Best Sellers

Friday, November 21, 2014

Amazon's Top Ten for 2014

Amazon recently announced their top ten titles for 2014. In reviewing the titles, the editors at Amazon read nearly 500 works.

Number one on their list is Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. This is a debut novel about a family (the father is Asian and the mother Caucasian) living in 1970s Ohio. One of their daughter's is found dead in the middle of a lake. The book is about how and why she died but even more is about the people that make up the family and how the tragedy uncovers their division.

Two on the list is All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. This is the story of a blind French girl and a German orphan boy - both growing up during World War II. It has been called astonishing, enthralling, beautifully atmospheric and deeply moving. Doerr is a respected author who routinely gets good reviews but this one surpasses his efforts in the past.

Next comes a nonfiction work, In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette by Hampton Sides. In 1879, the editor of The New York Herald funded a naval expedition to explore the Arctic Ocean and hopefully find the North Pole which was thought to possibly be a temperate island. Obviously wooden ships don't deal well with ice packs and the ship sunk leaving the men 1000 miles north of Siberia. This work chronicles their  adventure. Said to be a historical "The Perfect Storm".

Another work of nonfiction is next, The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League by Jeff Hobbs. This is a biography of an African-American man who managed to escape the slums of Newark via a scholarship to Yale University who could not escape the dangers of the streets when he returned home. Said to change the way we think about race, class and the meaning of friendship.

Fifth on the list is Redeployment by Phil Klay. This title recently (as in this week) won the National Book Award for fiction overcoming many well known authors. Klay was a Marine Captain who spent over a year in Iraq. The Dartmouth graduate came back and got his MFA on his return. He has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and the New York Daily News. He says this book, a series of short stories about the experience of war and also of homecoming, is the only way he could work out his experiences in his head. The Washington Post said it is "one of the most compelling depictions to date of the Iraq war." The New York Times called it "the best thing written so far on what the war did to people's souls." All the critics seem to agree that this will be a classic.

Next on the list is Revival by Stephen King. Amazon says it is "the best kind of King book: a little horror, but mostly pitch perfect details about youth and faith and family." Over 50 years ago, a small boy meets the new minister and one can not imagine the things that occur in the future.  Called rich and disturbing and a masterpiece. I guess Amazon agrees.

The next is the last of the nonfiction works, Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller's Tragic Quest for Primitive Art by Carl Hoffman. Back in 1961, Michael Rockefeller disappeared in the jungle of New Guinea. No one has known what happened to him. Carl Hoffman retraced his steps and traveled to New Guinea and has come up with the answer. A fascinating tale.

Next comes Cristina Henriquez's The Book of Unknown Americans. The story takes place in an apartment building in Delaware and is told in alternating voices by it's residents. All of the residents are Spanish speaking immigrants but the main story features Mayor, a male teenager from Panama who has lived in the country since he was little and Maribel, a beautiful but brain injured girl whose family came from Mexico so she might be able to recuperate.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty comes next. This was one was really a breakout title which made her a real name in the United States. The story of three women in Australia and the death at a school trivia night. Dazzling, humorous and hard to put down. It is hard not to like this kind of writing.

The last on the list is Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. An apocalyptic novel that follows the relationships among a troupe of traveling actors. How even after most of the population has died, there are those who travel around bringing Shakespeare to those that remain is somehow comforting. Called a compelling page-turner; a meditation on fragility and a cracked mirror that reflects both our lives and our hopes and fears.

Enjoy some of the above.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Other December titles

As I said last week, December is not a popular month for publishing. That does not mean that there are not good titles coming out, just that you have to look deeper to find them. It is also a month where titles by authors who have been published in other countries are hitting the U.S. market.

Ursula Archer is an example. She is a popular Austrian author who has specialized in teen and children's novels. Five is her first adult title and it comes out on December 9. This title combines geocaching with murder. Those unfamiliar with geocaching will appreciate the fact she does give basic information. It is a process where you enter GPS coordinates into your cell phone and then go searching for treasure. In this case, the treasure is pretty gruesome. This will be a series featuring DI Beatrice Kaspary who is investigating a dead body that has map coordinates tattooed on her feet. Said to be spine tingling.

Bryant & May and the Bleeding Heart: A Peculiar Crimes Unit Mystery by Christopher Fowler comes out on December 2nd. This is the 11th in the series so the characters have already been developed ... and they are characters in many ways. If you like this series, you like whimsy, quirky and strangeness all mixed with a good does of social commentary. Here Bryant and May are assigned different cases. May is investigating the death of a teen, one of two teens saw a dead man rising from his grave. Bryant is sent to investigate who stole the ravens from the Tower of London. Apparently, legend has it that Britain will fall when the ravens disappear. The appearance of dead bodies increase as the two cases intertwine.

Rebecca James is an Australian author. Sweet Damage, her new title, arrives on December 2nd. This I have seen defined as a thriller, romantic suspense and a Gothic mystery. You will have to read it to find out what you think.Tim Ellison, a aimless surfer dude, finds a cheap room to rent in a beautiful old home where his task is to keep Anna London, the owner, connected to the outside world. Anna is agoraphobic and can't leave the house. Tim strange things start happening in the house at night. Tim becomes emotionally involved with Anna and then her past comes back to haunt them both.

Fifty Mice by director and screenwriter Daniel Pyne comes out on December 30th. Jay Johnson is nabbed from his normal humdrum life by the FBI and placed in Witness Protection on Catalina Island. He has no idea what they think he saw and can find no reason for it in his memory. Reviewers have said this is a "gut-wrenching psychological thriller that really messes with your brain." 

Lastly, Kazuaki Takano has Genocide of One coming out on December 2nd. This title has won awards in Japan and is his first introduction to the English speaking world. A 3 year old boy, Akili, is identified as the smartest being on the planet. He can perceive patterns and predict future events. However, emotionally, he is still a 3 year old. The President of the U.S., decides that this threat to humanity must be destroyed. Jonathan Yeager leads the international team assigned to take care of the task. Yeager has a sick child and is torn about his orders. Perhaps Aliki is the only hope for his son.

I hope there are a few here that interest you. They are all in the catalog so pick one or two to try.

Friday, November 7, 2014

December's Big Names - Not Many

December is not the most popular publishing month. At least not for the big name authors. November was bigger by far and January will be pretty big - but December - not so much. There are a few and I will include some relatively well known ones to round out the week.

Phillip Margolin, the lawyer/author from the northwest, has Woman with a Gun coming out on December 2nd. This is a departure for Margolin whose plots usually involve a young lawyer. This time, the plot features a young aspiring author who sees a photo in the museum and becomes obsessed with finding out the story behind it. She quits her job and moves to the area where the murder associated with the photo took place. Her investigation causes murders to begin again. Perhaps, from the reviews, more of a man's book but give it a try and see what you think.

Tess Gerritsen has another Rizzoli & Isles Novel coming out on December 30th, Die Again. Many have come to Gerritsen's series because of the television show which is a shame because Gerritsen has been writing 'can't put down' thrillers since 1996 and the Rizzoli & Isles series since 2001. Another interesting fact is the Gerritsen is actually a retired physician. Perhaps that makes you look slightly differently at her medical examiner character, Dr. Maura Isles. In this title, Rizzoli is investigating the death of a big game hunter found hanging upside down with the body of a white snow leopard in his apartment. The crime takes Rizzoli to Botswana where she discover it is tied to a deadly camping safari 4 years prior and sets her off after the lone survivor.

Jack Higgins has Rain on the Dead coming on December 30th. Two Chenchen mercenaries attempt to kill Jake Cazalet, the past president of the United States, while he was vacationing on Nantucket. Unfortunately for them, Sean Dillon, the black ops hero of many of Higgins works, and his partner Captain Sara Gideon were visiting.  The evening ended with both mercenaries dead. Dillon though wondered how they knew Cazalet would be there. Upon investigating, what he found, chilled him to the bone.

Cormac McCarthy has a screenplay that is being reprinted after almost 40 year, Gardener's Son. The title is coming on December 23rd. The film was broadcast on PBS in 1976 and received two Emmy Award nominations. It is the story of two Southern families, the mill owning Greggs and the mill employees, McElvoys.

Karen Robards specializes in romantic suspense. She is becoming more popular than Mary Higgins Clark. On December 2nd, Hush arrives. Riley Cowan discovers her estranged husband dead in his mansion, the police rule it a suicide. Riley, however, is convinced it was murder by an angry investor. Riley's father-in-law was guilty of a huge financial fraud which lost many investors retirement savings. Riley reunites with an old flame, Fin Bradley - an FBI agent, to track down the murderer before he can murder again.

Lastly, James W. Hall has The Big Finish coming out on December 2nd. Hall is an author who perhaps is not as well known. He is an award winning author and professor from Florida and many of his works take place there. He has written 18 novels and this is the 14th in the Thorn series. Thorn's son has gone underground hoping to make an ecological statement. Thorn receives a postcard from him asking for help. On his way to North Carolina, Thorn is intercepted by an FBI agent who tells him he is too late. He says that Thorn's son was an FBI informant and he has been executed when that was revealed. that the truth????