Archive for April, 2011


Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Here’s a genius idea; rebuild fan frenzy for the long-delayed movie of The Hobbit by releasing regular vlogs from the set. Below is the first, hosted by the director, Peter Jackson.

The production has suffered through changes of director, financial problems at MGM, a New Zealand actors’ guild standoff, followed by Jackson being hospitalized for a perforated ulcer. The vlog goes a long way to restoring faith that filming has actually begun.

The epic will be released as two films, a year apart; the first arrives in December, 2012.

Official Movie Site:


New Book Review

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

A new online book publication with an unfortunate acronym is in the midst of a launch, the Los Angeles Review of Books, or LORB. It is supported by the U. of Cal Riverside, where editor Ton Lutz is on the faculty, and other donors. The publication has an impressively long roster of contributing editors, including James Franco (we’re assuming that is the same James Franco as the author, actor, film director, screenwriter, painter, etc.)

Today, LORB released its first sample, which includes an essay on Nancy Mitford by Jane Smiley, Buster Keaton and the World of Objects by Geoff Nicholson, and The Death of the Book by Ben Ehrenreich.

Under “Further Information,”  the editors outline ambitious goals:

The LOS ANGELES REVIEW OF BOOKS is the first major, full-service book review to launch in the 21st century, and is designed to exploit the latest online technologies in ways that respond to a significantly transformed publishing world.  We are still working on the coding for the full site, and offer this ‘preview review’ in the meantime.

The great tradition of the American comprehensive book review, in magazine and newspaper form, has been in its death throes for years, replaced in partial and inadequate ways by crowd-sourced or user-generated forums for book talk on the web. There are numerous blogs, some quite excellent (and we will have deep linking relationships with the best of them), but very little in the way of full-range book reviewing—rigorously edited, carefully curated, deeply informed discourse by experts in their respective fields—has been mounted to take the place of the dwindling print reviews. The disappearance of the newspaper book review supplement … has been accompanied by an explosion of titles in the book market. The net result: twenty times as many titles are published each year than were in 1980, and we have one twentieth of the serious book reviews.

Unfortunately, none of the books published recently get serious attention in the currently available sample (in fact, the Keaton piece makes passing reference to just a single book; Keaton’s autobiography, which he dictated, but never read).

We’ll be watching to see how LORB develops. The list of forthcoming articles, however, promises more of what’s in the sample.

Kindle Library Lending Coming to OverDrive

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Amazon announced this morning that they are working with OverDrive to make eBooks available for Kindle users later this year. The story is being carried by several national news sources:

NYT, Media Decoder blog; Coming to Your Kindle: Library Books

CNN, Amazon announces e-book loans for the Kindle

TIME; Amazon Announces e-Book Lending Partnership with Local Libraries

Wall Street Journal; Amazon to Add Library Lending to Kindle

The Associated Press; Amazon says library e-books coming to the Kindle

Specific question about the program are being addressed on the OverDrive blog.

Library Response to THREE CUPS OF TEA Scandal

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Questions about the truth of Greg Mortenson’s books and his handling of his charity continue to roil in the press in the wake of a 60 Minutes investigation. The AP reports that Montana’s attorney general is now looking in to the charity, which is headquartered in Bozeman. Publisher Viking is also investigating the book.

On school librarian listservs, many are vigorously defending Mortenson. As one librarian put it,

I can tell you this: our school did an all-school read this year using the Three Cups book. I wanted our students to see how important education is in other parts of the world and to realize how we take it for granted here. This project would not have been possible without the generous donation from the CAI of 650 books totally FREE. I know that many other schools and libraries have also received such donations.

Author John Krakauer, who contributed money to Mortenson’s charity, the Central Asia Institute, has published his own 89-page inquiry [downloadable free through today. After that, it can be purchased through Amazon’s Kindle Singles]. According to Krakauer, books donated to programs like the one at the above school library are bought at retail by the CAI from outlets that report to bestseller lists. As a result, Mortenson receives a royalty on each book and the sales help to boost best seller list rankings.

If the donated books are $16 paperbacks, that is $10,400 of the CAI’s money literally donated to the school. I doubt that the people who gave money to Mortenson’s cause would be happy to hear their money went to this, rather than to building schools and educating those without resources.

Librarians who have upcoming programs based on the books are left in a sticky situation. They aren’t the only ones; the University of Louisville had just announced plans to present Mortenson with an education award and are left wondering whether to go ahead with it. Officials told the local newspaper that they hope “the reports are unfounded, but will watch closely as the situation unfolds.”

Should libraries cancel upcoming programs? Given the ongoing investigations, it may be premature to do so now. And, this does offer the opportunity for a rich discussion of responsibility and accountability.

What about withdrawing the books? I think most of us would agree that access gives the reading public an opportunity to consider all the information and draw their own conclusions. For children’s selectors there is the further issue of the spin-offs. The middle-grade adaptation and the picture book are both simplistic retellings and perhaps selectors should just pass until the smoke clears.


Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Yesterday’s news about the forthcoming publication of a Sarah Palin tell-all, titled Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin, by former aide Frank Bailey, sent the book up Amazon’s sales rankings to #119. Described as a “chilling expose” by the publisher, the book is due May 24th.

Palin just launched a new Web site, fueling speculation that she will run for President in 2012.

Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin: A Memoir of Our Tumultuous Years
Frank Bailey, Jeanne Devon
Retail Price: $26.00
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Howard Books/ S&S – (2011-05-24)
ISBN / EAN: 1451654405 / 9781451654400

Another crictical look at Palin is coming in September by journalist Joe McGinniss, titled The Rogue. McGinniss was in the spotlight last year when his move to a home next door to Palin’s sparked a feud between the two. At the time, McGinnis said the response from Palin and her supporters reveals her “…power…to incite hatred and her willingness and readiness to do it.”

Bailey’s manuscript was leaked to the press in February, raising claims that McGinnis was the source, as part of an effort to reduce the rival title’s “marketability.”

The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin
Joe McGinniss
Retail Price: $25.00
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Crown – (2011-09-20)
ISBN / EAN: 0307718921 / 9780307718921

Random House Audio; 9780307941282

More From Mortenson

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

Following a critical 60 Minutes story about the running of his charity and the truth of events recounted in his best selling books, Greg Mortenson responded via an interview in his local newspaper. He has now also given a lengthy interview to Outside online (via GalleyCat).

Noting that he is not a journalist, he says his co-author on Three Cups of Tea, David Oliver Relin, insisted that it was necessary to create a narrative arc out of Mortenson’s various trips to Afghanistan and Pakistan, so,

…rather than me going two or three times to one place, [Relin] would synthesize it into one trip. I would squawk about it and be told that it would all work out.

Mortenson’s publisher, Viking, has announced that they are conducting their own investigation into the accuracy of the books.

THE HELP First Trailer

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

Here it is:



Monday, April 18th, 2011

Having just won the National Book Critics Circle fiction award, Jennifer Egan is now adding the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction to the awards for A Visit from the Goon Squad, (Knopf). The two finalists were The Privileges by Jonathan Dee (Random House) and The Surrendered by Chang-rae Lee (Riverhead Books). Absent from the list is Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, which is often mentioned in the same breath as Egan’s book (The Guardian recently pointed out that the two books share similar themes). In the introduction to a recent interview, Entertainment Weekly writes,

Unlike Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, which had years’ worth of hype before it sold its first copy, A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan, released last summer, has been a slower-burning literary sensation.

A Visit from the Goon Squad has just been released in paperback. Many libraries are showing heavy reserve ratios.

A Visit from the Goon Squad
Jennifer Egan
Retail Price: $14.95
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Anchor – (2011-03-22)
ISBN / EAN: 9780307477477 / 9780307477477


AudioGo (formerly BBC AudioBooks); 9780792771746; 8 CD’s; $79.95
Adobe EPUB eBook from OverDrive

In the other book categories, the winners are:


The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery, Eric Foner (W. W. Norton)

Audio: Tantor Media; OverDrive WMA Audiobook


Washington: A Life. Ron Chernow (The Penguin Press)

Large Type; Thorndike; 9781410431172
Audio: Books on Tape and Playaway


The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, Siddhartha Mukherjee (Scribner)

Audio: Tantor Media


The Best of It: New and Selected Poems,  Kay Ryan (Grove Press)

The Ultimate Accolade

Monday, April 18th, 2011

Abraham Verghese, a doctor and the author of Cutting for Stone (STILL on the NYT Trade Paperback best seller list, now at #3, after 63 weeks) gives Diane Ackerman’s book about her husband’s stroke, One Hundred Names for Love, an accolade many writers dream about. In his review in Sunday’s NYT Book Review, he writes,

This book has done what no other has for me in recent years: it has renewed my faith in the redemptive power of love, the need to give and get it unstintingly, to hold nothing back, settle for nothing less, because when flesh and being and even life fall away, love endures. This book is proof.

One Hundred Names for Love: A Stroke, a Marriage, and the Language of Healing
Diane Ackerman
Retail Price: $26.95
Hardcover: 322 pages
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company – (2011-04-04)
ISBN / EAN: 9780393072419 / 9780393072419

Large Print; Thorndike; 9781410436481
Audio; Recorded Books

Ackerman’s long-running best seller, The Zookeeper’s Wife, was signed for a movie in September, but there has been no news about it since.

Tech Visionary or Bitter Billionaire

Monday, April 18th, 2011

In his book Idea Man, (Portfolio/Penguin) arriving tomorrow, Paul Allen levels accusations against his former partner, Bill Gates. Lesley Stahl interviews Allen on 60 Minutes and ends by wondering whether he is a “Tech Visionary” or a “Bitter Billionaire.”


Monday, April 18th, 2011

Last night, CBS 60 Minutes aired an investigation into complaints about how Greg Mortenson runs his charitable foundation and whether all the stories in his best sellers, Three Cups of Tea and Stones Into Schools, are true.

Mortenson chose not to appear on the show to defend himself, but denied most of the allegations in a story in his hometown newspaper, admitting that some of the events recounted in his books are “compressed,” and revealing he is about to undergo heart surgery. He also asked supporters to circulate a letter he wrote in his defense (a columnist, while cheering on Mortenson, analyzes this as an approach to mustering grassroots support pioneered by Sarah Palin).


Friday, April 15th, 2011

The big book news this weekend comes from TV; after years of trying to make it happen, A Game of Thrones (Bantam), the first in George R.R. Martin’s fantasy epic finally hits screens on Sunday, beginning a 10-episode run on HBO. Reviews are strong; USA Today says “It’s hard to imagine a better screen transfer.” Attests the San Francisco Chronicle, “Beyond violence and sex…[the] series pulls in viewers with intrigue and character and doesn’t let go.” For those who feel fantasy is not their cup of tea, series star Sean Bean says it has more in common with The Sopranos than Tolkein, albeit with a different landscape.

HBO clearly thinks it has a hit on its hands; they’ve ordered up yet another series based on a fantasy epic, Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.

Martin fans got more good news recently; A Dance with Dragons, the fifth book in A Song of Ice and Fire series, which began with A Game of  Thrones, is coming on July 12th.

For those not already familiar with the story, helpful guides are already appearing online, raising the question of whether a series that needs elaborate scorecards will sit well with television viewers.

New Title Radar, Week of 4/17

Friday, April 15th, 2011

The week leading in to the Easter holiday weekend is dominated by repeat authors, including a new David Baldacci.

GalleyChat RA Pick

The Tragedy of Arthur by Arthur Phillips (Random House) is the author’s fifth novel. About a long-lost Shakespeare play, PW gives it a starred review, and calls it “a sublime faux memoir framed as the introduction to the play’s first printing—a Modern Library edition, of course.” It got mentions in our recent GalleyChat: one participant called it “quirky and rompish” and likened it to Michael Crummey’s Galore. Entertainment Weekly gives it an A- in the new issue, “Phillips invests the metafictional gamesmanship with bracing intelligence and genuine heart. The fun starts with the opening line — ‘I have never much liked Shakespeare’ — and the energy never flags as the book develops into both a literary mystery and a surprisingly effective critique of the Bard.”

Usual Suspects

The Sixth Man by David Baldacci (Grand Central) is a new mystery with former Secret Service agents and current private investigators Sean King and Michelle Maxwell.

Eve by Iris Johansen (St. Martin’s Press) features forensic sculptor Eve Duncan in her 11th investigation, and the first installment in a new trilogy, in which she works to solve a case that has haunted her for years; the abduction and murder of her own seven-year-old daughter Bonnie. Fans will not have long to wait for the other books in the trilogy; Quinn is coming this July, followed by Bonnie in October.

The Priest’s Graveyard by Ted Dekker (Center Street) is the story of a vigilante priest and a woman dedicated to avenging the man she loved. Booklist says it’s “skillfully written, surprising, and impossible to put down. It might, in fact, be his best novel to date.” It arrives complete with its own book trailer.

Quicksilver: Book Two of the Looking Glass Trilogy by Amanda Quick (Putnam) is a paranormal romance, the latest in her Arcane Society series.

The Silver Boat by Luanne Rice (Pamela Dorman Books) is a portrait of three sisters who come home to Martha’s Vineyard one last time and has a 100,000-copy print run. Rice was a featured author at the ALA MidWinter Author Tea.


Reading My Father: A Memoir by Alexandra Styron (Scribner) is William Styron’s youngest daughter’s exploration of his talent, and whether it justified his alcohol abuse and the debilitating depression that cast a long shadow over his wife and four children. Entertainment Weekly gives it an A-.

Idea Man: A Memoir by the Cofounder of Microsoft by Paul Allen (Portfolio) gives an insider’s account of the dawning of the digital age. “Allen offers a clearheaded diagnosis of Microsoft’s problems, including its complicated future,” says BusinessWeek, adding that “Allen can be a scatterbrain. That quality slips into his writing.” An excerpt in Vanity Fair, made advance headlines because of Allen’s pointed criticism of former partner, Bill Gates. Allen will appear on 60 Minutes on Sunday.

Young Adult

Twelfth Grade Kills #5: The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod by Heather Brewer (Penguin) is the final installment in this series about a teenage vampire who has spent the last four years trying to handle the pressures of school while sidestepping a slayer out for his blood.


Thursday, April 14th, 2011

Expect to see Tina Fey’s memoir, Bossypants, arrive at #1 on the upcoming 4/24/11 NYT Print Hardcover Best Seller list.

It’s been receiving considerable media attention, including an interview with Fey on NPR’s Fresh Air last night and on Oprah this week (where she revealed that she is pregnant with her second child).


Tina Fey
Retail Price: $26.99
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books – (2011-04-05)
ISBN / EAN: 0316056863 / 9780316056861


Large Print; Little, Brown, 9780316177894

“New” Dr. Seuss; NPR Sneak Peek

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

Arriving this fall is a collection of “lost” stories by Dr. Seuss. The book came about in an interesting way, as revealed on All Things Considered last night. Via eBay, a Random House art director discovered a Dr. Seuss-obsessed collector who had identified magazines from the ’50’s featuring Seuss stories (he had a great business of buying the magazines for a few dollars and reselling them, with the Seuss name noted, for $200 to $400). Those, combined with some stories that were partially finished at Seuss’s death and voilà, The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories.

The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories
Retail Price: $15.00
Hardcover: 72 pages
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers – (2011-09-27)
ISBN / EAN: 0375864350 / 9780375864353