Tuesday is the big day this week: Major hardcover releases and the bulk of the paperback versions drop on the second day of next week. There will be plenty of Christmas-gift fodder for eager shoppers who didn’t spend all their money on Black Friday!
Hint for the parent, spouse or child of the fervent reader at your address: Have Amazon deliver your gift book order to an alternate address to avoid a pre-Christmas unwrapping. I’ve traded this favor with a neighbor down the hill for three years now, and my spouse has yet to catch on! Gosh, honey, they delivered the Ross’s Amazon order here again this year!
Tuesday, November 29
Dean R. Koontz’ Forever Odd leads us off next week as he brings back Odd Thomas (from his novel of the same name) for a further look at this boy who can see (but not talk with) the dead. “These days Odd is still hosting the ghost of a morose Elvis Presley, still grieving for his dead girlfriend, Stormy, and still worrying about his very fat friend P. Oswald Boone, whose cat, Terrible Chester, likes to pee on his shoes… Odd’s strange gifts, coupled with his intelligence and self-effacing humor, make him one of the most quietly authoritative characters in recent popular fiction.” —Publishers Weekly
Red Lily by Nora Roberts brings Robert’s In the Garden trilogy to a captivating conclusion, following Blue Dahlia and Black Rose. “Three women learn that the heart of their historic home holds a mystery of years gone by. A Harper has always lived at Harper House, the centuries-old mansion just outside of Memphis. And for as long as anyone alive remembers, the ghostly Harper Bride has walked the halls, singing lullabies at night…” (Publisher’s release notes)
Before blogs, there were “journals” and “letters,” and Doris Lessing is a stellar light in that world. Time Bites: Views and Reviews by Doris May Lessing presents 65-odd essays, letters and reviews from the incisive pen of this “grande dame of English letters… There’s a tirade against Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe (Rhodesia was Lessing’s homeland) and a coruscating indictment of American complacency before 9/11. The main theme, whether addressed overtly or underlying her literary criticism, is the indispensable place of books in the life of an educated person and an enlightened culture. Hers is a clarion call.” —Publishers Weekly
Black Boy: A Record of Childhood and Youth 60th Anniversary Edition by Richard Wright brings back this seminal autobiography in a new hardcover edition. “…sometimes considered a fictionalized autobiography or an autobiographical novel because of its use of novelistic techniques… [it] describes vividly Wright’s often harsh, hardscrabble boyhood and youth in rural Mississippi and in Memphis, Tenn. [In 1945], many white critics viewed Black Boy primarily as an attack on racist Southern white society… the work came to be understood as the story of Wright’s coming of age and development as a writer whose race, though a primary component of his life, was but one of many that formed him as an artist.” —Merriam-Webster Encylopedia of Literature
Kenneth Oppel’s Skybreaker is the “breathtaking sequel to the Governor General’s Award-winning fantasy novel Airborn… Drawing on the myths of Icarus and Prometheus, as well as classic sea adventures like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and The Poseidon Adventure, Skybreaker combines an action-packed thriller with a sensitive exploration of the limits of human ambition…. With pirates, sky monsters, and disturbed spirits, not to mention enough bizarre flying machines to fill an aviation museum (even a bat-copter for Silverwing fans), Skybreaker confirms Kenneth Oppel’s reputation as Canada’s leading fantasy author for children and young adults.” —Lisa Alward, Amazon.ca review
Every Book Its Reader: The Power of the Printed Word to Stir the World by Nicholas A. Basbanes offers a lively consideration of writings that have “made things happen” in the world. “Basbanes again proves his fascination with the minutiae of bibliophilia, relating with relish how many volumes were in various famous readers’ collections, who wrote in their margins, who kept commonplace books, and other book-related ephemera before getting to the heart of this book: his discussions with well-known readers of today… the chapter on the development of religious texts is especially strong — but the book as a whole has no central argument or philosophy to make it cohere.” —Publishers Weekly
Thursday, December 1
The culmination of Max A. Collins’ Road series (which began with Road to Perdition), Road to Paradise finds 50-year-old Michael O’Sullivan Jr., the young boy orphaned in Road to Perdition, who has Italianized his name to Michael Satariano, boss and squeaky-clean mob frontman of the Cal-Neva Lodge and Casino at Lake Tahoe. “When Sam Giancana decides to end his exile in Mexico and reclaim his former position as Godfather, hits are ordered, mistakes are made and many people die, some of them quite close to Michael. He’s now on the run, forced to relive his father’s vengeance-fueled crime spree of 40 years earlier… Collins’s compelling mix of history, bloodshed and retribution is as irresistible as Sam Giancana’s last meal of fried sausage, spinach and ceci beans. Readers will eat it up and beg for more.”
Road to Purgatory, the second book of the series, is released in paperback this week.
Don’t expect Ono’s own story of her life with John Lennon in Memories of John Lennon, which arrives on Thursday. Ono solicited materiel from over 70 of Lennon’s friends, contemporaries, and admirers, and is marking the twenty-fifth anniversary of Lennon’s death with a collection of their reminiscences. “Newcomers to the Lennon legend might find some of the reminiscences and artwork in this compendium interesting and novel, but those alive in Lennon’s time will recognize many of the quotes…” —Publishers Weekly
Friday, December 2
J.K. Lasser’s Your Income Tax 2006: For Preparing Your 2005 Return by J.K. Lasser (Wiley, $16.95) is the latest update of the country’s bestselling tax guide. This book was originally supposed to drop on Friday, November 25th, but was delayed. Pity the event it prepares us for could not be! The new edition has usable forms online, and online guides. “For over 60 years, more than 38 million Americans have trusted J.K. Lasser to help them save money at tax time…” (Publisher’s release notes)
Paperback Releases This Week
Monday, November 28
Chainfire by Terry Goodkind is Book 9 of his Sword of Truth series, but it is also the beginning of a sequence of three novels that will bring the epic story to its culmination. “After being gravely injured in battle, Richard awakes to discover Kahlan missing. To his disbelief, no one remembers the woman he is frantically trying to find. Worse, no one believes that she really exists, or that he was ever married. Alone as never before, he must find the woman he loves more than life itself… if she is even still alive. If she was ever even real.” (Publisher’s release notes)
Tuesday, November 29
In the 10th book of FIST, Starfist: A World of Hurt by David Sherman, “the best-selling military sf series continues with a volume less intense than Lazarus Rising, but in its own way intelligent and agreeable. The planet of Maugham’s Station reports an alien life form that uses jets of acid as weapons, which is the hallmark of the deadly Skinks. The 34th FIST is sent out, with Charlie Bass still commanding a platoon, though, as a newly commissioned ensign… to learn about how to lead as an officer instead of a gunnery sergeant. Meanwhile, the navy… decides that Maugham’s Station is involved in an ore piracy scheme… It turns out that Maugham’s Station is a base for neither pirates nor Skinks, and Charlie Bass is likely to be as good as a junior officer as he was as a senior NCO…” —Roland Green, Booklist
Transcendent by Stephen Baxter is the final book in Baxter’s Destiny’s Children trilogy. “Baxter’s gripping page-turners are feats of bold speculation and big ideas that, for all their time-and-space-spanning grandeur, remain firmly rooted in scientific fact and cutting-edge theory. Now Baxter is back with Transcendent, a tour de force in which parallel stories unfold–and then meet as humanity stands poised on the brink of divine providence… or extinction.” (Publisher’s release notes)
Paul Kearney’s The Mark of Ran: Book One of the Sea Beggars is the first in a new series by the author of Hawkwood’s Voyage. “Legends speak of an elder race, the Weren, whose blood lives on in the mutated Urmen… and in young Rol Cortishane, raised on stories of those ancient days by his grandfather Ardisan. When an angry mob turns on the old man, accusing him of witchcraft, Ardisan urges Rol to sail to the city of Gascar… Readers who fancy the creak of ship’s timbers and the flash of live steel, the taint of dark magic and the lure of long-buried secrets, will gladly sail away with Kearney’s latest novel.” —Publishers Weekly
Glorious Treason by C. J. Ryan is the Philadelphia author’s second novel. Once again, a brainy beauty must act to save her world. “Gloria VanDeen’s special brand of smarts, sexiness, and raw courage has won her a promotion within the Department of Extraterrestrial Affairs. For her first assignment, she’s been dispatched to the planet Sylvania on a voter registration drive… Once Gloria “democratizes” the planet, her ex-husband, the Emperor himself, plans to pillage it… With mining operations set to begin, Sylvania’s beleaguered populace are looking to Gloria to save their world…” (Publisher’s release notes)
Strange Adventures of Rangergirl by Tim Pratt is the first novel from the critically-praised short-fiction author of Little Gods. “Marzipan ‘Marzi’ McCarty, a 20ish California art school dropout, writes quirky comics. Marzi’s also the night manager–barista of Genius Loci, a Santa Cruz coffeehouse decorated by vanished muralist Garamond Ray to hold in elemental Evil. The wild adventures that Marzi concocts for her cowpunk character, Rangergirl, start coming true after her artsy friends become obsessed with freeing weird gods… Pratt’s simplistic message, glimpsed sporadically behind clouds of neo-hippie jargon, self-consciously naughty language, outdoor sex and nasty violence, is pretentious and even a little naïve — that art can trap our fears and hold them at bay. Like too much marzipan, it all turns cloying mighty fast, pardners.” —Publishers Weekly
Tales Before Tolkien: The Roots of Modern Fantasy, Douglas A. Anderson (Editor) “pulls together 21 short stories and one short play to explore the wide variety of influences on the writer who has long been regarded as the father of modern fantasy. Authors range from the iconic (L. Frank Baum) to the virtually unknown (Clemence Housman). Anderson includes commentary for each piece, highlighting possible connections with Tolkien’s work… Particularly memorable are stories by L. Frank Baum, H. Rider Haggard, and Arthur Machen, all of which are sure to keep fans of fantasy, new and old alike, reading.” —Matthew L. Moffett, School Library Journal review.
With her third medieval mystery, Dragon’s Lair: A Medieval Mystery, Sharon Kay Penman has a solid anchor in this little-populated genre. “In this sequel to The Queen’s Man, Dowager Queen Eleanor is desperately trying to rescue her son Richard Lionheart, imprisoned by the Holy Roman Emperor… Justin De Quincy, the illegitimate son of the Bishop of Chester, is sent to Wales by the queen to recover one of the ransom payments, which has mysteriously disappeared… De Quincy investigates the theft and delves into the labyrinthine politics of Wales. Davydd, a prince of North Wales, claims the payment was stolen and the guards slain. Using friends and contacts and his own wits, De Quincy comes close to tracking it down, and then becomes a target himself.. Students of history and those just looking for a good mystery will be equally rewarded.” —Molly Connally, School Library Journal review.
Freedomland by Richard Price, the author of Clockers, returns us to the ‘hoods, with a new perspective on the generational and racial tensions of Clockers. “Price’s first novel since that bestseller is less a sequel than a monumental complement played in minor key, a re-visitation by an author who’s older, sadder, wiser. The story flows from an event drawn from headlines: Brenda Martin, a white woman, staggers bleeding into a hospital to claim that her car has been hijacked by a black man… The jacking allegedly occurred in the park that divides the largely black city of Dempsey from the white-dominated city of Gannon. In response, Gannon cops seal off and invade D-Town, inflaming racial tensions and attracting an army of media… Price’s experience as a screenwriter (The Color of Money, etc.) shows in the predictable dramatic arc of his tale, but the novel is no less powerful for its popular bent.” —Publishers Weekly
Road to Purgatory by Max A. Collins is the artful sequel to Road to Perdition. “When you’re dealing with the straight-text sequel to a bestselling American graphic novel.. the words take on extra significance. Luckily, Collins is, among his other talents, a dedicated word man… In 1942, Michael O’Sullivan Jr. — the wide-eyed boy who watched his father turn into an angel of vengeance — is now grown up and about to become a WWII hero in the savage battle for Bataan. Raised by Italian-American adopted parents, Michael Satariano… then returns to America to continue his father’s one-man war on the Capone mob by working his way up inside it.” —Publishers Weekly