Archive for the ‘Seasons’ Category

Candice Bergen’s Double Header

Sunday, April 5th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-04-05 at 11.47.13 AMOn the Opening Day of baseball season, Candice Bergen had her own double header with appearances on CBS Sunday Morning and NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday to talk about her new memoir A Fine Romance (S&S; S&S Audio; OverDrive Sample).

Calling the book a “love letter” to her daughter, Bergen writes about her marriage to the French film director Louis Malle, her time on Murphy Brown, motherhood, and her difficult childhood as the daughter of the famous ventriloquist Edgar Bergen (who, improbably, became a big hit on the non-visual medium of radio).

Bergen tells CBS’s Jane Pauley that her dad cut her out of his will but left a bequest to his wooden ventriloquist’s dummy, Charlie McCarthy.

Bergen’s new book is geScreen Shot 2015-04-05 at 11.47.52 AMtting the media attention one would expect for such a well-known actress. She will be interviewed on the Today show, Charlie RoseLive with Kelly and Michael and Ellen, as well as in a range of print publications, from Vanity Fair to AARP Magazine.

A Fine Romance follows her bestselling 1984 memoir, Knock Wood (S&S; OverDrive Sample), which was re-released last July. The title refers to her feelings about her father’s performing partner.

Holds are heavy in some libraries we checked, spiking well over a 3:1 ratio.

Ten Titles to Know and Recommend, the Week of April 6

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

Among the familiar names arriving next week (James Patterson, of course, and Alexander McCall Smith, but in a new guise), are some LibraryReads debuts, including a book that dares to poke fun at the Duchess of Cambridge.

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 April 6, 2015

Holds Leaders

9780399169168_a64e4  9780316339285_9b9b3

Hot Pursuit, Stuart Woods, (Penguin/Putnam; Penguin Audio; OverDrive Sample)

The technicolor covers of Woods’ Stone Barrington novels are becoming very familiar. The 77 year-old author has stepped up his publishing schedule, He released four new titles last year, and will do the same this year.

Miracle at Augusta, James Patterson, Peter de Jonge, (Hachette/Little, Brown; Hachette Audio; Hachette Large Print; OverDrive Sample)

Nobody can match Patterson, and his pool of co-writers, in terms of output. Coming just three week after NYPD RED 3, which seemed close behind January’s Private Vegas, this is the second book featuring pro-golfer Travis McKinley, after Miracle on the 17th Green.

Stepping Out of Character 

9780804197953_151e1-2Emma: A Modern Retelling, Alexander McCall Smith, (RH/Pantheon; RH Large Print; Recorded Books; OverDrive Sample)

Alexander McCall Smith, known for his No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency novels, tries on a new character for The Austen Project, a series of Jane Austen reboots commissioned by HarperCollins in the U.K., but published by various publishers here (Val McDermid’s Northanger Abbey was published by Grove Press last year. Up next, Curtis Sittenfeld’s take on Pride and Prejudice). The Washington Post feels he does a good job portraying “Miss Emma Woodhouse in blue jeans.” For many of us, though, Clueless is the definitive modern retelling of Emma.

Critics Favorites

9780385538985_32c7a-2  9780802123459_5f710

The Folded Clock: A Diary, Heidi Julavits, (RH/Doubleday; OverDrive Sample)

Featured on the cover of the NYT Book Review a full two weeks before publication, and now followed by a review in the L.A Times., the author is also scheduled for an interview on NPR’s Diane Rehm Show

The Sympathizer, Viet Thanh Nguyen, (Grove Press)

On the cover of this week’s NYT Book Review and reviewed in today’s Washington Post.


9781455557103_300c9-2The Royal We, Heather Cocks, Jessica Morgan, (Hachette/Grand Central; OverDrive Sample)

On Entertainment Weekly‘s “Must List” at #3  (just behind the debut of the new season of Mad Men and video for a track from Brandon Flowers new album) this novel by the founders of the sardonic fashion web site Go Fug Yourself is also a LibraryReads pick:

This delightful spin on the story of Prince William and Kate Middleton is the perfect beachy, weekend read for anyone who loves love stories with a healthy dose of humor. Here, Will and Kate are replaced by Nick and Bex–he’s the heir to the British throne, she’s the American who effortlessly steals his heart. Can they weather many obstacles to find their Happily Ever After? Part fairy tale, part cautionary tale, the novel is pure fun from start to finish. — Donna Matturri, Pickerington Public Library, Pickerington, OH

9781476710457_7aa38The Children’s Crusade, Ann Packer, (S&S/Scribner; S&S Audio)

A People “Book of the Week,” calling it “…  an absorbing novel which celebrates family even as it catalogs its damages,” it is reviewed in the San Francisco Chronicle and is an Indie Next pick:

Doctor Bill Blair and his wife, Penny, built a home in a wooded area of California that would later be known as Silicon Valley. It was a time full of hope for the future, but 10 years and four children later Penny has grown resentful of her role as a wife and mother. She finds solace in art, but at a great cost to her family. Thirty years later, the lives of the three oldest Blair children are in upheaval yet again when their youngest brother, the black sheep of the family, returns to the family home and forces them all to confront their past and face their future. Packer’s emotionally gripping story asks just how much our adult lives are determined by the events of our childhood. — Carson Evans, Country Bookshelf, Bozeman, MT

9781616203740_95535Orhan’s Inheritance, Aline Ohanesian, (Workman/Algonquin; Highbridge; OverDrive Sample)

Workman’s library marketer and personal galley whisperer to many librarians, Mike Rockliff says this one,”reminded me how much it’s a love for the well-turned phrase that’s kept me in this business for over 50 years.” It is also the #1 Indie Next pick for the month.

“Debut author Ohanesian’s historical novel relives the nearly forgotten tragedy of the Armenian Genocide during and after WWI. Through deportations, massacres, and executions of Christian and Jewish Armenians, the Ottoman Empire and its successors eliminated 1.5 million citizens. Ohanesian’s beautifully written book shares a tale of passionate love, unspeakable horror, incredible strength, and the hidden stories that haunt a family. Highly recommended, — Doug Robinson, Eagle Eye Book Shop, Decatur, GA

9780425270189_6c85aStill the One, Jill Shalvis, (Penguin/Berkley original mass market pbk)


Oh Jill Shalvis, how I love thee! Although all the books in this Animal Magnetism series have strong heroines, this one is the absolute best. And chemistry–wowza, it’s intense. The novel brings a focus on two important social issues: the lack of funding available for those who need physical therapy, and the fact that service dogs who do not pass their certification should not be thrown away. I fell in love and learned something at the same time. Instant classic. — Amanda Brown, Roanoke Public Libraries, Roanoke, VA

9781492602026_fd794A Desperate Fortune, Susanna Kearsley, (Sourcebooks Landmark; Brilliance Audio; OverDrive Sample)


While transcribing an old manuscript of a young girl’s diary, Sara decodes an account of Jacobite spies. Long before, Mary Dundas gets involved in a mission which makes her confidante to the King of Scotland in exile. And along the way, both women fall for men they know little about. Kearsley is a master at seamlessly blending stories from two time periods. Readers who enjoy a little puzzle solving with their historical fiction will be rewarded. — Kimberly McGee, Lake Travis Community Library, Austin, TX

Coben Stalls the Train

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-04-02 at 9.42.23 AMPaula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train (Penguin/Riverhead) has slipped off the tracks, getting replaced as the top book on USA Today’s best-seller list by Harlan Coben’s The Stranger (Penguin/Dutton; Brilliance Audio; OverDrive Sample).

Girl on the Train ruled the top of the USA Today list for over a month but is now in the No. 2 spot.

In toppling Hawkins from her reigning position, Coben achieved what James Patterson could not. As we reported last week, Patterson’s newest, NYPD Red 3 (Hachette/Little, Brown), hit USA Today’s list in second place, behind GOTT. It has since slipped to the No. 5 spot.

Most libraries routinely buy more copies of Patterson then they do of Coben. It may be time to rethink that.

Nancy Pearl Moves to Nonfiction

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 9.44.31 AMAfter months of highlighting fiction on her weekly radio segment, librarian Nancy Pearl has a cache of recent nonfiction titles to suggest, starting with Christian G. Appy’s American Reckoning: The Vietnam War and Our National Identity (Penguin/Viking; Feb. 2015; Tantor Audio; OverDrive Sample).

Asserting that “we teach history in the wrong way,” Nancy describes Appy’s book as “anything but a dry tome … [it] draws on popular culture, historical facts, everything from the Pentagon Papers to novels about Vietnam … you can see the research that he’s done and yet it all rests very lightly on the prose.”

She adds it would be great book club pick, “It’s going to elicit strong emotions, and I think it’s an important book.” Listen to the segment here.

The Huffington Post agrees, calling it “required reading for anyone interested in foreign policy and America’s place in the world, showing how events influence attitudes, which in turn influence events.”

For readers who want more on the  Vietnam War Nancy suggests Neil Sheehan’s A Bright Shining Lie and David Halberstam’s The Best and The Brightest.

Nancy talks about a new book each week on Seattle’s NPR affiliate KUOW.

Holds Alert: SHAMED

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

9781594487132_85bbaLike catnip to the entire Internet, Jon Ronson’s So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed (Penguin/Riverhead Books; OverDrive Sample), a book on trolls, shaming, and collective attacks, is taking off.

After his bleep-filled appearance on The Daily Show and widespread coverage in media as diverse as The New York Times and the A.V. Club, Ronson’s book is topping hold ratios of 4:1 in most libraries we checked.

The topic has wide appeal and Ronson, a proven bestselling author, is getting high praise. The Boston Globe says his book is

“ … a modern-day horror story: cringe-inducing, anxiety-provoking, and so gripping it’s impossible to put down. Although the stocks and the pillory were outlawed nearly 200 years ago, after our forebears deemed them cruel and dehumanizing, Ronson argues compellingly that the Internet has revived the practice of public humiliation and given it greater reach in recent years.”

While The New York Times claims “Without losing any of the clever agility that makes his books so winning, he has taken on truly consequential material and risen to the challenge.”

However, there is some push back. The Huffington Post says the book’s “bold claims make for delicious reading, but they depend upon the erasure of nuance and the comfortable retreat to smug self-righteousness.”

Ronson’s book is just one of several recent publications on the topic. Jennifer Jacquet’s Is Shame Necessary? (RH/Pantheon) and Shelby Steele’s Shame: How America’s Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country (Perseus/Basic Books) also address the issue as pointed out in collective reviews by both The LA Times and The Washington Post.

Heavily Anticipated Fall Titles

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

Among the heavily-anticipated titles on lists like Entertainment Weekly‘s “20 Books We’ll Read in 2015,” were several fall titles that had not yet appeared in catalogs.  Now that publishers’ sales conferences have wrapped up, the fall catalogs have appeared, in anticipation of promotions at BEA, and we have more information on those titles:

9780374239213_454c1 Purity, Jonathan Franzen, (Macmillan/FSG; Macmillan Audio, Sept 1)

Says Entertainment Weekly, “Franzen’s novels never fail to elicit equal parts hype and hate. Purity promises to be a departure from his previous works The Corrections and Freedom.” So, does that mean it won’t inspire hype and hate? Franzen is scheduled to appear at BEA on May 27, kicking off the show, in an interview with Salon critic Laura Miller.
Catalog: Macmillan Adult Fall 2015

9780385353779_2660fCity on Fire, Garth Risk Hallberg, (RH/Knopf; RH Audio, Oct. 13)

According to a 2013 story in New York magazine’s “Vulture” blog, this 900-page first novel sold to Knopf for almost $2 million and movie rights to Scott Rudin. Way back then, “Vulture” also offered a list of “28 things you can surmise about Garth Hallberg’s City on Fire by reading Garth Hallberg.” It will be featured in the influential BEA Adult Editors’ Buzz panel.
Catalog: Random House Publishing Group, Fall 2015

M Train, Patti Smith, (RH/Knopf; RH Audio, Oct. 6; No cover yet)

Smith mentioned she’s working on this follow-up memoir to Just Kids in a Rolling Stone interview in October, describing it as not about the past, but “sort of in present tense. I wanted to write a contemporary book or just write whatever I felt like writing about, and it’s things going from literature to coffee to memories of Fred in Michigan.” Catalog: Random House Publishing Group, Fall 2015

9781611137156_f408cThe Witches, Stacy Schiff, (Hachette/Little, Brown; Hachette Audio Oct. 20 )

Schiff’s bio of Cleopatra became a #1 best seller, possibly fueled by talk of a movie version directed by James Cameron, starring Angelina Jolie AND in 3D (that idea now seems to be over). In this book, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author examines the Salem Witch Trials.
Catalog: Little, Brown Fall 2015 / Winter 2016 Frontlist

We also spotted a sequel that librarians have been anxiously awaiting, but sorry, it’s not coming until January.:

9780316228046_883c1  9780316098793

Daniel O’Malley’s Stiletto, (Hachette/Little, Brown,  1/26/16)

The sequel to  The Rook by Daniel O’Malley, (Hachette/Little, Brown, 2012), voted one of the top favorites of the year by librarians and called “a darkly humorous thriller about a paranormal version of Britain’s MI5.”
Catalog: Little, Brown Fall 2015 / Winter 2016 Frontlist

After the jump, make your own discoveries, via links to the recently posted fall adult catalogs from the larger publishers. Tell us what you’re excited about in the comments section.


She’s Back

Monday, March 30th, 2015


The star attraction of the RH/Knopf Fall 2015  catalog, posted on Friday, is the fourth title in The Millennium series, which began with Stieg Larrson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

Although Larsson reportedly left behind a manuscript for another title in the series when he died, this is an entirely new book, written by Swedish journalist David Lagercrantz, chosen by Larsson’s Swedish publisher, Norstedts with the approval of Larsson’s brother and father.

Another interested party is not happy about the forthcoming book. Larsson’s partner of 32 years, Eva Gabrielsson in an interview by Agence France-Presse, says this book’s release is not about continuing his legacy, “It’s about a publishing house [Norstedts] that needs money, (and) a writer who doesn’t have anything to write so he copies someone else.”

The title, translated from the Swedish, is That Which Does Not Kill.

UPDATE: The English-language title will be The Girl in the Spider’s Web, continuing the tradition of the others in the series, according to the Wall Street Journal, which also quotes Knopf’s Editor-in-Chief Sonny Mehta, who brought all three previous novels in the series to the U.S., “I think it has all the richness of the original sequence of novels. It’s got a whole chain of American characters in it, and American settings as well.”

The Girl in the Spider's WebMillennium Series: Book 4
David Lagercrantz
RH/Knopf: September 1, 2015
9780385354288, 0385354282
$27.95 USD

HP, Illustrated

Monday, March 30th, 2015

harry-potter-jim-kayThe first images from a new fully illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to be released Oct. 6, 2015, are hitting the interwebs.

The publishers, Scholastic here and Bloomsbury in the U.K., plan to release one illustrated HP title a year over the next seven years. The illustrations are by Jim Kay, who also illustrated Patrick Ness’s A Monster Calls, (Candlewick, 2011).

Entertainment Weekly has the “exclusive” on the cover and several of the interior images but the the British site Imgur (via offers views of the illustrations as they appear on the actual pages. Below is one of the spreads:


Scott Simon Times Three

Monday, March 30th, 2015

The voice may be familiar, but not the face. Scott Simon, the host of NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday began moonlighting as a regular correspondent on yestaday’s CBS Sunday Morning. It’s a busy time for Simon. In addition to radio and TV, his new memoir, Unforgettable: A Son, a Mother, and the Lessons of a Lifetime (Macmillan/Flatiron; Macmillan Audio; OverDrive Sample) hits the shelves on Tuesday.

UnforgettableIn 2013 Simon was at his mother’s bedside as she died, tweeting about grief and his experience from the intensive-care unit. It was a vigil that played out on Twitter with millions following along. In this, his third memoir, he writes about his mother’s glamorous but difficult life, his childhood, and witnessing her death. As The Washington Post captures in its glowing review, it is an affecting story.

A Curious MindIn his debut on Sunday Morning, Simon interviews Hollywood powerhouse Brian Grazer, best known for Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, and the currently hot Fox show Empire, who is also publishing a  new book A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life (S&S; S&S Audio; April 7) co-written with Charles Fishman. In it, he explores the power of curiosity and open-mindedness in his career, which has also allowed him to conduct “curiosity conversations” with Barack Obama and Eminem among hundreds of others.

Unfortunately, the embed code for the segment does not work; watch it here.

As a result of the show, Grazer’s book rose to #49 on Amazon’s sales rankings.

Currently holds are light for both titles but expect demand as the PR machines rev up for each.

Even Patterson Can’t Beat the TRAIN

Friday, March 27th, 2015

The Girl on the Train  All The Light We Cannot See  9780316406994_4e369

The best seller logjam has not broken. On the 4/5 NYT Hardcover Fiction list, the number one and two spots are occupied, as they have been for weeks, by Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train (Penguin/Riverhead) and Anthony Doerr’s  All the Light We Cannot See, (S&S/Scribner). Even a new book by James Patterson can’t break through. His latest, with Marshall Karp, NYPD Red 3 (Hachette/Little, Brown) arrives at #3.

Other lists, however, show a different story. USA Today‘s has the Patterson title at #2, after The Girl on the Train as does the PW/Bookscan list. On the Indie Best Seller list, however, NYPD Red 3 arrives at a lowly #12.

HausfrauMeanwhile, Hausfrau, by Jill Essbaum, (Random House; RH Audio), heavily considered a successor to The Girl On The Train, just squeaks onto the main list at #16, in a tie with #15, The Whites, by Richard Price writing as Harry Brandt (Macmillan/Holt).

The NYT‘s “Inside the List” column may bring more readers to Hausfrau, as it promotes the book’s erotic side, noting that the author, a poet, is “no stranger to the naughty bits.” Others, like Time magazine, have put it another way, “Anna Karenina Goes Fifty Shades With a Side of Madame Bovary.”

Seven Titles For RA Gurus, Week of March 30

Friday, March 27th, 2015

Titles arriving next week range from sure bets, to a very interesting question mark. The media will be busy with NYC’s former Police Commissioner who went from From Jailer to Jailed. For those of us whose sins are more of the grammatical nature, help is on the way.

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 30, 2015

Holds Leaders

At the Water's Edge  9781250056238_d0a76  9780553391350_f3ae7

At The Water’s Edge, Sara Gruen, (RH/Spiegel & Grau; RH & BOT Audio; RH Large Print; Overdrive Sample),

It’s the holds leader for the week, which is no surprise, given the author’s name recognition but the question is, will demand continue? We summarize the best thinking on its chances from several collection development librarians in a separate post. Holds are slightly higher on this one than they are for Steve Berry’s new book, below, but libraries have ordered fewer copies, perhaps in reaction to the author’s previous title, Ape House, which did reach the demand level for her earlier Water for Elephants.

The Patriot Threat, Steve, Berry, (Macmillan/Minotaur; Macmillan Audio; Overdrive Sample)

The tenth Cotton Malone thriller poses the question many ask at this time of the year, “What if the U.S.  federal income tax was illegal?”

The Angel Court Affair, Anne Perry, (RH/Ballantine; Overdrive Sample)

Can an author keep a series fresh after a many titles?  Yes, says PW, calling this thirtieth entry in Perry’s historical series featuring Victorian era husband-and-wife detectives, one of the better entries, adding, “As usual, Perry melds the intellectual debates of the day with a suspenseful plot line.”

Critics’ Favorite

9780062349378_cd9a5The Harder They Come,  T.C. Boyle, (HarperCollins/Ecco; HarperLuxe; HarperAudio)

Already getting attention from major critics:

Washington Post – Ron Charles begins his review, “Every punch and thrust and gasp in the opening of T.C. Boyle’s new novel demonstrates why he’s one of the greatest storytellers in the country.”

NYT, Michiko Kakutani  — “arguably Mr. Boyle’s most powerful, kinetic novel yet.”

L.A. Times, by Jess Walter, author of Beautiful Ruins — “As much as this is a novel of big ideas, The Harder They Come never feels didactic, partly because Boyle doesn’t let up on the accelerator, ” but, “Much of his story is tied to characters, Adam and Sara, whose irrational, far-right, Uh-merican ignorance (or outright insanity) make them hard to follow with anything like sympathy. Even as the action amps up, emotional connection flickers.”

Upcoming Media Attention

9781476783703_d69f4From Jailer to Jailed: My Journey from Correction and Police Commissioner to Inmate #84888-054,, Bernard B. Kerik, (S&S/Threshold Editions; Overdrive Sample)

The controversial former NYC police commissioner is media bait and is scheduled for appearances on:

• NBC-TV/’Today,’ March 30
• CNN-TV/’CNN Tonight,’ March 31
• ABC-TV/’Nightline,’ March 31

9781594487132_85bbaSo You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, Jon Ronson (Penguin/Riverhead; OverDrive Sample)

The author was already treated to a love fest by Jon Stewart on The Daily Show. An excerpt was featured as a NYT Magazine cover story.


9780393240184_dec2cBetween You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen, Mary Norris, (Norton; Recorded Books)

An Indie Next pick, this new book on the always entertaining subject of grammar is featured in a new video series from The New Yorker. We’ll be watching.

Crystal Ball:

Friday, March 27th, 2015

At the Water's Edge  9781565124998_36937  book_AH

Will word of mouth sink or buoy up Sara Gruen’s At The Water’s Edge (RH/Spiegel & Grau; RH Audio; RH Large Print; Overdrive Sample), arriving next week?

Early reactions are sharply divided. It’s the #1 LibraryReads pick for April but both Kirkus and Booklist were less than enthusiastic, with Kirkus calling it plain “silly” and complaining that the main characters came across as “spoiled brats.” Past history is also divided. The author has published one blockbuster, Water for Elephants, the basis for a successful movie (which may even become a Broadway musical), followed by the less successful Ape House.

We checked in with several collection development librarians to get their take. All of them expect At The Water’s Edge to hit best seller lists based on the author’s name recognition and to continue due to word of mouth. Several took a strong position early and others have gone back to order more copies.

Below are their major points (sorry, quotes had to be anonymous).


  • “The World War II setting will definitely be a bigger attraction than that of Ape House (a research center dedicated to studying bonobo apes).”
  • Set in Scotland, it includes fascinating details about the Loch Ness monster

Comparison to previous titles:

  • Most said that Ape House had not done well at all in their libraries, but one librarian cautions, “Underperformance is relative. We might have considered Ape House a success if we didn’t have Water for Elephants as a comparison.”


  • “Unlikeable characters have held back some titles from star writers for us before.”
  • “Some people complain about the characters in GOTT, but that hasn’t killed word of mouth.”
  • The main character shows emotional development and don’t forget, there’s a romance involved.

Reading Group Appeal:

  • “Reading groups who will have a great time dissecting this book and parsing the characters.”


  • The LJExpress review, posted after the less appreciative Kirkus and Booklist reviews, has it right. “Get past [some issues with believability], and you’ll find yourself skimming along entertainingly with Maddie as she grows up, asserts herself, and gets the right man.”
  • “One of my very best ARC readers raved about it, and she’s never wrong.”
  • The consumer press will have an effect, especially if Entertainment Weekly and/or People are enthusiastic. It will get media attention of course. The  author is scheduled to appear on the upcoming NPR Weekend Edition Saturday and next week on the Diane Rehm Show.


  • “My best guess (educated, of course ) is this book will circulate briskly for most of the summer into the fall and be a book club favorite. It’s success will be closer to Water for Elephants and much better than Ape House, which was a bust for us. It has a lot of hooks going for it: Scotland, World War II, romance, Loch Ness monster, a Downtown Abbey vibe (few seem to be bothered that Lord Grantham and family continue going to balls and teas in the midst of war).”

Place your bets in the comments section, below!

Nancy Pearl Recommends UNBECOMING

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 8.55.01 PMYou can hear the joy in librarian Nancy Pearl’s voice when she discovers a new author she loves. During her program on Seattle’s NPR affiliate KUOW this week, she is especially excited about discovering a debut, Rebecca Scherm’s novel Unbecoming (Penguin/Viking, Jan. 22; OverDrive Sample).

Nancy particularly appreciates Sherm’s deftness in crafting a restrained novel with fully realized characters. The “psychological acuity, the way [Sherm] understands her characters and presents them to us, is just brilliant,” she says, adding “it’s amazing what she did in just 308 pages. I love this book.”

Sherm’s novel was also part of the Penguin First Flights program on EarlyWord in October. In a live chat with librarians, Sherm discusses her influences – Patricia Highsmith and Alfred Hitchcock – as well as how she hopes readers respond to her characters, “As a writer, there’s a sense of readerly discomfort that I want. One of the things I find so incredible about Patricia Highsmith’s Tom Ripley novels is that I am rooting for him and against him at the same time.”

What’s the novel about? Summing it up on her own website, Sherm posts a useful RA description “Unbecoming reinvents the heist plot and takes up the making of a femme fatale — this time, from a woman’s point of view.” In their “Briefly Noted” summary The New Yorker writes this “lively début combines a knotty coming-of-age tale and a high-society caper.” The NYT Sunday Book Review deems it “startlingly inventive.”

Nancy features a new book each Tuesday. An archive of previous shows is on the KUOW site.

Holds Alert: A LITTLE LIFE

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

9780385539258_d6a46Heralded by many as the next Goldfinch (as in, poised to be a popular literary breakout) and an early favorite for the year of librarians on GalleyChat, Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life (RH/Doubleday; OverDrive Sample) is becoming a holds superstar, with some libraries we checked spiking to ratios in the double digits.

Yanagihara’s second novel, after her acclaimed debut The People in the Trees, it tells the story of four friends, one of whom has lived a life of gothic trauma.

The 720-page novel is enjoying lavish attention. The LA Times’ review begins, “I’ve read a lot of emotionally taxing books in my time, but A Little Life … is the only one I’ve read as an adult that’s left me sobbing.” Vogue says the book announces “the arrival of a major new voice in fiction.” Kirkus, in a starred review, claims “The phrase ‘tour de force’ could have been invented for this audacious novel.” John Powers, a reviewer for NPR’s Fresh Air, confesses, “As I was reading, I literally dreamed about it every night.”

Even reviews that mention shortcomings offer high praise. The Huffington Post, in its “Bottom Line” column,  useful for readers advisors because it aims to combine “plot description and analysis with fun tidbits about the book,” calls it “a flawed but impressive novel that lifts the veil on the heart-wrenching consequences of trauma and loss.” It also calls the book “wondrous” and concludes that “the triumph of A Little Life’s many pages is significant: It wraps us so thoroughly in a character’s life that his trauma, his struggles, his griefs come to seem as familiar and inescapable as our own.” Entertainment Weekly in its B+ review says the novel is a “sometimes maddening read” but goes on to assert, “flaws and all, it’s still a wonderful Life.”

Check your holds. The waiting list might be as long as the novel itself.

GO SET A Cover

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

harper-lee-435According to People magazine, in an exclusive this morning, this cover is the real deal.

The art and type echo those from the cover of To Kill a Mockingbird. Quoted on the HarperCollins Library Love Fest blog, President and Publisher Michael Morrison notes,

“There are so many wonderful parts of Go Set a Watchman that it was hard to pick just one iconic image to represent the book. This design is perfect – it draws on the style of the decade the book was written, but with a modern twist. Go Set a Watchman begins with Scout’s train ride home, but more profoundly, it is about the journey Harper Lee’s beloved characters have taken in the subsequent 20 years of their lives.”

Go Set A Watchman, (Harper; HarperLuxe, HarperAudio; July 14, 2015)