Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

Crime Report

Monday, July 6th, 2015

9781476795553_70309This week’s NYT Sunday Book Review offers a rundown of crime stories starting with Joseph Finder’s review of Sascha Arango’s The Truth and Other Lies (S&S/Atria; S&S Audio; OverDrive Sample). It is an antihero novel about a man pretending to write the very successful crime novels his wife actually pens.

After pointing out that “we’re in something of a golden age of the sociopathic antihero, on the page and on screen, from Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter to the passionate borderlines of Gillian ­Flynn and Paula Hawkins,” Finder calls this a strong example of the genre:

Arango, a German television writer, has constructed a clever plot that always surprises, told with dark humor and dry wit and bustling with aperçus that show no signs of jet lag from Imogen Taylor’s clean translation.

Trade reviews are very strong and it is a July Indie Next pick.

Reviewer Marilyn Stasio’s crime roundup column in the same issue highlights four further titles.

Screen Shot 2015-07-05 at 2.44.57 PMLeah Stewart returns to her suspense roots in The New Neighbor (S&S/Touchstone; Dreamscape; OverDrive Sample). The secret-filled novel centers on two reclusive women who begin a fraught relationship after they exchange grudging waves from the decks of their isolated houses. As the story unfolds, Margaret, an abrasive 90-year-old, decides to play detective, prying into the past of Jennifer, a much younger woman with a 4-year-old son.

Stasio tantalizingly ends her review with “Stewart never relaxes her tight focus on these complex characters…but even as they begin to break through each other’s defenses, you can’t help thinking it might have been better for Jennifer if she’d never returned that first wave.”

Screen Shot 2015-07-05 at 2.45.31 PMS.J. Watson’s sophomore novel, Second Life (Harper; HarperAudio; OverDrive Sample), which follows his breakout debut Before I Go To Sleep, is the story of middle-aged and bored Julia who discovers her murdered sister was involved in cybersex. As she investigates further a man who could well be her sister’s killer pulls her into his thrall.

Stasio describes it as “a discreetly sexy novel [that] should have a “Beach Candy” sticker on its cover… [the] romantic suspense story pairs high concept with low literary value. But the plot is a pip.”

Screen Shot 2015-07-05 at 2.46.25 PM Clearly a fan of David Mark, Stasio calls him a “craft-conscious author” and his Det. Sgt. Aector McAvoy mysteries “robust police procedurals.” Her review of the newest, Taking Pity (Penguin/Blue Rider Press; OverDrive Sample), in which McAvoy is involved in two cases, a mass murder from 1966 and a present day crime ring, offers a strong pitch to start the series now and keep reading until caught up.

Screen Shot 2015-07-05 at 2.47.12 PMNot so well received is Tom Wright’s Blackbird (Europa; OverDrive Sample). While praising the style, “Wright is one of those regional authors who can out-sing the birds with his lyrical descriptions of his home place,” Stasio has issues with the plotting, “he keeps running away from his own story.” Still, it is getting great trade reviews and is the follow-up to his well-received debut What Dies In Summer.

GO SET A WATCHMAN:
Discovery Story Questioned

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

Go Set a WatchmanIt seemed that the controversies about the publication of Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman had been laid to rest, but this afternoon the New York Times reports that questions have come up about  whether the manuscript was a “stumbled on” last August as had been claimed, or if it was actually discovered in 2011.

The timing is important to those that fear that Lee, now 89 and nearly deaf and blind, was manipulated into agreeing to the book’s publication. In 2011, Lee’s sister and protector Alice was still alive. If the discovery been revealed, she may have taken steps to prevent its publication.

It’s unlikely this will have any impact on the book’s release, set for July 14. The state of Alabama has already ruled against complaints that Lee was coerced and reported that she was in fact happy to hear so many people are interested in reading the book.

THE MARTIAN Trailer Bump

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

Sometimes movie adaptations bring new attention to the books they are based on, and sometimes all it takes it the release of the movie trailer.

USA Today notes that Andy Weir’s debut sci-fi novel, The Martian (RH/Crown), rose to its highest level, #4 on their June 18 best seller list, following the tailer’s debut. This week, it is still in the top ten, at #9.

The tie-in features a closeup of Matt Damon, who stars as an astronaut stranded on Mars. The movie debuts on  Oct. 2.

9781101905005_1ed84The Martian (Mass Market MTI)
Andy Weir
RH/Broadway; October 13, 2015
Mass Market; $9.99 USD, $12.99 CAD
9781101905005, 110190500X

 

Zuckerberg Picks SF Classic

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 11.16.25 AMMark Zuckerberg’s next Facebook reading club pick is a cult SF favorite, Iain M. Banks’s The Player of Games (originally published in 1988, now available from Hachette/Orbit; Hachette Audio/Blackstone; OverDrive Sample). It is the second of the Culture novels, a series that many consider a touchstone of the genre (the first is Consider Phlebas and the most recent is The Hydrogen Sonata).

This is the first fiction title that  Zuckerbeg has picked in his “Year of Reading” program.  The Player of Games may prove more accessible than the previous ten books on various business, culture, and social science subjects, some of them fairly weighty. If nothing else a discussion about AI and future worlds hosted by one of today’s leading tech companies should prove interesting.

CIRCLING THE SUN is #1 for Indies in August

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

The August Indie Next List is available to preview.

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 10.11.37 AMTopping the list at #1 is Paula McLain’s Circling the Sun (RH/Ballantine; BOT and RH Audio)

About the adventurer and aviation pioneer Beryl Markham, it is also a LibraryReads pick for July as well as a GalleyChat favorite. The summary, written by Rhianna Walton of Powell’s Books, offers useful sell lines for those still looking for a way to capture its content and feel:

Reading Circling the Sun reminded me of the deep pleasure of solid storytelling: the vast landscape of colonial Kenya, complicated and compelling historical characters, love, suffering, and adventure combine to create a captivating narrative. McLain imagines the African childhood and early adulthood of real-life horse trainer and pioneering female aviator Beryl Markham, as well as her social milieu, which included Denys Finch Hatton and Karen Blixen, who, as Isak Dinesen, wrote Out of Africa. Markham lived a fascinating and uncompromising life filled with danger, ill-fated romance, and stunning bravery, and McLain does justice to her memory with this sensitive and beautifully written portrayal.

Some library reading groups are planning to read it along with Markham’s own memoir, West With the Night (Macmillan/North Point Press). Her contemporary, Ernest Hemingway memorably said about it. “this girl, who is to my knowledge very unpleasant and we might even say a high-grade bitch, can write rings around all of us who consider ourselves as writers.”

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 10.14.56 AMKitchens of the Great Midwest (Penguin/Pamela Dorman; Penguin Audio) by J. Ryan Stradal

A debut novel about a savant chef and the power of cooking,  Jessica Stockton Bagnulo of the Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn, NY says it is a novel that “everyone is going to be talking about!” Librarians certainly are as it made our GalleyChat picks back in March and is the number one LibraryReads pick for July. ALSO NOTE: Please join our Penguin First Flights live online chat with the author is on July 15.

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 10.16.03 AMThe list includes a number of other debuts, including The Watchmaker of Filigree Street (Macmillan/Bloomsbury; OverDrive Sample) by Natasha Pulley. A literary blend of steampunk, fantasy, and historical fiction, it is a book readers’ advisors might want to particularly note, as Amanda Hurley of Inkwood Books (Tampa, FL) makes clear at the end of her annotation: “Fans of David Mitchell and Erin Morgenstern will be intrigued, and I think it’s safe to say that we can expect great things from Pulley.”

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 10.20.20 AMBig Names appear as well. The long anticipated Armada (Crown/RH; RH Audio) by Ernest Cline makes the list with the comment that it “will not disappoint the myriad fans of Ready Player One. On the contrary, it is another magical, nerdy romp through science fiction and fantasy pop culture where the thing that happens to the hero is exactly the thing every sci-fi lover secretly — or not so secretly — dreams will happen to them!” Note also that Steven Spielberg is directing and adaptation of Ready Player One expected to begin filming next year.

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 10.22.58 AMThe newest Alice Hoffman novel, The Marriage of Opposites (Simon & Schuster; S&S Audio) makes the cut as well. It is about the life of Rachel Pomie Petit Pissarro and her son, Camille, the great Impressionist painter.

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 10.27.20 AMIn nonfiction fans of Alex Kershaw have a new book to enjoy, Avenue of Spies: A True Story of Terror, Espionage, and One American Family’s Heroic Resistance in Nazi-Occupied Paris (RH/Crown; BOT and RH Audio), about the chief surgeon at the American Hospital in Paris who worked with the underground network to move people to safety during WWII.

RA Alert: THE DIVER’S CLOTHES LIE EMPTY

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 10.34.31 AMOn Fresh Air yesterday author Vendela Vida spoke with Terry Gross about her new novel The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty (Harper/Ecco; HighBridge; OverDrive Sample), one of the show’s early summer reading picks.

The novel, about a woman’s unraveling identity, has received admiring reviews in local and national papers, from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Cleveland Plain Dealer to the daily New York Times and the Sunday Book Review.

As a result, holds are spiking in some places and are generally outpacing fairly light ordering.

If you need a way to describe the story, check out these takes:

  • Entertainment Weekly, which gave the book a B+, offers a bang-up summary: “Vida’s twisting, feverish novel may be slim, but it’s full of intrigue, betrayal, and enough mysterious doppelgängers to overwhelm even Orphan Black’s Tatiana Maslany.”
  • The Huffington Post’s “Bottom Line” says it is for readers “interested in feminist literature, funny stories, and spare plots that’ll make your heart race.”

TEN THOUSAND SAINTS, Trailer

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 10.31.55 AMEleanor Henderson’s debut novel, Ten Thousand Saints (HarperCollins/Ecco, 2011; OverDrive Sample) is about to land in movie theaters (on Aug. 14) . It premiered earlier this year at the Sundance Festival.

Adapted by the team behind American Splendor, the film stars Ethan Hawke, Asa Butterfield, Hailee Steinfeld, Emile Hirsch, and Emily Mortimer and is set in the hardcore punk scene of Manhattan during the late 80s, on the eve of the Tompkins Square Park riots.

Early reviews are mixed, with The Hollywood Reporter calling it “unassumingly strong” and Variety praising its tone and setting but questioning its selling power, “this warmly conceived dramedy will likely resonate strongest with audiences who have a direct connection to the story’s place and time. Otherwise, there’s not much to suggest a theatrical windfall.”

The NPR’s review of the novel deemed it “a sad, funny…bittersweet, lovely book.” Based on the trailer, that tone seems to have carried over to the movie with its music, inter-generational dialogue, and teenage angst.

HarperCollins releases a movie-tie in edition next month:

Ten Thousand Saints MTI
Eleanor Henderson
HarperCollins/Ecco; July 28, 2015; Paperback
9780062428691, 0062428691
$15.99 USD, $19.99 CAD

GREY Gets a Spanking

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

Last night’s live online Twitter chat with E.L. James (#AskELJames) turned into some Fifty Shades bashing. As Entertainment Weekly puts it, “E.L. James’ Twitter Q&A didn’t really go as well as planned.”

Before all that broke loose, James responded to a question about plans for other romance novels by saying,

I’ve written a new book and am halfway through another. Both romances. Not sure when I will finish them. :)

Locus Award Winners, 2015

Monday, June 29th, 2015

The 2015 Locus Awards, for outstanding Science Fiction and Fantasy are:

Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 12.28.53 PMAnn Leckie won best SF novel for Ancillary Sword (Hachette/Orbit; Hachette Audio and Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample), the follow-up to Ancillary Justice which won the 2014 Hugo, Nebula, and Arthur C. Clarke awards.

Nominees in the category that had the bad luck of going up against that juggernaut are The Peripheral (Penguin/Putnam; Penguin Audio; OverDrive Sample) by William Gibson, The Three-Body Problem (Macmillan/Tor; Macmillan Audio; OverDrive Sample) by Cixin Liu, Lock In (Macmillan/Tor; Audible Studios on Brilliance Audio; OverDrive Sample) by John Scalzi (which was a LibraryReads pick for August 2014), and all three books in Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy. The first in the set, Annihilation (Macmillan/FSG; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample), just won the 2015 Nebula.

Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 12.34.00 PMKatherine Addison won best Fantasy novel for The Goblin Emperor (Macmillan/Tor; Tantor Audio; OverDrive Sample).

It topped an equally strong group of nominees that includes Steles of the Sky (Macmillan/Tor; OverDrive Sample) by Elizabeth Bear, City of Stairs (Hachette/Jo Fletcher Books; OverDrive Sample) by Robert Jackson Bennett, The Magician’s Land (Penguin/Viking; Penguin Audio; OverDrive Sample) by Lev Grossman (also a LibraryReads pick for August 2014), and The Mirror Empire (PRH/Angry Robot; OverDrive Sample) by Kameron Hurley.

The Locus Awards are decided by the readers of Locus Magazine. A full list of winners and nominees can be seen on the io9 site.

Silva Summer: THE ENGLISH SPY

Monday, June 29th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 11.05.17 AMSeveral things happen around this time of year: the heat intensifies, humidity blooms, and Daniel Silva releases another Gabriel Allon thriller.

This time it is The English Spy (Harper; HarperAudio) which comes out tomorrow.

In this new title, Silva’s character, Israel’s super spy Allon, finds himself torn between the past and future as he is forced to leave his pregnant wife to fulfill a longstanding vendetta. It is a quest that will ensnare his British cohort Christopher Keller (who first appeared in The English Assassin) and a number of other old friends and enemies.

Making the book tour rounds, Silva appeared this morning on the Today Show to talk about how he borrows from the headlines, politics, and current events to create the background for his plots.

He was also on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday where he offered brief comments on politics and writing. While there are a number of complications in writing a political series (and his series  is very political, with a conservative point of view about Israel and Middle Eastern and Russian politics) he says it is those complications that give his Allon books their edge. He also discussed the burdens of writing a successful franchise, revealing that he has numerous blue note cards full of stories that do not feature Allon, but feels that his fans would revolt if his next book didn’t continue the series.

For now, Allon reigns supreme but fans might one day meet a new Silva character.

MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE
Comes to Comic-Con

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

Marvel and a few other studios are sitting out the upcoming San Diego Comic-Con, causing Variety to  declare, “TV Takes Over Comic-Con as Film Studios Back Out” (perhaps they haven’t noticed that TV seems to be taking over everything these days).

Further, they say this offers “upstart digital networks looking to compete with their broadcast counterparts” an opportunity to get more exposure.

One of those upstarts is Amazon Studios, appearing at the show for the first time this year with two series, one of which is The Man in the High Castle, adapted from the iconic alternative reality novel by Philip K. Dick. A special screening of the first two episodes at Comic-Con on Friday, July 10 will also be live-streamed on Entertainment Weekly‘s site.

The series is directed by Ridley Scott, known for 1982 movie Blade Runner based, if somewhat loosely, on another iconic book by Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

The first, rather obscure, trailer to promote that event has just been released:

Comic-Con will also feature a first look at at Outcast, the upcoming Cinemax series based on the comics by Robert Kirkman and Paul Azaceta.

Trailer, HE NAMED ME MALALA

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).

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).

 

The TODAY SHOW
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).

DARK PLACES, U.S. Trailer

Sunday, June 21st, 2015

9780553418484_dd840

The second adaptation of a Gillian Flynn novel, after Gone Girl, is arrives in theaters on  August 7. Based on Dark Places, tit was filmed at the same time as Gone Girl and 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

Tie-in:

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