Archive for the ‘Chick Lit’ Category

Fiction Next Week

Friday, March 18th, 2011

Below is our weekly roundup of titles to watch next week, by authors you may not have heard about yet, but are poised for success, as well as our list of “usual suspects.” The week brings a large number of new books from big-name authors, including Harlan Coben and Alexander McCall Smith.

Titles to Watch

Spiral by Paul McEuen (Dial) is a techno-thriller that New York Times critic Janet Maslin compared favorably to Michael Crichton in his prime in a review that jumped the book’s pub date, as we mentioned earlier this week.  Today’s Wall Street Journal anoints the author a “publishing star,” although an “unlikely” one (McEuen is a Cornell physics professor) and points out that the book was a best seller in Germany, where it was published in translation last fall. Film rights have also been sold.

 

The Mozart Conspiracy by Scott Mariani (Touchstone) is this British author’s U.S. debut, though it’s actually the second installment in his thriller series featuring ex-SAS warrior Ben Hope. PW calls it “a fast, exciting read in The Da Vinci Code tradition,” though Kirkus adds “apart from the rumor that he was poisoned, though, don’t expect to learn much about Mozart.” It has a 125,000-copy first printing. Orders are in line with modest holds at libraries we checked.

 

The Four Ms. Bradwells by Meg Waite Clayton (Ballantine) is the story of four friends who met in law school in the early 1980s and have maintained their ties through decade of marriage, children, divorce, and various career twists, until they must confront a buried secret. Library Journal is on the fence, comparing it unfavorably to the author’s 2008 bestseller The Wednesday Sisters: “Instead of true characterization, Clayton resorts to literary quotes, legalese, and Latin verbiage to give her characters unique voices. Still, fans of Elizabeth Noble, Ann Hood, Elin Hilderbrand, and other luminaries of female friendship fiction will find much to captivate them.” Libraries we checked have modest orders in line with modest reserves to date.

(more…)

Next Week’s Fiction

Friday, February 25th, 2011

The debut to watch this week is Cleaning Nabokov’s House by Leslie Daniels (Touchstone). It follows a woman rebuilding her life after losing her children to her ex-husband. It’s an in-house favorite at S&S because it “hits the sweet spot of being both literary and commercial.” PW agrees, “Despite the curiosities of the grief-to-gumption plot, Daniels’s writing is slick and her characters richly detailed, and even when it dips into sheer goofiness, it’s still a pleasure to read.” Blackstone publishes the unabridged audio and a large print version is coming from Thorndike in July (9781410438478; $30.99). The author lives in Ithaca, NY.

Usual Suspects

Sing You Home by Jody Picoult (Atria) follows a custody battle for fertilized embryos between a lesbian couple and one of their newly religious ex-husbands. Booklist says  “Picoult’s gripping novel explores all sides of the hot-button issue.” It has a 150,000 copy first printing, and includes a CD of songs that correspond to each chapter.

Minding Frankie by Maeve Binchy (Knopf) takes place in a closely knit Irish neighborhood where a young alcoholic struggles with unexpected fatherhood. Library Journal calls it “an enjoyable novel about life, love, and second chances.”

The Night Season by Chelsea Cain (Minotaur/Macmillan) is, amazingly, the fourth novel featuring Portland detective Archie Sheridan. The Wall Street Journal features the author today, calling the new book Cain’s “tamest to date” and says her “bid to reach a broad, mainstream audience without disappointing Gretchen fans may prove tricky.”

The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss (DAW)  is a continuation of the 2007 fantasy novel The Name of the Wind, in which an innkeeper recalls a life of heroic deeds. Library Journal declares it “reminiscent in scope of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series and similar in feel to the narrative tour de force of The Arabian Nights, this masterpiece of storytelling will appeal to lovers of fantasy on a grand scale.”

Rodin’s Debutante by Ward Just (Houghton Mifflin) follows a boy’s adolescence and early adulthood in Chicago during the mid-20th century. Entertainment Weekly gives it an A-, “Don’t be misled by the title; this engaging coming-of-age tale has little to do with either Auguste Rodin or a debutante.”

River Marked by Patricia Briggs (Ace) is book six in the supernatural Mercy Thompson series.

Children’s Books

Fancy Nancy: Aspiring Artist by Jane O’Connor and illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser (HarperCollins) is a children’s book about the artistic aspirations of a little girl with glitter markers.

WEST OF HERE is Reader Fave

Friday, February 11th, 2011

The #1 Indie Pick for February, West of Here by Jonathan Evison, arrives next week. Also a popular choice on EarlyWord‘s Galley Chat, the novel follows the past and present residents of a fictional town on Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula. Reader ratings are also high on GoodReads.com.

Entertainment Weekly gives it a “B+”: “Characters occasionally blur together, and some of the more interesting ones don’t get the attention they warrant, as the large scope hinders any close-ups. Still, if you take a step back, the big picture is pretty impressive.”

More media is bound to pay attention, since the book was highlighted on the BEA Editor’s Buzz Panel. And as we’ve mentioned before, this titles earned a rare triumvirate of starred reviews from Booklist, Library Journal and Publishers Weekly. LJ sums up, “Fans of Jess Walter and Jim Lynch will be thrilled to find another author whose love for the Pacific Northwest and its people shines through with humor and clarity.”

At libraries we checked, there are modest holds on modest orders.

West of Here
Jonathan Evison
Retail Price: $24.95
Hardcover: 496 pages
Publisher: Algonquin Books – (2011-02-15)
ISBN / EAN: 1565129520 / 9781565129528

Audio: Highbridge; 9781615731169; $39.95

Usual Suspects On Sale Next Week

A Heartbeat Away by Michael Palmer (St. Martin’s) is medical thriller with a 200,000 copy printing, in which terrorists release a virus in the Capitol during the State of the Union address. Booklist says, “Palmer’s track record (15 medical thrillers, 15 international best-sellers) assures a full-court press on the promotional front, and his latest, though disappointing, will get it, from national print and radio ads to an electronic avalanche.”

The Twelfth Insight: The Hour of Decision by James Redfield (Grand Central) is the fourth entry in the Celestine series.

Red Wolf by Liza Marklund (Atria) is the fifth novel featuring journalist Annika Bengtzon by the co-author of The Postcard Killers with James Patterson. Library Journal says, “Marklund blends the sociology and politics of contemporary Sweden with a taut mystery, capturing the Scandinavian chill as she builds suspense to an eminently satisfying conclusion.”

Dirtier Than Ever by Vickie Stringer (Atria) takes readers on another bumpy ride in this urban fiction outing with Red, Bacon, and Q–the love-hate triangle from Dirty Red and Still Dirty.

Lucky Stiff by Deborah Coonts (Forge) is the sequel to the chick-lit-gone-wild debut Wanna Get Lucky?, featuring Las Vegas casino troubleshooter Lucky O’Toole. Library Journal says, “watching Lucky navigate the dangerous shoals of the male-dominated world of gambling is a delight. Las Vegas is the perfect setting for this witty tale of misdirection and larger-than-life characters. Fans of J.A. Konrath’s Jack Daniels series will love this.”

Young Adult

Angel by James Patterson (Little Brown) is the seventh Maximum Ride novel, in which evil scientists are still trying to convince Max that she needs to save the world, this time by providing the genetic link in speeding up the pace of evolution.

Worth Watching

Instruments of Darkness by Imogen Robertson (Pamela Dorman/Viking) was an October Sneak Peak on BookReporter.com, which compared this historical novel about a British commander’s wife who trades life at sea for the English countryside to Sarah Waters’ Fingersmith.

Allison Pearson Reappears

Monday, February 7th, 2011

Fondly remembered by critics and booksellers for her 2003 debut hit I Don’t Know How She Does It, Allison Pearson returns next week with I Think I Love You, a wistful novel about a grown woman who looks back on her dream of becoming Mrs. David Cassidy in 1970s Wales, and winds up heading to Las Vegas to meet him in mid-life.

People gives it four stars and designates it a People Pick. Even the New York TimesMichiko Kakutani is wooed:

[Pearson] shows how Petra’s crush on David Cassidy is really a kind of rehearsal for the love and passion she wants to one day lavish on a real boy in real life, and how those youthful emotions both endure — and are transformed — as the years and decades tick by. . . . [A] groovy little novel whose charms easily erase any objections the reader might have to the prepackaged and heavily borrowed plot.

I Think I Love You
Allison Pearson
Retail Price: $24.95
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Knopf – (2011-02-08)
ISBN / EAN: 1400042356 / 9781400042357

CD: Random House Audio, $40, ISBN 9780307747525

Check Your Holds

A Discovery of Witches: A Novel by Deborah E. Harkness (Viking), a debut is the first in a planned trilogy, about witches and vampires that is rising fast on Amazon (now at #3), with growing holds in libraries. Part of the story is based on real events; like her main character, Harkness discovered a manuscript, missing since the 1600’s, that was once owned by Queen Elizabeth’s astrologer.  Entertainment Weekly gives it a B+, complaining of some bloat, but summing up, “as the mysteries started to unravel, the pages turned faster, almost as if on their own.”  Parade Magazine was unequivocal on Sunday, making it a Pick of the Week and calling it “580 pages of sheer pleasure.” Harkness spoke at the AAP Trade Libraries Breakfast at ALA MidWinter. It will be available in large type from Thorndike in March (9781410436337).

Usual Suspects

The Secret Soldier by Alex Berenson (Putnam) is the fifth thriller featuring ex-CIA man John Wells, by the winner of the 2007 first novel Edgar for The Faithful Spy. Kirkus says, “the plot unfolds along predictable lines in a story arc that Tom Clancy readers or viewers of TV’s 24 will find old hat.” 

A Red Herring Without Mustard: A Flavia de Luce Mystery by Bradley Alan (Delacorte) is Ms. Flavia de Luce’s third outing, after her bestselling debut in The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie and return in The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag. Here, she demonstrates a firm knowledge of poisons while saving a gypsy from accusations of child abduction. PW calls it, “a splendid romp through 1950s England led by the world’s smartest and most incorrigible preteen.” 

The Matchmaker of Kenmare by Frank Delaney (Random) is the sequel to Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show, in which matchmaker Kate Begley plies her profession in neutral WWII Ireland. Booklist says, it “combines the charm of an Irish yarn with the excitement of a political thriller and the romance of a 1940s war movie.”

Heartwood: A Novel by Belva Plain (Delacorte) explores the inevitable endings of romantic relationships through the experiences of a mother and daughter. 

Also worth watching:

The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady by Elizabeth Stuckey-French (Doubleday) is the tale of a once unwitting subject of an experiment in radioactivity, who sets out to avenge the dire consequences of that same study. It follows the author’s much praised 2002 debut novel, Mermaid on the Moon. LJ says, “mixing the suburban angst of Tom Perrotta with the snarky humor of Carl Hiaasen, Stuckey-French has written a page-turner that is thoughtful, amusing, and nearly impossible to put down.”

Kids:

No Passengers Beyond This Point by Gennifer Choldenko (Dial) is a children’s fantasy about three siblings whose plane lands in a mysterious world, by an author best known for her Newbery Award-winning historical fiction. Kirkus calls it, “convoluted” with “a confusing host of secondary characters. Fascinating, if not entirely successful.”

PICTURES OF YOU is Key Pick

Friday, January 21st, 2011

Among the new fiction arriving next week, the trade paperback original novel Pictures of You by Caroline Leavitt looks like one worth watching. The story about the aftermath of a car collision between two women fleeing their marriages, which ends fatally for one of them, is an Oprah magazine pick for January, and a special pick of Costco buyer Pennie Ianniciello, a well-known market mover.

It’s often said that publishing original trade paperbacks is a risky business because reviewers tend to overlook them. This is clearly not the case for Pictures of You, which has already received admiring attention from the San Francisco Chronicle and from Carolyn See in today’s Washington Post.

Most libraries we checked had solid orders, with reserves of 3:1 or more. Take advantage of the less expensive format and buy extra copies for your readers advisors.

Pictures of You
Caroline Leavitt
Retail Price: $13.95
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Algonquin Books – (2011-01-25)
ISBN / EAN: 1565126319 / 9781565126312

OverDrive; Adobe EPUB eBook
Highbridge Audio; UNABR; 9781615736553; Library Edition, 9781611741025;

Also on Sale Next Week

O: A Presidential Novel by Anonymous (Simon & Schuster), a fictional vision of the 2012 presidential election written by an unnamed insider on the Obama team (how big of an insider is no defined; the person claims to have been “in the room” with him. Is that like being able to see Russia from your house?), has been getting the strong press coverage in the days leading up to publication. Reviews, however, have been tepid to disparaging. In its syndicated review, the Associated Press calls O “an enjoyable read for political junkies who can’t wait for the next campaign to start. But for readers not consumed with the granular detail of focus groups and ad buys, O falls short — especially in its portrayal of Obama, who remains as opaque in this book as he does real life.” Entertainment Weekly is even less charitable: “Short on character, short on plot — a hapless, poorly executed attempt at satire that’s missing literally everything that Primary Colors had going for it: the detail, the zing, the insidery knowledge, the humor. Let’s give S&S an A for marketing O so well. But let’s give the book itself a D.”

Tick Tock by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge (Little, Brown) is the newest mystery featuring New York detective Michael Bennett.

The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman (Crown) chronicles the history of a Massachusetts town from pilgrim settlers through the modern day in a series of 14 stories. PW says, “Hoffman’s deft magical realism ties one woman’s story to the next even when they themselves are not aware of the connection. The prose is beautiful, the characters drawn sparsely but with great compassion.” Entertainment Weekly gives it a solid “A”.

The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern (Harper) is the tale of a 16 year-old girl whose gilded life shatters with her father’s suicide, and has a 150,000-copy first printing. LJ says, “Ahern has made a definite change in her writing with her recent fiction, going from chick lit to modern fairy tales. The supernatural element doesn’t work well in this novel, however, with a buildup that falls slightly flat…. Still, Ahern has fans from her P.S. I Love You days, so purchase accordingly.”

A Cup of Friendship: A Novel by Deborah Rodriguez (Ballantine) follows a group of women who meet in a Kabul coffee shop owned by an American, by the author of The Kabul Beauty School. Kirkus says, “Rodriguez paints a vivid picture of Afghan culture and understands the uncomfortable role Americans play in political upheavals. But ultimately her cozy sentimentality undercuts the elements of harsh realism, as if Maeve Binchy had written The Kite Runner.”

The Fates Will Find Their Way by Hannah Pittard (Ecco) is the story of the lasting effects of the disappearance of a teenage girl on the boys in her town, reminiscent of The Virgin Suicides. PW says “Though the truth about Nora remains tantalizingly elusive… the many possibilities are so captivating, and Pittard’s prose so eloquent, that there’s a far richer experience to be had in the chain of maybes and what-ifs than in nailing down the truth.”

WOLVES OF ANDOVER Ready to Bark

Friday, November 5th, 2010

Kathleen Kent returns to the territory of her standout 2008 debut, The Heretic’s Daughter, with a prequel set in 17th century Massachusetts, in The Wolves of Andover.  Based on the life of a woman from whom Kent is descended, the novel takes place before she became a victim of the Salem Witch trials, during her relationship with an Englishman involved in the beheading of Charles I, who is pursued by assassins.

Early reviews are good:

PW: “Kent doesn’t disappoint….[she] brings colonial America to life by poking into its dark corners and finding its emotional and personal underpinnings.”

Booklist: “Part historical fiction, part romance, and part suspense…. Skillfully meshing these various elements, the authors latest effort is bound to please fans of each.”

Kirkus: “Kent has more fun with the Londoners—Johnny Depp could play almost any of the baddies—than her somewhat morose ancestors, but she lovingly captures their daily grind and brings looming dangers, whether man or beast, to harrowing life.

Modest holds on modest orders in libraries we checked.

The Wolves of Andover: A Novel
Kathleen Kent
Retail Price: $24.99
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books – (2010-11-08)
ISBN / EAN: 0316068624 / 9780316068628

Usual Suspects On Sale Next Week

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth by Jeff Kinney (Amulet Books) continues the popular children’s book series.

Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King (Scribner) is a collection of four new horror tales. In a starred review, Booklist says, “King begins his afterword by stating, ‘The stories in this book are harsh.’ The man ain’t whistlin Dixie…. King provides four raw looks at the limits of greed, revenge, and self-deception.” It’s also an Amazon Editor’s pick this month.

Hell’s Corner by David Baldacci (Grand Central) is the fifth Camel Club political thriller. PW is not impressed: “Those who prefer intelligence in their political thrillers will have to look elsewhere.”

Cross Fire (Alex Cross Series #17) by James Patterson (Grand Central) finds detective Alex Cross’s wedding plans on hold while he investigates the assasination of Washington D.C.’s most corrupt congressman and lobbyist.

The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey by Walter Mosley (Riverhead) follows an old man who undergoes a procedure to cure his dementia at the cost of longevity. PW says, “Though the details of the experimental procedure are less than convincing, Mosley’s depiction of the indignities of old age is heartbreaking, and Ptolemy’s grace and decency make for a wonderful character and a moving novel.”

I Still Dream About You by Fannie Flagg (Random House) is about a former beauty queen and realtor in Birmingham, Alabama planning a graceful exit from her burdensome life as the housing bubble implodes. Kirkus was disappointed: “What could have been an edgy excursion into the individual toll of the Recession on real women devolves into fluff.”

Sunset Park by Paul Auster (Holt) is the veteran author’s 16th novel, set in a house full of 20-something squatters in a rough Brooklyn neighborhood. It gets a starred review from Booklist: “In a time of daunting crises and change, Auster reminds us of lasting things, of love, art, and the miraculous strangeness of being alive.”

Life Times by Nadine Gordimer (FSG) is a collection of stories set in the Nobelist’s native South Africa. Kirkus calls it “a welcome collection by a master of English prose—lucid and precisely written, if often bringing news only of disappointment, fear and loss.”

The Box: Tales from the Darkroom by Gunter Grass and Krishna Winston (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) is a fictionalized exploration of the childhood memories of his eight children, from whose lives he was mostly absent.

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton, the Australian author of The House of Riverton and The Forgotten Garden, hinges on a 1941 letter that finally reaches its destination in 1992 with powerful repercussions for a London book editor. PW calls it “an enthralling romantic thriller.”

Debut Story Collection Gets Buzz

Friday, September 17th, 2010

Plenty of fiction will be competing for readers’ attention next week, including a debut story collection from Riverhead Books that’s getting some buzz: Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self by Danielle Evans.

Entertainment Weekly gives the book a B+, saying that it “offers rich slices of African-American life . . . and carries a strong scent of freshness and promise.” But trade reviews are more mixed: while Booklist hails author Danielle Evans an “important new voice in literary fiction,”PW observes, “Evans has some great chops that would really shine with a little more narrative breadth.”

Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self
Danielle Evans
Retail Price: $25.95
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover – (2010-09-23)
ISBN / EAN: 1594487693 / 9781594487699

Other Notable Fiction On Sale Next Week

Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella (Dial Press) is “chock-full of the kind of sitcom shenanigans Kinsella’s fans expect,” says Kirkus.” This latest in the series (Shopaholic & Baby, 2007, etc.) keeps the silly plot moving along. A little more growth from her iconic heroine, though, might have won over new readers as well.”

The Exile: An Outlander Graphic Novel by Diana Gabaldon and Hoang Nguyen (Del Rey) recasts Gabaldon’s bestselling time-travel romance from her 18th-century Scottish hero’s point of view. PW wasn’t impressed: “Scenes that ought to be exciting, such as sword fights and escapes from the law are breezed over in a page or two. Approximately four out of five panels are simply talking heads, and despite Nguyen’s most valiant efforts, it simply isn’t visually interesting.”

Don’t Blink by James Patterson and James Roughan (Little, Brown) finds reporter Nick Daniels interviewing one of baseball’s legendary bad-boys when he accidentally captures a piece of evidence that lands him in the middle of a mafia war.

Sante Fe Edge by Stuart Woods (Putnam) gets a decent review from Booklist: “while some plotlines are a bit repetitive, particularly regarding Teddy, who has been on the run for many novels, and [his ex-wife] Barbara, who is also always one step ahead of her pursuers, theres plenty of fun here for those who enjoy losing themselves in Woods entertaining escapist fare.”

Bad Blood by John Sandford (Putnam) is the fourth novel featuring Virgil Flowers, agent of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Kirkus calls it “lurid and overscaled. . . The mystery, which is resolved early on, leads to an extended series of cat-and-mouse games between Virgil and the people he knows are guilty of some truly heinous crimes.”

Heaven’s Fury by Stephen W. Frey (Atria) follows a sheriff trying to solve a murder before a blizzard isolates his town. PW was not impressed: “The plot of this stand-alone crime thriller from Frey (Hell’s Gate) fails to generate much excitement, despite a gruesome murder that may be the work of a satanic cult and scenes set during a crippling snowstorm.”

And, One We Had to Mention..

Presenting…Tallulah by Tori Spelling and Vanessa Brantley Newton (Aladdin) is a picture book for very young readers by reality show star and bestselling author Spelling. PW and Kirkus both panned it, finding the poor little rich girl unbelievable and unsympathetic. Several libraries we checked haven’t ordered it – but given the success of Spelling’s previous books, you’re likely to be hearing about it.

JULIET: Star or Star-Crossed?

Friday, August 20th, 2010

Will Ballantine’s major push for Anne Fortier‘s debut novel Juliet pay off? The tale of an American woman who travels to Italy and discovers her ties to the Giulietta who inspired Shakespeare was first touted on the BEA Editors’ Buzz panel and at ALA’s Shout and Share. Rights have been sold in 29 territories around the world.

Earlier this summer it was chosen as a summer reading pick by the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune.

But now, Entertainment Weekly gives it a “B-“, finding that it falls short of its aim to be,

…a distaff version of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, with a dash of A.S. Byatt’s Possession tossed in. . . . Fortier’s writing is on firm ground in the book’s historical passages. The modern section, by contrast, feels contrived, and the author resorts to more telling than showing to keep her plot zipping along.

Still, holds are edging up at libraries we checked.

Juliet
Anne Fortier
Retail Price: $25.00
Hardcover: 464 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books – (2010-08-24)
ISBN / EAN: 0345516109 / 9780345516107

Notable Young Adult Fiction On Sale Next Week

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic), the doorstopper final entry in the Hunger Games trilogy, is embargoed until 12:01 am next Tuesday, August 23, when bookstores will break into midnight party mode, says USA Today. It’s also been signed for a movie that’s drawn casting speculation from New York magazine’s Vulture blog.

Three Black Swans by Caroline B. Cooney (Delacorte Books for Young Readers) is the suspenseful tale of twins seemingly separated at birth – or are they more than twins? This was one of LisaVon Drasek’s Picks for August, for ages 12 and up.

Other Notable Fiction On Sale Next Week

Spider Bones by Kathy Reichs (Scribner) is the 13th novel starring forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan. Publishers Weekly says, “Reichs, who once again uses her own scientific knowledge to enhance a complex plot and continually developing characters, delivers a whopper of a final twist.”

The Town by Chuck Hogan is the mass market movie tie-in edition of the author’s third novel, Prince of Thieves (2004), about four friends and rivals who rob a bank in Charlestown. The movie, directed by Ben Afleck, opens in theaters on September 17.

The Sonderberg Case by Elie Wiesel, translated by Catherine Temerson (Knopf), is a novel about a New York theater critic whose parents are Holocaust survivors and whose children are Americans living in Israel. PW says, “Wiesel returns to the moral questions that characterize the post-WWII generation in this slim novel that is both overstuffed with plot and skimpy on motive. . . . The ambitious scope of the story, spanning generations, is compelling, but limited by the novel’s length.”

The Good Daughters by Joyce Maynard (Morrow) follows the lives of two girls born on the same day in the same hospital in New Hampshire. Entertainment Weekly gives it a C,

The author, whose last novel, Labor Day, was more satisfying and sure-footed, seems to think she’s weaving a knotty tale of family secrets, told in the alternating voices of her likable main characters. And yet all her twists are clumsily telegraphed.

Laura Lippman’s Thrill Ride

Friday, August 13th, 2010

I’d Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman (Morrow) is the author’s 16th book, and her sixth stand-alone thriller – and it might just be her big breakout. Holds are three to one and higher at libraries we checked, for this tale of a woman who is contacted by the kidnapper – now on Death Row – who held her captive for weeks as a teenager.

Early book reviews are quite positive, like the one in the Kansas City Star (also syndicated to papers in the South), which calls the book

…a thrilling treatise on unreliable memories, on survivor guilt, emotional health and the intrusion of violence…. Eliza proves her resourcefulness and intelligence throughout the novel, even when reliving the horrific six weeks with Walter…. Lippman brings that same care to Walter, letting the reader see him as a man and as a monster.

I’d Know You Anywhere: A Novel
Laura Lippman
Retail Price: $25.99
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: William Morrow – (2010-08-17)
ISBN / EAN: 0061706558 / 9780061706554
  • CD available from HarperAudio 09/01/2010: $39.99; ISBN 9780061988486
  • Larger Print from Harperluxe  09/01/2010: $25.99; ISBN 978006197922

Other Notable Fiction On Sale Next Week

Three Stations by Martin Cruz Smith (Simon & Schuster) is the seventh novel starring Russian detective Arkady Renko. The Seattle Times says,”Renko is a complex character, and — though this new book is less powerful than earlier tales — Three Stations delivers a satisfying punch.”

The Cobra by Frederick Forsyth (Putnam) is a political thriller about a president combatting the international cocaine trade with the weight of the entire federal goverment. Publishers Weekly says, “Forsyth lays out how it would all work, and readers will follow eagerly along, always thinking, yes, why don’t they do this in real life? The answer to that question lies at the heart of this forceful, suspenseful, intelligent novel.”

The Postcard Killers by James Patterson and Liza Marklund (Little, Brown) investigates the murders of young couples in several major European cities, in the bestselling author’s first collaboration with the Swedish writer. According to the Wall St. Journal, Marklund wrote a draft in Swedish, based on Patterson’s outline, which he edited after it was translated. The book didn’t do well when first released in Sweden.  We’ll see if it finds purchase in the U.S., where Patterson was no doubt eyeing the legions of Stieg Larsson fans.

Last Night at Chateau Marmont by Lauren Weisberger (Atria) follows a couple faced with sudden fame. Publishers Weekly was underwhelmed: “Weisberger has insightful takes about the price of success in our celebrity-obsessed culture, but Brooke and Julian hew too closely to type to make their struggles sympathetic.”

Crossfire by Dick Francis and Felix Francis (Penguin) is the final colloboration between father and son, in which an Army captain’s career must build a new life after his foot is blown off in Afghanistan. Booklist says, “The plot reads like classic Francis; the research parts presumably come from Felix, and they add a lot of weight to the saddle. The publisher hints that Felix may be carrying on his fathers legacy, but its doubtful anyone can. Enjoy this bequest.”

LUCY Gets Mixed Reaction

Friday, July 9th, 2010

One of the summer’s much-anticipated thrillers, Lucy by Laurence Gonzales, arrives to discordant fanfare. But whatever the final critical consensus may be, the tale of a girl who’s half human and half bonobo chimpanzee is bound to get more media coverage.

Entertainment Weekly gives it an “A,” comparing Gonzales to a cross between Michael Crichton and Cormac McCarthy:

He’s got Crichton’s gift for page-
turning storytelling, but also a vivid, literary-grade prose style, and a knack for getting inside his characters’ heads.”

But New York Times critic Michiko Kakutani hates it:

Gonzales doesn’t manage to lend Lucy’s back story even the veneer of plausibility. . .  The reader often has the sense that Mr. Gonzales is impatiently ticking off plot points on an outline, as if he were writing a movie treatment, not a novel.

On NPR, critic Alan Cheuse takes the the middle ground in making it a summer pick:

The science in Gonzales’ novel is fascinating, the politics perhaps just a bit exaggerated, but hey, that’s entertainment.

Lucy
Laurence Gonzales
Price: $24.95
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Knopf – (2010-07-13)
ISBN-10: 0307272605
ISBN-13: 9780307272607

Other Notable Fiction Titles On Sale Next Week

Savages by Don Winslow (Simon & Schuster), a tale of the marijuana trade on the Mexican border, gets a rave review from Janet Maslin in the New York Times, who declares that “it will jolt Mr. Winslow into a different league….Its wisecracks are so sharp, its characters so mega-cool and its storytelling so ferocious that the risks pay off, thanks especially to Mr. Winslow’s no-prisoners sense of humor.” The novel is also a July Indie Next Pick and an ALA Shout and Share pick.

Faithful Place by Tana French (Viking) is the story of an Irish cop on the trail his childhood sweetheart’s murderer. It’s also the #1 Indie Bookseller Pick for July. In Salon, critic Laura Miller says the novel is “wrenching to a degree that detective fiction rarely achieves: Frank — a cocky devil who prides himself on his skillful lying and ability to play other people — gets pulled apart psychologically as he pursues Rosie’s killer.”

Red Hook Road by Ayelet Waldman (Doubleday)  is an Entertainment Weekly pick for summer. PW calls it  “a dense story of irreparable loss that tracks two families across four summers…. Though Waldman is often guilty of overwriting here, the narrative is well crafted, and each of the characters comes fully to life.”

Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner (Atria) follows the wife and two daughters of a senator caught having an affair. It was a USA Today Summer Books pick, but PW pans it: “The lack of conflict and strong characters, and the heavy dose of brand names and ripped-from-the-headlines references, make this disappointingly disposable.”

Corduroy Mansions by Alexander McCall Smith (Pantheon), a new series by the prolific author, gets a starred review from Booklist: “Readers of McCall Smiths 44 Scotland Street novels will savor this new series set among a collection of flats in Londons lively Pimlico neighborhood.”

The Glass Rainbow by James Lee Burke (Simon & Schuster), the 18th Dave Robicheaux novel, also gets a starred Booklist review: “superb suspense leading to a gripping, set-piece finale that is a masterpiece of texture and mood… Not to be missed by any follower of the landmark series.”

Live to Tell by Lisa Gardner (Bantam) investigates the murder of a family with Boston detective D.D. Warren. Booklist again hands out a starred revew: “Gardner never sensationalizes her story, and the book ends with a resolution that is creatively and emotionally appropriate. An excellent novel.”

Damaged: A Maggie O’Dell Mystery by Alex Kava (Doubleday) is “exciting if grisly . . . Maggie must venture into the eye of Hurricane Isaac as this intense thriller builds to an eye-popping revelation that will leave fans eager for the sequel,” says PW. Libraries we checked are well ahead of demand for this title, which was featured at Random House’s Librarian Author Breakfast at BEA.

Heavy Holds on Two Debut Novels

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Among next week’s releases are two much-buzzed-about debuts. Library demand is highest for The Postmistress by Sarah Blake, with holds of  6:1 or higher on modest orders.

The tale of an American radio reporter in WWII London, the novel is winning comparisons to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society from booksellers, one of whom touted The Postmistress in PW‘s Galley Talk column, and also in a USA Today story on breakthrough winter titles. The book also carries a blurb from Kathryn Stockett, author of the runaway bestseller, The Help.

Entertainment Weekly gives it an A- in the new issue, saying “There’s both exquisite pain and pleasure to be found in these pages, which jump from the mass devastation in Europe to the intimate heartaches of an American small town.”

The Postmistress
Sarah Blake
Retail Price: $25.95
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam – (2010-02-09)
ISBN / EAN: 0399156194 / 9780399156199

Available from Blackstone Audiobooks

  • CD: $100; ISBN 9781441725714
  • MP3 CD: $29.95; ISBN 9781441725745
  • Cassette: $65.95; ISBN 9781441725707

Audio and e-book available from OverDrive

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Union Atlantic, the first novel by Adam Hazlett, author of the bestselling story collection You Are Not a Stranger Here, is also attracting 2:1 hold ratios in libraries we checked. The novel explores the gilded age of the last decade, centering on a land dispute between a young banker and a retired schoolteacher, and was chosen as a #1 Indie Next Pick for February.

New York magazine profiles Hazlett this week, as did PWearlier, both noting that the book, which Hazlett began writing ten years ago, foretells the recent financial crisis and even the bailout. He tells New York that when he began writing it, he feared readers might not know, or even care, what the Fed is.

Libraries have ordered it in similar quantities to The Postmistress, with one-fifth the number of holds.

Union Atlantic
Adam Haslett
Retail Price: $26.00
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Nan A. Talese – (2010-02-09)
ISBN / EAN: 0385524471 / 9780385524476

Other Major Titles On Sale Next Week

Adriana Trigiani‘s Brava Valentine (HarperCollins), the second in her Valentine trilogy about a loving but fiery Italian American family, is showing reserves of 6:1 at one library we checked, making it the most-anticipated fiction title of the week.

Alex Berenson‘s The Midnight House(Penguin), the fourth in a series featuring superspy John Wells,  is also much in demand, though not available at all libraries we checked.

Peter Straub‘s A Dark Matter (Knopf Doubleday) “ranks as one of the finest tales of modern horror,” according to PW.

Chuck Hogan‘s Devils in Exile(Simon & Schuster) is “a compelling portrait of a good man who makes bad choices and in the end must battle his way out of a destructive and deadly life,” PW said.

Not a Moment Too Soon

Friday, July 11th, 2008

Just when I’ve declared Summer Reading Lists over, the New York Times comes up with yet another one; “On the Beach, Under a Tiffany-Blue Sky,” by Janet Maslin.

But, this is not a true summer reading list. Maslin has fun satarizing most of the chick lit books she mentions. She uses them to set off her favorite, “this summer’s most adorable chick-lit book.” As she says, it breaks the mold because it is nonfiction and written by a man. It was also pubbed well before summer began, in April. She describes her summer darling,

Michael Tonello’s Bringing Home the Birkin [is] the story of one man’s relentless assault on the world’s horsiest luxury-goods label…The genre’s four basic food groups are ambition, romance, travel and partying, and Mr. Tonello dishily delivers…

Maslin lists several titles that are well-known to readers advisory librarians. Many have already appeared on bestseller lists (Beach House by Jane Green; Chasing Harry Winston by Lauren Weisberger; Love the One You’re With, by Emily Griffin; Sundays at Tiffany’s by James Patterson).

  • Hardcover: $25.95
  • Publisher: William Morrow (April 22, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0061473332
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061473333

Portrait of Laura?

Thursday, July 10th, 2008

Maureen Dowd’s column today is a review/defense of American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld, a novel that draws heavily on the true story of the current First Lady. The book is not due to be released until September, but Radar magazine posted “steamy” excerpts from the book on Monday. Based on this scanty evidence, outrage has ensued.

Perhaps the most amusing comment is from an L.A. Times Opinion piece; “If you thought you could live out the final days of Bush’s term without being forced to imagine the man in the sack, think again.”

Dowd, who seems to have actually read the book, admits she’s never been able to get past the First Lady’s facade. In her view, the book does;

…there’s only one vessel that can ferry you past Laura’s moat, and that’s fiction. Ms. Sittenfeld has creatively applied her crayons to all the ambiguous blanks in the coloring book…The portraits of Laura and W. — known as Alice and Charlie Blackwell here — are trenchant and make you like them more.

The Publishers Weekly review of 7/7 is much less supportive, calling it “uneven.”

Libraries have the book on order, with comfortable holds to copy ratios.

American Wife

Curtis Sittenfeld

  • Hardcover: $26.00
  • Publisher: Random House (September 2, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1400064759
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400064755

Salon’s Summer Selections

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

Salon’s summer reading recommendations are coming in parts. On Monday, June 2nd, the Salon staff picked four chick lit titles. Most summer roundups focus on titles published during the season, but the Salon staff doesn’t confine itself to pub date or format.

Louis Bayard selects a UK title, This Is How It Happened, pubbed here in trade paperback, calling it “a black-humored romp.” Reading a man write about chick lit is a bit like watching a guy hold his girlfriend’s purse. He’s agreed to do it, but he has to make sure you know he’s not comfortable with it. The main character describes how hard she works to appeal to her man. Says Bayard;

she’s shaving and plucking like a maniac and wearing makeup on Saturday mornings and getting a bikini wax every other week. On and on it goes, a litany of biological self-denial, to which a stupefied male reader can only respond: We are so not worth it.

This is How it Happened (Not a Love Story)

by Jo Barrett

  • Paperback: $13.95
  • Publisher: Avon A (January 22, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0061241105
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061241109

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Rebecca Traister loses her heart to Anne Rivers Siddons:

Off Season

Anne Rivers Siddons

  • Hardcover: $24.99
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (August 13, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0446527874
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446527873

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Sara Hepola chooses a debut novel by Liz Tuccillo, the co-author of a little piece of nonfiction, He’s Just Not That Into You. The movie version hits theaters Oct. 24, starring nearly everybody (for a little guilty pleasure, check the trailer under our “Books to Movies” listing).

Tuccillo was also head writer for Sex and the City. Hepola sees a similarity “her dialogue bears some of the show’s hallmarks — tart and briskly paced and occasionally sappy.”

How to Be Single: A Novel

by Liz Tuccillo

  • Hardcover: $24.95
  • Publisher: Atria (June 10, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1416534121
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416590149
  • Audio CD: Abridged, $29.95
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio; (June 10, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0743569679
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743569675

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Joy Press chooses April pub Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner (covered here earlier), saying “Weiner has chosen smartass amusement over depth every time — but that’s what makes Certain Girls an imperfectly perfect summer read.”

Certain Girls

by Jennifer Weiner

  • Hardcover: $26.95
  • Publisher: Atria; (April 8, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0743294254
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743294256
  • Audio CD: Abridged; 29.95
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio; (April 8, 2008)
  • Readers: Michele Pawk, Zoe Kazan
  • ISBN-10: 0743569865
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743569866

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Last week, Salon chose thrillers. Four of the five, all pubbed in April, are already well-known:

  • Hold Tight by Harlan Coben (Dutton)
  • Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith (Grand Central)
  • Losing You by Nicci French (St. Martin’s Minotaur)
  • The Forgery of Venus by Michael Gruber (Morrow)

The less predictable choice is a debut title from February, selected by Laura Miller. It’s difficult to condense Miller’s review but a quote from PW gets at the strangeness Miller describes — “a thriller that will strike some as a mix of John Fowles’s The Magus and Stephen King’s The Shining.”

Obedience

Will Lavender

  • Hardcover: $24.00
  • Publisher: Shaye Areheart Books (February 19, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 030739610X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307396105
  • Audio CD: Unabridged, 7 CD’s $90
  • Publisher: Books On Tape
  • ISBN: 9781415946442

Next week, Salon will do memoirs. The finl list will be historical fiction.

Certain Snobs

Friday, April 25th, 2008

If you like Jennifer Weiner, you’ll love watching chick-lit pioneer, Laura Zigman, stand up for her in The Wasington Post. You don’t often read a review that begins by taking another reviewer to task (if we did, review pages might be more lively). Zigman says “Jane Smiley’s dismissive review of ‘the pinkest book you can imagine’ — in the Philadelphia Inquirer, the paper Weiner herself used to write for — was funny enough in a bitterly ironic way to be something right out of one of Weiner’s novels.” And goes on to say,

Smiley thinks it’s a shame that Weiner doesn’t “address larger questions than the psychological ups and downs of her nice Jewish characters,” but to me there are few things larger, not to mention more interesting and entertaining, than the psychological ups and downs of nice Jewish characters, especially the ones Weiner writes about.

Let the Chick Lit Wars begin!

Weiner is not going to be taking the literary high road any time soon, however. She recently signed a two-year deal with ABC Studios. Hollywood Reporter sees this as following in the footsteps of Cecila Ahern, who signed with ABC in 2006 and created the comedy series “Samantha Who?”