Archive for the ‘Readers Advisory’ Category

THE Best Books of the Year

Monday, December 24th, 2012

The Daily Beast is checking the best books lists to see which titles get the most picks. According to their current calculations, the winners are:

Fiction — Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

Nonfiction —  Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

Dozens of American and UK sources are included, from Publishers Weekly to Vogue. So far, Library Journal‘s recently-released Top Ten, plus sixteen More of the Best, is not.

 By the Iowa Sea    Gillespie and I     A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar

At this point, we’re finding the unexpected choices more interesting than the consensus titles. LJ is the only source to pick Joe Blair’s memoir By the Iowa Sea (S&S/Scribner). They think so much of it that they make it one of five nonfiction titles in their Top Ten and describe as “startling, bleak, and thoroughly honest.”

Unique picks on LJ‘s More of the Best include Jane Harris’s paperback original novel, Gillespie and I (Harper Perennial), which sounds delicious (read Carolyn See’s review in the Washington Post) and a librarian favorite, Suzanne Joinson’s A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar. They like that one so much they picked it twice (as both a reviewer’s historical fiction and an editor’s pick).

We’ve now wrapped up all the lists we are tracking (not as many as the Daily Beast; we’re focused on professional sources plus the most influential consumer sources) and will add Booklist’s picks when they are released in January. You can use the lists for end-of-the year ordering and to discover new readers advisory titles (there’s RA gold in those unique picks).

Adult Fiction Best Books, Collated

Adult Nonfiction Best Book, Collated

Childrens Best Books, Collated

RA Flow Chart for Hipsters

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

We love the idea of reading flow charts, like the Summer Reading Flow Chart from Teach.com.

GoodReads has just published a tongue-in-cheek Hipster Lit Flowchart that works as a visual representation of a readers advisory interview.

Several commenters complained that there is nowhere to go if you answer “No” to the first question.

Come on guys, that’s the point.

Holds Alert: MONKEY MIND

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

Anxiety can be a healthy reaction to stress, but Daniel Smith suffered anxiety attacks so severe that he was unable to leave his house.

He writes about his experience in Monkey Mind, a memoir that has been called a classic in the making by the Psychiatric Times, and named a People pick. It’s been moving up best seller lists (currently at #6 on the Indie Hardcover Non-fiction list. Curiously, Los Angeles seems to be a more anxious place than New York; it reached #5 on the  L.A. Times’ list, but only #21 on the N.Y. Times‘).

Smith appeared on The Today Show yesterday.

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Libraries in areas of high anxiety (you know who you are, Hennepin!) are showing heavy holds.

Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety
Daniel Smith
Retail Price: $25.00
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster – (2012-07-03)
ISBN / EAN: 1439177309/9781439177303

Blackstone Audio

Thorns Have Roses

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

If your reading clubs are looking for a book “with all the heart-tugging appeal of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society,” Entertainment Weekly suggests Margaret Dilloway’s The Care and Handling of Roses With Thorns, an “exquisite little novel, about a biology teacher who breeds roses so she won’t have to think about her kidney disease.”

The public hasn’t caught on yet; libraries are showing few holds, so you might actually be able to find copies on your new book shelves to recommend.

The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns
Margaret Dilloway
Retail Price: $25.95
Hardcover 368 pages
Publisher: Penguin/Putnam – (2012-08-02)
ISBN / EAN:
9780399157752/0399157751

Thorndike Large Print, Nov

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 DearAuthor.com, 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).

New Title Radar: July 16 – 22

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Next week will bring several books by celebrities, including Glee star Chris Colfer‘s middle-grade fantasy debut, a memoir from Giant’s receiver Victor Cruz, and Elton John‘s look back on his fight against the AIDS epidemic. Usual suspects include Iris Johansen, Orson Scott Card, Daniel Silva, James Lee Burke, and Chris Bohjalian.

Watch List

Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann (Hachette/Little, Brown; Hachette Audio; Thorndike Large Print, Nov) is a debut novel set on Martha’s Vineyard after WWII, about two women finding marriage and motherhood more complicated than they expected, when a murder throws their lives into further turmoil. The author is Herman Melville’s great-great-great-great-grandaughter. It’s getting glowing advance praise, including from PW: “this carefully crafted soap opera skillfully commingles mystery with melodrama, keeping readers guessing about what really happened until the end . . . Her characters’ duplicitous behavior will elicit strong reactions.”

Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer (Macmillan/St. Martin’s; Macmillan Audio) is a whimsical debut novel about a woman who’s been hiding her baldness to fit into her suburban Virginia community and her astronaut husband, whose lives are redefined by freak accidents. The advance buzz brought an early review from  Janet Maslin in the NYT a week before publication, saying, “it is so full of oddities that no simple summary [presumably, like the one we just did] will do it justice. ” It also had several fans on GalleyChat in June.

Usual Suspects

Close Your Eyes by Iris Johansen (Macmillan/St. Martin’s Press; Brilliance Audio) is the fourth collaboration by this mother-son team, and stars Dr. Kendra Michaels, an FBI consultant and music therapist who was born blind and developed her other senses to an extraordinary degree before her sight was restored at age 20. PW says, “The authors combine idiosyncratic yet fully realized characters with dry wit and well-controlled suspense that builds to a satisfying conclusion.”

Earth Unaware by Orson Scott Card (Tor Books; MacMillan Audio) is a science fiction adventure that gives fans of the Ender series a new backstory to the classic Ender’s Game. LJ says, “Card’s gift for strong, memorable characters combined with screenwriter Johnston’s flair for vivid scene-building results in a standout tale… [that] should also please readers of military SF.” Production of the movie of Enders’s Game, starring Harrison Ford and Abigail Breslin has recently wrapped and is scheduled to be released on Nov. 1, 2013.

The Fallen Angel (Gabriel Allon Series #12) by Daniel Silva (HarperCollins; Harperluxe; HarperAudio) stars art restorer and spy Gabriel Allon in Rome, who gets a call from the pope’s personal secretary about the body of a woman in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Creole Belle: A Dave Robicheaux Novel by James Lee Burke (Simon & Schuster; Wheeler Large Print; Simon & Schuster Audio) finds southern Louisiana deputy Sheriff Dave Robicheaux recovering from the wounds he received in the last book (The Glass Rainbow), and facing another round of New Orleans-style homicide. Kirkus says, “Burke, in his latest attempt to outdo himself, ties the Gulf oil spill to art fraud, sexual slavery and Nazis. A darkly magnificent treat for Dave’s legion of admirers, though not the best place for newcomers to begin.” One-day laydown.

The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian (RH/Doubleday Books; Random House Large Print; Books on Tape) is the story of modern American woman who joins her father on a philanthropic trip to Syria to aid Armenian refugees, and pieces together the lives of her great-grandparents, who met on the eve of the Armenian genocide of 1915-16. It has been featured in many summer reading roundups, and is a GalleyChat favorite. Entertainment Weekly gives is a B+. The reviewer notes that Bohjalian, draws ” for the first time on his own heritage [as] the grandson of Armenian survivors [and] pours passion, pride, and sadness into his tale of ethnic destruction and endurance,” but notes the book’s structure is  “precariously ornate.”

Kids/Young Adult

The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer (Hachette/LBYR; Hachette Audio) is a middle-grade debut by the Glee star, and finds 12-year-old twins Alex (a girl) and Conner roaming fairy tale land after falling into their grandmother’s book of stories, trying to collect the elements for a wishing spell that will get them home. Booklist says, “Golden Globe winner Colfer writes for an audience that will likely include plenty of teen readers (i.e., fans of Glee), and generally they will not be disappointed by the giddy earnestness of the writing, cut with a hint of melancholy.” Unsurprisingly, the author is getting plenty of media attention. The audio is read by the author.

Spark: A Sky Chasers Novel by Amy Kathleen Ryan (St. Martin’s Griffin, MacMillan Audio) is the sequel to Glow, in which girls and boys struggle with issues of leadership and violence on a spaceship after their parents have been kidnapped.

Nonfiction

Out of the Blue by Victor Cruz (Penguin/Celebra) is a memoir by the 25-year-old salsa victory-dancing Superbowl champion. USA Today says it “will include the highs and lows of his life — his spotty college career and rocky road to professional football (he was undrafted), his father’s suicide and his recent triumphs.” It will also be published in Spanish as Momento de Gloria in September.

Love Is the Cure: On Life, Loss, and the End of AIDS by Elton John (Hachette/Little, Brown) is the pop singer’s personal account of his life during the AIDS epidemic, including stories of his close friendships with Ryan White, Freddie Mercury, Princess Diana, Elizabeth Taylor, and others, and the story of the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

The Violinist’s Thumb: And Other Lost Tales of Love, War, and Genius, as Written by Our Genetic Code by Sam Kean (Hachette/Little, Brown) is the next book by the author who made the periodic table fascinating in The Disappearing Spoon. In this new book, he explores the secrets of DNA. Leading up to the book’s release, Kean has been “Blogging the Human Genome” for Slate.


Costco Picks FLIGHT OF GEMMA HARDY

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Costco’s book buyer recommends Margot Livesey’s latest, The Flight of Gemma Hardy in the July issue of Costco Direct, saying that, like Livesey’s other novels, it is one of “those books that leave you 100 percent satisfied and richer for having read them.” Although it is a modern retelling of Jane Eyre, it is also “a fulfilling novel that stands on its own.”

The trade paperback was just released; many libraries still show holds on the hardcover, published Jan. 24th.

The Flight of Gemma Hardy: A Novel
Margot Livesey
Retail Price: $15.99
Paperback: 480 pages
Publisher: Harper Perennial – (2012-06-26)
ISBN / EAN: 0062064231 / 9780062064233

RA Flow Chart

Friday, June 29th, 2012

Teach.com has created a clever “Summer Reading Flow Chart” to encourage high school students to read this summer. The choices may be a bit didactic (that word “Should” in the headline is telling), but the presentation is fun (via USA Today).

Catnip for Downton Abbey Fans

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

A clip from season three of Downton Abbey, featuring Shirley MacLaine and Maggie Smith, is making the rounds on the Web and whetting fans’ appetites for the series debut on PBS’ Masterpiece in January (UK fans get first crack at the series, beginning in September).

Elizabeth McGovern introduces the clip, as part of the American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award ceremony honoring MacLaine. The event was held nearly three weeks ago and was aired on TV Land this Sunday. This obviously hand-held recording looks like it was shot directly from the tv screen.

Time to update your read-alike lists (we’ve listed a few new titles to consider, after the jump).

(more…)

Break Out the Alan Furst Backlist

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Called the master of the historical spy thriller, Alan Furst has written 12 novels in the Night Soldiers series (or, as he puts it on his Web site, the series is “really one very long book with, to date, twelve chapters”). The books have gradually gathered acclaim (in 2008, a profile by Chip McGrath in the NYT signaled that Furst had arrived. In 2010, Spies of the Balkans appeared on several best books list and debuted on the NYT Best Seller list at #10).

He’s about to become a household name. His new book, Mission to Paris, (Random House; Thorndike Large PrintS&S Audio) arrives on the new USA Today list at the highest spot ever for the series and at #2 on the Indie list, making it poised to arrive in the top three on the upcoming NYT list (UPDATE: the book debuted at #2 on the list). Libraries are showing heavy holds.

In the Huffington Post, fan Jesse Kornbluth tries to nail down why Furst’s books are addictive; “although these novels are about Europe in the years before World War II, they’re also exquisite little morality plays about right now, right here.”

Furst himself explains why he writes what he writes:

Summer Reading, Entertainment Weekly Style

Monday, June 18th, 2012

The Receptionist, Janet Groth’s memoir of working at the New Yorker in the William Shawn era (also the era of Mad Men, leading USA Today to recommend it to fans of the show) has appeared on several summer reading lists. Entertainment Weekly provides an irresistible annotation on their  “Summer Must List”; Groth has “collected the sort of gossipy anecdotes that would have you hanging on her every word at a literary cocktail party.”

It’s also an audio from Highbridge (15 minute clip on the site).

The Receptionist: An Education at The New Yorker
Janet Groth
Retail Price: $19.95
Hardcover: 241 pages
Publisher: Workman/Algonquin – (2012-06-26)
ISBN / EAN: 9781616201319

For Downton Abbey Fans

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

It’s a long wait until January and season three of Downton Abbey (check here for tidbits on what to expect, including sparks between Maggie Smith and new cast member Shirley MacLaine).

As a result, the magic phrase applied to any new novel set during WWI is “for fans of Downton Abbey.”

The Minneapolis Star Tribune applies it to the paperback original, Park Lane by Frances Osborne (RH/Vintage, 6/12), in their intriguing selection of eight titles for summer reading. The description (and the cover) makes it appear to fill the bill:

Osborne deftly parallels emerging suffragette and erstwhile socialite Bea’s privileged lifestyle with the lowered expectations of reluctant housemaid Grace. While their stations in life may be quite different, by the end of the novel their lives have intersected in ways they could have never foreseen.

Libraries that own it are showing fairly heavy holds.

The San Francisco Chronicle finds The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones (Harper, 5/1) a good choice for D.A. withdrawal, “It seemed heaven sent; Jones’ third novel is set in 1912, the very year Downton began, on the day and evening of a smallish house party celebrating the 20th birthday of the likable but spoiled eldest daughter of the manor, Emerald Torrington.” The reviewer finds it “sublimely clever.”

Nancy Pearl’s Summer Picks

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

Memorial Day is fast approaching, and with it, lists of poolside reading recommendations.

Nancy Pearl presented hers on NPR’s Morning Edition earlier in the week. One of the titles is, of course, the first in her curated list of reprints, the Book Lust Rediscoveries series, the 1961 title, A Gay and Melancholy Sound, which she first discovered in the Annapolis Public Library when she was 18. She says it may be her “favorite novel ever” (amazing for someone who has read so many books).

Asked about the negative reaction from some independent booksellers over her decision to publish the series with Amazon, she replied, “I was not surprised, but sorry that happened. My loyalty has always been to…putting readers together with good books. When this idea was offered to many, many publishers, Amazon was the company that loved it and felt that it fit their mission.”

In addition to coming back in print, the title is available as an audiobook for the first time (Brilliance Audio).

Among her other picks is Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain. Nancy says her copy is so filled with markers for quotes she wants to remember that it is now twice its original size. A debut novel, it has been receiving a chorus of kudos,

The cover blurb from Karl Marlantes (Matterhorn, What It’s Like to Go to War) calls it “The Catch 22 of the Iraq War.”

The Washington Post — “a masterful gut-punch of a debut novel.”

The NYT Book Review – “everything is brilliantly done”

The Huffington Post points out Fountain “was Malcolm Gladwell’s prime example in an essay about how it takes 10,000 hours to become great at anything” and claims that the book “has already established itself as the finest novel about the Iraq War.”

TURN RIGHT AT MACHU PICCHU

Monday, July 25th, 2011

No less a critic than the Washington Post‘s Jonathan Yardley calls Turn Right at Machu Picchu, (Dutton, June 30) an “entirely delightful book.” Author Mark Adams decided to celebrate the centenary of the “discovery” of Machu Picchu by following the trek himself, a challenge he was not fully prepared for.

He was interviewed on NPR Weekend Edition Sunday. The book is also on NPR’s list of the “Summer’s Biggest, Juiciest Nonfiction Adventures,” which calls it, “as close to an armchair vacation as you’ll get all summer long.”

Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time
Mark Adams
Retail Price: $26.95
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Dutton Adult – (2011-06-30)
ISBN / EAN: 0525952241 / 9780525952244

Summer ’11 Reading Roundup

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Parade Magazine weighed in with their 12 picks for summer reading last week (distinguishing themselves by being the only ones to select Bonnie Jo Campbell’s Once Upon a River, getting strong critical acclaim and showing heavy holds in libraries). With the country in the midst of a seemingly endless heat wave, it seems appropriate to now call the summer reading lists of 2011 a wrap.

On the right side of the site, we’ve linked to the major lists, under “Previews — Summer ’11.” Browsing through the various list serves as a quick R.A. refresher.

For an exhaustive (and exhausting) list of nearly every guide, check out the blog Largehearted Boy. It’s interesting if your curious what books more specialized sources, like what Ad Age recommends.

Since it’s instructive to see how others hand-sell books, below are Harlan Coben and Jennifer Weiner (who is on several reading lists herself, for Then Came You, Atria, out this week), presenting their top picks on the Today Show earlier this month.

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