Archive for January, 2011

More about O

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

S&S continues to throw catnip to the press about a book coming out next week, O: A Presidential Novel. Last week, word began to spread about this anonymous novel, based on scraps of information (The Week, wraps up speculation on who might have written it, the most wacky being Obama himself).

Today, S&S Publisher, Jonathan Karp sent a message to journalists, with links to the book’s just unveiled Web site, and a request,

You may be asked to comment on whether or not you are the author.  If so, it would be great if you refrained from commenting, in solidarity with the principle that a book should be judged on its content and not on the perceived ideology of its author.

I received  the message, too, but not to worry. Unless the book is riddled with typos, I don’t expect anyone will be asking me. However, a librarian could be behind this; an excerpt describes a Sarah Palin type as “flaunting that whole lusty librarian thing“.

The first to bite is Slate‘s David Weigel (who made a reputation as a conservative reporter and blogger at the Washington Post, but left after his criticisms of other conservatives in the media were revealed). Contrary to Karp’s request, he wants everyone to know he did NOT write the book, citing an excerpt as filled with cliches, which, he says, means it is probably by an “escaped young adult fiction writer.”

OK, YALSA, it’s your turn — comment here.

The cover of the book is now available. Since last week, large libraries we checked have ordered the book in modest quantities, with some holds building.

O: A Presidential Novel
Retail Price: $25.99
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster – (2011-01-25)
ISBN / EAN: 1451625960 / 9781451625967


Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

When NYT columnist David Brooks feels compelled to veer away from political commentary to weigh in on a book about child rearing, you know things have become a little nutty.

In today’s column, he calls “Tiger Mother” Amy Chua a “wimp.” Chua insists on her kids practicing music for hours and denies them sleepovers. Brooks asserts that the tougher activity is the sleepover because,

Managing status rivalries, negotiating group dynamics, understanding social norms, navigating the distinction between self and group — these and other social tests impose cognitive demands that blow away any intense tutoring session or a class at Yale.

Debates about Chua’s book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, are springing up all over the Web (see, for instance, the NYT ‘s “Room for Debate“).

Chua’s book tour begins in California tonight. It should be lively.

Tuesday, Jan 18
Pasadena, CA

Wednesday, Jan 19
San Francisco, CA

Thursday, Jan 20
Berkeley, CA

Friday, Jan 21
Seattle, WA

Tuesday, Feb 15
North Haven, CT

Thursday, Feb 17
Chicago, IL

Friday, Feb 18
Washington, DC

TIGER MOTHER Controversy Continues

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Holds are mounting quickly for Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. An excerpt in the WSJ last week, with the challenging headline, “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior,” (one the author disavows) was an immediate sensation. The Journal is adding fuel to the fire with several follow-up pieces:

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother
Amy Chua
Retail Price: $25.95
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The – (2011-01-11)
ISBN / EAN: 1594202842 / 9781594202841

Penguin Audio; UNABR; 6 Hours; 5 CDs; ISBN 9780142429105; $29.95

Sins of the Fathers; Jay Bakker

Monday, January 17th, 2011

If you lived through the 80’s, you may remember televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. Their son, Jay, is now a pastor himself, but with a very different approach. He writes about his beliefs in his book Fall to Grace and was interviewed on NPR’s All Things Considered (listen here) on Saturday.

Fall to Grace: A Revolution of God, Self & Society
Jay Bakker
Retail Price: $19.99
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: FaithWords – (2011-01-12)
ISBN / EAN: 0446539503 / 9780446539500

If you need a reminder of who the Bakkers were, the Jan. 12th Today Show gave a quick history prior to Matt Lauer’s interview with Jay.

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Monday, January 17th, 2011

In USA Today, Carol Memmott says the “moody atmospherics” of Erin Kelly’s debut psychological thriller, The Poison Tree will appeal to fans of fans of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca and Donna Tartt’s The Secret History.

The Poison Tree: A Novel
Erin Kelly
Retail Price: $26.95
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books – (2011-01-06)
ISBN / EAN: 0670022403 / 9780670022403

Thorndike; Large Print; April; ISBN 9781410436313; $30.99

Strong NYT Review for WEIRD SISTERS

Monday, January 17th, 2011

We’ve been quoting the debut novel Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown for a while. The sisters’ motto is “There is no problem a library card can’t solve.”

It comes with a good pedigree. Its editor, Amy Einhorn, also brought us The Help and The Postmistress. Booklist says it exhibits “no false steps.”

Arriving today, it gets a stellar review from Janet Maslin. The three sisters’ father is a Shakespearean scholar who insists that the family continually quote the bard. Maslin calls this a gimmick, but one that works.

There are times when the sisters are exasperated by the burden imposed on them. “Sometimes we had the overwhelming urge to grab our father by the shoulders and shake him until the meaning of his obtuse quotations fell from his mouth like loosened teeth,” they say. Readers may sometimes feel similarly about Ms. Brown but more often appreciate the good sense and good humor that keep her story buoyant. She does have storytelling talent. Or, to quote one of the Weird Sisters quoting you-know-who: “This is a gift that I have; simple, simple.

The Weird Sisters
Eleanor Brown
Retail Price: $24.95
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam – (2011-02-17)
ISBN / EAN: 0399157220 / 9780399157226

Penguin Audio; 9780142428948

Thorndike Large Print; May; ISBN 9781410437051; $30.99.

From Senior Thesis to NPR

Monday, January 17th, 2011

It’s every historian’s dream to uncover a little-known, but significant historical event.  Daniel Rasmussen, achieved that goal early. As a student at Harvard, he was intrigued by a three-sentence reference to a slave march on New Orleans in 1811 and began investigating it for his senior thesis. It turns out that this was the largest slave revolt in American history. Over 100 of the slaves were killed by local planters who decapitated them, put their heads on pikes and hung their corpses on the gates of the city. Now, Rasmussen has written a book about that story.

In an interview on NPR’s All Things Considered last night (listen to it here), Rasmussen says the fact that we don’t know this story represents “…one of the most significant moments of political amnesia in our nation’s history.” The events were immediately covered up because, “…if the planters acknowledge that slaves are people with real political ideals…it undermines the entire ideology that underlaid slavery.”

Rasmussen  wants people to know this “…story of heroism, another side of slave history…What I am trying to do, is not only bring you their story…but to think of these enslaved men and women as people who contributed to American history, who fought and died for their beliefs and who were heroic.”

American Uprising: The Untold Story of America’s Largest Slave Revolt
Daniel Rasmussen
Retail Price: $26.99
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Harper – (2011-01-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0061995215 / 9780061995217

OverDrive: Adobe EPUB eBook

Coming This Week: The Dish on Ronald Reagan

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Leave it to Ron Reagan, the late president’s son, to give us an unvarnished view of My Father at 100, published to coincide with the Reagan Sr.’s birth on February 6. The news media is ablaze with the information that the younger Reagan says his father showed signs of Alzheimer’s while he was still in office, causing his half-brother Michael to call him an “embarrassment.”

The L.A. Times review reveals more personal issues:

One of the lessons here is that no father can be an uncomplicated hero to his own son. . .  His book is less concerned with ideological differences than the pains and wonders of family entanglement. “You’re my son, so I have to love you. But sometimes you make it very hard to like you,” his father tells him.

By the end of this memoir, the son finds in his father,

…something carefully guarded, ice-cold yet unstoppable, fused together with a relentless self-mythologizing tendency: “He was the solitary storyteller whose great opus, religiously tended always, was his own self.”

Libraries we checked have orders in line with modest reserves to date.

My Father at 100
Ron Reagan
Retail Price: $25.95
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Viking Adult – (2011-01-18)
ISBN / EAN: 0670022594 / 9780670022595
  • Large Print: Thorndike Press, ISBN 9781410434371; $32.99
  • CD: Blackstone Audiobooks, ISBN 9781441771858; $32.95
  • MP3: Blackstone Audiobooks, ISBN 9781441771865; $29.95
  • Playaway: Blackstone Audiobooks, ISBN 9781441771896; $64.99

Other Notable Nonfiction on Sale This Week

The Quiet World: Saving Alaska’s Wilderness Kingdom, 1879-1960 by Douglas Brinkley (Harper) gets a good review from Kirkus: “Brinkley systematically works through the milestones of Alaskan preservation, including the moving paintings by Rockwell Kent and photographs by Ansel Adams, Adolph Murie’s fight for the wolves, Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas’ position as the “leading light of the wilderness movement” during the New Deal, and writings by the Beats such as Gary Snyder.”

The New Reagan Revolution: How Ronald Reagan’s Principles Can Restore America’s Greatness by Michael Reagan with Jim Denney (Thomas Dunne) outlines the elements of the former president’s political plan that his older son says is as relevant today as in 1976.

Coming This Week: Army Wife’s Stories

Monday, January 17th, 2011

It’s always heartening to see a good short story collection generate some heat. Last week, New York Times critic Janet Maslin singled out Siobhan Fallon‘s tales of military families on the edge in Fort Hood, Texas, You Know When the Men Are Gone, calling it a ” brief, tight collection — and there’s not a loser in the bunch.”

Male soldiers and their families are at the center of most of the stories, punctuated by sharply observed detail. As Maslin observes, one character is “haunted by the Grimm fairy tales that his daughter reads because his own life is full of latter-day versions of them. Why is the story of starving Hansel and Gretel any worse than that of a young Army corporal killed three days before he was due to see his wife and newborn baby?”

At libraries we checked, orders are in line with modest holds.

You Know When the Men Are Gone
Siobhan Fallon
Retail Price: $23.95
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam – (2011-01-20)
ISBN / EAN: 0399157204 / 9780399157202

Usual Suspects

Call Me Irresistible: A Novel by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (Morrow) follows the romantic and comedic fallout of a small town, high profile wedding canceled at the last minute. LJ raves: “Phillips has the ability to drill down into her characters’ motivations, while conveying their stories with sensitivity and laugh-out-loud humor. Consistently remarkable, she’s done it again.”  Phillips’s editor talks about it in Editors’ Book Buzz.

Strategic Moves by Stuart Woods (Putnam) is the 19th novel featuring quasi-secret agent and lawyer Stone Barrington. Kirkus says, “Woods, who evidently writes to a precise word length without bothering with beginnings and endings, delivers loads of juicy complications but no payoffs.”

Shadowfever (Fever Series #5) by Karen Marie Moning (Delacorte) is the latest in the bestselling romantic fantasy series. On Amazon, it’s currently #5 in Romance, #23 in Contemporary Fantasy, and #54 overall.

The Orchid Affair (Pink Carnation Series #8) by Lauren Willig is the eight installment in the romantic spy series set in Napoleonic France. Booklist calls it “another delightfully delectable adventure from Willig, who expands her rich, appealing stable of characters with each entry.”

NYT BR Cover

Friday, January 14th, 2011

The cover of Sunday’s NYT Book Review goes to the first book from a new literary imprint at the U. of North Carolina at Wilmington, Lookout Books. The book, a collection of short stories by respected author Edith Pearlman, will also be reviewed in the L.A. Times (via Shelf Awareness).

Binocular Vision: New & Selected Stories
Edith Pearlman, Ann Patchett (introduction)
Retail Price: $18.95
Paperback: 392 pages
Publisher: Lookout Books – (2011-01-11)
ISBN / EAN: 0982338295 / 9780982338292

The book is owned in relatively few public libraries, despite a starred review from Booklist, which ended with,

Give this wonderful collection to fans of such classic short story writers as Andre Dubus and Alice Munro and novelists like Nicole Krauss. They will thank you.

Still Talking about DRAGON TATTOO

Friday, January 14th, 2011

Not so long ago, publishers had ample proof that Americans weren’t interested in books translation, even international best sellers. When Knopf introduced the first book in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series, a 100,000 copy first printing was considered risky. It’s amusing to look back to EarlyWord‘s first story about the book, a month before The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was released, when most libraries had ordered it modestly and some not at all. Today, over two years later, most large library systems own upwards of 300 copies and holds ratios are averaging 3:1.

Larsson continues to make news. Just this week,

  • W Magazine features a photo spread on the English-language movie version of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, coming to theaters in December
  • Larsson’s partner of 32 years, Eva Gabrielsson says she hopes to finish a fourth volume in the series.

Looks like we won’t stop talking about Larsson any time soon.


Thursday, January 13th, 2011

Making a giant leap on Amazon sales rankings is Phil & Kaja Foglio’s Agatha H. and the Airship City, the latest in the Girl Genius series, currently at #38, the highest rank to date for a title in the series. The authors nudged this along by proclaiming yesterday “Girl Genius Day” and asking fans to place orders on the new book’s release day, making it soar up the list. A similar tactic was used successfully last fall by the authors of Machine of Death.

I’m not a fan of these efforts to manipulate the lists, but I do love the series — it’s a smart combination of steampunk adventure, humor, and just a touch of romance. Up to now, the series has appeared in comic format, with the previous volumes collected as graphic novels. The new installment, however, is a prose novel.

The series has a devoted fan following. Teens and adults enjoy the derring-do and rich world-building the series excels at, including elaborate Victorian gadgets and believably complicated political struggles. The volumes I’ve managed to collect circulate very well in my library’s teen collection.

I’d love to give the comic series a whole-hearted recommendation, but it’s difficult to buy any but the most recent volumes via library vendors. Also, unfortunately, the bindings don’t hold up to frequent library use.

You can try to get older volumes through other sellers that list on Amazon, if your library is set up to order from them.

Agatha H. and the Airship City (Girl Genius)
Phil Foglio, Kaja Foglio
Retail Price: $24.99
Hardcover: 264 pages
Publisher: Night Shade Books – (2011-01-01)
ISBN / EAN: 1597802115 / 9781597802116

The TODAY Show Turns Down Newbery/Caldecott Winners

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

It’s become a tradition. The Tuesday after the Newbery/Caldecott Awards are announced, the winners, along with the YALSA or ALA president, are guests on the Today Show.

But the only author on the show this Tuesday was MTV Jersey Shore star Snooki, for her debut novel, A Shore Thing.

Publishers Weekly reports that, in response to inquiries, the Today show said they turned down the segment this year because of a a “lack of interest and scheduling problems,” but asserted that the show “does more book segments in a given year than any other television show,” and “supports the publishing industry with initiatives like Al’s Book Club for Kids and Read for the Record.”

Below is last year’s show:

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And, here’s Snooki:

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The Today Show missed an opportinity; in libraries that own copies of A Shore Thing, holds are much lower than for Moon Over Manifest or for A Sick Day for Amos McGee.


Thursday, January 13th, 2011

After a long wait, HBO has finally announced that the ten-part series based on George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones will begin on April 17.

Official Web Site:

ONE DAY Earlier

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

The film adaptation of best selling British novel, One Day, originally planned for the fall, has been moved to July 8th. The move is seen as a vote of confidence for the indie film, as it now competes against blockbuster carry-overs from the previous July 4th weekend.

Directed by Lone Scherfig, who made her reputation with 2009’s An Education. Starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess, One Day follows the lives of the characters, from the college graduation night they spend together, through the subsequent 20 years, revisiting them each year on July 15.

The book, which sold well here, was a phenomenon in the U.K. (see The Guardian, David Nicholls: why he made the headlines in 2010).

One Day (Vintage Contemporaries Original)
David Nicholls
Retail Price: $14.95
Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Vintage – (2010-06-15)
ISBN / EAN: 0307474712 / 9780307474711