Archive for September, 2011

The Big First Novel Sweepstakes

Friday, September 16th, 2011

Winning this fall’s Big First Novel Sweepstakes so far is The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach, (Little, Brown; Hachette Large Print), a book we’ve been writing about since it was introduced at BEA. It rises to #3 on the 9/15 Indie Bestseller list, from #15 last week, its first week on sale. We hear it will  arrive at #6 on the 9/25 NYT list, coming out later today (the list dates are confusing, but both cover virtually the same time period).

The spoiler on next week’s lists could be The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (Doubleday, 9/13; Audio, RH Audio and Books on Tape; Large Print, Center Point), published this week after much fanfare. It’s outselling the other big debuts on both Amazon and B& Holds are growing in libraries and are heavy where ordering is light.

Below are the rankings for the rest of the titles on the new Indie Fiction List, with links to our coverage:

Rules of Civility, Amor Towles (Viking, 7/26;  Books on TapePenguin Audio; audio on OverDrive; LT in Dec. from Thorndike) — #5 after 7 weeks; technically this is not a fall title, since it came out the end of July, but it’s keeping some of the other titles out of the top 5. Libraries report that holds picked up after it was an Early Show on Saturday Morning book club pick.

The Language of FlowersVanessa Diffenbaugh, (8/23; Audio, Random House Audio and Books on Tape and OverDrive; Large Print, Thorndike) — #7, down from #6 after 3 weeks; EarlyWord‘s coverage

We The Animals, Justin Torres. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Blackstone Audio) — #9, moving up from #14 last week; on our Watch List for the week of 9/5

The Submission, Amy Waldman, (FSG; Audio, AudioGo; Large Type, Thorndike)  — #13, first week; THE SUBMISSION — Michiko Likes It!

New Title Radar – Week of September 19

Friday, September 16th, 2011

The book people are likely to be talking about next week, has already been in the headlines this week. Joe McGinniss’s The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin (Crown) arrives on Tuesday, along with another take Palin by her almost-son-in-law and metaphor-mixer, Levi Johnston, Deer in the Headlights: My Life in Sarah Palin’s Crosshairs (Touchstone/S&S). Check our earlier stories for more on both books.

Also competing for the headlines that day is Pulitzer Prize-winner Ron Suskind‘s examination of  Obama and the financial crisis, Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President. The AP reported one of the book’s revelations yesterday, “Treasury Secretary Ignored Obama Directive.”

Below, more on it, and the other titles you’ll need to know next week.

Watch List

Habibi by Craig Thompson (Pantheon) is a the author’s first graphic novel in seven years, a “lushly epic love story that’s both inspiring and heartbreaking,” according to PW, that recounts the story of a modern Arabic girl sold into marriage at age nine, who’s captured by slave traders and escapes with an abandoned toddler, who becomes her companion and eventually her great love. An interview with the author is featured in New York magazine’s fall preview. They note that the author’s 2003 graphic memoir, Blankets, “won its Portland, Oregon, author just about every cartooning award there is.”

Fan Favorites

Reamde by Neal Stephenson (William Morrow; Brilliance Audio) is a thriller in which a wealthy tech entrepreneur gets caught in the very real crossfire of his own online fantasy war game. If your’e worried about how to pronounce that title, listen to the approved, official pronunciation hereBooklist says, “not many writers can make a thousand-page book feel like it’s over before you know it, but Stephenson, author of Cryptonomicon (928 pages), Anathem (981), and the three-volume Baroque Cycle (about 900 each), is a master of character, story, and pacing.”

Usual Suspects

Lethal by Sandra Brown (Grand Central; Hachette Audio; AudioGo; Grand Central Large Print) revolves around a woman and her four year old daughter held hostage by an accused murderer who claims that he must retrieve something extremely valuable that her late cop husband possessed. LJ says, “Fast paced and full of surprises, this taut thriller, marking the author’s return to Grand Central, features a large cast of superbly drawn characters and the perfect amounts of realistic dialog and descriptive prose. Brown, who began her career writing romance novels, also adds palpable romantic tension to the proceedings. Public libraries should expect high demand.”

Son of Stone: A Stone Barrington Novel by Stuart Woods (Putnam; Penguin Audio; Thorndike Large Print) finds Stone Barrington back in New York, though his former love, Arrington Calder, has other plans for him, including introducing him to the child he fathered many years ago. Booklist says, “most of the book focuses on Stone setting [his son] up in an elite private school and [his son’s] application to Yale, which doesn’t make for the most scintillating reading. The pace picks up toward the end, though, when Arrington’s menacing former suitor decides to exact revenge [on Stone and Arrington].”


You Have to Stop This (Secret Series #5) by Pseudonymous Bosch (Little Brown Books for Young Readers) is the final book in Bosch’s Secret Series. It revolves around the disappearance of a mummy from a local museum. Cass and her friends Max-Ernest and Yo-Yoji try to solve the case.

Everything on It by Shel Silverstein (HarperCollins) is a posthumous collection of Silverstein’s previously unpublished poems and illustrations with a similar design to his beloved earlier books, and the same “whimsical humor, eccentric characters, childhood fantasies, and iconoclastic glee that his many fans adore,” according to PW.


Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President by Ron Suskind (HarperCollins; Audio, Dreamscape and on OverDrive; LT, HarperLuxe) is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author’s look at how the Obama administration has handled the financial crisis, based on hundreds of hours of interviews with administration officials.

Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medecine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard (Random House; RH Audio; BOT Audio) is a three-way biography of president James Garfield, who was shot onlyfour months after he took office in 1881, his assassin, Charles Guiteau, and inventor Alexander Graham Bell, whose made an unsuccessful deathbed attempt to locate the bullet lodged in the president’s body. Booklist’s starred review calls it “splendidly insightful” and says it stands “securely at the crossroads” of popular and academic biography. 

Death in the City of Light: The Serial Killer of Nazi-Occupied Paris by David King (Crown; BOT Audio) is the true story of a serial killer in WWII. PW says, “this fascinating, often painful account combines a police procedural with a vivid historical portrait of culture and law enforcement.” Kirkus calls it “expertly written and completely absorbing,” and Booklist‘s starred review says that unlike the many other stories that have been compared to Erik Larson’s Devil in the White City, this one finally has the critical and commercial potential to meet Larson’s standard.”

Columbus: The Four Voyages by Laurence Bergreen (Viking) recounts the explorer’s three other voyages, in addition to the famous 1492 trip across the Atlantic. Each was an attempt to demonstrate that he could sail to China within a matter of weeks and convert those he found there to Christianity. Kirkus, PW and Library Journal find fault with the author’s  scholarly rigor and uneven writing, though PW and Booklist see potential for a general readership.

The Orchard: A Memoir by Theresa Weir (Grand Central; AudioGo) is the story of a city girl who adapts to life on an apple farm after she falls in love with the golden boy of a prominent local family whose lives and orchards seem to be cursed by environmental degradation through pesticide use, and toxic family relationships. Booklist says, “Best known for her acclaimed suspense novels written as Anne Frasier, Weir’s own story is as harrowing as they come, yet filled with an uncanny self-awareness that leads, ultimately, to redemption.”

McGinniss on the Today Show

Friday, September 16th, 2011

Below, Joe McGinniss talks about his book, The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin (Crown), which will be published on Tuesday. Also included are quotes from Todd Palin on his reactions to the book.

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

Maslin Reviews McGinniss

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

We love a good headline. Today, the NYT comes close to the Variety gold standard (re: the 1929 stock market crash: “Wall Street Lays an Egg“), with “Sarah Palin Could See This Guy From Her House.”

It’s for Janet Maslin’s review of the Joe McGinniss bio of Sarah Palin, The Rogue. She’s not impressed by the book’s revelations, saying the main takeaway is that McGinniss got a kick out of “the fuss his mere presence has created.” The most she gives him is, “Mr. McGinniss puts forth a provocative case for doubting Ms. Palin’s account of Trig’s birth.”

The book comes out next week, as does Deer in the Headlights, a memoir from Levi Johnston, the father of Ms. Palin’s grandson.

Deer in the Headlights: My Life in Sarah Palin’s Crosshairs
Levi Johnston
Retail Price: $25.00
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Touchstone – (2011-09-20)
ISBN / EAN: 1451651651 / 9781451651652

Yet Another Embargoed Title in the News

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

Many news sources are reporting on Little, Brown’s announcement that they are publishing Truth and Consequences: Life Inside the Madoff Family by Laurie Sandell (9780316198936; Hachette Audio, 9781611135251), on Oct. 31 (the original pub date, for the book, previously listed as “Untitled by Anonymous” was Nov). The author will appear on 60 Minutes the day before the book is released. As a result, it’s likely to be under an embargo and unavailable to the prepub review sources.

Noting that author Sandell previously wrote a graphic novel about an eccentric, secretive father, The Impostor’s Daughter, USA Today comments that experience may have been “good preparation for dealing with the Madoffs.”

Libraries have not yet ordered it.


Thursday, September 15th, 2011

Last night, certain advance screenings of Straw Dogs and Moneyball included a surprise, an unusually long eight-minute “teaser trailer” for The Girl with the Dragon TattooMovieLine sees this as another “brilliantly secretive” viral marketing effort (following the “leaked” trailer that appeared at the end of May).

The trailer is not available on the Web, and won’t be shown at regular screenings of Straw Dogs and Moneyball. The perceived exclusivity has just added to the excitement for the special few who saw it. The Playlist offeres a shot-by-shot description and dozens of critics have jumped in to assess what they saw ( rounds up some of the reactions. Advice; skip the breathless intro).

The trailer has put to rest concerns that Mara Rooney’s girl- next-door quality will undercut her ability to play the dark Lisbeth Salander.

The movie, directed by David Fincher, also stars Daniel Craig and opens December 21st. Tie-in editions will be available from Knopf in mass market and trade paperback on Nov. 1.

THE ROGUE Embargo Broken

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Speaking of leaks from embargoed books making headlines, two very different sources are leaking news about Joe McGinniss’s The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin (Crown), coming next week.

The National Enquirer writes today that the Sarah Palin in the book is very different from her public image. Only an excerpt is on the Enquirer’s site, but the UK’s Daily Mail delves into the story in depth (all you really need is the headline, “Sarah Palin snorted cocaine off 55 gallon oil drum and had affairs with NBA star and husband’s business partner: Sensational claims in new book.”)

And, in the comic strip Doonesbury, the cartoon character, faux Fox News reporter Roland Hedley, gets an advance copy of the book and tweets from it (this is only a fictional leak, since McGinniss authorized the usage). Three newspapers, The Chicago Tribune, Newsday, and The Atlanta Journal Constitution, have decided not to run the series. The Tribune editor claims the strips, “do not meet our standards of fairness,” because they “refer to allegations purportedly contained in an as-yet-unreleased book about former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. The book is not yet available for verification or review by the Chicago Tribune.”


Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

We predicted in our New Title Radar for this week that Jackie Kennedy would be in the news again. Little did we know.

The book/CD set, Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy, consists of both the transcript and audio recordings of the 1964 interviews Jackie gave historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. just a few months after her husband’s death. The recordings were sealed and later placed in the Kennedy Library. This is the first time they have been released. News stories about the interviews have focused on Jackie’s surprisingly frank comments about LBJ and Martin Luther King. As Caroline Kennedy says, the book also offers an intriguing look at how life has changed since that time.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

As the news began to break, the set shot to #1 on both Amazon and B&’s sales rankings, where it remains today. Holds in libraries are heavy.

The New York Post claims that ABC is “furious” because NBC managed to break the book’s embargo, thus undercutting Diane Sawyer’s two-hour “exclusive” which aired last night. The story becomes all the more juicy, if a bit too “inside baseball,” because ABC owns the publisher of the book, Hyperion.

Diffenbaugh Gets a Big Bouquet

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Vanessa Diffenbaugh, whose first novel, The Language of Flowers is at #6 on the the Indie Hardcover Fiction Bestseller list and debuted at #13 on the 9/18 NYT list, got a hearty new endorsement for her book in the form of a movie deal, according to The Hollywood Reporter. In a statement, the producers say,”Great characters make great movies and these are the most vivid and compelling women we have read in a long, long time.”

The book has been published in several other countries (the Australian cover is at the left, above and the British one at the right. The words on the cover, which don’t appear on the U.S. edition, are “Anyone can grow into something beautiful”). It has reached #1 on best seller lists in Italy and #5 in the U.K.

The novel explores the difficulty many foster children have in forming relationships. Diffenbaugh, who has raised foster children of her own, used her $1 million book advance, to set up the Camellia Network (in the language of flowers, camellias stand for “my destiny in in your hands”). Among other activities, the network asks book clubs to help raise money for the organization, with the opportunity to win a call-in or personal visit from the author.

Amazon as Digital Lending Library

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Amazon is in talks with publishers about creating a “Netflix of books,” according to the Wall Street Journal. The story, based on unnamed publishing executives, has few details beyond that the program would give Amazon Prime customers free access to a limited number of older titles a month and would pay publishers a “substantial fee” for participating.

The story also says that several publishing executives did not warm to the idea, because it could lower the perceived value of books and create conflict with other retailers.

Amazon did not comment for the story.

Those who don’t understand libraries are already predicting such a move will “momentously affect” them.

Winnie the Pooh on DVD

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Poor Pooh Bear. He didn’t do that well at the box office (he was railroaded by a certain wizard and then was blind-sided by a bevy of blue creatures), so he will be exiting the theaters to try his luck on DVD.

Disney’s Winnie the Pooh was a hit with the critics, who said it showed how much life is still left in good old 2-D animation. After disappointing ticket sales, it will be released on DVD, Blu-Ray, and via download on October 25th.

One of the tie-ins at pictured at left; for a full list of tie-ins, go to Books to Movies, Now Playing, with Tie-ins.


Monday, September 12th, 2011

Filming of The Hunger Games, which has been shooting in North Carolina, wrapped on Saturday. The movie now goes in to post-production in preparation for the March 23rd release.

Asheville News 13 anchor Russ Bowen,who has been tweeting from the set, announced the wrap, which was confirmed by Lionsgate. He also says, “Expect a few changes in film version. You will be surprised but will likely like them. I won’t give spoilers though.”

Lionsgate has set up a viral marketing site, TheCapitol.PN.

Director Gary Ross offers a bit of insight into the very brief teaser trailer that debuted on 8/28 during MTV’s Video Music Awards.

Get More: 2011 VMA, Music

New Title Radar, Week of 9/12

Friday, September 9th, 2011

After months of anticipation, Erin Morgenstern‘s impossible-to-miss debut novel The Night Circus finally comes to town. Now it’s time to see how the hype plays out. The book that will rival it for attention is Brian Selznick’s middle grade novel, Wonderstruck, which has stirred great excitement among prepub reviewers. In nonfiction, Jackie Kennedy will be making news again, along with Michael Moore.

Watch List

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (Doubleday; Random House Audio; Center Point Large Print) has already received a bevy of press attention. Comparisons to other titles in terms of expected commercial success range from The Help and The Da Vinci Code (USA Today), to the Harry Potter and Twilight (WSJ). PW set its sights a bit lower, saying, “This is an electric debut on par with Special Topics in Calamity Physics [by Marisha Pessl, Viking, 2006],” which was a best seller, but briefly. It’s also been compared to another book about English magicians, the 2004 bestseller Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, (Bloomsbury), which also arrived with great expectations and comparisons to Harry Potter. It did well, but not nearly as well as HP. It was in the top ten on the Indie Best Seller list for 13 weeks, four of them at #2.

Two reviews have appeared already; many more are sure to come next week. The 9/19 issue of People awarded it 3.5 of a possible 4 stars. Why not the full Monty? People warns the book can be disorienting with chapters that “leap from city to city across oceans and continents on no discernible schedule.” Laura Miller in Salon assesses the book as  “sentimental enough to win over a large audience but unlikely to cloy the palates of more sophisticated readers.” She warns, “Plot is this novel’s flimsiest aspect, however, serving mostly as a pretext for presenting readers with a groaning board of imaginative treats.” That may just undercut the potential for “large audiences” to embrace it. Miller calls it “the first Etsy novel” (sorry, you have to read the review to find out what that means).

Lamb by Bonnie Nadzam (Other Press; Blackstone Audio) gives Lolita a 21st century spin in this tale of a man whose wife has left him and whose father has died. He stumbles on a seventh grade girl who enters a fantasy friendship with him with a creepy edge. PW says, “Nadzam has a crisp, fluid writing style, and her dialogue is reminiscent of Sam Shepard’s. The book suffers from the inevitable Nabokov comparison, but it’s a fine first effort: storytelling as accomplished as it is unsettling.” On our GalleyChat, librarians report that there’s “lots of talk over the twitterverse about Lamb! People sucked in from the get-go.” It’s also a Sept Indie Next Pick.

The Winter’s in Bloom by Lisa Tucker (Atria; Brilliance Audio) is a suspenseful tale about overprotective parents whose child disappears. Library Journal is on the fence: “if the characters had been more fully developed, the novel would have blossomed.” Booksellers are more enthusiastic; it’s a Sept Indie Next Pick. Tucker recently wrote an essay in the New York Times about how the novel was unintentionally shaped by her diagnosis and treatment for a brain aneurysm while she was writing it.

Kids and Young Adult

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick, (Scholastic), Prepub reviewers were practically sputtering in their excitement over Selznick’s follow up to The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which also inventively combines text and graphics. The consumer press, though slightly more measured, is showing equal excitement, as in yesterday’s review on the NPR Web site. Even the Wall Street Journal joined in, offering an “exclusive preview” on its SpeakEasy blog earlier this month. We probably don’t have to remind you that Martin Scorsese’s first 3-D family film, Hugo (see trailer here), releasing on Nov. 23, is based on The Invention of Hugo Cabret.

Perfect by Ellen Hopkins, (McElderry/S&S); continues the author’s signature verse poetry style in this story about four 12th-graders who are expected to be perfect

Usual Suspects

Robert B. Parker’s Killing the Blues (a Jesse Stone) novel by Michael Brandman (Putnam; Random House Audio; Books on Tape; Thorndike Large Print); Before you (or your customers) get too excited about a new Robert Parker book, look closely at the fine print. This one is actually written by Michael Brandman, who collaborated with Parker on TV adaptation of his books. In his first effort to fill in for the departed author, PW found the plot lacking, but praised Brandman for maintaining Parker’s “easy, banter-filled writing, balanced with the lead’s apparently limitless compassion, informed by bitter experience.” Booklist felt exactly the opposite, calling it “strong on plotting but derivative on everything else.” Parker’s Spenser series will also continue, written by author Ace Atkins. The first title will be released in the spring of 2012. Sixkill, the final Spenser novel from Parker’s hand, was released in May.

Goddess of Vengeance by Jackie Collins (St. Martins, Macmillan Audio, Thorndike Large Print); Lucky Santangelo is back and still looking great since her 1981 debut in Chances.

Forbidden by Ted Dekker, (Center Street; Hachette Audio and Large Print); mega seller Dekker begins a new trilogy (The Books of Mortals) with a new collaborator. Says Booklist, “Dekker and Lee have created an intriguing future world in which human beings are fundamentally different from what they are today but who still operate with the same basic motivations, even if they don’t know that they do.”

Kings of Vice by Ice-T with Mal Radcliff (Forge Books) is the first novel by the rapper (and husband of Coco, whose first novel, Angel is also coming out this week). Says Booklist, “Ice-T takes readers into the murky world of gangs and organized crime. A solid crime thriller.” Kirkus was not as appreciative, “a relatively slow-moving crime caper, with much rationalization and philosophical musings apparently meant to add gravitas.”

Angel by Nicole “Coco” Marrow and Laura Hayden (Forge Books); expect plenty of cross-promotion with the title above.

The Ballad of Tom Dooley by Sharyn McCrumb, (Dunne/St. Martin’s; Brilliance Audio); Set in North Carolina after the Civil War, the next in McCrumb’s Ballad series looks in to the violent crime that inspired the popular song.

New York to Dallas by J. D. Robb, (Putnam; Brilliance Audio); The publisher claims that this, the 33rd in the Eve Dallas series, “takes readers deeper into the mind of Eve Dallas than ever before.”


Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy by Caroline Kennedy, (Hyperion), arrives on the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s first year in office. It is already rising on Amazon as news begins to leak that Jacqueline dishes on LBJ and Lady Bird. The book includes eight audio CDs. It will be featured on ABC’s Primetime and on Good Morning America next week.

Life Itself: A Memoir, Roger Ebert, (Grand Central/Hachette); the film critic, who was silenced by throat cancer, writes about the importance of life. It was previewed in USA Today this week

Happy Accidents, Jane Lynch, (Voice/Hyperion); the star of TV’s Glee on finding happiness. In a video promo, she’s every bookseller’s nightmare.

Here Comes Trouble: Stories from my Life, Michael Moore (Grand Central/Hachette); vignettes from Moore’s early life.

Movie Tie-ins

Killer Elite (original title, The Feather Men) by Ranulph Fiennes (Ballantine) is the basis for a movie opening September 23 and starring Robert DeNiro. This mass market paperback, which Kirkus called “marvelously entertaining,” recounts the true story of an elite group of vigilantes drawn from the ranks of England’s select paramilitary operatives and charged with eliminating four contract killers so deftly that their hits appeared to be merely accidents.

Anonymous and the Shakespeare Authorship Question (Newmarket) one of the two official ties-in to the movie Anonymous, opening 10/28, this provides backgrounds and debate on the playwright’s identity. Movie trailer here.

Anonymous: William Shakespeare Revealed, (Newmarket), this is the “visual companion” to the movie.

GATSBY à la Luhrmann

Friday, September 9th, 2011

Australian director Baz Luhrmann reinterpreted Romeo and Juliet as a hip, modern story starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes (Romeo + Juliet, 1996), and used modern music to tell a story set in 1899 (Moulin Rouge, 2001). What is he likely to do with The Great Gatsby?

One clue: he is shooting it in 3D. He has also spent millions on buying (not renting) a fleet of classic cars. As Time magazine says of the $125 million production, which began shooting this week in Australia, “So piles of cash, knockout stars, cutting-edge 3D visuals, all to channel a relatively low-key (plot-wise) American classic. What could possibly go wrong?”

The movie stars Leonardo DiCaprio, as Jay Gatsby, Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan, Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway, and Joel Edgerton (currently starring in Warrior) as Tom Buchanan. Luhrman, who has said his influences are Italian opera and Bollywood, has also hired the highly regarded Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan to play Meyer Wolfshein.


Thursday, September 8th, 2011

If you’ve been wondering what’s happening to the film adaptation of Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments, (the first title in the series, City of Bones, at left), you’re in good company. The star is wondering the same thing.

Lily Collins, daughter of singer Phil Collins and a current Hollywood hot commodity, was signed months ago to play Clary Fray. She told MTV News this week that she’s in the dark about when shooting will begin, and expressed hope that the delays will give the producers, “more time to properly put the pieces together and focus on getting the rest of the casting right and perfecting the script.”

The only other actor who has been cast is Jamie Campbell Bower as Jace Wayland.