New Releases: February 2010

So I was perusing the New Releases section of BarnesandNoble.com on my lunch break the other day and came across a few interesting titles (some of which I’ve also noticed on recent editions of Shelf Awareness) that I thought I’d share with you.  

Sadly, my TBR queue is so large and unmanageable as it is I probably won’t be doing more than adding these to my overly extensive Wish List, but hey, a girl can dream, right? 

Heresy by S. J. Parris

Synopsis

Masterfully blending true events with fiction, this blockbuster historical thriller delivers a page-turning murder mystery set on the sixteenth-century Oxford University campus.

Giordano Bruno was a monk, poet, scientist, and magician on the run from the Roman Inquisition on charges of heresy for his belief that the Earth orbits the sun and that the universe is infinite. This alone could have got him burned at the stake, but he was also a student of occult philosophies and magic.

In S. J. Parris’s gripping novel, Bruno’s pursuit of this rare knowledge brings him to London, where he is unexpectedly recruited by Queen Elizabeth I and is sent undercover to Oxford University on the pretext of a royal visitation. Officially Bruno is to take part in a debate on the Copernican theory of the universe; unofficially, he is to find out whatever he can about a Catholic plot to overthrow the queen. 

 

The Infinities by John Banville

Synopsis

In his first novel since the Booker Prize–winning The Sea, John Banville gives us a dazzling new book that chronicles both a human family and a rather unholy gathering of immortals.

On a languid midsummer’s day, old Adam Godley, a renowned theoretical mathematician, is dying. His family gathers at his bedside: his son, young Adam, struggling to maintain his marriage to a radiantly beautiful actress; his nineteen-year-old daughter, Petra, filled with voices and visions as she waits for the inevitable; their stepmother, Ursula, whose relations with the Godley children are strained at best; Petra’s “young man”–perhaps more interested in the father than the daughter–who has arrived for an untimely visit.

And around the Godley family hover the mischievous gods: among them, Zeus, who has his eye on young Adam’s wife, and Hermes, our narrator: “We too are petty and vindictive,” he tells us, “just like you, when we are put to it.” As old Adam’s days on earth start… 

 

The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak

Synopsis

An American housewife is transformed by an intriguing manuscript about the Sufi mystic poet Rumi

In this lyrical, exuberant follow-up to her 2007 novel, The Bastard of Istanbul, acclaimed Turkish author Elif Shafak unfolds two tantalizing parallel narratives- one contemporary and the other set in the thirteenth century, when Rumi encountered his spiritual mentor, the whirling dervish known as Shams of Tabriz-that together incarnate the poet’s timeless message of love.

Ella Rubenstein is forty years old and unhappily married when she takes a job as a reader for a literary agent. Her first assignment is to read and report on Sweet Blasphemy, a novel written by a man named Aziz Zahara. Ella is mesmerized by his tale of Shams’s search for Rumi and the dervish’s role in transforming the successful but unhappy cleric into a committed mystic, passionate poet, and advocate of love. She is also taken with Shams’s lessons, or rules, that offer insight into an ancient philosophy based on the unity of all people and religions, and the presence of love in each and every one of us. As she reads on, she realizes that Rumi’s story mir­rors her own and that Zahara-like Shams-has come to set her free. 

 

Vampire Forensics: Uncovering the Origins of an Enduring Legend by Mark Collins Jenkins

Synopsis

Mark Jenkins’s engrossing history draws on the latest science, anthropological and archaeological research to explore the origins of vampire stories, providing gripping historic and folkloric context for the concept of immortal beings who defy death by feeding on the lifeblood of others. From the earliest whispers of eternal evil in ancient Mesopotamia, Greece, and Rome, vampire tales flourished through the centuries and around the globe, fueled by superstition, sexual mystery, fear of disease and death, and the nagging anxiety that demons lurk everywhere.

In Vampire Forensics, Mark Jenkins probes vampire legend to tease out the historical truths enshrined in the tales of terror: sherds of Persian pottery depicting blood-sucking demons; the amazing recent discovery by National Geographic archaeologist Matteo Borrini of a 16th-century Venetian grave of a plague victim and suspected vampire; and the Transylvanian castle of “Vlad the Impaler,” whose bloodthirsty cruelty remains unsurpassed.

Jenkins navigates centuries of lore and legend, adding new chapters to the chronicle and weaving an irresistibly seductive blend of superstition, psychology, and science sure to engross everyone from Anne Rice’s countless readers to serious students of archaeology and mythology. 

   

A Dark Matter by Peter Straub

Synopsis

The incomparable master of horror and suspense returns with a powerful, brilliantly terrifying novel that redefines the genre in original and unexpected ways.

The charismatic and cunning Spenser Mallon is a campus guru in the 1960s, attracting the devotion and demanding sexual favors of his young acolytes. After he invites his most fervent followers to attend a secret ritual in a local meadow, the only thing that remains is a gruesomely dismembered body—and the shattered souls of all who were present.

Years later, one man attempts to understand what happened to his wife and to his friends by writing a book about this horrible night, and it’s through this process that they begin to examine the unspeakable events that have bound them in ways they cannot fathom, but that have haunted every one of them through their lives. As each of the old friends tries to come to grips with the darkness of the past, they find themselves face-to-face with the evil triggered so many years earlier. Unfolding through the individual stories of the fated group’s members, A Dark Matter is an electric, chilling, and unpredictable novel that will satisfy Peter Straub’s many ardent fans, and win him legions more.
 

   

Coming of the Storm (Contact: The Battle for America Series #1) by W. Michael Gear, Kathleen O’Neal Gear

Synopsis

From New York Times bestselling novelists W. Michael and Kathleen O’Neal Gear comes a landmark new series portraying the devastating clash of cultures that followed the European invasion of early America. Dramatic, authentic, and deeply moving, this first book in the Contact series tells the story of the blood-drenched years that followed Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto’s landing in “La Florida” in 1539 — as seen entirely through the eyes of two courageous Native Americans. Black Shell, an exiled Chickasaw trader, is fascinated by the pale, bearded newcomers who call themselves “Kristianos,” and not even the wise counsel of Pearl Hand, the extraordinary and beautiful woman who has consented to be his mate, can dissuade him. It will unfortunately take a first-hand lesson in the Kristianos’ unfathomable brutality for Black Shell to fully comprehend the dangers that these invaders pose to his people’s way of life.While his first instinct is to run away with Pearl Hand, somewhere the Kristianos cannot find them, Black Shell has been called to a greater destiny by the Spirit Being known as Horned Serpent. With Pearl Hand by his side, Black Shell must find a way to unite the disparate tribes and settlements of his native land and overcome the merciless armies of de Soto, which will stop at nothing to attain wealth and power. 

For years readers have urged the Gears to bring the clash of Native American and European cultures to life as only they can. Now, with Coming of the Storm, the Gears unleash their expansive breadth of knowledge and stunning writing talents to dispel the myths and falsehoods surrounding Hernando de Soto, as they paint avivid portrait of the heroic men and women who fought a terrifying, militarily superior power for their survival — and in so doing defined the character of a nation. 

 

 

Today while at Barnes and Noble (to finally buy a Nook, hooray!) I came across these and immediately added them to my wish list:

Black Hills by Dan Simmons 

Synopsis

When Paha Sapa, a young Sioux warrior, “counts coup” on General George Armstrong Custer as Custer lies dying on the battlefield at the Little Bighorn, the legendary general’s ghost enters him – and his voice will speak to him for the rest of his event-filled life.

Seamlessly weaving together the stories of Paha Sapa, Custer, and the American West, Dan Simmons depicts a tumultuous time in the history of both Native and white Americans. Haunted by Custer’s ghost, and also by his ability to see into the memories and futures of legendary men like Sioux war-chief Crazy Horse, Paha Sapa’s long life is driven by a dramatic vision he experienced as a boy in his people’s sacred Black Hills. In August of 1936, a dynamite worker on the massive Mount Rushmore project, Paha Sapa plans to silence his ghost forever and reclaim his people’s legacy-on the very day FDR comes to Mount Rushmore to dedicate the Jefferson face.

The Secret History of the Mongol Queens : How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire by Jack Weatherford

Synopsis

A magnificently researched history of the ruling women of the Mongol Empire, revealing their struggle to hang on their patrimony and to preserve their nation.Jack Weatherford tells the gripping story, lost ot history until now, of the female heirs of the Mongol Empire. He beings with the six daughters of Genghis Kahn and the traces their royal families through 250 years of upheaval as the empire tore itself apart, pitting brother against sister and son against mother.

Cro-Magnon: How the Ice Age Gave Birth to the First Modern Humans by Brian M. Fagan 

Synopsis

The name “Cro-Magnon” inspires images of a snowbound world, mammoth hunting, and eerily alluring cave paintings. Who were these ancient people? In a word, they were us—the first anatomically modern humans.

Bestselling author Brian Fagan brings these early humans out of the deep freeze with his trademark mix of erudition, cutting-edge science, and vivid storytelling. Cro-Magnon reveals human society in its infancy, facing enormous environmental challenges—including a rival species of humans, the Neanderthals.

For ten millennia, Cro-Magnons lived side by side with Neanderthals, an encounter that Fagan fills with drama. Using their superior intellects and tools, these ingenious problem solvers survived harsh conditions that eventually extinguished their Neanderthal cousins.

Cro-Magnon captures the indomitable adaptability that has made Homo sapiens an unmatched success as a species. Living on a frozen continent with only the most basic tools, Ice Age humans survived and thrived.

*I’m extra excited about this last one because the author was my first archaeology professor at UC Santa Barbara and he was just fantastic!*

 

Have you picked up any of these beauties?  Excited for any other new releases? 

 

Advertisements

2 Comments »

  1. I’ve heard nothing but great things about Black Hills – may finally be my first foray into Dan Simmons (since I haven’t been brave enough to take on Drood yet…)…

    • Jamye Said:

      I was really excited when I saw that one. You must read Drood, it was amazing!


{ RSS feed for comments on this post} · { TrackBack URI }

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: