New Title Radar: April 30th – May 6

Next week is a big one for memoir and biography, with the much-anticipated fourth installment in Robert Caro‘s biography of Lyndon Johnson, plus memoirs by Dan Rather and Ryan O’Neal, and an oral history of NBC-TV’s triumphant turnaround in the 1990s by former executive Warren Littlefield. It also brings a debut novel by Brandon Jones about human trafficking in North Korea and Nell Freudenberger‘s sophomore novel of cross-cultural marriage. And, new titles are soming from usual suspects Charlayne Harris and Ace Atkins filling in for Robert Spenser, and the latest installments in popular YA series by Kristin Cashore and Rick Riordan.

Watch List

All Woman and Springtime by Brandon Jones (Workman/Algonquin; Highbridge Audio) is a debut novel about two North Korean girls who form an immutable bond when they meet in an orphanage, but are betrayed and sold into prostitution at age 17, taking them on a damaging journey to South Korea and ultimately a brothel in Seattle. LJ calls it “impossible to put down,” adding ”this work is important reading for anyone who cares about the power of literature to engage the world and speak its often frightening truths.”

Critical Success

The Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger (RH/Knopf; Random House Audio) is the author’s second novel of cultural confrontation, this time featuring Amina, a 24 year old Bangladeshi woman who becomes the e-mail bride of George, an electrical engineer in Rochester, NY. It’s heavily anticipated by the critics, as indicated by the number of early reviews in the consumer press. It gets the cover of the NYT Book Review this coming Sunday, Ron Charles reviewed it earlier this week in the Washington Post and Entertainment Weekly gives it a solid A.

Usual Suspects

Deadlocked: A Sookie Stackhouse Novel (Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood #12) by Charlaine Harris (Penguin/Ace Books; Recorded Books; Wheeler Large Print) is the penultimate title in this popular supernatural series, as Sookie Stackhouse and her friends struggle with the consequences of the death of the powerful vampire Victora. PW says, “as loyalties realign and betrayals are unmasked, Harris ably sets the stage for the ensembleas last hurrah.”

Robert B. Parker’s Lullaby: A Spenser Novel by Ace Atkins (Penguin/Putnam; Random House Audio) finds Parker’s PI invesigating a women’s death at the request of her 14 year old daughter. PW says that “Atkins hits all the familiar marks - bantering scenes with Spenseras girlfriend, fisticuffs, heavy-duty backup from the dangerous Hawk – as he offers familiar pleasures. At the same time, he breaks no new ground, avoiding the risk of offending purists and the potential rewards of doing something a bit different with the characters.”

Young Adult

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore (Penguin/Dial Books; Penguin Audiobooks) arrives to the sound of YA librarians and their readers screams of “at last!”  Kirkus says of this followup to Graceling (2008) and Fire (2009), “devastating and heartbreaking, this will be a disappointment for readers looking for a conventional happy ending. But those willing to take the risk will — like Bitterblue — achieve something even more precious: a hopeful beginning.”

The Serpent’s Shadow (Kane Chronicles Series #3) by Rick Riordan (Disney/Hyperion; Thorndike Large Print; Brilliance Audio) is the conclusion to this bestselling YA fantasy series, in which Carter and Sade Kane risk death and the fate of the world to tame the chaos snake with an ancient spell.

Embargoed

Rather Outspoken: My Life in the News by Dan Rather (Hachette/Grand Central; Hachette Large Print; Hachette Audio) reveals that the TV news anchor felt “his lawsuit against his former network was worth it, even though the $70 million breach-of-conduct case was rejected by New York courts,” according to the Associated Press, which broke the embargo on this book, on sale May 1. Kirkus calls it “an engaging grab-bag: part folksy homage to roots, part expose of institutional wrongdoing and part manifesto for a truly free press.”

Nonfiction

The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson by Robert A. Caro (RH/Knopf; Brilliance Audio) is the fourth volume in Caro’s series on Lyndon Johnson, focusing on the years between his senatorship and presidency, when he battled Robert Kennedy for the 1960 Democratic nomination for president, and undertook his unhappy vice presidency. Caro is the subject of a New York Times Magazine profile, and will doubtless get an avalanche of coverage, starting with Entertainment Weekly‘s review (it gets an A-). Kirkus notes, “the fifth volume is in the works, and it is expected to cover Johnson’s election to the White House and his full term, with the conduct of the Vietnam War ceaselessly dogging him.”

Both of Us: My Life with Farrah by Ryan O’Neal (RH/Crown Archtype; Center Point Large Print; Random House Audio) is the story of film actor O’Neal’s enduring love for TV actress Fawcell – from the love that flared when she was married to Lee Major, to their marriage that ended in 1997, and their eventual reunion for three years before Fawcell died from cancer in 2009. The book is excerpted in the new issue of People magazine (5/7).

Top of the Rock: Inside the Rise and Fall of Must See TV by Warren Littlefield and T.R. Pearson (RH/Doubleday; RH Audio; Thorndike Large Print) is an oral history by NBC’s former president of entertainment, with a chorus of voices including Jerry Seinfeld, Kelsey Grammar and Sean Hayes, as they discuss the ups and downs of turning NBC into a multi-billion dollar broadcasting company in the 1990’s. PW says, “these revelatory glimpses of those glory days make this one of the more entertaining books published about the television industry.”

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