Sunday, October 31, 2010

"Kingdom Under Glass"

New from Henry Holt and Company: Kingdom Under Glass: A Tale of Obsession, Adventure, and One Man's Quest to Preserve the World's Great Animals by Jay Kirk.

About the book, from the publisher:

A sweeping historical narrative of the life of Carl Akeley, the famed explorer and taxidermist who changed the way Americans viewed the conservation of the natural world

During the golden age of safaris in the early twentieth century, one man set out to preserve Africa's great beasts. In this epic account of an extraordinary life lived during remarkable times, Jay Kirk follows the adventures of the brooding genius who revolutionized taxidermy and created the famed African Hall we visit today at New York's Museum of Natural History. The Gilded Age was drawing to a close, and with it came the realization that men may have hunted certain species into oblivion. Renowned taxidermist Carl Akeley joined the hunters rushing to Africa, where he risked death time and again as he stalked animals for his dioramas and hobnobbed with outsized personalities of the era such as Theodore Roosevelt and P. T. Barnum. In a tale of art, science, courage, and romance, Jay Kirk resurrects a legend and illuminates a fateful turning point when Americans had to decide whether to save nature, to destroy it, or to just stare at it under glass.
Read an excerpt from Kingdom Under Glass.

"The Neighbors Are Watching"

New from Crown: The Neighbors Are Watching by Debra Ginsberg.

About the book, from the publisher:

Set against the backdrop of the deadly 2007 wildfires that forced the evacuation of half a million San Diego residents, Debra Ginsberg’s new novel, The Neighbors Are Watching, examines the dark side of suburbia—a place where everyone has something to hide.

Aside from their annual block party, the neighbors on Fuller Court tend to keep to themselves—which doesn’t mean that they aren’t all watching and judging each other on the sly. So when pregnant teenager Diana Jones shows up, literally, on her biological father's doorstep, the neighbors can't stop talking. Joe Montana is a handsome restaurant manager who failed to tell his wife Allison that he fathered a baby with an ex-girlfriend seventeen years ago. Allison, already harboring her own inner resentments, takes the news very badly. She isn’t the only one. Diana's bombshell arrival in their quiet cul-de-sac sets off a chain reaction of secrets and lies that threaten to engulf the neighborhood along with the approaching flames from two huge wildfires fanned by the Santa Ana winds.

A former reality TV contestant who receives a steady stream of gentlemen callers at all hours, two women forced to hide their relationship in order to keep custody of their children, a sanctimonious housewife with a very checkered past, and a family who nobody ever sees—these are just a few of the warring neighbors struggling to keep up appearances and protect their own interests. But when lovely, troubled Diana disappears in the aftermath of the wildfire evacuation, leaving her newborn baby and many unanswered questions behind, the residents of Fuller Court must band together to find her before all of their carefully constructed deceptions come unraveled.

A potent blend of domestic drama and suspense, The Neighbors Are Watching reveals the secrets that bloom alongside manicured flowerbeds—and the truths that lurk behind closed doors.
Learn more about the book and author at Debra Ginsberg's website.

Debra Ginsberg's books include the novels The Grift and Blind Submission, as well as three memoirs: Waiting: The True Confessions of a Waitress, Raising Blaze: Bringing Up an Extraordinary Son in an Ordinary World, and About My Sisters.

The Page 69 Test: Blind Submission.

The Page 69 Test: The Grift.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

"My Reading Life"

New from Nan A. Talese: My Reading Life by Pat Conroy.

About the book, from the publisher:

Bestselling author Pat Conroy acknowledges the books that have shaped him and celebrates the profound effect reading has had on his life.

Pat Conroy, the beloved American storyteller, is also a vora­cious reader. He has for years kept a notebook in which he notes words or phrases, just from a love of language. But read­ing for him is not simply a pleasure to be enjoyed in off-hours or a source of inspiration for his own writing. It would hardly be an exaggeration to claim that reading has saved his life, and if not his life then surely his sanity.

In My Reading Life, Conroy revisits a life of passionate reading. He includes wonderful anecdotes from his school days, mov­ing accounts of how reading pulled him through dark times, and even lists of books that particularly influenced him at vari­ous stages of his life, including grammar school, high school, and college. Readers will be enchanted with his ruminations on reading and books, and want to own and share this perfect gift book for the holidays. And, come graduation time, My Reading Life will establish itself as a perennial favorite, as did Dr. Seuss’s Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

"At Home"

New from Doubleday: At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson.

About the book, from the publisher:

From one of the most beloved authors of our time—more than six million copies of his books have been sold in this country alone—a fascinating excursion into the history behind the place we call home.

“Houses aren’t refuges from history. They are where history ends up.”

Bill Bryson and his family live in a Victorian parsonage in a part of England where nothing of any great significance has happened since the Romans decamped. Yet one day, he began to consider how very little he knew about the ordinary things of life as he found it in that comfortable home. To remedy this, he formed the idea of journeying about his house from room to room to “write a history of the world without leaving home.” The bathroom provides the occasion for a history of hygiene; the bedroom, sex, death, and sleep; the kitchen, nutrition and the spice trade; and so on, as Bryson shows how each has fig­ured in the evolution of private life. Whatever happens in the world, he demonstrates, ends up in our house, in the paint and the pipes and the pillows and every item of furniture.

Bill Bryson has one of the liveliest, most inquisitive minds on the planet, and he is a master at turning the seemingly isolated or mundane fact into an occasion for the most diverting exposi­tion imaginable. His wit and sheer prose fluency make At Home one of the most entertaining books ever written about private life.

Friday, October 29, 2010


New from Little, Brown: Life by Keith Richards.

About the book, from the publisher:

As lead guitarist of the Rolling Stones, Keith Richards created the riffs, the lyrics, and the songs that roused the world. A true and towering original, he has always walked his own path, spoken his mind, and done things his own way.

Now at last Richards pauses to tell his story in the most anticipated autobiography in decades. And what a story! Listening obsessively to Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters records in a coldwater flat with Mick Jagger and Brian Jones, building a sound and a band out of music they loved. Finding fame and success as a bad-boy band, only to find themselves challenged by authorities everywhere. Dropping his guitar's sixth string to create a new sound that allowed him to create immortal riffs like those in "Honky Tonk Woman" and "Jumpin' Jack Flash." Falling in love with Anita Pallenberg, Brian Jones's girlfriend. Arrested and imprisoned for drug possession. Tax exile in France and recording Exile on Main Street. Ever-increasing fame, isolation, and addiction making life an ever faster frenzy. Through it all, Richards remained devoted to the music of the band, until even that was challenged by Mick Jagger's attempt at a solo career, leading to a decade of conflicts and ultimately the biggest reunion tour in history.

In a voice that is uniquely and unmistakably him--part growl, part laugh--Keith Richards brings us the truest rock-and-roll life of our times, unfettered and fearless and true.

"Louisa May Alcott"

New from Simon & Schuster: Louisa May Alcott: A Personal Biography by Susan Cheever.

About the book, from the publisher:

Louisa May Alcott never intended to write Little Women. She had dismissed her publisher's pleas for such a novel. Written out of necessity to support her family, the book had an astounding success that changed her life, a life which turned out very differently from that of her beloved heroine Jo March.

In Louisa May Alcott, Susan Cheever, the acclaimed author of American Bloomsbury, returns to Concord, Massachusetts, to explore the life of one of its most iconic residents. Based on extensive research, journals, and correspondence, Cheever's biography chronicles all aspects of Alcott's life, from the fateful meeting of her parents to her death, just two days after that of her father. She details Bronson Alcott's stalwart educational vision, which led the Alcotts to relocate each time his progressive teaching went sour; her unsuccessful early attempts at serious literature, including Moods, which Henry James panned; her time as a Civil War nurse, when she contracted pneumonia and was treated with mercury-laden calomel, which would affect her health for the rest of her life; and her vibrant intellectual circle of writers and reformers, idealists who led the charge in support of antislavery, temperance, and women's rights.

Alcott's independence defied the conventional wisdom, and her personal choices and literary legacy continue to inspire generations of women. A fan of Little Women from the age of twelve, and a distinguished author in her own right, Cheever brings a unique perspective to Louisa May Alcott's life as a woman, a daughter, and a working writer.
Read an excerpt from American Bloomsbury and check out Susan Cheever's favorite books.

Visit Susan Cheever's Amazon blog, her official website, and the Page 69 Test results for American Bloomsbury.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

"Kind of Blue"

New from Oceanview Publishing: Kind of Blue by Miles Corwin.

About the book, from the publisher:

Leaving the force nearly ruined Ash Levine’s life. But rejoining the force could end it.When a legendary ex-cop is murdered in LA, the pressure’s on to find the killer. Lt. Frank Duffy needs his best detective on the case, but his best detective, Ash Levine, quit a year ago.

A tenacious, obsessive detective, Ash resigned after Latisha Patton, the witness in a homicide case he was working, was murdered. Without his job, Ash is left unanchored—and consumed with guilt that he somehow caused Latisha’s murder.

When he’s asked to rejoin the force, Ash reluctantly agrees. Getting his badge back could give him the chance to find Latisha’s killer.

Ash dives in headfirst into the shadowlands of Southern California to investigate the ex-cop’s murder. But even when he has a suspect in custody, something about this case doesn’t sit right with Ash, and he continues working the increasingly-dangerous investigation while quietly chasing leads in Latisha’s murder.

Unable to let either case go until he has answers, Ash finds that his obsessive nature, which propels him into a world of private compromises and public corruption, is a flaw that might prove fatal.
Visit Miles Corwin's website.

"Dangerous to Know"

New from Minotaur Books: Dangerous to Know by Tasha Alexander.

About the book, from the publisher:

Set in the lush countryside of Normandy, France, this new novel of suspense featuring Lady Emily Hargreaves is filled with intrigue, romance, mysterious deaths, and madness.

Returning from her honeymoon with Colin Hargreaves and a near brush with death in Constantinople, Lady Emily convalesces at her mother-in-law's beautiful estate in Normandy. But the calm she so desperately seeks is shattered when, out riding a horse, she comes upon the body of a young woman who has been brutally murdered. The girl's wounds are identical to those inflicted on the victims of Jack the Ripper, who has wreaked havoc across the channel in London. Emily feels a connection to the young woman and is determined to bring the killer to justice.

Pursuing a trail of clues and victims to the beautiful medieval city of Rouen and a crumbling chateau in the country, Emily begins to worry about her own sanity: she hears the cries of a little girl she cannot find and discovers blue ribbons left in the child's wake. As Emily is forced to match wits with a brilliant and manipulative killer, only her courage, keen instincts and formidable will to win can help her escape becoming his next victim.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"Moonlight Mile"

New from William Morrow: Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane.

About the book, from the publisher:

Acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Dennis Lehane delivers an explosive tale of integrity and vengeance—heralding the long-awaited return of private investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro

Amanda McCready was four years old when she vanished from a Boston neighborhood twelve years ago. Desperate pleas for help from the child's aunt led investigators Kenzie and Gennaro to take on the case. The pair risked everything to find the young girl—only to orchestrate her return to a neglectful mother and a broken home.

Now Amanda is sixteen—and gone again. A stellar student, brilliant but aloof, she seemed destined to escape her upbringing. Yet Amanda's aunt is once more knocking on Patrick Kenzie's door, fearing the worst for the little girl who has blossomed into a striking, clever young woman—a woman who hasn't been seen in weeks.

Haunted by their consciences, Kenzie and Gennaro revisit the case that troubled them the most. Their search leads them into a world of identity thieves, methamphetamine dealers, a mentally unstable crime boss and his equally demented wife, a priceless, thousand-year-old cross, and a happily homicidal Russian gangster. It's a world in which motives and allegiances constantly shift and mistakes are fatal.

In their desperate fight to confront the past and find Amanda McCready, Kenzie and Gennaro will be forced to question if it's possible to do the wrong thing and still be right or to do the right thing and still be wrong. As they face an evil that goes beyond broken families and broken dreams, they discover that the sins of yesterday don't always stay buried and the crimes of today could end their lives.
See Dennis Lehane's most important books.

"The Mind's Eye"

New from Knopf: The Mind's Eye by Oliver Sacks.

About the book, from the publisher:

In The Mind’s Eye, Oliver Sacks tells the stories of people who are able to navigate the world and communicate with others despite losing what many of us consider indispensable senses and abilities: the power of speech, the capacity to recognize faces, the sense of three-dimensional space, the ability to read, the sense of sight. For all of these people, the challenge is to adapt to a radically new way of being in the world.

There is Lilian, a concert pianist who becomes unable to read music and is eventually unable even to recognize everyday objects, and Sue, a neurobiologist who has never seen in three dimensions, until she suddenly acquires stereoscopic vision in her fifties.

There is Pat, who reinvents herself as a loving grandmother and active member of her community, despite the fact that she has aphasia and cannot utter a sentence, and Howard, a prolific novelist who must find a way to continue his life as a writer even after a stroke destroys his ability to read.

And there is Dr. Sacks himself, who tells the story of his own eye cancer and the bizarre and disconcerting effects of losing vision to one side.

Sacks explores some very strange paradoxes—people who can see perfectly well but cannot recognize their own children, and blind people who become hyper-visual or who navigate by “tongue vision.” He also considers more fundamental questions: How do we see? How do we think? How important is internal imagery—or vision, for that matter? Why is it that, although writing is only five thousand years old, humans have a universal, seemingly innate, potential for reading?

The Mind’s Eye
is a testament to the complexity of vision and the brain and to the power of creativity and adaptation. And it provides a whole new perspective on the power of language and communication, as we try to imagine what it is to see with another person’s eyes, or another person’s mind.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"The Coming of the Dragon"

New from Random House Books for Young Readers: The Coming of the Dragon by Rebecca Barnhouse.

About the book, from the publisher:

Rebecca Barnhouse weaves Norse gods, blood feuds, and a terrifying dragon into this spectacular retelling of the end of the Old English poem Beowulf.

When he was a baby, Rune washed up onshore in a boat, along with a sword and a pendant bearing the runes that gave him his nickname. Some people thought he was a sacrifice to the gods and wanted to send him right back to the sea. Luckily for Rune, King Beowulf disagreed. He lifted the boy from the boat and gave him to Amma, a wisewoman living on a farm far removed from the king’s hall, to raise as she saw fit.

Sixteen years later, Rune spends his summers laboring on the farm. And at King Beowulf’s request, he comes to the hall each winter for weapons training. But somehow he never quite fits in. Many people still fear he will bring a curse on the kingdom. Then a terrible thing happens. On a lonely crag on a mountain that belongs to the giants, someone awakens a dragon. It is time for Rune to find the warrior inside himself and prove to the doubters once and for all that he is a true hero.
Learn more about the book and author at Rebecca Barnhouse's website.

My Book, the Movie: The Book of the Maidservant.

"The Confession"

New from Doubleday: The Confession by John Grisham.

About the book, from the publisher:

An innocent man is about to be executed.

Only a guilty man can save him.

For every innocent man sent to prison, there is a guilty one left on the outside. He doesn’t understand how the police and prosecutors got the wrong man, and he certainly doesn’t care. He just can’t believe his good luck. Time passes and he realizes that the mistake will not be corrected: the authorities believe in their case and are determined to get a conviction. He may even watch the trial of the person wrongly accused of his crime. He is relieved when the verdict is guilty. He laughs when the police and prosecutors congratulate themselves. He is content to allow an innocent person to go to prison, to serve hard time, even to be executed.

Travis Boyette is such a man. In 1998, in the small East Texas city of Sloan, he abducted, raped, and strangled a popular high school cheerleader. He buried her body so that it would never be found, then watched in amazement as police and prosecutors arrested and convicted Donté Drumm, a local football star, and marched him off to death row.

Now nine years have passed. Travis has just been paroled in Kansas for a different crime; Donté is four days away from his execution. Travis suffers from an inoperable brain tumor. For the first time in his miserable life, he decides to do what’s right and confess.

But how can a guilty man convince lawyers, judges, and politicians that they’re about to execute an innocent man?

Monday, October 25, 2010

"Here Is a Human Being"

New from Harper: Here Is a Human Being: At the Dawn of Personal Genomics by Misha Angrist.

About the book, from the publisher:

The first in-depth look at personal genomics: its larger-than-life research subjects; its entrepreneurs and do-it-yourselfers; its technology developers; the bewildered and overwhelmed physicians and regulators who must negotiate it; and what it means to be a "public genome" in a world where privacy is already under siege

In 2007, Misha Angrist became the fourth subject in the Personal Genome Project, George Church's ambitious plan to sequence the entire genomic catalog: every participant's twenty thousand–plus genes and the rest of his or her 6 billion base pairs. Church hopes to better understand how genes influence our physical traits, from height and athletic ability to behavior and weight, and our medical conditions, from cancer and diabetes to obesity and male pattern baldness. Now Angrist reveals startling information about the experiment's participants and scientists; how the experiment was, is, and will be conducted; the discoveries and potential discoveries; and the profound implications of having an unfiltered view of our hardwired selves for us and for our children.

DNA technology has already changed our health care, the food we eat, and our criminal justice system. Unlocking the secrets of our genomes opens the door not only to helping us understand why we are the way we are and potentially fixing what ails us but also to many other concerns: What exactly will happen to this information? Will it become just another marketing tool? Can it help us understand our ancestry, or will it merely reinforce old ideas of race? Can personal genomics help fix the U.S. health care system?

Here Is a Human Being explores these complicated questions while documenting Angrist's own fascinating journey—one that tens of thousands of us will soon make.


New from Harper: Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms,and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories by Simon Winchester.

About the book, from the publisher:

Blending history and anecdote, geography and reminiscence, science and exposition, the New York Times bestselling author of Krakatoa tells the breathtaking saga of the magnificent Atlantic Ocean, setting it against the backdrop of mankind's intellectual evolution

Until a thousand years ago, no humans ventured into the Atlantic or imagined traversing its vast infinity. But once the first daring mariners successfully navigated to far shores—whether it was the Vikings, the Irish, the Chinese, Christopher Columbus in the north, or the Portuguese and the Spanish in the south—the Atlantic evolved in the world's growing consciousness of itself as an enclosed body of water bounded by the Americas to the West, and by Europe and Africa to the East. Atlantic is a biography of this immense space, of a sea which has defined and determined so much about the lives of the millions who live beside or near its tens of thousands of miles of coast.

The Atlantic has been central to the ambitions of explorers, scientists and warriors, and it continues to affect our character, attitudes, and dreams. Poets to potentates, seers to sailors, fishermen to foresters—all have a relationship with this great body of blue-green sea and regard her as friend or foe, adversary or ally, depending on circumstance or fortune. Simon Winchester chronicles that relationship, making the Atlantic come vividly alive. Spanning from the earth's geological origins to the age of exploration, World War II battles to modern pollution, his narrative is epic and awe-inspiring.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

"The Severance"

New from Bridge Works Publishing: The Severance by Elliott Sawyer.

About the book, from the publisher:

The Severance is the story of a “rehabilitation platoon,” made up of bitter, unruly troublemakers and misfits whose past disciplinary sins have led the Army to put them into this unit, a unit assigned the dirty missions no one else wants. They are 21st Century counterparts of the World War II rogue soldiers in The Dirty Dozen, the 1965 bestseller made into the classic movie of that name. The platoon’s leader is Captain Jake Roberts, picked as punishment for past lapses of his own. He and his men, fighting and patrolling in the Afghan mountains, discover a large cache of American dollars hidden by a corrupt contractor. They devise a plan to hide it and later smuggle it out of the country when they are sent home for discharge. They call it their “Severance pay package.” Soon the men discover the Taliban insurgents aren’t the only enemy they must confront and defeat on and off the battlefield. Someone has found out about The Severance and wants to highjack it.

Is this second enemy one of them, another soldier at their base, or even Jake’s girlfriend, a nurse? The mystery builds to a climax as their unknown adversary tries to kill Jake and some of his men while they seek to safeguard The Severance and determine the identity of their deadly stalker.
Visit Elliott Sawyer's website.

"The Boy"

New from Hill and Wang: The Boy: A Holocaust Story by Dan Porat.

About the book, from the publisher:

A gravel road. A sunny day. A soldier. A gun. A child, arms high in the air. A moment captured on film. But what is thehistory behind arguably the most recognizable photograph of the Holocaust? In The Boy: A Holocaust Story, the historian Dan Porat unpacks this split second that was immortalized on film and unravels the stories of the individuals—both Jews and Nazis—associated with it.

The Boy presents the stories of three Nazi criminals, ranging in status from SS sergeant to low-ranking SS officer to SS general. It is also the story of two Jewish victims, a teenage girl and a young boy, who encounter these Nazis in Warsaw in the spring of 1943. The book is remarkable in its scope, picking up the lives of these participants in the years preceding World War I and following them to their deaths. One of the Nazis managed to stay at large for twenty-two years. One of the survivors lived long enough to lose a son in the Yom Kippur War. Nearly sixty photographs dispersed throughout help narrate these five lives. And, in keeping with the emotional immediacy of those photographs, Porat has deliberately used a narrative style that, drawing upon extensive research, experience, and oral interviews, places the reader in the middle of unfolding events.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

"Peril at Somner House"

New from Minotaur Books: Peril at Somner House by Joanna Challis.

About the book, from the publisher:

After her adventures in Murder on the Cliffs, young Daphne du Maurier travels to a remote island off the coast of Cornwall to visit the estate of Lord and Lady Trevalyan. Somner House, enchanting amidst lush exotic wilderness and only a moment’s walk to the sea, beguiles Daphne, but just as looming winter storms begin to envelop the island, the Lord is found murdered while the Lady is found in the arms of a lover. Even Daphne with her torrid imagination could not have dreamed that she would become ensnared in the vile, villainous schemes being hatched within the walls of Somner House—or that a handsome stranger would inspire her to plumb the depths of a great mystery.
Read an excerpt from Peril at Somner House.

"The True Memoirs of Little K"

New from Farrar, Straus and Giroux: The True Memoirs of Little K by Adrienne Sharp.

About the book, from the publisher:

Exiled in Paris, tiny, one-hundred-year-old Mathilde Kschessinska sits down to write her memoirs before all that she believes to be true is forgotten. A lifetime ago, she was the vain, ambitious, impossibly charming prima ballerina assoluta of the tsar’s Russian Imperial Ballet in St. Petersburg. Now, as she looks back on her tumultuous life, she can still recall every slight she ever suffered, every conquest she ever made.

Kschessinka’s riveting storytelling soon thrusts us into a world lost to time: that great intersection of the Russian court and the Russian theater. Before the revolution, Kschessinska dominated that world as the greatest dancer of her age. At seventeen, her crisp, scything technique made her a star. So did her romance with the tsarevich Nicholas Romanov, soon to be Nicholas II. It was customary for grand dukes and sons of tsars to draw their mistresses from the ranks of the ballet, but it was not customary for them to fall in love.

The affair could not endure: when Nicholas ascended to the throne as tsar, he was forced to give up his mistress, and Kschessinska turned for consolation to his cousins, two grand dukes with whom she formed an infamous ménage à trois. But when Nicholas’s marriage to Alexandra wavered after she produced girl after girl, he came once again to visit his Little K. As the tsar’s empire—one that once made up a third of the world—began its fatal crumble, Kschessinka’s devotion to the imperial family would be tested in ways she could never have foreseen.

In Adrienne Sharp’s magnificently imagined novel, the last days of the three-hundred-year-old Romanov empire are relived. Through Kschessinska’s memories of her own triumphs and defeats, we witness the stories that changed history: the seething beginnings of revolution, the blindness of the doomed court, the end of a grand, decadent way of life that belonged to the nineteenth century. Based on fact, The True Memoirs of Little K is historical fiction as it’s meant to be written: passionately eventful, crammed with authentic detail, and alive with emotions that resonate still.

Friday, October 22, 2010

"The False Friend"

New from Doubleday: The False Friend by Myla Goldberg.

About the book, from the publisher:

From the bestselling author of Bee Season comes an astonishingly complex psychological drama with a simple setup: two eleven-year-old girls, best friends and fierce rivals, go into the woods. Only one comes out...

Leaders of a mercurial clique of girls, Celia and Djuna reigned mercilessly over their three followers. One after­noon, they decided to walk home along a forbidden road. Djuna disappeared, and for twenty years Celia blocked out how it happened.

The lie Celia told to conceal her misdeed became the accepted truth: everyone assumed Djuna had been abducted, though neither she nor her abductor was ever found. Celia’s unconscious avoidance of this has meant that while she and her longtime boyfriend, Huck, are professionally successful, they’ve been unable to move forward, their relationship falling into a rut that threatens to bury them both.

Celia returns to her hometown to confess the truth, but her family and childhood friends don’t believe her. Huck wants to be supportive, but his love can’t blind him to all that contra­dicts Celia’s version of the past.

Celia’s desperate search to understand what happened to Djuna has powerful consequences. A deeply resonant and emotionally charged story, The False Friend explores the adults that children become—leading us to question the truths that we accept or reject, as well as the lies to which we succumb.

"Running the Books"

New from Nan A. Talese: Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian by Avi Steinberg.

About the book, from the publisher:

Avi Steinberg is stumped. After defecting from yeshiva to Harvard, he has only a senior thesis essay on Bugs Bunny to show for his effort. While his friends and classmates advance in the world, he remains stuck at a crossroads, unable to meet the lofty expectations of his Orthodox Jewish upbringing. And his romantic existence as a freelance obituary writer just isn’t cutting it. Seeking direction—and dental insurance—Steinberg takes a job as a librarian in a tough Boston prison.

The prison library counter, his new post, attracts con men, minor prophets, ghosts, and an assortment of quirky regulars searching for the perfect book and a connection to the outside world. There’s an anxious pimp who solicits Steinberg’s help in writing a memoir. A passionate gangster who dreams of hosting a cooking show titled Thug Sizzle. A disgruntled officer who instigates a major feud over a Post-it note. A doomed ex-stripper who asks Steinberg to orchestrate a reunion with her estranged son, himself an inmate. Over time, Steinberg is drawn into the accidental community of outcasts that has formed among his bookshelves — a drama he recounts with heartbreak and humor. But when the struggles of the prison library — between life and death, love and loyalty — become personal, Steinberg is forced to take sides.

Running the Books is a trenchant exploration of prison culture and an entertaining tale of one young man’s earnest attempt to find his place in the world while trying not to get fired in the process.
See Avi Steinberg's list of what Lindsay Lohan should read in jail.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

"The Man Who Invented the Computer"

New from Doubleday: The Man Who Invented the Computer: The Biography of John Atanasoff, Digital Pioneer by Jane Smiley.

About the book, from the publisher:

From one of our most acclaimed novelists, a David-and-Goliath biography for the digital age.

One night in the late 1930s, in a bar on the Illinois–Iowa border, John Vincent Atanasoff, a professor of physics at Iowa State University, after a frustrating day performing tedious mathematical calculations in his lab, hit on the idea that the binary number system and electronic switches, com­bined with an array of capacitors on a moving drum to serve as memory, could yield a computing machine that would make his life and the lives of other similarly burdened scientists easier. Then he went back and built the machine. It worked. The whole world changed.

Why don’t we know the name of John Atanasoff as well as we know those of Alan Turing and John von Neumann? Because he never patented the device, and because the developers of the far-better-known ENIAC almost certainly stole critical ideas from him. But in 1973 a court declared that the patent on that Sperry Rand device was invalid, opening the intellectual property gates to the computer revolution.

Jane Smiley tells the quintessentially American story of the child of immigrants John Atanasoff with technical clarity and narrative drive, making the race to develop digital computing as gripping as a real-life techno-thriller.

"All Clear"

New from Spectra:All Clear by Connie Willis.

About the book, from the publisher:

In Blackout, award-winning author Connie Willis returned to the time-traveling future of 2060—the setting for several of her most celebrated works—and sent three Oxford historians to World War II England: Michael Davies, intent on observing heroism during the Miracle of Dunkirk; Merope Ward, studying children evacuated from London; and Polly Churchill, posing as a shopgirl in the middle of the Blitz. But when the three become unexpectedly trapped in 1940, they struggle not only to find their way home but to survive as Hitler’s bombers attempt to pummel London into submission.

Now the situation has grown even more dire. Small discrepancies in the historical record seem to indicate that one or all of them have somehow affected the past, changing the outcome of the war. The belief that the past can be observed but never altered has always been a core belief of time-travel theory—but suddenly it seems that the theory is horribly, tragically wrong.

Meanwhile, in 2060 Oxford, the historians’ supervisor, Mr. Dunworthy, and seventeen-year-old Colin Templer, who nurses a powerful crush on Polly, are engaged in a frantic and seemingly impossible struggle of their own—to find three missing needles in the haystack of history.

Told with compassion, humor, and an artistry both uplifting and devastating, All Clear is more than just the triumphant culmination of the adventure that began with Blackout. It’s Connie Willis’s most humane, heartfelt novel yet—a clear-eyed celebration of faith, love, and the quiet, ordinary acts of heroism and sacrifice too often overlooked by history.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"Palo Alto"

New from Scribner: Palo Alto: Stories by James Franco.

About the book, from the publisher:

A fiercely vivid collection of stories about troubled California teenagers and misfits--violent and harrowing, from the astonishingly talented actor and artist James Franco.

Palo Alto is the debut of a surprising and powerful new literary voice. Written with an immediate sense of place--claustrophobic and ominous--James Franco's collection traces the lives of an extended group of teenagers as they experiment with vices of all kinds, struggle with their families and one another, and succumb to self-destructive, often heartless nihilism. In "Lockheed" a young woman's summer--spent working a dull internship--is suddenly upended by a spectacular incident of violence at a house party. In "American History" a high school freshman attempts to impress a girl during a classroom skit with a realistic portrayal of a slave owner—only to have his feigned bigotry avenged. In "I Could Kill Someone," a lonely teenager buys a gun with the aim of killing his high school tormentor, but begins to wonder about his bully's own inner life.

These linked stories, stark, vivid, and disturbing, are a compelling portrait of lives on the rough fringes of youth.
See James Franco's six best books.

"Armageddon Science"

New from St. Martin's Press: Armageddon Science: The Science of Mass Destruction by Brian Clegg.

About the book, from the publisher:

Climate change. Nuclear devastation. Bio-hazards. The Large Hadron Collider. What do these things have in common? They all have the potential to end our world. Every great scientific creation of man is balanced by an equal amount of danger—as there’s no progress without risk. Armageddon Science is an authoritative look at the real “mad science” at work today, that recklessly puts life on Earth at risk for the pursuit of knowledge and personal gain. This book explores the reality of the dangers that science poses to the human race, from the classic fear of nuclear destruction to the latest possibilities for annihilation. Combining the science behind those threats with an understanding of the real people responsible as well as providing an assessment of the likelihood of the end of the world, this isn’t a disaster movie, it’s Armageddon Science.
Follow Brian Clegg at, and visit his website and blog.

Writers Read: Brian Clegg.

Coffee with a Canine: Brian Clegg and Goldie.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"You Had Me at Woof"

New from: Riverhead: You Had Me at Woof: How Dogs Taught Me the Secrets of Happiness by Julie Klam.

About the book, from the publisher:

The hilarious and heartfelt chronicle of a woman learning the secrets of love, health, and happiness from some very surprising teachers: her dogs.

Julie Klam was thirty, single, and working as a part-time clerk in an insurance company, wondering if she would ever meet the man she could spend the rest of her life with. And then it happened. She met the irresistible Otto, her first in a long line of Boston terriers, and fell instantly in love.

You Had Me at Woof is the often hilarious and always sincere story of how one woman discovered life's most important lessons from her relationships with her canine companions. From Otto, Julie realized what it might feel like to find "the one." She learned to share her home, her heart, and her limited resources with another, and she found an authentic friend in the process. But that was just the beginning. Over the years her brood has grown to one husband, one daughter, and several Boston terriers. And although she had much to learn about how to care for them-walks at 2 a.m., vet visits, behavior problems-she was surprised and delighted to find that her dogs had more wisdom to convey to her than she had ever dreamed. And caring for them has made her a better person-and completely and utterly opened her heart. Riotously funny and unexpectedly poignant, You Had Me at Woof recounts the hidden surprises, pleasures, and revelations of letting any mutt, beagle, terrier, or bulldog go charging through your world.
Visit Julie Klam's website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: Julie Klam's Please Excuse My Daughter.


New from Metropolitan Books: Eden by Yael Hedaya.

About the book, from the publisher:

From the head writer of the original In Treatment, an exquisite novel of the maturation of a girl, a family, and an entire community

Eden is no paradise: it is the stifling, rural community in which upscale urban escapees, Alona and Mark, drift apart and divorce under the resentful scrutiny of Roni, Mark's needy adolescent daughter. Against a rich panorama of Eden's oldtimers and newcomers, Mark, an emotionally detached architect, begins an involvement with his ex-wife's best friend, Dafna, who is desperately trying to conceive through the torments of technology, while sixteen-year-old Roni pursues the attention of older men by readily dispensing sexual favors. Over the course of one month, Roni's self-dramatizing turns to tragedy, her parents are jolted out of their absorbing concerns, and a new family structure begins to form out of an unlikely set of characters.

Through a portrait of family entanglements, disappearing countryside, and disappointed expectations, Yael Hedaya, a determinedly plainspoken novelist, has brilliantly mapped the social and emotional ecology of midlife and achieved miracles of insight and understanding.

Monday, October 18, 2010

"Pukka: The Pup After Merle"

New from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: Pukka: The Pup After Merle by Ted Kerasote.

About the book, from the publisher:

Since the publication of the best-selling Merle’s Door, Ted Kerasote has received thousands of e-mails asking two questions: “Have you gotten another dog?” and “Are you writing a new book?” Pukka: The Pup After Merle answers both, in the most heartwarming way.

Told in Pukka’s charming voice and accompanied by more than 200 photos, Pukka: The Pup After Merle tells the story of how Ted found Pukka, recounting the early days of their bonding as they explore Kelly and the wider world. Walks become hikes and hikes become climbs, their adventures culminating in a rugged wilderness journey that teaches both Pukka and Ted something new about the dog-human partnership.

Filled with stunning images of the West, Pukka is a love story as well as Ted’s take on raising a puppy. It will do pictorially what Merle did with words—show how dogs thrive when treated as peers while illustrating the many ways that any dog opens the door to our hearts.
Learn more about the book at Ted Kerasote's website.

Kerasote's writing has appeared in dozens of periodicals and anthologies, including Audubon, National Geographic Traveler, Outside, Salon, and the New York Times. He is also the author and editor of six books, one of which, Out There: In the Wild in a Wired Age, won the National Outdoor Book Award.

The Page 69 Test: Merle's Door.

"The Fall of the House of Zeus"

New from Crown: The Fall of the House of Zeus: The Rise and Ruin of America's Most Powerful Trial Lawyer by Curtis Wilkie.

About the book, from the publisher:

The Fall of the House of Zeus tells the story of Dickie Scruggs, arguably the most successful plaintiff's lawyer in America. A brother-in-law of Trent Lott, the former U.S. Senate Majority Leader, Scruggs made a fortune taking on mass tort lawsuits against “Big Tobacco” and the asbestos industries. He was hailed by Newsweek as a latter day Robin Hood, and portrayed in the movie, The Insider, as a dapper aviator-lawyer. Scruggs’ legal triumphs rewarded him lavishly, and his success emboldened both his career maneuvering and his influence in Southern politics--but at a terrible cost, culminating in his spectacular fall, when he was convicted for conspiring to bribe a Mississippi state judge.

Here Mississippi is emblematic of the modern South, with its influx of new money and its rising professional class, including lawyers such as Scruggs, whose interests became inextricably entwined with state and national politics.

Based on extensive interviews, transcripts, and FBI recordings never made public, The Fall of the House of Zeus exposes the dark side of Southern and Washington legal games and power politics: the swirl of fixed cases, blocked investigations, judicial tampering, and a zealous prosecution that would eventually ensnare not only Scruggs but his own son, Zach, in the midst of their struggle with insurance companies over Hurricane Katrina damages. In gripping detail, Curtis Wilkie crafts an authentic legal thriller propelled by a “welter of betrayals and personal hatreds,” providing large supporting parts for Trent Lott and Jim Biden, brother of then-Senator Joe, and cameos by John McCain, Al Gore, and other DC insiders and influence peddlers.

Above all, we get to see how and why the mighty fail and fall, a story as gripping and timeless as a Greek tragedy.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

"Worth Dying For"

New from Delacorte Press: Worth Dying For by Lee Child.

About the book, from the publisher:

#1 New York Times bestselling author Lee Child follows the electrifying 61 Hours with his latest Reacher thriller—a story that hits the ground running and then accelerates all the way to a colossal showdown.

There’s deadly trouble in the corn country of Nebraska . . . and Jack Reacher walks right into it. First he falls foul of the Duncans, a local clan that has terrified an entire county into submission. But it’s the unsolved case of a missing child, already decades-old, that Reacher can’t let go.

The Duncans want Reacher gone—and it’s not just past secrets they’re trying to hide. They’re awaiting a secret shipment that’s already late—and they have the kind of customers no one can afford to annoy. For as dangerous as the Duncans are, they’re just the bottom of a criminal food chain stretching halfway around the world.

For Reacher, it would have made much more sense to keep on going, to put some distance between himself and the hard-core trouble that’s bearing down on him.

For Reacher, that was also impossible.

Worth Dying For is the kind of explosive thriller only Lee Child could write and only Jack Reacher could survive—a heart-racing page-turner no suspense fan will want to miss.

"Dethroning the King"

New from Wiley: Dethroning the King: The Hostile Takeover of Anheuser-Busch, an American Icon by Julie MacIntosh.

About the book, from the publisher:

The amazing true story behind the siege of America's favorite beer company

How did InBev, a Belgian company controlled by Brazilians, take over one of America's most beloved brands after barely a whimper of a fight? Timing, and some unexpected help from powerful members of the Busch dynasty, the very family that had run the company for more than a century.

In Dethroning the King, the award-winning financial journalist who led coverage of the takeover for the Financial Times details how the drama that unfolded at Anheuser-Busch in 2008 went largely unreported as the world tumbled into a global economic crisis second only to the Great Depression. Today, as the dust settles, questions are being asked about how the "King of Beers" was so easily captured by a foreign corporation, and whether the company's fall mirrors America's dwindling financial and political dominance.

* Discusses how the takeover of Anheuser-Busch will be seen as a defining moment in U.S. business history
* Reveals the critical missteps taken by the Busch family and the Anheuser-Busch board
* Argues that Anheuser-Busch had a chance to save itself from InBev's clutches, but strong forces behind the scenes forced it to capitulate

From the very heart of America's heartland to the European continent to Brazil, Dethroning the King is the ultimate corporate caper and a fascinating case study that's both wide-reaching and profound.
Visit Julie MacIntosh's website.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

"How to Live"

New from Other Press: How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer by Sarah Bakewell.

About the book, from the publisher:

How to get along with people, how to deal with violence, how to adjust to losing someone you love—such questions arise in most people’s lives. They are all versions of a bigger question: how do you live? How do you do the good or honorable thing, while flourishing and feeling happy?

This question obsessed Renaissance writers, none more than Michel Eyquem de Monatigne, perhaps the first truly modern individual. A nobleman, public official and wine-grower, he wrote free-roaming explorations of his thought and experience, unlike anything written before. He called them “essays,” meaning “attempts” or “tries.” Into them, he put whatever was in his head: his tastes in wine and food, his childhood memories, the way his dog’s ears twitched when it was dreaming, as well as the appalling events of the religious civil wars raging around him. The Essays was an instant bestseller and, over four hundred years later, Montaigne’s honesty and charm still draw people to him. Readers come in search of companionship, wisdom and entertainment—and in search of themselves.

This book, a spirited and singular biography, relates the story of his life by way of the questions he posed and the answers he explored. It traces his bizarre upbringing, youthful career and sexual adventures, his travels, and his friendships with the scholar and poet Étienne de La Boétie and with his adopted “daughter,” Marie de Gournay. And we also meet his readers—who for centuries have found in Montaigne an inexhaustible source of answers to the haunting question, “how to live?”
Visit Sarah Bakewell's website.

"The Templar Salvation"

New from Dutton: The Templar Salvation by Raymond Khoury.

About the book, from the publisher:

With its iconic title and unmistakable cover, Raymond Khoury's million-copy- selling The Last Templar remains one of the most memorable thriller publications of the last decade. Finally, after four long years, Khoury returns to the world of the Templars with The Templar Salvation, a sequel that's every bit as eye-popping and as gripping as its predecessor. Constantinople, 1203: As the rapacious armies of the Fourth Crusade lay siege to the city, a secretive band of Templars infiltrate the imperial library. Their target: a cache of documents that must not be allowed to fall into the hands of the Doge of Venice. They escape with three heavy chests, filled with explosive secrets that these men will not live long enough to learn. Vatican City, present day: FBI agent Sean Reilly infiltrates the Pope's massive Vatican Secret Archives of the Inquisition. No one but the Pope's trusted secondi get in-but Reilly has earned the Vatican's trust, a trust he has no choice but to violate. His love, Tess Chaykin, has been kidnapped; the key to her freedom lays in this underground tomb, in the form of a document known as the Fondo Templari, a secret history of the infamous Templars... With his trademark blend of incendiary history and edge-of-your-seat suspense, Raymond Khoury's The Templar Salvation marks a triumphant return to the rich territory that launched his bestselling career.

Friday, October 15, 2010


New from Simon & Schuster: Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788 by Pauline Maier.

About the book, from the publisher:

When the delegates left the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in September 1787, the new Constitution they had written was no more than a proposal. Elected conventions in at least nine of the thirteen states would have to ratify it before it could take effect. There was reason to doubt whether that would happen. The document we revere today as the foundation of our country's laws, the cornerstone of our legal system, was hotly disputed at the time. Some Americans denounced the Constitution for threatening the liberty that Americans had won at great cost in the Revolutionary War. One group of fiercely patriotic opponents even burned the document in a raucous public demonstration on the Fourth of July.

In this splendid new history, Pauline Maier tells the dramatic story of the yearlong battle over ratification that brought such famous founders as Washington, Hamilton, Madison, Jay, and Henry together with less well-known Americans who sometimes eloquently and always passionately expressed their hopes and fears for their new country. Men argued in taverns and coffeehouses; women joined the debate in their parlors; broadsides and newspaper stories advocated various points of view and excoriated others. In small towns and counties across the country people read the document carefully and knew it well. Americans seized the opportunity to play a role in shaping the new nation. Then the ratifying conventions chosen by "We the People" scrutinized and debated the Constitution clause by clause.

Although many books have been written about the Constitutional Convention, this is the first major history of ratification. It draws on a vast new collection of documents and tells the story with masterful attention to detail in a dynamic narrative. Each state's experience was different, and Maier gives each its due even as she focuses on the four critical states of Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Virginia, and New York, whose approval of the Constitution was crucial to its success.

The New Yorker Gilbert Livingston called his participation in the ratification convention the greatest transaction of his life. The hundreds of delegates to the ratifying conventions took their responsibility seriously, and their careful inspection of the Constitution can tell us much today about a document whose meaning continues to be subject to interpretation. Ratification is the story of the founding drama of our nation, superbly told in a history that transports readers back more than two centuries to reveal the convictions and aspirations on which our country was built.

"The Killing Storm"

New from Minotaur Books: The Killing Storm by Kathryn Casey.

About the book, from the publisher:

On a quiet afternoon in the park, four-year-old Joey plays in the sandbox, when a stranger approaches looking for his puppy. While Joey’s mom, Crystal, talks on her cell phone, the stranger convinces the child to help search. By the time Crystal turns around, her son has disappeared. Yet her reaction is odd, not what one would expect from a distraught mother. Is Crystal somehow involved in her son’s abduction?

Meanwhile, on a ranch outside Houston, Texas Ranger Sarah Armstrong assesses a symbol left on the hide of a slaughtered longhorn, a figure that dates back to a forgotten era of sugarcane plantations and slavery. Soon other prizewinning bulls are butchered on the outskirts of the city, each bearing a similar drawing. The investigations converge at the same time a catastrophic hurricane looms in the Gulf. Finally, as dangerous winds and torrential rains pummel the city, Sarah is forced to risk her life to save Joey.
Learn more about the book and author at Kathryn Casey's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Singularity.

The Page 99 Test: Blood Lines.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

"World of Warcraft: The Shattering"

New from Gallery: World of Warcraft: The Shattering by Christie Golden.

About the book, from the publisher:

His eyes were open now, watching the path of the tiny flame. If you continue your path, little spark, you will cause great harm.

I must burn! I must live!

There are places where your glow and heat are welcome. Find them, do not destroy the dwellings or take the lives of my people!

For a second, he seemed to wink out of existence but then blazed back with renewed vigor.

Thrall knew what he had to do. He lifted his hand. Forgive me, Brother Flame. But I must protect my people from the harm you would cause them. I have requested, I have begged, now I warn.

The spark seemed to spasm, and yet he continued on his lethal course.

Thrall, grim-faced, clenched his hand hard.

The spark flared defiantly, then dwindled, finally settling down to nothing more than the faintest of glowing embers. For now, he would no longer do anyone harm.

The threat had ended, but Thrall was reeling. This was not the way of the shaman with the elements. It was a relationship of mutual respect, not of threats and control and, in the end, destruction. Oh, the Spirit of Fire could never be extinguished. It was far greater than anything any shaman, or even group of shaman, could ever attempt to do to him. He was eternal, as all the spirits of the elements were. But this part of him, this elemental manifestation, had been defiant, uncooperative. And he had not been alone. He was part of a disturbing trend of elements that were sullen and rebellious rather than cooperative. And in the end, Thrall had had to completely dominate him. Other shaman were now calling rain to soak the city in case there was another aberrant spark that persisted in its course of devastation.

Thrall stood in the rain, letting it soak him, pour off his massive green shoulders, and drip down his arms. What in the name of the ancestors was happening?
Visit Christie Golden's website.

"Chasing the Night"

New from St. Martin's Press: Chasing the Night by Iris Johansen.

About the book, from the publisher:

A CIA agent’s two-year-old child was stolen in the night as a brutal act of vengeance. Now, eight years later, this torment is something Catherine Ling awakens to every day. Her friends, family, and colleagues tell her to let go, move on, accept that her son is never coming back. But she can’t. Catherine needs to find someone as driven and obsessed as she is to help her— and that person is Eve Duncan. She knows that Eve shares her nightmare, since closure is also something that eludes Eve after the disappearance of her daughter Bonnie. Now, Eve must take her talents as a forensic sculptor to another level, using age progression as a way to unite Catherine with her child. As Eve gets drawn deeper into Catherine’s horror, she must face looming demons of her own.

Bonnie’s killer is still out there. And a new killer is taunting Eve and Catherine at every turn. Is Catherine’s son alive, or not? These two women endure the worst fear any mother can imagine in Iris Johansen’s latest thrill ride, a gut-wrenching journey into the darkest places of the soul.
Visit Iris Johansen's website.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"The Heroine's Bookshelf"

New from Harper: The Heroine's Bookshelf: Life Lessons, from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder by Erin Blakemore.

About the book, from the publisher:

An exploration of classic heroines and their equally admirable authors, The Heroine's Bookshelf shows today's women how to tap into their inner strengths and live life with intelligence and grace.

Jo March, Scarlett O'Hara, Scout Finch—the literary canon is brimming with intelligent, feisty, never-say-die heroines and celebrated female authors. Like today's women, they placed a premium on personality, spirituality, career, sisterhood, and family. When they were up against the wall, authors like Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott fought back—sometimes with words, sometimes with gritty actions. In this witty, informative, and inspiring read, their stories offer much-needed literary intervention to modern women.

Full of beloved heroines and the remarkable writers who created them, The Heroine's Bookshelf explores how the pluck and dignity of literary characters such as Jane Eyre and Lizzy Bennet can encourage women today.

Each legendary character is paired with her central quality—Anne Shirley is associated with irrepressible "Happiness," while Scarlett O'Hara personifies "Fight"—along with insights into her author's extraordinary life. From Zora Neale Hurston to Colette, Laura Ingalls Wilder to Charlotte Brontë, Harper Lee to Alice Walker, here are authors and characters whose spirited stories are more inspiring today than ever.
Visit Erin Blakemore's website.

"My Thoughts Be Bloody"

New from Free Press: My Thoughts Be Bloody: The Bitter Rivalry Between Edwin and John Wilkes Booth That Led to an American Tragedy by Nora Titone.

About the book, from the publisher:

The scene of John Wilkes Booth shooting Abraham Lincoln in Ford's Theatre is among the most vivid and indelible images in American history. The literal story of what happened on April 14, 1865, is familiar: Lincoln was killed by John Wilkes Booth, a lunatic enraged by the Union victory and the prospect of black citizenship. Yet who Booth really was—besides a killer—is less well known. The magnitude of his crime has obscured for generations a startling personal story that was integral to his motivation.

My Thoughts Be Bloody, a sweeping family saga, revives an extraordinary figure whose name has been missing, until now, from the story of President Lincoln's death. Edwin Booth, John Wilkes's older brother by four years, was in his day the biggest star of the American stage. He won his celebrity at the precocious age of nineteen, before the Civil War began, when John Wilkes was a schoolboy. Without an account of Edwin Booth, author Nora Titone argues, the real story of Lincoln's assassin has never been told. Using an array of private letters, diaries, and reminiscences of the Booth family, Titone has uncovered a hidden history that reveals the reasons why John Wilkes Booth became this country's most notorious assassin.

These ambitious brothers, born to theatrical parents, enacted a tale of mutual jealousy and resentment worthy of a Shakespearean tragedy. From childhood, the stage-struck brothers were rivals for the approval of their father, legendary British actor Junius Brutus Booth. After his death, Edwin and John Wilkes were locked in a fierce contest to claim his legacy of fame. This strange family history and powerful sibling rivalry were the crucibles of John Wilkes's character, exacerbating his political passions and driving him into a life of conspiracy.

To re-create the lost world of Edwin and John Wilkes Booth, this book takes readers on a panoramic tour of nineteenth-century America, from the streets of 1840s Baltimore to the gold fields of California, from the jungles of the Isthmus of Panama to the glittering mansions of Gilded Age New York. Edwin, ruthlessly competitive and gifted, did everything he could to lock his younger brother out of the theatrical game. As he came of age, John Wilkes found his plans for stardom thwarted by his older sibling's meteoric rise. Their divergent paths—Edwin's an upward race to riches and social prominence, and John's a downward spiral into failure and obscurity—kept pace with the hardening of their opposite political views and their mutual dislike.

The details of the conspiracy to kill Lincoln have been well documented elsewhere. My Thoughts Be Bloody tells a new story, one that explains for the first time why Lincoln's assassin decided to conspire against the president in the first place, and sets that decision in the context of a bitterly divided family—and nation. By the end of this riveting journey, readers will see Abraham Lincoln's death less as the result of the war between the North and South and more as the climax of a dark struggle between two brothers who never wore the uniform of soldiers, except on stage.
Visit Nora Titone's website.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

"Weight of Stone"

New from Pocket: Weight of Stone by Laura Anne Gilman.

About the book, from the publisher:

An island nation has vanished. Men of honor and magic have died unnatural deaths. Slaves flee in terror.... Are the silent gods beginning to speak? Or is another force at work in the Lands Vin?

Laura Anne Gilman's critically acclaimed, Nebula Award–nominated Flesh and Fire introduced a brilliantly imagined world where the grapevine—cultivated by the Vinearts who know the secrets of wine magic—holds together disparate lands. Now, confusion, violence, and terror are sweeping over the Lands Vin. And four people are at the center of a storm.

Jerzy, Vineart apprentice and former slave, was sent by his master to investigate strange happenings—and found himself the target of betrayal. Now he must set out on his own journey, to find the source of the foul taint that threatens to destroy everything he holds dear. By Jerzy's side are Ao, who lives for commerce and the art of the deal; Mahault, stoic and wise, risking death in flight from her homeland; and KaÏnam, once Named-Heir of an island principality, whose father has fallen into a magic-tangled madness that endangers them all.

These four companions will travel far from the earth and the soul of the vine, sailing along coastlines aflame with fear, confronting sea creatures summoned by darkness, and following winds imbued with malice. Their journey will take them to the very limits of the Sin Washer's reach ... and into a battle for the soul of the Lands Vin. For two millennia the Sin Washer's Commandment has kept these lands in order: Those of magic shall hold no power over men and those princes of power shall hold no magic. Now, that law has given way. And a hidden force seeks the havoc of revenge.

An adventure through an unforgettable realm conjured by breathtaking imagination, Laura Anne Gilman's saga of the Vineart War is a "dramatic, authentic, and potent" (Publishers Weekly) literary delight.
Learn more about the book and author at Laura Anne Gilman's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Flesh and Fire.

"The Dressmaker"

New from Atria: The Dressmaker by Posie Graeme-Evans.

About the book, from the publisher:

Ellen Gowan is the only surviving child of a scholarly village minister and a charming girl disowned by her family when she married for love. Growing up in rural Norfolk, Ellen's childhood was poor but blessed with affection. Resilience, spirit, and one great talent will carry her far from such humble beginnings. In time, she will become the witty, celebrated, and very beautiful Madame Ellen, dressmaker to the nobility of England, the Great Six Hundred.

Yet Ellen has secrets. At fifteen she falls for Raoul de Valentin, the dangerous descendant of French aristocrats. Raoul marries Ellen for her brilliance as a designer but abandons his wife when she becomes pregnant. Determined that she and her daughter will survive, Ellen begins her long climb to success. Toiling first in a clothing sweat shop, she later opens her own salon in fashionable Berkeley Square though she tells the world – and her daughter - she's a widow. One single dress, a ballgown created for the enigmatic Countess of Hawksmoor, the leader of London society, transforms Ellen's fortunes, and as the years pass, business thrives. But then Raoul de Valentin returns and threatens to destroy all that Ellen has achieved.

In The Dressmaker, the romance of Jane Austen, the social commentary of Charles Dickens and the very contemporary voice of Posie Graeme-Evans combine to plunge the reader deep into the opulent, sinister world of teeming Victorian England. And if the beautiful Madame Ellen is not quite what she seems, the strength of her will sees her through to the truth, and love, at last.
Visit Posie Graeme-Evans' website.

Monday, October 11, 2010

"Killer Colt"

New from Ballantine Books: Killer Colt: Murder, Disgrace, and the Making of an American Legend by Harold Schechter.

About the book, from the publisher:

With such acclaimed works as The Devil’s Gentleman, Harold Schechter has earned renown as the dean of true-crime historians. Now, in this gripping account of driving ambition, doomed love, and brutal murder in an iconic American family, Schechter again casts his gaze into the sinister shadows of gaslit nineteenth-century New York City.

In September 1841, a grisly discovery is made aboard a merchant ship docked in lower Manhattan: Deep in the cargo hold, bound with rope and covered with savage head wounds, lies a man’s naked corpse. While a murderer has taken pains to conceal his victim’s identity, it takes little time to determine that the dead man is Samuel Adams, proprietor of a local printing firm. And in less time still, witnesses and a bloody trail of clues lead investigators to the doorstep of the enigmatic John Colt.

The scion of a prosperous Connecticut family, Colt has defied his parents’ efforts to mold him into a gentleman—preferring to flout authority and pursue excitement. Ironically, it is the ordered science of accountancy that for a time lends him respectability. But now John Colt’s ghastly crime and the subsequent sensational murder trial bring infamy to his surname—even after it becomes synonymous with his visionary younger brother’s groundbreaking invention.

The embodiment of American success, Sam Colt has risen from poor huckster to industrious inventor. His greatest achievement, the revolver, will bring him untold millions even as it transforms the American West. In John’s hour of need, Sam rushes to his brother’s side—perhaps because of the secret they share.

In Gilded Age New York, a city awash with treacherous schemers, lurid dime-museum curiosities, and the tawdry excesses of penny-press journalism, the Colt-Adams affair inspires tabloid headlines of startling and gruesome hyperbole, which in turn drive legions of thrill-seekers to John Colt’s trial. The dramatic legal proceedings will fire the imagination of pioneering crime writer Edgar Allan Poe and fuel the righteous outrage of journalist Walt Whitman.

Killer Colt interweaves the intriguing stories of brooding, brilliant John and imaginative, enterprising Sam—sharp-witted and fascinating brothers on vastly divergent journeys, bound by an abiding mutual devotion and a mystery they will conceal to the end. Harold Schechter has mined the darkly macabre vein of a bygone era and brought forth a mother lode of storytelling gold.
Learn more about the book and author at Harold Schechter's website.

Among the early praise for Killer Colt:
I love true crime books, and Schechter is a master of the genre—his books read like novels but every detail is meticulously researched and true. As a New Yorker, I’m always fascinated with Gilded Age New York—for it’s a city that is still recognizable in so many places—and apart from providing me with a history lesson about my city, this book also satisfies my enduring curiosity about the evil that seems to be a part of the human condition.
--Hooman Majd, author of The Ayatollahs' Democracy: An Iranian Challenge
The Page 99 Test: The Devil's Gentleman.

"Death Notice"

New from Minotaur Books: Death Notice by Todd Ritter.

About the book, from the publisher:

Perry Hollow, Pennsylvania, has never had a murder. At least not as long as Kat Campbell has been police chief. And the first is brutal. George Winnick, a farmer in his sixties, is found in a homemade coffin on the side of the highway with his lips sewn shut and his veins and arteries drained of blood and filled with embalming fluid. Chilling as that is, it becomes even more so when Kat finds that the Perry Hollow Gazette obituary writer, Henry Goll, received a death notice for Winnick before he was killed.

Soon after, the task force from the Pennsylvania Bureau of Investigation shows up and everything takes an irreversible turn for the worse. Nick Donnelly, head of the task force, has been chasing the “Betsy Ross Killer,” so named because he’s handy with a needle and thread, for more than a year. Winnick seems to be his fourth victim. Or is he?

Kat has never handled a murder case before, but she’s not about to sit by while someone terrorizes her sleepy little town or her own son. But will her efforts be enough to stop a killer and bring calm to Perry Hollow.

A portrait of a small town in turmoil, where residents fear for their lives, Todd Ritter’s Death Notice is a gripping debut from a terrific new talent in crime fiction.
Visit Todd Ritter's website.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

"How Wars End"

New from Simon & Schuster: How Wars End: Why We Always Fight the Last Battle by Gideon Rose.

About the book, from the publisher:

IN 1991 THE UNITED STATES trounced the Iraqi army in battle only to stumble blindly into postwar turmoil. Then in 2003 the United States did it again. How could this happen? How could the strongest power in modern history fight two wars against the same opponent in just over a decade, win lightning victories both times, and yet still be woefully unprepared for the aftermath?

Because Americans always forget the political aspects of war. Time and again, argues Gideon Rose in this penetrating look at American wars over the last century, our leaders have focused more on beating up the enemy than on creating a stable postwar environment. What happened in Iraq was only the most prominent example of this phenomenon, not an exception to the rule.

Woodrow Wilson fought a war to make the world safe for democracy but never asked himself what democracy actually meant and then dithered as Germany slipped into chaos. Franklin Roosevelt resolved not to repeat Wilson's mistakes but never considered what would happen to his own elaborate postwar arrangements should America's wartime marriage of convenience with Stalin break up after the shooting stopped. The Truman administration casually established voluntary prisoner repatriation as a key American war aim in Korea without exploring whether it would block an armistice—which it did for almost a year and a half. The Kennedy and Johnson administrations dug themselves deeper and deeper into Vietnam without any plans for how to get out, making it impossible for Nixon and Ford to escape unscathed. And the list goes on.

Drawing on vast research, including extensive interviews with participants in recent wars, Rose re-creates the choices that presidents and their advisers have confronted during the final stages of each major conflict from World War I through Iraq. He puts readers in the room with U.S. officials as they make decisions that affect millions of lives and shape the modern world—seeing what they saw, hearing what they heard, feeling what they felt.

American leaders, Rose argues, have repeatedly ignored the need for careful postwar planning. But they can and must do a better job next time around—making the creation of a stable and sustainable local political outcome the goal of all wartime plans, rather than an afterthought to be dealt with once the "real" military work is over.

"The Last Boy"

New from Harper: The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America's Childhood by Jane Leavy.

About the book, from the publisher:

Jane Leavy, the acclaimed author of the New York Times bestseller Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy, returns with a biography of an American original—number 7, Mickey Mantle. Drawing on more than five hundred interviews with friends and family, teammates, and opponents, she delivers the definitive account of Mantle's life, mining the mythology of The Mick for the true story of a luminous and illustrious talent with an achingly damaged soul.

Meticulously reported and elegantly written, The Last Boy is a baseball tapestry that weaves together episodes from the author's weekend with The Mick in Atlantic City, where she interviewed her hero in 1983, after he was banned from baseball, with reminiscences from friends and family of the boy from Commerce, Oklahoma, who would lead the Yankees to seven world championships, be voted the American League's Most Valuable Player three times, win the Triple Crown in 1956, and duel teammate Roger Maris for Babe Ruth's home run crown in the summer of 1961—the same boy who would never grow up.

As she did so memorably in her biography of Sandy Koufax, Jane Leavy transcends the hyperbole of hero worship to reveal the man behind the coast-to-coast smile, who grappled with a wrenching childhood, crippling injuries, and a genetic predisposition to alcoholism. In The Last Boy she chronicles her search to find out more about the person he was and, given what she discovers, to explain his mystifying hold on a generation of baseball fans, who were seduced by that lopsided, gap-toothed grin. It is an uncommon biography, with literary overtones: not only a portrait of an icon, but an investigation of memory itself. How long was the Tape Measure Home Run? Did Mantle swing the same way right-handed and left-handed? What really happened to his knee in the 1951 World Series? What happened to the red-haired, freckle-faced boy known back home as Mickey Charles?

"I believe in memory, not memorabilia," Leavy writes in her preface. But in The Last Boy, she discovers that what we remember of our heroes—and even what they remember of themselves—is only where the story begins.