The last summer reading picks are trickling in. Next week brings two buzz titles from Book Expo and ALA: British author Rachel Joyce‘s quirky tale of friendship and loyalty, and John Verdon‘s third NYPD detective mystery, plus the latest Dublin mystery from Tana French. Usual suspects include Danielle Steel, J.A. Jance, Brad Thor and Emily Griffin.
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (Random House; RH Audio; BOT) is a debut novel by an acclaimed BBC scriptwriter, about a man who decides to walk 600 miles to visit a terminally ill old friend who has written him out of the blue. Booklist says, “a gentle and genteel charmer, brimming with British quirkiness yet quietly haunting in its poignant and wise examination of love and devotion. Sure to become a book-club favorite.” This one was featured on the Editor’s Buzz Panel at Book Expo, a Wall St. Journal Hot Title for July and is on O Magazine‘s Summer Reading List.
Let the Devil Sleep byJohn Verdon (RH/Crown; Dreamscape Audio; Overdrive ebook and audio) is the third mystery featuring retired NYPD Detective Dave Gurney, who is seeking some R&R in upstate New York when there’s a break in a 10-year old serial killer case. PW says, “the tension is palpable on virtually every page of a story that perfectly balances the protagonistas complex inner life with an elaborately constructed puzzle.” This was a librarians Shout ‘n’ Share title at ALA. 70,000-copy printing.
Broken Harbor by Tana French (Penguin/Viking; Thorndike Large Print) is the author’s fourth Dublin mystery featuring Detective Mick ‘Scorcher’ Kennedy, this time about an attack on a family that only the mother survives. It’s on most of the summer reading lists, including FlavoreWire’s “Must Reads” for July, which offers this recommendation: “If you’re going to read this book, you probably already know it — if not, we recommend starting with In the Woods and thanking us later. [Broken Harbor] is as fierce and eloquently pulse-intensifying as the others.” 200,000-copy printing.
Judgment Callby J.A. Jance (HarperCollins/ Morrow; Harperluxe; HarperAudio) is the 15th novel featuring Cochise County, Ariz., sheriff Joanna Brady, whose daughter discovers the body of her school principal. PW says, “Jance smoothly intertwines the threads of multiple subplots, complete with a red herring or two. The solution to a 25-year-old mystery surrounding the death of Joanna’s father is a bonus.”
Black List by Brad Thor (S&S/Emily Bestler; S&SAudio; Thorndike Large Print) features Scot Harvath, a former Navy SEAL Team 6 member turned covert counterterrorism operative, who must evade a stream of assassins until he can figure out why he’s on the president’s black list.
Where We Belong by Emily Giffin (Macmillan/ St. Martin; Thorndike Large Print; Macmillan Audio) is the author’s fifth novel, about a 36-year-old New York City TV producer whose stable life is unsettled by the daughter she gave up 18 years before. Entertainment Weekly picked it as a “Hot Read” of summer 2012. It follows Heart of the Matter, which hit the NYT list at #2. The author’s first book, Something Borrowed, was made into a movie in 2011.
Major Media Attention
Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Streetby Neil Barofsky (S&S/Free Press) is, according to the publisher, is “An irrefutable indictment, from an insider of both the Bush and Obama administrations, of the mishandling of the $700 billion TARP bailouts and the extreme degree to which our government officials from both parties served the interests of Wall Street at the expense of the public.” It will be featured in dozens of media outlets, including CBS Face the Nation this Sunday, NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, and NPR’s Marketplace.
Next week brings a comic sci-fi debut from Internet entrepreneur RobReid, along with new novels from breakout authorsJohn Boyne andDeborah Harkness. In nonfiction, there’s a harrowing Iraq war memoir by Air Force veteranBrian Castner, andJames Carville and Stan Greenberg talk Democratic strategy for November. Returning literary favorites include Carlos Ruoz Zafón, Stephen Carter andKurt Anderson. And usual suspects include Gigi Levangie Grazer, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Catherine Coulter, Linda Fairstein, James Patterson, Andrew Gross and Meg Cabot, plus YA author Eoin Colfer.
Year Zero by Rob Reid (RH/Del Rey; RH digital-only audio on OverDrive) is a satire about the movie industry, by someone who knows the business intimately (he’s the founder of the online music company, Listen.com).
It’s recommended by Entertainment Weekly for those who love The Hitchhiker”s Guide to the Galaxy. They also offer an exclusive interview with the author by John Hodgman, who reads the audio, a digital-only release (on OverDrive).
That interview isn’t revealing, but the trailer gives a good sense of the book’s tone.
The Absolutist by John Boyne (Other Press) is an novel about a WWI veteran’s reflections over 60 years on his brief, forbidden love affair in the trenches with a fellow soldier who died, by the Irish author of the YA hit The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. PW calls it “a relentlessly tragic yet beautifully crafted novel.” It got several shouts from librarians at the BEA Shout ‘n’ Share program, with Barbara Genco noting that the WWI setting makes it a good bet for fans of Downton Abbey. The publisher has a different take, comparing it to Atonement and Brokeback Mountain.
Shadow of Nightby Deborah Harkness (Penguin/Viking; Thorndike Large Print; Penguin Audiobooks) is the highly anticipated sequel to the hit debut A Discovery of Witches. This time, the action is set in Elizabethan England, where vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont and witch historian Diana Bishop search for an enchanted manuscript. Entertainment Weekly gives it a B+, a mixed grade because the story takes a while to gain momentum, but when it does, “it enchants.” People magazine concurs, giving it 3 of a possible 4 stars, saying there are “too many story lines, too many shifting time periods and a confusing slew of new characters.” Even so, it “delivers enough romance and excitement to keep the pages turning. Readers will devout it, chaos and all.”
The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (Harper; HarperAudio; HarperLuxe) brings together characters from The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel’s Game, who must face a mysterious stranger who visits the Sempere bookshop, and threatens to reveal a secret.
The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln by Stephen Carter (RH/Knopf; Random House Audio) is a work of alternate history by the Yale Law professor and bestselling author of The Emperor of Ocean Park that explores what would have happened if President Abraham Lincoln had not been assassinated. (Hint: Lincoln is accused of violating the Constitution in his conduct of the Civil War and faces impeachment.) PW says, “this is Lincoln by way of Dan Brown, complete with ciphers and conspiracies and breathless escapes, only not so breathless, since Carter lacks Brown’s talent for narrative momentum.”
True Believersby Kurt Anderson (Random House; Random House Audio) is a cultural study of a judge who opts out of consideration for a Supreme Court seat because of events in her youth, giving the novelist and host of the award-winning Studio 360 public radio show ample ground for exploring the cultural contradictions of the last 50 years. LJ says, “a good read both for those who remember the [60s] era and for those who wish to better understand that time and its social and political connections to today.”
The After Wife by Gigi Levangie Grazer (RH/Ballantine; Center Point Large Print; Random House Audio) is the story of a recently widowed woman who discovers she can talk to the dead. It got a hearty endorsement on the Librarians’ Shout ‘n’ Share panel at BEA this year from Wendy Bartlett, head of collection development at Cuyahoga County PL. As we noted earlier, Wendy found The After Wife so hilarious that she ordered extra copies.
The Great Escapeby Susan Elizabeth Phillips (HarperCollins/Morrow; Thorndike Large Print; HarperAudio) recounts the further adventures of Lucy Jorik, daughter of the former U.S. President, who left her perfect fiance at the altar to explore her alter ego, a biker chick named Viper. LJ says, “with brilliant dialog, sassy humor, and laserlike insight into what makes people tick, Phillips gifts readers with an engrossing, beautifully written romance that satisfies on all levels.”
Backfire (FBI Series #16) by Catherine Coulter (Penguin/Putnam; Thorndike Large Print; Brilliance Audio) finds husband-and-wife FBI agents Dillon Savich and Lacey Sherlock pursuing a killer who shoots a San Francisco judge. PW says, “Coulter mixes romance, strong family ties, narrow misses, and narrower escapes as well as some twists that strain credulity to the breaking point. Series fans will applaud the strong female leads and the nifty teamwork of Savich and Sherlock.”
Night Watch by Linda Fairstein (Penguin/Dutton; Thorndike Large Print; Penguin Audio) has Manhattan Sex Crimes prosecutor Alexandra Cooper probing the underside of New York’s fanciest restaurants, based on evidence in a rape case involving director of the World Economic Bureau and a hotel maid. Kirkus says, “not surprisingly, the case ripped from the headlines is much more absorbing than the tale of restaurant malfeasance and [Cooper's] imperiled love. Alex’s 14th is distinctly below average for this bestselling series.”
I, Michael Bennett by James Patterson (Hachette/Little, Brown; Hachette Large Print; Hachette Audio) is the fifth installment in the series featuring Detective Michael Bennett, this time featuring South American crime lord who brings new violence to Manhattan.
15 Secondsby Andrew Gross (HarperCollins/Morrow; Harperluxe) is a stand-alone thriller that explores an accidental shooting that leaves an innocent participant as the target of a huge police manhunt. Booklist says “Gross, who has collaborated with James Patterson on five best-sellers, turns out a page-turning, roller-coaster of a novel with a likable if sometimes foolish protagonist.”
Size 12 and Ready to Rock: A Heather Wells Mystery by Meg Cabot (HarperCollins/Morrow; Audio, Dreamscape Media) is latest installment in this ongoing paperback original series. Here, New York College Resident Dorm Director Heather Wells investigates a case with her fiance that involves her ex’s new wife. PW says, “Readers of Cabot’s blog will recognize Heather, with her hilarious pop culture references and dry humor. A good read, though fans might find the plot disappointing in the context of the big picture.”
Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian by Eoin Colfer (Disney/Hyperion; Audio, RH/Listening Library) is the eighth and final installment in the popular series, in which the evil pixie Opal Koboi infuses Artemis’s brothers with the spirits of dead warriors, making them more annoying than ever.
The Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life That Follows by Brian Castner (RH/Doubleday; Center Point Large Print; Random House Audio) recounts the author’s years as an air force officer in Saudi Arabia in 2001, and Iraq in 2005 and 2006, where he earned a Bronze Star and performed the “long walk” to dismantle bombs by hand and in short order, when robots failed. Kirkus calls it, “scarifying stuff, without any mawkishness or dumb machismo–not quite on the level of Jarhead, but absolutely worth reading.”
It’s The Middle Class, Stupid!by James Carville and Stan Greenberg (Penguin/Blue Rider Press; Penguin Audio) brings together liberal talking head Carville and pollster Greenberg to discuss why Democrats must focus on the middle class to win in November. Kirkus says, “they are refreshingly specific in some of their policy recommendations in areas such as energy investment and campaign finance reform. For Democratic political junkies who enjoy straight-talk policy discussion.” 125,000 copy first printing.
Lots of librarian favorites and buzz titles to look out for next week, starting with Francine Matthews‘s alternate history featuring JFK, and Dianne Warren‘s prize-winning tale of small town lives. Little Bee author Chris Cleaves returns with a much-praised third novel, along with fellow Brit Louise Millar’s look into the lives of two London mothers, while Swedish author Lars Kepler is back with another creepy thriller. Usual suspects include Karin Slaughter, Jennifer Weiner and Taylor Anderson. And Cheryl Strayed delivers a collection of her tangy “Dear Sugar” advice columns from The Rumpus.
Jack 1939 by Francine Mathews (Penguin/Riverhead; Thorndike Large Print) explores the premise that President Franklin Roosevelt enlisted a young John F. Kennedy – the son of the ambassador to Britain – to investigate a conspiracy to fix the 1940 U.S. election. Wendy Bartlett at Cuyahoga is betting big on this one, as an easy hand-sell across a busy reference desk. As she puts it, “all you need to say is: ‘There was no CIA in 1939. JFK travels to Europe to research his Harvard senior thesis (which he actually did); Franklin Roosevelt asks him to gather intelligence on what the Nazis are up to.’ ” She believes both men and women will love it, and that it’s a perfect airplane read.
Juliet in August by Dianne Warren (Putnam/Amy Einhorn; Tantor Audio) is a debut novel that follows the residents of a small town on the edge of the vast grassland of Saskatchewan on a single day. The winner of Canada’s highly regarded Governor General’s Award, it was also an ALA Shout ‘n’ Share title, where librarian Wendy Bartlett compared the author to Alice Munro and Jaimy Gordon, saying, “Juliet, it turns out, is a place, not a person… Warren’s description of horses reminds me of Wrobeleski’s wonderful descriptions of dogs in Edgar Sawtelle… Surprise and delight your customers with this one. They’ll thank you, and when it ends up on prize lists, you’ll look smart!”
Gold by Chris Cleave (Simon & Schuster; Thorndike Large Print; S&S Audio) is the story of two friends and close rivals as they train for their last Olympic bike race together and confront the challenges of love, friendship, ambition and parenthood, written by the British author of the runaway hit Little Bee. It’s the #1 Indie Next pick for July and is getting strong early reviews, like this one from PW: “Cleave pulls out all the stops, getting inside the hearts and minds of his engagingly complex characters. The race scenes have true visceral intensity, leaving the reader feeling as breathless as a cyclist. From start to finish, this is a truly Olympic-level literary achievement.” It’s most summer reading lists, including People magazine’s, with lots of reviews coming, and coverage on NPR’s Weekend Edition expected.
The Nightmare by Lars Kepler (Macmillan/FSG/Sarah Crichton; Thorndike Large Print) is the sequel to last year’s creepy yet excellent Swedish thriller The Hypnotist, again featuring detective Joona Linna as she looks into an arms dealing case. Booklist says, ” While the plot is overstuffed and the pacing is stiff, Kepler (a pseudonym for husband-and-wife team Alexander and Alexandra Ahndoril) creates a terrific, almost palpable atmosphere, which is sure to please fans of Swedish crime fiction.”
The Playdate by Louise Millar (S&S/Atria/Emily Bestler Trade Pbk Original) is the story of a friendship between two London women who live on the same street, one affluent and the other a struggling single mother whose child has a heart condition. PW says it begins as a “quiet story about neighbors [and] soon builds into a gripping psychological thriller.” 75,000-copy first printing.
Criminalby Karin Slaughter (RH/Delacorte Press; Center Point Large Print; AudioGO) is the fourth installment in the Georgia Bureau of Investigation series, with two disturbingly similar rape cases that take place 40 years apart. PW says, “Slaughter seamlessly shifts between past and present, while her usual attentive eye for character and carefully metered violence is on full display.”
The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner (S&S/Atria Books; Center Point Large Print; Simon & Schuster Audio) is the story of Ruth Saunders, who moves in with her grandma in Hollywood and gets a sitcom accepted for production.
Iron Gray Sea: Destroyerman by Taylor Anderson (Penguin/NAL/Roc; Tantor Audio) is the seventh novel in the Destroyerman series about a parallel universe in which the drama of World War II plays out, with Lieutenant Commander Matthew Reddy and the crew of USS “Walker” and their allies pursuing a Japanese destroyer in Allied seas.
Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed (Random House) is a collection of columns that appeared on the online publication The Rumpus. Formerly anonymous, the columnist recently revealed herself to be the author of the memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, the first in the Oprah 2.0 Book Club. Kirkus says this collection “demonstrates that wisdom doesn’t come only from age, but also from learning from the experiences of others. A realistic and poignant compilation of the intricacies of relationships.”
Memorial Day is marked by parades, wreath laying, dreams of long days reading in the hammock, and summer reading lists. Several arrived as scheduled, and, as we’ve come to expect, there’s very little overlap among them. Only four titles were mentioned more than once in this round:
Our favorite, because it’s most in tune with the titles we’ve been hearing about on GalleyChat and it is presented in an interactive format (flash cards for readers advisors), although, surprisingly, it misses the big buzz debut of the summer, Karen Thompson Walker’s The Age of Miracles, (Random House, 6/26).
The WSJ contends that several of the summer’s most anticipated novels “combine genres in unexpected ways and subvert long-held narrative conventions.” It’s a good hook, but the phenomenon wasn’t invented this season. The prime examples are The Age of Miracles because it’s “a quiet family drama with science-fiction themes” and Dare Me (Hachette/Regan Arthur, 8/31) by Megan Abbot, dubbed “High-School Noir” because it “turns the frothy world of high-school cheerleading into something truly menacing.”
Maslin lavishes the most attention on Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies, already a best seller, and includes some quirky titles, (such as the one in the headline, Granddad, There’s a Head on the Beach, a “droll mystery” by Colin Cotterill, Macmillan/Minotaur, 6/18), and some buzz titles (The Age of Miracles). One surprising recommendation; reality-show-creator-cum-talk-show-host Andy Cohen’s Most Talkative (Macmillan/Holt), currently #5 on the NYT hardcover nonfiction best seller list after two weeks. She says he is “as funny as Augusten Burroughs used to be.”
This list is also in tune with titles we’ve been hearing about on GalleyChat, such as Laura Moriarty’s The Chaperone(Penguin/Riverhead, 6/5) called a “fun romp” by GH. Also on the list, The Orphanmaster, a genre-bending title described as “A thriller, love story, and costume drama in one.” It’s also on USA Today‘s list, under mysteries. Many of you joined us in reading the book and chatting with the author as part of Penguin’s First Flights debut author program. The newly-released trailer features Jean talking about the historical background of the novel.
Richard Ford and Paul Theroux return next week – with Ford exploring a boy’s coming of age and Theroux probing a mid-life crisis – while Elizabeth Lowell delivers her latest romantic thriller. There are also three novels that librarians have been buzzing about on our Galley Chat:Suzanne Joinson‘s tale of two women connected across time, Melanie Gideon‘s comic novel about a bored wife, and a mystery set amid the early days of Scotland Yard by Alex Grecian. Plus YA novels from Alyson Noël and Michael Scott. And in nonfiction, Colin Powell shares his leadership lessons.
Canada by Richard Ford (Harper/Ecco; HarperLuxe) is a story of abandonment and self-discovery, told by a boy transplanted to an obscure town in Canada after his parents are arrested for a bank robbery and his sister flees. It’s the #1 IndieNext Pick for June. LJ says, “the narrative slowly builds into a gripping commentary on life’s biggest question: Why are we here? Ford’s latest work successfully expands our understanding of and sympathy for humankind.” At libraries, holds are light on moderate ordering, but it’s on nearly every list of upcoming titles. 200,000 copy first printing.
The Lower River byPaul Theroux (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) follows a man journeying back to an area in Malawi he hasn’t returned to since his years with the Peace Corps after his wife and child leave him, only to discover a village wracked by poverty. PW says, “A somewhat slow exposition and occasional repetition aside, Theroux successfully grafts keen observations about the efficacy of international aid and the nature of nostalgia to a swift-moving narrative through a beautifully described landscape.” Also an IndieNext pick for June.
Beautiful Sacrifice by Elizabeth Lowell (Harper/Morrow; HarperLuxe) finds archeologist Lina Taylor and former Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Hunter Johnson joining forces to track down missing Mayan artifacts in this romantic thriller. 150,000 copy-first-print. One-day laydown.
A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar by Suzanne Joinson (Bloomsbury) is a historical novel with two parallel stories about women struggling to define themselves, which moves between 1920s Turkestan and present-day England. The publisher compares it to Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. It’s been getting buzz on GalleyChat, with librarians saying it’s a ” good historical fiction novel, with a great cover.” LJ is also positive: “this atmospheric first novel immediately engages… Highly recommended” and it is an IndieNext pick for June. However, libraries have bought it relatively lightly. Cuyahoga buyer Wendy Bartlett cautions that the book does not deliver the light-hearted story signaled by the cover and title and that the parallel stories may put off casual readers. 75,000 copy first printing. The Web site LadyCyclistsGuide.com provides background on Kashgar and the origins of the story.
Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon (RH/Ballantine; RH Audio) is about a bored San Francisco Bay Area wife and mother of teenagers, who in the course of taking a survey about her marriage (she is Wife #22) realizes that the researcher who’s interviewing her may understand her better than her husband. It’s the first adult novel from YA novelist Gideon, who is also the author of the popular adult memoir The Slippery Year. Here are a few comments from our Galley Chat: “Add me to the list enjoying Wife 22. Would definitely be a great book for discussion.” — “Hard to put down! People will either love or hate main character.” CRYSTAL BALL: Most libraries could use more copies.
The Yardby Alex Grecian (Putnam) is a mystery set in Victorian London, featuring a detective new to Scotland Yard as the organization tries to recover from its failure to catch Jack the Ripper, and written by the author of the graphic novel series Proof. Booklist says, “Grecian’s infusion of actual history adds to this thriller’s credibility and punch.” One of our Galley Chatters had this to say: “mystery set at the end of the 19th C is excellent. Early Scotland Yard, beginning of forensics.” Also an IndieNext pick for June
Fatedby Alyson Noël (St. Martin’s/Griffin) marks the beginning of the new Soul Seekers series, about a girl who discovers that she’s descended from Native American shamans, from the author of popular The Immortals series.PW says, “Though weakened by genre cliches and off-screen character development, [the] story is nicely paced and well-written.” It launches with its own Web site.
The Enchantress(Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel Series #6) byMichael Scott (RH/Delacorte Young Readers; Listening Library) is the latest installment in the series that mixes fantasy (the main character is a fabulously wealthy book seller), science fiction and horror. Trailers and games available on the series site.
It Worked For Me: In Life and Leadership by Colin Powell (HarperCollins) is a series of anecdotes that illustrate leadership lessons, by the former secretary of state and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and author of the two-million-copy bestseller My American Journey. PW says, “There’s much inspirational sense drawn from Powell’s matchless range of managerial and political experiences, but also a frustrating reticence on the great leadership crisis of his time [the war in Iraq].” Print Run: 750,000 copies.
Next week, Lyndsay Faye‘s historical novel about a serial killer in 1845 New York, The Gods of Gotham, builds on her breakout debut, while Mark Allen Smith‘s debut thriller The Inquisitor features a professional torturer who unexpectedly breaks character. There are also two notable magical realist novels: Tiffany Baker‘s The Gilly Salt Sisters and Heidi Julavit‘s The Vanishers. And in nonfiction, Marilynne Robinson returns with an essay collection about her Christian faith and “Pioneer Woman” Ree Drummond delivers a new recipe collection.
The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye (Penguin/Putnam/Amy Einhorn Books; audio from Dreamscape is also downloadable from OverDrive) is set in 1845 New York, where an officer in the newly organized police force, encounters a blood-soaked girl who leads him to evidence of an anti-Irish serial killer at work. Library Journal raves, “vivid period details, fully formed characters, and a blockbuster of a twisty plot put Faye in a class with Caleb Carr. Readers will look forward to the sequel.” PW adds, “this one “improves on her impressive debut, Dust and Shadow.”
The Gilly Salt Sisters by TiffanyBaker (Hachette/Grand Central Publishing; Thorndike Press) follows two sisters whose family has always harvested salt and who that may or may not have magical powers over their Cape Cod community, and the wealthy bachelor who forces his way into their lives. LJ says, “fans of Baker’s acclaimed The Little Giant of Aberdeen County won’t be disappointed with this quirky, complex, and original tale. It is also sure to enchant readers who enjoy Alice Hoffman and other authors of magical realism.”
The Inquisitor by Mark Allen Smith (Macmillan/ Holt; Macmillan Audio) is a thriller about a professional torturer in the “information retrieval” business, who instills fear rather than pain and has a gift for recognizing when he hears the truth. But this time, he must interrogate a 12-year-old boy, whom he decides to protect. LJ says “this is not for the faint of heart or the weak of stomach. But Geiger, who’s seeing a psychiatrist and suffers disabling migraines, is a fascinating protagonist with a revealing backstory. A compelling debut thriller that blurs the lines between the good and bad guys.”
The Vanishers by Heidi Julavits (RH/Doubleday; Audio, Dreamscape Media) is set at an elite school for psychics, where a young student surpasses her troubled mentor, unleashing much wrath, in this novel (after The Uses of Enchantment) by the editor of the literary magazine The Believer. LJ calls it “reminiscent of Arthur Phillips’s The Egyptologist: clever, humorous, with supernatural elements. While one can easily get confused about what is real and what is imagined, readers who surrender to the narrative may be rewarded with rich insights about losing a parent.”
Another Piece of My Heart by Jane Green (Macmillan/St. Martin’s Press; Wheeler Publishing; MacMillan Audio) focuses on a just-married woman whose angry new stepdaughter is determined to undermine her, and what motherhood truly means. LJ says, “Green is at her finest with this compelling novel. Deeper, more complicated, and more ambitious than her previous books, it will keep readers on edge as they wait to see how these tense family dynamics play out.”
Deep Fathom by James Rollins (HarperCollins Morrow; Harperluxe) finds ex-Navy SEAL Jack Kirkland surfacing from an aborted salvage mission to find the United States on the brink of a nuclear apocalypse.
Infamous(Chronicles of Nick Series #3) by Sherrilyn Kenyon (Macmillan/St. Martin’s Griffin; Macmillan Audio) follows the further adventures of teenager Nick Gautier, whose first mandate is to stay alive while everyone, even his own father, tries to kill him. He’s learned to annihilate zombies and raise the dead, as well as divination and clairvoyance, so why is learning to drive and keep a girlfriend so hard, let alone survival? Kenyon’s books and fans keep mounting: there are 23 million copies of her books in print in over 30 countries,
Out of Sight, Out of Time (Gallagher Girls Series #5) by Ally Carter (Hyperion Books; Brilliance Corporation) is the latest installment in the popular spy-girl series, in which Cammie wakes up in an alpine convent and discovers months have passed since she left the Gallagher Academy to protect her friends and family, and her memory is a black hole.
Starters, Lissa Price, (RH/Delacorte Young Readers; Listening Library) is a new entry in the crowded field of YA dystopian novels. This one imagines a world in which teens rent their bodies to seniors who want to be young again. Kirkus wasn’t impressed with the writing, but predicted, “twists and turns come so fast that readers will stay hooked.” In its spring preview, the L.A. Times called it “the next, best entry” in the genre. It comes with a book trailer that makes you wonder how quickly it will be snapped up by Hollywood.
When I Was a Child I Read Books: Essays by Marilynne Robinson (Macmillan/FSG) is a new collection that returns to her major themes: the role of faith in modern life, the inadequacy of fact, and the contradictions inherent in human nature. Kirkus says, “Robinson is a splendid writer, no question–erudite, often wise and slyly humorous (there is a clever allusion to the birther nonsense in a passage about Noah Webster). Articulate and learned descriptions and defenses of the author’s Christian faith.”
The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food From My Frontier by Ree Drummond (HarperCollins/Morrow) intersperses recipes with photographs of the author’s life on her ranch. Kirkus says, “some readers may delight in Drummond’s down-home way of speaking directly to the reader, while others may find the interaction a bit snarky and annoying. A collection of basic recipes to guarantee a full belly and an empty plate.”
It may be the next step beyond The Friday Night Knitting Club and The Jane Austen Book Club. Lisi Harrison’s debut adult novel The Dirty Book Club has just been sold to Simon & Schuster’s Gallery imprint (publisher of Chelsea Handler’s books). The pub date was not announced.
Harrison’s A Tale of Two Pretties, (Hachette/LNYR/Poppy), the 14th and final volume in her best selling YA series, The Clique, releases tomorrow.
The new book is described as being about,
…four women in the 1960s who start reading provocative fiction and form a secret club that changes their livesn– and in the present, they recruit four young women to take over the book club, as the provocative material unearths their buried desires and wreaks havoc on their otherwise ideal lives (via Publishers Marketplace Deals).
Next week, watch for Lauren Fox‘s delicious new chick lit novel, David Rosenfelt‘s clever legal thriller-cum-mystery and Tatiana de Rosnay’s latest historical novel. Usual suspects include Anne Rice, Sophie Kinsella, James Patterson and Michael Palmer. And in nonfiction, there’s a new biography of founding father James Madison.
Friends Like Us by Lauren Fox (RH/Knopf; Dreamscape Audio) focuses on two close girlfriends, one of whom falls in love with the other’s oldest (male) friend. Booklist gives it a starred review: “the plot is pure Emily Giffin, but Fox tackles quarter-life angst with the honesty of Ann Packer’s The Dive from Clausen’s Pier (2002). The hard emotional truths go down easily amid the smart, rapid-fire wit. A pure if heartbreaking pleasure.”
Heart of a Killer by David Rosenfelt (Macmillan Minotaur Books; Listen & Live Audio) begins as a legal thriller about an underachieving lawyer assigned a case in which a convicted murder demands to end her life so she can donate her heart to her daughter. Then it becomes a murder mystery and finally a suspense novel. Kirkus calls it “warmhearted, satisfyingly inventive and almost too clever for its own good. Why isn’t Rosenfelt a household name like Michael Connelly and Jeffery Deaver?”
The House I Loved by Tatiana de Rosnay (Macmillan/St. Martin’s; Wheeler Large Print; Macmillan Audio) is set in Paris in the 1860s, as a woman fights the destruction of her home as hundreds of houses are being razed – and is written by the author of the popular book and film Sarah’s Key. PW says “though this epistolary narrative is slow to build, its fraught with drama… In Rose, one gets the clear sense of a woman losing her place in a changing world, but this isnt enough to make up for a weak narrative hung entirely on the eventual reveal of a long-buried secret.”
The WolfGiftby Anne Rice (RH/Knopf; RH Large Print; RH Audio) marks Rice’s return to the dark side – this time it’s werewolves – after her recent fictional flights with the angels. Kirkus says, “despite some of the creakiness of the machinery, Rice finds new permutations in an old tale.”
I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella (Dial Press; Thorndike Large Print; RH Audio) is about Poppy, who’s on the verge of marrying her ideal man, until she loses her engagement ring and her phone, finds another phone in a trash can, and begins an unpredictable exchange with the phone’s owner, Sam. Booklist gives it a starred review: “Readers will know that Poppy and Sam are destined to be together, but getting there is a delightful and exciting ride. One of Kinsella’s best.”
Private Games by James Patterson and Mark Sullivan (Hachette/Little, Brown; Hachette Audio) is set in the world’s most renowned investigation firm, Private, which has been commissioned to provide security for the 2012 Olympic Games in London – and suddenly must track the killer of a high-ranking member of the games’ organizing committee.
Robert Ludlum’s The Janson Command by Paul Garrison (Hachette/Grand Central; Hachette Audio) finds Paul Janson rescuing a doctor abducted in international waters by African pirates, as the situation goes haywire. Kirkus says “there’s sufficient knife work, sniper shots, RPGs, private jets, helicopters, betrayals and corporate machinations to satisfy every armchair covert agent. Formulaic yet entertaining.”
Oath of Office by Michael Palmer (Macmillan/St. Martin’s; Macmillan Audio) begins as respected doctor John Meacham goes on a shooting spree. The blame falls on Dr. Lou Welcome the counselor who worked with Meacham years before. Looking into the story, he discovers Meacham’s connection to a conspiracy that may lead to the White House. Kirkus says, “this thriller raises compelling issues and features a likable hero, but the plot is dragged out and undercooked and the White House scenes ring false.”
Being Flynn by Nick Flynn (Norton) was originally published as Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, and is the story of how Nick Flynn met his father, a con man and self-proclaimed poet, while Nick was working as a caseworker in a homeless shelter in Boston. This retitled edition ties in to the movie starring Robert De Niro and Paul Dano, set for release March 2.
James Madison and the Making of America by Kevin R. C. Gutzman (Macmillan/St. Martin’s) is a portrait of this influential Founding Father and the sometimes contradictory ways in which he influenced the spirit of today’s United States. Kirkus deems it “a well-considered and -written biography of this gifted Founding Father’s many contributions to the early republic.”
Given the librarian stereotype, it seems appropriate that a book which praises introverts, Quiet, will be featured at the raucous ALA MidWinter meeting, on Saturday. The book releases this week, along with several novels deserving an RA push and titles by returning favorites, Robert Crais, Walter Mosley, Hilma Wolitzer, Margot Livesey and Tim Dorsey.
Bond Girlby Erin Duffy (HarperCollins/Morrow) is the tale of a business school graduate in four-inch heels, set in the financial world, leading up to the tumultuous year of 2008 – it’s billed by the publisher as The Devil Wears Prada meets Wall Street. Library Journal says, “despite financial details that may make your head spin and a workplace that will make your stomach churn, Duffy’s fresh take on the single-in-the-city tale does a terrific job of reviving chick lit.”
A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson (Hachette/ Grand Central; Hachette Large Print) is a Southern famiy saga by the author of Gods in Alabama, and follows a young woman’s search for the truth about who her mother really is. In a starred review, Booklist calls it “Jackson’s most absorbing book yet, a lush, rich read with three very different but equally compelling characters at its core.”
Heftby Liz Moore (Norton) is the author’s second novel, featuring a 600-pound former academic and a teenager in crisis who become unlikely allies. PW says, “the writing is quirky, sometimes to a fault, yet original, but the diptych structure is less successful, as the respective first-person narrators are sometimes indistinct. Regardless, Moore’s second novel wears its few kinks well.”
Taken by Robert Crais (Penguin/Putnam; Wheeler Publishing; Brilliance Corporation) is the 15th Elvis Cole novel, involving a wealthy industrialist whose missing son appears to have faked his own kidnapping. “Cole and sidekicks Joe Pike and Jon Stone all get a chance to shine, ,” says PW. “Told from multiple points of view, this installment would make a fine action-packed film with three strong male leads.”
All I Did Was Shoot My Man: A Leonid McGill Mystery by Walter Mosley (Riverhead; Penguin Audiobooks) finds Leonid McGill in his fourth outing, investigating a complex case that involves adultery and murder as his own life unravels. “General readers and Mosley fans will appreciate his characteristically fine writing as well as the internal struggles Mosley inflicts on his protagonists,” says Library Journal.
An Available Man by Hilma Wolitzer (RH/Ballantine; Center Point Large Print; Audiogo) is about a widowed 62-year-old science teacher who finds himself ambushed by female attention after his stepchildren place a personal ad in the newspaper. Library Journal says, “Wolitzer is surprisingly good at portraying a man’s perspective. Although her writing is not as crisp as in some of her previous novels, this is a breezier tale with a lighter edge.”
The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey (Harper; Harperluxe) is a modern take on Charlotte Brontë’s classic, Jane Eyre, set in early 1960s Scotland. PW says, “although guardian angels and kind strangers turn up like an army of deus ex machinas, these plot missteps dont detract from Gemmas self-possessed determination. Captivating and moving, this book is a wonderful addition to Liveseys body of work.”
Pineapple Grenade by Tim Dorsey (HarperCollins/Morrow; HarperAudio) marks the return of Florida serial killer Serge Storms. He’s finagled his way into becoming a secret agent in Miami for the president of a Banana Republic, and now Homeland Security wants to bring him down. PW says, “though the books formula will be familiar to series fans, neither Dorseys fast-paced prose nor his delight in skewering human foolishness has lost its mischievous sparkle.”
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach (Random House Trade) is a comic drama about a group of British retirees in a home for the elderly in India. It’s being published in the U.S for the first time as a tie-in to the British film version – starring Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, Billy Nighy, and Dev Patel – which will be released here in May 2012. The original UK novel title was These Foolish Things.
Fallen in Love (Lauren Kate’s Fallen Series #4) by Lauren Kate (RH/Delacorte YR; Listening Library) includes four new stories collected in a new novel set in the Middle Ages.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain (Crown Publishing Group; Random House Audio) argues that introverts get a bum rap and extroverts should not be held up as the ideal – it even charges, as People says in its lead review this week, that “risk-loving extroverts in the financial industry helped cause the global crisis.” The author wrote the lead essay in the New York Times Sunday Review last week, which attracted many comments. She also appears at ALA Midwinter tomorrow.
Fairy Tale Interrupted by RoseMarie Terenzio (S&S/Gallery Books; Tantor Media) as we noted earlier, this memoir by John F. Kennedy Jr’s personal assistant, publicist, and one of his closest confidantes during the last five years of his life is already grabbing headlines. PW says, “Terenzios captivating story, told with style and grace, chronicles her time with Kennedy within the glorious but often brutal bubble that encircled his world, and what he taught her about living.”
City of Fortune: How Venice Ruled the Sea by Roger Crowley (Random House) traces the full arc of the Venetian imperial saga for the first time. It is framed around two of the great collisions of world history: the ill-fated Fourth Crusade in 1202 and the Ottoman-Venetian War of 1499–1503. Kirkus says, “an action-packed political and military history that will remind readers of the Italian sea power that prevailed for centuries before Western European nations arrived on the scene.”
The Lives of Margaret Fuller: A Biography by John Matteson (Norton) explores the life of writer and social critic Margaret Fuller (1810–1850), who was perhaps the most famous American woman of her generation, but also plagued by self-doubt. LJ says, “the work is well written, easily accessible, and entertaining. Prior knowledge of Fuller is not necessary to enjoy it. A great read for anyone interested in extraordinary women in our literary and women’s history.”
A rush of new titles start landing with the new year. Watch for BBC writer David Snodin‘s historical featuring Shakespeare’s Iago and Thrity Umrigar‘s novel of Indian college friends reunited years later in the U.S.. Usual suspects include Janet Evanovich, James Patterson with coauthor Maxine Paetro, Matthew Reilly and Val McDermid. Plus the latest from YA author Sara Shepard, a handful of movie tie-ins, and a memoir of caretaking and grief by the late Patrick Swayze’s wife, Lisa Niemi.
Iago by David Snodin (Macmillan/Henry Holt) is a historical novel that begins where Shakespeare’s Othello leaves off, and focuses on the complex villian and his powerful accuser. LJ calls it a ” vivid though long novel, which is filled with all the drama, intrigue, and violence of Renaissance Italy–and even a little romance on the side.” On the other hand, Kirkus says, “Iago’s character never really deepens: We learn plenty about his capacity for viciousness, but the climactic revelations about his past history feel underwhelming. A likable page-turner about love, war and conspiracy in the early 16th century. Just don’t expect Shakespeare.”
The World We Found by Thrity Umrigar (HarperCollins; HaperLuxe) finds four friends who attended Bombay College in the 70’s reunited when one woman becomes ill, in a tale that straddles India and the U.S. PW says, “though none of the major story elements Umrigar employs are remotely fresh, her characters make this a rewarding novel.”
Love in a Nutshell by Janet Evanovich and Dorien Kelly (Macmillan/St. Martins; Macmillan audio) is a standalone novel set in a small town microbrewery, featuring out-of-work, just-separated Kate Appleton, and is a collaboration between the bestselling author and the president of the Romance Writers of America. Booklist says, “Evanovich is known for her humor, and she and Kelly skillfully combine comedy with romance and suspense to make a story sure to please readers.”
Private: #1 Suspect by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro (Hachette/Little, Brown; Hachette Audio; Hachette Large Print) is the second novel featuring Morgan, the founder of an L.A. investigative firm, who is framed for the murder of his ex-girlfriend. PW calls it “lackluster,” and complains that “unrelated subplots, including a serial killer who leaves his victims in different locations of a hotel chain, serve only to add to the books length. An evil identical twin doesnt help with plausibility.”
Gun Games (Decker/Lazarus Series #20) by Faye Kellerman (HarperCollins/Morrow; HarperLuxe; Thorndike) finds the Deckers investigating the suicide of a high school student, while rescuing 15-year-old Gabe Whitman, a brilliant musical prodigy whose father earns his living as a pimp. PW finds this one “subpar” for the series.
Scarecrow Returns by Matthew Reilly (S & S) is the action-packed fourth title in the Scarecrow series, by the internationally popular author of Seven Deadly Wonders. Booklist says, “pitting his heroes against polar bears, ranks of crazed berserkers, and colorful henchmen like Bad Willy, Big Jesus, and Typhoon, Reilly ups the ante on swashbucklers like Clive Cussler and Ted Bell by dishing out page after page of truly nonstop, explosive action, from cover to cover. Does he pull it off? Absolutely!”
The Retribution: A Tony Hill & Carol Jordan Novel by Val McDermid (Atlantic Monthly) is the seventh thriller in the Tony Hill series, which pairs the British clinical psychologist with his long-term work partner and sometimes lover, Detective Chief Inspector Carol Jordan as they pursue Vance, the TV talk show host responsible for murdering 17 teenage girls in 1997’s The Wire in the Blood. PW says, “the emotional wedge that the sadistic Jacko is able to drive between Tony and Carol makes this one of McDermids strongest efforts.”
Pretty Little Secrets by Sara Shepard (HarperTeen) is a “special bonus book” set in the lost period between books four and five of the Pretty Little Liars series, the winter break of the girls’ junior year, as told from the point of view of stalker Ali. The new season of ABC’s Pretty Little Liars begins Jan. 2.
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami (RH/Vintage) ties in to the movie opening January 6, adapted and directed by Vietnamese filmmaker Anh Hung Tran. It will appear in a limited number of theaters, but fans of Murakami’s 1Q84 are likely to be drawn to this tie-in. Published in Japan in 1987, it was the author’s first major hit in that country, but wasn’t released here until 2000, after the success of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.
The Woman in Black by Susan Hill (RH/Vintage; Blackstone Audio) is a classic ghost story about a lawyer who travels to remote English village and finds the ghost of a scorned woman terrorizing the locals – and ties in into the gothic horror movie remake, starring Daniel Radcliffe and Janet McTeer, which opens February 3.
The Firm by John Grisham (RH/Dell) is a reissue of the original 1993 thriller. It’s the basis for an NBC TV series set ten years after the book. The series launches on January 8 and 9, before it moves to its regular Thursday night time slot.
Worth Fighting For: Love, Loss, and Moving Forward by Lisa Niemi (S&S/Atria; Centerpoint Large Print) is a memoir by actor Patrick Swayze’s wife, who co-wrote her husband’s memoir, The Time of My Life, and now reflects on caring for her husband during his final months before he died of pancreatic cancer in 2009. PW says, “Niemi writes movingly of trying to keep a positive outlook, staying organized with drugs, treatments, and foods for her husband, employing relatives as helpers and researchers, and, most of all, using the time she and Swayze had left together to enjoy and appreciate each other. Its a heartfelt account, both brave and honorable.”
You don’t need us to tell you that the next title in the Wimpy Kid series is around the corner, arriving on Tuesday, Nov 15 (above, Bank Street Books, one of six bookstores nationwide that was “wrapped” in anticipation of the big day). In this, the sixth in the series, Cabin Fever, (Amulet/Abrams) Greg Heffley finds himself in big trouble after school property is damaged.
You and your kids can join Jeff Kinney via Webcast at 10 a.m., Eastern, this coming Tuesday, Nov. 15, for his appearance at the Bank Street College of Education (where EarlyWord Kids correspondent is the librarian). Register here (space is limited). The visit is being recorded and will be Webcast from School Library Journal, a few days later.
On the adult side, it seems to be the week of fiction based on reality. The three Kardashian sisters give us a novel about three celebrity sisters, Ann Beattie imagines the life of Pat Nixon, and there’s even a novel about the Bin Laden raid. The week is rounded out by actual memoirs, including one by former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and her astronaut husband Mark Kelley, TV host Regis Philbin, basketball giant Shaquille O’Neal and actress/director/photographer Diane Keaton.
Fiction Based on Fact
Mrs. Nixon: A Novelist Imagines a LifebyAnn Beattie (Scribner/S&S; Audio, Dreamscape Media) is a fictional portrait of reticent First Lady Pat Nixon. In a starred review, Booklist said, “Beattie has created a resplendent paean to the pleasures of the literary imagination, and a riveting and mischievous, revealing and revitalizing portrait of an overlooked woman of historic resonance.” But Kirkus cautions, “there’s a whiff of condescension about the whole enterprise.” Last week, the New York Times ran an essay by Beattie about writing the book.
KBL: Kill Bin Laden: A Novel Based on True Events by John Weisman (Morrow/HarperCollins; HarperLuxe Large Print) is a fictionalized account of the hunt for Bin Laden and the raid on his hideout. Kirkus says, “the novel is much better than the typical military fare, but like the inevitable movie, it’s also not as strange or impressive as the truth. A down-and-dirty thriller that feels as rushed as its publication date.”
Dollhouse by Kim Kardashian, Kourtney Kardashian and Khloe Kardashian (Morrow/HarperCollins) is a novel about a trio of rich sisters with celebrity problems – not unlike the authors, who are best known for their TV show, the E! Reality Series Keeping Up with the Kardashians. As the New York Times Media Decoder blog noted, “the ending of Kim Kardashian’s unusually brief marriage happened to be beautifully timed with a planned Kardashian book blitz” that includes the recently released Kardashian Konfidential, with pictures of the wedding that occurred 72 days ago.
The Angel Esmeralda: Nine Stories by Don DeLillo (Scribner; S&S Audio) includes stories ranging from the fiction master’s jazz-infused early work to the minimalism of his later stories. Library Journal says, “For readers of literary fiction, this book is a good introduction to DeLillo’s iconic postmodern style, though those new to the genre may find it a somewhat hard pill to swallow.” Indie booksellers see it as having broader appeal; it’s the #1 Indie Next pick for November.
Devil’s Gate by Clive Cussler and Graham Brown (Putnam; Wheeler Large Print; Penguin Audio) is the latest adventure featuring the NUMA Special Assignments Team. PW says, “thriller fans who aren’t too picky about credibility will be most rewarded.”
Kill Alex Cross (Alex Cross Series #18) by James Patterson (Little, Brown; Little Brown Large Print; Hachette Audio) finds the President’s teenage children slipping away from the Secret Service and into the hands of a sadist. PW is not impressed, saying that the story line is recycled from Along Came a Spider, and that “Patterson neither sweats the details nor invests his lead with more than two dimensions.”
V Is for Vengeance(Kinsey Millhone Series #22) by Sue Grafton (Marion Wood/Putnam; Thorndike Large Print; Random House Audio) invites speculation about how this venerated series will end, just four installments from now. Still, Kirkus likes this one reasonably well: “Grafton is as original, absorbing and humane as ever. The joints just creak a bit.”
Smokin’ Seventeen (Stephanie Plum Series #17) by Janet Evanovich (Bantam/RH; Random House Large Print; Random House Audio) has been on Amazon’s top 100 sales rankings for a while now. The film One for the Money, based on the 1994 book that launched the Stephanie Plum series, is now set for January 2012.
Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope by Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly with Jeffrey Zaslow (Scribner/S&S; Thorndike Press; S&S Audio) is the story of the Democratic congresswoman from Arizona and her astronaut husband, and includes her ongoing recovery from the Tucson shooting, which has left her continuing to struggle with language and with only 50 percent of her vision in both eyes. It is excerpted and on the cover of the new issue of People magazine.
How I Got This Way by Regis Philbin (It Books/HarperCollins; HarperLuxe Large Print; HarperAudio) is the memoir of the television host and entertainer and comes a month before he retires, with an announced 500,000-copy first printing.
Then Again by Diane Keaton (Random House; Random House Audio) is the film star’s memoir of her bond with her mother, Dorothy, who kept eighty-five journals about her marriage, her children, and, most probingly, herself, in a story that spans four generations and nearly a hundred years.
Shaq Uncut: My Story(on Library catalogs as Tall Tales and Untold Stories) by Shaqulle O’Neal and Jackie MacMullan (Grand Central; Hachette Audio) is the National Basketball Association giant’s memoir. PW says, “O’Neal has intriguing insights into the fraught group dynamics of a sport where positional roles are uniquely ill-defined… Preening and prickly, Shaq’s reminiscences illuminate the knotty psychology behind the swagger.” This one began rising on Amazon 11/2/11.
Next week, watch for Kimberly Cutter‘s fresh debut about Joan of Arc, popular YA author Ellen Hopkins‘ first adult novel, and a YA novel by Maggie Stiefvater that some are predicting could become a blockbuster. There are also new novels by Ha Jin, Amos Oz and Colson Whitehead, along with James Patterson, Iris Johansen and Chuck Palahniuk. In nonfiction, there’s a new Van Gogh bio that draws on new sources.
The Maid: A Novel of Joan of Arc by Kimberly Cutter (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) is a debut that captures the bloody warfare and nasty politics of 15th Century France through the eyes of young Joan herself, based on the author’s own journey from Joan’s birthplace in Domrémy to Rouen, the site of Joan’s burning at the stake. PW calls it “a dynamic page-turner” and Kirkus calls it “a thoughtful retelling.” Below, the author explains what drew her to the subject.
Triangles by Ellen Hopkins (Atria Books; S&S Audio) is this popular YA author’s first novel aimed at adults, about three friends, one in a marriage on the downswing, another searching and finding intimacy and moral compromise, and a third trying to hold her complex life together, told in the author’s signature free verse. PW calls it “a raw and riveting tale of love and forgiveness that will captivate readers,” but Library Journal cautions that “at 544 pages, it’s indulgent, and some of the poems seem contrived and clunky.”
Nanjing Requiemby Ha Jin (Pantheon) the National Book Award and PEN/Faulkner Award winning author’s sixth novel focuses on the atrocities committed by the Japanese occupiers in 1937 Nanjing, and the heroism of a female missionary who sheltered 10,000 people in the face of brutality. LJ says, “readers should be aware of the book’s relentless, graphic horror. Jin’s loyal readers will notice a bluntness—jarringly effective here—different from his previous works, as if Jin, too, must guard himself against the horror.”
Scenes from Village Life by Amos Oz, translated by Nicholas de Lange (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) explores the sometimes hidden, often melancholy aspects of life in a fictional Israeli village in eight finely wrought, interconnected stories. LJ says it “reminds us of the creepy unsureness that underlies all ‘village’ life, rural or urban—and not just in Israel. Highly recommended.”
Zone One by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday) marks yet another shift in direction for this critically praised author, who offers a wry take on the post-apocalyptic horror novel in which plague has sorted humanity into two types: the uninfected and the infected, the living and the living dead. Booklist gives it a starred review, calling it a ” deft, wily, and unnerving blend of pulse-elevating action and sniper-precise satire.”
Bonnie by Iris Johansen (St. Martin’s; audio, Brilliance; large type, Thorndike) is the latest mystery featuring forensic sculptor Eve Duncan, as she enters the final phase of her painstaking journey to find her daughter Bonnie’s remains and her killer. LJ says it “drags on for about 100 pages too long and loses the success of its earlier parts with too many twists that are remedied too easily.”
The Christmas Wedding by James Patterson and Richard DiLallo (Little, Brown; large type, Thorndike; Hachette Audio) again abandons the thriller for a title that sounds (and looks) more like a Nicholas Sparks’s novel. It features a widow who suddenly decides to re-marry on Christmas Day, to one of three suitors. Kirkus says, “The authors maintain the suspense, with Gaby and her brood riding a roller-coaster of family problems, right up to the wedding day. A perfect plot for a Meryl Streep or Diane Lane happily-ever-after movie.” This is Patterson’s second outing with coauthor DiLallo who shared writing credits on Alex Cross’s Trial (Little, Brown, 2009).
Damned by Chuck Palahniuk (Doubleday; audio, Blackstone) is the story of the 13 year-old daughter of a self-absorbed movie star mother and a financial tycoon father who collect Third World orphans. Booklist says,”Palahniuk’s latest is no Fight Club (1996) or Choke (2001), his two best, but with frequent laughs and a slew of unexpected turns, readers will find in it a certain charm.” Holds to copies are heavy in some libraries.
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic; Audio from Scholastic) is a new YA book from the author of Shiver and Linger, about a beachside contest that’s often fatal to the riders of a fierce breed of man-eating water horses, who rise from the sea. Booklist predicts it will appeal to lovers of fantasy, horse stories, romance, and action-adventure alike, this seems to have a shot at being a YA blockbuster.”
Beautiful Chaosby Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) is the third supernatural novel in the bestselling Beautiful Creatures series, set in a small Southern town.
Memoir and Biography
My Long Trip Home: A Family Memoir by Mark Whitaker (Simon & Schuster) is a personal and familial memoir from an executive v-p of CNN Worldwide, who is the biracial son of Syl Whitaker, a grandson of slaves who became a prominent African studies scholar, and Jeanne Theis, a white refugee from WWII Nazi-occupied France whose father helped rescue Jews. Kirkus says, “It’s difficult to follow the many names and threads, especially in the first half, but the writing comes across as honest and wholly engaging.”
Van Gogh: The Life by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith (Random House) is a new biography written with the full cooperation of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, and tapping a wealth of previously untapped materials.
Lions of the West: Heroes and Villains of the Westward Expansion by Robert Morgan (Shannon Ravenel/Algonquin) chronicles the expansion of the U.S. across the North American continent in the early 19th century.
Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? by Patrick J. Buchanan (Thomas Dunne/St. Martins; Macmillan Audio) blames what the author calls the downfall of the United States on the country’s ethnic and religious diversity.
Next week in fiction, two buzzy titles arrive: NBA finalist Dana Spiotta returns with her third novel and British author Glen Duncan delivers a literary werewolf thriller for adults. In nonfiction, Jaycee Dugard tells the story of her kidnapping and 18 years as a captive of her abductor and will appear on major evening and morning news shows, while journalist Ben Mezrich returns with a real-life NASA-related adventure.
Stone Arabia by Dana Spiotta (Scribner) is the third novel by this National Book Award finalist, about a conflicted artist in Southern California and his sister, who is convinced he’s a genius. PW says its “clever structure, jaundiced affection for Los Angeles, and diamond-honed prose” make this “one of the most moving and original portraits of a sibling relationship in recent fiction.” It also gets an early review in New York magazine, which calls it “good, sly fun, but … also tender, rueful, and shrewd.”
The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan (Knopf) is a literate page-turner about a 201-year-old werewolf who is the last of his kind. It’s getting a big push from the publisher, buzz from early readers, and has been mentioned at BEA’s Shout and Share as well as on our very own GalleyChat. This one’s a fun (and dirty!) read.
Iron House by John Hart (Thomas Dunne Books) is the story of two orphaned boys separated by violence. It’s the fourth literary thriller by this award-winning writer, whose last book (The Last Child) was a bestseller. This one has an announced 200,000-copy first printing and is the #1 Indie Next pick for August.
A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin (Bantam) is the long awaited fifth installment of the epic fantasy A Song of Ice and Fire series. It already had a strong fan base that was expanded by HBO’s Game of Thrones, based on the first book. Its been in the Amazon Top Ten for a month. Recent news stories about spoilers surfacing on fan sites on the Web are just adding to the excitement.
Quinn by Iris Johansen (St. Martin’s) is a follow-up to Eve that delves deep into the life and psyche of Eve Duncan’s lover and soul mate, Joe Quinn. As a ruthless killer closes in, long-held secrets are gradually revealed. LJ, PW and Booklist all say it’s a pulse-pounder.
Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner (Atria) is the story of four women whose lives intertwine in creating a child through reproductive technology. LJ says, “fans of Marian Keyes, Anna Maxted, and other authors of serious chick lit will thoroughly enjoy this title for its humor mixed with a sympathetic portrayal of real women’s lives and challenges.”
Blood Work: An Original Hollows Graphic Novel by Kim Harrison (Del Rey) brings the authors popular urban crime fantasy series to visual form.
Young Adult Fiction
Dragon’s Oath by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast (St. Martin’s Griffin) is the first in a new mini-series of novellas, and tells the story behind the fencing instructor in the bestselling House of Night series.
Forever by Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic) concludes the Wolves of Mercy Falls werewolf trilogy.
A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard (Simon & Schuster) is a memoir by a woman who was kidnapped in 1991 at age 11 and endured 18 years of living with her abductor and his wife, bearing and raising his child before she was discovered in 2009. This one has an impressive news lineup. It’s on the cover of the July 18 issue of People, with an excerpt and a brief Q&A with Diane Sawyer about her two-hour interview with Dugard, to air on ABC’s PrimeTime July 10th. Sawyer says that her spirit “will astonish you” and that “everything she says makes you stop and examine yourself and your life.” She is also scheduled for Good Morning America on July 12th.
Sex on the Moon: The Amazing Story Behind the Most Audacious Heist in History by Ben Mezrich is the story of a fellow in a NASA program who schemed to steal rare moon rocks as a way to impress his new girlfriend. The author wrote Accidental Billionaires (the basis for the movie The Social Network). Our own view is that the details about the space program will be catnip for space junkies (and even those who are not – the James Bond stuff they have at the Johnson Space Center is amazing), but the central character doesn’t have the celebrity value of Mark Zuckerberg, so it may not draw a wider audience. It is currently being developed for a movie, by the same production team that created Social Network, but with Will Gluck (Easy A) directing, rather than David Fincher.
I’m Feeling Lucky: The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59 by Douglas Edwards (Houghton Mifflin) is the story of Google’s rise from the perspective of the company’s first director of marketing. PW says, ” The book’s real strength is its evenhandedness” and that it’s “more entertaining than it really has any right to be,” though Kirkus finds it less focused than it could be, given all the other books written about Google.
Of Thee I Zing: America’s Cultural Decline from Muffin Tops to Body Shots by Laura Ingraham and Raymond Arroyo (Threshold) criticizes the contemporary American culture of consumerism.
The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon (Grand Central) is an unlikely love story about a young white woman with a developmental disability and an African-American deaf man, both locked away in an institution in Pennsylvania in 1968, who fall deeply in love and escape together, finding refuge with a retired schoolteacher. It’s the #1 Indie Next Pick for May. It’s also the author’s fiction debut (although she wrote a well-received memoir, Riding in the Bus with My Sister).
The Moment by Douglas Kennedy (Atria Books) is the tale of a travel writer’s loves and betrayals, set in Cold War Berlin, by an American-born author who’s better known abroad (his nine previous novels have sold over five million copies, and he was awarded France’s Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres). Kennedy spoke at a ALA MidWinter, at a panel hosted by LJ‘s Barbara Hoffert, who said “if other readers end up as engrossed as I was, then this is the year that Kennedy becomes a household name in America.” Early reviews are also positive, and it gets a 100,000-copy print run.
The Year We Left Home by Jean Thompson (S&S) chronicles the lives of the Erickson family as the children come of age in 1970s and ’80s America, as they grow out of their rural Iowan roots. It’s the #5 May Indie Next pick, and Entertainment Weekly gives it an A-: “even minor characters receive the full attention of the author’s prodigious talents; each one is drawn so vividly that they never feel less than utterly real.”
Sixkill by Robert B Parker (Putnam) is the last Spenser novel completed by Parker before his death in January 2010, and has a 300,000-copy print run. But this is not the last we’ll see of Parker – there are two revamped series coming. On September 13, Parker’s Jessie Stone series will continue with Robert B. Parker’s Killing the Blues, by a writer producer and screenwriter Michael Brandman, who co-wrote and co-produced the television movies featuring Tom Selleck as Jesse Stone. And in Spring 2012, the longrunning Spenser PI series will continue, written by Ace Atkins, whose last few novels have been published by Putnam. He begins a new series of his own with The Ranger, starting in June.
Good Stuff: A Reminiscence of My Father, Cary Grantby Jennifer Grant (Knopf) is a memoir by the dapper film star’s only child, from his brief marriage to Dyan Cannon. Kirkus is not a fan: “It sounds like a lovely life, but it makes for an irritating reading experience.” On May 1, Parade will run an excerpt and the author will appear on CBS Sunday Morning.
From This Moment On by Shania Twain (Atria) is the mega-selling country singer’s memoir of her hardscrabble Canadian childhood. She will be on Oprah on May 3 and the Today Show on May 4; plus a show called “Why Not? With Shania Twain” will debut on OWN May 1.
Below is our weekly roundup of titles to watch next week, by authors you may not have heard about yet, but are poised for success, as well as our list of “usual suspects.” The week brings a large number of new books from big-name authors, including Harlan Coben and Alexander McCall Smith.
Titles to Watch
Spiral by Paul McEuen (Dial) is a techno-thriller that New York Times critic Janet Maslin compared favorably to Michael Crichton in his prime in a review that jumped the book’s pub date, as we mentioned earlier this week. Today’s Wall Street Journal anoints the author a “publishing star,” although an “unlikely” one (McEuen is a Cornell physics professor) and points out that the book was a best seller in Germany, where it was published in translation last fall. Film rights have also been sold.
The Mozart Conspiracy by Scott Mariani (Touchstone) is this British author’s U.S. debut, though it’s actually the second installment in his thriller series featuring ex-SAS warrior Ben Hope. PW calls it “a fast, exciting read in The Da Vinci Code tradition,” though Kirkus adds “apart from the rumor that he was poisoned, though, don’t expect to learn much about Mozart.” It has a 125,000-copy first printing. Orders are in line with modest holds at libraries we checked.
The Four Ms. Bradwells by Meg Waite Clayton (Ballantine) is the story of four friends who met in law school in the early 1980s and have maintained their ties through decade of marriage, children, divorce, and various career twists, until they must confront a buried secret. Library Journal is on the fence, comparing it unfavorably to the author’s 2008 bestseller The Wednesday Sisters: “Instead of true characterization, Clayton resorts to literary quotes, legalese, and Latin verbiage to give her characters unique voices. Still, fans of Elizabeth Noble, Ann Hood, Elin Hilderbrand, and other luminaries of female friendship fiction will find much to captivate them.” Libraries we checked have modest orders in line with modest reserves to date.