Titles to Know and Recommend, Week of February 6, 2017

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The week brings a dozen titles that are favorites among librarians and booksellers (see Peer Picks, below), including one that arrives to hefty holds lists, Sophie Kinsella’a My Not So Perfect Life, (PRH/Dial; BOT Audio;OverDrive Sample). The holds leader however is the 44th in J D Robb’s “In Death” series, Echoes in Death (Macmillan/St. Martin’s; OverDrive Sample). PW notes that Robb “is not only prolific but consistently inventive, entertaining, and clever in her crime series set in a near-future New York City.”

The titles covered in this post, as well as several other notable titles arriving next week, are listed with ordering information and alternate formats, on our downloadable spreadsheet, EarlyWord New Title Radar, Week of Feb. 6, 2017.

Media Magnets

9780374140366_fd037This Close to Happy: A Reckoning with Depression, Daphne Merkin,(Macmillan/FSG; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample).

Interviewed on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday, Merkin, described as “a productive and admired professional, a writer and critic for the New Yorker and the New York Times Magazine, a novelist and essayist,” has nevertheless struggled with depression all her life. Her memoir is reviewed on the cover of this week’s NYT BR by Andrew Solomon, a clinical psychologist acclaimed for his own memoir of depression, The Noonday Demon. Denotes that Merkin writes this “long-awaited chronicle of her own consuming despair” with “insight, grace and excruciating clarity, in exquisite and sometimes darkly humorous prose,”adding that “Merkin is unlikely to cheer you up, but if your misery loves company, you will find no better companion.”

9781476766812_6bf89Make Your Kid A Money Genius (Even If You’re Not): A Parents’ Guide for Kids 3 to 23, Beth Kobliner, (S&S; S&S Audio; OverDrive Sample)

Giving voice to the implied hope of the title is the New York Post’s story headlined, “Your child is an untapped gold mine.” The author is scheduled to be interviewed next week on Fox Business Mornings with Maria and on NPR’s Here & Now.

9780812995800_1429dBlack Edge: Inside Information, Dirty Money, and the Quest to Bring Down the Most Wanted Man on Wall Street, Shellac Kolhatkar (PRH/Random House)

The stories of underhanded hedge fund dealings are depressingly endless but, like Tolstoy’s unhappy families, each is fascinating in its own way. This week’s NYT Book Review says this one “is many things: a Wall Street primer; a procedural drama; a modern version of Moby-Dick, with wiretaps rather than harpoons.” The author is scheduled for an interview on NPR’s Fresh Air on Tuesday.

Peer Picks

There’s a dozen titles to take special note of this week. Four of them are LibraryReads:

9780062271631_76794Garden of Lamentations, Deborah Crombie (HC/William Morrow; HarperAudio).

“Picking up where To Dwell In Darkness left off, Crombie’s new mystery resolves unresolved issues from that book while telling a compelling new story. Gemma is investigating the puzzling death of a nanny while Duncan is dealing with what looks disturbingly like corruption in the police force. As always in Crombie’s novels the look we get at the domestic lives of Duncan, Gemma and their children is as interesting as the mystery. Another fine entry in this excellent series.” — Beth Mills, New Rochelle Public Library, New Rochelle, NY

Additional Buzz: The StarTribune counts it among their “7 mysteries to chill your soul on a wintry night,” writing “The tricky balance of the personal and the professional has always been one of the stellar aspects of  Deborah Crombie’s exceptional series … The novel’s title suggests sorrow, deep and debilitating, the kind of grief that chokes. It also alludes to Gethsemane and all that garden implies — betrayal, sacrifice and forgiveness. It’s all here.”

9780393609097_a8601Norse Mythology, Neil Gaiman (W. W. Norton; HarperAudio).

“After reading Gaiman’s account of Norse mythology, I doubt that I will ever forget how the gods of Asgard acquired their treasures. Thor’s hammer that never misses its mark, Frey’s incredible ship that shrinks to the size of a pocketable silk scarf, Odin’s powerful spear, all came to be because of Loki’s mischief. Above all, I will not forget the ill-gotten and ill-treated children of Loki who bring about Ragnarok, the end of earth and heaven and the death of the gods. Everything feels very real and very now when told by someone who has obviously drunk of the ‘mead of the poets.’” — Catherine Stanton, Madison Library District, Rexburg, IL

Additional Buzz: Nobody sells Gaiman’s enthusiasms better than Gaiman himself, as he illustrates in the book trailer below.  The NYT offers a very early feature in which he says “Those Norse tales have accompanied me through pretty much everything I’ve done.” 

9780812998269_5b71fMy Not So Perfect Life, Sophie Kinsella (PRH/Dial; RH Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample).

“Katie Brenner has moved from her family’s farm to the big city. She goes to great lengths to present the face that she thinks the world wants to see. When she’s fired from her job and forced to return home she helps her family get their new venture up and running. Learning the truth about herself and those around her leads to the realization that nobody’s life is as perfect as it seems from the outside. Kinsella never loses her sense of humor, even when her characters are facing serious situations. She makes you believe in them and leaves you wanting to know what happens next.” — Kristen Gramer, Lewes Public Library, Lewes, DE

9781101985137_a7fd5All Our Wrong Todays, Elan Mastai (PRH/Dutton; Penguin Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample).

“Mastai’s debut is a clever and funny time travel romp which turns into an, action-packed science fiction thriller. Tom Barren stumbles through life and accidentally ruins the glittering jetpack and flying car future of 2016, replacing it with the one you and I know. The world may be worse off, but Tom’s life is better than ever. That is, until his mind starts splitting between the two realities and he must track down the genius who invented the other future. Tom’s journey through the past, across realities, and inside his mind make for a thrilling conclusion.” — Dan Brooks, Wake County Public Libraries, Cary, NC

Additional Buzz: Entertainment Weekly picks it as one of “The 23 Most Anticipated Books of 2017.” It is also the #1 Indie Next book for February and we featured the title as part to of our EarlyReads series.

There are eight additional Indie Next titles coming out this week:

9780316353038_d8874Desperation Road, Michael Farris Smith (Hachette/Lee Boudreaux Books; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample).

“Russell, just released from an 11-year prison sentence, finds anger and revenge waiting for him on the outside. Maben, homeless, broken, and walking along the interstate in the blazing Mississippi heat toward McComb, is forced to make a decision that puts her and her young daughter on the run from the police. In a desperate moment of chance or fate, Russell and Maben’s paths cross, their shared past is revealed, and Russell is left to make the ultimate choice. Smith’s novel is mesmerizing from its opening pages; you will have to pace yourself while reading it to fully enjoy and appreciate the pitch-perfect language and descriptions that can only come from one who has a masterful command of storytelling.” —Matt Kelly, Lemuria Bookstore, Jackson, MS

9780399576102_61944A Separation, Katie Kitamura (PRH/Riverhead Books; Penguin Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample).

“We all have a secret self, parts of our personalities that are unknowable, even to the people closest to us. In A Separation, Kitamura stays largely inside the narrator’s head, musing on a great many things: the muddled truth that can exist between married couples, the precise pain of infidelity, the myriad tiny betrayals we commit every day. Her prose is perfect, spare and beautiful, and her observations are spot-on. Some of her sentences were so good they startled me out of the story, which might sound like a bad thing, but it really isn’t. It just meant I spent a little longer with this book, my mind wandering like the narrator’s.” —Lauren Peugh, Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe, AZ

Additional Buzz: Entertainment Weekly picks it as one of “The 23 Most Anticipated Books of 2017.”

9780735213739_f11a8The Lonely Hearts Hotel, Heather O’Neill (PRH/Riverhead Books; Penguin Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample).

“If there is Canadian magical realism, this is it! The Lonely Hearts Hotel is the charming story of Rose and Pierrot, two children raised in a Montreal orphanage in the early 20th century. O’Neill traces their romance from their childhood of entertaining rich people in their homes to their less salubrious post-orphanage careers. When Rose and Pierrot meet again as adults, magic happens—but can this magic survive the rigors of the real world? Fantastic and fabulous in the truest sense of both words.” —Susan Taylor, Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, NY

9780802126399_db599The Refugees, Viet Thanh Nguyen (PGW/Grove Press; OverDrive Sample).

“This eloquent and detailed collection of aspirations and dreams tells of those torn between two worlds, the country and family left behind in trade for a distant place of hope and desires fulfilled. Each chapter is an experience of memory suffused with subtle moments that will leave you breathless.” —Shannon Alden, Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, MI

Additional Buzz: While the term “timely” seems overused these days, it clearly applies to this book by the winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction last year for The Sympathizer. The author is scheduled to be interviewed next week on NPR’s All Things Considered as well as on Late Night with Seth Meyers. Holds are growing.

9781455563937_1d20ePachinko, Min Jin Lee (Hachette/Grand Central; Hachette Audio).

“A father’s gentle nature, a mother’s sacrifice, a daughter’s trust, and a son’s determination are the cornerstones of this grand, multilayered saga. Pachinko follows one family through an ever-changing cultural landscape, from 1910 Korea to 1989 Japan. As the bonds of family are put to the test in the harsh realities of their world, Sunja and those she holds dear manage to carve themselves a place to call home with hard work, self sacrifice, and a little kimchi. Through it all is a message about love, faith, and the deep-rooted bonds of family. Min Jin Lee gives us a phenomenal story about one family’s struggle that resonates with us today. It will take hold of you and not let go!” —Jennifer Steele, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI

Additional Buzz: It is also on the Chicago Review of Books list of “The 10 Best New Books to Read This February.

9781501144417_572a6The Impossible Fortress, Jason Rekulak (Simon & Schuster; S&S Audio).

“You don’t have to remember the 1980s to deeply ‘get’ this sweet memory trip back to the decade when video games, personal computers, and mixtapes were new. But if you did come of age in the 1980s, look out. All those awkward boy/girl moments, all those songs that comprised the soundtracks of your make-out sessions and your break-ups, all the wonder of your first encounters with MS-DOS buried deep in a far corner of your memory… Jason Rekulak will bring it all back to you.” —Carol Spurling, BookPeople of Moscow, Moscow, ID

Additional Buzz: Another of Entertainment Weekly‘s “The 23 Most Anticipated Books of 2017” picks. They write “Revel in 1987 nostalgia in this debut about a teen boy, a coveted copy of Playboy and a computer-nerd girl.”

9781555977641_64b6f300 Arguments: Essays, Sarah Manguso (Macmillan/Graywolf Press; OverDrive Sample).

“Sarah Manguso is a master of the minimalist form. She can do more with a sentence than many authors can do with an entire book. In this collection of brief ruminations, she covers everything from sex and mortality to ambition, mental illness, writing, desire, and motherhood. These ‘arguments’ are aphoristic gems in which a seemingly random thought has hardened into a bold, cutting, crystalline truth. There is no exposition. Manguso lets these minute statements stand on their own, and the reader is left with nowhere to hide from direct engagement with a most remarkable literary mind.” —Keaton Patterson, Brazos Bookstore, Houston, TX

Additional Buzz: It is among The MillionsMost Anticipated: The Great 2017 Book Review.”

9781941040515_89675Swimming Lessons, Claire Fuller (Norton/Tin House).

“With Swimming Lessons, Claire Fuller confirms her place as a writer of exceptional insight and warmth. This tale of a marriage, of a family, and especially of children bearing the brunt of the fallout of betrayals and abandonment, pulls you in and refuses to let you emerge from the lives of its characters until the tale is finished. Even then, it takes time to shake the spell the book creates. A wonderful follow-up to Our Endless Numbered Days that explores similar themes through an entirely different story, Swimming Lessons will be a great book for fans of Fuller’s first novel and will bring her new fans as well.” —Anmiryam Budner, Main Point Books, Wayne, PA

Additional Buzz: The Guardian calls it a “poignant multilayered tale of love and loss” and BuzzFeed counts it as one of the “27 Brilliant New Books You Need To Read This Winter.” It is also on the Chicago Review of Books list of “The 10 Best New Books to Read This February.”


9780062656322_25b35 Before I Fall Movie Tie-in Edition, Lauren Oliver (HarperCollins; HarperAudio; OverDrive Sample).

Debuting at Sundance, Before I Fall is based on Lauren Oliver’s 2010 bestselling YA novel about a teen who relives the last day of her life over and over again.

The Hollywood Reporter says “this neatly written Heathers-meets-Groundhog Day high-concept package delivers both technical polish and a toothsome yet likeable cast. Better still, it has just enough tragic edge to draw young adults, and young-at-heart adults, with melancholy temperaments, a sizeable constituency judging by the popularity of dying teen stories.”

It opens in theaters on March 3 and stars Zoey Deutch, Halston Sage, Logan Miller, Kian Lawley, Jennifer Beals, Diego Boneta, and Elena Kampouris.

9780147512956_d99f3Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Broadway Tie-In, Roald Dahl, illustrated by Quentin Blake (PRH/Puffin Books; Listening Library).

 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: The New Musical, opens on Broadway March 28 (previews, full roll out on April 23).

NYT‘s ArtsBeat blog writes that the show, which has been running in London since 2013, will be revamped for its US debut, to make it more familiar to fans of the Gene Wilder film version, including songs made famous by the movie. Two-time Tony winner Christian Borle plays Wonka.

9780393354256_fc3ddThe Zookeeper’s Wife: A War Story, Diane Ackerman (W. W. Norton; Blackstone; OverDrive Sample).

This nonfiction adaptation stars Jessica Chastain, Johan Heldenbergh, Michael McElhatton, and Daniel Brühl.

It is set in the Warsaw Zoo during WWII, and tells the heroic story of a zookeeper and his wife who harbored 300 Jews from the Nazis.

The film debuts March 31.

9780399587191_29e1eBig Little Lies (Movie Tie-In), Liane Moriarty (PRH/Berkley trade pbk; February 7, 2017; mass market; OverDrive Sample).

HBO’s adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s 2014 best seller, Big Little Lies, begins airing on February 19. It stars Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, and Shailene Woodley.

Glamour calls it “The Mom Version of Pretty Little Liars You’ve Been Waiting For.”

Deadline Hollywood dubs it the “Murderous Moms of Monterey.”

9780525434696_1f767 I Am Not Your Negro: A Companion Edition to the Documentary Film Directed by Raoul Peck, James Baldwin, Raoul Peck (PRH/Vintage; OverDrive Sample).

 A documentary based on James Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript Remember This House, I Am Not Your Negro  reflects on the lives and assassinations of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Samuel L. Jackson narrates the film, which includes stunning archival footage.

Entertainment Weekly gives it an A- and Variety says “Raoul Peck’s transcendent documentary takes a kaleidoscopic journey through the life and mind of James Baldwin, whose voice speaks even more powerfully today than it did 50 years ago.”

The NYT ranks it as as one of the 10 best films of 2016, writing “In his thrilling documentary, Raoul Peck closes the divide between the personal and political through a portrait of James Baldwin. Expressively narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, the movie largely draws on Baldwin’s own writing — as well as material like his F.B.I. files — to create a portrait of a man that turns into a harrowing indictment of his country.”

The film is nominated for an Oscar in the Best Documentary category and opens on Feb. 3.

9781468314496_cb930Another tie-in to a Broadway play is Jitney: A Play – Broadway Tie-In Edition, August Wilson (The Overlook Press). Part of August Wilson’s 10-play The American Century Cycle, it was the only one that had yet to be preformed on Broadway until its debut on January 19th of this year.

It is directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson and stars Harvy Blanks, Anthony Chisholm, Brandon J. Dirden, André Holland, Carra Patterson, Michael Potts, Keith Randolph Smith, Ray Anthony Thomas, and John Douglas Thompson.

The Manhattan Theater Club offers a summary: “Set in the early 1970s, this richly textured piece follows a group of men trying to eke out a living by driving unlicensed cabs, or jitneys. When the city threatens to board up the business and the boss’ son returns from prison, tempers flare, potent secrets are revealed and the fragile threads binding these people together may come undone at last.”

The NYT raves, writing “Conversation sings and swings, bends and bounces and hits heaven smack in the clouds, in the glorious new production of August Wilson’s Jitney … words take on the shimmer of molten-gold notes from the trumpets of Louis and Miles.”

9781770462441_bf229Wilson, Daniel Clowes (Macmillan/Drawn and Quarterly).

The live-action adaptation of Clowes’s 2010 graphic novel Wilson, starring Woody Harrelson, Laura Dern, and Judy Greer also premiered at Sundance. Unfortunately, it was not a hit with the critics there. Variety writes, that it “boasts some funny vignettes but fails in the crucial test of making us care much about the title character.”

It opens March 24.

For our full list of upcoming adaptations, download our Books to Movies and TV and link to our listing of tie-ins.

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