Archive for the ‘2014/15 — Winter/Spring’ Category

Sugar-Coating Called Worse Than
No Representation At All

Monday, November 9th, 2015

9780375868320_ac721Shortly after A Fine DessertFour Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat  (RH/Schwartz & Wade, Jan.) was selected as one of the ten Best Illustrated Book by the NYT Book Review, NPR’s Code Switch reported on the simmering controversy over the book’s portrayal of an enslaved mother and daughter in a story titled,”The Kids’ Book A Fine Dessert Has Award Buzz — And Charges Of Whitewashing Slavery.”

The story comes full circle with an article in the New York Times, online Friday (in print on Saturday), “A Fine Dessert: Judging a Book by the Smile of a Slave.”

The book portrays history through the making of a single dessert, blackberry fool, in four different centuries, 1710, 1810, 1910, and 2010. The section from 1810 portrays an enslaved woman and her daughter making the dessert for a white family, then licking the remains from the bowl while hidden in a closet. Many objected that the mother and daughter appear to be enjoying the process of creating the fool, feeding the myth of the “happy slave” and that the closet scene, while stark in contrast, needs more context (see the NYT story for images of the pages).

The reactions have caused a soul-searching on the part of the books’  creators as well as at least one reviewer.

As the NYT notes, author Emily Jenkin has posted an apology online, saying that she will donate her writing fee to the campaign We Need Diverse Books.

Illustrator Sophie Blacknall, however, defends the book, as she did on Tuesday, responding to direct criticisms from author Daniel José Older at the Fall Conference of the New York City School Library System (section begins at time stamp 21:15).

The book received four starred reviews (the only holdout and the only prepub reviewer to raise a flag about the issue was Publishers Weekly). The Book Review Editor for School Library Journal, Kiera Parrott, wrote that publication’s starred review. She has posted comments on Twitter, and published them on Storify as “Reflecting on A Fine Dessert,” saying that at first she first felt the book’s depiction offered “a great opportunity to talk to [children] about America’s dark and painful history.” After reading what others have had to say, she says that she now realizes she was wrong and that, “It may feel odd for those of us who want to see more diversity to realize that sometimes NO representation is better than bad representation.”

For those who want to dive deeper into the issue,  SLJ, has published a bibliography of discussion.

Pennie’s October Pick

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

9780062279972_08eefCostco’s book buyer, Pennie Clark Ianniciello has recently featured well-known titles as her influential monthly “Pennie’s Pcks” (Me Before You, Circling The Sun, and The Girl On The Train were the July, August, and September selections).

Her October pick breaks the mold.

Brian Payton’s 2014 novel The Wind Is Not a River (Harper/Ecco; OverDrive Sample), while not exactly under the radar, did not achieve bestseller status.

It was both an Indie Next and a LibraryReads choice when it came out in hardcover. Librarian Nancy Pearl interviewed Payton in an “Author One-on-One” for Amazon, when it was picked as an Amazon Best Book of the Month.

9780062279989_27b0cThe novel explores a little-known aspect of WWII, the fierce fighting between Japanese and U.S.soldiers on Alaska’s Aleutians islands. The trade paperback edition features a cover that focuses on the relationship in the novel, underscored by a blurb from the USA Today review, “a haunting love story,” over the WWII survival story.

This month’s Costco Connection interviews Payton. In a sidebar Ianniciello says the novel is “so much more than a history lesson, this is a beautiful story about the way loss can affect people.”

Keep your eye on this one; Pennie’s Picks often have a widespread effect.


Friday, September 25th, 2015

Exhibiting an uncanny ability to ferret out titles that readers will be talking about in the coming months, GalleyChatters discussed their recent favorites earlier this month.

A couple of titles received such enthusiastic recommendations that many rushed to  download DRCs immediately. Check here for the complete list of titles mentioned during the chat to discover more titles for your TBR pile.

— Robin Beerbower, EarlyWord GalleyChat columnist.

A Little Quirky

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Regular chatter Jennifer Dayton, collection development specialist for Darien, CT Library, has a good eye for popular novels that have an element of “quirkiness.” When she raves about books, we listen (after all, she was the first to spot Fates and Furies). One of her recent finds is American Housewife: Stories by Helen Ellis (RH/Doubleday, January). She says, “Ellis picks up the rock of American domesticity and shows us what’s underneath, and while it’s not always pretty it is pretty hilarious in the darkest, most twisted of ways. “ A fan of the novel The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild (RH/Knopf, November), told from the viewpoint of a piece of art, she thinks it will appeal to those who liked Me Before You (JoJo Moyes), saying, “Aspiring chef, Annie McDee takes home a painting she found in a secondhand shop having no idea that she has stumbled upon an ‘Important Work’ that will upend the London Art scene. This is a wonderful tale of art, food, love, war and the power of beauty.”

9780812998689_94f63David Mitchell’s Slade House (Random House, October), a companion to The Bone Clocks, a mind-bending collection of unsettling and spooky stories about vanishing guests, is being compared to Stephen King. Adrienne Cruz (Azusa, CA, City Library) found the stories terrifying and said “The book was short and on point, all you have are the chills with no slow bits. I would easily recommend this to folks who want an engaging story and the slim tome is an easy sell for those who are impatient or pressed for time.”

Thrilling Crimes

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Thrillers generally get kudos each month on GalleyChat,  and September was no exception. My favorite was Gilly Macmillan’s What She Knew (HarperCollins/Morrow, December). The author has taken the somewhat worn plot of a missing child with the ensuing chaos and angst and made it into a realistic and believable page-turner. This is definitely a cut above the abundance of Gone Girl readalikes that have emerged over the past few years.

With comparisons to Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series American Blood by Ben Sanders (Macmillan/Minotaur, November) is poised to be a sure-fire pleaser. Elizabeth Kanouse (Denville, NJ, Public Library) says of this mystery featuring a retired detective endangering his witness protection status by searching for a missing girl, “Sanders has crafted a superb thriller set in the deserts and cities of New Mexico. You’ll be guessing the outcome right up until the final, surprising pages.”It has powerful fans in Hollywood. Last year,  Warner Bros. acquired it for a screen adaptation, with plans for Bradley Cooper to star. There’s been no news on in since, however.

New espionage titles are always welcome and Janet Lockhart from Wake Co Library (NC) said Simon Mawer’s Tightrope (Other Press, November), the sequel to Trapeze, is a worthy follow-up. She said, “Loved the writing and twists and turns of the plot. I would recommend this to readers who love Le Carre, Ludlum, et al.”

A Weeper

I9781250051905_81714f you read After You, the sequel to JoJo Moyes’ Me Before You, and have leftover tissues, put them to good use by reading Sally Hepworth’s The Things We Keep (Macmillan/St. Martin’s, January). Marika Zemke from Commerce Township Public Library stayed up all night to finish this moving story of a 38-year-old woman with early onset Alzheimer’s who falls in love with another care home resident. Marika said “What follows is a story about all types of love…romantic love, mother/daughter love, compassionate love and more.” I’ll add reading this gave me the same feeling as when I first read Nicholas Sparks’ The Notebook.

A Life Story

9781250077691_f091eNarrated at a breakneck pace, Ruth Wariner’s mesmerizing and believable Sound of Gravel (Macmillan/Flatiron, January) is a very impressive memoir. Raised in a polygamous household in Mexico, Wariner escaped as a teen and went on to raise three younger sisters. Book groups will clamor for this memoir that is a cross between of Jeanette Walls’ The Glass Castle and Mary Karr’s The Liar’s Club with a smidge of Betty Mahmoody’s Not Without My Daughter. It’s also a good bet for older teens who want a readalike for Dave Pelzer’s A Child Called It.

Please join us Tuesday, October 6 at 4:00 ET (3:30 for virtual happy hour) for more surprises. If you wish to keep up with my favorites on Edelweiss, please friend me.

Nancy Pearl’s Under-the-Radar Summer Picks

Monday, May 25th, 2015

Librarian Nancy Pearl announces her list of summer reading titles on NPR, picking six midlist under-the-radar novels.

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Talking with Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep, Nancy begins with The Revolutions by Felix Gilman (Macmillan/Tor; OverDrive Sample), which she calls a “21st-century example of Victorian science fiction … with a little bit of steam punk.”

A thriller The Swimmer by Joakim Zander (Harper; HarperCollins and Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample) gets high marks for its fast pace and involving story while Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper (Simon & Schuster; OverDrive Sample) makes the list for its description of character.

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 10.29.46 AMThe Strangler Vine by M.J. Carter (G.P. Putnam’s Sons; HighBridge; OverDrive Sample) clearly captures Inskeep’s love of history (he just published a book on American history, Jacksonland), prompting him to break into Nancy’s summary to share a bit about the history of the East India Company. Set in India in 1837, it involves a new member of that company and a mysterious agent on the hunt for a notorious writer.

Two titles that did not make it into the on-air discussion are included in the online article:

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 10.28.13 AMScreen Shot 2015-05-25 at 10.29.09 AMThe Half Brother by Holly LeCraw (RH/Doubleday; OverDrive Sample) explores how “much coincidence is possible in our lives.”

Unbecoming by Rebecca Scherm (Penguin/Viking; Penguin Audio; OverDrive Sample) is evocatively described as opening “with a lie.” It was a feature in our Penguin Debut Authors program, First Flights.

Controversy Sells;

Monday, May 18th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-05-17 at 9.26.35 AMProving once again that there’s nothing like controversy to help sell a book, Clinton Cash by Peter Schweizer (Harper; HarperCollins audio; OverDrive Sample) debuts on the NYT Best Seller List at #2 for the week of May 24.

The book accuses the Clintons of selling influence to foreign governments and individuals through the Clinton Foundation. The Clinton campaign has fought back by identifying several factual errors. As a result, Harper has changed the Kindle version to delete passages or revise sections. As reported in Politico, Amazon sent purchasers a notice that “significant revisions have been made” to their electronic copies, which Harper then said were just  “7-8 factual corrections.”

Undaunted, Schweizer continues roiling up controversy. In the new issue of USA Today, he objects to his testy interview with George Stephanopoulos in April, saying he should get a do-over because the broadcaster did not reveal that he personally donated $75,000 to the Clinton campaign in 2012.

Holds Alert: THE BONE TREE

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 10.46.31 AMHolds are spiking well over a 3:1 ratio at some libraries for Greg Iles’s The Bone Tree (HarperCollins/Morrow; HarperLuxe; Harper Audio; OverDrive Sample), the fifth novel in his Penn Cage series and the second in a 3-book arc that began last year.

The novel, which picks up where Natchez Burning left off, debuted on the NYT best seller list at the #4 spot on May 10 and moved down slightly to #6 on the May 17 list.

We listed it as one of the “Six Titles to Make You an RA Guru” the week of April 21 and The Washington Post’s Bill Sheehan gave it a glowing review yesterday, saying:

Like Natchez Burning, Iles’s latest is a hugely elaborate illustration of a famous line by William Faulkner: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” Iles puts his own distinctive stamp on that Faulknerian theme, and the result is a very American epic-in-progress that leaves us waiting, none too patiently, for whatever revelations are still to come.

Deadline Hollywood reports that Tobey Maguire is developing a cable series based on Natchez Burning, working with David Hudgins who was the co-showrunner for Friday Night Lights. The project is with Amazon Studios, which has ordered scripts for two episodes.

Judith Miller Tells Her Story

Monday, April 27th, 2015

The StoryJudith Miller, a Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times journalist, reported in 2002 that Iraq had stockpiles of WMD, Those stories, which were used by the Bush administration to help build the case for the invasion of Iraq, were later discredited for being based on false information. The NYT forced Miller to resign, but, before that, she was jailed for 85 days for not revealing the sources of information for a different story, one that outed Valerie Plame as a member of the CIA.

Now a FOX News commentator and a member of the conservative Manhattan Institute, she has written a memoir about her years at the NYTThe Story: A Reporter’s Journey (Simon & Schuster; Random House Audio; Thorndike;  OverDrive Sample).

Following a round of appearances earlier this month on several FOX shows, CBS This Morning, and on the Bill Maher Show, she will appear on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart this Wednesday.

She is getting a tough reception by most commentators, her former employer, and other media outlets.

Lloyd Grove of The Daily Beast offers a scathing review, stating:

Much of The Story, including a chapter titled “Scapegoat,” is Miller’s self-pitying account of how she was demonized by critics and enemies, inside and outside the Times, as an influential cheerleader for an unjustified and ultimately ruinous war conducted under false pretenses.

The NYT calls her book “sad and flawed” while The Washington Post‘s media critic says:

This dynamic — Judy Miller against the world — lends her book an aspect that is both depressing and desperate. Over more than 300 pages, Miller flays her critics (particularly those who write for blogs) and lays out a defense of her reporting that relies on bluster, repetition and a highly selective set of facts, some of the same ingredients that the Bush administration dropped into its case for the Iraq war.

The Columbia Journalism Review, which offers perhaps the most even handed review, still holds that:

The Story turns out to be less personal than we might wish, less a memoir than an apologia and an assault… alternately turgid and fascinating, if not in equal measure.

Published on April 7th, holds are light on light ordering around the country despite the amount of media attention.

Stewart did not go easy on her. Holds are still modest.

RA Alert: Owls Take Flight

Monday, April 27th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 12.47.43 PMOwls are literally in the air. First came the PBS Nature episode “Owl Power” and now comes The House of Owls by Tony Angell (Yale UP; OverDrive Sample).

The book is a cross between natural history, bird watching, and memoir. Lavishly illustrated by Angell, who is a celebrated artist from the Pacific Northwest, it also strikes a cord for those who enjoy grown-up picture books.

It is getting attention in The Wall Street Journal, in a review that makes the book sound as irresistible as the cover art,  The Seattle Times, which lists it as one of its “30 Books for Spring Reading,” and is climbing Amazon’s rankings, putting it, if its rise continues, in striking range of bestseller lists.


Monday, April 27th, 2015

9780062305190_e24b8Check your copies, Kate Andersen Brower’s The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House (Harper; HarperCollins and Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample) is a holds superstar with wait-lists growing into triple digits and holds ratios topping 5:1 across the country.

As we reported earlier, the book is a behind-the-scenes account of the staff that the runs the White House – from the Kennedy administration through the Obamas. It recently made the news due to its Clinton connection (dishy details over the Monica fallout).

The book is only going to get hotter with the news that Kevin Spacey’s production company, Trigger Street, (responsible for House of Cards, Captain Phillips, The Social Network), has bought the TV rights.

According to Politico, the plan for the show is to create:

… a modern and fictional 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue spin on Downton Abbey, wherein the White House’s butlers, stewards, maids and the like are the stars, often more committed to the mansion and upholding its historic traditions than to the family who lives there.

The book is currently #5 on NYT Best Seller list (down from #3 last week) but is rising on Amazon and out of stock at both Ingram and B&T.

According to the NY Post the juicy gossip is not limited to the Clintons, there are plenty of other revelations about Presidential behavior (good and salacious), first wives (Nancy Regan is called “spoiled rotten”), and first kids behaving badly.

It is also full of history and context and likely to prove irresistible on TV.

Nancy Pearl Loves Historical Mysteries

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 10.38.21 AMLibrarian Nancy Pearl picks a title from one her favorite genres, historical mysteries, for her weekly radio show.

The Strangler Vine (Penguin/Putnam; HighBridge Audio; OverDrive Sample, 3/31/15) by M.J. Carter is a debut set in 1837 India. Nancy calls it “an old-fashioned adventure novel.”

Carter is the author of two nonfiction works and uses her skills in research to create a vividly set historical thriller tracing the adventures of William Avery, a newly arrived British solider, and Jeremiah Blake, a seasoned spy gone native.

In praise any publisher would kill for, Nancy says it is “wonderful reading, I just couldn’t put it down.”

The New York Post agrees, making it one of their “This week’s must-read books” and calling it a “yarn reminiscent of adventures by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.”

Nancy appears every Tuesday on Seattle’s NPR affiliate KUOW and an archive of her appearances is also available.

A Cop With Storytelling Chops

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 10.12.05 AMSteve Osborne is a storytelling genius as is clear by his appearance on NPR’s Fresh Air.

At a time when cops are in the news for all the wrong reasons, Osborne brings a new voice to the conversation, an authentic and compelling one telling vivid and visceral stories about life on the line.

In his debut memoir, The Job: True Tales from the Life of a New York City Cop (RH/Doubleday; BOT Audio; OverDrive Sample), Osborne relates stories from 20 years in the New York Police Department.

Osborne is also a favorite on The Moth (a not-for profit storytelling collective) where he has honed his story telling chops, a fact quite evident as he turned his interview on Fresh Air into a performance of its own. His book jumped up the Amazon rankings as a result.

In a wise move, Books on Tape has Osborne narrate the audiobook.

Krakauer on the CBS EARLY SHOW

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

9780385538732_e12b5Jon Krakauer was interviewed on today’s CBS Early Show about his new book, which goes on sale today, MissoulaRape and the Justice System in a College Town (RH/Doubleday; RH & BOT Audio; RH Large Print).

He will appear tomorrow on NPR’s Diane Rehm Show. He has also appeared on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday

The book has been reviewed in USA Today, by Janet Maslin in the New York  Times and by Caitlin Flanagan in the Washington Post.

This Week on the DAILY SHOW

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

9780062333810_9ddcdLast night, Jon Stewart’s guest was Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, author of Ashley’s War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield (Harper, 4/21/15), the story of a group of  women who volunteered for a mission to help Rangers in Afghanistan, by making contact with a group they could not, Afghan women. Called “cultural support” rather than front theater combat troops, they were in fact on the front lines and the woman at the center of the story died.

Visibly moved, Stewart called it “a terrific book.”

A hot property in Hollywood, the film rights to the Ashley’s War were recently won at auction by Reese Witherspoon.

The interview was somewhat overshadowed by Stewart’s announcement that his last show will be Aug. 6.

9781455584895_22802Tomorrow night, the show will feature Dana Perino, former White House Press Secretary for George W. Bush and a political commentator for Stewart’s favorite punching bag, Fox News. Her book And the Good News Is…: Lessons and Advice from the Bright Side. (Hachette/Twelve; Hachette Audio; Hachette Large Print) is being published today.

On Thursday, Stewart will interview one of his favorites, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium. His new TV series StarTalk begins on Monday night on NatGeo. He is the author of several books, including, Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier (Norton, 2012), The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America’s Favorite Planet (Norton, 2009) and Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries (Norton, 2007).


Monday, April 20th, 2015

9780385538732_e12b5It may seem bad timing that Jon Krakauer’s book, MissoulaRape and the Justice System in a College Town (RH/Doubleday; RH & BOT Audio; RH Large Print) arrives just months after the Rolling Stone‘s story on an incident at the University of Virginia,  “A Campus Rape,” was discredited. However, as Krakauer tells NPR Weekend Edition yesterday, the book was originally planned for release in the fall, but was rushed into print as a form of rebuttal. He says the “Rolling Stone fiasco” ended up as ammunition for those who believe the myth that women lie about being raped and notes that, “in 90% of rapes, the rapist walks away.”

The author will also appear on the CBS Early Show on Wednesday and NPR’s Diane Rehm Show the next day.

The local community is disturbed by the attention the book may bring, as evidenced by the number of stories in the local newspaper. At his request, Krakauer is scheduled to take questions from Missoulians on May 6 at a public forum held by the local bookstore, Fact and Fiction.

The book is reviewed today in USA Today and by Janet Maslin in the New York  Times.

CLINTON CASH: Embargo Broken

Monday, April 20th, 2015

9780062369284_4d7a3Calling it “the most anticipated and feared book” of Hillary Clinton’s nascent presidential campaign, the New York Times breaks the embargo in a story published today on the forthcoming Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich by Peter Schweizer (Harper; HarperAudio; HarperLuxe, 5/9/15). Fox News immediately lept on the story, but New York Magazine is less excitable, “New Book Will Ostensibly Make People Care About Shady Clinton Donations.”

Expect to hear more about the book. Schweizer is a conservative writer with strong media ties. His previous book Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets (HMH, 2013), was the basis of a 2013 CBS 60 Minutes feature. One of the subjects of that story, N.J. Rep. Rob Andrews (D) resigned this February amidst an investigation by the the House Ethics Committee, begun before the 60 Minutes story, into his use of campaign funds.

Due to the book’s embargo, it has not been reviewed in the pre-pub media. As a result, some libraries have not ordered it.