Shelf Awareness for Monday, May 2, 2011

Hampton Roads Publishing Company: Becoming Baba Yaga: Trickster, Feminist, and Witch of the Woods by Kris Spisak, Foreword by Gennarose Nethercott

Dial Press: Like Mother, Like Mother by Susan Rieger

Severn House: A Messy Murder (Main) (The Decluttering Mysteries #4) by Simon Brett

Forge: My Three Dogs by Bruce W Cameron

Running Press Adult: Scam Goddess: Lessons from a Life of Cons, Grifts, and Schemes by Laci Mosley

Chronicle Books: Taste in Music: Eating on Tour with Indie Musicians by Luke Pyenson and Alex Beeker


Image of the Day: A Marriage of Words & Pictures

On Friday morning at the Brooklyn Public Library's main branch, Erin and Philip Stead (l. and center), along with their editor, Neal Porter, spoke about their 2011 Caldecott Medal–winning book A Sick Day for Amos McGee. Philip Stead wrote the text for his wife, artist Erin Stead. Brooklyn Public Library's Judy Zuckerman, who also chaired the 2011 Caldecott committee, moderated the discussion. Philip credited Kaleidoscope Books in Ann Arbor, Mich., for giving him "90% of my training" (both Philip and Erin grew up in Michigan and now live in a 100-year-old farmhouse in Ann Arbor). He added, "It looks like your neighbor's garage, but they have this vintage collection of children's books." He discovered husband-and-wife team Alice and Martin Provensen there, whose work both Steads cited as being inspirational. (The Provensens won the 1984 Caldecott Medal for The Glorious Flight.) "They're an example of people who could do this together," Erin explained. Zuckerman pointed out that Erin is the only Caldecott Medalist ever to win for a first book, and also the youngest to win. The artist said, "There are about five seconds every day when it [hits me], and I can't believe it."


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Notes: New Haven Labyrinth Closing; 7 Indie Survival Secrets

Dorothea von Moltke and Clifford Simms, co-owners of Labyrinth Books, confirmed that they will close the New Haven, Conn., store May 31, Yale Daily News reported. In a press release, they cited the challenge of managing the New Haven location while living in Princeton, N.J., site of another Labyrinth bookstore.

"Despite the many changes in the book industry in the last decade, our basic belief in the model of academic and community bookselling, which we have been developing since the early 1990s, remains unchanged," the co-owners observed.

Yale Daily News noted that Moltke and Simms "are finalizing plans for a different independent book retailer to move into the New Haven space that will be left by the current store."


"Seven survival secrets for independent bookstores." At last weekend's L.A. Times Festival of Books, "some of the best booksellers on the West Coast shared strategies that helped them survive during these challenging times for local bookstores," GalleyCat reported. Panelists included Allison Hill of Vroman’s Bookstore, Pasadena, Calif.; Emily Powell and Michael Powell of Powell’s Books, Portland, Ore., and Paul Yamazaki of City Lights Books, San Francisco, Calif.


It cost a bit less to protect Jeff Bezos last year. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Amazon's proxy statement revealed that last year the company paid its CEO "a paltry salary of $81,840, but his security detail came to $1.6 million for the year," a $100,000 drop from 2009.

"We believe that the amount of the reported security expenses is especially reasonable in light of Mr. Bezos' low salary and the fact that he has never received any stock-based compensation," the filing explained, though, as the Chronicle noted, he "owns 20% of Amazon, so he doesn't need small sums of stock, and he doesn't really need a big salary."


A Chicago Sun-Times editorial argued in favor of making online sales taxes uniform nationwide, concluding: "No one likes taxes, and tax laws are time-consuming and burdensome for any business. But at a time when so many others are being asked to make major sacrifices to offset state revenue losses, this loophole must be closed."


In response to Harper Lee's assertion that she did not cooperate with Marja Mills, author of a recently acquired memoir The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee (Shelf Awareness, April 28, 2011), Penguin released a letter from Mills to the author's sister, Alice Lee (dated March 20, 2011), the Associated Press reported. The letter said, in part: "This is to confirm, should anyone want such a confirmation, that you and Nelle (Harper Lee) cooperated with me and, I would add, were invaluable guides in the effort to learn about your remarkable lives, past and present, in the context of your friendships and family, your work, your recollections and personal reflections, your ancestors and the history of this area.... By signing below, you confirm this participation and cooperation, and that I moved into the house next door to yours only after I had the blessing of both of you." It is signed by Alice Lee.


Cool idea of the Bloomsday. The Doylestown Bookshop, Doylestown, Penn., is sponsoring the Odyssey-Ulysses Challenge. Brave participants are asked to read Homer's The Odyssey and James Joyce's Ulysses before Bloomsday, June 16.  

Joining the bookshop in this challenge is Chris Collier of the County Theater, "who, while in a hyper-caffeinated state in response to my own hyper-caffeinated suggestion of 2011 being the summer of David Foster Wallace, suggested the undertaking of this epic journey worthy of both Odysseus and Leopold Bloom. Also, be sure to keep an eye out as we schedule more Bloomsday events.  For example, did you know that there are multiple film versions of Ulysses? We just may have to screen one of them. And at some point, there will be Guinness or some other delectable Irish beer."


With the death of Osama bin Laden dominating headlines this morning, the New York Times featured an annotated list of books about bin Laden and Al Qaeda.


In the New York Times, author Tony Perrottet explored how writers build their brand, beginning weeks before pub date when "we are compelled to bombard every friend, relative and vague acquaintance with creative e-mails and Facebook alerts, polish up our websites with suspiciously youthful author photos, and, in an orgy of blogs, tweets and YouTube trailers, attempt to inform an already inundated world of our every reading, signing, review, interview and (well, one can dream!) TV ­appearance."

Perrottet looked to history for perspective, noting it is "always comforting to be reminded that literary whoring--I mean, self-marketing--has been practiced by the greats."


The Huffington Post's reporters and editors shared the books "they're reading and loving now, hoping that it might give you a great reading list to choose from if you're at a loss for what to read next."


I follow dead people. The Atlantic showcased "the best dead author Twitter accounts," noting that "generations of legendary writers missed out on the chance to broadcast their witty thoughts to the world in 140 characters. What would Flannery O'Connor have sounded like if she'd had a Twitter feed? Or Charles Dickens? Or Shakespeare?"


Reading the world. According to a new study by the Danish Booksellers Association, between 25% and 30% of Danish readers read English books," the Copenhagen Post reported.

"In countries like Italy and Germany, you can study to be a doctor without ever having to open a book in a foreign language," said the association's director Olaf Winsløw. "But in Denmark you cannot get an education without bumping into books in English."

Urik Mølgaard, a book buyer for the chain Arnold Busck Booksellers, observed: "In general, we are seeing rising demand for English literature. And it is particularly fiction that more people want to read in English."


Obituary note: Joan Peyser, "a prolific and lively writer about classical music whose biographies of Pierre Boulez, Leonard Bernstein and George Gershwin generated debate in music circles," has died, the New York Times reported. She was 80.


GLOW: Sourcebooks Landmark: A Forty Year Kiss by Nickolas Butler

A Tale of Two States: Sales Tax Incentives in S.C. & Tenn.

Speaking at the Free Enterprise Foundation awards luncheon Thursday, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley contended that the proposed tax break for Amazon--which was defeated in the House of Representatives last Wednesday--would have destroyed her economic development message, the Charleston Regional Business Journal reported. When she talks with companies about coming to the state, Haley tells them, "We are going to give you a fair, competitive marketplace to do business, and we are always going to take care of the businesses we already have. By allowing Amazon to get a tax break, when you are not giving it to any other business in our state, destroys what I am saying and immediately disputes everything that we say South Carolina is."

While she wanted Amazon to build a distribution center in the state, she noted that the company already had received competitive advantages: "They got free property, they got tax incentives, they got plenty of things. Don't ask us to give you sales tax relief when we're not giving it to the bookstore down the street, when we're not giving it to the other stores on the other side of town. It's just not a level playing field."

She added, "You will not see an Amazon situation in the Haley administration. We don't want that. We don't want to be known as the state that is desperate to grab anybody and anything at the sake of the rest of our businesses. That's what that was about. Retail in general is very different from manufacturing. Retail by nature has a high turnover, retail by nature is a lower priced job, and retail by nature is not solid and invested. It is not a Boeing, it is not a BMW, manufacturing, high technology is very different."

Brian Flynn, a spokesman for the South Carolina Alliance for Main Street Fairness, told  WLTX-TV the decision was "a victory for small businesses and retailers across the state. It's a shame that Amazon is choosing to leave the state and it's obvious that they wanted this special deal and if they didn't get it they were going to leave."


In Tennessee, which has given Amazon tax incentives, the company "stepped up hiring" for two new distribution centers, with "more than a dozen listings for management or technician jobs on its website, though the lion's share of hiring for the pair of centers still is ahead," the Times Free Press reported.

The State Funding Board authorized Tennessee to distribute $7 million in Fast Track grants, which were earlier agreed to by then-Governor Phil Bredesen's administration, for the Amazon project. Current Governor Bill Haslam said last week he accepted arguments made by his predecessor (Shelf Awareness, April 21, 2011).

Matt Kisber, former state Department of Economic and Community Development commissioner, told the Tennessean an agreement not to collect sales taxes from Amazon "was based on a legal interpretation made by state revenue officials. He said they determined the company was not doing sufficient business in Tennessee to create a taxable situation."

The Times Free Press noted that Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey would like to see the Department of Revenue ruling on Amazon: "If you are giving someone a tax exemption that is different from other people in the state of Tennesee that should be public knowledge and I'll argue that all day long."


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Pete Hamill on NPR's Fresh Air

This morning on Imus in the Morning: Alexandra Styron, author of Reading My Father: A Memoir (Scribner, $25, 9781416591795).

Also on Imus: Michio Kaku, author of Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100 (Doubleday, $28.95, 9780385530804).


This morning on Good Morning America: Rob Lowe, author of Stories I Only Tell My Friends: An Autobiography (Holt, $26, 9780805093292).


This morning on the Today Show: Alexandra Robbins, author of The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth: Popularity, Quirk Theory, and Why Outsiders Thrive After High School (Hyperion, $25.99, 9781401302023).


Today on NPR's Fresh Air: Pete Hamill, author of Tabloid City (Little, Brown, $26.99, 9780316020756).


Today on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Alice Walker, author of The Chicken Chronicles (New Press, $21.95, 9781595586452).


Tonight on the Daily Show: Philip K. Howard, author of The Death of Common Sense: How Law Is Suffocating America (Grand Central, $13.95, 9780446672283).


Tonight on the Colbert Report: Francis Fukuyama, author of The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $35, 9780374227340).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show:

Guy Fieri, author of Guy Fieri Food: Cookin' It, Livin' It, Lovin' It (Morrow, $29.99, 9780061894558).
Isaiah Washington, author of A Man from Another Land: How Finding My Roots Changed My Life (Center Street, $24.99, 9781599953182)
Dick Van Dyke, author of My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business: A Memoir (Crown, $25, 9780307592231)


Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Jesse James, author of American Outlaw (Gallery, $26, 9781451627855). He will also appear on Nightline.


Tomorrow on Sean Hannity: Richard North Patterson, author of The Devil's Light (Scribner, $26, 9781451616804).


Tomorrow on Oprah: Shania Twain, author of From This Moment On (Atria, $26.99, 9781451620740). Twain's show, Why Not?, premieres on OWN this Sunday, May 8.


Tomorrow on the Late Show with David Letterman: Caroline Kennedy, author of She Walks in Beauty: A Woman's Journey Through Poems (Voice, $24.99, 9781401341459).


Tomorrow on the Colbert Report: Rex Ryan, author of Play Like You Mean It: Passion, Laughs, and Leadership in the World's Most Beautiful Game (Doubleday, $26.95, 9780385534444).


TV Series: South Riding

The first of three 60-minute episodes of South Riding, based on the novel by Winifred Holtby, aired last night on PBS's Masterpiece; the other two episodes air next Sunday, May 8, and the following Sunday, May 15. Starring Anna Maxwell Martin, David Morrissey and Penelope Wilton, South Riding is adapted by Andrew Davies and tells the story of Sarah Burton, a forward-thinking native of Yorkshire who returns to her home as headmistress of the local school. She soon comes into conflict with Robert Crane, who carries a heavy burden from the past and objects to social change.


Movie: Something Borrowed

Something Borrowed, based on the book by Emily Giffin, opens this Friday, May 6. Kate Hudson stars as a single woman with few romantic interests who falls for her best friend's fiancé. The movie tie-in edition is from St. Martin's Griffin ($14.99, 9780312600723).


One Day Trailer

Focus Features has released the official trailer for One Day, adapted from the novel by David Nicholls. Word & Film noted that "Anne Hathaway dons a British accent to assume the role of Emma, while Jim Sturgess slips back into his native dialect as Dex. Lone Schefig, whose most recent credit includes An Education, directs." One Day will be released in the U.S. August 19.


Books & Authors

Awards: L.A. Times Book Prizes; BTBA; Triangle

The winners of the 2010 Los Angeles Times Book Prizes are:

Biography: Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience & Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand (Random House)
Current interest: The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis (Norton)
Fiction: A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (Knopf)
Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction: The House of Tomorrow by Peter Bognanni (Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam)
Graphic novel: Duncan the Wonder Dog: Show One by Adam Hines (Adhouse Books)
History: The Killing of Crazy Horse by Thomas Powers (Knopf)
Mystery/thriller: Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin (William Morrow)
Poetry: Where I Live: New & Selected Poems 1990-2010 by Maxine Kumin, (Norton)
Science and technology: The Price of Altruism: George Price and the Search for the Origins of Kindness by Oren Harman (Norton)
Young adult literature: A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner (Greenwillow/HarperCollins)

In addition, Beverly Cleary won the Robert Kirsch Award lifetime achievement award, and Powell’s Books, Portland, Ore., won the Innovator's Award.

The awards were announced during the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, held this past weekend. You can see the finalists and other information here.


The winning titles and translators for this year's Best Translated Book Awards were honored Friday as part of the PEN World Voices Festival. Aleš Šteger's The Book of Things, translated from the Slovenian by Brian Henry, took the top honor in poetry. The fiction winner was Thomas Teal's translation from the Swedish of Tove Jansson's The True Deceiver.

Organized by Three Percent at the University of Rochester, the BTBAs recognize the best original works of international literature and poetry published in the U.S. over the previous year. You can find out more about the awards and the honored works here.

"There's really no better time for this ceremony to take place," said BTBA co-founder Chad W. Post. "This festival is the premiere festival for international literature taking place in America today. And by highlighting two fantastic works of translated literature, the BTBA adds something special to the week-long festivities."


Winners of the Triangle Awards, honoring the best lesbian and gay fiction, nonfiction and poetry published last year, are:

The Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry: Michael Walsh, author of The Dirt Riddles (University of Arkansas Press)
The Audre Lorde Award for Lesbian Poetry: Jen Currin, author of The Inquisition Yours (Coach House Books)
The Judy Grahn Award for Lesbian Nonfiction: Barbara Hammer, author of Hammer! (The Feminist Press)
The Randy Shilts Award for Gay Nonfiction: Justin Spring, author of Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward (Farrar Straus Giroux)
The Judges' Special Award in Nonfiction: Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation edited by Kate Bornstein and S. Bear Bergman (Seal Press)
The Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction: Katherine Beutner, author of Alcestis (Soho Press)
The Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBT Fiction: Michael Sledge, author of The More I Owe You (Counterpoint Press)
Leadership Award: The Gay & Lesbian Review


IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

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


Heads You Lose: A Novel
by Lisa Lutz and David Hayward (Putnam, $24.95, 9780399157400). "While the multiple murders and other suspicious activity are the components of a typical crime novel, typical is, of course, not Lutz's MO. This collaborative effort with her ex-boyfriend, the poet Hayward, is no exception. They write alternate chapters, exposing each other's foibles as well as their shared history in notes between the chapters. The result is hilarious, despite a looming conviction that they will never write the solution to the mystery before coming to actual blows off the page. Another fun and genre-bending experience from Lutz."--Terry Gilman, Mysterious Galaxy Books, San Diego, Calif.

Fire Season: Field Notes From a Wilderness Lookout
by Philip Connors (Ecco, $24.99, 9780061859366). "In elegant and measured prose, Connors broadens and enriches the whole tradition of nature writing with his own unique experience in the great wilderness. A fire lookout in New Mexico's Gila National Forest, Connors takes the reader inside his own musings and reveals his intimacy with the remote area, its flora and fauna, and inevitably, with its fires. His larger purpose is to reveal the behavior of fire and its crucial role in a healthy ecosystem, as well as to examine our complex relationship with it. A graceful, memorable book."--Marie du Vaure, Copperfield's Books, Sebastopol, Calif.


The Mapping of Love and Death: A Maisie Dobbs Novel by Jacqueline Winspear (Harper Perennial, $14.99, 9780061727689). "Our readers want to be Maisie! Intrepid, intuitive Maisie is on the case of a cartographer found sixteen years after his death at the end of World War I. A farmer stumbled across the buried remains. Maisie is certain his killer was much closer than the shells that rained down. The trail is cold; Maisie will need all her wiles to solve this one before the killer strikes again."--Deon Stonehouse, Sunriver Books, Sunriver, Ore.

For Ages 9 to 12

A Dog's Way Home by Bobbie Pyron (Katherine Tegen Books, $16.99, 9780061986741). "The meaning of heart and home take on new depth in this emotional and dramatic story that will resonate with all animal lovers! More than an Incredible Journey, this tale takes readers into the mind of a dog learning to survive through hundreds of miles of wilderness in order to come home to the girl he loves. Lassie, Old Yeller, Lad, Sounder, Shiloh, and other dogs of literature lore and fame: Please welcome Tam!"--Becky Anderson, Anderson's Bookshop, Naperville, Ill.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]


Shelf Starter: Adventures of the Karaoke King

Adventures of the Karaoke King by Harold Taw (AmazonEncore, $13.95 trade paper, 9781935597568, April 26, 2011)

Opening lines of a book we want to read:

My main competition was Irma Johnson. She could lull you with Ella Fitzgerald and roundhouse you with Janis Joplin. Months before the competition, when Mori would drop by to watch, she'd call out, "Now, Mori, you know your queen's going to bring the crown back to the Lily Pad. I hope that's going to mean more than just one free drink a night."

That was her weakness--excessive showmanship. If she was lubricated, she put annoying Mariah Carey flourishes into the most atonal of songs. We clapped for one another but rarely spoke. Irma shot me smug "top that" stares on the way back to her seat.

Before I purchased the Troy Robbins Personal Path series, her gamesmanship might have intimidated me. Now, I reveled in it. If you couldn't snatch what someone else valued, what was the use of wanting it in the first place? Jimmy--who cued up the songs--took wagers on the competition and, a week before the event, I was the favorite at 1:3. Irma was second at 1:5. She complained to no avail. Jimmy danced around her table to someone's rendition of "La Isla Bonita," shaking his souvenir maracas from Tijuana, his lazy eye cocked up at the ceiling. "Jimmy doesn't make the odds," he said, speaking in the third-person. "Money does. Invisible hand. Blame the market." --selected by Marilyn Dahl


Book Review

Book Review: The Snowman

The Snowman by Jo Nesbø , trans. by Don Bartlett (Knopf, $25.95 hardcover, 9780307595867, May 10, 2011)

Although Scandinavian crime writers are mostly viewed as a group, there are distinct regional differences in the texture and mood of their novels. And while Norwegian author Jo Nesbø does provide the same edge and grit that have made his Swedish counterparts Stieg Larsson and Henning Mankell so popular, there is a level of intelligence and psychological complexity in his work that makes it stand out in this increasingly crowded field.

The Snowman is the seventh installment in Nesbø's series featuring Detective Harry Hole, but only the fourth to be published in the U.S. However, as with the best series novels, familiarity with the protagonist is not necessary in order to enjoy this one on its own. The story begins with Oslo's first snow of the season. A young boy wakes in the middle of the night to find that his mother has disappeared. In her place is a particularly creepy snowman. It's a pattern that will be repeated in the days to come--more missing women, abandoned children and increasingly gruesome snowmen. The case falls to Harry Hole, a tortured alcoholic (recently on the wagon) who is Norway's only expert on serial killers. The leads are tangled and the connections baffling; all the victims have children with questionable paternity but there is nothing else that ties them together.

Along with his growing conviction that the killer is manipulating him, Hole is dealing with a huge load of personal and professional trials. His ex-girlfriend and love of his life, Rakel, has reentered his life, despite being engaged to another man; his urge to drink is escalating; he is vexed by Katrine Bratt, the alluring but very tightly wound detective assigned to his team; and his apartment is full of mold. As the bodies (and body parts) pile up, so do a veritable North Sea of red herrings. The point of view shifts from Hole to the victims (and the herrings), but no tension is sacrificed in the service of this additional and outstanding psychological shading. If there are a few odd or clunky sentences (attributable, one assumes, to the translation), they do not detract from the novel's expert pacing, suspense or nuanced characterization--especially of Nesbø's complicated and often surprising female characters. In short, The Snowman offers readers all the chill and darkness they have come to love in Scandinavian noir--and then gives just a little bit more.--Debra Ginsberg

Shelf Talker: An edgy, intelligent and very creepy thriller from Norwegian writer Jo Nesbø that stands out in the field of Scandinavian crime fiction.


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