Shelf Awareness for Monday, April 11, 2011


St. Martin's Press: A Hero Born (Legends of the Condor Heroes #1) by Jin Yong

Workman Publishing: Atlas Obscura, 2nd Edition: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders (Second Edition, Revised) by Joshua Foer, Ella Morton, Dylan Thuras

Rick Riordan Presents: Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky (Tristan Strong #1) by Kwame Mbalia

Magination Press: Snitchy Witch by Frank J. Sileo, illustrated by MacKenzie Haley

Sourcebooks Explore: Survivors of the Holocaust: True Stories of Six Extraordinary Children by Kath Shackleton, illustrated by Zane Wittingham

Sleeping Bear Press: Santa's Secret by Denise Brennan-Nelson, illustrated by Deborah Melmon

Abrams Books for Young Readers: Harry Houdini (First Names) by Kjartan Poskitt, illustrated by Geraint Ford and Amelia Earhart (First Names) by Mike Smith, illustrated by Andrew Prentice

Balzer & Bray: The Best At It by Maulik Pancholy

Quotation of the Day

Word of Mouth: 'The Marriage of Enthusiasm and Anxiety'

"With the advent of social networking, word of mouth begins to enter the realm of science, at least in theory. Actually, despite Twitter, Facebook and the rest, publishers are finding it as difficult as ever to mobilize that elusive thing, the viral conversation about a new book that translates into worldwide sales.... To generate a surprise bestseller, the publisher needs to create a community around the book and its author in which the readers believe that their aspirations can be understood, their beliefs nurtured and their anxieties addressed. That's what a successful book will do.... Word of mouth: the marriage of enthusiasm and anxiety."

--Robert McCrum in the Guardian

 


Blue Rider Press:  One Day: The Extraordinary Story of an Ordinary 24 Hours in America by Gene Weingarten


News

Image of the Day: Ex-presidential Reading

Former president Bill Clinton receives the first copy of The Gray Zone (Greenleaf), an upcoming novel by Daphna Ziman, whose legislative efforts to protect foster children Clinton backed during his administration. The book aims to make the public aware of pedophilic prostitution of children in foster care. On the left: Westwood One CEO Rod Sherwood, another supporter of Ziman's work.



 Peachtree Publishing Company: Fault Lines in the Constitution: The Framers, Their Fights, and the Flaws That Affect Us Today (Revised) by Cynthia Levinson and Sanford Levinso


Notes: Objection to Borders' Bonuses; REDgroup vs. Franchisees

The Borders Group plan to pay $8.3 million in bonuses to 17 executives, 25 "director-level" employees and additional "key" employees (Shelf Awareness, March 28, 2011), has met with legal opposition. The office of the U.S. Trustee filed an objection on the grounds that the bonus motion "is premature and should not be granted."

In the filing, U.S. trustee Tracy Hope Davis said that despite the characterization by Borders Group of the bonuses "as providing necessary incentives to insiders, there is no information that explains what extra services the insiders would perform beyond their ordinary job duties or a detailed description of the nexus between the supposed incentives and the payment trigger."

In addition, the motion "provides no financial performance metrics nor are the bonuses tied to the number of stores that will continue to operate under a plan of reorganization. It is also unclear at this stage whether there will be any distribution to unsecured creditors," Davis noted, adding that the Executive Bonus Plan is "a disguised retention plan for insiders, which also provides for discriminatory bonuses for non-insiders."

Borders spokeswoman Mary Davis said, "The proposed programs were designed to retain key executives at Borders as we proceed through the Chapter 11 reorganization process, and we are actively working to address the questions that have been raised." A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Thursday in front of Judge Martin Glenn of U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan, the Wall Street Journal reported.

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Closing Borders store sign of the day: The Consumerist featured this bookseller's revenge message: "Manga so cheap... you don't need to steal them anymore! This goes for graphic novels, too!"

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In Australia, administrators to REDgroup Retail "have initiated court proceedings against the breakaway Angus & Robertson franchisee group that last week purported to terminate their agreements with the parent company" (Shelf Awareness, April 6, 2011), the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Administrator Ferrier Hodgson partner Steve Sherman contended that "at no time" had Angus & Robertson breached the relevant franchise agreements. ''We have reviewed their notices of termination and are confident there is no proper basis for termination of the franchise agreements,'' Sherman said. ''Consequently, in order to protect the interests of the unsecured creditors and to preserve the integrity of the REDgroup companies, we have commenced proceedings seeking confirmation that the terminations are invalid and unlawful and that the franchise agreements remain on foot. We will also be seeking orders for recovery of the arrears owed to Angus & Robertson under those agreements.''

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The sales tax battle in South Carolina (Shelf Awareness, April 8, 2011) intensified Friday when the state's Chamber of Commerce "came out against a proposed sales tax exemption for online retailer Amazon, as a key Lexington County legislator lamented that the governor's hands-off approach is 'out of the norm,' " the State reported. Chamber president Otis Rawl said the sales tax exemption would be unfair to other retailers: "It would put (Amazon) at a competitive advantage. It's giving them something that everybody else doesn't have."

House majority leader Kenny Bingham said Governor Nikki Haley, who opposes the tax break but will let lawmakers decide the issue, has made the path to any legislation difficult: "It's even more daunting in cases when the governor has not taken the lead. It's a very unique situation."

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Beginning this summer, law firm franchise QualitySolicitors will offer legal services in 150 W.H. Smith stores, with plans to eventually expand the "legal access points" to 500 locations, Legal Week reported. Craig Holt, CEO of QualitySolicitors said, "This move represents the future of legal services. It is a game-changer, providing both the key elements required for market dominance--accessibility and visibility."

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Author Chris Bohjalian confessed that he had once thought about committing the perfect literary crime--writing a savage review of a new book by a writer who'd once dismissed his work. To discover how Bohjalian handled this "chance for the most exquisite revenge imaginable," read his piece in the Washington Post.

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The annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nev., became an unlikely target "in the budget battle a world away in Washington last week, employed by conservatives as a symbol of fiscal waste. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, a Democrat and the majority leader, invoked the event in arguing against Republican cuts in arts financing in the budget debate, setting off a conflagration of conservative scorn," the New York Times reported.

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Repurposing Harry Potter for muggle weddings: The Daily What featured a diamond ring secreted away in a copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince; as well as a wedding bouquet crafted from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

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Mystery solved: the dead authors did it. Ian Fleming edged out Agatha Christie as the highest-earning British crime writer of all time. The Guardian reported that the "crime writers rich list, prepared for the crime drama digital TV channel Alibi, is based on recorded sales, box office returns, license fees and company accounts."

Fleming topped the field at more than £100 million (US$163.8 million), with Christie a close second at £100 million. The Guardian noted that both were soundly thrashed by American crime writers John Grisham (£366 million) and Dan Brown (£244.1 million). You can find the top 10 money lists for both the U.K. and U.S. here.

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If you were a fan of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, "you're a creative gastronomist with a flexible policy on slave labor." Flavorwire considered what your favorite kids book then says about you now.

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In the Guardian, Patrick Ness, author most recently of A Monster Calls, chose his top 10 "unsuitable" books for teenagers, noting that "there's more to adult books than adult material. There are a number of books that are actually rather better if read when you're a teen, some because they're entertaining contraband, some because it can never be too early to read something so wonderful, and some because, if you wait, you might have missed your chance forever."

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Admitting "books can be harder to kick out than termites," Laura Jofre chronicled her experiences with the delicate art of book purging in an Associated Press piece (via Cincinnati.com). "In the name of renewal (and family peace), my husband and I repurposed our rec room into a master bedroom and let our girls, ages 12 and 6, have their own rooms. In the process, we had to redistribute everyone's books. In the process, I was forced to admit it: I had too many books."

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New York magazine's slide show, "The Perpetual Garret: Where the starving artists slept," included the unique creative domiciles of writers William Burroughs and Ralph Ellison.

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Book trailer of the day: Dodsworth in Rome by Tim Egan (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). When in Rome, do what Dodsworth does... have a sense of humor!

 


imon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books: Max & Ruby and Twin Trouble (Max and Ruby Adventure) BY Rosemary Wells


Obituary Note and Remembrance: Esther Kramer

Esther Kramer, founder and owner for 32 years of the Remarkable Book Shop, Westport, Conn., died April 2, according to WestportNow.com. She was 93 and is survived by, among others, her husband, Sidney Kramer, co-founder of Bantam Books.

The store, the first part of whose name was Kramer reversed, was remarkable in many ways. It was housed in a bright pink house in downtown Westport--anchoring one end of Main Street--featured outdoor bookstalls like those on the banks of the Seine and had a fun, intellectual, in-your-face feel. "The shop became a social center of the town's many writers and avid readers, and Kramer, a legendary storyteller and hostess, also became mother-confessor to three rising generations of Westport's creative youngsters," WesportNow.com wrote.

As a former Westport youngster, I can attest that the store was a special place, both cultural and countercultural, with creaky wooden floors, funky signs and displays, nooks and crannies of solid books on everything from literature and political theory and women's rights to cooking and gardening. With comfortable chairs, it was a place one could browse for hours. Booksellers were remarkably knowledgeable and did not shy away from commenting on books I and others bought. A girlfriend's mother was the manager for many years; her tales of customers and all the work behind the scenes that went into bookselling made me fascinated with how bookstores worked. The Remarkable Book Shop was also where I placed my first special order: for my own copy of Hemingway's short stories. As a teenager, I'm not sure I'd have thought of doing such a thing in another store.

The Remarkable Book Shop closed in 1994, not long after a series of chain superstores opened nearby.--John Mutter

 

 


Mango: The Restaurant Diet: How to Eat Out Every Night and Still Lose Weight by Fred Bollaci


Media and Movies

Media Heat: The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers

This morning on Imus in the Morning: Carol Higgins Clark, author of Mobbed: A Regan Reilly Mystery (Scribner, $25, 9781439170281), and her mother, Mary Higgins Clark, author of I'll Walk Alone (Simon & Schuster, $25.99, 9781439180969).

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This morning on the Today Show: Margaret J. Meeker, author of The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers: Reclaiming Our Passion, Purpose, and Sanity (Ballantine, $25, 9780345518064).

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Today on the Martha Stewart Show: Nicholas Dodman, author of Good Old Dog: Expert Advice for Keeping Your Aging Dog Happy, Healthy, and Comfortable (Houghton Mifflin, $26, 9780547232829).

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Today on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Diane Ackerman, author of One Hundred Names for Love: A Stroke, a Marriage, and the Language of Healing (Norton, $26.95, 9780393072419).

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Today on NPR's Fresh Air: Charles Fishman, author of The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water (Free Press, $26.99, 9781439102077).

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Today on Oprah: Shirley MacLaine, author of I'm Over All That: And Other Confessions (Atria, $22, 9781451607291).

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Tonight on NBC's Chuck Scarborough Tonight: Elliot Tiber, author of Palm Trees on the Hudson: A True Story of the Mob, Judy Garland & Interior Decorating (Square One, $24.95, 9780757003516).

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Tomorrow on Good Morning America: Tom Holland, author of Beat the Gym: Personal Trainer Secrets--Without the Personal Trainer Price Tag (Morrow, $19.99, 9780061984051).

Also on Good Morning America: Carly Simon, who will talk about Take Me Out to the Ball Game (Imagine Publishing, $17.95, 9781936140268). Jack Norworth wrote the words to the timely song, Amiko Hirao illustrated the book and Simon sang the song for the CD accompanying the book. Simon will also be on NPR's Diane Rehm Show.

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Tomorrow on the Today Show: Abby Sunderland, author of Unsinkable: A Young Woman's Courageous Battle on the High Seas (Thomas Nelson, $22.99, 9781400203086).

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Tomorrow on American Public Media's Marketplace Morning Report: Charles Fishman, author of The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water (Free Press, $26.99, 9781439102077).

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Tomorrow on Oprah: Tina Fey, author of Bossypants (Reagan Arthur, $26.99, 9780316056861).

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Tomorrow on Tavis Smiley: Joseph Lelyveld, author of Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle with India (Knopf, $28.95, 9780307269584).

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Tomorrow on the View: Katie Couric, author of The Best Advice I Ever Got: Lessons from Extraordinary Lives (Random House, $26, 9780812992779).

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Tomorrow on the Daily Show: Governor Deval Patrick, author of A Reason to Believe: Lessons from an Improbable Life (Broadway, $21.99, 9780767931120).

 


Atheneum Books: Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks by Jason Reynolds, illustrated by Alexander Nabaum


Television: House of Lies

Showtime has greenlighted House of Lies, based on Martin Kihn's book House of Lies: How Management Consultants Steal Your Watch and Then Tell You the Time. Showtime ordered 12 episodes of the half-hour comedy series, starring Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell, that "revolves around a successful and cutthroat consultant (Cheadle) who is never above using any means (or anyone) necessary to get his way with and for his clients," the Hollywood Reporter wrote.

 

 

 


Movie: Atlas Shrugged: Part I

Atlas Shrugged: Part I, the first in a series of films based on the book by Ayn Rand, opens April 15. Taylor Schilling stars as Dagny Taggart, a railroad executive trying to fix a country plagued by social and economic decay. Directed by Paul Johansson.

 


Poetry Month on Screen

Word & Film showcased "some of the most interesting" biographical movies about poets, noting that "biopics, by their very nature, often suggest that their subjects lived in higher and finer ways than us, elevated lives that a two-hour film can barely contain. Biopics about poets especially lean on this theme, even as their subjects engage in human experiences of love or dissipation.... In the end, what makes poet biopics resonant is, ironically, the poetry. While we may lead lives of quiet drama rather than lives of Hollywood Drama, we can still be moved and inspired by the power of verse to revolutionize, to romance, or to encourage, thus elevating our own lives, however briefly, to match the flights of these figures."

 



Books & Authors

Awards: Oklahoma Book Awards

Winners of the 22nd annual Oklahoma Book Awards, sponsored by the Oklahoma Center for the Book, were announced Saturday. NewsOK.com reported that this year's honorees are:
 
Children: Mostly Monsterly by Tammi Sauer (S&S)
Young Adult: Portrait of a Generation: the Children of Oklahoma, Sons and Daughters of the Red Earth by M.J. Alexander (Southwestern Publishing)
Design: Building One Fire by Carol Haralson (Cherokee Nation)
Poetry: Elegy for Trains by Benjamin Myers (Village Books Press)
Fiction: God’s Acres by David Gerard (PenUltimate Press)
Nonfiction: Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History by S.C. Gwynne (Scribner)

 


IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

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

Hardcover

The School of Night: A Novel by Louis Bayard (Holt, $25, 9780805090697). "This swift, witty mystery moves between Tudor England and the present day as a group of bibliophile treasure-hunters sleuth out the lost discoveries of a secretive academy of Elizabethan intellectuals. Bayard is a master of historical texture and literary suspense!"--Mark David Bradshaw, Watermark Books, Wichita, Kan.

It Happened on the Way to War: A Marine's Path to Peace by Rye Barcott (Bloomsbury, $26, 9781608192175). "Rye Barcott's unstoppable drive to do good in the world leads him to concurrent forms of public service. To serve the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya, he co-founds the organization Carolina for Kibera. To serve his country, he joins the Marines and trains to be a Human Intelligence Officer. Drawing on his experiences and the people around him, Rye applies what he learns in Kibera to the challenges of the Marines, and vice versa. This book will restore your faith in humanity, and remind you how much impact one person can have."--Andrea Avantaggio, Maria's Bookshop, Durango, Colo.

Paperback

Reading Lips: A Memoir of Kisses by Claudia Sternbach (Unbridled Books, $14.95, 9781609530372). "Sternbach shares the stories of all kinds of kisses: the first kiss that didn't even happen; the kiss at the end of a rousingly successful catering event that eventually led her to her life partner; a tragic blind-date kiss that ended in pain; an ever-so-tender goodbye kiss to a deceased cousin; the stolen kiss from the lifeguard at Bible camp. Interconnected essays form a charming and engrossing memoir. After all, 'a kiss is still a kiss.'"--Nancy Simpson, The Book Vault, Oskaloosa, Iowa

For Teen Readers

Exposed by Kimberly Marcus (Random House Books for Young Readers, $16.99, 9780375866937). "This poignant free-verse novel, told from the point of view of teenage photographer Liz, is powerful stuff. Marcus deftly uses clear language to create a story of tangled emotions. The concepts of friendship, family, justice, and trust are all called into question when Liz's best friend, Kate, suddenly starts acting distant. This shocking, well-crafted book shakes up perceptions, explores creativity, and invites the reader to think about shades of gray. Teen book clubs, here's your next pick!"--Tegan Tigani, Queen Anne Books, Seattle, Wash.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

 


Book Review

Book Review: The Year We Left Home

The Year We Left Home by Jean Thompson (Simon & Schuster, $25 , 9781439175880, May 3, 2011)

A war at the beginning (Vietnam) and one at the end (Iraq) frames an American family's path through 30 years of life in America, from 1973 to 2003. It is a portrait of the Erickson family of Grenada, Iowa, in alternating viewpoints of family members and their cousin, Chip, a damaged vet of the Vietnam War.

The story opens with Anita's wedding to Jeff. She is the eldest of four children; the others are Ryan, Blake and Victoria. Through vignettes that capture moments of their lives both important and ordinary, Thompson (author of the story collection Do Not Deny Me) paints a picture--who they are, what they want and what they will eventually settle for. The constant thread throughout all their stories is that these are basically good-hearted individuals, often saddled with more than they are equipped to handle. Anita's husband is a banker, responsible for foreclosing on loans to farmers Anita has known all her life. At one of the farm auctions, Anita cleans out their bank accounts and gives the money to now-homeless relatives. Ryan does Chip a great kindness when Chip is past 50 and on his uppers. Ryan buys the farmhouse that once belonged to Uncle Norm and Aunt Martha, now long gone, but prototypical examples of that exemplary American farm couple: thrifty, hardworking, honest, church-going and long-suffering. He worked every day while she canned, cooked and cleaned. Blake says of them: "They didn't think in terms of happy."

Each of the Erickson children has thought in those terms, however, and mostly have come up short in the happiness department. Each of them has endured a difficult situation, hoping things would change. Anita has become the smiling Realtor of the Year displayed on the back of the grocery cart to compensate for Jeff, who turned out to be a chronic alcoholic and is now barely hanging on to sobriety. Ryan says of his marriage to Ellen: "At some point in their life together he had assumed the burden of making her happy. Her most familiar mood, what he thought of as her default position, was one of exasperated suffering." Blake married "beneath him" and his mother and Anita never let him forget it. Torrie made a bad decision that altered her life forever.

This all sounds grim, but it isn't. In Thompson's engaging style, each characters has a life filled with much humor, insight, reconciliation and understanding. Ryan tried to escape Iowa to a life in academe, only to find that he was ill-suited for it. His consolation prize was being at the beginning of the computer revolution and making a ton of money. Anita never wanted to leave familiar surroundings--and didn't want anyone else to, either. Chip is the wild card here. He bangs around the country and Mexico, a real rolling stone, returning to Iowa with his lungs and liver shot, grateful to Ryan and ready to settle down. At story's end, the next generation is starting to leave Iowa. Who knows what their outcome will be? Jean Thompson pulls the reader into this novel and keeps us hoping for the best for her characters, as she chronicles events and shows us their interior lives.--Valerie Ryan

Shelf Talker: Thirty years in the lives of the Erickson family of Grenada, Iowa, told in a wry, humorous authentic manner, filled with insight and beautifully nuanced.

 


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