Jeff VanderMeer’s “Southern Reach” trilogy (parts two and three are due out later in 2014) is off to a brilliant start. “Annihilation” manages to capture the alien sense of awe that permeates Arthur C. Clarke’s classic “Rendezvous with Rama” while entangling readers in a Lovecraftian tale of ever-increasing dread. Four scientists venture into “Area X” to attempt to make sense of this anomalous zone of nature. What follows is simply one of the most tautly written, deeply frightening, and ultimately satisfying science fiction novels in recent memory.
— Ryan O’Connor, WORD [126 Franklin St. at Milton Street in Greenpoint, (718) 383–0096, www.wordbr
“After I’m Gone” is loosely based on a true crime event in which a Baltimore gangster goes missing, leaving more than one woman behind. This story is told through the eyes of the women in the life of Felix Brewer, who simply vanishes one night instead of facing possible jail time. On the 10th anniversary of Brewer’s disappearance, his mistress vanishes. When her body turns up, a cold-case detective begins to investigate that long-ago night when Brewer was thought to have run. Can there be redemption for a man who has cheated, lied, and stole his entire life? A look at two women who loved the same man who only thought of himself when he ran away from a life prison sentence. A fast action paced thriller with a great ending.
— Bina Valenzano, co-owner, The BookMark Shoppe [8415 Third Ave. between 84th and 85th streets in Bay Ridge, (718) 833–5115, www.bookma
George Eliot’s sweeping “Middlemarch” is considered by many to be a near-perfect novel. Rebecca Mead, a New Yorker staff writer, first fell in the love with the classic as a teenage bookworm in rural England, and as she grew older, her appreciation and understanding of the book only grew with her. Mead mixes memoir with biography and critical analysis and the result is this — a tremendous love affair with a true masterpiece. If you’ve already read “Middlemarch,” you’ll immediately feel connected to Mead’s work, and if you haven’t yet taken the plunge, Mead’s passion will convince you that it is well worth the look.
— Emily Russo, Greenlight Bookstore [686 Fulton St. between S. Elliott Place and S. Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 246–0200, www.greenl