Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Tuesday New and Noteworthy Books from Brandon Sanderson, Dinaw Mengestu, Helen Oyeyemi, Carol Casella, and David Grand.

When I got to work today, we'd already sold several copies of Brandon Sanderson's new book, Words of Radiance (Tor), with a few people waiting outside the shop when we opened. Maybe you think this happens all the time, but it doesn't. One young reader pretty much spent the whole day in the store reading the book he bought. I asked him how far he'd gotten at the end of the day, and he was close to halfway through. I wish I was that fast a reader!

I was chatting about the book today with our friend Jim, who noted that Sanderson has one of the best organized blogs in the business. This post notes how the preorders go to Weller Book Works (did I ever mention that Sam Weller was friends with Harry Schwartz?) and the midnight signing, generally the biggest event of the tour, is at BYU. You of course can also preorder a copy of Words of Radiance through us, for our event on March 22. I should note that while we hosted Sanderson in the past, it was for one of his young adult novels and I expect this should be bigger.

Several other upcoming event books go on sale today, including Cara Black's Murder in the Pigalle and Nickolas Butler's Shotgun Lovesongs. I already wrote at length about Black's book and her event on March 12, and I'll have a separate post on Shotgun Lovesongs later this week.

Dinaw Mingestu's All Our Names is the author's first book for Knopf; he was previously at Riverhead. The publisher writes that All Our Names is the story of two young men who come of age during an African revolution, drawn from the safe confines of the university campus into the intensifying clamor of the streets outside. But as the line between idealism and violence becomes increasingly blurred, the friends are driven apart—one into the deepest peril, as the movement gathers inexorable force, and the other into the safety of exile in the American Midwest. It's scheduled for the cover of The New York Times Book Review on March 23 (editor's note--it's not this week, as that space is reserved for Phil Klay's Redeployment), as well as a major review in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Still at Riverhead is Helen Oyeyemi's Boy Snow Bird, which is scheduled to land in the stores on Thursday. Boy Novak arrives by chance in a small town in Massachusetts, looking, she believes, for beauty. She marries a local widower and becomes stepmother to his winsome daughter, Snow Whitman. A wicked stepmother is a creature Boy never imagined she’d become, but elements of the familiar tale (yes, this is Snow White) of aesthetic obsession begin to play themselves out when the birth of Boy’s daughter, Bird, who is dark-skinned, exposes the Whitmans as light-skinned African Americans passing for white. Among them, Boy, Snow, and Bird confront the tyranny of the mirror to ask how much power surfaces really hold. And yes, this was also the front page feature of The New York Times Book Review.

The talented Carol Casella returns with Gemini (Simon and Schuster), set in the intensive care unit of Seattle's Beacon Hospital. Dr Charlotte Reese's job is to battle death--to monitor erratic heartbeats, worry over low oxygen levels, defend against infection and demise. One night a Jane Doe is transferred to her care, unconscious, the victim of a hit and run. As Charlotte and her team struggle to stabilize her, the police search for the driver who fled the scene. As Charlotte finds herself making increasingly complicated medical decisions that will tie her forever to Jane's fate, her usual professional distance evaporates. She's plagued by questions: Who is Jane Doe? Why will no one claim her? Who should decide her fate if she doesn't regain consciousness--and when? Read more in Wingate Packard's Seattle Times review.

And finally there's David Grand, whose new is novel Mount Terminus (FSG) After his mother’s death, young Bloom boards a train with his bereaved father, Jacob, to travel west across mountains and deserts to California. There, in a villa built atop a rare desert spring, they live apart from society, supported by the income from Jacob’s invention, the Rosenbloom Loop, a piece of technology that has revolutionized the nascent art of filmmaking. But Jacob can’t forever protect his family from his past—the dramatic series of events that has taken him from the Hebrew Orphan Asylum on New York City's Lower East Side and into the graces of beautiful twin girls, and finally to this fragile refuge in pre-Hollywood Los Angeles. And Bloom, now an eccentric dark genius, can’t live alone at the top of the mountain forever. This intensely Los Angeles book has a nice write up from Carolyn Kellogg in the Los Angeles Times, of course.

Hope one of these books (or maybe more) catches your eye.

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