The Orphan Train, a novel by Christina Baker Kline (author of The Way We Should Be, among others) rises to #5 on the USA Today Best Seller list this week, its highest spot to date. A paperback original, it is based on historical events, the rounding up of orphans from New York streets, between 1854 and 1929, to ship them via train to the midwest, in hopes families there would adopt them.
Life After Life, British author Kate Atkinson’s eighth title was published to critical acclaim in the spring and became the author’s biggest seller, debuting at #3 on the NYT Hardcover Fiction Best Seller. It remained on the main list for 8 weeks.
Ann Leary’s novel The Good House, (Macmillan/St. Martin’s; Macmillan Audio) is told through the eyes of a woman who is pretending to be sober, although her life is clearly unraveling. Despite the somber material, it still manages to be “wickedly funny” according to People magazine, which made it one of their Picks in January. It is being adapted as a movie, starring Meryl Streep and Robert De Niro, according to Deadline.
The Good House was on the extended NYT Hardcover Fiction best seller list for 5 weeks.
The Telegraph followed up by quoting a brave U.K. editor who admitted to rejecting the book, “I thought it was perfectly good – it was certainly well written – but it didn’t stand out. Strange as it might seem, that’s not quite enough. Editors have to fall in love with debuts. It’s very hard to launch new authors and crime is a very crowded market.”
Proving that comment, the Telegraph reports that before the true author’s name was revealed, the book may have sold fewer than 500 copies through British retailers.
Released in the U.S. on April 30 by Hachette’s mystery imprint, Mulholland Books, it received strong reviews from prepub sources; Publishers Weekly said, “In a rare feat, the pseudonymous Galbraith combines a complex and compelling sleuth and an equally well-formed and unlikely assistant with a baffling crime in his stellar debut.”
Holds are now skyrocketing in libraries; one large system now shows 450 holds on 6 copies. Another has already increased their order of 12 copies by 90 more. Those copies are likely to carry J.K. Rowling’s name; the NYT reports that the publisher has a reprint in the works with a revised author bio, “Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym for J. K. Rowling” and that a second book is coming next summer.
It is reviewed in the NYT today by Jane Gross who admits that, as the daughter of a nurse, she is “hardly a disinterested reviewer,” which is a good thing, giving her the ability to connect readers with the stories.
Many libraries own this anthology in modest quantities; Booklist reviewed it, saying, “It’s easy to love these empathetic people, and their beautifully written stories.”
Salt Lake City librarian Josh Hanagarne is interviewed in today’s issue of USA Today for his book, The World’s Strongest Librarian, (Penguin/Gotham. 5/2/13). Both weight lifting and books have helped him deal with his Tourette’s. About being a librarian, he says, “As a breed, we’re the ultimate generalists. I’ll never know everything about anything, but I’ll know something about almost everything and that’s how I like to live.”
Helene Wecker was already off to a good start with her first novel, The Golem and the Jinni, with a 3.5 star review in USA Todaythat invites readers to “dive in and happily immerse yourself, forgetting the troubles of daily life for a while.” The Huffington Post calls it “The Book We’re Talking About,” and similar to The Night Circus, “a stirring, magical debut. Its intertwining of mythology and historical fiction is very engagingly written.”
… this impressive first novel manages to combine the narrative magic of The Arabian Nights with the kind of emotional depth, philosophical seriousness and good, old-fashioned storytelling found in the stories of Isaac Bashevis Singer.
The book debuted on the May 12 NYT Hardcover Fiction extended list at #30 during its first week on sale.
Shriver, who left NBC in 2004, also announced that she is returning as a “special anchor,” and will be profiling people like Ensler whom she calls “architects of change” and “reporting on women’s evolving experiences.”
One of the most prolific serial killers in history, Charlie Cullen, killed an estimated 40 people in sixteen years while working as a nurse in seven different hospitals. He was tried, convicted and is currently in prison.
He broke a long-standing silence for an interview on CBS Sixty Minutes last night. To try to understand why he committed these crimes, the show featured, Charles Graeber, author of The Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness, and Murder (Hachette/Twelve, $26.99, 9780446505291. 4/15/13). The chilling answer was, “Because he could.”
Several charming picture books are on their way next week (gotta love that pug in Everyone Sleeps), Lauren Myracle is set to reach a younger audience and screenwriter Paul Rudnick publishes his first YA novel with a cover that lives up to the title, Gorgeous.
All the titles highlighted here, and more (including a roundup of several new board books and several middle grade series that shouldn’t be overlooked, plus roundup of graphic novels and superhero comics), are on our downloadable spreadsheet, Kids New Title Radar, Week of 4.29.13.
My Lucky Birthday, Keiko Kasza, (Penguin/Putnam Juvenile)
From the creator of the storytime favorite My Lucky Day, another animal trickster romp.
Everyone Sleeps, Marcellus Hall, (Penguin/Paulsen)
Illustrator Hall (City I Love, Cow Loves Cookies) strikes out on his own, writing as well as illustrating his first picture book, featuring and adorable pug.
When You Wander: A Search-and-Rescue Dog Story, Margarita Engle, illus by Mary Morgan, (Macmillan/Holt BYR)
A gentle portrayal of the work of search and rescue dogs. Don’t worry about getting lost, they will find you.
Myracle is known by YA readers for several titles including Shine. To 9- and 10-year-olds, she is known for the Winnie Years series. She’ll soon to be known to a younger crowd with Ty, Winnie’s younger brother, appealing to fans of Judy Moody’s brother Stink. What are his “penguin problems”? Ty smuggles one out of the local zoo.
Gorgeous, Paul Rudnick, (Scholastic; Scholastic Audio)
The first YA novel by the stage and screen writer and frequent contributor to the New Yorker, a fantasy princess romance with a snarky voice and social commentary (PW says the writing is “hilarious, profane and profound — often in the same sentence”), likely to find an audience with the Princess Diary crowd.
Note: superhero comics arriving next week are rounded up in the spreadsheet.
My Life as a Cartoonist, Janet Tashjian, Jake Tashjian, (Macmillan/Holt BYR)
In this sequel to My Life as a Book and My Life as a Stuntboy, Derek is being bullied by a tough kid who, upending the stereotype, is in a wheelchair. A Wimpy Kid look alike.
Oz: Road to Oz, Skottie Young, Eric Shanower, (Marvel)
The graphic retellings of the Oz series are collected in this bind-up. Eric Shanower is the Eisner Award-winning and New York Times best selling cartoonist of Age of Bronze series, a graphic novel rendition of the Trojan War.
Next week brings the fourth James Patterson hardcover of the year, putting him on track to match his record output last year. Joe Hill, once known as the offspring of two best selling authors, Stephen and Tabitha King, and now an established best selling author in his own right, publishes a new novel with a title based on a clever vanity plate, NOS4A2. Our watch list begins with a memoir that librarians have been looking forward to for months.
All these and more titles arriving next week, are on our downloadable spreadsheet, New Title Radar, 4.29.13. Be sure to take a close look at the Media Magnets list — among the many authors battling for attention next week are Glenn Beck, Amanda Knox and Mark Bittman.
You don’t have to be a librarian to love this memoir. Booksellers appreciate it, too, and picked is as an IndieNext title for May: “Resplendent with the intelligence that comes from accumulated experience, seasoned with sudden and delightful humor, and written with great sensitivity, Hanagarne’s memoir is one of this spring’s best surprises. It is not simply a love letter to anyone who has built a life around books, but also a moving autobiographical work of a gentle giant who refuses to let his sense of wonder about the world be displaced by his challenges and an insightful and informative exposition of what it is like to wake every morning and navigate life with Tourette Syndrome. Highly recommended!” —Aaron Cance, The King’s English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, UT
If you are a librarian, you’ll naturally be drawn to it. Robin Beerbower of Salem P.L, OR, calls it her favorite book of the year and is confident it will remain so.
Hanagarne’s web site, WorldsStrongestLibrarian.com, manages to combine the seemingly disparate worlds of strength-training and books. The author will be interviewed on BookTalkNation on Monday (sign up here).
In the book trailer he characterizes being a librarian as a “state of mind.”
Remember when certain publications wouldn’t print the title of Eve Ensler’s groundbreaking play, The Vagina Monologues? Seventeen years after its debut, it’s often performed by local theater groups, and the local newspapers have no trouble calling it by its real name. Even the Catholic Education Daily writes out the full titles (as part of an effort to get it banned). In Ensler’s memoir, she writes about more issues that some would prefer not to hear about; her work with Congolese women who suffered torture and rape and her own torture undergoing treatment for uterine cancer.
“Messud’s previous novel, the wonderful Emperor’s Children, sprawled out over more than 400 witty pages to skewer Manhattan’s young cultural elite. Her new book is an entirely different creature: a tightly wound monologue with the intensity of a novella that reads more like a curse.”
Librarians have been enthusiastic about it on EarlyWord‘sGalleyChat, saying they couldn’t stop reading it and that it is a great choice for book clubs as well as a readalike for Jodi Picoult fans. Booksellers made it an IndieNext Pick for April — “Throw out all the cliched superlatives! McCreight’s remarkable debut novel is about Kate Baron, a high-powered lawyer who believes that her daughter Amelia has committed suicide — until she receives the anonymous text — ‘She didn’t jump.’”
It hasn’t been widely reviewed in the consumer press, but Entertainment Weekly gave it an “A,” saying, “Like Gone Girl, Reconstructing Amelia seamlessly marries a crime story with a relationship drama. And like Gone Girl, it should be hailed as one of the best books of the year.”
But on Monday, the daily NYT reviewer dismissed the book as merely “fairly engaging,” and groaned over the writing style (“sometimes Mr. Stelter seems to throw out verbiage mainly for his own amusement.” A 109-word sentence is called a “veritable life imprisonment”) and detailed spotty reporting.
Stetler responds in an interview with The Wrap, saying he expects NYT reviews to be tough but that he’s “more interested in readers’ reviews,” noting he has been “overwhelmed by positive messages from people on Twitter.”
The media is fascinated with the story of the morning shows’ struggle for ratings (New York magazine also devoted a long feature to it), but readers may be less so. Despite all the attention, the book barely cracked the Amazon Top 100 on release yesterday and holds in libraries are light.
Dirty Wars is both a documentary, with a newly-released hot trailer and a book (Perseus/Nation Books). Excerpted in The Nation, where the author, Jeremy Scahill is a correspondent, it accuses the Obama administration of continuing “the policies that liberals were outraged about under Bush … just with a kind of rebranding.”
We’re pleased to see that, even though she faces a major challenge now that she’s been named the editor of the NYT Book Review, Pamela Paul is still able to write her weekly children’s book column in the daily NYT.
This week, she devotes the column to a single picture book, Mary Wrightly, So Politely, by Shirin Yim Bridges, illus. by Maria Monescillo (HMH, 4/16/14), the story of a quiet little girl who finally musters the courage to speak up for herself (and her baby brother). Paul calls it a “smart, affecting and original story.”