Monday, June 14, 2010

Previews: The Devil’s Star; Buddha’s Orphans; Our Tragic Universe; The Bat Scientists; Shadow Bound; Fall of Giants; and Ubuntu!


Here are the books acquired over the past several weeks. As we add to the pile it becomes a mountain creating The Never Ending Book Collection. Life is sweet!

Never Ending book collection

Book Previews:

  1. The Devil’s Star by Jo Nesbo
  2. Buddha’s Orphans by Samrat Upadhyay
  3. Our Tragic Universe by Scarlett Thomas
  4. The Bat Scientists by Mary Kay Carson
  5. Shadow Bound by Erin Kellison
  6. Fall of Giants by Ken Follett
  7. Ubuntu! by Stephen Lundin and Bob Nelson
There’s a mixed bag of different genres here. We have Mystery, Literary Fiction, Slipstream, Young Adult Science Fact, Fantasy, and Business Non Fiction. Hopefully you will find a few that are of interest.



The Devil’s Star by Jo Nesbo (translated by Don Bartlett)

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (March 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • Genre: Translated Mystery

Blurb:   A young woman is murdered in her Oslo flat. One finger has been severed from her left hand, and behind her eyelid is secreted a tiny red diamond in the shape of a five-pointed star — a pentagram, the devil’s star.

Detective Harry Hole is assigned to the case with his long-time adversary Tom Waaler and initially wants no part in it. But Harry is already on notice to quit the force and is left with little alternative but to drag himself out of his alcoholic stupor and get to work.

A wave of similar murders is on the horizon. An emerging pattern suggests that Oslo has a serial killer on its hands, and the five-pointed devil’s star is key to solving the riddle.

It seems the city of Oslo has a serial killer on its hands, and Detective Harry Hole is assigned to the case. Only he is not happy with his colleague Tom Waaler, whom he suspects of arms smuggling and murder. A previous Jo Nesbø title was voted best Norwegian crime novel of all time.

My notes: The Devil’s Star is book #5 of the 8 book series with what looks like one these three being published in English. The Nemesis is book #4 (has been nominated for the Edgar Award  2010) and The Redbreast is book #3.

Check out Jo Nesbo’s incredible website. This is really cool!

  • Amazon purchasing links are for US/UK/Canada for The Devil’s Star
  • Amazon purchasing links are for US/UK/Canada for The Nemesis (Nemesis in Canada and UK)
  • Amazon purchasing links are for US/UK/Canada for The Redbreast



Buddha’s Orphans by Samrat Upadhyay (ARC)

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (July 14, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • Genre: Literary Fiction

Blurb:  Samrat Upadhyay has been called “a Buddhist Chekhov” by the San Francisco Chronicle. His writing has been praised by Amitav Ghosh and Suketu Mehta, and compared with the work of Akhil Sharma and Jhumpa Lahiri, placing him squarely alongside our best-known South Asian writers and at the forefront of literary fiction writers today. 

Upadhyay’s new novel, Buddha’s Orphans, uses Nepal’s political upheavals of the past century as a backdrop to the story of an orphan boy, Raja, and the girl he is fated to love, Nilu, a daughter of privilege. Coveted by more than one woman, Raja is found and raised by a street vendor, kidnapped by an affluent housewife, and then found again by Nilu. Their love story scandalizes both families and takes readers through time and across the globe, through the loss of and search for children, and through several generations of this complicated family, hinting that perhaps old bends can, in fact, be righted in future branches of a family tree.

Buddha’s Orphans is a novel permeated with the sense of how we are irreparably connected to the mothers who birthed us—whether we know them or not, whether we embrace them or not—and of the way events of the past, even those we are ignorant of, inevitably haunt the present. But most of all it is an engrossing, unconventional love story that defies the stereotypes of a traditional South Asian culture, all in a seductive and transporting read.

SAMRAT UPADHYAY is the author of Arresting God in Kathmandu, which earned him a Whiting Award, and The Guru of Love, which was a New York Times Notable Book, a San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year, a finalist for the Kiriyama Prize, and a Book Sense 76 pick. He lives in Bloomington, Indiana, and teaches creative writing and literature at Indiana University. His eight-year-old daughter Shahzadi, is a published poet.

Pre-purchasing links for Amazon for US/UK/Canada.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 9780151013913_hres

Our Tragic Universe by Scarlett Thomas (ARC)

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (September 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • Genre: Literary Fiction (slipstream? – I am hoping)

Blurb:  Can a story save your life? 

Meg Carpenter is broke. Her novel is years overdue. Her cell phone is out of minutes. And her moody boyfriend's only contribution to the household is his sour attitude. So she jumps at the chance to review a pseudoscientific book that promises life everlasting. 

But who wants to live forever? 

Consulting cosmology and physics, tarot cards, koans (and riddles and jokes), new-age theories of everything, narrative theory, Nietzsche, Baudrillard, and knitting patterns, Meg wends her way through Our Tragic Universe, asking this and many other questions. Does she believe in fairies? In magic? Is she a superbeing? Is she living a storyless story? And what's the connection between her off-hand suggestion to push a car into a river, a ship in a bottle, a mysterious beast loose on the moor, and the controversial author of The Science of Living Forever

Smart, entrancing, and boiling over with Thomas's trademark big ideas, Our Tragic Universe is a book about how relationships are created and destroyed, how we can rewrite our futures (if not our histories), and how stories just might save our lives. 

SCARLETT THOMAS is the author of several novels, including PopCo and The End of Mr. Y. She was named one of the twenty best young British writers by the Independent on Sunday and Writer of the Year at the 2002 Elle Style Awards. She teaches at the University of Kent and lives in Canterbury. Visit her online at

Amazon pre-purchasing links for US/Canada and purchasing link for UK.



The Bat Scientists by Mary Kay Carson (ARC)

  • Reading level: Ages 9-12
  • Hardcover: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children (September 6, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • Genre: Science

Book Blurb:  Dr. Merlin Tuttle and his colleagues at Bat Conservation International aren't scared of bats. These bat crusaders are fascinated by them, with good reason. Bats fly the night skies in nearly every part of the world, but they are the least studied of all mammals. As the major predator of night-flying insects, bats eat many pests. Unfortunately bats are facing many problems, including a terrifying new disease. White-nose Syndrome is infecting and killing millions of hibernating bats in North America. But Dr. Tuttle, with the help of his fellow bat scientists are in the trenches—and caves—on the front line of the fight to save their beloved bats.

Author Mary Kay Carson is a Goodread’s author,  and has a website with many science based book for children, wildlife, nature, space, weather, and more!

Amazon pre-purchasing links are for US/UK/Canada.


shadowBoundCover_med Shadow Bound by Erin Kellison

  • Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Not Avail (June 29, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy/Fairy Tale

Blurb:  Death - Some people will do anything to avoid it. Even trade their immortal souls for endless existence.

Wraiths - Secretly, inexorably, they are infiltrating our world, sucking the essence out of unsuspecting victims with their hideous parody of a kiss.

Segue - Adam Thorne founded the Institute to study and destroy his monster of a brother, but the key to its success is held in the pale, slender hand of a woman on the run. There is something hauntingly different about Talia O’Brien, her unknowing sensuality, her uncanny way of slipping into Shadow.

Twilight - This is the place between life and what comes after - a dark forest of fantasy, filled with beauty, peril, mystery. And Talia is about to open the door.

About Erin Kellison:   Stories have always been a central part of Erin Kellison's life. She attempted her first book in sixth grade, a dark fantasy adventure, and still has those early hand-written chapters. She graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English Language and Literature, and went on for a masters in Cultural Anthropology, focusing on oral storytelling. When she had children, nothing scared her anymore, so her focus shifted to writing fiction. She lives in Arizona with her two beautiful daughters and husband, and she will have a dog (breed undetermined) when her youngest turns five.

Erin Kellison is a Goodread’s author, and has a website. Amazon pre purchasing links for US/UK/Canada.



Fall of Giants (Book 1) by Ken Follett (ARC)

  • Hardcover: 1008 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult (September 28, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • Genre: Historical Fiction

Blurb:   Fall of Giants is his magnificent new historical epic. The first novel in The Century Trilogy, it follows the fates of five interrelated families-American, German, Russian, English, and Welsh-as they move through the world-shaking dramas of the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the struggle for women's suffrage.

Thirteen-year-old Billy Williams enters a man's world in the Welsh mining pits...Gus Dewar, an American law student rejected in love, finds a surprising new career in Woodrow Wilson's White House...two orphaned Russian brothers, Grigori and Lev Peshkov, embark on radically different paths half a world apart when their plan to emigrate to America falls afoul of war, conscription, and revolution...Billy's sister, Ethel, a housekeeper for the aristocratic Fitzherberts, takes a fateful step above her station, while Lady Maud Fitzherbert herself crosses deep into forbidden territory when she falls in love with Walter von Ulrich, a spy at the German embassy in London...

These characters and many others find their lives inextricably entangled as, in a saga of unfolding drama and intriguing complexity, Fall of Giants moves seamlessly from Washington to St. Petersburg, from the dirt and danger of a coal mine to the glittering chandeliers of a palace, from the corridors of power to the bedrooms of the mighty. As always with Ken Follett, the historical background is brilliantly researched and rendered, the action fast-moving, the characters rich in nuance and emotion. It is destined to be a new classic.

In future volumes of The Century Trilogy, subsequent generations of the same families will travel through the great events of the rest of the twentieth century, changing themselves-and the century itself. With passion and the hand of a master, Follett brings us into a world we thought we knew, but now will never seem the same again.

Here is a link to Ken Follett’s web site. Amazon pre-purchasing links are for US/UK/Canada.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++  ubuntu20cover_thumb2

Ubuntu! by Stephen Lundin and Bob Nelson

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Business (March 30, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • Genre: Business/Fable

Blurb:  A powerful story about the African philosophy of teamwork and collaboration that has the power to reshape our workplaces, our relationships with our coworkers, and our personal lives, written by the bestselling coauthor of Fish! and the bestselling author of 1001 Ways to Reward Employees.

John Peterson, a new manager in the credit department at a major big-box retailer, is struggling in his job. The people under him are not working as well or effectively as they need to, and his department is falling behind in meeting its goals. His only solution is to take on more work himself, burning the midnight oil and coming in most weekends to pick up the slack and keep his department above water.

When one of the employees stays behind to help him—a young man who came to America from a small village in Africa—he learns of the ancient wisdom and hidden power of the African philosophy of Ubuntu. Before long, it begins to change the way he thinks about the people he works with, about himself, and about how he runs his department and his life.

In an engaging and completely fresh narrative that holds a unique message for today’s business world, Ubuntu! shows us a way to overcome our fears, insecurities, and the “me-ism” that so often permeates our workplaces, and replace it with a culture of genuine respect and collaboration. It promises to take its place alongside Fish! and other business parables as the next bestselling classic in the business category.

About the Authors:  Stephen Lundin, Ph.D., the bestselling author of the FISH! series of books, with over 7 million copies in print, has an inventory of work experience ranging from dishwasher to think tank executive; teacher to business school dean; golf caddy to camp director; and small business owner to national sales manager.

Bob Nelson is one of the world’s leading authorities on employee motivation & management and president of Nelson Motivation Inc., a management training and consulting company that specializes in helping organizations improve their management practices, programs and systems.

Here is the authors’ web site, and more about the Ubuntu philosophy from Wikipedia. Amazon purchasing links for US/UK/Canada.


All the above titles received by request via Shelf Awareness, PTA Interactive, and Net Galley.

Have a great Monday everyone! Which titles are you interested in?


David Halpin. said...

I'm reading 'Our Tragic Universe' at the moment and am loving it. Mind you, I also loved 'The End of Mr Y.' which this was the first book of what Thomas has called a loosely tied trilogy.

Unknown said...

Dave -
Excellent... now I am even more excited to get into this. I started reading the first chapter last week.

Questions -
Do you thin it is important to read "The End of Mr Y" first?

Does it have element which are speculative too? *fingers crossed*


David Halpin. said...

The novels will be linked thematically, Shellie, so whether that means there will be connections between the actual characters and philospphical 'universes' I can't say yet.
I'm sure you can read this first as the whole argument that Thomas is making is about breaking away from linearity anyway ;-) so it would be ironic if the novels were set up in steadfast order!

Hmmm, as for your other question do you really want me to give anything like that away? ... ... ...

Unknown said...

Thanks Dave!

You are right - I guess not (about the giving away bit) lol!

But knowing you and your interests and what the books sounds like - your explanations - I am thinking yes. *happy dance*

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Unknown said...

Hi Lisa -
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