Archive for the ‘Historical’ Category

PAINTED GIRLS Possible TV Series

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

The Painted GirlsCathy Marie Buchanan’s novel, The Painted Girls, (Penguin/Riverhead), published in January, was inspired by Degas’s Little Dancer Aged Fourteen.

It is now the inspiration for a possible TV series, produced by The CW and CBS TV Studios, according to

The novel received praise in a Washington Post review by Susan Vreeland, the author of another book inspired by a work of art from the same period, Luncheon of the Boating Party, (Penguin).


Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

Live by NightThe film adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s Live By Night, directed by Ben Affleck, will be released on Christmas Day, 2015. Affleck will star; no other stars have been announced.

Affleck’s first outing as a director was a film based on another Lehane novel, 2007’s Gone Baby Gone.

Live by Night (Harper/ Morrow) is a crime novel set in the Prohibition era about the rise of an Irish-American gangster. Prophetically, Entertainment Weekly, called it a “ripping, movie-ready yarn that jumps from a Boston prison to Tampa speakeasies to a Cuban tobacco farm.”

Affleck is currently at work as an actor, playing the lead in David Fincher’s adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, set for release on Oct 3, 2014.

Lehane is no stranger to the movies; in addition to Gone Baby Gone, films have been made of his novels Mystic River (2003) and Shutter Island (2010). He has also written for the TV series The Wire and Boardwalk Empire.

OUTLANDER Shooting In Scotland

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

OutlanderBased on the first title in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander novels, the STARZ series began production in Scotland earlier this month, and now has an official web site,

During last week’s Comic Con in NYC, Gabaldon and Executive Producer Ronald D. Moore held a special event for fans (summary here:  “Who’s Been Cast in Starz’s ‘Outlander‘? Plus 11 More Things We Know About the Upcoming Series“). Moore emphasized how faithful the adaptation will be to the book  (“I live with a fan, my wife, and it’s my job not to screw up her favorite book!”)

Below is the video, preceded by some scenes from the shoot. Concept art for the sets is shown beginning at time stamp 9:15:

Written in My Own Heart's Blood

The forthcoming 8th title in the series, Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, (RH/Delacorte) has been moved from its original December publication date to March 25, 2014, when it will tie in to the publicity for the STARZ series.


Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

The Orphan TrainThe Orphan Train, a novel by Christina Baker Kline (author of The Way We Should Be, among others) rises to #5 on the USA Today Best Seller list this week, its highest spot to date. A paperback original, it is based on historical events, the rounding up of orphans from New York streets, between 1854 and 1929, to ship them via train to the midwest, in hopes families there would adopt them.

Programs commemorating that history are being held this month on the both ends of the orphan train route; New York’s Grand Central Station, where a musical based on the story opens next week, and in Minnesota’s Union Depot. posted a slideshow of photos from a nonfiction title, Extra! Extra! The Orphan Trains and Newsboys of New Yorkby Minnesota historian Renee Wendinger, whose mother was one of the Orphan Train children.

Christina Baker Kline’s novel, The Orphan Train  (Harper/Morrow; 4/2/13) was featured on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday in April. Holds are heavy in most libraries.

Debut with Legs; BURIAL RITES

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

Burial RitesThe number one pick on the September IndieNext list is Burial Rites, (Hachette/Little, Brown; Hachette Audio; Hachette Large Print), a debut novel set in Iceland and based on the true story of the last woman executed there 1820’s. It is by Australian writer Hannah Kent, who became obsessed with the story after visiting Iceland as a teenager.

Prepub reviews have been strong, with Kirkus breathlessly applauding it for language that is “flickering, sparkling and flashing like the northern lights.” LJ puts it “In the company of works by Hilary Mantel, Susan Vreeland, and Rose Tremain” and calls it a “compulsively readable novel [that] entertains while illuminating a significant but little-known true story.” Librarians on GalleyChat also say the book had them “mesmerized.”

Libraries are so far showing few holds on minimal ordering.

Digital galleys are available from Edelweiss and NetGalley, until the pub. date of 9/10.

Beach Read Challenge: LETTERS FROM SKYE

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

Continuing the “Beach Read Challenge,” the staff at Cuyahoga Public Library are reading ARC’s (both e-ARC’s and print) to identify new titles for summer reading. Supporting the effort, Wendy Bartlett, Collection Development Manager, orders more non-reservable copies of each selected title to make it  available for browsing and recommending. The first pick was The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls, Anton DiSclafani, (Penguin/Riverhead). The second arrives next week. The following is from Wendy’s weekly “hot title alert” to the staff:

Letters From SkyeLetters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole, (RH/Ballantine) [Ed note: Digital ARC’s available from Edelweiss, but hurry, they won’t be available after the book is published next Tuesday].

Here’s another good book to hand customers this summer, one that is a more poignant Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. Just prior to World War I, a young American writes a fan letter to his favorite poet. Little does he know that the poet is a lovely young woman. As the letters go back and forth, we learn more about Elspeth and David, and their unfolding, very complicated love story.

Elspeth lives an isolated life on the Isle of Skye, and years later, Elspeth’s daughter Margaret, in the midst of her own love story, tries to piece together what really happened and where her scattered family might be. The mystery keeps the romance from being overly sentimental. You  want to see if it all works out for these likable characters.

If your customers like historical fiction and don’t mind epistolary novels, they’ll enjoy Letters from Skye.

Thanks to Sue Levinsohn and Barb Wilson, who also gave this one a test drive and came back with positive reports!

Philippa Gregory’s WHITE QUEEN On Starz

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

Philippa Gregory’s novels in The Cousins’ War series, set during Great Britain’s War of the Roses, have been adapted into a ten-part tv series that will premiere on STARZ cable network on Saturday, August 10th at 9pm ET/PT. Titled The White Queen, the BBC/STARZ production is actually based on the first three books [UPDATE: the fourth title, The Kingmaker’s Daughter is also being released as a tie-in], which are being released as trade paperback tie-ins in early July by S&S/Touchstone.

The White Queen,9781476735481

The Red Queen, 9781476746302

Lady of the Rivers, 9781476746319

The Kingmaker’s Daughter, 9781476746326

The White Queen  The Red Queen  Lady of the Rivers

It stars Max Irons (son of Jeremy Irons, he appeared in the movie Red Riding Hood), Amanda Hale (The Crimson Petal & The White), James Frain (The Tudors). Newcomer Rebecca Ferguson plays the Elizabeth Woodville, the White Queen. Amanda Hale is Margaret Beufort, the Red Queen and Faye Marsay is Anne Neville, the Lady of the Rivers. Gregory is an executive producer on the project.

The two teasers give quite different impressions of what to expect (see if you can guess which is the STARZ promo and which the BBC without looking at the credits).



The next book in the series, The White Princess, (S&S/Touchstone; S&S Audio) will be published on July 23.

CITY OF WOMEN Best Seller Debut

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

City of WomenA debut novel set in Nazi Germany, City of Women, by David R. Gillham (Penguin /Putnam /Einhorn) was published in August.

After it was released in trade paperback and was chosen as a Book of the Month by COSTCO’s book buyer, the author went on a 17-city tour, which is just winding down.

It makes its first appearance on the NYT best seller list, at #15 on the 6/2 trade paperback list.

It was part of our Penguin First Flights program; read the online interview and listen to a podcast interview with the author here.

Closer to Screen: AGINCOURT

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

CornwellBack 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.

CITY OF WOMEN Is Pennie’s Pick for May

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

City of WomenOne 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.”

A COSTCO Pick often insures a long life on best seller lists for paperback re-releases. Previous picks include, The Paris Wife, The Language of Flowers, and Rules of Civility.

Read our online chat with Gillham here. You can sign up for the First Flights program here.

Our next debut author chat, with Anton DiSclafani, author of The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls, is on Monday, May 13, 4 to 5 p.m ET.

WOLF HALL Finds Its Cromwell

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

9780805080681The 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).

Unfortunately, this casting means production may be delayed a year, since Rylance has other commitments to complete, including an upcoming play, Nice Fish, at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis.

Mantel is currently writing Mirror And The Light, the third book in the Tudor series (and fending off criticism for her misunderstood remarks about Kate Middleton).

Mantel’s Book Sales Rise Due to Controversy

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Bring Up the BodiesThey 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.

Who will have the last laugh? The Telegraph reports today that sales of Mantel’s books have “rocketed” since her name is back in the news.


Monday, February 11th, 2013

The House GirlSometimes 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.”

The book tells the alternating stories of a modern-day lawyer, working on a slavery reparations class-action suit, and that of a slave who may be the real artist behind the paintings attributed her white owner. It is the #1 IndieNext pick for February and was reviewed in the Seattle Times.

Libraries show growing holds lists.


Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

The Painted GirlsHolds are rising on Cathy Marie Buchanan’s novel, The Painted Girls, (Penguin/Riverhead; soon to be available as Wheeler Large Print), after she was was interviewed on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday.

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 an Indie 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.”

Michiko Joins Oprah’s Club

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Hours after Oprah announced she had picked Ayana Mathis’s The Twelve Tribes of Hattie (RH/Knopf), the NYT posted a rave review from their difficult-to-please reviewer, Michiko Kakutani, who calls the book a “piercing debut.”

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 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 —

BOT CD: 9780804127271
BOT LDL: 9780804127288