Just two days after I blogged about Starcrossed, the high school Greek tragedy billed as “a Percy Jackson for teenage girls,” another huge YA deal goes through. Dutton Children’s Books (a Penguin imprint) has paid six figures to publish The Catastrophic History of You and Me, by debut novelist Jessica Rothenberg. Rothenberg is an editor at Razorbill, another Penguin imprint. Here’s more on the plot:
In the book, a 15-year-old girl who literally dies of a broken heart must pass through five stages of grief before she can move on to the afterlife...and restore her faith in love.
When I was a pre-teen, I had a fascination with tragic stories—for a while there, anything by Lurlene McDaniel was a must-buy from the book fair. Sounds like heartbreak and mortality still haven't gone out of style.
Will you (or your teen) pick up The Catastrophic History of You and Me (out fall 2011)?
Variety reports that we have a couple of very different TV adaptations to anticipate from Craig Anderson Productions: Chris Bohjalian’s Secrets of Eden and Donna VanLiere’s The Christmas Secret. (So far, only the rights for these books have been purchased; there’s no network attached to the projects, or air dates.) Secrets of Eden is a “mystery that does not at first appear to be a mystery.” The Christmas Secret is an inspirational tale—classic VanLiere—about a single mom “with a jerk of an ex-husband.”
Bohjalian told BookPage contributor Alden Mudge that he’s “interested in seeing what happens to ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances.” That doesn’t sound unrelated to what attracted Anderson to the novel: "I'm fascinated by people who have lives we think [are] normal, but there are actually sort of demons in their closets,” he said.
The Christmas Secret is Anderson’s fourth deal with VanLiere, who told us she “never imagined” she’d write about Christmas or get TV deals back when she brainstormed her first book idea “on a hot, sweaty day in July.”
What do you think, readers? Can TV adaptations do justice to a book?
Senator Scott Brown—the Republican who surprised many when he beat out Martha Coakley for Ted Kennedy’s seat in Massachusetts—has signed a deal with HarperCollins to publish a memoir. The book, which comes out in 2011, will address Brown’s “family background, his early career, and his ascent to the office of Massachusetts senator, one of the biggest political coups of the decade.”
But will he mention his stint as a Cosmopolitan centerfold?
Do you have a favorite political biography or memoir?
I first heard about Helen Grant's debut, The Vanishing of Katherina Linden, in a British look ahead at anticipated debuts of 2010. Intrigued by the description of the novel, which is told in the voice of an 11 year old in a small German town who is the last one to see her missing classmate alive, I searched for a U.S. release date. No dice.
Until today, when I heard that Delacorte would be publishing the book in August. I love the deliciously creepy cover, which is a good fit for a book that sounds like a blend of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and the Brothers Grimm. According to the Guardian, "The excellent writing, and the eschewing of anything remotely winsome or mawkish, make this an eerily subtle literary page-turner." Sleeper hit? We'll find out.
A month ago we reported on Libba Bray’s $2 million deal to write a jazz-age trilogy for Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. Now, it looks like the huge YA contract of the month is going to a newcomer: HarperTeen has paid seven figures to Josephine Angelini for a trilogy billed as "a Percy Jackson for teenage girls.”
From Publisher’s Weekly:
In Starcrossed, which brings Greek tragedy to high school, a shy Nantucket teenager named Helen Hamilton attempts to kill the most attractive boy on the island, Lucas Delos, in front of her entire class. The incident proves more than a bit inconvenient for Helen, who's already concerned that she's going insane—whenever she's sees Lucas (or any of his family members) the image of three crying women appear to her.
Last week's mail brought a copy of the latest from Ann Brashares. Best known for her work on the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series (read our interview with her on the books here), she's now making her second foray into adult fiction after The Last Summer (of You and Me), your basic first-novel narrative of love and friendship.
My Name Is Memory sounds a bit more exciting. Like the Traveling Pants stories, it has a magical angle. The book follows a pair of star-crossed lovers—Daniel and Sophia—through several incarnations as they find, and then lose, each other again. The twist? Daniel can remember his past lives.
Brashares says on her blog, "This new book is kind of a departure for me. Not a total departure--it's mainly about love. But it takes place on a broad canvas of time." Though the novel won't hit stores until June, it's already been optioned by New Regency, who saw the book as a blend of Twilight and The Time-Traveler's Wife. Sounds like a bestseller, but judge for yourself—there's an excerpt on Brashares' site. We'll be digging into this one soon and will keep you posted!
Were any other New York Times Book Review watchers as surprised as I was to see this week's cover? Their choice of Angelology makes two fiction covers in the last three weeks, which has to be a record. What's more, Danielle Trussoni's first novel is more commercial than not, with a supernatural angle and plenty of action—not the usual NYTBR material.
But hey, maybe they've seen the wisdom in the BookPage philosophy of featuring books that many people will want to read—we also tagged Angelology as a spring standout. In a BookPage.com exclusive, Trussoni wrote about her inspiration for the novel, first in a planned series ("As you can imagine, the places and characters in my book are extremely different from my “real life” as a 30-something mother of two.").
Other BookPage.com highlights this month include an interview with Sam Lipsyte for his new novel, The Ask—a must read for dark humor fans—and a review of Peter Bognanni's "punk-rock-fueled" debut, The House of Tomorrow.
Good news for Robert B. Parker fans: before his unexpected death in January, the author completed at least one more Spenser novel. Our sources at his publisher, Putnam, say that Painted Ladies will be out October 5.
Other posthumous Parker releases include the ninth Jesse Stone novel (Split Image, February), a Cole-Hitch Western (Blue-Eyed Devil, May), and an untitled holiday novel set for a November 2010 publication date.
Earlier this week, the International Association of Culinary Professionals announced the 2010 IACP Cookbook Award finalists. These awards recognize excellence in many categories: American; Baking: Savory or Sweet; Chefs and Restaurants; Children, Youth and Family; Culinary History; Health and Special Diet; International; and more. View the complete list here. The winners will be announced at a gala on April 22.
Here’s what BookPage cooking columnist Sybil Pratt has to say about a few of the selections (click the book titles for more information):
Bottega Favorita by Frank Stitt
Nominated for “Chefs and Restaurants”
Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller
Nominated for “Chefs and Restaurants”
Keller cooks at home! Hard to believe that the high priest of haute cuisine in the U.S. (and author of three cookbooks that are the quintessence of chic, sophisticated armchair cooking) has put together a collection of approachable family meals. Ad Hoc at Home has over 200 recipes that you and I can cook without a battalion of sous-chefs and cutting-edge culinary equipment—a slice of the sublime accessible to mere mortals.
Gourmet Today by Ruth Reichl
Nominated for “Compilations”
Besides its encyclopedic collection of recipes, we’ll root for this cookbook for sentimental reasons; our hearts book when Gourmet folded in October.
Got any favorites of the bunch? Or a recommendation for a tried and true cookbook you use all the time?
Related in BookPage: Browse our cookbook archives.
PEN New England and the JFK Presidential Library have just announced that Brigid Pasulka won the 2010 Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award for A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True. Pasulka joins the ranks of many BookPage favorites, such as Joshua Ferris and Chang-rae Lee. She'll also receive $8,000 and a one-week residency at the University of Idaho—not to mention a fellowship at the Ucross Foundation in Wyoming.
According to the announcement, Mary Hemingway, Ernest Hemingway’s wife, founded the Award in 1976 to “honor her late husband and draw attention to first books of fiction.” This year, the Awards were judged by Julia Glass, Michael Lowenthal and Gail Tsukiyama.
At BookPage we’re especially thrilled about this news because we covered A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True in our August Well Read column—an extended review that recognizes the best fiction in a given month, written by Robert Weibezahl.
In her novel, Pasulka tells the love story of Pigeon and Anielica before and after World War II, in Kraków, Poland. Their journey is “consistently magical,” writes Weibezahl, and Pasulka “has an indisputable talent for a tale well-told.”
The two Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award finalists are C.E. Morgan for All the Living and Abraham Verghese for Cutting for Stone. Two honorable mentions go to Mary Beth Keane for The Walking People and Lydia Peelle for Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing.
Abby noted last week that among a field of literary big shots in the finalist pool for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, Lorraine M. López stuck out as a pleasant surprise. Since the PEN/Hemingway Award recognizes a debut work of fiction, there are understandably no names with the star power of Barbara Kingsolver or Lorrie Moore—although each of the novels comes from a major publishing house. (López’s book was published by BkMk Press at the University of Missouri, Kansas City.) Are you pleased with the winner, finalists and honorable mentions? What’s the best debut novel you read last year?