Wednesday, November 30, 2011

"The Bookman's Promise"

New from Pocket Books: The Bookman's Promise: A Cliff Janeway Novel by John Dunning

About the book, from the publisher:

Cliff Janeway is back! The Bookman's Promise marks the eagerly awaited return of Denver bookman-author John Dunning and the award-winning crime novel series that helped to turn the nation on to first-edition book collecting.

First, it was Booked to Die, then The Bookman's Wake. Now John Dunning fans, old and new, will rejoice in The Bookman's Promise, a richly nuanced new Janeway novel that juxtaposes past and present as Denver ex-cop and bookman Cliff Janeway searches for a book and a killer.

The quest begins when an old woman, Josephine Gallant, learns that Janeway has recently bought at auction a signed first edition by the legendary nineteenth-century explorer Richard Francis Burton. The book is a true classic, telling of Burton's journey (disguised as a Muslim) to the forbidden holy cities of Mecca and Medina. The Boston auction house was a distinguished and trustworthy firm, but provenance is sometimes murky and Josephine says the book is rightfully hers.

She believes that her grandfather, who was living in Baltimore more than eighty years ago, had a fabulous collection of Burton material, including a handwritten journal allegedly detailing Burton's undercover trip deep into the troubled American South in 1860. Josephine remembers the books from her childhood, but everything mysteriously disappeared shortly after her grandfather's death.

With little time left in her own life, Josephine begs for Janeway's promise: he must find her grandfather's collection. It's a virtually impossible task, Janeway suspects, as the books will no doubt have been sold and separated over the years, but how can he say no to a dying woman?

It seems that her grandfather, Charlie Warren, traveled south with Burton in the spring of 1860, just before the Civil War began. Was Burton a spy for Britain? What happened during the three months in Burton's travels for which there are no records? How did Charlie acquire his unique collection of Burton books? What will the journal, if it exists, reveal?

When a friend is murdered, possibly because of a Burton book, Janeway knows he must find the answers. Someone today is willing to kill to keep the secrets of the past, and Janeway's search will lead him east: To Baltimore, to a Pulitzer Prize-winning author with a very stuffed shirt, and to a pair of unorthodox booksellers. It reaches a fiery conclusion at Fort Sumter off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina.

What's more, a young lawyer, Erin d'Angelo, and ex-librarian Koko Bujak, have their own reasons for wanting to find the journal. But can Janeway trust them?

Rich with the insider's information on rare and collectible books that has made John Dunning famous, and with meticulously researched detail about a mesmerizing figure who may have played an unrecognized role in our Civil War, The Bookman's Promise is riveting entertainment from an extraordinarily gifted author who is as unique and special as the books he so clearly loves.
Visit John Dunning's website.

Writers Read: John Dunning.

"Out on Assignment"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: Out on Assignment: Newspaper Women and the Making of Modern Public Space by Alice Fahs.

About the book, from the publisher:

Out on Assignment illuminates the lives and writings of a lost world of women who wrote for major metropolitan newspapers at the start of the twentieth century. Using extraordinary archival research, Alice Fahs unearths a richly networked community of female journalists drawn by the hundreds to major cities--especially New York--from all parts of the United States.

Newspaper women were part of a wave of women seeking new, independent, urban lives, but they struggled to obtain the newspaper work of their dreams. Although some female journalists embraced more adventurous reporting, including stunt work and undercover assignments, many were relegated to the women's page. However, these intrepid female journalists made the women's page their own. Fahs reveals how their writings--including celebrity interviews, witty sketches of urban life, celebrations of being "bachelor girls," advice columns, and a campaign in support of suffrage--had far-reaching implications for the creation of new, modern public spaces for American women at the turn of the century. As observers and actors in a new drama of independent urban life, newspaper women used the simultaneously liberating and exploitative nature of their work, Fahs argues, to demonstrate the power of a public voice, both individually and collectively.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

"In the Field, Among the Feathered"

New from Oxford University Press: In the Field, Among the Feathered: A History of Birders and Their Guides by Thomas R. Dunlap.

About the book, from the publisher:

America is a nation of ardent, knowledgeable birdwatchers. But how did it become so? And what role did the field guide play in our passion for spotting, watching, and describing birds?

In the Field, Among the Feathered tells the history of field guides to birds in America from the Victorian era to the present, relating changes in the guides to shifts in science, the craft of field identification, and new technologies for the mass reproduction of images. Drawing on his experience as a passionate birder and on a wealth of archival research, Thomas Dunlap shows how the twin pursuits of recreation and conservation have inspired birders and how field guides have served as the preferred method of informal education about nature for well over a century.

The book begins with the first generation of late 19th-century birdwatchers who built the hobby when opera glasses were often the best available optics and bird identification was sketchy at best. As America became increasingly urban, birding became more attractive, and with Roger Tory Peterson's first field guide in 1934, birding grew in both popularity and accuracy. By the 1960s recreational birders were attaining new levels of expertise, even as the environmental movement made birding's other pole, conservation, a matter of human health and planetary survival. Dunlap concludes by showing how recreation and conservation have reached a new balance in the last 40 years, as scientists have increasingly turned to amateurs, whose expertise had been honed by the new guides, to gather the data they need to support habitat preservation.

Putting nature lovers and citizen-activists at the heart of his work, Thomas Dunlap offers an entertaining history of America's long-standing love affair with birds, and with the books that have guided and informed their enthusiasm.

"A Perilous Conception"

New from Poisoned Pen Press: A Perilous Conception by Larry Karp.

About the book, from the publisher:

It’s 1976. Despite fierce international controversy over whether in vitro fertilization should ever be performed in humans, doctors around the world race to be first to produce a baby by this procedure. Dr. Colin Sanford, a brilliant, ambitious obstetrician in the Pacific Northwest city of Emerald, has a plan. He recruits Dr. Giselle Hearn, an experienced laboratory geneticist-embryologist at the University. Drs. Sanford and Hearn, working secretly, set out to put their names in history books.

Several months later, Dr. Sanford’s patient, Joyce Kennett, gives birth to a healthy boy, and Sanford prepares to make an announcement at a press conference. But before it convenes, Ms. Kennett’s schizophrenic husband kills Dr. Hearn and then himself. Police Detective Bernie Baumgartner’s investigation is hampered by pressure from influential people at the University who want to control sensationalism that might harm the institution. Tenacious Baumgartner suspects more at play…
Visit Larry Karp's website.

Monday, November 28, 2011

"Storm Damage"

New from Minotaur Books: Storm Damage by Ed Kovacs.

About the book, from the publisher:

In the aftermath of a Category 5 hurricane in New Orleans, Private Eye Cliff St. James, a bare-knuckled ex-cop and mixed-martial artist, is stuck with the case of finding a missing person whose disappearance may have ties to Washington.

When a Category 5 hurricane devastates New Orleans, the fresh murder of a politically-connected bar owner gets swept under—literally—until in the gritty aftermath of the city’s recovery a bare-knuckled ex-cop and mixed-martial artist attacks the case like a hungry dog chasing a meat truck. With no forensic evidence, a destroyed crime scene, and no corpse, Cliff St. James uncovers possible CIA involvement and learns that his duplicitous client, as well as each of his other suspects, are guilty of—at the very least—multiple felonies. It’s New Orleans, after all. With a contract on his head as Fat Tuesday dawns, Cliff calls in every chit and breaks every rule to solve the murder and end a new wave of murders.
Visit Ed Kovacs's website.

"Beethoven in America"

New from Indiana University Press: Beethoven in America by Michael Broyles.

About the book, from the publisher:

Beethoven permeates American culture. His image appears on countless busts and coffee mugs; his music is heard in movie scores, TV soundtracks, commercials, and pop songs; he is Schroeder’s god in Peanuts and Chuck Berry’s freaked-out parent in “Roll over Beethoven.” In this book, Michael Broyles seeks to understand the composer as he exists in the American imagination and explores how Beethoven became a cultural icon. Broyles examines Beethoven’s appearance in a variety of contexts: American commercialism, the Afrocentrist and black power movements, and the modernist critique of Romanticism. He considers portrayals of Beethoven in American film and theater and the uses of his music in film scores, as well as references to Beethoven and his music in disco, country, rock, and rap. In the end, he shows that to examine Beethoven on American soil is to examine America itself.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

"The Villa of Death"

New from Minotaur Books: The Villa of Death: A Mystery Featuring Daphne du Maurier by Joanna Challis.

About the book, from the publisher:

Young Daphne du Maurier must defend a friend who has been accused of murder in the next installment in the beguiling mystery series that readers of Rebecca will love.

It’s the summer of 1927 and aspiring novelist Daphne du Maurier is headed to Cornwall for the wedding of her dear friend Ellen Hamilton to American millionaire Teddy Grimshaw. Having met during the chaos of the Great War, the lovers were cruelly separated for nearly a decade by circumstance and family interference. Now the wedding ceremony—held at Thornleigh Manor, a grand estate that has been in the Hamilton family for five centuries—marks a renewed hope for the future.

But joy quickly turns to devastation when Teddy is found murdered right after the wedding. Wealth, jealousy, and buried secrets provide no shortage of suspects—or danger to everyone at Thornleigh, including Daphne herself. When Ellen is suspected of being the murderess, the independent-minded Daphne, along with the dashing Major Browning, is inspired to uncover the truth, and to write her next novel.
Visit Joanna Challis's website.

"How to Build a Time Machine"

New from St. Martin's Press: How to Build a Time Machine: The Real Science of Time Travel by Brian Clegg.

About the book, from the publisher:

A pop science look at time travel technology, from Einstein to Ronald Mallett to present day experiments. Forget fiction: time travel is real.

In How to Build a Time Machine, Brian Clegg provides an understanding of what time is and how it can be manipulated. He explores the remarkable possibilities of real time travel that emerge from quantum entanglement, superluminal speeds, neutron star cylinders and wormholes in space. With the fascinating paradoxes of time travel echoing in our minds will we realize that travel into the future might never be possible? Or will we realize there is no limit on what can be achieved, and take on this ultimate challenge? Only time will tell.
Writers Read: Brian Clegg.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

"Gossip: The Untrivial Pursuit"

New from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: Gossip: The Untrivial Pursuit by Joseph Epstein.

About the book, from the publisher:

To his successful examinations of some of the most powerful forces in modern life — envy, ambition, snobbery, friendship — the keen observer and critic Joseph Epstein now adds Gossip. No trivial matter, despite its reputation, gossip, he argues, is an eternal and necessary human enterprise. Proving that he himself is a master of the art, Epstein serves up delightful mini-biographies of the Great Gossips of the Western World along with many choice bits from his own experience. He also makes a powerful case that gossip has morphed from its old-fashioned best — clever, mocking, a great private pleasure — to a corrosive new-school version, thanks to the reach of the mass media and the Internet. Gossip has invaded and changed for the worse politics and journalism, causing unsubstantiated information to be presented as fact. Contemporary gossip claims to reveal truth, but as Epstein shows, it’s our belief in truth that gossip today threatens to undermine and destroy.

Written in his trademark erudite and witty style, Gossip captures the complexity of this immensely entertaining subject.

"The Jewish Dark Continent"

New from Harvard University Press: The Jewish Dark Continent: Life and Death in the Russian Pale of Settlement by Nathaniel Deutsch.

About the book, from the publisher:

At the turn of the twentieth century, over forty percent of the world’s Jews lived within the Russian Empire, almost all in the Pale of Settlement. From the Baltic to the Black Sea, the Jews of the Pale created a distinctive way of life little known beyond its borders. This led the historian Simon Dubnow to label the territory a Jewish “Dark Continent.”

Just before World War I, a socialist revolutionary and aspiring ethnographer named An-sky pledged to explore the Pale. He dreamed of leading an ethnographic expedition that would produce an archive—what he called an Oral Torah of the common people rather than the rabbinic elite—which would preserve Jewish traditions and transform them into the seeds of a modern Jewish culture. Between 1912 and 1914, An-sky and his team collected jokes, recorded songs, took thousands of photographs, and created a massive ethnographic questionnaire. Consisting of 2,087 questions in Yiddish—exploring the gamut of Jewish folk beliefs and traditions, from everyday activities to spiritual exercises to marital intimacies—the Jewish Ethnographic Program constitutes an invaluable portrait of Eastern European Jewish life on the brink of destruction.

Friday, November 25, 2011

"Highway under the Hudson"

New from New York University Press: Highway under the Hudson: A History of the Holland Tunnel by Robert W. Jackson.

About the book, from the publisher:

Every year, more than thirty-three million vehicles traverse the Holland Tunnel, making their way to and from Jersey City and Lower Manhattan. From tourists to commuters, many cross the tunnel’s 1.6-mile corridor on a daily basis, and yet few know much about this amazing feat of early 20th-century engineering. How was it built, by whom, and at what cost? These and many other questions are answered in Highway Under the Hudson: A History of the Holland Tunnel, Robert W. Jackson’s fascinating story about this seminal structure in the history of urban transportation.

Jackson explains the economic forces which led to the need for the tunnel, and details the extraordinary political and social politicking that took place on both sides of the Hudson River to finally enable its construction. He also introduces us to important figures in the tunnel´s history, such as New Jersey Governor Walter E. Edge, who, more than anyone else, made the dream of a tunnel a reality and George Washington Goethals (builder of the Panama Canal and namesake of the Goethals Bridge), the first chief engineer of the project.

Fully illustrated with more than 50 beautiful archival photographs and drawings, Jackson’s story of the Holland Tunnel is one of great human drama, with heroes and villains, that illustrates how great things are accomplished, and at what price.

"The Alpine Winter"

New from Ballantine Books: The Alpine Winter by Mary Daheim.

About the book, from the publisher:

The picturesque town of Alpine in Washington’s Cascade Mountains is decked out in holiday finery, but family troubles are brewing at the Alpine Advocate: Editor and publisher Emma Lord is fretting over how her brother and her son—both priests—will react when she confesses her passionate affair with Sheriff Milo Dodge; House & Home editor Vida Runkel realizes that her spoiled grandson has gone off the rails; and Emma’s star reporter goes AWOL after learning that his son has escaped from prison. And yet another Alpine family is singing the Christmas blues when Postmaster Roy Everson shows up with bones that may or not belong to his mother, who’s been missing for the last sixteen years.

But the most disturbing holiday dilemma is the body found in the cave on Mount Sawyer. The decomposed corpse is that of a mature male, so it can’t be Mama Everson. Is there a connection between this long-ago disappearance and the gruesome bones discovered earlier downstream on the Skykomish River?

When Milo returns from his own family ordeal in the Seattle suburbs, he and Emma find time away from the unnerving investigation to reunite. Their all-too-obvious ardor evokes not only Vida’s wrath but the attention of a dogged killer who thinks the lovers’ bliss is to die for ... literally. Scandal, intrigue, desire, and untimely death are all pieces to this tantalizing puzzle. If anyone can put it together, it’s Emma ... hopefully before a dangerous enemy tries to stop her—permanently. Mary Daheim’s Christmas installment in the Emma Lord mystery series is a deliciously chilling holiday treat.
Learn more about the book and author at Mary Daheim's website.

The Page 69 Test: Vi Agra Falls.

The Page 99 Test: The Alpine Uproar.

Writers Read: Mary Daheim.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


New from Putnam Juvenile: Legend by Marie Lu.

About the book, from the publisher:

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths - until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias's death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills.
Visit Marie Lu's website.

"The Scottish Prisoner"

New from Delacorte Press: The Scottish Prisoner: A Lord John Novel by Diana Gabaldon.

About the book, from the publisher:

London, 1760. For Jamie Fraser, paroled prisoner-of-war in the remote Lake District, life could be worse: He’s not cutting sugar cane in the West Indies, and he’s close enough to the son he cannot claim as his own. But Jamie Fraser’s quiet existence is coming apart at the seams, interrupted first by dreams of his lost wife, then by the appearance of Tobias Quinn, an erstwhile comrade from the Rising.

Like many of the Jacobites who aren’t dead or in prison, Quinn still lives and breathes for the Cause. His latest plan involves an ancient relic that will rally the Irish. Jamie is having none of it—he’s sworn off politics, fighting, and war. Until Lord John Grey shows up with a summons that will take him away from everything he loves—again.

Lord John Grey—aristocrat, soldier, and occasional spy—finds himself in possession of a packet of explosive documents that exposes a damning case of corruption against a British officer. But they also hint at a more insidious danger. Time is of the essence as the investigation leads to Ireland, with a baffling message left in “Erse,” the tongue favored by Scottish Highlanders. Lord John, who oversaw Jacobite prisoners when he was governor of Ardsmiur prison, thinks Jamie may be able to translate—but will he agree to do it?

Soon Lord John and Jamie are unwilling companions on the road to Ireland, a country whose dark castles hold dreadful secrets, and whose bogs hide the bones of the dead. A captivating return to the world Diana Gabaldon created in her Outlander and Lord John series, The Scottish Prisoner is another masterpiece of epic history, wicked deceit, and scores that can only be settled in blood.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"The Sharp Time"

New from Delacorte Books for Young Readers: The Sharp Time by Mary O'Connell.

About the book, from the publisher:

Sandinista Jones is a high school senior with a punk rock name and a broken heart. The death of her single mother has left Sandinista alone in the world, subject to the random vulnerability of everyday life. When the school system lets her down, her grief and instability intensify, and she ponders a violent act of revenge.

Still, in the midst of her crisis, she gets a job at The Pale Circus, a funky vintage clothing shop, and finds friendship and camaraderie with her coworker, a boy struggling with his own secrets.

Even as Sandinista sees the failures of those with power and authority, she's offered the chance to survive through the redemptive power of friendship. Now she must choose between faith and forgiveness or violence and vengeance.
Visit Mary O'Connell's website.

"Hurt Machine"

New from Tyrus Books: Hurt Machine by Reed Farrel Coleman.

About the book, from the publisher:

The seventh Moe Prager mystery.

At a pre-wedding party for his daughter Sarah, Moe Prager is approached by his ex-wife and former PI partner Carmella Melendez. It seems Carmella’s estranged sister Alta has been murdered, but no one in New York City seems to care. Why? Alta, a FDNY EMT, and her partner had months earlier refused to give assistance to a dying man at a fancy downtown eatery. Moe decides to help Carmella as a means to distract himself from his own life and death struggle. Making headway on the case is no mean feat as no one, including Alta’s partner Maya Watson, wants to cooperate. Moe chips away until he discovers a cancer roiling just below the surface, a cancer whose symptoms include bureaucratic greed, sexual harassment, and blackmail. But is any of it connected to Alta’s brutal murder?
Learn more about the book and author at Reed Farrel Coleman's website.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"Physical Education"

New from Minotaur Books: Physical Education: A Murder 101 Mystery (Volume 6) by Maggie Barbieri.

About the book, from the publisher:

College English professor and sometime amateur sleuth Alison Bergeron would’ve been thrilled to hear that her husband, NYPD Detective Bobby Crawford, was leaving Homicide if that were the whole story, but it turns out that Bobby’s next assignment is even worse---undercover. As if worrying about his involvement in a case he won’t talk about at all wasn’t bad enough, Alison is forced to take over the women’s basketball team at St. Thomas after the coach dies of a heart attack during a game. She may not know much about basketball, but she’s no stranger to sleuthing, and it isn’t long before she suspects that the coach’s death may be more than unexpected but premeditated as well.

With Bobby deep undercover and Alison always on her way to deep trouble, it’s only a matter of time before they run smack into each other in Physical Education, the latest in Maggie Barbieri’s charming Murder 101 mystery series.
Visit Maggie Barbieri's website.

"The Silence"

New from Severn House: The Silence by J. Sydney Jones.

About the book, from the publisher:

Vienna, 1900. Lawyer Karl Werthen is puzzling over the suicide of a local councilman when he is assigned by Karl Wittgenstein, a powerful industrialist with many enemies, to find his recently missing son, Hans. Werthen quickly discovers that the young man appears to be alive and well in another country. But when a friend of Hans – a journalist who wrote a number of articles claiming the councilman who committed suicide was corrupt – is found dead, also from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Werthen fears that sinister forces are at work...
Learn more about the book and author at J. Sydney Jones' website and blog.

Read "The Story Behind the Story: The Silence,” at The Rap Sheet.

The Page 69 Test: The Empty Mirror.

The Page 69 Test: Requiem in Vienna.

Monday, November 21, 2011

"Murder Season"

New from St. Martin's/Minotaur Books: Murder Season by Robert Ellis.

About the book, from the publisher:

Detective Lena Gamble knows how to handle the hottest cases--do it fast and keep her head down. Because if it all goes south, the department won’t hesitate to make a scapegoat out of her. So when she gets called to the scene of a double murder at Club 3 AM, the latest A-list hangout for Hollywood celebs, she knows the fun is only beginning.

And she's not wrong. It's just much worse than she imagined. As expected, one of the victims is club owner Johnny Bosco, one of the most well-connected men in Hollywood politics. But the shocker comes when Lena sees the other victim: twenty-five-year-old Jacob Gant, acquitted just days ago of murdering his sixteen-year-old neighbor, after L.A.'s latest trial-of-the-century.

But are these victims of a father's righteous anger or is something bigger at play?

Robert Ellis delivers all the twists and turns fans have come to expect in this bestselling series with plenty to spare in Murder Season, his most outstanding white-knuckled thriller yet.
The Page 69 Test: City of Fire.

The Page 69 Test: The Lost Witness.

"Maras: Gang Violence and Security in Central America"

New from the University of Texas Press: Maras: Gang Violence and Security in Central America by Thomas Bruneau, Lucía Dammert, and Elizabeth Skinner.

About the book, from the publisher:

Sensational headlines have publicized the drug trafficking, brutal violence, and other organized crime elements associated with Central America's mara gangs, but there have been few clear-eyed analyses of the history, hierarchies, and future of the mara phenomenon. The first book to look specifically at the Central American gang problem by drawing on the perspectives of researchers from different disciplinary backgrounds, Maras: Gang Violence and Security in Central America provides much-needed insight.

These essays trace the development of the gangs, from Mara Salvatrucha to the 18th Street Gang, in Los Angeles and their spread to El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua as the result of members' deportation to Central America; there, they account for high homicide rates and threaten the democratic stability of the region. With expertise in areas ranging from political science to law enforcement and human rights, the contributors also explore the spread of mara violence in the United States. Their findings comprise a complete documentation that spans sexualized violence, case studies of individual gangs, economic factors, varied responses to gang violence, the use of intelligence gathering, the limits of state power, and the role of policy makers.

Raising crucial questions for a wide readership, these essays are sure to spark productive international dialogues.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

"The Drop"

New from Little, Brown & Company: The Drop  by Michael Connelly.

About the book, from the publisher:

Harry Bosch has been given three years before he must retire from the LAPD, and he wants cases more fiercely than ever. In one morning, he gets two.

DNA from a 1989 rape and murder matches a 29-year-old convicted rapist. Was he an eight-year-old killer or has something gone terribly wrong in the new Regional Crime Lab? The latter possibility could compromise all of the lab's DNA cases currently in court.

Then Bosch and his partner are called to a death scene fraught with internal politics. Councilman Irvin Irving's son jumped or was pushed from a window at the Chateau Marmont. Irving, Bosch's longtime nemesis, has demanded that Harry handle the investigation.

Relentlessly pursuing both cases, Bosch makes two chilling discoveries: a killer operating unknown in the city for as many as three decades, and a political conspiracy that goes back into the dark history of the police department.

"Disciplining Girls"

New from the Johns Hopkins University Press: Disciplining Girls: Understanding the Origins of the Classic Orphan Girl Story by Joe Sutliff Sanders.

About the book, from the publisher:

At the heart of some of the most beloved children's novels is a passionate discussion about discipline, love, and the changing role of girls in the twentieth century. Joe Sutliff Sanders traces this debate as it began in the sentimental tales of the mid-nineteenth century and continued in the classic orphan girl novels of Louisa May Alcott, Frances Hodgson Burnett, L. M. Montgomery, and other writers still popular today.

Domestic novels published between 1850 and 1880 argued that a discipline that emphasized love was the most effective and moral form. These were the first best sellers in American fiction, and by reimagining discipline as a technique of the heart—rather than of the whip—they ensured their protagonists a secure, if limited, claim on power. This same ideal was adapted by women authors in the early twentieth century, who transformed the sentimental motifs of domestic novels into the orphan girl story made popular in such novels as Anne of Green Gables and Pollyanna.

Through close readings of nine of the most influential orphan girl novels, Sanders provides a seamless historical narrative of American children's literature and gender from 1850 until 1923. He follows his insightful literary analysis with chapters on sympathy and motherhood, two themes central to both American and children's literature, and concludes with a discussion of contemporary ideas about discipline, abuse, and gender.

Disciplining Girls writes an important chapter in the history of American, women's, and children's literature, enriching previous work about the history of discipline in America.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

"Who's in Charge?: Free Will and the Science of the Brain"

New from Ecco: Who's in Charge?: Free Will and the Science of the Brain by Michael S. Gazzaniga.

About the book, from the publisher:

The father of cognitive neuroscience and author of Human offers a provocative argument against the common belief that our lives are wholly determined by physical processes and we are therefore not responsible for our actions

A powerful orthodoxy in the study of the brain has taken hold in recent years: Since physical laws govern the physical world and our own brains are part of that world, physical laws therefore govern our behavior and even our conscious selves. Free will is meaningless, goes the mantra; we live in a “determined” world.

Not so, argues the renowned neuroscientist Michael S. Gazzaniga in this thoughtful, provocative book based on his Gifford Lectures——one of the foremost lecture series in the world dealing with religion, science, and philosophy. Who’s in Charge? proposes that the mind, which is somehow generated by the physical processes of the brain, “constrains” the brain just as cars are constrained by the traffic they create. Writing with what Steven Pinker has called “his trademark wit and lack of pretension,” Gazzaniga shows how determinism immeasurably weakens our views of human responsibility; it allows a murderer to argue, in effect, “It wasn’t me who did it——it was my brain.” Gazzaniga convincingly argues that even given the latest insights into the physical mechanisms of the mind, there is an undeniable human reality: We are responsible agents who should be held accountable for our actions, because responsibility is found in how people interact, not in brains.

An extraordinary book that ranges across neuroscience, psychology, ethics, and the law with a light touch but profound implications, Who’s in Charge? is a lasting contribution from one of the leading thinkers of our time.
Visit Michael Gazzaniga's faculty webpage.

The Page 99 Test: Michael Gazzaniga's Human: The Science Behind What Makes Us Unique.

"Hedy's Folly"

New from Doubleday: Hedy's Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World by Richard Rhodes.

About the book, from the publisher:

What do Hedy Lamarr, avant-garde composer George Antheil, and your cell phone have in common? The answer is spread-spectrum radio: a revolutionary inven­tion based on the rapid switching of communications sig­nals among a spread of different frequencies. Without this technology, we would not have the digital comforts that we take for granted today.

Only a writer of Richard Rhodes’s caliber could do justice to this remarkable story. Unhappily married to a Nazi arms dealer, Lamarr fled to America at the start of World War II; she brought with her not only her theatrical talent but also a gift for technical innovation. An introduction to Antheil at a Hollywood dinner table culminated in a U.S. patent for a jam- proof radio guidance system for torpedoes—the unlikely duo’s gift to the U.S. war effort.

What other book brings together 1920s Paris, player pianos, Nazi weaponry, and digital wireless into one satisfying whole? In its juxtaposition of Hollywood glamour with the reality of a brutal war, Hedy’s Folly is a riveting book about unlikely amateur inventors collaborating to change the world.

Friday, November 18, 2011

"A Great Aridness"

New from Oxford University Press: A Great Aridness: Climate Change and the Future of the American Southwest by William deBuys.

About the book, from the publisher:

With its soaring azure sky and stark landscapes, the American Southwest is one of the most hauntingly beautiful regions on earth. Yet staggering population growth, combined with the intensifying effects of climate change, is driving the oasis-based society close to the brink of a Dust-Bowl-scale catastrophe.

In A Great Aridness, William deBuys paints a compelling picture of what the Southwest might look like when the heat turns up and the water runs out. This semi-arid land, vulnerable to water shortages, rising temperatures, wildfires, and a host of other environmental challenges, is poised to bear the heaviest consequences of global environmental change in the United States. Examining interrelated factors such as vanishing wildlife, forest die backs, and the over-allocation of the already stressed Colorado River--upon which nearly 30 million people depend--the author narrates the landscape's history--and future. He tells the inspiring stories of the climatologists and others who are helping untangle the complex, interlocking causes and effects of global warming. And while the fate of this region may seem at first blush to be of merely local interest, what happens in the Southwest, deBuys suggests, will provide a glimpse of what other mid-latitude arid lands worldwide--the Mediterranean Basin, southern Africa, and the Middle East--will experience in the coming years.

Written with an elegance that recalls the prose of John McPhee and Wallace Stegner, A Great Aridness offers an unflinching look at the dramatic effects of climate change occurring right now in our own backyard.
Visit William deBuys's website.

"A Vine in the Blood"

New from Soho Crime: A Vine in the Blood: A Chief Inspector Mario Silva Investigation by Leighton Gage.

About the book, from the publisher:

It is the eve of the FIFA World Cup, the globe's premier sporting event. The host country is Brazil. All eyes are on the country's principal striker, Tico "The Artist" Santos, the greatest player in the history of the sport. All the politicians in Brasilia, from the President of the Republic on down, have their seats squared away for the finale, when they hope to see Argentina, Brazil's bitterest rival, humbled by the Brazilian eleven. But then, just three weeks before the first game, Juraci Santos, Tico's mother, is kidnapped. The star is distraught. The public is appalled. The politicians are outraged. And the pressure is on Chief Inspector Mario Silva to get her back.

Suspects aren't lacking. Among them are a cabal of Argentineans, suspected of having spirited the lady away to put Tico off his game; the star's gold-digging, top-model girlfriend, whom his mother dislikes and has been trying to get out of his life; his principal rival, who wants to play in the World Cup in Tico's place; and the man whose leg Tico broke during a match, thereby destroying his career. In the end, Silva and his crew discover that the solution to the mystery is less complex—but entirely unexpected.
Visit Leighton Gage's website and the Murder is Everywhere blog.

The Page 69 Test: Blood of the Wicked.

My Book, The Movie: Buried Strangers.

The Page 69 Test: Dying Gasp.

Writers Read: Leighton Gage.

The Page 69 Test: Every Bitter Thing.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


New from Yale University Press: Lawtalk: The Unknown Stories Behind Familiar Legal Expressions by James E. Clapp, Elizabeth G. Thornburg, Marc Galanter, and Fred R. Shapiro.

About the book, from the publisher:

Law-related words and phrases abound in our everyday language, often without our being aware of their origins or their particular legal significance: boilerplate, jailbait, pound of flesh, rainmaker, the third degree. This insightful and entertaining book reveals the unknown stories behind familiar legal expressions that come from sources as diverse as Shakespeare, vaudeville, and Dr. Seuss. Separate entries for each expression follow no prescribed formula but instead focus on the most interesting, enlightening, and surprising aspects of the words and their evolution. Popular myths and misunderstandings are explored and exploded, and the entries are augmented with historical images and humorous sidebars.

Lively and unexpected, Lawtalk will draw a diverse array of readers with its abundance of linguistic, legal, historical, and cultural information. Those readers should be forewarned: upon finishing one entry, there is an irresistible temptation to turn to another, and yet another...

"Mozart's Last Aria"

New from Harper Perennial: Mozart's Last Aria by Matt Rees.

About the book, from the publisher:

The news arrives in a letter to his sister, Nannerl, in December 1791. But the message carries more than word of Nannerl’s brother’s demise. Two months earlier, Mozart confided to his wife that his life was rapidly drawing to a close ... and that he knew he had been poisoned.

In Vienna to pay her final respects, Nannerl soon finds herself ensnared in a web of suspicion and intrigue—as the actions of jealous lovers, sinister creditors, rival composers, and Mozart’s Masonic brothers suggest that dark secrets hastened the genius to his grave. As Nannerl digs deeper into the mystery surrounding her brother’s passing, Mozart’s black fate threatens to overtake her as well.

Transporting readers to the salons and concert halls of eighteenth-century Austria, Mozart’s Last Aria is a magnificent historical mystery that pulls back the curtain on a world of soaring music, burning passion, and powerful secrets.
Visit Matt Beynon Rees' website and blog.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"The Christian Consumer"

New from Oxford University Press: The Christian Consumer: Living Faithfully in a Fragile World by Laura M. Hartman.

About the book, from the publisher:

Be it fair trade coffee or foreign oil, our choices as consumers affect the well-being of humans around the globe, not to mention the natural world and of course ourselves. Consumption is a serious ethical issue, and Christian writers throughout history have weighed in, discussing topics such as affluence and poverty, greed and gluttony, and proper stewardship of resources. These voices are often at odds, however. In this book, Laura M. Hartman formulates a coherent Christian ethic of consumption, imposing order on the debate by dividing it into four imperatives: Christians are to consume in ways that avoid sin, embrace creation, love one's neighbor, and envision the future. An adequate ethics of consumption, she argues, must include all four considerations as tools for discernment, even when they seem to contradict one another. The book includes discussions of Christian practices such as fasting, gratitude, solidarity, gift-giving, Sabbath-keeping, and the Eucharist. Using exemplars from the Christian tradition and practical examples from everyday life, The Christian Consumer offers a thoughtful guide to ethical consumption.

"Triple Shot"

New from Severn House: Triple Shot by Sandra Balzo.

About the book, from the publisher:

There's a chill in the Wisconsin air, and it's a shot in the arm--a triple espresso shot--to Uncommon Grounds, the coffeehouse owned by Maggy Thorsen and real estate maven Sarah Kingston. But while the caffeine business may be up, two of Sarah's fellow brokers are down, permanently, and Sarah herself is under investigation for irregularities in her business. Then a stench begins to permeate the coffeehouse, and soon it's clear that corpses--like most bad things--do indeed come in threes...
Visit Sandra Balzo's website.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

"Between Citizens and the State"

New from Princeton University Press: Between Citizens and the State: The Politics of American Higher Education in the 20th Century by Christopher P. Loss.

About the book, from the publisher:

This book tracks the dramatic outcomes of the federal government's growing involvement in higher education between World War I and the 1970s, and the conservative backlash against that involvement from the 1980s onward. Using cutting-edge analysis, Christopher Loss recovers higher education's central importance to the larger social and political history of the United States in the twentieth century, and chronicles its transformation into a key mediating institution between citizens and the state.

Framed around the three major federal higher education policies of the twentieth century--the 1944 GI Bill, the 1958 National Defense Education Act, and the 1965 Higher Education Act--the book charts the federal government's various efforts to deploy education to ready citizens for the national, bureaucratized, and increasingly global world in which they lived. Loss details the myriad ways in which academic leaders and students shaped, and were shaped by, the state's shifting political agenda as it moved from a preoccupation with economic security during the Great Depression, to national security during World War II and the Cold War, to securing the rights of African Americans, women, and other previously marginalized groups during the 1960s and '70s. Along the way, Loss reappraises the origins of higher education's current-day diversity regime, the growth of identity group politics, and the privatization of citizenship at the close of the twentieth century.

At a time when people's faith in government and higher education is being sorely tested, this book sheds new light on the close relations between American higher education and politics.

"Death at the Wedding Feast"

New from Severn House: Death at the Wedding Feast by Deryn Lake.

About the book, from the publisher:

Apothecary John Rawlings has travelled to Devon to be by the side of his mistress, Elizabeth di Lorenzi, who is due to give birth to their child. Leaving his shop, and his new carbonated water business in good hands, John is presented with a surprise on his arrival at Sidmouth Bay. While Elizabeth is recuperating, he learns that Lady Sidmouth's daughter, Miranda, is to marry the elderly Earl of St Austell, who is fifty-four years her senior and has a cruel reputation. As the wedding day approaches, John feels increasingly uneasy, and before too long his worst forebodings are realized...
Visit Deryn Lake's website.

Monday, November 14, 2011

"Red State Religion"

New from Princeton University Press: Red State Religion: Faith and Politics in America's Heartland by Robert Wuthnow.

About the book, from the publisher:

No state has voted Republican more consistently or widely or for longer than Kansas. To understand red state politics, Kansas is the place. It is also the place to understand red state religion. The Kansas Board of Education has repeatedly challenged the teaching of evolution, Kansas voters overwhelmingly passed a constitutional ban on gay marriage, the state is a hotbed of antiabortion protest--and churches have been involved in all of these efforts. Yet in 1867 suffragist Lucy Stone could plausibly proclaim that, in the cause of universal suffrage, "Kansas leads the world!" How did Kansas go from being a progressive state to one of the most conservative?

In Red State Religion, Robert Wuthnow tells the story of religiously motivated political activism in Kansas from territorial days to the present. He examines how faith mixed with politics as both ordinary Kansans and leaders such as John Brown, Carrie Nation, William Allen White, and Dwight Eisenhower struggled over the pivotal issues of their times, from slavery and Prohibition to populism and anti-communism. Beyond providing surprising new explanations of why Kansas became a conservative stronghold, the book sheds new light on the role of religion in red states across the Midwest and the United States. Contrary to recent influential accounts, Wuthnow argues that Kansas conservatism is largely pragmatic, not ideological, and that religion in the state has less to do with politics and contentious moral activism than with relationships between neighbors, friends, and fellow churchgoers.

This is an important book for anyone who wants to understand the role of religion in American political conservatism.

"Dangerous Ambition"

New from Ballantine Books: Dangerous Ambition: Rebecca West and Dorothy Thompson: New Women in Search of Love and Power by Susan Hertog.

About the book, from the publisher:

Born in the 1890s on opposite sides of the Atlantic, friends for more than forty years, Dorothy Thompson and Rebecca West lived strikingly parallel lives that placed them at the center of the social and historical upheavals of the twentieth century. In Dangerous Ambition, Susan Hertog chronicles the separate but intertwined journeys of these two remarkable women writers, who achieved unprecedented fame and influence at tremendous personal cost.

American Dorothy Thompson was the first female head of a European news bureau, a columnist and commentator with a tremendous following whom Time magazine once ranked alongside Eleanor Roosevelt as the most influential woman in America. Rebecca West, an Englishwoman at home wherever genius was spoken, blazed a trail for herself as a journalist, literary critic, novelist, and historian. In a prefeminist era when speaking truth to power could get anyone—of either gender—ostracized, blacklisted, or worse, these two smart, self-made women were among the first to warn the world about the dangers posed by fascism, communism, and appeasement.

But there was a price to be paid, Hertog shows, for any woman aspiring to such greatness. As much as they sought voice and power in the public forum of opinion and ideas, and the independence of mind and money that came with them, Thompson and West craved the comforts of marriage and home. Torn between convention and the opportunities of the new postwar global world, they were drawn to men who were as ambitious and hungry for love as themselves: Thompson to the brilliant, volatile, and alcoholic Nobel Prize winner Sinclair Lewis; West to her longtime lover H. G. Wells, the lusty literary eminence whose sexual and emotional demands doomed any chance they may have had at love. Tragically, both arrangements produced troubled sons, whose anger and jealousy at their mothers’ iconic fame eroded their sense of personal success.

Brimming with fresh insights obtained from previously sealed archives, this penetrating dual biography is a story of twinned lives caught up in the crosscurrents of world events and affairs of the heart—and of the unique trans-Atlantic friendship forged by two of the most creative and complex women of their time.
Visit Susan Hertog's website.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

"Queen of America"

New from Little, Brown & Company: Queen of America by Luis Alberto Urrea.

About the book, from the publisher:

After the bloody Tomochic rebellion, Teresita Urrea, beloved healer and "Saint of Cabora," flees with her father to Arizona. But their plans are derailed when she once again is claimed as the spiritual leader of the Mexican Revolution. Besieged by pilgrims and pursued by assassins, Teresita embarks on a journey through turn-of-the-century industrial America-New York, San Francisco, St. Louis. She meets immigrants and tycoons, European royalty and Cuban poets, all waking to the new American century. And as she decides what her own role in this modern future will be, she must ask herself: can a saint fall in love?

At turns heartbreaking, uplifting, and riotously funny, Queen of America reconfirms Luis Alberto Urrea's status as a writer of the first rank.
Visit Luis Alberto Urrea's website and blog.


New from Severn House: Freezing by Clea Koff.

About the book, from the publisher:

One of the most exciting crime and mystery series debuts of the year. Think Kathy Reichs and Patricia Cornwell

When a bundle of frozen body parts tumbles out the rear door of a van on a Los Angeles freeway, FBI agent Scott Houston knows just where to go for an off-the-record analysis Agency: 32/1, a non-profit missing persons identification resource center run by forensic anthropologists Jayne Hall and Steelie Lander. Jayne and Steelie quickly determine that the remains are human, though from several women. But Scott’s call has unintended consequences for the two women, putting their lives in jeopardy, as their unique skills uncover evidence leading directly to the killer...
Visit Clea Koff's website.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

"Moscow, the Fourth Rome"

New from Harvard University Press: Moscow, the Fourth Rome: Stalinism, Cosmopolitanism, and the Evolution of Soviet Culture, 1931-1941 by Katerina Clark.

About the book, from the publisher:

In the early sixteenth century, the monk Filofei proclaimed Moscow the “Third Rome.” By the 1930s, intellectuals and artists all over the world thought of Moscow as a mecca of secular enlightenment. In Moscow, the Fourth Rome, Katerina Clark shows how Soviet officials and intellectuals, in seeking to capture the imagination of leftist and anti-fascist intellectuals throughout the world, sought to establish their capital as the cosmopolitan center of a post-Christian confederation and to rebuild it to become a beacon for the rest of the world.

Clark provides an interpretative cultural history of the city during the crucial 1930s, the decade of the Great Purge. She draws on the work of intellectuals such as Sergei Eisenstein, Sergei Tretiakov, Mikhail Koltsov, and Ilya Ehrenburg to shed light on the singular Zeitgeist of that most Stalinist of periods. In her account, the decade emerges as an important moment in the prehistory of key concepts in literary and cultural studies today—transnationalism, cosmopolitanism, and world literature. By bringing to light neglected antecedents, she provides a new polemical and political context for understanding canonical works of writers such as Brecht, Benjamin, Lukacs, and Bakhtin.

Moscow, the Fourth Rome breaches the intellectual iron curtain that has circumscribed cultural histories of Stalinist Russia, by broadening the framework to include considerable interaction with Western intellectuals and trends. Its integration of the understudied international dimension into the interpretation of Soviet culture remedies misunderstandings of the world-historical significance of Moscow under Stalin.

"Small, Gritty, and Green"

New from the MIT Press: Small, Gritty, and Green: The Promise of America's Smaller Industrial Cities in a Low-Carbon World by Catherine Tumber.

About the book, from the publisher:

America’s once-vibrant small-to-midsize cities--Syracuse, Worcester, Akron, Flint, Rockford, and others--increasingly resemble urban wastelands. Gutted by deindustrialization, outsourcing, and middle-class flight, disproportionately devastated by metro freeway systems that laid waste to the urban fabric and displaced the working poor, and struggling with pockets of poverty reminiscent of postcolonial squalor, small industrial cities--as a class--have become invisible to a public distracted by the Wall Street (big city) versus Main Street (small town) matchup. These cities would seem to be part of America’s past, not its future. And yet, journalist and historian Catherine Tumber argues in this provocative book, America’s gritty Rust Belt cities could play a central role in a greener, low-carbon, relocalized future.

As we wean ourselves from fossil fuels and realize the environmental costs of suburban sprawl, we will see that small cities offer many assets for sustainable living not shared by their big city or small town counterparts: population density (and the capacity for more); fertile, nearby farmland available for local agriculture, windmills, and solar farms; and manufacturing infrastructure and workforce skill that can be repurposed for the production of renewable-energy technology.

Tumber, who has spent much of her life in Rust Belt cities, traveled to twenty-five cities in the Northeast and Midwest--from Buffalo to Peoria to Detroit to Rochester--interviewing planners, city officials, and activists, and weaving their stories into this exploration of small-scale urbanism. Smaller cities can be a critical part of a sustainable future and a productive green economy. Small, Gritty, and Green will help us develop the moral and political imagination we need to realize this.

Friday, November 11, 2011

"Miss Dimple Rallies to the Cause"

New from Minotaur Books: Miss Dimple Rallies to the Cause by Mignon F. Ballard.

About the book, from the publisher:

Life in small-town America during World War II springs vividly to life as schoolteacher Miss Dimple and her fellow townspeople battle valiantly against worry, rationing, and crime at home as well as abroad.

It's September 1943, and the town of Elderberry, Georgia, including their beloved first-grade teacher, Miss Dimple Kilpatrick, has exciting plans for the Bond Rally to support the troops fighting the war abroad. Miss Dimple's friend, Virginia Balliew, has agreed to chair the big event, with the help of Buddy Oglesby. But when children discover a skeleton at the edge of a field, and Buddy disappears along with the war bond money, it's clear that something is amiss in the little town; and Miss Dimple, along with her fellow teachers, is soon on the case.
Visit Mignon Ballard's website.

"Swift Edge"

New from Minotaur/Thomas Dunne Books: Swift Edge by Laura DiSilverio.

About the book, from the publisher:

When world-class figure skater Dmitri Fane goes missing, his partner knows just whom to hire. It’s up to Swift Investigations to find the missing Fane, and fast---the Olympics are just weeks away. It should be no trouble for the investigative team of Charlie Swift and Gigi Goldman: Their chief obstacle is Gigi’s teenage daughter, Kendall, and her mad crush on Fane. That is, until the skating team’s coach is brutally attacked and a colleague of Dmitri is killed, and things start to get complicated.

Gigi’s corralling a lovesick Kendall and dying to test out the hilarious techniques from her surveillance class. Charlie’s dodging bullets and fending off Detective Connor Montgomery’s advances. Their client is suddenly MIA. Can Charlie and Gigi solve two missing-persons cases and a murder at once, or will the culprit get off skate-free?

Fast-paced adventure, high-stakes intrigue, and the madcap capers of these unlikely partners-in-crime solving make Swift Edge a delightful and welcome addition to the series.
Visit Laura DiSilverio's website and Facebook page.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

"The Impossible Dead"

New from Little, Brown: The Impossible Dead by Ian Rankin.

About the book, from the publisher:

The Complaints: that's the name given to the Internal Affairs department who seek out dirty and compromised cops, the ones who've made deals with the devil. And sometimes The Complaints must travel.

A major inquiry into a neighboring police force sees Malcolm Fox and his colleagues cast adrift, unsure of territory, protocol, or who they can trust. An entire station-house looks to have been compromised, but as Fox digs deeper he finds the trail leads him back in time to the suicide of a prominent politician and activist. There are secrets buried in the past, and reputations on the line.

In his newest pulse-pounding thriller, Ian Rankin holds up a mirror to an age of fear and paranoia, and shows us something of our own lives reflected there.
Learn about Ian Rankin's five favorite literary crime novels and the best selling book he wishes he'd written.

"Tolstoy: A Russian Life"

New from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: Tolstoy: A Russian Life by Rosamund Bartlett.

About the book, from the publisher:

The first new biography in twenty years of the literary colossus, spiritual leader, and icon of the nineteenth century

In November 1910, Count Lev Tolstoy died at a remote Russian railway station. At the time of his death, he was the most famous man in Russia, with a growing international following, and more revered than the tsar. Born into an aristocratic family, Tolstoy had spent his life rebelling not only against conventional ideas about literature and art but also against traditional education, family life, organized religion, and the state.

In this exceptional biography, Rosamund Bartlett draws extensively on key Russian sources, including much fascinating new material made available since the collapse of the Soviet Union. She sheds light on Tolstoy’s remarkable journey from callow youth to writer to prophet; discusses his troubled relationship with his wife, Sonya, a subject long neglected; and vividly evokes the Russian landscapes Tolstoy so loved. Above all, she gives us an eloquent portrait of the brilliant, maddening, and contrary man who has, once again, been discovered by a new generation of readers.
Visit Rosamund Bartlett's website.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

"Shiny Objects"

New from HarperOne: Shiny Objects: Why We Spend Money We Don't Have in Search of Happiness We Can't Buy by James A. Roberts.

About the book, from the publisher:

Americans toss out 140 million cell phones every year. We discard 2 million plastic bottles every five minutes. And our total credit-card debt as of July 2011 is $793 billion.

Plus, credit cards can make you fat.

The American Dream was founded on the belief that anyone dedicated to thrift and hard work could create opportunities and achieve a better life. Now that dream has been reduced to a hyperquantified desire for fancier clothes, sleeker cars, and larger homes. We’ve lost our way, but James Roberts argues that it’s not too late to find it again. In Shiny Objects, he offers us an opportunity to examine our day-to-day habits, and once again strive for lives of quality over quantity.

Mining his years of research into the psychology of consumer behavior, Roberts gets to the heart of the often-surprising ways we make our purchasing decisions. What he and other researchers in his field have found is that no matter what our income level, Americans believe that we need more to live a good life. But as our standard of living has climbed over the past forty years, our self-reported “happiness levels” have flatlined.

Roberts isn’t merely concerned with the GDP or big-ticket purchases—damaging spending habits play out countless times a day, in ways big and small: he demonstrates that even the amount we spend at our favorite fast-food joint increases anywhere from 60 to 100 percent when we use a credit card instead of cash. Every time we watch TV or turn on a radio we’re exposed to marketing messages (experts estimate up to 3,000 of them daily). Consumption is king, and its toll is not just a financial one: relationships are suffering, too, as materialism encroaches on the time and value we give the people around us.

By shedding much-needed light on the science of spending, Roberts empowers readers to make smart changes, improve self-control, and curtail spending. The American Dream is still ours for the taking, and Shiny Objects is ultimately a hopeful statement about the power we each hold to redefine the pursuit of happiness.
Visit the Shiny Objects blog.

"The Towman's Daughters"

New from Severn House: The Towman's Daughters by David. J Walker.

About the book, from the publisher:

The brand-new novel in the acclaimed Chicago-set 'Wild Onion Ltd.' Series

Being a hero is definitely not on lawyer Dugan's to-do list when he goes to retrieve his towed car one early morning. But when he comes across a crime in progress, he rescues the beautiful Isobel Cho from an armed abductor, only to find she isn't too happy to be saved. Soon Isobel goes missing, and it's up to Dugan and his PI wife, Kirsten, to find out what's happened. Could Isobel's relationship with a senator's son be at the heart of it? Or are there dirtier tricks afoot?...
Learn more about the book and author at David J. Walker's website.

The Page 69 Test: Too Many Clients.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

"Autumn: Disintegration"

New from St. Martin's Griffin/Thomas Dunne Books: Autumn: Disintegration by David Moody.

About the book, from the publisher:

The penultimate chapter in the riveting horror series!

Forty days have passed since the world died. Billions of corpses walk the Earth. Everything is disintegrating....

A group of eleven men and women have survived against the odds. On an almost daily basis, they attack the dead with brutal ferocity, tearing through them with utter contempt.

Somewhere nearby, out of sight and out of earshot, is another group that has adopted a completely different survival strategy. Where the others have used brutality and strength, these people have demonstrated subtlety, planning, and tactics.

A series of horrific events force the two groups together. Backed into a corner and surrounded by hundreds of thousands of corpses, they all know that their final battle with the dead is about to begin.
Learn more about the books and author at David Moody's website.

The Page 69 Test: Hater.

The Page 69 Test: Dog Blood.

My Book, The Movie: Dog Blood.

"Dead Man's Grip"

New from Minotaur Books: Dead Man's Grip by Peter James.

About the book, from the publisher:

Carly Chase is still traumatized ten days after being in a fatal traffic accident that kills a teenage American student from Brighton University. Then she receives news that turns her entire world into a living nightmare. The drivers of the other two vehicles involved have been found tortured and murdered. Now Detective Superintendent Roy Grace of the Sussex Police force issues a stark and urgent warning to Carly: She could be next.

The student had deadly connections. Connections that stretch across the Atlantic to America and an organized crime group. Someone has sworn revenge and won’t rest until the final person involved in that fateful accident is dead. The police advise Carly her only option is to go into hiding and change her identity. The terrified woman disagrees. She knows these people have ways of hunting you down anywhere. If the police are unable to stop them, she has to find a way to do it herself. But already the killer is one step ahead of her, watching, waiting, and ready.
Learn more about the author and his work at the official Peter James website.

The Page 69 Test: Looking Good Dead.

Monday, November 7, 2011

"The Nazi Séance"

New from Palgrave Macmillan: The Nazi Séance: The Strange Story of the Jewish Psychic in Hitler's Circle by Arthur J. Magida.

About the book, from the publisher:

World War I left Berlin, and all of Germany, devastated. Charlatans and demagogues eagerly exploited the desperate crowds. Fascination with the occult was everywhere – in private séances, personalized psychic readings, communions with the dead – as people struggled to escape the grim reality of their lives. In the early 1930s, the most famous mentalist in the German capital was Erik Jan Hanussen, a Jewish mind reader originally from Vienna who became so popular in Berlin that he rubbed elbows with high ranking Nazis, became close with top Storm Troopers, and even advised Hitler.

Called “Europe’s Greatest Oracle Since Nostradamus,” Hanussen assumed he could manipulate some of the more incendiary personalities of his time just as he had manipulated his fans. He turned his occult newspaper in Berlin into a Nazi propaganda paper, personally assured Hitler that the stars were aligned in his favor, and predicted the infamous Reichstag Fire that would solidify the Nazis’ grip on Germany.

Seasoned with ruminations about wonder and magic (and explanations of Hanussen’s tricks), The Nazi Séance is a disturbing journey into a Germany as it descends into madness—aided by a “clairvoyant” Jew oblivious to the savagery of men who pursued a Reich they fantasized would last 1,000 years.

"The Angel Esmeralda"

New from Scribner: The Angel Esmeralda:  Nine Stories by Don DeLillo.

About the book, from the publisher:

From one of the greatest writers of our time, his first collection of short stories, written between 1979 and 2011, chronicling—and foretelling—three decades of American life

Set in Greece, the Caribbean, Manhattan, a white-collar prison and outer space, these nine stories are a mesmerizing introduction to Don DeLillo’s iconic voice, from the rich, startling, jazz-infused rhythms of his early work to the spare, distilled, monastic language of the later stories.

In “Creation,” a couple at the end of a cruise somewhere in the West Indies can’t get off the island—flights canceled, unconfirmed reservations, a dysfunctional economy. In “Human Moments in World War III,” two men orbiting the earth, charged with gathering intelligence and reporting to Colorado Command, hear the voices of American radio, from a half century earlier. In the title story, Sisters Edgar and Grace, nuns working the violent streets of the South Bronx, confirm the neighborhood’s miracle, the apparition of a dead child, Esmeralda.

Nuns, astronauts, athletes, terrorists and travelers, the characters in The Angel Esmeralda propel themselves into the world and define it. DeLillo’s sentences are instantly recognizable, as original as the splatter of Jackson Pollock or the luminous rectangles of Mark Rothko. These nine stories describe an extraordinary journey of one great writer whose prescience about world events and ear for American language changed the literary landscape.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

"The Problem of Distraction"

New from Stanford University Press: The Problem of Distraction by Paul North.

About the book, from the publisher:

We live in an age of distraction. Contemporary analyses of culture, politics, techno-science, and psychology insist on this. They often suggest remedies for it, or ways to capitalize on it. Yet they almost never investigate the meaning and history of distraction itself. This book corrects this lack of attention. It inquires into the effects of distraction, defined not as the opposite of attention, but as truly discontinuous intellect. Human being has to be reconceived, according to this argument, not as quintessentially thought-bearing, but as subject to repeated, causeless blackouts of mind.

The Problem of Distraction presents the first genealogy of the concept from Aristotle to the largely forgotten, early twentieth-century efforts by Kafka, Heidegger, and Benjamin to revolutionize the humanities by means of distraction. Further, the book makes the case that our present troubles cannot be solved by recovering or enhancing attention. Not-always-thinking beings are beset by radical breaks in their experience, but in this way they are also receptive to what has not and cannot yet be called experience.

"El Gavilan"

New from Tyrus Books: El Gavilan by Craig McDonald.

About the book, from the publisher:

The news is full of it: escalating tensions from illegal immigration; headless bodies hanging off bridges and bounties placed on lawmen on both sides of the border. New Austin, Ohio, is a town grappling with waves of undocumented workers who exert tremendous pressure on schools, police and city services. In the midst of the turmoil, three very different kinds of cops scramble to maintain control and impose order.

But the rape-murder of a Mexican-American woman triggers a brutal chain of events that threatens to leave no survivors. El Gavilan is a novel of shifting alliances and whiplash switchbacks. Families are divided and careers and lives threatened. Friendships and ideals are tested and budding love affairs challenged. With its topical themes, shades-of- gray characters and dark canvas, El Gavilan is a novel for our charged times.
Learn more about the author and his work at Craig McDonald's website and blog.