This is our favorite season of the year, as new contenders emerge for potential breakout success. Last year, while many were looking for the next Gone Girl, a totally different book became an unexpected long-running best seller, All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (S&S/Scribner).
In the first week of the new year, the contenders are Pierce Brown’s second in his Red Rising trilogy and a debut novel that is already a surprise favorite in-house, The Secret Wisdom of the Earth by Christopher Scotton (Hachette/ Grand Central).
All the titles covered here, and several more notable titles arriving next week, are listed, with ordering information and alternate formats, on our downloadable spreadsheet EarlyWord New Title Radar, Week of Jan. 5, 2015
Insatiable Appetites, Stuart Woods, (Penguin/Putnam; Penguin Audio); OverDrive Sample
Trust No One, Jayne Ann Krentz, (Penguin/Putnam; Recorded Books; Thorndike); OverDrive Sample
Other well-known names also return this week — Charles Todd, Bernard Cornwell, George Pelecanos (a novella and short stories), Sophie Hannah, and, teaming up for the third time, Marcia Muller with Bill Pronzini — as well as the next in the Flavia de Luce series, the #1 Library Reads pick for January:
As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust: A Flavia de Luce Novel, Alan Bradley, (RH/Delacorte; RH Audio; Thorndike); OverDrive Sample; go behind the scenes of the audio recording here
“After the unexpected recovery of her mother’s body brings the de Luce’s family secrets to light, Flavia’s life is turned upside down. Now on her way to a Canadian boarding school, she must survive her first term–and more importantly, uncover the mystery of a corpse found in her dorm room chimney the night she arrives. A delightful installment in the series!” — Lizzie Gall, Grand Rapids Public Library, Grand Rapids, MI
Golden Son: Book II of the Red Rising Trilogy, Pierce Brown, (RH/Del Rey; Recorded Books); OverDrive Sample
Brown’s debut, the first in the Red Rising trilogy, was a hit with librarians who made it the #1 LibraryRead pick last February. The second book, also a LibraryRead pick, is #3 on Entertainment Weekly‘s “Must List” of things to do this week. The only book reviewed in that issue, it is called the “gripping follow-up to last year’s should-have-been-huge debut” It gets an A, of course.
“After reading Red Rising, I was looking forward to seeing more of the politics of this world. Darrow has infiltrated the Golds and works to bring them down from the inside, end their tyranny, and free his people. There’s so much political drama and action. Brown does a wonderful job describing it all through Darrow’s eyes. It’s exhausting, thrilling, and heart wrenching!”– Nita Gill, Brookings Public Library, Brookings, SD
The Secret Wisdom of the Earth, Christopher Scotton, (Hachette/Grand Central; Blackstone Aurio); OverDrive Sample
This debut started small, but generated such support from Hachette’s sales staff, as outlined in a Publisher Weekly story, that it got the big title treatment, with advance readers copies promoted at ABA back in May, plus appearances by the author at regional bookseller shows. It’e worked, the book is the #1 Jan. IndieNext Pick:
“Struggling to recover from the trauma of his baby brother’s tragic death, Kevin and his broken mother relocate to Medger, Kentucky, for the summer. Their return to the Appalachian coal town in which their family is deeply rooted is intended to heal them both. While Kevin’s grandfather is just the person and the wild hollows surrounding their little town just the place to help him mend, Kevin finds that Medger and its citizens are in need of healing as well. Poverty, a mountaintop removal operation, and desperation are tearing their town and the land around it apart. Scotton’s finely wrought characters, perfectly paced plot, and keen sense of place make The Secret Wisdom of the Earth resonate with the reader long after the book has been finished.” —Catherine Weller, Weller Book Works, Salt Lake City, UT
Scotton spoke at an AAP breakfast at ALA and the book is GalleyChat pick, with Kansas City’s Kaite Stover saying it reminds her of Stephen King’s The Body (adapted as the movie Stand By Me), with the “same strong male relationships and heart-wrenching coming of age elements.“
Entertainment Weekly is not so enthusiastic, however, giving it a B in a review that opens on a downer,”It took Christopher Scotton, who is the CEO of a software company by day, 15 years to write Secret, and it shows. It often feels as if he’s trying to fit every known genre … into his stuffed turducken of a plot,” but goes on to acknowledge, “… it’s not hard to see why the book has earned early praise and an impressive first-run print order of 100,000 copies … it strives to tell the type of story that many contemporary novelists find too old-fashioned, or too sincere … it’s flawed and sprawling and a little bit unmoored, but its aim is true.”
Descent, Tim Johnston, (Workman/Algonquin); OverDrive Sample
On GalleyChat this was compared to Jacqueline Mitchard’s Deep End of the Ocean. Kaite Stover found it, “moving, absorbing, and lyrical in telling the story of a family’s anguish at the disappearance of a child.” It is also and IndieNext pick:
“Descent is a gripping, utterly engrossing account of a girl’s disappearance in the Rocky Mountains. The aftermath of this tragedy is told in alternating voices: the injured brother at the scene of the accident when she left with a stranger to get help; the mother who has been hospitalized and stunned into breathtaking grief; the father who has been unable to leave the small town where the family was vacationing when his daughter disappeared — and most stunning of all, through the words of the victim herself. A real page-turner with a brilliantly conceived climax!” —Kelly Estep, Carmichael’s Bookstore, Louisville, KY
Her, Harriet Lane, (Hachette/Little, Brown); OverDrive Sample
People Pick of the Week — “Chilling, suspenseful and shrewd about friendship’s mix of love and envy, HER captivates right up to it’s shocking denouement.”
Before I Go, Colleen Oakley (S&S/Gallery; )
People Pick — ‘In this spirited and original debut, 27-year-old control freak Daisy Richmond learns she has just months to live — and becomes obsessed with finding her husband a new wife. Author Oakley has set herself a tricky balancing act here, blending a comic sensibility with the depth and poignancy her subject requires. She pulls it off.’
This is also an IndieNext Pick:
“After just a few years in remission, Daisy’s breast cancer returns with a vengeance and she is given mere months to live. The love shared by Daisy and Jack, her husband, is unbounded and immense. While undergoing experimental cancer treatments, Daisy decides to look for her replacement, a new wife for Jack. She visits dog parks, bookstores, and finally lands upon the ideal woman through an online match service. No spoilers here, but suffice it to say that things do not go as planned. This book about cancer and death is filled with love and a grand sense of humor, is never maudlin or sappy, and serves as a necessary reality check for all of us.” —Nancy Simpson-Brice, Book Vault, Oskaloosa, IA
America’s Bitter Pill: Money, Politics, Backroom Deals, and the Fight to Fix Our Broken Healthcare System, Steven Brill, (Random House)
This is an expansion of Brill’s award-winning story, which Time magazine devoted an entire issue to. Brill had open heart surgery while completing the book, giving him added insight. He is scheduled for appearances next week on CBS This Morning, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and on NPR’s Fresh Air.
Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life from an Addiction to Film, Patton Oswalt, (S&S/Scribner; S&S Audio)
Author/comedian Oswald is profiled in this week’s NYT BR “By the Book”column. He is scheduled to appear on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, on CBS This Morning, as well as Late Night with Seth Meyers.
Fifty Shades of Grey (Movie Tie-in Edition): Book One of the Fifty Shades Trilogy, E L James, (RH/Vintage; RH audio)
You may have heard that the movie adaptation arrives on Valentime’s Day; Trailer
The World Made Straight, Ron Rash, (Macmillan/Picador) — Trailer
Movie arrives next week, Jan. 9, before the more talked about Rash adaptation, Serena, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, which arrives on VOD in Feb. and in theaters in March. The tie-in for it will be released on Jan. 20.