We are delighted to discover the arrival of Spring does not preclude the weekly stack of new book titles. While it may seem like everyone is out trying to uncover their daffodils or coddle their chrysanthemums, writers are still writing and publishers are still publishing. That is how diligent they are, always making sure we never have awkward moments in the bookstore where we stare at each other and have to talk about vegan cream puff recipes or try to decipher the rules of Labradonkapoodle. Books will out, as they say. And in light of that—and why yes, there is so much more light these days, isn’t there?—here are some favorites in the store this week.
We really dig the cover design on Rowenna Miller’s Torn. Such an awesome way to let us know we’re getting a fantasy novel steeped in blood and politics (check out that crown of needles!), while presenting a clever representation of how the magic works in Miller’s world. Torn is the first book in the Unraveled Kingdom series, and the tagline is “Revolution starts with a single thread.” The protagonist of Torn is a dressmaker and charm caster named Sophie, and she is about to discover that life is not all embroidered ball gowns and revolutionary pamphlets. Though—hmm—maybe it should be. Rise up, people of the streets! More fine stitching! More small type laying! More incredible dedication to the minutia!
And speaking of minding the minutia, Jon Butterworth is here this week to guide us through the strange and impossibly small world of particle physics. Atom Land is a cleverly laid out journey through vastly uncharted terrain, and Butterworth uses old timey style maps to guide us. We start off with something mostly blank, where the first port of call is Port Electron. By the end, we’ve mapped a bunch of routes to Top, Bottom, Charm, and Strange on the Isle of Quarks, and we’ve even laid eyes on the mysterious land known as Bosonia, which straddles that decidedly unfriendly land of Antimatter.
As an aside, there’s a chapter titled “Parity, Helicity, and Chirality,” and we’d like to see a 21st century metafictional narrative about a quantum scientist’s three children named thus, please.
And speaking of invisible strands, Denise Linn has just published Energy Strands, a guide to clearing those constrictive cords that are mucking up your life. Energy Strands deep dives into the metaphysical side-reality where all things are tangled, interconnected, and knotted higgledly-piggledy. Linn shows us how to use a variety of techniques (smudging and dowsing and crystal bowls, oh my!) to renew connections to those things that invigorate you. With other techniques, you can learn how to cut the cords that should have been cut a long time ago. It’s time for your metaphysical makeover!
And speaking of makeovers, this week’s Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing thriller is Matt Killeen’s Orphan Monster Spy, which is about Sarah, a young orphan (natch) tasked with infiltrating an exclusive boarding school for Nazi kids so that she can befriend the girl whose dad is busy drawing up plans for a secret weapon that could destroy the world! It’s like Red Sparrow meets the Manhattan Project meets The Nightmare Every Kid Has About the First Day of School. But with Nazis.
And speaking of nefarious villains, J. A. Jance is back this week with a new Ali Reynolds mystery, Duel to the Death. Picking up after the events of Man Overboard, Duel to the Death finds Ali and her pals at High Noon Enterprises wrestling with a particularly pesky AI named Frigg and an unexpected windfall in Bitcoins that may come with a lot of blood—no, wait—Bitcoins are digital. You can’t have a suitcase full of bloodstained coins. Drat. So much for that visual metaphor. <sigh> This modern age is mucking things up.
Frigg and a super clever accountant are hoping to take over a bad-ass drug cartel, which will allow them to become richer than they could ever imagine. Well, the accountant, anyway; Frigg can count pretty high. Anyway, this sort of industrial espionage slash, uh, high stakes digital corporate maneuvering is shot right into your eyeballs via Jance’s classic take-no-prisoners style.
And speaking of taking no prisoners, Tea, the bone witch from Rin Chupeco’s book of the same name, is back in The Heart Forger. When we last saw Tea, she had wandered off into self-imposed exile, but she’s back now, and she’s got power over the dead and other special skills she needs in order to take vengeance. War is brewing, dark magic is on the menu, and no one is safe in the Eight Kingdoms.
And speaking of menus and lighter fare, Melissa Sharp would like us to enjoy her new cookbook, Super Loaves & Simple Treats. Now, this is baking you can feel good about, even though it’s not, eh, the most low calorie food in the world. Sharp’s angle on making tasty things that you’re going to cram into your face hole is to say, “Look, you’re going to do it anyway, and so you might as well use practices that don’t strip-mine the world around you and ingredients that don’t sugar-bomb your system into a coma.” You dig? Or, rather, you snack?
That’s our new catchphrase, by the way: “Yo. You snack?”
And speaking of things we snack, we’ve been digging Laura Anne Gilman’s The Cold Eye, the second book in The Devil’s West series. Gilman, who lives here in the Pacific Northwest, tackles the supernatural western genre with the story of Isobel, a young woman who becomes the left hand of the old man of the Territory, which is metaphor-speak for “The Devil’s Enforcer in Them Frontier Lands Past the Mississippi.” In The Cold Eye, Isobel must face a magic that may be older than the old man himself—a magic that is indelibly part of the very land itself.
And speaking of fantastic narratives that are twisted right ‘round history, John Oller’s The Swamp Fox is the biography of one Francis Marion. Marion—who has been the subject of a film, a Disney mini-series, and a bit of hot debate—was a South Carolinian who caused the British no end of grief during the American Revolution. Oller wades through the murky mythology of this interesting character from our early days, and tries to separate the wilder fiction from the actual historical record.
And speaking of interesting characters, Donna Leon’s Commissario Guido Brunetti is back this week. In The Temptation of Forgiveness, Brunetti must navigate the foggy canals of Venice and the equally fog-shrouded halls of the Questura. There’s a dead body, mischief, and more than a passing reference to a Sophocles play. Exactly what you expect from Leon, which is why we love her books so.
And finally, we have the ultimate reference book that will allow you to master the turning chain, the double treble, and the "Fdc made with linked first-dc." Because when you’re doing stacked bobbles, you want to be sure you’re clustering like you should. And when you’re going all Catherine wheel, are you doing it 7-dc fan style or first 5-dc cluster? Without that first chain-up, of course. Duh.
That’s right. Crochet talk. Snack it.