Authors blurbs, as publishers call them, can be a funny business – with friends, other house authors, and even (with permission) books’ editors writing up author endorsements for books. But not all praise stems from personal connection, and friend or not, some blurbs can be simply outstanding—attracting our attention to books we might not otherwise listen to.
Of our recent favorites, Patrick Rothfuss and John Scalzi’s geeked awe of Ready Player One beckoned to our love for the 80s—and the inner nerd in all of us. "Completely frickin' awesome," says Rothfuss, author of The Wise Man’s Fear. "This book pleased every geeky bone in my geeky body." "A nerdgasm," Scalzi agrees. "Imagine Dungeons and Dragons and an 80s video arcade made hot, sweet love, and their child was raised in Azeroth." (Bonus geek points for you if you recognize the reference from Warcraft.) And speaking of nerdy cool, Stiff and Packing for Mars author Mary Roach gets a brainy kick from Joshua Foer’s Memory Championship memoir, Moonwalking with Einstein, while My Chemical Romance lead singer and author Gerard Way sings the praise of Supergods’ "finely-tuned death ray" to the myths of the comic book world.
If weddings are more your thing, or perhaps what you can’t escape during its most popular season – summer, J. Courtney Sullivan (author of Maine and Commencement) recommends Girls in White Dresses to fulfill your matrimonial fix...or even to take over it. "Like a lot of women in America," Sullivan explains, "I was awake at 4 a.m. on April 29th. But unlike the rest, I wasn’t waiting to see Kate Middleton walk down the aisle. I was reading Girls in White Dresses. This hilarious, pitch-perfect debut more or less took over my life for three glorious days. I cancelled dinners, ignored deadlines and went without sleep, all because I could not stop reading it."
Luis Carlos Montalvan’s memoir Until Tuesday, which he movingly narrates, elicits a different kind of tear from weddings and had author Lee Woodruff "crying on page 3. The collision of man and dog, and the unbreakable bond they form, made my heart leap." Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet author Jamie Ford similarly found himself transformed by Kyung Sook-Shin’s family saga Please Look After Mom, and Booker-longlisted novel Pigeon English made Room author Emma Donoghue "laugh and tremble all the way through."
Alafair Burke and Brad Thor highlight two of our favorite new mystery heroes from Clare DeWitt and the City of the Dead and Forced to Kill, while Ann Hood and Sarah Blake revel in the streets of Paris in their praise for the novels French Lessons and The Paris Wife. So whether you’re a foodie looking for the next best chef memoir or an Andromeda Strain fan seeking out sci-tech ala Michael Crichton, take your cues from these and more standout blurbs from your favorite authors.
"Completely fricking awesome...This book pleased every geeky bone in my geeky body. I felt like it was written just for me." —Patrick Rothfuss, author of The Wise Man’s Fear
"A nerdgasm...imagine Dungeons and Dragons and an 80s video arcade made hot, sweet love, and their child was raised in Azeroth." —John Scalzi, author of Fuzzy Nation
"You have to love a writer who employs chick sexing to help explain human memory. Foer is a charmer, a crackling mind, a fresh wind. He approaches a complex topic with so much humanity, humor, and originality that you don't realize how much you're taking in and understanding. It's kind of miraculous." —Mary Roach, author of Packing for Mars
"Grant Morrison is the antimatter to the often mundane world of comics - Supergods is the finely tuned death-ray. Far beyond deconstruction, it exposes, challenges, invigorates and detonates everything we know about this modern mythology. Supergods gives meaning to the fictional worlds we create and live within and helps us make sense of the madness within ourselves through the four-color world of the super hero." —Gerard Way, lead singer of My Chemical Romance and author of The Umbrella Academy
"Like a lot of women in America, I was awake at 4 a.m. on April 29th. But unlike the rest, I wasn’t waiting to see Kate Middleton walk down the aisle. I was reading Girls in White Dresses. This hilarious, pitch-perfect debut more or less took over my life for three glorious days. I cancelled dinners, ignored deadlines and went without sleep, all because I could not stop reading it." —J. Courtney Sullivan, author of Maine and Commencement
"Wow, what a book! I think I was crying on page 3. The collision of man and dog, and the unbreakable bond they form, made my heart leap. Everyone should read this book to better understand not only the ravages of war, but the amazing capacity of the human spirit to rebound. I dare anyone to read this book and not believe in the power of love to heal." —Lee Woodruff, author of Perfectly Imperfect
"Some books change us. They change the way we look at ourselves, the way we interact with those closest to our hearts—the way we’ve loved those people, or the way we’ve missed them or honored them or taken them hopelessly for granted. This is one of those books. This is a book that alters the way we remember. Once you cross its threshold, you’ll never be able to go back to that comfortable place you came from. Your perceptions will be transformed. Permanently." —Jamie Ford, author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
"Simultaneously accurate and fantastical, this boy's love letter to the world made me laugh and tremble all the way through. Pigeon English is a triumph." —Emma Donoghue, author of Room
"Not your mother's girl detective, Claire DeWitt is a cool blend of Nancy Drew and Sid Vicious. Sara Gran has pulled the traditional female sleuth into the twenty-first century with a novel that's smart and hip, dark and funny" —Alafair Burke, author of Long Gone
"An absolutely bone-chilling thriller. Equal parts Stephen Hunter and Thomas Harris. Imagine Bob Lee Swagger going after Hannibal Lecter and you will have only scratched the surface of this intensely exciting novel. Forced To Kill will haunt you long after you read its last brilliantly plotted page." —Brad Thor, author of Full Black
"If you are like me and you are stuck at home this summer, I have the perfect antidote for your summertime blues: buy a copy of Ellen Sussman’s new novel French Lessons, and get transported to Paris. Her characters are charming, sexy, intelligent, and most important—human. They serve as guide to the city and to the various conditions of the heart, from love to infidelity and grief to hope, with a good dose of sexual highjinks thrown in. You will savor the food and wine of Paris, discover hidden treasures, have your heartbroken and your spirits lifted, even though you are stateside. Most importantly, you will spend some hours in the pleasure of Sussman’s lovely story and storytelling. This is a trip you will want to take." —Ann Hood, ..
"Despite all that has been written about Hemingway by others and by the man himself, the magic of The Paris Wife is that this Hemingway and this Paris, as imagined by Paula McLain, ring so true I felt as if I was eavesdropping on something new. As seen by the sure and steady eye of his first wife, Hadley, here is the spectacle of the man becoming the legend set against the bright jazzed heat of Paris in the 20s. As much about life and how we try and catch it as it is about love even as it vanishes, this is an utterly absorbing novel." —Sarah Blake, author of The Postmistress
"Magnificent. Simply the best memoir by a chef ever. Ever. Gabrielle Hamilton packs more heart, soul, and pure power into one beautifully crafted page than I’ve accomplished in my entire writing career. Blood, Bones & Butter is the work of an uncompromising chef and a prodigiously talented writer. I am choked with envy." —Anthony Bourdain, author of Medium Raw and Kitchen Confidential
"Robopocalypse reminded me of Michael Crichton when he was young and the best in the business. This novel is brilliant, beautifully conceived, beautifully written (high-five, Dr. Wilson)...but what makes it is the humanity. Wilson doesn't waste his time writing about 'things', he's writing about human beings—fear, love, courage, hope. I loved it." —Robert Crais, author of The Sentry
"The Triple Agent is a spy thriller like no other. Never has such a giant intelligence debacle been chronicled this vividly, this intimately. Riveting and harrowing, laden with deception and duplicity, it is a remarkable, behind-the-curtain account of the CIA’s darkest day in Afghanistan." —Rajiv Chandrasekaran, author of Imperial Life in the Emerald City
"Richard Feynman once said that the easiest person to fool is yourself, and as a result he argued that as a scientist one has to be especially careful to try and find out not only what is right about one's theories, but what might also be wrong with them. If we all followed this maxim of skepticism in everyday life, the world would probably be a better place. But we don't. In this book Michael Shermer lucidly describes why and how we are hard wired to 'want to believe'. With a narrative that gently flows from the personal to the profound, Shermer shares what he has learned after spending a lifetime pondering the relationship between beliefs and reality, and how to be prepared to tell the difference between the two." —Lawrence Krauss,
"The Heart and the Fist might have been written in many countries, but its ideals seem to me to be quintessentially American, from and of the United States as she is at her best. That Eric Greitens—Rhodes Scholar, Navy SEAL, international humanitarian worker and founder of a veterans' aid organization—is an extraordinary individual goes without saying. But what resounds so powerfully in this book is his consciousness and drive, from the earliest age, not to cash in on his own abundant gifts but to find some path that was worthy of his highest self, some way to be of use, to make a contribution and to really live a life. He combines in one person the warrior ethos of toughness, courage and tenacity with the compassion of the humanitarian. ..
"The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes takes "what if" in a new direction and to new heights. Every writer muses, "What if the reader isn’t sure whether the husband killed his wife, or not? That’s a basic whodunit. But Sakey asks, 'What if the husband isn’t sure whether he killed his wife, or not?' That’s a terrific premise, and it boosts an already-terrific thriller plot into the stratosphere. Add in LA’s easy glitz and glamour, and coast-to-coast chase tension, and a bad guy to die for (or be killed by), and shocks and surprises galore, and you’ve got the kind of story you’ve never read before." —Lee Child, author of Worth Dying For
"A magnificent novel. A brutal, indignant, lunatic howl. A sexy, blood-spattered page-turner, beautifully crafted and full of genuine suspense, that tears the thorax out of the horror genre to create something that stands rapturous and majestic and entirely on its own." —Nick Cave, author of The Death of Bunny Munro
"Say Her Name is a tender and sacred narrative, many-angled, fearless, incandescent in its frankness. As I read it, I felt I were reading something more alive than life itself, and thought this is surely why one reads, why one writes: that one might mingle oneself with a beloved person, a book, a landscape, and hold it...utterly alive." —Kiran Desai, author of The Inheritance of Loss
"Voice is the hallmark of a great writer, and I loved John Verdon’s riveting Shut Your Eyes Tight from page one, because I fell in love with his voice. Yes, the plot is a humdinger, too, but what keeps the pages turning is the pitch-perfect, intriguing voice of its "hero", NYPD detective Dave ("Don’t call me Davey") Gurney. He’s super-smart, but the last one to brag. He loves his wife, but he doesn’t get all mawkish about her. He’s haunted by the death of his young child, but he doesn’t even say that aloud. Even his diversions are fascinating." —Lisa Scottoline, author of Save Me
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