Positioned as her breakout title Sarah Pinborough’s Behind Her Eyes(Macmillan/Flatiron Books; Macmillan Audio; OverDrive Sample) has fulfilled expectations by making the author a New York Times best seller for the first time. The book arrives at #15 on this week’s list.
The British author has written over 20 YA and fantasy novels, few of which have been released in the US. Her first foray into the hot genre of domestic thrillers, it was a hot commodity at the 2015 Frankfurt Book Fair. Reviewing it her most recent NYT BR Crime column. Marilyn Stasio calls it “an eerie thriller calculated to creep you out … [a] terrifying mind game.”
The Guardian reports the much hyped plot twists deliver, “When the first of her twists is revealed, it is fantastically creepy, if not entirely unexpected. The second twist turns the creepy factor up to 11 and is a total wrong-footer. #WTFthatending indeed – the sort that makes you go back to the beginning to check if it all pans out. And it does.”
That hashtag was developed by the publisher to promote the book but has been adopted by others. It was even applied to the outcome of the Super Bowl.
Librarians were early adopters. It was a January LibraryReads pick and a GalleyChat title. Holds are strong in most libraries we checked, with some topping 4:1 ratios.
With media attention and the largest wave of publisher PR over, it is word of mouth that is propelling the novel upward.
It debuted at #82 on the Sept. 22nd USA Today list. This week, five month later, it rose to #40 . The Indie Bestsellers Lists currently has it at #3 and the novel has never fallen out of their top 11. On the LA Times list it has ranged from a low of #18 to a current high of #2. The NYT list is not as strong but does show a steady rise from outside the top 15 to its current position at #10.
Ron Charles, book reviewer for The Washington Post, and clearly an admirer, wrote upon its publication:
The literary world is holding its collective breath for the publication on Tuesday of George Saunders’ first novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, as we reported earlier. At that time, we were surprised to find that holds were relatively low. They have been growing since and more will come, as Saunders has several media appearances coming up, including the Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Wednesday. More on the title below, under Peer Picks.
The next in the best selling series featuring child psychologist Alex Delaware series, prepub reviewers were not impressed. Publisher Weekly says, “The psychological insights Alex typically displays are few and barely relevant to the inquiry or its solution.”
“When Georgia Hunter learns that she is a descendant of large family of Holocaust survivors, she knows that she is destined to be the recorder of their story. This is the result of years of research to gather as much detail about her relatives as she possibly can. How this group of people manages to survive years of persecution and imprisonment is astounding. It is an inspiring read, and one that honors the memory and struggle of not just the author’s family, but all of the people who suffered during the war.” — Mary Coe, Fairfield Woods Branch Library, CT
“Welcome to a world where magic grants you access to all the benefits of wealth and power. This is the story of two families, one from magic and one not. When Abi comes up with a plan to help her family by having them serve one of the most powerful magical families, she thinks it will save them. But when her brother is sent to one of the harshest work camps, the plan seems less likely to keep them alive. Her brother must face the dangers of slavery while Abi and the others will see grandeur and wealth but also see the rotten core that is gilded in gold.” — Suzanne Christensen, Spanish Fork Public Library, Spanish Fork, UT
“The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir is a powerful story of both hope and despair. Told through diary entries, this is a wonderful glimpse into life in a small British town during WWII. Ryan is a skilled writer who gives each diary entry a clear voice: Mrs. Paltry is dishonest and scheming, Venetia, the self-centered young woman in love with a mysterious man, Kitty, the love struck teenager with big dreams, and Mrs. Tilling, the midwife and moral compass of the town. Through their entries, you really see them grow. The power of music brings them strength that they didn’t know that they had.” — Shari Suarez, Genesee District Library, Goodrich MI
Additional Buzz: Based on holds, word seems to have leaked about this debut which was a success in the UK. Prepub reviews were not positive, so libraries have ordered cautiously. Kirkus, damns it with faint praise, calling it, “Mildly entertaining, Ryan’s debut novel seems overfamiliar and too intent on warming the heart,” but nevertheless says that “readers may find themselves furiously turning pages even if they can easily predict what’s coming next.” Proving that, it is also an Indie Next selection for February.
“Saunders’ first novel has a steep entry curve. It’s not a novel that reveals itself quickly and easily, but if you give it your attention, if you burrow deep into the book, you’ll be eminently rewarded. There is a richness and depth of humanity here. There is the strange and wonderful. There is love and grief and mystery all brought together in the story of Abraham Lincoln’s dead son, the Civil War, and what may happen to us all after we leave the mortal coil. It’s a beautiful and moving book that will stay with you for a long, long while.” —Jason Vanhee, University Book Store, Seattle, WA
Additional Buzz: It is an all-star, receiving starred reviews from all four trade sources. As we wrote earlier, it is getting wide attention. On this week’s NYT Book Review Podcast, Saunders says that he originally wrote it as a play, which makes it particularly appropriate that the audio version features 166 narrators, many of them well-known Hollywood names. Saunders is scheduled to be interviewed on tomorrow’s NPR Weekend Edition Saturday and on Wednesday on the Late Show w/ Stephen Colbert.
The film stars Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin, and Bill Nighy and is set in London during WWII. It features filmmakers creating patriotic flicks during the war.
Critics are glowing. The Hollywood Reporter calls it a “stealth charmer” and Variety says it is “a relentlessly charming romantic comedy … the sort of crowd-pleaser that knows the difference between satisfying its viewers and flattering them, all the while showcasing surprising performances from Gemma Arterton and Sam Claflin, and an entirely unsurprising one from Bill Nighy — a master scene-stealer pulling off yet another brazen heist.” Entertainment Weekly says it is “Comedic, poignant, and delightful.”
The movie opens April 7.
Wolverine: Old Man Logan, Mark Millar, illustrated by Steve McNiven (Hachette/Marvel; OverDrive Sample) arriving this week ties in to the March 3 movie, Logan, the 10th X-Men film and the final Wolverine solo film. It is not a pure adaptation of the comics, but rather inspired by them.
The series is described by EW as following the adventures of “a teenager-turned-warrior called upon by an underground civilization of trolls to defend their way of life from both humans and evil trolls alike.”
It stars the late Anton Yelchin, who played Chekov in the new Star Trek movies, before his death. Del Toro, who is serving as the show runner, filled in some of Yeltsin’s parts with previously recorded tracks and has more audio in the wings. The cast also includes Kelsey Grammer (Frasier, Transformers: Age of Extinction), Ron Perlman (Hellboy), and Steven Yeun (The Walking Dead).
Season one premiered in December and earned a 93% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. To accompany it, the paperback edition of the book was released, with a sticker identifying it as, “the book that inspired Dreamworks TrollHunters.”
The book itself also got strong reviews. School Library Journal says “Featuring plenty of edge-of-your-seat action, this offering … won’t disappoint … More gruesome than scary, this title will be a hit with teens and adults who love action-packed, dark fantasy adventures.”
Historian Ron Chernow is moving from the Revolutionary War era to the Civil War era with a biography of Ulysses S. Grant (PRH/Penguin; ISBN 9781594204876) coming October 17, 2017. The book will be massive, running 928 pages.
Chernow has had some luck in refurbishing historical figures. His 2004 biography of Alexander Hamilton (PRH/Penguin) was the basis for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Award-winning sensation. Chernow attributed its success to spurring him on to finish the new book.
Meyers opens by saying he is a fan of Nguyen’s writing and loved The Sympathizer (Grove Press, April 2015) before it won the Pulitzer. His newest book is a short story collection entitled The Refugees (Grove; OverDrive Sample). Nguyen came to the US with his parents from Viet Nam when he was four years old. He says refugees face the double sorrow of being “unwanted where they come from, unwanted when they arrive.”
The two-part interview, below:
The new book is stocked at Costco, a sure sign, says Nguyen. that he has “made it.” The reviews give further proof:
The Washington Post writes it “couldn’t come at a better time,” and that it is “as impeccably written as it is timed … an important and incisive book written by a major writer with firsthand knowledge of the human rights drama exploding on the international stage — and the talent to give us inroads toward understanding it.”
The Guardian says it an “accomplished collection,” continuing it is “With anger but not despair, with reconciliation but not unrealistic hope, and with genuine humour that is not used to diminish anyone, Nguyen has breathed life into many unforgettable characters, and given us a timely book.”
Some big names are involved. Producer David Heyman (Harry Potter, Gravity) is working on the adaptation for NBCUniversal with Emmy winning director Susanne Bier (The Night Manager).
Dinesen’s classic memoir, written under the pseudonym Karen Blixen, recounts her years living on a farm in Kenya during the twilight of the British Empire. Heyman says “the long form series offers us the chance to explore not only Karen’s world, but also the perspective of the Kenyans she encounters.”
“Her memoir depicts the close relationships she fostered among the men who worked for her, giving African characters a complexity and dignity not found in other colonial texts. The occasional brutality and profound loss that characterize colonial life do not overshadow the serenity with which Blixen-Finecke writes, fostering wanderlust in anyone who reads her book.”
It’s part of a trend of adapting popular films to TV, notes The Hollywood Reporter. Recent examples include “redos of Lethal Weapon, The Exorcist, Training Day and Taken.”
The first promo for the Netflix adaptation of the childrens classic Anne of Green Gables, was released at a press event yesterday reports Entertainment Weekly. It begins with images of other redheaded stars from the streaming service, including Stranger Things‘ Barb and Orange Is the New Black‘s Red.
Perhaps that’s an effort to signal that this Anne, despite her 1908 setting, is relevant to today. Netflix says the production, created with the CBC, will explore topics beyond Lucy Maud Montgomery’s novel, “Anne and the rest of the characters will experience adventures reflecting timeless issues including themes of identity, sexism, bullying, prejudice, and trusting one’s self.”
Showrunner Moira Walley-Beckett (Breaking Bad) tells CBC News, “I feel that this Anne is entirely different … We’re off-book. We’re the essence of the book … and we’re telling a new story … This is a very grounded, real version of the story. Life in Prince Edward Island in the late 1800s was a hard, gritty, scrappy life. It was messy, it was covered in red mud … It’s not doilies and teacups, it’s life.”
Praising the relatively unknown 14-year-old star, Irish-Canadian actress Amybeth McNulty, Walley-Beckett says she is “riveting on screen, She’s translucent. You can see every thought and every emotion.”
The eight-episode first season debuts on May 12. No tie-in has been announced, but the book is in print in multiple editions from various publishers.
“Meet Samuel Hawley, a man in a constant struggle with his violent past, doing the best he can to raise his daughter. Meet Loo, his daughter, a girl with an obscure past and an uncertain future, on the cusp of adulthood. And meet Lily, the dead woman who connects them both. In this finely woven novel, the past and the present gradually illuminate the story of a man’s life through the bullet wounds he carries with him and makes readers consider what it is to be both good and evil.” — Dawn Terrizzi, Denton Public Library, Denton, TX
“Three German women’s lives are abruptly changed when their husbands are executed for their part in an attempt to assassinate Hitler. They band together in a crumbling estate to raise their children and keep each other standing. Rich in character development, this book is narrated by each of the women, giving us a clear understanding of their sense of loss, inner strength and the love they have for each other. This story examines the human side of war, where the lines are blurred between hero and victim.” — Kimberly McGee, Lake Travis Community Library, Austin, TX
“A private space exploration company is mounting a manned mission to Mars. To prepare for the actual event, the company plans an elaborate training program to match the conditions and potential problems the team might face. The ordeal, though simulated, is no less dramatic for the astronauts, their families, and the crew. The lines cross between fiction and reality and none of the participants is left unchanged. Part literary fiction, part sci-fi, all amazing.” — Marie Byars, Sno-Isle Libraries, Oak Harbor, WA
Drawing attention to a Senate vote this week to force her to stop talking, Elizabeth Warren announces that she will publish a new book, due April 18, This Fight Is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America’s Middle Class (Macmillan/Metropolitan Books).
It will also include, says the publisher, “eye-opening stories about her battles in the Senate and vividly describes the experiences of hard-working Americans who have too often been given the short end of the stick.”
As Fortune points out, potential presidential candidates “often write books about their experiences to burnish their credentials prior to a presidential run. Former President Barack Obama wrote Dreams of My Fatherand The Audacity of Hope, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote Hard Choices in 2014.” All were bestsellers.
Warren has written other books, including her 2014 title, A Fighting Chance, which became a bestseller.
Unable to find publication information for Redliners, we did what any smart organization does when they are stumped, we turned to a librarian, in this case Lesa Holstein, who blogs about mysteries at Lesa’s Book Critiques, and her reference sleuths at Evansville Indiana P.L.
He will release a heist thriller in June, Camino Island (PRH/ Doubleday; RH Audio), followed by a legal thriller on October 24, 2017 (that title has not yet been announced).
EW says the heist story will circle around a literary topic:
“thieves pilfer five handwritten F. Scott Fitzgerald manuscripts from the Princeton Library and send them into the rare books black market. As the FBI and a secret underground agency hunt them down, a young writer embarks on her own investigation into a prominent bookseller who is believed to have the precious documents.”
Knopf head Sonny Mehta tells EW that Camino Island “is a caper of the highest form … John has outdone himself.”
Grisham, who collects first editions, says the idea for the book came to him while he and his wife were on a 10-hour drive to Florida.
As his 30th novel,Camino Island is somewhat of a landmark for Grisham.
Please join us for the next GalleyChat, today,
Feb. 3, 4 to 5 p.m. ET, 3:30 for virtual cocktails. Details here.
For those snug at home staring at the snow, January’s recommendations will be just the ticket for taking you away from the dreary days. If you’ve exhausted Netflix, practice a little binge-reading on any of the following forthcoming titles.
Check here for a complete list of titles mentioned during the chat.
Time travel fans will enjoy The Scribe of Siena by Melodie Winawer (S&S/Touchstone, May; LibraryReads deadline: March 20), an absorbing combination of contemporary and historical fiction. Neurosurgeon Beatrice Trovato is in Italy to take care of her brother’s estate but finds herself in 14th century Siena on the eve of the Black Plague investigating a 700-year-old conspiracy. Jen Dayton, collection development librarian from Darien (CT) Library, says this “smartly written novel” is a “wonderful travel log to life in 14th century. I loved this total immersion into life in Renaissance era Siena.”
In the first book of the Kendra Donovan series, Murder in Time, the former FBI agent was transported from the modern times to an English castle in 1815 to find a killer. In the follow-up, Twist in Time (Norton/Pegasus, April; LibraryReads deadline: Feb. 20), Julie McElwain continues Kendra’s perilous adventures after she fails to return to the 21st century. Jane Jorgenson of Madison (WI) Public Library said of the sequel, “Her sponsor’s nephew Alec is under suspicion in the stabbing death of his former mistress so Kendra and the Duke rush to London. Once again McElwain blends history, a touch of fantasy, and procedural to fun and intriguing effect.”
Gathering “much love” votes on Edelweiss far in advance of its pub date at the end of March is Jessica Shattuck’s The Women in the Castle(HC/William Morrow). One of those votes come from Kimberly McGee, Lake Travis (TX) Community Library who says in her review, “This book looks at Nazi Germany through the eyes of a special set of victims, the widows of three German men who were executed for their part in an attempt to assassinate Hitler. After the war, the women band together in a crumbling estate to raise their children and to try to keep each other going. It is a guidebook on the human side of war where the lines are blurred between hero and victim.”
For Your Binge-Reading Pleasure
In novels filled with tangled relationships Taylor Jenkins Reid has been inching her way into readers’ hearts. Her next book, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (S&S/Atria, June; LibraryReads deadline: April 20) is poised to be a winner. Tracy Babiasz, acquisitions manager for Chapel Hill Library, NC, says, “Former Hollywood A-lister Evelyn Hugo is finally going public with the story of her seven husbands, ready to reveal the love of her life, so she calls in a journalist to write her coveted biography…but the answer’s going to surprise everyone! This one left me thinking about what truly makes a family.” Jenna Friebel, materials selection librarian from Oak Park (IL) Public Library, adds, “I didn’t think Taylor Jenkins Reid could outdo her last several amazing books, but oh she did! I truly hopes this becomes THE beach read of summer 2017!”
Another author developing a dedicated following is Lucinda Riley, the Irish author of the Seven Sisters series. The Shadow Sister (S&S/Atria, April; LibraryReads deadline: Feb. 20), the sequel to The Seven Sisters (a favorite of GalleyChatters in April of 2015) and The Storm Sister, continues the journeys of the siblings in their world-wide quest to discover their heritages. Beth Mills of New Rochelle (NY) Public Library says she is becoming a fan of these epic dual timeline stories and recommends it for readers of Susanna Kearsley, Kate Morton, and Lauren Willig.
One of the joys of an unread mystery series is starting with the first entry and plowing through all of the titles not only for plot, but also character development. Those lucky people who haven’t yet discovered Deborah Crombie’s series featuring Scotland Yard detectives Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James are in for such a treat. Of the 17th title in the series, Garden of Lamentations(HarperCollins/Morrow, February), Beth Mills from New Rochelle Public Library said in “this compelling new story, Gemma is investigating the puzzling death of a nanny while Duncan is dealing with what looks disturbingly like corruption in the police force. As always in Crombie’s novels the look we get at the domestic lives of Duncan, Gemma and their children is as interesting as the mystery.”
GalleyChatters love an off-center novel and it’s an added bonus if it’s humorous and tender. Regular GalleyChat contributor Cynthia Baskin says Rabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett (Norton/Tin House, March) is such a book, “Narrated by 12-year-old Elvis, Anne Hartnett’s debut novel is about grief, mental illness, and family bonds. A quirky family deals with the loss of its sleep-swimming matriarch with equal parts drama and comedy. Rabbit Cake is engrossing, compelling, and lovely, and I enjoyed every bit of it!”
Never Too Late For a Resolution…
It’s never too late to resolve to improve your life and reading Eve Shaub’s Year of No Clutter: A Memoir (Sourcebooks, March) might be just the ticket for spring cleaning inspiration. Andrienne Cruz from Azusa City Library says, “If you’ve read most if not all of the books that talk about getting rid of stuff, add this to your list. The author takes you to her realm and you stay there like the very clutter she tries to get rid of.”
Please join us for the next GalleyChat on Tuesday, February 7, with virtual happy hour at 3:30 (ET) and the chat at 4:00, and for updates on what I’m anticipating on Edelweiss, please friend me.