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Between the Covers



Thoughts on books, reading and publishing from the staff and friends of the Tattered Cover Book Store.



Updated: 2018-04-25T04:34:56.416-06:00

 



17 Comments

2015-03-23T18:45:21.713-06:00

Dear Between the Covers readers,

We're redecorating! It is time for our Tattered Cover blog to undergo a mini-makeover. As we finish up a long-overdue update to our website, we're going to take this opportunity to freshen up the blog a bit with a revamped look and some additional staff voices.

We'll be on hiatus for a few weeks, then back with some great reviews, and more news from the bookstores and the wonderful world of publishing.

Thanks for your patience, and happy reading!

The Tattered Cover Blog Team





When We Are Gone

2015-03-22T06:00:08.211-06:00

While examining the history of our planet and actively exploring our present environment, science journalist Michael Tennesen describes what life on earth could look like after the next mass extinction.

A growing number of scientists agree we are headed toward a mass extinction, perhaps in as little as 300 years. Already there have been five mass extinctions in the last 600 million years, including the Cretaceous Extinction, during which an asteroid knocked out the dinosaurs. Though these events were initially destructive, they were also prime movers of evolutionary change in nature. And we can see some of the warning signs of another extinction event coming, as our oceans lose both fish and oxygen. In The Next Species, Michael Tennesen questions what life might be like after it happens.

Tennesen discusses the future of nature and whether humans will make it through the bottleneck of extinction. Without man, could the seas regenerate to what they were before fishing vessels? Could life suddenly get very big as it did before the arrival of humans? And what if man survives the coming catastrophes, but in reduced populations? Would those groups be isolated enough to become distinct species? Could the conquest of Mars lead to another form of human? Could we upload our minds into a computer and live in a virtual reality? Or could genetic engineering create a more intelligent and long-lived creature that might shun the rest of us? And how would we recognize the next humans? Are they with us now?

Tennesen delves into the history of the planet and travels to rainforests, canyons, craters, and caves all over the world to explore the potential winners and losers of the next era of evolution. His predictions, based on reports and interviews with top scientists, have vital implications for life on earth today.


What Will the World Look Like When Humans Go Extinct?





Fresh Ink: Spotlight on Debut Books of All Kinds

2015-03-22T05:00:00.914-06:00

For readers of Claire Messud and Mary Gaitskill comes a striking debut novel of marriage, fidelity, sex, and morality, featuring a fascinating heroine who struggles to live a life with meaning.    Anna was a good wife, mostly. Anna Benz, an American in her late thirties, lives with her Swiss husband, Bruno—a banker—and their three young children in a postcard-perfect suburb of Zürich. Though she leads a comfortable, well-appointed life, Anna is falling apart inside. Adrift and increasingly unable to connect with the emotionally unavailable Bruno or even with her own thoughts and feelings, Anna tries to rouse herself with new experiences: German language classes, Jungian analysis, and a series of sexual affairs she enters with an ease that surprises even her. But Anna can’t easily extract herself from these affairs. When she wants to end them, she finds it’s difficult. Tensions escalate, and her lies start to spin out of control. Having crossed a moral threshold, Anna will discover where a woman goes when there is no going back. Intimate, intense, and written with the precision of a Swiss Army knife, Jill Alexander Essbaum’s debut novel is an unforgettable story of marriage, fidelity, sex, morality, and most especially self. Navigating the lines between lust and love, guilt and shame, excuses and reasons, Anna Benz is an electrifying heroine whose passions and choices readers will debate with recognition and fury. Her story reveals, with honesty and great beauty, how we create ourselves and how we lose ourselves and the sometimes disastrous choices we make to find ourselves. Read an Excerpt from ‘Hausfrau’ by Jill Alexander EssbaumINTERVIEW: Jill Alexander Essbaum, author of Hausfrau Praise for the book:  “Sexy and insightful, this gorgeously written novel opens a window into one woman’s desperate soul.”~People“With an elegance, precision, and surehandedness that recalls Marguerite Duras’s The Lover and Anita Brookner’s Hotel du Lac, Jill Alexander Essbaum gives us this exquisite tale of an expatriate American wife living in Switzerland and her sexual and psychic unraveling. Hausfrau stuns with its confidence and severe beauty, its cascading insights into the uses of erotic life and the nature of secrets, the urgency of compulsion and the difficulty of freedom. This is a rare and remarkable debut.”~Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander “Over a century after the publication of Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina, poet Essbaum proves in her debut novel that there is still plenty of psychic territory to cover in the story of ‘a good wife, mostly.’ . . . The realism of Anna’s dilemmas and the precise construction of the novel are marvels of the form. . . . This novel is masterly as it moves toward its own inescapable ending, and Anna is likely to provoke strong feelings in readers well after the final page.” ~Publishers Weekly “In Anna Benz, Essbaum has created a genuine, complex woman whose journey—no matter how dark it may be—reveals truths as only great literature can. She may have her roots in Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina or Flaubert’s Emma Bovary or Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler, but she is a thoroughly modern and distinct character. Hausfrau is not just an exceptional first novel, it is an extraordinary novel—period.” ~Shelf Awareness “This debut brilliantly chronicles a woman’s life falling apart. . . . Fifty Shades for the literati.” ~The Times (U.K.)“I loved this brilliant, insightful, and devastating novel about Anna: trains . . . adultery . . . the punctual, rigid Swiss . . . Jungian analysis . . . anhedonia . . . more adultery and more trains . . . and Jill Alexander Essbaum’s beautiful sentences strewn with sharp thorns that prick and cut straight into the heart of a woman’s unfulfilled life. I wish I had written it.”~Lily Tuck,  author of The News from Paraguay“A stunningly written, hauntingly paced book. Anna Benz has the weight of a classic heroine—[...]



Fresh Ink: Spotlight on Debut Books of All Kinds

2015-03-22T04:00:00.835-06:00

She was there. She was involved in Celia's day, although she isn't sure exactly how. She had far too much to drink. And then the incredible death—the shocking, horrible, inconceivable death, sticking like a dagger in her heart. She closes her eyes and tries to remember the last thing she said to Celia. She thinks it was "I don't ever want to see you again."Dana Catrell's life is in chaos. She's married to a lawyer who makes her feel trivial, as if stuck inside his pocket like loose change. She's also sliding toward the brink of insanity. Devastated by mania, part of her bipolar disorder, Dana finds that there are troubling holes in her memory, including what happened on the afternoon of her friend Celia's death. She's horrified to learn she's the only other person with a key to Celia's house—and the last person to see her alive.She and Celia had shared recipes and gossip. But not secrets—until that final afternoon. Closing her eyes, Dana can see images, loose pieces of a hazy puzzle. Sangria in a glass, a tiny rip in Celia's screen door, Celia lying in a pool of blood, the broken vase beside her head, the kitchen knife just so above her hand. But there are infuriating, terrifying gaps.Is murder on her mind—or is it all in her head?As evidence starts to point in her direction, Dana will use the clarity her mania brings her to fill in the blanks and clear her name before her demons win out. But her husband's odd behavior and the persistent probing of Detective Jack Moss complicate Dana's search for answers. The closer she comes to piecing together shards of her broken memory, the closer Dana comes to falling apart. Is there a killer lurking inside her . . . or is there one out there in the shadows of reality, waiting to strike again?A story of marriage, murder, and madness, The Pocket Wife is a sophisticated, gripping tale of psychological suspense that explores the world through the foggy lens of a woman on the edge.Read an excerpt HERE. Or listen to it HERE.New Release Spotlight – The Pocket Wife – Interview with Susan Crawford.Publishing Success: Debut Author Susan Crawford Shares Her StoryPraise for the book: “Not a word is wasted in Susan Crawford’s fast-paced, thrilling debut. As Crawford explores the boundaries of memory and sanity, the suspense steadily gathers, and in her skilled hands, readers will be left guessing until the very end.” ~Lori Roy, author of Bent Road “The Pocket Wife is an exceptional literary thriller debut that sensitively portrays a woman struggling with Bipolar Disorder, and the horrific possibility that she’s a murderer. Engrossing, thrilling, and page turning all the way through, this is one you won’t want to miss!” ~Chevy Stevens, New York Times bestselling author "The Pocket Wife is haunting, gripping, and lyrical--a book you won’t want to put down. Susan Crawford is a bright new star.” ~Deborah Crombie, New York Times bestselling author “Because the tale is told primarily from Dana’s sharp but manic perspective, suspense develops around her possibly unreliable interpretation of events. This is a gripping, character-driven mystery that would pair well with Sophie Hannah’s The Truth-Teller’s Lie.” ~Booklist “This intriguing thriller will leave readers guessing till the last minute. Dana Cantrell is a dynamic, well-written character whose bipolar disorder makes her both maddening and endearing. Tightly moving, fast-paced and suspenseful, Crawford’s debut novel puts her on the map of writers to watch.” ~RT Book Reviews  “Descriptive, lyrical prose creates an intimate and visceral read that is both a solid mystery and a fast-paced psychological thriller. Try this first novel as a read-alike for Alice LaPlante’s Turn of Mind.” ~Library Journal  [...]



Fresh Ink: Spotlight on Debut Books of All Kinds

2015-03-21T05:00:01.473-06:00

A sweeping, gorgeously written debut novel of duty to family and country, passion, and blood ties that unravel in the charged political climate of Berlin between the wars.Lev Pearlmutter, an assimilated, cultured German Jew, enlists to fight in World War I, leaving behind his gentile wife Josephine and their children, Franz and Vicki. Moving between Lev's and Josephine's viewpoints, Part I of the novel focuses on Lev's experiences on the Eastern Front—both in war and in love—which render his life at home a pale aftermath by comparison.Part II picks up in Berlin in 1927–1928: the Pearlmutter children, now young adults, grapple with their own questions: Franz, drawn into the Brown Shirt movement, struggling with his unexpressed homosexuality; and Vicki, seduced by jazz, bobbed hair, and falling in love with a young man who wants to take her to Palestine.Unlike most historical novels of this kind, The Empire of the Senses is not about the Holocaust but rather about the brew that led to it, and about why it was unimaginable to ordinary people like Lev and his wife. Plotted with meticulous precision and populated by characters who feel and dream to the fullest, it holds us rapt as cultural loss and ethnic hatred come to coexist with love, passion, and the power of the human spirit.The Story Behind The Empire of the SensesWrite Start: Alexis Landau on the 7 Habits of Highly Effective WritersPraise for the book:  “Vivid . . . Landau evokes the Weimar Republic era with spellbinding detail and nuance, deftly capturing the zeitgeist in the characters’ colorful pursuits . . . . Lev’s struggle with his Jewish identity is also fascinating.” ~Publishers Weekly“A top-notch literary saga with a gripping plotline . . . Each perfectly crafted individual is fully involved in the surrounding world. In Landau’s hands, even a simple trip to the barber becomes meaningful and illustrative of the novel’s themes. The characters’ actions and thoughts are so three-dimensionally human that readers may forget they’re reading fiction.” ~Booklist“Landau’s debut is lush, smart, sexy, affecting, interesting, beautifully researched, and well made. Spending time in the world of this novel is an absolute pleasure.” ~Aimee Bender, author of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake “A gripping, beautifully written saga of an ordinary German family’s slow immersion into the simmering cauldron that is Germany in the 1920s and 1930s. Like most of us, the characters in this novel make choices determined by love and desire; their personal secrets and preoccupations often loom larger than the encroaching danger. Ultimately, their fates are determined as much by their passions as by history. As the novel builds toward its riveting conclusion, Landau explores how the unimaginable can become real—and in the process offers a fresh and moving perspective on a piece of history we thought we already knew.” ~Christina Baker Kline,  author of Orphan Train [...]



Fresh Ink: Spotlight on Debut Books of All Kinds "'POXL' a lovely novel sentence-to-sentence, and it gets at something deep about how we're all frauds, and all worthy of love." -John Green

2015-03-21T04:00:01.547-06:00

Poxl West fled the Nazis' onslaught in Czechoslovakia. He escaped their clutches again in Holland. He pulled Londoners from the Blitz's rubble. He wooed intoxicating, unconventional beauties. He rained fire on Germany from his RAF bomber. Poxl West is the epitome of manhood and something of an idol to his teenage nephew, Eli Goldstein, who reveres him as a brave, singular, Jewish war hero. Poxl fills Eli's head with electric accounts of his derring-do, adventures and romances, as he collects the best episodes from his storied life into a memoir. He publishes that memoir, "Skylock", to great acclaim, and its success takes him on the road, and out of Eli's life. With his uncle gone, Eli throws himself into reading his opus and becomes fixated on all things Poxl. But as he delves deeper into Poxl's history, Eli begins to see that the life of the fearless superman he's adored has been much darker than he let on, and filled with unimaginable loss from which he may have not recovered. As the truth about Poxl emerges, it forces Eli to face irreconcilable facts about the war he's romanticized and the vision of the man he's held so dear. Daniel Torday's debut novel, The Last Flight of Poxl West, beautifully weaves together the two unforgettable voices of Eli Goldstein and Poxl West, exploring what it really means to be a hero, and to be a family, in the long shadow of war.   Book Review Podcast: ‘The Last Flight of Poxl West’  The Monster Scale  Praise for the book:"While Torday is more likely to be compared to Philip Roth or Michael Chabon than Gillian Flynn, his debut novel has two big things in common with Gone Girl--it's a story told in two voices, and it's almost impossible to discuss without revealing spoilers. A richly layered, beautifully told and somehow lovable story about war, revenge and loss." ~Kirkus"A wonderful accomplishment of storytelling verve: tender, lyrical, surprising, full of beautifully rendered details. Torday is a prodigiously talented writer, with a huge heart." ~George Saunders, author of Tenth of December"According to Tim O'Brien, 'A true war story, if truly told, makes the stomach believe.' Daniel Torday knows how to tell a true war story, and The Last Flight of Poxl West is a stunning debut. Meticulously researched and beautifully written, The Last Flight of Poxl West resurrects a chapter of World War II that was a complete surprise to me. It's the viscerally-gripping, eye-wateringly moving first-person account of a young Czech Jew who flew missions for the RAF during World War II; it's also a profound and timely meditation on the desire for justice, retribution, and redemption. This book is unputdownable, wise, and unbelievably generous. Its ending left me speechless." ~Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia!"The Last Flight of Poxl West is a beautifully told and moving story of love, loss, and growing up. Daniel Torday is a stunning writer, and his first novel is full of elegant, thought provoking surprises." `~Edan Lepucki, author of California"The Last Flight of Poxl West is a love story, a war story, a family saga, an intimate view of vast Twentieth Century events, a treatise on the telling of stories, and a damned good read as well. Torday's language is precise and it is grand; and he uses it to describe scenes you will swear he was witness to himself. The details, the insights, the knowledge, the writing, and the unmistakable empathy-- these elements add up to a stellar, memorable book." ~Robin Black, author of Life Drawing"Love, lust, war, revenge, betrayal: I was inclined to like this book before I opened it. Daniel Torday's gorgeous prose and moral candor made me love it. A spectacular debut. Torday is quickly making a name for himself as one of our finest young novelists." ~Daniel Smith, author of  Monkey Mind"OMFG! What a book! Eli Goldstein has the retrospective candor of Roth's Zuckerman and the se[...]



Three New Thrillers

2015-03-20T06:00:03.824-06:00

Set in a small coal-mining town, a debut novel full of secrets, love, betrayal, and suspicious accidents, where Catholicism casts a long shadow and two courageous women make choices that will challenge our own moral convictions One morning in Verra, a town nestled into the hillsides of West Virginia, the young Myrthen Bergmann is playing tug-of-war with her twin, when her sister is killed. Unable to accept her own guilt, Myrthen excludes herself from all forms of friendship and affection and begins a twisted, haunted life dedicated to God.Meanwhile, her neighbor Alta Krol longs to be an artist even as her days are taken up caring for her widowed father and siblings. Everything changes when Myrthen marries the man Alta loves. Fourteen years later, we meet Lidia, a teenage girl in the same town, and her precocious son, Gabriel. When Gabriel starts telling eerily prescient stories that hint at Verra’s long-buried secrets, it’s not long before the townspeople begin to suspect that the boy harbors evil spirits—an irresistible state of affairs for Myrthen and her obsession with salvation.The blistering new novel from the author of the multi-award-nominated The Professionals—“Laukkanen is one of the best young thriller writers working today” (Richmond Times-Dispatch). When you’ve got nothing left, you’ve got nothing left to lose. Cass County, Minnesota: A sheriff’s deputy steps out of a diner on a rainy summer evening, and a few minutes later, he’s lying dead in the mud. When BCA agent Kirk Stevens arrives on the scene, he discovers local authorities have taken into custody a single suspect: A hysterical young woman found sitting by the body, holding the deputy’s own gun. She has no ID, speaks no English. A mystery woman. The mystery only deepens from there, as Stevens and Carla Windermere, his partner in the new joint BCA–FBI violent crime task force, find themselves on the trail of a massive international kidnapping and prostitution operation. Before the two agents are done, they will have traveled over half the country, from Montana to New York, and come face-to-face not only with the most vicious man either of them has ever encountered—but two of the most courageous women. They are sisters, stolen ones. But just because you’re a victim doesn’t mean you have to stay one.   From former NPR correspondent Mary Louise Kelly comes a heart-pounding story about fear, family secrets, and one woman's hunt for answers about the murder of her parents. Two words: The bullet.  That's all it takes to shatter her life. Caroline Cashion is beautiful, intelligent, a professor of French literature. But in a split second, everything she's known is proved to be a lie.  A single bullet, gracefully tapered at one end, is found lodged at the base of her skull. Caroline is stunned. It makes no sense: she has never been shot. She has no entry wound. No scar. Then, over the course of one awful evening, she learns the truth: that she was adopted when she was three years old, after her real parents were murdered. Caroline was there the night they were attacked. She was wounded too, a gunshot to the neck. Surgeons had stitched up the traumatized little girl, with the bullet still there, nestled deep among vital nerves and blood vessels. That was thirty-four years ago.  Now, Caroline has to find the truth of her past. Why were her parents killed? Why is she still alive? She returns to her hometown where she meets a cop who lets slip that the bullet in her neck is the same bullet that killed her mother. Full-metal jacket, .38 Special. It hit Caroline's mother and kept going, hurtling through the mother's chest and into the child hiding behind her.  She is horrified--and in danger. When a gun is fired it leaves markings on the bullet. Tiny grooves, almost as unique as a fingerprint. The bullet in her neck could finger a murder[...]



Some Intersting New Non-Fiction

2015-03-20T05:00:00.221-06:00

In late nineteenth-century Boston, home to Herman Melville and Oliver Wendell Holmes, a serial killer preying on children is running loose in the city--a wilderness of ruin caused by the Great Fire of 1872--in this literary historical crime thriller reminiscent of The Devil in the White City.In the early 1870s, local children begin disappearing from the working-class neighborhoods of Boston. Several return home bloody and bruised after being tortured, while others never come back.With the city on edge, authorities believe the abductions are the handiwork of a psychopath, until they discover that their killer--fourteen-year-old Jesse Pomeroy--is barely older than his victims. The criminal investigation that follows sparks a debate among the world's most revered medical minds, and will have a decades-long impact on the judicial system and medical consciousness.The Wilderness of Ruin is a riveting tale of gruesome murder and depravity. At its heart is a great American city divided by class--a chasm that widens in the aftermath of the Great Fire of 1872. Roseanne Montillo brings Gilded Age Boston to glorious life--from the genteel cobblestone streets of Beacon Hill to the squalid, overcrowded tenements of Southie. Here, too, is the writer Herman Melville. Enthralled by the child killer's case, he enlists physician Oliver Wendell Holmes to help him understand how it might relate to his own mental instability.With verve and historical detail, Roseanne Montillo explores this case that reverberated through all of Boston society in order to help us understand our modern hunger for the prurient and sensational.The Wilderness of Ruin features more than a dozen black-and-white photographs.The author of the blockbuster New York Times bestsellers, The Happiness Project and Happier at Home, tackles the critical question: How do we change? Gretchen Rubin's answer: through habits. Habits are the invisible architecture of everyday life. It takes work to make a habit, but once that habit is set, we can harness the energy of habits to build happier, stronger, more productive lives. So if habits are a key to change, then what we really need to know is: How do we change our habits? Better than Before answers that question. It presents a practical, concrete framework to allow readers to understand their habits—and to change them for good. Infused with Rubin’s compelling voice, rigorous research, and easy humor, and packed with vivid stories of lives transformed, Better than Before explains the (sometimes counter-intuitive) core principles of habit formation. Along the way, Rubin uses herself as guinea pig, tests her theories on family and friends, and answers readers’ most pressing questions—oddly, questions that other writers and researchers tend to ignore: • Why do I find it tough to create a habit for something I love to do? • Sometimes I can change a habit overnight, and sometimes I can’t change a habit, no matter how hard I try. Why? • How quickly can I change a habit? • What can I do to make sure I stick to a new habit? • How can I help someone else change a habit? • Why can I keep habits that benefit others, but can’t make habits that are just for me? Whether readers want to get more sleep, stop checking their devices, maintain a healthy weight, or finish an important project, habits make change possible. Reading just a few chapters of Better Than Before will make readers eager to start work on their own habits—even before they’ve finished the book. width="320" height="266" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="https://ytimg.googleusercontent.com/vi/vvy0AGeO4Qo/0.jpg" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/vvy0AGeO4Qo?feature=player_embedded" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> In Thrive, Arianna Huffington makes an impassioned and compelling case for the need to redefine what it means to be successful[...]



Today Is World Storytelling Day!!!

2015-03-20T04:00:03.758-06:00


World Storytelling Day is a global celebration of the art of oral storytelling. It is celebrated every year on the spring equinox in the northern hemisphere, the first day of autumn equinox in the southern. On World Storytelling Day, as many people as possible tell and listen to stories in as many languages and at as many places as possible, during the same day and night. Participants tell each other about their events in order to share stories and inspiration, to learn from each other and create international contacts.

The significance in the event lies in the fact that it is the first global celebration of storytelling of its kind, and has been important in forging links between storytellers often working far apart from each other. It has also been significant in drawing public and media attention to storytelling as an art form.


This year's theme is "Wishes".  What tails can you tell about wishes? 






Jackie's Loved Peaking Through These Authors' Windows

2015-03-19T06:00:00.346-06:00

Fifty of the world’s greatest writers share their views in collaboration with the artist Matteo Pericoli, expanding our own views on place, creativity, and the meaning of home

All of us, at some point in our daily lives, have found ourselves looking out the window. We pause in our work, tune out of a conversation, and turn toward the outside. Our eyes simply gaze, without seeing, at a landscape whose familiarity becomes the customary ground for distraction: the usual rooftops, the familiar trees, a distant crane. The way of life for most of us in the twenty-first century means that we spend most of our time indoors, in an urban environment, and our awareness of the outside world comes via, and thanks to, a framed glass hole in the wall.

In Windows on the World: Fifty Writers, Fifty Views, architect and artist Matteo Pericoli brilliantly explores this concept alongside fifty of our most beloved writers from across the globe. By pairing drawings of window views with texts that reveal—either physically or metaphorically—what the drawings cannot, Windows on the World offers a perceptual journey through the world as seen through the windows of prominent writers: Orhan Pamuk in Istanbul, Daniel Kehlmann in Berlin, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in Lagos, John Jeremiah Sullivan in Wilmington, North Carolina, Nadine Gordimer in Johannesburg, Xi Chuan in Beijing. Taken together, the views—geography and perspective, location and voice—resonate with and play off each other.

Working from a series of meticulous photographs and other notes from authors’ homes and offices, Pericoli creates a pen-and-ink illustration of each window and the view it frames. Many readers know Pericoli’s work from his acclaimed series for The New York Times and later for The Paris Review Daily, which have a devoted following. Now, Windows on the World collects from Pericoli’s body of work and features fifteen never-before-seen windows in one gorgeously designed volume, as well as a preface from the Paris Review’s editor Lorin Stein. As we delve into what each writer’s view may or may not share with the others’, as we look at the map and explore unfamiliar views of cities from around the world, a new kind of map begins to take shape.

Windows on the World is a profound and eye-opening look inside the worlds of writers, reminding us that the things we see every day are woven into our selves and our imaginations, making us keener and more inquisitive observers of our own worlds.
 
Jackie says:
"This is a wonderful book.  50 authors from all over the world have written short essays about the windows they look through as they write, and what the scene means to them.  Topping it off, there is a line drawing for each of the essays.  I've been savoring this book for a few a months now, making me think about my view through our sliding door to the patio.  This book is delightful for a short break or a serious philosophical breakthroughs.  The art in the book is a very lovely cherry on top."



Randy Is Recommending:

2015-03-19T05:00:01.915-06:00

The Clakker: a mechanical man, endowed with great strength and boundless stamina -- but beholden to the wishes of its human masters. Soon after the Dutch scientist and clockmaker Christiaan Huygens invented the very first Clakker in the 17th Century, the Netherlands built a whole mechanical army. It wasn't long before a legion of clockwork fusiliers marched on Westminster, and the Netherlands became the world's sole superpower. Three centuries later, it still is. Only the French still fiercely defend their belief in universal human rights for all men -- flesh and brass alike. After decades of warfare, the Dutch and French have reached a tenuous cease-fire in a conflict that has ravaged North America.But one audacious Clakker, Jax, can no longer bear the bonds of his slavery. He will make a bid for freedom, and the consequences of his escape will shake the very foundations of the Brasswork Throne.An enthralling first novel about a teenage girl who finds refuge--but perhaps not--in an 1840s Shaker community. After 15-year-old Polly Kimball sets fire to the family farm, killing her abusive father, she and her young brother find shelter in a Massachusetts Shaker community called the City of Hope. It is the Era of Manifestations, when young girls in Shaker enclaves all across the Northeast are experiencing extraordinary mystical visions, earning them the honorific of "Visionist" and bringing renown to their settlements. The City of Hope has not yet been blessed with a Visionist, but that changes when Polly arrives and is unexpectedly exalted. As she struggles to keep her dark secrets concealed in the face of increasing scrutiny, Polly finds herself in a life-changing friendship with a young Shaker sister named Charity, a girl who will stake everything-even her faith-on Polly's honesty and purity. Alex Morrow faces her toughest opponents yet in this brilliant new thriller about criminals, consequences, and convictions. Police detective Alex Morrow has met plenty of unsavory characters in her line of work, but arms dealer Michael Brown ranks among the most brutal and damaged of the criminals she's known. Morrow is serving as a witness in Brown's trial, where the case hinges on his fingerprints found on the guns he sells. When the investigation leads to a privileged Scottish lawyer who's expecting to be assassinated after a money laundering scheme goes bad, and a woman who's spying on the people who put her in jail, Morrow has her hands full. And that's before she even gets to her family issues. The Red Road is a thrilling new novel from a masterful writer, proving once again that "If you don't love Denise Mina, you don't love crime fiction." (Val McDermid)   Introducing the Custard Protocol series, in which Alexia Maccon's daughter Prudence travels to India on behalf of Queen, country...and the perfect pot of tea. When Prudence Alessandra Maccon Akeldama ("Rue" to her friends) is bequeathed an unexpected dirigible, she does what any sensible female under similar circumstances would do -- she christens it the Spotted Custard and floats off to India. Soon, she stumbles upon a plot involving local dissidents, a kidnapped brigadier's wife, and some awfully familiar Scottish werewolves. Faced with a dire crisis (and an embarrassing lack of bloomers), Rue must rely on her good breeding -- and her metanatural abilities -- to get to the bottom of it all...   [...]



Their Coming Was Foretold For Years

2015-03-19T04:00:00.882-06:00

Our coming was foretold by the elders Those who would change the future, just as the planet teetered on the edge of darkness.

Born on the prophesied day with birthmarks in the form of a crescent moon, they knew us immediately. Swaddled and screaming, we were spirited away by those who hid us, trained us, and kept us safe until our time came.

They poured their lives into us. Some died to save us.

And now we, the Remnants, protected by Knights of the Last Order, have gathered. Called until we breathe our last to save the world.


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After tackling her first mission and coming to terms with her power of empathy, Andrei and her fellow Remnants discover their first battles were only a taste of what is to come. As the Sons of Sheol continue their assault on the world, planning to keep all hope dead, the Remnant finds itself battling within its ranks. With everyone pursuing what they feel is the best course of action, trouble mounts--and Andrei finds herself in terrible danger at the hands of Kellach. The Remnants must travel to Italy and find a way to fight as one before it is too late.






"You’ll hardly be able to wait to turn the page but you’ll also be reluctant to find out what’s on it. That’s as good as it gets." ~Eric B.

2015-03-18T06:00:08.809-06:00

In the third volume of the bestselling Frieda Klein Mystery series, the brilliant but troubled London psychotherapist returns—only to journey into a darkness from which there may be no return. Ruth Lennox, mother of three, is found dead in a pool of her own blood. Detective Chief Inspector Karlsson calls Frieda, hoping she can offer a new angle. But when it emerges that Ruth was leading a secret life, her family closes ranks. Still reeling from a recent attempt on her life, Frieda starts down a dangerous path that seems to lead to a serial killer who has long escaped detection. Is she getting closer to unraveling either case? Or is Frieda just the victim of her own paranoid, fragile mind?Eric B. says: "Poor Frieda Klein. She is a caring, helpful kind of person, a psychotherapist by trade, interested in aiding sufferers to find peace and happiness. But she keeps falling into very bad situations, not always without her active involvement, which just seem to get worse for everyone, including herself, as time progresses. She’s just so driven. She, like the proverbial bulldog, gets the bone in her teeth and just won’t let go until she’s sure every bit of substance has been chewed from it, mostly to the sorrow of everyone involved. Still. She doesn't take crap from anyone and it sometimes plunges her into trouble. The "personal assault on a private citizen" type of trouble, if she's pushed, which she doesn't like.Her previous encounters with the police have ended in appalling tragedy, deeply disturbed participants, her own near death and her traumatic killing of an assailant accompanied by a reputation with the cops as a troublemaker and inciter of violence. Not a great place to start, and she doesn’t want to. But she gets drawn into several cases of murder, on one hand very recent and the other over a series of years leading up to the present. This is the third of the "Frieda Klein Mysteries" and is as strong as the previous entries.Her fencing match with a rival psychological profiler has put her in the position of being on the defensive about her own actions, justifiable as they may be and at odds with nearly everyone in officialdom except her stalwart ally Detective Chief Inspector Malcolm Karlsson who puts his own career on the line to support her increasingly hard-to-believe assertions about a serial killer targeting young girls. It all hinges, you see, on a single phrase uttered to her in the middle of a bogus patient interview designed by her psychological nemesis to entrap her into making actionable mistakes. All of the conversation is bogus, she’s convinced (and she’s right) except for one trenchant remark which sends her on an unlikely search for the person who really uttered it and why they did.  Overlaying all this is a tentative, fragile relationship with her beau who has had to travel to the U.S. to advance his career. They text and call, sometimes finding themselves physically together, but mostly apart and the bittersweet aspect of the affair adds another level to Frieda's angst. As I said, poor Frieda.Enough about that. Read the book. Nicci French, the husband and wife combination of Nicci Gerrard and Sean French produce crime fiction that will be happily devoured by fans of Tana French and Sophie Hannah, and maybe others who like tight, tense suspense writing. You’ll hardly be able to wait to turn the page but you’ll also be reluctant to find out what’s on it. That’s as good as it gets."[...]



Jeff C Is Recommending:

2015-03-18T05:00:00.180-06:00

Mightier than the Sword opens with an IRA bomb exploding during the MV Buckingham's maiden voyage across the Atlantic - but how many passengers lose their lives? When Harry Clifton visits his publisher in New York, he learns that he has been elected as the new president of English PEN, and immediately launches a campaign for the release of a fellow author, Anatoly Babakov, who's imprisoned in Siberia. Babakov's crime? Writing a book called "Uncle Joe", a devastating insight into what it was like to work for Stalin. So determined is Harry to see Babakov released and the book published, that he puts his own life in danger. His wife Emma, chairman of Barrington Shipping, is facing the repercussions of the IRA attack on the Buckingham. Some board members feel she should resign, and Lady Virginia Fenwick will stop at nothing to cause Emma's downfall. Sir Giles Barrington is now a minister of the Crown, and looks set for even higher office, until an official trip to Berlin does not end as a diplomatic success. Once again, Giles's political career is thrown off balance by none other than his old adversary, Major Alex Fisher, who once again stands against him at the election. But who wins this time? In London, Harry and Emma's son, Sebastian, is quickly making a name for himself at Farthing's Bank in London, and has proposed to the beautiful young American, Samantha. But the despicable Adrian Sloane, a man interested only in his own advancement and the ruin of Sebastian, will stop at nothing to remove his rival. Jeffrey Archer's compelling Clifton Chronicles continue in this, his most accomplished novel to date. With all the trademark twists and turns that have made him one of the world's most popular authors, the spellbinding story of the Clifton and the Barrington families continues.Nancy Turner burst onto the literary scene with her hugely popular novels These Is My Words, Sarah’s Quilt, and The Star Garden. Now, Turner has written the novel she was born to write, this exciting and heartfelt story of a woman struggling to find herself during the tumultuous years preceding the American Revolution. The year is 1729, and Resolute Talbot and her siblings are captured by pirates, taken from their family in Jamaica, and brought to the New World. Resolute and her sister are sold into slavery in colonial New England and taught the trade of spinning and weaving.When Resolute finds herself alone in Lexington, Massachusetts, she struggles to find her way in a society that is quick to judge a young woman without a family. As the seeds of rebellion against England grow, Resolute is torn between following the rules and breaking free. Resolute’s talent at the loom places her at the center of an incredible web of secrecy that helped drive the American Revolution. Heart-wrenching, brilliantly written, and packed to the brim with adventure, My Name is Resolute is destined to be an instant classic."You ain't gonna like what I have to tell you, but I'm gonna tell you anyway. See, my name is Karen Memery, like memory only spelt with an e, and I'm one of the girls what works in the Hôtel Mon Cherie on Amity Street. Hôtel has a little hat over the o like that. It's French, so Beatrice tells me." Set in the late 19th century--when the city we now call Seattle Underground was the whole town (and still on the surface), when airships plied the trade routes, would-be gold miners were heading to the gold fields of Alaska, and steam-powered mechanicals stalked the waterfront, Karen is a young woman on her own, is making the best of her orphaned state by working in Madame Damnable's high-quality bordello. Through Karen's eyes we get to know the other girls in the house--a resourceful group--and the poo[...]



“Amanda Filipacchi is the funniest novelist you’ve never heard of… Few comic novelists get characters talking so naturally, and amusingly… There is a high art in this kind of ungentle entertainment...” ~Boston Globe

2015-03-18T04:00:00.578-06:00

In the heart of New York City, a group of artistic friends struggles with society's standards of beauty. At the center are Barb and Lily, two women at opposite ends of the beauty spectrum, but with the same problem: each fears she will never find a love that can overcome her looks. 

Barb, a stunningly beautiful costume designer, makes herself ugly in hopes of finding true love. Meanwhile, her friend Lily, a brilliantly talented but plain-looking musician, goes to fantastic lengths to attract the man who has rejected her with results that are as touching as they are transformative. To complicate matters, Barb and Lily discover that they may have a murderer in their midst, that Barb's calm disposition is more dangerously provocative than her beauty ever was, and that Lily's musical talents are more powerful than anyone could have imagined.

Part literary whodunit, part surrealist farce, The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty serves as a smart, modern-day fairy tale. With biting wit and offbeat charm, Amanda Filipacchi illuminates the labyrinthine relationship between beauty, desire, and identity, asking at every turn: what does it truly mean to allow oneself to be seen?




Mischief, Mayhem and Murder: Margaret N. Offer's Her Recommendations For Great Mysteries

2015-03-17T06:00:01.051-06:00

It was all her doing. She had cried wolf, and the wolf had come. It's July 1940, and eleven-year-old Lydia has just run away from life as a child evacuee in Wales. She arrives in her English village, gas mask in tow, only to find it abandoned. Her family's house is shuttered and empty, the windows covered by black-out blinds--but Lydia settles in, determined to wait there until they return. Late that night he comes: a wounded soldier, gun in hand, heralding a full-blown German invasion. There are, the man explains, certain rules that Lydia must now follow. He says he won't hurt Lydia, but she cannot leave the house. As the unlikely pair coexists in the claustrophobic confines of the house, each becomes dependent on the other for survival. But when Lydia tries to uncover what brought the soldier to her door, she realizes that he knows more than he should about her family--and that he's plotting something for them both. Eerie, gripping, and piercingly sad, The Dynamite Room brings a strikingly original and contemporary resonance to the great tradition of war classics. It shrinks the global theater of history's most devastating war to a game of cat and mouse played out in a single house--resulting in a moving portrait of war and how it affects soldiers and citizens alike.  Four years after she set sail from England, leaving everything she most loved behind, Maisie Dobbs at last returns, only to find herself in a dangerous place . . . In Jacqueline Winspear‘s powerful story of political intrigue and personal tragedy, a brutal murder in the British garrison town of Gibraltar leads Maisie into a web of lies, deceit, and peril.Spring 1937. In the four years since she left England, Maisie Dobbs has experienced love, contentment, stability—and the deepest tragedy a woman can endure. Now, all she wants is the peace she believes she might find by returning to India. But her sojourn in the hills of Darjeeling is cut short when her stepmother summons her home to England; her aging father Frankie Dobbs is not getting any younger.But on a ship bound for England, Maisie realizes she isn’t ready to return. Against the wishes of the captain who warns her, “You will be alone in a most dangerous place,” she disembarks in Gibraltar. Though she is on her own, Maisie is far from alone: the British garrison town is teeming with refugees fleeing a brutal civil war across the border in Spain.Yet the danger is very real. Days after Maisie’s arrival, a photographer and member of Gibraltar’s Sephardic Jewish community, Sebastian Babayoff, is murdered, and Maisie becomes entangled in the case, drawing the attention of the British Secret Service. Under the suspicious eye of a British agent, Maisie is pulled deeper into political intrigue on “the Rock”—arguably Britain’s most important strategic territory—and renews an uneasy acquaintance in the process. At a crossroads between her past and her future, Maisie must choose a direction, knowing that England is, for her, an equally dangerous place, but in quite a different way. [...]



Kate M. Is Recommending:

2015-03-17T05:00:03.831-06:00

Drawing on their unusual access to intelligence sources, law enforcement, and groundbreaking research, two of America's leading experts on violent extremism and terrorism explain the genesis, evolution, and implications of today's most barbaric jihadist army, Islamic State--and how we can fight it.Though terrorist groups are a fixture of contemporary politics and warfare, the world has never witnessed the degree of sheer brutality demonstrated by the group know as ISIS--the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Its sadistic disregard for human life, sophisticated use of social media, acquisition of territory, and ability to attract foreign fighters--many from modern Western democracies--is unprecedented. Jessica Stern and J. M. Berger analyze the tools ISIS uses both to frighten innocent citizens and lure new soldiers--including the "ghoulish pornography" of their pro-jihadi videos, the seductive appeal of "jihadic chic," and its startling effective social media expertise. While this jihadi army poses a significant threat, our response must be carefully calibrated the authors warn; sending troops onto the battlefield could become the ideal recruiting tool, increasing ISIS's ranks.ISIS: The State of Terror offers practical ideas on potential government responses--most importantly, emphasizing that we must alter our present conceptions of terrorism and terrorists and react to the rapidly changing jihadi landscape, both online and off, as quickly as the terrorists do. As it lays out what our next move--as a country, as a government, as the world--should be, it offers a vital assessment of the future of counterterrorism and countering violent extremism.Social networking has grown into a staple of modern society, but its continued evolution is becoming increasingly detrimental to our lives. Shifts in communication and privacy are affecting us more than we realize or understand. Terms of Service crystalizes this current moment in technology and contemplates its implications: the identity-validating pleasures and perils of online visibility; our newly adopted view of daily life through the lens of what is shareworthy; and the surveillance state operated by social media platforms--Facebook, Google, Twitter, and others--to mine our personal data for advertising revenue, an invasion of our lives that is as pervasive as government spying.Jacob Silverman calls for social media users to take back ownership of their digital selves from the Silicon Valley corporations who claim to know what's best for them. Integrating politics, sociology, national security, pop culture, and technology, he reveals the surprising conformity at the heart of Internet culture--explaining how social media companies engineer their products to encourage shallow engagement and discourage dissent. Reflecting on the collapsed barriers between our private and public lives, Silverman brings into focus the inner conflict we feel when deciding what to share and what to "like," and explains how we can take the steps we need to free ourselves from its grip.A father's exhilarating and funny love letter to his daughter with Down syndrome whose vibrant and infectious approach to life has something to teach all of us about how we can better live our own. Jillian Daugherty was born with Down syndrome. The day they brought her home from the hospital, her parents, Paul and Kerry, were flooded with worry and uncertainty, but also overwhelming love, which they channeled to "the job of building the better Jillian." While their daughter had special needs, they refused to allow her to grow up needy--"Expect, Don't Accept" became their mantra. Little d[...]



"The Lunch Witch" Will Have You Looking at Your Lunch Ladies in a Whole New Light.

2015-03-18T08:53:12.644-06:00

For generations and generations, the women of Grunhilda's family have stirred up trouble in a big, black pot. Grunhilda inherits her famous ancestors' recipes and cauldron, but no one believes in magic anymore. 

Despite the fact that Grunhilda's only useful skill is cooking up potfuls of foul brew, she finds a job listing that might suit her: lunch lady. She delights in scaring the kids until she meets a timid little girl named Madison with a big set of glasses who becomes an unlikely friend. Madison needs help at school and at home, but helping people goes against everything Grunhilda's believes in as a witch! Will this girl be able to thaw the Lunch Witch's icy heart? Or will Grunhilda turn her back on a kindred spirit?





Indies Inroduce...Debut Authors

2015-03-16T06:00:01.063-06:00

Nina MacLaughlin spent her twenties working at a Boston newspaper, sitting behind a desk and staring at a screen. Yearning for more tangible work, she applied for a job she saw on Craigslist "Carpenter's Assistant: Women strongly encouraged to apply" despite being a Classics major who couldn't tell a Phillips from a flathead screwdriver. She got the job, and in Hammer Head she tells the rich and entertaining story of becoming a carpenter. Writing with infectious curiosity, MacLaughlin describes the joys and frustrations of making things by hand, reveals the challenges of working as a woman in an occupation that is 99 percent male, and explains how manual labor changed the way she sees the world. We meet her unflappable mentor, Mary, a petite but tough carpenter-sage ( Be smarter than the tools ), as well as wild demo dudes, foul-mouthed plumbers, grizzled hardware store clerks, and the colorful clients whose homes she and Mary work in. Whisking her readers from job to job building a wall, remodeling a kitchen, gut-renovating a house MacLaughlin examines the history of the tools she uses and the virtues and varieties of wood. Throughout, she draws on the wisdom of Ovid, Annie Dillard, Studs Terkel, and Mary Oliver to illuminate her experience of work. And, in a deeply moving climax, MacLaughlin strikes out on her own for the first time to build bookshelves for her own father. Hammer Head is a passionate book full of sweat, swearing, bashed thumbs, and a deep sense of finding real meaning in work and life.Read an excerpt HERE. Why I Quit My Desk Job and Became a CarpenterPraise for the book:“An effortless blend of literary craft with woodcraft.” ~Library Journal“A surprisingly thoughtful book about taking chances and finding joy in change.” ~Kirkus “Renders enormous interest in this painstaking work, so lovingly delineated.” ~Publishers Weekly “Not many of us find the courage to follow that small voice inside us to our true work, especially when that work lacks social status and health benefits and financial stability. But here, in this wonderfully assured debut, Nina MacLaughlin compellingly chronicles having done just that, a leap of faith that brings her more deeply into her very core where the stakes are high but the potential for lasting joy is even higher. Lucky for us, MacLaughlin's evocative prose is just as plumb, level, and true as all the wood structures she ultimately learns to build. This is a lovely and important book!” ~Andre Dubus III, author of Townie “Hammer Head is warm, wise, and authentically inspiring. No other book has made me want to re-read Ovid and retile my bathroom floor, nor given me the conviction that I can do both. I loved it.” ~Rosie Schaap, author of Drinking with Men “In this beautiful memoir about learning a trade, Nina MacLaughlin explores mortality, desire, the passage of time, and the meaning of work. She transcends the personal and makes us question what of our own works are built to endure. This book—a thing well-made—certainly is.” ~Philip Connors, author of Fire Season  “Nina MacLaughlin built a dream by becoming a carpenter, and transformed her life. Hammer Head is her exquisitely inspiring story. I loved it.” ~Lynne Cox, author of Swimming to Antarctica “I have never built anything but after reading Nina MacLaughlin's smart, inspiring memoir Hammer Head, I wanted to. She gives context and depth to wood and the act of shaping it, of working with one's hands, of taking risks and letting go. A fantastic debut.” ~Molly Birnbaum, author of Season to Taste[...]



Tom B. Is Recommending:

2015-03-16T05:00:11.899-06:00

The New York Times bestselling author of Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker and Mrs. Lincoln's Rival imagines the inner life of Julia Grant, beloved as a Civil War general’s wife and the First Lady, yet who grappled with a profound and complex relationship with the slave who was her namesake—until she forged a proud identity of her own. In 1844, Missouri belle Julia Dent met dazzling horseman Lieutenant Ulysses S Grant. Four years passed before their parents permitted them to wed, and the groom’s abolitionist family refused to attend the ceremony. Since childhood, Julia owned as a slave another Julia, known as Jule. Jule guarded her mistress’s closely held twin secrets: She had perilously poor vision but was gifted with prophetic sight. So it was that Jule became Julia’s eyes to the world. And what a world it was, marked by gathering clouds of war. The Grants vowed never to be separated, but as Ulysses rose through the ranks—becoming general in chief of the Union Army—so did the stakes of their pact. During the war, Julia would travel, often in the company of Jule and the four Grant children, facing unreliable transportation and certain danger to be at her husband’s side. Yet Julia and Jule saw two different wars. While Julia spoke out for women—Union and Confederate—she continued to hold Jule as a slave behind Union lines. Upon the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, Jule claimed her freedom and rose to prominence as a businesswoman in her own right, taking the honorary title Madame. The two women’s paths continued to cross throughout the Grants’ White House years in Washington, DC, and later in New York City, the site of Grant’s Tomb. Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule is the first novel to chronicle this singular relationship, bound by sight and shadow. Read an excerpt HERE.   A startling and tender portrait of one family’s struggle to make peace with their son’s death An ingeniously layered narrative, told over the course of one week, Eddie Joyce’s debut novel masterfully depicts an Italian-Irish American family on Staten Island and their complicated emotional history. Ten years after the loss of Bobby—the Amendola family’s youngest son—everyone is still struggling to recover from the firefighter’s unexpected death. Bobby’s mother Gail; his widow Tina; his older brothers Peter, the corporate lawyer, and Franky, the misfit; and his father Michael have all dealt with their grief in different ways. But as the family gathers together for Bobby Jr.’s birthday party, they must each find a way to accept a new man in Tina’s life while reconciling their feelings for their lost loved one. Presented through multiple points of view, Small Mercies explores the conflicts and deep attachments that exist within families. Heart-wrenching and profoundly relatable, Joyce’s debut is a love letter to Staten Island and a deeply affecting portrait of an American family.  Read an excerpt HERE.   A hilarious and dazzling debut novel about a master impressionist at risk of losing his true self All his life, Giovanni Bernini has possessed an uncanny gift: he can imitate anyone he meets. Honed by his mother at a young age, the talent catapults him from small-town obscurity to stardom. As Giovanni describes it, “No one’s disguise is perfect. There is in every person, no matter how graceful, a seam, a thread curling out of them. . . . When pulled by the right hands, it will unravel the person entire.” As his fame grows, Giovanni encoun[...]



"Memorable characters live on every page . . . Bracketed by stunning revelations, Horack’s luminous tale offers perceptive insights about the elemental connections of family." ~Kirkus Reviews

2015-03-16T04:00:03.114-06:00

A masterful depiction of a life driven off the rails by tragedy and sin--a man now summoned by the legacy of a beloved, lost brother to embark on a journey in search toward understanding, happiness, and redemption.

Haunted by the disappearance of his older brother Tommy in the first Gulf War, the tragic deaths of his parents, and the felony conviction that has branded him for a decade, Roy Joseph has labored in lonesome exile--and under the ever-watchful eyes of the law--moving between oil rigs off the coast of Louisiana and an Airstream trailer he shares with his dog.

Then, on the cusp of his thirtieth birthday, Roy is contacted by a teenage girl from California claiming to be his lost brother's biological daughter. Yearning for connection and the prospect of family, Roy embarks on a journey across America, visiting childhood haunts in the South to confront his troubled memories and history, and making a stop in Nevada to call on a retired Navy SEAL who may hold the answer to Tommy's fate. The ultimate destination is San Francisco, where a potential Russian bride and his long-lost niece await, and Roy may finally recover the Joseph line.

With The Other Joseph, Skip Horack delivers a powerful, spellbinding tale of a man nearly defeated by life who is given one last chance at redemption--one last shot to find meaning and alter the course of his solitary existence.

Read an excerpt HERE.





Fresh Ink: Spotlight on Debut Books of All Kinds: "A straight-on jab to the soul" ~Ben Fountain, author of "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk"

2015-03-14T06:00:00.371-06:00

An unforgettable debut of linked stories that follow the members and retinue of a wealthy Mexican family forced into exile after the patriarch is kidnapped. On an unremarkable night, Jose Victoriano Arteaga--the head of a thriving Mexico City family--vanishes on his way home from work. The Arteagas find few answers; the full truth of what happened to Arteaga is lost to the shadows of Mexico's vast and desperate underworld, a place of rampant violence and kidnappings, and government corruption. But soon packages arrive to the family house, offering horrifying clues. Fear, guilt, and the prospect of financial ruination fracture the once-proud family and scatter them across the globe, yet delicate threads still hold them together: in a swimming pool in Palo Alto, Arteaga's young grandson struggles to make sense of the grief that has hobbled his family; in Mexico City, Arteaga's mistress alternates between rage and heartbreak as she waits, in growing panic, for her lover's return; in Austin, the Arteagas' housekeeper tries to piece together a second life in an alienating and demeaning new land; in Madrid, Arteaga's son takes his ailing dog through the hot and unforgiving streets, in search of his father's ghost. Multiple award-winning author Antonio Ruiz-Camacho offers an exquisite and intimate evocation of the loneliness, love, hope, and fear that can bind a family even as unspeakable violence tears it apart. Barefoot Dogs is a heartfelt elegy to the stolen innocence of every family struck by tragedy. This is urgent and vital fiction.Author Explores The Ripple Effects Of A Kidnapping In MexicoRead the Kirkus Review interview with the author HERE. UT alumnus looks forward to release of debut novelKeepsakes From Across the Border"He would have been ashamed to learn that his own son was this weak, this cowardly, this unpatriotic"Praise for the book:  “Antonio Ruiz-Camacho's Barefoot Dogs is bravura, brilliant, moving, hilarious—it's both clear-eyed and dreamy, strange and beautiful, stories for our time, and also for all-time.That it's his first book is a wonder, and a wonderful promise.” ~Elizabeth McCracken, author of The Giant's House “With deftness and nuance, Ruiz-Camacho…captures the flawed but fascinating humanity of the extended Arteaga family…Readers receive a gift as rare as it is unnerving: a chance to enter imaginatively into a world of personal tragedy through portals other than pathos. Despite their myopia and unreckoned privilege, the wealthy wanderers of Barefoot Dogs never become objects of scorn or pity. And this is perhaps the most powerful testament to Ruiz-Camacho’s powers.” ~Texas Observer"Antonio Ruiz-Camacho has written a marvelous and moving story collection: Barefoot Dogs is a brilliant and devastating portrait of a scattered, entitled, and traumatized Mexican upper-class, waking up in horror to the reality of the country they once owned. A tour de force." ~Daniel Alarcón, author of At Night We Walk in Circles“In the world of today no calamity stays local, no tragedy private. Someone missing at a street corner leaves unhealed scars in other countries, among different generations. It is with this keen sense of intersection between personal and impersonal history that Antonio Ruiz-Camacho approaches his characters—his scrutiny of them, his empathy for them, and his versatile voice reminding us of Grace Paley, among other masters of the short story.” ~Yiyun Li, author of The Vagrants “'Are you afraid of a h[...]



Fresh Ink: Spotlight on Debut Books of All Kinds

2015-03-14T05:00:01.557-06:00

A witty, tender memoir of a son’s journey home to care for his irascible mother—a tale of secrets, silences, and enduring love When George Hodgman leaves Manhattan for his hometown of Paris, Missouri, he finds himself—an unlikely caretaker and near-lethal cook—in a head-on collision with his aging mother, Betty, a woman of wit and will. Will George lure her into assisted living? When hell freezes over. He can’t bring himself to force her from the home both treasure—the place where his father’s voice lingers, the scene of shared jokes, skirmishes, and, behind the dusty antiques, a rarely acknowledged conflict: Betty, who speaks her mind but cannot quite reveal her heart, has never really accepted the fact that her son is gay. As these two unforgettable characters try to bring their different worlds together, Hodgman reveals the challenges of Betty’s life and his own struggle for self-respect, moving readers from their small town—crumbling but still colorful—to the star-studded corridors of Vanity Fair. Evocative of The End of Your Life Book Club and The Tender Bar, Hodgman’s debut is both an indelible portrait of a family and an exquisitely told tale of a prodigal son’s return.  Veteran Editor and MO Native Hodgman Discusses Acclaimed New Memoir   A Conversation with George Hodgman After a Homecoming, a Son Finds His MuseListen to the first chapter HERE.Cher, Bloody Marys and dementia: The heartbreak and comic absurdity of caring for an aging momPraise for the book: “A remarkable, laugh-out-loud book . . . Rarely has the subject of elder care produced such droll human comedy, or a heroine quite on the mettlesome order of Betty Baker Hodgman. For as much as the book works on several levels (as a meditation on belonging, as a story of growing up gay and the psychic cost of silence, as metaphor for recovery), it is the strong-willed Betty who shines through.” ~The New York Times “An exquisitely written memoir about the complicated but deeply genuine love a son feels for his courageous, headstrong, vulnerable mother in the twilight of her life. George Hodgman is stunningly clear-eyed and yet so darned big-hearted. Bettyville is just wonderful.” ~Jeannette Walls, author of The Glass Castle “The idea of a cultured gay man leaving New York City to care for his aging mother in Paris, Missouri, is already funny, and George Hodgman reaps that humor with great charm. But then he plunges deep, examining the warm yet fraught relationship between mother and son with profound insight and understanding....  As George and his mother come to terms with one another at the end of her days, the book begins to shimmer with something much more rare than love: a boundless, transcendent, and simple kindness. Bettyville is a beautiful book about the strange plenitude that comes from finally letting go of everything.” ~Alison Bechdel, author of Fun Home “Bettyville is a beautifully crafted memoir, rich with humor and wisdom. George Hodgman has created an unforgettable book about mothers and sons, and about the challenges that come with growing older and growing up.” ~Will Schwalbe, author of The End of Your Life Book Club“The book is instantly engaging, as Hodgman has a wry sense of humor, one he uses to keep others at a distance. Yet the book is also devastatingly touching. Betty is one tough cookie, and she is crumbling. Hodgman as a young man came out around the same time AI[...]



Fresh Ink: Spotlight on Debut Books of All Kinds

2015-03-14T04:00:02.519-06:00

Signs Preceding the End of the World is one of the most arresting novels to be published in Spanish in the last ten years. Yuri Herrera does not simply write about the border between Mexico and the United States and those who cross it. He explores the crossings and translations people make in their minds and language as they move from one country to another, especially when there's no going back. Traversing this lonely territory is Makina, a young woman who knows only too well how to survive in a violent, macho world. Leaving behind her life in Mexico to search for her brother, she is smuggled into the USA carrying a pair of secret messages - one from her mother and one from the Mexican underworld In this grippingly original novel Yuri Herrera explores the actual and psychological crossings and translations people make--with their feet, in their minds, and in their language as they move from one country to another, especially when there's no going back. The Optimist’s WordsPraise for the book: "Yuri Herrera must be a thousand years old. He must have travelled to hell, and heaven, and back again. He must have once been a girl, an animal, a rock, a boy, and a woman. Nothing else explains the vastness of his understanding." ~Valeria Luiselli, author of Faces in the Crowd"Yuri Herrera is Mexico’s greatest novelist. His spare, poetic narratives and incomparable prose read like epics compacted into a single perfect punch – they ring your bell, your being, your soul. Signs Preceding the End of the World delivers a darkly mythological vision of the U.S. as experienced by the “not us” that is harrowing and fierce. The profoundly dignified, mind-boggling Makina, our guide and translator, is the heroine who redeems us all: she is the Truth.’ Francisco Goldman, author of Say Her Name"Herrera never forgets the turbulent and moving humanity of his protagonist: adroit, angry, ineluctable, Makina is destined to become one of the essential characters of Mexico’s new literature…Herrera creates a radically new language […] and condenses into a few pages what other authors need hundreds to convey." ~Jorge Volpi, author of In Search of Klingsor"Yuri Herrera’s Signs Preceding the End of the World is a masterpiece, a haunting and moving allegory about violence and the culture built to support and celebrate that violence. Of the writers of my generation, the one I most admire is Yuri Herrera." ~Daniel Alarcón, author of At Night We Walk in Circles"Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera confirms his status as a storyteller skilled at creating intense storylines and using original language. It is as adept at depicting wretched conditions as it is of elevating the humble and everyday to symbolic dimensions. And that symbolism, to be sure, has something of the Kafkaesque." ~Arturo García Ramos, ABC‘It’s fair to say that Yuri Herrera follows in the footsteps of compatriot Juan Rulfo, perhaps the master par excellence of creating limbos, spectral spaces in which the characters—real Schrödinger’s cats—reside halfway between the living and the dead." ~Javier Moreno, Quimera"The book amazes with the precise and persuasive beauty of its words. New words are created or transformed in order to tell what cannot be told." ~María José Obiol, El País  [...]



New Non-Fiction Titles

2015-03-13T06:00:00.474-06:00

The award-winning journalist and author of The Beekeeper's Lament attempts to uncover the truth about her great-great-grandmother, Julia--whose ghost is said to haunt an elegant hotel in Santa Fe--in this spellbinding exploration of myth, family history, and the American West.The dark-eyed woman in the long black gown was first seen in the 1970s, standing near a fireplace. She was sad and translucent, present and absent at once. Strange things began to happen in the Santa Fe hotel where she was seen. Gas fireplaces turned off and on without anyone touching a switch. Vases of flowers appeared in new locations. Glasses flew off shelves. And in one second-floor suite with a canopy bed and arched windows looking out to the mountains, guests reported alarming events: blankets ripped off while they slept, the room temperature plummeting, disembodied breathing, dancing balls of light.La Posada--"place of rest"--had been a grand Santa Fe home before it was converted to a hotel. The room with the canopy bed had belonged to Julia Schuster Staab, the wife of the home's original owner. She died in 1896, nearly a century before the hauntings were first reported. In American Ghost, Hannah Nordhaus traces the life, death, and unsettled afterlife of her great-great-grandmother Julia, from her childhood in Germany to her years in the American West with her Jewish merchant husband.American Ghost is a story of pioneer women and immigrants, ghost hunters and psychics, frontier fortitude and mental illness, imagination and lore. As she traces the strands of Julia's life, Nordhaus uncovers a larger tale of how a true-life story becomes a ghost story--and how difficult it can sometimes be to separate history and myth.The New York Times bestselling author of Turn Right at Machu Picchu sets out to uncover the truth behind the legendary lost city of Atlantis. A few years ago, Mark Adams made a strange discovery: Everything we know about the lost city of Atlantis comes from the work of one man, the Greek philosopher Plato. Then he made a second, stranger discovery: Amateur explorers are still actively searching for this sunken city all around the world, based entirely on the clues Plato left behind. Exposed to the Atlantis obsession, Adams decides to track down these people and determine why they believe it’s possible to find the world’s most famous lost city and whether any of their theories could prove or disprove its existence. He visits scientists who use cutting-edge technology to find legendary civilizations once thought to be fictional. He examines the numerical and musical codes hidden in Plato’s writings, and with the help of some charismatic sleuths traces their roots back to Pythagoras, the sixth-century BC mathematician. He learns how ancient societies transmitted accounts of cataclysmic events—and how one might dig out the “kernel of truth” in Plato’s original tale. Meet Me in Atlantis is Adams’s enthralling account of his quest to solve one of history’s greatest mysteries; a travelogue that takes readers to fascinating locations to meet irresistible characters; and a deep, often humorous look at the human longing to rediscover a lost world.  Thanks to Salem sea captains, Gilded Age millionaires, curators on horseback and missionaries gone native, North American museums now possess the greatest collections of Chinese art outside of East Asia itself. How did it [...]