Archive for February, 2016

Holds Alert: THE WIDOW

Monday, February 22nd, 2016

9781101990261_aa3b7Holds are growing in libraries on Fiona Barton’s The Widow (PRH/NAL; BOT; OverDrive Sample), which the A.V. Club headlines as “a delightfully trashy thriller.” A debut, orders are light, so requests are outpacing copies.

Little wonder. It is a book much in the news. Currently rising on Amazon’s sales rankings, it is the verge of breaking on to best seller lists.

As we reported, it is a March Indie Next pick, a People pick, and listed in the WSJ  as a potential big thriller of the year.

In the Washington Post, Lisa Scottoline notes, “Barton is a veteran British journalist who has reported for the Daily Mail and other publications, so it comes as no surprise that her prose is deft and her story well told. What does come as a surprise is that her novel is also richly character-driven in a way that is both satisfying and engrossing.”

Barton talks about her background as a reporter, the basis for her character, in an interview in Sunday’s Chicago Tribune. She is at work on a second novel that will also feature Kate Waters, the reporter in The Widow.

Monday, February 22nd, 2016


Seattle Reads Fowler

Monday, February 22nd, 2016

9780399162091The grandmother of all One City/One Book programs in the US, has chosen Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves (PRH/Putnam/Marian Wood, 2013; also in trade pbk) as the 2016 title.

Fowler’s award-winning novel traces the course of a middle-class family that includes among its number a chimpanzee. In addition to winning the PEN/Faulkner Award it was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, was an Indie Next Pick, and made several end-of-the-year “best of” lists. Bustle lists it as the top pick of the “12 Books Everyone In Your Book Club Will Love.”

Seattle Reads began the One City One Book reading programs that swept the country over a decade ago.  Fowler will visit Seattle in May for a two-day event.


Sunday, February 21st, 2016

Red Rising  golden-sun  morning-star_612x931

The third book in Pierce Brown’s Red Rising trilogy, Morning Star (PRH/ Del Rey) debuts at #1 on the 2/28 New York Times Hardcover Fiction Best Sellers list, More significantly, it’s also #1 on the USA Today list, outselling books in all categories and formats.

Interest is growing in the series. The previous two titles debuted in lower positions. Golden Son arrived at #6, dropping down to the extended list the next week. Red Rising debuted was on the extended list for three weeks. It was a #1 LibraryReads pick.

Brown is at work on another trilogy, titled Iron Gold, reports USA Today. It picks up after Morning Star, but focuses on different characters.

A movie adaptation of Red Rising is in the works. In an interview earlier this month, Brown said it is in development with World War Z director Marc Forster. Don’t expect it any time soon, however. Brown says, “we’re not trying to do a rushed job of this. I did the first two drafts and my buddy is doing a new draft.”

Umberto Eco Dies At 84

Saturday, February 20th, 2016

Name of the RoseFor the second time in 24 hours, the world is mourning the death of a beloved author.

Italian author Umberto Eco, known by many for his 1980 best seller, The Name of the Rose, (HMH) died on Friday night. Hours earlier, American author Harper Lee died.

Eco’s death is making headlines around the world.

New York Times — Umberto Eco, Author of ‘The Name of the Rose,’ Dead at 84

The Guardian — Umberto Eco, Italian novelist and intellectual, dies aged 84

NPR, Weekend Edition Saturday (audio to be posted around noon ET, 2/20  — ‘Numero Zero’ Reprises Umberto Eco’s Fascination With ‘Losers’

Hot Econ Title

Saturday, February 20th, 2016

9780691147727_f2647The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living since the Civil War by Robert J. Gordon (Princeton University Press) is shaping up to be this year’s Capital in the 21st Century, anointed as such by both The New York Times Magazine and Fortune.

The book has become a prime topic of discussion among economists and business leaders. We reported earlier on Paul Krugman’s cover review for The New York Times Sunday Book Review, which helped push holds over orders in many libraries.

Krugman’s review came after several other notable attention. An earlier review in The Economist called the book “magnificent” and “brilliant.” The WSJ early review ended by proclaiming:

“Every presidential candidate should be asked what policies he or she would offer to increase the pace of U.S. productivity growth and to narrow the widening gap between winners and losers in the economy. Bob Gordon’s list is a good place to start.”

Several reviews, including the one in The Economist, also find fault with the book, not agreeing with Gordon’s asserting that IT revolution has played less of a role in re-shaping society than did indoor plumbing or the wide availability of cars.

More on this hot topic of a title can be found in Gordon’s 2013  TED Talk and a TED Talk debate, in which economists dug into Gordon’s arguments.

Titles to Know and Recommend, Week of February 22, 2016

Friday, February 19th, 2016


9780553391923_17756  Wedding Cake Murder

The authors of the holds leaders for the week have something in common. Each have had earlier books adapted for TV by the Hallmark Channel.

A Girl’s Guide to Moving On, Debbie Macomber (PRH/Ballantine Books; BOT; OverDrive Sample)

The #1 holds leader for the week is the the second in Macomber’s New Beginnings series. Interest in Macomber was boosted by Hallmark’s adaptation of her Cedar Cove series.

Also a LibraryReads pick for the month, Linda Tilden, of Cherry Hill Public Library, Cherry Hill, NJ offers this recommendation:

“Leanne and her daughter-in-law Nichole both leave cheating husbands to start over. They learn that it is never easy and that hardships abound, but they meet many wonderful people on their way to happily-ever-after. Believable characters and an enjoyable story made this perfect for relaxing reading—definitely one of Macomber’s best. An excellent choice both for long-time fans of the author and for those who have never read her novels.”

Wedding Cake Murder (Hannah Swensen Mysteries #19), Joanne Fluke, (Kensington)
The second holds leader for the week continues the series that has been the basis of Hallmark’s Murder She Baked movies.

The titles covered here, and several other notable titles arriving next week, are listed with ordering information and alternate formats, on our downloadable spreadsheet, EarlyWord New Title Radar, Week of Feb. 22, 2016

Media Magnets

American Girls  9781101903919_7e8cc

American GirlsSocial Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers, (PRH/Knopf; BOT and RH Audio)
As we noted earlier, this is a drop-in title and therefore was released too late for review coverage from the prepub media. It was reviewed this week in the NYT. The author is scheduled for an interview with Katie Couric Monday on ABC’s Nightline. The following day, Sales will be interviewed on NPR’s Morning Edition and on Fresh Air, 2/29.

Cravings, Chrissy Teigen with Adeena Sussman, (PRH/Potter)
Sorry, guys, this is a book about food cravings by the supermodel and co-host of the show Lip Synch Battle. The budding activist, who donated food to Ferguson protesters and has engaged in twitter battle with Donald Trump, will be getting plenty of media attention for her cookbook:

Tuesday, March 1
Good Morning America
Live with Kelly and Michael
Late Show w/ Stephen Colbert

Wednesday, March 2
The Chew
Comedy Central – Daily Show 

Peer Picks

In addition to Debbie Macomber’s latest (above), three other February LibraryRead picks come out next week.

9780143128489_f901f13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl, Mona Awad (Penguin Books; OverDrive Sample).

Kimberly McGee, of Lake Travis Community Library, Austin, TX offers this annotation:

“Everyone loves Lizzie–she is the confidant, the late night go-to, and she is always there and hungry for attention. Lizzie becomes even more obsessed and needy when she no longer feels insecure about being overweight and it becomes painfully obvious that she will always feel bad about herself. It is a candid and sad look at how we mistreat people with different body types.”

NOTE: Librarians chatted with the author  as part of  the Penguin First Flights program on EarlyWord

It is also a March IndieNext choice.

9780373789177_a16eeFighting Dirty, Lori Foster (Harlequin/HQN Books; OverDrive Sample).

Jessica McCroskey, of Holston River Regional Library, Johnson City, TN says the following about the fourth book in Foster’s Ultimate series:

“What. A. Ride! I absolutely loved this book. I loved finally getting Armie and Merissa’s story. I also enjoyed being able to go back and revisit past characters and getting to know future ones! The story was fast-paced and dreamy. Armie’s fight with himself over his emotions wasn’t drawn out, nor did it get tedious to read. All around, this book was an absolute pleasure, and I can’t wait to read more from Foster!”

9780385540025_7ab3aFlight of Dreams, Ariel Lawhon (PRH/Doubleday; BOT; OverDrive Sample)

Kristin Fields, of Farnhamville Public Library, Farnhamville, IA offers:

Flight of Dreams chronicles an author’s imagined scenario on the ill-fated last flight of the Hindenburg, which was shrouded in mystery. Lawhon does a masterful job by giving meticulous detail of the ship and delving into the lives of many of the characters on board. I read with mounting dread and intensity as the storyline of the disaster unfolded. Historical detail and wonderful storytelling make this a must read for historical fiction lovers.”

The following are Indie Next picks:

9780062257642_9952aUnder the Influence, Joyce Maynard (HC/William Morrow; OverDrive Sample).

“Remembrances from The Great Gatsby ran through my head both as a warning and a promise the entire time I read Under the Influence. I was fascinated by the Havillands, the whirlwind couple at the center of the book, with their wealth, their ease, and their charm. It is easy to see why they appeal to Helen, weary and downtrodden as she is, and why she slips so easily into their embrace. I felt a growing sense of unease as the pages passed, picking up the warning signals Helen ignores, but I was as helpless to escape as she is. I couldn’t stop reading until I reached the bitter end!” —Lauren Peugh, Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe, AZ

9781101874257_f28f2Green Island, Shawna Yang Ryan (PRH/Knopf; OverDrive Sample).

“Like Vaddey Ratner’s In the Shadow of the Banyan, Ryan’s heartbreaking novel takes readers to an island with a history unknown to many: Taiwan. Rarely portrayed in a work of fiction, Taiwan is an island of complex political relations, families torn apart by political unrest, and a lush and beautiful physical landscape. Told in luscious prose, Green Island teaches readers about the humanity of mankind, the brutality of political power and unrest, and why some secrets are never told. I cannot wait to handsell this!” —Annie Philbrick, Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT


9781101973127_5c6acThe major tie-in release this week is Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (The Taliban Shuffle MTI): Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Kim Barker (PRH/Anchor; BOT; OverDrive Sample).

The film version of the memoir titled The Taliban Shuffle, starring Tina Fey, Margot Robbie, Martin Freeman, Alfred Molina, and Billy Bob Thornton, opens March 4, 2016.

It has brought new attention to author Kim Barker. Recently interviewed in the Columbia Journalist Review, she is also scheduled for CBS Sunday Morning this week.

Is it too soon to apply humor to the Middle East? Judge for yourself from the trailer.

9780316311373_839cdMiracles from Heaven: A Little Girl and Her Amazing Story of Healing, Christy Wilson Beam (Hachette Books; Hachette Audio; OverDrive Sample; also in Mass Market) comes out next week as well. It is the tie-in for the March 18th film starring Jennifer Garner and Queen Latifah.

As we noted earlier, People magazine highlighted the the story about a young girl who “survived a 30-ft. fall from a tree and told her parents she had visited heaven – then was inexplicably cured from her terminal digestive disorder.”

Ratchet & Clank is a SF video game series featuring a Lombax (a cat-like species that walks on two feet) and a robot who have adventures across multiple galaxies. On April 29 the games become an animated film.

9781338030419_fdc0e9781338030426_dd55cScholastic is releasing two tie-in titles. Ratchet and Clank: The Movie Novel, Kate Howard (Scholastic; OverDrive Sample) and Ratchet and Clank: Hero Time (The Movie Reader), Meredith Rusu (Scholastic; OverDrive Sample).

For our full list of upcoming adaptations, download our Books to Movies and TV and link to our listing of tie-ins.

Breaking News: Harper Lee Dies

Friday, February 19th, 2016

MockingbirdThe New York Times reports that the author of To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set A Watchman has died at 89.

Harper Lee was much in the news lately, for finally agreeing to two things she had resisted for years, publishing a second book, as the NYT puts it “under mysterious circumstances,”and for selling the rights to Mockingbird to Scott Rudin for a Broadway production.

Long live To Kill a Mockingbird. May it continue to change lives and create readers.


Friday, February 19th, 2016

9781101902752_e76d6The NYT posted their online review (to run in print in the Feb. 28 Sunday Book Review) of A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy. Sue Klebold, Andrew Solomon, (PRH/Crown) on Feb. 15.

Just a few days later the paper felt the need to post a follow-up piece to summarize some of the over 900 comments the review prompted.

That level of engagement with the book is reflected in libraries across the country. Holds are growing and libraries haven’t caught up with them.

We reported in “Titles to Know and Recommend” last week that ABC News was covering the book in a big push, with an ABC Prime Time Special with Diane Sawyer, promoted on Good Morning America. The author also appeared on NPR’s Fresh Air on Tuesday.

The book clearly touches nerves, as indicated by the remarkable number of personal reactions to it from reviewers.

Entertainment Weekly gave the book an A grade, saying:

“This book, which can be tough to read in places, is an important one. It helps us arrive at a new understanding of how Columbine happened—and, in the process, may help avert other tragedies.”

The LA Timess reviewer, responding both to the book and to the ABC coverage, writes:

“I believe Sue Klebold … I feel so sorry for her — I really do. Did you watch 20/20? Her pain is so raw, her vulnerability so extreme. I want to reassure her: One way or another this book will change lives. What it won’t do is bring Dylan back … And what it also won’t do, is my guess, never mind what I believe, is allow Sue Klebold to forgive herself.”

The Washington Post reviewer says:

“Reading this book as a critic is hard; reading it as a parent is devastating. I imagine snippets of my own young children in Dylan Klebold, shades of my parenting in Sue and Tom. I suspect that many families will find their own parallels. This book’s insights are painful and necessary, and its contradictions inevitable.”

The book is currently #31 on Amazon’s sales rankings.

HBO’s Lewis And Clark Off Track

Thursday, February 18th, 2016


Beset by a slew of delays, including wildfires on location and the departures of both the director and director of photography over creative differences, the HBO series, Lewis And Clark, based on the book Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose, (S&S, 1996), may be shut down entirely.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, “it’s unclear whether production will ever start up again. Sources say that the series’ props and costumes are being held in storage in Canada, where the first iteration was shot.”

SF To The Rescue

Thursday, February 18th, 2016

9780307887443_cd74cReady Player One by Ernest Cline (RH/Crown; Random House Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample) rose on Amazon’s sales rankings overnight, likely due to a NYT’s article on how Science Fiction expands the creativity of engineers and coders working on virtual reality (VR).

While techies can engineer VR headsets, they don’t really know what kinds of experiences to create for them or how to explain the technology in a way that makes people buy headsets with iPod-esque frenzy.

CEOs of tech companies are turning to SF for help, hoping the genre will expand the creativity of their staff and illustrate the possibilities and range of virtual worlds that might be possible. According to the article:

“Science fiction is shaping the language companies are using to market the technology, influencing the types of experiences made for the headsets and even defining long-term goals for developers.”

The tech world’s book of choice is Ready Player One, which is given to new hires at Oculus, a leading VR company. Co-founder Palmer Luckey told the NYT,

“Like many other people working in the tech space, I’m not a creative person. It’s nice that science fiction exists because these are really creative people figuring out what the ultimate use of any technology might be. They come up with a lot of incredible ideas.”

In addition, the company Magic Leap has hired three science fiction and fantasy writers, most notably Neal Stephenson, who imagined the virtual reality Metaverse in the novel Snow Crash.

The article asserts, “Virtual reality is a medium, like television or video games.”


Thursday, February 18th, 2016

9780544373433_0b363Sarai Walker’s debut novel debut about weight, beauty, and gender inequality, Dietland (HMH; Highbridge Audio; OverDrive Sample) is set to become a TV series, developed by Marti Noxon who co-created the Lifetime channel’s UnREAL and has worked on Mad Men, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Grey’s Anatomy, and Glee.

Entertainment Weekly is clearly excited, having been fans of both Dietland, the book, and Noxon’s  series UnREAL, calling  the new project “a match made in feminist-media heaven.”

Dietland received a great deal of attention when it came out last year. It was a June 2015 Indie Next pick, made multiple “best of the month” lists, and, in addition to being an EW favorite, was also picked by Amazon, Kirkus, and BookPage as a top title of 2015.

ROOTS Remake, Trailer

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

9780306824852_b49ce 9781137279606_f0867

In 1977, the TV series Roots, based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Alex Haley was a sensation, opening the eyes of many white American to the horrors of slavery and encouraging African Americans to research their family histories.

The series has been remade, starring Forest Whitaker, Anna Paquin, Laurence Fishburne, Jonathan Rhys Meyers. In the lead role of Kunte Kinte is the “up-and-coming British actor” Malachi Kirby.

Set to premiere on the History Channel on Memorial Day, May 30, the first trailer was recently released.

Tie-in edition: Roots [miniseries tie-in]: The Saga of an American Family, Alex Haley, (Perseus/Da Capo Press, May 3)

The recent biography, Alex Haley: And the Books That Changed a Nation by Robert J. Norrell was picked by Essence magazine as one of “6 Must-Read Books for Black History Month.”

Kirby is known in the U.K. for his role in the TV series East Enders. He also starred as the younger brother in the 2013 British film Gone Too Far. As we noted in an earlier story, and can’t resist mentioning agin, the trailer, below, includes an eerie foreshadowing of his future role.

New Girls in Town

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

Riffing on the success of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Gone Girl, and The Girl on the Train, The Wall Street Journal picks five candidates to become the “world’s biggest thriller of 2016.” [link may require subscription]

The list should please Penguin Random House as all five titles are published through their imprints. Pleasing librarians who want to second-guess the WSJ, all five are available to request in e-galley.

First up is 9781101990261_aa3b7The Widow, Fiona Barton (PRH/NAL; BOT; OverDrive Sample; pubbed today)

As we reported earlier, it is a People and an Indie Next pick and that Entertainment Weekly thinks it “might have more of a right to the [Girl] comparison than most.” The Wall Street Journal also notes film have been sold to Playground Entertainment, one of the production companies behind the adaptation of Wolf Hall.

9780399184260_5f8e2Maestra, L.S. Hilton (PRH/Putnam; BOT; April 19). WSJ reports the “steamy femme fatale story,” expected to be the first in a trilogy, sold in a seven-figure deal. Film rights were optioned by TriStar Pictures, with a screenplay in development by the writer behind The Girl on the Train film.

9781101987490_cd0eeI Let You Go, Clare Mackintosh (PRH/Berkley; BOT; May 3) makes the WSJ list due to its “twisty” nature and its reception in the UK, where it ended 2015 as “the seventh best-selling product—not just book—on last year (with Adele’s 25 coming fourth and The Girl on the Train claiming first).” [NOTE: you can chat with author Clare Mackintosh, as part of the EarlyWord/Penguin First Flights program on April 20th)

9780385349871_858daThe Crow Girl, Erik Axl Sund (PRH/Knopf; BOT; June 14). WSJ writes that this book about a serial killer of children in Stockholm leads to “something even bigger and more sinister. “An international best seller, it’s the first in a trilogy that has already been published in 38 countries. At 758-pages, the WSJ calls it a “doorstopper.” Knopf, of course, has had success with other Scandinavian doorstoppers that feature “Girl” in the title.

9781101904220_ee938Dark Matter, Blake Crouch (PRH/Crown; BOT; Aug. 2). Rounding out the list, is a novel by the author of the Wayward Pines trilogy. adapted by Fox TV. Based on just a particle manuscript, the author scored $1 million dea. Film rights sold soon after. The WSJ says the novel “has drawn comparisons to [the movie] Inception, is slated to be published in 20 territories.”

Spotlight on Spiotta

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

9781501122729_8f332This weekend (and online now) the NYT‘s Sunday Magazine will feature a profile of Dana Spiotta, author of Innocents and Others (S&S/Scribner, Mar. 8), one of the critics’  most highly anticipated novels of the spring season,

The feature, written by author Susan Burton, traces the objects that inspire Spiotta (currently phones and sound) and dips into her biography (her dad once ran Francis Ford Coppola’s studio, Zoetrope).

Burton summarizes Spiotta’s approach and interests as an author, saying she “writes radiant, concentrated books that, as she has put it, consider ‘the way things external to us shape us: money, technology, art, place, history.’ ”

Despite the critical interest in Spiotta, Burton points out that her work still is not as “well known as it should be” and goes on to speculate that:

“this may have something to do with its deep and uncategorizable ambition: Her books are simultaneously vast and local, exploring great American themes (self-invention, historical amnesia) within idiosyncratic worlds (phone phreaks, ’80s Los Angeles adolescence). She has been compared with Don DeLillo and Joan Didion, but her tone and mood are distinctly her own: She’s fascinated, not alienated.”

It is that connection to the world that author George Saunders, who works with Spiotta in the creative writing program at Syracuse University, highlights as among her most notable features, saying:

‘‘Her gaze is very smart and witty but doesn’t have any of that empty, snarky irony you sometimes see in writing about contemporary culture, that sense that America is rotten, past its prime, capable of nothing good. On the contrary, I think her main stance is that most difficult one: She who praises.’’

Innocents and Others is Spiotta’s fourth book. Earlier titles have gotten strong award attention. Stone Arabia was a National Books Critics Circle Award finalist and Eat the Document was a finalist for the National Book Award.

Two years ago, the NYT‘s Sunday Magazine brought Spiotta’s colleague to a wider audience and best seller status with a cover story, “George Saunders Has Written The Best Book You’ll Read This Year.” Keep your eyes open for a similar ripple effect.