Archive for February, 2010

Mankell in Demand; Reviews Mixed

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

Swedish noir fiction author Henning Mankell developed an American following well before Stieg Larsson topped U.S. bestseller lists, but Mankell’s new novel, The Man from Beijing, may be benefitting from the popularity of his countryman. At several libraries we checked, Mankell’s latest has holds as high as 4:1.

Departing from Mankell’s ten-book Inspector Wallander series,The Man from Beijing focuses on a woman who was Maoist in her student days, and is now a middle-aged, middle-of-the-road Swedish judge.

The Economist calls Mankell “a master portraitist of Sweden’s underside,” but observes that the trouble starts when The Man From Beijing turns to international social commentary. “The picture he paints of Africa—with a leopard calmly surveying the world from its grassy hillock—is clichéd enough, but his China is positively hackneyed.”

PW adds that “While each section, ranging in setting from the bleak frozen landscape of northern Sweden to modern-day China bursting onto the global playing field, compels, the parts don’t add up to a fully satisfying whole.”

The Man from Beijing
Henning Mankell
Retail Price: $25.95
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Knopf – (2010-02-16)
ISBN / EAN: 0307271862 / 9780307271860

Audio Available from Random House: 2/16/10

  • CD: $45; ISBN 9780307712356

E-book and audio available from OverDrive


Other Major Fiction Titles On Sale Next Week

  • Michael Palmer‘s The Last Surgeon (St. Martin’s), about a trauma surgeon back in Baltimore after a stint in Afghanistan, gets mixed reviews: Booklist says it’s his “best novel in years” while PW calls it “an anemic medical thriller.” Holds are as high as 4:1 at several libraries we checked.
  • Tim LeHaye’s Matthew’s Story (Penguin) is the new novel in the Jesus series, by the authors of the bestselling Left Behind series. Library holds are 2:1 or higher.

Black History Month

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

I was going to do a round-up of great titles for Black History Month, but school librarian Judy Freeman over at James Patterson’s Read Kiddo Read has done it for me with 76 Unforgettable Books for Black History Month. Of course, there are tons of other lists out there, but this one is the most comprehensive.

My pick of the list is Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney new book Sit-In; lyrically written and historically accurate, with sweeping paintings evocative of the time.

The Pinkneys talk about the book and the story it explores in the following video:

Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down
Andrea Pinkney, Brian Pinkney
Retail Price: $16.99
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers – (2010-02-03)
ISBN / EAN: 0316070165 / 9780316070164

Jenny Sanford On THE DAILY SHOW

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

Jenny Sanford has been all over the media to promote her book, Staying True. She has been refreshingly frank about her feelings about her husband and how his actions have affected her family, but one of the strangest media moments occurred on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, when she said she really misses the inmates who helped out around the governor’s mansion.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Jenny Sanford
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Health Care Crisis


Staying True
Jenny Sanford
Retail Price: $25.00
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books – (2010-02-05)
ISBN / EAN: 0345522397 / 9780345522399

Unabridged audio; 9780307736284; $25

Audio available from OverDrive

Librarians Get Their Due

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

How could we not be excited about This Book is Overdue, which calls librarians the heroes of the cyber age?

Happily, others are giving the book (and the profession) its due as well. Today’s Wall Street Journal reviews it (love the torn jacket in the illustration; were reviewers fighting over it?). Although the reviewer appreciates author Marilyn Johnson’s “keen eye for detail” and “charming if meandering style” as she explores how today’s librarians are seeking to  “integrate the old mission of the library with the new possibilities of technology,” she fears that libraries may lose something in the transition.

It’s also reviewed very positively in the Boston Globe (In the digital age, librarians are pioneers) and the Cleveland Plain Dealer (Marilyn Johnson is fun and emphatic in ‘This Book is Overdue!’).

The Daily Beast lists it as one of the week’s five “Hot Reads,” and it’s one of Sarah Weinman’s “Picks of the Week” on her mystery blog, Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind.

The book has risen to #337 on Amazon and much more is coming:

NYT BR, 3/7 (plus, a possible review in the daily NYT)
NPR On the Media
USA Today interview

This Book Is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All
Marilyn Johnson
Retail Price: $24.99
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Harper – (2010-02-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0061431605 / 9780061431609

Audio: Tantor; 2/22/10
Trade: 9781400116348; 7 CD’s; $34.99
Library: 9781400146345; 7 CD’s; $69.99
MP3: 9781400166343; 1 MP3-CD; $24.99


Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

The debut novel that’s being compared to The Help (NYT, Janet Maslin) and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society (USA Today, Carol Memmott), rose to #31 on Amazon sales rankings today, one day after its release.

That makes it the fifth-highest ranking, currently available, hardcover fiction title on the list. We’ve been watching this one for a while and are now calling it as a bestseller and predict that it will debut on the Feb. 28 NYT best seller list in the top five.

The Postmistress
Sarah Blake
Retail Price: $25.95
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam – (2010-02-09)
ISBN / EAN: 0399156194 / 9780399156199

Available from Blackstone Audiobooks

  • CD: $100; ISBN 9781441725714
  • MP3 CD: $29.95; ISBN 9781441725745
  • Cassette: $65.95; ISBN 9781441725707

Audio and e-book available from OverDrive

Heigl Gets PLUM Role

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

It can be a very long time between a book being signed for the movies and it actually appearing on the screen.

This is proved once again with Janet Evanovich’s One for the Money, which was signed in 1994, before the book was published. For a while, it was rumored that Reese Witherspoon would star as lingerie-buyer-turned-bounty-hunter Stephanie Plum.

According to Variety, Katherine Heigl (Grey’s Anatomy) has just signed for that role and the movie is “back on the fast track.”

The 16th book in the series, Sizzling Sixteen, is coming in June.

Sizzling Sixteen
Janet Evanovich
Retail Price: $27.99
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press – (2010-06-22)
ISBN / EAN: 0312383304 / 9780312383305


Evanovich is also releasing a graphic novel in July, written with her daughter. It’s the third in a series, after Metro Girl and Motor Mouth, neither of which are in graphic format. The NYT wrote about it today as well as the forthcoming manga version of Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (see our earlier story).

Troublemaker: A Barnaby Adventure
Alex Evanovich, Janet Evanovich
Retail Price: $17.99
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics – (2010-07)
ISBN / EAN: 159582488X / 9781595824882


Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

One of the debuts we’re watching this season is The Postmistress by Sarah Blake. Many have compared it to Kathryn Stockett’s The Help. In fact, it’s received strong praise from Stockett (she even interviews Blake on Amazon’s site), and both books share the same editor, Amy Einhorn, who has her own imprint at Putnam.

In today’s New York Times, Janet Maslin also makes the comparison to The Help, which she calls a “socially conscious pulp best seller,”

Each of these novels appropriates galvanizing social issues in the service of a well-wrought tear-jerker. And each is crammed with talking points.

But Maslin also admits,

…the real strength of  The Postmistress lies in its ability to strip away readers’ defenses against stories of wartime uncertainty and infuse that chaos with wrenching immediacy and terror.

She also predicts that, like The Help, “this book will click in a major way.”

The books may share many qualities, but the settings are different. Rather than 1960’s Mississippi, The Postmistress takes place during World War II, which has led others to compare it to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society.

The Postmistress releases today and has been steadily rising on Amazon (it’s now at #84). Library holds are also growing rapidly on conservative ordering; as high as 210 on 16 copies.

The Postmistress
Sarah Blake
Retail Price: $25.95
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam – (2010-02-09)
ISBN / EAN: 0399156194 / 9780399156199

Available from Blackstone Audiobooks

  • CD: $100; ISBN 9781441725714
  • MP3 CD: $29.95; ISBN 9781441725745
  • Cassette: $65.95; ISBN 9781441725707

Audio and e-book available from OverDrive

Publishers Gain Leverage with Google

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

The NYT reports today that publishers’ “conversations with Google have taken a more flexible tone” since the unveiling of the iPad and Amazon’s concessions on e-book pricing.

Corporate Espionage Exposed

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

The CIA allows their agents to moonlight with financial firms, according to the online news site, Politico. Reacting to the story last week, Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, demanded answers on the policy.

Several newspapers reported on the story, which is drawn form a forthcoming book by Politico reporter Eamon Javers. As The Guardian put it,

It is hard to imagine two more distrusted and reviled professions. One has been accused of torturing detainees and failing to track down Islamist terror suspects; the other is widely perceived to be responsible for the worldwide recession.

Now, in a move likely to provoke a perfect storm of opprobrium, the two have joined forces: enterprising CIA officers who want to earn a little extra have been given the green light to moonlight for Wall Street firms.

The book is out today and on the rise at Amazon (to #160, from #2,230). Most libraries have not ordered it; as a book with breaking news, it was embargoed and therefore was not reviewed prepub.

Broker, Trader, Lawyer, Spy: The Secret World of Corporate Espionage
Eamon Javers
Retail Price: $26.99
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: HarperBusiness – (2010-02-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0061697206 / 9780061697203

E-book available from OverDrive


On Death Row

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Last night’s guest on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross was attorney David Dow, the author of Autobiography of an Execution (listen here). Dow defends death row inmates in Texas, the state with the highest number of executions in the US since 1976. In his book, he argues for the abolition of the death penalty and also writes about how his career  has affected his family life.

The book rose to #261, from #3,044, on Amazon. Libraries own it in modest quantities with hold ratios averaging 1:1.

The Autobiography of an Execution
David R. Dow
Retail Price: $24.99
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Twelve – (2010-02-03)
ISBN / EAN: 0446562068 / 9780446562065

Audio downloadable from OverDrive.


Monday, February 8th, 2010

Inevitably, any memoir of growing up in another country and then immigrating to the U.S. will be compared to Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes, but A Mountain of Crumbs by Elena Gorokhova, has a special connection. The author was actually one of  Frank McCourt’s students.

This memoir of life in Leningrad in the ’60’s and ’70’s was just enthusiastically reviewed in the NYT BR, which describes it as an “exquisitely wrought, tender memoir.” It climbed to #259 on Amazon, from #576, and is showing heavy holds in libraries; as high as 250 on 23 copies.

The author was interviewed on NPR’s The Leonard Lopate Show on January 13, 2010 (listen here) and the book has been reviewed widely, in publications from USA Today to The New Yorker.

As part of her book tour, Gorokhova will do a reading at the Princeton Public Library on Feb. 18.

A Mountain of Crumbs: A Memoir
Elena Gorokhova
Retail Price: $26.00
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster – (2010-01-12)
ISBN / EAN: 1439125678 / 9781439125670

A Friday Distraction

Friday, February 5th, 2010

Check out the warning section about the side effects of reading from this promo for  Unbridled Books:

If you enjoy it, be sure to also check out their books on the Unbridled web site.

Libba Bray Signs for New Series

Friday, February 5th, 2010

Printz-winner (Going Bovine) Libba Bray has signed to write a new YA series called The Diviners for a rumored $2 million, according to Publishers Weekly. Described as supernatural fantasy set in Manhattan during the 1920s, Bray said the series will offer  “readers a wild new ride full of dames and dapper dons, jazz babies and Prohibition-defying parties, conspiracy and prophecy—and all manner of things that go bump in the neon-drenched night.”

The first title in the four-book series is planned for Fall 2012.

The books were won in a six-house auction by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; Bray’s last four books were published by Delacorte.

Everywhere Except Amazon

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Atul Gawande, author of the bestselling book, The Checklist Manifesto, appeared on the Jon Stewart show last night.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Atul Gawande
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Health Care Crisis

An ad for the book in today’s New York Times notes it’s “available at booksellers everywhere except Amazon.”

The Checklist Manifesto is published by Holt, a division of Macmillan. Last week, as a result of a dispute over the pricing of Kindle e-books, Amazon stopped selling all Macmillan titles. Print titles were still available on the site, but only through third parties. On Sunday, Amazon announced that they were “capitulating.” However, the titles are still unavailable and Amazon has remained remarkably silent on the issue.

Today, John Sargent, CEO of Macmillan, sent a letter to authors and agents saying they have been in “constant discussion with Amazon” this week but that he “cannot tell you when we will resume business as usual with Amazon, and needless to say I can promise nothing on the buy buttons. You can tell by the tone of this letter though that I feel the time is getting near to hand.”

Cathy’s Book App

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

When we talk about e-books (which we seem to do, endlessly), it’s generally assumed they will continue to be like print books, just transferred to some sort of screen. Sure, e-books offer the ability to get books quickly (assuming they are in the format you need) and to carry dozens of them with you at once. But, frankly, that’s not terribly exciting.

As we become able to integrate text, audio and video on one device whole new forms of storytelling can emerge. Book apps that utilize iPod Touch technology offer a glimpse of that future.

Cathy’s Book was one of the early attempts to create interactive storytelling, using the technology available at the time (way back in the pre-iPod Touch dark ages of 2006). It was selected by YALSA as a Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers.

It’s just been released in a brand-new version; the Cathy’s Book App for the iPod Touch and the iPhone (you can read more about it and view a demo here).

Does this new version still work for librarians trying to hook reluctant readers? How can librarians work with a format that can’t  be borrowed from the library (note, however, that this app costs just $0.99)?

We’re giving free Cathy’s Book App promocodes to the first five librarians who’d like to download the app and are willing to share their thoughts with EarlyWord readers. Just send us an email, with “Cathy’s Book App” in the subject line and tell us where you work (ends at 5:30 EST Friday, Feb. 5).