Archive for March, 2009

‘Fire’ Next Time

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

From Kristin Cashore, the author of Graceling, one of the best young adult fantasy novels from last year comes Fire, (Dial Books/ Penguin, 10/6/09), a companion volume set in the same fantasy world, though geographically removed from the kingdoms of Graceling.

There are the ordinary humans; farmers, shepherds, soldiers, a king, and his court. This other land is also populated by a mutant species of creatures known as “monsters.” A monster mouse is mouselike except that it is covered in brightly colored fur and stunningly beautiful. There is a monster human with hair the color of flame. She is of devastating beauty and has the ability to bend other minds to her own.

Cashore has a grace, a talent for combining exciting action, high court intrigue with heartbreaking romance. I couldn’t put it down.

Want to read it? Final galleys aren’t available yet, but Dial has a limited number of unedited galleys for EarlyWord readers. To enter to win a copy, just send an email to EarlyWord, with “Fire Galley Giveaway” in the subject line, by 11:59 p.m, Tuesday, March 18th. Don’t forget to include your mailing address, so they know where to send it!

This giveaway is only available to librarians residing within the 50 United States.



Kristin Cashore

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover: $17.99
  • Publisher: Dial (October 6, 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 0803734611
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803734616

Who’s That Doggie’s Writer?

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

Speculation had just begun on who’s behind the pseudonym of the “debut” mystery, Dog On It, by Spencer Quinn, when the case was cracked. Appropriately, Sarah Weinman, who writes insightfully about the mystery genre in the L.A. Times, Balimore Sun, and the  New York Post as well as on her own blog, has unmasked the true author — Peter Abrahams.

She doesn’t explain how she made the discovery in her story in the Book Beast, but she clearly has the goods; Abrahams spoke to her about why he chose to use a pseudonym.

Among Abrahams’s works under his own name are, The Fury of Rachel Monette (1980), Oblivion (2004), End of Story (2005), the Echo Falls mystery series for middle-graders, and a new novel for teens coming next month, Reality Check (HarperTeen).

Dog On It is currently on the NYT hardcover fiction bestseller list. Abrahams/Quinn is under contract for three more books in the series; the next one will be out this fall.


Dog On It

Spencer Quinn

  • Hardcover: $25; 320 pages
  • Publisher: Atria (February 10, 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 1416585834
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416585831

More ‘Hungry Girl’

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

The girl is coming back…and she’s doubly hungry!

Following up on the success of last year’s Hungry Girl, (it was on the NYT Paperback Advice bestseller list for over 20 weeks, five of them in the top five; many of you are still working through your reserves), is Hungry Girl: 200 Under 200 (that’s “200 Recipes Under 200 Calories”). It’s already at #27 on Amazon sales rankings, even though it’s not due for another month. Only a few libraries have it on order. 

But there’s more; coming in audio, is the Hungry Girl, Official Survival Guides.


Hungry Girl: 200 under 200: 200 Recipes under 200 Calories

Lisa Lillien

  • Paperback: $19.95; 352 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin (April 14, 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 0312556179
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312556174



Hungry Girl, Official Survival Guides

Lisa Lillien

  • Audio CD:  $17.95
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio; (April 14, 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 1427207526
  • ISBN-13: 978-1427207524

‘Little Bee’ Bookseller Video

Monday, March 9th, 2009

We did a “Heavy Reserve Alert” for Little Bee last week. Since then, it has appeared on the San Francisco Chronicle and Northern California Independent bestseller lists, perhaps because of this video by local indie bookseller Green Apple Books & Music:

Green Apple proves that enthusiasm and energy can trump money and sophisticated technology. The following is an odd, yet endearing and somehow effective promotion for Roberto Bolaño’s 2666:

Little Bee
Chris Cleave
Price: $24.00
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster – (2009-02-10)
ISBN-10: 1416589635
ISBN-13: 9781416589631

Also available in Audio:
Publisher: Tantor
8 Audio CDs; EAN: 9781400141715
List Price: $69.99

Low-Cost Weddings

Monday, March 9th, 2009

Last year, everyone was looking for books on green weddings. Now we’ve got them in spades, just as brides-to-be (or anyway, their mothers) are looking for books on cheap weddings.

Happily, one of finalists for Best General Cookbook from the International Association of Culinary Professionals is Do It for Less: Weddings from independent publisher, Sellers Publishing. WorldCat shows it is owned by just 120 libraries.


Do It For Less! Weddings: How to Create Your Dream Wedding Without Breaking the Bank
Denise Vivaldo 

  • Paperback: $19.95; 240 pages
  • Publisher: Sellers Publishing (October 21, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1416205195
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416205197

We’re happy, but not surprised, to see that Baked, from EarlyWord’s favorite Brooklyn bakery is a finalist in the Baking category. It’s already appeared on several best cookbooks of ’08 lists. WorldCat shows it’s owned by 269 libraries. And, the reserves? Fugeddaboudit, they’re tru da roof — 37 on 7 copies in one NorthWest library system.


Baked: New Frontiers in Baking
by Matt Lewis, Renato Poliafito, Tina Rupp 

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Stewart, Tabori & Chang (October 1, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1584797215
  • ISBN-13: 978-1584797210

And, speaking of Brooklyn, a book on a cuisine that is not widely covered, Senegalese, by Brooklyn resident Pierre Thiam, is one of the finalists for IACP’s Julia Child Award for First Book. It’s also from an independent press, Lake Isle Press. WorldCat shows it’s owned by 128 libraries.


Yolele! Recipes from the Heart of Senegal
Pierre Thiam

  • Hardcover: $21.95; 192 pages
  • Publisher: Lake Isle Press; illustrated, (September 25, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1891105388
  • ISBN-13: 978-1891105388

Entertainment Weekly on ‘The Kindly Ones’

Monday, March 9th, 2009

Once again, Entertainment Weekly proves that a review doesn’t have to be long to make its point, with this last line of their 119-word review of Jonathan Littell’s The Kindly Ones,

[protagonist] Aue warns 
that the slippery slope to genocide is greased by ”calm, collected” ordinary people, but when he’s not insisting ”I am just like you,” he’s lusting after his twin sister, fantasizing about matricide, or performing perverse sexual acts. Such graphic depravity lets us all off the hook.

They give it a kindly B-.

NPR and the Washington Post on ‘The Kindly Ones’

Monday, March 9th, 2009

Two words sum up the Washington Post‘s take on Jonathan Littell’s The Kindly Ones; “death porn.” The reviewer also considers the book “…narratively empty and intellectually incoherent.”

NPR’s Weekend Edition, Sunday described it as “One of the most controversial novels published in recent years,” and effectively demonstrated why by warning, “Portions of this report are inappropriate for children and some listeners may find the descriptions of the book’s graphic content disturbing.”

Actually, more disturbing than the descriptions, is what the reporter says at the end of the piece, 

In part, it’s the complicity of ordinary Americans [in what happened at Abu Grahib] and what Jonathan Littell sees as  the consumer culture that insulates them from global suffering that’s led Littell to live and raise his family outside of the United States.

The book continues to be in the top 100 on Amazon sales ranking, currently at #79. Reserves continue to increase at four large libraries; over the weekend, the total reserves increased from 117 to 189. All four have just received their copies, even though the book has been out for nearly a week.

Barbara Parker Dies

Monday, March 9th, 2009

 rage   madness   guilt1   innocence1

Mystery writer Barbara Parker died on Saturday. She was 62.

An obituary/tribute in the Miami Sun Sentinel attests to her importance to her various communities. Her agent, Richard Curtis, wrote a personal tribute on his blog.

She was best known for the eight books in her “Suspicion” series, featuring Miami lawyers Gail Connor and Anthony Quintana. The Booklist review of Suspicion of Rage (2006) said,

This series has been around for a while, but it hasn’t yet reached the point where the characters feel too familiar or its plots have drifted into formula. The interpersonal dynamics between Connor and Quintana remain sharp, and the Florida setting continues to add to the appeal. If Parker keeps writing them as smartly as she has written this one, her series may never turn stale.

New NYT Bestseller List — ‘Graphic Books’

Saturday, March 7th, 2009

The NYT has just given grudging recognition to the growth in popularity of Manga, comic books and graphic novels, by  introducing three new bestseller lists. I say “grudging” since it seems the lists won’t appear in the newspaper, but in the “Arts Beat” blog. The lists are:

  • Graphic Books Hardcover
  • Graphic Books, Paperback
  • Graphic Books, Manga

The Manga list, of course is dominated by Naruto. Curiously, Watchmen is not #1 on the hardcover list (it comes in at #3 after the Starman Omnibus and Eerie Archives), but you understand why when you see it’s #1 on the paperback list.

There’s 20 titles on each list and it looks like they will be tracked weekly. In addition to the sources the NYT uses for their other lists, sales data is also coming from “retailers nationwide that specialize in graphic novels and comic books.”

NYT BR Weighs In on ‘The Kindly Ones’

Friday, March 6th, 2009

THE controversial livre du jour is The Kindly Ones, by Jonathan Littell. It’s been a success in France, where it sold 700,000 copies and received top literary honors. The reception of the English translation has ranged from “a great work of literary fiction,” (Anthony Beevor, The Times of London) to “willfully sensationalistic and deliberately repellent” (Michiko Kakutani the NYT).

In the upcoming NYT BR (3/6), David Gates, author of The Wonder of the Invisible World, damns it more faintly ; “apparently a middlebrow historical epic gone willfully weird.” 

On the other hand, Samuel Moyn (Columbia history professor and author of A Holocaust Controversy: The Treblinka Affair in Postwar France), writing in The Nation, March 23rd issue, defends the book in a long and thoughtful review. And Daniel Mendelsohn does the most thorough literary analysis to date in the New York Review of Books, saying the book is an achievement, “however badly it may stumble.”

We hear that the Washington Post will also review it tomorrow in the Style section.

The book is in the top 100 on Amazon (at #76 now; it went up to #52 yesterday). Unless there is a difference between bookstore buyers and online buyers for this title, those numbers indicate it is likely to hit print bestseller lists. Library reserves are generally light (even though the ratios are high in some places due to light ordering). It may be a book people are buying simply to have, rather than to read.

But wait, some may want to listen to it; Blackstone has released an audio version. It’s unabridged, resulting in a 37.6 hour behemoth. It’s also available on PlayAway, a distinct advantage over 31 CDs!

You can listen to a sample on the Blackstone website.


Audio, Unabridged


Part 1 of 2;  978-1-4332-7915-7; 15 Tapes; $95.95  
Part 2 of 2 ;978-1-4332-8767-1; 14 Tape $79.95

1 Playaway; 978-1-4332-7923-2; $109.99
2 MP3CD; 978-1-4332-7919-5 $44.95
31 CD; 978-1-4332-7916-4 $159.00

Spring Book Previews

Friday, March 6th, 2009

We hope you’ve checked out the podcasts from our sponsor, Perseus Books Group (click here). Each publisher speaks directly to EarlyWord readers, about the books coming in the late spring that they are particularly excited about and why. 

Next week, Library Journal is doing a Book Buzz session on the Web, featuring the library marketing folks from Harper Collins, Norton, Kensington, and Random House. The first showing is this coming Tuesday, March 10, at 2:00 p.m. After that, the webcast will be available to watch anytime. To register, click here.

Spring books include titles through May. You’ve probably already ordered most of these titles, but it’s a good opportunity to hear how the publishers will be promoting the books as well as a helpful preview for readers advisors.

Small Publisher, Big Prize

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

The winner for fiction of the Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Award is Gin Phillips for The Well and the Mine from Portland, Oregon indie publisher, Hawthorne Books. The prize is $10,000 and, more importantly, a full year of promotion by B&N. There are currently 20,000 copies of the book in print, which is respectable, particularly for a small press.

In a press release, B&N described the book this way,

The Well and the Mine, Gin Phillips’ debut novel set in 1930s Alabama, gracefully employs a chorus of narratives to reveal the racial and class divides that arise in the wake of a young girl’s testimony. 

The book received strong reviews in Publishers Weekly, the Portland Oregonian, the LA Times, and O, the Oprah Magazine and features an introduction by Fannie Flagg. It is owned in modest quantities by most libraries, with reserve lists in some (one midwestern library is showing 13 holds to one copy).

The Well and the Mine
Gin Phillips
Retail Price: $15.95
Paperback: 251 pages
Publisher: Hawthorne Books – (2008-01-21)
ISBN / EAN: 0976631172 / 9780976631170

The second-place winner, The Book of Getting Even, by Benjamin Taylor, is also from an indie publisher, Steerforth in Hanover, New Hampshire. The author will receive $5,000 (but not the year-long promotion). It is also owned in small quantities by most libraries. B&N describes it this way;

The coming of age of a college student is the theme of Benjamin Taylor’s second novel, The Book of Getting Even, which follows – with pathos and humor – an aspiring astronomer as he learns the limits of both mathematics and relationships.

The Book of Getting Even: A Novel
Benjamin Taylor
Retail Price: $14.95
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Zoland Books – (2009-02-10)
ISBN / EAN: 1581952325 / 9781581952322

The third-place fiction winner and all three of the nonfiction winners come from large publishers and are generally well-represented in libraries. Below are the titles, with the B&N annotations:

Fiction, Third-place:

Sway: A Novel
Zachary Lazar
Retail Price: $13.99
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Back Bay Books – (2009-02-10)
ISBN / EAN: 0316113115 / 9780316113113

Sway by Zachary Lazar (Little, Brown)

Zachary Lazar’s second novel, Sway, weaves together three storylines to form a dark, harrowing and kaleidoscopic portrait of the late Sixties. Fictionalizing the narrative voices of Brian Jones (of the Rolling Stones), avant-garde filmmaker Kenneth Anger, and Charles Manson acolyte Bobby Beausoleil, Lazar probes the dark heart of a decade that began with peace-professing promise only to end in violence. 


Winner: Beautiful Boy by David Sheff (Houghton Mifflin)

Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction
David Sheff
Retail Price: $14.95
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Mariner Books – (2009-01-06)
ISBN / EAN: 0547203888 / 9780547203881

Beautiful Boy is David Sheff’s devastating and personal account of his efforts to save his teenage son Nick from an addiction to methamphetamine.

Second-place: The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner (Twelve)


The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World
Eric Weiner
Retail Price: $13.99
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Twelve – (2009-01-05)
ISBN / EAN: 044669889X / 9780446698894

Having spent a fair amount of time in war torn regions, Eric Weiner’s quest to discover better environs led him to ferret out the undiscovered “happiest” places on earth. The result of his efforts is his hilarious and intelligent debut, The Geography of Bliss.


Third-place: Blue Sky July by Nia Wyn (Dutton)

Blue Sky July: A Mother’s Story of Hope and Healing
Nia Wyn
Retail Price: $23.95
Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Dutton Adult – (2008-08-14)

Written as haiku-like journal entries, Nia Wyn’s personal memoir Blue Sky July is a haunting yet uplifting diary of her experience as the mother of a special needs child.

‘No. 1 Ladies’ on HBO End of Month

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

The HBO series, The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency,  based on Alexander McCall Smith’s books begins Sunday, March 29th, 8 pm.

Anthony Minghella (The English Patient, Cold Mountain), who died last year, directed the two-hour pilot. Tim Fywell and Charles Sturridge direct the other episodes in the series.

Grammy-award winning singer Jill Scott plays Precious Ramotswe. Tony Award winner Anika Noni Rose (Dreamgirls) plays her secretary, Mma Makutsi. The series was shot in Botswana.

A tie-in edition is available:


The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

Alexander McCall Smith

  • Paperback: $13.95; 256 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor, (March 10, 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 0307456633
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307456632

But, Will It Make Money?

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

Is Jonathan Littell’s book, The Kindly Ones a literary masterpiece (as Michael Korda says the Book Beast), or  “willfully sensationalistic and deliberately repellent” (Michiko Kakutani the NYT)?

That’s a matter of opinion. A seemingly easier question is whether people will buy it (or check it out of libraries). In the NY Times today, publishing reporter Motoko Rich tries to find an answer, but, as with the question of artistic merit, discovers that opinions vary.

HarperCollins placed its bet two years ago when it spent $1 million to acquire the rights to the book. Rich guesses they need to sell 75,000 copies just to make back the advance. Last week, in the Wall Street Journal, Jeffrey Trachtenberg estimated they need to sell twice that number, 150,000 copies, to cover all costs and turn a profit. If France is any indicator, where 700,000 copies were sold, it could easily reach the needed number here, but the French book-buying public is quite different from the American.

On Amazon, the book has risen from #447 on Monday to #93 today.

The total ordering for four large library systems is 69 copies, with 98 reserves. The reserve lists for the libraries individually ranges from 0 to 49.

The Kindly Ones
Littell, Jonathan
Price: $29.99
Hardcover: 992 pages
Publisher: Harper – (2009-03-01)
ISBN-10: 0061353450
ISBN-13: 9780061353451

Debut Thriller Scores

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

Brian Gruley is the Chicago bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal, which may explain why this debut novelist is featured in a video interview on the WSJ site, along with an excerpt of his book, Starvation Lake. He also happens to have received great prepub reviews (LJ; “Full of insider knowledge about hockey and great local color, this is not to be missed.”) and comparisons to Dennis Lehane.

The Chicago Tribune has published the first consumer press review, also making the Lehane comparison, especially to Mystic River,

The mood in Starvation Lake is similar: ordinary people living up to their failures, trying to balance dreams and reality when tragedy strikes too close to home.

The book was selected by independent booksellers for the March Indie Next list;

Small towns love their sports teams as much as they love taking swipes at their local newspaper, but they also love their secrets. A secret lies frozen at the bottom of Starvation Lake, and the ice is starting to melt. Dripping with atmosphere and pitch-perfect dialog, Gruley captures the heart and hardships of small-town life.

It could be the only mystery that involves amateur hockey in Northern Michigan. It’s a trade paperback with a $14.95 list price, making it easier to take a chance on a first-timer.


Starvation Lake

Bryan Gruley

  • Paperback: $14; 384 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone (March 3, 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 1416563628
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416563624