June 17, 2013
June 17, 2013
Thomas Jefferson famously declared he couldn’t live without books, but while he was enthusiastic about classical languages and scientific information, you might be suprised to know that he had this to say about reading novels:
A great obstacle to good education is the inordinate passion prevalent for novels, and the time lost in that reading which should be instructively employed. When this poison infects the mind, it destroys its tone and revolts it against wholesome reading. Reason and fact, plain and unadorned, are rejected. Nothing can engage attention unless dressed in all the figments of fancy, and nothing so bedecked comes amiss. The result is a bloated imagination, sickly judgment, and disgust towards all the real businesses of life. This mass of trash, however, is not without some distinction; some few modeling their narratives, although fictitious, on the incidents of real life, have been able to make them interesting and useful vehicles of a sound morality… For a like reason, too, much poetry should not be indulged. Some is useful for forming style and taste. Pope, Dryden, Thompson, Shakespeare, and of the French, Moliere, Racine, the Corneilles, may be read with pleasure and improvement.—Thomas Jefferson to Nathaniel Burwell, 1818. The Writings of Thomas Jefferson Memorial Edition (1903) 15:166. Web 17 June 2013.
There are probably many today who would agree that fiction is fluff – a private and personal indulgence with no practical utlity beyond maintaining the basic reading skill itself, perhaps. There is accumulating evidence, however, that this view is wrong. For several years there has been intriguing research into the ability of fiction to increase empathy in readers. What suprised me, however, is a recent story on Salon.com that fiction reading has been linked in a University of Toronto study to improved thinking skills as well:
A trio of University of Toronto scholars, led by psychologist Maja Djikic, report that people who have just read a short story have less need for what psychologists call “cognitive closure.” Compared with peers who have just read an essay, they expressed more comfort with disorder and uncertainty—attitudes that allow for both sophisticated thinking and greater creativity.
In a recent session I attended on “Why Fiction Is Dangerous,” Neil Gaiman talked about participating in an international science fiction and fantasy convention in China in 2007. Gaiman asked hosting officials why the 180 degree change in attitude toward these genres, which had been suppressed as potentially subversive. He was told China was now encouraging reading science fiction and fantasy because they believed it would lead to greater innovation and inventiveness after surveying the top talent at American companies like Google, Microsoft, and Apple and discovering many had grown up reading those genres.
So even the most pragmatic world powers focused like laser beams on economic development see serious value in reading speculative fiction. It clearly goes way beyond idle entertainment.
May 16, 2013
Forsyth, Frederick In Virginia, there is an agency bearing the bland name of Technical Operations Support Activity, or TOSA. Its one mission is to track, find, and kill those so dangerous to the United States that they are on a short document known as the Kill List. TOSA actually exists. So does the Kill List. Hotshot Garwood, Julie Peyton Lockhart and her sisters have inherited Bishop’s Cove, a small, luxurious oceanfront resort, but it comes with a condition: The girls must run the resort for one year and show a profit–only then will they own it. It’s soon apparent to Peyton that their efforts are being sabotaged, but she refuses to let the threats scare her–until she’s nearly killed. She calls on her childhood friend and protector, Finn MacBain, now with the FBI, and asks for his help. He saved her life once; he can do it again? The Last Witness Griffin, W. E. B. / Butterworth, William E. Russian girls are being smuggled in to work in the sex trade, and now some of them are dying or just disappearing. The trail leads right to Philadelphia–where Payne learns that’s not all. It isn’t just Russian girls who are vanishing. Teenage girls are being lured from foster homes. Police department sources are turning up dead. The lone living witness has gone into hiding, with everybody–the Russians, the cartels, some of Philadelphia’s most powerful politicians–all looking for her. It’s up to Payne to find her–and hope he gets to her first. I, Saul Jenkins, Jerry B. / MacDonald, James Told from the point of view of the disciple Luke, the apostle Paul and “Auggie,” a modern-day scholar, I, Saul, is a fast-paced story of intrigue and mystery. Readers will be reminded of Indiana Jones and the DiVinci code as they become absorbed in this page-turner by a master storyteller. Along the way they will learn of the fictionalized but plausible story of the life of Saul who relentlessly persecuted Christ’s followers prior to his conversion when he became known as Paul. The Beast Kellerman, Faye Beast by Faye Kellerman has descriptive copy which is not yet available from the Publisher. Mistress Patterson, James / Ellis, David Ben isn’t like most people. Unable to control his racing thoughts, he’s a man consumed by his obsessions: movies, motorcycles, presidential trivia-and Diana Hotchkiss, a beautiful woman Ben knows he can never have. When Diana is found dead outside her apartment, Ben’s infatuation drives him on a hunt to find out what happened to the love of his life. Ben soon discovers that the woman he pined for was hiding a shocking double life. And now someone is out to stop Ben from uncovering the truth about Diana’s illicit affairs. Bones of the Lost: A Temperance Brennan Novel Reichs, Kathy When Charlotte police discover the body of a teenage girl along a desolate stretch of two-lane highway, Temperance Brennan fears the worst. The girl’s body shows signs of foul play. Inside her purse police find the ID card of a prominent local businessman, John-Henry Story, who died in a horrific flea market fire months earlier. Was the girl an illegal immigrant turning tricks? Was she murdered? The Last Kiss Goodbye: A Charlotte Stone Novel Robards, Karen Dr. Charlotte “Charlie” Stone has dedicated her career as a psychiatrist to exploring the darkest territory of all: the hearts and minds of serial killers. It’s a job she’s uniquely suited for, thanks to the secret talent that gives her an uncanny edge–Charlie can see dead people, whose tormented spirits cry out to her for the justice only she can provide. This blessing–or curse–gives Charlie the power to hunt down and catch madmen and murderers. It’s also turned her love life upside down by drawing her into a hopelessly passionate relationship with the lingering ghost of charismatic bad boy Michael Garland. Posted by Jenifer Brown
Sarah Dunant, author of The Birth of Venus and In the Company of the Courtesan, is coming out with another richly historical novel. This time she focuses on the Borgias, the (often literally) intriguing Valencian family that became embroiled in 15th century Italian politics and produced two popes, Calixtus III and Alexander VI. If you’re familiar with the Showtime series, or resorted to reading about the actual history, a lot of the basic plot points will be familiar. There’s the papacy of Alexander and the triumphs, schemes, and sorrows of his children (yes) Cesare, Lucrezia, Juan, and Jofre. There’s the siege of Rome by the Naples-or-bust French Army, treachery among cardinals, strategic marriages and annulments among nobles, and lots of violence, passion, and revenge. Dunant retains the sizzle but tones down the likely enemy-initiated exaggerations, portraying the family with full descriptive texture and for the most part sympathetically. Alexander and Cesare’s frequent refrain seems to provide a theme: One enemy at a time!
For the ARC of this, please comment to the post. This is probably one of the titles David Glenn will cover at the Random House Book Buzz event next month, as it comes out in mid-July. Thanks to all of you who are planning to come.
May 13, 2013
Last week I highlighted audio giveaways from the profusely prolific James Patterson (& company). This week I’m going to the other end of the spectrum and offering the latest from Jeannette Walls, one of those writers who really make it count when they release something. Her memoir The Glass Castle (2005) and novel Half-Broke Horses (2009), were phenomenally successful. The Silver Star, due out next month, again promises long-awaited satisfaction for millions of readers.
If you’d like the ARC of The Silver Star, please comment to this post with the name of the Sno-Isle branch where you’d like to pick it up, and I’ll be sure it gets there.
Walls, Jeannette. The Silver Star. Scribner, June 2013. Abandoned by their artist mother at the age of twelve, Bean and her older sister, Liz, are sent to live in the decaying antebellum mansion of their widowed uncle, where they learn the truth about their parents and take odd jobs to earn extra money beforean increasingly withdrawn Liz has a life-shattering experience.
Though he’s almost more an imprint than a single author these days, James Patterson continues to be extraordinarily popular both locally and nationwide. His prodigious output comprises multiple series for a variety of ages including Alex Cross, Women’s Murder Club, Private, Maximum Ride, and Daniel X, among others.
Recently we harvested some free retail audiobooks from publishers at a local conference. They are all brand new and unused, but cannot be added to the collection as they are abridged. Please comment to this post to claim any or all, just letting me know the Sno-Isle branch where you would like to pick them up.
Here are the titles and publisher blurbs:
When millionaire Chaz Smith is mercilessly gunned down, Lindsay Boxer discovers that the murder weapon is linked to the deaths of four of San Francisco’s most untouchable criminals. Then she’s called next to the most bizarre crime scene she’s ever witnessed: two bodiless heads elaborately displayed in the garden of a world-famous actor.
Retired DC policeman Alex Cross is called on by his former partner to help track down a serial rapist. They discover a connection between the rapist and his wife’s killing years earlier, she was gunned down on the street in front of her husband.
Detective Alex Cross tells the story of an ancestor, Abraham Cross, and his experiences with lawyer Ben Corbett, recounting one man’s pursuit of justice in the face of the resurgence of Ku Klux Klan racism and violence in 1906 Eudora, Mississippi.
James Patterson delivers the fifteenth installment of his acclaimed Alex Cross series. During a family reunion, Detective Alex Cross receives word that a close relative has been brutally murdered. Determined to catch the culprit, Cross joins forces with his lover, Detective Brianna Stone, and pursues the case all the way to the seediest sections of Washington’s underbelly.
It’s Christmas Eve and Detective Alex Cross has been called out to catch someone who’s robbing his church’s poor box. That mission behind him, Alex returns home to celebrate with Bree, Nana, and his children. The tree decorating is barely underway before his phone rings again, a horrific hostage situation is quickly spiraling out of control. Away from his own family on the most precious of days, Alex calls upon every ounce of his training, creativity, and daring to save another family. Alex risks everything, and he may not make it back alive on this most sacred of family days. Alex Cross is a hero for our time, and never more so than in this story of family, action, and the deepest moral choices.
April 30, 2013
April 10, 2013
For the taking. Please comment to claim these ARC’s and tell me where you work so I can send them. Thanks!
Publisher Summary: In a chance encounter with a sinister truck driver tricked out like a rhinestone-cowboy, Odd has a vision of an outrageous multiple homicide, the murder of three innocent children, that has not yet been committed. Across California, into Nevada, and back again, Odd desperately gives chase. Along the way, he meets – and charms – a collection of eccentrics who become his allies in a terrifying battle against a sociopath of singular boldness and cleverness – and a shadowy network of like-minded murders whose identities and motivations are mysterious and whose resources seem almost supernatural.
Lackey, Mercedes. Burdens of the Dead. (June 2013)
Sequel to Much Fall of Blood, book 4 in the Heirs of Alexandria series. Civilization at the crossroads. In an alternate Renaissance where magic works, a captain of Italian forces must deal with gods, goddesses and warfare in order to save his daughter at the siege of Constantinople–and prevent a new dark age. In an alternate 15th century where magic still is part of life, the Holy Roman Empire rules Europe. Constantinople is under siege by the Venetians and their allies. Hekate, Goddess of Crossroads, presides over the conflict and carnage as alternate visions of civilization collide. And since Constantinople is the crossroad city of east and west, and it is here that Italian captain Benito Valdosta must deal with the powerful magical manifestation of the Weeping Woman, a disguised Hekate, in order to save his daughter and to destroy the fleets of the Chernobog assembling in the Black Sea before they can cut into the soft underbelly of Europe. With land battle, naval action, cunning assassinations, and heartbreak aplenty–not to mention the ongoing conflict between Lord of the Dead Aidonus and Benito for the love of a woman, civilization is at the crossroads and choices must be made that will bring victory and freedom for centuries to come–or a new Dark Age. About the Heirs of Alexander series: “In this world, broken off from ours in A.D. 349. . . Christian magic battles blackest sorcery. . . making for hours of old-fashioned reading fun . . . Lackey, Flint and Freer [are] mixmasters of nearly every heard-of myth.” Publishers Weekly “[V]ast and absorbing. . .it is almost impossible to put it down while the tension remains high. . .Lackey and associates’ areas of expertise, including naval history and classical mythology, are smoothly blended.”– Booklist