Monday, April 20, 2015

Fascinating World War-era historical novels for your spring reading pleasure

March brought the release of two fascinating World War-era historical novels that have received stellar praise: The Empire of the Senses by Alexis Landau, a novel about passion and family in volatile Berlin, and Mademoiselle Chanel by C.W. Gortner, chronicling the turbulent life of the iconic fashion designer.


The Empire of the Senses (Pantheon) was one of Booklist's Top 10 Historical Fiction titles for 2015. In a starred review, Booklist called the novel a "top-notch literary saga with a gripping plotline" and wrote, "the characters’ actions and thoughts are so three-dimensionally human that readers may forget they’re reading fiction and not experiencing their real lives alongside them."


The book also received a full-page feature spread in Jewish Book World, complete with an interview with Landau and a glowing review.  Reviewer Becca Kantor called The Empire of the Senses a “riveting debut,” a “sweeping yet intimate portrait of pre-World War II Berlin,” full of “evocative prose, attention to detail, and meticulous research." She ended with the assertion, “The Empire of the Senses is sure to establish Alexis Landau as a masterful new literary voice.”


In her interview with Jewish Book World, Landau discusses the influence of art and Jewish identity on the book. She also offers some writerly tips. Below is a brief excerpt of Landau discussing how she honed the time period details so they were just right; read the full interview here.

One of my best friends, who is an editor, told me, "The most important thing is tone, and getting the tone right, and not having your contemporary voice barge in." When I was writing, especially in the beginning, I was really conscious of that. I can't write well unless I understand every aspect of a person. Not just what they're experiencing psychologically, but also their body in time and space."


Internationally bestselling author C.W. Gortner's Mademoiselle Chanel (William Morrow) recently made the ABA National Indie Bestseller list!

Gortner was also featured in Glamour as a Best New Novel out in March. The Glamour book editor offered glowing praise, saying, “Mademoiselle Chanel sucked me in by the pearls and never let go. Gortner’s imagining of the ultimate fashion icon is equal parts grit and glamour, painting a portrait of a woman who was hugely inspiring but by no means perfect. Oh, and if you can’t afford to visit Paris in peak springtime season, reading this book with a glass of wine is a decent substitute.”

Mademoiselle Chanel was also...

...featured in USA Today (#1 under “New and Noteworthy”)...


...named a March Book Club pick in Style Bistro (the editors paired the book with a little black dress as an inspired fashion find, and they assert that “Mademoiselle Chanel isn't like other things you've read” about Chanel; it “tell[s] Gabrielle Chanel's history in her own imagined voice and perspective”)...


...and chosen as the Editor's Choice Title from the Historical Novel Society (their review is brimming with praise: “Gortner giv[es] us a complex story in which Chanel shines through as human, understandably prideful, blind when it served her purpose, vulnerable, and always chic and elegant. Beyond the effortless and easy flow of the narrative, there's a lot to love about this story...This novel...breathes Chanel's style and panache in every sentence”).


Don't miss these amazing books for your spring reading!

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 www.avenuemagazine.com

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 www.avenuemagazine.com