Tim

I like to read fiction with plots that drive forward with cinematic pacing. Not sure why. Well, yes I am. I studied filmmaking back in school and worked for Warner Bros. for a few years. That's probably why. However, I've delved into some historic non-fiction and biography a tad. But none of the boring ones! It's got to fit in with my healthy diet of spy thrillers.

 

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Tim's Staff Picks:


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Antkind: A Novel Cover Image
$28.99
ISBN: 9780399589683
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Random House - July 7th, 2020

Bookseller: Tim
Title: Antkind

Comments: This book is hilarious and perplexing and wonderful. Charlie Kaufman's enigmatic creativity shows up in full force, which you will enjoy only if you liked his screenplays for films such as "Adaptation" and "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." Here, a film critic on a trip happens upon a lost piece of cinematic history, and devotes his life to making sense of it. The first-person narrative happens to be inside the mind of a very strange individual, which took me some time to get used to, but 50 pages in I was hooked! The absurd humor is sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, and, true to Kaufman-form, always poignantly existential


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The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz Cover Image
$32.00
ISBN: 9780385348713
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Crown - February 25th, 2020

Bookseller: Tim
Title: The Splendid and the Vile

Comments: I've never been a major "Churchill person" - but that may have changed now. Maybe all I needed was Erik Larson's unique and perfect lens through which to view a fresh portrait of the historical colossus. This beautiful narrative follows a day-by-day account of the public and private lives of the people of London during the blitz. Such a simple concept, but what a rich tapestry of stories this allows for! You'll stand in awe of the courage and even laugh at the dry English wit of these resilient wartime heroes.


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Into the Fire: An Orphan X Novel Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9781250120458
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Minotaur Books - January 28th, 2020

Bookseller: Tim
Title: Into the Fire

Comments: In this 5th installment of Orphan X's adventures, once again all the ingredients for a smart action-thriller are here: a deadly assassin on the trail of an innocent victim, the last-resort call for help on The Nowhere Man's "bat-phone" hotline, and the good vigilante who can operate outside the law to save the day. But this time, the villain has more layers than a bad onion, and Orphan X must follow the crooked trail. With a hydra-head plot like this, you're kept guessing all the way down the line.


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Mr. Nobody: A Novel Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781524797683
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Ballantine Books - January 7th, 2020

Bookseller: Tim
Title: Mr. Nobody

Comments: If you can't remember who you are, how do you know who you can trust? Or, if you're England's leading psychiatrist on missing memories, how can you avoid the secrets from your own past? 
Catherine Steadman weaves a taut psychological thriller here with intense wit and gifted writing. And it's only her 2nd book ever! (Read Something in the Water if you haven't already - but it's not necessary for this story.)
I love that I liked all the characters - they're incredibly relatable - and they're all making intelligent choices here. (There's nothing worse than a thriller with dum-dum characters making their situations worse.) But that all makes the conflict all the more intense!


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You Look Like a Thing and I Love You: How Artificial Intelligence Works and Why It's Making the World a Weirder Place Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780316525244
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Voracious - November 5th, 2019

Bookseller: Tim
Title: You Look Like a Thing and I Love You

Comments:
If only AI knew how funny it was to us humans! Janelle Shane does a fantastic job making the science behind machine learning algorithms informatively hilarious; she started a humor blog called aiweirdness.com devoted entirely to ridiculous AI miscalculations.

Read this for a fun way to learn about AI, or just to laugh at the absurd results that the AI brains produce as they try oh so very hard to think like a human. Indeed, most examples read like experimental poetry written by aliens.

Find out why we're safe from an AI apocalypse (for now), how AI use pick-up lines (which produced this book's title) and how to bake things that AIs think humans will eat (we won't.)

Here's one example of an original AI recipe for "Spread Chicken Rice"
2 lb hearts, seeded
1 cup shredded fresh mint or raspberry pie
1/2 cup catrimas, grated
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 salt
1 pepper
2 1/2 tbsp sugar, sugar

And you don't even want to see the step-by-step instructions.

According to one AI neural net, this book is “a featureless masterpiece of tough-minded language.” Click here to read more hilarious AI reviews of this book.


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The Fate of Fausto: A Painted Fable Cover Image
$24.99
ISBN: 9780593115015
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Philomel Books - September 17th, 2019

Bookseller: Tim
Title: The Fate of Fausto: A Painted Fable

Comments:
 

This beautifully crafted book feels hand-made. (Even the typeface inside is printed lithographically, rather than with a computer, lending glorious subtle imperfections.)
But more importantly - this story is GREAT!

It's like the classic "The Giving Tree" except the greedy anti-hero here gets his comeuppance.

These amazing paintings on the pages just blow me away - and yet they're not overdone. (You know Jeffers' art from "The Day the Crayons Quit" series.)


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Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9780525654971
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Knopf - October 15th, 2019

Bookseller: Tim
Title: Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA

Comments:
Could you ever have guessed that a spy's most valuable item to carry around would be, not a gun or a disguise, but 3x5 index cards?
Want to know how agents use the balance on coffee cards to communicate with their handlers?
Ever wonder what the clandestine training at "The Farm" is really like?

As a reader of spy fiction, I absolutely loved Amaryllis Fox's memoir and the light is sheds on the real world corners of the intelligence lifestyle. Her soulful observations about terror, love, and genuine human connection give the espionage here more heart than you might expect.

You'll love it, too, if you like fiction like "The Expats" and "I Am Pilgrim," or TV shows like "Alias," Covert Affairs," or "The Americans."


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Nothing Ventured (William Warwick Novels #1) Cover Image
$28.99
ISBN: 9781250200761
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: St. Martin's Press - September 3rd, 2019

Bookseller: Tim
Title: Nothing Ventured 

Comments:
This is a pleasingly British detective story about art forgery, museum heists, new loves, and antique deceptions.
For all that Jeffrey Archer has written, I had never read him until this book. I loved the introduction of the new character Warwick, as well as the 1979 London setting.
Read this for:

  • A great mystery with a gentle soul
  • A trip across the pond and back a few decades
  • A new series to start with no baggage attached


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Cold Storage: A Novel Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9780062916433
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Ecco - September 3rd, 2019

Bookseller: Tim
Title: Cold Storage

Comments:
Even a deadly mutating fungal-virus hybrid can't dampen the fun you'll have with these characters, if you can stay un-infected long enough.

Imagine a pseudo-zombie-infection plot, brief and concise and occurring mostly over a single day and night. I had a lot of fun seeing two characters in particular cope with the events: it was as if Jesse Pinkman and Jane Margolis from "Breaking Bad" are coworkers on the night shift at the doomed self-storage facility, and Koepp's sense humor through their dialogue is delightfully infectious.


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The Typefaces Cover Image
$17.95
ISBN: 9789887903406
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Victionary - July 10th, 2019

Bookseller: Tim
Title: The Typefaces

Comments: Coming soon.


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The Snakes: A Novel Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9780062897022
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper - June 25th, 2019

Bookseller: Tim
Title: The Snakes

Comments:
This story is a psychological thriller, but only in the same excellent way that "Breaking Bad" was a crime procedural show. The necessary elements are all there, but it's the way that it's told -- pacing, perspective, detail -- that elevates it to a higher lever of superb drama.

Lesser writers confuse mere conflict for drama. Sadie Jones is far better. Here, the conflict is subtle (at first), pulsing just beneath the surface, like unseen snakes in your attic. And yet, the diminutive conflict leaves room for massive drama that is fragrant, rich, and delicious.

I love how these characters are nearly under-described, but so clearly defined by their simple existence: they way they speak or how they order at a restaurant or the way they hold their room keys.

Sadie Jones is a master magician -- a snake charmer. But this illusion isn't with big set pieces, it's close-up gallery magic. Perfect sleight of hand. This is the best kind of un-contrived thriller, and one that rattles around in your head long after you put it down.

*PS: If you loved "Something in the Water" by Catherine Steadman, you must read this one.


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Sounds Like Titanic: A Memoir Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9780393357738
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - February 11th, 2020

Bookseller: Tim
Title: Sounds Like Titanic

Comments:
This book feels like the a classical-music-version of Almost Famous, an on-tour-with-the-rock-band story with a great soundtrack. Even though “writing about music is like dancing about architecture,”* you can really feel the dance in this memoir. This story is a crazy dance that was so fun to read, and thought provoking, too. Hindman's beautiful prose describes a bizarre plot: Playing the violin for a traveling ensemble that secretly mimes along to a CD player, a detail which the audience never realizes.

I was truly fascinated by the cast of real life characters that are straight out of a Wes Anderson film. A successful Composer who has never heard Beethoven's Fifth. The sensitive mustachioed roadie who gets teary-eyed every time he hears the ensemble perform. The Russian classical violinist who only listens to techno in his car. And Jessica, the young woman in the big city fresh from Appalachia trying to make a living as a professional musician.

I love how weird the real world can be!

*credited to comedian-musician Martin Mull in 1979


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Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780525431992
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - January 28th, 2020

Bookseller: Tim
Title: Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup

Comments:
I started writing this review when I was only one-third of the way into this book: that's how good this is! Because it's almost not about what happens or where this true story goes (even though those aspects are truly captivating!), it's really about how superbly Carreyrou crafts the messy real-life events into a grippingly dramatic business thriller!

DEFINITELY READ if you:


Love Poems for Married People Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9780525540007
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons - December 31st, 2018

Bookseller: Tim
Title: Love Poems for Married People

Comments: