Shelf Awareness for Friday, July 11, 2014


HarperCollins: Dear Girl, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Paris Rosenthal, illustrated by Holly Hatam

Little Brown and Company: The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath by Leslie Jamison

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

Quotation of the Day

Richard Russo: 'What We Care About Is a Healthy Ecosystem'

"While Amazon claims to be concerned about the fate of mid-list and debut authors, we believe their offer--the majority of which Hachette would essentially fund--is highly disingenuous. For one thing, it's impossible to remove authors from the middle of the dispute. We write the books they're fighting over. And because it is the writing life itself we seek to defend, we're not interested in a short-term windfall to some of the writers we represent. What we care about is a healthy ecosystem where all writers, both traditionally and independently published, can thrive....

"To our knowledge, Amazon has never clearly and unequivocally stated (as traditional publishers have) that books are different and special, that they can't be treated like the other commodities they sell. This doesn't strike us as an oversight. If we're wrong, Mr. Bezos, now would be a good time to correct us. First say it, then act like you believe it. We'd love to be your partners."

--Richard Russo, novelist and co-vice-president of the Authors Guild, in an open letter regarding the Amazon/Hachette dispute

William Morrow & Company: My Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie


News

Politics & Prose Is Official Bookseller for National Book Festival

Politics & Prose Bookstore, Washington, D.C., has been selected as the official bookseller for the 14th annual Library of Congress National Book Festival August 30 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Bookselling This Week reported. In previous years, the contract had gone to chains like Barnes & Noble and Borders. The festival, which draws as many as 200,000 people annually, will feature 120 authors this year.

"I thought that not only could we handle the job, but that it would be a signal, if an independent bookstore got the contract, that indies are still alive and well in this country and capable of handling large projects like this," said P&P co-owner Bradley Graham, who pitched the idea of using an indie bookstore to the PR firm FleishmanHillard, which handled the selection process.

"One of the arguments I used was that independents are very involved in other major book festivals in other parts of the country, whether it's Miami or Boston or Los Angeles or elsewhere," he added. "In the nation's capital, with an independent bookstore as well-known as Politics & Prose, there should be room for an indie presence at the National Book Festival."

NBF project manager Jennifer Gavin said, "We're tickled by the particular niche that Politics & Prose holds for this community and this region. I'm really looking forward to the authors that we're going to bring in and pleased that Politics & Prose is on board. They're a very well-known institution and it's going to be a great relationship.”

Graham is also exploring ways to "feature the entirety of the independent bookselling community at the event so that visitors from around the country will be able to recognize their local independents," BTW noted. "We'd like to be able to promote the whole idea of the vital independent bookstore culture," he said. "That's been our vision from the beginning."


Binc Foundation: Helping Booksellers #MoreThanEver Donation Campaign


General Retail Sales in June: Clouded Optimism

"American retailers may have more than a weather problem," the Wall Street Journal observed in reporting that "results at retailers haven't been uniformly bad this spring. But there are enough negatives to shake earlier hopes that shoppers would whip out their wallets and resume shopping after the long, tough winter. The mixed showing continues to cloud the optimism arising from stronger job growth and rising consumer confidence."

For the month, sales at stores open at least a year increased 4.5%  at the eight retailers tracked by Thomson Reuters, compared with projections of 4.2% growth and a 5.4% jump last year.


Page Street Kids: Beneath the Haunting Sea by Joanna Meyer


Amazon's French Disconnection: No Discounts, Centime Shipping

Effective yesterday, Amazon ended all book discounts in France and "began charging a token penny for shipping books" in response to a new French law that "essentially forbids online booksellers from applying government-regulated discounts to the cover prices of books. They can mark down shipping under the new law--often called the 'Anti-Amazon' law--but they cannot offer it free," the Wall Street Journal reported. "We’re sadly no longer authorized to offer you a 5% discount on books," Amazon said on its French website.

The Journal noted that France's new law "is the latest step by European governments--particularly France’s--to rein in what they see as the growing power of a group of largely American tech companies. The French government said last month that it aims to propose new regulations at a European level to ensure a 'level playing field' for European companies against U.S. firms."

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In an op-ed piece for the New York Times this week, Pamela Druckerman wrote: "What underlies France's book laws isn't just an economic position--it's also a worldview. Quite simply, the French treat books as special. Some 70% of French people said they read at least one book last year; the average among French readers was 15 books. Readers say they trust books far more than any other medium, including newspapers and TV. The French government classifies books as an 'essential good,' along with electricity, bread and water."


ABA Sets Dates, Location for 2015 ABC Children's Institute

The American Booksellers Association has announced the dates and location for the 2015 ABC Children's Institute, which will be held from Sunday evening, April 19, through Tuesday morning, April 21, immediately following the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, at the Hilton Pasadena, "just steps from Vroman's Bookstore," Bookselling This Week reported.

"Even before the enormously successful ABC Children's Institute was concluded this past April in San Antonio, booksellers, publishers, and authors alike were all asking when and where would we do it again next year,” said ABC Group Manager Matthew Zoni. "Booksellers overwhelmingly agreed that the institute should remain on the calendar in the spring but should rotate regionally around the country."


Obituary Notes: Lillian B. Rubin, Harvey Hertz

Sociologist and psychotherapist Lillian B. Rubin, who "wrote a series of popular books about the crippling effects of gender and class norms on human potential," died June 17, the New York Times reported. She was 90. Her books included The Man with the Beautiful Voice: And More Stories from the Other Side of the Couch, Intimate Strangers: Men and Women Together and Families on the Fault Line.

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Harvey Hertz, a "pioneer of gay rights in Minnesota" and founder of a gay bookstore in south Minneapolis in 1983 "when no other bookstore in the state catered to gay men," died June 27, the Cities reported. He was 73.


Notes

Images of the Day: Happy 45th, Left Bank Books

Although we wished an early happy birthday to Left Bank Books, St. Louis, Mo., last month, we wanted to share a moving "look at 45 years of Left Bank Books, with photos, that was posted on the bookshop's blog, including this observation: "We all have yet to meet the next person to change our lives. For some, that person will walk through our front door, and making that opportunity possible is the best reason to be hopeful for our future."


Chicago Independent Bookstore Day Tomorrow

Nine independent bookstores will celebrate the inaugural Chicago Independent Bookstore Day tomorrow, featuring events, special deals, free books and refreshments to "encourage Chicago readers to visit their own neighborhood store as well as the other unique stores in different neighborhoods." Mayor Rahm Emanuel made it official with a proclamation naming July 12, 2014 Chicago Independent Bookstore Day.

Participating bookshops are the Book Cellar (Lincoln Square), 57th Street Books and Seminary Coop (Hyde Park), Sandmeyer's (Printer's Row), Unabridged Books (Lakeview), Open Books (River North), City Lit Books (Logan Square), Powell's Bookstore (University Village) and Women & Children First (Andersonville).

"I'm speaking first hand when I say that the bookselling community in Chicago is small but mighty, and filled with remarkably unique individuals that can make your life (reading or otherwise) a better one," wrote Open Books manager Kevin Elliott on the store's Tumblr. "I'm lucky to be a part of it. Most of all, I'm lucky that our customers see the value of keeping independent bookstores a part of their community. Yes. It's about books. Books, however, have always been about people."

Gapers Block's Book Club blog featured a store-by-store "itinerary for the literati," advising Chicagoans: "Book Clubbers and book lovers of Chicago, don't miss out on this unique show of 'local first' force."

And Chicago writer Rebecca Makkai observed: "My mental map of Chicago is entirely centered on the indies. I'm not entirely confident that I could find Buckingham Fountain (who needs a fountain?) but if you name an indie I can tell you every bar and coffee shop around it and how long it takes to get there from my house and where the bathroom is. Happily, we're spoiled with indies here--they're spread out around the city like first aid stations, so I can always orient myself somewhat. My point being: Don't ask me to navigate unless you're looking for the fiction."



Media and Movies

Media Heat: Rep. John Lewis on CNN's Newsroom

This morning on Good Morning America: Emma Jenner, author of Keep Calm and Parent On: A Guilt-Free Approach to Raising Children by Asking More from Them and Doing Less (Atria, $24, 9781476739540).

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Sunday on CBS This Morning: Bunmi Laditan, author of The Honest Toddler: A Child's Guide to Parenting (Scribner, $15, 9781476734774).

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Sunday on CNN's Newsroom: Congressman John Lewis, co-author of March: Book One (Top Shelf Productions, $14.95, 9781603093002).

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Sunday on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered: William T. Vollmann, author of Last Stories and Other Stories (Viking, $36, 9780670015979).


TV: The Magicians; Clan of the Cave Bear; The Last Kingdom

Syfy has greenlighted a pilot for The Magicians, an adaptation of Lev Grossman's bestselling fantasy book trilogy. Deadline.com reported the pilot for the potential one-hour drama, from Universal Cable Productions, was written by John McNamara (Prime Suspect) and Sera Gamble (Supernatural), with Michael London and Janice Williams producing. London "brought on McNamara and Gamble, Syfy acquired their new take and developed it further," Deadline.com wrote.

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Lifetime has ordered a pilot episode of The Clan of the Cave Bear, based on Jean M. Auel's Earth's Children novel series. Deadline.com reported that the project is being "targeted for a potential 2015 launch."

"I've always admired Jean M. Auel's timeless work," said Rob Sharenow, executive v-p and general manager of Lifetime. "With the visionary creative team of Ron Howard, Linda Woolverton, Brian Grazer, Alli Shearmur, Jean M. Auel and Francie Calfo behind it, this project has it all--epic storytelling, great characters and a unique world that's never been explored on television before."

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The producers of Downton Abbey "have a new historical drama in the works, and this time they are going medieval, with a tale of Saxons and Vikings, set in the kingdom of Wessex in the year 872, during the reign of Alfred the Great," the New York Times reported. BBC and Carnival Films will team up for The Last Kingdom, a series based on Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Stories, which have been adapted by Stephen Butchard. Describing the project as the BBC's answer to Game of Thrones, BBC America said it will run in eight hour-long episodes and is scheduled to go into production this fall.


Movies: Wild; Unbroken; Hunger Games Mockingjay

"Reese Witherspoon optioned the film rights to Cheryl Strayed's memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail before the book was even published. Based on this first trailer for the film, we can see why," Indiewire reported, noting that the actress "seems to embody Strayed's story beautifully, and the awards banter is about to begin as soon as this trailer makes the rounds."

Directed by Jean-Marc Vallee (Dallas Buyers Club) from a Nick Hornby script, the film also stars Gaby Hoffmann, Laura Dern, Michiel Huisman, Charles Baker, Kevin Rankin and Thomas Sadoski. It hits theaters December 5.

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Universal "believe they've got a contender" with Unbroken, based on Lauren Hillenbrand's bestselling book Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption," Indiewire noted in featuring a new trailer. The film, which is set for release Christmas day, stars Jack O’Connell, Domhnall Gleeson, Garrett Hedlund, Finn Wittrock, John Magaro, Alex Russell and Miyavi.

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A new teaser trailer for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 has been released, in which President Snow (Donald Sutherland) "again addresses the citizens of dystopian Panem," Indiewire reported, adding: "This time he's got Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) and District 7 victor Johanna Mason (Jena Malone) obediently by his side in the faux-propaganda vid from the Nov. 21 sequel."


Books & Authors

Book Brahmin: Tiphanie Yanique

Tiphanie Yanique's debut novel is Land of Love and Drowning (Riverhead, July 10, 2014). BookPage listed her as one of the 14 Women to Watch in 2014. She is also the author of the story collection How to Escape from a Leper Colony, which won the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Fiction in 2011. Stories from the collection won Boston Review's Aura Estrada Short Story Contest, a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award and a Pushcart Prize. Yanique is from the Virgin Islands and is a professor in the MFA program at the New School in New York City.

On your nightstand now:

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth. My daughter is a baby, and we're trying to get a head start on her sleeping, which is really about me getting sleep. I love sleep! I also love having children (my son is three). I would like both loves to coexist. Along the more literary lines on the nightstand is Arnold Rampersad's Ralph Ellison: A Biography. Turns out Ellison is the kind of person who would have incensed me. I hate when that happens. Also All this Talk of Love by Chris Castellani, which I am loving. I've also just added Fred D'Aguiar's new novel, Children of Paradise, to my stack. D'Aguiar's novel is about religion and about children--I'm a sucker for this kind of book.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I read crazy stuff when I was a kid. One summer, I read only Stephen King novels. I couldn't get to sleep at night because I was so petrified of every single thing. Now I only read thrillers by mistake. I also read awful things, like Flowers in the Attic and the whole Dollanganger series by V.C. Andrews, which is about evil and sex and more sex that leads to evil. What was I doing reading this stuff? But I also read Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary. Without that book, I don't think I would have imagined myself into an author's world.

Your top five authors:

I have seen Jamaica Kincaid read a dozen times. But when it comes to standing in the book-signing line, I have always been too shy do anything more than say thank you. It even took me years to ask her to sign my copy of one of her books--I was so embarrassed by how I'd worn down the books with my reading and notes. But recently I had an actual conversation with her! At a reading this spring, Lisa Lucas (publisher of Guernica) hooked me by the arm and formally introduced us. After our brief and lovely conversation, I stepped away from Ms. Kincaid and then burst into tears. Kincaid is my writer. You know what I mean? That one who inspires and pisses you off and gets you writing and can't get you to stop reading. I read her stories always hoping and fearing I will find myself in her gorgeous winding sentences. After Kincaid, I have a rotating shelf of book gods. They change regularly, but for now:

I adore everything Gabriel García Márquez writes. His stories take me away from the world I live in, and I love getting lost among his characters. It seems almost cliché to say that I love Sylvia Plath--so many of us Americans read her in high school and college. She was given to us, rather than a discovery we might have made at some major transition in our reading lives. But I am so grateful for the gift. Plath wrote like she was burning--both something dangerous and something in danger. Yusef Komunyakaa wrote the first book of poems I fell in love with (Neon Vernacular--I was 19), and I continue to read his poems for their incredible imagery and intimacy. I look to Edwidge Danticat for everything; her writing is beautiful and important, but I also look to her as a model for what a writer is, for what a writer can be.

Book you've faked reading:

This is a hilarious question. I love it. But I don't have much shame when it comes to reading. I'm not a big faker of anything. I'm more guilty of being too much myself all the damn time.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Kiran Desai's The Inheritance of Loss. You would think Desai is a shape-shifter who can sneak into your home and then into your brain, and thus learn things about you no one else knows. Maybe all that is just a metaphor for "novelist."

Book you've bought for the cover:

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks. All that starlight and dark butterfly winged-ness! Book art is art. No joke.

Book that changed your life:

Brown Girl, Brownstones by Paule Marshall. Before that, I didn't really understand that there was a tradition of Caribbean literature, much of it written by women and by black women. Strangely, I now live in the same neighborhood the main character lived in.

Favorite line from a book:

"I love thee to the depth and breadth and height/ My soul can reach." No joke. I know, I know. Victorian poetry? But I love Elizabeth Barrett Browning's sonnet that we all know as "How do I love thee." I sometimes find myself whispering this line under my breath before I go to sleep at night.

Which character you most relate to:

I am one of those people who believe that we can understand and even love each other if we spend time in each other's lives and heads. Books make me believe this. Whenever I'm reading, I feel like I relate deeply to every character.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

There's a saying that the real writing happens in revision; I feel that way about reading. For me, a good book gets better each read.

Book that made you laugh:

Small Island by Andrea Levy made me laugh until I snorted.

Book that made you cry:

Aracelis Girmay's Kingdom Animalia makes me cry whenever I reread it. If you want to cry out of love, out of a bare love of the world's beauty, you must read anything Aracelis writes. She can write about a rainy day and make you fall in love with the first person you see when you look up from the book.


Book Review

Review: Dear Daughter

Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little (Viking, $26.95 hardcover, 9780670016389, July 31, 2014)

The epigraph to Elizabeth Little's first novel neatly introduces her sassy "celebutante" narrator, Janie Jenkins: "Some girls are just born with glitter in their veins"--attributed to Paris Hilton, no less. When Dear Daughter begins, Janie is fresh out of prison after serving 10 years for the murder of her wealthy socialite mother. Her tenacious lawyer, Noah ("The Hillary to my Bill. The Cindy Lou Who to my Grinch Who Stole Christmas"), has won her release on a tampered-DNA-evidence appeal.

Although fuzzy about what exactly happened the night of the crime, Janie is convinced of her own innocence ("other than the awful inescapable fact that [I] hadn't particularly liked [my] own mother") and determined to prove it. Disguising herself with chopped and colored hair, she goes off the Hollywood blogosphere grid to follow her only clues: the vaguely remembered overheard words of her mother's last conversation. They lead her to backwater Ardelle, S.Dak., during the annual Gold Rush Days festival, where typical small-town pride meets equally typical small-town gossip and intrigue. Janie's persistent smart-mouth approach eventually untangles the intertwined local family trees ("it's like a Thanksgiving dinner that never ends") and takes her inside the restored mining-family mansions and main-street storefronts where the truth of her mother's past hides.

Best known for her nonfiction explorations of language quirks (Biting the Wax Tadpole; Trip of the Tongue), Little peppers her novel with the sort of contemporary slang and acronyms typically seen on the screens of hip smartphones. As Janie awkwardly insinuates her SoCal self into the Black Hills festivities, she can't help but toss off catty observations. She attends a party where "I hadn't seen so many bad dancers since I went to that Radiohead concert" and compares the festival with "attending a high school reunion as a significant other, except the reunion is five days long. And on the last night we have to wear costumes." To Janie, the much-lusted-after stud bartender at the Coyote Hole is handsome only "in the same way that even a gross old bag of Cheetos can manage to look good three bowls into a dime bag."

As much as the voice of Janie entertains, Little drives Dear Daughter with the string of surprises and buried secrets revealed as Janie unravels the mystery of her mother's past. It is a thriller much like Gillian Flynn's blockbuster Gone Girl--except instead of the East Coast literary angst of Flynn's protagonists stuck in Missouri, Little's Midwest visitor really does have L.A. "glitter in her veins" and can't quite shake her mother's advice to "wear great clothes, throw great parties, and give money to kids with cleft palates." --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Shelf Talker: Part celebrity, part sleuth and all sass, the memorable Janie Jenkins is out to prove she didn't murder her mother in this smart debut thriller.


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Human Connection Needs No Reinvention

Last month, I asked if you'd ever wondered how someone completely outside the book trade might envision the shape of bookstores to come, a question prompted by the Economist's "Reinvent the Bookshop" challenge to four leading architecture and design firms.

I was particularly intrigued by feedback I received from relatively new booksellers, whose task is as much invention as reinvention. Karen Bakshoian of Letterpress Books, Portland, Maine, which opened last fall, did not mince words: "I truly despise this idea.... 'They' are removing all the personal interaction between bookseller and customer, taking away the joy of sharing wonderful titles, and all of the fun as well. I have been a bookseller for a whole eight months now, but the best task of each day is working with my customers. They quickly become regulars. They tell their friends and family members what a super bookstore is now right in their neighborhood. They share the books with their friends. They join the book club. Isn't that cool?"

As someone who regularly interacts with new and prospective booksellers on design issues through the Bookstore Training and Consulting Group of Paz & Associates, Donna Paz Kaufman has a vested, as well as personal, interest in the topic of bookstore reinvention. In the comments section for the Economist's article, she had written: "As a designer of bookstores in the U.S. and in various places around the globe for 22 years, it seems to me that the architects miss one important point: people come to bookstores because they want a break from technology. A curated selection, beautiful displays that cater to the reading lifestyle, a comfortable setting, friendly staff, and a business that recirculates its profits in the local community matter. If people want technology, they tap those resources at home or on the road. The bookstore is a comfortable, peaceful escape from a fast-paced life."

I asked her to expand on this observation. "I was so curious about the article and was so disappointed when I finished it," she said. "Seemed they went over the edge when it came to modern design and technology. In another life, I think I was or still want to be an urban planner because the whole idea of how we live speaks so much about whom we are, what we seek, and what brings us contentment and comfort. Looking at bookstores today, I think we need more that is authentic and human to balance out the number of screens and machines in our lives."

She cited Melissa DeMotte's vision for her new bookshop, the Well~Read Moose in Coeur D'Alene, Idaho, as an example: "Her store is all about human connection.... cafe with indie coffee roaster and Northwest regional wines, a seating area specifically designed as a quiet nook for book groups, Melissa's mother's rocking chair she used when Melissa and her sister were babies, and a play area for kids. We're excited about Melissa and her store since she came from the corporate world and is so full of life and love. She symbolizes all that we love about the people drawn to this business and we still need way more of them to fill in all of the gaps around the country without bookstores."

DeMotte

DeMotte, who told me she considered some of the "Reinvent the Bookshop" ideas to be "quite creative," has received a lot of positive feedback regarding the layout in the Well~Read Moose's 2,700 square feet. "People say they like the flow and that they can 'find new things around every corner,' " she said. "We did quite a bit of research on the local demographics. After Borders closed, we didn't have a bookstore with all new books. This just seemed 'wrong' for a wonderful community like Coeur d'Alene. Our vision was to create a warm and inviting space to browse, meet friends and try new things--a new book/author/genre, a new brewed coffee, a new wine, etc. We will host our own book clubs as well as reserve spaces for outside clubs to meet. We have a nice seating area for up to 10 people to gather comfortably, sip some wine and chat about their books. We have had many, many people thank us for opening. They are happy to have an indie bookstore and vow to support it. What more could I ask for?"

Non-booksellers also weighed in on the bookshop reinvention issue. Maureen Mills, who worked in small press/academic publishing for more than 30 years, praised her local booksellers, Mary Adams and Janice Holmes of the Annapolis Bookstore, Annapolis, Md.: "I know you hear this over and over--but it is a truly special place run by two very special ladies."

Mills stressed the importance of interconnection over reinvention: "Extend the connection between bookshop and customer to online in a way customers can connect from home, not just to a Web page to order books, but to be able to browse the store, as if you were there (yes, I'm being daring here)."

She also wished there was a better way to "grab and extend the idea of online webinars/seminars/courses, with synchronous book readings connecting groups at bookstores across the country. I'm especially fond of this idea because I can see these functioning in a way that helps people understand the many unique 'hometown' cultures that exist across the country. All this maintained by and promoted through the special personal touch of an independent bookstore. There's a nice challenge."

And challenges, as we know, are nothing new for indie booksellers. --Robert Gray, contributing editor


The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by IndieReader.com:

1. Breathe With Me by Kristen Proby
2. Love, Laughter, and Happily Ever Afters Collection by Various
3. Deadly Trio by Emma Jameson
4. Unbeloved by Madeline Sheehan
5. Hardline by Meredith Wild
6. Secrets and Lies by H.M. Ward
7. The Marty Singer Series by Matthew Iden
8. Rhett by J.S. Cooper
9. Where I Belong by J. Daniels
10. A Shade of Vampire by Bella Forrest

[Many thanks to IndieReader.com!]


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