Wednesday, February 18, 2015

LOST IN TRANSLATION inspires book lovers' sharing of #stacksofbooks

Last month, we decided to celebrate reading and JVNLA books with inspiration taken from Ella Frances Sanders's New York Times Travel section bestseller Lost in Translation (Ten Speed Press, September 2014).

The book is a compilation of breathtaking illustrations of words that can't be translated into English. One of our--and other book lovers'--favorite words is tsundoku,the Japanese word for “leaving a book unread after buying it, typically piled up together with other unread books.”

So, we put out a call to our authors to post their pictures of stacks of books they wanted to read in the new year that they had piled up in their homes or offices, on their ereaders and phones, etc, and to share them via social media using the #stacksofbooks hashtag. We asked other book lovers to respond with their own pictures, too!

The response was fantastic and full of fun insight into what people have on their to-read lists! Here's a sampling:

C.W. Gortner, author of Mademoiselle Chanel (William Morrow, March 2015) @CWGortner

M.D. Waters, author of Archetype (Dutton, 2014) @_MDWaters - M.D. Waters tweeted stacks of physical books, ebooks, and audio books!

JVNLA founder Jean Naggar, author of Sipping from the Nile (Lake Union, 2012) @twjnaggar - You can see some of our own books snuck in!: The Bridal Chair by Gloria Goldreich, Our Picnics in the Sun by Morag Joss, and The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

Sandra Worth, author of Pale Rose of England (Berkley, 2011) @SandraWorth

JVNLA President Jennifer Weltz @JVNLA - You can see our own Lost in Translation nearby!

Nancy Springer, author of Drawn into Darkness (NAL, 2013) @NancySpringer

Bonnie MacDougal, author of Out of Order (Ballantine, 1999) @PovBonnie

JVNLA Literary Agent Elizabeth Evans @EMEvans11 - You can see Dirty Chick by Antonia Murphy peeking out!

Torre DeRoche, author of Love with a Chance of Drowning (Hachette, 2013) @FearfulGirl

Iza Trapani, author of Little Miss Muffet (Sky Pony Press, 2013) @IzaTrapani Iza on Facebook

JVNLA Literary Agent Laura Biagi @LauraJBiagi - You can see Archetype by M.D. Waters snuck in!

Candace Robb, author of A Triple Knot (pen name Emma Campion) (Broadway, 2014) @CandaceMRobb

JVNLA Contracts Manager Tara Hart @Tara_Hart28 - You can spot some JVNLA books, including Gilded Cages by Ellen Jones, Dark Lie by Nancy Springer, and Wait...What?!: Life Advice from a Ghetto Genius by J-Wunder

Doug Mack, author of Europe on Five Wrong Turns a Day (Perigee, 2012) @douglasmack

Brenda Marshall, author of Dakota, Or What's a Heaven For (Untreed Reads, 2010) Brenda on Facebook

JVNLA Assistant Ariana Philips @ArianaPhilips - You can see our client Sarai Walker's Dietland snuck in, and The Paying Guests!

And here's a selection of photos from other book lovers who shared their #stacksofbooks!

From @charissaweaks:

From @JamesCharlesC:

From @cgroga:

From @JL_Henry:

From @natalkaburian:

From @SimonReadBooks:

From @Kateywrites:

From @AngryHistory:

From @DonWinstonLA:

From @Jamie_Adams22:

From @colin_falconer:

Monday, February 2, 2015

2014's "Top Ten"s and "Best Of"s, a NYT bestseller, and a winner of the most "Best Of"s prize!

This year, JVNLA had seven books on a huge breadth of year-end “Top Ten” and “Best Of” lists! Including one book that topped lists ABOUT the top lists of the year: The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters.

Below is the round-up of these phenomenal books:

Lost in Translation by Ella Frances Sanders (Ten Speed Press, September 2014)

Amazon chose this gorgeous book of illustrations that depict untranslatable words for its Best Books of the Year: Art and Photography list!

Lost in Translation also recently hit the New York Times bestseller list in the Travel section! It reached #6 in December and climbed to #4 in January. Congrats, Ella!

Songs Only You Know by Sean Madigan Hoen (Soho Press, April 2014)

In its list of 10 Best Music Books of 2014, Rolling Stones spotlighted Hoen's “gritty, gripping punk-rock memoir” (as they called it), and heaped praise on it: "It's funny at times, always brutally honest; a half-healed bruise, tender and multi-colored. Few books convey the fever-pitch intensity of youth with such vividness and so little glamorization, or as deeply explore the heartbreaking complexity of family—both those we're born into and the ones we choose."

This Is a Moose written by Richard Morris and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, May 2014)

Morris and Lichtenheld's picture book collaboration is about a moose being filmed in a nature documentary who just wants to be an astronaut (to the chagrin of the director). Kirkus named it to its Best Children's Books of 2014 list, calling it “a humorous—make that hysterical—homage to movies and big dreams.”

Booklist named it to its Editors' Choice: Books for Youth 2014 list, raving that “this rambunctious picture book is stuffed with delightfully absurd chaos.”

This Is a Moose was also featured in ABC's Best Books for Children 2014 catalog!

And Amazon picked it for its Best Books of the Year: Ages 3-5 list!

The Swan Gondola by Timothy Schaffert (Riverhead, February 2014)

The Kansas City Star named The Swan Gondola, a "love story set at a steampunk carnival in turn-of-the-century Omaha, with a clever take on The Wizard of Oz" to their Best Books of 2014 list!

Archetype by M.D. Waters (Dutton, February 2014 hardcover, June 2014 paperback)

Pop Sugar featured this futuristic suspense novel reminiscent of The Handmaid's Tale on its Best Books for Women 2014 list!

The Tyrant's Daughter by J.C. Carleson (Knopf Books for Young Readers, February 2014)

Kirkus named The Tyrant's Daughter to its Best Teen Books of 2014 list, calling this YA about a girl whose family relocates to the US after her father is killed in a coup "smart, relevant, required reading."

Amazon also named it to its Best Books of the Year: Teen and Young Adult list!

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters (Riverhead, September 2014)

In a unique “Top Ten” approach, The Wall Street Journal decided to look at ten “Best Of” lists to find the books most often at the top. They named the “suspenseful and sensual” The Paying Guests as the winner who appeared most often! The Paying Guests is about a widow and her spinster daughter who must take in lodgers in 1922--though things are not nearly as simple as they seem. It won by appearing on the six below lists:

The New York Times's Notable Books of 2014

The Washington Post's Best Books of 2014

The Guardian's Best Books of 2014, chosen by various writers; Ruth Rendell chose The Paying Guests.

Kirkus's Best Fiction Books of 2014; The Paying Guests was also a finalist for 2014's Kirkus Prize.

The Telegraph's Best Books of 2014

Barnes and Noble's Words of the Year: The Best Things They Read in 2014, chosen by various writers; Michael Dirda chose The Paying Guests. Barnes and Noble also included The Paying Guests among its Top Fiction Books for the Holiday list.

Beyond these, there is an incredibly lengthy list of places that included The Paying Guests as one of their “top ten” or “best of” books! Below is just a very brief sampling of some of the rest:

People Magazine's Ten Best Books of 2014

Pop Sugar's Best Books for Women 2014, the #1 pick!

Entertainment Weekly's 10 Best Fiction Books of 2014

NPR Fresh Air's Maureen Corrigan's Favorite Books of 2014; The Paying Guests was also front and center on NPR's Book Concierge, their Guide to 2014's Great Reads.

Slate's Best Books of 2014

The Seattle Times's Best Books of 2014

The Kansas City Star's Best Books of 2014

Amazon's Best Books of the Year: Literature and Fiction

Congrats to all!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A gorgeous gala for former Vogue editor turned OAfrica founder, Lisa Lovatt-Smith

Published this month from Weinstein Books, the memoir Who Knows Tomorrow tells the extraordinary, true story of Lisa Lovatt-Smith, who was handpicked by Anna Wintour to work at Vogue, rose quickly through the ranks as an international editor, then gave everything up to volunteer with orphans in rural Ghana. Finding the orphanage conditions appalling and abusive, Lisa founded OAfrica and dedicated her life and resources to improving conditions for hundreds of Ghanian children.

Lisa recently held a charity gala for OAfrica to coincide with her book launch at the Pierre Hotel in New York. It was full of celebrities, Vogue insiders, and fashion! All proceeds went directly to OAfrica (as do a portion of the book profits). OAfrica's mission, per its website, follows:

OAfrica empowers children and young people in need of care and protection because of institutionalization, abandonment, discrimination or abuse to become productive members of their communities. We accomplish this by strengthening families and reintegrating separated or at-risk children whose rights have been compromised due to poverty, violence, trafficking, and HIV/AIDS into safe, stable and loving environments. We work to keep families together, send children to school, keep mothers alive and protect children by transforming systems.

Gala Chair, actress Rosario Dawson opened the event, which was sponsored and hosted by Valentino. An auction followed, and all guests received copies of Who Knows Tomorrow. In her speech, Lisa Lovatt-Smith spoke movingly about her work, and about having battled the HIV/AIDS epidemic and now facing the looming threat of Ebola.

Rosario Dawson
Courtesy of

Guests in attendance included actor Ben Stiller, model and actress Selita Ebanks, Nylon magazine Style Director Dani Stahl, fashion photographer Kelly Klein, DJ and model Leigh Lezark, Vensette founder Lauren Remington Platt, Valentino brand ambassador Carlos Souza, and many more.

The New York Post's Page Six featured the event, as did Avenue Magazine. To view the celebrities in attendance and the stunning designers they wore, check out the photos here:

Pictured left to right, Valentino Creative Director Maria Grazia Chiuri, Ben Stiller, Lisa Lovatt-Smith, and Valentino Creative Director Pierpaolo Piccioli
Courtesy of

Friday, October 10, 2014

Newly minted NYT bestseller Sarah Waters's THE PAYING GUESTS is a "tour de force"

We are so excited that Sarah Waters's The Paying Guests (Riverhead, October 2014) is a New York Times bestseller! It debuted at #12 last week, hits #7 this week, and will be #9 next week! This marks the first time one of Waters's novels--perennial bestsellers in the UK--has hit the US bestseller lists. Congratulations, Sarah!

The Paying Guests is also a finalist for the inaugural Kirkus Prize (winners to be announced October 23) and is an Indie Next and Library Reads pick. It's hit #8 on the Indie Bestseller List and debuted at #3 on the UK Sunday Times bestseller list. The regional US has been taken by storm as well, with The Paying Guests recently reaching #4 on the New England list, #8 on the Southern list, #13 on the Mountains and Plains, #7 on the Pacific NW, #7 on the Heartland, #6 for SoCal, #8 for NoCA, and #9 for New Atlantic.

So just how did The Paying Guests explode across the literary scene?

Part of its success has had to do with Riverhead's publishing team, which garnered extensive national coverage (see below) and completely repackaged Waters's five-book backlist to echo The Paying Guests's gorgeous cover. But, really, their efforts have only served to illuminate for the nation something anyone who reads Waters's books already knows: Sarah Waters is immensely talented and writes amazing, haunting, heart-stoppingly good novels.

Slate's review describes Waters's particular talent perfectly:

Her six novels, beginning with Tipping the Velvet in 1998, could be called historical fiction, but that doesn’t begin to capture their appeal. It is closer to say that she is creating pitch-perfect popular fiction of an earlier time, but swapping out its original moral engine for a sensibility that is distinctly queer and contemporary, as if retrofitting a classic car.

While Waters's previous books have taken place in Victorian- or 1940s-era England, The Paying Guests marks her first foray into the 1920s. It was a particularly rich and complex time in England, as Waters explains in her New York Times interview:

“It’s that shift, that moment of modernity," Ms. Waters said. "The impact of the First World War was to shake things up enormously, loosening up old mores, fashions and behaviors. The early ’20s were like the waist of an hourglass. Lots of things were hurtling toward it and squeezing through it and then hurtling out the other side.”

In The Paying Guests, as with all her books, Waters captures historical details so precisely it feels like you're living and breathing the 1920s the moment you open the book. Waters describes how she achieves this in a recent Out Magazine interview:

“Just as we’re sitting here, the way our clothes feel, the things we can hear, all the food we’re eating—we don’t notice because it’s just a part of the fabric of our lives,” she says. “You have to think about those things that are so much a part of the fabric of your characters’ lives that they cease to notice them, and yet try to convey them to a reader quietly.”

While a central plot point in The Paying Guests revolves around a crime, the book is about so much more. “I wanted to write a love story that’s complicated by a crime, not a crime story complicated by love,” Waters told Vogue in her recent interview.

It's smart choices like this, combined with her retrofitting talent, historical precision, and more that have contributed to a simply must-read book. For a taste, check out the Wall Street Journal excerpt.

And if, somehow, you still need convincing, here are only a portion of the glowing reviews:

"Some novels are so good, so gripping or shattering that they leave you uncertain whether you should have ever started them. You open The Paying Guests and immediately surrender to the smooth assuredness of Waters’s silken prose. Nothing jars. You relax. You turn more pages. You start turning them faster. Before long, you resemble Coleridge’s Wedding-Guest: You cannot choose but read. The book has you in thrall. You will follow Waters and her story anywhere. Yet when that story ends, you find yourself emotionally sucked dry, as much stunned as exhilarated by the power of art." --The Washington Post

“Will keep you sleepless for three nights straight and leave you grasping for another book that can sustain that high.” --Entertainment Weekly, "A" rating

The Paying Guests was also ranked #3 on Entertainment Weekly's “Must” list; they called it “one of the year’s most engrossing and suspenseful novels…a love affair, a shocking murder, and a flawless ending."

The Paying Guests is a knockout… As alert as Waters is to historical detail, she's also a superb storyteller with a gift for capturing the layered nuances of character and mood….Spellbinding…The Paying Guests is one of those big novels you hate to see end.” --NPR

"Perhaps Waters’s most impressive accomplishment is the authentic feel she achieves, that the telling—whether in its serious, exciting, comic or sexy passages—has no modern tinge. ..The story appears not merely to be about the novel’s time but to have been written by someone living in that time, thumping out the whole thing on a manual typewriter." --The New York Times Book Review

[A] tour de force of precisely observed period detail and hidden passions.” --Wall Street Journal

An exquisitely tuned exploration of class in post-Edwardian Britain—with really hot sex...Waters is a master of pacing, and her metaphor-laced prose is a delight...As life-and-death questions are answered, new ones come up, and until the last page, the reader will have no idea what’s going to happen. Waters keeps getting better, if that’s even possible after the sheer perfection of her earlier novels.” --Kirkus, starred review

“Dazzling. [Waters] can, it seems, do everything: the madness of love; the squalor of desire; the coexistence of devotion and annoyance; 'the tangle of it all'...At her greatest, Waters transcends genre...The Paying Guests is the apotheosis of her talent.” --The Financial Times

“Waters seems to revel in 19th and 20th century British history as a dolphin does in water: Her literary depictions of domestic life, manners, architecture, class structure, the weight of war and the volatility of love all appear as effortless as they are beautifully executed…Moving and delicately wrought.”--Los Angeles Times

“Waters turns to the 1920s and delivers what feels like three novels for the price of one…a meticulously observed comedy of awkward manners… a story of torrid, forbidden trysts conducted behind a facade of conventional feminine respectability…[and] a tense tale of crime, mystery and suspense that culminates in a nail-biting courtroom drama…Exceedingly difficult to put down, The Paying Guests should scratch the same big-novel itch that Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch satisfied last year.” --Salon

[A] delicious hothouse of a novel…There's palpable tension from page one, so buckle up and prepare for a wild ride--one that's under perfect authorial control…Somehow, Waters pulls off this improbable feat with fine-tuned prose that's by turns crisply cool and pressure-cooker hot. The Paying Guests channels the past via E.M. Forster, Dickens and Tolstoy, quickened with a dollop of contemporary Dennis Lehane noir…This is a fever dream of a novel—Waters' best—that will leave you all wrung out.” --USA Today

[A] pulse-pounder of a novel that feels…personal and raw…even while it delivers the genre goods…Waters remains a master of her genre, the historical novel rewritten as a dissection of the individual conscience…Undeniably fascinating.” --The Chicago Tribune

“The new Sarah Waters novel, which finds the author at the height of her powers, weaves her characteristic threads of historical melodrama, lesbian romance, class tension, and sinister doings into a fabric of fictional delight that alternately has the reader flipping pages as quickly as possible, to find out what happens next, and hesitating to turn the page, for fear of what will happen next.” --Boston Globe

“If you haven’t already embraced the novels of Sarah Waters, now is the moment. Don’t think twice. Collect all six and devour them with the same feverish abandon of the lovers who can be found between their covers…[The Paying Guests]  is no romance novel or mere thriller, but a well-wrought, closely observed drama of a tumultuous period in British history… Herein lies the deliciousness of this book, and the others Waters has written: As much as Frances longs to give her heart to someone who will cherish it, we can never be sure, when she opens the final door, whether she will find the lady or the gallows.” --St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“It's been a while since a book kept me up until 3:30 a.m., but The Paying Guests grabbed me and would not let me go until I turned page 566 and closed the cover with a sigh. The wonderfully melodramatic plot, the brilliant characterization of protagonist Frances Wray, the vivid depiction of the zeitgeist in post-WWI London--each of these elements was equally responsible for the kidnapping of this unsuspecting reader.” --Newsday

A singular novel of psychological tension, emotional depth and historical detail.” --BookPage

An absorbing character study [and] expertly paced and gripping psychological narrative...Readers of Water’s previous novels know that she brings historical eras to life with consummate skill, rendering authentic details into layered portraits of particular times and places...Breathtaking.” --Publishers Weekly, starred review

So brilliantly unexpected, and so nerve-shreddingly tense, that it keeps the reader guessing until the very last paragraph.” --The Bookseller

“A beautiful and turbulent novel about the complexity, and often futility, of personal and social change…With The Paying Guests, Waters has not only crafted a vivid portrait of class dissolution in post-WWI London, but also a look at the achingly human need for a sense of purpose and, if we’re lucky, a little intimacy.” --AV Club