We're enamored with SHOTGUN LOVESONGS, Nickolas Butler's debut novel about the relationship between four friends living in a small Midwest town. Other are too: it was selected by the ABA for the Spring 2014 Indies Introduce program and is this week's Maximum Shelf Awareness feature.
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.
"Butler's story of five 30-somethings seeking to make sense of how their future relates to their beginnings may focus on small town living, but it will resonate with anyone who ever struggled to reconcile dreams with financial security, true love with real life, and unwelcome changes with changes that never seem to come." — Shelf Awareness
"A debut novel that delves so deeply into the small-town heartland... [SHOTGUN LOVESONGS] will strike a responsive chord in any reader who has found his life reflected in a Bob Seger song." — Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“The hearty Midwest, which thrums and beats through tiny Little Wing, Wisconsin—an Anytown, USA, if there ever was one—assumes the whole soul of Butler’s fetching debut… Readers can feel the winter cold on the other side of the neon sign and hear the peanut shells crunching underfoot.” — Booklist
"Butler uses multiple narrators to tell the story of a group of friends, born and raised in Little Wing, Wis.... Their voices and their memories create a rich, overlapping narrative that is, at bottom, a love letter to the Midwest and its small, mostly forgotten towns." — Publishers Weekly
"...this is a warm and absorbing depiction of male friendship. Lee and Hank's compassion toward Ronny is particularly touching, and Beth, the sole female narrator, is as nuanced and believable a character as her male counterparts. With the author's connection to indie musician Bon Iver and a movie deal already in the works, expect interest and demand." — Library Journal
Today's Maximum Shelf features one of our favorite debut novels of the season: WHERE THE MOON ISN'T by Nathan Filer. Recently named a November Indie Next selection, this story about two brothers—one who goes missing and the other who doesn't quite come back—is inspired by the author's experience as a psychiatric nurse.
"Equal parts family drama, mystery, coming-of-age and meditation on mental illness, Nathan Filer's unusual and haunting novel, WHERE THE MOON ISN'T, defies easy categorization. Whereas many genre-bending novels tend to overreach, this one succeeds on every level, most notably with its affecting protagonist. Though unnerving, this unique window into a mental illness that is so often misunderstood and misrepresented is both interesting and enlightening." — Shelf Awareness
Start reading now! Email email@example.com (subject line: WHERE THE MOON ISN'T) to get pre-approved to download a review copy from NetGalley.
Praise for WHERE THE MOON ISN'T:
"VERDICT: In this very assured debut, performance poet and mental-health nurse Filer shows that he knows what he's writing about. It should prove catnip to book group participants (especially those who loved Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time) and will appeal to anyone looking for a serious (but not ponderous) story that's impossible to put down." — Library Journal, starred review
"A haunting story about how to mourn when the source of your grief will never go away” — Kirkus Reviews
“...deeply affecting and insightful in its account of mental illness." — Booklist
WHERE THE MOON ISN'T will be available from St. Martin's Press on November 5.
Today's Maximum Shelf features Orange Prize (now Women's Prize for Fiction) nominee Mary Kay Zuravleff's MAN ALIVE!, an electrifying novel about a family dealing with a strange disaster.
"It is rare enough to find a novel that combines a compelling story with beautiful writing, but even more unlikely to discover a novelist who can present these elements in as unique a way as Mary Kay Zuravleff has in MAN ALIVE! [...] The subtlety and intimacy with which Zuravleff portrays the Lerners would be enough to make MAN ALIVE! a compelling novel but her understanding of and ability to convey the slippery nature of reality and, by extension, what is 'normal' lifts it to another level. This is a wonderful and, in many ways, magical novel by a gifted author." —Shelf Awareness
See their full summary and review and also an interview with author and Mary Kay Zuravleff on Shelf-Awareness.com!
Get whitelisted and download a review copy from Edelweiss now:
"Mary Kay Zuravleff writes so well—with such wit and compassion and wry intelligence—that she can make the daily, domestic life that follows Owen Lerner’s encounter with the transcendent as electrifying as the lightning strike itself." —National Book Award-winner Alice McDermott
Today Shelf Awareness featured mystery novelist David Rosenfelt's nonfiction adventure tale (tail?), DOGTRIPPING: 25 Rescues, 11 Volunteers, and 3 RVs on Our Canine Cross-Country Adventure, in their Shelf Awareness for Readers e-newsletter. They said,
"There are two likely reactions to DOGTRIPPING, David Rosenfelt's account of driving from California to Maine with 25 dogs: 'That man is crazy' or 'What a blast!' Either one is reasonable. [...] Rosenfelt is an entertaining, self-depreciating storyteller. He intersperses the tale of the journey with vignettes about the dogs they have rescued through the years—each pup's portrait is only a few pages long, but even readers who aren't dog people will soon see how Rosenfelt found himself in such a crazy predicament—and find themselves wishing the journey was much longer."
The final verdict? "DOGTRIPPING is a wonderful gift for any dog—or animal—lover." We agree!
Kirkus Reviews called it "a warmhearted winner" and Booklist says it's a "spirited and absolutely absorbing reading for fans of canine capers."Read more
I assume you're all subscribed to Shelf Awareness, the insightful daily newsletter that collects all sorts of good info on day-to-day publishing happenings, but just in case you're not, allow me to swivel your neck in their direction like the literary chiropractor I am. Boom: Shelf-Awareness.com.
Shelf Awareness also has a newsletter dedicated entirely to one title that they deem "a great handselling opportunity" called Maximum Shelf (full disclosure: we sponsor the issues with our books). Today's Maximum Shelf featured a book that we're all very excited about: CLOSE MY EYES by Sophie McKenzie.
The Maximum Shelf delivers the full scoop about McKenzie's incredible U.S. debut.
"[CLOSE MY EYES is] a fast-moving tale of psychological suspense full of twists and genuine surprises. While comparisons have been made to Gillian Flynn's GONE GIRL, McKenzie's page-turner is more reminiscent of the creepy Gaslight, the 1944 film that so powerfully depicted a terrorized woman it led to the term 'gaslighting,' a form of mental abuse wherein the victim is made to believe she is going insane..."
They've also included a great interview with author Sophie McKenzie about how she went about writing her first novel for adults.
Head on over to Shelf-Awareness.com now to learn more about CLOSE MY EYES!
Happy Monday, lovely librarians! Let's kick of the week with some great reads.
"There are few things in this world that can at once delight and dismay to the same extent as a formal dinner party."
- Shelf Awareness reviewed Esi Edugyan's Scotiabank Giller-winning novel, HALF-BLOOD BLUES. They said,
"One of the risks of historical fiction is that the history can get in the way of the fiction; the author's imagination is often crammed into a box of flat characters and plodding narrative in the name of accuracy. Such is not the case with Esi Edugyan's atmospheric second novel. [...] Edugyan's prose sparkles not only with the jive and banter of jazz musicians, but also with the metaphors of a music built on improvisation."
- NPR did a feature on Tupelo Hassman's GIRLCHILD (which you will recognize as the Featured Cover from our January e-newsletter!).
"Tupelo Hassman writes with such an eye for rough-and-tough detail, she obviously knows something about kids who have been given the dubious gift of premature autonomy."
- Author S.J. Bolton posted a piece on Goodreads called "Why we need our libraries." She talks about the experience of her local library (in the U.K.) transferring into the hands of the community after the government withdrew support. Bolton was then asked to manage the future purchase and rotation of books which she gladly accepted. Here are a few choice quotes from the article:
"A library, like the pub, the post office, the village shop, is part of the fabric of the community."
"No one, especially not my neighbours, should imagine the battle is over. Passing libraries into community ownership hasn't saved them, it has given them a stay of execution. If we are to keep them into the future, we'll need the ongoing commitment of our volunteers and the financial support of our sponsors. Most of all, though, we will need our libraries to be used."
Psst, Kristin Hannah fans...
Did you catch this month's edition of Maximum Shelf from Shelf Awareness? It's all about Kristin Hannah's latest novel, HOME FRONT!
The issue will introduce you to Jolene Zarkades, a Black Hawk helicopter pilot in the National Guard who is deployed to Iraq just as her perfect marriage begins to fall apart. They say,
"[Hannah] seamlessly weaves the two sides of a soldier's heart--the damage and the horror inflicted upon it with the honor and pride that make it beat--in Jolene. She is a hero, and her life is a hero's journey, psychological and spiritual and physical."
With an extensive plot summary, a great review, and an in-depth author interview, this issue will get you pumped and ready to recommend this new Kristin Hannah title.
"Kristin Hannah has written a passionate, inspired story of war's cost to a family; even more, the cost of silence."
And how awesome does the sitting guru (a.k.a. Vik) look in that snazzy Macmillan T-shirt??
Oh, how we love the Shelf Awareness gurus! They keep us updated, they get us thinking, and they tickle our funny bones every morning over coffee.
Ted won us over during his keynote interview at the ALA Midwinter President's Program and now we just can't get enough of that smile!
The literary gurus over at Shelf Awareness interviewed the ever-excellent Wallace Stroby. His latest adrenaline rush, Cold Shot to the Heart, follows desperate criminals in a high stakes card game with nothing... scratch that, everything to lose.
In the interview, Wallace shares some intimate details about his own reading habits. Read "Book Brahmin: Wallace Stroby" to be enlightened on what Wallace has on his nightstand, which book he's faked reading, and the one that changed his life.