Barbara’s Picks, July 2012, Pt. 3: Amirrezvani, Cleave, Klaussmann, Kean, Macintyre, T√≥ib√≠n

Amirrezvani, Anita. Equal of the Sun. Scribner. Jun. 2012. NAp. ISBN 9781451660463. $26. HISTORICAL FICTION
Based roughly on the life of Iranian princess Pari Khan Khanoom, a powerhouse right out of The Arabian Nights, this novel opens in 1576. The shah has died without an heir, and his daughter and closest adviser, Princess Pari, tries to establish order in the court, even as dissent and resentment brew. At least she has her faithful servant and a mother lode of secrets to help her. Amirrezvani’s luscious first novel, The Blood of Flowers, was an international best seller, and I’m eager to see this follow-up. With a five-city tour to Ann Arbor, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC.

Cleave, Chris. Gold. S. & S. Jul. 2012. 320p. ISBN 9781451672725. $27; eISBN 9781451672749. CD: S. & S. Audio. POP FICTION
Gold‚ as in Olympic gold‚ is what Zoe and Kate both want. Sure, they’re friends, but they’re also been rivals as they’ve trained for world-class athletic events and competed against each other to win. Now they’re facing their last Olympics, the 2012 games in London. Aside from the multilayered emotions of love, betrayal, guilt, and forgiveness, the book explores the question of sacrificing what you care about most for the sake of someone you care for most. The author of the No. 1 New York Times best seller Little Bee has surely hit upon a newsworthy idea; bet this will be popular with book clubs.

Klaussmann, Liza. Tigers in Red Weather. Little, Brown. Jul. 2011. 336p. ISBN 9780316211338. $25.99. HISTORICAL FICTION
Along with a particularly evocative title and cover, this book has a red-hot plot. Having long summered together at Tiger House, the family estate on Martha’s Vineyard, Nick and her cousin Helena go their separate ways: Nick with her husband, back from World War II, and newly married Helena to Hollywood. Alas, life never stays golden: Nick’s husband has been snuffed out emotionally by the war, while Helena’s is not what she had thought. The cousins meet at Tiger House to reassess, but a nasty murder throws their expectations further into turmoil. Lots of buzz for first novelist Klaussman, a New York Times reporter, with a two-book deal, a huge advance, and rights sold to 18 territories and counting. Don’t miss.

Kean, Sam. The Violinist’s Thumb: And Other Lost Tales of Love, War, and Genius, as Written by Our Genetic Code. Little, Brown. Jul. 2011. 400p. ISBN 9780316182317. $25.99. SCIENCE
There’s enough DNA in a single body to stretch nearly to the moon, and that DNA can tell us not only how humans evolved from the muck but why a few of us turn into brilliant violinists while others adore cats. Kean, who scored a New York Times best seller with The Disappearing Spoon, about the periodic table, is a Washington, DC‚ based science journalist with a flair for words; from what I have seen, the language is fluid and accessible, even for the science-challenged. With a four-city tour to Boston, Washington, DC, Seattle, and Philadelphia.

Macintyre, Ben. Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies. Crown. Jul. 2012. 384p. ISBN 9780307888754. $26; eISBN 9780307888761. lrg. prnt. CD/Downloadable: Random House Audio. HISTORY
D-Day, June 6, 1944. Some 150,000 Allied troops land successfully on the beaches of Normandy, sustaining only 5000 casualties. How did they manage it? Through a vast act of deception called Operation Bodyguard aimed at persuading the Germans that attacks would come at Calais and Norway, where German armies then massed. The spies drafted to perpetuate this trickery ranged from a Polish pilot to the wild daughter of a Peruvian diplomat to a Serbian playboy codenamed Agent Tricycle. Actually, sounds like a great movie; meanwhile, best-selling author Macintyre (Operation Mincemeat) should turn in an absorbing read about a little-acknowledged facet of the war.

Tóibín, Colm. New Ways To Kill Your Mother: Writers and Their Families. Scribner. Jun. 288p. ISBN 9781451668551. $25. ESSAYS
Nobody writes about families like novelist and short story master Tóibín, a Costa Book Award and Los Angeles Times Book Prize winner and author of The Empty Family, an LJ Best Book of 2011. Here he looks at how the families of other authors have influenced their writing, for better or for worse, moving from Jane Austen’s aunts and W.B. Yeats’s father to Thomas Mann’s children, Tennessee Williams and his mentally ill sister, and John Cheever’s general crankiness about everyone around him. If this is half as good as Tóibín’s fiction, it will still be great.

Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.