there is Eva-the formidable matriarch and the wickedest mother-in-law imaginable-whose grievances swarm the air in an army of bees. As Meridia struggles to keep her life and marriage together, she discovers long-buried secrets about her own past as well as shocking truths about her new family that inexorably push her love, courage, and sanity to the brink.

Of Bees and Mist is an engrossing fable that chronicles three generations of women under one family tree over a period of thirty years-their galvanic love and passion, their shifting alliances, their superstitions and complex domestic politics-and places them in a mythical town where spirits and spells, witchcraft and demons, and prophets and clairvoyance are an everyday reality. Erick Setiawan's astonishing debut is a richly atmospheric and tumultuous ride of hope and heartbreak that is altogether touching, truthful, and entirely memorable.
Visit the official Of Bees and Mist website.

"Best Served Cold"

New from Orbit: Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie.

About the book, from the publisher:

Springtime in Styria. And that means war.

There have been nineteen years of blood. The ruthless Grand Duke Orso is locked in a vicious struggle with the squabbling League of Eight, and between them they have bled the land white. Armies march, heads roll and cities burn, while behind the scenes bankers, priests and older, darker powers play a deadly game to choose who will be king.

War may be hell but for Monza Murcatto, the Snake of Talins, the most feared and famous mercenary in Duke Orso's employ, it's a damn good way of making money too. Her victories have made her popular - a shade too popular for her employer's taste. Betrayed and left for dead, Murcatto's reward is a broken body and a burning hunger for vengeance. Whatever the cost, seven men must die.

Her allies include Styria's least reliable drunkard, Styria's most treacherous poisoner, a mass-murderer obsessed with numbers and a Northman who just wants to do the right thing. Her enemies number the better half of the nation. And that's all before the most dangerous man in the world is dispatched to hunt her down and finish the job Duke Orso started...

Springtime in Styria. And that means revenge.
Learn more about the author and his work at Joe Abercrombie's website and blog.

Writers Read: Joe Abercrombie.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

"The Philosophical Baby"

New from Farrar, Straus and Giroux: The Philosophical Baby: What Children's Minds Tell Us About Truth, Love, and the Meaning of Life by Alison Gopnik.

About the book, from the publisher:

For most of us, having a baby is the most profound, intense, and fascinating experience of our lives. Now scientists and philosophers are starting to appreciate babies, too. The last decade has witnessed a revolution in our understanding of infants and young children. Scientists used to believe that babies were irrational, and that their thinking and experience were limited. Recently, they have discovered that babies learn more, create more, care more, and experience more than we could ever have imagined. And there is good reason to believe that babies are actually smarter, more thoughtful, and even more conscious than adults.

This new science holds answers to some of the deepest and oldest questions about what it means to be human. A new baby’s captivated gaze at her mother’s face lays the foundations for love and morality. A toddler’s unstoppable explorations of his playpen hold the key to scientific discovery. A three-year-old’s wild make-believe explains how we can imagine the future, write novels, and invent new technologies. Alison Gopnik - a leading psychologist and philosopher, as well as a mother - explains the groundbreaking new psychological, neuroscientific, and philosophical developments in our understanding of very young children, transforming our understanding of how babies see the world, and in turn promoting a deeper appreciation for the role of parents.
Visit Alison Gopnik's website.

"The Rapture"

New from Doubleday: The Rapture by Liz Jensen.

About the book, from the publisher:

An electrifying story of science, faith, love, and self-destruction in a world on the brink.

It is a June unlike any other before, with temperatures soaring to asphyxiating heights. All across the world, freak weather patterns—and the life-shattering catastrophes they entail—have become the norm. The twenty-first century has entered a new phase.

But Gabrielle Fox’s main concern is a personal one: to rebuild her life after a devastating car accident that has left her disconnected from the world, a prisoner of her own guilt and grief. Determined to make a fresh start, and shake off memories of her wrecked past, she leaves London for a temporary posting as an art therapist at Oxsmith Adolescent Secure Psychiatric Hospital, home to one hundred of the most dangerous children in the country. Among them: the teenage killer Bethany Krall.

Despite two years of therapy, Bethany is in no way rehabilitated and remains militantly nonchalant about the bloody, brutal death she inflicted on her mother. Raised in evangelistic hellfire, the teenager is violent, caustic, unruly, and cruelly intuitive. She is also insistent that her electroshock treatments enable her to foresee natural disasters—a claim which Gabrielle interprets as a symptom of doomsday delusion.

But as Gabrielle delves further into Bethany’s psyche, she begins to note alarming parallels between her patient’s paranoid disaster fantasies and actual incidents of geological and meteorological upheaval—coincidences her professionalism tells her to ignore but that her heart cannot. When a brilliant physicist enters the equation, the disruptive tension mounts—and the stakes multiply. Is the self-proclaimed Nostradamus of the psych ward the ultimate manipulator or a harbinger of global disaster on a scale never seen before? Where does science end and faith begin? And what can love mean in “interesting times”?

With gothic intensity, Liz Jensen conjures the increasingly unnerving relationship between the traumatized therapist and her fascinating, deeply calculating patient. As Bethany’s warnings continue to prove accurate beyond fluke and she begins to offer scientifically precise hints of a final, world-altering cataclysm, Gabrielle is confronted with a series of devastating choices in a world in which belief has become as precious - and as murderous—as life itself.
Read about Jensen's top 10 environmental disaster stories.

Visit Liz Jensen's website.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

"Labor Day"

New from William Morrow: Labor Day by Joyce Maynard.

About the book, from the publisher:

With the end of summer closing in and a steamy Labor Day weekend looming in the town of Holton Mills, New Hampshire, thirteen-year-old Henry—lonely, friendless, not too good at sports—spends most of his time watching television, reading, and daydreaming about the soft skin and budding bodies of his female classmates. For company Henry has his long-divorced mother, Adele—a onetime dancer whose summer project was to teach him how to foxtrot; his hamster, Joe; and awkward Saturday-night outings to Friendly's with his estranged father and new stepfamily. As much as he tries, Henry knows that even with his jokes and his "Husband for a Day" coupon, he still can't make his emotionally fragile mother happy. Adele has a secret that makes it hard for her to leave their house, and seems to possess an irreparably broken heart.

But all that changes on the Thursday before Labor Day, when a mysterious bleeding man named Frank approaches Henry and asks for a hand. Over the next five days, Henry will learn some of life's most valuable lessons: how to throw a baseball, the secret to perfect piecrust, the breathless pain of jealousy, the power of betrayal, and the importance of putting others—especially those we love—above ourselves. And the knowledge that real love is worth waiting for.

In a manner evoking Ian McEwan's Atonement and Nick Hornby's About a Boy, acclaimed author Joyce Maynard weaves a beautiful, poignant tale of love, sex, adolescence, and devastating treachery as seen through the eyes of a young teenage boy—and the man he later becomes—looking back at an unexpected encounter that begins one single long, hot, life-altering weekend.
Visit Joyce Maynard's website.

"How the Beatles Destroyed Rock n Roll"

New from Oxford University Press: How the Beatles Destroyed Rock n Roll: An Alternative History of American Popular Music by Elijah Wald.

About the book, from the publisher:

"There are no definitive histories," writes Elijah Wald, in this provocative reassessment of American popular music, "because the past keeps looking different as the present changes." Earlier musical styles sound different to us today because we hear them through the musical filter of other styles that came after them, all the way through funk and hiphop.

As its blasphemous title suggests, How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'n' Roll rejects the conventional pieties of mainstream jazz and rock history. Rather than concentrating on those traditionally favored styles, the book traces the evolution of popular music through developing tastes, trends and technologies--including the role of records, radio, jukeboxes and television --to give a fuller, more balanced account of the broad variety of music that captivated listeners over the course of the twentieth century. Wald revisits original sources--recordings, period articles, memoirs, and interviews--to highlight how music was actually heard and experienced over the years. And in a refreshing departure from more typical histories, he focuses on the world of working musicians and ordinary listeners rather than stars and specialists. He looks for example at the evolution of jazz as dance music, and rock 'n' roll through the eyes of the screaming, twisting teenage girls who made up the bulk of its early audience. Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, and the Beatles are all here, but Wald also discusses less familiar names like Paul Whiteman, Guy Lombardo, Mitch Miller, Jo Stafford, Frankie Avalon, and the Shirelles, who in some cases were far more popular than those bright stars we all know today, and who more accurately represent the mainstream of their times.

Written with verve and style, How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'n' Roll shakes up our staid notions of music history and helps us hear American popular music with new ears.
Visit Elijah Wald's website.

Friday, July 24, 2009

"Trust Me"

New from Dutton: Trust Me by Jeff Abbott.

About the book, from the publisher:

On the new digital battlefront in the war on terror, one man will learn to negotiate the extremely thin line between unconditional trust and unspeakable betrayal.

Luke Dantry tells people he has a job on the cutting edge of the war on terror—only he knows it’s nowhere near as adrenaline-filled as he makes it sound. Luke’s nightly task working for his stepfather’s Washington think tank: Go undercover from the anonymous safety of his computer and infiltrate Web-based, home-grown terrorist networks, cataloging the screen names and details of a motley collection of rage-filled, mentally suspect, and mostly impotent loners he comes to call the Black Road. Now and then he encounters someone who may have the capability to make good on his threats, but Luke figures that the vast majority of his targets are simply frustrated malcontents using the Internet as an empty soapbox.

When Luke is kidnapped at gunpoint, without warning, and left for dead in an isolated cabin deep in the woods, he realizes it must be related to his work, and that the Black Road is far more organized than he thought—and much closer to home than he could have ever imagined. After a daring escape, with both the terrorist group and their enemies on his heels, he must quickly assemble a complex puzzle of convoluted histories and motives, where the final pieces extend deep into his own past—and where Luke himself may hold the key to stopping the Black Road before their spectacular plans come to horrible fruition.
Read more about Jeff Abbott's books at his website and MySpace page.

"Glover's Mistake"

New from Viking: Glover's Mistake by Nick Laird.

About the book, from the publisher:

From a rising British novelist, an artful meditation on love and life in contemporary London

When David Pinner introduces his former teacher, the American artist Ruth Marks, to his friend and flatmate James Glover, he unwittingly sets in place a love triangle loaded with tension, guilt, and heartbreak. As David plays reluctant witness (and more) to James and Ruth’s escalating love affair, he must come to terms with his own blighted emotional life. Set in the London art scene awash with new money and intellectual pretension, in the sleek galleries and posh restaurants of a Britannia resurgent with cultural and economic power, Nick Laird’s insightful and drolly satirical novel vividly portrays three people whose world gradually fractures along the ineluctable fault lines of desire, truth, deceit, and jealousy. With wit, compassion, and acuity, Laird explores the very nature of contemporary romance—“The Death of Love in Modern Culture,” as David puts it in one of his dyspeptic blog posts—among damaged souls whose hearts and heads never quite line up long enough for them to achieve true happiness.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

"How It Ends"

New from MTV/Simon & Schuster: How It Ends by Laura Wiess.

About the book, from the publisher:

Laura Wiess, the acclaimed author who once brought us "a girl to walk alongside Harper Lee's Scout and J. D. Salinger's Phoebe" (Luanne Rice), brings us another memorable young woman, this one at the center of an extraordinary novel of how love ends, how it begins, and what it's worth to protect it...

All Hanna's wanted since sophomore year is Seth. She's gone out with other guys, even gained a rep for being a flirt, all the while hoping cool, guitar-playing Seth will choose her. Then she gets him -- but their relationship is hurtful, stormy and critical, not at all what Hanna thinks a perfect love should be. Bewildered by Seth's treatment of her and in need of understanding, Hanna decides to fulfill her school's community service requirement by spending time with Helen, her terminally ill neighbor, who she's turned to for comfort and wisdom throughout her life. But illness has changed Helen into someone Hanna hardly knows, and her home is not the refuge it once was. Feeling more alone than ever, Hanna gets drawn into an audiobook the older woman is listening to, a fierce, unsettling love story of passion, sacrifice, and devotion. Hanna's fascinated by the idea that such all-encompassing love can truly exist, and without her even realizing it, the story begins to change her.

Until the day when the story becomes all too real...and Hanna's world is spun off its axis by its shattering, irrevocable conclusion.
Visit the official Laura Wiess website.

The Page 69 Test: Such a Pretty Girl.

My Book, The Movie: Such a Pretty Girl.

The Page 69 Test: Leftovers.

"What I Thought I Knew"

New from Viking: What I Thought I Knew: A Memoir by Alice Eve Cohen.

About the book, from the publisher:

A personal and medical odyssey beyond anything most women would believe possible

At age forty-four, Alice Eve Cohen was happy for the first time in years. After a difficult divorce, she was engaged to an inspiring man, joyfully raising her adopted daughter, and her career was blossoming. Alice tells her fiancé that she’s never been happier. And then the stomach pains begin.

In her unflinchingly honest and ruefully witty voice, Alice nimbly carries us through her metamorphosis from a woman who has come to terms with infertility to one who struggles to love a heartbeat found in her womb – six months into a high-risk pregnancy.

What I Thought I Knew is a page-turner filled with vivid characters, humor, and many surprises and twists of fate. With the suspense of a thriller and the intimacy of a diary, Cohen describes her unexpected journey through doubt, a broken medical system, and the hotly contested terrain of motherhood and family in today’s society. Timely and compelling, What I Thought I Knew will capture readers of memoirs such as Eat, Pray, Love; The Glass Castle; and A Three Dog Life.
Visit Alice Eve Cohen's website.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

"The Amateurs"

New from Dutton: The Amateurs by Marcus Sakey.

About the book, from the publisher:

New from the “reigning prince of crime fiction”*: For four friends, there’s only one thing more dangerous than the men chasing them. Each other.

In just three novels, Marcus Sakey has staked a claim as “an astoundingly good writer,”* one whose believable characters—always ordinary people—face excruciating situations with life- or-death consequences. The Amateurs asks a chilling question: Do you get what you deserve, or what you take?

Alex is failing as a father. Ian keeps dangerous secrets. Jenn is pining for adventure; Mitch is pining for Jenn. Four friends just getting by. Every Thursday night they’ve found solace in a couple of beers and a couple of laughs. But months turn to years, and suddenly a decade is gone. None of them are where—or who—they hoped to be.

And they’ve decided to do something about it. To stop waiting, and start taking.

But what was supposed to be a victimless crime has become a bloody nightmare. People have been killed. A child is in danger. Ruthless men pursue them with relentless fury. And tensions they thought were long-buried threaten to destroy them. As their whole world begins to unravel, each will have to choose between their own life and the lives of others—including their best friends.
Learn more about the author and his work at Marcus Sakey's website.

Marcus Sakey is the author of The Blade Itself, At the City's Edge, and Good People.

The Page 69 Test: The Blade Itself.

The Page 69 Test: At the City's Edge.

The Page 69 Test: Good People.

"Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture"

New from Penguin: Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture by Ellen Ruppel Shell.

About the book, from the publisher:

An Atlantic correspondent uncovers the true cost—in economic, political, and psychic terms—of our penchant for making and buying things as cheaply as possible

From the shuttered factories of the rust belt to the look-alike strip malls of the sun belt—and almost everywhere in between—America has been transformed by its relentless fixation on low price. This pervasive yet little examined obsession is arguably the most powerful and devastating market force of our time—the engine of globalization, outsourcing, planned obsolescence, and economic instability in an increasingly unsettled world.

Low price is so alluring that we may have forgotten how thoroughly we once distrusted it. Ellen Ruppel Shell traces the birth of the bargain as we know it from the Industrial Revolution to the assembly line and beyond, homing in on a number of colorful characters, such as Gene Verkauf (his name is Yiddish for “to sell”), founder of E. J. Korvette, the discount chain that helped wean customers off traditional notions of value. The rise of the chain store in post–Depression America led to the extolling of convenience over quality, and big-box retailers completed the reeducation of the American consumer by making them prize low price in the way they once prized durability and craftsmanship.

The effects of this insidious perceptual shift are vast: a blighted landscape, escalating debt (both personal and national), stagnating incomes, fraying communities, and a host of other socioeconomic ills. That’s a long list of charges, and it runs counter to orthodox economics which argues that low price powers productivity by stimulating a brisk free market. But Shell marshals evidence from a wide range of fields—history, sociology, marketing, psychology, even economics itself—to upend the conventional wisdom. Cheap also unveils the fascinating and unsettling illogic that underpins our bargain-hunting reflex and explains how our deep-rooted need for bargains colors every aspect of our psyches and social lives. In this myth-shattering, closely reasoned, and exhaustively reported investigation, Shell exposes the astronomically high cost of cheap.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

"While I'm Falling"

New from Hyperion: While I'm Falling by Laura Moriarty.

About the book, from the publisher:

In While I’m Falling, Laura Moriarty presents a compelling depiction of how one young woman’s life changes when her family breaks up for good.

Ever since her parents announced that they’re getting divorced, Veronica has been falling. Hard. A junior in college, she has fallen in love. She has fallen behind in her difficult coursework. She hates her job as counselor at the dorm, and she longs for the home that no longer exists. When an attempt to escape the pressure, combined with bad luck, lands her in a terrifying situation, a shaken Veronica calls her mother for help—only to find her former foundation too preoccupied to offer any assistance at all.

But Veronica only gets to feel hurt for so long. Her mother shows up at the dorm with a surprising request—and with the elderly family dog in tow. Boyfriend complications ensue, along with her father’s sudden interest in dating. Veronica soon finds herself with a new set of problems, and new questions about love and independence.

Darkly humorous, beautifully written, and filled with crystalline observations about how families fall apart, While I’m Falling takes a deep look at the relationship between a daughter and a mother when one is trying to grow up and the other is trying to stay afloat.
Laura Moriarty received her master’s degree from the University of Kansas and was awarded the George Bennett Fellowship for Creative Writing at Phillips Exeter Academy. She is the author of The Center of Everything and The Rest of Her Life.

The Page 99 Test: The Rest of Her Life.

Writers Read: Laura Moriarty.

"The Last Bridge"

New from Ballantine Books: The Last Bridge by Teri Coyne.

About the book, from the publisher:

For ten years, Alexandra “Cat” Rucker has been on the run from her past. With an endless supply of bourbon and a series of meaningless jobs, Cat is struggling to forget her Ohio hometown and the rural farmhouse she once called home. But a sudden call from an old neighbor forces Cat to return to the home and family she never intended to see again. It seems that Cat’s mother is dead.

What Cat finds at the old farmhouse is disturbing and confusing: a suicide note, written on lilac stationery and neatly sealed in a ziplock bag, that reads: Cat, He isn’t who you think he is. Mom xxxooo

One note, ten words–one for every year she has been gone–completely turns Cat’s world upside down. Seeking to unravel the mystery of her mother’s death, Cat must confront her past to discover who “he” might be: her tyrannical, abusive father, now in a coma after suffering a stroke? Her brother, Jared, named after her mother’s true love (who is also her father’s best friend)? The town coroner, Andrew Reilly, who seems to have known Cat’s mother long before she landed on a slab in his morgue? Or Addison Watkins, Cat’s first and only love?

The closer Cat gets to the truth, the harder it is for her to repress the memory and the impact of the events that sent her away so many years ago.

Taut, gripping, and edgy, The Last Bridge is an intense novel of family secrets, darkest impulses, and deep-seated love. Teri Coyne has created a stunning tapestry of pain and passion where past and present are seamlessly interwoven to tell a story that sears and warms in equal measure.
Visit Teri Coyne's website.

Monday, July 20, 2009

"Dead Write"

New from Signet: Dead Write by Sheila Lowe.

About the book, from the publisher:

When it comes to solving murder, sometimes the pen can be mightier than the sword ...

Handwriting expert Claudia Rose heads to the Big Apple at the behest of Grusha Olinetsky, the notorious founder of an elite dating service whose members are mysteriously dying. Drawn into the feckless lives of the rich and single, Claudia finds herself in a twisted world of love and lies fueled by desperation. But is one among them desperate enough to kill?

Claudia must find clues in the suspects’ handwriting before more victims are scribbled into the killer’s black book...
Learn more about the author and her work at Sheila Lowe’s website.

My Book, The Movie: Sheila Lowe's Written in Blood and Poison Pen.

"The Girl Who Played with Fire"

New from Knopf: The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson.

About the book, from the publisher:

Mikael Blomkvist, crusading journalist and publisher of the magazine Millennium, has decided to run a story that will expose an extensive sex trafficking operation between Eastern Europe and Sweden, implicating well-known and highly placed members of Swedish society, business, and government.

But he has no idea just how explosive the story will be until, on the eve of publication, the two investigating reporters are murdered. And even more shocking for Blomkvist: the fingerprints found on the murder weapon belong to Lisbeth Salander—the troubled, wise-beyond-her-years genius hacker who came to his aid in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and who now becomes the focus and fierce heart of The Girl Who Played with Fire.

As Blomkvist, alone in his belief in Salander’s innocence, plunges into an investigation of the slayings, Salander herself is drawn into a murderous hunt in which she is the prey, and which compels her to revisit her dark past in an effort to settle with it once and for all.
Visit the Steig Larsson website.

Read The Rap Sheet's entry The Swedish Family Larsson and its many featured pieces about Larsson’s award-winning “Millennium Trilogy.”

Sunday, July 19, 2009

"Amateur Barbarians"

New from Scribner: Amateur Barbarians by Robert Cohen.

About the book, from the publisher:

Teddy Hastings is more of a doer than a thinker, a man who measures his life by what he has built: a successful career as a middle school principal, a solid marriage, two lovely if distant daughters. But once he hits fifty, in the shadow of his younger brother's death and a health scare of his own, Teddy feels the gravitational pull of his mortality and realizes he is no longer quite so in the middle, no longer building a life but maintaining one. He yearns for delivery and transcendence, for a hint of the sublime, and is determined to find it. What he gets instead is the "intrusion of the irrational in his affairs."

Oren Pierce, a perpetual grad student who has "made a mark, or left a smudge anyway" all over the place, has had more than enough transcendence in his life. Neither the extraordinary existence for which he assumed he was destined nor the woman with whom he assumed he would share it has materialized. In their absence he flounders in the possible, wondering what it will take to anchor himself to the supremely ordinary existence he both longs for and abhors.

The intersecting and diverging paths of these two men take them from the grids of New York City to the domesticated gardens of New England to the wildest, most unstructured landscapes of all -- the bedroom, the classroom, the darkroom, and the far reaches of East Africa, where Teddy at last finds something akin to what he seeks.

Amateur Barbarians showcases a writer at the peak of his powers, laying bare the evasions and unrealities of the familiar, the odd recognition with which we view the remote, plumbing the depths of the unlived life with uncanny wit and perception, revealing yet again why Robert Cohen was touted by The New York Times Book Review as the "heir to Saul Bellow and Philip Roth."

"The Magicians"

New from Viking Books: The Magicians by Lev Grossman.

About the book, from the publisher:

A thrilling and original coming-of- age novel about a young man practicing magic in the real world

Quentin Coldwater is brilliant but miserable. A senior in high school, he’s still secretly preoccupied with a series of fantasy novels he read as a child, set in a magical land called Fillory. Imagine his surprise when he finds himself unexpectedly admitted to a very secret, very exclusive college of magic in upstate New York, where he receives a thorough and rigorous education in the craft of modern sorcery.

He also discovers all the other things people learn in college: friendship, love, sex, booze, and boredom. Something is missing, though. Magic doesn’t bring Quentin the happiness and adventure he dreamed it would. After graduation he and his friends make a stunning discovery: Fillory is real. But the land of Quentin’s fantasies turns out to be much darker and more dangerous than he could have imagined. His childhood dream becomes a nightmare with a shocking truth at its heart.

At once psychologically piercing and magnificently absorbing, The Magicians boldly moves into uncharted literary territory, imagining magic as practiced by real people, with their capricious desires and volatile emotions. Lev Grossman creates an utterly original world in which good and evil aren’t black and white, love and sex aren’t simple or innocent, and power comes at a terrible price.
Read an excerpt from The Magicians.

Sophie Gee calls The Magicians "Harry Potter for grown-ups —it’s a fantasy page-turner with lots of college humor and sex and drugs and drink."

Visit Lev Grossman's website and The Magicians website.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

"Pretty is as Pretty Dies"

New from Midnight Ink: Pretty is as Pretty Dies by Elizabeth Spann Craig.

About the book, from the publisher:

Bingo, bridge-and a dead body in the church sanctuary? Life in this small Southern town just got ugly ... and exciting!

No one in Bradley, North Carolina, is exactly crying into their sweet tea over the murder of Parke Stockard. Certainly not retired schoolteacher Myrtle Clover. Upon discovering the corpse, Myrtle is struck-not with grief, but a brilliant idea! Solving the crime would prove to everyone (especially her son Red, the police chief) that this eighty-something-year-old is not ready to be put out to pasture just yet.

The victim, a pretty but pushy town developer, had deep pockets and few friends. Myrtle can't throw one of her gaudy garden gnomes without hitting a potential suspect. Even when another murder takes place, proud Myrtle forges on, armed only with a heavy cane, a venomous tongue, and a widower sidekick.
Visit Elizabeth Spann Craig's website and blog.

"Sandman Slim"

New from Eos: Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey.

About the book, from the publisher:

Supernatural fantasy has a new antihero

Life sucks, and then you die. Or, if you're James Stark, you spend eleven years in Hell as a hitman before finally escaping, only to land back in the hell-on-earth that is Los Angeles.

Now Stark's back, and ready for revenge. And absolution, and maybe even love. But when his first stop saddles him with an abusive talking head, Stark discovers that the road to absolution and revenge is much longer than you'd expect, and both Heaven and Hell have their own ideas for his future.

Resurrection sucks. Saving the world is worse.

Darkly twisted, irreverent, and completely hilarious, Sandman Slim is the breakthrough novel by an acclaimed author.
Visit Richard Kadrey's MySpace page.

Friday, July 17, 2009

"Young Woman and the Sea"

New from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: Young Woman and the Sea: How Trudy Ederle Conquered the English Channel and Inspired the World by Glenn Stout.

About the book, from the publisher:

In 1926, before skirt lengths inched above the knee and before anyone was ready to accept that a woman could test herself physically, a plucky American teenager named Trudy Ederle captured the imagination of the world when she became the first woman to swim the English Channel. It was, and still is, a feat more incredible and uncommon than scaling Mount Everest. Upon her return to the United States, "Trudy of America" became the most famous woman in the world. And just as quickly, she disappeared from the public eye.

Set against the backdrop of the roaring 1920s, Young Woman and the Sea is the dramatic and inspiring story of Ederle’s pursuit of a goal no one believed possible, and the price she paid. The moment Trudy set foot on land, triumphant, she had shattered centuries of stereotypes and opened doors for generations of women to come. A truly magnetic and often misunderstood character whose story is largely forgotten, Trudy Ederle comes alive in these pages through Glenn Stout’s exhaustive new research.
Visit Glenn Stout's website.

"Dying for Mercy"

New from William Morrow: Dying for Mercy by Mary Jane Clark.

About the book, from the publisher:

When death shatters the serenity of the exclusive moneyed enclave of Tuxedo Park, New York, Eliza Blake, cohost of the country's premier morning television show KEY to America, is on the scene. While attending a lavish gala at her friends' newly renovated estate, Pentimento, Eliza's host is found dead—a grotesque suicide that is the first act in a macabre and intricately conceived plan to expose the sins of the past involving some of the town's most revered citizens.

Determined to find out the truth, Eliza and her KEY News colleagues—producer Annabelle Murphy, cameraman B.J. D'Elia, and psychiatrist Margo Gonzalez—discover that Pentimento holds the key. Nestled in the park's sprawling architectural masterpieces, picturesque gardeners' cottages, and lush, rolling landscape, the glorious mansion is actually a giant "puzzle house," filled with ingenious clues hidden in its fireplaces, fountains, and frescoes that lead them from one suspicious locale to another—and, one by one, to the victims of a fiendish killer.

As Pentimento gives up its secrets, it becomes clear that no amount of wealth or privilege will keep the residents of Tuxedo Park safe. But just when Eliza unearths one final surprise, she comes face-to-face with a murderer who believes that some puzzles should never be solved.
Visit Mary Jane Clark's website.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

"Storm Cycle"

New from St. Martin's Press: Storm Cycle by Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen.

About the book, from the publisher:

Rachel Kirby is a computer genius whose personal life is hell. While she continues to climb the corporate ranks, her beloved twin sister is plagued by a chronic illness that will eventually kill her, leaving Rachel all alone.

Serendipity in the form of a mysterious email lands in Rachel’s lap one day, but not without a price. Thousands of miles away, archeologist John Tanek sits trapped inside a collapsed Egyptian tomb with a functioning laptop. He knows that Rachel is the only person who can help him, but time is quickly running out. It turns out the collapse was no accident. John has discovered something very valuable in that tomb, something that humankind has been searching for throughout history, something that Rachel could use as it may hold the key to her sister’s cure. While Rachel orchestrates his rescue, she soon finds herself trapped in a dangerous web of deceit and murder. Can she put her trust in John Tanek? She’d do anything to save her sister. Will they both live long enough to unravel the ancient mystery they’ve found inside the tomb?

With Johansen and Johansen’s fast-paced action, charismatic characters, and impeccable research, Storm Cycle will carry you away.
Visit the Iris Johansen webpages and the Roy Johansen webpages.

"It's Not Me, It's You"

New from Simon & Schuster: It's Not Me, It's You: Subjective Recollections from a Terminally Optimistic, Chronically Sarcastic and Occasionally Inebriated Woman by Stefanie Wilder-Taylor.

About the book, from the publisher:

A rapier-sharp, hilariously irreverent collection of true-life essays from the beloved author of Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay.

Stefanie Wilder-Taylor has never been one to take the conventional route. Whether financing a move to LA with only a best friend's bat mitzvah savings or accidentally freebasing cocaine, Stefanie is living proof that the unlikely can happen -- usually to her. And when it does, the best response is a potent combination of pluck, luck, humor, and frequently, alcohol.

In these candid essays, Stefanie recounts how a nice Jewish girl from Queens became a Hollywood producer, writer, and mother of three, with some surprising detours along the way. From disproving her mother's "cars aren't free" refrain by going on Hollywood Squares and winning one, to signing up for a romantic sunset cruise that turns out to be a hellish fratfest staffed by a pushy pirate-attired crew, Stefanie shares her triumphs, missteps, and the many lessons learned. She reveals why it's never a good sign when your new therapist brings out a stuffed bumblebee and a whiffle ball bat, and how to outsmart a potential stalker by channeling your inner Tori Spelling. Through the good, the bad, the poignant, and the outrageous, she displays a voice that is by turns self-skewering, hopeful, and wise. It's Not Me, It's You is personal storytelling at its funniest, bravest, and most irresistible.
Visit Stefanie Wilder-Taylor's website.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

"Addiction: A Disorder of Choice"

New from Harvard University Press: Addiction: A Disorder of Choice by Gene M. Heyman.

About the book, from the publisher:

In a book sure to inspire controversy, Gene Heyman argues that conventional wisdom about addiction—that it is a disease, a compulsion beyond conscious control—is wrong.

Drawing on psychiatric epidemiology, addicts’ autobiographies, treatment studies, and advances in behavioral economics, Heyman makes a powerful case that addiction is voluntary. He shows that drug use, like all choices, is influenced by preferences and goals. But just as there are successful dieters, there are successful ex-addicts. In fact, addiction is the psychiatric disorder with the highest rate of recovery. But what ends an addiction?

At the heart of Heyman’s analysis is a startling view of choice and motivation that applies to all choices, not just the choice to use drugs. The conditions that promote quitting a drug addiction include new information, cultural values, and, of course, the costs and benefits of further drug use. Most of us avoid becoming drug dependent, not because we are especially rational, but because we loathe the idea of being an addict.

Heyman’s analysis of well-established but frequently ignored research leads to unexpected insights into how we make choices—from obesity to McMansionization—all rooted in our deep-seated tendency to consume too much of whatever we like best. As wealth increases and technology advances, the dilemma posed by addictive drugs spreads to new products. However, this remarkable and radical book points to a solution. If drug addicts typically beat addiction, then non-addicts can learn to control their natural tendency to take too much.

"The Crack in the Lens"

New from Minotaur Books: The Crack in the Lens by Steve Hockensmith.

About the book, from the publisher:

In 1893, Otto “Big Red” Amlingmeyer and his brother Gustav, “Old Red” find themselves in a situation that they never expected. They have a bit of money and time to do something other than scramble. It’s enough to confound even that most unconfoundable of men, their mutual inspiration, Sherlock Holmes.

So Old Red decides that it’s time for the for the two of them to head off to the Texas hill country, to San Marcos, and deal with the greatest tragedy of Old Red’s life. Five years ago, when Old Red was a cowpoke in San Marcos, he had a sweetheart—a fallen woman at the local house of ill repute. They had made plans but before they made their big move, his fiancée was murdered and the case swept under the rug by the local authorities. Now, Old Red is determined to find out what really happened and to finally find a measure of justice for his beloved. But Big Red and Old Red find themselves facing a wall of silence and in some of the worst situations of their lives: ensnared in a riot at the local cathouse, on the wrong end of a lynching party and perhaps worst of all—having to do the one thing you never want to do in the state of Texas: steal horses.
Visit Big Red's blog to learn more about Steve Hockensmith and his writing.

Hockensmith's previous novels include Holmes on the Range, On the Wrong Track, and The Black Dove. Holmes on the Range, the first novel featuring Big Red and Old Red, was a finalist for the Edgar, the Anthony, the Shamus and the Dilys Award.

The Page 69 Test: On the Wrong Track.

My Book, The Movie: Holmes on the Range.

The Page 99 Test: The Black Dove.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

"Bad Things Happen"

New from Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam: Bad Things Happen by Harry Dolan.

About the book, from Publishers Weekly:

Dolan gets everything right in his debut, a suspense novel that breathes new life into familiar themes. The enigmatic David Loogan, who's recently moved to Ann Arbor, Mich., has stumbled into an editing job for Gray Streets, a mystery magazine, after anonymously submitting a short story. One night, Loogan's boss, Tom Kristoll, asks him for help in disposing of a corpse. Loogan goes to Kristoll's house and does so, despite his suspicions that Kristoll's account of how the man ended up dead is incomplete at best. When Kristoll later dies in a fall from his office window, the police mark Loogan, who's been having an affair with Kristoll's wife, as a person of interest. Pitch-perfect prose and sophisticated characterizations drive the noirish plot, which offers plenty of unexpected twists. Fans of Peter Abrahams and Scott Turow will find a lot to like. While the solution may strike some as a tad improbable, the talent Dolan displays suggests he has a bright future.
Visit Harry Dolan's website.


New from Grand Central Publishing: Ravens by George Dawes Green.

About the book, from the publisher:

The Boatwrights just won 318 million dollars in the Georgia State lottery. It's going to be the worst day of their lives.

When Shaw McBride and Romeo Zderko pull up at a convenience store off I-95 in Georgia, their only thought is to fix a leaky tire and be on their way again to Florida-away from their dull Ohio tech-support jobs. But this happens to be the store from which a 318,000,000 million dollar Jackpot ticket has just been sold -- and when a pretty clerk accidentally reveals to Shaw the identity of the winning family, he hatches a ferociously audacious scheme: He and Romeo will squeeze the family for half their prize.

That night, he visits the Boatwright home and takes the family hostage, while Romeo patrols the streets nearby, prepared to murder the Boatwrights' loved ones at any sign of resistance. At first, the family offers none. But Shaw's plot depends on maintaining constant fear-merciless, unfaltering terror-and soon, under the pressure, everyone's sanity begins to unravel...

At once frightening, comic, and suspenseful, RAVENS is a wholly original and utterly compelling novel from one of our most talented writers.

Monday, July 13, 2009

"House Secrets"

New from Atlantic Monthly Press: House Secrets by Mike Lawson.

About the book, from the publisher:

Mike Lawson’s previous novels starring Joe DeMarco, The Inside Ring, The Second Perimeter, and House Rules, have earned him a loyal following from thriller afficionados and a place among the most talented and captivating thriller writers focusing on our nation’s capital. In his latest, House Secrets, Lawson sends Joe DeMarco, an average guy who works as a fixer for the Speaker of the House, on his most risky investigation yet.

It all begins with a simple request from the Speaker, Joe’s hard-drinking, glad-handing political boss from Boston, John Fitzpatrick Mahoney. One of Mahoney’s old colleagues has doubts about the supposed accidental death of his son, a middling newspaper reporter who had claimed, in the days before his death, that he had an incredibly hot story. But then again, he always said things like that, and nothing ever panned out. Mahoney just wants DeMarco to turn over some rocks around Washington and see what crawls out.

It turns out the reporter was on the trail of Senator Paul Morelli, the handsome and gifted rising star from New York, considered a shoo-in for his party’s presidential nomination. Some politicians are lucky, Morelli just happened to be luckier than most, but his opponents’ scandals and accidents had already been scrutinized and he looks clean. It seems like there’s nothing for DeMarco to do. But then some very dangerous things start to crawl out from under the rocks he’s turned over.

Dirty secrets, beltway politics, and divided loyalties threaten as DeMarco’s investigation spirals dangerously out of control, pulling in freelance operatives, intelligence figures, D.C. locals, a sinister chief of staff, and characters from his past in New York. Filled with surprising twists, a captivating plot, and excellent characters both old and new, House Secrets is Lawson’s best book yet.
Learn more about the author and his work at Mike Lawson's website.

Lawson's previous Joe DeMarco thrillers include The Inside Ring, The Second Perimeter, and House Rules.

The Page 69 Test: House Rules.


New from St. Martin's Minotaur: Blake Crouch's Abandon.

About the book, from the publisher:

On Christmas Day in 1893, every man, woman and child in a remote gold mining town disappeared, belongings forsaken, meals left to freeze in vacant cabins; and not a single bone was ever found. One hundred thirteen years later, two backcountry guides are hired by a history professor and his journalist daughter to lead them into the abandoned mining town so that they can learn what happened. With them is a psychic, and a paranormal photographer—as the town is rumored to be haunted. A party that tried to explore the town years ago was never heard from again. What this crew is about to discover is that twenty miles from civilization, with a blizzard bearing down, they are not alone, and the past is very much alive.
Visit Blake Crouch's website.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

"Wife of the Gods"

New from Random House: Wife of the Gods by Kwei Quartey.

About the book, from the publisher:

Lyrical and captivating, Kwei Quartey’s debut novel brings to life the majesty and charm of Ghana–from the capital city of Accra to a small community where long-buried secrets are about to rise to the surface.

In a shady grove outside the small town of Ketanu, a young woman–a promising med student–has been found dead under suspicious circumstances. Eager to close the case, the local police have arrested a poor, enamored teenage boy and charged him with murder. Needless to say, they are less than thrilled when an outside force arrives from the big city to lead an inquiry into the baffling case.

Detective Inspector Darko Dawson, fluent in Ketanu’s indigenous language, is the right man for the job, but he hates the idea of leaving his loving wife and young son, a plucky kid with a defective heart. Pressured by his cantankerous boss, Dawson agrees to travel to Ketanu, sort through the evidence, and tie up the loose ends as quickly and as efficiently as possible. But for Dawson, this sleepy corner of Ghana is rife with emotional land mines: an estranged relationship with the family he left behind twenty-five years earlier and the painful memory of his own mother’s sudden, inexplicable disappearance. Dawson is armed with remarkable insight and a healthy dose of skepticism, but these gifts, sometimes overshadowed by his mercurial temper, may not be enough to solve this haunting mystery. In Ketanu, he finds that his cosmopolitan sensibilities clash with age-old customs, including a disturbing practice in which teenage girls are offered by their families to fetish priests as trokosi, or Wives of the Gods.

This is a compelling and unique mystery, enriched by an exotic setting and a vivid cast. And Inspector Darko Dawson–dedicated family man, rebel in the office, and ace in the field–is one of the most appealing sleuths to come along in years.
Visit Kwei Quartey's website.


New from Poisoned Pen Press: Floodgates by Mary Anna Evans.

About the book, from the Booklist review:

Archaeologist Faye Longchamp is taking a break from her doctoral studies to do some fieldwork in New Orleans. She is working at the site of the Revolutionary War’s Battle of New Orleans when a park ranger offers to show her a neighborhood destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Volunteers cleaning up a damaged home find a body there. The police think that it’s another drowning victim, but Faye notices that the debris piled on the corpse is all wrong. A young female detective brings Faye and her fiancé, Joe Wolf Mantooth, into the case because their archaeological expertise will be useful in sorting out what happened. They soon discover that the victim, Shelly Broussard, played an important role in the poststorm rescue work but may have made some serious enemies in the process. Evans has written a fascinating tale linking the history of New Orleans’ levee system to the present and weaving into the story aspects of the city’s widely diverse cultures. Voodoo, Native American spirituality, greed, and corruption all play roles in what is easily the best installment yet in a too-little-known series.
Read "Mary Anna Evans: Turning a Fresh Eye on New Orleans."

Visit Mary Anna Evans' website.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

"Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It"

New from Penguin: Maile Meloy's Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It.

About the book, from the publisher:

Award-winning writer Maile Meloy’s return to short stories explores complex lives in an austere landscape with the clear-sightedness that first endeared her to readers.

Meloy’s first return to short stories since her critically acclaimed debut, Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It is an extraordinary new work from one of the most promising writers of the last decade.

Eleven unforgettable new stories demonstrate the emotional power and the clean, assured style that have earned Meloy praise from critics and devotion from readers. Propelled by a terrific instinct for storytelling, and concerned with the convolutions of modern love and the importance of place, this collection is about the battlefields—and fields of victory—that exist in seemingly harmless spaces, in kitchens and living rooms and cars. Set mostly in the American West, the stories feature small-town lawyers, ranchers, doctors, parents, and children, and explore the moral quandaries of love, family, and friendship. A ranch hand falls for a recent law school graduate who appears unexpectedly— and reluctantly—in his remote Montana town. A young father opens his door to find his dead grandmother standing on the front step. Two women weigh love and betrayal during an early snow. Throughout the book, Meloy examines the tensions between having and wanting, as her characters try to keep hold of opposing forces in their lives: innocence and experience, risk and stability, fidelity and desire.

Knowing, sly, and bittersweet, Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It confirms Maile Meloy’s singular literary talent. Her lean, controlled prose, full of insight and unexpected poignancy, is the perfect complement to her powerfully moving storytelling.
Visit Maile Meloy's website.

"Portland Noir"

New from Akashic Books: Portland Noir, edited by Kevin Sampsell.

About the book, from the publisher:

Explore the dark, rainy underbelly of one of America's most beautiful but enigmatic cities.

Brand-new stories by: Gigi Little, Justin Hocking, Christopher Bolton, Jess Walter, Monica Drake, Jamie S. Rich (illustrated by Joelle Jones), Dan DeWeese, Zoe Trope, Luciana Lopez, Karen Karbo, Bill Cameron, Ariel Gore, Floyd Skloot, Megan Kruse, Kimberly Warner-Cohen, and Jonathan Selwood.

From the downtown streets littered with strip clubs and gutter punks to the north side where gentrification and old school hip-hop collide, Portland, Oregon is a place that seems straight out of a David Lynch movie. It's a city full of police controversies, hippie artist houses, and overzealous liberals, where even its fiction blurs with its bizarre realities.

Portland Noir is an encompassing literary journey where your tour guides take you to the Shanghai Tunnels, dog parks, dive bars, sex shops, Powell's Books, Voodoo Doughnuts, suspiciously quiet neighborhoods, the pseudo-glitzy Pearl District, Oaks Amusement Park, and a strip club shaped like a jug. Violent crime, petty mischief, and personal tragedy run through these mysterious tales that careen through this cloudy, wet city. Portland Noir is sure to both charm and frighten readers familiar with this northwest hub and intrigue those who have never traveled to this proudly weird city.

Friday, July 10, 2009

"In the Land of Invented Languages"

New from Spiegel & Grau: In the Land of Invented Languages: Esperanto Rock Stars, Klingon Poets, Loglan Lovers, and the Mad Dreamers Who Tried to Build a Perfect Language by Arika Okrent.

About the book, from the publisher:

Just about everyone has heard of Esperanto, which was nothing less than one man’s attempt to bring about world peace by means of linguistic solidarity. And every Star Trek fan knows about Klingon, which was nothing more than a television show’s attempt to create a tough-sounding language befitting a warrior race with ridged foreheads. But few people have heard of Babm, Blissymbolics, and the nearly nine hundred other invented languages that represent the hard work, high hopes, and full-blown delusions of so many misguided souls over the centuries.

In In The Land of Invented Languages, author Arika Okrent tells the fascinating and highly entertaining history of man’s enduring quest to build a better language. Peopled with charming eccentrics and exasperating megalomaniacs, the land of invented languages is a place where you can recite the Lord’s Prayer in John Wilkins’s Philosophical Language, say your wedding vows in Loglan, and read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in Lojban.

A truly original new addition to the booming category of language books, In The Land of Invented Languages will be a must-have on the shelves of all word freaks, grammar geeks, and plain old language lovers.
Visit Arika Okrent's website.