"A debut collection of stories that are a mix of science fiction, horror, and fantasy. It really packs a punch and reminds me of Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah's Friday Black"
An intriguing collection of stories by the Japanese master that examines the lives of several men and their often fraught relationships with women. It includes an interesting take on Kafka’s Metamorphosis.
An outstanding collection of thought provoking speculative fiction. The stories cover a variety of genres including SF, Magical Realism, Detective fiction and Fantasy. What unites them is exquisite prose and original ideas.
A quirky and interesting take on the Western. It’s short (just a tad over 200 pages) but it packs an outsized wallop. It reminded me of Patrick DeWitt's excellent Sisters Brothers, but with all the fat stripped out. This is pure literary muscle. (And if you haven’t read Sisters Brothers, you now know what to read when you finish Haints Stay).
I stayed up until 2:30 in the morning to finish this. It’s a hard one to categorize. By turns profoundly disturbing and hilarious and thought provoking, it’s one the most original books I’ve read in awhile.
A hyper-realistic account of a gang of boys living on the streets of Berlin on the cusp of the Nazi take over. Haffner's prose is spare but has a depth of detail that gives the novel an immediacy that makes you feel as if you are in the midst of it.
Super-powered humans turn the Paramount lot into a fortress during a zombie apocalypse. Ernest Cline describes this as "the Avengers meets the Walking Dead." Need I say more?
A scientific detective story that recounts the birth, life and death of the Tethys Ocean, which once encircled the Earth but vanished some 6 million years ago.
Covering the period in 1914 from the events leading up to war until the famous Christmas Truce, Max Hastings offers up once again a well written and thoroughly research volume with his characteristic mix personal accounts from participants, both high and low, civil and military; vivid accounts of battle and penetrating analysis.
A new and very readable account of the collapse of Late Bronze age civilizations in the Western Mediterranean.
A nice mix of speculative (how would we react to contact with an extraterrestrial intelligence) and hard science fiction by a bestselling author in China. The first in a trilogy.
The third (and I hope not last) installment of the Magicians series finds Quentin at a new low - in exile from both FIllory and Brakebills. While he attempts to redeem himself and right past mistakes, Elliot and Janet contend with a Fillory that is coming apart at the seams.
Weird. Original. The best thing I read all year (2014).
Saying this book is about soccer is like saying Moby Dick is about whaling. Yes, it is about soccer but so much more. Ignore the whole soccer thing (I personally can't stand the game) and the fact that it's 700 pages long. What drives this book is David Peace's unique cadence in his prose. You will either love it or not. Just open it to random spot and start reading. Within a few sentences it will either have you hooked or drive you to distraction. Go ahead, give it a try.
I like this. The surrealism and the sly commentary on society via architecture and the Hotel-Conference Center Industrial Complex remind me of JG Ballard, but there is a tone, not quite humorous, that makes it less grim then Ballard.
A near future thriller. Scalzi delivers an insightful look into the impact of technology on everyday life and how given enough time even the most bleeding edge tech becomes blasé, all wrapped up in a nifty mystery that keeps the ball rolling.
This is an excellent read. What I enjoyed most about the book was the sense of movement conveyed by its constant switching among narrators who live in different times and spaces. This could have easily resulted in a confused muddle, but Mandel handles it so deftly and smoothly that I never felt lost.
The second installment of the Fillory series. Quentin learns, once again, that everything has a price to be payed and often an appallingly costly one. A somewhat different tone than The Magicians
Noo Saro-Wiwa is the daughter of murdered Nigerian activist Ken Saro-Wiwa. In this insightful book, she recounts her first extended visit to Nigeria in 20 years. It is a place she thinks of as home, but quite isn’t. It’s a very personal view of one the most dynamic countries in the post-World War II era.
Erikson, author of the Malazon Book of the Fallen series, takes us back to the beginning when Mother Dark reigned. Think of this as the Silmarillion for Malazon (he’ll probably hate me saying that). It’s in a different tone than Malazon, but the writing is just as stellar. If you haven’t read the Malazon series, I highly recommend it. It is far superior to Song of Ice and Fire (sorry GRRM fans)(And it’s done, so no waiting for the next book). This is the first in a trilogy.
In 1849 the Prussian scientist Heinrich Barth was recruited to join a British expedition to the central and western regions of the Sudan. Over the next 5 years Barth traveled, largely on his own, from Tripoli to Lake Chad to Timbuktu and back. Somewhat obsessive, Barth kept copious and methodical notes on all the people and places he encountered. Despite a massive 5 volume account of his travels, he was judged a failure by his contemporaries and it was left to later historians to discover the true import of his work. This a very readable account of Barth’s journey. One the things that really comes through is Barth’s willingness to accept the societies he encounters as they are, rather than judge them by European standards, which is in stark contrast to those who followed after him.
The first book of a trilogy set in a steampunk world based on late Edo-period Japan. There are strong characters and loads of interesting ideas in this book. I’m very curious to see how they’re developed in the future volumes.
Noted historian Robert Service examines the early days of the Russian Revolution. Along with accounts of the key events and the colorful characters involved, there is an exploration of the relations between the Western Powers and the Bolsheviks, in particular the attempts at striking trade agreements while simultaneously trying to undermine each other.
John Scalzi is one of the funniest writers on the planet (if you haven’t read Agent to the Stars, do so now). He takes a popular meme, milks it for all it’s worth and then has the audacity to stick in a killer twist
A survey of various European polities from the Visigothic Kingdom to the U.S.S.R. that failed to make the cut historically and why. Davies is best know as a historian of Poland, so it’s no surprise that the chapters dealing with East European states are the strongest. One of the standouts is the chapter on the various incarnations of Burgundy.
A first novel and a very good one at that. This is a Neal Stephenesque- tale set in a Middle Eastern state that features hackers, state security goons, Islamists, secular dissidents and Djinns and melds technology, philosophy and folklore into a delightful melange. Bonus points for creating a realistic Middle East not some romantic Oriental or paranoid terrorist fantasy.
A Conservative MP of Ghanaian descent, Kwasi Kwarteg has an interesting perspective on the legacy of Empire. Through a series of studies (including Iraq, Nigeria, the Sudan and Burma), he examines the rather ad-hoc nature in which the British Empire was assembled and administered and the often unintended and unforeseen consequences of Britain’s imperial adventures. Each chapter is a mix of history, pen portraits of some the key people and analysis. The chapter on Iraq is surprisingly weak, while the one on the Sudan suffers from a too extensive foray into the life of Lord Kitchener, but over all it’s very solidly put together with well thought out arguments and perceptive analysis.
One of the best books from last year is now out in paperback (and with a much, much better cover). If you are fan of 80’s pop culture, video games or a just a nerd in general, this is a must read. If you enjoy good speculative fiction or just plain well written fiction, check this out.
The third volume of Sumption's excellent history of the Hundred Years War covering the period from 1369 to 1393, a time of waning English fortunes (deaths of Edward III, the Black Prince, and Sir John Chandos depriving them their strongest leaders) and waxing French fortunes (fueled by the victories of Bertrand du Guesclin), while both countries were plagued with weak leadership and familial infighting due to the minority of the child king Richard II of England and the onset of madness in Charles VI of France. As in previous volumes, Sumption's prose is exquisite and a real pleasure to read.
An enlightening and entertaining look into the home life in Georgian England. A wide variety of households are examined from bachelor digs in London to a mansion in Oxfordshire to a Lincolnshire widower trying to manage without a wife. The best chapter focuses 3 sets of his and her account books which lay out the division of responsibilities between the master and the mistress of the house.
A fine survey of the Soviet misadventure in Afghanistan by the last UK ambassador to the USSR. Impressionistic, with many anecdotes by those involved from Politburo members down to grunts on the ground. The only downside is that so many of his sources aren't available in English, which makes further reading difficult for those (like me) who unlettered in Russian.
An engaging history of the United States before the Revolution. While the first chapter addresses Pre-Colombian history, the real focus is on the era between 1492 and 1763. Richter examines the motivations of the various European peoples who came to America, the Native American reaction to them, and the consequences for both.
An examination of the origins of the Indo-Euopean language group and how technology (the domesticated horse and wheeled transport) and place (the Eurasian Steppes) help to facilitate its spread across Asia and Europe. A very thorough analysis of the subject, with an emphasis on the archeology, although his chapters on the linguistic theory behind the concept of Proto-Indo-European and its development are quite good and accessible to the non-specialist.
A one volume survey of Central Eurasian history from ancient times to the present. Lucidly written and accessible to the general reader. A worthy successor to Rene Grosset's Empire of the Steppes.
The sad and tragic story of how the Lakota were dispossessed of the Black Hills and their struggles to reclaim them.
An excellent and readable account of Cahokia, the mound city just east of St Louis, and its place in Pre-Columbian America. Like Charles Mann's 1491, it upends the conventional portrait of Native Americans and recasts it a much more complex and detailed way.
The first one volume comprehensive history in English of this epochal event to be published in over 50 years, it is certain to be the definitive English language account for decades to come. Yes, it's a door stop-851 pages without Notes, Bibliography and Index, but don't let that intimidate you. Wilson keeps things moving along at a nice pace without stinting on the details or analysis. The later is particularly insightful as he peels back the layers of myth and spin that generations have heaped upon it.
A very readable book on why the ancestors of modern humans survived and the Neanderthals did not. While focused on this central question, Finlayson takes a multidisciplinary approach to examine why some species flourish while others pass into extinction.
An excellent and accessible account of the Abbasid Caliphate, which ruled the Middle East and part of North Africa from 750 to 1258 CE. Bennison delves into this rich civilization, examining not only the politics, society and culture, but also the people- beggars, merchants, scholars, princes and others who actually constitute it.
This is a good introduction for the general reader about a subject which so many Westerners are sadly ignorant.
A delightful mélange of a certain beloved Saturday Morning cartoon and Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos.
In 1977 a group of teens spend their summer vacation solving crimes. 13 years later (and somewhat worse for wear) they reunite to return to the scene of their last case when they realize they missed the real monster. Yes, there is a dog but no van.