Archive for the ‘Seasons’ Category

Harper Lee Fraud Investigation Dropped

Friday, March 13th, 2015

At least one part of the State of Alabama’s investigation into complaints of elder abuse against author Harper Lee has been closed.

Alabama Securities Commission Director Joseph Borg tells the Associated Press that they have closed their investigation and that, in their conversations with Lee, “she was able to answer questions we asked to our satisfaction,” adding, “We don’t make competency determinations. We’re not doctors, But unless someone tells us to go back in, our file is closed on it.”

The Commission, which investigates financial crimes, interviewed Lee at the request of Alabama’s Department of Human Resources. A spokesperson for the department declined the A.P.’s request for comment on whether there will be other inquiries.

All the attention is not sitting well with Lee. According to the Wall Street Journal, Lee’s close friend, historian Wayne Flynt, said in an interview on Thursday, “All the reporters, all the controversy. At 88, in bad health, she’s wondering if it’s worth it.”

Meanwhile, holds in libraries are skyrocketing for the book that is at the center of the controversy, Go Set A Watchman (Harper; HarperLuxe, HarperAudio; July 14, 2015).


Thursday, March 12th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 10.15.35 AMBettyville by George Hodgman (Penguin/Viking; Thorndyke; OverDrive Sample) is getting increased attention. The just released memoir by a former editor for Vanity Fair and book editor for Henry Holt who moves from NYC to tiny Paris, Missouri to care for his aging and ill mother, has already been featured in a profile in  The New York Times, which called it,

 “… a most remarkable, laugh-out-loud book … Rarely has the subject of elder care produced such droll human comedy, or a heroine quite on the mettlesome order of Betty Baker Hodgman … For as much as the book works on several levels (as a meditation on belonging, as a story of growing up gay and the psychic cost of silence, as metaphor for recovery), it is the strong-willed Betty who shines through.”

Yesterday, Terry Gross conducted a lengthy interview with Hodgman on Fresh Air. When asked about how he works to make his mother happy, Hodgman shared that they watch Dirty Dancing every week and “I started giving her books to read. We started with Nicholas Sparks. I don’t think there is anybody in this world who is more thankful for Nicholas Sparks than I am.”

The memoir is also People magazine’s “Book of the Week,” saying, “Slowly — convincingly — [Hodgman and his mother] come to terms with each other. You won’t finish their tale dry-eyed.”

Check your holds, some libraries have ratios over 5 to 1.


Thursday, March 12th, 2015

Grove Press announced on Wednesday that they will publish Australian author Gregory David Roberts’ second novel, The Mountain Shadow, on October 13, 2015 (ISBN 978-0802124456; not yet listed on wholesaler catalogs). A sequel to Shantaram (Macmillan/St. Martin’s), it follows Roberts’ 2004 epic about Lin, an escaped convict from Australia, and his adventures in Bombay, which was loosely based on the author’s own life after his conviction for bank robbery.

Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 2.13.24 PMShantaram was a success in the author’s own country, where he was already somewhat of a legend, inspired cult followings when it was published here (Johnny Depp has worked for several years to get a film adaptation off the ground) and was considered a great, although long (933 pages), yarn by The New York TimesUSA Today and The Washington Post, which sums up the plot:

“ … the book, told in 933 readable pages, follows [Lin] from a remote Indian village in monsoon season to the Afghan mountains in winter, but mostly it takes place in Bombay: in a slum where he founds a medical clinic, in a prison where he is beaten and tortured, in meetings of a branch of the India mafia led by Abdel Khader Khan, an Afghan who becomes a father figure and employer for the fugitive.”

According to Grove press release The Mountain Shadow is “set two years after the events in Shantaram, Bombay is now a different world, with different rules. Lin’s search for love and faith leads him through secret and violent intrigues to the dangerous truth.”

It’s difficult to predict if the public will be interested in a sequel that is ten years after the first success, but consider that Shantaram continues to inspire customer reviews on Amazon and copies continue to circulate from libraries.

Harper Lee: Elder Abuse Investigation

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

The State of Alabama is investigating complaints of elder abuse against author Harper Lee in relation to the announced plans to publish a recently discovered manuscript by Harper Lee,  Go Set A Watchman, (Harper; HarperLuxe, HarperAudio; July 14, 2015).

The ongoing investigation began last month, according to the New York Times, which broke the news late yesterday, and adds, “It remains unclear what, if anything, will come out of the investigation … One person informed of the substance of the interviews, who did not want to speak for attribution because the inquiry was ongoing, said Ms. Lee appeared capable of understanding questions and provided cogent answers to investigators.”

Last week, Entertainment Weekly Book Review editor Tina Jordan aired a Serial style investigation into the controversy, on the magazine’s Sirius Radio program “Off the Books.”

9780670010950The episode sets out to “try to decide if Harper Lee is being exploited in any way.” Although the preponderance of evidence points towards exploitation, Jordan is nearly convinced by an interview with Kerry Madden author of the 2009 biography Harper Lee: A Twentieth-Century Life (part of Penguin/Viking Young Readers’s Up Close series). Madden strongly believes Harper Lee’s friend, Wayne Flynt, who says, based on his conversations with Lee, that she is excited about the book and it’s giving her something to focus on since the death of her sister last year.


Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 8.09.04 AM Chris Kyle’s widow, Taya Kyle, is writing a memoir entitled American Wife: A Memoir of Love, War, Faith and Renewal (HarperCollins/Morrow; Blackstone Audio). Co-written by Jim DeFelice who also co-wrote American Sniper, it will be released on May 4, 2015.

Publicity has already begun. ABC announced yesterday that Robin Roberts will interview Kyle on both Good Morning America and 20/20 on May 1, days before the book’s release.

The LA Times’ “Jacket Copy” reported the news as well, tying the book to Chris Kyle’s own bestselling memoir, pe2015-01-30-recap-thumbwhich continues to dominate best seller lists after the release of Clint Eastwood’s blockbuster film version of American Sniper, starring Bradley Cooper. Taya Kyle worked with the screenwriter and consulted on the film.

She was in the news last month when she testified at the  trial of her husband’s killer and has been featured in stories in People, US Weekly, and NPR.

Check your orders; some libraries have not ordered it yet and most have ordered it modestly. You can expect to be seeing more of the media savvy Taya Kyle.

Holds Alert: Getting to Know POXL

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 7.53.21 AMThe Last Flight by Poxl West by Daniel Torday (Macmillan/St. Martin’s, 3/17/15) a debut novel about war, self-creation, and memory is getting rave attention from a variety of sources well in advance of publication date, one sign that a book is likely to take off.

Michiko Kakutani, the difficult-to-impress daily New York Times critic jumped the pub. date by eleven days in her Friday review. Saying Torday has “a keen sense of verisimilitude” and “a painterly eye for detail,” she sums up his skill as a writer with this high praise:

“It’s Mr. Torday’s ability to shift gears between sweeping historical vistas and more intimate family dramas, and between old-school theatrics and more contemporary meditations on the nature of storytelling that announces his emergence as a writer deserving of attention.”

Kirkus, in a starred review, calls it “a richly layered, beautifully told and somehow lovable story about war, revenge and loss” and offers an unexpected comparison:

“While Torday (The Sensualist: A Novella, 2012) is more likely to be compared to Philip Roth or Michael Chabon than Gillian Flynn, his debut novel has two big things in common with Gone Girl—it’s a story told in two voices, and it’s almost impossible to discuss without revealing spoilers.”

Ecstatic blurbs from a string of authors give the literary cred; Phil Klay, Karen Russell, Edan Lepucki, Gary Shteyngart, Rivka Galchen and George Saunders, who says the novel is “A wonderful accomplishment of storytelling verve: tender, lyrical, surprising, full of beautifully rendered details.” Shteyngart offers a more pithy “OMFG! What a book!”

Perhaps most influential of all, John Green took to Twitter on the 6th to talk it up:

“POXL a lovely novel sentence-to-sentence, and it gets at something deep about how we’re all frauds, and all worthy of love.”

At least one librarian is convinced. Wendy Bartlett of Cuyahoga Public Library sensing a “literary page turner,” increased her order.

RA Alert: “Comic Charm”

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 10.05.52 AMNina Stibbe, who wrote last year’s sleeper hit memoir and a Library Reads pick,  Love, Nina: A Nanny Writes Home has just published her first novel about a divorced family, a move to rural England, and the hunt for a new father, A Man At the Helm (Hachette/Back Bay original trade pbk, 3/10/15; OverDrive Sample).

It is getting rave reviews. Kate Kellaway of The Guardian says “it is a brilliant find. It even trumps Love, Nina because Stibbe is more at home in it. It is full, free, outlandish. And I can’t remember a book that made me laugh more.” She goes on to compare it to Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle “with its opinionated innocence.”

Aldia Becker in the NYT Book Review concurs, finding that “This densely populated ­coming-of-age story (for both mother and children) has retained and even ­expanded on ­Stibbe’s signature antic charm.” Her suggestions for read-alikes also include Smith as well as Stella Gibbons, saying “Man at the Helm, with its jauntily ­matter-of-fact social satire, wouldn’t be out of place on the same shelf as Cold Comfort Farm and I Capture the Castle.”

NPR interviewed Stibbe on Weekend Edition Sunday. Based on the delight expressed so far, expect more attention and plenty of eager readers.

The “Savvy Gap”

Monday, March 9th, 2015

9781476769899_07126Robert Putnam one of the co-authors of the influential book on American culture, Bowling Alone, was interviewed on  NPR’s Weekend Edition. about his new bookOur Kids: The American Dream in Crisis,  (S&S). He explains his term the “savvy gap,” saying that widening inequality in the U.S. is partially a result of poor people lacking knowledge of “the opportunities and challenges around them. They lack savvy. They don’t lack IQ, they lack savvy.”

The book is also being reviewed widely, in the New York Times Book Review, the Washington Post and by Jill Lepore in The New Yorker and moved up Amazon’s sales rankings over the weekend as a result. It’s now at #107.

Hollywood Loves

Sunday, March 8th, 2015

9780307271037_b504aCalling it “ecstatically reviewed,” Deadline reports that film rights to Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant (RH/Knopf; RH Audio; OverDrive Sample) have been acquired by Scott Rudin, who has been called “The Godfather of the Literary Adaptation”  (Captain Philips, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Moneyball, Angela’s Ashes and the upcoming Jobs, among many others).


Take the comment about the novel being “ecstatically reviewed” with a grain of salt. The daily NYT critic Michiko Kakutani dismissed it as an “eccentric, ham-handed fairy tale.” Neil Gaiman had trouble nailing it down in the NYT Book Review, even after several readings and regretted his “inability to fall in love with it, much as I wanted to.” On NPR, Meg Wolitzer said she anticipated the book for months but was ultimately disappointed. The headline for her review on All Things Considered this week expresses her feeling succinctly, “Ishiguro’s Buried Giant Gets Lost In Its Own Fog.”

On the more ecstatic side is former Washington Post Book World editor, Marie Arana who calls it, “a spectacular, rousing departure from anything Ishiguro has ever written, and yet a classic Ishiguro story.”

Check your holds. Some libraries have reordered to meet demand, while others are doing well with relatively modest initial orders. Based on its rise on Amazon’s sales rankings (currently at #15, the third adult fiction title on the list), we can expect to see it in the top five on the NYT Best Sellers list next week.

Several of Ishiguro’s previous novels have been adapted as films, including The Remains Of The Da(1993) starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson, and Never Let Me Go (2010),  Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield.

HAWK Rises on Best Seller List

Friday, March 6th, 2015

As we predicted last week, the memoir phenomenon, H is for Hawk (Grove Press; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample), rises on the 3/15 NYT Hardcover Nonfiction best seller list from #8 to #5. More attention (and reprints) are on their way, so next week may see it rising even higher.

Landing at #2 in its first week on sale is a quite different memoir, by one of the founding band members of Sonic Youth,  Kim Gordon, Girl in a Band (HarperCollins/Dey Street; HarperAudio; OverDrive Sample) Those sales were recorded before her appearance on Fresh Air this week.

Debuting at #3 is a title featured on NPR’s TED Radio Hour, Future CrimesEverything Is Connected, Everyone Is Vulnerable and What We Can Do About It, Marc Goodman, (RH/Doubleday; RH Audio; OverDrive Sample)

9781455527441_9d4cfThe idea of never aging continues to appeal. Arriving at #9 is journalist Bill Gifford’s investigation of the various schemes to achieve that goal,  Spring Chicken: Stay Young Forever (or Die Trying), (Hachette/Grand Central). It was featured in Fresh Air.

And in fiction, The Girl on the Train continues to roar along at #1 after 7 weeks on the list, six of them in the top spot. The new fiction entries are all from the usual suspects.

Nine Tip-of-the-Tongue Titles for the Week of March 9

Friday, March 6th, 2015

Nonfiction comes to the fore next week, with the new book by Erik Larson getting review attention and holds to rival fiction. The ever-fascinating Duke and Duchess of Windsor are examined by celebrity chronicler Andrew Morton and readers advisors have a real-life ghost story to recommend.

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 March 8, 2015

Holds Leaders

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Last One Home, Debbie Macomber, (RH/Ballantine; RH & BOT Audio; RH Large Print; OverDrive Sample) — Known for her long-running series, Blossom Street and Cedar Cove series, Macomber now publishes a standalone about three sisters.

Cold Betrayal, Judith A. Jance, (S&S/Touchstone; S&S Audio; Thorndike;  OverDrive Sample) – Series character Ali Reynolds is joined in this novel by a “Taser-carrying nun.”

Endangered, C. J. Box, (Hachette/Grand Central) — the latest in the series featuring Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett.

Advance Attention


Dead Wake, Erik Larson (RH/Crown; RH and BOT Audio; RH Large Print)

This one could also be counted as a Holds Leader. It has been picked by a wide range of booksellers, from the independents  (Indie Next, March) to Amazon and  COSTCO’s book buyer (promoted in the COSTCO Connection). Also a LibraryReads pick, it has received major advance review attention, with more sure to come. The author is scheduled to appear on tomorrow’s NPR Weekend Edition Saturday.

Upcoming Media Attention

9781455527113_d5a7e  9781476769899_07126

17 Carnations: The Royals, the Nazis and the Biggest Cover-Up in History, Andrew Morton, (Hachette/Grand Central; OverDrive Sample)

We don’t have specifics on this one, but a book about the eternally fascinating Duke and Duchess of Windsor by the man who broke the first stories about Princess Diana’s marital woes can’t help but be media bait.

Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis, Robert D. Putnam, (S&S)

Featured in this week;s New York Times Book Review, which notes it is by the author of the “instant-classic” Bowling Alone who now “brings his talent for launching a high-level discussion to a timely topic.” to the subject of income inequality and how it affects  children. The author is scheduled to appear on tomorrow’s NPR Weekend Edition.


9780062224101_062ce  9780062249210_c3fa3-2  9780385539258_d6a46

Vanishing Girls, Lauren Oliver, (HarperCollins; Listening Library; OverDrive Sample)

A crossover LibraryReads pick for March:

Reminiscent of E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars, this book begs for a re-read after you finish it. Nick, the main character, is recovering from a devastating trauma. Her family life is turned upside down, and a longtime childhood friendship is strained due to her sister’s exploits. I recommend this book to anyone who loves to read multi-layered stories.” — Sybil Thompson, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Cleveland, OH

Two of Oliver’s earlier books, Panic and Before I Fall have been signed for movies.

A Little Life, Hanya Yanagihara, (RH/Doubleday; OverDrive Sample)

Featured in the GalleyChatter column from last month, this book follows the post-college lives of four male friends into their 50’s, and is getting remarkable attention from librarians, with many ready to declare it their favorite of the year. The trade reviews are all strong, but  only Kirkus grants it a star. It is a long novel (700 pages), which is considered a plus by Publishers Weekly, “There is real pleasure in following characters over such a long period, as they react to setbacks and successes, and, in some cases, change. By the time the characters reach their 50s and the story arrives at its moving conclusion, readers will be attached and find them very hard to forget.”

American Ghost: A Family’s Haunted Past in the Desert Southwest, Hannah Nordhaus, (Harper; Tantor Audio; OverDrive Sample)

Picked by Entertainment Weekly one of “20 Books We’ll Read in 2015.” Their intriguing annotation, “A journalist roots out the truth about an ancestor who’s believed to be haunting a Santa Fe, N.M., hotel,” is borne out by the trade reviews. Booklist‘s starred review ends, “the book’s unique blend of genres and its excellent writing make it hard to put down.”

Rainbow Rowell Will CARRY ON

Thursday, March 5th, 2015


In early December, Rainbow Rowell promised fans that a new Simon & Baz novel is on its way.

Now we know she wasn’t trolling us; it’s listed in distributor catalogs.

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Macmillan/ St. Martin’s Griffin
October 6, 2015

Publisher summary:

Rainbow Rowell continues to break boundaries with Carry On, an epic fantasy following the triumphs and heartaches of Simon and Baz from her beloved bestseller Fangirl.

Simon Snow just wants to relax and savor his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest, and his mentor keeps trying to hide him away in the mountains where maybe he’ll be safe. Simon can’t even enjoy the fact that his roommate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can’t stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you’re the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get to relax and savor anything. Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story — but far, far more monsters.

She recently spoke to Time magazine about it,  declaring that the book is not fanfiction for her own book, “I don’t think it’s fanfiction, I think it’s more like canon! Because even though Simon Snow is fictional inside of Fangirl, I still had to make him up. He still feels like he’s my character.”

9781250073808_39862A sneak peek will be featured in a new “collector’s edition” of Fangirl, (Macmillan/St. Martin’s Griffin) coming in May, described as including “Fan Art, a ribbon bookmark, an exclusive author Q&A, and an excerpt from her upcoming book Carry On.

Rowell is scheduled to appear at BookCon in May, which follows Book Expo America.

DEAD WAKE Times Three

Thursday, March 5th, 2015

9780307408860_3b120One of the most-anticipated books of the season, Erik Larson’s Dead Wake, (RH/Crown; RH and BOT Audio; RH Large Print) arrives next week. Known for his skill in spinning a great narrative from dimly-remembered bits of history, Larson tackles the story of the German sinking of the luxury liner the Lusitania, an act that eventually brought the US into WW I.

It gets triple advance coverage including the cover of Sunday’s New York Times Book Review, an early review from Janet Maslin in the daily New York Times and the main review in Entertainment Weekly’s Book Section (not online yet).

Surprisingly, both the Book Review and Entertainment Weekly find most fascinating the villain of the piece, the German U-boat commander who gave the order to torpedo the luxury liner, sinking it in 18 minutes and killing 1,200.

It will hardly matter that both Maslin and the Book Review report that this is a lesser book than the author’s previous titles. As Maslin says, “Larson is one of the modern masters of popular narrative nonfiction. In book after book, he’s proved adept at rescuing weird and wonderful gothic tales from the shadows of history.” Check your holds.

NPR also offers an “Exclusive First Read” and and interview with Larson is scheduled for the upcoming Weekend Edition Saturday.

Larson’s video, below, includes archival film of the Lusitania.

More HAWK Flying Your way

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 7.40.38 AMThe sudden attention to Helen Macdonald’s memoir H is for Hawk (Grove Press; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample) has resulted in the book being out of stock at many wholesalers.

We’ve checked with the publisher who says a new printing is coming by the end of the week and yet another next week.

Those copies are sure to be snapped up as the media continues its blitz. The New Yorker has a piece on it in this week’s issue (with a headline that puts to shame all our attempts at hawkish puns, “Rapt“), the author was interviewed on NPR’s midday news program Here and Now yesterday and several other sources including Time magazine have stories in the works.

9781590172490Also keep your eyes open for requests another book. The New Yorker describes H is for Hawk as “one part grief memoir, one part guide to raptors, and one part biography of T. H. White, who chronicled his maiden effort at falconry in
The Goshawk, written just before he began work
on The Once and Future King.”

The Goshawk is available from the New York Review of Books Classics.

Jennifer Lawrence,
War Photographer

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 10.14.02 AMJennifer Lawrence (Hunger Games, Winter’s Bone, Silver Linings Playbook) is set to star as a combat photojournalist in an adaptation of Lynsey Addario’s just released memoir,  It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War (Penguin, Feb. 10; OverDrive Sample). Stephen Spielberg is attached to direct.

Warner Bros. won what Deadline characterizes as a “whirlwind auction” for the film rights, adding”The memoir has been the hot title since it was excerpted by The New York Times Magazine, and there were no shortage of bidders for the life of a woman who goes into the most dangerous places in the world in search of truth.”

The book has also been featured on NPR’s Fresh Air, Elle, Entertainment Weekly, Time, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and it debuted at #11 on the 3/8 NYT Hardcover Nonfiction Best Seller list.

Below, Addario appears on The Daily Show: