Does Nicholas Sparks ever get writer's block? It seems unlikely. Fresh off the release of The Last Song, the popular novelist will publish a 15th book on September 14. Saying Goodbye (Grand Central) is poised to join the rest of the Sparks canon and sounds full of tear-jerking twists.
Like The Notebook, Saying Goodbye centers on the rediscovery of a lost love—and throws in a dying best friend for good measure. But Audrey, who has been diagnosed with cancer, has enough life left in her to revive Renee's memories of the boy she fell in love with during their study abroad trip in Spain more than 20 years ago. Could there be a chance for the two to reconnect? The answers may be predictable, but readers are sure to come along for the ride come September.
From zombie spoofs to comics, there's a lot of new content on BookPage.com this week. A few highlights are below—click the book titles to learn more:
Below are a few memorable posts I’ve stumbled upon this week. Feel free to add your own favorite book blog posts in the comments.
Posted by A Girl Walks Into a Bookstore...
I've seen several posts about covers in book blogs this week, many inspired by a making-of-a-cover trailer released by Orbit Books. In this particular post, Katherine points how (humorously) alike two covers seem to be: Eve by Elissa Elliott (Bantam) and Twilight of Avalon by Anna Elliott (Touchstone):
Literary Identity, The Weight of Recommendations, and More
Posted by My Friend Amy
Ever felt frustrated because you don't have a concrete answer for "what kind of books do you like?" In this post, Amy reflects on not having a defined sense of taste. She comments: "I'm wondering if because I don't have a clearly identifiable pattern of what I like, my recommendations are less weighty." Well, I don't think that's true. Just because a person doesn't exclusively read fantasy doesn't mean she can't recommend a book in that genre. But Amy's post did get me thinking about pinning down my own book preferences, which range from literary fiction, to classics, to "women's fiction" and YA. And cookbooks. And short stories. And political bios. And how-to books. And poetry. Hm. "Literary identity" is hard to pin down, isn't it?
Wench; Dolen Perkins-Valdez
Posted by Bibliophile By the Sea
Ever since Dolen Perkins-Valdez wrote a behind-the-book essay for BookPage.com, I've been curious about her debut novel, Wench. The story's about a group of slave women who go with their white masters to a resort in Ohio every year, and the resort is based on a real place. Diane of Bibliophile By the Sea enjoyed the book, writing, The author did an amazing job creating memorable, and vividly portrayed characters that will stay with me for a long while. So is the case for other aspects of the novel: like the pain, anguish, physical and sexual abuse some had experienced. It is a story that brilliantly detailed the emotions slave women experienced during this awful period of America's past. It was interesting to read both author and reader reflections on Wench—I may have to pick this one up.
What book blog posts did you enjoy this week?
GalleyCat posted the Ramona and Beezus trailer this morning, and it was the first I’d heard of a movie adaptation of Beverly Cleary’s classic.
My first question is: Why is it called Ramona and Beezus? (The names are reversed in the book title, since it’s from Beezus’s point of view.)
What do you think of the trailer?
I guess the fantastical scenes are supposed to depict Ramona’s big imagination, but they seem too dreamy for the Quimby family. I’ll always remember when Mr. Quimby lost his job in Ramona and Her Father, and the family cat ate the Jack-o-Lantern because they couldn’t afford fancy cat food. Or when Ramona stuck her doll, Bendix, in the oven. The Ramona books were great because they showed how life isn’t perfect, and growing up isn't easy. I’m not sure that will come across in the movie.
Will you see Ramona and Beezus, released July 23?
Related in BookPage: Read an interview with Beverly Cleary.
This June, three new writers with literary connections are making their debuts.
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First up, Carin Clevidence. She's the stepdaughter of Annie Dillard, the author of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and other books. Her debut, The House on Salt Hay Road (FSG), is set at the seaside just before the fatal Long Island hurricane of 1938. FSG won the book at auction last year, and since they're one of the best at launching literary debuts, we figure MFA grad Clevidence has found the right place to start.
Chris Binchy is the nephew of, you guessed it, beloved Irish novelist Maeve Binchy. His American debut, Five Days Apart (Harper), sounds a lot like his aunt's work—a family drama, with themes of hope and redemption—and is actually his fifth novel. Will he make a splash on US shores?
And finally, there's Maggie Pouncey—daughter of novelist Peter Pouncey, whose Rules for Old Men Waiting was one of our favorite books of 2005. Her novel, Perfect Reader (Random House), follows a young woman who moves back home to a sleepy college town to confront the legacy of her father, a famous academic who, it turns out, had more than a few secrets.
These three aren't the first to follow in the footsteps of a literary relative, of course—Christopher Rice and Joe Hill spring to mind. Who's your favorite author with a literary legacy?
Patricia Cornwell fans have been waiting a long time for a movie; she’s been writing crime novels since 1991, and Scarpetta adaptations have been rumored for years. In April, the wait is over—sort of. The adaptation will be a made-for-TV movie on Lifetime, and the heroine is Monique Lamont, the Boston District Attorney of At Risk (2006) and The Front (2008).
Andie MacDowell will play Lamont, and Daniel Sunjata is state investigator Win Garano. At Risk will air on April 10 at 9 pm, and The Front will air the following Saturday at the same time. Read more on Cornwell’s website.
Here’s the trailer:
Will you tune in? I don’t usually watch Lifetime movies, although I got hooked on Cornwell when I wrote a review for BookPage in the fall. This adaptation might be worth a watch to tide me over until Scarpetta hits the big screen: After years of speculation and Cornwell’s own personal lobbying for actresses to take the part, Angelina Jolie has signed on to play the smart and sexy M.E. (Read more in the L.A. Times.)
Related in BookPage: Browse our Cornwell archives.
It's a pretty safe bet that anyone who finishes Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections will 1.) immediately urge someone else to read it and 2.) immediately ask where Franzen's next novel is. There's been no satisfactory answer to that question for years, at least not until summer of 2009, when the New Yorker printed a Franzen piece that gave readers a taste of the long-awaited next novel.
We've known for a while that Freedom will be released in September—and as the publication date nears, some details on the book have been appearing. In the Wall Street Journal, Jonathan Galassi, Franzen's editor, said the novel was "a very powerful, amazing book about the disillusion of marriage. It's about the challenges and costs of personal freedom, and the burdens of it and the opportunities of it. It's about ecology, personal politics and general issues; it's about Iraq."
Complete publisher description after the jump. Will Freedom be as timely and engrossing as The Corrections? Will Oprah read it? Will you?
From Farrar, Straus & Giroux:
Patty and Walter Berglund were the new pioneers of old St. Paul--the gentrifiers, the hands-on parents, the avant-garde of the Whole Foods generation. Patty was the ideal sort of neighbor, who could tell you where to recycle your batteries and how to get the local cops to actually do their job. She was an enviably perfect mother and the wife of Walter's dreams. Together with Walter--environmental lawyer, commuter cyclist, total family man--she was doing her small part to build a better world.
But now, in the new millennium, the Berglunds have become a mystery. Why has their teenage son moved in with the aggressively Republican family next door? Why has Walter taken a job working with Big Coal? What exactly is Richard Katz--outré rocker and Walter's college best friend and rival--still doing in the picture? Most of all, what has happened to Patty? Why has the bright star of Barrier Street become "a very different kind of neighbor," an implacable Fury coming unhinged before the street's attentive eyes?
A couple of months ago I posted about the Baby-sitters Club prequel, and it was so much fun to read the comments. (“Oh my gosh, YES, I am excited,” wrote one reader. Another confessed to owning 100+ BSC books.)
Well, now I am happy to say (brag) that I spoke with Ann M. Martin herself on Tuesday. The BSC prequel, The Summer Before, will be available in stores two weeks from today, and on that date my interview will also be posted on BookPage.com.
Until then, I’ll tease you with a few tidbits:
The Baby-sitters Club. I’m proud to say it was totally my idea, even though the four of us worked it out together. “Us” is Mary Anne Spier, Claudia Kishi, Stacey McGill, and me—Kristy Thomas. But that was at the beginning of seventh grade, after the summer in which my friendship with Claudia nearly fell apart, Mary Anne began to find out who she was, Claudia experienced her first love, and an unhappy girl left New York City and moved to our town. It was quite a summer.
Dav Pilkey has agreed to write four new installments in the Captain Underpants series—the first new books since 2006. The first one’s called The Adventures of Ook and Gluk, Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future and will be published on August 10.
Although parents sometimes complain about the potty humor in the books—in 2002, Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants was removed from an elementary school in North Dakota—I personally know several little boys who will be thrilled with this news. (The entire series has 45 million copies in print, and The Adventures of Ook and Gluk will have a print run of 1 million.)
Here’s what Pilkey has to say on his return:
“I think fans of Captain Underpants will be very happy with this new book. It has all of the action, laffs and ridiculousness that kids love, plus all the unapologetic irreverence and questionable potty humor that grumpy curmudgeons love to complain about. It’s got something for everybody!”
Related in BookPage: Read a review of Captain Underpants and the Invasion of the Incredibly Naughty Cafeteria Ladies from Outer Space.
The movie version of Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love, starring Julia Roberts, Gabriel Bardem and James Franco, has been the subject of much discussion since its announcement. Now the trailer has been released. The tinkly strummy background music and slightly groan-worthy dialogue -- "I used to have this appetite for my life, and it is just gone" -- didn't convince me that the film will be worth seeing, although the scenery, wine and food look amazing, but then I didn't like the book much, either. And memoirs-turned-film are often problematic; see the critiques of the Julie Powell portions of Julie & Julia for a refresher in how difficult it is for a memoirist's voice to carry over into a film. Guess we'll see how it all pans out in August. What do you think of the trailer?