New Title Radar: Week of August 29

Dick Cheney and Tom Perrotta grab attention for books coming next week, while Simon Garfield‘s book about type fonts gets high praise. Titles to watch include the promising start of a new thriller series by Amanda Kyle William.  Usual suspects include James Patterson and Jude Devereaux. Nonfiction includes veteran Karl Marlantes‘s meditation on what it’s like to go to war, and Patrica Bosworth‘s much praised bio of Jane Fonda.

Media Darlings

In My Time: A Personal and Poltical Memoir by Dick Cheney (Threshold Editions; Simon and Schuster Audio, abridged) is scheduled for a torrent of prime time attention leading into its publication this coming Tuesday, and has already received an embargo-breaking review by Michiko Kakutani in the New York Times. The former Vice President’s memoir is unlikely to get high marks for candor, but with a media blitz that his publisher is touting as one of the “largest nonfiction rollouts in publishing history,” he will be hard to miss.

The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta (St. Martin’s; Macmillan Audio) explores the lives of suburbanites left behind after the Rapture. Perrotta’s sixth novel has garnered an early New York Times review, in which Michiko Kakutani finds it “cartoony and melodramatic,” yet saved by “Perrotta’s affectionate but astringent understanding of his characters and their imperfections”. It also got an early NPR interview, and is an Oprah Book to Watch for in September. Though it’s Perotta’s darkest novel yet, this one was a favorite among librarians who joined our GalleyChat after ALA , and independent booksellers made it a September Indie Next Pick. It has been signed for an HBO series, says Variety.

Just My Type: A Book About Fonts by Simon Garfield (Penguin) argues that type fonts carry their own meaning, and explores what we are saying when we choose one. Already a hit in the UK, it got an early review in the New York Times, in which Janet Maslin enthused, “This is a smart, funny, accessible book that does for typography what Lynne Truss’s best-selling Eats, Shoots & Leaves did for punctuation: made it noticeable for people who had no idea they were interested in such things…Mr. Garfield has put together a lot of good stories and questions about font subtleties and font-lovers’ fanaticism.”

Watch List

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward (Bloomsbury) chronicles the 12 days leading up to Hurricane Katrina from the point of view of a pregnant 14-year-old black girl living with her three brothers and father in poverty on the edge of Bois Sauvage, Miss. Booklist says, “this coming-of-age story tends at times to get lost in its style…[but it is] redeemed by the empathetic family [Ward] has created.” It’s an Oprah Book to Watch for in September, and also an Indie Next Pick for the same month.

The Stranger You Seek by Amanda Kyle William (Bantam) features a damaged Asian-American PI who fights her own personal demons while hunting for a serial killer, in the start of a new thriller series following William’s Madison Maguire paperback mysteries of the early 1990s. Booklist calls it “a character-driven, nonstop thriller with flashes of wit and romance that builds to a harrowing climax; fans of the genre will want to get in at the start.”

You Deserve Nothing by Alexander Kolya Maksik (Europa Editions) is a cautionary tale about a brilliant teacher in Paris, and his imperfections. Kirkus says, “Some of the best scenes in the novel involve the reconstruction of the philosophical give-and-take of his classroom, Will’s efforts to get his students to think and to make the literature their own.” It’s a September Indie Next Pick.

Northwest Angle by William Kent Krueger (Atria; Brilliance Audio) is the 11th Cork O’Connor mystery, this time set on an Ojibwa reservation in the remote Minnesota-Canadian border region. PW says, “Krueger never writes the same book twice as each installment finds him delving deeper into Cork’s psyche.” It’s another September Indie Next Pick.

Usual Suspects

Kill Me If You Can by James Patterson (Grand Central; Hachette Audio) is about a hard-up art student who finds a bag containing $13 million worth of diamonds during an attack on New York’s Grand Central Station, and makes off with it, only to be trailed by an assassin.

The Cut (Spero Lucas series) by George Pelecanos (Reagan Arthur/Little, Brown; Hachette AudioAudioGo) is the first in a new series by Pelecanos, who was already interviewed about it on NPR’s Morning Edition last month.

Heartwishes: An Edilean Novel by Jude Deveraux (Atria; S&S Audio) follows the hunt for a magic stone that grants wishes.

A Trick of the Light (Armand Gamache Series #7) by Louise Penny (Minotaur; Macmillan Audio; Thorndike Large Print) is the latest mystery featuring Chief Inspector Gamache, the head of homicide at the Sûreté du Québec, this time set in a tiny Quebec village where the art world is gathered. Booklist says in a starred review: “Penny has been compared to Agatha Christie [but] it sells her short. Her characters are too rich, her grasp of nuance and human psychology too firm.” This one is also a Sept Indie Next Pick.

Young Adult

The Medusa Plot by Gordon Korman (Scholastic) is the sixth book in the 39 Clues series, which is accompanied by two secret-filled card packs, and a website. This time, 13-year-old Dan Cahill and his older sister, who thought they belonged to the world’s most powerful family, discover their family members are being kidnapped by a shadowy group known only as the Vespers.


What It Is Like to Go to War by Karl Marlantes (Atlantic Monthly; Blackstone Audio) chronicles the real Vietnam War experiences of the author of Matterhorn. PW calls it “a riveting, powerfully written account of how, after being taught to kill, he learned to deal with the aftermath. Citing a Navajo tale of two warriors who returned home to find their people feared them until they learned to sing about their experience, Marlantes learns the lesson, concluding, ‘This book is my song.’ ”

Jane Fonda: The Private Life of a Public Woman by Patricia Bosworth (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) is a biography of the actress, fitness instructor, entrepreneur, philanthropist and activist that’s been 10 years in the making, written by a friend of Fonda’s who is also an accomplished biographer and Vanity Fair journalist. People gives it 4 of 4 stars and make it a People Pick in the 9/5 issue: “it is more than 500 pages and not one is wasted…[Bosworth] has written an astute accounting of a woman of deep contradictions, a depressive plagued by bulimia and self-doubt.” PW says, “With access to Fonda’s FBI files and personal papers, plus extensive interviews with her family and colleagues, Bosworth has succeeded in capturing Fonda’s step-by-step transformation from wide-eyed, apolitical ingénue to the poised personality of recent decades.”

Where You Left Me by Jennifer Gardner Trulson (Gallery Books) is a 9/11 widow’s memoir by the wife of Doug Gardner, an executive broker and father of two, who was one of the 658 Cantor Fitzgerald employees killed in the Twin Towers. Kirkus calls this “uneven, but in its stronger moments, the book provides trenchant insights into one woman’s resilience and makes a respectable entry in the burgeoning field of 9/11 widow memoirs.”

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