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, and Michael 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.
City of Women by David R Gillham (Penguin/Putnam/Amy Einhorn; Penguin Audiobooks) is the third in the Penguin Debut Author program. Set in Berlin during World War II, it effectively presents the lives of ordinary Germans living in extraordinary times, forcing readers to wonder what they would have done. It is an Indie Next pick for August. Read our online chat with the author here and our brief audio interview.
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 Untime by 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 Twice by 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 Novel by 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).
Childrens & Young Adult
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 Me won 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 Child by 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.