Archive for May, 2013

Profile: Jeannette Walls

Saturday, May 25th, 2013

THE SILVER STARThe NYT Magazine profiles author Jeannette Walls this week. Her 2005 memoir, The Glass Castle, an “instant classic … has sold 4.2 million copies and been translated into 31 languages.” Her second, a novel based on the story of her grandmother’s hard-scrabble life in the West, Half Broke Horses, was also a best-seller, even if it did not achieve quite the level of an instant classic.

Her third book, a novel, The Silver Star,(S&S/Scribner; S&S Audio; Thorndike Large Print) deals with a theme familiar from her previous books, children growing up with parents who are, at best, neglectful. It’s a subject she knows well, having overcome a childhood that the NYT says would “have flattened others.”  As she says in the interview, “One of the blessings of my childhood was being a fighter and a scrapper.” Appropriately, the title of the profile is “How Jeannette Walls Spins Good Stories Out of Bad Memories.”

The Silver Star is an IndieNext Pick for June. The author is scheduled to appear on CBS This Morning on June 11, the book’s release date.

Rising SON

Saturday, May 25th, 2013

The Son“Positioned to be the big literary read of the summer,” according to Wall Street Journal, Philipp Meyer’s second novel, The Son, (Harper/Ecco; HarperAudio; HarperLuxe), which arrives next week, is currently at #41 and rising on Amazon’s sales rankings.

The author’s first book, American Rust, received an enviable level of attention when it was published in 2009. It was on Newsweek’s list of “Best. Books. Ever,” named one of five best novels of the year by the Washington Post, and a New York Times Notable Book. In addition, the New Yorker hailed the author as one of the 20 best writers under 40. If that wasn’t enough, Patricia Cornwell gave it the ultimate product placement; it appears at the crime scene in her novel, Scarpetta.

In the Washington Post. Ron Charles says those accolades were not premature.

What a pleasure it is now to see Meyer confirm all that initial enthusiasm with a second book that’s even more ambitious, even more deeply rooted in our troublesome economic and cultural history. With its vast scope — stretching from pre-Civil War cowboys to post-9/11 immigrants — The Son makes a viable claim to be a Great American Novel of the sort John Dos Passos and Frank Norris once produced.

Booksellers have made it the #1 IndieNext Pick for June.

New Title Radar, Week of 5/27

Friday, May 24th, 2013

Two Big Names return next week with titles destined for best seller lists; Clive Cussler with  Zero Hour (Penguin/Putnam), as well as Dean Koontz with the new Odd Thomas novel, Deeply Odd (RH/Bantam)Followups to previous successful debuts include Beatriz Williams next after Overseas and Beth Hoffman’s after  Saving Cee Cee HoneyCutt.

These and more titles arriving next week, are listed with ordering information on our downloadable spreadsheet, New Title Radar, Week of 5.27.13.

Deeply OddAlthough it is being mentioned in the publicity for the sixth Odd Thomas novel, Odd Thomas, the movie, starring Anton Yelchin and Willem Dafoe, is still in limbo. The release has been held up as the producers sue over marketing costs.

The film is finished; Koontz himself raves about it on his site, while being vague on release date. A trailer appeared online recently, so there may still be hope:


Overseas  A Hundred Summers

Beatriz Williams, who made a splash with the the time-traveling romance Overseas, publishes her second novel,  A Hundred Summers, (Penguin/Putnam) set in Seaview, Rhode Island, in 1938, with a cover that screams “beach read.”

Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt  Looking For Me

Beth Hoffman follows up her 2010 debut, Saving Cee Cee HoneyCutt, with a new novel that is an IndieNext pick for June — “Looking for Me [Penguin/Dorman] grabs the reader from the first paragraph as Hoffman weaves a magical tale of the love of family and nature, the loss of innocence, and the hope that in the future all will be revealed. Set in rural Kentucky and Charleston, South Carolina, this is the story of the gifted and determined Teddi Overman, a furniture restorer, and her missing brother. Teddi’s courage and belief both in herself and in her vanished brother, Josh, inspire all who come in contact with her. Enter the world of the Overmans and emerge with a new perspective on hope and love!” —Lynne LeBlanc, The Fountainhead Bookstore, Hendersonville, NC

Kids New Title Radar, Week of 5/27

Friday, May 24th, 2013

Several Y.A. titles arrive next week with advance buzz about their new takes on the subjects of gay identity, bullying and coming-of-age (with a female protagonist called one of the “most memorable since Holden Caufield”). In picture books, a Sesame Street favorite gets renewed life and Amelia Bedelia experiences a significant first.

All the titles highlighted here, plus many more arriving next week, are listed with ordering information, on our downloadable spreadsheet, Kids New Title Radar, Week of May 27.

Picture Books


Sing, Joe Raposo, Tom Lichtenheld, (Macmillan/Henry Holt, CD included)

EarlyWord Kids Correspondent, Lisa Von Drasek writes:

If I had to put my money on one spring title this would be it. Raposo’s song, originally written for Sesame Street, strikes a chord in memory but is as timely now as when it debuted 40 years ago. The lyrics build confidence by urging kids to be themselves — trying, failing, then doing it anyway — and are put to a hypnotically cheerful tune. No wonder it’s been beloved ever since its debut in 1971.

Tom Lichtenheld’s pictures do more than illustrate, they illuminate. He tells a story without words of a bird without song. The reader finds herself as an accompanist, singing the song as though it were a soundtrack to the ‘real’ story in pictures. What could have been a saccharine greeting card of a picture book is anything but. This edition contains the original bilingual, Spanish and English lyrics as well as a CD. Not a false note.

WARNING: If songs tend to stick in your head, do NOT press the play button below.

Amelia Bedelia's First Library Card

Amelia Bedelia’s First Library Card, (HarperCollins/Greenwillow)

What took her so long? Amelia Bedelia gets her first library card in the sixth title of this new series by Herman Parish, nephew of the character’s originator, Peggy Parish, in which he portrays the literal-minded Amelia Bedelia as an energetic child experiencing important firsts.

Young Adult

Wild Awake

Wild Awake, Hilary T. Smith, (HarperCollins/Tegen Books)

Arriving with buzz from YA GalleyChat, this debut is also a top ten Summer ’13 Kids’ Indie Next pick. Featuring 17-year-old Kiri Byrd, called “one of the most memorable characters in young adult literature since Holden Caulfield.” As Kiri begins to realize that her sister’s recent death was not accidental, her own mental health deteriorates. Horn Book says, “Most fascinating in this stirring coming-of-age novel are the blurred lines between perception and reality, genius and madness, peace and turmoil. Debut author Smith embraces the complexities of grief, family dynamics, creativity, mental illness, and love.”

Openly Straight

Openly Straight, Bill Konigsberg, (Scholastic; Scholastic Audio)

As the title suggests, this novel from the author of the Lambda Literary Award for Young Adult fiction, Out Of The Pocket (Dutton, 2008) takes a new approach to gay issues. Teen Rafe is tired of being the gay poster child in his school, so when he transfers to a new one, he decides to take on a new persona. Horn Book notes, “For a thought-provoking, creative, twenty-first-century take on the coming-out story, look no further.” Readers on GalleyChat called it, “Truthful, sweet, heartbreaking, funny,” with “broad appeal, like Will Grayson, Will Grayson.”


Twerp, Mark Goldblatt, (RH BYR; Listening Library)

On the top ten Summer ’13 Kids’ Indie Next list, this YA debut by an adult authors gets a strong recommendation, “In 1960s New York, sixth-grader Julian ‘Twerp’ Twerski has just returned to school after a weeklong suspension, when his English teacher offers him a deal. If he writes a journal about the incident that got him suspended, Julian can get out of writing a report on Shakespeare. At the beginning of the book it’s unclear why Julian and his friends were suspended, but more details come to light as the journal entries progress. The book’s greatest strength is that it calls attention to the important issues of friendship, peer pressure, and bullying without preaching or talking down to the reader. Julian is a flawed character, but he’s someone you can’t help but root for.” —Caitlin Ayer, Books Inc., San Francisco, CA

Red Alert: Hot E-Galley

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

Code Name Verity  Rose Under Fire

During this week’s YA GalleyChat, our EarlyWord Kids Correspondent, Lisa Von Drasek raved about Elizabeth Wein’s forthcoming Rose Under Fire, (Disney/Hyperion, 9/10/13) a companion novel to last year’s Code Name Verity.

We’ve just learned that it is now available on NetGalley — perfect timing for Memorial Day reading. Click here to link directly.

FififBoth books are about a little-know subject, the women who ferried planes in WW II. On Memorial Day, I will be reading Rose Under Fire in honor one of the first of those pilots who was killed, my aunt, Mabel Rawlinson. I never knew her, but, having grown up with her legend, I feel sure she would have loved these books.

She would have also loved that they’re published by Disney/Hyperion; Disney studios designed Fifinella, who became the mascot for the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots.


Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

EW Behind the Candelabra   Douglas NY Magazine

Images of Michael Douglas as  Liberace in the HBO film, Behind the Candelabra, seem to be everywhere; at the Cannes Film Festival where it premiered yesterday, on magazine covers and in reviews (even in BusinessWeek). American audiences will get their first look at the movie on HBO on May 26.

B1191_BehindCandelabra_L-1Yesterday, Terry Gross interviewed the director, Steven Soderbergh on NPR’s Fresh Air. He says he had long wanted to do a movie about Liberace, but it wasn’t until a friend recommended the 1988 book Behind the Candelabra: My Life with Liberace, by the pianist’s lover, Scott Thorson (played by Matt Damon) that he was able to go forward. “When I read that book, it sort of solved all my problems. It gave me a specific time period to deal with; there was the arc of the relationship between the two of them to give me a structure. And that’s when things really started to move.”

Tantor Media re-released the out-of-print title recently, with a new afterword by Thorson, as part of the launch of their new book imprint.  Tantor has also released an audio version, narrated by Peter Berkrot (sample here, about the media circus around Liberace’s death of AIDs). An interview with Thorson is featured on Tantor’s web site. He says he hasn’t seen the movie and will see it as everyone else does when it debuts this Sunday on HBO.

Real Nurse Jackies

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

I wasn't that strongCurrently at #19 on Amazon sales rankings and rising is an anthology of essays by nurses, I Wasn’t Strong Like This When I Started Out: True Stories of Becoming a Nurse, published by the small press, In Fact Books, which also publishes the quarterly magazine, Creative Nonfiction.

It is reviewed in the NYT today by Jane Gross who admits that, as the daughter of a nurse, she is “hardly a disinterested reviewer,” which is a good thing, giving her the ability to connect readers with the stories.

Many libraries own this anthology in modest quantities; Booklist reviewed it, saying, “It’s easy to love these empathetic people, and their beautifully written stories.”

AS COOL AS I AM, Trailer

Monday, May 20th, 2013

As cool as i amClaire Danes, who began her career with the realistic portrayal of a teenager in the TV series, My So-Called Life, will soon appear on the big screen as the mother of a teenage girl, in As Cool As I Am, based on a coming-of-age novel by Pete Fromm. Published in 2004, Kirkus said it explores “the sexual evolution of a cynical teenage girl who has the spunk and wit to survive two flaky parents and the urges of unbridled adolescence. ”

The trailer was just released (via Deadline). The movie begins a limited run on June 7.

As Cool As I Am, Pete Fromm
On Sale Date: June 4, 2013
9781250045577, 1250045576
Paperback / softback / Trade paperback (US)
$16.00 US / $18.50 Can

Alex Morgan’s Debut Is A Best Seller

Monday, May 20th, 2013

The Kicks: Saving the Team  The Kicks; Sabotage Season

Olympic gold medal soccer player Alex Morgan, currently playing for the Portland Thorns, scores with the first book in a planned middle grade series, The Kicks. Book one, Saving the Team (S&S Young Readers), debuts on the NYT Middle Grade Best Seller list at #7 during its in its first week on sale.

The second book in the series, Sabotage Season will be published in September. A third one  is in the works.

Backlist Title Debuts As A NYT Best Seller

Monday, May 20th, 2013

oracle glassBest Seller lists used to be the domain of newly-released titles, but e-books are beginning to change that.

The Oracle Glass, by Judith Merkle Riley, a title originally published in 1994, was released by Sourcebooks last fall in both trade paperback and as a $1.99 e-book. On May 6, it was offered as both a Kindle Master of All Desires“Daily Deal” and a Nook “Daily Find.” It debuted at #8 on the NYT Combined Print & E-Books best seller list this week (arriving at #7 on the NYT e-book only list but not on the trade paperback list).

The author, who died in 2010, was not able to enjoy her book’s belated success. Sourcebooks will release another of her historical novels, Master of All Desires, in July. Her books are available from library e-book vendors.

“New Adult” Hits the NYT YA List

Monday, May 20th, 2013

The “New Adult” genre has been labeled as the hot new category by the media (see USA Today and the NYT). Many of the titles had their success as self-published e-books, showing up on combined best seller lists, such as USA Today‘s and the NYT‘s combined adult lists.

One of the first “New Adult” titles to hit the NYT Young Adult list appeared last week, due to a change in the way the Times calculates the lists. Back in December, YA and Middle Grade lists, formerly lumped together under “Chapter Books,” were separated out, but more importantly for the “New Adult” category, the sales of e-books and print were combined.

Just for Now

On the YA list at #6, after two weeks is a title that won’t be released in print until August, While it Lasts, by Abbi Glines. A self-published success as an e-book, it was acquired by S&S’s Simon Pulse imprint last fall. A recent $1.99 offer for the e-book edition helped to propel sales, landing it on the list.

Glines’ earlier “New Adult” series, The Vincent Brothers was released by Simon Pulse in December, with an “Extended and Uncut” steamier version released as e-book only. A print boxed set (with “double the sexiness and seduction”) arrives in October.

Because of Low  Just for NowBreathe Glines

While It Lasts is the third in the Sea Breeze series; Breathe will be published by Simon Pulse on June 4. Because of Low follows in July and Just for Now in late August.

Kids New Title Radar, Week of May 20

Friday, May 17th, 2013

9780525425779  A Big Guy took My Ball  9780316209724

Landing next week are several titles from big names who need no introductions. John Grisham continues his series featuring 13-year-old  legal prodigy, Theodore Boone (you may have to squint to see the title on the cover; it’s The Activist) … Friends Elephant & Piggie return in their 19th adventure in Mo Willems’ A Big Guy Took My Ball!  … Jennifer Brown again keys in to a hot teen subject, with a book on sexting, about a girl who sends her bodyfriend a picture that even a Thousand Words can’t take back.

The titles highlighted here and more arriving next week are on our downloadable spreadsheet, Kids New Title Radar, Week of May 20.

Picture Books


Ben Rides On, Matt Davies, (Macmillan/Roaring Brook Press)

Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Matt Davies ventures into the world of children’s books with his first title. While it addresses the familiar theme of facing a bully, the subject is made fresh with illustrations that recall David Catrow crossed with Ralph Steadman and capture Ben’s big feelings as he faces his nemesis.


How to Negotiate Everything Lisa Lutz, Illus. Jaime Temairik, (S & S BYR)

Not familiar with co-author David Spellman, (featured on the cover)? As a fan of Lisa Lutz’s Spellman Files mystery series, I am pleased to report that her first picture book exhibits her dry sense of humor and appreciation of the absurd, beginning with her faux co-author, the lawyer/older brother/ “good child” from her adult books. Sammy, the protagonist dispenses advice on how to get to “yes” whether making a deal for an ice cream or negotiating for a pet. Illustrator Jaime Temairik wows in her picture book debut with an animated cartoon style and judicious use of infographics.

9780061938627 P.S. Be Eleven, Rita Williams-Garcia, (HarperCollins/Amisted)

The sequel to the Coretta Scott King Award winner (and Newbery honor title), One Crazy Summer has received starred reviews from all the prepub sources. In this story, the three sisters return to Brooklyn from their summer in California with their mother and the Black Panthers, portrayed in the previous book. The title, P.S. Be Eleven comes from their mother’s letters to her oldest daughter, Delphine; a caution to not grow up too fast.

New Title Radar, Week of May 20

Friday, May 17th, 2013

And the Mountains Echoed

Hotly anticipated ever since its release was announced in January, the big book of next week is Khaled Hosseini’s And the Mountains Echoed. Can it live up to expectations set by the author’s previous titles? Entertainment Weekly thinks so … A debut that begins in another strife-torn area of the world, We Need New Names gets a rare advance rave from the NYT‘s Michiko Kakutani … Alex Grecian, whose first mystery, The Yard was a librarian favorite, publishes a sequel, The Black Country… Norwegian author Jo Nesbo releases a new thriller, The Redeemer,  and Jeff Shaara views the Siege of Vicksburg in The Chain of Thunder … plus, released for the first time is a previously unpublished long narrative poem by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Full ordering information for all the titles highlighted here, plus many more, are available on our downloadable spreadsheet, New Title Radar, Week of May 20.

Watch List

We Need New Names

We Need New Names, NoViolet Bulawayo, (Hachette/Little, Brown)

Called a “deeply felt and fiercely written debut novel,” in an early review by Michiko Kakutani in the New York Times, this debut is about a young woman escaping the brutality of Zimbabwe to live with her aunt in “Destroyedmichygen” (Detroit, Michigan). Says Kakutani, “Darling is 10 when we first meet her, and the voice Ms. Bulawayo has fashioned for her is utterly distinctive — by turns unsparing and lyrical, unsentimental and poetic, spiky and meditative.” It is also an IndieNext pick for June.

Media Magnets

Eleven Rings 9780307958945   9780374102418

The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America, George Packer, (Macmillan/FSG)

The author of the award-winning The Assassins’ Gate: America in Iraq, Packer writes here about the U.S. “unwinding” into polarized factions and warns that it is  “a superpower in danger of coming apart at the seams, its elites no longer elite, its institutions no longer working.” Says the New Yorker (for which Packer is a staff writer), “Packer unpacks the current state of United States democracy by weaving together profiles of Americans as varied as tobacco farmers, Washington insiders, Newt Gingrich, and Jay-Z.”

Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success, Phil Jackson with Hugh Delehanty, (Penguin Press)

Prepub attention (in the L.A. Times and the Chicago Tribune, of course) is already causing legendary basketball coach Jackson’s memoir cum self-help leadership book to rise on Amazon

Margaret Thatcher: From Grantham to the Falklands, Charles Moore, (RH/Knopf)

This authorized biography is scheduled for coverage next week on the CBS Early Show, NPR’s Diane Rehm Show and MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

This Year’s Commencement Hit

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

Neil Gaiman’s Make Good Art speech to Philadelphia’s University of the Arts’ 2012 graduating class became a viral hit. Released in book form (HarperCollins/Morrow) this week, it is rising on Amazon.

John Green’s speech to the graduating class of Butler University may not be far behind.

Predating both of them is David Foster Wallace’s speech to Kenyon College in 2005, a viral success later released in book form, This Is Water(Hachette/Little,Brown). Recently, a short film based on the original was posted to YouTube and has been viewed nearly 5 million times in just ten days.



The “raining-on-the-parade” genre may have begun with a speech that wasn’t actually a speech. It was column by Mary Schmich in the Chicago Tribune in 1997 about what she would say if she had been asked to give a commencement address (which she hadn’t). An urban legend grew up that this was actually a speech given by Kurt Vonnegut at an MIT graduation. Vonnegut ruefully said he wished that were true, but it wasn’t. The column ended up being published as a gift book by Andrews and McMeel as Wear Sunscreen (the one piece of advice that Shmich found irrefutable) and re-released in a 10th anniversay edition in 2008. Baz Lurhmann turned it into a music video “Everyone’s Free to Wear Sunscreen.”


Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

Great SantiniPat Conroy’s beloved novel The Great Santini is based on the author’s troubled relationship with his abusive father.

In October, Conroy will publish a memoir, The Death of Santini, (RH/Nan A. Talese; RH Audio; RH Large Print) which, according to the publisher, describes how the two became closer and that love can “conquer even the meanest of men.”