And, They’re Off!

A quick look at the best selling authors and books at the start of the new year.

NYT Combined Print & E-Book Fiction Best Sellers

  1. THE PEOPLE VS. ALEX CROSS by James Patterson

34522506Alex Cross is on the wrong side of the law. Serving a suspension from the force while he awaits trial for murder, Cross has been branded as a trigger-happy cop, another bad apple walking the streets with a gun, an accusation that Cross will do anything to refute. To make himself feel useful again, Cross opens a counseling office in the basement of his home. When his former partner Sampson shows up needing his help, Cross jumps at the chance, even if it may end up costing him what’s left of his career. When a string of young, blonde women go missing, the investigation leads Cross and Sampson to the darkest, most depraved corners of the internet. Struggling to prove his own innocence and uncover the truth lurking online, Cross must risk everything to save his most at-risk patient of all…himself. 

  1. TWO KINDS OF TRUTH by Michael Connelly
  2. ORIGIN by Dan Brown
  3. THE WANTED by Robert Crais (NEW)
  4. TWISTED by Helen Hardt (NEW)
  5. DARKER by E.L. James
  6. THE ROOSTER BAR by John Grisham
  7. THE SUN AND HER FLOWERS by Rupi Kaur
  8. THE ALICE NETWORK by Kate Quinn (NEW)
  9. MILK AND HONEY by Rupi Kaur
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What to do with January…

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Really, once your ring in the New Year it’s kind of all down hill from there. Winter really gets rolling, the temperature continues to fall, snow, ice – it’s a frigid, brittle, monochromatic world out there. Bleak is the word. Bleak.

But we can’t just leave it at that. We’ve got to come up with something… Preferably something library related… Oh yeah!

January is NATIONAL BOOK MONTH!

Related image

Much better.

There. We’ve fixed January.

2018 Golden Globes Nominees Are Chock-Full of Literary Adaptations

From left to right: Elisabeth Moss in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ © 2016 Hulu; Claire Foy in ‘The Crown’ © 2016 Netflix; Judi Dench in ‘Victoria & Abdul’ © Focus Features; Timothée Chalamet in ‘Call Me by Your Name’ © 2017 Sony Pictures Classics; Reese Witherspoon in ‘Big Little Lies’/Hilary Bronwyn Gayle © 2017 HBO

It is officially that time of the year – awards season is upon us.  As usual, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has kicked things off with the announcement of the 2018 Golden Globe Awards nominees. The literary world is represented in this year’s lineup with a smattering of great adaptations leading the charge in both film and TV. While the slate of nominees is populated with a few of the marquee titles you’d expect – “Game of Thrones” got it’s annual nod, for instance – a few surprises cracked the surface as well. It looks to be another interesting year at the Golden Globes. Let’s have a look.

Starting with the Best Motion Picture Categories – “Drama” and “Musical or Comedy” – “Call Me By Your Name,” based on the 2007 novel by Andre Aciman, joins a field arguably led by Christopher Nolan’s historical epic “Dunkirk,” although “The Post” feels purely calibrated to make some awards season noise. On the “Musical or Comedy” side of the aisle, “The Disaster Artist,” based on the memoir by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell, will be contending with likely favorite “Ladybird” for the top spot. In perhaps the oddest bit of news to come out of the nominations, “Get Out” did indeed garner a Best Motion Picture nomination…as a “Musical or Comedy”. While the film did sport a handful of excellent jokes, we find it a bit hard to categorize its depiction of racism – no matter how Jordan Peele presented it – as “Comedy.” Here’s what Peele himself had to say.

The acting categories for a motion picture were anchored by a number of strong performances from adaptations. On the women’s side of the aisle, Michelle Williams picked up her fifth Golden Globe nomination for her performance in “All the Money in the World,” based on the book Painfully Rich by John Pearson. She’s joined by fellow five-timer Jessica Chastain for “Molly’s Game” which is based on the memoir of the same name by Molly Bloom. Dames Helen Mirren and Judi Dench each picked up nominations for their respective performances in “Leisure Seeker” and “Victoria and Abdul” – each film was based on a novel of the same name. Mary J. Blige also snagged a nomination for her supporting performance in “Mudbound,” an adaptation of the novel by Hillary Jordan.

The gentlemen had an equally strong showing on the literary front with Timothee Chalamet snagging a nomination for his role in “Call me By Your Name.” Chalamet, however, will be up against a host of awards season heavyweights with Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, and Daniel Day-Lewis rounding out the best actor in a drama category. Day-Lewis is an obvious favorite for the acting categories anytime he deigns to grace us mere mortals with a performance, and Gary Oldman is said to have turned in a career best performance in “Darkest Hour,” so it will likely be tough going for Chalamet in a particularly crowded slate.

In the “Musical or Comedy” category, James Franco’s performance as Tommy Wiseau in the “Disaster Artist” has finally – if a bit circuitously – given the the bizarre Wiseau the recognition he craves. The Supporting Actor category featured one of the biggest surprises of the morning as Christopher Plummer picked up a nomination for his role in “All the Money in the World.” The role had originally been filmed by Kevin Spacey. Following the myriad allegations of sexual misconduct against Spacey, he was dropped from the role and Plummer stepped in at the literal last minute. All of Spacey’s scenes were refilmed with Plummer. This nomination situates Plummer as perhaps a pinch hitter in film history. Plummer will be up against Armie Hammer’s performance in “Call me by Your Name.”

Now for the Television categories. HBO’s “Big Little Lies,” already a big winner at the Emmy’s, also dominated the Golden Globes nods. The adaptation of the novel by Liane Moriarty picked up nominations for Best Limited Series, Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series (Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon), Best Performance by a Supporting Actress (Laura Dern, Shailene Woodley), and Best Performance by a Supporting Actor (Alexander Skaarsgard). “Big Little Lies” will duke it out with “The Sinner,” based on the novel by Petra Hammesfahr, in the Limited Series category. “The Sinner” star Jessica Biel also picked up a nomination in the best actress category.

In the Best Television series – Drama category, perennial nominee “Game of Thrones” will be up against likely favorite “The Handmaid’s Tale,” based on the novel by Margaret Atwood. However, “The Crown” and “This is Us” are each poised for an upset here. Interestingly, “Game of Thrones” was shut out of each of the possible acting categories despite a couple of strong performances from Lena Headey and Kit Harrington.

To round out the acting nominations for adaptations not called “Big Little Lies,” Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer each pulled nominations in their respective categories for their roles in “The Wizard of Lies” based on the book by Diana B. Henriques. De Niro will vie for best actor against Geoffrey Rush for his performance in “Genius,” an adaptation of Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson. Ann Dowd picked up a nod for her supporting role in “The Handmaid’s Tale.” In the best actress category, Elisabeth Moss is the odds-on favorite for her brilliant turn in “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Caitriona Balfe picked up a best actress nod for “Outlander” – based on the Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon – and Katherine Langford rounds out the nominations with her performance in “13 Reasons Why,” an adaptation of the novel of the same name.

As is becoming the norm, streaming services and premium networks once again dominated the Television categories. HBO made its usual big showing and Netflix’s latest critical darlings – “Stranger Things” and “The Crown” – appear to have replaced former awards favorites “Orange is the New Black” and “House of Cards.” The question is whether Hulu will beat its streaming service brethren to the punch and pick up that coveted Best Drama statue as it did at the Emmy’s this year? We’ll have to wait for the January 7th broadcast to find out. Will you be tuning in?

Top Picks for 2018 and a Final Look at 2017

by ,DECEMBER 28, 2017, first appearing on Library Journal

Looking Forward and Back

More “bests of 2017” slide into home plate even as 2018 picks pile up.

The Hollywood Reporter offers its “Best Comics of 2017.”

HuffPost picks “21 Of The Best Feminist Books of 2017” and lists 60 books they are looking forward to in 2018.

Bustle features 19 debut novels to look for in 2018.

Vogue has a list for early 2018.

Briefly Noted


Ron Charles of The Washington Post picks four books to help “understand your place in the cosmos,” including Magnitude: The Scale of the Universe by Megan Watzke and Kimberly Arcand (Black Dog & Leventhal: Hachette), writing that the authors and artist “explain the incomprehensible in delightfully comprehensible images and text.”

Michael Dirda reviews Wonders Will Never Cease by Robert Irwin (Arcade: Skyhorse), calling it an “ingenious historical fantasy” set during the War of the Roses.

Reporter Dan Zak reviews Hellfire Boys: The Birth of the U.S. Chemical Warfare Service and the Race for the World’s Deadliest Weapons by Theo Emery (Little, Brown: Hachette; LJstars), saying “Here is a book that will burn your nostrils and make your throat close. Its main characters are asphyxiants and vesicants—mustard gas, chlorine and other chemicals deployed in World War I…it brims with shock and surprise.”

Staff writer Ian Shapira calls The Saboteur: The Aristocrat Who Became France’s Most Daring Anti-Nazi Commando by Paul Kix (HarperLuxe) “thrilling … gripping … completely engrossing and elegantly told.” Vanity Fair has an interview with Kix.

The NYT reviews The Most Dangerous Man in America: Timothy Leary, Richard Nixon and the Hunt for the Fugitive King of LSD by Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis (Twelve: Hachette), calling it “a fun and exhausting recap of the LSD proselytizer Timothy Leary’s efforts to outrun Richard Nixon and the American law.” In other nonfiction coverage, the paper evaluates books on energy and nuclear war.

USA Today reviews The Man Who Made the Movies: The Meteoric Rise and Tragic Fall of William Fox (Harper), giving it “4 out of 4 stars” and reviews Ursula K. Le Guin’s No Time To Spare, which only gets three stars but is deemed “witty, often deeply observed.”

Vanity Fair looks at Eliot Ness’s classic memoirThe Untouchables.

Costco’s influential book buyer, Pennie Clark Ianniciello, picks We Were the Lucky Ones (Penguin), calling it “just the kind of story I love.”

LitHub is up to #21 in their literary news stories countdown, American authors infiltrating the Man Booker Prize.

‘Ferdinand’ The Peaceful Bull Gets His First Full-Length Film

In the late 1930s, The Story of Ferdinand briefly out sold Gone With the Wind. Penguin Young Readers

Millions of people have read Munro Leaf’s The Story of Ferdinand since it was first published in 1936. Two years later, Disney turned it into it an Oscar-winning short film. Now, the peaceful bull who prefers sniffing flowers to bullfighting is getting an update from 20th Century Fox. And that bull has been on quite a journey to get here.

John Cena, the actor who voices Ferdinand in the new movie, recently read the original story to hundreds of DC public school kids at the Library of Congress. On a table next to him were two early editions of the book from the library’s collection. One was from 1938, the other from 1936.

“We’re going to look at the 1936 edition but not touch it,” Cena told the students. “It’s very delicate and very important, and the people from the Library of Congress were very thorough in saying like, ‘Hey, don’t touch the first book.'”

Precious Ferdinand, even when he grows to be bigger than all the other bulls, still doesn’t want to fight. He just wants to sit under the cork tree and smell flowers. But when he sits on a bumblebee, he goes berserk, puffing and kicking. The matadors watching are ecstatic.

The Story of Ferdinand is one of Time magazine’s “100 Best Children’s Books of All Time.” At one point in the late 1930s, it was outselling Gone With The Wind, which is pretty astonishing for something that was written in less than an hour.

NPR interviewed Munro Leaf’s widow, Margaret, in 1986, ten years after her husband’s death. “The depression was nearly over,” she recalled. “We were very poor.” One Sunday afternoon, she was reading a manuscript for a publisher to make some extra money.

“I was going to get $25 for reading it, so it was very important, and he kept bothering me, trying to interrupt me. So I finally said to him, ‘Get lost, go and amuse yourself. Do something.’ About 35 to 40 minutes later, he said ‘Listen to this,’ and he read me Ferdinand. And there it was in pencil on six sheets of yellow legal pad.”

Leaf gave the story to his friend, illustrator Robert Lawson, who brought it to life with detailed, whimsical, pen and ink drawings. The book took off.

There was the Disney short, Ferdinand merchandise, a balloon at the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving parade, songs and author interviews.

In 1948, Leaf talked to the Chicago radio show, The Hobby Horse Presents. Children on the show asked him what books he read when he was ten and a half.

“Oh gee, I read everything I could get my hands on really,” he said. “Couple of them I know that I read about that time that stand out as vividly today, and that’s Treasure Island was one, and The Wizard Of Oz to me was one of the nicest books I ever found.”

In the late 1930s, The Story of Ferdinand briefly outsoldGone With The Wind.
Penguin Young Readers

The book’s popularity coincided with the Spanish Civil War. In 1937, Leaf told an audience he received letters complaining that “Ferdinand was red propaganda,” others that “it was fascist propaganda.” A woman’s club said it was “unworthy satire of the peace movement.” It was banned in Spain; Hitler burned it.

But Margaret Leaf told NPR that Munro wasn’t trying to be political. “He wasn’t a pacifist, but he was a peaceful man,” she said.

Director Carlos Saldanha is the latest to interpret Ferdinand, in the new feature film adaptation. “I think Ferdinand is this misinterpreted, misjudged character,” he says.

Munro Leaf’s story is only about 800 words, so with the Leaf family’s permission, Saldanha did some fleshing out. The director created new characters, like a goat who lives in Ferdinand’s stall, and he gave voices to the other bulls in Munro Leaf’s story. When they’re young, they make fun of Ferdinand’s refusal to butt heads. And then Ferdinand outgrows them.

“He is trying to show them a different side of life, a different understanding of life,” Saldanha says. “And for him, you don’t really need to fight to be a fighter.”

For the voice of Ferdinand, Saldanha picked someone who fights for a living, a 6’1, 251 pound wrestler with the WWE — John Cena.

“He almost represents, visually, Ferdinand,” Saldanha tells NPR. “Like he’s so big and massive and people interpret him as this massive guy that picks fights and all this stuff but actually he’s not at all. And he’s super gentle.”

Cena confirmed that he’s misjudged for his size. He says it’s a universal feeling. “There isn’t a human walking the earth that [can] say ‘Everybody gets me all the time.’ That’s why I think, another reason the book is timeless. We’re all misunderstood.”

Munro Leaf died in 1976. He wrote other books, but none that had the global success of Ferdinand. His son, Andy Leaf, says his father was amused by all of the different interpretations. “He was very smart that way. He just let people interpret it as they wished.”

In the end, Ferdinand stays true to himself, sitting under his favorite cork tree, smelling the flowers quietly. Ferdinand, the movie version, comes out later this week, but the book will likely be around forever.

2017—This Year in Books: Amazon Charts

by Adrian Liang, December 13, 2017, first appearing on Omnivoracious

This Year in Books - ChartsWant to know what your fellow readers are fascinated by?

Each week, Amazon Charts refreshes its Most Read and Most Sold lists, giving insight into which fiction and nonfiction books are flying into readers’ hands. Powered by the reading choices made by print book readers, Kindle book readers, and Audible audiobook listeners, Amazon Charts provides a rare glimpse into the real reading trends of thousands of book lovers.

Most Listened To

This week, however, Amazon Charts takes a wider view and looks back at the books that shaped the year in This Year in Books.

With colorful graphics and joyful facts, Charts highlights the 10 Most Read fiction books of 2017 and the 10 Most Read nonfiction books of 2017. (No spoilers here—take a guess and then go see for yourself.) Then learn which books were “unputdownable,” the most highlighted, and the most listened to on Alexa.

Golden Eyes

Take a journey back through the literary world of 2017, month by month, and then see which cover design trends caught readers’ eyes.

And, finally, be inspired to read more in 2018.

Isn’t that always a marvelous New Year’s resolution?

Books to Film: January Releases

The Hostage (Book #1 of the Stratton series) by Duncan Falconer

Image result144738Movie: Stratton
When it comes out: January 5
What the book is about: When an undercover operation monitoring the Real IRA goes horrifically wrong, British Intelligence turns to the one man who can get their agent out: Stratton, an SBS operative with a lethal reputation. It’s a dangerous race against time: if the Real IRA get to the Republic before Stratton gets to the Real IRA, his colleague is as good as dead.

Freak Show by James St. James

Image result434631Movie: Freak Show
When it comes out: January 12
What the book is about: Billy Bloom is gay, but it’s mostly theoretical, as he hasn’t had much experience. When he has to move to Florida, he can’t believe his bad luck. His new school is a mix of bible belles, amberzombies, and football heroes — none of which are exactly his type.

Rehepapp ehk november by Andrus Kivirähk

Image result6347735Movie: November
When it comes out: January 12
What the book is about: The story is set in a pagan Estonian village where werewolves, the plague, and spirits roam, but the villagers’ main problem is how to survive the cold, dark winter. And, to that aim, nothing is taboo. People steal from each other, from their German manor lords, and from spirits, the devil, and Christ. They steal even if their barns are already overflowing. To guard their souls, they’ll give them away to thieving creatures made of wood and metal called kratts but their greed makes the villagers more and more like the soulless creatures they command.

Horse Soldiers by Doug Stanton

Image result4645750Movie: 12 Strong
When it comes out: January 19
What the book is about: Horse Soldiers is the dramatic account of a small band of Special Forces soldiers who secretly entered Afghanistan following 9/11 and rode to war on horses against the Taliban. Outnumbered forty to one, they pursued the enemy army across the mountainous Afghanistan terrain and, after a series of intense battles, captured the city of Mazar-i-Sharif, which was strategically essential to defeat their opponent throughout the country.

The Liesure Seeker by Micahel Zadoorian

Image result3431124Movie: The Liesure Seeker
When it comes out: January 19
What the book is about: The Robinas have shared a wonderful life for more than sixty years. Now in their eighties, Ella suffers from cancer and John has Alzheimer’s. Yearning for one last adventure, the self-proclaimed “down-on-their-luck geezers” kidnap themselves from the adult children and doctors who seem to run their lives and steal away from their home in suburban Detroit on a forbidden vacation of rediscovery.

Eddie Krumble Is the Clapper by Dito Montiel

The Clapper Poster852316Movie: The Clapper
When it comes out: January 26
What the book is about: Meet Eddie Krumble. He’s a relatively happy guy. Content-ish. Fresh to Los Angeles, Eddie and his friend Chris Plork land their first gig: clapping as paid audience members for infomercials and sitcoms so heinous that tourists won’t even attend. Eddie spends long days clapping, laughing, and hissing — on cue, of course — and his life slowly begins to take shape as a relationship with Judy, a gas station attendant, begins to brew. Suddenly his life is turned on its head. In one of his nightly rants, Jay Leno scrutinizes the state of late night TV and ends up unveiling two stills of Eddie as audience members for two different infomercials. Eddie is singled out as clapper-for-hire, Eddie’s career comes to a halt, and Leno turns his discovery into a segment on his show: “Who is THE CLAPPER?”