Shelf Awareness for Monday, July 11, 2011

Little Brown and Company: Wolf at the Table by Adam Rapp

Tor Nightfire: Ghost Station by S.A. Barnes

Severn River Publishing: Covert Action (Command and Control #5) by J.R. Olson and David Bruns

Scholastic Press: Heroes: A Novel of Pearl Harbor by Alan Gratz

Flatiron Books: Anita de Monte Laughs Last by Xochitl Gonzalez

Peachtree Publishers: King & Kayla and the Case of the Downstairs Ghost (King & Kayla) by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Nancy Meyers

Quotation of the Day

A 'Perfect Storm' of Changes in the Book World

"As omnivores, contemporary readers have become adept at switching from high to low culture at the click of a mouse, moving from codex to e-book to audio. This is the shape of the future: a bonanza of print on many platforms. All that remains to be settled--the $64,000 question--is: what should be the economic terms of trade? How do we reconcile the gospel of 'free' with an obligation to reward the artist?

"It's too soon to evaluate the significance of all this. Sailors on the high seas are the last people to give a reliable forecast, even when they have the most intimate experience of the weather. The book world has been through a perfect storm of economic, technological and cultural change. It will be the creative community that enjoys the benefits. How that happens is probably the most fascinating question facing writers, booksellers and publishers today."

--Robert McCrum in his Guardian column headlined "The book is not dead, it's just shape-shifting."


University of California Press: The Accidental Ecosystem: People and Wildlife in American Cities by Peter S. Alagona


Image of the Day: Back to the Land


Recently at Water Street Bookstore, Exeter, N.H., Caitlin Shetterly, author of Made for You and Me: Going West, Going Broke, Finding Home (Voice), and Melissa Coleman, author of This Life Is in Your Hands: One Dream, Sixty Acres, and a Family Undone (Harper), read together. Both Coleman and Shetterly are from Maine, and their books are memoirs about growing up in the back-to-the-land movement. Here they take a break from tales of such things as eating brewer's yeast on popcorn: (from l.) Shetterly; friend Lara Bricker, author of Lie After Lie (Penguin); Coleman; and Water Street Bookstore owner Dan Chartrand.(Congratulations to Water Street, voted the best indie in New Hampshire; see below.)

Notes: Tale of the Tablet; Save That Dance

Amazon's expectations for its upcoming tablet keep getting higher. DigiTimes cited information obtained from "upstream component suppliers for non-iPad tablet PCs" in noting that Amazon's demand for touch panels is "likely to reach two million units for the August-September period" and shipments of tablet PCs to Amazon "are expected to reach 1 to 1.2 million units by a conservative estimate in the third quarter."

"Welcome to the subsidized tablet," ZDNet observed. "Amazon can offer cheap Kindles because it can make up sales on e-book sales. The Kindle with Special Offers has ads and can go even lower on price. An Amazon tablet will use the same playbook."


Entertainment Weekly's Shelf Life blog answered "10 burning fan questions" about George R.R. Martin's novel A Dance with Dragons, which will be released tomorrow. Question number one: "Can I read Dance with Dragons if I have only watched the HBO series Game of Thrones?"

Answer: "No. Please don't do that to yourself. You will be totally confused and will have missed out on a ton of great storytelling. If fact, stop reading this post before you're spoiled on which characters are still alive."


The Erie Book Store, Erie, Pa., is closing at the end of August when the store's lease expires, according to the Erie Times-News. The 90-year-old bookstore that sells new, used and rare books is owned by Kathleen Cantrell, who bought it from her father in 1979.

"I would like to have more free time," Cantrell told the paper. "I love running the store, but I don't want to do it as many hours. I would like less stress and more free time to visit grandchildren."

Cantrell there had been much interest in buying the store, "but no firm offers," and she had explored alternatives to closing. "A group on Facebook launched an effort to save the store," the paper wrote. "There was even talk about forming a cooperative to run the business."

Despite her store's closing, Cantrell said that she believes "in the next few years we are going to see a resurgence of independent bookstores, precisely because of the advent of e-books and online commerce. The big-box stores are focusing on e-commerce. They are finding it difficult to justify the existence of their huge brick-and-mortar stores. If they close those physical sites, that would be a wonderful opportunity for smaller independents."


A group of publishing rock stars commented in an article in the New York Times on the strong sales of rock star memoirs in the past few years. Among the authors of popular songs of self: Keith Richards, Patti Smith, Steven Tyler, Sammy Hagar and Ozzy Osbourne.

"There is a generation of titans who are now looking back and realizing that their tales have yet to be told." --Michael Pietsch, publisher of Little, Brown

"For the guys now who are in their 60s, they're seeing big paydays, for one. It's also their legacy. They want to get it down before they're gone." --Daniel Halpern, president and publisher of Ecco

"With the music people, there's always going to be a tough climb up. There's temptations or stuff to get through once you're really successful. Then the band falls apart. The whole arc of the story is going to be riveting." --Stacy Creamer, publisher of Touchstone

"There is an unusual number. And that's because there's been some very successful ones and people want to copycat." --agent Ed Victor

"It appears that the entire Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is now sitting in front of the computer." --HarperCollins editor David Hirshey


Cool idea of the day: as part of the celebrations for Penguin Classics' 65th anniversary, the company is holding a contest through the end of the month whose prizes are three limited-edition skateboard decks featuring artwork from Penguin Classics. To enter, fans upload a photo of a skateboard and a Penguin Classic onto the contest's Facebook page. Photos are voted on by Penguin Facebook fans. Check it out here.


Reacting to Philip Roth's comment that he no longer reads fiction (Shelf Awareness, June 28, 2011), Jack Covert, president and founder of 800-CEO-READ, wrote on the company's blog:

"The more I have thought about it, the more it makes sense to me. We all read because it provides context, whether it's to a problem we're trying to solve at work or to the larger life we're living outside it. And I have largely left fiction, as well. As I get older, the psychological and emotional context that fiction provides doesn't seem as urgent to me as the larger narratives of history. Whereas I once enjoyed a good page-turning, I-don't-want-it-to-end novel, I am much more likely to dive into a good piece of non-fiction these days, the history and biography categories Roth mentions being at the top of the list."


New Hampshire Magazine's "best of New Hampshire 2011" includes nods to:

The best independent bookstore, Water Street Bookstore, Exeter, "the largest independent bookstore on the Seacoast and has a strong emphasis on local authors."

Best local chain independent bookstore, Toadstool Bookshops in Keene, Milford and Peterborough, "a beloved local chain of 'fascinating' independent bookstores."


Georgia Voice readers have named Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse, Atlanta, both the best bookstore and best coffee house of the year. In addition, owner Philip Rafshoon was cited as "best business person."

Rafshoon opened Outwrite in 1993, the Voice wrote, "and the store has served as a community hub ever since. Besides yummy food and drinks and a full stock of LGBT and other reading material, the store hosts multiple author readings ranging from local voices to national names."

In the best bookstore category, Brushstrokes placed second and Charis Books & More, "the South's oldest feminist bookstore," placed third.


Effective September 1, Skyhorse Publishing will now be distributed in the U.K. and the European Union by Constable Robinson. Skyhorse includes Arcade Publishing, Allworth Publishing, Sports Publishing and Sky Pony Press.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Ser George R.R. Martin on All Things Considered

This morning on the Early Show: Nicole Wallace, author of Eighteen Acres (Washington Square Press, $15, 9781439195932). She will also appear today on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show and tomorrow on MSNBC's Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell.


This morning on Fox & Friends: Georgette Jones, author of The Three of Us: Growing Up with Tammy and George (Atria, $25, 9781439198575).


This morning on NPR's Morning Edition: Lars Kepler, author of The Hypnotist (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27, 9780374173951).


Tonight on the Colbert Report: Michael Shermer, author of The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies---How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths (Times Books, $28, 9780805091250).


Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Jaycee Dugard, author of A Stolen Life (Simon & Schuster, $24.99, 9781451629187).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Laura Ingraham, author of Of Thee I Zing: America's Cultural Decline from Muffin Tops to Body Shots (Threshold, $25, 9781451642049). She will also appear tomorrow on the View and the O'Reilly Factor.


Tomorrow on Fox & Friends: Peter Tomsen, author of The Wars of Afghanistan: Messianic Terrorism, Tribal Conflicts, and the Failures of Great Powers (PublicAffairs, $39.99, 9781586487638).


Tomorrow on NPR's All Things Considered: George R.R. Martin, author of A Dance with Dragons (Bantam, $35, 9780553801477).


Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Rachel Shteir, author of The Steal: A Cultural History of Shoplifting (Penguin Press, $25.95, 9781594202971).


Tomorrow night on the Daily Show: Marc Freedman, author of The Big Shift: Navigating the New Stage Beyond Midlife (PublicAffairs, $24.99, 9781586487850).


Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: Dan Savage, author of The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage, and My Family (Plume, $16, 9780452287631).


Movies: HP 7.5; Snow Flower; Margueritte

For the record, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, based on the second half of J.K. Rowling's final Harry Potter book, opens this Friday, July 15. Daniel Radcliffe stars as the famous boy wizard in the series climax. Part 2 is in 3-D!


Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, based on the book by Lisa See, also opens July 15. The tale shifts between two intimate friends in 19th-century China and their descendants in modern Shanghai.


My Afternoons with Margueritte, based on the novel by Marie-Sabine Roger, opens July 15. Gérard Depardieu stars as a simple working man whose friendship with an old woman (Gisèle Casadesus) leads him to a love of literature.

Books & Authors

Awards: Thriller Winners

Winners of the 2011 Thriller Awards, sponsored by the International Thriller Writers, are:

Best Hard Cover Novel: Bad Blood by John Sandford
Best Paperback Original Novel: The Cold Room by J.T. Ellison
Best First Novel: Still Missing by Chevy Stevens
Best Short Story: The Gods for Vengeance Cry by Richard Helms

Special awards:

ThrillerMaster: R.L. Stine, for his legendary career and outstanding contributions to the thriller genre
True Thriller Award: Joe McGinniss
Silver Bullet Award: Karin Slaughter

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:


South of Superior: A Novel by Ellen Airgood (Riverhead, $25.95, 9781594487934). "This story is like immersion therapy for anyone who has fantasized about a simpler life in a small town in a beautiful location. The town is McAllister, Michigan, on the southern shore of Lake Superior, as seen through the eyes of a young woman from Chicago who has come to make her home and, hopefully, a livelihood there. The learning curve is steep as she contends with a challenging climate, difficult economic times, and the complications of being part of a small, tight community. You will fall in love with McAllister, where every character is, of necessity, strong and where the currency is not measured in dollars, but rather in resourcefulness." --Jeanne Regentin, Between the Covers, Harbor Springs, Mich.

The Upright Piano Player: A Novel by David Abbott (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, $22.95, 9780385534420). "As he faces retirement, Henry Cage finds his life spiraling out of control. He must deal with an ailing ex-wife, an estranged son, and a malicious stalker who is prone to violence. This first novel is both a page-turner and a disconcerting portrayal of the randomness of life and the choices we make. Strangely uplifting, The Upright Piano Player is guaranteed to keep you riveted." --Jack Gillard, Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor, Mich.


Pao: A Novel by Kerry Young (Bloomsbury USA, $15, 9781608195077). "Imagine The Godfather set in Jamaica with a Chinese gangster in the title role. Now make the gangster funny, charming, and give him a conscience. There you have Pao. As a youngster, Pao's family immigrates to Jamaica under the protection of Zhang, who keeps Jamaica's Chinatown running smoothly. Pao is taken under Zhang's wing, shown the ropes, and educated in the philosophy of Sun Tzu's The Art of War. As Jamaica struggles for independence from British rule, Pao negotiates his way through awkward predicaments, both political and romantic. This is an utterly endearing story of a sensitive wise guy." --Deon Stonehouse, Sunriver Books, Sunriver, Ore.

For Teen Readers

The FitzOsbornes in Exile by Michelle Cooper (Knopf, $17.99, 9780375858659). "This sequel to A Brief History of Montmaray [part of the Montmaray Journals series] delivers the goods. After their island home is destroyed by the Germans, Sophia and her family evacuate to London, where they try to regain control of their homeland. Set in the years leading up to World War II, the family saga, both bittersweet and hilarious, continues. This meticulously researched book presents another great work from a stellar voice in historical fiction for young adults." --Cathy Berner, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, Tex.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Book Review: Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths

Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths by Shigeru Mizuki, trans. by Jocelyne Allen (Drawn & Quarterly, $24.95 trade paper, 9781770460416, April 2011)

As Shigeru Mizuki's World War II graphic novel masterpiece approaches 40 years old, Drawn & Quarterly has released the first American translation in a gorgeous production that reads from back to front, from right to left, in true Japanese style and captures a side of the war in the South Pacific you've never seen.

Legendary manga artist Mizuki is now nearly 90, currently topping a long, honor-laden career on a daily television show with his wife. Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths, based on his own experiences in the war, which left him one-armed, is one of the greatest antiwar comics ever created.

From his first work, Rocketman, in 1957, Mizuki's unique style has been a combination of highly realistic, painterly backgrounds peopled by cartoony human beings. The juxtaposition of photo-real landscapes (from the breathtaking beauty of the Pacific islands to accurately drawn bomber planes) with simply drawn comic-book soldiers is somehow harrowing--charming, slightly goofy characters losing their limbs and lives in cartoon explosions.

With hundreds of vignettes, Mizuki captures the brutal lives of enlisted men serving in the Imperial Army in Papua New Guinea near the end of the war, where soldiers can be ordered to chop off a nearly dead soldier's little finger to prove he died in battle, or to lob back ignited grenades that have been tossed into their trenches. Though there's not enough water, venturing away from the camp to cut a vine stalk to get a few drops of moisture can cost a man his life.

Much of the brutality does not come from the enemy, but from their own commanding officers, who seldom miss a chance to slap down the rookies, subjecting them to repeated beatings and corporal punishments. Due to their rigid military sense of honor, even a sensible tactical retreat is unthinkable. Mizuki presents the reader with the guilt of friendly fire, the waste of good men, the relentless imperative to die rather than be taken prisoner, the shame of surviving.

In a dazzling variety of layouts and frames of all sizes, the reader watches in horror as platoons of endearing characters are ordered to run at the enemy in a banzai charge with no hope of survival. The last few stunning panels have no text. None is needed. Mizuki has made his point, achieving an overwhelming sense of loss. --Nick DiMartino

Shelf Talker: Translated at last, the stunning classic Japanese graphic novel of the Imperial Army in the South Pacific islands at the end of World War II, by Shigeru Mizuki, the 90-year-old father of manga.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Titles in St. Louis

The following were the bestselling books at independent bookstores in and around St. Louis, Mo. During the week ended Sunday, July 3:


1. Go the F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach
2. Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares
3. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
4. Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine by Alina Bronsky
5. Fifty-nine in '84: Old Hoss Radbourn, Barehanded Baseball, and the Greatest Season a Pitcher Ever Had by Edward Achorn
6. The Art of Barter by Karen S. Hoffman and Shera D. Dalin
7. Area 51 by Annie Jacobsen
8. The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O'Connor McNees
9. Confessions: Fact or Fiction: A Collection of Short Stories and Memoir by Herta B. Feely and Marian O'Shea Wernicke
10. State of Wonder by Ann Patchett


1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
2. The Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself Book by Jeff Kinney
3. Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion
4. Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter
5. In the Garden with Dr. Carver by Susan Grigsby and Nicole Tadgell
6. Where Does Maisy Live?: A Maisy Lift-the-Flap Book by Lucy Cousins
7. Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater
8. Heist Society by Ally Carter
9. Moon Over Manifest by Claire Vanderpool
10. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Reporting bookstores, all of which are members of the St. Louis Independent Bookstore Alliance: Left Bank Books, Main Street Books, Pudd'nhead Books, Subterranean Books, Sue's News.

[Many thanks to the booksellers!]

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