It’s rainbow cover season. The book industry has gotten bored with cerulean and mock turtle orange, and has now moved on to a veritable spray of colors in book design. Or, it’s a mid-year Freedom Celebration style nod. Either way, get your sunglasses on, because the books are all Pantonepalooza this week.
Let’s ease into it, though. Here we have Peter Brannen’s The Ends of the World: Volcanic Apocalypes, Lethal Oceans, and Our Quest to Understand Earth’s Past Mass Extinctions. Do you see how they’re all nicely layered—like cake—there on the cover? First you have a dense and tasty layer of Ordovician-style extinction, followed by a swirly confluence of Devonian and Permian extinctions. Next is a crunchy layer of Triassic, with a salty finish of solid Cretaceous goodness (ooh! spicy!), before we get into the still-congealing Pleistocene Mass Extinction layer. Throw on some plastic figurines and butter creme topping and you’ve got a hint of smoky Anthropcene going on there. Mmm. Tasty Extinction Event Layer Cake.
Robert Beatty continues his charming Serafina series with Serafina and the Splintered Heart. Serafina must fight to reclaim the title of Guardian of Biltmore before a mysterious storm (all streaked with red clouds and dark lightning) smashes everything she loves into tiny, tiny pieces. Beatty has twisted the tension bands a bit on this one, building a darker atmosphere and raising the stakes for our intrepid heroine.
And speaking of heroines rising to the occasion, Sarah Kuhn has a splendid new series out. The first one is out in mass market paperback and the second just arrived in trade. The Heroine Complex tells the story of Evie Tanaka, a very snarky and put-upon personal assistant to the local superheroine. Being a PA to a Super is a total pain in the ass, and naturally, at some point, the Super takes a snooze, and the PA has to save the world. Thankfully, Evie has a delightful sense of humor about her job and the weirdness it entails, which makes the story fast and delightful.
And speaking of delights, Alissa Nutting returns with Made for Love, a story about girl and a trailer park and her father’s life-like sex doll. Why would a young woman live with her father in an seniors’ trailer park, especially when Dad has a rather *cough* interesting relationship with, uh, “Hazel”? Because she’s trying to get away from her weirdo estranged husband, who just happens to be the CEO of a “monolithic corporation hell-bent on making its products and technologies indispensable in daily life.”
It’s a poignant and introspective meditation on marriage, our relationship to technology and each other, and just how absurd our future is shaping up to be. Yeah, “Made for Love” has a whole different meaning now that we’ve described the book, doesn’t it?
And speaking of questioning everything, Renée Ahdieh has been making some space for herself on the YA shelves, and she’s back with Flame in the Mist, an action-packed tale of mistaken identities and crossed lovers crossing set against the backdrop of feudal Japan. It’s got alchemy, samurai ethos, bandits, sneaking around and falling in love, and political shenanigans. What’s a girl to do in times like these? Well, take matters into her own hands, apparently.
And speaking of sweeping historical dramas, China Miéville has put his name on October, a historical recollection of the 1917 Russian Revolution. Yes, the very same China Miéville who wrote Perdido Street Station, The City and the City, and Kraken. We know! Who knew our mad fabulist was secretly a socialist-leaning historian? Oh wait, we’ve heard him speak at readings. We did know this about him. Well, now everyone knows.
And speaking of surprises, A Game of Ghosts, the latest Charlie Parker novel is out. John Connolly has been writing spooky PI novels about Charlie Parker for some time now, and we’ve dipped into them here and again, and we’ve always admired Connolly’s ability to weave a compelling story. They’re not quite horror, yet they certainly speak of a world beyond our own, and they’re not quite PI novels. They’re somewhere in between, and it’s in this in-between space that Connolly builds lots and lots of atmosphere. There’s a bunch of Parker books, and we’ve got a few battered paperbacks on the shelf. You should treat yourself to something new and spooky, and see where Parker takes you. But bring a flashlight and some rope. Just in case . . .
And speaking of the need for a flashlight and rope, let’s turn to Chris Ferrie and his Quantum Entanglement for Babies, a smallish introductory text that will unravel some of Nature’s strangest quirks. Not quarks. Quirks. Which is why you’ll need the rope, because you can’t demonstrate untanglement without first tanglement-ing. Or something like that . . . hang on, let’s check the text . . . Oh, look, it’s Alice and Bob! And they have boxes, but they don’t know what is in them! It’s all very uncertain! Yay, physics!