Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

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Gloria Naylor Dies

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

9780140066906_477a8The author of The Women of Brewster Place, a debut that earned the National Book Award, has died at 66 of heart failure, reports the NYT.

In addition to her best-known novel, she also wrote seven others including Linden Hills, Bailey’s Cafe, Mama Day, and The Men of Brewster Place. In all her novels, says the NYT, Naylor “addressed social issues including poverty, racism, sexism and gay rights, usually through intricately drawn black female characters.”

In 1989, The Women of Brewster Place was made into a miniseries by Oprah Winfrey, bringing even more attention to her writing.

Headlining their appreciation “Rest in Power,” Ebony writes Naylor’s “beautiful and complex portrayals of the lives of Black women inspired a generation of writers … A pioneer [she] fearlessly explored issues of race, sexuality, and spirituality in her work, opening the door for a wave of contemporary … writers like Bebe More-Campbell, Eric Jerome Dickey, Tina McElroy Ansa and others.”

The Millionaire and the Revolutionary

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

9781631492242_da915Winston Groom has just published first novel in nearly 20 years, a Western, inspired by a story about J.P. Morgan and Pancho Villa,  El Paso (Norton/Liveright; Recorded Books; OverDrive Sample).

In an interview on NPR’s All Things Considered, Groom says he gave up writing fiction after Forrest Gump because he could not find a subject that captured his interest:

“I think that every novelist of the kind of novels that I write has in them maybe one really good book … but the trouble with so many novelists is that they keep on writing novels even when they run out of ideas. … So I was thinking, after the commercial success of Forrest Gump, that I didn’t really have any ideas that really grabbed me.”

He wrote nonfiction instead, on the history of the Civil War and WWI and WWII. He also wrote books about the West, all of which might have helped him imagine his next novel.

He tells NPR that a friend of his, “Eddie Morgan (a distant relative of the late J.P. Morgan), used to talk about his family’s million-acre cattle ranch in northern Mexico, and how Pancho Villa attacked it in 1916 … had the ranch manager sabered to death and then kidnapped his children.” Groom thought he could make a story of that.

The result says NPR is “a sprawling, 400-plus-page novel [that] takes place during the Mexican Revolution and follows a railroad tycoon on a manhunt across the High Sierras to rescue his kidnapped grandchildren from Pancho Villa. The book’s made-up characters interact with historical figures a lot like they did in Forrest Gump: Lt. George S. Patton … the cowboy movie star Tom Mix, the Socialist journalist John Reed and the Civil War writer Ambrose Bierce.”

In their review, Kirkus says “It’s not Lonesome Dove, but Groom’s Searcher’s-like rescue pursuit and his allusive homage to Treasure of the Sierra Madre make for an entertaining Western story.” Publishers Weekly calls it a “historically vivid and marvelously complex tale.”

El Paso is running at a rough 2:1 ratio, but Forrest Gump did not break big until after the film was made so keep an eye out for another possible sleeper hit.

Ferrante Unmasking Backlash

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

9781609452926_4d4f4The backlash to the uproar over the purported unmasking of the true identity of the author behind the pseudonym Elena Ferrante, is best and most amusingly summarized by NPR’s “The Two Way.

The controversy brings new attention to a collection of essays, interviews and letters by the author that will be released in the U.S. in November, Frantumaglia: A Writer’s Journey, Elena Ferrante, Ann Goldstein, (Europa Editions). The title is a Neapolitan word that, as Ferrante explained in an interview in the Paris Review, means “bits and pieces of uncertain origin which rattle around in your head, not always comfortably.”

SF and Fantasy for October

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

Looking for October titles to please genre fans? io9 surveys the Science Fiction and Fantasy field and highlights 21 titles coming out this month to suggest to readers and include in displays.

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Among them is Alex Award-winner Wesley Chu’s new stand-alone title, The Rise of Io (PRH/Angry Robot; OverDrive Sample), described as what happens when an “intergalactic small-time crook” is overtaken by a “body-swapping alien” who is conducting a murder investigation.

Shakespeare is rarely classed as SF or Fantasy, but Margaret Atwood’s Hag-Seed  (PRH/Hogarth; RH Audio/BOT), is also on the list, described as her “fresh take” on The Tempest.  It is just one of many Atwood upcoming projects, including her debut graphic novel. She is also consulting on Hulu’s adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale,starring Joseph Fiennes and Elisabeth Moss, which begins shooting in Toronto this fall.

Based on the cult hit TV series, The Secret History of Twin Peaks by Mark Frost (Macmillan/Flatiron Books; Macmillan Audio; OverDrive Sample) offers “a deeper examination of the tiny town’s history and its many deep and troubling mysteries.” New attention will also be brought to series in the form of a revival, to air in 2017.

9780345540676_7bd4c 9781481424301_06864

Crosstalk by Connie Willis (PRH/Del Rey; Recorded Books; OverDrive Sample) blends genres. A LibraryReads pick for this month, it is described it as “he perfect romantic comedy for the digital age,” Also on the list is Ken Liu’s The Wall of Storms (S&S/Saga; S&S Audio), the sequel to the highly regarded Grace of Kings. It has also received high praise in a review on the NPR site this week, saying that “It surpasses The Grace of Kings in every way, by every conceivable metric, and is — astonishingly — perfectly readable as a standalone.”

Will the Real Elena Ferrante
Stand Up, PLEASE?

Monday, October 3rd, 2016

9781609450786_26fdc9781609451349_a246f9781609452339_1c4a0The Story of the Lost Child, Elena Ferrante, Europa Editions

We don’t get the obsession with finding out who the real Elena Ferrante is, but the news media is currently atwitter because The New York Review of Books published an article on Sunday that purports to have uncovered the identity of the true author of the internationally best selling Neapolitan Novels.

The story is by an Italian business journalist who did what business journalist do, he followed the money, noting a dramatic increase in royalties to Italian translator Anita Raja. Based on style, she has been one of the leading contenders for the Ferrante mantle. The increase began about the same time that the Ferrante books started taking off. Bingo.

Many news sources are covering the story, including the New York Times. An opinion piece in the Guardian offers wise advice, “if you want to know who Elena Ferrante is, there is a very simple way to find out. Read her books.”

GOT: The Enhanced Editions

Sunday, October 2nd, 2016

cover225x225Enhanced digital editions of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice saga are being released, but only via Apple iBooks. Of course, this means they will not be available to libraries.

The Verge says that “Clicking on a name in this souped-up digital version will allow readers to track that character’s journey, or dig deeper into a character connections and house lineage.”

The first book, A Game of Thrones: Enhanced Edition, went on sale yesterday to mark the 20th anniversary of the series. It also includes an excerpt of the long-awaited sixth novel in the series,  The Winds of Winter, which was briefly posted on Martin’s website. The second in the series, A Clash of Kings, is scheduled for release on October 27th, followed by A Storm of Swords on December 15th, A Feast for Crows on February 2, 2017, and A Dance of Dragons on March 30, 2017.

In an Apple statement George R.R. Martin said:

“We’re now entering a new period in the history of publishing. The digital book gives readers the ability to experience all this rich secondary material that had not been possible before. These enhanced editions available only on iBooks include sigils and family trees and glossaries. Anything that confuses you, anything you want to know more about, it’s right there at your fingertips. It’s an amazing next step in the world of books.”

Libraries, however, will be able to buy the new 20th anniversary “special deluxe” illustrated edition of A Game of Thrones (PRH/Bantam, $50), also available as an eBook. Vanity Fair recently released ten of the images in the book.

New Dan Brown Next Year

Sunday, October 2nd, 2016

9780385514231Just weeks before Inferno hits screens, comes news that Robert Langdon will star in yet another book by Dan Brown, Origin (PRH/Doubleday; Sep 26, 2017; ISBN 9780385514231), the fifth in the series.

The news is being widely reported. In a press release Doubleday says:

“In keeping with his trademark style, Brown interweaves codes, science, religion, history, art and architecture into this new novel.
Origin thrusts Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon into the dangerous intersection of humankind’s two most enduring questions, and the earth-shaking discovery that will answer them”

The title is already on wholesaler systems for pre-order.

Catches a New Wave

Thursday, September 29th, 2016


Fall books have replaced most of the summer titles on best seller lists, but one is still going strong. Months after its publication on July 19, Ruth Ware’s second novel,  The Woman in Cabin 10 (S&S; S&S Audio; OverDrive Sample), continues at #17 on USA Today’s list released today, and is therefore declared “a sleeper hit.”

According to the book’s publicist, quoted by USA Today, the success is due in part to word of mouth and the April release in paperback of Ware’s debut, In a Dark, Dark Wood, which “set the table for Cabin.”

Although it was listed on multiple summer reading lists, it received few reviews in the consumer press, other than a glowing mention in a thriller roundup from the Washington Post comparing it aptly to Alfred Hitchcock’s films.

Librarians were early advocates. Both her novels have been Library Reads picks as well as Galleychat favorites.

Library holds queues are long are growing.

More is coming from Ware. She signed a deal with her British publisher for two more books, to be released in the summers of 2017 and 2018 and Reese Witherspoon acquired the film rights to her first book, In a Dark, Dark Wood.

“Word Nerds” Celebrated

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

2016_31_1024x1024Generally, Hollywood thinks of “writers” as  those people who turn out screenplays. Recently, Hollywood has had to give respect to another kind of writer, those who create books, which can then be turned into money-making movies or TV shows.

In 2012, The Hollywood Reporter created their first list of the “25 Most Powerful Authors,” an idea that didn’t have
much currency at the time. When #8 on the list, James Patterson was contacted, he thought the notion was crazy. “Power list? More like powerless list.”

He moves up to #3 in this year’s group of what the THR calls the most powerful “word nerds” saying, in seemingly non-ironic movie biz lingo, that they are doing better than ever because they are “among the creator groups benefiting from the proliferation of new platforms and outlets in entertainment.”

Featured on the cover are Paula Hawkins (above, left) author of The Girl On The Train and Emily Blunt, the star of the film adaptation widely expected to be a blockbuster when it opens on Oct. 7th.

Hawkins tells THR that she doesn’t agree with all the comparisons to another best selling book with “Girl” in the title that was also adapted into a blockbuster film, seeing her book as not about unlikable women and the dark side of suburbia, but rather, “how technology has turned us all into voyeurs.”

Also included in the issue is a story about a classic author receiving renewed attention from Hollywood, Agatha Christie, as well as profiles of “6 Up-and-Comers to Watch” including Margot Lee Shetterly, author of Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race (HarperCollins/Morrow; HarperLuxe, Sept. 6). A film adaptation is currently scheduled for release in January.


Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

minecraft-ac74aaafd41db8e5949a5e1d341c4e2a00764be9045439491e14b34dc103d611The internationally popular electronic game Minecraft is set to be spun off as a seres of novels. The first, Minecraft: The Island, will be written by Max Brooks (World War Z).

Thee’s no pub date or ISBN yet but the game developer Mojang released details of the plot: “Think cuboid Robinson Crusoe, but madder: a hero stranded in an unfamiliar land, with unfamiliar rules, learning to survive against tremendous odds.”

Brooks’s title will lead a series of Minecraft novels reportedly in the works. Keith Clayton, VP, Associate Publisher at Del Rey said in a release “we’re so fortunate to have someone of Max’s incredible talent and passion on board for the launch of the series.”

Brooks chimed in with “I’m very excited to be part of this new venture … Finally I can justify all those hours I’ve spent playing Minecraft.”

For those not familiar with Minecraftthink electronic LEGOs, says Tech Insider, which offers an illustrated overview of this game that has a massive global reach. It is “the second-bestselling game of all time,” reports Time magazine, and “has been selling at an average pace of 53,000 copies a day since the start of this year.”

The game is well on its way to being a multimedia franchise. It already has fan fiction ebooks and in June came news that a movie is in the works.

DARKTOWN Gains Attention

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

9781501133862_bc1ceNPR’s Morning Edition this week featured Thomas Mullen’s newest novel, about Atlanta’s first black officers.

Inspired by a 1947 Newsweek article estimating “that one-quarter of Atlanta policemen were, in fact, members of the Ku Klux Klan,” NPR calls Darktown (S&S/Atria/37 INK; S&S Audio; OverDrive Sample) “a blend of history, mystery and violence.”

The new officers faced tough restrains. They operated out of a YMCA for fear they would cause a riot at police headquarters, “they could only patrol the back neighborhoods; they weren’t supposed to set foot in the white parts of town,” Mullen says. “They couldn’t drive squad cars; they had to walk their beat with a partner” and were not allowed to arrest white people.

NPR notes “some of the tensions described in Darktown — like the ability of white police to injure or kill black citizens with impunity without being charged or punished — sound disturbingly familiar.”

Mullen plans this as the first in a series with each book focusing on new officers who replace those that retire “as the story of Atlanta’s racial coming-of-age moves into contemporary times.” The second book is expected in fall 2017.

In a publishing twist, NPR reports that Mullen’s agent “circulated his manuscript without his name or photo attached.” Mullen, who is white, has lived in Atlanta for 15 years. The influential Dawn Davis of Simon & Schuster bought the book for her imprint. She told NPR she found the blind submission forced her “to read it just as a piece of literature … I couldn’t look up what kind of reviews the author got, I couldn’t look up anything about the author. What his previous books were, even — or if it were even a man. I had to just kind of read it, and explore it for what it was.”

It  is already heading to the small screen. In what Deadline Hollywood terms “a very competitive situation,” Sony won the rights to the novel for a TV project headed by the high-powered producer Amy Pascal and Oscar winner Jamie Foxx.

The Washington Post review suggests it could transfer well to TV, calling it “gripping,” “unflinching,” “complicated crime fiction that melds an intense plot with fully realized characters.”

The New York Times adds “One incendiary image ignites the next in this highly combustible procedural, set in the city’s rigidly segregated black neighborhoods during the pre-civil-rights era and written with a ferocious passion that’ll knock the wind out of you.”

Librarians and booksellers agree; it is a September LibraryReads and Indie Next selection.

TV Spin-off for DARK TOWER

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

9781501161803_ec6949781501161834_b8d51A film adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower is set to premiere on February 17, 2017 starring Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey.

Plans for the adaptation of the enormous series, which includes novels, short stories and comics, have been in the works for at least a decade. Originally, it was conceived as a trilogy of movies, with a TV series between each film.

Finding financial backing for such a large project proved difficult. Finally, the film adaptation was announced, but whether there would be sequels or a TV component hinged on the first film’s success.

But now, reports Entertainment Weekly, plans have firmed up for the TV series. Intended to fill in the backstory, the series is expected to air in 2018, around the time the film hits streaming and cable channels.

Idris Elba, who plays the gunslinger Roland Deschain in the movie, is on board to reprise the role on the small screen, along with Tom Taylor, Jake Chambers, but there is no word yet if Matthew McConaughey will also make the transition.

EW reports the 10- to 13-episode show will cover “Roland’s origin story [set] years before the events depicted in the film” and that,  while some material for the TV series will be taken from The Gunslinger, “the bulk of the show will focus on the fourth book in the saga, Wizard and Glass” which is “primarily a prequel” to the series.

The LA Times reports that at least three additional key figures from the film, including the director and two of the writers, are involved with the TV series. It has not been announced which network will carry it, but EW predicts that, given the content, it will land with a cable or streaming service.

The entire series is being re-released in mass market paperback starting in October in anticipation of the film’s release (see our list of tie-ins to upcoming movies).


Saturday, September 24th, 2016


Stephen King can rest a bit more easily. James Patterson has called off the publication of a title in his new BookShots series, originally scheduled for November, The Murder of Stephen King.

Having announced the book just two weeks ago, its cancellation, reports The Guardian, was a result of Patterson “belatedly deciding that he did not want to cause King and his family ‘any discomfort.'”

It will be replaced with Taking the Titanic, co-authored with Derek Nikitas. A book with the same title, but co-authored by Scott Slaven, is listed on retailer and wholesaler sites for April. The Hachette site, however, has it listed for November, but still with Slaven as the co-author.

Several other new titles in the series have been announced, including a hardcover collection of four BookShot titles, Kill or Be Killed, set for publication in October, and three mass market “ominous” editions. See our downloadable spreadsheet, BookShots Oct, 2016 thru May,2017

Best Sellers: Patchett Hits New Highs

Friday, September 23rd, 2016

9780062491794_46ce0Ann Patchett lands at #4 on the USA Today Best-Selling Books list, making Commonwealth (Harper; HarperAudio) her highest ever debut.

According to the paper, Bel Canto reached #8 in 2003 but debuted at #70 and State of Wonder hit, and peaked, at #12.

Commonwealth is #1 on the PW Fiction list, making it likely to land on the NYT‘s list at #1 as well when the Oct 2 list comes out later this afternoon.

Library patrons are echoing the sales figures. Holds are strong on all formats at libraries we checked.

It looks like Jonathan Burnham, publisher of HarperCollins’s Harper imprint, was correct when he told The Wall Street Journal “It’s probably the most commercial novel Ann has written yet.”

As we noted earlier, it is a darling of critics. It made most, if not all the fall reading previews. It is also the Indie Next #1 pick for September; Entertainment Weekly gave it a solid A review; The Guardian says it is “outstanding;” and Jennifer Senior reviewed it early for the daily NYT, calling it “exquisite.