Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

Under the Radar: CONCLAVE

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

9780451493446_b9ef1Robert Harris’s newest novel, Conclave (PRH/Knopf; RH Audio; OverDrive Sample), about the political and personal machinations of electing a pope, is getting rave reviews, so glowing, it just appeared on BookMark‘s list of “Most Talked About Books.”


Many readers’ advisors who consider Harris a favorite will not be surprised. Harris writes bestselling historical fiction such as Pompeii and Fatherland as well as contemporary works, such as The Ghost (which was adapted into the feature film The Ghost Writer starring Ewan McGregor and Pierce Brosnan). Conclave is a contemporary thriller set in the Vatican.

The Guardian opens its review with this gripping lure:

“I am about to use a word I have never knowingly used in any review of any book ever. During my 25-odd years of writing about books I have done my best to avoid cliches, slipshod summaries, oracular pronouncements and indeed anything else that might appear emblazoned on a book jacket. Nonetheless, there is only one possible word to describe Robert Harris’s new novel, and it is this: unputdownable.”

The NYT says that its culminating denouement is “so provocatively scandalous” it “could become a Catholic version of The Satanic Verses.”

The SF Chronicle writes “you eavesdrop on clandestine intrigues and late-night missions that play out in the shadows of the Vatican labyrinth … the author’s strong writing freshens the familiar with color, and his keen sense of character humanizes the baroque proceedings.”

WSJ says “Robert Harris is a master storyteller and accomplished craftsman who, like Graham Greene and Somerset Maugham, marries a searching moral imagination to his rare ability to tell a compelling tale. He understands that people read novels for pleasure, not under compulsion.” (subscription may be required)

Despite the strong reviews and Harris’s auto-buy reputation, holds are light at libraries we checked. That might be due to the timing of the book (it came out just a few weeks after the election) and its subject matter (a contentious, heated battle for power). It has not appeared on best seller lists.

As a result, readers’ advisory librarians may be able to put this book into patron’s hands. Based on the reviews, it’s a good bet to hand-sell.

Running Start: HISTORY OF WOLVES

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017

9780802125873_cb9d6Emily Fridlund’s debut novel, History of Wolves (Atlantic Monthly Press; Recorded Books; OverDrive Sample), just got a rave review on NPR’s web site.

Calling it “electrifying,” reviewer Michael Schaub says it “isn’t a typical thriller any more than it’s a typical coming-of-age novel; Fridlund does a remarkable job transcending genres without sacrificing the suspense that builds steadily in the book … History of Wolves is as beautiful and as icy as the Minnesota woods where it’s set, and with her first book, Fridlund has already proven herself to be a singular talent.”

Among other buzz, it is an Amazon best of the month title as well as their featured debut for January. As we pointed out in Titles to Know for the week, People magazines picks it in the new issue, calling it, “a compelling portrait of a troubled adolescent trying to find her way in a new and frightening world.” It is also the #1 Indie Pick this month.

Holds are growing, ranging from 3:1 to 12:1 where ordering is light. One library we checked has a 25:1 ratio, triggering a large second order. 

THE HANDMAID’S TALE Gets Premiere Date, Tie-in

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017

9780385490818Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (Houghton Mifflin, 1986) will premiere on April 26, 2017.

To mark the release date, Hulu issued a set of first photos revealing some of the costumes and settings. The photos nudged the book higher on Amazon’s sales charts.

A tie-in has also been announced, The Handmaid’s Tale (Movie Tie-in), (PRH/Anchor, trade pbk; March 28, 2017)

The ten-episode dystopian drama stars Elisabeth Moss, who made her name on Mad Men, as Offred, the central character and a handmaid, a rare fertile woman who has become the property of the state, forced to conceive against her will. Joseph Fiennes stars as The Commander, to whom Offred is assigned. Yvonne Strahovski plays Serena Joy, The Commander’s wife. Jordana Blake, Samira Wiley, Max Minghella, Madeline Brewer, Ann Dowd, and O-T Fagbenle round out the cast. Atwood serves as a consulting producer.

UpdateGilmore GirlsAlexis Bledel has joined the cast, and a new trailer has been released.

Writer Carrie Fisher Dies

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016

9780399173592_8cf50She may be remembered by many as Princess Leia in Star Wars but Carrie Fisher, who died at 60 on Tuesday, was also known for the sharp writing, raw honesty, and biting humor in her four novels and three memoirs, all of which are still in print.

Her first books were heavily autobiographical novels, Postcards From the Edge (1987),  Surrender the Pink (1990),  Delusions of Grandma (1993), and The Best Awful (2004; S&S Audio) (all from S&S).

But she found her true calling in memoirs, beginning with Wishful Drinking (2008; S&S Audio; Ocvr9781439153710_9781439153710_hrverDrive Sample). As Entertainment Weekly observed of that book, “Fisher’s voice is freer, now that she’s no longer hiding behind the coy scrim of calling her perky howls of pain ‘novels’ … Her stories bubble, bounce, and careen with an energy as loose as the jauntiness in The Best Awful was tight.”

Wishful Drinking was adapted from Fisher’s one-woman stage show, which also became the 2010 HBO documentary. UPDATE: HBO will re-air the show on Jan 1 at 9 pm ET.

postcards-from-the-edge-9781439194003_hrShe died after returning from a trip to London to promote her most recent book, The Princess Diarist (PRH/Blue Rider Press; Penguin/BOT Audio; OverDrive Sample).

It garnered headlines for revealing what many had already suspected, that she and Harrison Ford had an affair during the filming of Star Wars, but it also received positive reviewsThe Guardian wrote that it is “smart and funny. The pages crackle with self-deprecating one-liners, chatty observations and the singular wisdom that comes with being forever immortalised in the minds of teenage boys in a metal bikini and chained to a slug.”

The Princess Diarist is currently #1 on Amazon’s sales rankings, with Wishful Drinking at #7. Postcards From the Edge is right behind it at #8.

Libraries are also seeing demand with holds skyrocketing, passing 15:1 ratios on titles that have been weeded down to just a few copies, such as Postcards From the Edge. Libraries own more copies of the most recent book, The Princess Diarist. Nevertheless, it is showing strong holds, topping a 6:1 ratio at several libraries we checked.

Pennie Picks:
GIRL WAITS WITH GUN

Tuesday, December 27th, 2016

9780544800830_7bf78Influential book buyer, Costco’s Pennie Clark Ianniciello, selects Amy Stewart’s debut novel, and a LibraryReads selection, as her first recommendation of 2017: Girl Waits with Gun (HMH/Mariner Books, trade pbk. May 3, 2016; OverDrive Sample).

Maggie Holmes, Richards Memorial Library, North Attleboro, MA wrote the LibraryReads annotation:

“When the Kopp sisters and their buggy are injured by Henry Kaufman’s car, Constance Kopp at first just wants him to pay the damages. As she pursues justice, she meets another of Kaufman’s victims, the young woman Lucy. Stewart creates fully developed characters, including the heroine, Constance, who is fiercely independent as she faces down her fears. The time period and setting are important parts of the story as well, providing a glimpse of 1914 New Jersey.”

Ianniciello says she “can’t help but praise Stewart not only for how she fleshes out the events in this story, but also for the way she brings to life these highly unusual sisters and the times in which they live.”

The novel got review attention when it was published. The NYT gave it a strong review, asking for a sequel (which was granted this September with Lady Cop Makes Trouble) and writing “Stewart has spun a fine, historically astute novel … [integrating] the beliefs and conditions of a vanished way of life into the story, enriching it without playing the intrusive docent.” The Guardian called it “a marvellous debut.” NPR, PW, the Washington Post, and the St. Louis Dispatch all picked it as among the best or most notable books of the year.

Even with all that praise, the novel did not hit many bestseller lists. Ianniciello has long been recognized in the book business for not only influencing sales, but for  giving debuts a new life in trade paperback. 

The article accompanying the pick positions the novel along side Downton Abbey. Although the setting is different, it examines “conflicting ideas about women’s roles as modernization begins to take hold … The more the reader gets to know Constance Koop – not just her spunky side, but also her hidden past – the more interesting the story gets.”

 

“Mind-Bending” Spanish-Language Novel Gains Notice

Thursday, December 22nd, 2016

9780316354219_9dd5aCalling the book a “sensation,” Deadline Hollywood reports that film rights were just acquired to Kill The Next One, a psychological thriller by Argentinian-born Federico Axat (Hachette/Mulholland Books; Hachette Audio; OverDrive Sample). Published in Spanish “to acclaim,” rights were also sold for translation into 30 other languages.

Released here earlier this month, it received a good, but not sensational, review in the most recent NYT BR crime column: “mind-bending … Truth, illusion and downright deceit keep crossing invisible lines in this hallucinatory plot.” However, the review continues, “it becomes easy to lose focus on who’s who and what’s what. The shape-shifting characters and fantastic events keep sending [the main character] to his therapist (and us to ours) for clarification … Axat is the kind of hypnotic writer you love to read but can never entirely trust.”

Other coverage to date, while decent, does not indicate a “sensation”:

USA Today includes it on a recent list of new and noteworthy books, quoting the Booklist review that also calls it “mind-bending” as well as “intriguing.”

PW gave it a star, writing “Axat fuses weird fiction with psychological suspense in his stunning U.S. debut.” 

Bustle counts it as one of “The 8 Best Fiction Books Coming Out This December That Are Perfect For Holiday Snuggles,” writing “Like a chilling, murder-y version of Pay It Forward, this thriller unfolds as a man seeking to end his life is given the opportunity to kill two other people and then be killed.”

Canadian librarians picked it as a November Loan Stars title.

Holds are commensurate with cautious ordering in American libraries we checked, but Hollywood’s excitement may foretell growing interest.

To TV: TODAY WILL BE DIFFERENT

Friday, December 16th, 2016

9780316403436_e8038-1Julia Roberts is returning to the small screen (after HBO’s The Normal Heart) and will star as Eleanor Flood in a limited series adapting Maria Semple’s Today Will Be Different (Hachette/Little, Brown; Hachette Audio; OverDrive Sample).

Semple, no stranger to TV herself (she worked on Beverly Hills, 90210, Mad About You, Suddenly Susan, and Arrested Development), will write the script for the adaptation, says The Hollywood Reporter.

“I’m giddy that Eleanor Flood will be brought to life by Julia Roberts … This will be a fun ride!” says Semple.

This is not Semple’s only project, she is also adapting Where’d You Go Bernadette for the big screen, with Cate Blanchett attached to star.

No news at this point on when either project will debut.

NORTH WATER Surges

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

9781627795944_e366cIan McGuire’s blend of history, adventure, and thriller is still rising on Amazon.

Of the NYT‘s “10 Best Books of 2016,” The North Water (Macmillan/Holt; OverDrive Sample) showed the most impressive strength in terms of staying power, and now The Wall Street Journal has named it one of “The Best Mysteries of 2016,” helping the book jump again on the Amazon ratings.

WSJ writes, “The ghosts of Melville, Coleridge and Conrad haunt The North Water, Ian McGuire’s mesmerizing account of an 1859 whaling expedition plagued by ill fortune and its own bad intentions.”

Holds are surging in most systems we checked, with some showing ratios as high as 5:1.

In a recent Inside the NYT Book Review podcast, hosted by editor Pamela Paul, McGuire talks about the novel’s high-tension plot. Set in the mid-19th century on a whaling ship headed for the Arctic Circle. it features a ruthless, violent murderer and a troubled ship’s surgeon who fights him. McGuire said the idea came to him in stages. First as he worked on a biographical novel about Melville and then when he found a diary kept by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who served as a surgeon on a whaling ship.

NYTBR says “if you have read all of Conrad and Cormac McCarthy” you will want to turn to McGuire. For “all its harrowing bloodiness” the novel “is a huge amount of fun too.”

The novel is written as a tight thriller, continues NYTBR, with a gripping, quickly moving plot plot, interesting characters, and a deep thematic richness – topped by lots of twists and turns and a surprising ending.

Listen to the full podcast below. If you want to listen to just the North Water segment, listen to it on the NYT site. It begins around time stamp 34:00 (turn the little dial to fast forward).

THE CIRCLE Gets A Trailer

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

mv5bmjiwmjexndk5of5bml5banbnxkftztgwmju1ndk3mdi-_v1_sy1000_cr007041000_al_The film adaptation of Dave Eggers’s dark satire about Silicon Valley, The Circle, is heading to the big screen on April 28, 2017. It features big time stars Karen Gillan, Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, and John Boyega.

The first trailer has been released, causing enough stir to send the book rising on Amazon, moving from #338 to #213.

In print form, the novel did well, debuting at #7 on the NYT bestselling fiction list and attracting media attention, including a feature in The New Yorker.

9781101973813_968c5A tie-in edition hits shelves in late March: The Circle (MTI), Dave Eggers (PRH/Vintage; RH/BOT; OverDrive Sample).

THE GIRL BEFORE Tops Librarians Picks

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

9780425285046_76b2eLibraryReads-FavoriteThe #1 choice by librarians for the January 2017 LibraryReads list is The Girl Before by JP Delaney (PRH/Ballantine; RH Audio), a domestic psychological suspense novel.

“A page turner that is sure to be a hit. Each chapter alternates between two time periods. Back “then,” there is Emma, looking for the perfect flat. Her agent suggests One Folgate Street, built by architect Edward Monkford. In present day, Jane, a single thirty-something also ends up on Folgate Street. Both women learn the sinister history of the property and readers won’t know who to trust as Delaney’s debut clutches you by the throat and won’t let you go.” — Kara Kohn, Plainfield Public Library District, Plainfield, IL

Additional Buzz: Also a hit with our GalleyChatters, Jennifer Winberry, Hunterdon County Library (NJ) described it as “a high speed ride through a tale of obsessions with twists and turns that don’t stop until after the final page is turned.” The debut, which is being marketed as the first book under a “pseudonym of an author who has written award-winning fiction under other names,” was sold to Universal in a hotly contested 2015 bidding war, reports Deadline Hollywood. Ron Howard is set to direct the project. Deadline also reports that bestselling author Tony Strong is the suspected author.

It leads a list filled wit debuts including:

9781101885932_5b5b3 The Bear and the Nightingale, Katherine Arden (PRH/Del Rey; RH Audio; OverDrive Sample).

“We journey to 14th century Russia where the old ways still hold sway in the outlying villages and spirits and magical creatures are real. When Vasya’s stepmother and the new village priest try to end the pagan offerings, it us up to Vasya to stop the Bear from awakening. Can she find the strength to accept who she really is and protect her family and village? This magical story captivated me and pulled me fully into that world. The last third and the pulse-pounding finish had me on the edge of my seat.” — Joseph Jones, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Cuyahoga, OH

Additional Buzz: The hot debut Fantasy was one of our PRH EarlyReads Authors, which we featured in a chat in September. Also a GalleyChat pick. Andrienne Cruz (Azusa City Library, CA) said it will “cast a spell over adult readers.”

9781250105608_46ab1The Dry, Jane Harper (Macmillan/Flatiron Books).

“’Luke lied. You lied. Be at the funeral.’ These eight words will change everything for Agent Aaron Falk, summoned by the father or his former best friend. It appears Luke went on a rampage, murdering his wife, son, and then himself. At Luke’s father’s request, Aaron agrees to look into the murders/suicide and learns that the small town has long held grudges and secrets that may be best kept hidden in this atmospheric, chilling complex tale of anger and revenge.” — Jennifer Winberry, Hunterdon County Library, Flemington, NJ

Additional Buzz: Another big debut of the month, it is also a GalleyChat title. Vicki Nesting of St. Charles Parish Library (LA) said it was a “brilliantly plotted and atmospheric mystery.” Reese Witherspoon optioned film rights in advance of publication reports Deadline Hollywood. In draft form, the novel won the 2015 Victorian Premier Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript, netting the author $15,000 in prize money. A past winner of the same prize was The Rosie Project, Graeme Simsion (Simon & Schuster, 2013).

9781616205812_3f761The Second Mrs. Hockaday, Susan Rivers (Algonquin Books).

“Placidia is seventeen when she marries Major Hockaday, an older man and recent widower with a child. After he is recalled to service in the Civil War, she must manage his farm and take care of his son and all with little help. When he returns, it is to find that she has given birth, and said to have murdered the child. Told in journal entries, letters, and court documents, we learn about her life and the answers to this puzzling and horrifically charged event. A dark book that highlights the amazing strength so many of these women had to develop.” — Diane Scholl, Batavia Public Library, Batavia, IL

Additional Buzz: This debut is also a GalleyChat title. Vicki Nesting weighs in with “For fans of epistolary novels, this is a compelling and moving story.” Rivers is an award-winning playwright.

9780062451941_a2ff0Heartstone, Elle Katharine White (HC/Harper Voyager).

“A fun take on Pride and Prejudice in a fantasy setting. Merrybourne Manor has a gryphon infestation and has contracted with a band of Riders to kill them. As you can imagine, the main Rider is a little haughty and our heroine has a long memory. Familiar trials and tribulations occur with some detailed world-building, laying the groundwork for a sequel. Good for readers who don’t mind literary re-imaginings, love P&P, and Anne McCaffery’s Pern novels.” — Jenna Persick, Chester County Library, Exton, PA

Additional Buzz: Another of the early debuts of the year, it is a RT Top Pick (subscription may be required).

TODAY WILL BE DIFFERENT

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

9780316403436_e8038Maria Semple appeared on NPR’s Fresh Air yesterday, to discuss her new book Today Will Be Different (Hachette/Little, Brown; Hachette Audio; OverDrive Sample). As a result, the book made an impressive jump on Amazon, moving from #1,038 to #381.

Host Terry Gross introduced the conversation by saying “It’s both hilarious and moving to read [main character] Eleanor’s most ungraceful attempts at self-improvement” before turning the actual interview over to Fresh Air producer Sam Briger.

He began by asking Semple about the book’s opening, a funny, kind of heartbreaking, mantra listing the kind of person Eleanor wishes to be. Simple says that when she sat down to begin the book, “I almost wrote that first page word for word. As soon as I finished it, it had this spooky, kind of scary, nauseating energy about it. And I thought wow, I think I’m about to embark on writing a novel that takes place in a single day.”

The interview concludes with a discussion of Semple’s earlier work as a TV writer for shows such as Arrested Development and Mad About You

Holds are strong in libraries, with several reaching 4:1 ratios on high numbers of copies.

The Slow March Of A Very
Dark WINTER

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016
IMDb image for GOT Ep. #7.1

IMDb image for GOT Ep. #7.1

George R.R. Martin is not happy, and he won’t be making his readers happy either. Expect more delays for Winds of Winter says The Telegraph, reporting on Martin’s appearance at the Guadalajara International Book Fair in Mexico.

Writing that he has “missed several deadlines” for the next in the series and saying he still does not know when it will be completed or published, the paper reports Martin’s grim assessment of the story so far,

“There are a lot of dark chapters right now … Winter is the time when things die, and cold and ice and darkness fill the world … Some of the characters [are] in very dark places … In any story, the classic structure is, ‘Things get worse before they get better,’ so things are getting worse for a lot of people.”

As for the next, next book (Dreams of Spring) and the ending of the series, Martin says, “I’m not going to tell you how I’m going to end my book, but I suspect the overall flavor is going to be as much bittersweet as it is happy.”

It seems darkness is Martin’s current mood. On his blog this week, he posted, “December has come, and the end of 2016 (thank god, what a bloody awful year).” While he does not list all the reasons 2016 was horrible, it did mark yet another year in which his book was not finished.

Reflecting his dour mood from 2015 on not completing the saga, Martin told the audience in Mexico, “Sometimes I look back and say, ‘Did it really have to be Seven Kingdoms?’ The Five Kingdoms of Westeros, that would have been good, right?’”

On the HBO series front, IMDB has posted an air date of June 25, 2017, although few other sites offer confirmation. HBO aired a tiny teaser in its video of upcoming shows for 2017.

BIG LITTLE LIES, First Full Trailer

Monday, December 5th, 2016

1410472035_08b27HBO’s adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s 2014 best seller, Big Little Lies, begins airing on February 19, 2017.

The just-released first full-length trailer is making headlines. Glamour calls it “The Mom Version of Pretty Little Liars You’ve Been Waiting For” and Entertainment Weekly says that the “Trailer Hints At Dark Underbelly Of Parenting.”

The cast includes Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern and Shailene Woodley, causing the  A.V. Club to note, “this one seems to star every famous white woman under the sun (plus Adam Scott).”

Tie-ins hit shelves in February:

Big Little Lies (Movie Tie-In), Liane Moriarty (PRH/Berkley trade pbk; February 7, 2017; Mass Market).

Chabon’s Glowing Reception

Sunday, December 4th, 2016

9780062225559_e399cMoonglow byMichael Chabon (Harper; Harper Audio; OverDrive Sample) is a critical and library darling and has the holds figures to prove it. In the majority of library systems we checked hold ratios are well over 3:1, with some reaching 5:1. Even where holds are within acceptable ratios, all copies are in circulation and have active hold lists. It is a LibraryReads November selection with the following annotation:

“A grandson sits by his dying grandfather’s bedside as his grandfather slowly reveals the light and shadows of a marriage and of a family that kept secrets as a way of life. He learns of his grandmother’s life growing up during World War II; her coming to America and living with a man who kept to himself, even lying to her about his short time in prison. Chabon’s signature style includes carefully observed characters that are both new and familiar and shimmering prose that reflects and refracts light much as moonlight does.” — Jennifer Winberry, Hunterdon County Library, Flemington, NJ

The critical community is just as impressed. The Washington Post says “Chabon aims for the moon and successfully touches down on the lunar surface [offering] an emotional tale of love and loss; fabulous, at times magical, writing; and a story rooted in real-world events told from a unique perspective.” Michiko Kakutani reviews it for the NYT, saying Chabon “writes with both lovely lyricism and highly caffeinated fervor.” BuzzFeed offers an in-depth profile complete with photos and “day in the life of” coverage. Entertainment Weekly features the title, and the photos that inspired it.

It is on the Carnegie Medal shortlist (winners to be announced at MidWinter) as well as multiple end of the year best lists. It is also the #1 Indie Next pick for December.

The Shack Gets A Trailer

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

9781455567607_01cb2William P. Young’s 2007 self-published inspirational blockbuster, The Shack, (later picked up by Hachette/Grand Central; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample) has had a long road to the silver screen. We first wrote about the movie deal in 2013 when Summit Entertainment acquired the film rights.

The first trailer is sending the book zooming once again on Amazon, rising to #59 from #997. Entertainment Weekly reports it has sold 20 million copies since its release date.

The film stars Sam Worthington (Avatar), as a father who has lost is faith in the face of unspeakable tragedy. Octavia Spencer (The Help) plays God. Grammy winner Tim McGraw stars as well, alongside Radha Mitchell.

The film will debut on March 3, 2017.

Tie-ins have already been released. The Shack, Wm. Paul Young (Hachette/Windblown Media; also in mass market).