Last of the Big May Titles | Fiction & Nonfiction Previews, May 2018


Brooks, Terry. The Skaar Invasion. Del Rey: Ballantine. May 2018. 384p. ISBN 9780553391510. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780553391527. Downloadable. FANTASY
As the end of the Shannara books near—this is the second book in a four-part wrap-up that reads like a stand-alone series—Paranor is swarming with invaders who don’t seem too vindictive. Alas, they presage a huge army marching against the Four Lands with rage at its heart. Big Comic Con promotion.

Cohen, Elisabeth. The Glitch. Doubleday. May 2018. 368p. ISBN 9780385542784. $26.95. CD. POP FICTION
Here’s a juicy premise from librarian–turned–techie writer–turned debut novelist Cohen, whose work has appeared in places like Conjunctions and the Millions. Power-grubbing, overachieving Silicon Valley CEO Shelly Stone, who pops Ativan for her nerves, fields a huge household staff, and works like a maniac, is thrown into disarray when she meets another Shelly Stone—a laid-back younger version of herself.

Knoll, Jessica. Favorite Sisters. S. & S. May 2018. 384p. ISBN 9781501153198. $26. CD. THRILLERS
From the author who broke out big with her 2015 debut, the New York Times best-selling, movie-optioned Luckiest Girl Alive, comes the story of a reality TV series called Goal Diggers that stars five top-of-the-heap women. They’re tattooed young Bret, head of her own spin studio; Kelly, Brett’s older sister, business partner, and defender of secrets; African American Stephanie, the author of smash erotic novels; Lauren, start-up genius and recovering alcoholic; and cutthroat Jen, head of a popular vegan food line. And it all ends in murder.

Koontz, Dean. The Crooked Staircase: A Jane Hawk Novel. Bantam. May 2018. 512p. ISBN 9780525483427. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780525483441. CD/downloadable/MP3. HORROR
In series opener The Silent Corner, FBI agent Jane Hawk was both heartbroken and puzzled by the inexplicable suicide of her husband. In this third in the series, Jane is a rogue agent both frantically hunted and frantically hunting as she closes in on the Department of Justice operative who launched the agitating-for-power conspiracy responsible for her husband’s death.

McLain, Paula. Love and Ruin. Ballantine. May 2018. 400p. ISBN 9781101967386. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781101967409. CD/downloadable. HISTORICAL
Readers who loved McLain’s eye-popping, 1.6 million-copy New York Times best-selling The Paris Wife, about Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley, will be excited to learn that her newest work concerns Hemingway and third wife Martha Gellhorn, one of the great war correspondents of the 20th century. It opens with the 28-year-old Gellhorn heading to Madrid to cover the Spanish Civil War and ends with her contemplating some tough decisions regarding her sturm-und-drang marriage.

Silverman, Jen. The Island Dwellers: Stories. Random. May 2018. 272p. ISBN 9780399591495. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780399591501. Downloadable. SHORT STORIES
What recommends this debut collection of stories about characters on the edge, ready to remake themselves: Silverman is a two-time MacDowell fellow, winner of the Yale Drama Series Award and the Helen Merrill Award for emerging playwrights, and a former fellow at the Playwrights Program at Juilliard. Fun to see what this talented playwright will do with fiction.


Adams, Mark. Tip of the Iceberg: My 3,000-Mile Journey Around Wild Alaska, the Last Great American Frontier. Dutton. May 2018. 336p.ISBN 9781101985106. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780525594338. Downloadable. TRAVEL
A travel writer whose New York Times best sellers include Meet Me in Atlantis and Turn Right at Machu Picchu, Adams retraces the 1899 journey of railroad magnate Edward H. Harriman, who converted a steamship into a luxurious “floating university” that included top scientists and writers among its passengers and headed to Alaska. As he meets interesting characters, both two-footed and four-footed, Adams considers the environmental lessons of that first trip.

The Editors of GOOP. The Sex Issue: Everything You’ve Always Wanted To Know About Sexuality, Seduction, and Desire. Grand Central. May 2018. 256p. ISBN 9781538729441. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781538729434. lib. ebk. ISBN 9781538714058. Downloadable. SELF-HELP
Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about sex and relationships for the 21st century, introduced by GOOP founder Gwyneth Paltrow. The five sections include “Seduction,” “Sexuality,” “Sexual Health,” “Orgasm,” and “Doing It.” With a 40,000-copy first printing.

Fontaine, Tessa. The Electric Woman: A Memoir in Death-Defying Acts. Farrar. May 2018. 384p. ISBN 9780374158378. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780374717025. MEMOIR
Big in-house excitement for this memoir that covers three on-call years in Fontaine’s life as her mother suffered repeated strokes; at the same time, Fontaine accepted an invitation to join the World of Wonders, America’s last traveling sideshow. Her lesson learned from caretaking and circus acts: “The trick is there is no trick. You eat fire by eating fire.”

Hargrave, Courtney. Burden. Convergent: Random. May 2018. 320p. ISBN 9780525576174. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780525576181. CD/downloadable.  RACE RELATIONS
In 1996, white supremacist Michael Burden stirred up a storm of racial hatred when he opened a museum about the Ku Klux Klan in Laurens, SC. Then he abandoned the Klan with encouragement from a woman with whom he fell in love and was taken in by African American preacher David Kennedy. What a story, and it will reach the silver screen in a film starring Forest Whitaker.

Helou, Anissa. Feast: Food of the Islamic World. Ecco. May 2018. 528p. ISBN 9780062363039. $60; ebk. ISBN 9780062363046. COOKBOOKS
A Lebanese-born expert on North African, Mediterranean, and Middle East cooking whose titles include the multi-best-food-booked Levant, Helou here widens her purview. She’s traveled the entire Islamic world, from Egypt and Syria to Iran and Indonesia, to find the yummiest recipes for  bread, rice, meats, fish, spices, and sweets. With a 30,000-copy first printing.

Pataki, Allison. Beauty in the Broken Places: A Memoir of Love, Faith, and Resilience. Random. May 2018. 256p. ISBN 9780399591655. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780399591662. Downloadable. MEMOIR
The author of best-selling historical fiction (e.g., Sisi, The Traitor’s Wife), Pataki was five months pregnant when her healthy, athletic young husband suffered a rare and devastating stroke. He survived but awoke unable to remember things from hour to hour. Pataki handled her pain by writing letters to Dave that subsequently served as the basis of this book about loss, struggle, and recovery.

Ramsey, Franchesca. Well, That Escalated Quickly: Memoirs and Mistakes of an Accidental Activist. Grand Central. May 2018. 288p. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781538761045. lib. ebk. ISBN 9781538712627. Downloadable. MEMOIR
A big-time blogger and star of MTV’s Decoded, Ramsey explains how she became a social justice advocate when her YouTube video “What White Girls Say. . . to Black Girls” went hugely viral and she needed to learn how to talk about race, power, and gender in the wide-open spaces of the Internet. Unknowing racists? Internet trolls? Here’s how you, too, can cope. With a 50,000-copy first printing.

Schneider, Bill. Standoff. S. & S. May 2018. 352p. ISBN 9781451606225. $27. POLITICAL SCIENCE
A former CNN senior political analyst, currently professor at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University, Schneider considers past elections and the power of public opinion (especially of vocal minorities on key issues like immigration and gun control) to show how the country’s division between Old America and New America led to the populist election of Donald Trump as president.

Sedaris, David. Calypso. Little, Brown. May 2018. 288p. ISBN 9780316392389. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780316392358. lib. ebk. ISBN 9780316392419. CD/downloadable. HUMOR/ESSAYS
The No. 1 New York Times best-selling Sedaris stays funny in a book that’s getting mega promotion and an 800,000-copy first printing.

Sederer, Lloyd. The Addiction Solution: Treating Our Dependence on Opioids and Other Drugs. Scribner. May 2018. 224p. ISBN 9781501179440. $26. ADDICTION
Chief medical officer for the New York State Office of Mental Health Medical, Sederer has written numerous books, e.g., The Family Guide to Mental Health Care, and more than 500 articles on mental health and addictions. Here he guides users, their family, and communities as a whole through the crisis-level abuse of drugs in America today and the best means of treatment. Really important, considering that each day on average 142 people die of overdoses, principally from opioids.

Stern, Alan & David Grinspoon. Chasing New Horizons: Inside the First Mission to Pluto. Picador. May 2018. 320p. ISBN 9781250098962. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781250098986. CD. ASTRONOMY
On July 14, 2015, New Horizons, the little spaceship that could, whizzed past Pluto at 32,000 miles an hour, relaying valuable information back to Earth that has lots to teach us about the formation of the solar system. It was the first time since the Voyager mission that NASA has explored new worlds, and nothing like this venture is currently in the works. Stern, principal investigator of the New Horizons mission, and astrobiologist Grinspoon join forces to tell an amazing story.

Zimmer, Carl. She Has Her Mother’s Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity. Dutton. May 2018. 672p. ISBN 9781101984598. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781101984604. Downloadable. BIOLOGY
New York Times “Matter” columnist Zimmer here explains how heredity works—and it’s not just the passage of genes from parents to child. As he emphasizes, heredity keeps happening in the body, with each cell producing trillions more cells, so that “DNA influences who we are…in inconceivably subtle ways.” Zimmer argues for a reconception of heredity while sorting out what can be passed on and what can’t.


Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @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, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.

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