Archive for December, 2011

Tweet Your Favorite Books of the Year

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

Two of our GalleyChat regulars have started a hashtag for librarians to list their top 11 favorite books from 2011, #libfavs2011. It runs through Dec. 31, so head on over to Twitter and join in. (Thanks to Robin Beerbower, Salem [OR] Library and Stephanie Chase, Multnomah County Library, for starting and shepherding this project).

So far the title with the most mentions is the debut, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (RH/Crown). Librarians backed it early on (it was BEA Shout & Share pick). Try it on readers who claim to hate science fiction. USA Today put it this way, “This unabashedly geeky view of a 2044 dystopia provides an enchanting escape from today’s economic crisis, dreary politicians and international turmoil,” adding, “Few novels set up an engaging plot as fast as this one.” Check your holds; some libraries are showing a significant number.

Publisher Broadway Books is treating the trade paperback, coming in June, as a relaunch, with a new cover.

Ready Player One
Ernest Cline
Retail Price: $14.00
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Broadway – (2012-06-05)
ISBN / EAN: 0307887448 / 9780307887443

RH Audio/BOT; Audio and eBook on OverDrive

Book Recommendations from Two Big Readers

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

Former President Bill Clinton and star of The Office, Mindy Kaling appeared on the Today Show to promote reading and their favorite books to give as gifts. Their lists are very different (although Clinton said he’d love to read the first four on Mindy’s list).

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Below are the lists featured on the show (each had a longer list, available on the web site)

Kaling’s List

#1 11/22/63, Stephen King, (S&S/Scribner)

#2 Bossypants, Tina Fey (Hachette/Little,Brown)

#3 Lady Gaga, Terry Richardson, (Hachette/Grand Central)

#4 My Father’s Daughter, Gwyneth Paltrow, (Hachette/Grand Central)

#5 Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, Andrew Bolton, (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Clinton’s List

#1 Jerusalem: The Biography, Simon Sebag Montefiore, (RH/Knopf)

#2 Lincoln, David Herbert Donald, (S&S)

#3 Meditations, Marcus Aurelius, (RH/Modern Library and others)

#4 The Way of the World, David Fromkin (RH/Knopf)

#5 The Cure at Troy, Seamus Heaney (S&S/FSG)

BEST BOOKS Spreadsheets Are Here!

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011


We’re happy to announce that our annual spreadsheets, rounding up all the titles in the national best books lists, with ISBN’s and information on additional formats — audio, large print, and eformats from OverDrive — are now available for downloading and checking against your collections.

Above are the top books on each list, by number of selections.

NPR’s Kids’ Club Pick for January

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

The fourth title in NPR’s Backseat Book Club for kids is The Watsons Go to Birmingham — 1963, by Christopher Paul Curtis, (RH/Delacorte), winner of both a Newbery Honor and a Coretta Scott King award. On NPR’s Web site, All Things Considered host Michelle Norris describes it as “a modern classic…the story of a hilarious 10-year-old named Kenny whose family is quirky, proud and loving” and their journey from Flint, Michigan to Birmingham, Alabama in the summer of 1963, where they encounter a critical turning point in the Civil Rights movement, the bombing of Birmingham’s 16th St. Baptist Church. Norris, whose family is from Birmingham, says this choice is perfect for January because the book will “entertain and inform young readers as the country remembers the civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. for the national holiday in his name.”

The December pick, Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu was featured on All Things Considered last night. As a result, it rose on Amazon’s sales ranking to #293 from #1,152. Published this year, it was on both PW and SLJ‘s Best Books lists (see our spreadsheet which rounds up the major 2011 Childrens and Young Adult best books picks for the year).

Anne Ursu
Retail Price: $16.99
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Walden Pond Press – (2011-09-27)
ISBN / EAN: 0062015052 / 9780062015051


THE HOBBIT First Trailer

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

It’s a year before the movie is to be released, but the first trailer for The Hobbit, directed by Peter Jackson and based on the book by JRR Tolkien, arrived online last night (the 3-D film opens next Dec. 14). It will be shown in theaters before screenings of Steven Spielberg’s The Advntures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn.

A few movie sites are complaining that it looks too much like The Lord of the Rings trilogy, also directed by Jackson and also based on a book by Tolkien, while others found it to be just what they wanted. The most exhaustive examination of  the trailer and what it reveals about the final film is on, “The Hobbit Trailer In Detail: 5 Things We Learned.”

For those of you not up on your Middle Earth timelines, the film is the first in a two-part adaptation of Tolkien’s renowned novel which was the precursor to his Lord of the Rings trilogy. They were made into films, the first of which, The Fellowship of the Rings, came out ten years ago. Thus, the returning actors, like Ian MacKellen, are playimg characters who are  supposed to be younger than they were ten years ago.

The second film in the series, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, which was shot back-to-back with the first, will be released in December, 2013.


Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

The movie Albert Nobbs, starring Glenn Close as a woman passing as a man in 19th C Dublin, picked up two Golden Globe nominations this week, for Best Actress (Close) and Best Supporting Actress (Janet McTeer, who also plays a woman passing as a man). It’s probably the least-known of the films in either category, having just opened in a limited run in New York and Los Angeles this week. Reviews just beginning (the New York Times is enthusiastic, but USA Today is not). After its Oscar-qualifying run, it opens across the country on Jan. 27

The movie is based on a long short story (the tie-in is labelled a “novella”), The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs, by the Irish wirter, George Moore. It was published in his 1927 collection, Celibate Lives. Close played the character on stage nearly 30 years ago and has been working for years to turn it in to a film.

The movie tie-in releases today.

Albert Nobbs: A Novella
George Moore
Retail Price: $10.00
Paperback: 112 pages
Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics) – (2011-12-21)
ISBN / EAN: 0143122525 / 9780143122524


BEING FLYNN Scheduled for Release

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

The title of the memoir, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, has been tamed down quite a bit for the film version. It’s called Being Flynn, which refers to both the author, Nick Flynn, and his father and is now scheduled for limited release on March 2nd.

The movie, stars Robert De Niro as a homeless writer. His son, played by Paul Dano, also a writer, works in a homeless shelter, when a familiar figure walks in.

When it was published in 2005, the book received generally strong reviews (although the papers reduced the title to Another Bulls**t Night in Suck City) and appeared on the NYT extended best seller list when it came out in paperback.

San Francisco Chronicle

… the book will probably do very well because the story is true. And that’s actually almost a shame, because that would fail to take into account where the book truly succeeds, which is as a near-perfect work of literature.

NY Times Book Review

Flynn’s talents are considerable—he has a compelling voice and a wry sense of humor, especially about himself. He avoids the pitfalls that come with his subject matter: when writing about his recovery from alcohol and drug addiction, he keeps therapy-speak at bay; when describing his work at the shelter, he’s utterly unsanctimonious.

Being Flynn (Movie Tie-in Edition) 
Nick Flynn
Retail Price: $15.95
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
ISBN / EAN: 0393341496 / 9780393341492

DRAGON TATTOO Opens Tomorrow

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

After months of promotion, the English-language, David Fincher-directed version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo opens across the country tomorrow.

According to the site Rotten Tomatoes, 82% of the 34 “top critics” give it a favorable review (although a few are a bit grudging).

Many of the reviews compare it to the earlier Swedish-language film (Time‘s critic Richard Corliss, says, it’s “like getting a Christmas gift of a book you already have”). A few hark back to Stieg Larsson’s original:

L.A. Times 

One reason Salander is catnip on the page is that she is anything but in real life. Antisocial when she’s not downright furious… she is fierce, furtive and feral…..[but the movie’s] cold, almost robotic conception of Salander as a twitchy, anorexic waif feels more like a stunt than a complete character, and so the best part of the reason we care enough to endure all that mayhem has gone away.

New York Times

Critic A.O Scott is also a fan of Lisbeth on the page, describing her as “Tiny as a sparrow, fierce as an eagle…one of the great Scandinavian avengers of our time, an angry bird catapulting into the fortresses of power and wiping smiles off the faces of smug, predatory pigs”  and believes that lead actress Rooney Mara, “…captures her volatile and fascinating essence beautifully.” He is not so enthusiastic about the book’s plot, however and feels “Larsson’s heavy-footed clumsiness as a storyteller” harms the movie. The changes from the book to the screenplay just show “…how arbitrary some of Larsson’s narrative contrivances were in the first place”  and the movie suffers from “…long stretches of drab, hackneyed exposition that flatten the atmosphere.”

Whatever the critical verdict, the publicity surrounding the movie continues to bring new readers to the book. Libraries are still showing holds queues.

It’s not certain whether Fincher will direct the next movies in the trilogy. At a recent press conference, he said he hasn’t been signed yet; “Classically, movie studios don’t make deals with directors, even if there’s a hope that there’s going to be three [films], because they want to make sure you behave.” He did, however, go on to say that if he were to direct the next two films, he would shoot them both at once. He also noted that the Dragon Tattoo shoot was “incredibly draining” for Rooney Mara because of all the “naysayers” who thought she was the wrong choice for the role.

Below is the trailer for the Swedish-language version:

Sherlock Holmes, Not an Elementary Character

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

NPR’s All Things Considered takes a look at the new Sherlock Homes movie, Sherlock Holmes 2: A Game of Shadows, starring Robert Downey Jr., through the lens of two recent books inspired by Conan Doyle’s master detective.

As a result, The House of Silk, rose on Amazon’s sales rankings. Libraries are showing moderate holds. In its review, PW said, “The hype surrounding what’s being billed as the first pastiche ever officially approved by the Conan Doyle estate is amply justified in this authentic, if melancholy, recreation of the beloved Baker Street characters by the creator of the acclaimed Foyles War TV series.”

The House of Silk: A Sherlock Holmes Novel
Anthony Horowitz
Retail Price: $27.99
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Mulholland Books – (2011-11-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0316196991 / 9780316196994

The second book is a collection of short stories inspired by Conan Doyle, also released this fall.

A Study in Sherlock: Stories Inspired by the Holmes Canon
Laurie R King, Leslie S Klinger
Retail Price: $29.95
Hardcover: 250 pages
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press – (2011-10-25)
ISBN / EAN: 1590585496 / 9781590585498

Of course, many other authors have carried on the Holmes tradition. Check this list from Wikipedia for the makings of an extensive book display.

The new movie, unlike the previous one, is based on a specific Holmes story,  “The Final Problem,” which is included in the re-released The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (Penguin; other editions available in ePub and Kindle on OverDrive).

The Year’s Top YA Fiction — NPR

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

After some of the screeds about YA fiction that have found their way into the press, it’s refreshing to read the following on NPR’s web site,

…young adult fiction has developed into one of the most complex and extensive genres in literature. 2011 brought us a wealth of new reads that continue to twist traditional formulas and take risks that are, by and large, paying off with wholly unique reading experiences.

Those encouraging words come from Marissa Meyer, who may be slightly prejudiced — her own debut YA novel, Cinder, arrives in January.

Meyer lists her choices of Top 5 YA Novels of the year (Meyer is recording the piece, which will be broadcast soon). Three of her picks have appeared on other Best Books lists (see our spreadsheet of all the major picks to date) but two are unique:

So Silver Bright
Lisa Mantchev
Retail Price: $16.99
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Macmillan/Feiwel & Friends  – (2011-09-13)
ISBN / EAN: 0312380984 / 9780312380984


Mike Mullin
Retail Price: $16.95
Hardcover: 476 pages
Publisher: Tanglewood Press – (2011-09-27)
ISBN / EAN: 1933718552 / 9781933718552

Marissa Meyer’s own YA novel kicks off the new year in red high heels. Kirkus describes it as a “debut [that] offers a high coolness factor by rewriting Cinderella as a kickass mechanic in a plague-ridden future.” It’s being backed by a strong marketing campaign (as outlined by PW), including an excerpt in USA Today, and a book trailer which debuts today on Entertainment Weekly‘s “Shelf Life” blog.

Cinder: Book One in the Lunar Chronicles
Marissa Meyer
Retail Price: $17.99
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Macmillan/Feiwel & Friends – (2012-01-03)
ISBN / EAN: 0312641893 / 9780312641894

Macmillan Audio (listen to excerpt here); Thorndike Large Print


Monday, December 19th, 2011

If there were an Academy Award for strangest film title, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen would surely win. It ‘s based on a book of the same title, the 2007 debut novel by British writer Paul Torday (HMH), about a sheik who believes salmon fishing will help unite the people of Yemen. Publishers Weekly called it “winningly absurdist,” an assessment echoed by both Library Journal and Booklist (which starred it). Torday’s second novel, Bordeaux (HMH, 2009) received equally strong reviews. His third book, The Girl on the Landing, has not been published here.

The film’s director, Lasse Hallstrom, has had experience adapting quirky books; he directed Chocolat, The Cider House Rules, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, and My Life as a Dog.

Salmon Fishing stars Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, and Kristin Scott-Thomas and received strong reviews at the Toronto Film Festival in September.

No tie-in has been announced. The film arrives in theaters on March 2 UPDATE: Now moved to March 9.

New Title Radar – Week of December 26

Friday, December 16th, 2011

Shipments of new books will be light next week (just one notable title, listed below), so we are skipping ahead to the week after the holiday, when the final hardcover releases of 2011 arrive, in time for customers cashing in gift certificates and exchanging what they got for what they wanted.  Look for Rod Rees‘s dystopian steampunk debut, a new series from Anne Holt, Norway’s #1 bestselling crime writer, and the much-anticipated followup to Taylor Stevens‘s first Vanessa Michael Monroe thriller. Not all of the usual suspects are turning out their best work, according to the early reviews, but there are new titles from Dean Koontz, W. E. B. Griffin and William E. Butterworth IV, Stuart Woods, Robin Cook, Tamy Hoag and Karen Robards. 

Watch List

The Demi-Monde: Winter by Rod Rees (HarperCollins/Morrow) is a debut novel and the first of a series blending science fiction and thriller, steampunk and dystopian vision, and set in a terrifying virtual reality dominated by history’s most ruthless and bloodthirsty psychopaths. Library Journal says “Rees’s debut mirrors Tad Williams’s Otherland series in using a virtual world setting, but incorporating historical events and personages as building blocks of that world adds a freshness to this story. Strong characters, along with the clever interweaving of seemingly disparate plot threads, make this a standout selection for fans of high-tech sf and cyberfiction.”

1222: A Hanne Wilhelmsen Novel by Anne Holt (S&S/Scribner; Blackstone Audio) is the U.S. debut of a new series by Norway’s #1 bestselling crime writer – set in an isolated hotel where guests who are stranded during a monumental snowstorm begin turning up dead. Publishers Weekly says, “the plot lags in places, but the prickly Hanne is worth getting to know.”

The Innocent: A Vanessa Michael Munroe Novel by Taylor Stevens (RH/Crown; Random House Audio) is the much-anticipated followup to Stevens’ debut.  This time, smart and lethal Monroe travels to Buenos Aires in search of a 14-year-old girl, Hannah, who was kidnapped and hidden among a religious cult known as the Chosen eight years earlier. Booklist says, “Stevens, a cult survivor herself, goes a bit over-the-top with Munroe, who at times seems too bitter and belligerent to be believed. But Stevens vividly depicts a dark domain of manipulation, indoctrination, and abuse.”

Usual Suspects

The Devil’s Elixir by Raymond Khoury (Dutton; Penguin Audio) is the one title notable title arriving next week. It finds the stars of Khoury’s Templar series, FBI agent Sean Reilly and girlfriend Tess Chaykin, racing against drug kingpins and the DEA to find a lost herb capable of inducing a mindripping experience that could shake the foundations of Western civilization. Library Journal says “this time, Khoury’s soapbox topics include biker gangs, Mexican drug cartels, veterans’ affairs, and the criminalization of drug use, but his key interests in this thriller are ethnobotany, proprietary rights, and the ethics of bioprospecting. For thriller fans, this exciting if sometimes dry lecture is still worth auditing.”


77 Shadow Street by Dean Koontz (RH/Bantam; Random House Large Print; Brilliance Audio) is set in a luxury apartment building that was built in the late 1800’s as a tycoon’s dream home in an old heartland city, though its grandeur has been scarred by episodes of madness, suicide, mass murder.

Covert Warriors: A Presidential Agent Novel by W. E. B. Griffin and William E. Butterworth IV (Penguin/Putnam; Thorndike Press; Penguin Audio) is the seventh presidential agent thriller starring Lt. Col. Charley Castillo, as he faces down Mexican drug cartels. PW says, “as usual, the authors exhaustively outline what’s happened in earlier books, then lay out a plan thats swiftly implemented at the very end. Even loyal series fans may be weary of this formula by now.”

D.C. Dead: A Stone Barrington Novel by Stuart Woods (Penguin/Putnam; Thorndike Press; Penguin Audio) finds Stone Barrington taking on a special operation that will reunite him with his former partner in crime and in bed, Holly Barker. Booklist calls it “an exciting entry that possibly wraps up one of the longest-running story threads in Woods’ popular series.” But PW says, “A fast pace compensates only in part for superficial characters with a penchant for spewing one-liners.”

Death Benefit by Robin Cook (Penguin/Putnam; Thorndike Large Print; Penguin Audio) is set in the Columbia University Medical Center’s lab, where medical student Pia, with the help of infatuated classmate George Wilson, launches an investigation into the unforeseen calamity in the hospital’s supposedly secure biosafety lab. PW says, “Cooks deft handling of medical science helps lift an otherwise pedestrian plot.”

Down the Darkest Road by Tami Hoag (RH/Dutton; Center Point Large Print; Random House Audio) is the third installment in the Oak Knoll series, exploring the early days of forensic police work through FBI agent Vince Leone’s science-based investigatory skills. PW says, “the major plot twist won’t surprise many readers, and neither the characters nor the cliche-hobbled story line are among Hoag’s best work.”

Sleepwalker by Karen Robards (S&s/Gallery Books; Wheeler Books Large Print; Brilliance Audio) pits a rookie cop against a professional crook when he manages to embroil her in a crime so explosive it could cost both of them their lives, as killers hunt them both, and their only common ground is mutual dislike and distrust.


The Magic Room: A Story About the Love We Wish for Our Daughters by Jeffrey Zaslow (Penguin/Gotham) is a study by a Wall St. Journal columnist of the changing nature of wedlock, based on observations of generations of devoted customers at a Michigan bridal shop. Library Journal says, “Not an examination of today’s marriage industry but a study of individual lives and dreams, this is recommended for casual readers and those with an interest in cultural and social customs concerning marriage, women’s roles, and parent-child relationships.”

The Year’s Best New Holiday Books

Friday, December 16th, 2011

‘Tis the season for holiday books. Below are my favorites of the year’s new titles.

The Twelve Days of Christmas by Lauren Long, $16.99, Penguin/Dial, All Ages

Fine artist, Long, illustrates this classic carol with double-paged lush paintings echoing renaissance masters. A plump partridge is settled amongst golden pears as a maiden hurries down a garden path framed with topiary shaped like turtle doves, swans and a French hen. Hidden in plain site are the previous gifts and a foreshadowings of the next ones. Many of the images are unexpected; the “lords-a-leaping” are knights on horseback. the drummers drumming are toy soldiers woven into a wreath. The final page can be construed as “ a seek and find” as all of the gifts are represented in the painting as the two true lovers are united in a holly festooned boat.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson illustrated by Laura Cornell, Harper, $16.99. All ages.

I generally sneer at picture book adaptations of novels. I mock publishers’ attempts to expand the “brand” in a variety of formats. Then, I…I…I was completely charmed by this retelling of this classic chapter book of the same title. This picture book goes straight to heart of novel. The Herdmans (the original “free range” children) are six kids with no apparent adult supervision ages ten to five. All the other children in the neighborhood know to avoid them, for where ever there is a Herdman; there is trouble. The Herdmans somehow highjack the Christmas pageant despite their complete ignorance of the nativity’s story and elements. Cornell’s cartoonish illustrations capture the mischievous humor of the original.

Chanukah Lights by Michael J. Rosen and paper engineering by Robert Sabuda, Candlewick Press, $34.99. Ages 6 and up (delicate paper engineering)

This pop-up extravaganza follows the Diaspora of the Jewish people though the ages via architectural structures. We witness the first day of Chanukah at the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem. Doves flutter in the archways of the white paper model sharply contrasting with an orange background reminiscent of a sunrise. The second night is portrayed as candles are lit in a desert tent. On the third night we spy the candles lit in a portal of a tall sailing ship. Sabuda creates a sense of time and place by including details like windmills in the distance and towers topped with minarets. Tiny windows display gold flames that count the days in the city (pushcarts) and the country ( tiny sheep on a hill) concluding with a menorah created by a skyline of skyscrapers.

A Very Babymouse Christmas by Jennifer L. Holm & Mathew Holm, Random House. $6.99, ages 7 and up

Fans of the graphic Babymouse series won’t be surprised that this is number fifteen, but will be thrilled as Babymouse counts the minutes to the big day, hoping, wishing and wanting Santa to bring her the latest electronic gadget, The Whizbang™.

Christopher Hitchens Dies

Friday, December 16th, 2011

Writer and iconoclast, Christopher Hitchens died yesterday at 62. The death was announced by the magazine he has written for since 1992, Vanity Fair, which also put together a fitting video tribute, “The Immortal Rejoinders of Christopher Hitchens.”

Hitchens learned he had esophageal cancer while on tour for his memoir, Hitch-22 (Hachette/Twelve, 2010). Despite his disease, he continued writing, even during his last days. The most recent of his 17 books, a collection of essays, Arguably, (Hachette/Twelve) came out in September.

To those who urged him to embrace religion once he knew he was dying, he retorted,

Suppose there were groups of secularists at hospitals who went round the terminally ill and urged them to adopt atheism: “Don’t be a mug all your life. Make your last days the best ones.” People might suppose this was in poor taste.

The Guardian rounds up the tributes that have been flowing in this morning, including a tweet by Salman Rushdie, “Goodbye, my beloved friend. A great voice falls silent. A great heart stops.”

Russell Hoban Dies

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

The author of fifty books for children, including the classic Frances series, Russell Hoban, has died at 86 (via NYT obituary).