Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, January 14, 2014


Chooseco: Chimera (Weregirl #2) by C.D. Bell

Riverhead Books: My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent

Barron's Educational Series: Dear Dinosaur: With Real Letters to Read! by Chae Strathie, illustrated by Nicola O'Byrne

Timber Press: Saving Tarboo Creek: One Family's Quest to Heal the Land by Scott Freeman

HarperCollins: Laura's Album: A Remembrance Scrapbook of Laura Ingalls Wilder by William Anderson

News

Law Firms in Rush to Sue Barnes & Noble

Many of the law firms specializing in "shareholder lawsuits" that sought possible plaintiffs in suits against Barnes & Noble have filed class action suits and continue to seek plaintiffs.

The suits stem from the December revelation, made by B&N in a Form 10-Q filing, that the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating B&N's July restatement of results for two years--losses in fiscal 2011 and 2012 were $9.2 million less than originally stated--and for a separate matter "related to a former non-executive employee's allegation that the Company improperly allocated certain information technology expenses between its Nook and Retail segments for purposes of segment reporting," as B&N put it.

The suits use the SEC investigation as a basis and add detail that is remarkably similar from suit to suit. In the suit filed by Ryan & Maniskas, echoing the other suits, the firm alleges that B&N "misrepresented or failed to disclose," among other things, that Nook e-book reader sales had dramatically declined; that B&N would shutter its Nook manufacturing operations altogether; that the carrying value of the Nook inventory was overstated by $133 million; and that B&N was expecting fiscal 2014 retail losses in the high single digits. The suit also said that the company's August 20 results announcement included "much worse company-wide financial results for its first quarter 2014 than the market had been led to expect, including lower sales and losses that more than doubled from the first quarter of 2013. Barnes & Noble also disclosed that the Company's Chairman had placed on hold his previous bid to take the Company's bookstore business private. On this news, the Company's stock price fell more than $2 per share, or approximately 12%."

The suits seek to represent any buyers of B&N stock between February 25 and December 5, 2013. The deadline to be a lead plaintiff in the suits is March 10, 2014.


Avery Publishing Group: The End of Alzheimer's: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline by Dale Bredesen


Binc Foundation Expands Scholarship Program

The Book Industry Charitable (Binc) Foundation is accepting applications from now until February 28 for the expanded Binc Foundation Scholarship program. The program will offer two scholarships at the $10,000 level, and up to 51 $3,500 awards, together totaling $198,500, to eligible current bookstore employees or owners and their dependents, as well as former Borders Group employees and their dependents. Awards may be used for tuition, fees, books, supplies and room and board. Funds may also be used after the 2014-2015 academic year.

Foundation executive director Pam French commented: "We received such positive feedback regarding the scholarships awarded in 2013 that when it came time to plan for the 2014 scholarship program, it made sense to expand the program."

Scholarship America (Scholarship Management Services) will again conduct the scholarship program. Criteria include financial need, academic achievement, leadership capabilities and participation in school and community activities, work experience and a statement of career aspiration. To apply and for more information, go to scholarshipamerica.org/binc.

Founded in 1996 to provide assistance to bookstore employees with a financial need arising from severe hardship and/or emergency circumstances, the Foundation has provided more than $5 million in charitable assistance. And since 2001, the Foundation has supported the educational goals of almost 500 recipients with more than $1.1 million in awards.

The Binc Foundation aims to help all current employees or owners and dependents of retail bookstores in the U.S. who have a minimum of one year of continuous employment at a bookstore. The bookstore must have a retail bricks-and-mortar presence in the U.S. and generate a substantial portion of revenue from the sale of books. Eligible employees must be employed directly by the bookstore.


Soho Teen: No Saints in Kansas by Amy Brashear


Reader's Digest Children's Publishing Now Studio Fun International

Reader's Digest Children's Publishing, which publishes interactive books for children, has changed its name to Studio Fun International. The company also has a new logo and new website.

"We are growing, diversifying, and reaching out to new audiences," publisher and managing director Neil Wertheimer said. "We feel it is the right time to refresh our name and look in a way that best represents our current and future direction."

Many Studio Fun International products are based on such major children's brands as Disney, Nickelodeon, Sesame Street, Mattel, DC Comics, Hasbro and Hit Entertainment. In addition, the business creates interactive books and products under its own imprint in the children's activity, learning, storybook and toy categories.

Studio Fun International had the Reader's Digest Children's Publishing name for 15 years. Before that, the business was known as Joshua Morris Publishing, which started in 1983 as a partnership between publishing veterans Michael Morris and Joshua Gaspero.


She Writes Press: Things Unsaid by Diana Y. Paul


WSJ Book Club Begins Meeting Online

The WSJ Book Club, sponsored by the Wall Street Journal, launched yesterday.

The Book Club is led by authors; the guest host picks the book and guides readers through it. The first guest host is Elizabeth Gilbert, who will lead a discussion of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall. Future hosts include Neil Gaiman and Gillian Flynn.

Book club participants may pose questions and join the discussion on Twitter, using the hashtag #WSJbookclub. So far, more than 650 people have signed up for the club.


DK Publishing: Star Wars Coding Projects by Jon Woodcock


Notes

Image of the Day: Laurie Halse Anderson at the Red Balloon

The Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul, Minn., hosted an event Sunday at which (l.) Carrie Mesrobian, author of Sex & Violence, introduced (c.) Laurie Halse Anderson, whose new book is The Impossible Knife of Memory, pictured here with events manager Amy Oelkers.


Scuppernong Books Sets Grand Opening Party

Congratulations! Scuppernong Books, Greensboro, N.C., is holding its grand opening party 6-10 p.m., on Saturday, February 1, when the store will provide samples from its menu, wine and beer specials, music from Matty Sheets and the Blockheads, and readings and performances from the staff and friends. As a "price of admission," the store is suggesting attendees donate one item of canned food for Greensboro Urban Ministries.

Scuppernong opened December 21. The store said, "Greensboro's enthusiasm and support has been overwhelming. We hope that this is the beginning of a long and rewarding relationship between the readers of Greensboro and Scuppernong Books."

Co-owner Brian Lampkin commented: "We want to be an active component in the intellectual life of Greensboro, as well as a comfortable and kind place to land. What people are missing from the big chain bookstores is a sense of place, a sense that the store belongs to their community."


Beth Golay Launches Books and Whatnot

Beth Golay, marketing manager and events coordinator for Watermark Books and Cafe in Wichita, Kan., for 12 years, is starting Books and Whatnot, an online newsletter meant to provide marketing solutions for independent booksellers.

"Booksellers are the smartest people in the world, but they have so many products to sell and wear so many hats, especially if they work in a small shop, that it can be easy to become overwhelmed," Golay said. "Publishers provide so many great materials, too, but those can go overlooked."

The goal of Books and Whatnot, Golay said, is to "break marketing down into manageable segments." Each issue, which comes out daily, contains three or four short pieces. Topics have ranged from tips for making the most out of a store's Twitter and Facebook pages to suggestions for marketing new releases. Golay was adamant that the entire issue shouldn't take more than five or 10 minutes to read.

"I know what's facing me when I get to my inbox every day, and how busy indies are," said Golay. "Some days there might be surveys, other times it may just be food for thought."

The desire to start a marketing newsletter for booksellers, Golay said, stemmed from hearing booksellers ask many of the same questions at trade shows and conferences.

"When you start visiting bookstores and talking to booksellers, a lot of the same topics keep coming up," said Golay. "We're so busy as booksellers that sometimes we just don't think of certain things. I want Books and Whatnot to be a resource for booksellers, and knowing what other booksellers are doing tends to help. We're all partners in this together."

Golay will officially step down from Watermark Books and Cafe January 31. The newsletter launched on January 1. --Alex Mutter


Personnel: Penguin Random House, University of Virginia Press

Effective January 27, Tony Lutkus is joining Penguin Random House in New York in the newly created position of senior director, international marketing, U.K. and Commonwealth sales, for Penguin Group U.S. titles. He is currently international sales and marketing director at Hachette Book Group, where he has worked for 18 years in the international sales and marketing department. He is also chair of the AAP International Sales Committee.

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At the University of Virginia Press:

Emily Grandstaff has been promoted to sales and publicity director. She was formerly marketing and publicity manager.
Jason Coleman has been promoted to marketing director. He was formerly marketing and promotions manager.
Brenda Fitzgerald has been promoted to customer service and operations manager. She was formerly customer service manager.



Media and Movies

Media Heat: Robert M. Gates, Gabriel Sherman

This morning on Good Morning America: Drew Barrymore, author of Find It in Everything (Little, Brown, $18, 9780316253062).

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This morning on CBS This Morning: Trent Reedy, author of Words in the Dust (Arthur A. Levine Books, $6.99, 9780545261265).

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Today on Fresh Air: P.W. Singer, author of Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford University Press, $16.95, 9780199918119).

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Today on the Hallmark Channel's Home & Family: twin sisters Judi and Shari Zucker, authors of The Ultimate Allergy-Free Snack Cookbook (Square One, $15.95, 9780757003462).

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Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Clive Hamilton, author of Earthmasters: The Dawn of the Age of Climate Engineering (Yale University Press, $28, 9780300186673).

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Tomorrow on Dr. Oz: Cameron Diaz, author of The Body Book: The Law of Hunger, the Science of Strength, and Other Ways to Love Your Amazing Body (HarperWave, $25.99, 9780062252746).

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Tomorrow on CBS's the Talk: Justin Klosky, author of Organize & Create Discipline: An A-to-Z Guide to an Organized Existence (Avery, $26, 9781583335291).

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Tomorrow night on the Daily Show: Robert M. Gates, author of Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War (Knopf, $35, 9780307959478).

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Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: Gabriel Sherman, author of The Loudest Voice in the Room: How the Brilliant, Bombastic Roger Ailes Built Fox News--and Divided a Country (Random House, $28, 9780812992854).


Movies: Ten Thousand Saints; The Diary of a Teenage Girl

Ethan Hawke and Asa Butterfield will star in the film adaptation of Eleanor Henderson's novel Ten Thousands Saints, Deadline.com reported. The movie, directed by Bob Pulcini and Shari Berman (American Splendor), also stars Hailee Steinfeld (Ender's Game).

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Kristen Wiig, Alexander Skarsgard and Bel Powley have joined the cast of The Diary of a Teenage Girl, based on Phoebe Gloeckner's graphic novel and directed by Marielle Heller.


On Stage: Of Mice and Men

A new poster is out for what Entertainment Weekly called "surely one of this spring's most interesting new productions on Broadway," the revival of John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men starring James Franco, Chris O'Dowd, Leighton Meester and Tony Jim Norton. The play, directed by Anna D. Shapiro, begins previews March 19 at the Longacre Theatre, with opening night set for April 16 for a limited engagement scheduled to conclude July 27.


Books & Authors

Awards: Guggenheim-Lehrman, Hot Key Young Writers Shortlists

The shortlist of books for the inaugural Guggenheim-Lehrman Prize in Military History, honoring "the best book in the field of military history published in English during the previous calendar year," are:

The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945 (Liberation Trilogy) by Rick Atkinson (Holt)
Gettysburg: The Last Invasion by Allen C. Guelzo (Knopf)
Britain Against Napoleon: The Organization of Victory, 1793-1815 by Roger Knight (Allen Lane/Penguin Books)
Surge: My Journey with General David Petraeus and the Remaking of the Iraq War by Peter R. Mansoor (Yale University Press)
The Men Who Lost America by Andrew Jackson O'Shaughnessy (Yale University Press)
The Bombing War: Europe, 1939-1945 by Richard Overy (Allen Lane/Penguin Books)

The winner of the $50,000 prize will be announced at a ceremony March 17 at the New-York Historical Society in New York City.

Josiah Bunting III, president of the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation and national chairman of the English-Speaking Union, commented: "Our purpose in establishing this annual prize is to restore the serious pursuit of military history in research, scholarship, and writing--in recent times ignored by the American academic community--to its traditional role as a staple of historical study."

Funding for the prize is provided by the Foundation and by author Lewis E. Lehrman, co-founder of the Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History.

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Nine young authors from the U.K., U.S. and Australia have been shortlisted for the Hot Key Books Young Writers Prize, which recognizes writers between the ages of 18 and 25. Winners will be announced in two categories (9-12 and 13-19 years old) during the London Book Fair. Each will receive editorial support and the chance to be published by Hot Key Books with the offer of a worldwide publishing contact and an advance of £10,000 (about US$16,500). The finalists received a Kobo Aura device. Check out the shortlisted titles here.


WI9 Buzz Books Part II: Nonfiction, Indie Pubs

From its cover design and promo copy, W.W. Norton is clearly positioning Walter Kirn's Blood Will Out (March) as a modern-day In Cold Blood. Fiction writer Kirn (Up in the Air and Thumbsucker), like Capote, found himself unwittingly immersed in--according to his book's subtitle--"a Murder, a Mystery and a Masquerade." And booksellers who have read the galley in anticipation of meeting Kirn at WI9 agreed with the comparison. In Blood Will Out, Kirn turns his investigative lens as much on himself as his subject to examine how he was duped by the conman known as Clark Rockefeller. "It's a trip and half," observed Geoffrey Jennings of Rainy Day Books in Kansas City, Kan. "It's hard to tell which is stranger, the subject of the book or the author. And I mean that as a compliment to Kirn."

The best memoir writers bring readers into milieus they might never have been interested in, making a specific story resonate universally. In that regard, many WI9 attendees are looking forward to talking with Colson Whitehead about The Noble Hustle: Poker, Beef Jerky, and Death (Doubleday, May).

"Every book he does is different," said Cathy Langer from the Tattered Cover in Denver. So even if people are not interested in poker, she explained, in the hands of the author of Zone One, Sag Harbor and other books, readers are in for a beautifully crafted story, steeped in rich detail. "And it's funny," she added.

In Living with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever's Search for the Truth About Everything (Grand Central, April), Barbara Ehrenreich, author of nonfiction bestsellers as varied as Nickel and Dimed and Salt, uses her own adolescent journals to re-examine her quest for enlightenment in middle age. The result: a book like nothing she has done before.

In a similar way--that is, authors doing things they are not necessarily known for--New Yorker cartoonist and children's book collaborator (with Steve Martin, no less) Roz Chast will be at WI9 to talk about her graphic memoir, Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? (Bloomsbury, May). In it, Chast examines the final years of her parents' lives with her signature poignancy and humor--and illustrations. "How interesting is that going to be?" asked Langer.

 

Strong Indie Press Lists

Winter Institute has always taken a particular interest in showcasing books from independent presses, which, according to Bill Cusumano from Nicola's in Ann Arbor, Mich., do very well in his university town. And for general booksellers like Community Bookstore in Brooklyn, N.Y., Michele Filgate said, scanning the best of the indie presses has become one of the highlights at Winter Institute.

Filgate shared her thoughts as she was in the process of writing a blurb for the essay collection The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison (Graywolf, April). Jamison (author of the novel The Gin Closet) starts with her own experience as an actor hired to help medical students diagnose diseases and extrapolates to ask how we judge each other in all sorts of ways. The essays reminded Filgate of Susan Sontag. "It's a deceptively slender collection that has a lot of depth to it," said the bookseller. "In a very few pages she says so much about humanity."

Michael Link at Joseph-Beth, Cincinnati, Ohio, said he especially appreciates WI's closing indie press event because he always finds some great discoveries published by indies like Soho, Steerforth, Milkweed and Dzanc.

Europa Editions' Michael Reynolds told us about Joanna Gruda's English-language debut, the novel Revolution Baby. The story is told by a 14-year-old boy in Warsaw during World War II who assumes different identities, works for the Resistance and ends up in Paris on the brink of liberation. During the editing process, when Gruda said she'd have to ask her father for details, Reynolds realized the book was much more personal than he'd originally thought. "The story is based on her own father's life, and that explains the warmth with which Joanna tells it." He added that the Polish-born author was an actress and comedian, which might come in handy at book events.

Similarly, Wesley Stace (aka singer/songwriter John Wesley Harding), might bring something extra to events for his novel Wonderkid (Overlook, Feb.). He runs Cabinet of Wonders, a variety show based at City Winery in New York City. The novel is a rock 'n' roll epic, described as "Almost Famous through the looking glass."

Another buzzed-about debut novel from an indie press that is part of ABA's Indies Introduce program this spring is Point of Direction by Rachel Weaver (Ig/Consortium, May). It's about a young couple who take over an Alaskan lighthouse where the last occupant disappeared mysteriously. Sarah Bagby from Watermark Books and Café, Wichita, Kan., observed, "You can't help but learn something about yourself if you are in such a remote area."

Other Press is bringing Lipika Pelham, a BBC reporter and documentary filmmaker who grew up on the border between India and Bangladesh, and now lives in Jerusalem with her Jewish husband and family. She offers a fresh perspective on Israeli life in her memoir, The Unlikely Settler (March). In addition, Other Press has a new book by Rupert Thomas, a literary stylist familiar to many indie booksellers: Secrecy (April), which is set in 17th-century Florence.

When it comes to literary fiction, both Tin House and Hawthorne Books are a sure stop for WI9 attendees. The Dismal Science (Tin House, Feb.), about the unraveling of an ex-World Bank executive, is Seattle author Peter Mountford's follow-up to his award-winning debut, A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism. In April, Hawthorne is publishing Tom Spanbauer's first novel in seven years, I Loved You More, which covers 25 years of an emotionally wounded writer's life; the book has been compared to Jeffery Eugenides's The Marriage Plot.

Quercus, the U.K. publisher that began a U.S. publishing program last year, is bringing Corban Addison, who wrote A Walk Across the Sun, to WI9 to promote his second novel, The Garden of Burning Sand (May). This time the attorney, activist and world traveler examines a rape in Zambia.

Two story collections are getting lots of buzz: The UnAmericans by Molly Antopol (Norton, Feb.) and Praying Drunk by Kyle Minor (Sarabande/Consortium, Feb.). Antopol's debut has blurbs from Adam Johnson, Ken Kalfus and Abraham Verghese; Minor's collection has a glowing blurb from Daniel Handler

Bagby at Watermark Books picked The UnAmericans as the top WI9 book she cannot wait to handsell. She observed, "To have this much buzz about short stories that are not written by Alice Munro, it's great."

Next, in WI9 Buzz Books Part III: YA and Children's picks. --Bridget Kinsella

WI9 Buzz Books Part 1: Top Picks and Debuts in Fiction is here.


Book Review

Review: The Ghost of the Mary Celeste

The Ghost of the Mary Celeste by Valerie Martin (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, $25.95 hardcover, 9780385533508, January 28, 2014)

The Ghost of the Mary Celeste is Valerie Martin's return to the historical novel, a form she has practiced with much skill in works such as Property and Mary Reilly. This superb gothic piece of fictionalized history takes us back to the seafaring days and families of 19th-century Massachusetts with a young Arthur Conan Doyle, a Philadelphia spiritualist and a persistent female journalist. Martin seamlessly weaves them all together in a beautiful, affecting literary tapestry.

The opening chapter is a tour de force. It's 1859, and we're aboard the brig Early Dawn. Captain Joseph Gibbs's wife, Maria, accompanies him on this voyage, leaving their young son, Natie, at home with the Cobb family. During a massive storm, their ship is rammed by another and sinks; Joseph and Maria drown. This powerful, dramatic, carefully realized scene could be a stand-alone story, but it's only the first step in Martin's amazing tale. Next, she delves into the famous real-life disappearance of the crew of the brig Mary Celeste, found floating in the Atlantic in 1872.

The missing included Captain Benjamin Briggs, his wife, Sarah, and their daughter, Sophia, and Martin links them to the story of the Early Dawn in the novel's second section, "The Green Book." It's a journal kept by Maria's young cousin Sarah Cobb in 1860. She worries about her sister, Hannah, and the visions--a "ghoulish fantasy"--she has of the drowned Maria coming for Nathan. She also writes lovingly of Benjamin Briggs, whom she marries.

Enter Arthur Conan Doyle, who is told about the Mary Celeste during an African voyage in 1881. It inspires him to write a story--that many take as fact--"solving" the mystery. Then Petra Violet meets journalist Phoebe Grant at a spiritualist meeting at Massachusetts's Lake Pleasant resort. They strike up a friendship; there's talk of ghosts, the Mary Celeste, the Briggs family. Later, Petra meets Conan Doyle in Philadelphia. Already interested in spiritualism, he's much taken with her--was she the real thing?

One by one, Martin's narrative dominoes tip and fall, touching off yet another twist or turn in her developing tale as they lead us to the "fathomless and waiting sea far below." --Tom Lavoie

Shelf Talker: Enter the richly atmospheric world of a Victorian gothic built from fiction and fact, at whose heart lies an exquisite and intricately layered ghost story.


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