Monday, March 23, 2015

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


Sunday, March 22, 2015

When We Are Gone

http://bit.ly/1ArZvhL
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

http://bit.ly/1EnNH49
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 Z├╝rich. 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 Essbaum

INTERVIEW: 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—isolated yet crowded—but she is utterly modern in Jill Alexander Essbaum’s hands. Reading Hausfrau is like staring at a painting that simultaneously seduces and disturbs. Even when you want to turn away, you find your feet are planted to the floor.”~Sloane Crosley, author of I Was Told There’d Be Cake

“Hot damn, is Hausfrau a beautiful, heart-wrenching novel. It casts a spell that doesn’t stop working until that wonderful final line. Jill Alexander Essbaum has a seismic talent, and it shows on every page of her first novel. Just read this bad boy. Like right now.” ~Victor LaValle, author of The Devil in Silver


Fresh Ink: Spotlight on Debut Books of All Kinds

http://bit.ly/1BHcTBq
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 Story


Praise 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 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Fresh Ink: Spotlight on Debut Books of All Kinds

http://bit.ly/1CjaBKX
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 Senses

Write Start: Alexis Landau on the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Writers

Praise 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

http://bit.ly/1MCLvtt
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.
 
 
 

 
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 sensitivity of a Harold Brodkey narrator, and Poxl West is an unforgettable creation. Plus, things happen in this book, big things like the world wars. A delight!" ~Gary Shteyngart, author of Little Failure

"A brilliant--and perhaps even more importantly, hilarious--book about what we make of our heroes, and what our heroes make of us. It's all here: the crime of storytelling, the joy of storytelling, the story hidden not so well in history, and the pleasures and problems of one word placed so well after another." ~Rivka Galchen, author of Atmospheric Disturbances

"Daniel Torday's The Last Flight of Poxl West interweaves a powerful war story with a profound meditation on the need such stories fill in us, and the truths they can sometimes obscure. Eli Goldstein's relationship with Poxl West is strange and moving, and the book's final pages present a deep and revealing pathos. Really good stuff." ~Phil Klay, author of Redeployment


Friday, March 20, 2015

Three New Thrillers

http://bit.ly/1BG2ebt
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.



http://bit.ly/1NWdQfH
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.
 
 
 
http://bit.ly/1xnW9eA
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 murderer. A frantic race is set in motion: Can Caroline unravel the clues to her past, before the killer tracks her down?