Michael Connelly introduces a new detective in The Late Show (Little, Brown and Company, digital galley), a fast moving police procedural that is hard to put down. Renée Ballard works the LAPD overnight shift, responding to everything from burglaries to homicides. Because she has to hand off all of her cases at the end of her shift, she rarely gets to see anything through to completion.
In Karin Tidbeck’s dystopian fantasy Amatka (Knopf Doubleday, digital galley), words have the power to build, heal and destroy. Literally.
Here is a roundup of reviews for five summer of 2017 releases. All, but for The Windfall, are recommended.
Apollo 8: The Thrilling Story of the First Mission to the Moon
By Jeffrey Kluger
In December 1968, less than two years after three astronauts burned to death in an Apollo capsule, astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders left Earth to become the first humans to travel to the moon. Apollo 8: The Thrilling Story of the First Mission to the Moon is packed with all of the drama inherent in all stories dealing with the early space program.
The mission was later overshadowed by the more dramatic moon landings, but Apollo 8 has an important place in history. The book is a concisely written account of that mission and the activities and training leading up to it. Author Jeffrey Kluger includes biographical information about all of the players involved, but the story focuses on Apollo 8 Commander Frank Borman.
At just 320 pages, the book moves at a rocket’s pace (see what I did there) and helps maintain Apollo 8’s place in history.
The Fold by Peter Clines ★★★★
A good sci-fi summer read that touches on teleportation and inter-dimensional travel.
Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk ★★★★★
Palahniuk’s 1999 debut holds up. I read it because it continues to be referenced in a variety of media.
Blindness by José Saramago ★★★★
A country is stricken by a plague of blindness in this parable, which is considered one of Saramago’s signature works. This is a book that will keep you thinking after you’ve finished it.
Night Train to Lisbon by Pascal Mercier ★★★
The story of a magnetic Portuguese doctor living during the dictatorship of António Salazar. A lot of philosophy, which I enjoyed, but the narrative bogged down at points.
The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story by Douglas Preston ★★★★
A fascinating story of the search for a lost Honduran city, the politics of archaeology and the medical consequences of exploring in the tropics.
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman ★★★
I was disappointed in this story of a misunderstood, grumpy man with a hidden heart of gold, which felt derivative.
The Final Day by William R. Forstchen ★★★
If you read Forstchen’s first two books, read this one to see how it ends. If you haven’t, just read the first one, One Second After, to learn what might happen after an Electro Magnetic Pulse attack on the United States.
From the first quarter of 2017 I recommend Celine and Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness.
I was warned right in the title that Carrie Fisher would share her diary. On that she doesn’t disappoint. But the title kind of promises details about life on the set of the first Star Wars movie. On this The Princess Diarist falls short.
Had I known it was going to make that loud of a noise, I would’ve dressed better for those talk shows and definitely would have argued against that insane hair (although the hair was, in its own modest way, a big part of that noise). And I certainly wouldn’t have ever just blithely signed away any and all merchandising rights relating to my image and otherwise.
And on top of whatever else, Mark, Harrison, and I were the only people who were having this experience. So who do you talk to that might understand? Not that that is some sort of tragedy—it just puts you in an underpopulated, empathy-free zone. I mean, obviously I’d never starred in a movie, but this was completely not like starring in your average everyday movie. It might’ve been like being one of the Beatles. Sure, most of it was a fun surprise, but the days where you could really let your guard down were over because now there were cameras everywhere. I had to comport myself with something approaching dignity, at twenty.
— Carrie Fisher, in The Princess Diarist, discussing the attention surrounding the original Star Wars movie.
The Dictator’s Handbook by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith sheds light on how politicians get and keep power. In a nutshell, the most important thing to a politician is not the welfare of the citizenry, but the welfare of the politician’s winning coalition. Keep the coalition happy by lavishing rewards on them and the politician will stay in power.