Mark your calendars: the next Star Wars film, Episode VII The Force Awakens, premiers on December 18, 2015. It picks up after the events of Return of the Jedi and is co-written and directed by J.J. Abrams (his qualifications include directing the TV series Lost andtwo films in the Star Trek franchise).
A teaser trailer was released in November (the full trailer is rumored to be coming in May):
Star Wars: Aftermath (Del Rey/Lucas Books; 978-0345511621; Sept. 4), by Chuck Wendig is the first novel in an expected trilogy. According toUSA Today, it “bridges the approximately 30-year gap between [Return of the] Jedi and The Force Awakens. With the Emperor and Darth Vader both assumed dead, a new government arises to replace the fallen Empire in the novel.”
Also forthcoming is another of the popular DK visual guides, Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know (Penguin/DK; 978-0241183700; Sept. 4, 2015) and several comics from Marvel, including Star Wars: Journey to the Force Awakens (Marvel Comics; 978-0785197812; Nov. 17).
A full listing of related titles has not been released but Entertainment Weekly offers a rundown of projects in the works as well as the backstory on how the massive, and secret, publishing program was organized.
Given the size of the fan base and their devotion, expect requests far in advance of the Sept. pub. dates.
A literary nonfiction ghost story that is part family history, part haunted house story, and part investigative journalism, American Ghost: A Family’s Haunted Past in the Desert Southwest by Hannah Nordhaus, (Harper; Tantor Audio; OverDrive Sample) sounds like the kind of book readers devour.
Hannah Nordhaus discovers that her great-great-grandmother, Julia Staab, is New Mexico’s most famous ghost, haunting a Santa Fe hotel called La Posada. Backed by an army of psychics and ghosthunters, a crumbling family diary, and a frontier-sized heap of curiosity, Nordhaus sets out to discover who Julia was—and why her spirit has stuck around for all these years.
American Ghost has earned starred reviews from Booklist, Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly, which enticingly details Nordhaus’s research process.
She consults a variety of self-appointed supernatural experts—psychics, tarot-card readers, mediums, and dowsers—as well as more traditional sources such as newspaper archives, family diaries, and aging relatives. She also visits the settings of her grandmother’s life, from villages in Germany to the deserts of New Mexico where the Staabs lived.
HBO’s Game of Thrones returns with Season 5 on April 12th. As the SF site, io9 observes, the series has so far been “a remarkably faithful adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s [novels],” but that will change in the new season. Listing five major deviations, they say that’s actually a good thing.
Meanwhile, George R.R. Martin has set off fan frenzy by writing on his blog that he is clearing his calendar to work on the sixth book in the series, The Winds of Winter (no release date has been announced, but some sites claim Martin told reporters earlier that it will come out in October). It will be followed by the final book, A Dream of Spring.
For those who need a refresher on the HBO series so far, the cast tries to sum it up in 30 seconds for Entertainment Weekly.
The icing on the cake may be George R.R. Martin’s strong endorsement. In a blog post, he urges fans to nominate Station Eleven for the Hugo Awards, which he says, “… are the oldest awards in our genre, and to my mind, the most meaningful,”
“I won’t soon forget Station Eleven. One could, I suppose, call it a post-apocolypse novel, and it is that, but all the usual tropes of that subgenre are missing here, and half the book is devoted to flashbacks to before the coming of the virus that wipes out the world, so it’s also a novel of character, and there’s this thread about a comic book and Doctor Eleven and a giant space station and… oh, well, this book should NOT have worked, but it does. It’s a deeply melancholy novel, but beautifully written, and wonderfully elegiac… a book that I will long remember, and return to.”
Oscars 2015 are so yesterday. Hollywood is already beginning to predict 2016’s nominees:
IndieWire, “For Your Consideration: Yep, It’s The 2016 Oscar Predictions,” 2/27/15
Hollywood Reporter, “Oscars 2016: It’s Never Too Early for the Next Best Picture Predictions,” 2/23/15
Esquire, “14 Extremely Premature Predictions About the 2016 Oscars,” 3/9/15
Huffington Post – “Absurdly Early And Unnecessary Oscar Predictions For 2016,” – 2/23/15
These are indeed “premature.” Most of the movies won’t appear in theaters until this fall (it seems Academy members have poor memories, so producers hold off the release of films they consider Oscar bait until later in the year) and none of them have trailers yet, but the picks are useful as an index of which movies are heavily anticipated, by the Hollywood crowd, if not by book lovers.
Fourteen of the films are based on books, one on a Shakespeare play and another on a short story. The number of predictions, with the exception of Steve Jobs, are roughly in reverse proportion to the popularity of the books they’re based on. The longest-running best seller of the group, The Light Between Oceans, gets just a single nod, for Best Actor, Michael Fassbender (he gets another Best Actor prediction for his lead role in Steve Jobs).
Below are the adaptations, in order by the most significant picks (for a full list of forthcoming movies, check our list of Upcoming Movies Based on Books).
Based on — Patricia Highsmith, The Price Of Salt, 1952 (available in trade paperback from Norton, 2004)
“The Weinsteins known how to mount an Oscar campaign, and this return to feature filmmaking by Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven) will surely capture its fair share of headlines, both for its illustrious cast and crew, and because it’s the story of a 1950s housewife (Cate Blanchett) who strikes up a clandestine lesbian affair with a young store clerk (Rooney Mara).” – Esquire
Best Picture — IndieWire, Huffington Post
Best Director, Todd Haynes — IndieWire, Huffington Post
Best Actress, Cate Blanchett — IndieWire, Huffington Post
Best Supporting Actress, Rooney Mara — IndieWire, Huffington Post
After the jump; fourteen more highly-anticipated adaptations.
Cockburn also appeared on NPR’s Diane Rehm Show last week. He explained that the title is a common term in the military, describing the steps taken to identify and eventually hit a target. Drones can shorten the time that takes, but sometimes with unintended and terrible consequences.
The only title that has not already been recognized on various best lists or by other awards programs is The Essential Ellen Willis, by Ellen Willis, edited by Nona Willis Aronowitz (University of Minnesota Press). It won the Criticism category.
That other winners are:
Fiction — Marilynne Robinson, Lila, (Macmillan/FSG); a National Book Award finalist, this also appeared on the most number of best books lists in fiction (see our downloadable spreadsheet, 2014 Adult Fiction)
Toni Morrison won the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award. The National Book Award winner for fiction, Redeployment by Phil Klay (Penguin Press) won the John Leonard Prize, which “recognizes an outstanding first book in any genre.”
This is the first time that Ishiguro has hit the hardcover lists. As Gregory Cowles notes in the “Inside the List” column, his previous best sellers, The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go became best sellers but in paperback, as a result of their movie adaptations.
Film rights have already been acquired for The Buried Giant, by “The Godfather of the Literary Adaptation,” producer Scott Rudin (Captain Philips, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Moneyball, Angela’s Ashes and the upcoming Jobs, among many others).
Michiko Kakutani’s review in the daily NYT last week is followed by this week’s New York Times Book Review cover. The reviewer notes that the novel begins with an excerpt from a faux review from NYT Book Review itself (the quote is a dead-on parody, although, as the reviewer says, it’s unlikely that the Book Review copy editors would have allowed “truly unique” to slide by). Echoing the faux review, this one is more mixed than Kakutani’s.
This debut has come up repeatedly on GalleyChat beginning in November. In January, The Guardian saw it as a successor to Gone Girland another book that was then on the horizon,
From Rachel Watson, the unhappy heroine of British writer Paula Hawkins’s much-anticipated debut novel The Girl on the Train, to Anna Benz, the depressed wife at the heart of Jill Alexander Essbaum’s haunting Hausfrau, this year’s most compelling reads are all about lost girls, some of whom, like Flynn’s Amy Dunne, turn out to have a core of steel in their soul.
Unlike The Girl on the Train, however, Hausfrau does not arrive to long holds lists, or the amount of advance media attention its predecessor enjoyed, but that appears to be revving up. It is reviewed in the new issues of both People magazine (“Sexy and insightful, this gorgeously written novel opens a window into one woman’s desperate soul”) and Entertainment Weekly (a strong review, but it’s undercut by a low “B” rating).
The Wall Street Journal profiles the marketing campaign behind Hausfrau, saying that Random House is “touting it as a literary 50 Shades of Grey” and already has a third printing in the works.
It is an Indie Next pick, with a recommendation from a bookseller who is a GalleyChat regular:
“In this powerful, affecting novel, Essbaum has written an ode to desire and the destructive choices we make. There is a grace in Essbaum’s writing that leads the reader to love Anna, to befriend her, and to be endlessly protective of her. Whatever it is that a poet does with words — the arranging, the building of something that is more than the sum of its parts — Essbaum, an accomplished poet, does with the emotions and the honesty in this work. It is brave, vulnerable, and filled with love, passion, and the kind of lust that one never speaks about. This is something special.” — Kenny Coble, The Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, WA
If you think it’s easy to design a book jacket, take a look at the following video, which shows the many iterations this one went through. Robbin Schiff, executive art director at Random House, told Mashable, which featured it, “The final design, with its stark Swiss typography against the moody and lush floral grouping, conveys a sensual but claustrophobic atmosphere,” reflecting the atmosphere of the book.
The author of the best selling The Happiness Project will promote her new book about how to acquire positive habits and shed negative ones, in a Today Show 3 part mini-series on the subject of habits, which begins on Monday 3/16. She appears on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday.
Sure to appeal to parents dealing with college admissions insanity, the NYT‘s Frank Bruni asserts that it doesn’t really matter if your child gets into Harvard. In an early review, The New Republic knocks Bruni’s “repeated reassurance that the Ivies are unimportant because there are still other ways to attain wealth and status in America,” saying this is “a book that wants to dismiss the importance of status without questioning the validity of status-seeking motives.” That issue may be lost on most college-obsessed parents. UPDATE: Bruni adapts a section from the book in essay for the NYT‘s Sunday Op/Ed section. As of Saturday morning, the online version, posted late Friday, is the most emailed story with nearly 450 comments.
Frank, Barney Frank (Macmillan/FSG; Macmillan Audio)
Frank’s memoir is reviewed in this week’s NYT Book Review by Frank Bruni, who, as noted above, has his own book coming next week. A clear fan of Frank as a person, Bruni finds his chronicle of coming out as a gay politician rewarding because “the author’s odyssey to honesty perfectly tracks America’s journey to a more open-eyed, healthier, better place,” but is disappointed by the “sometimes dry manner at odds with his public personality.” Frank is scheduled to appear on NPR’s Fresh Air on Monday.
LibraryReads — “I was hoping we’d be seeing Prudence in her own series. Baby P – Rue to you –is all grown up and absolutely delightful. First-time readers will think it’s a wonderful book on its own merits. However, it becomes spectacular when we get to revisit some of the beloved characters from the Parasol Protectorate. Gail Carriger is always a delight!” — Lisa Sprague, Enfield Public Library, Enfield, CT
LibraryReads — “Rose weaves a passionate tale of sensuality, heartbreak and despair, exposing readers to a side of Paris that is as haunting as its main characters. The melding of time and generations transform Sandrine and La Lune into a single force to be reckoned with. The unexpected ending will leave readers wanting more.” — Marianne Colton, Lockport Public Library, Lockport, NY
LibraryReads — “How can you not be immediately intrigued by a novel that opens with a teenage boy driving from Louisiana to Minnesota after both his hands have just been cut off at the wrist? When you read this novel, you’re dropped right into a world – darkly funny and audaciously bold.” — Meghan Hall, Timberland Regional Library, Lacey, WA
LibraryReads — “Dana is a ‘pocket wife’ because her lawyer husband barely gives her the time of day. One afternoon, she drunkenly argues with her neighbor Celia, takes a nap, then wakes to find Celia dead. Could she have murdered Celia? Dana, suffering from manic episodes, tries to solve her friend’s murder before she loses all self-control. Highly recommended for fans of Gone Girl.” — Katelyn Boyer, Fergus Falls Public Library, Fergus Falls, MN
The widely reported news of Terry Pratchett’s death is likely to send readers to the library. For those new to Pratchett, who wrote over 70 novels, many of which as part of the sprawling Discworld series, it can be hard to know where to start.
Readers’ advisors seeking guidance might turn to the A.V. Club’s well-considered path through Pratchett’s novels and consult BoingBoing’s posting of Krzysztof Kietzma’s handy infographic to the interrelated books in Discworld (unfortunately, it’s difficult to read. A larger version is available here). BuzzFeed offers a ranked listing of his 30 best works while USA Today and Mashablesuggest five starting titles.
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).
The trailer for Paper Towns is on its way, as John Green announced on Twitter today:
I’ll be debuting the #PaperTowns trailer live on-air on The @TODAYshow next Thursday 19th March!
The movie’s release date has been changed from early June to July 24.
Nat Wolff, who had the supporting role of Isaac in The Fault in Our Stars, stars as Paper Town‘s Quentin “Q” Jacobsen, with Cara Delevingne as Margo.
On his weekly VlogBrothers video this Tuesday, Green says he has seen the film and thinks it’s great because it is “faithful to the themes of the book … learning to accept others’ complexity,” (as an executive producer on the movie, he may not be entirely unbiased). He also reassures fans that a Looking for Alaska movie “might actually happen.”
The tie-in has also been announced (cover, top):
Paper Towns, John Green
Penguin/Speak: May 19, 2015, Ship Date: April 14, 2015