Debuts

Thriller Thursday bonus: DECODED

HOT TITLE ALERT! We want to make sure this gripping debut novel is on your radar: DECODED by multi-award-winning author Mai Jia.

One of China's bestselling novels, it reveals the mysterious world of Unit 701, a top-secret Chinese intelligence agency whose sole purpose is counterespionage and code breaking. Brilliantly combining the mystery and tension of a spy thriller with the psychological nuance of an intimate character study and the magical qualities of a Chinese fable, DECODED discovers in cryptography the key to the human heart.

The New York Times jumped on DECODED early and ran an interview with Jia on their Sinosphere Blog and reviews have been outstanding:

“Told by a shadowy narrator who draws on interview transcripts and declassified documents, the book ranges in style from mythic fairy tale to spy story to epistemological speculation. Within this fantastic framework unfolds the saga of Rong Jinzhen, a youngster of illegitimate origin and odd upbringing whose phenomenal success in his non-chosen field leads to international counterespionage.” The Wall Street Journal

Finally, a great Chinese novel. It stands out among Chinese novels for its pace, liveliness and the sheer novelty of the tale it tells. It grips from the first page… [Jia] offers a beguiling and magical mystery tour of China. It is an absolute joy to read. The Economist

“An espionage novelist who navigates the top-secret world of cryptography, Mai has been hailed as China’s Dan Brown. DECODED quite blithely—and deliberately—defies the genre expectations.” — The New Republic

“Readers skate the line separating insanity from genius in Mai Jia’s riveting tale of cryptographic warfare. A denouement at once heartbreaking and thought-provoking leaves readers pondering the collective sanity of a world shrouding knowledge in enigmas. Gifted translators bring English-speaking readers a Chinese literary treasure.” — Booklist, starred review

“Mai’s careful attention to pacing and the folklore-inspired narration make for a fascinating story, neatly interwoven with complex mathematical theory.”
Publishers Weekly

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Friday Reads (3/7/14 Edition)

Today's #FridayReads are two fabulous new debuts we're loving:

Talia is totally impressed with THE HOLLOW GROUND by Natalie S. Harnett

Hollow Ground jacket“We walk on fire or air, so Daddy liked to say. Basement floors too hot to touch. Steaming green lawns in the dead of winter. Sinkholes, quick and sudden, plunging open at your feet.”

Inspired by real-life events in now-infamous Centralia and the equally devastated town of Carbondale, PA, THE HOLLOW GROUND tells the coming-of-age story of Brigid Howley, a young girl struggling to keep her family together as underground mine fires force her family to move around—not to mention the family "curse" laid upon them generations earlier. When Brigid makes a grisly discovery in a long-abandoned bootleg mine shaft, secrets from decades past threaten to prove just as dangerous to the Howleys as the burning, hollow ground beneath their feet.

“This cursed Irish-American clan will grab you by the brisket and not let go.” — Gary Shteyngart, New York Times bestselling author of SUPER SAD TRUE LOVE STORY

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Anne is still enraptured after reading THE SPARK AND THE DRIVE by Wayne Harrison

Spark and the DriveHarrison is an award-winning writer of short fiction, who also worked for six years as an auto mechanic—an experience that's clear in his devastatingly powerful first novel of hero-worship, first love, and betrayal.

Justin Bailey is an out of place seventeen-year-old when he finds comfort and companionship in the shop of legendary muscle car mechanic Nick Campbell and Nick's home with his captivating wife Mary Ann. But when Nick and Mary Ann’s lives are struck by tragedy, Justin’s own world is upended. Suddenly Nick, once celebrated for his mechanical genius, has lost his touch. Mary Ann, once tender and compassionate to her husband, has turned distant. As Justin tries to prop up his suffering mentor, he finds himself drawn toward the man’s grieving wife. Torn apart by feelings of betrayal, Justin must choose between the man he admires more than his own father and the woman he loves.

“There's nothing I enjoy more than entering a fictional world over which an author demonstrates complete mastery. That's exactly what Wayne Harrison offers his lucky readers in THE SPARK AND THE DRIVE.” — Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of EMPIRE FALLS

“This novel vividly renders the cult-like world of muscle car enthusiasts, but the author's ultimate concerns are the sparks and misfires of the human heart. Wayne Harrison is an exciting new voice in American fiction.” — Ron Rash, New York Times bestselling author of THE COVE


E-galley available for download

What are you reading this week? Share your #FridayReads with us @MacmillanLib.
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For Your Consideration: May LibraryReads titles

May LibraryReads collageSpring is coming, we promise! If you're still stuck with winter weather, stay indoors, read, and nominate* your favorite May 2014 titles for the next LibraryReads list!

*(deadline for nominations is April 1. More details here.)

THE SNOW QUEEN by Michael Cunningham
In the “tender, funny, and sorrowful” (Booklist, starred review) new novel from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of THE HOURS, Cunningham examines the complex dynamics between a couple and a brother and a mysterious light in the sky.

THE HOLLOW GROUND by Natalie S. Harnett
Set amongst the deadly coal mine fires of 1960s Pennsylvania, this extraordinary debut tells the coming-of-age story of Brigid Howley, a young girl struggling to keep her family together despite the "curse" laid upon them generations earlier. “This cursed Irish-American clan will grab you by the brisket and not let go.” — Gary Shteyngart, New York Times bestselling author of SUPER SAD TRUE LOVE STORY

DARK AEMILIA by Sally O'Reilly
A tale of sorcery and passion in 17th century London—where witches haunt William Shakespeare and his dark lady, the playwright's muse and one true love. “O’Reilly casts her story with witches, doomed royals, evil courtiers, and star-crossed lovers, as if it were a Jacobean play. But her finest accomplishment is not the tribute she pays to these historical figures, but the bold imagination she displays in bringing them together.” — Publishers Weekly

INVISIBLE CITY by Julia Dahl
In Julia Dahl's accomplished debut, young journalist Rebekah Roberts finds herself drawn into her mother's tight-knit world when she's assigned to cover the murder of an Hasidic Jew. “The secretive society of Brooklyn’s ultra-Orthodox Jews provides the backdrop for Dahl’s impressive debut. Dahl’s convincing dialogue and perfect pacing make for a real page-turner. And her storytelling skills illuminate the intriguing worlds of the tabloid press, Hasidism, the NYPD, and Brooklyn’s 20-somethings—as well as the fragile boundaries of family, religion, and life itself.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

BONE DUST WHITE by Karin Salvalaggio
When a young woman witnesses the murder of her mother who had abandoned her as a child, Detective Macy Greeley must solve the case and stop a killer in this “...haunting debut...that readers won't soon forget.” — Publishers Weekly

MY REAL CHILDREN by Jo Walton
Hugo and Nebula Award–winning author Walton delivers the haunting and powerful tale of Patricia Cowan—a woman who lived two lives: one in which she marries and has four children, and the other in which she raises three children with her partner instead. Two lives, two worlds, two versions of modern history; each with their loves and losses, their sorrows and triumphs.

THE SHELF: From LEQ to LES: Adventures in Extreme Reading by Phyllis Rose
Can you have an Extreme Adventure in a library? Phyllis Rose casts herself into the wilds of an Upper East Side lending library in an effort to do just that. Hoping to explore the “real ground of literature,” she reads her way through a somewhat randomly chosen shelf of fiction, from LEQ to LES. “Rose's...understanding of readers and reading is candid and sincere.” — Library Journal

For more May LibraryReads title suggestions, view our collection on Edelweiss. Happy reading and happy nominating!
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Hot Debut: BRUTAL YOUTH

Brutal Youth coverLast week Entertainment Weekly did their senior staff writer Anthony Breznican proud with a cover reveal and Q&A for his debut novel, BRUTAL YOUTH.

In this unusual coming-of-age story, incoming freshman Peter Davidek is trying to survive his first year at a troubled, working-class Catholic high school with a student body full of bullies, and a faculty that's even worse. Within this desperate place, Peter befriends fellow freshmen Noah Stein, a volatile classmate whose face bears the scars of a hard-fighting past, and the beautiful but lonely Lorelei Paskal—so eager to become popular, she makes only enemies.

Even Stephen King is talking about it!

“If you thought high school was hell, has Anthony Breznican got a story for you. Every bully who stalked you, every sadistic teacher who ever terrified you, every stupid prank, every hopeless crush and false friend: they’re all here, along with a few kids who hang together and try to do the right thing in a brutal environment. By turns funny and terrifying, BRUTAL YOUTH is an unputdownable tour-de-force, a REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE for the 21st century.
— Stephen King

Breznican has accomplished that rare feat of unflinchingly exposing the high school experience in all of its hilarity, vengeance, and terror. You'll think Roald Dahl just went for a swim in the world of John Hughes and came out wearing prison stripes. Life isn't fair... but high school is brutal. This is the most richly detailed and nuanced academic microcosm since DEAD POETS SOCIETY. You may have never been to St. Michael the Archangel High School, but you will fear it after reading this powerful and hilarious debut novel. Never has a story brought me back to the merciless teachers and ruthless bullies with such poetry and wit.”
— Jason Reitman, Academy award-nominated writer/director/producer of JUNO, THANK YOU FOR SMOKING, and UP IN THE AIR

JGL tweet

From the EW Q&A: How would you describe the book in movie terms? (e.g., "Heathers" meets Tarantino, or something like that…)
My brother Greg came up with a good one after he read it: “'Fight Club' meets 'The Breakfast Club.'” I couldn’t hope for any better than that.


Anne (who is also an unapologetic reader of EW) read it over the weekend and couldn't put it down! “Fight Club” meets “Breakfast Club” is pretty spot on, with a dash of “Freaks & Geeks” thrown in for good measure.

And if that’s not enough of a reason to read it, Breznican’s wife is a librarian!

DRC buttonThe e-galley is available on Edelweiss! Can't see the green button? Then request to be whitelisted on Edelweiss.

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For Your Consideration: April LibraryReads titles

The March LibraryReads list may have just been announced (thank you to everyone who voted for PRECIOUS THING!!!), but we're already excited about April's potential picks. With February being such a short month and the Winter Olympics distracting us from reading time, the March 1 deadline to nominate April 2014 publications will be here faster than Shani Davis can break a new speedskating record!

Here's the inside track on our hot April titles:

KEEP QUIET by Lisa Scottoline
In New York Times bestselling author Scottoline's latest standalone, Jake Whitmore is enjoying a rare bonding moment with his sixteen-year-old son, Ryan, when they get in a terrible car accident that threatens to derail Ryan’s future. Jake makes a split-second decision that saves his son from formal punishment, but plunges them both into a world of guilt, lies, and secrecy. When a malevolent outsider comes forward with the power to expose them, Jake must do anything he can to prevent the further unraveling of his family.

THE PLOVER by Brian Doyle
When Declan O Donnell flees his troubled life on land by setting out on the Pacific Ocean in his boat, the Plover, he discovers something much more interesting than the solitude he sought. "Doyle (editor, Portland Magazine) has written a novel in the adventurous style of Jack London and Robert Louis Stevenson but with a gentle mocking of their valorization of the individual as absolute. Readers will enjoy this bracing and euphoric ode to the vastness of the ocean and the unexpectedness of life." — Library Journal, starred review

SEDITION by Katharine Grant
In this "...witty, dark, and sophisticated tale" (Publishers Weekly, starred review), four nouveau rich fathers make their five marriageable daughters learn to play the piano in an effort to attract men and marry well. However, the girls' lascivious (and French) piano teacher has an education beyond music in his plans. "[A] fun, lascivious gambol through the lives of women and men with decidedly carnal appetites... Suggest to fans of Sarah Dunant and Sarah Waters." Booklist

DESTROYER ANGEL by Nevada Barr
In the next book in Barr's New York Times bestselling Anna Pigeon series, a camping trip in Minnesota goes harrowingly wrong when Anna's friends are taken hostage by armed thugs. "Once again, Barr lays down a riveting mystery and permeates the pages with scrupulous descriptions of Anna's struggle with the cold, with the night, and with the terror and fear of not rescuing her friends." — Library Journal, starred review

DON'T EVER LOOK BACK by Daniel Friedman
In this "alternately humorous and moving sequel" (Publishers Weekly) to the Edgar Award-nominated debut DON'T EVER GET OLD, feisty octogenarian Buck Schatz is trying to close the case on some unsolved robberies from his past.

'TIL THE WELL RUNS DRY by Lauren Francis-Sharma
This buzzed about debut novel is a glorious and moving multi-generational, multicultural saga that begins in the 1940s and sweeps through the 1960s in Trinidad and the United States. "Why the buzz: Voice, Voice, Voice! A story that takes you places you have never been and will stay with you forever." — Publishers Weekly, ABA's Winter Institute 9 round-up

MIMI MALLOY AT LAST by Julia MacDonnell
An April 2014 Indie Next pick! "MacDonnell captures perfectly the family dynamics between sisters, mothers, and daughters, as if she were sitting in on their gab sessions, taking copious notes. For readers who enjoy Maeve Binchy and Rosamunde Pilcher, this is a highly engaging family chronicle, with a healthy dose of Irish history laced in as well." — Booklist

THE OTHER STORY by Tatiana de Rosnay
The internationally bestselling author of SARAH'S KEY returns with another absorbing novel about a young writer who, while digging into his family’s deeply buried secrets, finds the key to his future.


For more April LibraryReads title suggestions, view our collection on Edelweiss. Happy reading and happy nominating!
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Sneak Peek: The March 2014 Indie Next list

Indie Next logoWe're shaking off the winter blues with great news: we've got four fantastic books on the March 2014 Indie Next list, including the #1 pick!

SHOTGUN LOVESONGS by Nickolas Butler (#1 Pick!)
Butler's atmospheric debut novel about the relationship between four friends in a little Wisconsin town is an ABA Spring 2014 Indies Introduce selection, a Maximum Shelf Awareness feature, and a "love letter to the Midwest." (Publishers Weekly)

RUNNER by Patrick Lee
There's a good reason we've been hyping this new thriller starring retired special forces operative Sam Dryden–it's got three starred reviews, sold international rights in seven countries, and the film rights were optioned by Warner Brothers with director Justin Lin (Fast & Furious 6) attached. (Now can we pleeeease get Channing Tatum to star?!)

THE WIVES OF LOS ALAMOS by TaraShea Nesbit
Nesbit's debut novel about the wives of the men who created the atom bomb is also an ABA Spring 2014 Indies Introduce selection, a Barnes & Noble Spring 2014 Discover Great New Writers selection, and has two great starred reviews with major media coverage to come.

THE BLACK-EYED BLONDE by Benjamin Black
Black's "pitch-perfect recreation" of Raymond Chandler's incomparable private eye Philip Marlowe goes "beyond mere thoughtful homage" (Publishers Weekly, starred review) when a seductive young heiress asks Marlowe to find her former lover.

Make sure to get whitelisted on Edelweiss and get your digital review copies of these great titles!
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Monday Fun Day with ONCE WE WERE BROTHERS

Happy Monday friends! We've got a treat for you today–it's a success story. Who doesn't love those?

Once We Were Brothers ad

By day Ronald H. Balson is a trial attorney in Chicago, but by night (or the weekend, or whenever he has time), he writes. His practice took him around the globe and seeing villages in Poland inspired his debut novel, ONCE WE WERE BROTHERS, which he self-published. With virtually no marketing or publicity, it steadily built word-of-mouth acclaim (the average Goodreads rating is 4-1/2 stars) until an eagle-eyed editor at St. Martin's Press snapped it up.

ONCE WE WERE BROTHERS is a heart-wrenching story about two boys, as close as can be without blood relation, who find themselves on opposite sides of the Holocaust as they struggle to survive in war-torn Poland. Sixty years later, their lives collide in a quest for redemption. The result is an enthralling tale of love, survival, and triumph of the human spirit, perfect for fans of SARAH'S KEY by Tatiana de Rosnay.

"This novel is uplifting and moving, intelligently written and featuring historically accurate context and an unusual insight into human character and motivations. Highly recommended for all readers." – Library Journal, starred review

"...readers will be riveted by this novel’s central question: Will justice long delayed be denied?" – Kirkus Reviews

"Many will enjoy this gripping novel for its narrative drive and its emotional storytelling." – Booklist

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Monday Fun Day – Hot Debuts & Book Fashion

Hello friends! Did you have a nice weekend? We did. We're rested and ready to share more awesome news with you this week, starting with the Spring 2014 Indies Introduce program.

The Indies Introduce list consists of titles from 10 Adult and 10 Children's debut authors, all chosen by booksellers as the best in new talent for the upcoming season, and two terrific Macmillan titles made the cut:


THE WIVES OF LOS ALAMOS by TaraShea Nesbit
Bold and emotionally charged, THE WIVES OF LOS ALAMOS is told in the collective voices of the wives of the men who created the atom bomb. Mostly in their mid-twenties and hailing from around the country, the women arrived in New Mexico ready for adventure. What they found was anything but—they lived in barely finished houses in a rugged military town encircled by barbed wire. Though they were strangers, they joined together adapting to a landscape as fierce as it was absorbing, forging friendships and creating families and a true community all amidst intense secrecy and chaos of the war. Think THE GIRLS OF ATOMIC CITY meets THE ASTRONAUT WIVES' CLUB, only fiction.

“In this fascinating and artful debut, TaraShea Nesbit gives voice to the women closest to one of gravest and most telling moments in our collective history: the development and testing of the nuclear bomb at Los Alamos. Tender and mundane details of marriage and domesticity quietly collide with the covert and solemn work at hand. With chilling implications and charged, sure-footed prose, this is a novel—and writer—of consequence.” — Paula McLain, author of THE PARIS WIFE


SHOTGUN LOVESONGS
by Nickolas Butler
Hank, Leland, Kip and Ronny were all born and raised in the small town of Little Wing, Wisconsin and are now coming into their own (or not) as husbands and fathers. One stayed while others left to make good, with varying degrees of success. Seamlessly woven into their patchwork is Beth, whose presence among them—both then and now—fuels the kind of passion one comes to expect of love songs and rivalries. Now all four have returned to Little Wing in hopes of finding their place in the world. SHOTGUN LOVESONGS explores the age-old question of whether or not you can ever truly come home again and the kind of steely faith and love returning requires.

"This debut, told in the alternating voices of four lifelong friends, could do for Wisconsin farm towns what THE LAST PICTURE SHOW did for Texas football towns. Living with the main characters under the microscope that is small-town life, we experience their heartbreaks, successes, failures, loves, and losses. This novel is crafted with heart-wrenching sorrow and joy, displaying the pain and beauty possible when relationships carry from childhood into adulthood." — Kelly Estep, Carmichael’s Bookstore, Louisville KY


Before we get into 2014, don’t forget that tomorrow is the deadline to submit your LibraryReads nominations for November titles! We offer our suggestions here.

BONUS FUN: Check out this cool library dress we found!
Library Dress
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Starred Review for Telling Our Way to the Sea

By turns epic and intimate, TELLING OUR WAY TO THE SEA: A Voyage of Discovery in the Sea of Cortez by Aaron Hirsh captures the complex beauty of both the marine world he explores and the people he explores it with.

When Hirsh, fellow biologist Veronica Volny, and historian of science Graham Burnett lead twelve college students to a remote fishing village on the Sea of Cortez, they come upon a bay of dazzling beauty and richness. But as the group pursues various threads of investigation—ecological and evolutionary studies of the sea, the desert, and their various species of animals and plants; the stories of local villagers; the journals of conquistadors and explorers—they recognize that the bay, spectacular and pristine though it seems, is but a ghost of what it once was.

"In prose that marries lush scientific details and poetic language (complete with transfixing descriptions of sea cucumber regeneration), Hirsh delivers an important work about the power of place and the power of stories—scientific, historical, and personal—to shape our understanding of our world." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

The Daily Beast featured it in "This Week’s Hot Reads: August 5, 2013." They said,

"Skill as a scientist and skill as a writer rarely inhabit the same person, but when they do, the results can be incredible. [...] There is all sorts to enjoy here: adventure, exploration, local history, rigorous science patiently explained, even some sections about conquistadors (it’ll make sense when you get there), all told in deft prose. But what binds this book is Hirsh’s infectious enthusiasm."

Download the chapbook here (PDF).

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Starred Reviews for The Edge of Normal

"This is a book you won’t soon forget."
—Chevy Stevens

Carla Norton, author of the #1 New York Times nonfiction bestseller PERFECT VICTIM (which, by the way, the FBI have on their Behavioral Sciences Unit reading list!), has written her debut novel and it's a scalp-tingling psychological thriller called THE EDGE OF NORMAL!

In many ways, Reeve LeClaire looks like a typical twenty-two year old girl. She’s finally landed her own apartment, she waitresses to pay the bills, and she wishes she wasn’t so nervous around new people, but Reeve is anything but normal. Ten years ago she was kidnapped and held captive. After a lucky escape, she’s spent the last six years trying to rebuild her life—a recovery thanks in large part to her indispensable therapist Dr. Ezra Lerner. But when he asks her to help another girl rescued from a similar situation, Reeve realizes she may not simply need to mentor this young victim—she may be the only one who can protect her from a cunning predator who is still out there.

"Norton skillfully keeps the suspense taut with myriad surprises while giving a tender look at victims whose ordeals are rehashed by lawyers, the media, and pop psychologists. Reeve’s realistic maturation into a woman who refuses to remain a victim adds to the intriguing story. 100,000-copy first printing." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Norton has created a page-turner with well-developed characters, a truly horrible villain, and the psychological depth of Jonathan Kellerman at his best." —Booklist (starred review)

"Winner of a Royal Palm Literary Award for best unpublished mystery, this nail-bitingly delicious tale will be a treat for psychological thriller fans." —Library Journal (starred review)

"Norton skillfully develops her tricky subject, gradually shifting from an emphasis on its tabloid aspects to a close identification with the victim/heroine in a story of justice served by the one who deserves it most." —Kirkus Reviews

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