Archive for June, 2015

Amazon Editors:
Best Books of the Year (So Far)

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

Today the Amazon editors released their annual mid-year review, the Best Books of the Year So Far. In past years, the list has brought new attention to the titles picked (and, a benefit for Amazon, caused several of the titles move up their sales rankings).

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 7.40.38 AMThe editors’ top pick is Helen Macdonald’s H is for Hawk (Grove Press; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample). We covered it extensively as it soared to #4 on the NYT Hardcover Nonfiction best seller list. It fell off just recently – Amazon’s attention may put it back on.

9781455599899_acfa2Nineteen other titles round out their top picks; including our Crystal Ball prediction and BEA fave, Saint Mazie (Hachette/Grand Central; Hachette Audio; OverDrive Sample), by Jami Attenberg.

Little surprise that big names such as Kristin Hannah and Olen Steinhauer appear, but it is nice to see so many debut authors selected. Just over half of the top titles are first works, including books by Aline OhanesianMary Norris and Lauren Acampora, whose book, The Wonder Garden (Grove, May) was a BEA Shout ‘n’ Share pick by Jen Dayton, Darien Public Library, who described it Screen Shot 2015-06-24 at 10.22.38 AMas, ” Short stories that read like a novel. Each can stand alone, but you’ll be so intrigued by each character that you’ll want to read them all.”

The rest of Amazon’s picks are divided into sixteen subjects, including a timely top audiobook pick – the first unabridged US recording of Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park (Brilliance Audio, which is owned by Amazon) read by Scott Brick.


Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

9780147515018_5d27cIt doesn’t have a director or cast yet, but that hasn’t stopped Universal Pictures from announcing that it will release Let It Snow on Dec. 9, 2016.

The film is based on a collection of three linked short stories by Maureen Johnson, John Green and Lauren Myracle (Penguin/Speak, pbk original, 2008), all of which take place on the same day during a snow storm.

CAPTIVE, Trailer

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

Faith-based movies and tv shows have become significant money makers, so much so that the Hollywood trade publication Variety sponsors an event titled “PURPOSE: The Family Entertainment & Faith-Based Summit.”

One of the keynote speakers this year will be David Oyelowo, who starred as Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma. According to Variety, he is a devout Christian, who only takes roles that reflect well on his beliefs.

In the upcoming movie Captive, he plays the real-life Brian Nichols, an escaped convict who murdered four people and took Ashley Smith as hostage in the process. By reading to Nichols from Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Life, (Zondervan,2002), Ashley (played by Kate Mara) managed to talk Nichols into turning himself in. She then wrote an account of the experience, Unlikely Angel: The Untold Story Of The Atlanta Hostage Hero (HarperCollins/Zondervan, 2005), on which the movie is based.

The movie is being released by Paramount on 9/18/2015. The trailer was just released:


Captive : The Untold Story of the Atlanta Hostage Hero
Ashley Smith
HarperCollins/Morrow: August 18, 2015
Paperback, $14.99 USD, $18.50 CAD

But the book that may get the biggest boost  from the movie. is The Purpose Driven Life,


Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

Based on the extraordinary life of Gertrude Bell, often called “the female Lawrence of Arabia,” the international trailer has been released for Werner Herzog’s Queen of the Desert, leading up to its opening in Germany this fall (no U.S. release date has been announced).

The movie stars Nicole Kidman as Bell, with Robert Pattinson as T.E. Lawrence. Also starring are James Franco and Damian Lewis.

Reviews were not kind when it was shown at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year. IndieWire ‘s headline stated unequivocally that it’s “Werner Herzog’s Worst Movie in Years” and Variety complained, “Herzog has seldom been accused of subtlety, but this particular narrative is actually so understated, it will have to be handled as a specialty title in most territories.”

The movie is not based on a specific title, but several recent bios of Bell are available, as well as her own writings. Penguin is releasing a collection in August that refers to the movie:

9780143107378_4df42A Woman in Arabia: The Writings of the Queen of the Desert

Gertrude Bell, Georgina Howell (Edited by), Georgina Howell (Introduction by)
Penguin Classics: August 11, 2015
USD, $19.00 CAD, £9.99




Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

The youngest Nobel Prize winner in history, Malala Yousafzai is the subject of the documentary He Named Me Malala, directed by Davis Guggenheim who won an Oscar for another documentary, An Inconvenient Truth.

The film will debut on October 2nd. The trailer was just released.

It debuted on The Daily Show.with Jon Stewart on Thursday night.

 I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban was published in 2013 (Hachette/Little, Brown; Hachette Audio).

It was also published in an edition for younger readers, I Am Malala : How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World (Young Readers Edition), Malala Yousafzai, Patricia McCormick (Hachette/Little, Brown Young Readers, 2014).

Holds Alert: DOWN THE

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 10.01.17 AMLibraries that bought Holly Madison’s new memoir, Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny (Harper/Dey Street Books; HarperCollins Publishers and Blackstone Audio) are seeing soaring holds.

Madison, once a Playboy bunny and now a reality TV star, is pushing hard for a TV movie deal, telling E! she hopes Lily James (of Cinderella and Downton Abbey fame) would star.

Of course, all of this may just be wishful thinking by Madison, but she is a skilled promoter and already has a TV show (after Dancing with the Stars and The Girls Next Door), so she may get her wish, if not her fairy tale casting.

Hold ratios are deep in the red where libraries bought lightly and attention is still going strong with an appearance today on Good Morning America and reaction coming from Hugh Hefner in response to her allegations about life in the Playboy Mansion.

Author James Salter Dies

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 12.02.19 PM“Life passes into pages if it passes into anything” said author James Salter in his 1997 memoir Burning the Days (RH/Vintage; Brilliance Audio; OverDrive Sample). He died on Friday at age 90.

Many readers might not know of him. His books may not have achieved big sales, but the many observances of his passing, which uniformly offer high praise for his consummate skills, are, somewhat ironically, sending his books rising on the Amazon charts.

Salter is called an underappreciated master craftsman in many tributes:

Richard Ford summarizes Salter’s influence in a 2013 New Yorker profile, “It is an article of faith among readers of fiction that James Salter writes American sentences better than anyone writing today.”

Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 12.05.03 PM  Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 12.05.29 PM  Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 12.05.54 PM

Salter’s most recent book is the 2013 novel All That Is (RH/Knopf; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample). He broke onto the literary scene in the late 1950s and is perhaps best known for the 1967 novel Sport and a Pastime (Macmillan/FSG; OverDrive Sample) and Light Years (RH/Vintage; OverDrive Sample) published in 1975. He also wrote for Hollywood (or, as Dealine puts it, “indulged an ultimately unsatisfactory flirtation with Hollywood”), for projects starring Robert Mitchum (The Hunters) and Robert Redford (Downhill Racer).


Features Beach Reads

Sunday, June 21st, 2015

9781476785592_c88c8  9780375700521_08efa

Perched uncomfortably on beach chairs on Friday’s Today Show, authors Kate White and Brad Thor passionately promoted their favorite beach reads, causing the titles to move up Amazon’s sales rankings.

The two that got the strongest reactions were the books the author’s picked as the best “sexy reads.”  Brad Thor picked a title from last year, out now in paperback, You by Caroline Kepnes, which he calls “The next Gone Girl. It will be the hot read of the summer. Get this book!” (S&S/Atria/Emily Bestler).

Kate White reached back even further to The Lover by Marguerite Duras, saying “Fifty Shades of Grey doesn’t hold a candle to this one.”( RH/Pantheon).


Sunday, June 21st, 2015


The second adaptation of a Gillian Flynn novel, after Gone Girl, arrives in theaters on  August 7. Based on Dark Places, it was filmed at the same time as Gone Girl. Both films were originally scheduled to to be released last fall.

Premiering in France earlier this year, it has a lot going for it, including the major success of Gone Girl, and an A-list cast featuring Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Chloe Grace Moretz as well as Christina Hendricks, on screen for the first time since the ending of Mad Men.

However, trade reviews were not kind (The Hollywood Reporter was mixed but Variety was decidedly negative).

A second, U.S. trailer has just been released:

Flynn’s first novel, Sharp Objects, is being adapted as a TV series. The author, who has a developed a career in Hollywood, is now at work on an original script with 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen


Dark Places (Movie Tie-In Edition)
Gillian Flynn
RH/Broadway: June 2, 2015
9780553418484, 0553418483
Trade Paperback
$14.00 USD, $17.00 CAD

A Dozen Titles to Know and Recommend, the Week of 6/22/15

Friday, June 19th, 2015

Some big name authors publish new titles next week, but consumer reviews are focused on a debut collection of short stories. Among the titles chosen by peers are several with a bookish theme as well as a title billed as a “great psychological thriller.”

The titles covered here, and several more notable titles arriving next week, are listed, with ordering information and alternate formats, on our downloadable spreadsheet, EarlyWord New Title Radar, Week of 6/22 (Note:Also included are media tie-ins to the Marvel movie Ant-Man, releasing July 17),

Holds Leaders

9780553392715_00234  9780316407014_0e0c6  9781476749112_7dca6

This week, the holds leaders in a tight race, are:

Janet Evanovich, Wicked Charms (Random House; RH Audio; RH Large Print)

James Patterson and Howard Roughan, Truth Or Die (Hachette/Little Brown)

Mary Higgins Clark, The Melody Lingers On (S&S)

The Guardian recently called Clark “The anti-Gone Girl” because her heroines are always likable, also noting that, at 88, Clark is not slowing down. She will publish 3 books (Death Wears a Beauty Mask is already out. Coming in November, All Dressed in White, the second in the series with Alafair Burke).

She is also set for media appearances next week:

• NBC-TV/’The Today Show, June 22
• CNBC-TV/‘Closing Bell, June 24
• WNYW-TV/Good Day New York, June 25
AARP Magazine, June/July issue

Consumer Media Picks

9781101874998_a2daaThe Cartel, Don Winslow (Random House)

The daily NYT’s critic Janet Maslin picked this as part of the Summer Reading Rreview last month. Today, she follows up with a strong advance review, including this over-the-top line, “The Cartel culminates in a near-symphonic array of lethal coups de grace, written with such hallucinatory intensity that the whole book seems to have turned into a synchronized fireworks display.”

Winslow also wrote Savages, the basis for the movie by director Oliver Stone. So, naturally, there are movie plans, as reported by Deadline, which also noted that this is the first of Winslow’s books edited by Knopf’s legendary head, Sonny Mehta “since he won back Winslow from S&S.”

9780385352819_e8c4bIn the Country: Stories. Mia Alvar, (RH/Knopf)

It’s no surprise to see a collection of short stories reviewed respectfully in the New York Times Book Review (as this one is this Sunday), but it is a surprise to see one featured on both Entertainment Weekly’s “Must List” (and very prominently, at #3, sandwiched between the animated movie Inside Out and the video game Lego Jurassic World) and one of the three titles on People‘s Picks section, saying “In these profound, trenchant short stories centered around the Filipino diaspora, startling truths are revealed.”

9780385539081_6eac6China Rich Girlfriend, Kevin Kwan, (RH/Doubleday)

People Book of the Week — ‘Take a Jane Austen novel, combine it with Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous and set it in the glittering capitals of Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore. What have you got? This deliciously fun follow-up to Kwan’s bestselling Crazy Rich Asians. On the eve of her wedding to one of China’s most eligible men, Rachel Chu, a young professor, discovers her birth father — and a new world of unexpected choices. Her story is both field guide to Asia’s uberwealthy echelon and comic satire at its best.”

Entertainment Weekly is less enthusiastic, giving it just a B and comparing it unfavorably to the first book.

9781455554591_04146Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget, Sarah Hepola (Hachette/Grand Central)

A memoir about the hot-button issue of women and alcoholism, expect to hear about this next week, particularly since, as a writer for Salon, the author has media connections. The L.A. Times gives it an advance review, saying it is, “both a riveting coming-of-age story and an important contribution to the growing body of writing about women and drinking” and, “For all the wresting with hard truths, Hepola is a funny writer, and the book is shot through with a black humor that will be familiar to her readers on where she is the personal essays editor.” UPDATE: The author appeared on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday.

Peer Picks

9780553418774_590ebThe Little Paris Bookshop, Nina George, (RH/Crown)

Indie Next and LibraryReads

“Quirky and delightful, Nina George’s book focuses on Jean Perdu, owner of the Literary Apothecary, a floating bookshop. When a new tenant in his apartment building sets in motion events that force Jean to re-evaluate his past, he finds himself floating off down the rivers of France in search of lost love, new love, and friends he didn’t know he needed.” Beth Mills, New Rochelle Public Library, New Rochelle, NY

9781250054807_372c8The Book of Speculation, Erika Swyler, (Macmillan/St. Martin’s)

Indie Next and LibraryReads:

“A roller coaster of a read! This is the story of a librarian from a splintered family with a tragic past who is gifted a mysterious book that leads him to dive deep into his family’s history, all while his present life seems to be falling to pieces around him. If you loved Morgenstern’s The Night Circus or Kostova’s The Historian, this is a book for you.”– Amanda Monson, Bartow County Library System, Cartersville, GA

9780374139667_ba8a0Death and Mr. Pickwicl, Stephen Jarvis, (Macmillan/FSG)

Indie Next:

“This rollicking great novel, brimming with vivid characters, takes the position that Charles Dickens did not create his first, and arguably greatest, novel on his own. Two historians struggle through documents and incidents, sending the reader through a cartwheel tour of Victorian London. Not only is there the main plot about Dickens and illustrator Robert Seymour, but also back-alley trips to drunken sports clubs, gay meeting places, taverns, and even the courtroom where the prime minister is standing trial. It’s a delightful story, full of wit and sardonic humor, but with true emotion at the heart of it all, which elevates the entire read. A delight!” —Bill Carl, Booksellers on Fountain Square, Cincinnati, OH

9781476795553_70309The Truth and Other Lies, Sascha Arango, (S&S/Atria)

Indie Next:
“Henry Hayden has it all: loving wife, faithful dog, money, fame, and the respect of those lucky enough to be called his friends. Henry is actually someone who will go to extreme lengths to protect the one thing that truly matters to him: himself. When his mistress tells Henry that she is pregnant, the news sets off a chain of events that causes Henry to commit the biggest mistake of his life and forces him to stay one step ahead of the law. Arango’s novel is twisty, cynical, and brilliant.” —Teresa Steele, Old Firehouse Books, Fort Collins, CO

9780553394818_d4bbaAs Night Falls, Jenny Milchman, (RH/Ballantine)

Indie Next:

“If you want to experience a great psychological thriller, you must read As Night Falls. Sandy has tried to leave her past behind and start a new life, but it comes crashing in on her in a vicious way. Two convicts break into her house, and that is just the beginning of the terror as Sandy must try to face the past and save her family. I could not put this book down!” —Melissa Wade, Vero Beach Book Center, Vero Beach, FL


New Adaptation

Friday, June 19th, 2015

111780The beloved memoirs by Gerald Durrell (Lawrence’s younger brother), The Corfu Trilogy are set to become a 6-part TV series, commissioned by ITV in the U.K. Deadline reports that filming is expected to begin this summer.

The series, titled after the first book in the trilogy, My Family And Other Animals (1956), is about Durrell’s childhood prior to WW II, when his mother moved the family to the Greek island of Corfu. There he learned to love wildlife, leading to his career as a well-known naturalist and zookeeper. The other books in the series are  Birds, Beasts, And Relatives (1969) and The Garden Of The Gods (1978).

Two other adaptations have been made of the first book, a TV series in 1987 by the BBC and A&E and a 90 minute made for TV movie in 2005.

Post-BEA Report:
Unexpected Gems

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

In our most recent GalleyChatter column, we highlighted the titles we expected to be hearing about at Book Expo America. We’re happy to report our predictions were accurate, but the real fun of the show is the unexpected gems.

During the post-BEA GalleyChat, those who had just returned from the show were so eager to share newly discovered titles that it was difficult to wait until the 4:00 pm start time. Below are titles that were most heavily buzzed. For a complete list of the 110 titles mentioned during the chat, check here.

Editors Note: Several publishers are making digital ARC’s of the books that ended up being “sold out” at BEA easily available to EarlyWord readers. Register here.

Unconventional Memoirs

Little Victories  9781501107832_cf508

Wall Street Journal sports writer Jason Gay’s presentation at the Penguin Random House breakfast was so delightful even non-sports fans left clutching the galley. Little Victories: Perfect Rules for Imperfect Living (RH/Doubleday, November), a collection of essays on “rules to live by,” doesn’t dictate but suggests in a humorous, wise, and entertaining way how to behave in the world today, and also includes a few snippets about Gay’s own personal struggles.

Mary-Louise Parker charmed the BEA lunch audience by calling librarians “bad-asses” and her memoir Dear Mr. You (S&S/Scribner, November) is now attracting readers. Tracy Babiasz (acquisitions manager, Chapel Hill Library, NC) says, “Parker’s unique approach to memoir, a collection of letters to the men who have impacted her life, showcases her talent for imaginative, and sometimes stream-of-consciousness writing. It should be read slowly, savoring the carefully chosen language that offer the reader a peek into Parker’s life.”

Book Group Worthy

9781631490477_1c402  9780062390547_07f37  9781594634475_68932

Eli Gottlieb’s Best Boy (Norton/Liveright, August) has already received top marks from two GalleyChat regulars. Vicki Nesting (St. Charles Parish Library, LA) calls it “A brilliantly imagined and insightful story narrated by Todd, an autistic man in his 50s whose very orderly world is thrown into chaos when a new resident and a malevolent new staff member arrive at Payton Living Center.  This remarkable book will remain with readers long after they have turned the last page.” Jennifer Winberry (Hunterdon County Library, NJ) also endorsed it by adding it is “heartfelt and achingly beautiful.”

HarperCollins’ Virginia Stanley has been tirelessly advocating Melissa DeCarlo’s The Art of Crash Landing (Harper Paperbacks/HC, September) and it is now one of my favorite books of the year and a top choice for book groups. Pregnant and broke, and wearing a huge chip on her shoulder, Mattie flees Florida for Oklahoma, hoping to collect on her grandmother’s estate but ends up trying to unravel her deceased mother’s mysterious background. Mattie’s voice could come across as biting and annoying, but DeCarlo has made her funny and appealing.

Jennifer Dayton (Darien Library, CT) couldn’t stop talking about Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff (Penguin/Riverhead, September), the story of Mathilde and Lotto’s 20-plus year marriage as told from both points of view. Jennifer adds, “Be aware however that, as in life, there are always two sides to every story and be prepared for the literary whiplash that will be coming your way.”

The Best of Genre Fiction

9780451466808_74bb2Jim Butcher’s newest title is the first in the Cinder Spires fantasy series, The Aeronaut’s Windlass (Penguin/Roc, September). It got a big shout out during BEA’s Shout ‘n’ Share from Kristi Chadwick (Advisor, Massachusetts Library System)  who is excited that the author is returning to “pure fantasy.” Now that she’s finished reading the book she reports, “Definitely first-in-a-series world-building, but with an excellent pace and action. I am looking forward to the next one (alas, so far, far away). Oh, and it has sentient cats. ‘Nuff said.” (For a full list of the titles mentioned at Shout ‘n’ Share, download our spreadsheet, BEA 2015 Shout ‘n’ Share, or link to our Edelweiss collection, BEA 2015 Shout ‘n’ Share).

An unexpected find for many was the thriller After the Crash, Michel Bussi (Hachette Books, January; NOTE, cover is not final, so we are not showing it). Collection development librarian Patty Sussmann (Newburgh Free Library, NY) reports, “For lovers of a thrill ride, this is a page turning thriller that offers twists and turns that keep you guessing until the very end.” During her Speed Dating session, Hachette’s marketing rep Melissa Nicholas immediately hooked us by simply saying, “First there was Girl on the Train, this is Baby on the Plane.”

9781501112317_b21ccDuring her BEA interview, author Ruth Ware was quick to point out that her marriage is just fine and in no way resembled the impending nuptials in her debut psychological suspense thriller In a Dark, Dark Wood  (S&S/Galley/Scout Press, August).  After crime writer Nora wakes up in the hospital, all she can remember is running through the icy woods covered in blood after attending a “hen” party (English version of a bachelorette party). Only after being questioned by a detective investigating a murder do the details start to emerge. And yes, this is perfect as a Girl on the Train readalike.

Keep an eye on these titles. Given librarians’ reactions, they are likely to take off with the public.

Please join the next GalleyChat on July 7, 4:00-5:00 (ET) with virtual cocktails at 3:30.


Thursday, June 18th, 2015

Astronaut Wives Club  AWC_Key_Art_Embed

The 10-episode series The Astronaut Wives Club, debuts on ABC tonight. Based on Lily Koppel’s book of the same title about the wives of of the first U.S. astronauts (Hachette/Grand Central; Hachette Audio and Large Print), unfortunately, it does not seem to have lift-off.

The New York Times review dismisses it saying it does the women a “disservice by sugarcoating them almost as much as NASA did some 50 years ago.” The L.A. Times damns it with faint praise, “it is not the worst way to spend an idle hour on a summer night.”

The cover of the book, above left, features the actual wives. They were profiled on CBS Sunday Morning when the book was published in 2013. Next to it, the poster for the series, featuring the wives as portrayed by JoAnna Garcia Swisher, Yvonne Strahovski, Dominique McElligott, Odette Annable, Erin Cummings, Azure Parsons and Zoe Boyle.

Extended sneak peek, below.

Madoff TV Series Staffing Up

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

51WqdPxwodL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_If you were wandering the streets of Queens yesterday, you may have seen a production crew at work on ABC’s limited TV series, Madoff, based on The Madoff Chronicles by Brian Ross (Hyperion, 2009). The subject of the series, Bernie Madoff, now incarcerated for developing an infamous Ponzi scheme, was born in Queens.

Starring Richard Dreyfuss as Madoff and Blythe Danner as his wife Ruth, new cast members Charles Grodin and Lewis Black joined this week.

No release date has been announced, but in November the Disney Book Group plans to release a new paperback version that “will serve as a tie to the ABC drama starring Richard Dreyfuss.” (it and other tie-ins are listed in our Upcoming Movie and TV Tie-ins).

The Madoff Chronicles (Inside the Secret World of Bernie and Ruth)
Brian Ross
Disney Book Group/Kingswell; November 10, 2015
Paperback; $14.99 USD, $16.50 CAD

HBO has also had a competing product in the works, a movie starring Robert De Niro as Madoff. Announced in 2011, a new screenwriter was assigned in late 2013, In February of this year, according to sources quoted by Bloomberg, it was still in development

De Niro talked about prepping for the role in an interview with Bloomberg in April 2013:

The De Niroa project is based on two books:

Truth and Consequences: Life Inside the Madoff Family by Laurie Sandell (Hachette/Little, Brown, 2011), based on interviews with Madoff’s family.

The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust by Diana B. Henriques (Macmillan/ St. Martins; Tantor Audio, 2011)

Live Chat with Author Sara Nickerson

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015
Live Blog Live Chat with Sara Nickerson – THE SECRETS OF BLUEBERRIES, BROTHERS, MOOSE & ME