MSNBC’s Morning Joe went literary on Friday, interviewing two authors — George Saunders, whose fourth book of short stories, The Tenth of December, (Random House; BOT), was called the best book you’ll read this year by the NYT Magazine and James Grippando, author of ten legal thrillers.
Saunders manages to slip in a quote from Terry Eagleton, “capitalism plunders the sensuality of the body.”
It’s a bold prediction to make so early in the new year, but the NYT Magazine’s deputy editor, stepping on the territory of his colleagues at the Book Review as well as those on the daily NYT, predicts that the best book you will read this year is George Saunders’s fourth book of short stories, The Tenth of December (Random House; BOT), which arrives next week. The article calls him a “writer’s writer,” quoting literary fans such as Lorrie Moore, Tobias Wolff, Junot Diaz and Mary Karr.
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.
Tom Wolfe and John Grisham go head to head with new novels next week – and so far, Wolfe is getting the lion’s share of media attention, but the Grisham title is showing the most holds. Meanwhile, watch out for Jami Attenberg‘s potential breakout, The Middlesteins. Usual suspects include Debbie Macomber and Karen Kingsbury, while YA authors P.C. Cast and Gena Showalter team up on a paperback original, and A.S. King and Becca Fitzpatrick deliver new hardcovers. In nonfiction, Jerry Sandusky’s accuser, “Victim One,” unmasks himself upon the publication of his book, while former Goldman Sachs honcho Greg Smith reveals why he left the company. The Onion and Thomas Bouchon provide humorous and culinary relief.
The Middlesteinsby Jami Attenberg (Hachette/Grand Central) may be the surprise hit of the season, according to our Crystal Ball. Comparisons to The Corrections are underscored by a blurb from Jonathan Franzen himself (who rarely gives blurbs), “The Middlesteins had me from its very first pages, but it wasn’t until is final pages that I fully appreciated the range of Attenberg’s sympathy and the artistry of her storytelling.” The tale of a Jewish husband and wife in suburban Chicago whose marriage unravels after 40 years, as the attorney wife nears 350 pounds, it’s on People‘s list of ten Hot Fall Titles and described as “The sleeper hit of the fall” on CBS This Morning‘s fall book roundup (9/17). Entertainment Weeklythrows some rain on this parade, giving it just a “B” and saying, “Attenberg’s slender fourth novel is an intriguing dysfunctional-family story told from multiple, fast-shifting points of view, but it never sits still long enough to truly explore the complicated minds of its characters. It’s a deeply sympathetic novel that could use a little more insight.”
The Art Forger by Barbara A. Shapiro (Workman/Algonquin; HighBridge Audio; Thorndike Large Print, Jan.) was a librarians Shout ‘n’ Share pick at BEA and is the #1 Indie Next Pick for November. It’s about an art world pariah who gets drawn into a forgery scheme, and has to dig into an unsolved art heist to clear her name. It gets a “B+” in the current Entertainment Weekly: “Shapiro’s plot seems rushed at times. Still, she’s done meticulous research and has such interesting things to say about authenticity — in both art and love — that her novel becomes not just emotionally involving but addictive.”
Back to Bloodby Tom Wolfe (Hachette/Little, Brown; Hachette Audio, read by Lou Diamond Phillips; Hachette Large Print) has been dubbed by one critic as “Bonfire of the Miamians” and comes with a full PBS documentary, Tom Wolfe Gets Back to Blood, airing on Friday. As we’ve noted, major reviewers have weighed in extensively this week, ahead of the novel’s release next Tuesday, October 23, with most saying it’s got Wolfe’s usual manic prose, obsession with class and status, and wide range of characters – which is fine if you liked his other books.
The Racketeer by John Grisham (Random House; RH Audio and Large Print; BOT Audio) is the other major title going on sale on Tuesday, and somewhat overshadowed in the media by Tom Wolfe. Still, as we wrote earlier, the New York Times‘s Janet Maslin says it shows Grisham’s “rekindled vigor,” perhaps because he has “gone back to what he does best, storytelling rather than crusading.”
The Bridgeby Karen Kingsbury (S&S/Howard Books; S&S Audio; Thorndike Large Print) is a Christmas story about a Tennessee bookstore named The Bridge that struggles to survive declining book sales and the rise of e-books. It’s been rising on Amazon sales rankings – at #99 as of October 18.
After Moonriseby P.C. Cast and Gena Showalter (Harlequin) is a paperback original in which two bestselling YA authors team up to deliver two paranormal love stories.
Ask the Passengersby A. S. King (Hachette/LBYR; BOT Audio) is about a character who sends messages to people in planes flying overhead, who feel “bursts of unexplainable love that prompts them to do certain things.” The author is a Printz Honor Prize Winner. It has found fans on both our August and September YA GalleyChats. One called it “phenomenal” and “by far, one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. And inspiring.” Another reader commented, “Can’t wait for my teens to read it.”
Finale (Hush, Hush Saga) by Becca Fitzpatrick (S&S BYR, S&S Audio) began rising on Amazon on October 17. Previous titles in this series have hit the NYT list; Hush, Hush , Crescendo and Silence.
Silent No More: Victim 1′s Fight for Justice Against Jerry Sandusky by Victim One (RH/Ballantine) is written by the young man who testified dramatically at the child molestation trial of Former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky. Victim One’s identity was kept a secret until late yesterday when it was revealed in promos for an interview by ABC’s Chris Cuomo, to air on ABC’s 20/20 tonight and for a People magazine interview, to appear, with excerpts from the book, in the issue on stands next Friday.
Why I Left Goldman Sachs: Or How the World’s Most Powerful Bank Made a Killing but Lost its Soul by Greg Smith (Hachette/Grand Central; Hachette Audio and Large Print) grew out of the author’s eponymous op-ed in the New York Times, which went viral. The book details what the author sees as the decline of the storied investment bank, after he started at Goldman Sachs at age 21 in 2001 and left in 2011 as the head of the United States equity derivatives business in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife, Eben Alexander, M.D. (Simon & Schuster; S&S Audio) joins the growing shelf of books about near-death experiences. It has been in the top 100 on Amazon sales rankings for the last 11 days (currently at #10). Several libraries are showing heavy holds. The author is scheduled for several TV appearances this week, including ABC’s Nightline and Good Morning America as well as FOX-TV’s Fox & Friends.
The Onion Book of Known Knowledge: A Definitive Encyclopedia of Existing Informationby The Onion (Hachette/Little, Brown; Hachette Audio) is the 8th book by the award-winning humor website. With typical bravado, the authors proclaim that this comprehensive reference source is “the last book ever published.”
Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel (Workman/Artisan) collects recipes for the French classics this famous chef loved while apprenticing in Paris.
As media attention on the election heats up, publishers are playing it safe with no-brainers, like the Rolling Stones 50, a tribute to the decades-old British rock band, and a home design book by talk show host Nate Berkus, or review-driven titles like historian Henry Wiencek’s new look at Thomas Jefferson and his slaves. In fiction, Justin Cronin‘s followup to his blockbuster post-apocalyptic vampire novel is eagerly awaited, but is already disappointing a few reviewers. A title to watch is a cozy English novel about the Queen playing hooky. Usual suspects include Nelson DeMille, Iris Johansen, Patricia Cornwell and YA author P.C. Cast. Plus movie tie-ins to Twilight, Silver Linings and Spielberg’s Lincoln.
Mrs. Queen Takes the Trainby William Kuhn (HarperCollins; Dreamscape Audio) finds the bored Queen of England leaving the palace on a walkabout, in search of fun. It has been popular among librarians on our GalleyChat on Twitter, one of whom said, ”It’s jam packed full with great Palace insider gossip and details. In the year of the Diamond Jubilee, royal watchers will eat this up! It’s fun and light.”
The Twelveby Justin Cronin (RH/Ballantine; BOT Audio; Wheeler Large Print) is the second installment in the trilogy that began with the hit The Passage, a post-apocalyptic vampire novel by an author previously known for his quiet literary novels. This one is getting early press attention, including a profile in last week’s NYT Magazine. The L.A. Times warns, however, “even the most devoted fans may notice a bit of a sophomore slump.” The Washington Post‘s Ron Charles, says the previous title was “the scariest, most entertaining novel I’d read in a long time…Now, finally, comes the long-awaited second volume, and as much as it pains me to say it, The Twelve bites.” Entertainment Weekly is more generous, giving it a B+, even though it “doesn’t always match The Passage‘s dexterous storytelling and almost-plausible world creation…it’s still an unnerving and mostly satisfying tale of existential-threat disaster and its harrowing aftermath.”
The Panther by Nelson DeMille (Hachette/Grand Central; Hachette Audio; Hachette Large Print) finds Former NYPD detective John Corey and his FBI agent wife, Kate Mayfield, hunting a mastermind of the Al Qaeda attack on the USS Cole in 2000. Kirkus calls it, “quintessential DeMille: action-adventure flavored with double-dealing and covert conspiracy.”
Sleep No More by Iris Johansen (Macmillan/St. Martin’s; Thorndike Large Print) is the 14th Eve Duncan novel. This time the forensic sculptor, who has spent many novels investigating the disappearance of her daughter, discovers that she has a half-sister. PW says, “Series fans will be pleased to discover that Beth, like Eve, is a strong woman who has endured many trials in her past.”
The Bone Bed by Patricia Cornwell (Penguin/Putnam; Penguin Audio; Thorndike Large Print) finds forensic expert Kay Scarpetta digging into a case involving a missing paleontologist. LJ says, “Cornwell has been struggling lately; see what happens, and buy for her fans.”
Angel’s Ink: The Asylum Tales (Harper Voyager trade pbk original) marks the launch of The Asylum Tales, a new series by the New York Times bestselling author of the Dark Days novels. This one features a magical tattoo artist. An ebook-only short story (available on OverDrive), The Asylum Interviews: Trixie came out in September to whet appetites.
The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton (S&S/Atria) has been big on GalleyChat. Some think it’s her best; “Family secrets, suspense. Another winner.” This week’s People magazine concurs, giving it 4 of 4 stars and saying,”Morton weaves an intriguing mystery, shifting between past and present and among fully realized characters harboring deep secrets.”
The Rolling Stones 50 by The Rolling Stones with Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood (Hyperion) commemorates the band’s long history and survival in photos. Kirkus says it’s a “soulless corporate birthday party that sheds no new light on its well-traveled subjects.”
Master of the Mountain: Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves by Henry Wiencek (Macmillan/FSG ; HighBridge Audio) is the latest from the 1999 National Book Critics Circle Award winner for The Hairstons: An American Family in Black and White. Here, Wiencek “deftly explores the economic calculus behind Jefferson’s gradual cooling toward emancipation and eventual acceptance of human capital as a great ‘investment opportunity,” according to LJ.
The Things That Matter by Nate Berkus (Speigel & Grau) is an illustrated guide to creating a home full of meaningful things, by the designer who got a push from Oprah and now has his own talk show.
The Twilight Saga: The Complete Film Archive: Memories, Mementos, and Other Treasures from the Creative Team Behind the Beloved Motion Pictures ties into the November 16 release of (can you believe it?) the the last installment in the Twilight series, Breaking Dawn, Part 2.
Team of Rivals; Lincoln Film Tie-in Editionby Doris Kearns Goodwin(S&S trade paperback; S&S audio tie-in) ties in to Stephen Spielberg’s Lincoln, starring Daniel Day Lewis. It opens in a limited run on November 9, releasing nationwide on November 16, and is based on the later sections of Team of Rivals.
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)
No Easy Day, the book about the killing of Osama bin Laden that has been in headlines for days, is already facing media competition from Bob Woodward’s new book, an analysis of Obama’s efforts to restore the economy, which arrives on Tuesday. Two of the fall’s most anticipated novels also arrive – from Pulitzer Prize-winners Michael Chabon and Junot Diaz. There are also a handful of debuts to watch, including two that were featured on this year’s BEA Editor’s buzz panel. Usual suspects includeBeverly Lewis, Richard Castle, J.D. Robb,Jamie Freveletti, Lee Child, and Michael Brandman.
The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers (Hachette/Little, Brown; Thorndike Press; Hachette Audio) was pretty close to THE pick of BEA this year, based on publisher Michael Pietsch’s passionate promo during the Editors Buzz panel (he has a good track record with debuts; he promoted The Art of Fielding at last year’s BEA). One of many war novels this season, this one is by an actual veteran of the Iraq war. The title comes from a chillingly violent military marching song. It gets early reviews from NPR’s Alan Cheuse and from the NYT‘s Michiko Kakutani, who says it “stands with Tim O’Brien’s enduring Vietnam book, The Things They Carried, as a classic of contemporary war fiction.”
Those We Love Most by Lee Woodruff (Hyperion/Voice; Thorndike Press) is a debut novel that follows a family after the loss of its oldest child. LJ says, “surely some of this heartfelt, honest novel stems from the author’s own real-life journey with her husband [ABC News' Bob Woodruff], who was severely injured while reporting on the war in Iraq [and with whom she co-wrote the memoir In an Instant]. Overall, this is solid contemporary fiction, sure to please readers who enjoy Sue Monk Kidd and Anna Quindlen.” It’s featured in today’s USA Today.
The People of Forever Are Not Afraidby Shani Boianjiu (RH/Crown/Hogarth) was another stand-out on the BEA Editor’s Buzz Panel. It’s a debut novel about three small-town, 18 year-olds in the Israeli Defense Forces, each young woman trying to balance teenage concerns with the continual threat of war. Kirkus is a little skeptical, “Not for the squeamish. Readers will either embrace the complexity of the writing or become maddeningly lost as the author meanders through a hot, dry country devoid of tenderness.”
The Malice of Fortune by Michael Ennis (RH/Doubleday; RH Audio; BOT; Thorndike) takes readers behind Machiavelli’s The Prince, as Niccolo Machiavelli and Leonardo da Vinci join forces to stop a serial killer in early 16th-century Italy. The new issue of Entertainment Weeklygives it a B+, saying, “Nothing says ‘back to school’ quite like … a hefty novel about the politics of 16th-century Italy. Luckily, this one reads like a pulpy mystery. Inspired by the real-life assassination of Juan Borgia, an illegitimate son of Pope Alexander VI, and a series of serial-killer murders…”
Found: The Secrets of Crittenden County, Book Three by Shelley Shepard Gray (HarperCollins/Avon Inspire; Thorndike Large Print) is the conclusion to this Amish mystery trilogy and was a BEA Shout ‘n’ Share pick by Cuyahoga’s Wendy Bartlett: “If you only typically buy big Amish writers like Beverly Lewis[who also has a new book out this week, see below] and Suzanne Woods Fisher, you should add Shelley Shepard Gray to your top echelon of must-haves… This a mystery series, but each title is very much a gentle read.”
Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon (Harper; HarperLuxe) is a tale of a black family and a white family in Oakland, California that mines pop culture influences from Kung Fu and ’70s Blaxploitation films to vinyl LPs, jazz and soul music.On all the “big books of the fall” lists, it’s already getting heavy review attention; from Entertainment Weekly, the L.A. Times, Slate, and the Wall Street Journal. Expect many more.
This is How You Lose Herby Junot Diaz (Penguin/Riverhead; Penguin Audio; Thorndike Large Print) is a story collection by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, that explores passion, loss and human weakness. Also on every fall preview, it’s reviewed in this week’s Entertainment Weekly, the L.A. Timesand The Economist (which begins, “Sraightforward writing about male lust is rare. Writing that reveals the price exacted by such lust is rarer still”).
Black Dahlia & White Rose by Joyce Carol Oates (Harper/Ecco; Dreamscape Audio) is a collection of short fiction from the National Book Award winner, and ranges from a tale of a friendship between two doomed women – Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Short – to an account of an otherworldly infidelity.
The Bridesmaidby Beverly Lewis (Bethany House; Bethany Large Print, Pbk; Thorndike Large Print, Hdbk) is the latest novel set in Amish country about a young woman in a secret courtship, by this internationally published author of Christian fiction. This one comes with a trailer. One-day laydown.
Frozen Heatby Richard Castle (Hyperion; Hyperion Audio) is the fourth novel in the series featuring NYPD Homicide Detective Nikki Heat, in which her mother’s cold case finally thaws.
Delusion in Death by J.D. Robb (Putnam Adult; Wheeler Large Print; Brilliance Audio) is the 36th novel featuring Eve Dallas, of the New York Police and Security Department. This outing involves a home grown terrorist.
A Wanted Man by Lee Child (Delacorte Press; RH Large Print Publishing; RHAudio) is the 17th Jack Reacher novel. Kirkus says, “In this latest attempt to show Reacher enjoying every possible variety of conflict with his nation’s government short of outright secession, Child (The Affair, 2011, etc.) has produced two-thirds of a masterpiece.”
Robert B. Parker’s Fool Me Twice: A Jesse Stone Novelby Michael Brandman (Penguin/Putnam; Thorndike Press; Random House Audio) is the second Jesse Stone novel in which Bradman channels Robert B. Parker. PW says, “More is less as the unrelated story lines compete with each other for depth, even if the larger-than-life lead is able to take them all in stride.”
The Secret of the Stone Frog by David Nytra (Candlewick/Toon) is a graphic fantasy that starts as Leah and Alan awaken in an enchanted forest and follows their journey home. Kirkus says, “Not much here for plot, but fans of the art of Tenniel and his modern descendants (Maurice Sendak, Charles Vess) will find much to admire in this U.S. debut.”
The Price of Politics by Bob Woodward (Simon & Schuster; S&S Audio) is described by ABC News, which has the first interview with Woodard for the book, as “sweeping you-are-there account of how President Obama and the highest profile Republican and Democratic leaders in the United States Congress attempted to restore the American economy and improve the federal government’s fiscal condition.” ABC is scheduled to air Diane Sawyer’s “exclusive first interview” on Monday, followed on Tuesday by Woodward’s sit-down with George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America and dozens of other appearances, culminating with Meet the Press a week from Sunday. The book is embargoed, but details are being reported widely, some by ABC News itself. Nancy Pelosi has already responded to Woodward’s claim that she sometimes hit mute during Obama’s phone calls. The New York Times, the Daily Beast and Politico have all managed to find copies and report extensively it. Because Woodward is an editor at the Washington Post, theyan early look and will publish excerpts on Sunday.
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.”
If you spent your weekend reading book reviews, you know that ASBO stands for Anti-Social Behavior Orders, which are issued in Great Britain for certain acts, like public drunkenness and urinating in public. The titular character of Martin Amis’s new novel, Lionel Asbo: State of England (RH/Knopf) received his first one at age 3.
The New York Observer sums up the reactions of most reviewers; ”A mediocre book by Martin Amis is better than most books by anyone else, but unfortunately, a bad book by Martin Amis is just as bad as any other bad book. And Lionel Asbo is a bad book.” Only the Kansas City Star dissents, calling it “ one of [Amis's] most compulsively readable” novels.
Next week’s debuts to watch include Outside magazine contributing editor Peter Heller‘s post-apocalyptic literary debut, and Cambodian refugee Vaddey Ratner‘s autobiographical novel. Usual suspects include Sherrilyn Kenyon, Julie Garwood, Chelsea Cain, Lisa Jackson and W.E.B. Griffin, andMichael Koryta - plus new childrens and YA novels from James Patterson, Amanda Hocking and Rebecca Stead. In nonfiction, there’s a new bio of Julia Child by Bob Spitz.
The Dog Stars by Peter Heller (Knopf; Random House Audio) is a literary debut about a pilot who survives a flu pandemic that wipes out 99% of the population, and then sets out to find the distant voice he hears on his radio. Booklist‘s starred review calls it a “surprising and irresistible blend of suspense, romance, social insight, and humor… [a novel] of spiky pleasure and signal resonance.” It is an Indie Next pick for August.
In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner (Simon & Schuster; Thorndike Large Print) is a debut told through the eyes of a seven-year-old survivor of Cambodia’s genocide under the Khmer Rouge, written by a woman who escaped the country as a refugee in 1981. It was a Book Expo Editor’s Buzz Panel pick, and also a People pick in last week’s issue: “Ratner’s lyrical first novel finds love and surprising humanity in a horrifying setting …Raami, the book’s 7-year-old heroine, is lame from polio (as is the author) yet she remains a tenacious dreamer.” An Indie Next pick for August, it is scheduled for media attention next week on NPR in USA Today, the NYT Book Review and several monthly magazines.
Time Untimeby Sherrilyn Kenyon (St. Martin’s Press; Macmillan Audio) is the latest installment in the popular Dark Hunter series, in which warrior Ren Waya, must kill Kateri Avani, the one person he has always cherished, to ward off an ancient evil.
Sweet Talk by Julie Garwood (Penguin/Dutton; Brilliance Audio; Thorndike Large Print) is a romantic thriller about an IRS attorney determined to bring down her father’s shady scheme, and the FBI agent who rescues her from an assault. Kirkus says, “The evil characters lack any semblance of humanity, and the good characters, including the Fed-crossed lovers, are perfect and unbecomingly smug about it. A standard melodrama with occasional flashes of originality.”
Kill You Twiceby Chelsea Cain (Macmillan/Minotaur Books; Macmillan Audio; Thorndike Large Print) marks the return of Gretchen Lowell, otherwise known as “The Beauty Killer,” who appeared in Cain’s first three novels – along with police detective Archie Sheridan. Kirkus says, “Cain’s abiding determination to outdo the suspense, plot twists and gore of each previous outing is both perverse and awe-inspiring.”
You Don’t Want to Know by Lisa Jackson (Kensington; Brilliance Audio) is a standalone thriller about a woman who loses her grip on reality after her child disappears, and becomes the prime suspect in a string of murders. PW says, “Multiple red herrings and a host of sinister characters help keep the pages turning.”
The Spymasters: A Men at War Novelby W.E.B. Griffin and William E. Butterworth, IV (Putnam Adult; Brilliance Audio; Thorndike Large Print) is the seventh in this thriller series and the third the author has written with his son. The plot centers on threats to the Manhattan Project during WWII, Kirkus says the authors “are completely at ease mixing fact and fiction, skillfully piecing together pieces of their narrative puzzle. Their writing is straightforward to a fault, sometimes reminding you of a scholastic You Are There novel, but the book never sags, and the characters never lose our interest.”
The Prophet by Michael Koryta (Hachette/Little Brown; Little Brown Large Print) is the author’s ninth novel, about two brothers in a small Midwestern town who were divided as teenagers by the death of their sister, and clash again years later when another local teen dies. PW says, “Koryta has a gift for melding a suspenseful, twisty plot with a probing, unflinching look at his protagonistsa weaknesses.” His So Cold the River and Cypress House are being developed for movies. Adaptation rights were also sold for this new title at the end of May (Deadline).
Wake by Amanda Hocking (Macmillan/St. Martin’s Griffin, Macmillan Audio) is the first installment in the new Watersong series about three contemporary sirens. It follows Hocking’s successful self-published Trylle Trilogy (later republished by St. Martin’s). Entertainment Weekly‘s “Shelf Life” blog features an “exclusive” trailer this week and an interview with Hocking. PW says, “While Hocking’s writing isn’t always polished (the foreshadowing can be painfully heavy), the well-structured story and strong characters carry readers over the rough spots. A cliffhanger ending sets up the next book, Lullaby, due [in] six months.”
Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead (RH/Wendy Lamb Books; Listening Library) is the story of two boys who become friends when one moves into the other’s Brooklyn neighborhood. PW says “chock-full of fascinating characters and intelligent questions, this is as close to perfect as middle-grade novels come.” Stead’s When You Reach Mewon the 2010 Newbery Medal.
Gangster Squad by Paul Lieberman (Macmillan/St. Martin’s; also trade pbk and mass market; Macmillan Audio) is the tie-in to the movie starring Sean Penn, famously rescheduled to next year because of a scene uncomfortably close to reality (a shooting in a movie theater). That scene was created for the movie and is not in the book, which is shipping as originally planned. This will be the book’s first publication (which is the reason it arrives in hardcover, audio, as well as two tie-in editions). Both the book and the movie are based on the LA Times writer Lieberman’s research into the LAPD’s eight-man “Gangster Squad” and their efforts to trap gang leader Mickey Cohen.
Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Childby Bob Spitz (RH/Knopf; Random House Audio) raises the question, do we need another book about Julia Child? The answer is a resounding “Yes!” from librarians at BEA’s Shout ‘n’ Share panel. PW says, “Released to coincide with Child’s centenary [August 13], Spitz’s delightful biography succeeds in being as big as its subject.” Why did Spitz, the author of major works about the Beatles and Bob Dylan turn his attention to a celebrity cook? He answers that question in an interview on the RH Library Marketing blog.
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.”
Next week brings two buzzed-about debuts: a thriller by Jean Zimmerman set in 1663 New Amsterdam and Carol Rifka Brunt‘s tale of two sisters in the age of AIDS. Plus two authors with growing followings are back: Leila Meacham with a sprawling Texas soap opera, and Linda Castillo with the fourth installment in her Amish series. Usual suspects include Janet Evanovich, Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter, and Ridley Pearson. In nonfiction, Rachel Swarns delves into First Lady Michelle Obama’s ancestry and David Maraniss explores President Obama’s background and character development.
The Orphanmaster by Jean Zimmerman (Penguin/Viking Books; Penguin Audiobooks; Thorndike Large Print) is a debut historical thriller set in New Amsterdam in 1663, in which a young Dutch woman and an English spy investigate the disappearances of a handful of orphans. Booklist calls it a “compulsively readable, heartbreaking, and grisly mystery set in a wild, colonial America will appeal to fans of Robert McCammon’s fast-paced and tautly suspenseful Mister Slaughter and Eliot Pattison’s Bone Rattler.” USA Today listed it as the top summer reading pick for the mystery/suspense category. Zimmerman was the first author in our Penguin Debut Authors program (read the chat & hear a podcast Q&A with the author here). She will also be featured on the ALTAFF Historical Fiction panel at ALA (Sat., 10:30 to noon)
Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt (RH/Dial Press) is a debut novel about two sisters who lose their uncle in the mid-’80s as AIDS is on the rise, and must come to terms with ”love that’s too big to stay in a tiny bucket. Splashing out in the most embarrassing way possible.” On our GalleyChat, one librarian called it the “best book I’ve ever read.” Like the previous titles, it is one of BookPage‘s Most-Buzzed About Debuts. The Minneapolis Star Tribunelists it among their eight books for summer: “Carol Rifka Brunt establishes herself as an emerging author to watch. Tell the Wolves I’m Home will undoubtedly be this summer’s literary sleeper hit.”
Tumbleweeds by Leila Meacham (Hachette/Grand Central; Hachette Audio; Thorndike Large Print) is the sprawling story of a love triangle between two high school football heroes and the orphan girl they befriend, who are separated by a teenage prank gone awry and an accidental pregnancy, with far-reaching consequences. LJ says, “Readers who love epic sagas that span a couple of generations will enjoy this soap opera tale of young love, betrayal, and living a life that might not have a happy ending.” 125,000-copy first-printing. One-day laydown.
Gone Missing: A Thriller by Linda Castillo (Macmillan/Minotaur) is the fourth Amish mystery featuring Chief of Police Kate Burkholder, and is set during Rumspringa — when Amish teens are allowed to experience life outside the community, a practice that always fascinates outsiders. PW says, “Castillo ratchets up the tension nicely before the disconcerting ending.” Castillo’s previous titles have hit the NYT hardcover list, but only the extended (highest, #21). Holds are heavy in some libraries. The publisher is putting extra marketing push behind this one.
Wicked Business: A Lizzy and Diesel Novel by Janet Evanovich (RH/Bantam; RH Audio; Thorndike Large Print) finds Salem, Massachusetts pastry chef Lizzy Tucker once again drawn into solving a mystery with her sexy but off-limits partner Diesel – this time involving an ancient Stone believed by some to be infused with the power of lust.
The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter (Harper) is the Discworld creator’s first novel in 30 years to be set in a new universe – this time comprised of an infinite number of parallel Earths, all devoid of humans, which will be explored by the gifted Joshua Valiente, employee of the Black Corporation. PW says, “the slow-burning plot plays second fiddle to the fascinating premise, and the authors seem to have more fun developing backstory and concepts than any real tension. An abrupt conclusion comes as an unwelcome end to this tale of exploration.”
The Risk Agentby Ridley Pearson (Putnam Adult; Brilliance Audio) is a thriller about a Chinese National who runs into intrigue while working for an American-owned in Shanghai (where the author lived with his family in 2008-2009). LJ says, “Famous for his plotting and attention to details, Pearson is off to a great start with his compelling and multilayered new protagonists. His many fans as well as readers who love international thrillers won’t be disappointed.”
American Tapestry: The Story of the Black, White, and Multiracial Ancestors of Michelle Obamaby Rachel L. Swarns (HarperCollins/Amistad) is the story of the First Lady’s lineage, starting with slave girl Melvinia in the mid 1800s in Jonesboro, Georgia, the mother of Dolphus Shields, Michelle Obama’s maternal great-great-grandfather. Kirkus says, “Swarns provides numerous tales of heartbreak and achievement, many of which essentially make up the American story. Elegantly woven strands in a not-so-easy-to-follow whole, but tremendously moving.” 100,000-copy first printing.
Barack Obama: The Story by David Maraniss (Simon & Schuster; S&S Audio) is a multi-generational biography of Barack Obama and his family, based on hundreds of interviews, including with President Obama – written by the author and associate editor of the Washington Post. PW says, “Obama’s story here is interior and un-charismatic, but it makes for a revealing study in character-formation as destiny. The book ends as Obama prepares to enter Harvard Law.” One-day laydown.
More media and librarian favorites land next week, as the summer reading season swings into gear. Some familiar names deliver new novels with big potential, including Alan Furst, Mark Haddon, Jess Walter, John Lanchester, and Robert Goolrick. There are also debuts to watch from Claire McMillan, Benjamin Wood, Maggie Shipstead. Usual suspects include Robert Dugoni, Dorothea Benton Frank, Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus. And in nonfiction, there’s an intriguing look at what humans and animals have in common when it comes to health and healing by cardiologist and psychiatrist Barbara Natterson-Horowitz and science writer Kathryn Bowers.
Mission to Paris by Alan Furst (Random House; Thorndike Large Print; S&S Audio) is set in Paris in the year leading up to Germany’s 1940 attack, as a Hollywood film star is drawn in to the Nazi propaganda war. It’s on Time magazine’s list of top ten picks for the year so far. In an early New York Times review, Janet Maslin says, “This particular Paris is the spy novelist Alan Furst’s home turf. He has been there many times in the course of 11 soignée, alluring novels. But he has never been there with a Hollywood movie star.”
The Gilded Ageby Claire McMillan (S&S) follows a woman who returns to close-knit Shaker Heights, Ohio after a divorce and rehab, to find her next wealthy husband. It led the “women’s fiction” category on USA Today‘s Summer Books preview. Publishers Weekly says that “while the novel tips its hat to House of Mirth, a simple comparison doesn’t do McMillan justice.” More Edith Wharton-inspired novels are out this summer. The Innocents by Francesca Segal (Hyperion/Voice. 6/5/12) recasts Edith Wharton’s Age of Innocence in a close-knit North West London Jewish communityand BEA Lbirarians Shout ‘n’ Share pick, The Age of Desire by Jenny Fields, Penguin/Pamela Dorman, 8/2/12, is about Edith Wharton’s love affair with a younger man.
The Bellwether Revivalsby Benjamin Wood (Penguin/Viking; Brilliance Audio) is told by caregiver Oscar Lowe, who becomes entangled with Cambridge students Iris and her brother Eden, who thinks he can heal others through music. It’s the second galley featured in our First Flights program. Booklist says, “this first novel is most notable for its acute characterizations and flowing prose that engrosses the reader as initial foreboding fades only to grow again. Wood is definitely a writer to watch.”
The Red House by Mark Haddon (RH/Doubleday; Random House Audio) is a social novel about a brother who invites his sister, her husband and three children for week’s vacation with his new wife and step-daughter, by the author of the runaway bestseller The Curious Incident of a Dog in the Night. Entertainment Weeklygives it a B+, saying in a review that sounds more like an A, “The story unfolds from all eight characters’ points of view, a tricky strategy that pays off, letting Haddon dig convincingly into all of the failures, worries, and weaknesses that they can’t leave behind during this pause in their lives.” It’s a June Indie Next pick.
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter (HarperCollins) is a bittersweet romance that begins when a starlet pregnant with Richard Burton’s baby is whisked from the set of Cleopatra to a tiny Italian seaside village in 1962, where the innkeeper falls in love with her, and looks her up in Hollywood years later. Reviews have begun already, as we noted earlier.
Capital by John Lanchester (Norton) is set in former a working class London neighborhood where property values have skyrocketed, as the 2008 recession sets in. LJ says it “weaves together multiple stories in an uncanny microcosm of contemporary British life that’s incredibly rich and maybe just a bit heavy, like a pastry. Yet definitely worth a look.” It’s also a June Indie Next pick.
Heading Out to Wonderfulby Robert Goolrick (Workman/Algonquin Books; Highbridge Audio; Thorndike Large Print) is the story of a man who returns from WWII to a small Virginia town with a suitcase stuffed with cash and a set of butcher knives. LJ says, “this novel is not a straightforward Southern gothic thriller but primarily a lyrical meditation on the magnified elements of small-town life: friendship, trust, land, lust, and sin.” The author’s previous novel, A Reliable Wife, was a huge seller, especially in paperback. We’re expecting even more from this one. This one is the #2 June Indie Next pick
Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead (RH/Knopf), a debut novel, is the story of ”WASP wedding dysfunction at it’s most hilarious,” as librarian Jennifer Dayton of Darien, CT observed on our GalleyChat. It’s a June Indie Next pick and a B&N Best Book of the Month. Ron Charles in the Washington Post this week calls it “a perfect summer romp” and, “Shipstead’s weave of wit and observation continually delights.”
The Conviction by Robert Dugoni (S&S/Touchstone) is the fifth thriller featuring Seattle lawyer David Sloane, as he tries to spring his adopted son and his friend from a hellish juvenile detention center. Nancy Pearl is a Dugoni fan, as evidenced by this interview from 2011.
Porch Lights by Dorothea Benton Frank (Harper/ Morrow; HarperAudio; Thorndike Large Print) explores how a mother and son rekindle their faith in life after their beloved husband and father is killed in the line of duty as a fireman.
Between You and Me by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus (S&S/Atria Books; Wheeler Large Print; S&S/Audio) is the story of a young woman who escaped her unhappy Oklahoma childhood as an adult in New York City, but can’t refuse a request to assist her famous cousin, who proceeds to have a very public unraveling. LJ says, “while attempting to address deeper family bonds, the authors swing wide and miss their mark. The emotional ties never quite shine through.”
Zoobiquity: What Animals Can Teach Us About Health and the Science of Healing by Barbara Natterson-Horowitz and Kathryn Bowers (RH/Knopf; RH Audio) brings together cardiologist and psychiatrist Natterson-Horowitz and science writer Bowers to make the case that since animals and humans suffer the same diseases, doctors and veterinarians should work more closely together. Booklist calls it “as clarion and perception-altering as works by Oliver Sacks, Michael Pollan, and E. O. Wilson.”