Shelf Awareness for Friday, December 23, 2016


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

Editors' Note

Quotation of the Day

'To Supporters of Indie Bookstores...'

"When my wife and I opened Literati four years ago, we did so because we believe bookstores were more than places that simply sold a product. At the risk of sounding maudlin, it has been my experience that bookstores can help change lives. Bookstores are where challenging and evocative ideas flourish, new worlds open, and magic blooms. To anyone and everyone who has supported an independent bookstore this holiday season: Thank you for helping continue a bookstore's ultimate endeavor--to change lives, cultivate ideas, and create magic."

--Michael Gustafson of Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, Mich., via Facebook

Soho Teen: No Saints in Kansas by Amy Brashear



News

Korea's Oldest Bookstore to Reopen in Seoul

Jongno Books (Jongno Seojuk), Korea's oldest bookstore, is reopening today in Seoul 14 years after its closing. The Korea Herald reported that the business, which is now operating under a different parent company and management, "will replace the Jongno Tower branch of bookstore chain Bandi & Lunis." A former executive of the Youngpoong Bookstore chain is running the new store.

Launched by a Jesuit organization in 1907, Jongno Bookstore became "a popular meet-up and cultural hangout of the time," the Korea Herald noted, adding: "Later in the 1980s, new bookstore chains including Kyobo Book Center and Youngpoong Bookstore joined the market. The 97-year-old bookstore gradually gave way to the new chains and public demand for online bookstores, ultimately going out of business in 2002."


She Writes Press: Things Unsaid by Diana Y. Paul


Hachette Livre Acquires Mobile App Company Brainbow

Hachette Livre, parent company of the Hachette Book Group, has acquired a majority stake in Brainbow Ltd., the mobile app company with headquarters in London. Brainbow was founded in 2012; two years later, it launched the self-improvement app Peak, a subscription-based service designed to entertain while helping users exercise their cognitive skills. Peak has been downloaded more than 15 million times around the world.

Arnaud Nourry, chairman and CEO of Hachette Livre, said: "After Hachette U.K. acquired Neon Play in June 2016, the acquisition of Brainbow is another step in Hachette Livre's mobile strategy. The co-founders are talented experts who will bring new skills to Hachette Livre. We are delighted to welcome them into the group."

Brainbow co-founders, Itamar Lesuisse, Sagi Shorrer, Gerald Goldstein and Xavier Louis, said they "look forward to leveraging synergies with Hachette Livre around global distribution and contents."


DK Publishing: Star Wars Coding Projects by Jon Woodcock


Obituary Note: Patricia 'P.J.' Lambrecht

Patricia "P.J." Lambrecht, co-author with daughter Traci of seven bestselling thrillers featuring the St. Paul Monkeewrench gang, died yesterday, the Pioneer Press reported. She was 70. The Monkeewrench series, which they wrote under the pen name P.J. Tracy, "features a colorful group of computer geniuses who work in an old mansion on Summit Avenue." Their most recent book was The Sixth Idea, published in August.

Early in her career, Lambrecht wrote romance novels under the pen name Melinda Cross, publishing 11 for the Harlequin Presents line. The Pioneer Press noted that the Lambrechts teamed up on their first thriller, Monkeewrench, in 2003 "as a stand-alone, never thinking it would become a series. So they were surprised at the attention they got."

Traci Lambrecht said a poignant surprise "was learning, the day her mother died, that their United Kingdom publisher will bring out a novelization of a Christmas story the partners have been working on for 23 years," the Pioneer Press wrote.

"This was our baby together, the piece of work closest to our hearts, about two elderly sisters living in an asylum who go looking for the Baby Jesus in Las Vegas," Lambrecht said. "P.J. was unconscious, but I told her about it and I think she heard it somewhere in there."


Berkley Books: The French Girl by Lexie Elliott


Notes

Eso Won Books: A Great Place 'to Buy Last-Minute Gifts in L.A.'

Eso Won Books was named one of "five great places to buy last-minute gifts in Los Angeles" by LAist, which wrote: "Tucked in a cozy storefront on Degnan Boulevard in Leimert Park, this landmark bookstore is one of the most prominent African American-oriented indie booksellers in the nation. They have a fantastic L.A. history section, and also specialize, as they put it, 'in titles by and about the world in which black people exist.' " LAist advised readers to "vote with your dollars this holiday season and support black-owned small businesses, while also browsing one of the best book selections in L.A.!"


'17 of the Best Independent Bookstores in Chicago'

In showcasing "17 of the best independent bookstores in Chicago," Chicagoist wrote: "Independent bookstores have taken a beating since the arrival of big box chains, the Internet and e-readers. But some book stores are not only surviving, but thriving. Some of the stores fill a niche, like stocking the weirdest sci-fi or zines. Others create a community with their events calendar. All of them have a thoughtful selection of books that are more fun to browse IRL and staff on hand who can make recommendations an algorithm could never dream of."


A Holiday Toast to Shipping & Receiving Books

Posted yesterday on Facebook by the Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, Colo.:

"Behind the scenes (It's quite big back here!): Our receiving department is hard at work this holiday season, making sure all the books and gifts you see on our shelves is open, entered into our system, sorted and sent out to all our stores via our Tattered Cover truck (have you seen it around??). This is one hard-working group and we're thankful to have them on our team! Wish them a Happy Holiday!"


Bookstore Chalkboard of the Day: Avid Bookshop

From the Facebook page of Avid Bookshop, Athens, Ga.:

"Athens, thank you for being the kind of town that can allow not one, but two, independent bookstores thrive. We are so grateful for you. We will be open the next few days for your holiday shopping needs. Can't wait to see you! #avidbookshop #athensga #independentbookstore #reading #avidatfivepoints #avidonprince #buylocalathens"


For Booksellers: 'Things to Keep in Mind This Christmas'

Louise and Gareth Ward

"So how are you all doing out there? Got a back room/corridor/loo full of boxes? Starting to dread the courier arriving with more?" asked Louise Ward, co-owner of Wardini Books in Havelock North, in a column for Booksellers New Zealand, where she noted that the "question is how to look after ourselves and our staff, and have a cracking good time at our busiest and most lucrative time of the year." Among her holiday observations:

"Looking after your staff can also be tricky if you're lucky, as we are, to have extremely dedicated, hardworking booksellers (evidence above). Getting our people to sit down to eat, or stop and drink their tea while it's still warm has been a challenge this past couple of weeks. All that can really be done here is to nag your booksellers into taking a break, make them tea, keep an eye on their fatigue levels, monitor and support....

"We don't really try and upsell--but we do find that if you give a customer several alternatives for a type of book they've asked for they can often end up buying them both/all. Then there's the cool moment when you've been raving about a book and several other customers have gone quiet and are listening intently--they then request a copy of the book in question. That's extremely efficient hand selling, that is...

"I hope you have loads of fun with your staff and your customers this Christmas. Keep calm, play nicely, look after your staff--feed them chocolate, or spinach smoothies, or tea and biscuits or something--and maintain that jolly atmosphere that will make your customers want to stay in your lovely shop. Yes it's exhausting when you've been on your feet for 8 hours solid but it's a short window of opportunity to go hard and show the world that print books are alive and thriving in a fabulous book shop near them. A very merry Christmas indeed--enjoy your days off because by gum you'll have earned them."


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Ryan Speedo Green on Harry

Monday, January 1:
NPR's All Things Considered: Aravind Adiga, author of Selection Day: A Novel (Scribner, $26, 9781501150838).

Harry: Ryan Speedo Green, the subject of Sing for Your Life: A Story of Race, Music, and Family by Daniel Bergner (Lee Boudreaux, $28, 9780316300674).


TV: Victoria; The Handmaid's Tale

Victoria, a new eight-part drama series about the life of England's Queen Victoria, will air on PBS Masterpiece in 2017 in the Sunday night time slot Downton Abbey previously occupied for six years. The project was created and written by novelist Daisy Goodwin (The American Heiress) in her screenwriting debut. Goodwin read through 62 million words of Victoria's diaries as part of her research. The cast includes Jenna Coleman, Rufus Sewell, Tom Hughes, Alex Jennings, Paul Rhys and Peter Firth.

"Downton Abbey has proved that millions of viewers will turn up year after year for a beautifully crafted period drama," said Masterpiece executive producer Rebecca Eaton. "Victoria has it all: a riveting script, brilliant cast, and spectacular locations. And it's a true story!"

---

Eight new images are available of the main characters in Hulu's upcoming 10-episode series The Handmaid's Tale, based on Margaret Atwood's award-winning novel that had previously been adapted as a film, Indiewire reported. The project stars Elisabeth Moss, Yvonne Strahovski, Max Minghella, Madeline Brewer, Ann Dowd, O-T Fagbenle, Samira Wiley and Joseph Fiennes as Commander Waterford. The Handmaid's Tale premieres April 26, 2017.


Books & Authors

Awards: Her Majesty's Gold Medal for Poetry

British poet Gillian Allnutt is the winner of Her Majesty's Gold Medal for Poetry, which will be presented by Queen Elizabeth in the spring, the Bookseller reported. Allnut's titles include How the Bicycle Shone: New & Selected Poems; indwelling; Lintel and Sojourner.

Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy said: "From her first collection published in the early 1980s, Gillian Allnutt's work has always been in conversation with the natural world and the spiritual life. Her writing roams across centuries, very different histories and lives, and draws together, without excuse or explanation, moments which link across country, class, culture and time.

"The North is a constant touchstone in her work; canny and uncanny, its hills and coast, its ancient histories and its people. Her poems progress over the years to a kind of synthesis of word-play and meditation. In her work the space between what is offered and what is withheld is every bit as important as what is said. She has the power to comfort and to astonish in equal measure. In her outlook, her imagination, her concerns and her lyric voice she is unique."


IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites for Next Week

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

Hardcover
Out of Bounds: A Karen Pirie Novel by Val McDermid (Atlantic Monthly Press, $25, 9780802125743). "McDermid is a thriller writer at the top of her game and Out of Bounds has everything readers want in a character-driven suspense novel: fully human characters, tight plotting, unexpected twists, and a story that grabs and won't let go. Karen Pirie is still reeling from the death of her partner and is coping by throwing herself into her work as detective chief inspector of Scotland's Historic Cases Unit. As the unit works to unravel a 20-year-old case through a DNA match from the driver in a recent car accident, Pirie skates on thin ice with her superiors by digging into the background of a mentally disturbed man who appears to have committed suicide. Highly recommended!" --Carol Schneck Varner, Schuler Books & Music, Okemos, Mich.

Victoria: The Queen: An Intimate Biography of the Woman Who Ruled an Empire by Julia Baird (Random House, $35, 9781400069880). "Only 18 when she assumed the throne, Victoria ruled a vast empire for more than 60 years. In this biography Baird reveals a woman who so dominated the world that an entire epoch was named for her. Her nine children and their children inhabited most of the thrones of Europe until the upheaval of World War I, and her expansionist policies enabled Great Britain to rule over a quarter of the entire world. Baird also portrays a passionate and vibrant woman who struggled to assert herself in a time and place that was dismissive of the female sex. This enthralling biography is a welcome addition and nuanced look at a dynamic queen." --Barbara Hoagland, The King's English Book Shop, Salt Lake City, Utah

Paperback
The Comedians: Drunks, Thieves, Scoundrels and the History of American Comedy by Kliph Nesteroff (Grove Press, $18, 9780802125682). "This is a sweeping, in-depth story of how American comedy evolved from its earliest days. From Vaudeville and radio to mob-controlled night clubs and television, Nesteroff is adept at showing how the seedy underbelly of show business shaped the stars of yesterday and today. Stuffed to the brim with amusing anecdotes and insider gossip, it is an eye-opening trip. A former comedian himself, Nesteroff has long been a chronicler of the history of comedy in America, and this book is the culmination of years of interviews and research. Fun, entertaining, and insightful." --Jay Aubrey-Herzog, Northtown Books, Arcata, Calif.

For Ages 4 to 8
I'll Wait, Mr. Panda by Steve Antony (Scholastic, $16.99, 9781338028362). "The star of Please, Mr. Panda is back with a story that's even better than the first. In a fun twist on the Little Red Hen story, everyone is curious about what Mr. Panda is making, but animal after animal loses patience until a penguin declares, 'I'll wait, Mr. Panda,' and is rewarded with a delicious treat. Adorable illustrations enhance this tale about the value of patience and the importance of saying 'thank you.'" --Erin Barker, Hooray for Books!, Alexandria, Va.

For Ages 9 to 12
If the Magic Fits by Susan Maupin Schmid (Random House, $16.99, 9780553533668). "Darling Dimple, an 11-year-old orphan, works in the castle as an Under-Scrubber, scrubbing pots and pans by lantern light in the sub-basement, daydreaming and spinning adventure stories to Gillian, the Under-Dryer, and trying to stay in the good graces of the Head Scrubber, called the Supreme Scrubstress behind her back. Little does Darling know that the castle she calls home is enchanted, built by dragons, and that she is about to have the most remarkable adventure courtesy of a closet full of magical dresses. This first volume in a new series will speak to every girl's fairy tale dreams!" --Rebecca Mattis, Phoenix Books, Essex, Vt.

For Teen Readers
Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst, illustrated by Jordan Saia (Balzer + Bray, $17.99, 9780062433251). "This book has it all: political intrigue, mysterious assassinations, characters bursting with personality, and queer teens in love. It is an excellent read with great pacing, fascinating world-building, and social tensions that have nothing to do with queer love and everything to do with secret magical gifts and duty to one's kingdom over that of one's heart. Wonderful for readers of Malinda Lo and Kristin Cashore." --Gretchen Treu, A Room of One's Own, Madison, Wis.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]


Reading with... Bill Rancic

photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez
Bill Rancic is a television personality and the author of You're Hired: How to Succeed in Business and Life, Beyond the Lemonade Stand and I Do, Now What?, which was written with his wife, Giuliana Rancic. Since winning the first season of NBC's The Apprentice, Rancic has become a well-known entrepreneur and motivational speaker. He speaks to businesses and organizations around the world on business-related topics and is a frequent guest on daytime broadcast and cable TV shows such as Today, the View, Rachael Ray and various CNBC programs. His debut novel, First Light, was published by Putnam on November 1, 2016.

On your nightstand now:

The Available Parent by Dr. John Duffy. Because my son, Duke, just turned four, I want to read up on how I can make the fewest mistakes in raising him!

Favorite book when you were a child:

Andrew Henry's Meadow by Doris Burn. It's about adventure, building things and imagination.

Your top five authors:

Harper Lee--I loved To Kill a Mockingbird. Everybody can learn something from Atticus Finch.

John Grisham--The thrill and suspense of his stories amaze me every time I pick up one of his books.

J.D. Salinger--The Catcher in the Rye reminds me of high school.

William Danko--The Millionaire Next Door is a book everyone should read at least once.

Malcolm Gladwell--Outliers: I learned a lot from that book.

Book you've faked reading:

Romeo and Juliet--I read the CliffsNotes to pass tests.

Book you're an evangelist for/book that changed your life:

The Millionaire Next Door is a book I am such an evangelist for you would think I was receiving a profit for each copy sold. I tell everyone to read this book--ask my friends and family. It taught the value of money along with many other great tips on saving and not trying to keep up with the neighbors.

Five Seven books you'll never part with:

The Harry Potter books! I want to pass them on to my son. I can't wait until he's old enough to read them--and I am going to make sure he reads them before he sees the movies!

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

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I barely remember reading it, but I loved the movie, so now I want to go back and read it again.

Book Review

Review: The Evening Road

The Evening Road by Laird Hunt (Little, Brown, $26 hardcover, 288p., 9780316391283, February 7, 2017)

The Evening Road by Laird Hunt (Neverhome) meanders the backcountry roads of rural Indiana on a hot and troubled night, exploring human ugliness and the lives of two remarkable women.

Ottie Lee Henshaw is a red-haired beauty, eternally exasperated with her ill-kempt husband, Dale, and pursued by her randy boss, Bud. She finds it easier to let Bud do "a fair amount of arm action and heavy breathing and pawing of my hair" than to fight him off. With a sharp tongue, a good appetite and a mind of her own, Ottie Lee does all right, even if she doesn't look very respectable to the town gossips. On this summer afternoon in 1920, Bud comes in excited by the prospect of driving to the neighboring town of Marvel to attend the "show": a promised lynching. Ottie Lee sets off with Bud, Dale and others; with a shifting cast of companions, she'll spend the rest of a long, sweltering night trying to get to Marvel.

Ottie Lee's adventures take up the first half of this novel before her counterpart, Calla Destry, appears. Calla is a light-skinned woman from the black side of town who faces her hard, violent world with stark defiance: she is inclined to head straight into Marvel to break the lynching's intended victims out of jail, while her family and community runs the other way, lest they become victims themselves. It soon becomes clear that Calla's real aim is to find the man who has promised her a new beginning. But her wanderings parallel Ottie Lee's, and the two soon become more closely involved than either realizes.

The halves of this story are told in the first-person perspectives of these two women, and both are strong vernacular voices that bring flavor and color to their narratives. Hunt turns a phrase nimbly: a dirty parlor "looked like it had been soaked in water then spread in mayonnaise and left to turn," and a courting man notes, "You think that's the wind in the maples, but it's not the wind. It's the universe twitching." This folksy layer of romance and redolence characterizes Ottie Lee and Calla as much as anything else does; their memorable voices and the close, heady setting of these backwoods make The Evening Road darkly compelling. A dreaminess comes and goes as Calla hallucinates in the heat and a friend of Ottie Lee's talks to angels. The crime at the center of their story is a reality, of course, but remains a pivot point rather than the focus: the point is not the destination, but rather the winding roads that these women take to get there, their decisions and the secrets they keep along the way.

The Evening Road is a sad and raucous story, ugly and beautiful at once, evocatively starring two very different women. --Julia Jenkins, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: Two women from different sides of the tracks explore rural Indiana on a single night that is both allegory and starkly real.


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Digital Ghost of a Bookseller's Christmas Past

Dec. 17, 2005
6 p.m.: Still standing, but I wobbled occasionally today. Just heard a customer say: "I want to get a book for my uncle. Have you read this (holds up copy of Bad Dog)? He doesn't have a dog, but..."

Dec. 23, 2016
I posted the previous entry on my then year-old blog, Fresh Eyes: A Booksellers Journal, during my final holiday season rush as a full-time bookseller at the Northshire Bookstore in Manchester Center, Vt. As that Christmas week began, I had decided to chronicle life on the hectic sales floor with a series of entries headlined "Where the Holidays Take Me: Counting Down."

Now, 11 years later, I'm feeling a little nostalgic. There are, I suspect, two primary catalysts for this. Last June, I celebrated my 10th year as an editor at Shelf Awareness, and in September I attended a dinner marking the Northshire's 40th anniversary. As I considered what I might write about for the final column of 2016, I kept coming back to those two signature events. That led me to explore ancient online archives in search of what I might have been thinking during Christmas week 2005, as I transitioned out of one job and into, after a few stumbles, my new home at Shelf Awareness.

Northshire Bookstore: Inspiration for Every Age was published in September by Shires Press to commemorate the bookshop's 40th anniversary. A considerably younger version of this column's author is pictured above.

And I did find something. In the spirit of the season, here are a few excerpts from my own Digital Ghost of Bookseller Christmas Past:

Dec. 16, 2005
3:13 p.m.: The snow is still falling, but many brave souls have fired up the ol' SUVs and braved their way down the mountain to the bookshop. I don't sense true gifting desperation yet. Because Christmas falls on a Sunday this year, there is still a kind of delusional confidence exhibited by shoppers today because they think they have more time left than they actually do. I suspect the shopping window will be narrow this afternoon and will close with a thud when darkness descends in an hour or so. This town has a medieval relationship with the night. The streets empty as the skies darken.

Dec. 17, 2005
1 p.m.: Wow. three-and-a-half hours have flashed by since my last entry. Guess it's busy, huh? It's hard not to be amazed at the STUFF people buy for holiday gifts. Books, sure, but also games and calendars and toys (TOYS! in fact, heaps and mountains of toys) and neckties and computer games and DVDs and CDs and... Well, let's just say the feeding frenzy is at optimum level today thus far. I sometimes think that my time here has turned Christmas into a spectator sport for me. You can only watch so much of this (with full realization that it's what keeps this store in business) without questioning your own approach to what George Carlin calls, and I paraphrase, this great old pagan holiday.

Dec. 21, 2005
7:28 p.m.: I'm back home after a full shift at the bookstore, which seems like a minor miracle given how sick I was a couple of days ago. We were VERRRRYYY busy today, the genuine holiday gift madness kicking in full steam. I never stopped moving from one task to another, my colleagues reminding me again and again about my "lame duck" status. Funny.

Dec. 22, 2005
8 a.m.: I will be a Northshire Bookstore frontline bookseller for three more days. People ask me what I'm going to call myself in my new venture, Fresh Eyes Now. It's a logical question. For a while, I used the dreaded word "consultant," but lately I've been reverting to a more accurate description: "Bookseller." That is what I will be in my new life. It's probably what I will be until I croak.... During my years at this bookshop, I've had no personal goal bigger than to elevate the visibility of the frontline bookseller, and I was doing this long, long before I ever considered writing about it in a venue like this blog...

Dec. 23, 2005
Wow! Details tomorrow.

Dec. 24, 2005
4:30 p.m.: It's over. We won.

Dec. 25, 2005
Christmas morning. The day after my last day as a full-time frontline bookseller at the Northshire. It's been an incredibly busy week, the pace increasing dramatically as the weekend approached and reaching hyper-warp drive proportions yesterday. So many people buying so much stuff (some of the stuff even included books, thankfully) and heaping these piles of stuff on one of our eight checkout counters....

I need a week to heal and rest, so this will be my last post until the new year. Thanks to everyone who has been so supportive of the blog and my new venture, Fresh Eyes Now. Despite my Scrooge-like relationship with the season (forged from more than 30 years of retail experience), I do hope your holidays are safe and joyful, and I'll see you next year.

Dec. 23, 2016
...and to all a good night.

--Robert Gray, contributing editor (Column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

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