Archive for December, 2011

New Title Radar – Week of Jan. 2

Friday, December 30th, 2011

A rush of new titles start landing with the new year. Watch for BBC writer David Snodin‘s historical featuring Shakespeare’s Iago and Thrity Umrigar‘s novel of Indian college friends reunited years later in the U.S.. Usual suspects include Janet Evanovich, James Patterson with coauthor Maxine Paetro, Matthew Reilly and Val McDermid. Plus the latest from YA author Sara Shepard, a handful of movie tie-ins, and a memoir of caretaking and grief by the late Patrick Swayze’s wife, Lisa Niemi. 

Watch List

Iago by David Snodin (Macmillan/Henry Holt) is a historical novel that begins where Shakespeare’s Othello leaves off, and focuses on the complex villian and his powerful accuser. LJ calls it a ” vivid though long novel, which is filled with all the drama, intrigue, and violence of Renaissance Italy–and even a little romance on the side.” On the other hand, Kirkus says, “Iago’s character never really deepens: We learn plenty about his capacity for viciousness, but the climactic revelations about his past history feel underwhelming. A likable page-turner about love, war and conspiracy in the early 16th century. Just don’t expect Shakespeare.”

The World We Found by Thrity Umrigar (HarperCollins; HaperLuxe) finds four friends who attended Bombay College in the 70’s reunited when one woman becomes ill, in a tale that straddles India and the U.S. PW says, “though none of the major story elements Umrigar employs are remotely fresh, her characters make this a rewarding novel.”

Usual Suspects

Love in a Nutshell by Janet Evanovich and Dorien Kelly (Macmillan/St. Martins; Macmillan audio) is a standalone novel set in a small town microbrewery, featuring out-of-work, just-separated Kate Appleton, and is a collaboration between the bestselling author and the president of the Romance Writers of America. Booklist says, “Evanovich is known for her humor, and she and Kelly skillfully combine comedy with romance and suspense to make a story sure to please readers.”

Private: #1 Suspect by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro (Hachette/Little, Brown; Hachette AudioHachette Large Print) is the second novel featuring Morgan, the founder of an L.A. investigative firm, who is framed for the murder of his ex-girlfriend. PW calls it “lackluster,” and complains that “unrelated subplots, including a serial killer who leaves his victims in different locations of a hotel chain, serve only to add to the books length. An evil identical twin doesnt help with plausibility.”

Gun Games (Decker/Lazarus Series #20) by Faye Kellerman (HarperCollins/Morrow; HarperLuxe; Thorndike) finds the Deckers investigating the suicide of a high school student, while rescuing 15-year-old Gabe Whitman, a brilliant musical prodigy whose father earns his living as a pimp. PW finds this one “subpar” for the series.

Halo: Primordium: Book Two of the Forerunner Saga by Greg Bear (Macmillan/Tor; Macmillan Audio) is set in the wake of apparent self-destruction of the Forerunner empire, as two humans are washed up on very strange shores.

Scarecrow Returns by Matthew Reilly (S & S) is the action-packed fourth title in the Scarecrow series, by the internationally popular author of Seven Deadly Wonders. Booklist says, “pitting his heroes against polar bears, ranks of crazed berserkers, and colorful henchmen like Bad Willy, Big Jesus, and Typhoon, Reilly ups the ante on swashbucklers like Clive Cussler and Ted Bell by dishing out page after page of truly nonstop, explosive action, from cover to cover. Does he pull it off? Absolutely!”

The Retribution: A Tony Hill & Carol Jordan Novel by Val McDermid (Atlantic Monthly) is the seventh thriller in the Tony Hill series, which pairs the British clinical psychologist with his long-term work partner and sometimes lover, Detective Chief Inspector Carol Jordan as they pursue Vance, the TV talk show host responsible for murdering 17 teenage girls in 1997’s The Wire in the Blood. PW says, “the emotional wedge that the sadistic Jacko is able to drive between Tony and Carol makes this one of McDermids strongest efforts.”

Young Adult

Pretty Little Secrets by Sara Shepard (HarperTeen) is a “special bonus book” set in the lost period between books four and five of the Pretty Little Liars series, the winter break of the girls’ junior year, as told from the point of view of stalker Ali. The new season of ABC’s Pretty Little Liars begins Jan. 2.

Movie Tie-Ins

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami (RH/Vintage) ties in to the movie opening January 6, adapted and directed by Vietnamese filmmaker Anh Hung Tran. It will appear in a limited number of theaters, but fans of Murakami’s 1Q84 are likely to be drawn to this tie-in. Published in Japan in 1987, it was the author’s first major hit in that country, but wasn’t released here until 2000, after the success of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill (RH/Vintage; Blackstone Audio) is a classic ghost story about a lawyer who travels to remote English village and finds the ghost of a scorned woman terrorizing the locals – and ties in into the gothic horror movie remake, starring Daniel Radcliffe and Janet McTeer, which opens February 3.

The Firm by John Grisham (RH/Dell) is a reissue of the original 1993 thriller. It’s the basis for an NBC TV series set ten years after the book. The series launches on January 8 and 9, before it moves to its regular Thursday night time slot.


Worth Fighting For: Love, Loss, and Moving Forward by Lisa Niemi  (S&S/Atria; Centerpoint Large Print) is a memoir by actor Patrick Swayze’s wife, who co-wrote her husband’s memoir, The Time of My Life, and now reflects on caring for her husband during his final months before he died of pancreatic cancer in 2009. PW says, “Niemi writes movingly of trying to keep a positive outlook, staying organized with drugs, treatments, and foods for her husband, employing relatives as helpers and researchers, and, most of all, using the time she and Swayze had left together to enjoy and appreciate each other. Its a heartfelt account, both brave and honorable.”

George R R Martin Teases Fans

Friday, December 30th, 2011

The Game of Thrones author George R R Martin just released a chapter from the next book in his series, A Song of Ice and Fire, on his web site. The new book, titled Winds of Winter, will be published by his longtime publisher Bantam, but there is no release date yet.

He also promised fans that another chapter will be included in the paperback edition of A Dance with Dragons, due in July. The publisher has not listed ordering information for it yet.

Eager fans should be counseled that it was six years between the last two books. When Martin finally announced a firm publication date for A Dance with Dragons, he acknowledged,

Yes, I know.  You’ve all seen publication dates before: dates in 2007, 2008, 2009.  None of those were ever hard dates, however.  Most of them… well, call it wishful thinking, boundless optimism, cockeyed dreams, honest mistakes, whatever you like.

This time, he is not committing to a specific date.

Season two of HBO’s Game of Thrones begins on April 14. It is based on the second volume in A Song of Ice and Fire series, A Clash of Kings. The tie-in will be released in late February in trade pbk (9780345535412), mass market (9780345535429) and audio (9780449011102).

Petraeus Bio Nearly Makes Waves

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

The AP made news with a headline that Gen. David Petraeus “almost quit over Afghan drawdown.” The story is based on an advance copy of All In: The Education of General David Petraeus, by Paula Broadwell, who was embedded with the general in Afghanistan (Penguin, Jan. 23). Both the author and the CIA (where Petraeus is currently the Director) quickly denied the story and new versions indicate that he was merely “urged to quit.” (More details are available in on the NPR web site).

The AP story goes on to say that the book “unapologetically casts Petraeus in the hero’s role” and that it is “peppered with Petraeus quotes that sound like olive branches meant to soothe Obama aides who feared Petraeus would challenge their boss for the White House.”

Library catalogs show light holds on modest orders.

Books We Loved Reading

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

Best Books lists carry an air of assigned reading, but lists of favorites are about enjoyment.

USA Today‘s book critics just listed the ten books they “loved reading in 2011.” Included are titles that haven’t appeared on the Best Books lists we tracked (check our adult fiction, nonfiction and childrens Best Books Spreadsheets), like Jaycee Dugard’s memoir of being kidnapped and held captive for 18 years, A Stolen Life, which they describe as “a firsthand testament to the resilience of the human spirit” and P.D. James’ Austen-inspired Death Comes to Pemberley.

On Twitter, librarians are posting their favorite eleven titles of 2011, using the hashtag #libfavs2011. This list, too, is more fun than many Best Books list (join the conversation here. If you’re late to the party, it’s OK, jump in with multiple tweets). Just reading the tweets is a great way to add to your book knowledge. We’ll be posting the full list next week, but meantime, the top titles are:

1) Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (RH/Crown)

2) Before I Go to Sleep, S. J. Watson, (Harper)

3)  The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, (RH/Doubleday)

4) Bossypants, Tina Fey, (Hachette/Little,Brown)

5) Beauty Queens, Libby Bray, (Scholastic)

6) Habibi by Craig Thompson, (RH/Pantheon)

7) The Family Fang, Kevin Wilson, (HarperCollins/Ecco)

NYT Graphic Books Bestsellers – Infographic

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

Created for Comics Alliance, as a year-end treat, I present to you the New York Times Graphic Books Bestseller list as an infographic:

Go ahead, click on it, expand it (hit the plus sign to make it fill your computer screen), and take it all in.  I’ll wait here.

Created by Wired’s Art Director Tim Leong, this slick representation of the entire year’s data compiled into an easily digestible chart allows us to take stock of the graphic novel market and assess how useful the NYT list is for librarians developing collections.

What did I notice?

The obvious:

Scott Pilgrim and The Walking Dead dominated the charts. Any library worth it’s salt already stocks these titles. Their continuing popularity also happily brought some sturdy new omnibus editions, in the case of The Walking Dead, which can be great when libraries need to catch up or replace tattered, well-loved paperbacks.

To ponder:
Take a good look at that bar graphic of superhero versus non-superhero titles. What does that mean? Are superheroes no longer so popular? Does the NYT  list skew away from superheroes? Perhaps, but more likely, it shows that the market is diversifying and that mainstream comics are no longer defined by costumed vigilantes.

Five titles debuted at number one and then disappeared. All are popular titles in my library. They may not have had the juice to last on the official list but they’re still worthwhile additions to library collections.

The top ten publishers are lead by two small houses. Oni Press is #1 because of Scott Pilgrim. Image Comics, as publisher of  The Walking Dead, comes in at #2. Oni has been considerate and understanding of libraries, plus they put out a lovely assortment of quality titles for all types of readers. Image has been more scattered, with an impenetrable website and they are  just starting to court the library market.  The appearance of Scholastic and Pantheon (RH) in the top ten indicates that traditional publishers have made inroads into the comics market.

The fact that only 16 titles were in the top spot points to the limitations of the list for collection development purposes.  Once you’ve bought those 16, the list become repetitive.

What conclusions do you take away from this aggregation?  What would you like to know from a year’s worth of data?

Beyond Watergate

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

It sounds like a headline from The Onion, but “Richard Nixon Had Gay Affair” comes from The Huffington Post, based on a more detailed story in the Daily Mail, a London tabloid. The allegations come from a book that will be published at the end of January, Nixon’s Darkest Secrets by the former UPI White House correspondent, Don Fulsom.

It was reviewed earlier this month by Kirkus and Publishers Weekly. Both say that most of the revelations are based on unreliable sources.

Nixon’s Darkest Secrets: The Inside Story of America’s Most Troubled President
Don Fulsom
Retail Price: $25.99
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books – (2012-01-31)
ISBN / EAN: 0312662963 / 9780312662967

Specter Among the Cannibals

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

Former Pennsylvania senator Arlen Specter’s forthcoming memoir, Life Among the Cannibals is getting attention in his home state. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran a story about both Specter and the book, which follows his previous memoir, Passion for Truth, (via Publishers Marketplace). The “cannibals” in the title are,

…the political extremists of both parties whose influence [Specter] blames for an overall erosion in public life and the ability of the federal government to function. He counts his successor, Mr. Toomey, as among that group for his efforts, allied with his former organization, the Club for Growth, to purge the GOP of the endangered species of middle-of-the-road, moderate lawmakers.

Most libraries have not ordered it yet.

Life Among the Cannibals: A Political Career, a Tea Party Uprising, and the End of Governing As We Know It
Sen. Arlen Specter, Charles Robbins
Retail Price: $26.99
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Macmillan/St. Martin’s – (2012-03-27)
ISBN / EAN: 1250003687 / 9781250003683

Janus Turns His Head

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

After dozens of Best Books of 2011 lists, the Atlantic looks ahead to fifteen titles to look forward to in 2012, January through the early fall.


Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

Next year brings not only dueling adaptations of Snow White, but of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, in the form of a BBC TV miniseries and a movie.

The miniseries stars Gillian Anderson (she’s had experience with Dickens, having starred in the BBC’s Bleak House in 2005) as Miss Havisham and Ray Winstone as Magwitch. The movie, currently being filmed, stars Helena Bonham Carter as Miss Havisham and Ralph Fiennes as Magwitch.

Both the movie and the miniseries dare to depart from Dickens and give the story a new ending (but then, Dickens himself provided two), which has caused a bit of controversy in Great Britain (the American press has so far been silent on that issue).

The two-part miniseries was broadcast in Great Britain over Christmas and will appear on PBS Masterpiece beginning April 1.

At 43, Gillian Anderson is the youngest ever to play Miss Havisham. The Telegraph quotes a Dickens expert who calls her “a cougar rather than a crone.”

But then, the movie Miss Havisham, Helena Bonham Carter is just two years older (Anderson in the role on the left, below; Bonham Carter on the right).


The actor who plays Pip in the movie, Jeremy Irvine, is currently receiving attention for his starring role in Steven Spielberg’s War Horse.

Expect to hear much more about Dickens next year, the 200th anniversary of his birth, including a BBC production of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, which premieres on PBS on April 15.

ENDER’S GAME Taking Shape

Monday, December 26th, 2011

After many delays, it now looks like Orson Scott Card’s 1985 science fiction classic Ender’s Game will make it to the big screen.

Variety reports that Harrison Ford has signed to play Colonel Hyrum Graff. He joins a cast that included Asa Butterfield (Hugo) as Ender Wiggin, Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit), as Ender’s friend, Petra Arkanian, Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine) as his sister, Valentine, and Ben Kingsley as Mazer Rackham.

Gavin Hood  (X-Men Origins: WolverineTsotsi) is the director. The film is scheduled for release on March 15, 2013.


Monday, December 26th, 2011

Season two of the BBC series, Downton Abbey, debuts on PBS on January 8. The return is heralded on NPR’s All Things Considered.

NPR talks to Jessica Fellows, the author of a companion book, The World of Downton Abbey. She describes the extraordinary changes that occurred during the period of the show, just before and during WW I. She says part of the fascination of  this era is the remarkable changes it brought for women, “So many men got called up to war, far more than ever before…girls [like those in the series] had had a very mapped out future — they’d be at home, have the coming-out season, then they would be debutantes, then they would find the right man and go off  to run a country house somewhere. Suddenly, that all changed.”

The World of Downton Abbey
Jessica Fellowes
Retail Price: $29.99
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Macmillan/ St. Martin’s – (2011-12-06)
ISBN / EAN: 1250006341 / 9781250006349

Watch Downton Abbey I Wonder Preview on PBS. See more from Masterpiece.

More Librarian Favorites

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

It’s like a national Library Staff Picks display. For eleven days, librarians are tweeting their eleven favorite books of 2011 (thanks to GalleyChat regulars Stephanie Chase, Multnomah County Library and Robin Beerbower, Salem, OR., Public Library who organized it). Today is day eight of the challenge, but it’s not too late to add your favorites (use #libfavs2011 — don’t worry, they’re not doctrinaire about posting just one a day; you can jump in at any time).

There’s not much consensus, but the fun of the exercise is seeing how many books get mentioned (over 90 in the first three days, many of them debuts). In the first days, Ready Player One got several shout outs (see earlier story). Stephanie reports some of yesterday’s leads were:

Before I Go to Sleep, S. J. Watson (Harper); this psychological thriller has received strong support from librarians throughout the year, who made it a BEA Librarians Shout & Share pick and talked it up during GalleyChat sessions.



The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. The story of a relationship-adverse former foster child who has the strange ability to change people’s lives through her knowledge of the Victorian language of flowers, is described by one librarian as, ” Beautifully written, heartwrenching, unforgettable.”



The YA debut, Hourglass by McIntyre (Egmont USA) has been mentioned by someone every day of the past three days (note to Hollywood: it’s a series! The second book, Timepiece, is coming in June). This unuusual blend of genres is described as, “Inventive, smart, funny, and action-packed. Could not put it down!”



Friday, December 23rd, 2011

It’s tough enough to portray a well-known person on the screen. Julianne Moore, who plays Sarah Palin in the HBO movie Game Change, faces the additional burden of competing with Tina Fey’s well-known impersonation of the vice presidential candidate.

Below is a glimpse of how she does.

Ed Harris plays John McCain and Woody Harrelson is the campaign strategist Steven Schmidt. The movie, based on the best selling book by Time magazine’s Mark Halperin and New York magazine’s John Heilemann, airs on HBO in March.

Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime
John Heilemann, Mark Halperin
Retail Price: $27.99
Hardcover: 464 pages
Publisher: Harper – (2010-01-11)
ISBN / EAN: 0061733636 / 9780061733635


Friday, December 23rd, 2011

The two-hour series premiere of The Firm arrives on NBC on January 8th. Below, it’s introduced by author John Grisham, the producer and members of the cast.

The series begins ten years after the book. The original book is being released as a tie-in. It was made into a movie in 1993, starring Tom Cruise and directed by Sydney Pollack.

The Firm (Movie Tie-in Edition)
John Grisham
Retail Price: $16.00
Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Bantam – (2012-01-03)
ISBN / EAN: 0345534964 / 9780345534965

Leaking John Green

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

John is not actually leaking, but his upcoming book is. The Fault in Our Stars is scheduled for release on January 10th, but some copies were mistakenly shipped from, according to John on his Tumblr site.

As with any news about this book, it resulted in a rise on both Amazon and B&N’s sales rankings.

The Fault in Our Stars
John Green
Retail Price: $17.99
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile – (2012-01-10)
ISBN / EAN: 0525478817 / 9780525478812