Even if you don't follow the literary world, you may have heard of Edan Lepucki, the first-time novelist who was suddenly rocketed to fame by Stephen Colbert's televised screed against Amazon's game-playing with their mutual publisher, Hachette Book Group. Lepucki debut novel, California, a best-seller at Powell's, is worthy of the attention: in a post-apocalyptic America, a couple are living off the land outside LA when the wife discovers she's pregnant. Afraid of the medical consequences, they decide to risk it and seek out a nearby community with a strange and charismatic leader. It's sort of like an episode of Lost, filtered through a literary lens, and offers a thoughtful examination of what it means to trust and be trusted.
Appearances: Hotel Rex, 8/5
Are you missing Game of Thrones? Yeah, us too. But if you've already read George R.R. Martin's series in printed form, local writer Erika Johansen's The Queen of the Tearling might help you get your fantasy fix. Some of the details are definitely reminiscent of a certain GoT character (a teenage queen raised in exile, assisted by a Queen's Guard as she tries to reclaim her throne, struggling with the realities of power...you get the idea), but there are some new elements, too, including the titular magical sapphire. It's the first in a trilogy, so you'll have yet another series return to eagerly anticipate when you're done.
Appearances: Book Passage Corte Madera, 7/29
Sean Michaels' Said the Gramophone was one of the earliest big music blogs, but his ambitions haven't stopped at posting mp3s. His new novel, Us Conductors, explores the life of Lev Sergeyvich Termen, best known as the inventor of the theremin (that would be the eerie instrument that gives old-school sci-fi soundtracks their wobbly woo-woo sounds). Termen had a tough life, working in the States as a reluctant Soviet spy only to be imprisoned in the gulag upon his return to Russia. As a bonus, Michaels' reading will feature a performance from a modern theremin player, who'll show that the instrument has more to it than soundtracking cheaply-produced UFO crashes.
Appearances: The Booksmith, 7/28