Tag Archives: bestseller

Book Review: ‘Ashley Bell’ is 1 of Dean Koontz’s best

Dean Koontz outdoes himself with his latest journey, which solidifies his reputation as one of the best storytellers in the book business.

Koontz’s stories get labeled as horror, but the lyrical writing and compelling characters in “Ashley Bell” aren’t commonly seen in that particular genre. Koontz stands alone, and this novel is a prime example of literary suspense if one is forced to classify.

Bibi Blair lives by herself, is engaged to a Navy SEAL and has published a novel and several short stories. One day while sitting at her computer, one side of her body starts to tingle and she realizes something is wrong. Doctors run tests and determine that she has a rare form of brain cancer. Even with chemotherapy, she has at most a year to live. She tells her doctor, “We’ll see.” That’s when the novel takes off.

Blair has a miraculous recovery, and she doesn’t understand why until a mysterious woman gives her a psychic reading, revealing that she’s lived so that she can save a woman named Ashley Bell. Who is this woman, and what does Blair need to do to save her?

Evil people want to harm Bell, and they’re determined to eliminate Blair as well. She’s cheated death once and feels that it’s her destiny to save Bell. What Blair doesn’t realize is that Bell has ties to her past, and various people she’s known might be involved in what has become a vast conspiracy.

Elements of other Koontz novels are on display, such as a prominent plot point involving a golden retriever and a diabolical villain who’s both charismatic and cruel.

How our lives are shaped by our memories and how much our childhood influences our adulthood are prominent themes of “Ashley Bell.” The major plot twist comes a bit early, and the book flirts with being too bulky. But Koontz knows what he’s doing, and the baffling story with the stellar character of Bibi Blair makes this thriller one of his best.

On the Web…

http://www.deankoontz.com/

Hard Choices: Publisher’s Weekly’s bestselling books

HARDCOVER NONFICTION

1. “Hard Choices” by Hillary Rodham Clinton (Simon & Schuster)

2. “Blood Feud” by Edward Klein (Regnery)

3. “One Nation” by Ben Carson (Penguin/Sentinel)

4. “Good Call” by Jase Robertson (Howard Books)

5. “Instinct” by T.D. Jakes (FaithWords)

6. “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” by Thomas Piketty (Harvard/Belknap)

7. “Think Like a Freak” by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner (William Morrow)

8. “Everything I Need to Know I Learned From a Little Golden Book” by Diane Muldrow (Golden Books)

9. “America” by Dinesh D’Souza (Regnery)

10.“Grain Brain” by David Perlmutter (Little, Brown)

11.“The Closer” by Mariano Rivera (Little, Brown)

12.“I Am Malala” by Malala Yousafzai (Little, Brown)

13.“Finding Me” by Michelle Knight (Weinstein)

14.“Girlboss” by Sophia Amoruso (Penguin/Portfolio)

15.“Special Heart” by Bret Baier (Hachette/Center Street)

HARDCOVER FICTION

1. “Invisible” by Patterson/Ellis (Little, Brown)

2. “Top Secret Twenty-One” by Janet Evanovich (Bantam)

3. “Silkworm” by Robert Galbraith (LB/Mulholland)

4. “Mr. Mercedes” by Stephen King (Scribner)

5. “Written in My Own Heart’s Blood” by Diana Gabaldon (Delacorte Press)

6. “All Fall Down” by Jennifer Weiner (Atria)

7. “The Goldfinch” Donna Tartt (Little,Brown)

8. “The Matchmaker” by Elin Hilderbrand (Little, Brown)

9. “The One & Only” by Emily Giffin (Ballantine)

10.“Unlucky 13” by Patterson/Paetro (Little, Brown)

11.“Cop Town” by Karin Slaughter (Delacorte)

12.“All the Light We Cannot See” By Anthony Doerr (Scribner)

13.“The Hurricane Sisters” by Dorothea Benton Frank (William Morrow)

14.“The Target” by David Baldacci (Grand Central Publishing)

15.“Ghost Ship” by Cussler/Brown (Putnam)

MASS MARKET PAPERBACKS

1. “Takedown Twenty” by Janet Evanovich (Bantam)

2. “The Promise” by Robyn Carr (Mira)

3. “Until we Touch” by Susan Mallery (Harlequin)

4. “Bombshell” by Catherine Coulter (Jove)

5. “Second Honeymoon” by Patterson/Roughan (Vision)

6. “Kiss and Tell” by Fern Michaels (Kensington/Zebra)

7. “Inferno” by Dan Brown (Anchor)

8. “The 9th Girl” by Tami Hoag (Signet)

9. “When Day Breaks” by Maya Banks (Berkley)

10.“Zero Hour” by Cussler/Brown (Berkley)

11.“Bones of the Lost” by Kathy Reichs (Pocket Books)

12.“The Last Boyfriend” by Nora Roberts (Jove)

13.“The Marriage Pact” by Linda Lael Miller (Harlequin)

14.“To Marry a Scottish Laird” by Lynsay Sands (Avon)

15.“On a Clear Day” by Debbie Macomber (Mira)

TRADE PAPERBACKS

1. “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn (Broadway Books)

2. “And the Mountains Echoed” by Khaled Hosseini (Riverhead)

3. “The Longest Ride” by Nicholas Sparks (Grand Central Publishing)

4. “The Boys in the Boat” by Daniel James Brown (Penguin)

5. “Doctor Sleep” by Stephen King (S&S/Gallery)

6. “Heaven Is for Real (movie tie-in)” by Todd Burpo (Thomas Nelson)

7. “The Silver Star” by Jeannette Walls (Scribner)

8. “The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert (Penguin)

9. “10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse” by J.J. Smith (Adiva)

10.“The Cuckoo’s Calling” by Robert Galbraith (LB/Mulholland)

11.“The Ocean at the End of the Lane” by Neil Gaiman (William Morrow)

12.“How to Read Literature Like a Professor” by Thomas C. Foster (Harper Perennial)

13.“Sweet Salt Air” by Barbara Delinsky (St. Martin’s)

14.“Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls” by David Sedaris (Back Bay)

15. “Inferno” by Dan Brown (Anchor)

Ex-Fla. Gov. Crist is writing book critical of GOP

Charlie Crist, the former Florida governor who switched from the Republican Party to Democrat, is working on a book that strongly criticizes the GOP’s conservative policies.

Dutton, an imprint of Penguin Random House, announced this week that it had acquired Crist’s “The Party’s Over: How the Extreme Right Hijacked the GOP and I became a Democrat.”

The book is scheduled to be published in early 2014.

According to Dutton, Crist will offer “very frank” opinions on Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush and other big-name Republicans.

Crist was a Republican when elected governor. He served from 2007 to 2011. But he became increasingly estranged from his party. In 2010, he ran as an independent in a three-way U.S. Senate race won by Republican Marco Rubio. Crist became a Democrat in 2012.

‘Fifty Shades’ dominates publishing in 2012

The story of 2012 in publishing was the story of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” in more ways than one.

EL James’ erotic trilogy was easily the year’s biggest hit, selling more than 35 million copies in the United States alone and topping bestseller lists for months.

Rival publishers hurried to sign up similar books and debates started over who should star in the planned film version. Through James’ books and how she wrote them, the general public was educated in the worlds of romance/erotica, start-up publishing and “fan fiction.”

But the success of James’ novels also captured the dual state of the book market – the advance of e-books and the resilience of paper. In a year when print was labeled as endangered and established publishers referred to as “legacy” companies, defined and beholden to the past, the allure remained for buying and reading bound books.

James already was an underground hit before signing in early 2012 with Vintage Books, a paperback imprint of Random House Inc., the house of Norman Mailer and Toni Morrison, a house where legacy is inseparable from the brand. She could have self-published her work through Amazon.com, or released her books from her own website, and received a far higher percentage of royalties.

“We had a very clear conversation back in January about the need for a very specific publishing strategy,” says Vintage publisher Anne Messitte. “We talked about distribution, a physical format, publicity. And she was basically clear that she needed what we did as publishers to make that happen.”

“Fifty Shades” began as an e-phenomenon, understandable since digital erotica means you can read it in public without fear of discovery. But according to Messitte, sales for the paperbacks quickly caught up to those for e-books and have surpassed them comfortably for the last several months. Everyone was in on the secret. The series sold big at Amazon.com, but also at Barnes & Noble and independents, at drugstores and airports.

Publishers from several major houses agreed that e-books comprise 25-30 percent of overall sales, exponentially higher than a few years ago, but not nearly enough to erase the power of paper. And the rate of growth is leveling off, inevitable as a new format matures. Simon & Schuster CEO Carolyn Reidy said e-sales were up around 30 percent this year, less than half what she had expected.

“We saw all these huge sales for tablets and huge sales for other machines coming out and assumed there would be a lot of new e-book readers,” Reidy says. “But in retrospect there were a lot of current e-book readers who were upgrading their machines. And tablet owners do not use e-books as much as those with dedicated e-book readers” such as Amazon’s Kindle.

“There are some people who think that print will go away, but ‘Fifty Shades’ is an indication of why that’s not going to happen,” says Messitte, who added that the books attracted many non-readers who don’t own e-devices. “You’re going to need a mix of ways to read.”

The rise of e-books has shaken, but not broken the way books are published and sold. Membership in the independent stores’ trade group, the American Booksellers Association, has increased three years in a row after decades of decline. Amazon is a draw for many self-published authors, but its efforts at acquiring and editing books – “legacy” publishing – have been mixed.

An in-house imprint, headed by former Time Warner Book Group chief Laurence J. Kirshbaum, has so far landed few works of note beyond a memoir by Penny Marshall and an advice book on cooking by lifestyle guru Timothy Ferriss. Rival sellers have refused to stock Amazon’s books, limiting their sales potential. And if publishers suffer from their reputation – often earned – of being slow to adapt to technology, they benefit from a reputation – often earned – for being nice to their writers.

“There certainly is the comfort factor, and part of that comfort factor is the culture of old publishing, which is very collegial and warm and friendly,” says Richard Curtis, a literary agent who represents several writers publishing with Amazon. “Authors contemplating Amazon are concerned about a loss of that warmth.”

Amazon, the acknowledged leader in e-book commerce, remains the dominant player in what could still become the dominant format, and two of the year’s major stories would never have happened without industry concern over the Internet retailer and publisher.

In April, the U.S. Department of Justice sued Apple and five publishers for alleged price fixing of electronic books, a lawsuit originating from Apple’s 2010 launch of the iPad and iBookstore, which publishers hoped would weaken Amazon’s ability to discount works so deeply that no other seller could compete. In October, the corporate parents of Random House Inc. and Penguin Group (USA) announced a planned merger, widely believed as a way to counter Amazon.

One of the publishers sued, HarperCollins, settled in the fall and prices for such new works as Michael Chabon’s “Telegraph Avenue” dropped from $12.99-$14.99, common under the Apple model, to Amazon’s preferred $9.99. But Chantal Restivo-Alessi, HarperCollins’ chief digital officer, said there was no noticeable difference in sales, adding that bargain hunters tend to seek out older books.

“With new books, if you want to read that book, you’re going to read that book,” she said. “You’re not going to replace it with a cheaper book.”