Archive for December, 2013

Ransom Riggs Profiled by the NYT

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

Miss Peregrine  Hollow City

Ransom Riggs’ Hollow City, the second in the planned trilogy that began with Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, (both from Quirk Books, dist. by Random House), will be released in two weeks. In anticipation, The New York Times profiles the author.

Click the following for an excerpt from Hollow City.

Tim Burton’s film adaptation of Miss Peregrine is scheduled for release on July 31, 2015 .

The NYT notes that Miss Peregrine was “not conceived or composed with a young-adult audience in mind, but its central premise — about people who are ‘peculiar’ in various ways and must struggle not only to survive, but also to save the clueless rest of humanity from violent evildoers — is certainly adolescent-friendly.”

The decision to publish the book as a YA title proved momentous. As a result, Riggs got to know several YA authors, including Tahereh Mafi, who became his wife. The two, says the NYT, “have become something of a golden couple on the young-adult literary scene, with fans lining up to meet them at events and rushing to post their words on Twitter when either shares details of their life together on Twitter.”

Riggs will appear at ALA Midwinter, as part of the:

AAP/LibraryReads BookTalk Breakfast
Monday, Jan. 27th, 8:30 – 10:00 am
RSVP required, see official invitation here:
ALA Midwinter Booktalk Breakfast 2014 Invitation

9780062085573_0_Cover  9780062327963_7dacb

The other member of the “YA golden couple,” Tahereh Mafi, will release the final book in her best selling trilogy on Feb. 4, Ignite Me, (HarperCollins). It follows Shatter Me  (2011) and Unravel Me, (2013).

In addition, two companion novellas, Fracture Me and Destroy Me, originally published as eBooks, release in print today, Dec. 31, under the title Unite Me.

The Ultimate Best Books Lists

Monday, December 30th, 2013

We’ve just posted updates to our compiled best books spreadsheets, adding picks by New York Magazine, the New York Times daily reviewers,  People magazine, Shelf Awareness and the Wall Street Journal, resulting in the following:

2013 — Best Books, Adult Fiction, Version 5
536 picks, 302 titles, 20 sources

2013 — Best Books, Adult Nonfiction, Version 4
396 Picks, 267 titles, 19 sources

2013 — Best Books, Childrens and YA, Version 3
447 picks, 283 titles, 10 sources

0d472f2-3.cachedWe are not the only ones obsessed with best books lists. The Daily Beast has also combed the lists to come up with the ultimate “best of the best” lists, the top ten picks in fiction and nonfiction (their tag line is, after all, “Read This Skip That”). They claim 40 sources (sorry to quibble, but by our count, it’s actually 32), including some British sources that we did not include.

978-0-307-26393-3The result? The top fiction titles are very similar to ours, in somewhat different order, but the nonfiction top ten is quite different. For instance, Penelope Fitzgerald: A Life by Hermione Lee is tied at #4 with 6 votes. It hasn’t been released in the U.S., so wasn’t available for any of our sources to pick. Also tied at #4 with 6 votes is Gabriele d’Annunzio: Poet, Seducer, and Preacher of War by Lucy Hughes-Hallet (RH/Knopf), which was only chosen by one of the sources we tracked (the Washington Post).

Which seems to prove what we know, but sometimes forget; no matter how many heads you put together, there is no definitive way to arrive at the best books of the year and it can be more fun to make your own discoveries among the titles on the lower rungs of the lists.

Best Sellers of 2013

Monday, December 30th, 2013

Slate explores the cultural implications from Amazon’s list of the year’s best sellers (still being updated as we near the actual end of the year, so the positions fluctuate a bit). In the top ten, The Great Gatsby, shows that “We’ll tolerate the occasional work of actual literature as long as it’s super-short and there’s a movie.”

Are our British cousins any more high brow? Not according to the list from Nielson’s Book Scan (published in the Guardian), where not a single classic appears in the top 100, movie-related or not.

Their list is as influence by popular culture as ours. At #1 is My Autobiography by Alex Ferguson (he’s “the most important football man of the past 25 years,” according to the Guardian‘s own, not particularly admiring, review). The rest of the list is dotted with tv and movie tie-ins.

perfect-pies   isbn9780297870470-detail

It seems the Brits are even more obsessed with their weight than we are. The Fast Diet is at #4 on their list, but  only comes in at #70 on ours. And, shudder, at #8, there is a book called The Hairy Dieters by some guys formerly known as “The Hairy Bikers,” who seem to have gone through a Paula Deen-like conversion (minus the racial slurs) from a less-than-healthy lifestyle exemplified by their previous titles like The Hairy Bikers’ Perfect Pies (hope they wear hair nets).

Gangsta GrannyMany other titles are recognizable; Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, which made its appearance in the UK in January, comes in at #3. Others, not so much; there’s British comedian/author David Walliams, who has 5 children’s titles on the list, including Gangsta Granny, adapted into a Christmas BBC TV special this year, but not yet available here. (The Guardian offers a deeper dive into the list).

Hope you enjoy making your own cultural comparisons.


Saturday, December 28th, 2013

There’s no news yet on exactly when the STARZ series will begin, but the cast of Outlander, based on the first title in Diana Gabaldon’s novels, is preparing fans with videos on how to “Speak Outlander.”

Below is Lesson One. Lesson Two and several other videos are available on the official web site,

It’s appropriate that Lesson One teaches the pronunciation of Sassenach, an English person or an outsider. The lead character Claire Randall is an English World War II combat nurse who time travels back to Scotland in 1743 where she meets a handsome Scottish warrior, Jamie Fraser played by Sam Heughan, (the guy in the hoodie).

Written in My Own Heart's BloodA “fan gathering” with the cast and crew, including author Diana Gabaldon, will be held in Los Angeles on Jan. 11. Fans can also find set photos on Instagram and more on the show’s Facebook page.

The publication of the 8th title in the series, Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, (RH/Delacorte) was moved from its original December date to March 25, 2014 to tie in with the publicity for the STARZ series. [UPDATE: On her blog, Gabaldon recently announced that the date has been moved again, to June 10 — perhaps hinting that the series will begin this summer].

From Nancy Pearl’s Own Library

Friday, December 27th, 2013

Nancy AvatarLibrarian Nancy Pearl made one of her regular visits to NPR’s Morning Edition today to talk to Steve Inskeep about favorite books. She just returned from a “fishing trip” among her own book shelves with some of her favorite older titles.

These books are clearly old friends. After introducing one of them, Inskeep can’t help but comment on Nancy’s reaction, “I love hearing the change in your tone of voice … the excitement that comes over you just from the name.”

All four books featured on the show, plus four more they couldn’t get to, are still in print and listed on the site with excerpts, including the following first paragraph from The Cold Cold Ground, by Adrian McKinty, which Inskeep loves so much that he reads it aloud:

The riot had taken on a beauty of its own now. Arcs of gasoline fire under the crescent moon. Crimson tracer in mystical parabolas. Phosphorescence from the barrels of plastic bullet guns. A distant yelling like that of men below decks in a torpedoed prison ship. The scarlet whoosh of Molotovs intersecting with exacting surfaces. Helicopters everywhere: their spotlights finding one another like lovers in the Afterlife.

9781616147167_0f732   9781616147877   9781616148775_16407

The Cold Cold Ground is the first in The Troubles Trilogy, followed by:

I Hear the Sirens in the Street, which came out in May

In the Morning I’ll Be Gone, to be published March 4 (all by Prometheus/ Seventh Street Books; audios from Blackstone).

Big Day At the Movies

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

This big year for movie adaptations is ending appropriately, with several arriving over the next few days.

As USA Today notes, seven new films open on Christmas Day, plus another on Friday, taking advantage of the fact that, “Over the past decade, Christmas week has been the year’s highest-grossing stretch.”

The majority are adaptations (for trailers, see our links at the right, under “Movies & TV Based on Books — Trailers”).

Three are based on books (links are to the tie-ins):

Wolf of Wall Street Tie-in   The Invisible Woman, tie-in   Lone Survivor Tie-in

The Wolf of Wall Street, (based memoir by Jordan Belfort; tie-ins, Random House) — The Daily Beast examines “The Real Wolf of Wall Street: Jordan Belfort’s Vulgar Memoirs,” while the NYT writes, “Investors’ Story Left Out of Wall St. ‘Wolf’ Movie. The abridged audio tie-in has a bit of Hollywood glitz; it is narrated by Bobby Cannavale.

The Invisible Woman,  (limited opening, to expand later; based on the bio of Charles Dickens’ mistress, Nelly Ternan, by Claire Tomalin ) — USA Today gives it 3.5 stars

Lone Survivor(limited, to expand later; based on the best selling 2007 memoir by Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell; tie-ins from Hachette/Little, Brown ) — USA Today writes that the movie strives to stay true to the book.

Three are adaptations of other written material:

47 Ronin   August: Osage County tie-in

47 Ronin, (loosely based on Japanese folklore, the tie-in, published by Macmillan/Tor is a novelization of the movie).  — Forbes, among others, does not expect this mega budget film to make back the investment.

August: Osage County (Dec. 27 based on a the the 2007 play by Tracy Letts; tie-in, Perseus/Theatre Communications Group) — the New York Times notes that play adaptations can be risky, and even more so, a dark comedy opening during what Sarah Palin has called the “jolliest season of them all.”

The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty — Many liberties are taken with James Thurber’s 1939 short story in this updated version, starring and directed by Ben Stiller. There are no tie-ins, but offers a free interview and reading of the story by Stiller. USA Today calls the movie, “well-intentioned but insipid.

Next year is shaping up to be another strong at the movies for books. Already scheduled are adaptations of Monuments Men, Winter’s Tale, Divergent, The Fault in Our Stars, How to Train Your Dragon 2, The Giver, This is Where I Leave You, The Maze Runner, Gone Girl and Unbroken  (see our listing, with tie-ins).

Best Gift Books for All Ages

Friday, December 20th, 2013


As a judge for the National Book Awards, I read a lot of books this year. The job is an honor and a privilege, but it is also heart breaking as I regularly fell in love with books that didn’t fit the award’s very specific criteria, or wouldn’t be agreed upon by all five judges.

Now that it’s over and gift-giving season is here, those restrictions are lifted and I find that, as great as the books are that win prizes, they are not necessarily the ones I want to buy for my young cousin for the holiday break.

Below are the books everyone on my list will be getting this year, including several award winners.

9780544106161What The Heart KnowsChants, Charms and Blessings, Joyce Sidman, illus. by Pamela Zagarenski, (HMH)

Speak these words
to send a message to the world:
to chant for what you want,
to bless what you love,
to lament what you’ve lost,
to summon comfort and courage.

This is THE BOOK! I am not kidding.

At last count, I have bought 15. One for Nelle (don’t worry, she doesn’t read my blog) the grown-up cousin who is the keystone of the Von Drasek family, one for late twenties, Kay who taught me to drive, one for Professor Boss who lives down the block and transitioned me into University culture and the neighborhood life. One for my step-sister for her sixtieth birthday. One for my next door neighbor Krista, one of the smartest, most serene, and spiritual people who also has a terrific sense of humor, one for one of my best friends, Sharon who has been there for me for the last 23 years of my life (and quite a few others who are book people and probably do read my blog).

The best poetry speaks to us and tells us we are not alone. This collection of poems provides comfort and courage. Joyce Sidman has given everyone these gifts.

9780714862415_p0_v1_s600How to Boil an Egg, Rose Bakery, (Phaidon)

Eggs are my go-to food. Boil a half dozen on Sunday, I have lunch for a week. I adore a soft-boiled egg on top of roasted asparagus with a sprinkle of truffled salt. It’s no surprise then, that this book is on my list for all ages; I am a great believer in the benefits of families cooking together and there is nothing easier than eggs.

Cookbooks created for children often have excessive warnings (with good reason; grown ups should be asked to cut the carrots with a sharp knife) and are generic in the step-by-step way. The simple beauty of this book based on a favorite food, creates a perfect family gift.

The following have appeared on many best books lists, or were National Book Award finalists and are also on my gift lists.

9781442421080_1e1ae-2The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, Kathi Appelt,. illus. by Jennifer Bricking, ( S & S/Atheneum)

This title is not only literary-prize-worthy (see my review in the NYT Book Review), it is also a fine read aloud for the entire family. It also comes in a magnificent audio version, read by Lyle Lovett (Simon & Schuster Audio; listen to a clip here).

Below, the author herself reads from it:

Flora and UlyssesFlora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures, Kate DiCamillo, illus. by K. G. Campbell. (Candlewick)

I am pretty sure that I have bought over ten copies of this book to give to all the deserving  seven-year-olds and older  in my life (yes, that includes a few special adults). It is a laugh aloud delight about a cynical well-read girl and her super-hero companion, a squirrel (for a taste of Kate DiCamillo’s humor listen to her interview from Minnesota Public Radio).

F9780375849725_8d093ar Far Away, Tom McNeal, (RH/Knopf YR)

This contemporary spin on thee Brothers Grimm will, as Jennifer Brown writes in Shelf Awareness, “keep readers on the edges of their seats with its overriding sense of danger, lurking like a deep forest surrounding the town.”

9781596433595  9781596436893

Boxers, Gene Luen Yang, (Macmillan/First Second)
Saints, Gene Luen Yang, (Macmillan/First Second)

This two-volume graphic novel deserves all the praise it’s received. It tells the story of the Boxer Rebellion through the eyes of Little Bao, a Chinese peasant boy, and Vibiana, an outcast welcomed by Christian missionaries, offering an insightful look at a pivotal moment in Chinese history.

Ned Vizzini Dies

Friday, December 20th, 2013

1423141911   0786809965-2  9780062079909_0_Cover-2

The L.A. Times confirms the rumors that worried fans have followed on Twitter since late yesterday; YA author Ned Vizzini, has committed suicide. He was 32.


He is the author of It’s Kind of a Funny StoryBe More Chill, (both from Miramax) Teen Angst? Naah (Random House), and The Other Normals (HarperCollins/ Balzer + Bray). This year, he published House of Secrets (HarperCollins/ Balzer + Bray) which he co-wrote with movie director Chris Columbus; a sequel, House of Secrets: Battle of the Beasts is scheduled for release on March 25.

In a tribute on New York magazine’s blog, Vulture, Vizzini’s friend Kyle Buchanan writes, “He was one of the most enthusiastic, vibrant people I knew.”


Thursday, December 19th, 2013

We kind of hate ourselves for falling for “first” hype around movies; the first teaser, the first full length trailer, and now the first clip. But, here we go…

The first clip from the film adaptation of the YA dystopian novel, Veronica Roth’s Divergent, debuted on Entertainment Tonight and on Yahoo Movies yesterday.

Tris and Four KISS…

Divergent arrives in theaters on March 21.

The studio is so confident they have a hit on their hands that they’ve already scheduled the other two movies in the trilogy; Insurgent for March 20, 2015 and Allegiant for March 18, 2016 (IndieWire), breaking the recent tradition of dividing the final book in a series into two movies.

The tie-in editions will be published in February:

9780062289841_e3f78Divergent Movie Tie-in Edition
Veronica Roth
HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books
On Sale Date: February 11, 2014
Hardcover: 9780062289841, 0062289845
$17.99 US / $21.00 Can.

Paperback: 9780062289858, 0062289853
$9.99 US / $11.99 Can

PEOPLE Magazine’s Top Ten(s)

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

peoplecover_205x273In its final issue of the year, on newsstands now, People looks at the best of the year (the cover line promising worsts isn’t delivered, unless you count the Kardashian family, picked as one of most intriguing because their “merry-go-round finally spun out of control” this year or the celebrity Feuds of The Year).

Books appear throughout the issue, beginning with the cover that features an actress who has appeared in several movies based on books, one of which, American Hustle comes in at #3 on the list of ten best movies of the year. At number one is the book adaptation 12 Years A Slave, with Saving Mr. Banks at #7 and Philomena, #9.

Several best TV shows are also based on books –#3 Masters of Sex, #6 Hannibal, #7 Behind the Canelabra, and #8 Orange is the New Black.

Finally, there’s the list of the Top Ten Books themselves which includes several titles that have already been declared best by many other publications, as well as one that has not, the bio of Johnny Carson at #6. UPDATE: No sooner did we say that then the NYT‘s Janet Maslin declared the Carson bio one of her favorites of the year.

People‘s Top Ten Books

1) Tenth of December,  George Saunders, (Random House)

2) The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt, Hachette/Little, Brown

3) Going Clear: Scientology, Celebrity, and the Prison of Belief, (RH/Knopf)

4) The Interestings, Meg Wolitzer, (Penguin/Riverhead)

5) The Lowland, Jhumpa Lahiri, (RH/Knopf)

6) Johnny Carson, Henry Bushkin, HMH

7) The Husband’s Secret, Liane Moriarty, (Penguin/Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam)

8) Wave, Sonali Deraniyagala, RH/Knopf

9) Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson, (S&S)

10) The Engagements, J. Courtney Sullivan, (RH/Knopf)

CHILD 44 Wrapped

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

Child 44The first images have been released  for the adaptation of Tom Rob Smith’s best selling Soviet era thriller,  Child 44, (Hachette/Grand Central). Starring Tom Hardy, as a demoted secret police agent battling both his superiors and his unhappy wife, played by Noomi Rapace, while trying to track down a serial killer who targets children, it costars Gary Oldman and Vincent Cassel, and is directed by Daniel Espinosa (Safe House).

Before the heavily promoted debut was published in 2008, Ridley Scott bought the film rights to this first book in a trilogy that continued with The Secret Speech (2009) and  Agent 6 (2012).

No release date has been announced, but the film is expected some time in 2014.

Smith is publishing a new book in June, The Farm, a contemporary psychological thriller.

New Audio Sounds

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

On NPR this morning, AudioFile founder and editor Robin Whitten selected several audiobooks from the magazine’s picks of the best of the year to showcase  ways in which producers are “expanding the envelope …with multiple narrators, sound effects and sound design, as well as a single voice just telling you a great story.” Not only books, but comics have made their way to audio (Graphic Audio has released dozens, including AudioFile Best, Marvel’s Civil War)

AudioFie’s “BEST Audiobooks and Best Voices” is available this year in a nifty new format, complete with audio samples.

AudioFile's Year in Audio 2013


Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

With the tag line “One Sick Love Story,” the first poster for the adaptation of John Green’s YA novel The Fault in Our Stars (Penguin/Dutton YR), has just been released, featuring Shailene Woodley as Hazel, wearing an oxygen tube (click on the image to see more details), and Ansel Elgort as Gus. The movie opens June 6, 2014.

UPDATE: John Green responds to some negative comments on the poster’s tag line on his Tumblr site, saying that, although the tagline is not his decision, ” I like the tag line. I found it dark and angry in the same way that Hazel is (at least at times) dark and angry in her humor. I mostly wanted something that said, ‘This is hopefully not going to be a gauzy, sentimental love story that romanticizes illness and further spreads the lie that the only reason sick people exist is so that healthy people can learn lessons.’ But that’s not a very good tag line. I like the tag line because it says, literally, the sick can also have love stories. Love and joy and romance are not just things reserved for the well.”


The poster is currently being offered as a perk to those who donate to the Indiegogo campaign for awesomeness.

Before the release of TFIOS, Woodley and Elgort will be seen playing brother and sister in the adaptation of another YA novel, Veronica Roth’s Divergent, (HarperCollins/Tegen), scheduled for release on March 21. Ads for it are set to debut on Facebook tomorrow (trailers were released earlier) in a test of the site’s new auto-play ad feature.

Lisbeth Salander To Live On

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

13014080_O_1   Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

The Swedish publisher of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series, Norstedts Förlag (covers of the original and U.S. editions of the first title in the series, above), has announced that they have hired Swedish journalist and author David Lagercrantz to write a fourth book, scheduled to be published in August, 2015.

The publisher added that it has nothing to do with the manuscript that Larsson left unfinished when he died in 2004 (the series was originally planned as ten books and there is still a legal dispute over ownership of the rights to the unfinished manuscript).

In a press release, Norstedts explains why they chose Lagercrantz for the task, “His ability to find the right tone and voice, his great experience and his manner of engaging readers of all ages – most recent in the form of the global success that is I am Zlatan [which he ghost wrote for the soccer player Zlatan Ibrahimovic]  – makes him the right choice. David Lagercrantz is not just a skilled novelist, he has also, through his work searched for different characters and complex geniuses. He is also used to working in editorial environments”

U.K. rights were acquired by British publisher, Quercus, which launched in the U.S. this fall (see their web site here) with a list that includes a book of articles by Larsson, translated into English, The Expo Files. Larsson, like his main character, was a crusading journalist. No news yet on whether Quercus, or the U.S. publisher of the previous titles in the Millennium series, Knopf, will publish the new title here.

A very early work by Larsson, a story he wrote when he was just 17, will make its first appearance in English in an anthology of works by several Swedish crime writers, A Darker Shade of Sweden, coming in February 2014 from Grove/Mysterious Press.

Novelist Janet Dailey Dies

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

The author of 155 popular romance novels (50 of them set in each one of the states) and a fixture on best seller lists, Janet Dailey, died suddenly over the weekend after complications from heart surgery. She was 69.

Her latest title, Merry Christmas, Cowboy, (Kensington), was published in September.

Newspaper coverage:

Official obituary: KY3 News