New Releases- January 30, 2018

January 30, 2018

 Hardcover

Lands of Lost Borders: Out of Bounds on the Silk Road
by Kate Harris
Knopf Canada  $29.95
Autobiography / Travel
Canadian

“Every day on a bike trip is like the one before–but it is also completely different, or perhaps you are different, woken up in new ways by the mile.”

As a teenager, Kate Harris realized that the career she most craved–that of a generalist explorer, equal parts swashbuckler and philosopher–had gone extinct. From her small-town home in Ontario, it seemed as if Marco Polo, Magellan and their like had long ago mapped the whole earth. So she vowed to become a scientist and go to Mars.

To pass the time before she could launch into outer space, Kate set off by bicycle down a short section of the fabled Silk Road with her childhood friend Mel Yule, then settled down to study at Oxford and MIT. Eventually the truth dawned on her: an explorer, in any day and age, is by definition the kind of person who refuses to live between the lines. And Harris had soared most fully out of bounds right here on Earth, travelling a bygone trading route on her bicycle. So she quit the laboratory and hit the Silk Road again with Mel, this time determined to bike it from the beginning to end.

Like Rebecca Solnit and Pico Iyer before her, Kate Harris offers a travel narrative at once exuberant and meditative, wry and rapturous. Weaving adventure and deep reflection with the history of science and exploration, Lands of Lost Borders explores the nature of limits and the wildness of a world that, like the self and like the stars, can never be fully mapped.

 

The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place: A Flavia de Luce Novel
by Alan Bradley
Doubleday Canada  $29.95
Fiction / Mystery
Canadian

In the wake of an unthinkable family tragedy, twelve-year-old Flavia de Luce is struggling to fill her empty days. For a needed escape, Dogger, the loyal family servant, suggests a boating trip for Flavia and her two older sisters. As their punt drifts past the church where a notorious vicar had recently dispatched three of his female parishioners by spiking their communion wine with cyanide, Flavia, an expert chemist with a passion for poisons, is ecstatic. Suddenly something grazes against her fingers as she dangles them in the water. She clamps down on the object, imagining herself as Ernest Hemingway battling a marlin, and pulls up what she expects will be a giant fish. But in Flavia’s grip is something far better: a human head, attached to a human body. If anything could take Flavia’s mind off sorrow, it is solving a murder—although one that may lead the young sleuth to an early grave.

 

Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression and the Unexpected Solutions
by Johann Hari
Bloomsbury USA  $35.00
Psychology / Depression

From the New York Times bestselling author of Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs, a radical new way of thinking about depression and anxiety.

What really causes depression and anxiety – and how can we really solve them? Award-winning journalist Johann Hari suffered from depression since he was a child and started taking anti-depressants when he was a teenager. He was told that his problems were caused by a chemical imbalance in his brain. As an adult, trained in the social sciences, he began to investigate whether this was true – and he learned that almost everything we have been told about depression and anxiety is wrong.

Across the world, Hari found social scientists who were uncovering evidence that depression and anxiety are not caused by a chemical imbalance in our brains. In fact, they are largely caused by key problems with the way we live today. Hari’s journey took him from a mind-blowing series of experiments in Baltimore, to an Amish community in Indiana, to an uprising in Berlin. Once he had uncovered nine real causes of depression and anxiety, they led him to scientists who are discovering seven very different solutions – ones that work.

It is an epic journey that will change how we think about one of the biggest crises in our culture today. His TED talk – ‘Everything You Think You Know About Addiction Is Wrong’ – has been viewed more than 8 million times and revolutionized the global debate. This book will do the same.

 

Gnomon: A Novel
by Nick Harkaway
Knopf  $38.95
Fiction / Science Fiction / Dystopian

From the widely acclaimed author of The Gone-Away World and Tigerman, comes a virtuosic new novel set in a near-future, high-tech surveillance state, that is equal parts dark comedy, gripping detective story, and mind-bending philosophical puzzle.

In the world of Gnomon, citizens are constantly observed and democracy has reached a pinnacle of ‘transparency.’ Every action is seen, every word is recorded, and the System has access to its citizens’ thoughts and memories–all in the name of providing the safest society in history.

When suspected dissident Diana Hunter dies in government custody, it marks the first time a citizen has been killed during an interrogation. The System doesn’t make mistakes, but something isn’t right about the circumstances surrounding Hunter’s death. Mielikki Neith, a trusted state inspector and a true believer in the System, is assigned to find out what went wrong. Immersing herself in neural recordings of the interrogation, what she finds isn’t Hunter but rather a panorama of characters within Hunter’s psyche: a lovelorn financier in Athens who has a mystical experience with a shark; a brilliant alchemist in ancient Carthage confronting the unexpected outcome of her invention; an expat Ethiopian painter in London designing a controversial new video game, and a sociopathic disembodied intelligence from the distant future.

Embedded in the memories of these impossible lives lies a code which Neith must decipher to find out what Hunter is hiding. In the static between these stories, Neith begins to catch glimpses of the real Diana Hunter–and, alarmingly, of herself. The staggering consequences of what she finds will reverberate throughout the world.

A dazzling, panoramic achievement, and Nick Harkaway’s most brilliant work to date, Gnomon is peerless and profound, captivating and irreverent, as it pierces through strata of reality and consciousness, and illuminates how to set a mind free.

 

Wild Is the Wind: Poems
by Carl Phillips
Farrar, Straus & Giroux   $30.00
Poetry

A powerful, inventive collection from one of America’s most critically admired poets.

“What has restlessness been for?”

In Wild Is the Wind, Carl Phillips reflects on love as depicted in the jazz standard for which the book is named—love at once restless, reckless, and yet desired for its potential to bring stability. In the process, he pitches estrangement against communion, examines the past as history versus the past as memory, and reflects on the past’s capacity both to teach and to mislead us—also to make us hesitate in the face of love, given the loss and damage that are, often enough, love’s fallout.

How “to say no to despair”? How to take perhaps that greatest risk, the risk of believing in what offers no guarantee? These poems that, in their wedding of the philosophical, meditative, and lyric modes, mark a new stage in Phillips’s remarkable work, stand as further proof that “if Carl Phillips had not come onto the scene, we would have needed to invent him. His idiosyncratic style, his innovative method, and his unique voice are essential steps in the evolution of the craft” (Judith Kitchen,The Georgia Review).

Young Adult:

Nice Try, Jane Sinner
by Lianne Oelke
Clarion Books  $24.99
Fiction / Reality Television Ages 14+
Canadian

“Jane Sinner snarked her way into my heart, and she’s never leaving. Prepare to fall hard for this hilarious, heartfelt gem of a book.”—Becky Albertalli, author of Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda

It’s Kind of a Funny Story meets Daria in the darkly hilarious tale of a teen’s attempt to remake her public image and restore inner peace through reality TV. The only thing 17-year-old Jane Sinner hates more than failure is pity. After a personal crisis and her subsequent expulsion from high school, she’s going nowhere fast. Jane’s well-meaning parents push her to attend a high school completion program at the nearby Elbow River Community College, and she agrees, on one condition: she gets to move out.

Jane tackles her housing problem by signing up for House of Orange, a student-run reality show that is basically Big Brother, but for Elbow River Students. Living away from home, the chance to win a car (used, but whatever), and a campus full of people who don’t know what she did in high school… what more could she want? Okay, maybe a family that understands why she’d rather turn to Freud than Jesus to make sense of her life, but she’ll settle for fifteen minutes in the proverbial spotlight.

As House of Orange grows from a low-budget web series to a local TV show with fans and shoddy T-shirts, Jane finally has the chance to let her cynical, competitive nature thrive. She’ll use her growing fan base, and whatever Intro to Psychology can teach her, to prove to the world—or at least viewers of substandard TV—that she has what it takes to win.

 

Young Reader:

Rain Reign
by Ann M. Martin
Square Fish    $10.50
Fiction /  9-12
Canadian

From Newbery Honor author Ann M. Martin, who wrote the Baby-sitters Club series, comes a New York Times-bestselling middle grade novel about a girl, her dog, and the trials of growing up in a complicated and often scary world.

Rose Howard is obsessed with homonyms. She’s thrilled that her own name is a homonym, and she purposely gave her dog Rain a name with two homonyms (Reign, Rein), which, according to Rose’s rules of homonyms, is very special. Not everyone understands Rose’s obsessions, her rules, and the other things that make her different—not her teachers, not other kids, and not her single father.

When a storm hits their rural town, rivers overflow, the roads are flooded, and Rain goes missing. Rose’s father shouldn’t have let Rain out. Now Rose has to find her dog, even if it means leaving her routines and safe places to search.


Children:

The Great Dictionary Caper
by Judy Sierra, Illustrated by Erik Comstock
Simon & Schuster  $23.99
Fiction / Wordplay  Ages 4-7

When all of the words escape from the dictionary, it’s up to Noah Webster to restore alphabetical order in this supremely wacky picture book that celebrates language.

Words have secret lives. On a quiet afternoon the words escape the dictionary (much to the consternation of Mr. Noah Webster) and flock to Hollywood for a huge annual event—Lexi-Con. Liberated from the pages, words get together with friends and relations in groups including an onomatopoeia marching band, the palindrome family reunion, and hide-and-seek antonyms. It’s all great fun until the words disagree and begin to fall apart. Can Noah Webster step in to restore order before the dictionary is disorganized forever?

Paperback:

Frankenstein in Baghdad
by Ahmed Saadawi
Penguin Press  $22.00
Fiction

Winner of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction
Winner of France’s Grand Prize for Fantasy

From the rubble-strewn streets of U.S.-occupied Baghdad, Hadi—a scavenger and an oddball fixture at a local café—collects human body parts and stitches them together to create a corpse. His goal, he claims, is for the government to recognize the parts as people and to give them proper burial. But when the corpse goes missing, a wave of eerie murders sweeps the city, and reports stream in of a horrendous-looking criminal who, though shot, cannot be killed. Hadi soon realizes he’s created a monster, one that needs human flesh to survive—first from the guilty, and then from anyone in its path.

A prizewinning novel by “Baghdad’s new literary star” (The New York Times), Frankenstein in Baghdad captures with white-knuckle horror and black humor the surreal reality of contemporary Iraq.

Beneath the Mountain
by Luca D’Andrea
HarperCollins  $21.00
Fiction

In Luca D’Andrea’s atmospheric and brilliant thriller, set in a small mountain community in the majestic Italian Dolomites, an outsider must uncover the truth about a triple murder that has gone unsolved for thirty years.

New York City native Jeremiah Salinger is one half of a hot-shot documentary-making team. He and his partner, Mike, made a reality show about roadies that skyrocketed them to fame. But now Salinger’s left that all behind, to move with his wife, Annelise, and young daughter, Clara, to the remote part of Italy where Annelise grew up—the Alto Adige.

Nestled in the Dolomites, this breathtaking, rural region that was once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire remains more Austro than Italian. Locals speak a strange, ancient dialect—Ladino—and root for Germany (against Italy) in the world cup. Annelise’s small town—Siebenhoch—is close-knit to say the least and does not take kindly to out-of-towners. When Salinger decides to make a documentary about the mountain rescue group, the mission goes horribly awry, leaving him the only survivor. He blames himself, and so—it seems—does everyone else in Siebenhoch. Spiraling into a deep depression, he begins having terrible, recurrent nightmares. Only his little girl Clara can put a smile on his face.

But when he takes Clara to the Bletterbach Gorge—a canyon rich in fossil remains—he accidentally overhears a conversation that gives his life renewed focus. In 1985, three students were murdered there, their bodies savaged, limbs severed and strewn by a killer who was never found. Although Salinger knows this is a tightlipped community, one where he is definitely persona non grata, he becomes obsessed with solving this mystery and is convinced it is all that can keep him sane. And as Salinger unearths the long kept secrets of this small town, one by one, the terrifying truth is eventually revealed about the horrifying crime that marked an entire village.

Completely engrossing and deeply atmospheric, Beneath The Mountain is a thriller par excellence.

 

American War
by Omar El Akkad
McClelland & Stewart   $21.00
Fiction
Canadian

Shortlisted for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize
A Globe and Mail Best Book
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
A Quill & Quire Best Book of 2017

An audacious and powerful debut novel: a second American Civil War, a devastating plague, and one family caught deep in the middle — a story that asks what might happen if America were to turn its most devastating policies and deadly weapons upon itself.

Sarat Chestnut, born in Louisiana, is only six when the Second American Civil War breaks out in 2074. But even she knows that oil is outlawed, that Louisiana is half underwater, that unmanned drones fill the sky. And when her father is killed and her family is forced into Camp Patience for displaced persons, she quickly begins to be shaped by her particular time and place until, finally, through the influence of a mysterious functionary, she is turned into a deadly instrument of war. Telling her story is her nephew, Benjamin Chestnut, born during war as one of the Miraculous Generation and now an old man confronting the dark secret of his past — his family’s role in the conflict and, in particular, that of his aunt, a woman who saved his life while destroying untold others.

 

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