Out Now: THE SKEPTICS’ GUIDE TO THE UNIVERSE by Steven Novella et al (Grand Central/Hodder)

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Spotted this while browsing the latest Hachette catalogue on Edelweiss, and thought it sounded interesting. The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe was published this week in North America by Grand Central Publishing, and Hodder in the UK (not sure how I missed it before now). Here’s the synopsis:

An all-encompassing guide to skeptical thinking from podcast host and academic neurologist at Yale University School of Medicine Steven Novella and his SGU co-hosts, which Richard Wiseman calls “the perfect primer for anyone who wants to separate fact from fiction.”

It is intimidating to realize that we live in a world overflowing with misinformation, bias, myths, deception, and flawed knowledge. There really are no ultimate authority figures-no one has the secret, and there is no place to look up the definitive answers to our questions (not even Google).

Luckily, THE SKEPTICS’ GUIDE TO THE UNIVERSE is your map through this maze of modern life. Here Dr. Steven Novella-along with Bob Novella, Cara Santa Maria, Jay Novella, and Evan Bernstein-will explain the tenets of skeptical thinking and debunk some of the biggest scientific myths, fallacies, and conspiracy theories-from anti-vaccines to homeopathy, UFO sightings to N- rays. You’ll learn the difference between science and pseudoscience, essential critical thinking skills, ways to discuss conspiracy theories with that crazy co- worker of yours, and how to combat sloppy reasoning, bad arguments, and superstitious thinking.

So are you ready to join them on an epic scientific quest, one that has taken us from huddling in dark caves to setting foot on the moon? (Yes, we really did that.) DON’T PANIC! With THE SKEPTICS’ GUIDE TO THE UNIVERSE, we can do this together.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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Upcoming: MISSING PERSON by Sarah Lotz (Mulholland/Hodder)

LotsS-MissingPersonUSA new novel by Sarah Lotz! Unfortunately, it’s still pretty far away: Missing Person is due out in April 2019… Nevertheless, I spotted it in the Mulholland Books catalogue, and decided to feature it on the site. It is also due out in the UK, to be published by Hodder in March 2019.

Reclusive Irish bookseller Shaun Ryan has always believed that his older brother, Teddy, died in a car accident. It’s only on his mother’s deathbed that he learns the truth: Teddy, who was gay, fled the Catholic, deeply conservative County Wicklow for New York decades earlier. Shaun finds no sign of him in New York or anywhere else–until he comes across the unsolved murder of a John Doe whose description matches Teddy’s.

Desperate for information, Shaun tracks down Chris Guzman, a woman who runs a website dedicated to matching missing persons cases with unidentified bodies. Through Chris’s site, a group of online cold case fanatics connect Teddy with the notorious “Boy in the Dress” murder, believed to be one of many committed by a serial killer targeting gay men.

But who are these cold case fanatics, and how do they know so much about a case that left the police and the FBI stumped? With investigators, amateurs, and one sadistic killer on a collision course, Missing Person is Sarah Lotz at her most thrilling and terrifying.

Sarah Lotz is the author of a number of superb novels, including The Three (on sale in the UK at the time of writing), Day Four and The White Road. Lotz’s novels are published in the UK by Hodder.

Also on CR: Interview with Sarah Lotz (2014); Reviews of The Three and Day Four

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Quick Review: THE ROOSTER BAR by John Grisham (Doubleday/Hodder)

GrishamJ-RoosterBarUSGrisham had an issue or two he wanted to talk about

Mark, Todd, and Zola came to law school to change the world, to make it a better place. But now, as third-year students, these close friends realize they have been duped. They all borrowed heavily to attend a third-tier, for-profit law school so mediocre that its graduates rarely pass the bar exam, let alone get good jobs. And when they learn that their school is one of a chain owned by a shady New York hedge-fund operator who also happens to own a bank specializing in student loans, the three know they have been caught up in The Great Law School Scam.

But maybe there’s a way out. Maybe there’s a way to escape their crushing debt, expose the bank and the scam, and make a few bucks in the process. But to do so, they would first have to quit school. And leaving law school a few short months before graduation would be completely crazy, right?

As long-time readers of Civilian Reader will know, Grisham is one of my favourite authors — even though I think he’s quite inconsistent. Some of his novels have been excellent, while others feel either rushed or bloodless. I enjoyed Camino Island, a fun and quickly-paced caper-type novel. In The Rooster Bar he returns to the genre that has made him a global bestseller: a legal thriller. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy this as much as I’d hoped. Continue reading

Excerpt: BLACK DAHLIA, RED ROSE by Piu Eatwell (Coronet)

EatwellP-BlackDahliaRedRoseUKPiu Eatwell’s latest book is a narrative history of the notorious Black Dahlia murder in Los Angeles. The inspiration for a number of novels and movies, it’s an interesting new account of the murder that gripped the headlines. Here’s the synopsis:

On 15th January 1947, the naked, dismembered body of a black-haired beauty, Elizabeth Short, was discovered lying next to a pavement in a Hollywood suburb. She was quickly nicknamed The Black Dahlia.

The homicide inquiry that followed consumed Los Angeles for years and the authorities blew millions of dollars of resources on an investigation that threw up dozens of suspects. But it never was solved.

Until now.

In this ground-breaking book, Piu Eatwell reveals compelling forensic and eye witness evidence for the first time, which finally points to the identity of the murderer. The case was immortalised in James Ellroy’s famous novel based on the case, in Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon and Brian de Palma’s movie The Black Dahlia.

This is a dark tale of sex, manipulation, obsession, psychopathy and one of the biggest police cover ups in history.

Now, read on for an excerpt from the first chapter…

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Review: CAMINO ISLAND by John Grisham (Doubleday)

GrishamJ-CaminoIslandUSAn enjoyable biblio-mystery

A gang of thieves stage a daring heist from a secure vault deep below Princeton University’s Firestone Library. Their loot is priceless, but Princeton has insured it for twenty-five million dollars.

Bruce Cable owns a popular bookstore in the sleepy resort town of Santa Rosa on Camino Island in Florida. He makes his real money, though, as a prominent dealer in rare books. Very few people know that he occasionally dabbles in the black market of stolen books and manuscripts.

Mercer Mann is a young novelist with a severe case of writer’s block who has recently been laid off from her teaching position. She is approached by an elegant, mysterious woman working for an even more mysterious company. A generous offer of money convinces Mercer to go undercover and infiltrate Bruce Cable’s circle of literary friends, ideally getting close enough to him to learn his secrets.

But eventually Mercer learns far too much, and there’s trouble in paradise…

This is not your typical John Grisham thriller. For one thing, it’s mostly a novel about publishing, writing and bookselling with an overlying crime story to bring everything together. I very much enjoyed it. Continue reading

Upcoming in 2017… Hodder Books

This is the first in a series of posts I’ll be putting up this week(end), featuring upcoming books I’m really interested in reading. I wanted to try to keep things focused on the first few months of 2017, but some publishers have released information pretty far in advance, so I’ll include later novels, too. The books featured are also not the only novels from the publisher that I’m interested in, so these are not definitive lists. Just ones that have grabbed my attention most at the time of writing.

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First up, let’s take a look at just a few coming up from Hodder…

Featuring: Jaroslav Kalfař, Sarah Lotz, Nnedi Okorafor, Benjamin Percy

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Some Quick Audiobook Reviews…

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A quick round-up of six recent audiobook listens. Mostly, very good.

Featuring: Carrie Fisher, Frederick Forsyth, Anna Kendrick, Trevor Noah, Graham Norton, Nikki Sixx

Continue reading