Titles to Know and Recommend, Week of April 3, 2017

American WarKeep your eye on the dystopian debut novel, American War by Omar El Akkad (PRH/Knopf; RH Large Type; RH Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample), arriving on Tuesday.

As we note in Peer Picks, below, this LibraryReads selection has been getting a remarkable amount of advance attention for a debut, and particularly for a Sci-Fi debut. Much of the attention focuses on it’s spine-chilling view of the possible consequences of unchecked climate change. Today, the NYT looks at how it, along with five other “new dystopian novels … seem to channel the country’s current anxieties.”  The massive media attention has caused sales bumps on Amazon’s rankings, but, inexplicably, are not generating heavy holds in libraries. We suspect that will change soon.

9780316349604_01935The big news of the week may be the books that are NOT arriving. James Patterson’s series of short paperbacks, called BookShots, seems to have halted. All forthcoming titles are showing as unavailable or cancelled. Even the prolific Patterson may have found the output of 4 to 6 novels a month in addition to his already dizzying pace, a bit distracting. But we are not Patterson-less next week. He is releasing the next in his middle-grade series, I Funny: School of Laughs (Hachette/jimmy patterson; Blackstone Audio).

9780399177057_c720fSeveral favorite series arrive to heavy holds, but it may be worth taking note of one that is further down the list, Philip Kerr’s 12th Bernie Gunther thriller, Prussian Blue (PRH/Marian Wood Books/Putnam; RH Large Type; Penguin Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample). In a starred review, PW says, “Kerr once again brilliantly uses a whodunit to bring to horrifying life the Nazi regime’s corruption and brutality.”

In an effort to bring the series to a wider audience, the publisher is running an ad in this week’s NYT, featuring blurbs from three big names under the header, “Alan Furst, Tom Hanks and Lee Child are reading Philip Kerr. Have You?”

9781501173219_774f4In a bit of “hasn’t this happened already?”,  the trade paperback edition of Anthony Doerr’s runaway hit,  All the Light We Cannot See arrives in trade paperback (S&S/Scribner), nearly three years after the hardcover became a surprise best seller.

More highlights from the titles coming out next week are below, listed, along with other titles of note, on our downloadable spreadsheet, EarlyWord New Title Radar, Week of April 3, 2017.

Media Magnets

9781501131110_18a70 9780062409706_abc75 9781400067909_2ea62 9780316468978_fb72f

All by Myself, Alone, Mary Higgins Clark (Simon & Schuster; S&S Audio).

The long-time queen of romantic suspense, Mary Higgins Clark will be profiled on CBS Sunday Morning this week. Her story of building a writing career to support her children after being widowed at a young age may be familiar, but it is still amazing.

Nevertheless: A Memoir, Alec Baldwin (Harper; HarperLuxe; HarperAudio).

There are no prepub reviews for this one, indicating it was embargoed, undoubtedly in deference to the Vanity Fair cover excerpt. The effort to generate coverage isn’t working for everyone, however. Newsday sniffs,”The big news out of this: There really isn’t any.” Apparently, they are not as taken as Esquire is with the story that he Once Tried to Hit on Tina Fey. Baldwin, of course, narrates the audio.

Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life, Sally Bedell Smith (PRH/Random House: RH Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample).

Like the Baldwin book, Bedell Smith’s bio is excerpted in this month’s Vanity Fair, under the headline, “The Lonely Heir: Inside the Isolating Boarding School Days of Prince Charles.” It escaped embargo and prepub reviews are positive, including a star from Booklist, which calls it an “admirably fair biography.” UPDATE: USA Today lists tidbits from the book under the headline, “Odd stuff you didn’t know about the next British king,” including that he felt bullied into marrying Diana. People magazine continues to roll out excerpts, including one titles, “Prince Charles Sought Help During Honeymoon with Princess Diana — and Feared He Would Be Blamed for Her Death, New Book Claims.”

The Most Beautiful: My Life with Prince, Mayte Garcia (Hachette Books; Hachette Audio; Blackstone Audio).

Also apparently embargoed since there are no prepub reviews, this book, by the musician’s first wife, is published on the anniversary of his death. It was excerpted in People magazine, a story picked up by other entertainment news sources.

Peer Picks

Four LibraryReads titles arrive this week.

9780451493583_f9dc0-2 American War, Omar El Akkad (PRH/Knopf; RH Large Type; RH Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample).

“In the not too distant future, the United States is again at war with itself. Fossil fuels, which have decimated the environment, are banned, but the states rich in them refuse to comply and thus break away from the union. Biological warfare, drones as killing machines, and state fighting against state contribute to make this a prescient novel. Multiple narration and differing viewpoints combine to make this an absorbing, shocking read of what could be. A must read that will be discussed by all who read it.” — Marika Zemke, Commerce Township Public Library, Commerce, MI

Additional Buzz: El Akkad caught librarians’ attention at ALA Midwinter, where he part of the United for Libraries “Spotlight on Adult Literature” showcase, The author describes the story in the book trailer, below, and says that, since it comes out at “a time when we are having a serious debate about whether the most powerful nation on earth is descending into fascism,” he understands why it is being seen as a cautionary tale.

The author is set to appear on NPR’s Weekend Edition on Saturday.

Michiko Kakutani reviews it in the NYT, writing it is a “powerful novel — one that creates as haunting a postapocalyptic universe as Cormac McCarthy did in The Road … and as devastating a look at the fallout that national events have on an American family as Philip Roth did in The Plot Against America.”

It appeared on a number of most anticipated lists, including Entertainment Weekly‘s list of “16 debut novels to read in 2017” and Time‘s list of the “Most Anticipated Books of 2017.” Emily St. John Mandel and Peter Heller offer blurbs. In The Millions, Mandel writes it was the “most haunting” novel she read in 2016 (having access to an early copy), “The premise is harrowing, the prose is stark and beautiful, the plotting is impeccable, and there’s something utterly heartbreaking in El Akkad’s subtle rendition of the ways in which war shapes the human soul.”

9781681773643_c7bcdA Twist in Time, Julie McElwain (Norton/Pegasus Books; OverDrive Sample).

“Time-traveling FBI Agent Kendra Donovan remains stranded in 1858 England. When her confidante and potential lover, Alec is accused of murdering his former mistress, Kendra must use her modern investigative skills to work through the list of suspects and clear Alec’s name. Kendra must also decide whether to stay in the past with Alec or to continue to try to find a way back to the present. If she makes it home, what will be waiting for her? Highly recommended to readers of historical romance, romantic suspense, and time travel.” — Glenda Ramsey, Catawba County Library System, Newton, NC

9781101886724_87891Waking Gods: Book 2 of The Themis Files, Sylvain Neuvel (PRH/Del Rey; RH Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample).

“The sequel to Sleeping Giants contains just as much action and page-turning suspense. The story begins four years later and is told through interviews, memos, and news reports relating to the first robot, after Themis, lands in London. Soon Earth is in an uproar and Themis and her crew are once again called upon to make contact. Read the first book before you tackle this one but the good news is that you will have a shorter time than the rest of us waiting for the next installment.” — Kimberly McGee, Lake Travis Community Library, Austin TX

Additional Buzz: LJ and Kirkus give it stars, with Kirkus calling it “unputdownable.”

9780062460226_f3c29Miss You, Kate Eberlen (HC/Harper; Harper Audio; OverDrive Sample).

“Tess and Gus meet at when they are both eighteen and on holiday in Italy. Their meeting is one of those instant connections, but they go in different directions. Tess returns home, expecting to go to university, but instead her mother dies leaving her to care for her much younger sister. Gus goes to medical school and must deal with the death of his brother. Tess and Gus’ lives momentarily intersect at various points over the years. I enjoyed both of their stories and the anticipation of hoping they would meet again and make a final connection.” — Mary Bennett, Carmel Clay Public Library, Carmel, IN

Additional Buzz: It is an Indie Next pick for April. Already released in the UK, it was big hit. The Telegraph wrote “don’t be surprised to see it being devoured by sunbathers on holiday this summer.” The Guardian says it is a “funny, poignant and really rather lovely ships-in-the-night debut … Grief, family dynamics and how to live with, but not be defined by, the cards one is dealt are the central concerns here.” There is a book video:

Four additional Indie Next titles also hit shelves:

9780735213586_5215fHallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy, Anne Lamott (PRH/Riverhead Books; RH Large Type; Penguin Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample).

Hallelujah Anyway completely consumed me. The world has changed so much in the last year and it seems overwhelming at times. Lamott’s new book is the answer to that despair, hopelessness, and futility. It’s exactly what the title says — mercy through difficult times, kindness when it’s not deserved, and singing hallelujah anyway. Lamott writes with such refreshing honesty. This book is now what I like to refer to as ‘well-loved’ — underlined, dog-eared, and slightly worn. I suspect I’ll revisit my favorite passages for years to come.” —Kristin Beverly, Half Price Books, Dallas, TX

Additional Buzz: The Washington Post reviews it, writing “Reading Anne Lamott’s new book of essays is like sitting down with a girlfriend you haven’t seen for quite a while. At times you’re perfectly in tune: You know this woman; you trust her. But when, out of nowhere, she starts spouting advice like, “Stop the train. Be where your butt is,” you roll your eyes and wonder if perhaps she’s spent too much time obsessing about the Kardashians. Still, you read on.” In response Lamott takes to Twitter to call the review “half great, half snarky & asshatty” and says it “is EXACTLY why I stopped reviewing books myself.”

9781555977696_2fdd1A Little More Human, Fiona Maazel (Macmillan/Graywolf Press; HighBridge Audio; OverDrive Sample).

A Little More Human kept me up way past my bedtime. Fiona Maazel’s seamless novel draws you in subtly and irresistibly. I just had to know how Phil Snyder (nursing assistant, professional superhero impersonator, and actual mind-reader) ended up on a horse with splashes of blood on his clothes and no memory of how he got there. Uncovering secrets in snippets along with Phil reminded me of his own mind-reading talent and built the suspense beautifully page by page. Another clever literary masterpiece from Fiona Maazel!” —Anna Thorn, Upshur Street Books, Washington, DC

Additional Buzz: StarTribune lists it as one of their “Books to watch for in early 2017” while the Chicago Review of Books counts it among “The Most Exciting Fiction Books of 2017’s First Half.”

9780735211025_4d643What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky: Stories, Lesley Nneka Arimah (PRH/Riverhead Books; Penguin Audio/BOT).

“Intense, haunting, and exquisitely rendered, the stories in Lesley Nneka Arimah’s debut collection exist in a category of their own. They are individual worlds linked together by familiar themes — self-discovery, yearnings to love and be loved, generational divides, and the meanings of home and place — refashioned in a fresh, new light. Arimah shines in this debut, whose magic will surely live with you beyond the final page. Absolutely stunning.” —Purvis Cornish, Square Books, Oxford, MS

Additional Buzz: The Rumpus reviews it, writing “In our current political climate with its rampant animosity towards immigrants, Arimah offers a humanizing portrait of both the Nigerian citizen and first generation young female immigrant.” Redbook counts it as one of “20 Books By Women You Must Read This Spring.”

9781627797641_40d0aMarlena, Julie Buntin (Macmillan/Henry Holt; OverDrive Sample).

“I can’t believe this is a debut novel: the writing is so assured; the prose so exquisite. Buntin is a master of word choice, and every sentence felt deliberate and precise. I quickly got sucked into this story about a pair of teenage girls, one doomed, one not. It was a quick read, but one I found myself lingering over. I’d recommend Marlena to fans of Megan Abbott’s dark, twisty books about girlhood — this is a similarly fierce read!” —Lauren Peugh, Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe, AZ

Additional Buzz: It earned three starred reviews, from Booklist, Publishers Weekly, and Kirkus. Kirkus writes “Buntin creates a world so subtle and nuanced and alive that it imprints like a memory. Devastating; as unforgettable as it is gorgeous.”


Three anticipated blockbuster adaptations get tie-ins this week.

9780316271639_4ab46MARVEL’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: The Deluxe Junior Novel, Marvel (Hachette/Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; Blackstone Audio; also in paperback).

This is just one of seven tie-ins for the movie that are hitting shelves this week. See our list of tie-ins below for the others.

The sequel to the blockbuster SF film opens May 5 and stars (among others) Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Sylvester Stallone, and Kurt Russell.

9780804190107_26921The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Movie Tie-In Edition), Rebecca Skloot (PRH/Broadway Books; RH Audio; OverDrive Sample).

HBO’s adaptation will begin airing on Sunday, April 22 at 8 p.m. As we posted earlier, it is expected to be a major show for the cable network and the release is being heavily covered by the entertainment media. Jezebel says “it looks like it might do Henrietta’s story justice.” Elle says it “is certain to be compelling.” Slate, Entertainment Weekly, and RollingStone (which was the first to report Lacks’s story, in 1976) also covered the news.

9781524769604_53039Everything, Everything Movie Tie-in Edition, Nicola Yoon (PRH/Ember; Listening Library; OverDrive Sample).

The film adaptation of Nicola Yoon’s debut opens May 19.

Expect an audience. As we posted earlier, the release of the trailer alone was enough to send the paperback edition soaring on Amazon’s rankings, jumping from #2,242 to #13. In hardback, the book debuted at No. 1 on the NYT YA best-seller list in 2015 and earned a glowing NYT review (“gorgeous and lyrical”) and an A- review from Entertainment Weekly (a “complex,” “fresh, moving debut”).

The film stars Amandla Stenberg (The Hunger Games, The Darkest Minds) and Nick Robinson (Jurassic World, The 5th Wave). Stella Meghie (Jean of the Joneses) directs.

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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