New in Paperback: The Country of Ice Cream Star – Sandra Newman

I read an interesting article in Wired earlier this month in which David Mitchell talks about the false dichotomy between genre and literary fiction. In part, he observes:

Such stark divisions harm everyone. Literary writers find their creativity hemmed in on all sides by close-minded attitudes about what a novel should be, and fantasy and science fiction writers find their work dismissed out of hand by large numbers of readers and critics. But the biggest losers are readers themselves….

He’s also frustrated that book snobs will insist that fantasy and science fiction can’t be great literature, while simultaneously acknowledging that many stories about magic or the future definitely are.

‘There’s no intellectual consistency in these arguments,’ he says, ‘so let’s consign them to the bowels of the Earth where they belong.’”
— David Mitchell, Wired, 11.17.15

This article brought to mind one of my favorite reads of 2015, now in paperback….

This epic uses a genre plot structure that’s been hugely popular in YA novels for some time now. Dystopian scenario – check. Kickass young heroine – check. Two hot, adoring guys in tow – check. Battle of good and evil – check.

When I start talking about this book in terms of plot, I frequently get push back from literary fiction fans who find the idea hackneyed. So I learned to quit talking about plot. This story’s in the telling—Newman invents a completely original patois in an America only 80 years in the future. That language is so original that it invites an entirely new way of looking at the world and leads to a singularly eye-opening read.

“What an astonishing achievement… I can’t remember when I last read something so original or sophisticated or emotionally engaging or so breathtakingly ambitious.”
— Kate Atkinson, author of Life after Life

The Country of Ice Cream Star is in many ways a classic story, craftily refold and made contemporary…[It] builds towards a powerful, horrifying, and beautifully-written climax, one that’s epic in scope but also feels intensely personal.”
— New York Times Book Review

“The voice Newman has created is bold and lyrical and, better still, complete – belonging to her pulp universe alone. And it doesn’t suck (which is amazing), doesn’t read weird or false (which is rare), and doesn’t trip those alarms that signal artifice over art or verbal buffoonery over the natural sway and slide of the language as it grows. I have almost never seen an equal to the beauty she finds in words here – the droog’s Nadsat of A Clockwork Orange, maybe. But honest to Burgess, I hear more Shakespeare in Ice Cream’s cadence than I do anything else. There’s a flow to it that I found soothing and dangerous, both – like slipping into a warm bath full of sharks.”

The Country of Ice Cream Star (9780062227119) by Sandra Newman. $16.99 trade paper. 11/24/15 on sale.

Holiday Book Round-Up – Part 2

Dogs as I See Them (9780062412881) by Lucy Dawson. $25.00 hardcover. 10/20/15 on sale.  
Here’s a charming literary curio for dog lovers. First published in 1936, this is facsimile edition of illustrations and anecdotes about dogs by an illustrator who was widely known for her drawings of dogs. Ann Patchett introduces the collection with an essay on the artist and her work.


Old Faithful: Dogs of a Certain Age (9780062413451) by Pete Thorne. $19.99 hardcover. 10/27/15 on sale.


Gilliamesque: A Pre-posthumous Memoir (9780062380746) by Terry Gilliam. $40.00 hardcover. 10/20/15 on sale.


Doctor Who: Impossible Worlds: A 50-Year Treasury of Art and Design (9780062407412) by Stephen Nicholas, Stephen and Mike Tucker. $45.00 hardcover. 10/27/15 on sale.


Harry Potter: The Character Vault (9780062407443) by Jody Revenson. $45.00 hardcover. 10/27/14 on sale.
This is Revenson’s third book in a best-selling series. Full color, visually, rich, a perfect gift for fans.


Back to Future (9780062419149) by Michael Kastorin and Randal Atamaniuk. $50.00 hardcover. 10/20/15 on sale.
The definitive fan book on this iconic film trilogy. Full color with hundreds of previously unseen images as well as interviews with all the key cast members. Forward by Michael J. Fox, preface by Christopher Lloyd and afterward by Robert Zemeckis.


The Hobbit: The Art of War (9780062265722) by Weta. $45.00 hardcover. 10/19/15 on sale.
Presented by director Sir Peter Jackson, this is ultimate insider’s look at the conflicts and battles waged in The Hobbit movie trilogy. Full color and the ultimate book in a series from the Weta Workshop.


Shake Cats (9780062351746) by Carli Davidson. $17.99 hardcover. 10/27/15 on sale.
On the heels of her popular series on dogs, you knew this was coming….


The Who: 50 Years: The Official History (9780062396365) by Ben Marshall. $50.00 hardcover. 10/27/15 on sale.
Not just a fan book. This is the only official history of The Who—created with the full cooperation of Pete Townshend and Roger Daltry, and illustrated throughout with rare photographs and memorabilia. It is publishing in conjunction with the fiftieth anniversary of the release of the band’s first album. 500 images, including exclusive material from Townsend’s personal archive.

The Harper Lee Collection: To Kill a Mockingbird + Go Set a Watchman (Dual Slipcased Edition) (9780062423351) by Harper Lee. $55.00 hardcover. 10/27/15 on sale.


The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime (9780062225245) by Ree Drummond. $29.99 hardcover. 10/20/15.
Booksellers know this one well. It’s been camped out on the bestseller list since the day it released a month ago.


The Southerner’s Cookbook (9780062242419) by Editors of Garden and Gun. $37.50 hardcover. 10/27/15 on sale.
Yum. Just. Yum.

Illustration - 2


December 2015 Indie Next Picks



Here are Harper’s December 2015 picks. A complete listing of all the selected titles can be found here.

Oh the Moon: Stories from the Tortured Mind of Charlyne Yi (9780062363299) by Charlyne Yi. $16.99 trade paper original. 11/3/15 on sale.

Now in Paperback


Winter 2015-2016 Kids Indie Next Picks

“Inspired Recommendations for Kids from Indie Booksellers.” The complete Winter 2015-2016 List can be found here.

Top Ten

  • # 7  Da Vinci’s Tiger (9780060744243), by Laura Malone Elliott. $17.99 hardcover.
  • # 8  I Love You Already (9780062370952) by Jory John and Benji Davies. $17.99 hardcover. 12/2/15 on sale.

General Listings

Revisit and Rediscover

  • Bark George (9780062051851) by Jules Pfeiffer. $17.99 hardcover. Originally published in hardcover in 1999.
  •  Ida B (9780060730260) by Katherine Hannigan. $6.99 paperback. Originally published in hardcover in 2004
  •  The Wee Free Men (9780062435262) by Terry Pratchett. $6.99 paperback. Originally published in paperback in 2005

Holiday Gift Book Round Up – Part 1

It’s the that time of year when booksellers start thinking about what books customers are most likely to be looking for this holiday season. So here’s a long post with some suggestions. Next time I’ll cover cookbooks and coffee table books.

If the title has been previously covered in this blog, the hyperlink will take you to the original blog entry.



Carrying Albert Home: The Somewhat True Story of A Man, His Wife, and Her Alligator (9780062325891) by Homer Hickam. $25.99 hardcover. 10/13/15 on sale.

The author of the bestselling Rocket Boys offers a fictionalized account of his grandparents cross-country journey to return an alligator given to them as a wedding gift. It’s an Indie Next pick and a sweet hearted road story and ultimately a lovely tale about the power of love.

“It is by far my favorite book of the year. Who would’ve thought an alligator could be so endearing!!! It is such a delightful book that I can’t stop smiling as I’m reading it.”
— Deborah Carson, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Cincinnati, OH


The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto (9780062294418) by Mitch Albom. $25.99 hardcover. 11/10/15 on day laydown.

You really only need to hear the words “Mitch Albom” to know to put this out on bestseller and gift tables. Albom says this book about music and its transformative power is the book he’s been waiting to write his whole life. It will be an Indie Next pick in December and will have major national media.

There’s a very clever You Tube campaign for this one…







50 Years, 50 Moments: The Most Unforgettable Plays in Super Bowl History (9780062302601) by Jerry Rice and Randy O. Williams. $29.99 hardcover. 11/3/15 on sale.

A full color compendium of the greatest moments of the Super Bowl championship games, spanning fifty years and told by “The greatest wide receiver to ever play the game.”



Game of Scones: All Men Must Dine: A Parody (9780062445544) by Jammy Lannister. $16.99 hardcover. 11/10/15 on sale.

A gruesome and hilarious stocking stuffer for Game of Thrones fans…



Yes Please Vinyl Edition (9780062435361) by Amy Poehler. $24.99 vinyl audio. 11/24/15 on sale.

This new excerpted take on the on the bestselling CD features seven highlights from the full recording with the voices of Poehler, Carol Burnett, Mike Schur, Kathleen Turner, and a live recording from the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Los Angeles. And it’s pressed in hot pink! The package includes a digital download to the full audio recording of the book.

Yes Please Vinyl


Book of the Week: The Iliad – a new translation by Caroline Alexander

Alexander is most widely known as the author of the bestsellers The Endurance and The Bounty. She also has a doctorate in the classics combined that deep knowledge with a proven track for making the past come alive in 2009’s The War that Killed Achilles. The NYT called that book a “spirited and provocative reading of the world’s mightiest epic.” In it she examined the ways in which The Iliad asks timeless questions about the utility and ethics of war that resonate with a chilling immediacy in our times. (There’s a great NPR interview here.)

Now Alexander offers her own original translation of The Iliad itself, which the editor calls:

Lyrical but accessible, [Alexander’s] translation, and her illuminating introduction, breathe new life into the powerful poetry and adventurous spirit of the Greek original. Carrying the reader along on a fast stream of action and imagery, this translation is still always faithful to its source, with all its vividness and intensity. While re-creating the rhythm of the Greek original, this is a captivating new rendition with language that feels fresh and unvarnished….”

With a gorgeous package and Ecco’s track record for publishing important translations, this seems like the sort of thoughtful holiday gift for serious reader that customers count on the Indies to let them know about.

“This powerful and readable version of the Iliad is modern without sacrificing the accuracy, energy, or the seriousness of the original.”
   — Library Journal

The Iliad: A New Translation by Caroline Alexander (9780062046277) by Homer, translated by Caroline Alexander. $39.99 hardcover. 11/24/15 on sale.

Short Take: Tales of Accidental Genius – Simon Van Booy

Van Booy has long been championed by the Indies, who helped his last novel, The Illusion of Separateness, hit the bestseller lists. The San Francisco Chronicle aptly caught Van Booy’s appeal in its review of that book:

“The uncanny beauty of Van Booy’s prose, and his ability to knife straight to the depths of a character’s heart, fill a reader with wonder….There are so many wonderful sentences in this book, a reviewer groans for want of room to list them.”

In 2015 and 2016 we’ll be treated to two new books from Simon. The first is this collection of stories and the second will be a new novel in April 2016. Publicity for Tales of Accidental Genius kicks off The Diane Rehm Show on 11/12/15.

“A tenderhearted clutch of stories and fables that highlights interconnectedness between everyone from fashionistas to peasantry, ranging from Brooklyn to London to Beijing…. [In the novella that closes the book] a boy in Beijing named Weng watches his father labor over a mechanical device he’s invented to add speed to the tricycle he uses to make vegetable deliveries; when it proves to be a kind of perpetual motion machine that makes Weng fabulously rich, he’s forced to consider how he can use his newfound wealth to help others and deal with his heartache over the married woman he’s fallen for. The story is formatted like a poem, though it generally reads like prose, and the careful, softened language (“his heart like a kite on currents of breath”) and elemental plot support its billing as a satisfying fable. Van Booy clearly believes there are surprising new ways to write about love. Here, he proves he’s right, occasionally.”
Kirkus Reviews

Tales of Accidental Genius (9780062408976) by Simon Van Booy. $14.99 trade paper original. 11/10/15 on sale.