New on the Shelves…

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This is an interesting one – Forgiving Maximo Rothman by A. J. Sidransky

maxOn a chilly autumn night in New York, the lives of two men born decades and continents apart collide when Max Redmond is found bludgeoned in his Washington Heights apartment. While investigating the crime, Detective Tolya Kurchenko comes across the dead man’s diaries, written by Redmond over four decades. He hopes the diaries will lead him to the killer. In fact, they help him sort out the complexities of his own identity. Spanning 65 years and three continents — from Hitler’s Europe to the decaying Soviet Empire of the 1970s, and revealing the little-known history of Sosua, a Jewish settlement in the jungles of the Dominican Republic — A. J. Sidransky’s debut novel leads us into worlds long gone, and the lives of people still touched by those memories.

Way back in 2007, my book club read In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick. Loved the book (I’m a big fan of real-life adventures) but it was a poor choice for the book club. There wasn’t much to debate, really – whales are big, starvation is bad – and we were all in agreement that it was a great story, quite well-written. Maybe that’s why I’m having trouble imagining it as a movie, but apparently Ron Howard doesn’t have that problem. And hey – watching Chris Hemsworth is not exactly suffering, so I’m willing to give it a try. It’s always interesting to compare the book in your head to the images on the screen. Sometimes, it’s disappointing but sometimes they get it right. I’m looking forward to seeing what they’ve done with this one.

Quotables

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This explains a lot…

“Write drunk. Edit sober.”

– Ernest Hemingway

Hot Guys with Books

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Hot twins with books? Hard to say. The photo, by dhammza, is called “Double Self Portrait”

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New on the Shelves…

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Silverblind (Ironskin Book 3) by Tina Connolly:

silverThe stunning historical fantasy series that began with the Nebula finalist Ironskin continues in Tina Connolly’s Silverblind

Dorie Rochart has been hiding her fey side for a long time. Now, finished with University, she plans to study magical creatures and plants in the wild, bringing long-forgotten cures to those in need. But when no one will hire a girl to fight basilisks, she releases her shape-changing fey powers—to disguise herself as a boy.

While hunting for wyvern eggs, she saves a young scientist who’s about to get steamed by a silvertail—and finds her childhood friend Tam Grimsby, to whom she hasn’t spoken in seven years. Not since she traded him to the fey. She can’t bear to tell him who she really is, but every day grows harder as he comes to trust her.

The wyverns are being hunted to extinction for the powerful compounds in their eggs. The fey are dying out as humans grow in power. Now Tam and Dorie will have to decide which side they will fight for. And if they end up on opposite sides, can their returning friendship survive? 

New on the Shelves…

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This is the third book in a series I’m really enjoying. It started with Something Red and continued with The Wicked. Now, Throne of Darkness by Douglas Nicholas:

throneIt’s 1215 in northwest England—the eve of the signing of the Magna Carta—and mystical Irish queen Maeve and her unlikely band of warriors must protect the region from a chilling fate. Word of a threat reaches the Northern barons: King John has plotted to import an African sorcerer and his sinister clan of blacksmiths, whose unearthly powers may spell destruction for the entire kingdom. Along with her lover, Jack, her gifted niece, Nemain, and Nemain’s newlywed husband, Hob (whose hidden talents will soon be revealed), Maeve must overcome a supernatural threat unlike any she’s seen before.

With his characteristic blend of historical adventure and intoxicating mythological elements, Nicholas once again “goes for the throat…with brilliant writing and whip-smart plotting” (New York Timesbestselling author Jonathan Maberry). This is a richly woven tale that will leave you hungry for more.

Quotables

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“I like liking things. It’s just that there are more books to like than anyone can ever read. Granted, that’s an uptown problem, but a problem nonetheless.”

– Sarah Vowell, and isn’t that a great name for a writer?

Hot Guys with Books

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Another cute boy on Flickr with a book! This is Nicholas reading Tom Clancy’s The Bear and the Dragon. The photographer is Jayel Aheram.

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New on the Shelves…

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Okay, working my way through the list, this morning we’ve got John the Pupil by David Flusfeder:

johnSet in thirteenth-century Europe, against the backdrop of a medieval world where beauty and violence, science and mysticism, carnality and faith, exist side by side, this is a masterful, mystery-laden novel from the author of The Gift, in the tradition of Umberto Eco, Barry Unsworth, and Michel Faber.

Since he was a young boy, John has studied at the Franciscan monastery outside Oxford, under the tutelage of friar and magus Roger Bacon, an inventor, scientist, and polymath. In 1267, Bacon arranges for his young pupil to embark on a journey of penitence to Italy. But the pilgrimage is a guise to deliver scientific instruments and Bacon’s great opus to His Holiness, Pope Clement IV. Two companions will accompany John, both Franciscan friars: the handsome, sweet-tempered Brother Andrew, with whom everyone falls in love; and the more brutish Brother Bernard, with his secret compulsion for drawing imaginary monsters. Neither knows the true purpose of their expedition.

John the Pupil is a medieval road movie, recounting the journey taken from Oxford to Viterbo in 1267 by John and his two companions. Modeling themselves after Saint Francis, the trio treks by foot through Europe, preaching the gospel and begging for sustenance. In addition to fighting off ambushes from thieves hungry for the thing of power they are carrying, the holy trio are tried and tempted by all sorts of sins: ambition, pride, lust—and by the sheer hell and heaven of medieval life.

Erudite and earthy, horrifying, comic, humane, David Flusfeder’s extraordinary novel reveals to the reader a world very different and all too like the one we live in now.

boneshakerThis is a book I started ages ago, but I lost track of it on my Kindle (I keep forgetting that it stores galleys as documents, not books). When I managed to unearth it, I was thrilled to be back in the world of Boneshaker by Cherie Priest. It’s set in the wild and woolly Seattle of the 1880’s, with some major revisions. The city, its population swelled from the Klondike gold rush, has been devastated. The Boneshaker, a mining machine designed to dig through the Klondike ice, has malfunctioned and run wild beneath the city, collapsing buildings, creating tunnels, killing hundreds, and releasing deadly gas from deep underground. The gas, called Blight, boils up from the tunnels and clings like a thick fog. It kills plants and animals, corrodes metal, and turns the humans who breathe it into a sort of zombie, called Rotters. In an attempt to save what they could, the city was walled up, trapping the Blight and the rotters inside. The walls created a lost city, crumbling into ruin, inhabited by the walking dead and those hearty souls who have carved out a living in the basements, vaults, and any place that offers a little clean air.

Briar Wilkes has gone back to using her maiden name, because being the widow of Leviticus Blue does not endear her to her neighbors; Leviticus Blue invented the Boneshaker, after all, and many still hold him responsible for the devastation in the city. She has tried to shield her son, Zeke, from his awful history, but the curiosity of a teenage boy is a powerful force. Zeke has decided to sneak into the walled city, find his mother’s home, and bring back evidence that his father was innocent. When she realizes what he’s done, Briar has no choice but to go in after him.

Their adventures in the city make for a great read. There are pirates and villains, the Chinamen who built and maintain the machinery that keeps the underground inhabitable. There is a good-hearted woman, Lucy O’Gunning, with her strange mechanical arm, and a mysterious villain named Dr. Minnericht, who hints at an even more villainous past. It’s about a mother’s love for her son – all that she’s done, all that she’s tried to do, and all that she is still willing to do to protect him, even if he hates her for it. It’s about how you keep going after tragedy strikes and find a way to live with yourself. And all through the book there are great stories of underground palaces, murderous rotters and shifting alliances – enough to keep you turning pages well past the time you should blow out the candles and turn in for the night. The ending was great (and I’ve had too many disappointing endings lately) and makes me want to pick up the next book right away. It was a great story and my only regret is that I didn’t finish it sooner. The bonus is that the sequels are all lined up for me!

For more on the wondrous alternate universe of Boneshaker,  check out The Clockwork Century and Cherie’s homepage. My copy of Boneshaker by Cherie Priest was an Advance Reader Copy, provided free of charge.