Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A page-turner: "12.21" by Dustin Thomason

Back in the 1990s, I studied Biology and read Michael Crichton medical thrillers for escapism... and I also met a very nice boy who had been friends with my best friend from childhood.
We all wound up in college together, and that nice boy and I took some pre-med requirements together. He went on to med school, but that wasn't all-- he also wrote a best-seller called The Rule of Four with another friend, Ian Caldwell. Yowzah! That's right, I can say I knew Dustin Thomason when.

This summer, Dusty's first solo book came out, and it's a terrific medical thriller with history, romance, and plenty of drama! 12.21 features a long-lost Mayan codex, a mysterious and devastating outbreak, and a race for a cure that kept me turning the pages. I'd write more, but I'm pretty tired from staying up late to read...

If you've been craving an edge-of-your-seat medical thriller, let me recommend 12.21 by Dustin Thomason-- a great book by a great guy. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

"Goodbye for Now" by Laurie Frankel

As an independent bookseller, I take great pride in introducing readers to books they might not have found by themselves. One of the challenges of handselling is coming up with a bookseller-to-customer-pitch that conveys exactly why I think this particular book will be the right fit for this particular reader in their current reading mood.

I’m thrilled to make reader matches for Laurie Frankel’s Goodbye for Now (on sale August 7th) because I think it’s just the kind of unexpected delight so many of my customers rely on indie booksellers to recommend. But because I love this book so much, I want it to find an audience beyond just the curious readers who come into my store. As much as I like to feel indispensable, it would feel even better to know I helped this book get the chance it deserves on bookshelves around the country.

Its gorgeous cover will definitely draw readers in, but I offer this little tutorial on “How to Handsell Goodbye for Now” in hopes that all my bookselling brothers and sisters will help a wide, receptive audience discover this wonderful novel. We all know how enthusiastic readers and word of mouth can push a book to the bestseller list! I think this has the indie-driven hit potential of The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein and Wild by Cheryl Strayed.

Here are some of the leading questions I might ask to determine whether a customer will love Goodbye for Now as much as I did:

“Are you interested in a story that sucks you in and feels like a light read but also has lots to ponder?” The writing and characters make the reading effortless, but the story has such depth that readers will want to linger.

“Did you like The Art of Racing in the Rain?” 

Because really, who didn’t? But, between us, a book about a dying dog, race cars, and a true love who dies of a brain tumor doesn’t sound like any easier a sell than a book about true love, start-ups, and ever-lasting life through technology, does it? They’re both great books! It’s all in how we set expectations and convey our enthusiasm.

“Are you in the mood for a contemporary novel with romance, a Seattle setting, and technology?” 

Our store is located near Microsoft, Google, Adobe, and many other tech companies. Frankel captures the start-up culture and programmer/user/sales dynamic so perfectly, many of our readers will connect through their life experience.

“Did you like Set This House in Order?” 

Matt Ruff’s Set This House in Order is one of Queen Anne Books’ backlist stars and one of our favorite book club recommendations. Like that novel, Goodbye for Now appeals to both men and women and uses technology in the plot to delve deeply into emotions.

“Can you imagine a book that reads kind of like a mix between John Irving and Mary Shelley/ William Gibson and Jodi Picoult, but has its own distinct heart and voice? Sound good? It is.” 

Goodbye For Now has the charm, quirk, and sad sweetness of The World According to Garp matched with the science-has-its-consequences drama of Frankenstein. Like Gibson’s novels, it convincingly ponders the impacts of technology in near future, and like Picoult’s, it raises ethical questions that pack a punch, all while giving you characters you don’t want to let go. How are those for mash-ups? Pretty darn amazing, I think.

To sum it all up, I’m very excited to sell Goodbye for Now, and I hope others are, too! 

Booksellers, publicists, reviewers, readers, bloggers: if you want to talk to me about it, let me know; it would be my pleasure. 

For your further Frankel edification:
Laurie Frankel's author site, complete with a hilarious book trailer. (Watch for fingerpuppets of Einstein talking about an Adam Sandler movie, Virginia Woolf going into the drink, and more.)
My recommendation of Goodbye for Now for Queen Anne Books.
My recommendation of Laurie's first novel, The Atlas of Love, for Queen Anne Books.
The shortlist for the 2011 PNBA Book Awards, which includes The Atlas of Love.