Debut Showcase for Mid-January, 2010

Congratulations to the following debut novelists!

Gutshot Straight: A Novel

by Lou Berney
William Morrow
Hardcover – $24.99
General Fiction

When Charles “Shake” Bouchon, professional wheel man, walks out of prison after a three-year stretch for grand theft auto, he’s only got two problems: he’s too nice a guy for the life he’s led, but not nice enough for any other. And he can’t say no.

It was supposed to be a simple errand for his former boss and lover, Alexandra Illandryan, the dangerous pakhan of the Armenian mob in Los Angeles. Deliver a package to Las Vegas and pick up a briefcase. Only that package turns out to be a wholesome little housewife named Gina. When Shake discovers the recipient is Dick Moby, aka “The Whale,” an unpleasant 400-pound Vegas strip-club owner, the ex-con decides to free Gina, a brave and boneheaded move. Shake and Gina are out of there, but good thing Gina grabbed the briefcase on the way out. (That’s one quick-thinking housewife!)

Now Shake and Gina are on the run to Panama, looking to unload valuable religious artifacts of questionable anatomical provenance and escape a murderous Armenian thug with erectile super-function, a heartbroken ex-linebacker who blames Shake for his misery, not to mention two angry crime bosses. Plus, Shake’s about to learn a whole lot of interesting things about sweet, little Gina.

Wench: A Novel

by Dolen Perkins-valdez
Hardcover – $24.99
Historical Fiction

Wench: from Middle English, “wenchel,” a girl, maid, young woman; a female child.

Situated in the free state of Ohio, Tawawa House offers respite from life’s vicissitudes and the summer’s heat. A beautiful, inviting house surrounded by a dozen private cottages, the resort is favored by wealthy Southern white men who vacation there, accompanied only by their slave mistresses.

Regular visitors, Lizzie, Reenie, and Sweet have forged a deep, enduring friendship. They look forward to their annual reunion, and the opportunity it affords them to catch up on changes in their lives and their respective plantations. The subject of freedom is never shared—until the red-maned, spirited Mawu arrives and voices her determination to escape. For these slave mistresses, to run is to leave behind everything they value most—the friends and families trapped at home. For some, it also means tearing the strong emotional and psychological ties that bind them to their masters—bonds they can barely acknowledge yet don’t fully grasp.

When a fire on the resort sets off a string of tragedies, Lizzie, Reenie, and Sweet soon learn tragic lessons—that triumph and dehumanization are inseparable and that love exists even in the cruelest circumstances—as they bear witness to the end of an era.

The Breach

by Patrick Lee
MM Paperback – $7.99/$10.99 Can.

Travis Chase, a man putting his life back together after fifteen years in prison, takes a solo hike into the Alaskan Rockies. He’s just looking for a quiet place to think about his future, but what he finds is trouble: a 747, downed in remote wilderness, the wreck impossibly undiscovered by authorities. Those aboard are dead, though not because of the crash. They’ve been shot.

This aircraft, along with the terrifying object it was transporting, is only the beginning for Travis. Within hours he finds himself at the center of a violent conflict that spans the globe, and a secret war that dates back three decades. A war for possession of radically advanced technology—that wasn’t created by human hands.

Beyond the Night

by Joss Ware
MM Paperback – $7.99

A man with no future…
When Dr. Elliott Drake wakes from a mysterious fifty-year sleep, the world as he knew it is gone. Cities are now desolate, and civilization is controlled by deadly immortals. Stranger still is Elliott’s extraordinary new “gift” – he has the power to heal, but it comes with fatal consequences.

A woman with a past
Jade barely escaped the immortals and is now hell-bent on revenge. She trusts no one… until Elliott. His piercing gaze and tempting touch shatter her defenses, but the handsome doctor seems to have dangerous secrets of his own. Is it safe to trust him with her heart?

If they are to survive in this dark new world, Jade and Elliott must work together to fight the forces that takes them beyond danger.

Beyond desire.
Beyond the night.

The Summer We Fell Apart: A Novel

by Robin Antalek
Harper Paperbacks
Trade Paperback – $14.99
General Fiction

Every family is crazy in their own special way, and the Haas family is no exception. Robin Antalek’s moving debut novel is the story of four siblings: Amy (the baby), George (the good son), Kate (daddy’s girl), and Finn (the drunk) as they careen into adulthood, trying to make peace with their past, and with each other.

As the children of a once brilliant playwright and a struggling actress, the Haas siblings were raised in a chaotic environment, abandoned into a shadowy adult world made up of equal parts glamour and neglect. When their father dies, they must depend on their intense but fragile bond to remember what it means to be family despite years of anger and hurt. From Amy’s adolescent yearnings for a “normal” life to George’s search for love and Kate’s struggle to not always be perfect, to the gritty details of Finn’s addictive and destructive behavior, the Haas children come to learn that this family—no matter how ragged and flawed—provides all the hope they need.

Told from the shifting perspective of all four siblings over the course of fifteen years, The Summer We Fell Apart offers a humorous and heartbreaking portrayal of a compellingly dysfunctional family. These brothers and sisters are painfully human, sometimes selfish, and almost always making the wrong decisions, but their endearing struggles provide laughter through tears—something anyone who’s ever had a sibling can relate to.

Beneath the Lion’s Gaze: A Novel

by Maaza Mengiste
W. W. Norton & Company
Hardcover – $24.95
General Fiction

An epic tale of a father and two sons, of betrayals and loyalties, of a family unraveling in the wake of Ethiopia’s revolution.This memorable, heartbreaking story opens in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 1974, on the eve of a revolution. Yonas kneels in his mother’s prayer room, pleading to his god for an end to the violence that has wracked his family and country. His father, Hailu, a prominent doctor, has been ordered to report to jail after helping a victim of state-sanctioned torture to die. And Dawit, Hailu’s youngest son, has joined an underground resistance movement-a choice that will lead to more upheaval and bloodshed across a ravaged Ethiopia.

Beneath the Lion’s Gaze tells a gripping story of family, of the bonds of love and friendship set in a time and place that has rarely been explored in fiction. It is a story about the lengths human beings will go in pursuit of freedom and the human price of a national revolution.


by Michelle Baldini and Lynn Biederman
Laurel Leaf
MM Paperback – $6.99
Juvenile Fiction – General

THE SMART THING Is to Prepare for the Unexpected.
So reads the fortune cookie fortune that Amanda receives at the beginning of her family’s vacation to Florida. Amanda knows all about preparing for the unexpected—her mother, whom she calls The Captain, is always hard on Amanda, and it’s just when Amanda lets her guard down that the very worst comes through. Looking for acceptance, Amanda turns her attention to boys, and doing whatever she can to be popular at school. That includes making out with the gorgeous senior Rick in his car after school—even though he has a girlfriend. And when Rick offers her The Deal—a real, official date to the Homecoming in front of everyone, in exchange for her virginity—Amanda jumps at the chance. But no matter how you try to prepare for the unexpected, sometimes you can’t.

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt: A Novel

by Beth Hoffman
Viking Adult
Hardcover – $25.95
Literary Fiction

Twelve-year-old CeeCee Honeycutt is in trouble. For years, she has been the caretaker of her psychotic mother, Camille—the tiara-toting, lipstick-smeared laughingstock of an entire town—a woman trapped in her long-ago moment of glory as the 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen. But when Camille is hit by a truck and killed, CeeCee is left to fend for herself. To the rescue comes her previously unknown great-aunt, Tootie Caldwell.
In her vintage Packard convertible, Tootie whisks CeeCee away to Savannah’s perfumed world of prosperity and Southern eccentricity, a world that seems to be run entirely by women. From the exotic Miz Thelma Rae Goodpepper, who bathes in her backyard bathtub and uses garden slugs as her secret weapons, to Tootie’s all-knowing housekeeper, Oletta Jones, to Violene Hobbs, who entertains a local police officer in her canary-yellow peignoir, the women of Gaston Street keep CeeCee entertained and enthralled for an entire summer.
Laugh-out-loud funny, Beth Hoffman’s charming debut novel, which Mary Kay Andrews calls “charming, disarming, sweet as the scent of magnolias on a Southern summer night,” hums with wacky humor and down-home heart. It is a novel that explores the indomitable strengths of female friendship and gives us the story of a young girl who loses one mother and finds many others.

The Blue Orchard: A Novel
by Jackson Taylor
Paperback – $16
Historical Fiction

On the eve of the Great Depression, Verna Krone, the child of Irish immigrants, must leave the eighth grade and begin working as a maid to help support her family. Her employer takes inappropriate liberties, and as Verna matures, it seems as if each man she meets is worse than the last. Through sheer force of will and a few chance encounters, she manages to teach herself to read and becomes a nurse. But Verna’s new life falls to pieces when she is arrested for assisting a black doctor with “illegal surgeries.” As the media firestorm rages, Verna reflects on her life while awaiting trial.

Based on the life of the author’s own grandmother and written after almost three hundred interviews with those involved in the real-life scandal, The Blue Orchard is as elegant and moving as it is exact and convincing. It is a dazzling portrayal of the changes America underwent in the first fifty years of the twentieth century. Readers will be swept into a time period that in many ways mirrors our own. Verna Krone’s story is ultimately a story of the indomitable nature of the human spirit—and a reminder that determination and self-education can defy the deforming pressures that keep women and other disenfranchised groups down.

Enjoy! Anyone of them sound interesting? Wench sounds pretty good to me.

3 Thoughts to “Debut Showcase for Mid-January, 2010”

  1. Wench and The Blue Orchard sound interesting. My grandfather was about the same age as the protagonist of The Blue Orchard during the Great Depression, and he, too, was forced to quit school to go to work for the family. So it would be interesting to read this book.

    1. My parents grew up during the Depression. My mother (who is from Ireland) was sent to live with an aunt in England when she was fourteen. My father did finish high school, then he joined the military, then he went to college on his GI Bill.

      1. It’s such a strange thing to look at all the blessings we have now versus what people went through in the Depression. And then the Depression generation lived through WWII as well. I think I’ll have to read this book. It’s something I think I should know more about, the struggles my grandparents had that I never had to endure. My grandfather actually had a nervous breakdown later in life because of what he endured during the Depression. At twelve years old, he got a job digging graves and covering them back up once the coffins were in place. I can’t imagine what it would be like to face so much death at such a young age. And then he was in the war, and he still doesn’t like to talk about it. It’s so hard to imagine.

        Anyway. Sorry for my rambling!

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