Tag Archives: authors

Harper Lee To Release a New Book: Why You Should Care

It’s not everyday that book news goes viral, or becomes worthy enough for the Associated Press to send out a breaking news alert.

But it happened today with the announcement that Pulitzer-prize winning author Harper Lee, who wrote the classic To Kill a Mockingbird is releasing a new novel — her first since Mockingbird was published 55 years ago.

According to The Guardianher new release, Go Set a Watchman, will tell the story of a grown-up Scout, the main character from Mockingbird. Apparently Lee wrote Go Set a Watchman before Mockingbird, but never released it. In fact, she didn’t even think the manuscript still existed after all these years, but her lawyer Tonja Carter allegedly found the manuscript three months ago. Plans to publish it were kept under wraps until today.

So why should we care? First of all, Harper Lee has kept a largely private life since the release and success of To Kill a Mockingbird, which won her the Pulitzer Prize. She has popped up in the news several times in recent years, but that was mostly for lawsuits regarding copyright issues. So the fact that she’s come out of hiding for so long and releasing a new novel to boot is huge.

Not to mention it’s somewhat of a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird. How often do we wonder what’s happened to our favorite characters after we’ve finished reading a novel? (I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve hoped for Newland Archer and Ellen Olenska to get it on after I finished reading The Age of Innocence.) Sequels and the continuation of a story is a luxury, of which we often take advantage (hello, Hunger Games and Harry Potter).

It’s also worth noting that Harper Lee is 88, mostly deaf and mostly blind. Though she wrote the novel when she was younger, it is still quite a achievement to go through the process of publishing a book at that age and that state of health.

To Kill a Mockingbird was such a powerful book. It combines humor and warmth while also dealing with serious topics like race and rape — issues that 55 years later are still prevalent in our society. We can only hope that Lee’s latest endeavor will shed light on the important issues of a society that’s always striving for better future.

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How Amazon’s New E-Book Service is Killing Authors’ Game

While the word “unlimited” in the name Kindle Unlimited may be appealing to readers, it may not be so appealing to authors.

According to The New York Times, Amazon’s new e-book subscription service, Kindle Unlimited, is seriously diminishing the amount of money made by self-publishers who use the service. That’s because Kindle Unlimited offers readers unlimited access to more than 700,000 titles for a mere $9.99 per month. Think of it as the Spotify or Netflix of books.

Great in theory, not so great in reality, as David Streitfeld explains.

“Six months ago people were quitting their day job, convinced they could make a career out of writing,” said Bob Mayer, an e-book consultant and publisher who has written 50 books. “Now people are having to go back to that job or are scraping to get by.  That’s how quickly things have changed.”

Consumers feast on these services, which can offer new artists a wider audience than they ever could have found before the digital era.

Some established artists, however, see fewer rewards.

The solution to the problem? While some self-publishers are now opting to pull out of the service altogether, others have realized the most efficient way to make money through the service is to write and publish more books — and faster. That’s resulting in shorter serialized novels and short stories.

I can’t help but think that despite the talent of some of these authors, the fast pace to keep up would only hurt the quality of the books offered online.

This is just another mess for Amazon to clean up after last year’s fiasco with Hachette. But the question is: will they, in fact, clean it up?

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‘Ready Player One’ Sequel in the Works

If you loved Re220px-Ready_Player_One_coverady Player One even remotely as much as I did, then I have some very exciting news to report. A sequel to the 2011 bestseller by Ernest Cline is reportedly in the works.

According to SlashFilm.com, which has also been reporting on the Ready Player One movie, author Ernie Cline keeps coming up with more and more ideas for the Ready Player One sequel, as Jermaine Lussier explains:

The news of the Ready Player One sequel comes from the new screenwriter Zak Penn. He said the following to Den of Geek:

Ernie’s working on a sequel to Ready Player One, and it is one of those great ideas that has endless possibilities. And to a certain extent, the longer it exists and the more Ernie thinks about it, the more he comes up with.

Personally, I loved the way the book ended and don’t necessarily agree that it needs a sequel at all, but that absolutely does not mean I’m not interested in reading it. When it’s expected to be released — or when the movie’s expected to be released — is still unclear.

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Unknown John Steinbeck Short Story Published

John Steinbeck is known for his great pieces of literature, like Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath. But have any of you heard of his short story “With Your Wings”?

Didn’t think so.

According to Entertainment Weekly, you can now read the short story which was virtually unknown until now. The managing editor of The Strand magazine discovered the more than 70-year-old transcript of the story in the archives at the University of Texas at Austin. The Strand has since published the short story, which is about a black WWII pilot.

Apparently the story went under the radar because it had once been read on the radio by Orson Welles in July 1944, but was never published in a book or magazine. So it just became forgotten.

Now we all get to feast on a new, yet vintage, piece of literary history.

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Review: Seating Arrangements

Recap: The wedding between Daphne Van Meter and Greyson Duff is expected to be the upstanding New England social event of the summer. The two are delightfully perfect together, two beautiful, Ivy League graduates; twenty-somethings that come from the same stature of well-off New England families. One problem: the bride is pregnant, very pregnant, seven months along to be exact. Another problem: on the weekend of the wedding — during which the novel takes place — all of Daphne’s bridesmaids are staying at the Van Meters’ New England beach house with Daphne’s parents, Winn and Biddy. Included in the bridesmaid bunch are Livia, the bride’s sister; Dominique, the exotic former roommate; Piper, the meek friend; and Agatha, the friend who also happens to be a sexy tease to all men everywhere. Oh wait — another problem: the bride and groom’s families are getting together during the two nights leading up to the wedding, and also included at those events are the groom’s four brothers the bride’s drunk aunt.

From the beginning, the reader is informed that Daphne and Livia’s father, Winn, may be harboring feelings for Agatha, the sexy bridesmaid. We also learn Winn once dated the groom’s mother. We then learn he also once kissed his sister-in-law. Throw in the three brothers of the groom, and it’s unclear which will be more of a disaster — the night before the rehearsal dinner, the night of the rehearsal dinner or the night of the actual wedding. Can the wedding planner keep the clandestine scandals of the weekend separate from the weekend’s marital plans? Debatable.

Analysis: On the surface, Seating Arrangements sounds like an exciting, juicy, scandalous beach read, and it is. But it’s so much more than that. It feels like a classic, and is scandalous in the way that Edith Wharton (The Age of Innocence, released in 1921) novels are scandalous. Author Maggie Shipstead writes the novel in such a literary way, I kept questioning whether it takes place modern-day or in an earlier time period.

As much as the story seems like it would be about a wedding, very little is about the wedding or the bride and groom. We learn more about the bride’s father, Winn, his relationship with his wife, and his relationship with his younger daughter, Livia. This is the story of a man who’s a little neurotically insane, a man who’s trying to understand all the women in his life as he — even at age 60 — is still working to figure out what kind of man, husband, and father he wants to be versus what he should be. It’s a story about family, growing old, growing apart, letting go, and learning to love the people you’re obligated to love, even if it hurts.

MVP: Livia. She is such a sad little creature, and she has so much growing up to do. But there’s something there — a natural sense of defiance and strength that makes the reader believe, especially at the end, that she’s going to be okay.

Get Seating Arrangements in paperback for $8.48.

Or on your Kindle for $7.99.

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Literary Prose on Chipotle Cups

I don’t know about you, but I typically think of Starbucks when I think of fast-food joints that sell or use products with noteworthy prose written on them. Not Chipotle. But thanks to author Jonathan Safran Foer (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close), that all has changed.

According to Entertainment Weekly, the author got involved with the fast-food Mexican restaurant when he complained of being bored, explaining in an email to Chipotle’s CEO that there was nothing to read when he ate there. Apparently a famous author complaining via email to the CEO of a company is rather impactful. The CEO and Foer worked together and enlisted authors, writers, and comedians including Toni Morrison, Malcolm Gladwell, George Saunders, Judd Apatow, Sarah Silverman, and Bill Hader to contribute stories, essays, and other pieces — all of which have been printed on cups in Chipotle.

Foer told Vanity Fair that “what interested me is 800,000 Americans of extremely diverse backgrounds having access to good writing. A lot of those people don’t have access to libraries, or bookstores. Something felt very democratic and good about this.”

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New Adult ‘Princess Diaries’ Book Coming Soon

If you’re a woman in your mid-to-late 20’s, and you like to read, you’ve probably read the entire Princess Diaries series when you were in your teens. The YA series was hugely popular about 10 years ago — so popular it lead to a few movies (which, by the way, put a then-unknown Anne Hathaway on the map). If you miss those books — and don’t worry, I do too — you’re in luck.

According to Entertainment WeeklyPrincess Diaries author Meg Cabot is working on a new installment in the  series, but this one will be specifically geared toward adults. Much like the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, which had a final novel aimed at adults, Sisterhood EverlastingPrincess‘s new novel will tell the story of an older Princess Mia Thermopolis, as Erin Strecker explains.

In Royal Wedding, Princess Diaries XI, Princess Mia’s planned nuptials to longtime love Michael Moscovitz are in jeopardy when the paparazzi uncover a startling secret: Mia has a long lost younger sister. Now a scheming politico is using the royal scandal to force Mia’s father from the throne, leaving Genovia without a monarch . . . unless Mia can prove to everyone — especially herself — that she’s finally fit to rule,” Cabot explained on her site.

That little half-sister will also have her own spin-off series, entitled From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess. That series and the new adult Diaries book are both expected to be released in the summer of 2015.

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New ‘Lestat’ Novel Coming from Anne Rice

It’s been a while since author Anne Rice has released any novels based on her best-known character, the vampire Lestat. But that’s about to change.

According to The New York Times, Rice announced on her Facebook page that another Lestat novel, entitled Prince Lestat, is set to be released in October. She told readers that she finished writing the novel a while ago.

The first Lestat novel was Interview with the Vampire, which was made into a movie starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt in 1994. It was the first in a series of vampire novels.

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J.K. Rowling’s ‘Cuckoo’s Calling’ Sequel Coming Soon

silkwormIt’s been just about a year since Robert Galbraith released the crime novel The Cuckoo’s Calling. But it’s been less than a year since it was revealed that “Robert Galbraith” was a pseudonym for the bestselling author of the Harry Potter series J.K. Rowling. The news then pushed Galbraith’s adult crime novel to the top of bestsellers lists around the world and ended Rowling’s ability to keep any other books a secret.

According to Entertainment Weekly, a sequel to Rowling’s/Galbraith’s The Cuckoo’s Calling is due to be released this June. Entitled The Silkworm — and written under the Galbraith pseudonym — the novel will once again follow detective Cormoran Strike and his sidekick Robin as they, this time, investigate the mysterious disappearance of a novelist. According to a release from Mulholland Books, “The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were to be published, it would ruin lives—meaning that there are a lot of people who might want him silenced.”

The Silkworm  is set to be released in the U.K. on June 19 and in the U.S. on June 24.

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Lara’s Top Picks of 2013

booksWith three days left in 2013, there are “Best Of” lists galore. The New York Times has already written up its 100 Notable Books of 2013 list, and it is a good list to go by. Each December, I skim it to determine which books I’ll read the following year — hopefully.

But every year, I like to put together my own list. I haven’t read as many books this year as I usually do, but I’ve made it a point to read a few that I’ve been wanting to read for years. That said, this is my annual list of my top picks from 2013. Mind you, these are not all books that came out this year. In fact, most of them didn’t come out this year. This is a selection of the best books I’ve read this year. The publication and release dates are irrelevant to me. For instance, my favorite book last year was The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman, which was actually published in 2010. The year before that, my favorite was The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. A good book is a good book, no matter the year.

So enjoy my list, and read on for a complete list of all the books I’ve read in 2013!

10. Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares. The final book in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, Sisterhood Everlasting is an honest look at modern-day female friendship — how easy it is to drift apart and how wonderful it can be when friends reunite. It takes tragedy to bring these best friends together again, but isn’t that often — yet sadly — how friendships reignite? Buy it now.

9. Teacher Man by Frank McCourt. Bestselling memoirist Frank McCourt takes us through his journey as a teacher, the profession he pursued for 30 years before writing about his life. His memoir is full of anecdotes and writing lessons from the classroom, but more importantly lessons about life, love, and the people you meet along the way. Buy it now.

8. The House Girl by Tara Conklin.  The lives of two women from two very different times intersect when a lawyer working on a class-action suit about slavery begins to research a slave from the 1800’s. In learning about the lawyer, we also learn about a slave named Josephine, and her quest for freedom. The hunt for Josephine’s possible descendents leaves the reader wondering if either woman ever win her uphill battle. Buy it now.

7. The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Gailbraith (J.K. Rowling). This bestselling novel made the news when it was revealed that the author, Robert Gailbraith, was actually a pseudonym for the bestselling author of the Harry Potter series J.K. Rowling. But her crime/mystery novel, The Cuckoo’s Calling, is a great read in its own right. The page-turning story about the mysterious death of a model makes a social statement about our fame-obsessed society. Buy it now.

6. Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple. A little girl sets out to find her crazy mother Bernadette in this scatterbrained dark comedy. The story is told out of order, and along the way, we learn more and more about each character. In the end, finding Bernadette isn’t the best part of the book. Searching for her and learning about her is way more fun. Buy it now.

5. Inferno by Dan Brown. Bestselling author Dan Brown has done it again. The latest Robert Langdon adventure (Angels and Demons, The Da Vinci Code, The Lost Symbol) takes us through Florence and Venice as Langdon works to solve yet another world-saving puzzle. But Brown’s Inferno begins with Langdon already in Florence, suffering from a gun shot wound and two days worth of amnesia. Langdon now must solve two puzzles — the one he’s been given and the one within his own mind. Buy it now.

4. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. This coming-of-age novel about a lost soul in the ninth grade is a modern-day Catcher in the Rye. The book is full of letters that the coy, yet observant Charlie is writing to an unknown friend about his freshman year. Charlie must learn to deal with his first love, new friends, lost friends, best friends, family, drugs, and alcohol, all while keeping a dark secret. Buy it now.

3. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter. An Italian man seeks out a Hollywood producer in order to find his long-lost love from 1962 — an actress with a dark past. But the two men dislike each other, and neither knows whatever happened to Dee Moray. However, the reader does. Beautiful Ruins is a smart, truly lovely book that flips back and forth between different characters and different decades, ultimately proving true love exists. Buy it now.

2. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Whether or not you’re a fan of video games or the 80’s, you can’t help but enjoy this fantastically fun bestselling novel about a boy who plays a life-consuming video game in order to win a fortune. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory meets 1984, this coming-of-age quest story says a lot about our technology-consumed world, while including as many pop culture references as you can imagine. Buy it now.

1. Maine by Courtney J. Sullivan. I read this book a few months ago, but my heart still feels a pang whenever I think about it. Maine tells a beautiful, deep story of four generations of relatives, all women forced to spend a few weeks together in their family summer home in Maine. Between the secrets and complicated female relationships forced together by blood and obligation, there is love. It just takes some time to find it. Buy it now.

The Vow: The Kim and Krickett Carpenter Story – Kim Carpenter

The House Girl – Tara Conklin

Sisterhood Everlasting – Ann Brashares

Ophelia Speaks: Adolescent Girls Write About Their Search for Self – Sara Shandler

The Eye-Dancers – Michael S. Fedison

Girls in White Dresses – Jennifer Close

The Mobius Strip of Ifs – Mathias B. Freese

The Oracle Code – Charles Brokaw

Girl Unmoored – Jennifer Gooch Hummer

Sarah’s Key – Tatiana de Rosnay

The Killing Code – Craig Hurren

Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

Maine – Courtney J. Sullivan

I’d Know You Anywhere – Laura Lippman

Rome for Beginners – Fiona Coughlin

Then Came You – Jennifer Weiner

The Cuckoo’s Calling – Robert Gailbraith (J.K. Rowling)

Ways of Leaving – Grant Jarrett

The Best of Me – Nicholas Sparks

Losing It All – M.R. Cornelius

Teacher Man – Frank McCourt

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? – Maria Semple

Beautiful Ruins – Jess Walter

The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky

Inferno – Dan Brown

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