Roach Aims for MARS, JOLIE Rushes to Market

Mary Roach was the big hit of this year’s BEA Librarian “Shout & Share,” getting votes from all the librarians on the panel for her book Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void. She was also funny, enthralling and informative during a BEA author breakfast moderated by Jon Stewart (who was cracking up during most of her talk – watch it here). She was equally funny when she spoke to librarians at the AAP breakfast at PLA in March..

Word-of-mouth on the new book is good, but libraries we checked are well behind demand on this title.

Expect major media attention (no surprise, she will be on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Monday) for Roach’s look at some of the bizarre and uncomfortable realities facing future astronauts, as outlined in starred reviews from Library Journal (“While there are occasional somber passages, most of the descriptions of the many and varied annoyances of space travel are perversely entertaining.”) and Kirkus (“There is much good fun with – and a respectful amount of awe at – the often crazy ingenuity brought to the mundane matters of surviving in a place not meant for humans).

The book trailer, already featured on BoingBoing, illustrates Booklist’s assessment that  “Roach brings intrepid curiosity, sauciness, and chutzpah to the often staid practice of popular science writing,” giving it YA crossover appeal


Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void
Mary Roach
Retail Price: $25.95
Hardcover: 334 pages
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company – (2010-08-02)
ISBN / EAN: 0393068471 / 9780393068474

Brilliance Audio:

  • CD, $99.97; ISBN 9781441876638
  • Playaway, $74.99; ISBN 9781441878960
  • MP3, $39.97; ISBN 9781441876652


Though scheduled for release next week, Angelina: An Unauthorized Biography by Andrew Morton (St. Martin’s) was rushed to market this week because some the supposed revelations about the life and career of actress Angelina Jolie were leaking out.

USA Today dissects Jolie’s epic love life, and adds that the Jolie-Pitt household’s legion staff  includes “nannies from Vietnam, the Congo, and the U.S.; four nurses, a doctor on permanent call; two personal assistants; a cook; a maid; two cleaners; a busboy; four bodyguards, and six French former army guards.”

New York Times critic Janet Maslin chastizes Morton for not citing sources and for his many frivolous details (e.g. the type face of a particular Jolie tattoo never seen in public), while praising him (sort of) for connecting the biographical dots of Jolie’s life.

Entertainment Weekly reads Morton’s bio so you don’t have to and the AP uses it as a springboard to opine that unauthorized celeb bios (such as Oprah by Kitty Kelley) are not doing well these days.

Angelina: An Unauthorized Biography
Andrew Morton
Retail Price: $26.99
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press – (2010-08-03)
ISBN / EAN: 031255561X / 9780312555610

Available from Blackstone Audio on 7/31/2010

CD LIB:; 9781441755124; $52.50
MP3CD LIB: 9781441755155; $14.98
Playaway; LIB; 9781441755186; $45.49
9 Tape LIB; 9781441755117; $36.48

Notable Kids & YA Fiction on Sale Next Week

I Am Number Four by Pitticus Lore (HarperCollins) is a YA novel about nine alien refugee teenages who land on Earth. Three are already dead, and number four is next. As we mentioned earlier, Entertainment Weekly has been running exclusives about this title, including an interview with the author, who claims to be “an extraterrestrial Elder from Lorien named Pittacus Lore.”

Artemis Fowl: The Atlantis Complex by Eoin Colfer (Hyperion); this will be the next-to-last entry in the best-selling middle-grade fantasy series, as Colfer revealed this week to the UK’s Guardian.

Notable Fiction on Sale Next Week

My Hollywood by Mona Simpson (Knopf) is her first novel since Off Keck Road (2000), narrated in alternate chapters by Claire, a composer whose marriage is strained by her husband’s late hours as a TV writer, and Lola, the Filipina nanny she hires. Entertainment Weekly gives it an “A-“: “Claire, privileged and damaged, floats along in a daze of unfulfillment, while the ever-practical Lola observes her L.A. milieu with a realist’s eye in imperfect yet oddly poetic English… A character as rich as Lola won’t easily fade from anyone’s mind.”  There’s also an interview with Simpson in the New York Times.

I Curse the River of Time by Per Petterson, translated by Charlotte Barslund (Graywolf Press), from the author of the surprise hit Out Stealing Horses, is the story of a Danish communist who faces divorce and a dying mother. Entertainment Weekly gives it a “B,” saying: “A times it’ll feel alien to readers who’ve never been young Communists… (The translation can also be quite a rickety bridge.) But there’s no denying the novel’s Raymond Carver-like power as Arvid and his mother come to terms with how life hands you hope just before it hands you disappointment and tragedy.”

Hangman by Faye Kellerman (Morrow) is the newest mystery novel with spouses Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus. Booklist says Kellerman fans will be reasonably satisfied, but “if you’re new to Kellerman…this is not the place to start. Kellerman works primarily in dialogue, with very sketchy narrative support, which requires readers unfamiliar with the backstory to act as their own detectives, figuring out what the heck is going on in each scene.”

Burn by Nevada Barr (Minotaur Books) is the 16th book with National Park Service ranger Anna Pigeon, though this time she is transplanted out of her element, to New Orleans. Booklist says, “Barr develops the narrative carefully, never letting the eerie black-magic elements overshadow her solid and suspenseful plotting. A definite winner.”

The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory (Touchstone) chronicles the War of the Roses through the perspective of Henry VII’s mother.

Scarlet Nights: An Edilean Novel by Jude Deveraux (Atria) follows a woman whose fiancé turns out to be a scheming criminal. Booklist says it’s “another guilty-pleasure romance of suspense that will hook readers and leave them with a smile.”

In Harm’s Way by Ridley Pearson (Putnam) is the fourth thriller with Idaho sheriff Walt Fleming. Booklist is not so impressed: “although this novel is sufficiently entertaining, it lacks both the taut plotting and intricate excitement of his best work.”

Comments are closed.