Queen of Suspense Mary Higgins Clark Has Died & Reese Witherspoon Picks Her February "Hello Sunshine" Book | Book Pulse

Mary Higgins Clark has died. Golden in Death: An Eve Dallas Novel (In Death, Book 50) by J. D. Robb leads holds this week. Reese Witherspoon’s February book club pick is The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister. In Costco Connection, influential book buyer Pennie Clark Ianniciello picks The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson as her February choice. The 2019 Locus Recommended Reading List is out. Lin Manuel Miranda confirms that a Hamilton film is on the way “sooner rather than later."

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Mary Higgins Clark Has Died

Mary Higgins Clark has died. The NYT has an obituary. As does NPR, Entertainment Weekly, USA Today, and the L.A. Times. USA Today also has their last interview with Clark.

The author of over 50 books, her next, Piece of My Heart (S. & S.), co-authored with Alafair Burke, is due out in November.

A staple on the bestseller lists, Mary Higgins Clark also saw many of her books adapted into films and TV shows. Known as the “Queen of Suspense” she was made a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America. In an announcement of her death, Simon & Schuster included this from Michael Korda, one of her editors: "She was unique. Nobody ever bonded more completely with her readers than Mary did; she understood them as if they were members of her own family. She was always absolutely sure of what they wanted to read--and, perhaps more important, what they didn't want to read--and yet she managed to surprise them with every book.”

The Mary Higgins Clark Awards were established in her honor. The guidelines for the award sums up the key features of her books:

  • The protagonist is a nice young woman whose life is suddenly invaded.
  • She’s self-made and independent, with primarily good family relationships.
  • She has an interesting job.
  • She is not looking for trouble–she is doing exactly what she should be doing and something cuts across her bow.
  • She solves her problem by her own courage and intelligence.
  • The story has no on-scene violence The story has no strong four-letter words or explicit sex scenes.  

Big Books of the Week

Golden in Death: An Eve Dallas Novel (In Death, Book 50) by J. D. Robb (St. Martin’s: Macmillan) leads holds this week.

Other titles in demand include:

The Museum of Desire: An Alex Delaware Novel by Jonathan Kellerman (Ballantine: Random House)

Crooked River by Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child (Grand Central: Hachette)        

Thief River Falls by Brian Freeman (Thomas & Mercer: Amazon)

A Divided Loyalty by by Charles Todd (William Morrow: Harper)

Librarians and Booksellers Suggest

There are three LibraryReads hitting shelves this week, including the No. 1 selection for the month, The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley (Pamela Dorman Books: Penguin)

“Julian, Monica, and others present themselves publicly in one way, but their entries in an Authenticity Project notebook reveal them to be more insecure, eager to change, and ultimately more interesting. A heartwarming story about how not everyone tells the truth about who they are. For fans of The School of Essential Ingredients, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, and A Man Called Ove.” —Maggie Holmes, Richards Memorial Library, North Attleboro, MA

It is also an Indie Next choice:

“Sometimes, especially in this digital age, we get caught up in the idea that while our lives are a mess, everyone else has got it together. And maybe — as Clare Pooley explores in The Authenticity Project — if we were all just honest about our insecurities and difficulties and worries, it would be easier for people to form stronger bonds. This is a charming book with a sweet love story, but at its heart it’s a reminder that we need each other more than we need our phones.” —Melissa Fox, Watermark Books & Café, Wichita, KS

Golden in Death: An Eve Dallas Novel (In Death, Book 50) by J. D. Robb (St. Martin’s: Macmillan)

“Hard to believe that this is #50 in this series. Even harder to believe that the stories remain fresh and the characters compelling, but it does not disappoint. There's a satisfying path to solving the very distressing murders, and particular pleasure in seeing the characters continue to change and grow. For fans of the In Death series, Linda Howard, and Lisa Gardner. —Beth Mills, New Rochelle Public Library, New Rochelle, NY

The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa (Avon: Harper)

"A classic enemies to lovers plot told from the perspective of both sides of the would-be couple, both likable and the chemistry between the two was well-written and believable. For fans of Red, White & Royal Blue and The Wedding Party. —Karma Campbell, Catoosa Public Library, Catoosa, OK

There are six more Indie Next selections coming out this week:

Things in Jars by Jess Kidd (Atria: S. & S.)

“Set in Victorian England, Things in Jars feels like a Sherlock Holmes story, if Holmes had been a woman. You can’t help but love Bridie Devine, a strong-willed, chain-smoking woman who has clawed her way from life as an orphaned thief to a highly sought-after detective often consulted by Scotland Yard. Bridie’s newest case, though, is proving difficult and incredibly strange. Not only will it force her to confront someone from her past who she thought was dead, she’ll also team up with an actual ghost as she solves a fantastical crime. Highly imaginative, Things in Jars is a fun and immersive read.” —Jamie Southern, Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC

Verge: Stories by Lidia Yuknavitch (Riverhead: Penguin)

“A powerful and visceral collection from one of today’s most unique voices that will take you out of your comfort zone. Yuknavitch focuses on the subject of the body: bodies trying to find comfort, bodies trying to become whole, bodies destroyed, bodies as an object, how they are connected to one another, how they can be broken, and how much they are worth. To dive into this collection is to let a cinderblock tied to your leg drag you down into unknown watery depths and instead of trying to loosen the knot, holding tight and letting the waters consume you.” —Anthony Piacentini, Books Are Magic, Brooklyn, NY

My Autobiography of Carson McCullers: A Memoir by Jenn Shapland (Tin House: W. W. Norton)

“This look into the hidden life of Carson McCullers is a brilliant mix of biography and personal memoir. Shapland depicts the life of one of our most beloved and least-known authors in a search for the ultimate meaning of love. It will make you ask yourself difficult questions and delve into the complexities of your own heart. Looking at Carson, Jenn Shapland makes us all vulnerable, more human, more open.” —Pepper Parker, Vintage Books, Vancouver, WA

Everywhere You Don't Belong by Gabriel Bump (Algonquin: Workman)

“Young Claude is being raised by his grandma in Chicago’s changing South Shore, and folks in his life — his parents, friends, neighbors — are disappearing. There’s little he can count on besides his grandma, her friend Paul, and his not-quite girlfriend Janice. The violence that was once at a safe distance is now on their doorstep, with corrupt and racist police coming from one direction and the Redbelters gang from the other. It’s hard not to imagine Claude wanting to escape, too, but trouble is likely to follow, even to college in Missouri. Told in episodic bursts and filled with emotional resonance, Everywhere You Don’t Belong is a powerful coming-of-age debut that will stick with you.” —Daniel Goldin, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI

When Time Stopped: A Memoir of My Father's War and What Remains by Ariana Neumann (Scribner: S. & S.)

“This book is beautiful, intimate, breathtaking, and heartbreaking. It reads like a novel and yet gives a better sense of what was happening to Jewish families during the Holocaust than any history book I’ve read. I feel so invested in the Neumann family and their friends, as if I know them personally. More than anything, my takeaway from this book is the love and hope that was so clearly poured into it.” —Gabrielle Belisle, An Unlikely Story, Plainville, MA

The Resisters by Gish Jen (Knopf; LJ starred review)

“I finished The Resisters in a day. I don’t know how a book can be so devastating yet so miraculously wonderful at the same time. I was completely captivated by the family whose story Jen tells. The world she creates — set in near-future AutoAmerica — is so believable an outcome of what we see around us today that it feels as much prescient as imagined. A sort of cautionary tale, The Resisters is not only a book to love, it’s a book that’s important. I’m in awe.” —Carole Horne, Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, MA

These books and others publishing the week of Feb. 3, 2020 are listed in a downloadable spreadsheet.

In the Media

A Beautiful Crime by Christopher Bollen (Harper) is People’s "Book of the Week." Also getting attention are The Truants by Kate Weinberg (G.P. Putnam's Son: Penguin) and Cartier's Hope by M. J. Rose (Atria: S. & S.). There is an interview with Myka Meier, Modern Etiquette Made Easy: A Five-Step Method to Mastering Etiquette (Skyhorse) and getting coverage as well is Brother & Sister: A Memoir by Diane Keaton (Knopf). People’s "Picks" include The Sinner, The Rhythm Section, and Briarpatch.  James Taylor, author of the Audible only Break Shot: My First 21 Years: An Audio Memoir, gets featured but larely, the issue is devoted to sports legend, author, and avid reader Kobe Bryant.


The NYT reviews Weather by Jenny Offill (Knopf): “melancholy and satirical … has genuine gifts as a comic novelist. “Weather” is her most soulful book, as well.” Also, Becoming a Man: The Story of a Transition by P. Carl (S. & S.): “a book that could easily span several books, but its ambition is to be all-encompassing, to lay all of its contradictions in one space and see what complicated truths arise.” A Woman Like Her: The Story Behind the Honor Killing of a Social Media Star by Sanam Maher (Melville House: Random House): “compelling and disturbing … a map of the savage underworld we’ve made.” The paper has an excerpt. The Cactus League by Emily Nemens (FSG: Macmillan; LJ starred review): “The book is less a novel, really, than a series of very cleverly interlinked short stories .. [that] all rings true.” There is an excerpt. Lastly, the Picture Book column focuses on works that “Set a Child’s Imagination Free.”

NPR reviews The Other People by C. J. Tudor (Ballantine: Random House): “will delight you with the same creepy atmosphere you expect, set within a slightly shakier plot.” Also, NPR runs its Romance column.

The L.A. Times reviews Run Me to Earth by Paul Yoon (S. & S.): “a gorgeous book about the bonds of friendship and the ruptures of war. Even more significantly, in telling the stories of a trio of Laotian teens, it inverts and reorients the American war story.” Also, The Cactus League by Emily Nemens (FSG: Macmillan; LJ starred review): “a quick and often thrilling read … remarkably self-assured.”

USA Today reviews The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley (Pamela Dorman Books: Penguin), giving it 3 stars and writing it is “an enjoyable read that is cozy – or as its British characters would have it, cosy – in the best sense of the word."

The Washington Post reviews The Cactus League by Emily Nemens (FSG: Macmillan; LJ starred review): “Nemens’s adoration of the game is infectious, and her novel is packed with winning details.” Also, Bubble in the Sun: The Florida Boom of the 1920s and How It Brought on the Great Depression by Christopher Knowlton (S. & S.): “This mostly engaging book might have been better served if the title had stopped at “Bubble in the Sun: The Florida Boom of the 1920s” and left it at that.” Unmaking the Presidency: Donald Trump's War on the World's Most Powerful Office by Susan Hennessey, Benjamin Wittes (FSG: Macmillan): “this book goes deeper by placing his presidency in historical context and offering an insightful and sobering look at how Trump may change the office forever.” Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America by Marcia Chatelain (Liveright: W.W. Norton): “a book of big, sweeping ideas that goes far in portraying fast-food restaurants as yet another burden on black America. Probably too far.” Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope by Nicholas D. Kristof, Sheryl WuDunn (Knopf; LJ starred review): “seeks to answer these questions, interlacing the stories of ordinary Americans like the Knapps with the story of how America ‘went off track’ around 1970, ‘beginning a nearly half-century drift in the wrong direction.’” Slaying Goliath: The Passionate Resistance to Privatization and the Fight To Save America’s Public Schools by Diane Ravitch (Knopf; LJ starred review): “a scrupulously thorough study of a tumultuous period in American education.” The Bomb: Presidents, Generals, and the Secret History of Nuclear War by Fred Kaplan (S. & S.): “a timely reminder of the need to take a deep breath before thinking the unthinkable.” The Lost Book of Adana Moreau by Michael Zapata (Hanover Square: Harlequin; LJ starred review): “Zapata’s carefully crafted prose oscillates between matter-of-fact and lyrically poetic, a tonal range that provides a very pleasant reading experience … Zapata’s novel is about taking steps to create the world you wish to inhabit.”

Briefly Noted

USA Today picks books for the week.

Amazon picks the best books of the month. Entertainment Weekly picks 20 books for February. There are also monthly lists from Popsugar, Scientific American, Time, CrimeReads, and SFF lists from Polygon and Gizmodo. LitHub has five SFF selections for the month as well.

Refinery29 has a list of “Books By Black Women We Can’t Wait To Read In 2020.”

USA Today suggests “10 must-read Black History Month book recommendations.”

Reese Witherspoon’s February book club pick is The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister (St. Martin’s Griffin: Macmillan). The Indie Next choice first published in May 2019 and is out this week in a paperback edition.

In Costco Connection, influential book buyer Pennie Clark Ianniciello picks The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson (Sourcebooks) as her February title. When it first published in 2019 it was both a LibraryReads and a Indie Next selection. The buyers pick is The Fierce 44: Black Americans Who Shook Up the World illustrated by Robert Ball (HMH Books for Young Readers).

The 2019 Locus Recommended Reading List is out. It is an important RA and CD resource, but also serves as the basis for the Locus Awards, announced in June.

LitHub picks the best book covers of January.

Entertainment Weekly excerpts More Than Love: An Intimate Portrait of My Mother, Natalie Wood by Natasha Gregson Wagner (Scribner: S. & S.).

O: The Oprah Magazine has a short story by Brandon Taylor, author of Real Life (Riverhead: Penguin).

The NYT interviews Abi Daré, The Girl with the Louding Voice (Dutton: Penguin).

Electric Lit interviews Sue Rainsford, Follow Me to Ground (Scribner: S. & S.; LJ starred review).

USA Today features Ross Mathews, Name Drop: The Really Good Celebrity Stories I Usually Only Tell at Happy Hour (Atria: S. & S.).

Shondaland interviews Ada Calhoun, Why We Can't Sleep: Women's New Midlife Crisis (Grove Press; LJ starred review).

The Guardian features Glass Town: The Imaginary World of the Brontës by Isabel Greenberg (Abrams; LJ starred review).

The NYT features Daniel Kehlmann, Tyll (Pantheon: Random House).

People highlights Free, Melania: The Unauthorized Biography by Kate Bennett (Flatiron Books: Macmillan).

Kobe Bryant’s reading list included Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone: The OrÏsha Legacy (Henry Holt: Macmillan; SLJ starred review). Keith Kesler, a librarian working at the Los Angeles Public Library has “searched through old interviews and social media posts to find the books that inspired the Black Mamba.”

Time runs a piece by Katherine Rowland, The Pleasure Gap: American Women and the Unfinished Sexual Revolution (Seal Press: Hachette).

Electric Lit has a piece by Michael Zapata, The Lost Book of Adana Moreau (Hanover Square: Harlequin; LJ starred review), on “10 Books That Were Almost Lost to History.”

The weekend brought more writing on American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins (Flatiron: Macmillan; LJ starred review). The StarTribune headlines “It's OK to be angry about a book. It is not OK to threaten its author.” The National Coalition Against Censorship has a statement on the cancellation of the book tour. The Guardian has ways booksellers are dealing with the controversy. Slate writes “The Problem With American Dirt Is Not Its Author’s Background: I couldn’t care less if Jeanine Cummins is white, but her book is a failure.” Publishers Weekly has a piece titled “Publishing’s ‘American Dirt’ Problem.” Salon writes about “Inside the cancellation of American Dirt.” NPR’s Alt. Latino has a conversation about the controversy.

It turns out that people are angry about other writing too. Slate has “Why Everyone’s Angry About My Dark Vanessa Now.” That is My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell (William Morrow: Harper), one of the buzziest debuts of the season. Here is the quick backgrounder to what is going on with it: “Wendy C. Ortiz wrote an essay accusing Russell of borrowing from the real-life experiences of a Latina author—in this case, those in Ortiz’s memoir Excavation—for her own work of fiction. The parallels between the two books are being used as evidence of the entrenched biases and double standards of the publishing industry. Others, though, say that Ortiz’s accusations of plagiarism are hasty and misguided.” In another example, The Outline covers the case of a SF short story published in Clarkesworld and the reaction to it in a piece entitled “What’s the harm in reading?”

Authors on Air

Lin Manuel Miranda confirms that a Hamilton film is on the way, with footage of the original Broadway cast. As for when, he tells Variety “sooner rather than later … We’re just tyring to find the right time to do it.”

Several adaptations got new Super Bowl looks including No Time to Die, Black Widow, The Invisible Man, and Mulan. Also, quick looks at WandaVision, Falcon and the Winter Solider, and Loki. Not tied to the game, War of the Worlds also has a new trailer as does Locke & Key.

The BAFTA Awards are announced. Joker, JoJo Rabbit, and Little Women win prizes. Deadline Hollywood has the full list. Deadline also has the list of winners of the Writers Guild Awards. JoJo Rabbit, Watchmen, Fosse/Verdon, and Chernobyl take home trophies.

Owen Wilson has joined the cast of Loki. Resident Alien, based on the comic by Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse, is set for TV. Joel Coen’s adaptation of Macbeth will star Denzel Washington, Frances McDormand, and Harry Melling. The Crown will end with season five. Imelda Staunton will play the final version of Elizabeth II. Deadline has details.

James Taylor, Break Shot: My First 21 Years: An Audio Memoir (Audible), features on CBS Sunday Morning. Also on the show, a piece about Taika Waititi, the director of JoJo Rabbit.

The NYT Book Review podcast features Fred Kaplan, The Bomb: Presidents, Generals, and the Secret History of Nuclear War (S. & S.) and Sarah Lyall talking about thrillers.

James Taylor, Break Shot: My First 21 Years: An Audio Memoir (Audible), will on with Stephen Colbert tonight.

Paul Krugman, Arguing with Zombies: Economics, Politics, and the Fight for a Better Future (W.W. Norton), will be on with Seth Meyers

Diane Keaton, Brother & Sister: A Memoir (Knopf), will be on with Ellen.

Note: We are changing our headlines to help you better find and navigate the top weekly stories. If you want to find Run Your Week as a header, you can still search LJ that way and it will be indexed via the tags. The same applies for New Bestsellers and Page to Screen.

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Neal Wyatt


Neal Wyatt is LJ’s readers’ advisory columnist, contributing The Reader’s Shelf, Book Pulse, and Wyatt’s World columns. She is the coauthor of The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction, 3d ed. (ALA Editions, 2019). Contact her at nwyatt@mediasourceinc.com

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