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.

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.

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?

The 10 Best Book-to-TV Adaptations of 2017, Ranked

2017 was the year that television adaptations become at least as good as film adaptations. And why not? In many ways, TV is an ideal medium for bringing books to screen, for the episodic format enables us to to dig deep without throwing babies out with the bathwater. Many of the year’s strongest TV adaptations strayed from their source material in fascinating ways, and this was how it should be. A book worth its salt deserves a reincarnation that honors its essence as well as its new medium.

The cover of the book Big Little Lies

Big Little Lies

Liane Moriarty

#10. “BIG LITTLE LIES”

It’s been confirmed that the HBO series based on Liane Moriarty’s best-seller has been picked up for a second season, and while not everyone is convinced there’s more story to tell, fans of the beachside psychological thriller are ecstatic. In addition to its central whodunnit, the HBO series spearheaded by Jean-Marc Vallée (“Wild”) investigates all kinds of excellent questions about female communities and competition–perhaps because stars Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman took an active hand in producing as well.

The cover of the book A Game of Thrones

A Game of Thrones

A Song of Ice and Fire: Book One

George R. R. Martin

#9. “GAME OF THRONES”

I can’t pretend that HBO’s megapopular adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s fantasy book series is my favorite cup of tea— the sexual politics leave something to be desired–but neither can I deny its spectacular wallop. This seventh season is as steeped in gorgeous, blood-stained wintry visuals as ever, and ties up some plot points admirably.

The cover of the book Mozart in the Jungle

Mozart in the Jungle

Blair Tindall

#8. “MOZART IN THE JUNGLE”

Fewer than ever are watching Amazon’s series about a fictional New York symphony, and that’s a shame. This improvement on Blair Tindall’s woe-is-me memoir stars Gael García Bernal in manic-pixie-dreamboy mode and offers a gimlet glimpse into classical music’s rarified pleasures and economic disparities. As a bonus, much of Season 3 takes place in Italy at its absolute swooniest.

The cover of the book I Love Dick

I Love Dick

Chris Kraus

#7. “I LOVE DICK”

Co-created by “Transparent” showrunner Jill Soloway, this outré Amazon series doesn’t just expand upon Chris Kraus’s experimental novel about disappointed creatives and obsessive love. It highlights the female gaze and desire in ways television has never seen before, with a optical splash that is an art installation unto itself.

The cover of the book Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables

L. M. Montgomery

#6. “ANNE WITH AN E”

This post-modernist, PTSD-addled take on L.M. Montgomery’s beloved young adult classic is created by “Breaking Bad” writer Moira Walley-Beckett and matches its red-headed orphan’s “tragical, romantical” nature with windswept coastal landscapes and gritty backstories. Like our heroine, the bracing, smart Canadian import is more loveable than likeable, just what the 2017 doctor ordered.

The cover of the book Mindhunter

Mindhunter

John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker

#5. “MINDHUNTER”

This Netflix series based on John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker’s true crime book may be set in 1977, but it’s perfectly timed for this #metoo cultural moment. Created by David Fincher and starring Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany in a classic buddy-cop pairing, the show zooms in on the FBI’s discovery of serial killers just as women’s liberation was being mainstreamed. Sharp-toothed and soft-eyed, it forsakes the genre’s standard female objectification to place the full spectrum of sexism and male sexuality under a microscope.

The cover of the book Alias Grace

Alias Grace

Margaret Atwood

#4. “ALIAS GRACE”

Margaret Atwood’s books may not necessarily translate well to the big screen, but the feminist Canadian author is having her moment in terms of TV adaptations. Based on the true story of an Irish-born servant accused of killing her male employer and his housekeeper mistress, this one comes with stunning feminist credentials of its own: screenwriter Sarah Polley, director Mary Harron, and the unflinching Sarah Gadon in the titular role. Adapted from Atwood’s 1996 novel and set in 1840s Canada, it offers insight into the intersection of gender, sex, and class that still applies today. “Guilty until proven innocent,” indeed.

The cover of the book American Gods

American Gods

Neil Gaiman

#3. “AMERICAN GODS”

The long-anticipated adaptation of Neil Gaman’s 2001 novel finally hit STARZ this year, and lo! it was worth the wait. Part social commentary, part fantasy series, it’s set in a (slightly) alternative America in which slaves and refugees bring individual gods who take myriad, technologically savvy forms. Co-created by “Hannibal” showrunner Bryan Fuller (oh my!) and starring such character actor luminaries as Ian MacShane as Odin, it’s as psychedelic as it is psychological, and defies us to resist its lessons, let alone describe it coherently.

The cover of the book The Leftovers

The Leftovers

Tom Perrotta

#2. “THE LEFTOVERS”

Based on Tom Perrotta’s spare, philosophically interrogative novel in which two percent of the population has suddenly disappeared, this HBO series may be co-created by the author along with “Lost” showrunner Damon Lindelof, but it ventures into places never covered in the book. At times David Lynch-like, at times wryly comic, at times a mystery cop thriller, at times existentialist sci-fi, the brilliant show costars Regina King, Justin Theroux, Ann Dowd, and Amy Brenneman, and reimagines continents, decades, and worlds. This third and final season offers a looking glass we may never glimpse anywhere else.

The cover of the book The Handmaid's Tale (Movie Tie-in)

The Handmaid’s Tale

Margaret Atwood

#1. “THE HANDMAID’S TALE”

Hulu’s most talked-about series updates Margaret Atwood’s beloved dystopian feminist novel without sacrificing any of its impact. As the book is written, Gilead, the uber-conservative religious nation that supplants the United States of America, is all-white. But making an all-white television show in this day and age, even to demonstrate extreme racism, would be deeply problematic; the last thing we need right now is the visual normalization of an Aryan nation. Instead, showrunner Bruce Miller’s “slightly futuristic,” racially integrated Greater Boston keeps its focus on the erosion of women’s rights – an issue that becomes more relevant by the day (not that racism does not). Produced by and starring Elisabeth Moss, this is 2017 television’s most powerful testament.

Best Books of the Year: Science and Nature

by Jon ForoDecember 08, 2017, first appearing on Omnivoracious

A few of our selections for the best science and nature titles of 2017, along with some thoughts about why we liked them. See all 20 picks, or browse all of our Best Books of the Year across 15 categories.

BOTY-ApolloApollo 8: The Thrilling Story of the First Mission to the Moon by Jeffrey Kluger

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost 50 years since NASA’s Apollo program first landed a man on the moon. Since passing decades tend to filter out everything save the highlights, that epic effort has been boiled down to a couple of missions: Apollo 11’s triumphant landing, and the near calamity of Apollo 13, which we might not remember were it not for Tom Hanks and Ron Howard. Lost is all (or most) of the daring preamble, when the United States and the Soviet Union repeatedly swapped positions in the Space Race, recklessly shooting manned aluminum cans – packed with all the computing power of a scientific calculator – into orbit. You won’t have to be a rocket scientist to enjoy Jeffrey Kluger’s Apollo 8 (though it’s pure candy for aficionados). Kluger – who previously documented the Apollo 13 crisis with Commander Jim Lovell, also the pilot aboard Apollo 8 – recounts the first manned mission to orbit the moon, marrying technological and historical perspectives with eyewitness accounts to spin a brisk, thrilling, and informative tale. Kluger writes, “The Saturn V engines had only one speed, which was full speed.” So does this book.


BOTY-Learn-Better.jpgLearn Better: Mastering the Skills for Success in Life, Business, and School, or, How to Become an Expert in Just About Anything by Ulrich Boser

I recently tested my family’s patience for weeks as I announced during dinner, “I discovered something today,” and then related a new technique for learning I’d read in Learn Better. What my family didn’t realize at the time was that by teaching them what I’d learned, I myself was absorbing the lesson better than I would have if I’d just reread it again. That was only one of dozens of methods I’d consumed in Learn Better to help me understand, retain, and connect information better than through the old (and less effective) systems of highlighting and rereading. Boser’s smart and approachable writing style engaged me at once as he laid out six methods for becoming an expert at whatever you like, whether it’s basketball, parenting, or quantum physics. Experiments, data, and anecdotes back up his techniques, but almost as important, he explains learning in such a clear way that aha! moments abound. “Learning does not have a comfort zone,” he says, following up later with: “To develop a skill, we’re going to be uncomfortable, strained, often feeling a little embattled.” He emphasizes that expertise is not the most important quality of an effective educator: “We need instructors that know their subject—and know ways to explain their subject.” Boser even puts himself of the spot, suggesting that readers should question whether they believe an author’s arguments in order to bring analytical thinking to a subject, which will cement that knowledge (or their rejection of the author’s thesis) deeper in their brains. There’s a lot to absorb here, but happily you have an expert teacher guiding you now on your own path toward effective learning. –Adrian Liang


BOTY-Upstream.jpgUpstream: Searching for Wild Salmon, from River to Table by Langdon Cook

A few years back, Langdon Cook wrote The Mushroom Hunters, an unusual book about the underground economy of fungi foraging and the weirdoes and outsiders who fuel it, which we leveraged for this little boondoggle. His latest, Upstream, does the same for salmon, following the paths of these essential fish from spawning grounds and hatcheries to the tables of exclusive restaurants – a voyage spanning history, culture, adventure, politics, and commerce. [Full disclosure: Lang is a former colleague who occasionally pulls Chris and me out to the river for some tortured attempts at fly fishing. It’s not that he’s a bad teacher.]


BOTY-Gene-Machine.jpgThe Gene Machine: How Genetic Technologies Are Changing the Way We Have Kids–and the Kids We Have by Bonnie Rochman

As the father of a preteen boy, I’ve seen enough Godzilla movies to understand that our capability often outpaces our foresight, and genetic manipulation opens the door to unimaginable possibilities. Where once parents could choose to know the gender of their unborn baby, our understanding the human genome can now forecast disabilities and predisposition for particular diseases later in life, including cancer. The science is complex and confusing, and the ethical dilemmas are self-evident. Bonnie Rochman has witnessed the advance of gene technology first-hand – as both a journalist and a mother – and her recent book, The Gene Machine, expertly unravels this brave new world of family engineering, from both scientific and human perspectives.


BOTY-Big-Chicken.jpgBig Chicken: The Incredible Story of How Antibiotics Created Modern Agriculture and Changed the Way the World Eats by Maryn McKenna

Ever wonder where all the chicken is coming from? I do, and as I always suspected, I’m not sure I feel better knowing. In Big Chicken, McKenna – a journalist who who reports on public health and food policy – tracks the path of this most common fowl and food source from backyard coops to the (let’s face it, horrible) antibiotic-soaked “industry” that fuels our hunger for cheap wings and nuggets. Bwok-bwok.

The Best Romance Novels of 2017

by Adrian Liang,December 06, 2017, first appearing on Omnivoracious

Best romances of the year 2017
In 2016, shelves and Kindles were stuffed to bursting with small-town romances. This year saw a slow shift from small-town to contemporary cowboy, at least as seen on the cover. (The stories inside remained fairly similar.) A larger switch was the surge in urban-based romances, signaling that readers and writers are looking to the big city for excitement. On the emotional side of things, angsty new adult started getting eclipsed by screwball comedy.

What will 2018 bring to romance readers? I can’t wait to find out!

Below are 10 of our favorite romances of 2017. You can find the list of all 20 here. From dukes to FBI agents, and from football coaches to librarians, we’ve got you covered.


Dating You / Hating You by Christina Lauren– The romantic geniuses behind the Beautiful and the Wild Seasons series deliver a standalone and standup-comic-funny contemporary tale of an office romance gone wrong. Really, really wrong. The accelerating romantic relationship of two talent agents in Hollywood hits the skids when a new boss tells them they have to compete for the same job. As Carter and Evie bounce between courtship and combat, this hilarious, sexy novel will make you gasp and giggle.

Getting Inside by Serena Bell – Female professional football coaches are rarer than political civility on Facebook, and this forbidden romance between a new linebacker coach and the Seattle Grizzlies’ top—but struggling—defensive linebacker had me glued to every word. Iona Thomas has to not only excel at her job but represent women in the professional league, and Ty Williams is the very last person she should be getting involved with. Both of them realize the stakes are too high for a relationship between them, but, hey, love can’t be denied. Tense, heart-scalding, and emotionally riveting, this had earned a spot on my best of the year list when it hit shelves in January.


The Undateable by Sarah Title – I think I snort-giggled all the way through Title’s contemporary romance set in the dating landscape of San Francisco. Wise, funny, and spot-on in its gleeful puncturing of male and female stereotypes, this tale of a librarian who unwittingly becomes the face of a “Disapproving librarian disapproves” meme will have you cheering Bertie on as she agrees to go on thirty dates in thirty days to prove to herself that she’s not undateable. Bertie is helped/hindered by Colin, a staff writer for locally based fashion magazine Glaze, who is sponsoring Bertie’s makeover as a publicity stunt. You might think that Bertie is being set up for a My Fair Ladyish ending, wherein conforming to society’s expectations of how a Woman Should Be/Look/Talk allows Bertie to Finally Find True Love. Pish. Though Colin has bro tendencies, he’s fairly enlightened and aware, making him Bertie’s perfect sparring partner as he briefs her and then debriefs her for her dates. It’ll be no surprise that eventually Bertie debriefs Colin as well, but it’s supremely satisfying.


A Lady’s Code of Misconduct by Meredith Duran – For years, heiress Jane Mason has been at the mercy of her horrible uncle, who has been siphoning off her funds even as he strives for power in Parliament. The last person Jane expects to help her escape her situation is Crispin Burke, a handsome but morally blackened confederate of her uncle’s who appears to care only about ruthlessly accumulating power. Burke gives Jane the initial helping hand, but it’s his fall that will allow her the ultimate opportunity to seize her destiny. To say more would ruin a deliciously intriguing plot. Just trust in Duran to dig into the dark corners of this complex relationship between two stubborn people who will discover unwelcome truths about how far they will go to get what they want, even as they learn to rely on each other. Love blooms here in rocky ground, but it becomes all the stronger.


A Merciful Death by Kendra Elliot – Elliot is a master of romantic suspense, and her latest sets a rural community of preppers (people preparing for disaster) in the sights of a killer. Because large caches of guns were stolen from the victims’ homes, FBI agent Mercy Kilpatrick is sent from the Seattle office to investigate further. But Mercy herself has a fraught history with Eagle’s Nest, and it takes police chief Truman Daly patience and persistence to unstopper the secrets Mercy has kept packed deep inside. Elliot expertly interweaves the current murders with the damage that past crimes have done to Mercy and Truman’s souls, and she lays out convincing tracks to a number of possible culprits in Eagle’s Nest. Fascinating details about prepper lifestyle give extra flavor to this mystery, adding to its memorability.


On Broken Wings by Chanel Cleeton – Not too many people are tackling grieving widows in romances these days (widowers, yes—wives die off before the story opens as often as mothers die off before Disney’s princess movies), and Cleeton handles it with a beautiful slow build. Dani Peterson has always been the love of Alex’s life, but when she was married to his commanding officer, she was way off limits. Now, a year after Dani’s husband’s death in a training accident, Alex is still keeping Dani at arm’s length. What Dani needs, though, is arms wrapped around her. A graceful exploration of the devastation of a spouse’s early death, the remnants of grief, and the ways we can heal…plus a bunch of sizzle.


Wanted and Wired by Vivien Jackson – Ever since starting Rebecca Zanetti’s Scorpius Syndrome series, I’ve been keeping my eyes open for a romance novel that gleefully sets its hero and heroine in the near future and gives them a storyline that couldn’t work in any other setting. Wanted and Wired does all that, with sniper Mari Vallejo and her sometime business partner, Heron Farad. Texas has split off from the Union, mechs are built to be indistinguishable from humans, and it’s up to individuals to determine how organic or how tech they want their bodies to be via augmentation. When Mari is set up to take the fall for a murder, she and Heron go on the run, forcing them to figure out where to draw the line in their partnership…or if a line should be drawn at all. If your pulse rate accelerates at the thought of sexy sci-fi, give this action-filled romance a try.


The Woman Who Couldn’t Scream by Christina Dodd – Dodd concludes her Virtue Falls series by finally giving police chief Kateri Kwinault her own story even as she weaves in a perplexing mystery centered on a mute millionaire’s widow who brings death with her to the small coastal town. You don’t need to start the Virtue Falls series with Virtue Falls—each book stands strong on its own—but it was a special joy to watch Kateri overcome the mountain of obstacles thrown at her through four books and finally find peace with her own choices at the end.


The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare – Scarred in face, body, and heart by an explosion on the battlefield, the Duke of Ashbury has been a bit of gloomy gus since his return from war, but he still knows his duty: find a wife and make an heir. But with his ruined face, social events–and especially wooing–seem an insurmountable barrier. Luckily, down-on-her-luck seamstress Emma Gladstone comes straight to his house and pushes her way into his study to demand payment of the intricate (and awfully ugly) wedding gown she hand-sewed for his former fiancee. Ashbury’s marriage proposal seems a farce, but his persistence–and her imminent eviction–convince Emma to accept. So begins a delightful story of tiptoeing through emotional minefields toward true love that I think is among Dare’s best and at times made me laugh out loud. Perfect for readers of Megan Frampton, Julia Quinn, and Courtney Milan.


Dating-ish by Penny Reid – Those seeking a perfect friends-to-lovers story need look no further than Dating-ish. Marie and Matt’s first meeting could not be more inauspicious for the beginning of a friendship, but less a romance. Marie is expecting the good-looking guy she agreed to meet via an online dating site; instead she gets Matt, a nerdy scientist seeking data on what single women are looking for. When Marie decides to incorporate Matt’s study into a piece she’s writing about compassion and whether it can be outsourced, she (and the reader) starts to see past his awkward and literal-mindedness to the guy inside. Complex and smart, fueled by a fierce will-they-or-won’t-they? tension, Dating-ish might have a slow start for some but will delight all with its glorious finish.