Archive for the ‘Historical’ Category

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

New Title Radar: November 5 – 11

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

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.

Watch List

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 Angels by 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.

Returning Favorites

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.

Collateral by 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 Broken by 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 the Maze Runner’s James Dashner. Rick Riordan, who wrote the prototype, 39-Clues, was given the unenviable task of reviewing Book 1 for the the 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.

Hallucinations by 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.”


Movie Tie-Ins

The Hobbit (Movie Tie-In) by J.R.R. Tolkien (HMH/Mariner trade pbk; RH/Del Rey mass market) are the tie-in editions of the novel. Also coming are various behind-the scenes books for both adults and children. For the full list, check our Upcoming Movies with Tie-ins).

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.

New Title Radar: October 29 – November 4

Friday, October 26th, 2012

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. MartinRichard 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 Homeless by 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 Spirit by 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 Today by 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, Fiasco and The 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.

Returning Favorites

Astray by 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.”

Usual Suspects

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 Yorktown by 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.”

Young Adult

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.”

Movie Tie-ins

Les Miserables by 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.

Michelle Williams To Star In SUITE FRANÇAISE

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

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, GeorgianaDuchess of Devonshire. starring Keira Knightley and Ralph Fiennes.

Holds Alert: SUTTON

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

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.”