BookFilter: A Real-Life Jurassic Park! Robots! The Hidden Lives of Tudor Women! More!

07/06/2017 01:10 pm ET

Hey Book Lovers!  Welcome to our latest Top Picks Of The Week!  Summer weekend getaways, family trips, time at the beach -- all of it prime opportunity for more reading! So stock up before you hit the road. Whether you're about to go to your favorite bookstore, library or online retailer, head first to BookFilter and you'll discover all the best new releases in every genre. Let us know what you think about the newsletter. And stay cool!

What we're reading:

Author Ben Mezrich is on a hot streak. His bestseller about Facebook became the Oscar-winning film The Social Network, another book about college students beating Vegas at its own game also clicked and his most recent work -- about the rise of Russian oligarchs -- proved as timely as it gets. So we're pretty safe in assuming he'll do it again with Wooly, a nonfiction look at scientists currently decoding the DNA of a wooly mammoth and determined to insert it into a live elephant. Naturally that makes us think of Jurassic Park and not in a good way..... Read More.

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Both serious and fun, this is a stream of consciousness narrative about the misadventures of Richard L. Fischer, a desperately unhappy and domesticated illustrator. Once considered a comic genius thanks to a praised graphic novel, Richard is now reduced to debt, despair and dubious employment as an illustrator for a floundering magazine. He makes up for his financial circumstances by teaching a seminar in comic illustration at a well-known summer arts conference on a strip of land by the ocean in Massachusetts. (Think the Cape.) An on and off affair with the not so talented Amy O'Donnell -- who is unhappily married to a hedge fund billionaire -- and a continuing inner anger at the latest darling of the comic book world make for the substance of this book. Fischer's deep and unabiding sarcasm make for the style. As a comic anti-hero we are a long, long way from Portnoy's psychic scream in Philip Roth's groundbreaking novel, for Fischer is much more benign. He doesn't rant at his mother. He doesn't see a shrink. He sulks instead and his long sulk is very funny.... Read More.

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British historian Elizabeth Norton pulls double duty here. She focuses on the women of the Tudor era and details what their lives were like on a day to day basis, including childbirth as a frightening ordeal often ending in death, the utter lack of education, the endless toil and more. Why the Tudor era? Because it's the first where women left an indelible mark on the events of the day, says Norton. Yet she also consistently contrasts the lives of women of privilege with the servant girls and wet nurses who kept them in relative comfort, realizing that class plays an equally big role in what the hidden lives of women were like.... Read More.

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PAUL MCCARTNEY HEADS TO A FAIR.... Yes, the Beatles are on constant rotation at the world headquarters of BookFilter. Which is why we know that on July 6, 1957, music fan Paul McCartney headed to a fair at St. Peter's Church in Liverpool to check out a band called the Quarrymen. "Not bad," he thinks and afterward Paul meets the band's leader John Lennon. History was made and along with some of the greatest music of all time, the Beatles also inspired some great books. Two recent, acclaimed editions to the library of Beatle-bilia? Rob Sheffield's fan letter/musical biography Dreaming The Beatles, which explains why they still loom so large. And Steve Turner's Beatles '66, which zeroes in on 1966, the turning point in which they performed their last public concert and burrowed ever deeper into the studio with their brilliant album Revolver.

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We've said it before: the experts at BookFilter FREQUENTLY judge a book by its cover, with the dependable belief that a really great cover was invariably inspired by a really great book. (Sometimes a great book has a dreadful cover but it's rare for a really bad book to get a really good cover.) So yes, the cover of this fantasy had us hooked on sight: we wanted to read it right away. Then we read the premise: the automatons which once held such fascination for people (as in the book and film Hugo)? Well, turns out that they really did come to life and those robots/machines/people have been living quietly among us ever since, their machine nature hidden from view and desperately trying to fit in. Toss in some great early reviews and we are intrigued enough to say, "Alexa, are you alive?" And then, "Turn up the lights so we can read. Thanks Alexa!"... Read More.Discover 17 New Fantasy & Sci-Fi Books Out This Week!

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What a great idea for a book! Writer and editor Elissa Brent Weissman approached some of the biggest names in kids and young adult novels and asked for them for memories about some of their first forays into telling stories. What inspired them to put pen (or pencil or crayon) to paper and write or draw or in some way become creative? And did they have that original work anywhere at hand? The result is this amusing, sweet and inspiring look at the early efforts of big names in publishing from class assignments to secret diaries to drawings that their mom put on the fridge. It's a great way for anyone -- from kids to adults -- to get inspired all over again about whatever makes them passionate.... Read More.

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In this solid debut, author Ian Stansel crosses the Biblical tale of Cain vs Abel with the classic Western. But it's set in modern times and involves two brothers who become self-made successes in the competitive world of trainers -- the men and women who battle each other for students they can coach to blue ribbons and even on to Olympic gold. Frank and Silas have always fought and feuded...but they've also worked well together, building on their dad's stables and becoming big players in the world of horsemanship. In many ways, they feel like the last cowboys. But when this trim novel begins, Frank is dead, Silas is on the run cross country on his beloved horse Disco and Frank's wife Lena is in hot pursuit for some old-time justice. We flash back and forth from the present (where Silas feels his oats as an "outlaw" that can scare anyone who has seen the local headlines) to the past, where the two brothers grow up and grow apart. This is a clean, clear, purposeful book that satisfies on multiple levels. Like an Anthony Mann film, it's no-nonsense, to the point and better for it.... Read More.

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GO ASK ALICE....

As with the Beatles, we never tire of the witty wordplay and absurdist humor of Lewis Carroll's classice Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. How did it all begin? In the book, it begins when Alice goes tumbling down a rabbit hole. In real life, it began on July 4, 1862 when professor Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) took Lorina, Edith and Alice -- the three daughters of his friend Henry Liddell -- on a boating trip for the day. It was Alice's birthday (she turned 10 years old) so when she asked Dodgson to tell them a story he naturally made her the star. And when she begged him to write it down, well eventually he did. Two marvelous new editions include The Complete Alice (both books and fully restored artwork) and The Annotated Alice (which explains all the references and puns and jokes in glorious detail). But for heaven's sake, if you've never read it, grab an inexpensive paperback with the classic original drawings by John Tenniel, take it to the beach or on a picnic and prepare to giggle. ***************

Heminsley hit paydirt with her memoir Running Like A Girl, in which she shared the agony and inspiration behind trying to become a serious runner. It proved a bestseller all over the world. Can she do it again with swimming? Heminsley finds the ocean a lot more daunting than a jog around the park and isn't afraid to share her insecurities about diving right in to the waters. Mind you, if this one works we can only assume her next book will involve either cycling or god help her, skydiving.... Read More.

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Matthew Quick has become a name-brand best-selling author. That's not easy when you don't traffic in a genre like legal thrillers or pen romances or develop a fantasy series. Quick has done it with literary fiction, drawing a consistent audience like Joyce Carol Oates and John Irving. His quirky, humorous hits include The Silver Linings Playbook and The Good Luck Of Right Now, to name just two. Now comes this novel about a Vietnam Vet who late in life becomes determined to make amends to the fellow soldier he wronged during the war. Expect black humor, left-turns in the plot and a heart-tugging climax.... Read More.

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Remember that Jodie Foster movie Contact, about a scientist who actually does make first contact with extra-terrestrial life? It was based on a novel by Carl Sagan and HE took inspiration from the real life of Jill Tarter. She has devoted her work to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, a quixotic task that is almost guaranteed to end in failure. (Only one person in history will win that prize, if there's even a prize to be won.) Author Sarah Scoles uses the story of Tarter to also relate the story of scientists all over the world who are putting in the hard work so that humanity may someday make the greatest discovery of all, that we're not alone.... Read More.

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Thanks for reading our latest BookFilter newsletter! Tell us what you think -- drop a line at newsletter@bookfilter.com. Do you want more picks? Fewer? Did you click on any of the links like "More Fiction!" to find even more great new picks? Will you share it with a friend? Will we keep asking questions? If you love it, share it with your friends -- forward them the newsletter or just send them this link so they can sign up for themselves.

Michael Giltz is the founder and CEO of the forthcoming websiteBookFilter, a book lover’s best friend. Trying to decide what to read next?Head to BookFilter! Need a smart and easy gift? Head to BookFilter? Wondering what new titles came out this week in your favorite categories, like cookbooks and mystery and more? Head to BookFilter! It’s a website that lets you browse for books online the way you do in a physical bookstore, provides comprehensive info on new releases every week in every category and offers passionate personal recommendations every step of the way. It’s like a fall book preview or holiday gift guide — but every week in every category. He’s also the cohost of Showbiz Sandbox, a weekly pop culture podcast that reveals the industry take on entertainment news of the day and features top journalists and opinion makers as guests. It’s available for free on iTunes. Visit Michael Giltz at his website and his daily blog.Download his podcast of celebrity interviews and his radio show, also called Popsurfing and also available for free on iTunes.

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