Archive for January, 2011

GalleyChat Tomorrow

Monday, January 31st, 2011

We’re looking forward to hearing what everyone is reading on GalleyChat tomorrow (4 p.m., Eastern — more info here).

To prime the pump, one of our regulars, Robin Beerbower, Readers Advisor at Salem (OR) Public Library, offers the following:

1) Jennifer Haigh, Faith, Harper, May — Like many of you, I adore this author and have loved everything she’s written (she’s the author of Mrs. Kimble, one of my top book group recommendations). An estranged daughter returns to Boston to help her Catholic family through the fallout of a scandal.

2) Michael Parker, The Watery Part of the World, Algonquin, April —  Michael Rockliff, who heads up library marketing at Workman, sent me this (Mike first introduced many of us to A Reliable Wife, so when he talks, we listen). It looks fantastic with one of the best cover art I’ve seen in a long time.  It’s based on the disappearance of Aaron Burr’s daughter, Theodosia, who disappeared in 1813 while going from South Carolina to New York.

3) Tayari Jones, Silver Sparrow, Algonquin, May — Another one from Michael. He’s really jazzed about this one. Almost looks like a cross between The Help and The Girl Who Fell From the Sky (in style, not plot).

4) Chevy Stevens, Never Knowing, St. Martins, July — Just got a bound manuscript of this one. Loved Still Missing, a GalleyChat favorite, and this looks as good, if not better.

5) Patrick DeWitt, The Sisters Brothers, Ecco, May — I’m excited to read this one because the author is from Oregon and it’s getting some good pre-pub buzz, most recently from Jonathan Evison, author of West of Here.  A historical novel about assassin brothers who travel from Oregon to the CA gold country. (Note: we’ve also heard from Wendy Bartlett, Coll. Dev. Manager at Cuyahoga, who says she’s buying extra copies — “after the popularity of True Grit, the ironic Western may be big.”)

6) Michael Lukas, The Oracle of Stamboul, Harper, Feb — Beautifully told historical novel (almost a fable) set in Turkey and featuring a young prodigy who changes the course of history. We shared the ARE with one of our library patrons who also loved it, calling in “haunting.”

Robin also put together a list of all the titles that came up in the last GalleyChat.

Thanks, Robin!

WEST OF HERE #1 Indie Pick

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Although its official release date is not until next week, some libraries have received their copies of the heavily-anticipated novel, West of Here. It’s been popular on GalleyChat, well-reviewed prepub (stars from Booklist, Library Journal and Publishers Weekly) and has been selected as the #1 Indie Next Pick for February.

West of Here
Jonathan Evison
Retail Price: $24.95
Hardcover: 496 pages
Publisher: Algonquin Books – (2011-02-15)
ISBN / EAN: 1565129520 / 9781565129528

Audio; Highbridge; 9781615731169; $39.95

On The Colbert Report This Week

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Colbert is giving the love to authors this week.

Mon, Jan. 31 — Dr. Paul Offit

Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All
Paul A. Offit M.D.
Retail Price: $27.50
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Basic Books – (2010-12-28)
ISBN / EAN: 0465021492 / 9780465021499

Tue, Feb. 1– Michael Lewis, The Big Short

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine
Michael Lewis
Retail Price: $27.95
Hardcover: 266 pages
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company – (2010-03-15)
ISBN / EAN: 0393072231 / 9780393072235

Lewis’s next book, coming in June, is Bomerang

Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World
Michael Lewis
Retail Price: $26.95
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company – (2011-06-13)
ISBN / EAN: 0393081818 / 9780393081817

Wed, Feb. 2 — Sean Kelly

All Things Shining: Reading the Western Classics to Find Meaning in a Secular Age
Hubert Dreyfus, Sean Dorrance Kelly
Retail Price: $26.00
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Free Press – (2011-01-04)
ISBN / EAN: 1416596151 / 9781416596158

Thurs, Feb. 3 — Jane McGonigal

Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World
Jane McGonigal
Retail Price: $26.95
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The – (2011-01-20)
ISBN / EAN: 1594202850 / 9781594202858

Oprah’s Vegan Challenge

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Expect an increase in interest in books about veganism. Beginning Tuesday, Oprah and 378 of her staff go vegan for a week. Michael Pollan and Kathy Freston will be featured on the show.

Freston’s latest book comes out tomorrow.

Veganist: Lose Weight, Get Healthy, Change the World
Kathy Freston
Retail Price: $25.00
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Weinstein Books – (2011-02-01)
ISBN / EAN: 1602861331 / 9781602861336

LITTLE PRINCES Leads Nonfiction Next Week

Friday, January 28th, 2011

Many of you are already aware of Little Princes: One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal by Conor Grennan (Morrow), from the author’s appearances at BEA and ALA. It’s the story of 29-year-old Grennan’s transformative experience volunteering in a Kathmandu orphanage, and going above and beyond the call of duty to reunite children taken from their parents by war-profiteers. It’s received a strong recommendation from SLJ’s Adult Books for Teens blogger Angela Carstensen.

Of course, it is drawing comparisons to Three Cups of Tea, but Carstensen says, “Conor has a wonderful voice all his own: self-deprecating sense of humor, and a real affection for his young charges, combined with a story of survival and rescue in a civil-war torn country. Perfect for summer reading, all-school reading, and One Book, One Community Reads.”

You will be hearing about this book in the media. Reuters profiled Grennan this week (also featured on the Huffington Post), USA Today is planning a profile, and the book is the #2 Indie Next Pick for February and, it is Costco’s Book Buyer’s pick for February. Grennan he will be making several appearances in libraries as part of his book tour.

Libraries are already showing holds that triple the modest orders.

Little Princes: One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal
Conor Grennan
Retail Price: $25.99
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: William Morrow – (2011-02-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0061930059 / 9780061930058

Thorndike; LP edition; 2/16; ISBN 9781410435279; $31.99

Other Notable Nonfiction On Sale Next Week

Live and Let Love: Notes from Extraordinary Women on the Layers, the Laughter, and the Litter of Love by Andrea Buchanan (Gallery) is a collection describing women facing various hardships. Buchanan will appear on Good Morning America on February 3.

Never Say Die: The Myth and Marketing of the New Old Age by Susan Jacoby (Pantheon) refutes the misconception of carefree old age usually perpetuated by sellers of “anti-aging” products. Kirkus calls it, “a cogently argued and well-written corrective to the fantasy of beating old age.”


Friday, January 28th, 2011

Of the debut novels going on sale next week, Swamplandia!, by New Yorker “20 Under 40″ writer Karen Russell, looks like one of the most promising. It builds on a short story from her 2006 collection St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves and tells the tale of the Bigtree family, operators of an alligator wrestling tourist attraction deep in the Everglades, after their star wrestler dies of cancer.

EW gives it an A- for “its effortless prose and its small, beautifully drawn cast of characters…while the novel deals in ghosts, whether actual ectoplasms or just unexorcisable memories, the characters, and their tale of family lost and found, remain triumphantly alive.”

Libraries we checked are showing orders in line with holds.

Karen Russell
Retail Price: $24.95
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Knopf – (2011-02-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0307263991 / 9780307263995

Usual Suspects

Deep Black: Death Wave by Stephen Coonts and William H. Keith (St. Martin’s) follows NSA operatives trying to stop a terrorist plot to cause a cataclysmic landslide in the Canary Islands. PW is not impressed: “Coonts and Keith employ a laundry list of familiar elements in their ho-hum third Deep Black thriller.”

Fatal Error: A Novel by J.A. Jance (Touchstone), the sixth mystery with journalist-turned-police officer Ali Reynolds, gets love from PW: “the plot never stalls and leads to a logical and exciting finale.”

In Fire Forged: Worlds of Honor V by David Weber (Baen) continues the science fiction Honor Harrington series.

Young Adult Novels

Delirium by Lauren Oliver (HarperCollins), the follow-up to the bestselling debut Before I Fall (2010), takes place in a dystopian near future where love is considered a disease and is erradicated by mandatory medical procedures. PW says, “Oliver’s nightmare future lacks a visceral punch, primarily because of the weakness of the world-building. Her America has undergone a seismic shift, but the economic, religious, and cultural ramifications are all but ignored.”

Silverlicious by Victoria Kann (HarperCollins) continues the Pinkalicious children’s book series. PW says, “ungrateful Pinkalicious eventually learns that real sweetness comes from inside, but readers may wonder why it takes so long for the heroine to change her tune.”

Also Worth Watching

Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino (Minotaur)  is the U.S. debut of one of Japan’s bestselling crime novelists, about a woman who kills her abusive ex-husband, and hides the body with her neighbor, while seeking the ultimate logical alibi. The Wall St. Journal says, “Whether it amounts to math, philosophy, psychology or cosmology, The Devotion of Suspect X is an elegant literary experiment. It suggests, among much else, that a lot of bad behavior is forgiven in the name of genius—and then even a genius can push the envelope just so far before it breaks.”

The Oracle of Stamboul by Michael David Lukas (HarperCollins) is a debut novel about a child prodigy in 19th century Turkey who has a profound effect on itspolitical and cultural leaders. Baker & Taylor included it in its Galley Mailing for November, and librarians are giving it enthusiastic early reads. LJ says “first novel by a promising young writer is both vivid historical fiction and a haunting fable. It will appeal to a wide range of readers.”

The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore by Benjamin Hale (Twelve) is the fictional memoir of a talking, reading chimpanzee held for murder, who goes on the lam with a woman who becomes his lover. It was highlighted at the BEA Editors Buzz Panel by Associate Publisher Cary Goldstein. And despite the questionable premise, it gets an enthusiastic review in New York Newsday, which calls it “one rollicking story. Adventure tale, love story, science fiction, novel of ideas – this one’s got it all.”

Prayers and Lies by Sherri Wood Emmons (Kensington) is a debut novel about two young girls and a family secret, set in the Coal River Valley of West Virginia. LJ says it’s “a bit like a West Virginia version of the 1998 Todd Solondz film “Happiness”—technically good, but everyone will need a quick jolt of antidepressants afterward. Readable, but only for those with a penchant for realistic, dark stories.”


Friday, January 28th, 2011

We’re fans of author Francisco Goldman, so we’re excited to hear that Monday’s New Yorker will feature a piece adapted from Goldman’s forthcoming book, Say Her Name, to be published by Grove Press in April 2011. Below is  the publisher’s description,

In the summer of 2007, acclaimed writer Francisco Goldman’s young wife Aura Estrada died from injuries sustained in a surfing accident on a beach in Mexico. Blamed for Aura’s death by her family and blaming himself, Goldman wanted to die too. But instead, he wrote Say Her Name–a deeply personal novel about Aura and his life with her, weighing the glorious gifts of their shared journey against its heavy costs.

Several librarians were attended special dinners that Grove Atlantic gave for Goldman (the one in San Francisco was co-sponsored by EarlyWord).

Copies of the book as an eGalley are available on NetGalley.

Say Her Name: A Novel
Francisco Goldman
Retail Price: $24.00
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Grove Press – (2011-04-05)
ISBN / EAN: 0802119816 / 9780802119810

Superheroes for the Uninitiated

Thursday, January 27th, 2011
Superheroes are everywhere lately: the inspiration for films (Green Lantern, Thor, Captain America, Batman) and television shows like No Ordinary Family and The Cape. Unfortunately for folks intrigued about the source comics, superhero stories feel like a fans-only world. Background information can be gained from knowledgable fans (see NPR’s Glen Weldon’s informative and hilarious rundown on just who all these Green men are) but for readers skeptical of costumed heroes, diving right in is a tough sell. With decades of back story that shift and change to hook each new generation of readers, trying to enter today’s continuities can be intimidating at best and baffling at worst.

It’s a shame. While some superheroes still conform to the stereotypes of whizz-bang action and moralistic heroism, others represent some of the best comics today. Christopher Nolan has proven Batman’s dramatic strength in film but readers may not realize that the bones of that success come directly from rich and dynamic comics.

Among pop culture icons like Batman and Captain America, there are stories that stand out for adult readers. In the Batman universe, classics like Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One, Alan Moore’s Batman: The Killing Joke and Batman: Arkham Asylum are must-reads, and all were source materials for Nolan’s take on the universe. With solid storytelling and no need to know more than the basics of who Batman is, these single-volume windows into Batman’s mission are engaging crime dramas that show off both the character and the grim Gotham Nolan brought to the screen. Many of the Year One series of titles, including personal favorites Green Arrow: Year One and Batgirl: Year One, are well worth seeking out as starter lessons on DC’s heroes.

With the news that Anne Hathaway has been cast as the sex bomb Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman, in Nolan’s third and final Batman film, now is a good time to catch up with one of Batman’s finest foils. Sexy, amoral, brilliant, and loyal in her own special way, Catwoman has never been a true supervillian. Rather, she orbits Batman to poke giant holes in his rigid, unforgiving view of the world. Selina Kyle is a cat burglar by trade, and her skill at heists and existence apart from being Batman’s dangerous flirt is brought to action-packed life in the Catwoman series. Start with Catwoman: When in Rome for Jeph Loeb and artist Tim Sale’s impeccably gorgeous stand alone caper or pick up in Cooke’s retro series starting with Catwoman: The Dark End of the Street to see why Catwoman remains an icon.

Impossible to overlook on Marvel’s side, Ed Brubaker’s writing in Captain America in the past few years has been nothing short of outstanding. While the widely reported deaths of favorite superheroes are not unjustly derided as media stunts (see the death of Superman), the narrative leading up to and through the death of Captain America is complex, sincerely emotional, and a compelling parallel for real-life concerns about the conflict between privacy and security. Start with Captain America: Winter Soldier to appreciate the full arc of storytelling, or jumping ahead to another storyline, start with Civil War: Captain America. Along the way you may have to remind yourself who Bucky is (the Cap’s original teen sidekick), but otherwise the storyline works just fine with what you already know: Steve Rogers is a WWII hero who can feel out of time, heads the Avengers, and hangs out with Tony Stark (aka Iron Man.)

On the ladies’ side, this past year has seen Batwoman break down barriers by becoming the female lead of DC Comics flagship series, Detective Comics. Female readers (and quite a few male readers) have bemoaned the lack of a female superhero who was not only an equal to Superman or Batman but who took the lead in her own series and managed to sidestep donning a costume that was a more fetish object for fans than practical armor for fighting crime. As Batwoman, a counterpart to Batman, Kate Kane has existed since the 1950s, but in scribe Greg Rucka’s expert hands she has become a powerhouse reinterpretation. She echoes her namesake in brawn, deduction, and psychological damage, but she is also a departure from Batman’s blue-blood roots. A proud ex-military fighter and an out lesbian who’s personal history is coming back to haunt her in the Batwoman: Elegy storyline, she is giant step toward what fans have been craving.  With J. H. Williams’s breathtaking art, this series is recent enough that readers can start with the first volume and feel like they’re getting in on the ground floor.

In this post I’ve just touched on the most recognizable superheroes. In my next installment, I’ll take a look at some excellent superheroes from outside these universes.

HUNGER GAMES Movie Release Date

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Fans have a little over a year to wait for the movie version of Hunger Games; the release was just scheduled for March 23, 2012. Production is set to begin later this spring.

Director Gary Ross (Pleasantville, Seabiscuit) has not yet cast the lead. Currently, speculation is focused on Hailee Steinfeld, just nominated for an Oscar for True Grit.

Author of “O” Revealed

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Time magazine confirms that the anonymous author of O: A Presidential Novel is Mark Salter (as guessed by Page Six).

Both Salter and S&S Publisher Jonathan Karp declined to comment, but Time says the identity has been confirmed “by sources.”

Did Colbert Write “O”?

Thursday, January 27th, 2011


The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Anonymous Insider Author Speculation
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog</a> Video Archive

Chua on Colbert

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

A recent tweet about Tiger Mother — “In China, Amy Chua is ‘American Mom.'”

On Colbert last night, Chua said that she thinks the values she tries to instill in her children are fundamental American values.

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Amy Chua
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog</a> Video Archive

Clues to “O”

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Jonathan Karp on the Today Show:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Winning Sentences

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

In this age of text messaging, it’s comforting to know that the book How to Write a Sentence can become a best seller.

Stanley Fish’s book rose to #15 on Amazon’s sales rankings after he appeared on NPR’s Talk of the Nation yesterday (listen here).

Fish lists his top five favorite sentences on Slate yesterday (does it say something that the most recent one is from 1935?). Slate is also running a contest; readers list their favorite sentences and Fish will pick the best one. The contest runs through midnight, Eastern on Thursday; let’s see a librarian win this one.

How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One
Stanley Fish
Retail Price: $19.99
Hardcover: 176 pages
Publisher: Harper – (2011-02-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0061840548 / 9780061840548


Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

One of the most reviewed books recently is David Vann’s Caribou Island, which arrives with high expectations, as signaled by an author profile by Charles McGrath featured on the Jan. 15 cover of the NYT‘s Arts section.

McGrath says that the book had already been “enthusiastically” reviewed in the Washington Post, a strange description for a review that begins by suggesting the reader, “Approach David Vann’s first novel the way you would a fresh grave – with a mixture of fascination and fear,” and concludes with,

…is the ending too much, too Gothic, too masochistic in its determination to make these hapless characters pay for surviving, for imagining that hope isn’t a cheat? As the final pages rise into the piercing registry of Cormac McCarthy… some readers may spot Vann’s thumb on the scale, making sure every drop of agony is paid. But just wait: For a few moments after this perfectly choreographed horror, it’s impossible to say anything at all.

It’s a curious dilemma; how do you recommend a book about a disintegrating marriage that ends with little hope? It’s echoed in subsequent reviews:

NYT BR; Caribou Island gets to places other novels can’t touch. By the end, I felt the senseless logic of the dream. Though it wears the clothes of realism — the beautiful exactness of the language, the unerring eye for detail — it takes us someplace darker, older, more powerful than the daylit world.

Alan Cheuse, All Things Considered; NPR, Despite multiple story lines, which…appear somewhat badly nailed together, Caribou Island builds to an horrific climax and stands as an engrossing and disturbing work of art.

Seattle Times; a beautifully gloomy debut novel.

San Francisco Chronicle; David Vann portrays a failing marriage with stinging precision. The slow boil of pent-up resentments rang so true, I found myself wanting reassurance from my own spouse that all was well…Abounding in language that heightens our senses for the next evocative metaphor, Caribou Island gives us a climax as haunting and realized as any in recent fiction.

Cleveland Plain Dealer;  Vann… tips his book into horror, and then grinds out the last ember like a cigarette butt. It burns for a long, queasy time.

It seems readers are not put off; many libraries are showing high hold ratios on light ordering.

Caribou Island: A Novel
David Vann
Retail Price: $25.99
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Harper – (2011-01-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0061875724 / 9780061875724

Blackstone Audio;UNABR; read by Bronson Pinchot
OverDrive; Adobe EPUB eBook; OverDrive WMA Audiobook