With her typical grace, Francine Fialkoff signs off as Editor-in-Chief of Library Journal with her “Farewell Editorial” today, giving most of the credit to others for her many accomplishments.
As a colleague and friend, I know how passionate she is about the importance of libraries and librarians. Her awe at the many creative ways librarians serve their communities is always fun to see. One of her greatest joys is shining a light on talent, which led to the invention of LJ‘s annual “Movers & Shakers” awards.
Under her leadership, the magazine has evolved, becoming more vital to the library world, while continuing to promote the principles it has long advocated; defense of the first ammendment and readers’ rights, dedication to public service and a belief that libraries are essential to creating communities.
She promises that she will continue to work with libraries in some capacity; we’re looking forward to what that will be.
Lots of titles to watch next week, including librarian favorites from rising novelists Emma Straub and Tatjana Soli, Spanish sci-fi bestseller Felix J. Palma, and British debut author MorganMcCarthy. Usual suspects include Zadie Smith, James Patterson, Dale Brown and Clive Cussler and Thomas Perry – plus Elizabeth George makes her YA debut.
After dominating news all this week, No Easy Day, the eyewitness account of the killing of bin Laden is scheduled to arrive on Tuesday, but the Pentagon has warned that the author is in breach of the non-disclosure agreements he signed when he became a Navy SEAL and that “Further public dissemination of your book will aggravate your breach and violation of your agreements.”
Christopher Hitchens posthumously delivers his last words on mortality, Gretchen Rubin shares more tried and true advice on cultivated happiness, and NBA superstar Dwyane Wade reflects on his rise as a basketball player and his role as a father.
Breedby Scott Spencer writing as Chase Novak (Hachette/ Mulholland Books; Hachette Audio) is a medical thriller about an infertile couple who transform themselves into parents via reproductive technology, but it has an unexpected side effect, causing them to develop strange appetites that scare their twin children. Janet Maslin gave it an early review in Thursday’s New York Times, in which she calls Spencer the “gently literary author still best remembered for the lush prose of his 1979 Endless Love…[who has] has started writing in a pulpier and more diabolical vein.” She that, while it displays “keen antennas for sensory detail,” it is “a gruesome book, a full-bore foray into the horror genre, so literary loveliness goes only so far. It is probably best avoided by anyone not wishing to know exactly what it’s like to eat a baby pigeon.” The cover sports a blurb from Stephen King, “By turns terrifying and blackly funny, Breed is a total blast.” Entertainment Weekly, however, gives it just a “B,” saying, “Breed is being touted as a modern-day Rosemary’s Baby, but Spencer… delivers the camp better than he does the scares.” A followup, Brood, is in the works.
John Saturnall’s Feast by Lawrence Norfolk (Grove Press) is a historical novel set in 17th century England about a boy who’s orphaned when his mother is accused of being a witch. He goes on to become the greatest cook of his generation. PW says, “Known for intellectual prose and complex plots, Norfolk this time out attempts to interweave time and senses, reality and myth, rewarding steadfast readers with savory recipes and a bittersweet upstairs-downstairs love story.” It was a BEA Librarian’s Shout ‘n’ Share pick, and is an Indie Next pick for September.
Norfolk offers a look at the surprising sophistication of English cooking in the 17th C:
The Map of the Sky by Felix J.Palma (S&S/Atria) is the Spanish author’s sequel to his bestselling take-off on H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine. Here, the action begins when a New York socialite challenges her fiance to recreate Wells’ The War of the Worlds, setting off a chain reaction across time and space. LJ says, “Palma has again managed to infuse something very familiar with a new edge and life.” This one also kicked up some buzz on GalleyChat in August, where a librarian said that the novel “brings War of the Worlds to life.”
The Forgetting Tree by Tatjana Soli (St. Martin’s Press; Tantor Media; Thorndike Large Print) was a BEA Shout ‘n’ Share pick for Cuyahoga’s Wendy Bartlett. Here’s her pitch: “This book opens with a family tragedy that occurs in the first few pages. The rest of this thoughtful book is about how we heal–or don’t–after an unspeakable tragedy. It’s set on a citrus ranch in Southern California. Soli’s first book, The Lotus-Eaters, did very well with our customers, and was really good for book discussion. She reminds me of a young Barbara Kingsolver. Her language is simple but not plain, her characters are extremely well drawn, and the setting is like a movie it’s so easy to visualize.”
The Other Half of MebyMorganMcCarthy (S&S/Free Press) is a paperback original about two siblings who grow up in a dysfunctional aristocratic English family in Wales with secrets that go back for generations. Robin Beerbower, our go-to librarian for scary titles, says this one “is being compared to Ian McEwan’s Atonement, but I’m finding it more compelling than that. The pacing is a bit slow but it features a completely unreliable but fascinating narrator and the gorgeous writing kept me engrossed.”
NW by Zadie Smith (Penguin Press; Penguin Audiobooks) is Smith’s first novel in seven years and one of the most anticipated titles of the early fall (it even gets an early review from BusinessWeek). It focuses on three characters who have risen above their childhoods in a Northwest London housing estate in the 1970s, with varying degrees of success. Michiko Kakutani, in the NYT, expresses disappointment, calling it a “much smaller, more meager book” than Smith’s critically acclaimed debut, White Teeth. In the Washington Post, Ron Charles expresses sympathy for the author, who, “Ever since… her dazzling debut in 2000, Zadie Smith has labored under an enviable weight of critical and popular expectations.” He acknowledges that the new novel it difficult, but worth the effort: “At times, reading NW is like running past a fence, catching only strips of light from the scene on the other side. Smith makes no accommodation for the distracted reader — or even the reader who demands a clear itinerary. But if you’re willing to let it work on you, to hear all these voices and allow the details to come into focus when Smith wants them to, you’ll be privy to an extraordinary vision of our age.” Smith spoke out this week to protest the possible closing of hundreds of local libraries in Great Britain.
Zoo by James Patterson (Hachette/Little Brown; Hachette Audio) revolves around Jackson Oz, a young biologist, who witnesses a coordinated lion ambush in Africa that spurs him to heroic action.
The Tombs by Clive Cussler and Thomas Perry (Penguin/Putnam; Thorndike Press; Penguin Audiobooks) is the fourth outing with multi-millionaire treasure hunters Sam and Remi Fargo, who join an archaeologist in excavating an ancient Hungarian battlefield. PW says, “this adventure series stands as one of the crown jewels in the Cussler empire.”
The Edge of Nowhere by Elizabeth George (Penguin/Viking) is the veteran mystery author’s first YA novel, the start of a series about a psychic 14 year-old girl who must fend for herself after her mother runs away from her stepfather. Booklist says, “what’s best here are the characters, both young and adult. There are no stereotypes, and their humanity keeps the story moving, even when the plot is tied in knots.”
Mortalityby Christopher Hitchens (Hachette/Twelve; Twelve; Hachette Audio) is the lauded cultural critic’s look at illness, suffering, cancer etiquette, religion and his own incipient death from esophageal cancer in December 2011. PW says, “Hitchens’ powerful voice compels us to consider carefully the small measures by which we live every day and to cherish them.” 125,000 copies.
A Father First: How My Life Became Bigger Than Basketballby Dwyane Wade (HarpreCollins/Morrow) is a memoir by the NBA superstar, Miami Heat player and divorced single dad of two sons that charts his upbringing by his drug-addicted mother on Chicago’s South Side. Kirkus says, ” A refreshing chronicle of a fervent sportsman with his head and heart in all the right places.”
At #16 and marked as “on the rise” is The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin (Harper; Thorndike Large Print), a debut about a lonely widowed orchard owner, whose life is transformed when two pregnant escapees from the local brothel appear on his farm. NPR reviewed it last week, calling it “a stunning accomplishment, hypnotic in its storytelling power, by turns lyrical and gritty, and filled with marvels. Coplin displays a dazzling sense of craftsmanship, and a talent for creating characters vivid and true.” Holds are heavy in several parts of the country, with the heaviest in the NorthWest, where the author grew up and the book is set.
It’s estimated that 75% of the public libraries in the US lend ebooks, a fact many people are surprised to hear.
NPR’s Diane Rehm Show gave exposure to the practice yesterday with a full program devoted to the subject. Responding to a question about why some publishers don’t make ebooks available to libraries, Jeremy Greenfield, editorial director of Digital Book World, said they are worried that lending will result in reduced sales. Carrie Russell, from ALA’s Office of Information Technology, countered that libraries are “confused by that argument since the evidence shows that library borrowers are the same people who buy,” referring to Library Journal‘s “Patron Profiles” and a Pew study.
Later in the show Greenfield said, based on his meetings with publishers, there is good news for libraries; publishers who make their ebooks available to libraries believe it helps, rather than hurts, their business and are planning to continue as well as expand their programs. In the coming year or two, he expects to see other publishers make their ebooks available to libraries.
However, he said, some publishers look at the studies skeptically, believing that library borrowers buy ebooks only when they are unavailable through the library and that a change in policy would result in fewer sales.
Also featured on the show were Vailey Oehlke, Director Multnomah County Library and Allan Adler of the AAP.
At least a few copies are already out. Both The Huffington Post and the Associated Press claim to have purchased copies in bookstores and report that some of the book’s details contradict official descriptions of bin Laden’s killing.
The author was reportedly in talks with studios last week about a film adaptation. Dreamsworks has issued a statement yesterday, saying, “Neither Steven Spielberg, DreamWorks Studios or DreamWorks Television will be optioning Mark Owen’s book No Easy Day.”
Remember when there were two movies about writer Truman Capote, one of them with Toby Jones in the lead role?
We will soon be treated to two movies about director Alfred Hitchcock, one of them with Toby Jones in the lead role. Both are based on books.
The Girl, which airs on HBO on October 20th, is about Hitchcock’s relationship with Tippi Hedren, the star of The Birds. Sienna Miller plays Hedren and Toby Jones, the driector. It is based on Donald Spoto’s Spellbound By Beauty (RH/Three Rivers), which examines Hitchcock’s obsessive fascination with all his leading ladies.
Reviews are flowing in, most of them positive, for The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison (Workman/Algonquin;Highbridge Audio; Thorndike Large Print). Janet Maslin, in today’s NYT, describes the main character as an appealing, nearly 40-year-old loser saddled with a loser’s name, Ben Benjamin, who says of his life, “Look, I didn’t plan any of this. I planned like hell for something else entirely.”
Jennifer Weiner seems to get payback in her review on the NPR Web site. Weiner, along with Jodi Picoult, created a literary furor last year, when in the Huffington Post, they objected to the attention being paid to Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, pointing out that,“when a man writes about family and feelings, it’s literature with a capital L, but when a woman considers the same topics, it’s romance, or a beach book – in short, it’s something unworthy of a serious critic’s attention.”
She’s not a fan of Fundamentals. “Your enjoyment of the book… will be largely predicated on how much you like listening in on can-you-top-this, gross-out sex talk, and ruefully self-demeaning descriptions of the female of the species.” She does admit, however, that “the writing can be lovely” and that Ben’s relationship with Trevor, the wheelchair-bound young man under his care, “is the strongest section of the book…[as it] blossoms into a thing of strange beauty.”
The upcoming book about the killing of Osama bin Laden, No Easy Day, is not the first on the subject nor will it be the last, it just has the major advantage of being an unauthorized account by an eyewitness (it is currently being reviewed by the Pentagon; the CIA has also stated that they have a copy).
Coming this fall is another book on the raid, this one by Black Hawk Down author, Mark Bowden, notes Publishers Weekly. Called The Finish: The Killing of Osama Bin Laden(Atlantic Monthly; Brilliance Audio), it’s scheduled for release on Oct. 16, a month after the 9/11 pub. date for No Easy Day. The book has been embargoed pending an agreement with a “major media outlet” to break the news in the book.
Grove Atlantic publisher Morgan Entrekin tells PW that the two books are complementary. “Mark will be able to put this in a bigger context… [he's] been covering the special forces for 15 years. He’s probably the pre-eminent reporter on special forces” and that No Easy Day will whet appetites for more analysis. A first-copy printing of 125,000 is planned.
In a starred review, Booklist says that David Levithan in his YA novel, Every Day (RH/ Knopf Books for Young Readers; Listening Library; releases tomorrow), has created “an irresistible premise that is sure to captivate readers, ” about a 16-year-boy who wakes up each morning in a new body but still in love with the same girl and trying to find his way back to her. The reviewer admits, however, that “the story requires a willing suspension of disbelief.”
Evidently NYT columnist Frank Bruni isn’t willing. In a review in the special “Back to School” childrens books section of Sunday’s NYT Book Review, he duns the book for being “wantonly sentimental” and filled with ”unnecessary subplots and too many gimmicky passages.”
He does admit, however, that there are elements that are likely to make the book the hit; “Levithan’s talent for empathy, which is paired in the best parts of the book with a persuasive optimism about the odds for happiness and for true love.” Bruni notes that the novel’s central question, “the degree to which love can be bigger than, or a slave to, corporeal realities…makes special sense in a story about teenagers, written for teenagers. The teenage years are when so many of us feel most self-consciously hostage to our imperfect shapes and cosmetic peculiarities, raging against them and wondering if someone might possibly love us despite them.”
In addition to being an author, Levithan is publisher and editorial director at Scholastic. He came up with the idea for 39 Clues and the new Infinity Ring series and is the editor of The Hunger Games. Below, he reads from Every Day.
Soon after it was revealed that the pseudonymous author “Mark Owen” is actually the 36-year-old, recently retired Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette, he was threatened with prosecution by Adm. Bill McRaven if he reveals classified secrets and al Qaeda posted his photo on their site, with the caption, “the dog who murdered the martyr Sheikh Osama bin Laden.”
Meanwhile, Bissonnette has been in meetings with Steven Spielberg, among others, about a film adaptation, according to the New York Post. The author is scheduled for a media blitz the week the book is published that includes 60 Minutes and the Today Show (it hasn’t been announced whether he will still appear in disguise as originally planned) and publisher Penguin/Dutton has increased the print run from 300,000 to 400,000. Due to the heavy embargo, many libraries have not yet ordered the book.
The studio that revived its fortunes with the Twilight series, Summit Entertainment (now owned by Lionsgate, which is behind a little teen series of their own, The Hunger Games), is stepping up production for a new YA franchise.
After acquiring the rights to Veronica Roth’s Divergent (HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books) before publication in 2011, Summit now plans to begin filming this coming March with a release date in the spring of 2014. They are reportedly in talks with Neil Burger to direct. Burger’s most recent film Limitless, came out last year, and was also based on a book, the 2003 techno-thriller, The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn.
The second book in Veronica Roth’s series, Insurgent, came out in May. A third will be released sometime in Fall 2013 and does not yet have a title.
Marciuliano, when not channeling feline bards, writes the comic strip Sally Forth. He invites people to send him photos of their cats reading the book:
Send a photo of your erudite and discerning kitty reading the book to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will post it on [my blog], on the home page, in Facebook, and through Twitter. Plus, I would love it if you could post your photo through the customer share link at the the I Could Pee on This Amazon page. Maybe the cats could even form a book club.”
And please cc: EarlyWord with your photos. In fact, we’d love a photo of your cat reading ANY book.
I’m trying to get a shot of my gray tabby reading Fifty Shades. She’s confused; it doesn’t seem to be about her.
An author to watch this week is Jonathan Evison, whose emotional presentation at the AAP’s Librarians Lunch during BEA won over the audience. In adult fiction, usual suspects include Mitch Albom, Tess Gerritson, Louise Penny, Anne Perry and Richard Kadrey. The big news, however, is in books for younger readers. David Levithan is back with a much-anticipated YA title expected to have strong crossover appeal. In children’s books, there are new titles from Dav Pilkey, James Dashner, and Stan Berenstain and Jan Berenstain.
Kept in the Dark by Penny Hancock (Penguin/Plume pbk original; Blackstone Audiobooks) is a suspense novel about a middle aged woman who kidnaps her best friend’s 15 year-old nephew, after he awakens her memories of an intense teenage affair. Librarian Robin Beerbower, who has an eye for scary titles (she’s championed author Chelsea Cain, and was an early proponent of Before I Go To Sleep as well as Gone Girl) made it one of her BEA Shout ‘n’ Share picks. Booklist says, “This invites comparison to John Fowles’ The Collector, but Hancock gives her narrator, Sonia, a more complex motive, crafting a narrative that grows darker as its level of tension builds. An accomplished first novel that lingers in memory.” PW calls it a “stunning debut” and praises the gothic atmosphere. But Kirkus, throws cold water on the party, “unfortunately the secret at the novel’s core is one the first-person narrator could have revealed all along, but doesn’t, making the ending seem contrived.”
The Time Keeperby Mitch Albom (Hyperion; Thorndike Large Print) marks a return to fiction by the author of Tuesdays With Morrie and Five People You Meet in Heaven. This fable is about Father Time, who returns to Earth to liberate us by teaching the true meaning of time, with the help of a teenage girl and an old business man.
Last to Die: A Rizzoli & Isles Novel by Tess Gerritsen (RH/Ballantine; Brilliance Audio)is the 10th thriller featuring Det. Jane Rizzoli of the Boston PD and her friend, pathologist Maura Isles. This time, they’re on the trail of a man who murders the families, but allows their foster children to survive. LJ notes, “this book will appear just as the third season of TNT’s successful Rizzoli & Isles TV series is ending, so fans will be primed.”
The Beautiful Mystery: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novelby Louise Penny (Macmillan/Minotaur Books, Macmillan Audio; Thorndike Large Print) is the eighth novel featuring Chief Insp. Armand Gamache of the Quebec Surete. This time, he investigates the murder of a choirmaster in a monastery that has produced a hit CD of Gregorian Chants. PW says, “a captivating whodunit plot, a clever fair-play clue concealed in plain view, and the deft use of humor to lighten the story’s dark patches.”
A Sunless Sea: A William Monk Novelby Anne Perry (RH/Ballantine; Thorndike Large Print) is the 18th Victorian historical about the Commander of the Thames River Police. Here, he investigates murders linked to the controversial opium trade. Kirkus calls it, “lumbering, repetitive and preachy. But the final surprise packs a punch.”
Devil Said Bang:by Richard Kadrey (Harper Voyager) is the fourth installment in the series that’s popular with librarians, about a man who breaks out of Hell – only this time he’s taking over Lucifer’s job. PW says this “action-packed and bombshell-laden blend of dark fantasy, crime fiction, and Hellish sitcom is utterly readable.”
Every Day by David Levithan (RH/ Knopf Books for Young Readers; Listening Library) is heavily anticipated by librarians on both our YA and adult GalleyChats. It’s about A, who wakes every morning in a new body – sometimes male, sometimes female, gay, straight, ill or well. The only constant is being 16 years old. Booklist calls it “a study in style, an exercise in imagination, and an opportunity for readers themselves to occupy another life, that of A himself.”
Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousersby Dav Pilkey (Scholastic/Blue Sky Press) the ninth novela in this major series is proof positive that author Pilkey isn’t running dry, according to PW and Kirkus, which says this “overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.” 1,000,000 copies.
Infinity Ring #1: A Mutiny in Timeby James Dashner (Scholastic; Scholastic Audio) is a multi-media thriller series modeled on The 39 Clues, that begins when three teens time-travel back to 1492, to help fix a broken moment in history. Booklist says, “the standard first-volume hazards (slow start, no resolution) bedevil the text and are exacerbated by underdeveloped characters. Still, the yet-to-be-revealed interactive-package experience seems certain to buoy the ship.” 300,000 copies. The Salt Lake City Public Library will host the 8/29 launch party.
Nothing Ever Happens at the South Poleby Stan Berenstain and Jan Berenstain (HarperCollins) resurrects the famous duo’s second manuscript, which was left in a drawer when their first book about the Berenstain Bears took off. Kirkus says, “while the concept is clever, the unwieldy, often awkward verse ensures that this effort will place a distant second to the many tales featuring those Bears.” 100,000 copies.
Up All Night: My Life and Times in Rock Radioby Carol Miller (HarperCollins/Ecco) is a memoir by one of New York’s best known female DJs at the height of the rock scene, the includes reminiscences of dating Stephen Tyler and introducing Bruce Springsteen to New York audiences, as well as the author’s struggles with divorce, uterine and breast cancer. It was a favorite at this year’s BEA Shout ‘n’ Share. Kirkus says, “Miller’s voice remains upbeat and energetic, despite the shadow of her family’s mysterious health issues.”
J.K. Rowling’s only U.S. appearance for her forthcoming adult title, The Casual Vacancy, (Hachette/Little, Brown; 9/27) will be held in New York on Oct. 16, when she joins State of Wonderauthor Ann Patchett for a conversation at Lincoln Center. Tickets, which include a copy of the book will begin selling on Sept. 10.
The book is now at #17 on Amazon’s sales rankings.