New Title Radar: Week of Aug. 19

Among the titles we’re watching next week is a book that has had so much attention it seems to be causing a backlash among reviewers, Night Film by Marisha Pessl (Random House). Author James McBride publishes his first book in four years, a novel with a surprising twist and newly minted best seller JoJo Moyes follows up last year’s word of mouth hit.

All of the books highlighted here and more coming next week, are also listed on our downloadable spreadsheet with ordering information and alternate formats, New Title Radar, Week of Aug 19

Best Selling Authors

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After publishing ten novels, British romance author Jojo Moyes became a best seller last year with Me Before You, a book that added a Jodi Picoult type poignancy to the author’s usual style, featuring the relationship between a quadriplegic and  his caregiver. This step away from the romance genre was signaled by a distinctive all-type cover. The Girl You Left Behind (Penguin/Pamela Dorman; Thorndike) continues that cover style (now that Moyes is a best selling author, her name migrates into large letters above the title). The novel follows two love stories, 90 years apart linked by a painting. This is more familiar territory for Moyes; Last Letter From Your Lover, 2011, also features a double love story, set years apart and linked by a letter. Entertainment Weekly gives the new book an A-.


The Good Lord Bird, James McBride, (Penguin/Riverhead; Dreamscape audio; Thorndike)

Speaking of covers, at first glance, does the one at the left look like a novel by James McBride, or a new book by Alexander McCall Smith?

Clearly something is afoot. McBride, author of the memoir, The Color of Water, a NYT bestseller for over two years, and two novels based on events in African American history, Miracle at St. Anna (2002) and Song Yet Sung (2009) again turns to history . This time, it’s the abolitionist John Brown. The twist signaled by the cover is that this one, amazingly, is a comedy. It is featured on the cover of the upcoming NYT Sunday Book Review, which applauds the book for its “countless uproarious moments,” and says McBride is “like a modern-day Mark Twain: evoking sheer glee with every page.”

Watch List 

Night Film Night Film, Marisha Pessl, (Random House; RH Audio)

After a remarkable amount of prepub attention, including a feature on last week’s CBS Sunday Morning, which included the book’s eerie trailer, Marisha Pessl’s novel broke in to the top 100 on Amazon sales rankings with growing holds in libraries.

Now come the backlash. Janet Maslin reviews it in the NYT on Thursday and is definitely not a fan. Author Joe Hill, reviewing it in the upcoming NYT BR also rains on the parade and the L.A. Times critic, David Ulin finds it problematic, saying the book held him “hostage” (and not in a good way). Even Entertainment Weekly, for all the attention the “Shelf Life” blog lavished on the book, gives it just a B. Several librarians on GalleyChat reported they were grabbed by the first half, but let down by the second. All said they were enthralled by the integration of images and text (the Wall Street Journal looks at the lengths the author went to in creating the visual elements. A free app is included in the book to explore more).

The book is on the inaugural LibraryReads list, with this convincing annotation:

Scott McGrath has it all — a successful career in journalism, a beautiful wife, and an adorable daughter — until his impulsive, possibly libelous comment about the mysterious film director Stanislav Cordova causes everything to fall apart. Five years later, Cordova’s talented daughter, Ashley, dies from an apparent suicide — or is it? A giant, delicious, juicy read in the noir tradition that cuts across genres.

Elizabeth Olesh, Nassau Library System, Uniondale, NY

9781620401392The Bone Season, Samantha Shannon, (Macmillan/Bloomsbury)

The 21-year-old novelist is profiled in New York magazine ahead of publication, noting that the author has been ” lauded as ‘the next J. K. Rowling, a comparison that both thrills and rankles,” the author who was six years old when the first Harry Potter was published and a big fan. But, she says her story about a clairvoyant who is shipped off to a penal colony in a future Great Britain which outlaws such powers, is “much darker.” It is an Indie Next title for Sept:  “Shannon has created a world that will set your imagination on fire and lure you in so absolutely that you will forget your surroundings.” The book is also considered a strong YA crossover title.

Media Magnet 


Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong – and What You Really Need to Know (Penguin Press, 8/20; Blackstone Audio)

We’ve had our eye on the controversy this book has been getting, expecting it to take off a la Tiger Mom. We’re surprised to find, however, in spite of all  the attention, holds are still low in libraries.

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