The new season comes on strong this week, with new titles by Jayne Ann Krentz, Stuart Woods, Bernard Cornwell, and a collection of Kinsey Malone stories by Sue Grafton. In nonfiction, a new memoir by actress Wendy Lawless mines the rich material of fraught mother/daughter relationships. On our Watch List for the week is a novel aimed at Downton Abbey fans.
A British import touted as perfect for Downton Abbey fans, this debut novel by a prolific writer on interior design, received high praise in the U.K., including this from The Guardian — “Ashenden is an affecting, intelligent debut which goes way beyond posh country house antics. Framed by chapters set in 2010, when middle-aged Charlie Minton and his sister unexpectedly inherit an estate from their aunt, each significant episode in the house’s history is brought to life.” Booklist, Kirkus and LJ are all enthusiasts, but PW sniffs that it is a “tedious historical exploration of an 18th-century English estate house.” We hear some people don’t get the appeal of Downton Abbey, either.
Chanel Bonfire, Wendy Lawless, (S&S/Gallery Books; Tantor Audio)
This Mommie-Dearest type memoir sports a memorable title (could one own enough Chanel clothes for a bonfire?). Television and Broadway actress Wendy Lawless writes about her painful relationship with her mother who “had the ice queen beauty of a Hitchcock heroine and the cold heart to match.” It’s both an O, The Oprah Magazine and an Indie Next pick for January.
The Bughouse Affair, Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini, (Macmillan/Forge; AudioGo)
Two mystery favorites team up for this first in the Carpenter and Quincannon series of lighthearted historical mysteries. Prepub reviews call it delightful.
The Last Runaway, Tracy Chevalier, (Penguin/Dutton. Penguin Audio)
Chevalier, an American living in London, is known for her historical novels set in Europe and Great Britain. Her background as a graduate of Oberlin College shows here in a novel about runaway slaves in Ohio in the 1860′s. The first book of the new year to be reviewed on NPR, it is on The Atlantic‘s list of “Books to Look Forward to in 2013.” and on O, The Oprah Magazine‘s must-reads for January.
The King Years: Historic Moments in the Civil Rights Movement, Taylor Branch, (Simon & Schuster)
The author’s three-volume history of the Martin Luther King years, the first of which, Parting the Waters, won a Pulitzer Prize, is considered a masterpiece. Here, it’s made more accessible to a wider audience by focusing on the pivotal moments from those three volumes.
My Share of the Task, General Stanley McChrystal, (Penguin/Portfolio)
The General, who was relieved of command of the forces in Afghanistan in June 2010, after a Rolling Stone magazine profile (he was succeeded by General Patraeus, who has suffered his own negative media attention) is scheduled to appear on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Tuesday to talk about his memoir.
The Universe Within, Neil Shubin, (RH/Pantheon; BOT)
The paleontologist, evolutionary biologist and popular science writer is scheduled to appear on The Colbert Report on Wednesday.
Just One Day, Gayle Forman, (Penguin/Dutton)
The much-anticipated next book after the author’s popular If I Stay and Where She Went. It’s the first of two; a companion novel follows next year. Entertainment Weekly‘s “Shelf Life” blog offers an excerpt.
What We Saw At Night, Jacquelyn Mitchard, (Soho Teen; AudioGo)
Weary of vampires, zombies, suicidal girls and dystopian fights to the death? Soho Teen launches a line of YA mysteries, with this first of a projected trilogy by best selling author Mitchard. A group of teenaged friends all suffer from a fatal allergy to light and are only able to go out at night. For some reason, they decide to take up the extreme sport of parkour, climbing buildings and leaping off them. During one of their nights out, they witness a murder. Prepub reviews complain that this one ends with a cliffhanger, setting up the next book in the series.
1356, Bernard Cornwell, (Harper; HarperAudio; HarperLuxe)
A Memory of Light, Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (Macmillan/Tor) – The 14th and final book in The Wheel of Time saga which began in 1990, has spent 103 days on the Amazon Top 100. Library holds are relatively light, however.