Shelf Awareness for Thursday, September 8, 2011

Blackstone Publishing: An Honorable Assassin (Nick Mason Novels #3) by Steve Hamilton

Clarion Books: The Man Who Didn't Like Animals by Deborah Underwood, Illlustrated by LeUyen Pham

Holiday House: Bye Forever, I Guess by Jodi Meadows and Team Canteen 1: Rocky Road by Amalie Jahn

Wednesday Books: Dust by Alison Stine

Running Press Kids: The Junior Witch's Handbook, The Junior Astrologer's Handbook, and The Junior Tarot Reader's Handbook by Nikki Van De Car

Scholastic Press: Ruin Road by Lamar Giles

Editors' Note

The Widget for Readers

Many thanks to all the booksellers and bloggers who've embedded our spiffy book giveaway button. This week our signed, first edition giveaway is The Winters in Bloom by Lisa Tucker.

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Homage of the Day: Going Postal

The U.S. Postal Service may be going broke, but it's showing poetic flair: next year, it will issue stamps in honor of 10 "of our nation's most admired poets": Elizabeth Bishop, Joseph Brodsky, Gwendolyn Brooks, E. E. Cummings, Robert Hayden, Denise Levertov, Sylvia Plath, Theodore Roethke, Wallace Stevens and William Carlos Williams. The "Twentieth Century Poets" series will be "forever" stamps, always good for first-class postage. Each stamp has a photograph of the poet, and text on the back including an excerpt from a poem by each poet.


Notes: Amazon and California Legislature in New Deal and California legislative leaders have reached a deal under which Amazon will give up its referendum fight against the state's law requiring it to collect sales tax in exchange for a moratorium in collecting sales tax until next September, the Los Angeles Times reported last night. Governor Jerry Brown has not said whether he would support this deal.

Under the terms of the deal, it will be superseded by any legislation on Internet sales tax collection Congress passes--an effort Amazon says it supports but that is unlikely to be settled any time soon on the federal level.

The newspaper quoted Assemblyman Charles Calderon (D.-Whittier), who credited Senate Minority Leader Bob Dutton (R.-Rancho Cucamonga) for "starting the talks that led to the deal."

On Tuesday, the effort by the California legislature to pass an "urgency" bill that would negate Amazon's referendum fell five votes short of the required two-thirds in the California Senate. Also this week Governor Brown indicated that he did not support Amazon's earlier offer of opening two warehouses in California with 7,000 jobs in exchange for a three-year moratorium on collecting taxes.

Amazon has spent more than $5 million on its referendum campaign.


Spanish newspapers El Pais and El Mundo reported that Amazon will launch September 15, selling "physical goods--books, music, DVDs and electronics--at launch, but will expand its digital offerings by the end of the year. Amazon has been buying electronic rights from Spanish publishers like Roca Editorial, Random House Mondadori, Santillana and Asteroid Books," wrote. According to El Mundo, Amazon has not confirmed the launch, though Greg Greeley, the company's v-p of European Retail, "is reportedly holding a press conference in Madrid on September 14, with to launch the next day."


Arizona State University's Cronkite News spoke with Gayle Shanks, owner of Changing Hands Bookstore, and Bob Oldfather, CEO of Bookmans, about the ways in which their independent businesses are adapting to the demise of Borders and changes in the book industry.


"Is the bookstore experience worth bookstore prices?" asked in its exploration of the lively independent bookselling scene in the Charlottesville, Va., area, where the survival of indies "depends largely on whether people are willing to spend money on the bookstore experience--of sniffing through the stacks, of talking to their colorful owners, of being willing to settle for something that's maybe not the book that they want, but one equally good." described Daedalus Bookshop as "the domain of a person who loves books so much that he can scarcely say no to taking them into his shop to sell them." Owner Sandy McAdams called the bookselling life both "crazy" and "spiritual," and compared working in the used book industry with "making order out of chaos."

Laura DeVault, co-owner with her sister Anne of Over the Moon Bookstore in Crozet, said that when they were opening early in 2010, some people said, "Are you crazy? That's Southern, for 'you're nuts.' " The DeVaults "joke that their work at the bookstore is more or less on a volunteer basis. But they say that they have developed a good group of loyal customers who shop there not only because it's a great little bookshop, but also on principle--and these patient souls are willing to wait for special orders," wrote.


On the blog for the Boulder Book Store, Boulder, Colo., floor manager Scott Foley has a post this week called "Where All My Boys At?," in which he ponders why so few booksellers are men. "When I come across a fellow male bookseller at conventions or gatherings, I feel like we belong to a secret club, exchanging a covert nod of the head," he writes.

Among other parts of the post that we especially liked: "I recently began half-jokingly telling friends of a plan to assemble an all-male reading group. We would call ourselves The Li-Bros ... It's not that we would read only male authors, not an Iron John thing, but we could discuss whether female writers could get us guys in all our complexity."

He ends, "I extend a hearty invitation to my fellow fellows in the greater Boulder area. Follow your wife or a female friend into Boulder Book Store and help realign the literary universe. No need to launch a takeover, just celebrate the manly art of reading."

The post is nicely accompanied by a photo of "the boys at BB," who Foley describes as "not an especially gruff bunch [but] I feel we represent the male species well enough.


Publishing Perspectives is adding a newsletter that will focus on "the growing world of children's publishing" and is aimed at children's publishers and service providers around the world. The newsletter will appear every two weeks.

Editor-in-chief Edward Nawotka said, "Worldwide, publishers of children's and young adult books are among the most innovative and visionary in the book business. They are harnessing the power of digital media to create new forms of storytelling and finding ever more sophisticated ways of entertaining and interacting with kids and teens."

One of the main stories for the first issue of the new newsletter is by Andrew Wilkins, owner of Wilkins Farago, the children's publisher in Australia, about selling rights at the Frankfurt Book Fair next month.


Book trailer of the day: Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff (Back Bay Books), the Pulitzer Prize winner that's now out in paperback. The clip features intrepid videographer Amanda Tobier, marketing manager at Little, Brown, asking people in Rockefeller Center what they think of Cleopatra. One of many gems: a tourist who called Cleopatra the first woman in history to get a "rhinoplastique."


Are the Hemingways really "America's First Literary Family"? Vol. 1 Brooklyn reported that Town & Country magazine makes this claim on the cover of its latest issue, which touts a feature on Hemingway's granddaughter Mariel, "as well as her own daughter, the 21-year-old Langley. I couldn’t find the issue online, but Mariel Hemingway has it on her site. The issue is also worth taking a look at for its other Hemingway story, an excerpt from Paul Hendrickson's forthcoming book, Hemingway's Boat (Knopf)."


Letters of Note showcased a love note written by Samuel Clemens to his wife, Olivia, in 1888: "Livy Darling, I am grateful--gratefuler than ever before--that you were born, & that your love is mine & our two lives woven & welded together!"

In other Mark Twain news, Mental Floss reported that during the summer of 1883, while he was writing Huckleberry Finn, the author found time to create a board game to help his daughters remember English monarchs and when they ruled: "He measured out 817 feet--each foot represented a year--and then put stakes in the ground where Kings and Queens started their reigns.... it ended up looking a lot like a life-sized version of Candy Land."

His daughters learned the monarchs in two days and, after "a couple of years of tinkering, he patented Memory-Builder: A Game for Acquiring and Retaining All Sorts of Facts and Dates," Mental Floss wrote.

Scholastic and Ruckus Media Form Transmedia Imprint

Rick Richter's biggest concern at Digital Book World six months ago was a lack of curators to spread the word about his company Ruckus Media's new apps. He now claims one of the biggest names in children's publishing as his company's partner: Scholastic.

Yesterday Scholastic and Ruckus Media Group announced the formation of what they're calling a "transmedia imprint," Scholastic Ruckus. With more than a dozen projects already underway, Scholastic Ruckus will publish children's authors and artists across all platforms, including print, e-books and enhanced e-books, with Ruckus Media publishing interactive story apps. The first releases are planned for 2012. Scholastic will continue to create transmedia storytelling projects of its own, such as the 39 Clues series. Ellie Berger, president of Scholastic Trade Publishing, sees the Scholastic Ruckus imprint as giving Scholastic a way to "expand the scope of our offerings to meet the rapidly growing demand for multi-platform properties."

It's been nearly a year since Ruckus launched its first apps, and its digital storybook library includes such original projects as Spot the Dot by David A. Carter and Mike Austin's A Present for Milo, a Best App Ever award finalist and an Readers' Choice Award winner. With the reach of Scholastic's book clubs and book fairs, and with its marketing and distribution through retail and library outlets, Richter believes the Scholastic Ruckus imprint offers "an unparalleled combination of innovation in print and digital distribution to the industry's top talent." Scholastic will also manage publishing rights for Ruckus's print and e-books worldwide, and plans to open an e-bookstore.

When asked where he thinks transmedia storytelling for young people is headed, Richter said, "I think we are at the crossroads of creating children's entertainment that embraces all kinds of creative delivery: animation, gaming, print. This isn't either/or. We think it is either/and." --Jennifer M. Brown


Obituary Note: Michael Stern Hart

Michael Stern Hart, founder and head of Project Gutenberg and considered by many to have invented the e-book, died on Tuesday. He was 64.

According to Dr. Gregory B. Newby, Hart told this story of how he had the idea for e-books. "He had been granted access to significant computing power at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. On July 4, 1971, after being inspired by a free printed copy of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, he decided to type the text into a computer, and to transmit it to other users on the computer network." E voila!

Newby added: "Hart was an ardent technologist and futurist. A lifetime tinkerer, he acquired hands-on expertise with the technologies of the day: radio, hi-fi stereo, video equipment, and of course computers. He constantly looked into the future, to anticipate technological advances. One of his favorite speculations was that someday, everyone would be able to have their own copy of the Project Gutenberg collection or whatever subset desired. This vision came true, thanks to the advent of large inexpensive computer disk drives, and to the ubiquity of portable mobile devices, such as cell phones."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Boo, the World's Cutest Dog

Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Boo, star of Boo: The Life of the World's Cutest Dog by J.H. Lee and Gretchen LeMaistre (Chronicle Books, $12.95, 9781452103068).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Demetria L. Lucas, author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life (Atria, $24, 9781451606317).


Tomorrow morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe: Lawrence Wright, author of The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 (Vintage, $17, 9781400030842).


Tomorrow morning on NPR's Morning Edition: Ed Girardet, author of Killing the Cranes: A Reporter's Journey Through Three Decades of War in Afghanistan (Chelsea Green Publishing, $27.95, 9781603583428).


Tomorrow on the Gayle King Show: Helen Schulman, author of This Beautiful Life: A Novel (Harper, $24.99, 9780062024381).


Tomorrow on Hardball with Chris Matthews: Irshad Manji, author of Allah, Liberty and Love: The Courage to Reconcile Faith and Freedom (Free Press, $26, 9781451645200).


Tomorrow on Fox's On the Record with Greta Van Susteren: Dick Cheney, author of In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir (Threshold, $35, 9781439176191).


Tomorrow on ABC's 20/20: Jennifer Gardner Trulson, author of Where You Left Me (Gallery, $25, 9781451621426).


Tomorrow on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon: a performance by Pearl Jam, authors of Pearl Jam Twenty (Simon & Schuster, $40, 9781439169216).

Movies: Robopocalypse

"Steven Spielberg's next film is so big, it needs two studios," reported, noting that DreamWorks and Fox "are near a deal" to co-finance Robopocalypse, adapted from Daniel H. Wilson's novel. Drew Goddard wrote the script adaptation for the film, which will open in the U.S. during July 4th weekend in 2013.

E-TV: Kindle Script Preview of ABC's Revenge

ABC is e-promoting its new series Revenge by offering a free Kindle e-book of the pilot episode's script with a special plot twist: "a code at the end will allow you to watch the pilot online before the show hits the airwaves," CNet reported, adding that the offer "probably won't determine whether Revenge turns into a hit or not, but it's definitely an intriguing PR stunt that other networks may use in the future to market new shows. In 2009, Showtime released the pilot script for Nurse Jackie as a free Kindle e-book, but today there are far more Kindles and tablets (that run the Kindle app) in consumers hands."

This Weekend on Book TV: Dick Cheney

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this week from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, September 10

5 p.m. Stephen Hayes interviews former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney about his new book, In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir (Threshold Editions, $35, 9781439176191). (Re-airs Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 1 a.m. and 10:45 p.m.)

6 p.m. Encore Booknotes. In a segment that first aired in December 2001, Peter Bergen talked about his book Holy War, Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden. The author's  latest book is The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict between America and Al-Qaeda (Free Press, $16, 9780743278942).

9 p.m. Book TV presents its Fall Book preview show with guests Bob Minzesheimer, book critic for USA Today, and Jason Boog, editor of Galleycat. (Re-airs Sunday at 2 a.m. and 4 p.m.)

10 p.m. After Words. Former Under Secretary of Defense Douglas Feith interviews Dana Priest, author of Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State (Little, Brown, $27.99, 9780316182218). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m., and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Cameron McWhirter, author of Red Summer: The Summer of 1919 and the Awakening of Black America (Holt, $32.50, 9780805089066), chronicles the mayhem that occurred when African American soldiers returned from World War I expecting full citizenship and were met instead by anti-black rioting. (Re-airs Sunday at 2 p.m.)

Sunday, September 11

1 p.m. Alvin Felzenberg, who served as the principal spokesman for the 9/11 Commission, talks about his book The Leaders We Deserved (And a Few We Didn't): Rethinking the Presidential Rating Game (Basic Books, $19.95, 0465018904). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m. and Monday at 1 a.m.)

Books & Authors

Awards: Toronto Book Award Shortlist

The shortlist for this year's $11,000 Toronto Book Award, which honors "authors of books of literary or artistic merit that are evocative of Toronto," Quillblog reported, are:

What Disturbs Our Blood by James FitzGerald
Étienne's Alphabet by James King
The Amazing Absorbing Boy by Rabindranath Maharaj
The Parabolist by Nicholas Ruddock
Fauna by Alissa York  

The winner will be announced on October 13.


Book Review

Review: Children of Paranoia

Children of Paranoia by Trevor Shane (Dutton Books, $25.95 hardcover, 9780525952374, September 8, 2011)

Imagine a world almost exactly like the one we live in, except that some of us are participants in a shadow "War" against an unknown enemy. Joe, the narrator of Trevor Shane's debut, Children of Paranoia, is one of the War's frontline soldiers. When he was 16, he was told the real reason why members of his family were constantly dying in "accidents" or attacks, and soon after that he signed up to start killing people on the other side. He's been at it for years; he goes where his superiors send him, kills whoever he's instructed to kill, and then calls in for further instructions. Lately, though, he's starting to have second thoughts....

Children of Paranoia is structured as a journal in which Joe explains his past to Maria, a college student he meets in Montreal, where he's been sent on a mission after nearly getting himself and his best friends killed during an unauthorized vacation. Joe lays his story out in painstaking detail, and the pervasiveness with which the War encompasses every single aspect of his life helps keep readers' disbelief suspended. The what of the War is infinitely more important than the why for Shane's purposes; there are some rumors about the origins of the conflict, but everybody pretty much ignores them and sticks to the "kill or be killed" mindset.

The first half of the novel lays the fatalism on especially thick, as Joe is prone to self-pitying remarks about how wrong everything was about to become. Things pick up when he decides to run off with Maria and is forced to stay one step ahead of his former allies. Shane intensifies the suspense here as Maria is shown incontrovertible evidence that Joe isn't just deluded, and making her susceptible to the same all-encompassing paranoia that drives Joe.

There are times when the full-on dedication other characters show toward the War becomes a bit hard to swallow, as is the intensity with which both sides adhere to rules of engagement whereby accidentally killing a non-combatant, for example, is itself punishable by death. But Shane pushes past those rough spots by maintaining a tight focus on Joe and his devotion to Maria. By sticking to that emotional core, Children of Paranoia functions neatly as a surreal variant on the noir thriller where evil lurks in every shadow and happiness either remains tantalizingly just out of reach or could be snatched away in an instant. --Ron Hogan

Shelf Talker: Shane's unusual premise is a perfect garden in which the classic noir elements of death and desperation can bloom.


The Bestsellers

Top Book Club Books in August

The following are the most popular book club books during August based on votes from readers and leaders of more than 31,000 book clubs registered at

1. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
2. Cutting for Stone: A Novel by Abraham Verghese
3. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
4. Room: A Novel by Emma Donoghue
5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
6. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
7. Little Bee: A Novel by Chris Cleave
8. The Paris Wife: A Novel by Paula McLain
9. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet: A Novel by Jamie Ford
10. Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

Top two risers:

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers (new to list)
Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan (new to list)

[Many thanks to!]

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