Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Harper: Only Killers and Thieves by Paul Howarth

Mira Books: Rosie Colored Glasses by Brianna Wolfson

Little Brown and Company: The Which Way Tree by Elizabeth Crook

Bloomsbury: Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen

Soho Crime: The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey

Shadow Mountain: Christmas Jars Collector's Edition by Jason F. Wright

Quotation of the Day

Occupy Amazon Y2K: Unionizing the 'Freaks'

"[Jeff] Bezos once bragged in a Wall Street Journal interview that he told temp agencies to hire the 'freaks.' The assumption at the time was that Bezos wanted creativity. But his creative staff wasn't coming out of the temp agencies, the warehouse recruits were. And I never met a 'freak' who wouldn't throw over a decent wage to work somewhere lousy if they felt they belonged. These were people who wanted to be a part of something. They wanted to be valued for who they were, rather than what they produced. I often wondered if what Bezos really figured out was that if you gave freaks a home, they would give you everything they had--their best ideas, their longest days, and their rights on the job. And that's what they did."

--Author Vanessa Veselka (Zazen) in an essay for the Atlantic headlined "In the Wake of Protest: One Woman's Attempt to Unionize Amazon"




Sourcebooks Jabberwocky: The Very Very Very Long Dog by Julia Patton


News

Brisk Early Holiday Season Biz for Many Indies

"E-Books, Shmee-Books: Readers Return to the Stores" was the headline for a New York Times piece about the "surprisingly strong sales for many bookstores" during the initial weeks of the holiday season, despite earlier gloom and doom predictions.

Roxanne Coady, owner of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison, Conn., told the Times that sales of adult trade books in November were up 30% over 2010. "Last year was just depressing," she said. "It was the beginning of the e-reader, and we didn't know what that meant. Somehow, this year, people are back to thinking of books as an appealing gift."

At Next Chapter Bookshop, Mequon, Wis., owner Lanora Hurley said the store is "just going gangbusters and having a great time," though she added a cautionary note: "I have to say, I'm worried about January. Everybody's going to open their electronic device for Christmas."

Peter Aaron, owner of the Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, Wash., called 2011 "the year of nonfiction... What's extraordinary about the books that are out there is that they’ve been so well written and such a pleasure to read. Maybe people have an appetite for nonfiction right now, just for some sort of grounding in reality."

"One thing that we noticed a lot of this year is that there are a lot more big, beautiful coffee-table books," said Anne Holman, co-owner of the King's English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, Utah. "Expensive, $50 and $75 books that we're selling hand over fist."

Cathy Langer, lead buyer at Denver's Tattered Cover Book Store, agreed: "I’m not seeing the price resistance that usually occurs. Maybe people are just tired of being afraid to spend money."
 


Siglio Press: The Stampographer by Vincent Sardon


Financial Aid Approved for Amazon's Delaware Warehouse

Yesterday Amazon received the final endorsements for a $7.5 million package of state grants and roadbuilding aid for its planned $90 million regional fulfillment center in west Middletown, Del. (Shelf Awareness, December 6, 2011), the News Journal reported.

"Delaware was the first state for us on the East Coast, with our facility in New Castle," said Amazon official Braden Cox. "For Amazon, this facility will help us better serve our customers in the mid-Atlantic states, and actually nationwide.... We're trying to get this up and running quickly, so we can handle the holiday rush that we're experiencing now, next year."

"We weren't going to let Amazon get away," said Middletown's mayor Kenneth Branner, who added that the community has offered Amazon a 10-year tax abatement worth an estimated $1 million and "would have found a way to attract the big online retailer to the city even without the state roadbuilding help," the News Journal wrote.
 


PuddleDancer Press: Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, 3rd Edition: Life-Changing Tools for Healthy Relationships by Marshall B. Rosenberg


HuffPost Book Club to Debut in 2012

The Huffington Post is launching a book club early next year that will use online tools to "create a unique intersection between the digital and physical world," according to books editor Andrew Losowsky, who invited readers "to join a special HP Book Club digital community, through your existing Twitter (#HPbookclub), Facebook, Instagr.am, YouTube and Flickr accounts." 

Losowsky also told readers the club wants "to join your real-world community, teaming up with local book clubs and independent bookstores, hosting both online discussion and real-world events. We will be inviting readers to submit blogposts as they read, sharing supplemental material to assist others' reading."

The HuffPost Book Club officially launches January 3 and plans to feature 10 titles in its first year, beginning with Téa Obreht's The Tiger's Wife. On February 7, the club will host an event featuring the author at St. Mark's Bookshop in New York City.
 


Freeform: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton


Closure: End Is Near for Two Bookshops

The Next Page, the only bookstore on Kodiak Island, will close December 31 after seven years in business. The Alaska Journal of Commerce reported that owner Melony Lechner had tried to sell the business, and while there were some offers, ultimately none of them came through.

"It was just a decision we had to finally make," she said. "I just need (a job) with a little more security. Unfortunately, self-employment doesn't give you health insurance or retirement benefits."

The Next Page has also "specialized as a showcase for Kodiak Island artists, and it's a venue that will be missed," according to customer and artist Deb Christiansen, who said, "Mel is a good friend, and it's nice to have a comfortable spot to go visit. She handles a lot of commission pieces and really advocates for us as artists. When she closes, there's going to be a big hole in the community."
 
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Thirty-year-old Bookman's Alley, Evanston, Ill., plans to close in March unless Roger Carlson finds a new owner. The Evanston Patch reported that the shop, which gained a measure of notoriety when it was featured in Audrey Niffenegger's bestseller The Time Traveler's Wife, "was a local attraction for residents and Northwestern students, filled with a variety of books, hidden nooks, and cozy seating areas"
 


Notes

Changes at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

At Little, Brown Books for Young Readers:

  • Adrian Palacios has joined the company as senior digital marketing manager. He was most recently digital and consumer marketing manager for Penguin Young Readers Group.
  • Julia Costa has been promoted to digital marketing and publishing assistant. She was previously a marketing assistant.
  • Allegra Green has joined the group as marketing assistant.

 


Columbia Selling Georgetown University Press

Effective January 1, Columbia Sales Consortium will handle sales of Georgetown University Press to booksellers in the U.S. HFS continues to distribute Georgetown University Press.

Sales reps for Georgetown University Press titles are William Gawronski in the West, Kevin Kurtz in the Midwest, Catherine Hobbs on the East Coast and Dominic Scarpelli in New York City. Columbia Sales Consortium is a division of Columbia University Press and represents academic and university presses to booksellers throughout the country.




Media and Movies

Media Heat: Mary Higgins Clark on the Today Show

Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Mary Higgins Clark, co-author of The Magical Christmas Horse (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, $17.99, 9781416994787).

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Tomorrow on ABC's Barbara Walters Presents: The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2011: Donald Trump, author of Time to Get Tough: Making America #1 Again (Regnery, $27.95, 9781596987739).


Movies: Sherlock Holmes and Saviors in the NIght

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, loosely based on Arthur Conan Doyle classic detective tales, opens this Friday, December 16. Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and Watson (Jude Law) battle the dastardly Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris).

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Saviors in the Night, based on the memoirs of Marga Spiegel, also opens this Friday. Veronica Ferres and Armin Rohde star as members of a Jewish family sheltered from the Nazis by farmers.


Books & Authors

Awards: T.S. Eliot Prize Shortlist Dropouts

Two of the 10 poets shortlisted for this year's $23,000 T.S. Eliot Prize (Shelf Awareness, October 21, 2011) have dropped out of the competition, citing the award's sponsorship by Aurum Funds, an international financial firm, Jacket Copy reported.  

Alice Oswald, who won the prize 2002, expressed discomfort "about the fact that Aurum Funds, an investment company which exclusively manages funds of hedge funds, is sponsoring the administration of the Eliot Prize; I think poetry should be questioning not endorsing such institutions and for that reason I'm withdrawing from the Eliot shortlist." John Kinsella also asked not to be considered.

Jacket Copy noted that Eliot "did not have such concerns about the financial industry; he worked for Lloyd's Bank before moving into publishing."


Reviewer's Choice: Top Ten of 2011

Each December, our reviewers choose their top books; today's list is by Valerie Ryan, from Cannon Beach Book Company, Ore.

To Be Sung Underwater by Tom McNeal (Little, Brown)
Judith Whitman is a 44-year-old successful film editor in Los Angeles, happily married--mostly--and the bearer of a huge secret: she can't get her first love out of her head. What follows from that fact is a great story: romantic, poignant and real.

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
A love triangle carried on as a post-graduate experiment in life, love and marriage. The marriage plot found in Jane Austen and George Eliot novels is here made contemporary and irresistible.

We the Animals by Justin Torres (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
A touching, frightening story of three young boys who grow up in an atmosphere of neglect, poverty, violent beatings and occasional moments of pure, radiant love.

Turn of Mind by Alice La Plante (Atlantic Monthly Press)
A masterful family drama and a thrilling murder mystery. A retired orthopedic surgeon is suspected of murdering her friend and neighbor, because the woman's fingers have been surgically and neatly removed. The problem is that the surgeon has dementia and can't remember anything about it--or can she?

The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright (Norton)
The author is uncannily deft at portraying lust and passion as they morph into resignation and the realization that one marriage may be much like another. "I thought it would be a different life, but sometimes it is like the same life in a dream...." Addictive reading about an affair and its consequences.

There but for The by Ali Smith (Pantheon)
A dinner guest excuses himself from the table, goes upstairs and locks himself in a bedroom, where he remains for three months. We wonder why. Four people try to tell us.

Last Man in Tower by Aravind Adiga (Knopf)
Tenants in a building moving toward decrepitude are offered more money than they have ever seen to vacate so that a developer may realize his lifelong dream of building a truly beautiful structure. All agree except one. He wants nothing more than what he has. How to convince him? A perfect meditation on greed and what grief an inordinate love of money can cause.

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett (Harper)
A journey to the jungle of Brazil to find what happened to a co-worker brings Dr. Marina Singh into contact with an anaconda, cannibals, creatures that bite and sting and, most frightening of all, her former teacher and mentor, Dr. Annick Swenson. Patchett makes the jungle jump off the page with all its smells, sounds, rot, green beauty, teeming life and a story that is a fascinating tale of two dedicated women.

The Paris Wife by Paula McLean (Ballantine Books)
A well-written novel that captures a remarkable period of time--Paris in the '20s --and a love affair between two unforgettable people: Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley.

The Sense of An Ending by Julian Barnes (Knopf)
Richly deserving of the Man Booker prize, this slender novel contains volumes of insight as middle-aged Tony Webster, amicably divorced and comfortably retired, is forced to look back on a life he thought he had neatly compartmentalized and well understood. Not so. A strange and unexpected legacy causes him to re-evaluate everything.


IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at IndieBound.org, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

Hardcover

Lightning Rods by Helen DeWitt (New Directions, $24.95, 9780811219433). "Joe, an out of work encyclopedia salesman, has a lot of ideas. Most are useless, but he stumbles upon a solution to the problem of sexual harassment and low productivity in the workplace. His unconventional idea is an immediate hit for corporate offices, but Joe is then forced to take on the stigma of being very successful at something that is revolting to most. Reminiscent of the writings of both Shteyngart and Palahniuk, Lightning Rods avoids pretension by being bizarrely funny and satisfyingly sardonic." --Rachel Haisley, the King's English, Salt Lake City, Utah

Mourad: New Moroccan by Mourad Lahlou (Artisan, $40, 9781579654290). "Foodies and book-lovers rejoice! Lahlou's new book is the perfect title for you holiday gift list. This cookbook reads like a memoir, with an engaging introduction by the self-taught chef, several special sections to help the home cook get started, and more than 100 recipes that are perfectly presented, all interspersed with beautiful food and location photographs. You'll want to read this cookbook from start to finish, but save time for cooking--the food is delicious!" --Roni K. Devlin, Literary Life Bookstore & More, Inc., Grand Rapids, Mich.

Paperback

Second Read: Writers Look Back at Classic Works of Reportage edited by James Marcus (Columbia University Press, $24.50, 9780231159319). "Covering a range of long-form journalism from classics such as James Agee's Let Us Now Praise Famous Men and Rachel Carson's Silent Spring to less well-known works including Rian Malan's My Traitor's Heart and Betty McDonald's Anybody Can Do Anything, contemporary journalists offer fresh looks at the work of previous generations in this rich collection." --Sarah Rettger, Newtonville Books, Newton, Mass.

For Teen Readers

Past Perfect by Leila Sales (Simon Pulse, $16.99, 9781442406827). "Ever wondered what it's like to work in a historical reenactment park? Chelsea works at Essex Historical Colonial Village, and it's more interesting that anyone could imagine: there's romance, heartbreak, and a war with the Civil War reenactment park across the street. A fun and funny teen read!" --Lauren Peugh, Mrs. Nelson's Toy & Book Shop, La Verne, Calif.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

 


Book Review

Review: The Invisible Ones

The Invisible Ones by Stef Penney (Putnam, $25.95 hardcover, 9780399157714, January 5, 2012)

Ray Lovell is a fairly average private investigator; though he did have one prominent success early in his career, he's so haunted by its consequences that he's vowed to never take on another missing persons case again. Nevertheless, when a desperate father asks Ray to find his daughter, Rose, who disappeared seven years ago shortly after her marriage, he agrees--the missing woman is a Gypsy, and while most detectives might not be able to get any answers from the close-knit community, Ray has Gypsy heritage on his father's side.

Something, however, went wrong: as The Invisible Ones opens, Ray has woken up in a hospital, paralyzed after an apparent car accident. At first, the police think that he's overdosed on drugs, but it eventually turns out that he's ingested ergot and henbane, two powerful herbal poisons. While he recovers, he recounts the events that lead up to his accident--and introduces a second perspective to the story, that of JJ, Rose's teenage nephew, who lives with his mother and extended family in a set of trailers parked on a farmer's land.

Stef Penney's first literary thriller, The Tenderness of Wolves, won the Costa Book Award for debut novels in 2006. The Invisible Ones lives up to that pedigree, with a genuinely baffling mystery that takes Ray well along one path before veering into a direction that will catch most readers off guard. As dual narrators, Ray and JJ spend a lot of time thinking about the missing Rose, but it's not the only thing going on in their lives. Ray's caught up in his feelings for a marriage he hasn't quite accepted as failed, and JJ is at an age where his family's nomadic lifestyle complicates the effort to socialize with his peers.

By setting the novel in the 1980s, Penney takes away convenient technologies like cell phones and the Internet, forcing Ray to conduct his investigation with nothing but old-fashioned legwork. This adds another layer of dogged determinism to his character, reinforcing readers' sympathy. Meanwhile, JJ could easily be the protagonist of a sophisticated young adult novel (think Robert Cormier) about a Gypsy family with a tragic past and a looming secret. Fused together, Penney's two character studies make The Invisible Ones a truly distinctive suspense novel. --Ron Hogan

Shelf Talker: Many booksellers were fans of Stef Penney's debut novel, and they won't be disappointed by her second--nor will anyone who likes their thrillers with a literary flair.


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