Shelf Awareness for Friday, February 11, 2011


Severn House Publishers: Night Watch (First World Publication) (Michael Cassidy Thriller #3) by David C. Taylor

St. Martin's Press: A Week at the Shore by Barbara Delinsky

Workman Publishing: Who Got Game?: Baseball: Amazing But True Stories! by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by John John Bajet

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: Sunnyside Plaza by Scott Simon

Other Press: Machiavelli: The Art of Teaching People What to Fear by Patrick Boucheron, translated by Willard Wood

Quotation of the Day

Indie Bookstore Love: 'I Am a Sucker for a Good Shelf Talker'

"What gives indies leverage? Customer service. Community. When it comes to a physical store, I go there because I want a certain level of interaction. I want human contact. I want tactile. I want readings. Events. Original content. Something unique that I can't get anywhere else. I want to be seduced by a cover with a striking image, and, honestly, I think booksellers have a better idea of what attracts readers than publishers (especially those publishers who don't leave New York very often). Extra points if there's a clever shelf talker. I am a sucker for a good shelf talker."

--Booksquare's Kassia Krozser in her post, "Bookstores Now, More than Ever." Next Tuesday at 1:40 p.m., during the O'Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing conference, she will moderate a panel on the future of bookstores, featuring Jenn Northington of WORD Brooklyn, Jessica Stockton-Bagnulo of Greenlight Bookstore, Lori James of All Romance eBooks, Kevin Smokler of Booktour.com and Malle Vallik of Harlequin.

 


GLOW: ECW Press: Moments of Glad Grace: A Memoir by Alison Wearing


News

Indies Opening in Two Former Walden Mall Locations

What a trend!

Two independent bookstores are opening in malls in space vacated by Waldenbooks that were closed by Borders Group in the last year.

Rivendell Books, the new and used bookstores in downtown Montpelier, Vt., is opening a second store, in the Berlin Mall, in space that had been occupied by a Waldenbooks that closed in January 2010.

Owned by Robert Kasow and Claire Benedict, who also own Bear Pond Books, a new bookstore that is also in Montpelier, Rivendell will offer "a wide selection" of new books as well as used mystery, fiction and romance titles. Several other local businesses have opened in the mall alongside national chains.

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Farther south in New England, two independent booksellers and the owner of a mall have teamed up to found a new store called Wakefield Books in the Wakefield Mall in Wakefield, R.I., in space that was occupied by a Waldenbooks that closed last month. The Walden outlet had been there 31 years and was Wakefield's only full-service bookstore.

Former Walden staff is joining Wakefield Books. "This bookstore and its staff have a special place in the hearts of our community," store manager Bob Ryan said. "When Borders announced our liquidation, the community voiced its grief."

Wakefield Books, which has its grand opening tomorrow at 9:30 a.m., is owned jointly by Susan Novotny, owner of the Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, N.Y., and Market Block Books, Troy, N.Y., and co-owner of the Troy Book Makers, Troy, N.Y.; David Didriksen, owner of Willow Books, Acton, Mass.; and Jeff Levy, owner of the Wakefield Mall.

"David, Jeff and I bring over 100 years of combined experience in retail and bookselling to this venture," Novotny said. "What we saw in Bob Ryan and the staff was an impressive loyalty and dedication to bookselling and the community. Our combined chemistry is working beautifully and Wakefield, R.I., will be among the first communities across the nation where the book phoenix rises from the ashes."

Referring to e-books and e-readers, Didriksen said, "Just because we have new toys on the market doesn't mean books and bookstores are going to go away. Smaller, community-based bookstores that are run in a business-minded fashion will survive."

Wakefield Books is located at 160 Old Tower Rd., Wakefield, R.I. 02879; 401-792-0000; wakefieldbooks.com (which is not yet up and running).

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To emphasize that this is a trend, several booksellers report having received contacts from mall operators seeking bookstores, in many cases to replace Walden and Dalton stores closed by Borders and Barnes & Noble. For example, Columbia Mall in Grand Forks, N.D., is seeking a new bookstore to replace a closed Walden and a closed Dalton, which together had revenues of more than $2 million.

 


Plough Publishing House: Poems to See by: A Comic Artist Interprets Great Poetry by Julian Peters


Notes: Amazon Rides Out of Texas; Diamond Bundles E-Comics

Amazon has threatened to close its Irving, Tex., distribution facility on April 12 "and cancel plans to hire as many as 1,000 additional workers because of its dispute with Texas over sales tax owed," the Dallas Morning News reported. Last fall, the state assessed Amazon $269 million in uncollected sales tax, interest and penalties for the four years running from December 2005 to December 2009, which Amazon has contested (Shelf Awareness, January 21, 2011).

"We regret losing any business in the state of Texas," said Alan Spelce, spokesman for the state comptroller's office. "But our position hasn't changed; if you have a physical business presence in the state of Texas, you owe sales tax."

In a letter to employees announcing the impending closure, Dave Clark, v-p, North American operations, said, "Despite much hard work and the support of other Texas officials, we've been unable to come to a resolution with the Texas Comptroller's office. Closing this fulfillment center is clearly not our preferred outcome. We were previously planning to build additional facilities and expand in Texas, bringing more than 1,000 new jobs and tens of millions of investment dollars to the state, and we regret the need to reverse course."

A copy of Clark's letter was posted online by NBC-DFW.

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Diamond Comic Distributors is teaming up with iVerse Media, creator of the ComicsPLUS reader, to allow some 2,700 bricks-and-mortar comic shops to sell digital editions of comics. Under the program, which makes its debut in July, day-and-date digital editions to sell for 30 days for about $1.99, with "digital plus" editions, in effect a bundling offer--digital copies available with the purchase of a printed copy--for 99 cents.

Retailers need only an Internet connection and printer to participate. They will retain "a significant portion" of each sale, with billing on their regular Diamond Comic Distributors invoices. Retailers with websites will also be able to sell a range of digital back issue comics and graphic novels.

Participating publishers include Ape Entertainment, Archie Comics, Aspen Comics, Bluewater Productions, Broadsword Comics, Hermes Press, IDW Publishing, Moonstone Comics, NBM Publishing, Papercutz, Red 5 Comics, Studio Foglio, Titan Books, Tokyopop, Top Cow Productions and Top Shelf Productions. Others are in the process of joining.

Dave Bowen, director of DCD's new Diamond digital division, said: "We invite all publishers to join our effort, whether with all of their books or a portion of their line. All we ask is that they give comic shops a 30-day head-start on selling whatever digital content they chose to make available through the program."

Diamond executive v-p and COO Chuck Parker commented: "Digital comics are creating opportunities for publishers to grow the comic market. Our task, as we see it, has been to structure a program that empowers comic retailers to play a role in this growth and, at the same time, make money selling digital content."

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In other Diamond news, Ardden Entertainment graphic novel titles and products will be distributed to independent bookstores, mass-market merchandisers, comic shops, bookstores, libraries and other outlets worldwide by Diamond Book Distributors.

Founded in 2007 by Brendan Deneen and Richard Emms, Ardden Entertainment has published such series as Flash Gordon and Casper and the Spectrals. Its first Atlas Comics titles, starting with Phoenix, Grim Ghost and Wulf, appear in March.

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The Wall Street Journal surveys the varieties of an increasingly popular kind of bundling: two e-books, sometimes at a discount, sometimes at full price. "All genres are represented, from CIA thrillers and non-fiction to blood-sucking vampires and end-of-this world experiences," the paper wrote.

One example: RosettaBooks is offering William Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich and Berlin Diary at a 50% discount. "By bundling titles at a discount we're raising their visibility and making them more price-attractive," RosettaBooks CEO Arthur Klebanoff told the Journal.

Christian Smythe, director of Sony's e-bookstore, said that bundles of titles in series are most popular. Of the store's 25 bestselling bundles, 19 are based on series.

Hachette is bundling new and old books by different authors in the same genres--symmetrical examples include a bundle consisting of a new title by Brad Meltzer and an older title by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child and a bundle that has a new title by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child and an older title by Brad Meltzer.

Some publishers, like Penguin, are creating e-bundles but not discounting. "In general we see this as a convenience proposition for fans," Tim McCall, v-p of online sales/marketing at Penguin Group, said. "Our first experience was with the Sookie Stackhouse books, and people didn't balk at the price. They wanted to read the author they wanted to read. For us, it's about preserving the value of the book."

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Jacket Copy's bookstore of the week is Small World Books, Venice, Calif. Owner Mary Goodfader "moved her bookstore to the Venice Boardwalk in 1976 after seven years in Marina del Rey. When she and her husband Robert found the space that now holds Small World Books and the Sidewalk Cafe, the building was empty, she says, covered with graffiti like 'stop bombing in Cambodia.' They bought the building and divided responsibilities: She ran the bookstore and Robert ran the cafe along the boardwalk, which faces the sea. The restaurant is 'pretty much the reason the bookstore can exist,' Goodfader says. 'As long as people want to buy hamburgers, I'll keep it going.' "

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Marsha Kaplan, Barbara Klausmeyer and Lindsay McGuire, co-owners of Left Bank Books, Searsport, Maine, have "created a local haven for the exchange of ideas," the Bangor Daily News observed in its profile of this "cozy but exuberant" bookshop that opened in 2004.

"You connect with people so fast and deeply... It is so satisfying," they said. "You never know who’s going to walk through the door."

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In response to this week's announcement that the National Book Festival is expanding to two days this year (Shelf Awareness, February 9, 2011), Washington City Paper suggested five ways the NBF "should earn its second day":

  • Give poetry its own stage back.
  • Surprise us.
  • Cultivate some off-site events.
  • Be more D.C.
  • Just give Neil Gaiman his own stage.

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Headline of the day: The Channel Register's article about Amazon's purchase of a 240,000 square foot warehouse in Ireland featured the headline, "Amazon buys bloody big shed for Dublin data centre."

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It may not seem like the most romantic approach to Valentine's Day, but Amazon has named the most romantic cities in the U.S. after compiling sales data since New Year's Day for romance novels and relationship books, romantic comedy movies, Barry White recordings and sexual wellness products on a per capita basis in cities with over 100,000 residents. Amazon's Top 20 most romantic cities in the U.S. are:                   

  1. Alexandria, Va.
  2. Knoxville, Tenn.
  3. Orlando, Fla.
  4. Miami, Fla.
  5. Ann Arbor, Mich.
  6. Columbia, S.C.
  7. Cincinnati, Ohio
  8. Murfreesboro, Tenn.
  9. Gainesville, Fla.
  10. Tallahassee, Fla.
  11. Vancouver, Wash.
  12. Round Rock, Tex.
  13. Pittsburgh, Pa.                   
  14. Salt Lake City, Utah 
  15. Arlington, Va.
  16. Las Vegas, Nev.                     
  17. Clarksville, Tenn.
  18. St. Louis, Mo.
  19. Dayton, Ohio
  20. Frisco, Tex.

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More Valentine's Day news: John Stammers chose his top 10 love poems for the Guardian, noting: "If ever two were made for each other surely it is love and poetry: the infinite variety of love meeting the boundless capacity of poetry to embrace it."

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And what would Valentine's Day be without a little sex?

Yesterday, Salon's Good Sex Awards (its answer to the U.K.'s annual Bad Sex Awards) launched with the unveiling of the eighth-best sex scene of the year, "a steamy encounter between a painter and his personal assistant" in Jim Carroll's The Petting Zoo. And at number seven, a scene from Maggie Pouncey's Perfect Reader in which "a woman has an intimate encounter in her late father's home."

And Flavorwire showcased the best literary sex scenes not penned by a great male novelist, observing that "writing about sex in literature is a difficult task; there are so many ways authors can go wrong."

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UrbanDaddy recommended the soon-to-open Tres Gatos, Boston, Mass., with a tempting literary lure: "It happens every time. You're reading a new essay by Christopher Hitchens extolling the genius of Flannery O'Connor and Lady Gaga (as it relates to geopolitical stabilization), and you suddenly start to think: 'This would be great with tapas. And music.' Well, we’re happy to report: you aren't the only one.... Picture Barnes & Noble. Now picture it as one store. Subtract the evil corporate empire aspect. Add a bar, a funky 40-seat dining space for Grilled Vermont Quail and tapas. Presto. You've got Tres Gatos."

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There's no such thing as owning too many books when you live in the Shelf-Pod, a private residence in Moriguchi City, Japan, designed to be "not only for living, but would have the maximum capacity for its storage and exhibition.," Dezeen magazine reported.

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Jewcy.com featured its choices for the "50 most essential works of Jewish fiction of the last 100 years," noting that "Jewish writers from all over the globe have contributed fiction in a number of different languages, influencing the form in ways immeasurable, in turn helping to document the Jewish experience better than most history books."

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Another possible solution for the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn editing controversy: Boing Boing reported that Gabriel Diani and Etta Devine have suggested replacing the "n-word" with "robot."

"Statistically, people prefer robots to the word 'n-word,' " they contend. "The word 'n-word' is ugly and pejorative. Robots are fun and cool... even when they're trying to take over our world!"



Grove Press: Writers & Lovers by Lily King


BEA: Author Breakfast Speakers Include Henkes, Eugenides

Diane Keaton, Jeffrey Eugenides, Kevin Henkes and Roger Ebert are among the featured speakers at author breakfasts during this year's BookExpo America, which will be held May 24-26 at the Javits Center in New York City.

At the children's book and author breakfast on Tuesday, Julianne Moore will be the master of ceremonies and the speakers will be Brian Selznick, Sarah Dessen and Kevin Henkes. Katherine Paterson, current ambassador for young people’s literature, will speak briefly on behalf of the Children’s Book Council.

Wednesday's author breakfast will feature Diane Keaton, Jeffrey Eugenides and Charlaine Harris, with Mindy Kaling as emcee.

On Thursday, the breakfast speakers will be Roger Ebert, Anne Enright and Erik Larson. Jim Lehrer will be the emcee.
 
A full day of conference sessions will take place Monday, May 23, with an opening night keynote currently planned for Monday evening at 6 p.m. Other programming on Monday will include the Editor Buzz panel, as well as a new Innovators Roundtable that will feature leaders from a variety of related industries discussing what is on the horizon for technology, business models and opportunity.  

Additional author programming will take place throughout the convention week on BEA’s newly renamed Insight Stages (formerly Author Stages). The two stages will feature author programming as well as discussions with both industry and non-industry trailblazers who are involved with innovation in the digital space.

BEA organizers are working to expand awareness and activity for New York Book Week, which provides the opportunity to brand and market authors, titles and publishers at events in bookstores, libraries, schools and other public venues throughout the boroughs of New York City.  

"We are working very hard to expand all aspects of author promotional activity at BEA as we understand that this is a pivotal and critical part of the overall BEA experience," said Steve Rosato, BEA event director. "Of course, we couldn’t do this without the support of publishers and the exceptional list of authors that they provide to us each year. Our responsibility, which we take very seriously, is to afford as much opportunity as possible for these authors. Hence, we have built outward from our Author Breakfasts to create our Insight Stage programming and to encourage participation in New York Book Week. I am profoundly grateful to all the fine authors who have agreed to participate in our Author Breakfasts this year. At the same time, it is good to know that we are just beginning. There is a wealth of book and author programming still to come and we look forward to making additional announcements in the near future."

 


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Providence by Max Barry


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Misconception & Inconceivable on Dateline NBC

Tonight on Dateline NBC: Paul and Shannon Morell, authors of Misconception: One Couple's Journey from Embryo Mix-Up to Miracle Baby (Howard, $14.99, 9781451610567).

Also on Dateline NBC: Carolyn and Sean Savage, authors of Inconceivable: A Medical Mistake, the Baby We Couldn't Keep, and Our Choice to Deliver the Ultimate Gift (HarperOne, $26.99, 9780062004635).

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Sunday on Wisconsin Public Radio's To the Best of Our Knowledge: Keren David, author of Almost True (Frances Lincoln, distributed by PGW, $16.95, 9781847801418), the sequel to When I Was Joe.

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Sunday on Dateline NBC: Janet Jackson, author of True You: A Journey to Finding and Loving Yourself (Gallery, $25.99, 9781416587248).


Sunday on Fox News' Geraldo at Large: Wayne Rogers, co-author of Make Your Own Rules: A Renegade Guide to Unconventional Success (AMACOM, $23, 9780814416570).

 


Television: Weekends at Bellevue

Fox has given a late pilot order to Weekends at Bellevue, a medical drama from former ER writer-producer Lisa Zwerling and BermanBraun. Deadline.com reported that the project, based on Dr. Julie Holland's memoir about her nine years as head of the psychiatric emergency room at the New York hospital, "was originally set up at NBC and UMS earlier this season. After the network recently passed on the script, it was taken to Fox. UMS, which produces Fox's hit drama House, will stay on as the studio."

 


Movies: The Host; Back Roads

Susanna White (Nanny McPhee Returns) will direct the film version of The Host, author Stephenie Meyer's follow-up to her bestselling Twilight Saga novels. Variety reported that Andrew Niccol (The Truman Show) wrote the screenplay

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Andrew Garfield, Jennifer Garner and Marcia Gay Harden will star in Infinity Media's adaptation of Tawni O'Dell's novel Back Roads. Adrian Lyne is directing. Variety noted that "several high-profile young actresses are being considered to play two of Garfield's sisters." Production is tentatively set for June.

 



Books & Authors

Awards: Colby Winner; Waterstone's Children's Book; Sami Rohr

Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes has won the 2011 William E. Colby Award, which honors "a first work of fiction or non-fiction that has made a significant contribution to the public's understanding of intelligence operations, military history, or international affairs." Named for the late ambassador and CIA director, the $5,000 award will be presented by Tawani Foundation in association with the Pritzker Military Library on October 22 in Chicago at the Library's 2011 Liberty Gala.

Colby Award co-founder and author W.E.B. Griffin called Matterhorn "a powerful first work that defines the tragic cost of the Vietnam War in human terms. Marlantes' breakneck writing style is both passionate and haunting, thrusting the reader into alternating moments of chaos and courage reflecting the fragility of our Marines on the ground--and their leadership--in combat."

To see an appearance by Marlantes at the Pritzker Military Library last year, click here.

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Artichoke Hearts by Sita Brahmachari won the £5,000 (US$8,032) Waterstone's Children's Book prize, BBC News reported. In presenting the award at a London ceremony, children's Laureate Anthony Browne called the novel a "beautifully written" book that made him "laugh and cry--sometimes at the same time." The judging panel praised the way it tackled the issue of death and for the "effortless way in which it shows how inspiring grandparents and the older generation can be for children."

This year's shortlist also included The Memory Cage by Ruth Eastham, Tall Story by Candy Gourlay, The Pain Merchants: The Healing Wars by Janice Hardy, Wereworld: Rise of the Wolf by Curtis Jobling, Fantastic Frankie and the Brain-Drain Machine by Anna Kemp, A Beautiful Lie by Irfan Master, Mortlock by Jon Mayhew and When you Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.

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Finalists for the Jewish Book Council's $100,000 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature are:

Stations West by Allison Amend (LSU Press)
The Cosmopolitans by Nadia Kalman (Livingston Press)
The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer  (Knopf)
The Jump Artist by Austin Ratner (Bellevue Literary Press)
A Curable Romantic by Joseph Skibell (Algonquin Books)

The finalists will meet with the fiction judges on March 15, and the winner, as well as the $25,000 Choice Award given to the first runner-up, will be announced shortly thereafter. The 2011 award ceremony will be held May 31.

 


Book Brahmin: Andrew Foster Altschul

Andrew Foster Altschul is the author of the novels Deus Ex Machina (Counterpoint, February 1, 2011), which recounts a season in the life of a Survivor-esque reality show, and Lady Lazarus (2008). His short fiction and essays have appeared in many journals and anthologies, including Esquire, McSweeney's, Ploughshares, Best New American Voices and The O. Henry Prize Stories. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow and Jones Lecturer at Stanford University, he is the director of the Center for Literary Arts at San Jose State University and books editor of the Rumpus.

On your nightstand now:

Since I'm the books editor of a website, my nightstand is always on the verge of buckling. As soon as I finish E.L. Doctorow's World's Fair, I can't wait to read Deb Olin Unferth's new memoir, Revolution!: The Year I Fell in Love and Went to Join the War. Then it's Nabokov's Ada, or Ardor and Carol Sklenicka's Raymond Carver: A Writer's Life. Faulkner's The Wild Palms is somewhere in the pile, too.

Favorite book when you were a child:

As a kid, I ruined my eyes reading all the Hardy Boys mysteries under the covers, after bedtime. In my teens, someone turned me on to a dark, strange set of sci-fi/fantasy books called The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever by Stephen R. Donaldson. I still think about them sometimes.

Your top five authors:

In no particular order: Salman Rushdie, David Foster Wallace, E.L. Doctorow, William Faulkner, Melanie Rae Thon. What do they have in common? You cannot mistake their voices for anyone else's.

Book you've faked reading:

Don Quixote. I know, I know....

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Book of Daniel by E.L. Doctorow. My favorite post-World War II novel, a fictional treatment of the Rosenbergs' case and its aftermath, through the eyes of their son. Heartbreaking, infuriating, jaw-droppingly brilliant.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Atmospheric Disturbances, by Rivka Galchen. I wasn't sorry.

Book that changed your life:

Hmm... too many to list. Maybe Infinite Jest? Like watching a trapeze artist flip and tumble through the air... for 1,100 pages. That's when I understood that a writer is permitted to do anything, as long as he sticks the landing.

Favorite line from a book:

From The Book of Daniel: "If justice cannot be made to operate under the worst possible conditions of social hysteria, what does it matter how it operates at other times?"

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

Lolita.

Strangest moment while researching a novel:

When I was doing research for Deus Ex Machina, I tried for a long time to get on the set of a reality TV show, but it's almost impossible for all kinds of legal and confidentiality reasons. My friend Stephen Elliott was making a reality-show pilot for Showtime, set inside the studios of Kink.com, a huge porn production company in San Francisco. He was one of the stars. He invited me to come watch them film for a day. Was kind of hard to look him in the eye for a while after that.

 


Book Review

Book Review: The Curse-Maker

The Curse-Maker by Kelli Stanley (Minotaur Books, $24.99 Hardcover, 9780312654191, February 2011)

"By all rights, Aquae Sulis should be a lovely place. Maybe one day it would be," is the damning diagnosis made by physician Arcturus during his visit to Bath, in the days when Rome ruled Britannia along with the rest of its empire. Arcturus and his wife, Gwyna, came to Bath for the same reasons others did then: to rest, bathe in the allegedly curative springs (said to be overseen by the goddess Sulis) and restore balance to their marriage. In Kelli Stanley's Roman noir, Aquae Sulis is far cry from the genteel spa that it will become in the days when Jane Austen and Henry Fielding set novels there. Besides those seeking better health, Roman Aquae Sulis draws all manner of hustlers, necromancers, curse-writers, blackmailers and--murderers.

The town, with its hordes of visitors and hangers-on, provides an ideal setting for intrigue and violence; Arcturus, analytical and sardonic, is the perfect detective to investigate the murder of the scribe Rufus Bibax, whose corpse was found in the springs with a lead curse-tablet rammed down his throat. As Arcturus, searching for clues, plumbs the depths of corruption in the town, he passes judgment on the low-lifes around him with tart summaries like, "He only wanted money, which made him one of the cleaner people in Aquae Sulis."

Stanley has populated Roman-occupied Bath with a colorful assortment of wily politicians, decadent sensualists, fraudulent fortune tellers and predatory entrepreneurs, among them the hater Materna (Stanley cunningly uses the Latin term animus maledictus to describe her passionate devotion to making trouble for everyone); her schemes and machinations are the stuff of delicious high drama.

Since it would be all too easy to spoil the fun of discovery for future readers of this delightful procedural (the second in Stanley's Roman noir series after Nox Dormienda), I will give no more away about the satisfyingly intricate plot. Arcturus, looking at the host of nasty connivers in his Bath circle, declares, "Trust wasn't in my upbringing. I didn't watch comedies, and I didn't believe in happy endings." He's seen all the dead bodies, but did he miss signs of the goddess at work around the springs that she was said to protect?--John McFarland

Shelf Talker: A delightful and satisfying complex murder mystery set in Roman-occupied Bath long before it cleaned up itself up enough to suit the likes of Jane Austen and Henry Fielding.

 


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Love Is a Many-Splendored Read

Valentine's Day may seem to be about love, but it is also about words. Well, three words in particular; three words that have been used--and misused--on this particular holiday since most of us were children. Remember the cryptic messages on candy hearts; the anticipatory terror and joy of grammar school Valentine cards for everybody in the class?

"I love you." It's a fine sentence, infinitely complex, filled with emotion and history and danger, yet also quite simple and declarative.

If you're reading this, you are a member of the word tribe and readers, in addition to the traditional person-to-person exclamations, love reading, love books (some much more than others, of course), love particular authors and bookshops and publishers. Some readers have even been heard to proclaim love for their Kindles or iPads or Kobos or Nooks.
    
Love, for us, is a many-splendored read.

This weekend, indie bookstores nationwide will celebrate Valentine's Day with a variety of events, promotions and sometimes even direct expressions of love--chaste (usually), intelligent and enthusiastic--for their patrons.

For a reader's Valentine's Day, what better gift than a book? They're sugar-free (take that, box 'o chocolates) and they last much longer than roses. Auntie's Bookstore, Spokane, Wash., suggests "an old fashioned love story--what could be sweeter? Pick up a few for someone you cherish and one more to carry you away in a warm glow."

Here's a sampling of how some other indies are celebrating the momentary warmth of a Valentine's Day weekend in the depths of a cold, cold winter:

In an e-newsletter from Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, Va., Kelly Justice wrote, "We have chocolate for you &/or the object of your affections. Lots of sweet books and a few snarky ones if you're just not feelin' it this year. We also have a very large selection of Valentine's cards this year!!! Don't forget to pick up a sparkly libation to celebrate from River City Cellars! We love them and we love you... and I'm not just saying that. Wait... don't run away! Happy Valentine's Day!"

For the next two weeks, Bank of Books, Ventura, Calif., is giving away bags full of romance novels. Owner Clarey Rudd said, "We have the joy once again to give back to the community, by giving away 5,000 romance books. The bags will be filled with 20 to 40 assorted titles. This brings the total of books given away free to the public to over 115,000 books." Added Carmen Silva: "This is our way of celebrating Valentine's Day with the community. We're helping spread a spirit of giving, of love and romance."

On its store blog, RiverRun Bookstore, Portsmouth, N.H., took a slightly different tack, observing that "it's almost time for that stupid holiday again--Valentine's Day. In the past, I have always thought it was silly that a specific day was designated to show someone that you love them. Love is mushy--I think all the best books are the ones where people get their hearts stomped on, not where they happily ride off into the sunset. This year, well, all I can say is 'le sigh.' Yep, how the mighty have fallen. HOWEVER, even with my new conversion to the Cult of Cupid, I am still going to come to RiverRun on Valentine's Day, to learn about really smart people who did poorly in the romance department. Our good friend Andrew Shaffer will be here to talk about his new book, Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love."

And, finally, as happens in any long-term relationship, sometimes Valentine's Day is a time to reflect. Mysterious Galaxy Books, San Diego, Calif., extended its holiday celebration throughout February with a "We Love Our Customers Month" promotion that was prompted by some soul-searching introspection that co-owner Terry Gilman shared with patrons in the shop's e-newsletter:

"Are we on the cusp of losing your business because of some need we didn't meet or a concern that we didn't address? Will there be a last straw that breaks our book bond with you? I hope not. The staff hopes not. It is always our goal to help you find the book you are looking for, in whatever format you are looking, and within any of the genres we love and stock at the store... or a wide selection of books in print (or electronic editions) from our website. I hope you will tell us if we ever miss the mark so that we can provide you with the best customer service of which we are capable. We look forward to seeing you soon and helping you find the next great book! This is all in line with our 'We Love Our Customers Month,' which we offer to you as thanks for the gifts you have given us as our customers."

Love, as I mentioned before, is complex. Happy Valentine's Day, word people.--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

 


The Bestsellers

In Demand: Most-Ordered Future Hardcover Nonfiction

The following were the most-ordered upcoming hardcover nonfiction on Edelweiss during the last 60 days. The listings include links to the titles on Edelweiss and links to the publisher's e-catalogue:

  1. Bossypants by Tiny Fey (Reagan Arthur Books/Hachette, April 5) Little, Brown Spring/Summer 2011
 
  2. Boomerang by Michael Lewis (Norton, June 13) Norton and Affiliates Spring 2011 Combined
 
  3. In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson (Crown, May 10) Random House Adult Blue Omni, Su11
  4. One Hundred Names for Love by Diane Ackerman (Norton, April 4) Norton and Affiliates Spring 2011 Combined
 
  5. Does the Noise in My Head Bother You? by Steven Tyler (Ecco, May 1) HarperCollins Adult Summer 2011 Compilation
 
  6. Lies that Chelsea Handler Told Me by Chelsea's Family, Friends, and Other Victims (Grand Central, May 10) Grand Central Publishing Spring/Summer 2011
  7. Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff (Harper, May 1) HarperCollins Adult Summer 2011 Compilation
  8. Lost and Found by Geneen Roth (Viking, March 22) Adult Hardcover Summer 2011
  9. 1493 by Charles C. Mann (Knopf, August 9) *Random House Adult Green Omni, Su11
  10. Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness by Alexandra Fuller (Penguin Press, August 18) Adult Hardcover Summer 2011

[Many thanks to Above the Treeline and Edelweiss!]

 


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