ABC’s Gift Ideas: Manga, Military History, Music, Mysteries/Thrillers

The gift-giving season is upon us – hooray!

The ABC Staff has rummaged through their sections and order lists, and come up with another year’s worth of wonderful gift ideas for you: from fiction to history to cookbooks to children’s books to travel to non-books and onwards.

In a series of blog posts and recommendation lists throughout the coming month, you will find what we think will make great gifts, whether you celebrate Sinterklaas, Christmas or just like giving books to people. And since we’re a bookstore, these posts will be alphabetical by subject. 🙂

Today you’ll find gift ideas for Manga, Military History, Music and Mysteries & Thrillers as picked out by section buyers Ester, Sophie, RonG, Pleun and Jouke. Bear in mind that this is just the tip of the iceberg – come to either one of our stores to browse many, many more titles in any of these subjects.

We are ready as ever to be your personal shoppers again this year, and hope you will find our selections useful and inspiring!

You can find our gift ideas from previous years here (scroll down a bit pas 2013), and be sure to have a look at our ABC Favorites, too.

Manga

Attack on Titan 8 – Hajime Isayama

The expedition outside the wall was Eren’s chance to prove himself. But it failed, and the female Titan is free once more With his squad dead, Eren faces a royal summons. Will Mikasa and Armin have to betray their king to save their friend? And can they discover the female Titan’s identity before she kills again?

5 Centimeters Per Second – Makoto Shinkai & Yukiko Seike

Love can move at the speed of terminal velocity, but as award-winning director Makoto Shinkai reveals in his latest comic, it can only be shared and embraced by those who refuse to see it stop.

Takaki Tohno quickly befriends Akari Shinohara when she transfers to his school. They grow closer to each other due to similar interests and attitudes; for instance, they both prefer to stay inside during recess due to their constitutions. As a result, they form a strong bond.

Pokemon Adventures, Vol. 18 – Hidenori Kusaka & Mato

Ruby arrives in Verdanturf Town ready to participate in his first Hoenn region Pokemon Contest. It looks like his dream of becoming the Pokemon Contest Champion is finally back on track… But soon he gets sidetracked yet again when he is asked to rescue a Trainer from a Rusturf Tunnel collapse. Could Team Magma be behind this latest unnatural disaster?

Then, both Ruby and Sapphire begin a losing streak. Meanwhile, the Hoenn Gym Leaders can’t agree… Which group is evil? Team Magma or Team Aqua… or both?

Military History

The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 – Christopher Clark

Sophie: This title has been an absolute bestseller all year, and with 2014 being the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I there is no better book to (re-)educate yourself with on this part of European history.

The moments that it took Gavrilo Princip to step forward to the stalled car and shoot dead Franz Ferdinand and his wife were perhaps the most fateful of the modern era. An act of terrorism of staggering efficiency, it fulfilled its every aim: it would liberate Bosnia from Habsburg rule and it created a powerful new Serbia, but it also brought down four great empires, killed millions of men and destroyed a civilization. What made a seemingly prosperous and complacent Europe so vulnerable to the impact of this assassination?

In The Sleepwalkers, Christopher Clark retells the story of the outbreak of the First World War and its causes. Above all, it shows how the failure to understand the seriousness of the chaotic, near genocidal fighting in the Balkans would drag Europe into catastrophe.

Ebook available here.

The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan – Michael Hastings

Sophie: Based on an article that originally appeared in Rolling Stone magazine.  Read General McChrystal’s own book, My Share of the Task, for comparison.  🙂

In the shadow of the hunt for Bin Laden and the United States’ involvement in the Middle East, General Stanley McChrystal, the commanding general of international and U.S. forces in Afghanistan, was living large. His loyal staff liked to call him a ‘rock star.’ During a spring 2010 trip, journalist Michael Hastings looked on as McChrystal and his staff let off steam, partying and openly bashing the Obama administration. From patrol missions in the Afghan hinterlands to senior military advisors’ late-night bull sessions to hotel bars where spies and expensive hookers participate in nation-building, Hastings presents a shocking behind-the-scenes portrait of what he fears is an unwinnable war. Written in prose that is at once eye-opening and other times uncannily conversational, readers of No Easy Day will take to Hastings’ unyielding first-hand account of the Afghan War and its cast of players.

Ebook available here.

Drone Warfare: Killing By Remote Control – Medea Benjamin

Sophie: Drones have been in the news extensively this year, and not just for their use in warfare.  Medea Benjamin’s book is a timely and multi-faceted look at this new technology.

Drone Warfare is the first comprehensive analysis of one of the fastest growing-and most secretive-fronts in global conflict: the rise of robot warfare. In 2000, the Pentagon had fewer than fifty aerial drones; ten years later, it had a fleet of nearly 7,500, and the US Air Force now trains more drone ‘pilots’ than bomber and fighter pilots combined. Drones are already a $5 billion business in the US alone. The human cost? Drone strikes have killed more than 200 children alone in Pakistan and Yemen. CODEPINK and Global Exchange cofounder Medea Benjamin provides the first extensive analysis of who is producing the drones, where they are being used, who controls these unmanned planes, and what are the legal and moral implications of their use.

Ebook available here.

The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945 – Rick Atkinson

Sophie: World War II buffs, rejoice: Rick Atkinson’s epic trilogy is finally complete!  A decade in the making, but worth the wait.

It is the twentieth century’s unrivaled epic: at a staggering price, the United States and its allies liberated Europe and vanquished Hitler. In the first two volumes of his bestselling Liberation Trilogy, An Army at Dawn and The Day of Battle, Rick Atkinson recounted how the American-led coalition fought through North Africa and Italy to the threshold of victory. Now he tells the most dramatic story of all—the titanic battle for Western Europe.

Ebook available here.

Music

Autobiography – Morrissey

It has been said ‘Most pop stars have to be dead before they reach the iconic status that Morrissey has reached in his lifetime.’  Autobiography covers Morrissey’s life from his birth until the present day.

Complete Lyrics: 1978-2013 – Nick Cave

This complete collection of Nick Cave’s lyrics spans his entire career, from his writing for The Birthday Party through the highly acclaimed Murder Ballads and The Boatman’s Call to recent work with Grinderman and his 2013 album, Push the Sky Away. Brought together in one volume, these lyrics make up one of the most outstanding achievements of contemporary music.  Switching between the cynical and the sanguine, the defeated and the defiant, Nick Cave deals in love, war, beauty, children, romance, rejection, Pethedine, poetry, pants, money, flowers and so much more …

From the bestselling author of And the Ass Saw the Angel and The Death of Bunny Munroe this definitive collection will be adored by Nick Cave fans everywhere.

Ebook available here, although apparently it’s an older edition.  🙂

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain – Oliver Sacks

Can also be found in the Psychology/Self-Help sections.

With the same trademark compassion and erudition he brought to The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Oliver Sacks explores the place music occupies in the brain and how it affects the human condition. In Musicophilia, he shows us a variety of what he calls ‘musical misalignments.’ Among them: a man struck by lightning who suddenly desires to become a pianist at the age of forty-two; an entire group of children with Williams syndrome, who are hypermusical from birth; people with ‘amusia,’ to whom a symphony sounds like the clattering of pots and pans; and a man whose memory spans only seven seconds-for everything but music.

Ebook available here.

Mo’ Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove – Amir ‘Questlove’ Thompson

Mo’ Meta Blues is a punch-drunk memoir in which Everyone’s Favorite Questlove tells his own story while tackling some of the lates, the greats, the fakes, the philosophers, the heavyweights, and the true originals of the music world. He digs deep into the album cuts of his life and unearths some pivotal moments in black art, hip hop, and pop culture. Ahmir ‘Questlove’ Thompson is many things: virtuoso drummer, producer, arranger, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon bandleader, DJ, composer, and tireless Tweeter. He is one of our most ubiquitous cultural tastemakers, and in this, his first book, he reveals his own formative experiences–from growing up in 1970s West Philly as the son of a 1950s doo-wop singer, to finding his own way through the music world and ultimately co-founding and rising up with the Roots, a.k.a., the last hip hop band on Earth.

Mysteries/Thrillers

Sycamore Row – John Grisham

Seth Hubbard is a wealthy man dying of lung cancer. He trusts no one. Before he hangs himself from a sycamore tree, Hubbard leaves a new, handwritten, will. It is an act that drags his adult children, his black maid, and Jake Brigance into a conflict as riveting and dramatic as the murder trial that made Brigance one of Ford County’s most notorious citizens, just three years earlier. The second will raises far more questions than it answers. Why would Hubbard leave nearly all of his fortune to his maid? Had chemotherapy and painkillers affected his ability to think clearly? And what does it all have to do with a piece of land once known as Sycamore Row?

In Sycamore Row, John Grisham returns to the setting and the compelling characters that first established him as America’s favorite storyteller. Here, in his most assured and thrilling novel yet, is a powerful testament to the fact that Grisham remains the master of the legal thriller, nearly twenty-five years after the publication of A Time to Kill.

Ebook available here.

Just One Evil Act – Elizabeth George

Barbara is at a loss: The daughter of her friend Taymullah Azhar has been taken by her mother, and Barbara can’t really help – Azhar had never married Angelina, and his name isn’t on Hadiyyah’s, their daughter’s, birth certificate. He has no legal claim. Azhar and Barbara hire a private detective, but the trail goes cold.  Azhar is just beginning to accept his soul-crushing loss when Angelina reappears with shocking news: Hadiyyah is missing, kidnapped from an Italian marketplace. The Italian police are investigating, and the Yard won’t get involved, until Barbara takes matters into her own hands – at the risk of her own career.

As both Barbara and her partner, Inspector Thomas Lynley, soon discover, the case is far more complex than a typical kidnapping, revealing secrets that could have far-reaching effects outside of the investigation. With both her job and the life of a little girl on the line, Barbara must decide what matters most, and how far she’s willing to go to protect it.

Ebook available here.

Solo: A James Bond Novel – William Boyd

It’s 1969, and, having just celebrated his forty-fifth birthday, James Bond—British special agent 007—is summoned to headquarters to receive an unusual assignment. Zanzarim, a troubled West African nation, is being ravaged by a bitter civil war, and M directs Bond to quash the rebels threatening the established regime. Bond’s arrival in Africa marks the start of a feverish mission to discover the forces behind this brutal war—and he soon realizes the situation is far from straightforward. Piece by piece, Bond uncovers the real cause of the violence in Zanzarim, revealing a twisting conspiracy that extends further than he ever imagined.

Moving from rebel battlefields in West Africa to the closed doors of intelligence offices in London and Washington, this novel is at once a gripping thriller, a tensely plotted story full of memorable characters and breathtaking twists, and a masterful study of power and how it is wielded—a brilliant addition to the James Bond canon.

Ebook available here.

Police – Jo Nesbø

The police urgently need Harry Hole… A killer is stalking Oslo’s streets. Police officers are being slain at the scenes of crimes they once investigated but failed to solve. The murders are brutal, the media reaction hysterical.   But this time, Harry can’t help.  For years, detective Harry Hole has been at the center of every major criminal investigation in Oslo. His dedication to his job and his brilliant insights have saved the lives of countless people. But now, with those he loves most facing terrible danger, Harry is not in a position to protect anyone.

Least of all himself.

Ebook available here.

The Gods of Guilt – Michael Connelly

Mickey Haller gets the text, ‘Call me ASAP – 187,’ and the California penal code for murder immediately gets his attention. Murder cases have the highest stakes and the biggest paydays, and they always mean Haller has to be at the top of his game.

When Mickey learns that the victim was his own former client, a prostitute he thought he had rescued and put on the straight and narrow path, he knows he is on the hook for this one. He soon finds out that she was back in LA and back in the life. Far from saving her, Mickey may have been the one who put her in danger…

An Officer and a Spy – Robert Harris

January 1895. On a freezing morning in the heart of Paris, an army officer, Georges Picquart, witnesses a convicted spy, Captain Alfred Dreyfus, being publicly humiliated in front of twenty thousand spectators baying ‘Death to the Jew!’  The officer is rewarded with promotion: Picquart is made the French army’s youngest colonel and put in command of ‘the Statistical Section’ – the shadowy intelligence unit that tracked down Dreyfus.  The spy, meanwhile, is given a punishment of medieval cruelty: Dreyfus is shipped off to a lifetime of solitary confinement on Devil’s Island – unable to speak to anyone, not even his guards, his case seems closed forever.

But gradually Picquart comes to believe there is something rotten at the heart of the Statistical Section. When he discovers another German spy operating on French soil, his superiors are oddly reluctant to pursue it. Despite official warnings, Picquart persists, and soon the officer and the spy are in the same predicament.

Ebook available here.

The Complete Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Here, in one volume are all four full-length novels and fifty-six short stories about the colorful adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Every word Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ever wrote about Baker Street’s most famous resident. Also included is an introduction by lifetime Sherlockians, Christopher and Barbara Roden.

Ebook available here.

The Winter Queen – Boris Akunin

Moscow, May 1876. What would cause a talented student from a wealthy family to shoot himself in front of a promenading public? Decadence and boredom, it is presumed. But young sleuth Erast Fandorin is not satisfied with the conclusion that this death is an open-and-shut case, nor with the preliminary detective work the precinct has done-and for good reason: The bizarre and tragic suicide is soon connected to a clear case of murder, witnessed firsthand by Fandorin himself. Relying on his keen intuition, the eager detective plunges into an investigation that leads him across Europe, landing him at the center of a vast conspiracy with the deadliest of implications.

Ebook available here.