Run Your Week: Big Books, Sure Bets, & Titles Making News | Book Pulse

Big Books for the Week

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin (G.P. Putnam’s Sons; LJ stars) leads holds this week. Check your reserves, across the country holds are topping 10:1 ratios.

Other titles in demand include:

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen (St. Martin’s)

The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani (Penguin)

Operator Down: A Pike Logan Thriller by Brad Taylor (Dutton)

Blood Fury: Black Dagger Legacy by J.R. Ward (Ballantine)

Librarians and Booksellers Suggest

Three LibraryReads titles publish this week, including the #1 pick for the month, The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin (G.P. Putnam’s Sons).

“A thought-provoking, sweeping family saga set in New York City’s Lower East Side, 1969. Four siblings sneak out to visit a psychic who reveals to each, separately, the exact date of his or her death. The book goes on to recount five decades of experience shaped by the siblings attempts to control fate.”—Kelly Currie, Delphi Public Library, Delphi, IN

It is also the #1 pick from Indie Next:

“In 1969, four siblings visit a fortune teller, who tells each child the date of their death. We follow the Gold siblings both separately and together over the next four decades and see how these revelations affect their choices, their behavior, and their relationships with one another. Apart from raising the obvious question (would you want to know the date of your death?), Benjamin brilliantly explores how family members can be both close to and distant from one another, and ponders the point at which our actions cease to matter and fate steps in. I LOVED The Immortalists, and if there’s any justice in bookselling, this book will find the massive audience it so deserves.” —Erika VanDam, RoscoeBooks, Chicago, IL

Librarians and booksellers also picked:

Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire (

“McGuire continues her astounding Wayward Children series with the third volume. A fantastical journey to find and resurrect a mother in a land of sweets. A great fantasy for those who want to give the genre a try.” —Andrienne Cruz, Azusa City Library, Azusa, CA

“McGuire’s Wayward Children series is a lush faerie-tale world in the vein of Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm. It is dark and lovely, vivid and painful, weird and subtle. Beneath the Sugar Sky reintroduces many characters we met in Every Heart a Doorway and takes us to new worlds in an exploration of friendship, family, and what is not possible when everything is possible. Rini exemplifies the lovely mix of what it means to be in that strange place between childhood belief and adult cynicism.” —Jessica Cox, Plot Twist Bookstore, Ankeny, IA

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen (St. Martin’s)

“A thriller told from the perspective of three narrators: a woman, her ex-husband, and his fiance. The storyline is intricate and nonlinear and the characters are likable, but unreliable. This one will keep you guessing.” —Kelly Moore, Carrollton Public Library, Carrollton, TX

“Oh. My. God! For readers looking for a book that has an absorbing and unique plot line, intriguing but flawed characters, and commands attention until the end of the story, The Wife Between Us is perfect! Vanessa is suffering from a recent divorce when she learns that her ex will soon marry again. She simply cannot allow this to happen. Why? This amazing story gallops along at breakneck speed and its ending will smack you between the eyes and take your breath away. These authors are destined to become trailblazers in the genre of psychological suspense books.”—Nancy Simpson-Brice, Book Vault, Oskaloosa, IA

Booksellers further selected:

Grist Mill Road by Christopher J. Yates (Picador)

“I love finding a new author who writes something so great that I’m compelled to find more of their work. Christopher Yates is my new guy. At the start of Grist Mill Road, the reader witnesses an event that changes the lives of three people, Hannah, Matthew, and Patrick, who each have their moment to narrate their side of the story. Saying there is great character depth here doesn’t do Yates justice; they become living, breathing human beings. This gripping story keeps your heart racing at just the right pace and the story concludes right where it should. Be prepared to put yourself in another person’s shoes — well, make that three pairs of shoes.” —Nichole Cousins, White Birch Books, North Conway, NH

Neon in Daylight by Hermione Hoby (Catapult)

“There are plenty of novels about hedonistic young people, washed-up alcoholic writers, or aimless academics struggling to find themselves. Few of them are written with the intelligence, freshness, honesty, style, observational eye, and command of language on display in Hermione Hoby’s impressive debut, Neon in Daylight. As the lives of the three main characters (and a cat named Joni Mitchell) converge against the backdrop of a lonely, doomed, and dying downtown New York City, you’ll find yourself missing your bus stop because you cannot put down this book.” —Nadine Vassallo, Book Soup, West Hollywood, CA

The Job of the Wasp by Colin Winnette (Soft Skull Press: LJ stars)

“What is it that stories about adolescent boys and orphanages so often seem abnormally rife with tragedy, allure, and horror? Such is the setting for Colin Winnette’s fantastic new novel, which follows a boy recently admitted to such an institution, only to uncover a murder mystery that will cause him to question his own existence and purpose. Winnette successfully balances an atmosphere of the fantastic alongside the gritty reality of 30-odd orphaned boys and their headmaster, creating a world where answers are nearly impossible to manufacture and wild theories percolate. Lord of the Flies meets Guillermo del Toro’s The Devil’s Backbone in this incredibly haunting book, which might leave you wondering about the possibility of the paranormal within your own life. You’ve been warned; now pick it up.”—John Gibbs, Green Apple Books on the Park, San Francisco, CA

Fire Sermon by Jamie Quatro (Grove Press)

“I’m presently gobsmacked by and head-over-heels in love with Jamie Quatro’s Fire Sermon, a gorgeous, searing first novel that takes on themes of grace, God, desire, truth, and family. Told in an array of tenses and forms that range from poetry to e-mail (and everything in between), Fire Sermon takes great risks stylistically, as well as topically, leaving nothing stable in its wake. It is unsparing and uncompromising, singular, innervating, and strong, and it is a deeply, wonderfully stirring work of art.” —Will Walton, Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA

The Afterlives by Thomas Pierce (Riverhead: LJ stars)

“In The Afterlives, Thomas Pierce follows a man’s quest for what comes after death. The story skillfully intersects religion, technology, philosophy, humor, love, and fear, but love and fear are what really got to me. The novel celebrates the love we’re born into with our family and the love we find, but behind that is the fear of its loss. The novel doesn’t flinch. Pierce’s characters are so natural and so funny that at times it felt like I was reading Douglas Coupland or Elan Mastai. The Afterlives didn’t feel bleak or hopeless or preachy—it was sincere and hopeful.”—Myles Mickle, Village Square Booksellers, Bellows Falls, VT

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor (Crown)

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor is an unusually gripping mystery reminiscent of Arthur Conan Doyle’s story ‘The Adventure of the Dancing Men.’ It is amazingly well-written, and the pace does not let up, from the shocking beginning all the way through to the unsettling ending. This suspenseful page-turner is definitely a cut above and will keep you riveted. Highly recommended!” —Margo Conklin, Brown University Bookstore, Providence, RI

This Could Hurt by Jillian Medoff (Harper: LJ stars)

“Who knew that a novel about a faltering company’s HR department could be so gripping and compassionate? Anyone who has worked in a company with other people will appreciate the resentments, friendships, and competitions that develop in a long-time team. Medoff does a great job of making the reader care about each and every character.”—Susan Taylor, Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany NY

The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey (Soho Crime: LJ stars)

“This is a harrowing story—and the mystery is great, too! Life for a single woman in Bombay in 1916 is fraught. But Perveen Mistry has the support of her lawyer father and is educated as a lawyer, as very few women are in this time and place. She becomes essential when the law firm needs to interview three widows living in full purdah, secluded from the world in general and men in particular. When their house agent is murdered, the male police are stymied by the women’s inaccessibility. The backstory is disturbing in how the law favored even abusive men over women. A fascinating start to a new series.”—Lisa Wright, Oblong Books and Music, Millerton, NY

The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani (Penguin)

“With The Perfect Nanny, Moroccan author Leila Slimani channels her inner Ruth Rendell and offers a truly disturbing page-turner. The first chapter reveals that a nanny has killed her charges, a boy and a girl, then killed herself. The rest of the book details the way the nanny’s mind twists and turns as she becomes more and more damaged, leading up to the murder-suicide. It’s a grim tale filled with commentary on motherhood, family power struggles, and economic disparity. Although it sounds depressing, The Perfect Nanny is truly original, dark, and suspenseful as hell!”—William Carl, Wellesley Books, Wellesley, MA

Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna (Doubleday)
“At last, a book with girl in the title that is about actual girls. Kylie and Bailey, ages 8 and 10, disappear from a strip mall. Their mother is frantic and the police are making no progress. When the family hires Alice Vega, an out-of-state bounty hunter, to find the girls, she teams up with Max Caplan, a former cop turned private investigator, and they combine their skills to try to find the missing girls before it is too late. A suspenseful and all-too-real scenario that will drive readers to finish the story before doing anything else.”—Sharon K. Nagel, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI

Heart Spring Mountain by Robin MacArthur (Ecco: Harper)

“Following her splendid 2016 short story collection, Half Wild (an Indies Introduce selection), Robin MacArthur’s first novel revisits rural Vermont and uses a mixture of lyrical and earthy prose to explore three generations of a family riddled by secrets and burdens of the past. This area of the country, previously overlooked by literature, proves to be rich ground that, while isolated, cannot avoid intrusions from the outside world in the form of man-made and natural disasters. The focus is on an extended family that can trace its roots back to Puritan ancestors but struggles against poverty, the unforgiving environment, and the lure of drugs. Heart Spring Mountain will introduce you to a host of memorable characters engaged in human folly and saved by redemptive love.” —Joe Strebel, Anderson’s Bookshop, Naperville, IL

These books and others publishing the week of January 8, 2018, are listed in a downloadable spreadsheet.

In the Media

Grist Mill Road by Christopher J. Yates (Picador) makes Entertainment Weekly‘s “Must List” at #7. They call it a “twisted thriller [with] devastating secrets.” The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin (G.P. Putnam’s Sons) is #8. EW says it is “a sprawling, enchanting family saga.” They also offer a bit of RA, comparing the book, via a pie chart, to Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng (Penguin: LJ starred) and The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer (Riverhead). The magazine runs their list of “20 Books We Can’t Wait to Read” in 2018. They posted a list of their 50 picks for 2018 online right after Christmas.

People points out that the film adaptation of It goes on sale via DVD and streaming Jan. 9, making it #11 on their People‘s Picks list. They pick The Immortalists as their Book of the Week. Offering RA as well, they agree with EW about the connection to Celeste Ng but add Donna Tartt to the mix. The magazine also features Promise Not to Tell by Jayne Ann Krentz (Berkley: Penguin: LJ stars) and The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce (Random).

Briefly Noted

Several Golden Globes winners have book connections including Big Little Lies, which won the Best Limited Series or TV Movie category and netted Nicole Kidman the Best Actress and Laura Dern and Alexander Skarsgård Best Supporting Actress/Actor awards. Ewan McGregor won Best Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie for Fargo. The Handmaid’s Tale won Best TV Drama and its star, Elisabeth Moss, won Best Actress in a TV Drama. In film, James Franco won Best Actor for The Disaster Artist.

The Washington Post runs Maureen Corrigan’s review of The Perfect Nanny, a book she says mines “the enduring masochistic power” of every mother’s nightmare. The paper also looks at three different science books and reviews The Three Lives of James Madison: Genius, Partisan, President by Noah Feldman (Random House), writing it “widens the window on the character and outsize vision of Madison and the men who founded America.” Over the weekend, the Post focused on films for 2018 that are not sequels or part of a multiverse. In doing so they highlight a few book to film adaptations on the horizon, including The Sisters Brothers and Annihilation. The paper also posted an Outlook review of Kids These Days: Human Capital and the Making of Millennials by Malcolm Harris (Little, Brown), calling the author “the thinking person’s Berniecrat.”

USA Today also has a list of adaptations to look forward to.

The February Indie Next list is out, The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches From the Border by Francisco Cantú (Riverhead Books) tops the list of bookseller favorites.

The NYT offers pieces on memory loss and the recovery of lost texts; reports on a dust up over who gets to support Emily Brontë; and reviews Cræft: An Inquiry Into the Origins and True Meaning of Traditional Crafts by Alexander Langlands (W.W. Norton), writing the author’s descriptions and interest “makes his account hypnotic.”

NPR offers a host of new reviews and interviews, including a run down of 3 romances and a review of Gnomon by Nick Harkaway (Knopf), which they call “a big, ambitious book that sometimes trips over its own bigness, but reads like some kind of game of literary telephone played by Philip K. Dick, Arthur Conan Doyle and William Gibson.” They also offer an interview with Simon Sebag Montefiore, Red Sky at Noon (Pegasus Books: W.W. Norton) and review A State of Freedom by Neel Mukherjee (W.W. Norton; LJ stars), calling it “stunning.” Treknology: The Science of Star Trek from Tricorders to Warp Drive by Ethan Siegel (Voyageur Press) is called “delightful” and “fun to spend time with.” Chloe Benjamin features on Weekend Edition Sunday and a range of reviews and stories address Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff (Holt), including a review by Annalisa Quinn, who covers literature and culture for NPR, she writes, “Information is like a river: It picks up all kinds of dirt and trash the further it is from the source.” The New Yorker weighs in as well, with a piece by author and staff writer Masha Gessen.

Authors on Air: Michael Wolff continues to give interviews. Tonight he will be on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. James Franco will be on with Colbert tomorrow. Model and author Ashley Graham, A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty, and Power Really Look Like (Dey Street: Harper) will be on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah while actress and author Taraji Henson, Around the Way Girl (Atria/37 Ink: S. & S.), will be on The Tonight Show. Tom Hanks, Uncommon Type: Some Stories (Knopf: Random House), will be on Ellen on Tuesday.

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Neal Wyatt About Neal Wyatt

Neal Wyatt is LJ's reader's advisory columnist. She writes The Reader's Shelf, RA Crossroads, Book Pulse, and Wyatt's World columns. She is currently revising The Readers' Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction, 3d ed. (ALA Editions, 2018). Contact her at

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