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Eight Titles to Know and Recommend, the Week of Aug. 31

spiders-web  purity

It’s a game of “Is this one better than that one” for critics this week, as they look forward to two big launches on Tuesday. We’ve already looked at the earliest reviews of The Girl in the Spider’s Web (RH/Knopf; RH and BOT Audio; RH Large Print).  People magazine adds theirs online today (the review is not in the new print issue; usually it is the other way around), judging it a worthy successor. That makes the Washington Post the only holdout so far

The other title is Jonathan’s third book, Purity. (Macmillan/FSG; Macmillan Audio). It’s also had several early reviews, which we summarized. Many more have been added since.

Going beyond the cliched adjective “highly anticipated,” Entertainment Weekly ‘s Leah Greenblatt writes, “A new Jonathan Franzen novel arrives only every five or 10 years, and when it does, it feels like a banquet. His books are almost always centered on familial entanglements and identity, but they’re never just that: There are brilliant stand-alone chapters to devour, detours to savor, bitter little scraps to nibble and spit out.”  This one is no exception, says Greenblatt, Objecting to Franzen’s “often shockingly ugly take on women” (although she says he is an equal opportunity insulter, since his “male characters hardly come out unscathed”) and to the novel’s abrupt ending which seems to indicate Franzen tired of his characters, she gives it a B.

The daily NYT‘s Michiko Kakutani, whom Franzen referred to in 2008 as “the stupidest person in New York City,” calls this a “dynamic new novel,” which, “After its somewhat stilted start …kicks into gear, with Mr. Franzen writing with gathering assurance and verve.” Addressing Franzen famous misanthropy, she says he “has added a new octave to his voice … [the] ability here to not just satirize the darkest and pettiest of human impulses but to also capture his characters’ yearnings for connection and fresh starts — and to acknowledge the possibility of those hopes.”

LA Times chief critic David L. Ulin’s is more qualified, saying “The novel is a bit of a mixed bag, largely because of all the plotting, which has never been the author’s strong suit; both The Corrections and Freedom succeed despite, not because of, their narrative contrivances. All the same, it remains compelling to read Franzen confront his demons, which are not just his but everyone’s.”

People magazine makes it their “Pick of the Week,” [not online yet] calling it “Wickedly smart and funny about power and desire, sometimes flabby and contrived yet still irresistible: pure Franzen.”

The titles covered here, and several more notable titles arriving next week, are listed with ordering information and alternate formats, on our downloadable spreadsheet,EarlyWord New Title Radar, Week of Aug. 31, 2015

Consumer Media Picks

9781609452865_4717cThe Story of the Lost Child, Elena Ferrante, (Europa Editions)

The cult Italian author‘s final book in her Neapolitan Novels series is featured on the cover of this week’a NYT Book Review.

The writer explains in a Vanity Fair interview that “You Don’t Need to Know Her Name.”

 

Peer Picks

9781476798172_61985Did You Ever Have A Family, Bill Clegg, (S&S/Gallery/Scout Press)

There’s a pile-up of excitement for this book, featured at BEA, with stars from all four pre-pub journals, plus picks by Indie Next as well as LibraryReads:

“Clegg’s devastatingly beautiful fiction debut is the portrait of a community in the aftermath of a tragedy. June Reid, the broken woman at the epicenter of the novel, is struggling with a loss so profound that she is unable to see beyond her grief, unaware that it has touched many people. Clegg tells their stories with heartbreaking sensitivity and insight.” — Mary Coe, Fairfield Woods Branch Library, Fairfield, CT

9780544409910_db716-2Girl Waits with Gun, Amy Stewart, (HMH)

Also arriving with four prepub stars and picks by Indie Next and LibraryReads:

“When the Kopp sisters and their buggy are injured by Henry Kaufman’s car, Constance Kopp at first just wants him to pay the damages. As she pursues justice, she meets another of Kaufman’s victims, the young woman Lucy. Stewart creates fully developed characters, including the heroine, Constance, who is fiercely independent as she faces down her fears. The time period and setting are important parts of the story as well, providing a glimpse of 1914 New Jersey.” — Maggie Holmes, Richards Memorial Library, North Attleboro, MA

It is also reviewed in the week’s New York Times Sunday Book Review and author Stewart answers the burning question from the L.A Times, “What made Amy Stewart leave garden bestsellers behind for the novel Girl Waits with Gun?” She reveals she has and answer to reviewers’ hopes and is working on anther novel featuring Constance Kopp.

9780399174001_ee04bThe Gates of Evangeline, Hester Young, (Penguin/Putnam)

Indie Next and LibraryReads

“Journalist Charlie Cates goes to gloomy, swampy Louisiana to write a book about the disappearance of a young child. Her research uncovers family secrets, lies, and clandestine affairs. This first book in a new series is incredibly suspenseful, with a vivid setting, a supernatural tinge, and an intricate plot that keeps you guessing until the end.” — Anbolyn Potter, Chandler Public Library, Chandler, AZ

9781250072320_3d213Jade Dragon Mountain, Elsa Hart, (Macmillan/Minotaur)

Indie Next:

“Hart has written an excellent historical whodunit set in a remote province of Imperial China in 1708. Li Du, a librarian in exile, investigates the murder of an old Jesuit priest a few days before the arrival of the emperor. Full of mythological, cultural, and historical details, Jade Dragon Mountain also offers a fascinating analysis of the period when foreign businessmen began coveting China’s riches, in particular its tea. The plot is tight, the characters and suspects are fully developed, and the story keeps readers guessing with a few extra surprises at the end. I highly recommend this book and I am looking forward to reading more adventures featuring Li Du.” —Pierre Camy, Schuler Books & Music, Grand Rapids, MI

At BEA Shout ‘n’ Share, Kristi Chadwick, Massachusetts Library System said, “The language, the prose is so beautiful it takes you into the story and keeps you going page after page.”

Tie-ins

Hitting theaters today is the movie adaptation of Robert C. O’Brien, Z For Zachariah (S&S/Atheneum, 1975; tie-in edition, Simon Pulse, 8/18/15), reviewed in the NYT today. Concluding on HBO this Sunday is the series Show Me A Hero, based on the book by Lisa Belkin.

9781481455923_8feea  9781481456029_20445

Scheduled for publication this week are new trade paperback editions of the six titles in Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series and the three in the prequel, The Infernal Devices. ABC Family is adapting the series. It is expected to being in early 2016. To fuel fan interest, the official site ShadowHuntersTV.com was launched recently.

For our full list of upcoming adaptations, download our Books to Movies and TV. For tie-ins, link to our catalog on Edelweiss.

Iggulden Novels to Big Screen Franchise

9780385343428_9f032 9780385343015_8bbd8

After The Hunger Games and Divergent where do you turn for your next franchise?

Lionsgate’s Summit Entertainment will move from the dystopian future to the historical past, reports Deadline, with a potential trilogy about Julius Caesar, based on Conn Iggulden’s Emperor novels.

The first film, titled Emperorwill be based on The Gates Of Rome and The Field Of Swords (both trade pbk, RH/Delta).

The series consists of five books.

The author recently began a new series about England dynastic wars. The second in the series was published this year, Wars of the Roses: Margaret of Anjou (Penguin/Putnam, 6/16/15).

Along with his brother Hal Iggulden, he also published the surprise best seller, The Dangerous Book for Boys (Collins, 2007). In the fall NBC bought the rights to a series based on the book to be produced by Bryan Cranston.

HBO’s LEWIS & CLARK
Moving Ahead

9780684826974The HBO series, Lewis And Clark, based on the book Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose, (S&S, 1996) has faced some challenges, including wildfires on location and the firing of both the director and director of photography over creative differences three weeks into the production.

But HBO is still “undaunted,” declaring that filming will resume in the spring, according to Deadline, starring Casey Affleck as Meriwether Lewis and Matthias Schoenaerts as William Clark. The series is being produced by Tom Hanks’s company, Playtone, along with Brad Pitt’s Plan B. Entertainment.

GEORGE Shines

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 11.20.02 AMA middle grade novel that features a transgender girl trying to find acceptance is building buzz.

George by Alex Gino (Scholastic; Scholastic Inc. Audio; OverDrive Sample) is one of IndieBound’s Autumn ’15 “Inspired Recommendations for Kids from Indie Booksellers” and was part of The New York Times story on transgendered children’s books. Trade reviews are glowing, using words such as “inspiring” “radiant” and “required purchase.”

Today’s NPR’s Morning Edition joined the bandwagon in a wide ranging story that includes how Scholastic is marketing George as a book for everyone.

In a seemingly odd comparison, Scholastic sees the marketing strategy along the same lines as their approach to The Hunger Games. Editorial director David Levithan told NPR, “It’s kind of crazy to remember now, but that book was initially seen as a potentially difficult sell. After all, it’s about kids killing each other.”

But like Suzanne Collins’s breakout, Levithan knew that readers would relate to the story once they gave it a chance, and believed they just needed to get George in front of people who would hand-sell it. Scholastic sent it to 10,000 teachers and librarians and Gino appeared at major book fairs to get booksellers behind it.

That strategy is in keeping with the author’s goals. “I want it to be a book that someone passes to someone and says, ‘You have to.’ ” Gino told Kirkus.

Nancy Pearl Revisits
Her Home Town

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 12.08.25 PM This week on the NPR affiliate KUOW show “On the Record,” librarian Nancy Pearl talks about Angela Flournoy’s debut The Turner House (HMH; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample), a book set in Nancy’s hometown of Detroit.

The novel, which was a May Indie Next pick and one of our Eight Titles to Know and Recommend for the week of April 13, is set in the East Side of Detroit, from the early 1950s through the 2000s.

About a large African American family with 13 children, it focuses on the oldest son and youngest daughter, it blends history, including the Civil Rights era in Detroit and the northern migration, into the story of place and family.

Nancy suggests it for readers interested in characters and calls it “such a good reading experience.”

ROOTS Remake

9781593154493Referred to as an “up-and-coming British actor” by Deadline, Malachi Kirby has just landed the lead role as Kunta Kinte in A+E Networks’ remake of the seminal 1977 TV series Roots, based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Alex Haley (cover of the 2007 Thirtieth Anniversary Edition, left). LeVar Burton played Kinte in the original series.

Playing author Alex Haley in the series is Laurence Fishburne. In the original, James Earl Jones played Haley, appearing in the first episode of the series.

Set to begin shooting next month in South Africa and New Orleans, it is expected to air some time next year.

Kirby is known in the U.K. for his role in the TV series East Enders. He also starred as the younger brother in the 2013 British film Gone Too Far. The trailer, below, includes an eerie foreshadowing of his future role.

THE SPIDER’S WEB, First Reviews

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 10.24.18 AM

Today is the release day in the U.K. for the English-language version of The Girl in the Spider’s WebA Lisbeth Salander novel, continuing Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Series by David Lagercrantz (RH/Knopf; RH Audio; RH Large Print).  We won’t see it here until Tuesday, and critics are in a competition to review it first.

Daily New York Times critic, Michiko Kakutani, has reviewed all the previous titles in the series. Her take on the new book  is summed up in these lines, “Though there are plenty of lumps in the novel along the way, Salander and Blomkvist have survived the authorship transition intact and are just as compelling as ever  … Spider’s Web is less bloody, less horror movie lurid than its predecessors. In other respects, Mr. Lagercrantz seems to have set about — quite nimbly, for the most part — channeling Larsson’s narrative style, mixing genre clichés with fresh, reportorial details, and plot twists reminiscent of sequences from Larsson’s novels with energetically researched descriptions of the wild, wild West that is the dark side of the Internet.”

USA Today chimes in, “Rest easy, Lisbeth Salander fans — our punk hacker heroine is in good hands.”

The Washington Post‘s Patrick Anderson is less enthusiastic, saying, “I recall the Larsson books unfolding gracefully. Lagercrantz’s narrative is fragmentary and confusing. It’s almost impossible to keep track of all the hackers, scientists and killers who emerge briefly, vanish, then turn up again after you’ve forgotten them,” It ends with a reference to Larsson’s long-time companion who fought against the continuation of the series, “Don’t be fooled. Gabrielsson was right; Larsson deserves better than this.”

The book is currently at #33 on Amazon’s sales rankings and holds are heavy in many libraries.

Sneak Peek: Terry Pratchett’s
Final Novel

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 9.20.58 AMAn exclusive excerpt of Terry Pratchett’s The Shepherd’s Crown (HarperCollins; HarperCollinsAudio and Blackstone Audio) is online.

Posted yesterday as part of NPR’s “First Read” series, the book jumped up the Amazon’s sales rankings as a result.

The final novel in the Discworld series, Pratchett completed it in 2014, prior to his death earlier this year. NPR describes Discworld as “a magical flat land borne through space on the backs of four elephants and a giant cosmic turtle … full of memorable characters” It will hit shelves on Tuesday.

Live Chat Today with the Author of BRIGHT LINES

Chat begins at 4 p.m., Eastern

To ask a question or make a comment click on the box below, enter your name, then hit “Set”

Remember, this is a moderated chat, so your comment will not appear instantly.

O Magazine Fall Reading List

Labor Day is around the corner, bringing with it fall reading lists.

O Magazine offers one of the first, “16 Books to Curl Up With This Fall,”

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 11.01.27 AMTopping the list is Negroland by Margo Jefferson (Random/Pantheon). Contributor Roxane Gay says this nonfiction account of a part of Chicago where upper-class African Americans were sheltered by privilege is a “powerful memoir [of] social history [that] deftly explores the tensions that come with being a part of America’s black elite…Using short riffs alternating with longer meditations, [Jefferson] reveals all that it takes to be a citizen of this rarefied group, including the emotional costs … Equally revelatory are her descriptions of moments when the protective bubble of Negroland is punctured.”

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 11.01.59 AMFor psychological thriller fans there is Ottessa Moshfegh’s Eileen (Penguin; OverDrive Sample), which contributor Sarah Meyer summaries as a “sinister account of the reclusive Eileen, whose prospects for escape from her abysmal life take a turn for the worse when a friendship with a coworker spirals into obsession.” Meyer also says it is “rife with dark emotions and twisted fantasies.” Featured at BEA’s Editors Buzz Panel this year, this Indie Next pick, published earlier this month, has already received strong advance attention, including the cover of the 8/16/15  NYT Sunday Book Review. The author was featured last week on on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday, Unsurprisingly, many libraries show growing holds.

On the Screen: Organized Crime, British Style

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 12.07.45 PMLegend starring Tom Hardy (Inception, The Dark Knight Rises) is set to hit theaters in early October, based on The Profession of Violence by John Pearson, a 1972 nonfiction account of the Kray twins who ran the organized crime scene of London’s East End during the 50s and 60s.

The two also owned a nightclub in the swanky West End and hobnobbed with celebrities and politicians, by all accounts living a glittering existence, enjoying the money they raked in through extortion, robbery, arson, assault, and murder. They were arrested and jailed in 1969 and sentenced to life in prison.

Brian Helgeland, a director (42, A Knight’s Tale) and screenwriter (Mystic River, L.A. Confidential) directs. Hardy plays both twins. The cast also includes Emily Browning and Paul Bettany. A movie-tie in edition is due on Sept. 8.

For our full list of upcoming adaptations, download our Books to Movies and TV spreadsheet and link to our listing of tie-ins.

John Pearson
HarperCollins/William Collins; September 8, 2015; Paperback
9780008150280, 0008150281
$14.99 USD, $17.99 CAD

MISS MANNERS for Academics

Editors Note: We’re pleased and delighted to announce that EarlyWord Kids Correspondent Lisa Von Drasek will be serving on the 2017 Caldecott Award Selection Committee.

Unfortunately, this means that she will be on hiatus as our Kids Correspondent until her Caldecott duties are wrapped up.

She will still report on the occasional “grown-up” title she falls in love with, as she does below:

9780553419429_3ba86Flying under the radar is The Professor is In: The Essential Guide To Turning Your Ph.D. Into a Job (RH/Crown, original trade pbk.) by academic employment consultant and former tenured professor, Karen Kelsky, who gives a no-holds-barred look at the academic market. It should be required reading for PhD candidates, recent graduates, prospective PhDs, and recent-hires on the tenure track.

Although the majority of the books I review are children’s and Young Adult titles, I have a side interest in business particularly professional development and management, so when I spotted a DRC of this book, I downloaded it.

As one of the lucky few who landed a full time academic appointment in an R1 university, I had read Kelsky’s blog also titled The Professor is In as well as her columns in the Chronicle of Higher Education for her practical, snark-tinged advice.

Kelsky has no patience for readers who ignore the obvious. Tenure-track positions are few and far between. Bottom line: there is a glut of qualified graduates for the rare full-time positions. She dispenses tough-love advice laying out the cost (economic and emotional) of trying to land one. “Achieving financial, emotional AND intellectual well being in academia is somewhat akin to climbing Everest blind.” For those who insist on getting on the tenure track, she provides best-case scenarios and information on how to achieve academic and employment goals. For those who do not achieve their goal, she also provides suggestions for repositioning job skills.

A cross between Carolyn Hax, Ask Amy and Miss Manners, Kelsky is the faculty mentor we all wish was in the office next door.

I can attest that her ideas work. Kelsky makes the case for sucking it up, jumping through the hoops and not making excuses. No one has time to write. Write anyway. Are academic leaves available? Apply for them. This was exactly my problem. My teaching and the daily tasks of my department left no time. There was a leave that I could apply for but I hadn’t been in position very long. I thought that my projects weren’t “good enough,” “research oriented enough” or “what these leaves were for.” I went back to the call for proposals only to discover that I had just a 24-hour window before the deadline, so I sucked it up, jumped through the hoops, made no excuses and got my application in.

A month ago, I received a letter from our director that I am approved for a 6 week writing leave. Seriously, this book is life-changing.

Sneak Peek: THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 10.24.18 AMEntertainment Weekly has the “U.S. exclusive” excerpt of The Girl in the Spider’s WebA Lisbeth Salander novel, continuing Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Series by David Lagercrantz (RH/Knopf; RH Audio; RH Large Print)

The site prefaces the sneak peek with this mini review:

“[In] David Lagercrantz’s highly-anticipated (and thrillingly good) continuation of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series, The Girl in the Spider’s Web, … Lisbeth is taking more risks than we’ve ever seen, and Blomkvist is desperate to get a scoop for Millennium to salvage his journalistic reputation.”

The UK Daily Mail has the same excerpt for their side of the pond but has added their own illustrations.

Security has been tight about story details according to both the WSJ and the Daily Mail, but all of that ends soon. The book will be released on August 27th in the UK and on Sept. 1 in the US.

Eye On: IN A DARK, DARK WOOD

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 12.18.09 PMRuth Ware’s In A Dark, Dark Wood (S&S/Gallery/Scout Press; S&S Audio; OverDrive Sample) has hit the NYT’s Hardcover Fiction Best Sellers list at #11.

It was our crystal ball pick last week and is gaining momentum. Some libraries are showing holds exceeding a 3:1 margin with others inching towards that threshold.

 

The Hugos: Cixin Liu Wins,
the Puppies Lose

The 2015 Hugo Awards were presented Saturday in Spokane Washington during WorldCon, the annual World Science Fiction Convention.

Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 10.00.39 AMThe Three-Body Problem, Cixin Liu, Ken Liu translator (Macmillan/Tor Books; Macmillan Audio; OverDrive Sample) won for Best Novel. An alien invasion story, it is the first English language translation of one of China’s top SF authors. It was reviewed on the NPR site last fall.

Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 10.02.31 AMBest Graphic Story went to Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal, written by G. Willow Wilson, illustrated by Adrian Alphona and Jake Wyatt (Marvel Comics; GraphicAudio). The series stars a teenage girl, Kamala Khan, the first Muslim lead character in the Marvel universe. Here is a link to the audio.

Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 10.20.32 AMGuardians of the Galaxy, written by James Gunn and Nicole Perlman, directed by James Gunn (Marvel Studios, Moving Picture Company) won Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form while Orphan Black: “By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried” written by Graham Manson, directed by John Fawcett (Temple Street Productions, Space/BBC America) won Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form.

The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer went to Wesley Chu who has also won an Alex Award for The Lives of Tao (PRH/Angry Robot, 2013).

In response to accusations of ballot stuffing the nomination process, many voting members elected to select “No Award” rather than see the Hugo go to a title supported by the conservative group known as the “puppies” (see our overview of the controversy).

This occurred in the categories of Best Novella, Best Short Story, Best Related Work, Best Editor, Short Form, and Best Editor, Long Form, each of which were “won” by No Award. Many of these categories were either overwhelmingly affected by the ballot stuffing or only included “puppy” nominees.

In their liveblogging of the event, io9 said: “voting ‘No Award’ is a very legitimate choice, that’s always been possible. And it’s a very legit response to a small, tiny group of people trying to exploit a loophole in the nomination process to impose their choices on the vast majority of fans. This is fandom rejecting abusive behavior, and also saying that they want science fiction to have an open mind and consider many viewpoints.”