Next week brings a comic sci-fi debut from Internet entrepreneur Rob Reid, along with new novels from breakout authors John Boyne and Deborah Harkness. In nonfiction, there’s a harrowing Iraq war memoir by Air Force veteran Brian Castner, and James Carville and Stan Greenberg talk Democratic strategy for November. Returning literary favorites include Carlos Ruoz Zafón, Stephen Carter and Kurt Anderson. And usual suspects include Gigi Levangie Grazer, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Catherine Coulter, Linda Fairstein, James Patterson, Andrew Gross and Meg Cabot, plus YA author Eoin Colfer.
Year Zero by Rob Reid (RH/Del Rey; RH digital-only audio on OverDrive) is a satire about the movie industry, by someone who knows the business intimately (he’s the founder of the online music company, Listen.com).
It’s recommended by Entertainment Weekly for those who love The Hitchhiker”s Guide to the Galaxy. They also offer an exclusive interview with the author by John Hodgman, who reads the audio, a digital-only release (on OverDrive).
That interview isn’t revealing, but the trailer gives a good sense of the book’s tone.
The Absolutist by John Boyne (Other Press) is an novel about a WWI veteran’s reflections over 60 years on his brief, forbidden love affair in the trenches with a fellow soldier who died, by the Irish author of the YA hit The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. PW calls it “a relentlessly tragic yet beautifully crafted novel.” It got several shouts from librarians at the BEA Shout ‘n’ Share program, with Barbara Genco noting that the WWI setting makes it a good bet for fans of Downton Abbey. The publisher has a different take, comparing it to Atonement and Brokeback Mountain.
Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness (Penguin/Viking; Thorndike Large Print; Penguin Audiobooks) is the highly anticipated sequel to the hit debut A Discovery of Witches. This time, the action is set in Elizabethan England, where vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont and witch historian Diana Bishop search for an enchanted manuscript. Entertainment Weekly gives it a B+, a mixed grade because the story takes a while to gain momentum, but when it does, “it enchants.” People magazine concurs, giving it 3 of a possible 4 stars, saying there are “too many story lines, too many shifting time periods and a confusing slew of new characters.” Even so, it “delivers enough romance and excitement to keep the pages turning. Readers will devout it, chaos and all.”
The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (Harper; HarperAudio; HarperLuxe) brings together characters from The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel’s Game, who must face a mysterious stranger who visits the Sempere bookshop, and threatens to reveal a secret.
The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln by Stephen Carter (RH/Knopf; Random House Audio) is a work of alternate history by the Yale Law professor and bestselling author of The Emperor of Ocean Park that explores what would have happened if President Abraham Lincoln had not been assassinated. (Hint: Lincoln is accused of violating the Constitution in his conduct of the Civil War and faces impeachment.) PW says, “this is Lincoln by way of Dan Brown, complete with ciphers and conspiracies and breathless escapes, only not so breathless, since Carter lacks Brown’s talent for narrative momentum.”
True Believers by Kurt Anderson (Random House; Random House Audio) is a cultural study of a judge who opts out of consideration for a Supreme Court seat because of events in her youth, giving the novelist and host of the award-winning Studio 360 public radio show ample ground for exploring the cultural contradictions of the last 50 years. LJ says, “a good read both for those who remember the [60s] era and for those who wish to better understand that time and its social and political connections to today.”
The After Wife by Gigi Levangie Grazer (RH/Ballantine; Center Point Large Print; Random House Audio) is the story of a recently widowed woman who discovers she can talk to the dead. It got a hearty endorsement on the Librarians’ Shout ‘n’ Share panel at BEA this year from Wendy Bartlett, head of collection development at Cuyahoga County PL. As we noted earlier, Wendy found The After Wife so hilarious that she ordered extra copies.
The Great Escape by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (HarperCollins/Morrow; Thorndike Large Print; HarperAudio) recounts the further adventures of Lucy Jorik, daughter of the former U.S. President, who left her perfect fiance at the altar to explore her alter ego, a biker chick named Viper. LJ says, “with brilliant dialog, sassy humor, and laserlike insight into what makes people tick, Phillips gifts readers with an engrossing, beautifully written romance that satisfies on all levels.”
Backfire (FBI Series #16) by Catherine Coulter (Penguin/Putnam; Thorndike Large Print; Brilliance Audio) finds husband-and-wife FBI agents Dillon Savich and Lacey Sherlock pursuing a killer who shoots a San Francisco judge. PW says, “Coulter mixes romance, strong family ties, narrow misses, and narrower escapes as well as some twists that strain credulity to the breaking point. Series fans will applaud the strong female leads and the nifty teamwork of Savich and Sherlock.”
Night Watch by Linda Fairstein (Penguin/Dutton; Thorndike Large Print; Penguin Audio) has Manhattan Sex Crimes prosecutor Alexandra Cooper probing the underside of New York’s fanciest restaurants, based on evidence in a rape case involving director of the World Economic Bureau and a hotel maid. Kirkus says, “not surprisingly, the case ripped from the headlines is much more absorbing than the tale of restaurant malfeasance and [Cooper's] imperiled love. Alex’s 14th is distinctly below average for this bestselling series.”
I, Michael Bennett by James Patterson (Hachette/Little, Brown; Hachette Large Print; Hachette Audio) is the fifth installment in the series featuring Detective Michael Bennett, this time featuring South American crime lord who brings new violence to Manhattan.
15 Seconds by Andrew Gross (HarperCollins/Morrow; Harperluxe) is a stand-alone thriller that explores an accidental shooting that leaves an innocent participant as the target of a huge police manhunt. Booklist says “Gross, who has collaborated with James Patterson on five best-sellers, turns out a page-turning, roller-coaster of a novel with a likable if sometimes foolish protagonist.”
Size 12 and Ready to Rock: A Heather Wells Mystery by Meg Cabot (HarperCollins/Morrow; Audio, Dreamscape Media) is latest installment in this ongoing paperback original series. Here, New York College Resident Dorm Director Heather Wells investigates a case with her fiance that involves her ex’s new wife. PW says, “Readers of Cabot’s blog will recognize Heather, with her hilarious pop culture references and dry humor. A good read, though fans might find the plot disappointing in the context of the big picture.”
Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian by Eoin Colfer (Disney/Hyperion; Audio, RH/Listening Library) is the eighth and final installment in the popular series, in which the evil pixie Opal Koboi infuses Artemis’s brothers with the spirits of dead warriors, making them more annoying than ever.
The Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life That Follows by Brian Castner (RH/Doubleday; Center Point Large Print; Random House Audio) recounts the author’s years as an air force officer in Saudi Arabia in 2001, and Iraq in 2005 and 2006, where he earned a Bronze Star and performed the “long walk” to dismantle bombs by hand and in short order, when robots failed. Kirkus calls it, “scarifying stuff, without any mawkishness or dumb machismo–not quite on the level of Jarhead, but absolutely worth reading.”
It’s The Middle Class, Stupid! by James Carville and Stan Greenberg (Penguin/Blue Rider Press; Penguin Audio) brings together liberal talking head Carville and pollster Greenberg to discuss why Democrats must focus on the middle class to win in November. Kirkus says, “they are refreshingly specific in some of their policy recommendations in areas such as energy investment and campaign finance reform. For Democratic political junkies who enjoy straight-talk policy discussion.” 125,000 copy first printing.