Back in 2010, when Bernard Cornwell’s bestselling novel, Agincourt (Harper, 2009), about the battle that was also the basis for Shakespeare’s Henry V, was signed for a film, we warned you not to hold your breath. Filmmaker Michael Mann had several other projects in the works. Since then, he has completed two TV series for HBO (Luck and the documentary Witness).
Agincourt is now back in the news; Deadline reports that the script is being rewritten. There is some excitement about Mann’s renewed interest based on his handling of 1992′s The Last of the Mohicans, starring Daniel Day-Lewis (Roger Ebert called it, ”quite an improvement on Cooper’s all but unreadable book”). One more project stands in the way, however. Mann begins production in June on another feature film.
One of the early titles in our Penguin First Flights Program was David Gillham’s novel set in WW II Germany, City of Women (Penguin/ Putnam/ Einhorn). Arriving in paperback this month (Penguin/Berkley Trade), it is COSTCO Book Buyer Pennie Iannicello’s pick for May. She praises Gillham for “an unforgettable job of taking readers to 1943 Berlin. The city is filled with women who, although left behind, are forging ahead with their lives and wrestling with decisions that are heavy with life-changing implications.”
The ruthless heart of Hilary Mantel’s Tudor series is Thomas Cromwell, who pulled the strings for a time in Henry VIII’s court. The BBC has found the actor to play that juicy role in a mini-series of 6 one-hour episodes based on Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies (both Macmillan/Holt). Shakespearean actor Mark Rylance, according to The Daily Mail. He is familiar with the Tudor Court; he played another famous schemer of the period, Thomas Boleyn in the 2008 film of Phillipa Gregory’s book The Other Boleyn Girl (S&S/Scribner).
They say news travels fast and bad news even faster, but that doesn’t seem to be the case in the UK, where it took the press nearly a week to respond to comments made by Hilary Mantel about Kate Middleton as part of her London Review of Books lecture.
The British tabloid, the Daily Mail accused Mantel yesterday of using the lecture to make a “venomous attack on Kate Middleton.” Since then, controversy has been raging, with some saying that the response to Mantel’s comments simply proves her point that royal women are unfairly treated by the public. She even urged the public to “lay off” the royal couple, saying “Cheerful curiosity can easily become cruelty. It can easily become fatal. We don’t cut off the heads of royal ladies these days, but we do sacrifice them, and we did memorably drive one to destruction a scant generation ago.”
But what won the headlines were her comments that the Duchess fills her role so well that she seems to have been “designed by a committee and built by craftsmen, with a perfect plastic smile … without quirks, without oddities, without the risk of the emergence of character.”
The actual lecture is wickedly funny and much more interesting than the controversy it’s engendered.
Sometimes the first line of a book “just grabs you,” says Rachel Martin on NPR’s Weekend Edition yesterday. That is true for The House Girl, (HarperCollins/Morrow; Thorndike Large Print), she says introducing her interview with the author, Tara Conklin.
The line is, ”Mister hit Josephine with the palm of his hand across her left cheek and it was then she knew she would run.”
Based on the true story of the three young sisters, one of whom, a rising ballerina, posed for Edgar Degas’ sculpture, “Little Dancer Aged Fourteen” in 1881, it challenges romantic images of Belle Epoque Paris, describing the poverty and sexual predations the dancers suffered. Designated a “People Pick” in the current issue, it is called a “deeply moving and inventive historical novel…[that is] ultimately a tribute to the beauty of sisterly love.”
It is also anIndie Next Jan pick; “this novel delivers great atmosphere and fully realized characters who weave through the harsh yet rich tapestry of the times and tell a story of family, romance, degradation, and fulfillment.”
Although it shot up Amazon’s sales rankings, jumping from #186,959 to #130, it didn’t break in to the top 100. It’s doing much better on BandN.com rankings, however, where it is currently at #17.
All the libraries we checked ordered the book prior to the announcement, based on stellar pre-pub reviews, but we found just one that had ordered multiple copies per branch. Cuyahoga’s Wendy Bartlett reports on how she spotted it:
I snapped up The Twelve Tribes of Hattie as soon as the publisher sent me the ARC, because it deals with America’s great African-American migration. Our customers loved the nonfiction title on that subject, The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson (Random House), which came out last year. Baby boomers especially enjoy books about this time period; they’ve heard these stories all their lives from their parents and grandparents, so they want to know more. Every African-American family here in Cleveland has a migration story, so I knew they’d love this book.
A reminder: the pub date for The Twelve Tribes has been moved up from mid-January to today and the original ISBN’s have been changed (see previous post), so libraries need to place new orders. Also, please note the BOT editions –
Big names in fiction returning next week include Barbara Kingsolver, Ellen Hopkins and Caleb Carr, along with notable novels by Lydia Millet, Whitney Otto and James Kimmel. The final volume of William Manchester‘s Churchill bio also arrives, written posthumously by Paul Reid, while Larry McMurtry weighs in on General Custer, Sean Carroll explores a new landmark in physics, and Oliver Sacks explores hallucinations.
Magnificence by Lydia Millet (Norton; Dreamscape Audio; Center Point Large Print) concludes the trilogy that began with How the Dead Dream (2008) and Ghost Lights (2011). This one is the story of a woman who comes to terms with her life and adulterous affairs when she suddenly becomes a widow. Kirkus says, “The deeply honest, beautiful meditations on love, grief and guilt give way to a curlicued comic-romantic mystery complete with a secret basement and assorted eccentrics.” The response on GalleyChat was unmitigated; “Magnificence was magnificent. What an amazing writer. Love her unsentimental style.”
Eight Girls Taking Pictures by Whitney Otto (S&S/Scribner; Thorndike Large Print) fictionalizes the lives of eight women photographers as they intersect – including icons like Imogen Cunningham, Lee Miller and Sally Mann, as well as lesser known figures. By the author of How to Make an American Quilt, it was a BEA librarians’ Shout ‘n’ Share Pick. Kirkus says, “although overly schematic, Otto makes these eight women and the differing lenses through which they view the 20th century hard to forget.”
The Trial of Fallen Angelsby James Kimmel, Jr. (Penguin/Amy Einhorn; Dreamscape Audio) is a debut novel about an ace lawyer who dies and becomes a defender of the souls of the dead on Judgement Day. Early reviews are mixed: Kirkus says it’s heavy on the spiritualism side, but still intriguing. PW says it fails as a page-turner, but Booklist gives it a starred review, calling it fascinating.
Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver (Harper; HarperAudio; HarperLuxe) may be the first novel about the effects of climate change. It arrives with uncanny timing, the week after Hurricane Sandy. In this instance, the evidence is dramatic but not devastating. A vast flock of monarch butterflies descends on a Bible Belt community in what seems like a religious miracle, but turns out to be a more disquieting displacement. It’s a People Pick in the magazine this week, with 4 of 4 stars. Says the reviewer, Kingsolver, “brings the complexities of climate change to her characters’ doorstep, illustrating with rich compassion how they … must find their new place on shifting ground.” The author’s previous, The Lacuna, was a best seller and won the Orange Prize.
Collateralby Ellen Hopkins (S&S;Atria) is the second adult novel by this YA author, about two best friends and the military men they love, and are separated from, written in the author’s signature poetic verse style. PW says, “ clear narrative that is uplifting and heartbreaking, but also familiar and a little too easy, featuring characters grappling with the serious issues of our time.”
The Legend of Brokenby Caleb Carr (Random House; S&S Audio) finds the author of the Alienist turning his sights on the medieval era, where invaders and internal tensions roil a fortress. LJ has a wait-and-see attitude toward this one’s commercial prospects.
Infinity Ring Book 2: Divide and Conquer by Carrie Ryan (Scholastic) is the second in a middle grade series about two fifth-grader geniuses who live in an alternate universe and travel back in time to fix various “breaks” in history. Like the 39-Clues, this planned seven-volume series, with six authors, was devised in-house at Scholastic and comes with links to an interactive Web Site. The titles will be released in quick succession, with this one arriving just three months after the first, Infinity Ring Book 1: A Mutiny in Time, by theMaze Runner’s James Dashner. Rick Riordan, who wrote the prototype, 39-Clues, was given the unenviable task of reviewing Book 1 for thethe NYT Book Review. His reaction was mixed, concluding that it is, “vivid, intriguing, not fully realized but hinting at a larger story that feels right.” This second volume is by the author of The Forest of Hands and Teeth, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. Kirkus, the only source to review it so far, doesn’t buy it, saying, “It’s hard to go wrong with Vikings. But if you asked a classroom full of students to write about a Viking and a time machine, most of them would come up with something more inventive.”
The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940–1965 by William Manchester and Paul Reid (Hachette/Little, Brown; Blackstone Audio) is the final volume in this biographical trilogy. The New York Times Magazine heralds it this Sunday by calling its release, “one of the longest waits in publishing history” and explains how the little-known Paul Reid, who had never written a book before, ended up tackling this project, based on Manchester’s sketchy and often illegible notes. It ended up taking so long that Reid was forced to sell his house, use up his savings and live on credit cards. It may have been worth it. Says the NYT Magazine, it is “more of a stand-alone book than a continuation of the first and second volumes.” PW says it “matches the outstanding quality of biographers such as Robert Caro and Edmund Morris.” 200,000 copies.
Custer by Larry McMurtry (Simon & Schuster) is not quite a biography, more of an “informed commentary” on one of American history’s great military blunderers by this respected novelist, according to Kirkus, which also calls it “distilled perceptions of a lifetime of study, beautifully illustrated.” USA Today puts it simply, “This ‘Custer’ cuts through all the Bull.”
The Particle at the End of the Universe: How the Hunt for the Higgs Boson Leads Us to the Edge of a New World by Sean Carroll (RH/Dutton) is the story of how science history was made with the search for the Higgs Boson, part of the Higgs field that gives atomic particles their mass – finally discovered earlier this year. PW says, “whether explaining complex physics like field theory and symmetry or the workings of particle accelerators, Carrollas clarity and unbridled enthusiasm reveal the pure excitement of discovery as much as they illuminate the facts.” UPDATE: We jumped the gun; this title is actually coming out on Nov. 13.
Hallucinationsby Oliver Sacks (RH/Knopf; RH Audio; BOT Audio) finds this bestselling neurologist revealing that hallucinations are actually normal aspects of human experience during illness or injury, intoxication or sensory deprivation, or simply falling asleep. Kirkus says, “A riveting look inside the human brain and its quirks.”
Jack Reacher’s Rules, with introduction by Lee Child (RH/Delacorte) is a 160-page hardcover compilation of Reacher wisdom and lore; a single quote printed on each page. It arrives, as the publisher puts it, “just in time for [Reacher's] first movie,” starring Tom Cruise, which lands in theaters on 12/21. It was a drop-in title that hasn’t been reviewed and thus, most libraries have not ordered it. Those that have it are showing holds (Hennepin County has 50 on 9 copies). The tie-in of One Shot, which the movie is based on, also arrives next week, in both mass market and large print.
Next week, new memoirs arrive from Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Richard Russo and romance author Daneille Steel, along with a posthumous essay collection from David Foster Wallace and historian Thomas E. Ricks’ critique of the American military since WWII. Booker finalist Emma Donoghue also returns with a historical story collection. Usual suspects include George R.R. Martin, Richard Paul Evans, Karen Marie Moning, Jennifer Chiaverini, Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen, plus there’s a new young adult novel from Fiona Paul.
A Gift of Hope: Helping the Homelessby Danielle Steel (RH/Delacorte; Thorndike Large Print) is the perennially bestselling author’s memoir of the 11 years she has spent working anonymously with a small team to help the homeless people of San Francisco after her oldest son committed suicide. Kirkus says, “With poverty programs shutting down, while at the same time, more people are homeless, Steel has felt the need to drop her anonymity and go public. A simple but moving call for action.”
Elsewhere by Richard Russo (RH/Knopf; RH Audio; BOT Audio) is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author’s heartfelt memoir about his fraught relationship with his fascinating but difficult mother from his childhood through her death. Librarians on GalleyChat say it’s so good that they were hard-pressed to decide what to read after finishing it
Full of Heart: My Story of Survival, Strength, and Spiritby J.R. Martinez with Alexandra Rockey Fleming (Hyperion) is an inspirational memoir by an American soldier who served in Iraq and survived burns over more than one third of his body and went on to become a beloved Dancing with the Stars contest winner.
Celebrate: A Year of Festivities for Families and Friends by Pippa Middleton (Penguin) is by Prince William’s sister-in-law. Her family’s business is party supplies, so she has some background. It’s already getting advance media attention.
The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Todayby Thomas E. Ricks (Penguin Press; Thorndike Large Print) chronicles the decline of U.S. military leadership over the last 70 years. PW says, “His faith in the ability of great generalship to redeem any misadventure can sometimes seem naive. Still, Ricks presents an incisive, hard-hitting corrective to unthinking veneration of American military prowess.” His previous titles, FiascoandThe Gamble were both best sellers.
Both Flesh and Not: Essays by David Foster Wallace (Hachette/Little, Brown; Hachette Audio; Thorndike Large Print) gathers 15 essays not published in book form, including ”Federer Both Flesh and Not,” which many consider to be the author’s nonfiction masterpiece.
Train Tracks: Holiday Stories by Michael Savage (Harper/ Morrow) is a collection of personal stories that celebrate family, home, and the holidays by the bestselling author and radio host.
Astrayby Emma Donoghue (Hachette/Little Brown; Little Brown Large Print; Hachette Audio) is a story collection by the Booker prize finalist and million-copy bestseller Room. Set in Puritan Plymouth, Civil War America, and Victorian England among other locales, the stories turn on telling historical details inspired by newspapers and other documents. LJ says, “Donoghue has created masterly pieces that show what short fiction can do. Not just for devotees of the form.”
The Lands of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin (RH/Bantam) is a 16-page book of maps, intended for the gift market, but we are including it in case you get requests for the “new George R. R. Martin book.”
A Winter Dream by Richard Paul Evans (Simon & Schuster; Simon & Schuster Audio; Thorndike Large Print) is based on the Biblical story of Joseph and the coat of many colors – only this time Joseph is a CEO ousted from the family business. LJ says, “More sparkly holiday hope from the author of the outrageously best-selling The Christmas Box, soon appearing in a 20th-anniversary edition.”
Iced by Karen Marie Moning (RH/Delacorte) begins a much-anticipated new urban paranormal trilogy, set in the world of the author’s bestselling Fever series.
The Giving Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini (Penguin/Dutton; Thorndike Large Print) finds the quilters at Elm Manor working on a Thanksgiving quilt to benefit a real charity that’s a favorite of the author. This one has been climbing in Amazon’s sales rankings, to #65 in contemporary women’s fiction.
Victory at Yorktownby Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen (Thomas Dunne Books; Macmillan Audio) is this duo’s third novel about George Washington during the Revolution. Kirkus says, “Augmented with character sketches of lesser-known patriots, the book brings Washington to life as a resolute and bold general.”
Venom by Fiona Paul (Penguin/Philomel) starts a romantic trilogy about a 15 year-old Contessa in Renaissance Venice who’s on the path to an arranged marriage when she falls in love with an artist who helps her investigate the murder of a friend. PW calls it “a steamy but fairly predictable romance.”
Les Miserablesby Victor Hugo, translated by Norman Denny (Penguin Trade Paperback) ties into the film of the musical which arrives in theaters on Christmas Day. It stars Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway and amanda Seyfried.
On the Road: Movie Tie-in, by Jack Kerouac (Penguin Trade Pbk) ties into the movie arriving December 21. Directed by Walter Salles, it stars Garrett Hedlund, Sam Riley and Kirsten Stewart.
Last week, it was reported that Michelle Williams will star in a movie based on Suite Francaise, the novel by Irène Némirovsky, which became a surprise hit when it was published in 2004, more than 60 years after the author’s death in Auschwitz.
Following that story, Screen Daily reports that Kirstin Scott Thomas also plans to join the production. Whether the two actresses actually star all depends on who signs on to play Bruno, the German officer that Lucille (Michelle Williams’s character) falls for and if everyone’s schedules line up.
The film will be directed Saul Dibb, who has had experience with historical fiction. His most recent film was The Duchess (2008), based on Amanda Foreman’s novel, Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire. starring Keira Knightley and Ralph Fiennes.
Libraries are ordering more copies of Sutton, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist J.R. Moehringer’s debut novel (Hyperion, 9/25; Hyperion Audio; Thorndike Large Print), due to rising holds, according to librarians on yesterday’s GalleyChat. Interest is a result of the popularity of the author’s best selling previous title, a memoir, The Tender Bar (Hyperion, 2005).
He was interviewed on NPR’s Fresh Air last week and explained that he chose one of the most famous bank robbers in history as the subject of his novel because, “it would be healthy to live vicariously through a bank robber at [the] moment that bankers were ruining the world.”
Believe it or not, J.K. Rowling‘s first novel for adults, The Casual Vacancy, is not the only book going on sale next week, though it will surely get a lion’s share of media attention. The other lion of the week is rocker Neil Young, who delivers his first memoir. Other noteworthy nonfiction includes a compilation of President John F. Kennedy’s audio tapes and transcripts, put together by the John F. Kennedy Library and historian Ted Widmer. In adult fiction, there’s a debut novel from popular memoirist J.R. Moehringer, and a BEA Buzz panel pick by Antoine Wilson. Usual suspects include Tim LaHaye and Craig Parshall and Deepak Chopra - and in YA fiction, there’s a mystery from adult author Francine Prose.
EMBARGOED:The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling (Little Brown; Hachette Audio) comes with a big question: does J.K. Rowling’s first book for adults have a fair chance at success, given the wildly outsized expectations that come with being the author of the Harry Potter series? Her first and only U.S. interview about the book will be on September 26, on ABC’s Good Morning America (7:00-9:00 AM), World News with Diane Sawyer (6:30 PM), and Nightline (11:35 PM-12:00 AM), and will re-air on Good Morning America on September 27.
Suttonby J.R. Moehringer (Hyperion; Hyperion Audio; Thorndike Large Print) is a debut novel about the bank robber and folk hero Willie “The Actor” Sutton, by the author of the popular memoir The Tender Bar. It begins in 1969, after Sutton’s release from Attica prison at age 68, as he looks back on stealing more than $2 million over 40 years (often in costume) and his three impressive prison breaks. Entertainment Weekly‘s review begins, “There’s a quality to J.R. Moehringer’s writing that makes you feel you aren’t stepping into a book so much as a dimly lit but welcoming bar…He brings a raconteur’s grace and rhythm to his first novel.” The reviewer admits that the ending is unsatisfying, “But isn’t closing time always a bit of a letdown when you don’t want an entertaining night to end?”
Panorama CitybyAntoine Wilson (HMH; Blackstone Audio) was a BEA Editors Buzz Panel pick about a self-described “slow-learner” recovering from a traumatic accident, who composes a letter about what it takes to be “a man of the world” to his unborn son and pregnant wife. Booklist says, “Readers who enjoy Mark Haddon and Greg Olear will appreciate Wilson’s authorial voice, which blends Oppen’s good-natured naiveté and humorous asides with incisive cynicism.”
The Secret Book of Frida Kahloby F. G. Haghenbeck (S&S/Atria) is a fictional biography of the beloved Mexican painter’s life, chronic illness and many loves, based on Kahlo’s unpublished notebooks, including actual recipes tied to her most important moments and relationships. Kirkus says, “despite the repetitiousness and pretentious hyperbola that drags on this novel, Kahlo remains a rich character and inevitably irresistible.”
Love Anthony by Lisa Genova (S&S/Gallery; S&S Audio; Thorndike Large Print) follows two grieving mothers who meet by chance in Nantucket, and help each other heal and move on. Kirkus says, “There’s a point in the narrative where one of the characters becomes so engrossed in reading a book that she loses track of time. Readers of Genova’s latest excellent offering might very well find the same happening to them.”
Brink of Chaosby Tim LaHaye and Craig Parshall (Zondervan; Zondervan Audio; Thorndike Large Print) is the third installment in The End series of political apocalyptic thrillers.
God: A Story of Revelation by Deepak Chopra (HarperOne) is a “teaching novel” by the popular author of Jesus and Buddha, that aims for a better understanding of God by profiling 10 historical figures: Job, Socrates, St. Paul, Shankara, Rumi, Julian of Norwich, Giordano Bruno, Anne Hutchinson, Baal Shem Tov and Rabindranath Tagore. Kirkus says, “Of particular interest are the humorous, humble Baal Shem, the brilliant, witty Shankara and the visionary Julian, a man Chopra calls ‘the most touching figure in this book’.”
Confessions of a Murder Suspect by Maxine Paetro and James Patterson (Hachette/Little, Brown; Hachette Audio) begins a new teen mystery series from the team behind the Women’s Murder Club series for adults. PW is not impressed: “The intriguing setup loses cohesion… For writers with their crime-writing experience, Patterson and Paetro show little interest in common sense, motivation, or believable storytelling.”
The Turning by Francine Prose (Harper Teen) is the story of a teen who takes on a spooky summer job caring for two orphans on a remote island, inspired by Henry James’s Turn of the Screw. PW says, “Remaining true to the ambiguous nature of the original, Prose (Touch) masterfully builds suspense. Like Adele Griffin’s Tighter (2011), this spin on the classic tale is an enticing blend of gothic elements and psychological complexities.”
The Other Normals by Ned Vizzini (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray) is the story of a 15 year-old whose parents take away his role-playing game guides and send him to camp to get socialized – a sophomore effort by the author of It’s a Funny Story. Kirkus says, “ Though the world building is thin at times, there are some moments of genuine pathos and terror, with the final climactic fight scene leaving plenty of room for sequels. Great geeky fun.”
Listening In: The Secret White House Recordings of John F. Kennedy, selected and with introduction by Ted Widmer, foreword by Caroline Kennedy (Hyperion) makes available for the first time selections from the 256 hours of JFK’s presidential conversations that were taped on hidden recording systems in the Oval Office and in the Cabinet Room. It includes two 75-minute CDs and covers decisions related to the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Space Race, Vietnam, and the arms race, compiled by John F. Kennedy Library and historian Widmer.
Waging Heavy Peace by Neil Young (Penguin/Blue Rider;Penguin Audiobooks) is a memoir by the iconic rocker, whose career spans 50 years, from playing with Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, & Nash to Crazy Horse and becoming the “godfather of grunge.”
The Chew: Food. Life. Fun.byThe Chew with contributions from Mario Batali, Gordon Elliott, Carla Hall, Clinton Kelly, Daphne Oz and Michael Symon (Hyperion)is a companion cookbook to The Chew, a daytime show on ABC-TV.
Safari: A Photicular Bookby Dan Kainen, text by Carol Kaufmann (Workman) recreates a Kenyan safari featuring eight animals portrayed with a new technology that resembles a 3-D movie on the page, in the next leap after the publisher’s best selling Gallop.
Killing Them Softly (Cogan’s Trade Movie Tie-In Edition)by George V. Higgins (RH/Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) ties in to the movie starring Brad Pitt from the Weinstein Company, which was recently rescheduled to the end of November, to move it into consideration for an Oscar. (Deadline, 9/11/12)
Lots of titles to watch next week, including librarian favorites from rising novelists Emma Straub and Tatjana Soli, Spanish sci-fi bestseller Felix J. Palma, and British debut author MorganMcCarthy. Usual suspects include Zadie Smith, James Patterson, Dale Brown and Clive Cussler and Thomas Perry – plus Elizabeth George makes her YA debut.
After dominating news all this week, No Easy Day, the eyewitness account of the killing of bin Laden is scheduled to arrive on Tuesday, but the Pentagon has warned that the author is in breach of the non-disclosure agreements he signed when he became a Navy SEAL and that “Further public dissemination of your book will aggravate your breach and violation of your agreements.”
Christopher Hitchens posthumously delivers his last words on mortality, Gretchen Rubin shares more tried and true advice on cultivated happiness, and NBA superstar Dwyane Wade reflects on his rise as a basketball player and his role as a father.
Breedby Scott Spencer writing as Chase Novak (Hachette/ Mulholland Books; Hachette Audio) is a medical thriller about an infertile couple who transform themselves into parents via reproductive technology, but it has an unexpected side effect, causing them to develop strange appetites that scare their twin children. Janet Maslin gave it an early review in Thursday’s New York Times, in which she calls Spencer the “gently literary author still best remembered for the lush prose of his 1979 Endless Love…[who has] has started writing in a pulpier and more diabolical vein.” She that, while it displays “keen antennas for sensory detail,” it is “a gruesome book, a full-bore foray into the horror genre, so literary loveliness goes only so far. It is probably best avoided by anyone not wishing to know exactly what it’s like to eat a baby pigeon.” The cover sports a blurb from Stephen King, “By turns terrifying and blackly funny, Breed is a total blast.” Entertainment Weekly, however, gives it just a “B,” saying, “Breed is being touted as a modern-day Rosemary’s Baby, but Spencer… delivers the camp better than he does the scares.” A followup, Brood, is in the works.
John Saturnall’s Feast by Lawrence Norfolk (Grove Press) is a historical novel set in 17th century England about a boy who’s orphaned when his mother is accused of being a witch. He goes on to become the greatest cook of his generation. PW says, “Known for intellectual prose and complex plots, Norfolk this time out attempts to interweave time and senses, reality and myth, rewarding steadfast readers with savory recipes and a bittersweet upstairs-downstairs love story.” It was a BEA Librarian’s Shout ‘n’ Share pick, and is an Indie Next pick for September.
Norfolk offers a look at the surprising sophistication of English cooking in the 17th C:
The Map of the Sky by Felix J.Palma (S&S/Atria) is the Spanish author’s sequel to his bestselling take-off on H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine. Here, the action begins when a New York socialite challenges her fiance to recreate Wells’ The War of the Worlds, setting off a chain reaction across time and space. LJ says, “Palma has again managed to infuse something very familiar with a new edge and life.” This one also kicked up some buzz on GalleyChat in August, where a librarian said that the novel “brings War of the Worlds to life.”
The Forgetting Tree by Tatjana Soli (St. Martin’s Press; Tantor Media; Thorndike Large Print) was a BEA Shout ‘n’ Share pick for Cuyahoga’s Wendy Bartlett. Here’s her pitch: ”This book opens with a family tragedy that occurs in the first few pages. The rest of this thoughtful book is about how we heal–or don’t–after an unspeakable tragedy. It’s set on a citrus ranch in Southern California. Soli’s first book, The Lotus-Eaters, did very well with our customers, and was really good for book discussion. She reminds me of a young Barbara Kingsolver. Her language is simple but not plain, her characters are extremely well drawn, and the setting is like a movie it’s so easy to visualize.”
The Other Half of MebyMorganMcCarthy (S&S/Free Press) is a paperback original about two siblings who grow up in a dysfunctional aristocratic English family in Wales with secrets that go back for generations. Robin Beerbower, our go-to librarian for scary titles, says this one “is being compared to Ian McEwan’s Atonement, but I’m finding it more compelling than that. The pacing is a bit slow but it features a completely unreliable but fascinating narrator and the gorgeous writing kept me engrossed.”
NW by Zadie Smith (Penguin Press; Penguin Audiobooks) is Smith’s first novel in seven years and one of the most anticipated titles of the early fall (it even gets an early review from BusinessWeek). It focuses on three characters who have risen above their childhoods in a Northwest London housing estate in the 1970s, with varying degrees of success. Michiko Kakutani, in the NYT, expresses disappointment, calling it a “much smaller, more meager book” than Smith’s critically acclaimed debut, White Teeth. In the Washington Post, Ron Charles expresses sympathy for the author, who, “Ever since… her dazzling debut in 2000, Zadie Smith has labored under an enviable weight of critical and popular expectations.” He acknowledges that the new novel it difficult, but worth the effort: “At times, reading NW is like running past a fence, catching only strips of light from the scene on the other side. Smith makes no accommodation for the distracted reader — or even the reader who demands a clear itinerary. But if you’re willing to let it work on you, to hear all these voices and allow the details to come into focus when Smith wants them to, you’ll be privy to an extraordinary vision of our age.” Smith spoke out this week to protest the possible closing of hundreds of local libraries in Great Britain.
Zoo by James Patterson (Hachette/Little Brown; Hachette Audio) revolves around Jackson Oz, a young biologist, who witnesses a coordinated lion ambush in Africa that spurs him to heroic action.
The Tombs by Clive Cussler and Thomas Perry (Penguin/Putnam; Thorndike Press; Penguin Audiobooks) is the fourth outing with multi-millionaire treasure hunters Sam and Remi Fargo, who join an archaeologist in excavating an ancient Hungarian battlefield. PW says, “this adventure series stands as one of the crown jewels in the Cussler empire.”
The Edge of Nowhere by Elizabeth George (Penguin/Viking) is the veteran mystery author’s first YA novel, the start of a series about a psychic 14 year-old girl who must fend for herself after her mother runs away from her stepfather. Booklist says, “what’s best here are the characters, both young and adult. There are no stereotypes, and their humanity keeps the story moving, even when the plot is tied in knots.”
Mortalityby Christopher Hitchens (Hachette/Twelve; Twelve; Hachette Audio) is the lauded cultural critic’s look at illness, suffering, cancer etiquette, religion and his own incipient death from esophageal cancer in December 2011. PW says, “Hitchens’ powerful voice compels us to consider carefully the small measures by which we live every day and to cherish them.” 125,000 copies.
A Father First: How My Life Became Bigger Than Basketballby Dwyane Wade (HarpreCollins/Morrow) is a memoir by the NBA superstar, Miami Heat player and divorced single dad of two sons that charts his upbringing by his drug-addicted mother on Chicago’s South Side. Kirkus says, “ A refreshing chronicle of a fervent sportsman with his head and heart in all the right places.”
An author to watch this week is Jonathan Evison, whose emotional presentation at the AAP’s Librarians Lunch during BEA won over the audience. In adult fiction, usual suspects include Mitch Albom, Tess Gerritson, Louise Penny, Anne Perry and Richard Kadrey. The big news, however, is in books for younger readers. David Levithan is back with a much-anticipated YA title expected to have strong crossover appeal. In children’s books, there are new titles from Dav Pilkey, James Dashner, and Stan Berenstain and Jan Berenstain.
Kept in the Dark by Penny Hancock (Penguin/Plume pbk original; Blackstone Audiobooks) is a suspense novel about a middle aged woman who kidnaps her best friend’s 15 year-old nephew, after he awakens her memories of an intense teenage affair. Librarian Robin Beerbower, who has an eye for scary titles (she’s championed author Chelsea Cain, and was an early proponent of Before I Go To Sleep as well as Gone Girl) made it one of her BEA Shout ‘n’ Share picks. Booklist says, “This invites comparison to John Fowles’ The Collector, but Hancock gives her narrator, Sonia, a more complex motive, crafting a narrative that grows darker as its level of tension builds. An accomplished first novel that lingers in memory.” PW calls it a “stunning debut” and praises the gothic atmosphere. But Kirkus, throws cold water on the party, “unfortunately the secret at the novel’s core is one the first-person narrator could have revealed all along, but doesn’t, making the ending seem contrived.”
The Time Keeperby Mitch Albom (Hyperion; Thorndike Large Print) marks a return to fiction by the author of Tuesdays With Morrie and Five People You Meet in Heaven. This fable is about Father Time, who returns to Earth to liberate us by teaching the true meaning of time, with the help of a teenage girl and an old business man.
Last to Die: A Rizzoli & Isles Novel by Tess Gerritsen (RH/Ballantine; Brilliance Audio)is the 10th thriller featuring Det. Jane Rizzoli of the Boston PD and her friend, pathologist Maura Isles. This time, they’re on the trail of a man who murders the families, but allows their foster children to survive. LJ notes, “this book will appear just as the third season of TNT’s successful Rizzoli & Isles TV series is ending, so fans will be primed.”
The Beautiful Mystery: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novelby Louise Penny (Macmillan/Minotaur Books, Macmillan Audio; Thorndike Large Print) is the eighth novel featuring Chief Insp. Armand Gamache of the Quebec Surete. This time, he investigates the murder of a choirmaster in a monastery that has produced a hit CD of Gregorian Chants. PW says, “a captivating whodunit plot, a clever fair-play clue concealed in plain view, and the deft use of humor to lighten the story’s dark patches.”
A Sunless Sea: A William Monk Novelby Anne Perry (RH/Ballantine; Thorndike Large Print) is the 18th Victorian historical about the Commander of the Thames River Police. Here, he investigates murders linked to the controversial opium trade. Kirkus calls it, “lumbering, repetitive and preachy. But the final surprise packs a punch.”
Devil Said Bang:by Richard Kadrey (Harper Voyager) is the fourth installment in the series that’s popular with librarians, about a man who breaks out of Hell – only this time he’s taking over Lucifer’s job. PW says this “action-packed and bombshell-laden blend of dark fantasy, crime fiction, and Hellish sitcom is utterly readable.”
Every Day by David Levithan (RH/ Knopf Books for Young Readers; Listening Library) is heavily anticipated by librarians on both our YA and adult GalleyChats. It’s about A, who wakes every morning in a new body – sometimes male, sometimes female, gay, straight, ill or well. The only constant is being 16 years old. Booklist calls it “a study in style, an exercise in imagination, and an opportunity for readers themselves to occupy another life, that of A himself.”
Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousersby Dav Pilkey (Scholastic/Blue Sky Press) the ninth novela in this major series is proof positive that author Pilkey isn’t running dry, according to PW and Kirkus, which says this “overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.” 1,000,000 copies.
Infinity Ring #1: A Mutiny in Timeby James Dashner (Scholastic; Scholastic Audio) is a multi-media thriller series modeled on The 39 Clues, that begins when three teens time-travel back to 1492, to help fix a broken moment in history. Booklist says, “the standard first-volume hazards (slow start, no resolution) bedevil the text and are exacerbated by underdeveloped characters. Still, the yet-to-be-revealed interactive-package experience seems certain to buoy the ship.” 300,000 copies. The Salt Lake City Public Library will host the 8/29 launch party.
Nothing Ever Happens at the South Poleby Stan Berenstain and Jan Berenstain (HarperCollins) resurrects the famous duo’s second manuscript, which was left in a drawer when their first book about the Berenstain Bears took off. Kirkus says, “while the concept is clever, the unwieldy, often awkward verse ensures that this effort will place a distant second to the many tales featuring those Bears.” 100,000 copies.
Up All Night: My Life and Times in Rock Radioby Carol Miller (HarperCollins/Ecco) is a memoir by one of New York’s best known female DJs at the height of the rock scene, the includes reminiscences of dating Stephen Tyler and introducing Bruce Springsteen to New York audiences, as well as the author’s struggles with divorce, uterine and breast cancer. It was a favorite at this year’s BEA Shout ‘n’ Share. Kirkus says, “Miller’s voice remains upbeat and energetic, despite the shadow of her family’s mysterious health issues.”
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.”