Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category


Sunday, January 11th, 2015

The first full trailer has landed for the second half of Starz adaptation of Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, which begins on April 4.

Helping to promote it, Diana Gabaldon spoke to the Television Critics Assn. last week. Noting that the TV version’s audience  is 47% male, she said, “I mean no disrespect to the hordes of female readers whom I value immensely, but the TV show has brought me a lot more male readers.”

She also said she is at work the ninth book in the series, which brings the characters into their early sixties (the most recent, Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, RH/Delacorte, came out in June, 2014).

Starz has renewed Outlander for a second season, based on the second book in the series, Dragonfly In Amber (RH/Delacorte, 1992). Company CEO Chris Albrecht said he is hopeful they will “get through every book,” which may be a challenge, since the series includes at least 9 books, as well as several novellas and “bridge books” (see Gabaldon’s web site for a full chronology).

RA Alert: An Old-Fashioned Western

Sunday, January 11th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 11.59.40 AM

Readers advisors struggling to help readers find new “old fashioned” Westerns will be pleased to see one covered in this week’s New York Times Book Review. Unfortunately, however, the review of Robert Bausch’s eighth novel,  Far as the Eye Can See (Macmillan/Bloomsbury, Nov. 2014; OverDrive Sample), is pretty mixed, even harsh in some spots. While praising the novel as an “entertaining old-school western,” that is more “True Grit than Blood Meridian,” he accuses the author of stereotyping, “I know Bausch is writing historical fiction, but enough already. Read some Sherman Alexie. Bring something fresh.”

Booklist, on the other hand, credits the main character for showing “more sympathy for the natives than do many lead characters in traditional westerns.”  Kirkus gives it a star and LJ says it is “not to be missed by historical fiction fans.”

Upcoming Westerns to note include two recently featured in GalleyChat, Mary Doria Russell’s Epitaph (HarperCollins/Ecco, March) and Black River by S. M. Hulse (HMH, January).


Sunday, January 11th, 2015

younger-9781416505587_lg  younger-9781416510215_lg

Working to reach a “younger” audience, that is, Gen-Xers rather than baby boomers, TV Land presented its new slate of shows to the Television Critics Assn. this week. The centerpiece, appropriately titled Younger, is based on the 2005 novel by Pamela Redmond Satran (S&S/Downtown Press; OverDrive Sample).

As Variety puts it, “At TV Land it’s goodbye Betty White [Hot in Cleveland, ending with the current season], hello Hillary Duff when it comes to original comedy series.”

Younger stars Sutton Foster as a 40-year-old,  newly-divorced empty nester, who uses a new makeover to pass as 26 and lands a job in a publishing. Duff plays her twentysomething co-conspirator and Debbie Mazur her best friend.

Created by Sex and the City‘s Darren Star, the series also makes use of another SATC veteran, Patricia Field as the costume consultant. Author Satran, profiled in the regional edition of the New York Times, enjoys the potential parallel with the author of the SATC books, “I’d love it if I could be the next Candace Bushnell. And if I could have her face and body, too.”

Note: the trailer lists a January start, but that date has been pushed to March 31.

Novelist Robert Stone Dies

Sunday, January 11th, 2015

9780679737629  9780060957773  0395860288

National Book Award winner and two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, Robert Stone died on Saturday at his home in Key West. He was 77.

The New York Times, in addition to an obituary, publishes an appreciation of his work by Michiko Kakutani, who says he was “one of the few writers to capture the apocalyptic madness of America in the 1960s and ‘70s.”

The books she finds particularly noteworthy are:

A Hall of Mirrors, (HMH, 1966)

Dog Soldiers, (HMH, 1974) — National Book Award winner

A Flag for Sunrise, (RH/Knopf, 1981) — finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Pulitzer Prize

Damascus Gate, (HMH, 1998)

Children of Light, (RH/Knopf, 1986)

Bay of Souls (HMH, 2003)

Prime Green, memoir, (HarperPerennial, 2007)

Death of the Black-Haired Girl, (HMH, 2013)


Thursday, January 8th, 2015

9781594633669_dc9b1The novel that is shaping up to be the debut of the season The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, (Penguin/Riverhead, Jan. 13; BOT Audio Clip; OverDrive Sample) continues to rack up holds after Janet Maslin’s NYT review on Monday.

Holds are likely to continue. The novel is on Entertainment Weekly‘s “Must List” for the week at #9 (“a gripping down-the-rabbit-hole thriller”) and is a People pick (Gone Girl fans will devour this psychological thriller … ends with a twist that no one … will see coming.”)

Expect to see The Girl on the Train on best seller lists in a couple of weeks.

9780804176378_c14ff  9780770433246_bddf1

However, the book is not the top pick for either magazine. Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar RH/Ballantine; RH Large Print; RH Audio; OverDrive Sample; audio clip) is #3  on Entertainment Weekly‘s Must List. “Fiction and history merge seamlessly in this dazzling novel about an incredible circle of bohemian artists in early-20th-century London — particularly the rivalry between two famous sisters, writer Virginia Woolf and painter Vanessa Bell.” This coming Sunday’s New York Times Book Review, says “Parmar’s portrait brings Vanessa out of the shadows, into fully realized, shining visibility.” Both a LibraryReads and an IndieNext pick, it is showing holds, probably based on the author’s interview on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday.

People‘s Book of the Week is the weight-loss memoir by food blogger Andie Mitchell, It Was Me All Along, (RH/Clarkson Potter; BOT Audio Clip; OverDrive Sample; ). It is also covered by the New York Post and the Washington Post).

Gotta-Read-It Review: OUTLINE

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

9780374228347_44d65If anyone can make you want to read an unconventional literary novel, Dwight Garner can. His review of Rachel Cusk’s Outline,(Macmillan/FSG; Ebook; Blackstone Audio;1/13/15) in today’s New York Times makes you ready to throw caution aside and dive into a “a poised and cerebral novel that has little in the way of straightforward plot.”

The review alone is worth reading, if only for the quote from W. H. Auden, “Thank God for books as an alternative to conversation,” which is apt for a book that is described by the publisher as “a novel in ten conversations.”

If Garner’s review doesn’t convince you, consider the three starred prepub reviews (Kirkus is the holdout, but the review reads like someone just forgot to add the star).

Pelecanos On FRESH AIR

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015


George Pelecanos spoke for nearly 40 minutes on NPR’s Fresh Air yesterday (listen here), about his new short story collection, The Martini Shot (Hachette/Little, Brown; OverDrive Sample). He begins by reading a gripping section of one of the stories, “String Music,” and goes on to discuss everything from his experiences writing for The Wire, adoption, and the day the cops called him and said “”Would you like to come in or would you like us to come arrest you?” after he pulled a crazy stupid stunt in a car.

Pelecanos’s website includes a story from the collection, “Miss Mary’s Room,” which first appeared in Playboy. In addition to it and “String Music,” The Martini Shot includes five other stories and a novella, two of which are new.

Holds are currently within reason, but Pelecanos’s name and rising media attention makes this a book to watch.

Media Attention: STILL ALICE

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

Still Alice  9781501107733_6d66b

News of the many award nominations for Julianne Moore’s performance as a victim of early onset Alzheimer’s disease in Still Alice has brought attention to the movie even though it won’t open in most cities until February (it had a limited Oscar-qualifying run in early Dec., will open in  NYC and L.A. on Jan 16, before expanding to more theaters).

The book it is based on, Still Alice by Lisa Genova (S&S/Gallery, 2009), is also rising on Amazon sales rankings (now at #26 and rising) and shows growing holds in libraries.

One of the film’s producers, Maria Shriver, featured the author in a segment on the Today Show (a slightly different version was featured on last night’s NBC Nightly News).

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Genova tells the Boston Globe that the success of both the book and the movie are “humbling” surprises. Unable to get an agent for the book, she self-published it. Her guerrilla marketing was so successful that she then landed an agent and a mainstream publisher, Simon & Schuster. For the movie rights, she went with a “very small new production company in London,” because she felt, “they really understood the intent of the story.”

Genova, a neuroscientist, has published two novels since, both dealing with brain disorders. Left Neglected is about the results of a brain injury and Love Anthony, on autism. In her next novel, Inside the O’Briens, (S&S/Gallery” S&S Audio, 4/7/14), she writes about a family dealing with Huntington’s Disease.


Still AliceLisa Genova
S&S.Gallery: December 16, 2014
Trade Paperback

Mass Market, S&S/Pocket Books

Audio CD, &S Audio

Readers Advisory: DESCENT

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015


In the Washington Post, Patrick Anderson gives high praise to Tim Johnston’s Descent, (Workman/Algonquin; OverDrive Sample; Jan 6), saying it is the most powerful thriller he’s read that uses the popular theme of a missing girl — more powerful than Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Dennis Lehane’s Mystic River, or Laura Lippman’s What the Dead Know. He adds, “The story unfolds brilliantly, always surprisingly, but the glory of Descent lies not in its plot but in the quality of the writing.”

On NPR’s web site, Alan Cheuse uses a different comparison, saying, “Tim Johnston has written a book that makes Gone Girl seem gimmicky and forced.”

Check your catalogs; several libraries have not yet ordered it. Those that have are showing holds, heavy in some areas.

Heavy Holds Alert: THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN

Monday, January 5th, 2015

9781594633669_dc9b1When the NYT‘s Janet Maslin reviews a debut ahead of publication, it signals that she sees a hit coming. In the case of The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, (Penguin/Riverhead, Jan. 13), which Maslin reviews today, her expectation is further backed up by heavy holds in libraries, averaging 10:1.

A January LibraryReads pick, this debut began drawing attention from librarians on GalleyChat back in August. It is one of three titles Entertainment Weekly considers a possible successor to Gone Girl, along with the “buzzy” The Kind Worth Killing, Peter Swanson, (HarperCollins/Morrow, Feb. 3) and “the most understated an plausible of the three,” The Daylight Marriage by Heidi Pitlor, (Workman/Algonquin, May 5).

Maslin credits The Girl on the Train with having “more fun with unreliable narration than any chiller since Gone Girl,” (which she also reviewed ahead of publication) and though she doesn’t find it as “clever or swift,” she expects it to also draw a “large, bedazzled readership.”

Fair warning to increase those orders.

Holds Alert: Pearlman
Finally Breaks Through

Sunday, January 4th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-01-04 at 11.57.38 AM

Two years ago when Edith Perlman’s Binocular Vision(Lookout Books, 2011)  won the National Book Critics Circle Award after being a finalist for the National Book Award, The Millions explored why readers might view the author as an “overnight sensation,”even though she had published over 250 works of short fiction and four collections.

Even today, Pearlman remains an author many people might compare to George Saunders, in the sense that they are about to wonder why they had not heard of her before.

Pearlman’s newest book, Honeydew, (Hachette/Little Brown, Jan. 2015; OverDrive Sample), has made the jump to a major publishing house and is dominating book coverage this week, days in advance of the book’s release date.

The New York Times Book Review features Pearlman as their cover story. Not to be outdone, the daily NYT runs a glowing portrait titled, “For Writer, Talent Finally Succeeds Where Chance Failed.” In it, her editor offers perhaps the best praise possible for a writer of character-centered fiction, “When I finish reading one of her stories, I always feel understood and somehow forgiven for being human.”

In addition, The LA Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Boston Globe all have posted reviews, following stars from Booklist, Kirkus, and Publishers Weekly. Checking orders and holds around the country reveals that some libraries have not yet ordered it and others have ordered too lightly, with holds ratios over 5:1.

It is difficult for short story collections to gain traction, but Pearlman might have finally joined the ranks of George Saunders, Karen Russell, Margaret Atwood, and Alice Munro.

WOLF HALL, Trailer

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

The trailer for BBC’s adaptation of the first two books in Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall series was just released.

The six-part series will air as part of “Masterpiece,” beginning April 5 (it begins in the U.K. next month). It stars Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell and Damian Lewis, known to many American primarily as Brody in the first three seasons of Showtime’s Homeland, as Henry VIII.

After previewing the full series, author Mantel gave it the thumbs up, saying, “Every face seems to me one that Holbein would recognize,” referring to Henry VIII’s court painter. Earlier, she had warned the BBC against indulging in the kind of historical “nonsense” that marred what she called the “big, all-singing, all-dancing American TV series The Tudors” produced by Showtime in 2010.

It seems there is one deviation from history, however. The Wolf Hall cod pieces may be too small. We’re to be blamed for that as well, since the real size was considered a “little too much for American television viewers.”


Wolf Hall: As Seen on PBS Masterpiece : A Novel
Hilary Mantel
Macmillan/ Picador: March 17, 2015
9781250077585, 1250077583
Trade Paperback
$16.00 USD

Bring Up the Bodies: The Conclusion to PBS Masterpiece’s Wolf Hall : A Novel
Hilary Mantel
Macmillan/ Picador: March 17, 2015
9781250077608, 1250077605
Trade Paperback
$16.00 USD

The Royal Shakespeare Company’s theatrical adaptation opens on Broadway on March 20th, also with a tie-in (note: the Theater Arts Communication tie-in we noted earlier has been cancelled). The Daily Mail quotes Mantel saying that the TV version is very different from the play.

9781250064172_13982Wolf Hall & Bring Up the Bodies: The Stage Adaptation
Hilary Mantel, Mike Poulton
Macmillan/Picador: February 24, 2015
9781250064172, 1250064171
Trade Paperback, $16.00 USD



As to when the third book in the trilogy, The Mirror and The Light will appear, Mantel has said it is “unlikely to be ready until 2016.” She is working under a bit of pressure. The BBC is waiting for its release so they can begin that adaptation.

To Air in February

Saturday, December 27th, 2014

Lawrence Hill’s novel, Someone Knows My Name, (Norton, 2008) has been adapted as a 6-part TV series, using the book’s original Canadian title, The Book of Negroes. Set for release in Canada in January, it will begin airing on BET in the U.S. on February 16, 2015.

The novel, a fictional slave narrative,  is based on the stories of American slaves who escaped to Canada after the Revolutionary War and were then recruited by British abolitionists to settle in Sierra Leone. The Washington Post praised its “heart-stopping prose” and noted that “Hill balances his graphic depictions of the horrors of enslavement with meticulously researched portrayals of plantation life.”

Directed by Clement Virgo, the movie stars Aunjanue Ellis, Louis Gossett Jr., Cuba Gooding Jr., and Lyriq Bent.

Gossett was interviewed about the series during its premiere at the  Toronto International Film Festival in November. He compares it to another TV mini-series he starred in, Roots.

Learn more at the Official Web Site.




Lawrence Hill
W.W. Norton; January 12, 2015
9780393351392, 0393351394
$15.95 USD

STILL ALICE, New Trailer

Friday, December 19th, 2014

The film adaptation of Lisa Genova’s novel Still Alice  (S&S/Gallery, 2009) won’t open in most theaters until mid-January, but reviews and publicity have already arrived, based on its Oscar-qualifying one week release in New York and Los Angeles. More will be coming as Oscar season heats up.

Julianne Moore iis considered a shoe-in for a best actress nomination for her portrayal of a woman dealing with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. USA Today says it’s  “one of the best in her career … Her performance powerfully captures the growing confusion caused by the debilitating illness.”

A new trailer focuses on Moore, also featuring Kristen Stewart as her daughter and Alec Baldwin as her husband.

Tie-ins came out this week:

9781501106422_ba765Still AliceLisa Genova
S&S.Gallery: December 16, 2014
Trade Paperback

Mass Market, S&S/Pocket Books

Audio CD, &S Audio

Colbert’s Final Guest

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

9781594204999_a7f67Appropriately, since he has  featured so authors on his show,  now that The Colbert Report is ending, Stephen Colbert’s final guest was the winner of National Book Award in fiction, Phil Klay (The Report‘s  final episode  is actually tonight, but it does not feature a human guest).

Klay’s book Redeployment, (Penguin Press; Penguin Audio; Thorndike, OverDrive Sample) is a series of short stories about serving in Iraq. He chose to portray the war through fiction, he told Colbert,  because it made him feel less constrainted than nonfiction would have, “I don’t think I could be, in a weird way, as truthful as I wanted to be in trying to chase down the experiences I was trying to articulate on the page.” To that, the master of “Truthiness” lit up and deadpanned, “You can be more truthful by making things up?”