Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

Winter Is NOT Coming
Anytime Soon

Monday, January 4th, 2016


“THE WINDS OF WINTER is not finished.”

With those stark words, George R.R. Martin sums up his lowest point of 2015, confessing on his blog that he failed to complete The Winds of Winter before the new season of HBO’s adaptation, Game of Thrones, begins airing again in mid-April.

In what amounts to a baring of the authorial soul in the sad grip of “bad writing days,” Martin says to his fans that it gave him:

“… no pleasure to type those words. You’re disappointed, and you’re not alone. My editors and publishers are disappointed, HBO is disappointed, my agents and foreign publishers and translators are disappointed … but no one could possibly be more disappointed than me. For months now I have wanted nothing so much as to be able to say, ‘I have completed and delivered THE WINDS OF WINTER’ on or before the last day of 2015 … But the book’s not done…. I am months away still… and that’s if the writing goes well.”

Martin goes on to confesse he has no idea when the book will be done, asserts that deadlines simply “stress him out,” and says the book will “be done when it’s done. And it will be as good as I can possibly make it.”

Addressing the concerns of fans worried that the HBO series will reveal spoilers he says “Some of the ‘spoilers’ you may encounter in season six may not be spoilers at all… because the show and the books have diverged, and will continue to do so.”

He goes on to point out that people read books and watch adaptations of those books in various orders all the time so the question of the series spoiling the novels is really “Maybe. Yes and no.”

It is a your-mileage-may-vary answer and he defensively supports it with a list of dozens of characters who have already had different fates in his books than on the HBO series.

Janus Turns His Head

Thursday, December 31st, 2015

Now that the best books of 2015 are winding down (USA Today posted their top ten list just under the wire yesterday), the media is turning its attention to predictions for 2016.

The Washington Post looks ahead to books coming out through May, several of which, such as Curtis Sittenfeld’s Eligible, (PRH/Random House, April; eGalleys available), have received recommendations from GalleyChatters. Expected names include titles by Don DeLillo, Chris Bohjalian, Louise Erdrich and Stephen King.

9781594634673_84c55 9781501124372_63201

Authors following up breakout successes include Chris Cleave whose Little Bee was a #1 best seller in 2009. His next book, Everyone Brave is Forgiven (S&S, May; eGalleys available for download now) is a novel set in WWII London. Emma Straub follows the 2014 summer reading hit, The Vacationers, with Modern Lovers (PRH/Riverhead), about three college friends now facing their fifties.

Nancy Pearl’s New Year’s Pick

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

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Looking for a book for the New Year, something a bit different that crosses a number of popular genres? In her most recent KUOW radio appearance, librarian Nancy Pearl offers a suggestion, the 2014 genre-blending City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett (PRH/Broadway; OverDrive Sample).

Saying it’s exciting to discover an author she has never read before, especially one with a backlist to explore, Nancy discusses the first in Bennett’s The Divine Cities trilogy (the second, City of Blades, PRH/Broadway; OverDrive Sample will be published on Jan. 26), a cross between mystery, fantasy, and SF about a land once ruled by incarnate gods and a young spy sent on a mission to catch a murderer.

The beginning is a bit odd, she says but the story and the world-building quickly caught her attention and drew her in.

She is not alone in that assessment.

NPR’s reviewer says he put the book down three times but,

“I also came back, drawn by something about City of Stairs, even in those interminable opening pages … It was the shine of a wholly and fully realized world. The hard gleam of competence coming from a writer who knows what he’s doing, where he’s going and just exactly how to get there … Bennett is plainly a writer in love with the world he has built — and with good cause. It’s a great world, original and unique, with a scent and a texture, a sense of deep, bloody history, and a naturally blended magic living in the stones.”


Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015

9780385541039_1b16fLibrarian and bookseller fans of American Housewife: Stories by Helen Ellis (RH/Doubleday, January) are in good company. Margaret Atwood picks it as one of her two favorite books of the year in the Guardian, “Surreal tales of American weirdness, with details that ring all too true. Ouch, I say at times. At other times, yikes.”

It is also a LibraryReads and an Indie Next pick.

The author is an avid poker player, as pointed out in a NYT profile by fellow observer of American domesticity,  J. Courtney Sullivan (The Engagements, Commencement).

The story also notes that sales of her first two books were not stellar. Keep your eye on this one, the third time looks like it will be the charm.

Novelizations, No Phantom Menace

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015

9781101965498_0e088We don’t often see reviews of novelizations, but in The Washington Post Elizabeth Hand addresses the question, “You’ve seen the new Star Wars movie — should you read the book tie-in?” Her answer may be a bit biased. She wrote the novelization of Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys as well as a few Star Wars titles.

She reveals that authors “typically don’t see the film before they write the book. They’re given a screenplay and some still photos, and they work from that.”

Some may believe that novelizations were a 70s phenomenon, but Hand dates the popularity of books based on movies as far back as The Perils of Pauline, The Ten Commandments, and Metropolis, and writes that Jack London even made money as a novelizer.

Other well-known authors such as John Steinbeck, Orson Welles, Graham Greene and Arthur Miller produced them as well. Take that, novelization snobs.

As to the newest Star Wars novelization, The Force Awakens (PRH/Del Rey/LucasBooks; Random House Audio/BOT), Hand loves it, saying author Alan Dean Foster (who also wrote the very first Star Wars novelization although it got credited to George Lucas), does the movie “proud.”

At this point, the only available edition is the eBook. The print version has been delayed until January, for fear that hackers would get into printers’ files and reveal key plot points before the movie’s release. Hand says the reading experience is “fast-moving, atmospheric and raises goose bumps at just the right moments … it’s a testament to Foster’s skill and professionalism that he not only evokes entire onscreen worlds but that he also gives us glimpses of an even more vast, unseen universe that has arisen from his impressive imagination.”

So cheer up Star Wars fans, even as the movie ends, the story does not.


Thursday, December 17th, 2015

The DinnerLaura Linney is in talks to star in an adaptation of The Dinner by Dutch author Herman Koch (RH/Hogarth), reports Deadline.

It was once reported that Cate Blanchett would direct, but it that chair will now be occupied by Oren Moverman.

A hit in Europe, the novel arrived in the U.S. in 2013 to predictions that it would be the next Gone Girl. Although it didn’t achieve that level, it sold well and was on the NYT Hardcover Fiction list for seven weeks, reaching a high of #7.

+-+971582089_140Linney has completed work on another book adaptation, Sully, based on Highest Duty by Chesley Sullenberger (HarperCollins/Morrow, 2009), who piloted an airplane to safety after its engines were  disabled by a bird strike.

Directed by Clint Eastwood, Tom Hanks will play Sully and Linney his wife. It is set for release some time in 2016.

MAGICIANS, Sneak Preview

Thursday, December 17th, 2015

9780399576645_c2490After last night’s final episode of Childhood’s End, adapted from Arthur C. Clarke’s classic novel, the Syfy channel gave viewers an early look at the pilot for The Magicians, based on Lev Grossman’s novel, which is set to begin  January 25th..

It’s not clear why they decided to release the pilot ahead of the series, but if they were hoping to build buzz through good reviews, that didn’t work out.

The fan site Den of Geek is the most positive, acknowledging that the pilot is overstuffed, but “With a number of paths towards mystery and adventure (perhaps too many) already established, there’s plenty of material to explore, both from the novels and this already quite different screen adaptation. Fans of the Grossman trilogy and of the fantasy TV genre are both sure to be pleased.”

Salon‘s reviewer notes that the adaptation “makes big changes but keeps the heart of the original books,” objecting that “it’s hard to not feel rushed through the pilot  … Which is too bad, because the story of The Magicians would be well-served with a little bit more time to breathe,” and concludes, “it’s a bit too early to judge the show, even on potential. The rapid-fire introduction of all of the characters and major plot drivers doesn’t do any of it real justice”

Entertainment Weekly’s reviewer hasn’t read the books, but spends quite a bit of time analyzing how the TV version relates to other books (the Narnia series, Harry Potter, The Golden Compass) and ends up giving the pilot a middling B.

The Wrap is the most damning;  “Imagine a horny Hogwarts and you’re on the wavelength of The Magicians, a somewhat intriguing, occasionally diverting, mostly just silly and campy adaptation ” — After only one episode, it would take a clairvoyant to know whether “The Magicians” will eventually develop into an agreeably dark and twisty piece of juicy genre fare, but at this early stage its future looks murky.”

Tie-in: The Magicians (TV Tie-In Edition) by Lev Grossman (Penguin/Plume).

BIG LITTLE LIES Cast Developments

Thursday, December 10th, 2015

big little liesNews recently leaked that Laura Dern and Shailene Woodley were being courted for the HBO series based on Australian author Liane Moriarty’s best seller Big Little Lies (Penguin/Putnam/Einhorn).

Deadline now confirms that Dern has signed to play Renata Klein, one of the three mothers at the center of the story. Woodley is expected to play Jane, a single mother whose son is accused of bullying, but that has not yet been confirmed, but seems certain since producer Nicole Kidman announced it last week.

The show runner is David E. Kelley (Ally McBeal, Boston Legal), with Jean-Marc Vallée (Dallas Buyers Club, Wild) set to direct several of the episodes.

Moriarty is scheduled to publish an untitled new novel in July (Macmillan/Flatiron Books).

The Husband's Secret  What Alice Forgot

Two of Moriarty’s other novels are in development, as feature films. The Husband’s Secret, (Penguin/Putnam/Einhorn, 2013), with CBS Films and  What Alice Forgot(Penguin/Putnam/Einhorn, 2011)  with TriStar. At the end of October, it was reported that Jennifer Aniston is in talks to star in the latter.

Closer to Screen: BIG LITTLE LIES

Wednesday, December 9th, 2015

big little liesThe HBO series based on Liane Moriarty’s best seller Big Little Lies (Penguin/Putnam/Einhorn), now has another big name attached. Shailene Woodley is set to join Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon in the production, reports Variety, but the news seems to have been broken via a tweet from the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit. Variety notes the deal is not completed. Since the source of the news is Kidman and she is a producer, it seems it is likely it will be confirmed shortly.

Season Six in April

Friday, December 4th, 2015

The first teaser for the next season of HBO’s Game of Thrones has just arrived, along with the news that it will debut in April.

Those 41 seconds are bringing much speculation on what will happen this season (see Rolling Stone, the Telegraph, and Wired).

There is no tie-in to turn to because George RR Martin has not yet completed the sixth in the book series, Winds of Winter, although he recently dropped hints about what to expect. In the past, he declared it was his goal was to finish it before the HBO series begins. That window is now getting shorter.

Back to 11/22/63

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

On President’s Day, 2016, we will travel back in time to 11/22/63, the date John F. Kennedy was assassinated, via an 8-part series based on the novel by Stephen King. Produced by J.J. Abrams, it will stream on Hulu and feature James Franco as a teacher going back in time to stop the assassination.

The first trailer was recently released. No tie-ins have been announced.

OUTLANDER, Season 2,
Trailer & Tie-ins

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

The first trailer for new season of Outlander on STARZ was just released.

Based on the second novel in the book series, Dragonfly In Amber (PRH/Delacorte, 1992; Recorded Books; OverDrive Sample), it follows Jamie and Claire as they escape to France and try to stop the Jacobite rising. This moves the action from the Scottish Highlands to upper-class life in France.

Once again, it spans multiple time periods and also introduces new characters, including Jamie and Claire’s adult daughter Brianna, Fergus, Jamie’s spy and one-day-adopted son, and a young Lord John Grey.

Season two is slated to air some time this spring.

Tie-ins (Season 2 Cover Art to Come):


Dragonfly in Amber (Starz Tie-in Edition) ,  Diana Gabaldon
PRH/Delta, March 8, 2016
Trade Paperback


Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

Screen-Shot-2015-09-23-at-10.55.10-AMNational Book Award Winner, Ta-Nehisi Coates’s next project is to create a Black Panther comic for Marvel. Set to be published next spring, Coates gives a sneak peek at the work in progress in The Atlantic and promises more updates to come.

Black Panther, the first black superhero, was introduced in 1966. He will also be seen in two upcoming movies, as a character in Captain America: Civil War to be released May 6, 2016 (the trailer for it, released this week, broke viewing records) and as the lead in a film scheduled for 2018, He is played in both by Chadwick Boseman.

Admitting that this kind of writing is much different than his usual form, Coates explains why he accepted this challenge, “I took it on for the same reason I take on new stories—to grow intellectually and artistically. In this case it’s another genre—fictional, serial story-telling—one a good distance away from journalism, memoir, and essays.”


Monday, November 30th, 2015

9780544817289_23384The new Amazon series, The Man in the High Castle began streaming last week and is bringing people to the Philip K. Dick novel on which it is based. The trade paperback edition debuted at #13 on the NYT‘s  list and is rising on Amazon’s sales rankings, now at #34.

Coverage, as we have been reporting (here, here, and here), is both plentiful and favorable, powering the book’s rise along with heavy promotion by Amazon.

Holds are also strong, spiking to 8:1 in some locations. Resourceful readers are even seeking out the Library America edition containing The Man in the High Castle along with three other Dick novels.

To feed the demand, a tie-in edition (HMH/Mariner Books; OverDrive Sample) just arrived with cover art that evokes the dystopian alternate reality of the series.

Once readers get their hands on the book they will find, as Laura Miller, Slate’s books and culture columnist, writes, a story very different than the one currently streaming on Amazon.

“the new TV series is so alien to the book in spirit that it would be a shame if it came to supplant our understanding of what is also one of the best mid-20th-century American novels about colonialism and its corrosive effects on the human psyche.”

On a side note, the PR for the show is gathering its own attention.

NPR’s The Two-Way reports that the New York Metro Transportation Authority has removed Nazi-themed subway advertisements for the show at the request of Governor Andrew Cuomo.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio joined the call as well, saying the images are “irresponsible and offensive to World War II and Holocaust survivors, their families, and countless other New Yorkers.” (NPR has images of the subway cars as part of their story).

A second trailer captures the alternate reality and the moody feel of the show:

GALLEYCHATTER, November 2015, Winter Reading for 2016 Titles

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

The following post is from our GalleyChatter columnist, Robin Beerbower:

As the winter weather descends on most of us, settle in for some absorbing books so you’ll be prepared to order those late winter/spring titles. Check the titles on Edelweiss and NetGalley to fill your reader for the Thanksgiving weekend.

Click here for the complete list of titles mentioned during the chat.

Thanks for the Memoirs

November was a big month for celebrity “tell-all” releases (Leah Remini, Carly Simon, Burt Reynolds) so it’s refreshing to see a few lesser-known people telling their own inspiring or fascinating stories.

9781501112461_cb3d8Quickly gaining “much love” on Edelweiss is My Father, the Pornographer, Chris Offutt (S&S/Atria, February). Jennifer Dayton from Darien Library recommends it saying it is “blowing her away,” and Vicki Nesting loved it saying, “How does your understanding of your father change when you learn that he wrote more than 400 books in his lifetime — most of them pornography?  This is spare and incisive, and occasionally heartbreaking.”

9780393249095_2554eDiana Abu-Jaber’s also focuses on family and incorporates her love of food into Life Without a Recipe: A Memoir of Family and Food (Norton, April). Jennifer Dayton is a fan, saying, “Life is like what we crave to eat, sometimes we want savory and sometimes sweet. Abu-Jaber shows us the conflicting messages she received as a girl from the two people she loved the most, from her German grandmother, who loved sweet, the need to remain independent and from her Arab father, who was all about the savory and  the fervent hope for her to be married and settled.”

9781101875551_92053Pulitzer prize winning writer Jhumpa Lahiri’s goal to become fluent in Italian is showcased in her beautifully written memoir, In Other Words (PRH/Knopf, February). P. J. Gardiner (Wake Country Library, NC) enjoyed it saying, “A primarily English speaker, Lahiri studied Italian for years before deciding to move to Rome and immerse herself. What follows is a dual language (Italian translated to English) memoir sharing her journey of taking risks, learning, and reflecting.”

Under the Radar Thriller Authors

9780062390486_5a494Alafair Burke is following in the bestselling footsteps of her father, James Lee Burke, with her new stand-alone thriller, The Ex (HarperCollins, January). Andrienne Cruz (Azusa City Library) thought it was terrific saying, “Olivia Randall doesn’t expect to help her ex fiancé when he is accused of murder. Burke keeps this book alive with a smart protagonist, interesting characters and a fluid story, and a clever twist will keep readers guessing till the very end.”

9781250067845_bea7bGregg Hurwitz is another author who doesn’t commonly appear on suspense thriller radars, but his new title, Orphan X (Macmillan/Minotaur, January) is receiving advance buzz from our chatters and Edelweiss members also agree with the “much love” votes rising. Elizabeth Kanouse (Denville Public Library, NJ) said his forthcoming roller-coaster of a read is perfect for fans of Jason Bourne and the Mission: Impossible franchise: “Evan Smoak is a killing machine, government trained from the his boyhood. He’s now working freelance, helping those who need his kind of help. Something goes wrong with his latest client, and he finds himself on the run, up against someone whose skills may surpass his own.”

Debut Novels

9781250077974_f2240The novel Cold Mountain and books by Cormac McCarthy first come to mind when reading Fallen Land by Taylor Brown (Macmillan/St. Martin’s;January), according to collection development specialist Janet Lockhart of Wake (NC) County Library. She goes on to say, “With just their wits and their trusted horse, a young couple race for the coast at the same time as Sherman’s army is burning its way across Georgia. A love story told amidst the horrors of war, this is a beautifully written and paced debut novel.”

9780062414212_2b722Ever since Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings and Emma Straub’s The Vacationers, I have hungered for another novel of fraught family dynamics (with a dash of dysfunction) with irritating yet relatable characters. I found it in Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s first novel, The Nest (HarperCollins/Ecco, March). The novel centers around the financial difficulties of three siblings after their arrogant brother’s foolish accident which drains their inheritance, known as “The Nest.” Sweeney does a masterful job of narrating the story from multiple viewpoints and having it all come to a satisfying close. I agree with a few GoodReads reviewers who are predicting this could be the surprise spring bestseller.


9780812993103_f08de“Imagine a Jane Austen novel set in WWI England!” is how Janet Lockhart describes Helen Simonson’s The Summer Before the War (PRH/Random House, March). Her affection for this novel by the author of the book group favorite Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand was echoed by Bryant Library’s (NY) Janet Schneider who said, “From it’s opening scenes, set in East Sussex in extraordinarily-beautiful August 1914, this captures the final moments of innocence before the steep costs of war deeply impacted a family, a town and a way of life. Jacqueline Winspear and Kate Morton fans will be entranced.”

Please join us for the next GalleyChat on Tuesday, December 1, from 4:00-5:00 (ET). Come early,for virtual cocktails at 3:30. With so many titles being sprung for spring, “friend” me on Edelweiss to keep up with what I’m anticipating.