Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

Readers Advisory: Nancy Pearl, From Thriller to Cozy

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

9780385536998_1e4af-2Noting a growing tend of  fast-moving but very complex thrillers that challenge the readers and are well worth the attention they require, Nancy Pearl, during her regular Tuesday appearance on Seattle’s NPR station, KUOW, recommends one of  her recent favorites, The Distance by Helen Giltrow, (RH/Doubleday; RH Audio). It  features a wealthy, elegant socialite named Charlotte who lives another life as Karla, a woman who helps people in trouble disappear. Katla, Nancy emphasizes, is not a nice person, and in fact, the book is “filled with people who are not particularly good people, but whom you somehow care about. It takes skill for a writer to pull that off.” Listen here

It was a LibraryRead pick for September and a favorite on GalleyChat.

OverDrive Sample

Audio Clip:

Murder at the BrightwellThat book included scenes Nancy “had to read with my eyes closed,” but on last week’s show, she recommended a book in a quite different genre, one she doesn’t generally enjoy, a cozy mystery. Murder at the Brightwell, by Ashley Weaver, (Minotaur/Macmillan) won her over with its subtle humor and “witty repartee” between a “Nick and Nora” type of wealthy young couple in the 1930’s, making it “like armchair traveling into a rarefied world.” Listen here.

It was a LibraryReads pick, for October, as well as a GalleyChat favorite (New York librarian Janet Schneider described is as “a Dorothy L. Sayers/Downton Abbey combo”). A debut, the author is a public librarian in Louisiana.

Flanagan Wins Booker

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

9780385352857_702c0Richard Flanagan has won the Man Booker Award for his sixth novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North(RH/Knopf; Blackstone Audio), described  by the judges as a “magnificent novel of love and war.” He was featured in August on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday.

Seattle librarian David Wright praised it last month in the Seattle Times. In the Washington Post, critic Ron Charles reacted strongly to it, warning readers that it can, “cast a shadow over your summer and draw you away from friends and family into dark contemplation the way only the most extraordinary books can. Nothing since Cormac McCarthy’s The Road has shaken me like this — all the more so because it’s based on recorded history, rather than apocalyptic speculation.”

In the daily New York Times, however, Michiko Kakutani called it “adeeply flawed,” but appreciated Flanagan’s ability to “communicate both the abominations that men are capable of inflicting upon one another, and the resilience many display in the face of utter misery.”

Read a sample here, via OverDrive; audio sample here.

Flanagan is Australian. This was the first year that the Awards were opened to Americans. Four were on the longlist and two made the transition to the shortlist of six; Joshua Ferris, To Rise Again at a Decent Hour,  Hachette/Little,Brown) and Karen Joy Fowler, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, (Penguin/Putnam/Marian Wood).

Historically, Booker winners have gone on to become best sellers in the U.S. UPDATEThe Narrow Road to the Deep North, rose to #16 on Amazon’s sales rankings the day after the announcement.

Final WOLF HALL Book Not Til 2016

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

9780312429980   Bring Up the Bodies (Booker Winner)

The author of the Wolf Hall series, Hilary Mantel, puts the BBC on notice that she won’t appreciate it if their adaptation of her books, Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies, indulges in the kind of “nonsense” that the Americans brought to history in The Tudors TV series on Showtime. Speaking at the Cheltenham Literary Festival over the weekend,  she said, “At some point, someone had decided that it was too complex for Henry VIII to have two sisters, so they rolled them into one. Then they had to find a fictitious king for her to marry, so I think they invented a king from Portugal unknown to history. It’s so shaming, and it stems from not trusting the intelligence of the viewer,”

Reporting on the session, The Telegraph notes that the author dashed hopes that the third in the book trilogy, The Mirror and The Light, will appear next year, saying it is “unlikely to be ready until 2016.

Nobel Prize in Literature, 2014

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

Confounding odds makers once again, the Nobel Prize in literature, announced today, goes to French author Patrick Modiano, whose more than 30 novels often focus on the Nazi occupation of France. The Academy described him as “a Marcel Proust of our time.” If you’re not familiar with him, you’re in good company. The Guardian comments, “Modiano is well known in France but something of an unknown quantity for even widely read people in other countries.”

The Telegraph calls Modiano’s The Search Warrant (RH/Vintage Digital, 2012) one of his best-known books. You can read a sample via OverDrive.

Several titles by Modiano are listed in on American library catalogs, including the 1974 film Lacombe, Lucien, by director Louis Malle, for which Modiano co-wrote the script which is partially based on Malle’s own experiences during the occupation and a children’s title, Catherine Certitiude.

Publisher David R. Godine’s web site today features the three Modiano titles they have published in English (the Washington’s Post‘s Ron Charles delivered the news to Godine, who was “staking dahlias” at the time and exclaimed, “This means we’ll be ahead this year!”):

1567922813-2  HoneyMoon

Missing PersonPatrick Modiano, translated by Daniel Weissbort, 2004 — Also winner of the most prestigious French literary prize, the Prix Goncourt, it was reviewed by Booklist and Library Journal. Saying it is probably his “best known novel,” The Guardian describes it as being, “about a detective who loses his memory and endeavours to find it.”

Honeymoon, Patrick Modiano, 1995 — also reviewed by Booklist and Library Journal 

087923959xCatherine Certitude, Patrick Modiano — A children’s title, it was reviewed by several library publications. The following is the publisher’s description:

This charming book will delight any child — or adult — who appreciates ballet, Paris, New York, childhood, and mystery (not necessarily in that order). The book’s plot is deceptively simple: Catherine, the eponymous heroine, begins her story watching her own daughter demonstrate jazz steps in their ballet school on a snowy afternoon in New York. Memory takes her (and the reader) back to her childhood, spent in the tenth arrondissement of Paris. In her youth, Catherine lives with her gentle father, Georges Certitude, who runs a shipping business with his partner, a loud, failed poet named Casterade. The real partners in this story, however, are the father and daughter who share the simple pleasures of daily life: sitting in the church square, walking to school, going to her ballet class every Thursday afternoon.

As a result of the prize, Yale University Press has moved up the publication of the following title from January to November:

9780300198058Suspended Sentences: Three Novellas, Patrick Modiano, translated by Mark Polizzotti

Includes Afterimage, Suspended Sentences, and Flowers of Ruin.

WOLF HALL Coming to Broadway

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

9780312429980   Bring Up the Bodies (Booker Winner)

Wolf Hall: Parts 1 & 2, the Royal Shakespeare Company’s adaptation of the first two books in Hilary Mantel’s Tudor trilogy, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, has been a has been a hit in London and is now set to make its American debut on Broadway April 9 next year. The production is over 5 1/2 hours long, which can be viewed in two consecutive parts (with a dinner break), or on separate days.

Perhaps feeling some competition,  the executive producer of the upcoming BBC TV adaptation of Wolf Hall, commented in a recent essay in The Guardian, “I would like to clarify that the BBC commissioned the six-hour mini-series long before it was produced for the stage.” Starring Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell and Damian Lewis (Homeland) as Henry VIII, filming was under way in various historic British locations this summer. No release dates have been announced.

The author is at work on third book in the series, The Mirror and The Light, (she and the stage play’s producer both say they hope it will also be adapted). No publication date has been announced, but some sources say it is due next year.

The stage adaptation will be released in book form this coming February. According to the publisher, it  also”contains a substantial set of notes by Hilary Mantel on each of the principal characters, offering a unique insight into the plays and an invaluable resource to any reader looking for an even deeper understanding of Mantel’s historical creations.”

9781250064172_e247aWolf Hall & Bring Up the Bodies: The Stage Adaptation,  (Macmillan/Picador)
Hilary Mantel, Mike Poulton (adapted by)
Macmillan/Picador: February 24, 2015
9781250064172, 1250064171
Trade Paperback
$16.00 USD

Another Reason to Read Galleys

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

9780062377180_f631cCurious about how authors respond to copy edits?

The advance readers copy of Anthony Horowitz’s Moriarty (Harper, 12/9/14) accidentally includes some testy exchanges. The New York Times details a few of them in yesterday’s Arts Beat blog, adding, that, although amusing, “It is no big deal: Mr. Horowitz did not use unsavory language, abuse the copy editors, or expose some fantastic dispute between himself and his publishers. At most, there is firm authorial pushback. ”

The book, the followup to the author’s popular The House of Silk,(Hachette/Mulholland, 2011) has not yet been reviewed in library review sources (it is noted in LJ‘s “Prepub Alert“).

Wendy Bartlett, head of collection development at Cuyahoga P.L, Ohio, got her hands on a galley. She also found the copy editing comments hilarious, but, as she says in a readers advisory to the branch staff, there are many more reasons to read it:

Anthony Horowitz has held young thriller fans in thrall with his popular Alex Rider series for a long time. He’s also turned his considerable talents to adult books and to one of my favorites — the Conan Doyle/Sherlock Holmes canon. If you missed it, 2011’s The House of Silk was his first effort at a Holmesian mystery, and it was first rate. It would still be a superb recommend for your traditional mystery fans.

This year, he’s back with Moriarity. I was very much hoping he’d assume Watson’s voice again, but he’s done things very differently in this book. First of all, it opens at Reichenbach Falls, and we all know what happened there. I have to admit, I felt a bit cheated by the denouement, which he seems to spring on the reader, with few clues leading up to it.  It is, nonetheless, a terrific read.

Readers Advisory: Historical Fiction and the “Ick” Factor

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

9780062335944_2516fKaty Simpson Smith has received enviable attention for her first novel, The Story of Land and Sea, (Harper; HarperLuxe; HarperAudio, 8/26/14 ). Vogue magazine profiled the author, under the headline, “Katy Simpson Smith’s Luminous Novel Is Set to Be the Debut of the Year.”

The Washington Post saw in the novel echoes of Hilary Mantel‘s Wolf Hall series, in that it “works to breathe life into history using the immediacy of the present tense. Its finely wrought (sometimes overwrought) language blends startling details of the everyday with a dreamy, aphoristic quality. The effect is to root the novel in its historical moment but to reach toward the universal in its exploration of love and grief.”

Wendy Bartlett, head of collection development at Cuyahoga P.L, Ohio, agrees that those details of daily life are “startling,” but not necessarily in a good way. She opened a discussion with branch staff about the book, via the following comments on the staff intranet.

Have you noticed the trend toward Realism with a capital “R” that has been hitting historical fiction? I get that living in 1793 was no picnic, but seriously, leave the ick factor to my imagination, okay?

I first noticed this with last year’s Longbourn by Jo Baker, a book I loved, but if there had been one more paragraph about chamber pots, I swear I’d have pitched it across the room. And Burial Rites by Hannah Kent. Great book as a long as you aren’t depressed when you start it, because trust me, you will be when you finish it. Did I really need to know how grungy Iceland was in 1829? I have been blessed with a great imagination. Oh, Writer. Trust your readers. We could have figured it out.

And now along comes The Story of Land and Sea, an excellent historical novel with lots of good historical detail woven in, lots of examination of how people in 1793 North Carolina thought and believed and therefore behaved differently than we do, which is superbly done, but ugh—when you get to the part about yellow fever. Again, Oh, Writer, I can color in those details myself.

I wonder if this is part of a larger cultural change. Are people so accustomed to visual entertainment that writers have to literally give us the gory details to make it real for people used to getting their mental pictures drawn for them on Xbox and HBO?

If your customers like extremely well written historical novels with carefully crafted character development, they’ll love The Story of Land and Sea, but if they are more to the Gentle Reader side of the scale, they’d be happier with Light Between the Oceans or The Invention of Wings.

Several of Cuyahoga staff members responded that they like those details, including Susan Levinsohn, who wrote,

I think we are more tolerant than we were even 10 yrs. ago for the reasons you mentioned above. Senior ladies are not asking for cozies like they used to and don’t mind reading the more graphic fiction. I also think many people that read historical fiction (including myself) like to read background information that does represent the times. I like to get a “feel” for the times and the people of the era as well as the story woven around it. I think if part of the appeal for the reader is the history then the details, however “icky” are more likely taken in as just true to the times. I like Miss Marple but I’ll take Burial Rites too.

As Wendy says, it’s important to understand your customers preferences when making recommendations.

Read the first chapter here.

GONE GIRL Unchanged

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

Gone GirlReviews of David Fincher’s film adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl are arriving, in advance of its premiere on Friday at the New York Film Festival. Word is strong, with Rolling Stone calling it “shockingly good” and ” the date-night movie of the decade,” some seeing Oscars on the horizon. There are, of course, a naysayer or two (“bait too slick,” Village Voice).

One thing the reviews agree upon; the ending has not been changed. Still, New York magazine says there are reasons to read the book first.

The movie opens in theaters on Oct. 3.

Holds Alert: THE PAYING GUESTS

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

watersOn NPR’s All Things Considered today, Maureen Corrigan calls Sarah Waters’ new novel, The Paying Guests, (Penguin/Riverhead; BOT, read by Juliet Stevenson), “a knockout.”

A September LibraryReads pick, it also received a strong review in Sunday’s New York Times Book Review and the daily NYT has profiled the author.

The book #3 on Entertainment Weekly‘s “Must List” of “The Top 10 Thing We Love This Week.” which calls it, “One of the year’s most engrossing and suspenseful novels.”

Holds are growing in the libraries we checked.

Oldboy director Park Chan-wook plans to adapt Waters’ earlier novel, Fingersmith, (Penguin/: Riverhead, 2002) as a feature film (Variety calls that one a “sexy crime story“).

OverDrive Sample

Nat’l Book Award Nominee on FRESH AIR

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

9780374292089_d4ec8The founder of the indie rock band The Mountain Goats, John Darnielle, was interviewed on NPR’s Fresh Air yesterday. He is also the author of Wolf in White Van, (Macmillan/FSG), released on Monday and just announced as one of the titles on the National Book Awards longlist. The interview begins with Darnielle reading from the opening of the book. Listen here.

The book is also reviewed on NPR’s web site.

The author is also interviewed in the new issue of  New York Magazine.

OverDrive Sample

Note: Some sources say this is Darnielle’s first novel, but it’s actually his second, after Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality, (2008), which is still available from Bloomsbury/Continiuum and is on several library catalogs.

NPR Loves BROKEN MONSTERS

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

9780316216821_1f1ebWe had to invent a new category, “Hard to Call,”  for Lauren Beukes’s new title, Broken Monsters, (Hachette/Mulholland Books) in our look-ahead to books arriving this week. Its graphic murder scenes and “grotesque and perpetual sense of doom,” as Entertainment Weekly says, may put off readers.

NPR’s reviewer has no such problem saying, “You could say that she’s as edgy as James Ellroy, as creepy as Stephen King and as darkly funny as Kurt Vonnegut, but Beukes is an author whose work is resistant to easy comparisons. Broken Monsters is one of the most remarkable books of the year, and one of the best suspense novels you’ll read in quite some time.” Stephen King himself tweeted that it’s “Scary as hell and hypnotic. I couldn’t put it down.”

Buekes’s 2013 title, The Shining Girls, (Hachette/Mulholland), was dubbed  “a strong contender for the role of this summer’s universal beach read,”  by the NYT‘s Janet Maslin. While it didn’t achieve that status, it received some strong reviews and hit #13 on the L.A. Times best seller list.

If you want to judge this one for yourself, you can read the grisly first chapter in the OverDrive Sample. Tell us what you think in the comments.

BONE CLOCKS Best Seller

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

9781400065677_611e9-2Many were surprised that David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks, (Random House, 9/2/14; Recorded Books) didn’t make the transition from the Booker longlist to the shortlist, but Mitchell can take solace in the fact that it debuts at #3 on the 9/21 NYT Hardcover Fiction best Seller list, the highest spot so far for any of the published longlist titles.

Wendy Bartlett, head of collection development at Cuyahoga P.L, Ohio, is a fan. She alerted branch staff last week,

I love it when the customers are ahead of me! David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas) has come roaring back with yet another spendidly written, mind-bending read. I thought The Thousand Autumns of Jacob DeZoet was brilliant, but this book is astounding, and the customers have snatched every last copy.

The heroine — if you can call her that — is Holly Sykes (Holly, as in GoLightly? Sykes as in Bill Sykes from Oliver Twist?) David Mitchell loves nothing more than to keep you wondering, and wonder you will. He’s also one of the most evocative writers I’ve ever read, literally painting pictures with words — it’s no wonder Hollywood is tempted to make films of his books. To say he enjoys playing with the timeline, and your reality, is an understatement, and of course, that’s his plan. It’s your job to relax and enjoy the ride.

You don’t really read Mitchell, so much as experience him. If you haven’t read Mitchell, this is the perfect novel with which to start.

Happy Experiencing!

You can read the first chapter via OverDrive.

SERENA Trailer Finally Debuts

Monday, September 15th, 2014

In March 2012, right after Silver Linings Playbook wrapped, stars Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper joined forces again for another book adaptation, Serena, based on the novel by Ron Rash, (HarperCollins/Ecco, 2008).

Over two years later, the movie has yet to be released, even though Lawrence has since become a major star via The Hunger Games and the Lawrence/Cooper combo proved to be magic in both Silver Linings and the subsequent American Hustle.

A spokesperson for the production company has said not to worry, however, the delay is simply a result of Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier’s perfectionism. The L.A. Times takes that with a grain of salt, “Bier took a year and a half to complete the film, and protracted productions rarely bode well for the final product.”

It is finally set to premiere at the BFI London Film Festival next month and will open in the U.K. on Oct. 24. Magnolia Pictures has the U.S. distribution rights, but doesn’t seem to be in a hurry, planning to release it “sometime next year.”

At this point, a movie based on another book by Rash, The World Made Straight, (Macmillan/Holt, 2006), which was shot a year later, may beat it. It’s scheduled for release some time in February.

Meanwhile, a trailer has just been released:

Tie-in:

Serena tie-in: A Novel
Ron Rash
HarperCollins/Ecco
November 4, 2014 (publisher says this is now postponed indefinitely)
9780062292667, 0062292668

Rash’s next novel, Above the Waterfall, (HarperCollins/Ecco) is scheduled for publication next year.

Garth Stein Is #1

Friday, September 12th, 2014

9781439187036_61f0dThe number one LibraryReads pick for next month is Garth Stein’s novel, A Sudden Light (S&S; S&S Audio; 9/30). The author has a lot to live up to. His earlier title, The Art of Racing in the Rain (Harper, 2008) was a word-of-mouth hit that became a long-running best seller.

Librarian Whiney Gayle makes you want to start reading it right now (and you can, it’s available from Edelweiss and NetGalley until the end of the month):

“Garth Stein has given us a masterpiece. This beautiful story takes readers on a thrilling exploration of a family estate brimming with generations of riveting Riddell family ghosts and secrets. This is a true exploratory novel, taking readers through secret passageways, hidden rooms, and darkened corridors that engage all of the senses.” — Whitney Gayle, James Blackstone Memorial Library, Branford, CT

Media Hit: LibraryRead’s September Pick

Friday, September 12th, 2014

9780385353304_db2df-2Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, (RH/Knopf; RH Audio; Thorndike, Dec. 10), a LibraryReads pick for September, is getting enviable media attention. It is People magazine’s “Book of the Week” in the new issue; “Though it centers on civilization’s collapse in the aftermath of a devastating flu, this mesmerizing novel isn’t just apocalyptic fantasy — it’s also an intricately layered character study of human life itselff,” gets an A from Entertainment Weekly and the author was profiled by the  New York Times last week.

LibraryReads recommendation:

An actor playing King Lear dies onstage just before a cataclysmic event changes the future of everyone on Earth. What will be valued and what will be discarded? Will art have a place in a world that has lost so much? What will make life worth living? These are just some of the issues explored in this beautifully written dystopian novel. Recommended for fans of David Mitchell, John Scalzi and Kate Atkinson. — Janet Lockhart, Wake County Public Libraries, Cary, NC

OverDrive Sample