Yesterday I interviewed YA author Ally Carter to chat about her February 9 release, Heist Society. The novel has been described as “Ocean's 11 meets Veronica Mars,” and I think that’s a fair assessment. Without giving away too many details of the plot, I’ll just say that Heist Society is a perfect pick for teens who love watching “The Thomas Crown Affair,” or for those who have visited the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum and are more fascinated by what’s missing than what’s there.
Because I know BookPage readers love a good teaser, I’ll share a few tidbits I was able to squeeze out of Carter.
The fourth book in her hugely popular Gallagher Girls series is coming out in June 2010, and she plans to release the title “very very soon,” she said. “Stay tuned within the next two weeks.” She sent a draft of the manuscript to her editor earlier this week, and it should be in copy edits soon.
This book will take up a few weeks after we left Cammie in Galagher Girls #3, Don't Judge A Girl By Her Cover. Cammie has gone to visit BFF Bex in London during winter break, Carter said, “and of course the threats and the danger have gone with her.”
“The action kicks off really fast in this one and hopefully it stays really fast throughout the whole thing. Cammie’s in some serious hot water this time around, so it’s been very interesting to see her get herself out of it.”
And that’s all I’ll share right now! Stay tuned for the complete interview. It’ll go live on BookPage.com on February 9.
And a fun question for our commenters: If you could talk to any YA novelist, who would it be? I think I'd like to talk to E.L. Konigsburg.
This time of year there are “Best Books of 2009” lists everywhere you turn – most authoritatively of all, BookPage’s. :)
But since we can only highlight a handful of the great titles out there, we wanted to let you weigh in. At the end of our most recent edition of BookPageXTRA, we asked our readers to tell us their favorite book of 2009. Many of the results confirmed our own opinions. Others surprised us. Others just cracked us up. (Staff favorite response: “Only one??? – You MUST be kidding!!!! Which genre???” We understand that reader’s frustration.)
After reviewing the 2,000+ responses in our reader poll, I've made some unscientific conclusions:
If you’re not already a BookPageXTRA subscriber and you’d like to enter our reader poll, click the “CLICK HERE TO ENTER” ad at the top of this e-newsletter. (And you can also subscribe to BookPageXTRA.) If you do receive XTRA and you haven’t entered, look for the e-mail in your inbox titled “BookPageXTRA: Celebrate the New Year with free books.” (It’s probably buried under the 84,000 other e-newsletters you’re getting this time of year.)
And please enter before Dec. 22. We're ready to tally our book winner and award a lucky reader a box of free books!
At BookPage, we were excited to read about Paul Lewis’s Wilkie Collins project; from now until August 22, you can receive The Woman in White in daily e-mail installations.
If you like reading in this format, you are going to go crazy over DailyLit. (And hey! You can read books at work and pretend like you’re checking e-mail.) This website will e-mail you books that are public domain or available under Creative Commons licenses – for free!
DailyLit’s FAQ page provides an example of a typical reading experience:
I am currently reading Dracula, which has 187 installments and I am receiving installments on weekdays, i.e. 5 days/week. So at most it will take me 187/5 = 37 weeks. But when I am on the train or waiting, I often read more than one installment, so I usually wind up reading about 10 installments/week. This means I will finish Dracula in about 19 weeks or 5 months.
Would you like to read a book via e-mail? Do any of their book options look good to you?
I’m a little late in the day posting this update – but happy 234th birthday Jane Austen!
Austen’s enduring popularity is proven, in part, by the uncountable number of spinoffs her life and books have spawned. Why has Jane Austen resonated with so many authors and readers? In my opinion, feisty heroines with a knack for clever dialogue will never get old, along with social commentary via drawing room gossip. Plus, as far as romance with handsome gentlemen is concerned, I think I agree with my grandmother on this one: leaving something to the imagination is just as titillating (if not more so) than the spiciest sex scene. What do you think?
It would be impossible to name all the Jane Austen-themed books, but read on for a few covered in BookPage, spanning genres from self-help to mystery:
Perhaps the most unlikely adaptation is Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. On December 11, The Telegraph announced that Natalie Portman would star as Elizabeth Bennet in a film adaptation of the spoof. (Read more about Jane vs. the supernatural beings.)
Oh, and by the way: As much as I love Pride and Prejudice, my favorite Austen novel is Mansfield Park. What about you?
The music lover in your life will appreciate the gift of Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong, by Wall Street Journal reporter and literary blogger Terry Teachout. BookPage reviewer Ron Wynn says this "superb" biography contains tidbits of information about the famous jazz musician that will surprise even the most ardent fans (did you know Armstrong had a taste for pot, or feuded with President Eisenhower?).
A former city girl, Ree Drummond left her high-heeled boots and sushi dinners behind to marry a cattle rancher, "Marlboro Man." After having four children, she started to chronicle her adventures in cooking, ranching, homeschooling, photography and home repair on a blog, The Pioneer Woman—and in just three years, Drummond, or "P-Dub" as she is often called, became an Internet phenomenon, à la Dooce’s Heather Armstrong or Greek Tragedy’s Stephanie Klein.
Like many bloggers, Drummond is making the jump from web to print, and her cookbook—appropriately named The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl—came out in October. Full of the homey recipes, beautiful photography and goofy humor found on her site, the book became an instant hit: the week of November 6, the book was #1 on the New York Times bestseller list in the Hardcover Advice category.
I’d heard tales of huge turnouts on Drummond's book tour, so I eagerly went to Nashville’s signing at Davis-Kidd Booksellers on December 8. I’m not a good judge of crowd size, so I’ll just say that an entire floor of the bookstore was packed (not Mall-of-America-packed, but packed all the same). Before she started signing books, Drummond admitted that she’s nervous speaking in front of crowds, but offered to answer questions. One woman shouted out “Where’s Marlboro Man?”, and after a brief answer (at home, taking a break from travel) Drummond launched into signing books.
Since there wasn’t time at the signing for an interview, BookPage asked Drummond to respond to some questions via e-mail.
BookPage: If I could only make one recipe in The Pioneer Woman Cooks, what should it be, and why?
The Pioneer Woman: This is an impossible question to answer! It depends on what you're in the mood for. Comfort food? (Mac & Cheese, Chicken Fried Steak, Meatloaf, Comfort Meatballs would suit you just fine!) Elegant food? (Roasted Beef Tenderloin, Burgundy Mushrooms, Creamy Rosemary Potatoes would make you smile.) Sweets? (The Chocolate Sheet Cake and Peach Crisp will make your eyes roll back in your head.) Sorry—I wasn't very helpful, was I?
Is there a city-girl cooking trick or two you've taken with you into your ranch kitchen?
I've always been addicted to cooking with wine. Sometimes the cowboys turn up their noses if I add too much to a pot roast or braising short ribs. But I loved it then, now, and forever. Oh, and I always add more garlic than normal people would—5 cloves instead of 3.
Many of the recipes and stories in The Pioneer Woman Cooks have already appeared on your website. Did writing a book feel different than writing a blog post?
Yes. A book is tangible, can be held in your hand, passed to a friend, carried into your kitchen. I knew I couldn't possibly write a cookbook without including my longtime favorites like cinnamon rolls, blackberry cobbler, the Marlboro Man Sandwich, and Jalapeno Poppers, so I balanced existing recipes with new ones. It was important to me that the book retain the same feel of the site—sort of a stream-of-consciousness, irreverent, relaxed approach to cooking and life.
Are you able to read all the comments on all of your posts—and if so, how long does it take?
Aside from contest posts (which elicit more comments than a normal post), I do read every single comment left on my site. I can't imagine not reading them—I learn more (and crack up more) reading the comments folks than anything I could come up with. Very hilarious people read my site. I love them!
How do your kids feel about their mom being a web star?
“Star” isn't a word that really enters into our consciousness in our life on the ranch. Stars, I imagine, don't have manure on their porch. And if they do, they probably have someone on staff to shovel it away.
I don't have a staff like that.
Now I'm really depressed.
Which is sexier: chaps or cowboy hats?
Oh, the former. Most definitely . . . the former. I recommend them for lifeless marriages everywhere!
So Much for That by Lionel Shriver
Harper, March 2010
Shep could feel it, that for Zach suddenly the whole happy-family playacting was too much. The boy didn't know that until a week ago his father was about to abscond to the east coast of Africa, and he didn't know that his mother had just been diagnosed with a rare and deadly cancer, much less did he know that as far as his mother was concered the disease was his father's fault. But these highly incidental unsaids emitted the equivalent of the high-frequency sound waves that convenience stores now broadcast outside their shops to keep loitering gangs from the door. What dulled adult ears could no longer detect was unbearable to adolescents, and the same might be said of emotional fraud. Zach popped his pizza pocket early from the taoster and took his half-frozen dinner in a paper towel upstairs without even bothering with "See ya."
Roast chicken, boiled potatoes and steamed green beans. Glynis commended his preparation, but only picked. "I feel fat," she admitted.
"You're underweight. It's only fluid. You have to stop thinking like that."
"Suddenly I'm supposed to become a different person?"
"You can be the same person who eats more."
"Your chicken," she said, "is probably not what I feel so little appetite for." This was surely true. Given the purpose of food, an appetite at meals implied an appetite for the future.
The 2010 Golden Globe nominations were announced this morning, and I was happy to see that many of the picks were based on books. Here are the highlights:
Up in the Air, based on Walter Kirn’s 2001 novel, led the pack with six nominations: best picture (drama), best actor in a drama, best director, best screenplay and best supporting actress (two nominations here, for Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick).
The Blind Side, based on Michael Lewis’s book of the same name, was nominated for best actress in a drama.
Fantastic Mr. Fox (a BookPage favorite!) and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs were both nominated for best animated feature film.
Invictus, based on John Carlin’s book Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Changed a Nation, was nominated for best actor in a drama.
The Lovely Bones, based on Alice Sebold’s novel, was nominated for best supporting actor.
Precious, based on the novel Push by Sapphire, was nominated for best picture (drama), best actress in a drama and best supporting actress.
Sherlock Holmes was nominated for best actor in a comedy.
A Single Man, based on Christopher Isherwood’s 1964 novel, was nominated for best actor in a drama, best supporting actress and best original score.
See a complete list of nominees. How many of the books-to-movies have you read? What book would you like to see as a movie next year?
And finally, the last of our "Best of 2009" lists: nonfiction. This year's picks include a little of everything, with an emphasis on memoir—it was a good year for getting personal.
[gallery link="file" columns="4" orderby="rand"]
Changing My Mind by Zadie Smith
Lit by Mary Karr
Louisa May Alcott by Harriet Reisen
Stitches by David Small
Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder
Googled by Ken Auletta
Manhood for Amateurs by Michael Chabon
The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes
Home Game by Michael Lewis
The Secret Lives of Buildings by Edward Hollis
As always, share your picks in the comments. Is there something we missed?
I can’t believe this has escaped my radar until now, but one of my all-time favorite authors, Isabel Allende, has a new book out in April! Last night I gave away a copy of The House of the Spirits at a book swap, and I’m currently in the middle of Daughter of Fortune... It must be fate—a dose of Allende-esque magic—that I received word of the new book today.
Out on April 27, The Island Beneath the Sea is another historical epic – what Allende does best, in my opinion. The original Spanish version of the novel was released in August as La isla bajo el mar and is already a bestseller. From what I can gather from the pub copy, the novel will tell the story of Zarité, a slave fighting for freedom in Saint-Domingue (now Haiti) at the end of the 18th Century. Her owner will ultimately take her to New Orleans.
Note that the jacket image I’ve posted is of the Spanish edition of the novel, published by Knopf. The English edition will be published by HarperCollins. That jacket hasn’t yet been released.
The Island Beneath the Sea is Allende’s first novel since Inés of My Soul in 2006. In her review of that novel, BookPage reviewer Kelly Koepke wrote that Allende’s “singular talent for storytelling...grows stronger with each new work.” If The Island Beneath the Sea only lives up to Allende’s past work (marked by dreamy, detailed and emotional descriptions of character and place), then we’re all in for a treat.
So far, the novel seems to have healing powers -- at least for the author. In an interview with the Latin American Herald Tribune, Allende said that a stomach ailment convinced her she had cancer as she was writing The Island Beneath the Sea. “I went from one doctor to another and no one could cure me,” she said. “When I finished the book, the symptoms went away and so far [they haven’t returned].”
Related in BookPage: Read a 2003 interview with Allende, “a gifted storyteller who forges an enchanting amalgam of memory and imagination.”
Will you be reading The Island Beneath the Sea? What is your favorite book by Allende?