Fiction

Atkins, Ace. The Ranger: A Quinn Colson Novel. Putnam. Jun. 2011. 352p. ISBN 9780399157486. $25.95.
Author of four Nick Travers crime novels and a bunch of stand-alones (including White Shadow, based on a feature he wrote as an investigative reporter), Atkins shows up this June with a new series set in northeast Mississippi’s hill country. Back from Afghanistan and now an army ranger, Quinn Colson hardly recognizes the town he left; it’s overwhelmed by corruption, and the sheriff‚ also his uncle‚ is suspiciously dead. Now Colson must uncover what really happened. A good addition to thriller collections.

Bauermeister, Erica. Joy for Beginners. Putnam. Jun. 2011. 288p. ISBN 9780399157127. $24.95. CD: Penguin Audio.
Kate has every reason to be joyous: she’s just licked cancer. Celebrating with her six best friends, she declares that she’s gotten up her nerve to go whitewater rafting and wants each of them to take a chance on something they’ve never dared to do. Only she’s going to pick their adventure (really?). Bauermeister’s debut, The School of Essential Ingredients, was a national best seller, and this sounds as if it would have great appeal for the same set of readers.

Brashares, Ann. Sisterhood Everlasting. Random. Jun. 2011. 352p. ISBN 9780385521222. $25.
It’s been ten years since Brashares published The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, launching a phenomenon. Now, after four books and two movies, our heroines‚ Carmen, Tibby, Bridget, and Lena‚ are adults living far apart but still in need of one another. That’s why Europe-based Tibby facilitates a rendezvous on the Greek isle of Santorini, where a surprise puts their friendship to a test. The publisher is betting that teenage fans of this series, now adults, are set to carry on. If that’s true, this should be big. Lots of promotion (including to libraries), plus a ten-city tour to New York, Boston, Chicago, Milwaukee, Houston, Denver, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Portland.

Cooke, Carolyn. Daughters of the Revolution. Knopf. Jun. 2011. 224p. ISBN 9780307594730. $23.95. eISBN 9780307596611.
During the late Sixties, even as tal of integration and sexual revolution rages, the ornery headmaster of the reputation-rich, cash-poor Goode School resists efforts at coeducation. Then, through an oversight, the school admits a very smart black girl. Lots of anticipation for this first novel, as Cooke’s story collection, The Bostons, won the 2002 PEN/Robert Bingham award for a first book and was a runner-up for the PEN/Hemingway Foundation Award. A good bet for most collections; with a three-city tour and a reading group guide.

Cussler, Clive with Grant Blackwood. The Kingdom: A Fargo Adventure. Putnam. Jun. 2011. 448p. ISBN 9780399157424. $27.95. CD: Random Audio.
Sam and Remi Fargo are treasure hunters. But now, in a journey that takes them to Tibet, Nepal, China, Siberia, and Italy, they’re hunting for a missing investigator friend. With artifacts ranging from a Stone Age ostrich egg to a skeleton that seems to be even older, this sounds like classic Cussler. In a review of Lost Empire (Xpress reviews, 7/30/10), LJ termed the Fargo series second tier at best; you know if you have an audience.

Henderson, Eleanor. Ten Thousand Saints. Ecco: HarperCollins. Jun. 2011. ISBN 9780062021021. $26.99.
Adopted by unrepentant hippies, Jude gets by in small-town Vermont by doing drugs‚ until his best friend dies of an overdose. He ends up in New York’s East Village, where he discovers straight edge, a movement that favors punk rock while opposing sex, drugs, and meat eating. All about generational differences, Henderson’s debut seems to be generating some enthusiasm‚ there’s a 50,000-copy first printing‚ and it’s well worth watching.

Patchett, Ann. State of Wonder. Harper: HarperCollins. Jun. 2011. 368p. ISBN 9780062049803. $26.99. lrg. prnt. CD: HarperAudio.
Marina Singh, who’s given up her medical practice for the relative quiet of pharmaceutical research, finds her world upturned when she’s suddenly sent to the Amazon. A field team there, working on a new drug, has been unresponsive for two years, and Marina’s colleague Anders, who has gone to investigate, is reported dead. An adventurous story of science and responsibility from the ever popular Patchett, who’s being rewarded with a one-day laydown on June 7, a 300,000-copy first printing, and a 12-city tour to Boston; Jackson, MS; Los Angeles; Nashville; Minneapolis; New York; Rochester; Michigan; Portsmouth, NH; Portland, OR; San Francisco, and Seattle. Buy multiples.

My Pick
Pollen, Bella. The Summer of the Bear. Atlantic Monthly. Jun. 2011. 448p. ISBN 9780802119742. $24.
In 1980s Berlin, there’s evidence that the British Embassy has undermined by a mole, and when diplomat Nicky Fleming dies unexpectedly (was it murder? suicide?), it’s easy enough to point the finger at him. Trying to protect herpollen11 Fiction three children, his widow resettles in the Outer Hebrides, where odd but brilliant young Jamie discovers a brown bear while exploring the island with his teenaged sisters. Jamie believes that the bear is somehow connected to his father (as the author says, Children’s heads are a terrible mess of truth and lies), and what really happened back in Berlin begins to emerge. A fascinating plot, and now that British author Pollen has two novels (Midnight Cactus, Hunting Unicorns) in film development, one must wonder whether she is heading for a breakout. With suggestions of both political and psychological tension, this should appeal to a wide range of readers.

Ross, Adam. Ladies and Gentlemen: Stories. Knopf. 2011. Jun. 2011. 288p. ISBN 9780307270719. $24.95. eISBN 9780307596758.
Ross follows up his edgy and disarming debut, Mr. Peanut, with a story collection focusing on good intentions gone awry. A young lawyer helping a wayward younger brother realizes he’s just being used, for instance, and a professor who’s routinely chats with the office handyman suddenly suspects that he will be asked to help a fugitive. Some people loved Mr. Peanut (darkly clever, The New Yorker), some didn’t (fairly bleak and unsavory, LJ 6/1/10); upscale readers should check this out. With a seven-city tour to Jackson, MS, plus Memphis, Nashville, New York, Oxford, San Francisco, and Seattle.

Scribner, Keith. The Oregon Experiment. Knopf. Jun. 2011. 352p. ISBN 9780307594785. $26.95. eISBN 9780307596789.
Scanlon and Naomi Pratt have moved west to Oregon, where he teaches domestic radicalism at the local university and she awaits the birth of their first child while recovering the sense of smell that’s crucial to her work (Which I can’t explain, but imagine how good Oregon smells.) Alas, Scanlon becomes involved with a young anarchist who hates him but warms to Naomi, setting the stage for side taking and domestic strife. Hard to track how successful this will be, but Scribner has received both Wallace Stegner and John L’Heureux fellowships, which makes his work promising for serious readers.

Sullivan, J. Courtney. Maine. Knopf. Jun. 2011. 352p. ISBN 978030759512 6. $24.95. eISBN 9780307596819. CD: Random Audio.
Three generations of Kelleher women head to the seaside cottage the family won in a bet 60 years ago, bringing with them hidden burdens that range from sibling rivalry to alcoholism to an unspoken pregnancy. Beach reading for folks who don’t typically indulge in beach reading; as evidenced by last year’s successful debut, Commencement, Sullivan edges beyond chick lit. With an impressive 11-city author tour to Boston; Burlington, VT; Cape Cod; Manchester, VT; Martha’s Vineyard; New York; Portland, ME; Portland, OR; Portsmouth, NH; San Francisco; and Seattle, plus a reading group guide.

Vásquez, Juan Gabriel. The Secret History of Costaguana. Riverhead: Penguin Group (USA). Jun. 2011. 368p. ISBN 9781594488030. $26.96.
An award-winning Colombian author acknowledged worldwide, Vásquez broke onto the American scene last year with The Informers. Here, he takes as his starting point Joseph Conrad’s great novel, Nostromo, prompted by a visit to Colombia that lasted only a few days. (That novel’s setting is the imagined country of Costaguana.) The conceit here is that Conrad got his ideas from Colombian author José Altamirano, who wants to set the record straight. Sophisticated readers will be discussing.

Watson, S.J. Before I Go To Sleep. Harper: HarperCollins. Jun. 2011. 368p. ISBN 9780062060556. $25.99. lrg. prnt.
Nearly strangled to death in her twenties, Christine awakens each morning with absolutely no memory of what happened then‚ or since. The stranger in her bed must explain that he is her husband, Ben, and that she is 47 years old. With the help of a doctor who determines to circumvent Ben, she starts a journal that helps her piece together her past‚ though she must reread it each day, and the doctor must call to tell her where it is. The truth she uncovers is nothing like you’d expect. I’ve seen this debut, and, yes, it’s a gripping, one-sitting psychological thriller. The publishers in 34 countries who’ve bought the rights, plus Ridley Scott, who’s producing the film, can’t all be wrong.

My Pick
Wolff, Rebecca. The Beginners. Riverhead: Penguin Group (USA). Jun. 2011. 304p. ISBN 9781594487996. $25.95.
Lonely Ginger, who’s going through the no-one-understands-me adolescent blues, is delighted when Theo and Raquel Motherwell move to her secluded New England village and show an interest in her. Then she starts puzzling out their past, their intentions, and her town’s hidden history (remember the Salem witch trials?). An award-winning poet (the National Poetry series for Manderley and the Barnard Women Poets Prize for Figment) and cofounder of both Fence magazine and Fence Books, Wolff has the wherewithal to deliver something remarkable here. I have my fingers crossed; this should be both smart and chilling.

Young, Louisa. My Dear I Wanted to Tell You. Harper: HarperCollins. Jun. 2011. 336p. ISBN 9780061997143. $25.95.
As a boy, working-class Peter falls for classy and artistic Nadine. Years later, love bursts forth, but then so does World War I, and Peter enlists. His commanding officer ends up so emotionally damaged by battle that his wife hardly recognizes him; what will happen to Peter? Coauthor of the best-selling Lionboy trilogy, Young here ventures to write her first adult novel. Interesting detail: she grew up in the house where Peter Pan was written. Maybe some magic rubbed off?

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Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (bhoffert@mediasourceinc.com, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president of the National Book Critics Circle, to which she has just been reelected.

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