Archive for the ‘Romance’ Category

A New Sylvia Day

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012


Word is out that the second title in Sylvia Day’s Crossfire series, Reflected in Youis coming October 2, causing it to rise on Amazon’s sales rankings, where it is currently #24.

The series began with Bared to You, widely considered the successor to Fifty Shades of Grey, (the author objects to this, pointing out that both books were published at the same time, in an interview on the romance site, Smart Bitches, Trashy Books)Like Fifty Shades, it was originally self-published and then picked up by a traditional publisher, in this case, Penguin/Berkley. In its first week of reissue it hit the New York Times trade paperback list at #4.

Unlike Fifty Shades author, E. L. James, however, Day has published several books in other genres — historical, fantasy, and paranormal — with traditional publishers Kensington and Macmillan/Tor, before trying the self-published route. Many libraries own several of Day’s earlier titles.

During their interview with the author, Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books and Jane Litte of, talked about the similarities and differences between Day’s series and Fifty Shades. While Litte says readers who liked Fifty Shades are likely to enjoy Bared to You, the latter is darker and doesn’t have the “Cinderella quality” of Fifty Shades. In a review on DearAuthor, she suggests “it is what 50 Shades could have been.” (see Smart Bitches list of other Fifty Shades read-a-likes).

Another Self-Pubbed Hit in Hollywood

Monday, July 30th, 2012

Nobody knows how well Fifty Shades of Grey will do as a movie. It’s still a long way from arriving in theaters; it doesn’t even have a director, let alone a cast yet. Nevertheless, Hollywood is hot on the trail of the NEXT Fifty Shades.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, a bidding war is on for Jamie McGuire’s Beautiful Disaster. The book began as a self-published title, from Amazon’s CreateSpace. After appearing on the NYT E-Book Fiction best seller list, where it reached high of #9, it was picked up for publication by the Atria division of Simon and Schuster and is coming out in August. Atria also signed Walking Disaster, which, according to the publisher, “will continue this story from a different and surprising point of view.”

The Hollywood Reporter says, “The book is seen as being similar in tone to Fifty Shades but in a YA vein and without all the kinky sex. That makes it very attractive to Hollywood studios, which are concerned that audiences might shy away from a Fifty Shades movie due to the graphic scenes.”

It has a 4.13 rating on GoodReads, from nearly 26,000 readers.

Beautiful Disaster
Jamie McGuire
Retail Price: #15
Paperback: 446 pages
Publisher: Atria Books – (2012-07-12)
ISBN / EAN: 1476712042/9781476712048

S&S Audio

EBooks Win Romance Writers Awards

Monday, July 30th, 2012

Marking another step in the growing acceptance of ebooks, two titles published by digital imprints were among the dozen titles winning RITA awards from the Romance Writers of America at a ceremony in Anaheim over the weekend.

The winner for best Contemporary Single Title is Boomerang Bride by Fiona Lowe. Originally published as an ebook by Harlequin’s Carina imprint, it was released in paperback as well. Currently it is an ebook-only title, available via OverDrive and B&T’s Axis360 platform.

The winner for best Romance Novella, I Love the Earl by Caroline Linden, is published by HarperCollins/Avon’s digital imprint, Impulse. It is also available via OverDrive and Axis360.

The RWA Librarian of the Year is Mary Moore, Reference & Adult Services Manager, Huntsville-Madison County Public Library, Huntsville, Alabama. She is profiled on the RWA site.

In addition, nine unpublished manuscripts won the association’s Golden Heart Awards.

New Title Radar: July 23 – 29

Friday, July 20th, 2012

The last summer reading picks are trickling in. Next week brings two buzz titles from Book Expo and ALA:  British author Rachel Joyce‘s quirky tale of friendship and loyalty, and John Verdon‘s third NYPD detective mystery, plus the latest Dublin mystery from Tana French. Usual suspects include Danielle Steel, J.A. Jance, Brad Thor and Emily Griffin.

Watch List

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (Random House; RH Audio; BOT) is a debut novel by an acclaimed BBC scriptwriter, about a man who decides to walk 600 miles to visit a terminally ill old friend who has written him out of the blue. Booklist says, “a gentle and genteel charmer, brimming with British quirkiness yet quietly haunting in its poignant and wise examination of love and devotion. Sure to become a book-club favorite.” This one was featured on the Editor’s Buzz Panel at Book Expo, a Wall St. Journal Hot Title for July and is on O Magazine‘s Summer Reading List.

Let the Devil Sleep by John Verdon (RH/Crown; Dreamscape Audio; Overdrive ebook and audio) is the third mystery featuring retired NYPD Detective Dave Gurney, who is seeking some R&R in upstate New York when there’s a break in a 10-year old serial killer case. PW says, “the tension is palpable on virtually every page of a story that perfectly balances the protagonistas complex inner life with an elaborately constructed puzzle.” This was a librarians Shout ‘n’ Share title at ALA. 70,000-copy printing.

Returning Favorites

Broken Harbor by Tana French (Penguin/Viking; Thorndike Large Print) is the author’s fourth Dublin mystery featuring Detective Mick ‘Scorcher’ Kennedy, this time about an attack on a family that only the mother survives. It’s on most of the summer reading lists, including FlavoreWire’s “Must Reads” for July, which offers this recommendation: “If you’re going to read this book, you probably already know it — if not, we recommend starting with In the Woods and thanking us later. [Broken Harbor] is as fierce and eloquently pulse-intensifying as the others.” 200,000-copy printing.

Usual Suspects

Friends Forever by Danielle Steel (RH/Delacorte; Brilliance Audio; Thorndike Large Print) is about a group of friends at a private high school who part ways for college and are torn apart by tragedy.

Judgment Call by J.A. Jance (HarperCollins/ Morrow; Harperluxe; HarperAudio) is the 15th novel featuring Cochise County, Ariz., sheriff Joanna Brady, whose daughter discovers the body of her school principal.  PW says, “Jance smoothly intertwines the threads of multiple subplots, complete with a red herring or two. The solution to a 25-year-old mystery surrounding the death of Joanna’s father is a bonus.”

Black List by Brad Thor (S&S/Emily Bestler; S&SAudio; Thorndike Large Print) features Scot Harvath, a former Navy SEAL Team 6 member turned covert counterterrorism operative, who must evade a stream of assassins until he can figure out why he’s on the president’s black list.

Where We Belong by Emily Giffin (Macmillan/ St. Martin; Thorndike Large PrintMacmillan Audio) is the author’s fifth novel, about a 36-year-old New York City TV producer whose stable life is unsettled by the daughter she gave up 18 years before. Entertainment Weekly picked it as a “Hot Read” of summer 2012. It follows Heart of the Matter, which hit the NYT list at #2. The author’s first book, Something Borrowed, was made into a movie in 2011.

Major Media Attention

Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street by Neil Barofsky (S&S/Free Press) is, according to the publisher, is “An irrefutable indictment, from an insider of both the Bush and Obama administrations, of the mishandling of the $700 billion TARP bailouts and the extreme degree to which our government officials from both parties served the interests of Wall Street at the expense of the public.” It will be featured in dozens of media outlets, including CBS Face the Nation this Sunday, NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, and NPR’s Marketplace.

New Title Radar: July 9 – 15

Friday, July 6th, 2012

Next week brings a comic sci-fi debut from Internet entrepreneur Rob Reid, along with new novels from breakout authors John Boyne and Deborah Harkness. In nonfiction, there’s a harrowing Iraq war memoir by Air Force veteran Brian Castner, and James Carville and Stan Greenberg talk Democratic strategy for NovemberReturning literary favorites include Carlos Ruoz Zafón, Stephen Carter and Kurt Anderson. And usual suspects include Gigi Levangie Grazer, Susan Elizabeth Phillips,  Catherine Coulter, Linda Fairstein, James Patterson, Andrew Gross and Meg Cabot, plus YA author Eoin Colfer.

Watch List

Year Zero by Rob Reid (RH/Del Rey; RH digital-only audio on OverDrive) is a satire about the movie industry, by someone who knows the business intimately (he’s the founder of the online music company,

It’s recommended by Entertainment Weekly for those who love The Hitchhiker”s Guide to the Galaxy. They also offer an exclusive interview with the author by John Hodgman, who reads the audio, a digital-only release (on OverDrive).

That interview isn’t revealing, but the trailer gives a good sense of the book’s tone.

The Absolutist by John Boyne (Other Press) is an novel about a WWI veteran’s reflections over 60 years on his brief, forbidden love affair in the trenches with a fellow soldier who died, by the Irish author of the YA hit The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. PW calls it “a relentlessly tragic yet beautifully crafted novel.” It got several shouts from librarians at the BEA Shout ‘n’ Share program, with Barbara Genco noting that the WWI setting makes it a good bet for fans of Downton Abbey. The publisher has a different take, comparing it to Atonement and Brokeback Mountain.

Hot Sequel

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness (Penguin/Viking; Thorndike Large PrintPenguin Audiobooks) is the highly anticipated sequel to the hit debut A Discovery of Witches. This time, the action is set in Elizabethan England, where vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont and witch historian Diana Bishop search for an enchanted manuscript. Entertainment Weekly gives it a B+, a mixed grade because the story takes a while to gain momentum, but when it does, “it enchants.” People magazine concurs, giving it 3 of a possible 4 stars, saying there are “too many story lines, too many shifting time periods and a confusing slew of new characters.” Even so, it “delivers enough romance and excitement to keep the pages turning. Readers will devout it, chaos and all.”

Literary Favorites

The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (Harper; HarperAudio; HarperLuxe) brings together characters from The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel’s Game, who must face a mysterious stranger who visits the Sempere bookshop, and threatens to reveal a secret.

The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln by Stephen Carter (RH/Knopf; Random House Audio) is a work of alternate history by the Yale Law professor and bestselling author of The Emperor of Ocean Park that explores what would have happened if President Abraham Lincoln had not been assassinated. (Hint: Lincoln is accused of violating the Constitution in his conduct of the Civil War and faces impeachment.) PW says, “this is Lincoln by way of Dan Brown, complete with ciphers and conspiracies and breathless escapes, only not so breathless, since Carter lacks Brown’s talent for narrative momentum.”

True Believers by Kurt Anderson (Random House; Random House Audio) is a cultural study of a judge who opts out of consideration for a Supreme Court seat because of events in her youth, giving the novelist and host of the award-winning Studio 360 public radio show ample ground for exploring the cultural contradictions of the last 50 years. LJ says, “a good read both for those who remember the [60s] era and for those who wish to better understand that time and its social and political connections to today.”

Usual Suspects

The After Wife by Gigi Levangie Grazer (RH/Ballantine; Center Point Large Print; Random House Audio) is the story of a recently widowed woman who discovers she can talk to the dead. It got a hearty endorsement on the Librarians’ Shout ‘n’ Share panel at BEA this year  from Wendy Bartlett, head of collection development at Cuyahoga County PL. As we noted earlier, Wendy found The After Wife so hilarious that she ordered extra copies.

The Great Escape by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (HarperCollins/Morrow; Thorndike Large PrintHarperAudio) recounts the further adventures of Lucy Jorik, daughter of the former U.S. President, who left her perfect fiance at the altar to explore her alter ego, a biker chick named Viper. LJ says, “with brilliant dialog, sassy humor, and laserlike insight into what makes people tick, Phillips gifts readers with an engrossing, beautifully written romance that satisfies on all levels.”

Backfire (FBI Series #16) by Catherine Coulter (Penguin/Putnam; Thorndike Large Print; Brilliance Audio) finds husband-and-wife FBI agents Dillon Savich and Lacey Sherlock pursuing a killer who shoots a San Francisco judge. PW says, “Coulter mixes romance, strong family ties, narrow misses, and narrower escapes as well as some twists that strain credulity to the breaking point. Series fans will applaud the strong female leads and the nifty teamwork of Savich and Sherlock.”

Night Watch by Linda Fairstein (Penguin/Dutton; Thorndike Large Print; Penguin Audio) has Manhattan Sex Crimes prosecutor Alexandra Cooper probing the underside of New York’s fanciest restaurants, based on evidence in a rape case involving director of the World Economic Bureau and a hotel maid. Kirkus says, “not surprisingly, the case ripped from the headlines is much more absorbing than the tale of restaurant malfeasance and [Cooper’s] imperiled love. Alex’s 14th is distinctly below average for this bestselling series.”

I, Michael Bennett by James Patterson (Hachette/Little, Brown; Hachette Large PrintHachette Audio)  is the fifth installment in the series featuring Detective Michael Bennett,  this time featuring South American crime lord who brings new violence to Manhattan.

15 Seconds by Andrew Gross (HarperCollins/Morrow; Harperluxe) is a stand-alone thriller that explores an accidental shooting that leaves an innocent participant as the target of a huge police manhunt. Booklist says “Gross, who has collaborated with James Patterson on five best-sellers, turns out a page-turning, roller-coaster of a novel with a likable if sometimes foolish protagonist.”

 Size 12 and Ready to Rock: A Heather Wells Mystery by Meg Cabot (HarperCollins/Morrow; Audio, Dreamscape Media) is latest installment in this ongoing paperback original series.  Here, New York College Resident Dorm Director Heather Wells investigates a case with her fiance that involves her ex’s new wife. PW says, “Readers of Cabot’s blog will recognize Heather, with her hilarious pop culture references and dry humor. A good read, though fans might find the plot disappointing in the context of the big picture.”


Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian by Eoin Colfer (Disney/Hyperion; Audio, RH/Listening Library) is the eighth and final installment in the popular series, in which the evil pixie Opal Koboi infuses Artemis’s brothers with the spirits of dead warriors, making them more annoying than ever.


The Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life That Follows by Brian Castner (RH/Doubleday; Center Point Large Print; Random House Audio) recounts the author’s years as an air force officer in Saudi Arabia in 2001, and Iraq in 2005 and 2006, where he earned a Bronze Star and performed the “long walk” to dismantle bombs by hand and in short order, when robots failed. Kirkus calls it, “scarifying stuff, without any mawkishness or dumb machismo–not quite on the level of Jarhead, but absolutely worth reading.”

It’s The Middle Class, Stupid! by James Carville and Stan Greenberg (Penguin/Blue Rider Press; Penguin Audio) brings together liberal talking head Carville and pollster Greenberg to discuss why Democrats must focus on the middle class to win in November. Kirkus says, “they are refreshingly specific in some of their policy recommendations in areas such as energy investment and campaign finance reform. For Democratic political junkies who enjoy straight-talk policy discussion.” 125,000 copy first printing.


New Title Radar: June 18 – 24

Friday, June 15th, 2012

Next week brings two buzzed-about debuts: a thriller by Jean Zimmerman set in 1663 New Amsterdam and Carol Rifka Brunt‘s tale of two sisters in the age of AIDS. Plus two authors with growing followings are back: Leila Meacham with a sprawling Texas soap opera, and Linda Castillo with the fourth installment in her Amish series. Usual suspects include Janet EvanovichTerry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter, and Ridley Pearson. In nonfiction, Rachel Swarns delves into First Lady Michelle Obama’s ancestry and David Maraniss explores President Obama’s background and character development.

Watch List

The Orphanmaster by Jean Zimmerman (Penguin/Viking Books; Penguin Audiobooks; Thorndike Large Print) is a debut historical thriller set in New Amsterdam in 1663, in which a young Dutch woman and an English spy investigate the disappearances of a handful of orphans. Booklist calls it a “compulsively readable, heartbreaking, and grisly mystery set in a wild, colonial America will appeal to fans of Robert McCammon’s fast-paced and tautly suspenseful Mister Slaughter and Eliot Pattison’s Bone Rattler.” USA Today listed it as the top summer reading pick for the mystery/suspense category. Zimmerman was the first author in our Penguin Debut Authors program (read the chat & hear a podcast Q&A with the author here). She will also be featured on the ALTAFF Historical Fiction panel at ALA (Sat., 10:30 to noon)

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt (RH/Dial Press) is a debut novel about two sisters who lose their uncle in the mid-’80s as AIDS is on the rise, and must come to terms with “love that’s too big to stay in a tiny bucket. Splashing out in the most embarrassing way possible.” On our GalleyChat, one librarian called it the “best book I’ve ever read.” Like the previous titles, it is one of BookPage‘s Most-Buzzed About Debuts. The Minneapolis Star Tribune lists it among their eight books for summer: “Carol Rifka Brunt establishes herself as an emerging author to watch.  Tell the Wolves I’m Home will undoubtedly be this summer’s literary sleeper hit.”

Tumbleweeds by Leila Meacham (Hachette/Grand Central; Hachette Audio; Thorndike Large Print) is the sprawling story of a love triangle between two high school football heroes and the orphan girl they befriend, who are separated by a teenage prank gone awry and an accidental pregnancy, with far-reaching consequences. LJ says, “Readers who love epic sagas that span a couple of generations will enjoy this soap opera tale of young love, betrayal, and living a life that might not have a happy ending.” 125,000-copy first-printing. One-day laydown.

Gone Missing: A Thriller by Linda Castillo (Macmillan/Minotaur) is the fourth Amish mystery featuring Chief of Police Kate Burkholder, and is set during Rumspringa — when Amish teens are allowed to experience life outside the community, a practice that always fascinates outsiders. PW says, “Castillo ratchets up the tension nicely before the disconcerting ending.” Castillo’s previous titles have hit the NYT hardcover list, but only the extended (highest, #21). Holds are heavy in some libraries. The publisher is putting extra marketing push behind this one.

Usual Suspects

Wicked Business: A Lizzy and Diesel Novel by Janet Evanovich (RH/Bantam; RH Audio; Thorndike Large Print) finds Salem, Massachusetts pastry chef Lizzy Tucker once again drawn into solving a mystery with her sexy but off-limits partner Diesel – this time involving an ancient Stone believed by some to be infused with the power of lust.

The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter (Harper) is the Discworld creator’s first novel in 30 years to be set in a new universe – this time comprised of an infinite number of parallel Earths, all devoid of humans, which will be explored by the gifted Joshua Valiente, employee of the Black Corporation. PW says, “the slow-burning plot plays second fiddle to the fascinating premise, and the authors seem to have more fun developing backstory and concepts than any real tension. An abrupt conclusion comes as an unwelcome end to this tale of exploration.”

The Risk Agent by Ridley Pearson (Putnam Adult; Brilliance Audio) is a thriller about a Chinese National who runs into intrigue while working for an American-owned in Shanghai (where the author lived with his family in 2008-2009). LJ says, “Famous for his plotting and attention to details, Pearson is off to a great start with his compelling and multilayered new protagonists. His many fans as well as readers who love international thrillers won’t be disappointed.”


American Tapestry: The Story of the Black, White, and Multiracial Ancestors of Michelle Obama by Rachel L. Swarns (HarperCollins/Amistad) is the story of the First Lady’s lineage, starting with slave girl Melvinia in the mid 1800s in Jonesboro, Georgia, the mother of Dolphus Shields, Michelle Obama’s maternal great-great-grandfather.  Kirkus says, “Swarns provides numerous tales of heartbreak and achievement, many of which essentially make up the American story. Elegantly woven strands in a not-so-easy-to-follow whole, but tremendously moving.” 100,000-copy first printing.

Barack Obama: The Story by David Maraniss (Simon & Schuster; S&S Audio) is a multi-generational biography of Barack Obama and his family, based on hundreds of interviews, including with President Obama – written by the author and associate editor of the Washington Post.  PW says, “Obama’s story here is interior and un-charismatic, but it makes for a revealing study in character-formation as destiny. The book ends as Obama prepares to enter Harvard Law.” One-day laydown.

New Title Radar: June 4 -10

Friday, June 1st, 2012

A handful of much-anticipated summer reading picks arrive next week, including thrillers from Matthew Quirk, Gillian Flynn and Elizabeth Haynes, contemporary novels with unusual characters and settings from Francesca Segal and Rhian Ellis, and Laura Moriarty‘s historical novel about the young Louise Brooks’s chaperone. Usual suspects include Jeffrey Deaver, Eric Von Lustbader, Laurell K. Hamilton, Mary Kay Andrews and Luanne Rice. And political commentators David Limbaugh and Gail Collins deliver new political critiques.

Watch List

The 500 by Matthew Quirk (Hachette/Little, Brown.Reagan Arthur; Hachette Large Print ; Hachette Audio) is a thriller set in a Washington D.C. political lobbying firm, where Harvard law grad Mike Ford is forced to draw on the skills he learned from his con man father, as he’s drawn into the midst of a political conspiracy. It’s the lead thriller on USA Today‘s summer reading list (“Why it’s hot: Early reviews compare this classic David-and-Goliath tale to the early works of John Grisham”) and a June Indie Next pick. The movie rights were sold right after the book was picked up, and there’s also a sequel coming. Libraries that bought it heavily say the Reagan Arthur imprint makes them pay particular attention.

The Innocents by Francesca Segal (Hyperion/Voice) recasts Edith Wharton’s Age of Innocence in a close-knit North West London Jewish community, where a 12-year engagement is upset by the arrival of the bride-to-be’s free-spirited cousin. Kirkus says, “overall this is a well-tuned portrait of a couple whose connection proves to be much more tenuous than expected, and of religious rituals that prove more meaningful than they seem.” It’s also a June Indie Next pick.

Galley Chat Picks         

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (Crown) is the story of a marriage gone badly wrong, told alternately in diary entries by the wife, a New York golden girl who goes missing on the couple’s fifth anniversary, and her husband, who has much to hide. As we wrote earlier, it’s shaping up to be the author’s breakout. The New York Times‘s Janet Maslin is over the moon about it, comparing Flynn with Patricia Highsmith and calling her third novel a “dazzling breakthrough. It is wily, mercurial, subtly layered and populated by characters so well imagined that they’re hard to part with.” It is also on Time‘s list of top fiction for the year and is a June Indie Next pick as well as big on GalleyChat.

The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty (Penguin/Riverhead; Thorndike Large Print; Blackstone Audio; Penguin Audio) centers on the prim married woman from Kansas who accompanied 15 year-old silent film femme fatale Louise Brooks on her first trip to New York City in 1922, and spans the next six decades of the older woman’s life. It’s on O magazine’s The 16 Best Books Coming Out This June and is a June Indie Next pick  (more bookseller comments here). It’s also showing heavy holds at Wake County Library, which has featured it on their Web site. Recreational Reading Librarian Janet Lockhart says, “Once our members see it on the list, the cover and the high concept plot lead to holds. I know it’s in my to-be-read pile because of those two things—I’m a big movie fan and Louise Brooks is an icon.”

Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes (Harper) is a debut thriller about a woman struggling to escape an abusive relationship, a surprise hit in the UK.  It’s featured in USA Today‘s summer preview, and LJ says, “UK police intelligence analyst Haynes has crafted a scary and superbly written debut thriller. Her chilling portrayal of OCD and the violent cycles of an abusive relationship will cause readers to lose sleep and check the locks on windows and doors.”

Readers Advisory 

After Life (Book Lust Rediscoveries) by Rhian Ellis (Amazon Encore paperback; Brilliance Audio) is the second in Nancy Pearl’s series of favorites being brought back in to print. This one is also a favorite of Ann Patchett’s, who calls it, “that rarest of wonders, a book that is both exquisitely written and a thrill to read.”

Usual Suspects

XO by Jeffery Deaver (S&S; S&S Audio; Thorndike Large Print) follows rising country pop singer Kayleigh Towne as she’s threatened by a stalker while people close to her die, putting pressure on Special Agent Kathryn Dance to solve the case; on USA Today‘s summer reading list.

Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Imperative by Eric Van Lustbader (Hachette/Grand Central) is the seventh Bourne novel, this time set in Sadeloga, Sweden, where Bourne helps a man who, like him, suffers from amnesia. PW says, “Newbies who want to understand the various plot lines would be advised to begin at least two or three books back. Established fans will find all the usual cliffhangers, hairbreadth escapes, and multiple betrayals they expect from this series.” 250,000 copy first printing.

Little Night by Luanne Rice (Penguin/Pamela Dorman) is the author’s 30th novel. It tells the story of two sisters – one of whom, Clare, wound up in prison after she tried to save her sister, Anne, from an abusive husband, whom Anne lied to protect him. LJ says, “this hard-to-put-down story about how family ties can be undone and sometimes retied is compelling and will undoubtedly resonate with fans of contemporary women’s fiction.”

Spring Fever by Mary Kay Andrews (Macmillan/St. Martin’s Press; Wheeler Publishing; Macmillan Audio) is the tale of two exes who get a second chance when one of their weddings is unexpectedly halted. PW calls is “unmemorable” but still “an enjoyable escape.” This one is a Costco Pennie’s Pick for June (the article also mentions that the success of the Andrews’ books has brought attention to the books she wrote under her own name, Kathy Trocheck. HarperCollins will re-release the Callahan Garrity series with new covers under the Andrews name. They will also be available as ebooks).

Kiss the Dead (Anita Blake Vampire Hunter Series #21) by Laurell K. Hamilton (Penguin/Berkley; Penguin Audio) finds U.S. Marshall and vampire hunter confronting the terrorist fringe of a group of rouge vampires. PW says, “there’s nothing here that Hamilton hasn’t done already, but there’s enough to sustain readers until Anita’s next escapade.”


The Great Destroyer: Barack Obama’s War on the Republic by David Limbaugh (Regnery) is the fourth book by the political commentator who is the brother of Rush Limbaugh. The title says it all. 300,000-copy first printing.

As Texas Goes…: How the Lone Star State Hijacked the American Agenda by Gail Collins (Norton/Liveright) has the New York Times op-ed columnist locating the country’s political ailments deep in the heart of Texas. 100,000-copy first printing.

New Title Radar: May 21 – 27

Friday, May 18th, 2012

Richard Ford and Paul Theroux return next week – with Ford exploring a boy’s coming of age and Theroux probing a mid-life crisis – while Elizabeth Lowell delivers her latest romantic thriller. There are also three novels that librarians have been buzzing about on our Galley Chat: Suzanne Joinson‘s tale of two women connected across time, Melanie Gideon‘s comic novel about a bored wife, and a mystery set amid the early days of Scotland Yard by Alex Grecian. Plus YA novels from Alyson Noël and Michael Scott.  And in nonfiction, Colin Powell shares his leadership lessons.

Literary Favorites

Canada by Richard Ford (Harper/Ecco; HarperLuxe) is a story of abandonment and self-discovery, told by a boy transplanted to an obscure town in Canada after his parents are arrested for a bank robbery and his sister flees. It’s the #1 IndieNext Pick for June. LJ says, “the narrative slowly builds into a gripping commentary on life’s biggest question: Why are we here? Ford’s latest work successfully expands our understanding of and sympathy for humankind.” At libraries, holds are light on moderate ordering, but it’s on nearly every list of upcoming titles. 200,000 copy first printing.

The Lower River byPaul Theroux (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) follows a man journeying back to an area in Malawi he hasn’t returned to since his years with the Peace Corps after his wife and child leave him, only to discover a village wracked by poverty. PW says, “A somewhat slow exposition and occasional repetition aside, Theroux successfully grafts keen observations about the efficacy of international aid and the nature of nostalgia to a swift-moving narrative through a beautifully described landscape.” Also an IndieNext pick for June.


Beautiful Sacrifice by Elizabeth Lowell (Harper/Morrow; HarperLuxe) finds archeologist Lina Taylor and former Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Hunter Johnson joining forces to track down missing Mayan artifacts in this romantic thriller.  150,000 copy-first-print. One-day laydown.



GalleyChat Favorites

A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar by Suzanne Joinson (Bloomsbury) is a historical novel with two parallel stories about women struggling to define themselves, which moves between 1920s Turkestan and present-day England. The publisher compares it to Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. It’s been getting buzz on GalleyChat, with librarians saying it’s a ” good historical fiction novel, with a great cover.” LJ is also positive: “this atmospheric first novel immediately engages… Highly recommended” and it is an IndieNext pick for June. However, libraries have bought it relatively lightly. Cuyahoga buyer Wendy Bartlett cautions that the book does not deliver the light-hearted story signaled by the cover and title and that the parallel stories may put off casual readers. 75,000 copy first printing. The Web site provides background on Kashgar and the origins of the story.

Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon (RH/Ballantine; RH Audio) is about a bored San Francisco Bay Area wife and mother of teenagers, who in the course of taking a survey about her marriage (she is Wife #22) realizes that the researcher who’s interviewing her may understand her better than her husband. It’s the first adult novel from YA novelist Gideon, who is also the author of the popular adult memoir The Slippery Year.  Here are a few comments from our Galley Chat: “Add me to the list enjoying Wife 22. Would definitely be a great book for discussion.” — “Hard to put down! People will either love or hate main character.” CRYSTAL BALL: Most libraries could use more copies.

The Yard by Alex Grecian (Putnam) is a mystery set in Victorian London, featuring a detective new to Scotland Yard as the organization tries to recover from its failure to catch Jack the Ripper, and written by the author of the graphic novel series Proof. Booklist says, “Grecian’s infusion of actual history adds to this thriller’s credibility and punch.” One of our Galley Chatters had this to say: “mystery set at the end of the 19th C is excellent. Early Scotland Yard, beginning of forensics.” Also an IndieNext pick for June

Young Adult

Fated by Alyson Noël (St. Martin’s/Griffin) marks the beginning of the new Soul Seekers series, about a girl who discovers that she’s descended from Native American shamans, from the author of popular The Immortals series. PW says, “Though weakened by genre cliches and off-screen character development, [the] story is nicely paced and well-written.” It launches with its own Web site.

The Enchantress (Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel Series #6) by Michael Scott (RH/Delacorte Young Readers; Listening Library) is the latest installment in the series that mixes fantasy (the main character is a fabulously wealthy book seller), science fiction and horror. Trailers and games available on the series site.



It Worked For Me: In Life and Leadership by Colin Powell (HarperCollins) is a series of anecdotes that illustrate leadership lessons, by the former secretary of state and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and author of the two-million-copy bestseller My American Journey. PW says, “There’s much inspirational sense drawn from Powell’s matchless range of managerial and political experiences, but also a frustrating reticence on the great leadership crisis of his time [the war in Iraq].” Print Run: 750,000 copies.

New Title Radar: April 30th – May 6

Friday, April 27th, 2012

Next week is a big one for memoir and biography, with the much-anticipated fourth installment in Robert Caro‘s biography of Lyndon Johnson, plus memoirs by Dan Rather and Ryan O’Neal, and an oral history of NBC-TV’s triumphant turnaround in the 1990s by former executive Warren Littlefield. It also brings a debut novel by Brandon Jones about human trafficking in North Korea and Nell Freudenberger‘s sophomore novel of cross-cultural marriage. And, new titles are soming from usual suspects Charlayne Harris and Ace Atkins filling in for Robert Spenser, and the latest installments in popular YA series by Kristin Cashore and Rick Riordan.

Watch List

All Woman and Springtime by Brandon Jones (Workman/Algonquin; Highbridge Audio) is a debut novel about two North Korean girls who form an immutable bond when they meet in an orphanage, but are betrayed and sold into prostitution at age 17, taking them on a damaging journey to South Korea and ultimately a brothel in Seattle. LJ calls it “impossible to put down,” adding “this work is important reading for anyone who cares about the power of literature to engage the world and speak its often frightening truths.”

Critical Success

The Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger (RH/Knopf; Random House Audio) is the author’s second novel of cultural confrontation, this time featuring Amina, a 24 year old Bangladeshi woman who becomes the e-mail bride of George, an electrical engineer in Rochester, NY. It’s heavily anticipated by the critics, as indicated by the number of early reviews in the consumer press. It gets the cover of the NYT Book Review this coming Sunday, Ron Charles reviewed it earlier this week in the Washington Post and Entertainment Weekly gives it a solid A.

Usual Suspects

Deadlocked: A Sookie Stackhouse Novel (Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood #12) by Charlaine Harris (Penguin/Ace Books; Recorded Books; Wheeler Large Print) is the penultimate title in this popular supernatural series, as Sookie Stackhouse and her friends struggle with the consequences of the death of the powerful vampire Victora. PW says, “as loyalties realign and betrayals are unmasked, Harris ably sets the stage for the ensembleas last hurrah.”

Robert B. Parker’s Lullaby: A Spenser Novel by Ace Atkins (Penguin/Putnam; Random House Audio) finds Parker’s PI invesigating a women’s death at the request of her 14 year old daughter. PW says that “Atkins hits all the familiar marks – bantering scenes with Spenseras girlfriend, fisticuffs, heavy-duty backup from the dangerous Hawk – as he offers familiar pleasures. At the same time, he breaks no new ground, avoiding the risk of offending purists and the potential rewards of doing something a bit different with the characters.”

Young Adult

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore (Penguin/Dial Books; Penguin Audiobooks) arrives to the sound of YA librarians and their readers screams of “at last!”  Kirkus says of this followup to Graceling (2008) and Fire (2009), “devastating and heartbreaking, this will be a disappointment for readers looking for a conventional happy ending. But those willing to take the risk will — like Bitterblue — achieve something even more precious: a hopeful beginning.”

The Serpent’s Shadow (Kane Chronicles Series #3) by Rick Riordan (Disney/Hyperion; Thorndike Large Print; Brilliance Audio) is the conclusion to this bestselling YA fantasy series, in which Carter and Sade Kane risk death and the fate of the world to tame the chaos snake with an ancient spell.


Rather Outspoken: My Life in the News by Dan Rather (Hachette/Grand Central; Hachette Large Print; Hachette Audio) reveals that the TV news anchor felt “his lawsuit against his former network was worth it, even though the $70 million breach-of-conduct case was rejected by New York courts,” according to the Associated Press, which broke the embargo on this book, on sale May 1. Kirkus calls it “an engaging grab-bag: part folksy homage to roots, part expose of institutional wrongdoing and part manifesto for a truly free press.”


The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson by Robert A. Caro (RH/Knopf; Brilliance Audio) is the fourth volume in Caro’s series on Lyndon Johnson, focusing on the years between his senatorship and presidency, when he battled Robert Kennedy for the 1960 Democratic nomination for president, and undertook his unhappy vice presidency. Caro is the subject of a New York Times Magazine profile, and will doubtless get an avalanche of coverage, starting with Entertainment Weekly‘s review (it gets an A-). Kirkus notes, “the fifth volume is in the works, and it is expected to cover Johnson’s election to the White House and his full term, with the conduct of the Vietnam War ceaselessly dogging him.”

Both of Us: My Life with Farrah by Ryan O’Neal (RH/Crown Archtype; Center Point Large Print; Random House Audio) is the story of film actor O’Neal’s enduring love for TV actress Fawcell – from the love that flared when she was married to Lee Major, to their marriage that ended in 1997, and their eventual reunion for three years before Fawcell died from cancer in 2009. The book is excerpted in the new issue of People magazine (5/7).

Top of the Rock: Inside the Rise and Fall of Must See TV by Warren Littlefield and T.R. Pearson (RH/Doubleday; RH Audio; Thorndike Large Print) is an oral history by NBC’s former president of entertainment, with a chorus of voices including Jerry Seinfeld, Kelsey Grammar and Sean Hayes, as they discuss the ups and downs of turning NBC into a multi-billion dollar broadcasting company in the 1990’s. PW says, “these revelatory glimpses of those glory days make this one of the more entertaining books published about the television industry.”

New Title Radar: April 23 – 29th

Friday, April 20th, 2012

Next week, Stephen King returns with a surprise installment in the Dark Tower series that supposedly ended in 2004, and Jonathan Franzen returns with a new essay collection. Meanwhile, British author Rosamond Lupton follows up on her hit debut with a tearjearker thriller, and Sandra Dallas makes her debut by exploring a dark chapter in Mormon history.

In nonfiction, President Obama’s half-sister releases a memoir as does Anna Quindlen and a book about the House of Representatives is set to grab headlines.

Watch List

True Sisters by Sandra Dallas (Macmillan/St. Martin’s) is a work of historical fiction about four women, recruited to Mormonism with Brigham Young’s promise of a handcart to wheel across the desert to Salt Lake City, who help each other survive what turns out to be a harrowing journey. Kirkus says, “readers enticed by the HBO program Big Love will be particularly interested in the origins of this insular community. This fact-based historical fiction, celebrating sisterhood and heroism, makes for a surefire winner.”

Rising Star

Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton (RH/Crown) is the UK author’s followup to Sister, her popular debut. This one is narrated by Grace, a mother whose spirit hovers above her brain-dead body in the hospital after she rescues her 17-year-old daughter Jenny from a school fire set by an arsonist, while her sister-in-law leads the police investigation. LJ calls it “a wonderful mix of smart thriller with tear-provoking literature; a fine blend of Jodi Picoult and P.D. James.”

Usual Suspects

The Wind Through the Keyhole: A Dark Tower Novel by Stephen King (S&S/Scribner; Simon & Schuster Audio) adds a short, eighth installment to the Dark Tower series that appeared to end in 2004. Largely a flashback to hero Roland Deschain’s gunslinger days, it can stand alone or fit between Wizard and Glass and Wolves of the Calla. Kirkus says, “If it weren’t for the profanity which liberally seasons the narrative, it could pass as a young adult fantasy, a foul-mouthed Harry Potter (with nods toward The Wizard of Oz and C.S. Lewis). It even ends with a redemptive moral, though King mainly concerns himself here with spinning a yarn.”

Crystal Gardens by Amanda Quick (Penguin/Putnam; Brilliance Audio; Thorndike Large Print) is a paranormal historical romance featuring an undercover psychic investigator and fiction writer who finds herself fleeing from an assassin for the second time – and into the arms of a man who may be far more dangerous. LJ raves: “Quick infuses her own addictive brand of breathless, sexy adventure with dashes of vengeance, greed, and violence and a hefty splash of delectable, offbeat humor.”

Young Adult

Rebel Fire: Sherlock Holmes: The Legend Begins, Book 2 by Andrew Lane (Macmillan/FSG; Macmillan Young Listeners) pits 14-year-old Sherlock Holmes against assassin John Wilkes Booth, who is apparently alive and well in England, and mixed up with Holmes’s American tutor Amyus Crowe. Kirkus says, “abductions, frantic train rides, near-death experiences and efforts of [Holmes and] friends to save one another increase suspense with each chapter. A slam-bang climax and satisfying conclusion will please readers while leaving loose threads for further volumes.”


Farther Away: Essays by Jonathan Franzen ((Macmillan/FSG; Macmillan Audio) gathers essays and speeches written mostly in the past five years, including his account of dispersing some of David Foster Wallace’s ashes on the remote island of Masafuera, excerpted in the New Yorker. Kirkus says, “Franzen can get a bit schoolmarmish and crotchety in his caviling against the horrors of modern society, and he perhaps overestimates the appeal of avian trivia to the general reader, but anyone with an interest in the continued relevance of literature and in engaging with the world in a considered way will find much here to savor. An unfailingly elegant and thoughtful collection of essays from the formidable mind of Franzen, written with passion and haunted by loss.”

And Then Life Happens: A Memoir by Auma Obama (Macmillan/St. Martin’s) is a memoir by President Obama’s half-sister, who was born a year before her brother to Barack Obama Sr.’s first wife, Kezia. Auma’s meeting with her brother in Chicago in 1984 “marks the brightest moment in this eager-to-please work,” according to Kirkus, “and paved the way for his subsequent trips to Kenya and warmly unfolding relationship with his African family.”

My Happy Days in Hollywood: A Memoir by Garry Marshall (RH/Crown Archetype; Random House Large Print; Random House Audio) expands on film and television producer Marshall’s 1997 memoir, Wake Me When It’s Funny, but Kirkus complains that Marshall “isn’t very funny. Or at least this book isn’t. Nor is it serious, mean, scandalous or particularly revelatory. It’s just nice. Marshall has gotten along fine with some difficult actors–including his sister, Penny, and the beleaguered Lindsay Lohan–and has apparently remained friends with everyone with whom he has ever worked…This is a Fudgsicle of a showbiz memoir.”

Sweet Designs: Bake It, Craft It, Style It by Amy Atlas (Hyperion Books) interwines baking and crafting, showing home cooks how to make beautiful sweets, based on the author’s award-winning blog, Sweet Designs.

Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives, Robert Draper, (S&S), is by the author of Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush. This one is described by the publisher as “a revealing and riveting look at the new House of Representatives.” No pre-pub reviews indicate it’s embargoed. It will be featured on many news shows next week, including NPR’s Weekend Edition, CBS This Morning, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen (RH/Crown; RH Large Print; BOT Audio) will, of course, be featured on many shows next week, including CBS This Morning and The Charlie Rose Show (PBS). An NPR Fresh Air interview is in the works.

LIFEBOAT, Echoes of the Titanic

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

Charlotte Rogan captivated the audience when she spoke last month at PLA’s Debut Authors panel. The NYT interviews her today about her book, Lifeboat, saying it is,

…already riding a wave of heady praise and early reviews. It carries sparkling blurbs by Emma Donoghue, the author of Room, and Hilary Mantel, the author of Wolf Hall. Booksellers have predicted that it will become a hit among book club members, those prized word-of-mouth readers who have helped make best sellers out of novels like The Help and The Paris Wife.

With its theme of a WWI shipwreck and survivors facing moral crises, it echoes James Cameron’s The Titanic which opens today in IMAX theaters (in others on Friday), a connection pointed out by many, including the UK’s Guardian, which calls it “A compelling and disquieting first novel.”

Libraries are showing holds, averaging 5:1.

The Lifeboat: A Novel
Charlotte Rogan
Retail Price: $24.99
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Hachette/Little, Brown/Reagan Arthur – (2012-04-03)
ISBN : 9780316185905

Hachette Audio

New Title Radar: April 2 – 8

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Next week, another historical novel arrives that’s well-timed for the centenary of the sinking of the Titanic; Charlotte Rogan’s debut, The Lifeboat. Usual suspects include Christopher Moore, Adriana Trigiani, Anne Tyler, Mary Higgins Clark and Lisa Scottoline. And there’s a TV tie-in to the BBC film adaptation of Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks that will air on PBS in April. In nonfiction, there’s a warm reminiscence of Yogi Berra‘s friendship with Yankees pitcher Ron Guildry by Harvey Araton, plus new memoirs from Eloisa James on living in Paris and journalist A.J. Jacobs on living healthy.

Watch List 

The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan (Hachette/Little, Brown/Reagan Arthur; Hachette Audio) begins on an elegant ocean liner carrying a woman and her new husband across the Atlantic at the start of WWI, when there is a mysterious explosion. Henry secures Grace a place in a lifeboat, which the survivors quickly realize is over capacity. PW calls it “a complex and engrossing psychological drama.” This one was picked by Waterstones as one of 11 debuts expected to win awards and have strong sales in the UK.

Usual Suspects

Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d’Art by Christopher Moore (Harper/Morrow; Harperluxe; HarperAudio) mixes humor and mystery in a romp through the 19th century French countryside when Vincent van Gogh famously shot himself in a French wheat field. Library Journal says, “Don’t let Moore’s quirky characters and bawdy language fool you. His writing has depth, and his peculiar take on the Impressionists will reel you in. One part art history (with images of masterpieces interspersed with the narrative), one part paranormal mystery, and one part love story, this is a worthy read.” Moore will be interviewed on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday.

The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani (HarperCollins) begins in the Italian Alps, where two teenagers, Enza and Ciro, share a kiss that will linger across continents and time. Both land in New York City, where Enza makes a name for herself as a seamstress, eventually sewing for the great Caruso at the Metropolitan Opera, while Ciro develops into a skilled shoemaker and rake of Little Italy. Booklist calls it “an irresistible love story.”

The Beginner’s Goodbye by Anne Tyler (RH/Knopf; RH Large Print; RH Audio) explores how a middle-aged man, ripped apart by the death of his wife, is gradually restored by her frequent appearances — in their house, on the roadway, in the market. PW calls it “an uplifting tale of love and forgiveness. By the end of this wonderful book, you’ve lived the lives and loves of these characters in the best possible way.”

The Lost Years by Mary Higgins Clark (Simon & Schuster; Thorndike Press; S&S Audio) follows Mariah Lyons’s investigation of the brutal murder of her father, a well-respected academic, who comes into the possession of an ancient and highly valuable parchment stolen from the Vatican in the 15th century. Mary and her daughter, Carol Higgins Clark, will both appear on the Today Show on Wednesday. Carol’s book Gypped: A Regan Reilly Mystery, also published by S&S, is coming out on the same day.

Come Home by Lisa Scottoline (Macmillan/St. Martin’s; Thorndike Press; MacMillan Audio) is the Edgar-winning author’s second character-driven standalone thriller with a family saga at its core. LJ says it “deftly speeds readers through a dizzying labyrinth of intrigue with more hairpin turns and heart-pounding drops than a theme-park ride.”

Sidney Sheldon’s Angel of the Dark, Tilly Bagshawe, (Harper/Morrow; Dreamscape Audio) is the third in the series written by Bagshawe in Sheldon’s style. Says Booklist, “Although clearly aimed at Sheldon’s legion of fans, the book should appeal equally to the broader range of thriller readers.”

TV & Movie Tie-Ins

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks (RH/Vintage) ties in to the BBC version starring Eddie Redmayne, Clémence Poésy and Matthew Goode, which will air on PBS on April 22 and April 29, 2012. When it was shown in the UK, the British tabloid, The Daily Star, referred to it as a “raunchy adaptation” and an “X-rated hit.” Critics applauded the first episode, but were divided over the second. Audiences, while strong, was not a large as those for Downton AbbeyCheck out the trailer here.

The Pirates! Band of Misfits by Gideon Defoe (RH/Vintage) ties into the animated feature by those wonderful folks who gave us Chicken Run and Wallace & Gromit, with voiceovers by Hugh Grant, Salma Hayek and Jeremy Piven. The first stop-motion clay animated feature film to be shot in Digital 3D, it’s based the first two books in a series by British author Dafoe (collected in this tie-in edition), which has had a stronger following in the UK than here.  Treat yourself; watch the trailer. The movie opens on April 27th.


Driving Mr. Yogi: Yogi Berra, Ron Guidry, and Baseball’s Greatest Gift by Harvey Araton (Houghton Mifflin) is the story of a unique friendship between a pitcher and catcher, starting in 1999, when Berra was reunited with the Yankees after a long self-exile after being fired by George Steinbrenner 14 years before. It’s already picking up buzz from the Wall St. Journal, which mentions Houghton’s television ads for the book within the VIP areas of Yankee Stadium, as well as ads during the live game feed, and in the New York Times. The authors will appear on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday as well as on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight.

Paris in Love: A Memoir by Eloisa James (Random House; Books on Tape) finds the bestselling author of 24 historical romances (who is actually Mary Bly, daughter of poet Robert Bly and associate professor and head of the creative writing department at Fordham University) living in Paris with her family after she survived both cancer and the death of her mother. LJ says, “Not just for Francophiles or even James’s legion of fans, this delectable confection, which includes recipes, is more than a visit to a glorious city: it is also a tour of a family, a marriage, and a love that has no borders. Tres magnifique!”

Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection by A. J. Jacobs (Simon & Schuster; Thorndike Press; Simon & Schuster Audio) is the fourth book in the One Man’s Humble Quest series, and finds the experieintial journalist trying to become the healthiest man in the world by following a web of diet and exercise advice, most which is nonsensical, unproven, and contradictory. LJ says it’s “engrossing and will have readers chuckling.”

Trickle Down Tyranny: Crushing Obama’s Dream of the Socialist States of America by Michael Savage (Harper/Morrow; Thorndike Press Large Press; Brilliance Audio) is a rant against “Barack Lenin” by the host of the No. 3 radio program in the nation, heard by nearly eight million listeners a week and syndicated across the United States in over 300 markets. “Not a book to make everyone happy,” says LJ, “but the 250,000-copy first printing and one-day laydown on April 3 indicates that the audience will be large.”

New Title Radar: March 26 – April 1

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

British author Grace McCleen gets major early reviews, but a mixed reaction to her much-anticipated fiction debut with The Land of Decoration, while Nobel-winner Nadine Gordimer probes the lives of a biracial couple in post-Apartheid South Africa and National Book Award finalist Lioner Shriver delivers a satire about terrorism. Usual suspects include James Patterson & David Ellis, and Danielle Steel. Plus there’s a memoir by New York Mets starting pitcher and former English major R.A. Dickey.


The Land of Decoration by Grace McCleen (Macmillan/Holt) focuses on a 10 year-old daughter of Armageddon-fearing Christian fundamentalists, who starts to believe in her own omnipotence and becomes bolder as her efforts seem to work. In a New York Times review that ran this week, slightly ahead of the book’s publication on 3/27, Janet Maslin says that young Judith’s “voice of God evolves into a slangy, wise cracking, child’s-eye version of divinity, and that the book’s tensions mount in a simple and schematic way.” Ron Charles, reviewing it in the Washington Post on Tuesday, saying, “alas, The Land of Decoration is not in the same room as Donoghue’s great novel [Room]. ” The book is getting a better reception in the UK, where the Times of London picked it as one of four “must-read titles of 2012″ and the Waterstones bookstore chain tagged it as one of 11 debuts expected to win awards.

The Unruly Passions of Eugenie R. by Carole DeSanti (HMH) is a historical novel by a Penguin Group USA vice president and editor at large, about a woman who follows her love to Paris, only to find herself marooned, pregnant, penniless and trying to survive in France’s Second Empire. PW says, “though its hard to care for such a self-centered heroine, the sweeping, fascinating epic is full of drama and beauty.”


No Time Like the Present by Nadine Gordimer (Macmillan/FSG) focuses on Steve and Jabulile, an interracial couple living in a newly, tentatively, free South Africa. In a starred review, Booklist says, “Gordimer dramatizes with acute specificity, wit, and sympathy the mix of guilt and conviction her freedom-fighter characters experience as they admit, The Struggle is not over. Still, isn’t it time to simply live their lives and give up the fight? Literary warrior Gordimer writes, There is only one time, all time, for principles you live by.”

The New Republic by Lionel Shriver (HarperCollins; HarperLuxe; Dreamscape Media) is the National Book Award finalist’s fictional exploration of the intimate relationship between terrorism and cults of personality. People magazine says, “dramatically different from her chilling 2003 bestseller We Need to Talk About Kevin…Shriver’s new novel is a blowsy, cynical romp about journalists sent to cover a mysterious terrorist movement…While Shriver’s urge to entertain can be exhausting, her whip-smart observations… are funny and on the mark.”  LJ was more sanguine: “While the characters are forgettable and the satire doesn’t go quite far enough, this is still an interesting read that might appeal to fans of Tom Perrotta.”


Guilty Wives by James Patterson and David Ellis (Hachette/Little, Brown; Hachette Audio) is a thriller in which the family vacation of a lifetime becomes the fight of a lifetime–for survival.

Betrayal by Danielle Steel (RH/Delacorte Press; RH Large Print; Brilliance Audio) focuses on an eccentric movie director who falls prey to a sociopath sidekick and a feckless producer/lover. Kirkus call it “a methodical Hollywood morality tale.”

Elegy for Eddie: A Maisie Dobbs Novel by Jacqueline Winspear (HarperCollins) is the ninth novel featuring London investigator and psychologist Maisie Dobbs, who investigates the brutal killing of a street peddler that will take her from the working-class neighborhoods of her childhood into London’s highest circles of power. Kirkus says, “Certainly not Winspear’s strongest mystery. But newcomers will enjoy the exploration of class-bound Britain between the wars, and fans will relish the continued development of Maisie’s complicated character.”


Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball by R.A. Dickey (Penguin/Blue Rider Press) is a memoir by the starting pitcher for the New York Mets – and a former English major. PW says, “The author emerges as one of baseball’s good guys, and someone who can write as well as he pitches. Dickey has set a new standard for athlete autobiographies.” The publisher offers this hook; “The Glass Castle meets Ball Four as Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey weaves searing honesty and baseball insight in this memoir about his unlikely journey to the big leagues.”


Chomp by Carl Hiassen (RH/Knopf Young Readers; Listening Library; Audio on OverDrive); Hiasson’s fourth book for kids is a guaranteed best seller. In a starred review, Booklist says its the author’s “best for a young audience since Newbery Honor Hoot (2002)” and Hornbook couldn’t resist saying,  “Chomp is a story for readers to sink their teeth into.”

New Title Radar: March 19 – 25

Friday, March 16th, 2012

Next week’s notable titles include Noah Hawley‘s The Good Father, a novel of parental remorse and love that’s been an EarlyWord Galley Chat favorite, and Joyce Carol Oates‘ latest masterpiece. There are also two much-anticipated memoirs: Cheryl Strayed‘s Wild, about her journey of self-discovery while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, and new grandmother Anne Lamott‘s Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son’s First Son Watch List. Usual suspects include Harlan Coben, Richard North Patterson and Suzanne Brockman.

Watch List

The Good Father by Noah Hawley (RH/Doubleday; Thorndike Press; Random House Audio; OverDrive) is a favorite on our own Galley Chat, in which the father of a man who assassinates a presidential candidate tries to make sense of his son’s crime. Publishers Weekly says,  “Hawley’s complicated protagonist is a fully fathomed and beautifully realized character whose emotional growth never slows a narrative that races toward a satisfying and touching conclusion.”

Literary Favorite

Mudwoman by Joyce Carol Oates (HarperCollins/Ecco; HarperLuxe; BOT Audio; OverDrive) explores the price of repression in the life of a respected university president struggling against a nervous breakdown as she confronts her brutal past in an area of epic poverty in the shadow of the Adirondacks. In a starred review, Booklist calls it “an extraordinarily intense, racking, and resonant novel, a giant among Oates’ big books, including The Gravedigger’s Daughter (2007).” Oates speaks at PLA today.

Usual Suspects

Stay Close by Harlan Coben (Penguin/Dutton Adult; Thorndike Press; Brilliance Audio) is a stand-alone thriller, where three people are haunted by the disappearance of Stewart Green 17 years earlier in Atlantic City, hiding secrets that even those closest to them would never suspect. Booklist gives it a starred review, “Coben excels in descriptions of his characters’ tortured, ruminative inner lives. He also can pull out of their psychological nosedives to deliver some of the most shocking action scenes in current crime fiction… Satisfying on every level.”

Fall from Grace by Richard North Patterson (S&S/Scribner; Simon & Schuster Audio) is a family mystery, in which covert CIA operative Ben Blaine seeks the truth surrounding his father’s violent death, even if it means exposing one of his own family members as the killer. PW says, “readers will enjoy unraveling the tangled mystery right up until the last revelation.”

Force of Nature (A Joe Pickett Novel) by C. J. Box (Penguin/Putnam; Center Point Large Print) is the Edgar-winning author’s 12th Joe Pickett novel, in which Pickett’s friend Nate Romanowski’s hidden past ain a secret Special Forces unit finally catches up with him. Booklist’s starred review calls it “a very different Pickett novel, more a pure thriller and much more violent. Fans who love the books for their thoughtfulness may find this one a bit bloody, but those who love Box’s stunning set pieces will be in heaven.”

Born to Darkness by Suzanne Brockmann (RH/Ballantine; Brilliance Audio) launches a new series featuring former Navy SEAL Shane Laughlin, and involving a highly addictive longevity drug, human trafficking, and torture. PW says, “While a departure from Brockmann’s romantic military suspense novels, this story does contain some of her trademark elements a military hero, a same-sex romance between secondary characters, and sizzling connections to explore in future titles but never feels formulaic or stale, and the drama pulls readers in from page one.”

Young Adult

The Kane Chronicles Survival Guide by Rick Riordan (Disney/Hyperion) is a primer on the people, places, gods, and creatures found in Rick Riordan’s series.

Movie Tie-In

The World of the Hunger Games by Kate Egan (Scholastic) is a full-color guide to all the districts of Panem and all the participants in the Hunger Games, with photographs from the movie, a glossary and new quotes from Suzanne Collins. Releasing on the day the movie opens (making you suspect that it contains spoilers), the cover has already been teased by Entertainment Weekly. It follows The Hunger Games Tribute Guide by Emily Seife  (Scholastic, $7.99.), which continues at #2 on the upcoming NYT Paperback Advice & Miscellaneous list after five weeks, and The Hunger Games, the official illustrated movie companion by Kate Egan (Scholastic, $18.99), at #4 on the same list.


Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed (RH/Knopf; Random House Audio; OverDrive) is a memoir of a 26 year-old young woman’s emotional devastation after the death of her mother and the weeks she spent hiking the 1,100-mile Pacific Crest Trail in 1995 as her family, marriage, and sanity unravel. Kirkus calls it “a candid, inspiring narrative of the author’s brutal physical and psychological journey through a wilderness of despair to a renewed sense of self.” Reese Witherspoon just purchased the film rights and will star as Strayed, who also wrote the novel Torched. It’s People magazine’s lead review this week, with 4 of a possible 4 stars; “with grace, wild humor and transcendent insights..Strayed’s language is so vivid, sharp and compelling that you feel the heat of the desert, the frigid ice of the High Sierra and the breathtaking power of one remarkable woman finding her way — and herself — one brave step at a time.”

Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son’s First Son by Anne Lamott (Penguin/Riverhead; Thorndike Press; Penguin Audiobooks) is a new memoir, in which the author of the parenting classic Operating Instructions learns that her son, Sam, is about to become a father at nineteen, and writes a journal about the first year of her grandson Jax’s life. Booklist says, “Funny, frantic, and frustrating, Lamott enthusiastically embraces this new chapter in her life, learning that she is a wiser grandparent than parent who, nevertheless, managed to produce one pretty remarkable son.” It receives 3.5 stars in the new issue of People magazine.


New Title Radar: March 12 – 18

Friday, March 9th, 2012

Next week, Lyndsay Faye‘s historical novel about a serial killer in 1845 New York, The Gods of Gotham, builds on her breakout debut, while Mark Allen Smith‘s debut thriller The Inquisitor features a professional torturer who unexpectedly breaks character. There are also two notable magical realist novels: Tiffany Baker‘s The Gilly Salt Sisters and Heidi Julavit‘s The Vanishers. And in nonfiction, Marilynne Robinson returns with an essay collection about her Christian faith and “Pioneer Woman” Ree Drummond delivers a new recipe collection.

Watch List

The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye (Penguin/Putnam/Amy Einhorn Books; audio from Dreamscape is also downloadable from OverDrive) is set in 1845 New York, where an officer in the newly organized police force, encounters a blood-soaked girl who leads him to evidence of an anti-Irish serial killer at work. Library Journal raves, “vivid period details, fully formed characters, and a blockbuster of a twisty plot put Faye in a class with Caleb Carr. Readers will look forward to the sequel.” PW adds, “this one “improves on her impressive debut, Dust and Shadow.”

The Gilly Salt Sisters by Tiffany Baker (Hachette/Grand Central Publishing; Thorndike Press) follows two sisters whose family has always harvested salt and who that may or may not have magical powers over their Cape Cod community, and the wealthy bachelor who forces his way into their lives. LJ says, “fans of Baker’s acclaimed The Little Giant of Aberdeen County won’t be disappointed with this quirky, complex, and original tale. It is also sure to enchant readers who enjoy Alice Hoffman and other authors of magical realism.”

The Inquisitor by Mark Allen Smith (Macmillan/ Holt; Macmillan Audio) is a thriller about a professional torturer in the “information retrieval” business, who instills fear rather than pain and has a gift for recognizing when he hears the truth. But this time, he must interrogate a 12-year-old boy, whom he decides to protect. LJ says “this is not for the faint of heart or the weak of stomach. But Geiger, who’s seeing a psychiatrist and suffers disabling migraines, is a fascinating protagonist with a revealing backstory. A compelling debut thriller that blurs the lines between the good and bad guys.”

Literary Favorite

The Vanishers by Heidi Julavits (RH/Doubleday; Audio, Dreamscape Media) is set at an elite school for psychics, where a young student surpasses her troubled mentor, unleashing much wrath, in this novel (after The Uses of Enchantment) by the editor of the literary magazine The Believer. LJ calls it “reminiscent of Arthur Phillips’s The Egyptologist: clever, humorous, with supernatural elements. While one can easily get confused about what is real and what is imagined, readers who surrender to the narrative may be rewarded with rich insights about losing a parent.”

Usual Suspects

Another Piece of My Heart by Jane Green (Macmillan/St. Martin’s Press; Wheeler Publishing; MacMillan Audio) focuses on a just-married woman whose angry new stepdaughter is determined to undermine her, and what motherhood truly means. LJ says, “Green is at her finest with this compelling novel. Deeper, more complicated, and more ambitious than her previous books, it will keep readers on edge as they wait to see how these tense family dynamics play out.”

Deep Fathom by James Rollins (HarperCollins Morrow; Harperluxe) finds ex-Navy SEAL Jack Kirkland surfacing from an aborted salvage mission to find the United States on the brink of a nuclear apocalypse.

Young Adult

Infamous(Chronicles of Nick Series #3) by Sherrilyn Kenyon (Macmillan/St. Martin’s Griffin; Macmillan Audio) follows the further adventures of teenager Nick Gautier, whose first mandate is to stay alive while everyone, even his own father, tries to kill him. He’s learned to annihilate zombies and raise the dead, as well as divination and clairvoyance, so why is learning to drive and keep a girlfriend so hard, let alone survival? Kenyon’s books and fans keep mounting: there are 23 million copies of her books in print in over 30 countries,

Out of Sight, Out of Time (Gallagher Girls Series #5) by Ally Carter (Hyperion Books; Brilliance Corporation) is the latest installment in the popular spy-girl series, in which Cammie wakes up in an alpine convent and discovers months have passed since she left the Gallagher Academy to protect her friends and family, and her memory is a black hole.

Starters, Lissa Price, (RH/Delacorte Young Readers; Listening Library) is a new entry in the crowded field of YA dystopian novels. This one imagines a world in which teens rent their bodies to seniors who want to be young again. Kirkus wasn’t impressed with the writing, but predicted, “twists and turns come so fast that readers will stay hooked.” In its spring preview, the L.A. Times called it “the next, best entry” in the genre. It comes with a book trailer that makes you wonder how quickly it will be snapped up by Hollywood.


When I Was a Child I Read Books:  Essays by Marilynne Robinson (Macmillan/FSG) is a new collection that returns to her major themes: the role of faith in modern life, the inadequacy of fact, and the contradictions inherent in human nature. Kirkus says, “Robinson is a splendid writer, no question–erudite, often wise and slyly humorous (there is a clever allusion to the birther nonsense in a passage about Noah Webster). Articulate and learned descriptions and defenses of the author’s Christian faith.”

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food From My Frontier by Ree Drummond (HarperCollins/Morrow) intersperses recipes with photographs of the author’s life on her ranch. Kirkus says, “some readers may delight in Drummond’s down-home way of speaking directly to the reader, while others may find the interaction a bit snarky and annoying. A collection of basic recipes to guarantee a full belly and an empty plate.”