Shelf Awareness for Monday, February 10, 2014


Little Brown and Company: The Balcony by Jane Delury

Houghton Mifflin: Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein: Based on a True Story by Jennifer Roy with Ali Fadhil

Tarcherperigee: F You Very Much: Understanding the Culture of Rudeness--And What We Can Do about It by Danny Wallace

Katherine Tegen Books: Another Quest for Celeste (Nest for Celeste #2) by Henry Cole

News

Store Closings: Reading Frenzy, BAM

Reading Frenzy has closed its last outpost, the Star News reported.

Founded in Zimmerman, Minn., in 2010, Reading Frenzy opened a branch called the Reading Frenzy Corner last April in the new Elk River Area Arts Alliance Building. The original Zimmerman store closed six months ago, and the Elk River store closed at the beginning of the month.

Reading Frenzy sold new and used books and had an extensive schedule of author appearances and creative events, including mystery dinners, a pie contest, turtle races and the Frenzy Games (at which "contestants competed for a hundred-dollar gift certificate in near-death matches of rock, paper and scissors").

Sheri Olson, who owned the store with her husband, Mike, said that sales didn't cover costs, so they decided to close "even though we'd had a fantastic time and had all these fun events."

One silver lining: Sheri Olson said she learned that she's good at events planning and aims to set up a marketing and events planning business.

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On March 15, Books-A-Million is closing its store in Trenholm Plaza, Forest Acres, S.C., the State reported.

It's the third chain store to close in the Columbia area in the past year, following the closing of a Barnes & Noble in Irmo and of another BAM location, also in Irmo, which was converted to a 2nd & Charles, the BAM division that features used, discounted books and electronics with a few new books in the mix.

The remaining chain bookstores in the area are a B&N in Columbia and two BAMs, one in Columbia, the other in Lexington.


Page Street Kids: Beneath the Haunting Sea by Joanna Meyer


Mendham Books Owners May Re-Open Elsewhere

The closing of Mendham Books, Mendham, N.J., noted here on Friday, is happening because the store's lease is running out, and owners Tom and Tori Williams couldn't reach an agreement with the landlord on a new lease, the Star-Ledger reported.

Tom Williams said that he may open a bookstore in another location, possibly in Madison, N.J., about 10 miles away, where he lives (and where the only new bookstore is Sages Pages, heavily damaged in a recent flood). Mendham Books must vacate its current space by mid-March.

Speaking with the paper, Mendham mayor Neil Henry said, "This has been a long-standing, well-received, well-respected store in our town. I'm getting a lot of feedback from a big cross-section of our community who are very upset that they were not able to re-negotiate their lease. It was a positive force in the community and it will definitely be missed."

He added that he will speak with Williams about possibly finding another location in Mendham.


Soho Crime: My Name Is Nathan Lucius by Mark Winkler


Indigo CEO Fields Questions About Store's Closure

On Wednesday, Indigo CEO Heather Reisman made an "unusual appearance" at a town hall meeting in the soon-to-close Chapters location in Toronto's Runnymede section to answer questions from the community. Quillblog reported that after addressing "a series of preselected questions printed on cue-cards, rehashing the sad, true reality: the company is unable to afford a rent increase on the 22,000 sq.-ft. space.," she took opened the floor to a general q&a session.

"Maybe eight months ago we should have had this meeting, when we still had an opportunity to renew [the lease]," she said. "Maybe I would have said... 'Does everybody want to ante up and we create this into a bit of club?' "

Reisman told the audience that while Indigo still wants to stay in the neighborhood, "In all of the high-demand areas, rents are going up hugely. At the same time that rents are going up, customers--maybe not you, but maybe a few of you--are very happy to come into stores, browse all the products, and then shop online at the cheapest place they can find. That is happening. You all know it."


Ecco Press: Tangerine by Christine Mangan


New DreamWorks Press to Be Distributed by PGW

DreamWorks Animation has founded DreamWorks Press, which will publish digital and print books from the studio's archives. The press is headed by Emma Whittard, an 18-year veteran of children's publishing, including eight with Disney, and supported by DreamWorks Animation's head of franchise, Shawn Dennis, who previously oversaw publishing for American Girl. DreamWorks Press will be sold and distributed through Perseus's Publishers Group West.

The first titles will likely launch in time for the holiday season later this year and feature such DreamWorks Animation franchises as Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar, Shrek and the upcoming B.O.O.: Bureau of Otherworldly Operations, as well as other DreamWorks Classics properties and AwesomenessTV, which the company recently acquired. DreamWorks Animation will also build an international team within the publishing arm.

Dennis commented: "As we continue to grow our brand on a global level, DreamWorks Press will give fans a meaningful way to interact with us on a year-round basis. Publishing is a crucial component of any successful franchise, and owning and developing this capability in-house will give us an unprecedented platform to expand the worlds of our most beloved characters as well as introduce families to new characters from within our library."


Amazon Selling Kindles Online in Brazil; Ups Showrooming Game

Amazon, which launched its Brazil Kindle Store more than a year ago, has added Kindle devices to its e-book website. Reuters reported that by "shipping its e-reader devices across this immense country, Amazon will now get a taste of Brazil's notorious logistics problems, widely seen as a deterrent for a full-fledged retail operation like the one it has in the U.S."

"From north to south, from east to west, we are going to be delivering products across Brazil," said Alex Szapiro, head of Amazon Brazil. Noting that the company will leave the shipment of its devices to external partners, he added: "Logistics can be a challenge in Brazil, but we also have to see the other side--Brazil is very advanced in terms of e-commerce."

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Amazon.com has made a move that might make the showrooming problem worse: last week, the company introduced Amazon Flow, an image recognition feature on its iPhone and Android apps that allows users to take a picture of a product and then compare prices and buy it immediately. The technology is simpler than the more widespread "showrooming" app that recognizes bar codes.

Telecrunch noted that Amazon Flash "works by identifying not only media package covers, but also logos, artwork and other unique visual features--and can cover a much broader range of packaged items. You still can't take a picture of, say, a pair of headphones you have lying around the house out of box, but for showrooming purposes (its main use case) that shouldn't matter all that much."


Obituary Note: Maxine Kumin

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Maxine Kumin, "whose spare, deceptively simple lines explored some of the most complex aspects of human existence--birth and death, evanescence and renewal, and the events large and small conjoining them all," died Thursday, the New York Times reported. She was 88. A poetry collection, And Short the Season (Norton), is scheduled to be published this spring, as is Lizzie! (Triangle Square/Seven Stories Press), "a partly autobiographical novel for young adults about a girl coping with a spinal-cord injury," the Times noted.


G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
The Mercy Seat
by Elizabeth H. Winthrop 

In Jim Crow-era Louisiana, a handful of townspeople contemplate the impending execution of 18-year-old Willie Jones. As they consider their own roles in the young black man's fate, some with regret, others with a certain sort of vicious pride, author Elizabeth H. Winthrop builds a taut, yet tender portrait of racism, justice and our legal system in The Mercy Seat. Winthrop’s skillful plaiting of multiple viewpoints into an aching, quietly powerful tale is both impressive and effective--you will see yourself in one or more of the characters, and it will make you uncomfortable. But you'll thank Winthrop for the opportunity, which might be the most wondrous work of The Mercy Seat in the end. This is Winthrop's break-out book. --Stefanie Hargreaves, editor, Shelf Awareness for Readers 

(Grove Press, $26.00 hardcover, 9780802128188, May 8, 2018)

CLICK HERE TO ENTER
#ShelfGLOW
Shelf vetted, publisher supported

Notes

On Exhibit: 'The Art of the Bookstore'

"The Art of the Bookstore" is part of a "People and Places" exhibition at the Bountiful/Davis Art Center in Farmington, Utah, that "celebrates the independent bookstores still dotted across the country," the Davis Clipper reported.

Each painting is titled with a bookstore's name, including The Cottage Book Shop ("as rustic and homey-looking as its name suggests"); Chapters ("focuses only on one beautifully ornate window, framing a glimpse of high ceilings and shelf after shelf of books"); The Strand ("its innocuous storefront surrounded by the gleaming lights of New York City"); and Shakespeare & Co. ("beckons people inside with the cool glow of neon in its window").

There is even a Barnes & Noble store. "Though it first seems out of place with the independent bookstores that fill the other paintings, there's enough character in it to see it as a gesture of peace. Any building full of books, it seems to say, can't be all bad," the Davis Clipper wrote. The exhibition runs through February 14.


Odyssey Bookshop: 'Still Going Strong After 50 Years'

The Odyssey Bookshop, South Hadley Mass., "has an international reputation and is still going strong after 50 years, but its owner isn't taking anything for granted," the Republican reported in its profile of the bookstore that "is the centerpiece of the Village Commons, a picturesque mixed-use complex of shops nestled near Mount Holyoke College."

"There hasn't been a day when it's not challenging to run an independent book store. It's always been that way," said owner Joan Grenier, adding that she has observed an important change in recent years: "I think people are really understanding the impact of buying locally."

Manager and buyer Emily Crowe noted that the warm relationship Odyssey booksellers have with customers is a key to their success: "We have striven so hard to be part of the community."


'18 Bookstores Every Book Lover Must Visit Once'

Noting that "bookstores can be a destination upon themselves," Business Insider featured "18 bookstores every book lover must visit at least once," including BookPeople, Austin, Tex.; the Strand in New York City; Books & Books, Coral Gables, Fla.; Politics & Prose, Washington D.C.; Bart's Books, Ojai, Calif.; Prairie Lights, Iowa City, Iowa; Boulder Books, Boulder, Colo.; Powell's Books, Portland, Ore.; and John K. King Used And Rare Books, Detroit, Mich.


Media and Movies

Movies: Art of Racing in the Rain; Vernon God Little; Black Mass

Thomas Bezucha (Big Eden, The Family Stone, Monte Carlo) will direct The Art of Racing in the Rain, based on Garth Stein's bestselling novel, from a script by Mark Bomback (Wolverine), the Wrap reported. Universal Pictures originally purchased the rights to the novel in 2009 as a star vehicle for Patrick Dempsey (Grey's Anatomy), who will not appear in the movie, but is producing with Neal Moritz (Fast & Furious), the Wrap noted.
 
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"God bless Werner Herzog because sometimes we need a reminder that cinema can be unpredictable and unexpected," Indiewire observed in reporting that the cast for an upcoming film adaptation of DBC Pierre's novel Vernon God Little begins with Russell Brand, and "Mike Tyson and Pamela Anderson are now in talks to join the movie." The project, written by Andrew Birkin (Perfume, Joan of Arc, Omen III), "will begin production this spring once Herzog wraps on Queen of the Desert."

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Johnny Depp will star in Black Mass, based on the book Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob by Dick Lehr and Gerald O'Neill. Indiewire reported the film at one point was going to be directed by Barry Levinson, with Johnny Depp and Joel Edgerton starring, but "was shut down and seemed like one of those projects that may be forever troubled." Now, however, it's back on with Depp in the lead role, Scott Cooper (Out of the Furnace) directing, Mark Mallouk writing and Tom Hardy "in early talks to co-star." Production is scheduled to begin in May.


TV: Game of Thrones Preview; Chesapeake Shores

HBO has released a 15-minute "Foreshadowing" of Game of Thrones season 4, "including a q&a with cast members and footage from the forthcoming season... (Spoilers for season 3, obviously.)," Tor.com reported. GOT's fourth season debuts April 6. 

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The Hallmark Channel and Harlequin Mira have struck a deal with author Sherryl Woods to develop her Chesapeake Shores novels for a potential prime-time series in 2015. Two new books in the series are also in the works to coincide with a possible launch of the show.

"It is an absolute thrill to be working on this project with the Hallmark Channel and with a team that respects the books as much as they do," said Woods. "It's the perfect match for me and, most especially, for Chesapeake Shores. After spending more than 10 years reporting on the television industry at the beginning of my career, I feel as if my life has come full circle. I hope fans of the series are as excited about it as I am."


Media Heat: Elizabeth Kolbert on The Sixth Extinction

This morning on CBS This Morning: Elizabeth Kolbert, author of The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History (Holt, $28, 9780805092998). She will also be on the Daily Show tomorrow night.

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Today on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Judy Foreman, author of A Nation in Pain: Healing our Biggest Health Problem (Oxford University Press, $29.95, 9780199837205).

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Today on Dr. Oz: David B. Agus, author of A Short Guide to a Long Life (Simon & Schuster, $17.95, 9781476730950).

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Today on the View: Brandi Glanville, author of Drinking and Dating: P.S. Social Media Is Ruining Romance (HarperOne, $25.99, 9780062296313). She also appears tomorrow on CBS's Entertainment Tonight and on the Insider.


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Today on Tavis Smiley: P.J. O'Rourke, author of The Baby Boom: How It Got That Way (And It Wasn't My Fault) (And I'll Never Do It Again) (Atlantic Monthly Press, $25, 9780802121974).

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Tomorrow morning on Fox & Friends: Allison Pataki, author of The Traitor's Wife: A Novel (Howard, $14.99, 9781476738604).

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Tomorrow on Fresh Air: Kevin Fong, author of Extreme Medicine: How Exploration Transformed Medicine in the Twentieth Century (Penguin Press, $27.95, 9781594204708).

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Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Jennifer Clement, author of Prayers for the Stolen (Hogarth, $23, 9780804138789).

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Tomorrow on NPR's Marketplace: Zachary Karabell, author of The Leading Indicators: A Short History of the Numbers That Rule Our World (Simon & Schuster, $27, 9781451651201).

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Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: Charlie Crist, co-author of The Party's Over: How the Extreme Right Hijacked the GOP and I Became a Democrat (Dutton, $26.95, 9780525954415).



Books & Authors

Awards: International Prize for Arabic Fiction Shortlist

The six shortlisted titles for the 2014 International Prize for Arabic Fiction (with the authors' nationality) are:

A Rare Blue Bird that Flies with Me by Youssef Fadel (Morocco)
Tashari by Inaam Kachachi (Iraq)
No Knives in This City's Kitchens by Khaled Khalifa (Syria)
The Journeys of 'Abdi, Known as Son of Hamriya by Abdelrahim Lahbibi (Morocco)
The Blue Elephant by Ahmed Mourad (Egypt)
Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi (Iraq)

Each shortlisted titles receives $10,000, and the winner, announced April 29, just before the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, received another $50,000.


GBO Picks All Russians Love Birch Trees

The German Book Office in New York has selected All Russians Love Birch Trees by Olga Grjasnowa, translated by Eva Bacon (Other Press, $15.95, 9781590515846) as its February book of the month.

The GBO described the book this way: "As a child, Masha witnessed the bloody Armenian pogroms of the 1990s. An immigrant from Azerbaijan, relocated to Frankfurt, she grows to be a headstrong young woman for whom the issue of origin and nationality is seemingly immaterial--her Jewish background and fluency in five languages have taught her she can survive anywhere. But the lingering traumas of her childhood and her inability to process grief remain. When her boyfriend, Elias, becomes abruptly and seriously ill, she flees for a job in Israel. Her failed attempts to make meaningful connections there are set against the backdrop of the Israeli-Palestine conflict, and Masha is again forced to confront the lasting impact of the violence and war she witnessed as a child."

It said, too, that Grjasnowa's "writing illuminates the ironic, often humorous, dichotomy faced by a generation that has adapted so well to the process of immigration; having honed the art of survival, mastering the nuances of language, cultural and ethnic identity--but still, in so many ways, unable to truly feel at home anywhere. With indelible storytelling, wit, and insight, this fresh new voice grapples with the fluidity of nationality and identity in the increasingly global 21st century, and of the timeless struggle to make human connections, granting a bittersweet quality to her story."

Olga Grjasnowa was born in 1984 in Baku, Azerbaijan, grew up in the Caucasus, and has spent extended periods in Poland, Russia and Israel. She moved to Germany at age 12 and is a graduate of the German Institute for Literature/Creative Writing in Leipzig. In 2010, she won the Dramatist Prize of the Wiener Wortstätten for her debut play, Mitfühlende Deutsche (Compassionate Germans). She is currently studying dance science at the Berlin Free University.

Eva Bacon studied German and English Literature at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and has worked as an international literary scout. This is her first translation of a novel.


Book Review

Review: Thirty Girls

Thirty Girls by Susan Minot (Knopf, $26.95 hardcover, 9780307266385, February 11, 2014)

Susan Minot (Monkeys, Evening) is best known for her short fiction chronicling complex family and marital relationships among well-bred New Englanders. In Thirty Girls, however, she leaves that behind to tell the story of a group of Catholic schoolgirls kidnapped, raped and abused by the brutal Uganda rebel Joseph Kony and his Lord's Resistance Army. Based on the "Aboke abductions" of 1996, Thirty Girls is a novel as raw, beautiful and seemingly serendipitous as the politics, landscape and culture of the sub-Saharan Africa it describes.

While Thirty Girls is partly the story of survivor Esther Akello, it is even more the story of Jane Wood, a 40-something divorced American woman seeking purpose and connection in her life by writing about the abducted girls for a New York magazine. Jane flies to Nairobi to stay at the house of freespirited Lana, who gathers guests and boyfriends with such ease that Jane finds herself happily "away from normal life... People here just did things. You just went." Among Lana's hangers-on is 22-year-old Harry, with whom Jane begins a passionate affair. Competent, quiet and up for anything, Harry drives Jane--accompanied by Lana and others--to a rehabilitation hospital in Uganda to interview Esther.

"What I have inside is for me to look at alone," Esther says, with the halting hesitancy of a teen who has seen too much horror too soon. "I don't want these stories to be my life forever. I want another life." In juxtaposition, Jane and her privileged entourage bounce their Land Rover across dirt roads to northern Uganda with many stops for picnics and cliff-jumping adventures. After coaxing Esther to talk about details of her life among barbarous boy-soldier rebels, Jane begins to understand herself--that "her attachments to people turned out to be more intermittent, not entirely there... her connection to the world came only in a string of moments." She realizes that although the relationship with Harry gives her a physical center of pleasure, it won't last.

As it turns out, the themes of Minot's new novel aren't that far from those of her previous work. She has an uncanny feel for the emotional hit-or-miss connections between people, but in Thirty Girls she explores them against a background of random violence and political corruption where not only hearts and minds get broken, but also human bodies. --Bruce Jacobs

Shelf Talker: In a seeming departure from Minot's previous short fiction, Thirty Girls is a novel of violent sub-Saharan Africa and the self-centered lives of those who come only to observe it.


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