Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Little Simon: Angelina Ballerina by Katharine Holabird

Houghton Mifflin: No Place for Monsters by Kory Merritt

Algonquin Young Readers: Skunk and Badger (Skunk and Badger 1) by Amy Timberlake, illustrated by Jon Klassen

Timber Press: As the World Burns: The New Generation of Activists and the Landmark Legal Fight Against Climate Change by Lee Van Der Voo

IDW Publishing: Redbone: The True Story of a Native American Rock Band by Christian Staebler and Sonia Paoloni, illustrtaed by Thibault Balahy


BEA: Jennifer Weiner on Books, Blogging, the Times

"There has never been a more exciting time to be part of the conversation about books and reading than there is now," Jennifer Weiner told the audience during her keynote address to the third annual Book Blogger Conference (the first to be owned and operated by BookExpo America itself rather than as a partnering event). In a free-ranging talk, Weiner said that Oprah Winfrey's original book club had all the qualities that would come to be associated with book blogs ("Oprah didn't sound like a book critic; she sounded like a friend") and Weiner discussed how she had used social media to combat the sexism and discrimination she sees in contemporary publishing and literary media--beginning with an offer to send a signed copy of one of her books to readers who sent proof that they'd purchased Sarah Pekkanen's debut novel, The Opposite of Me. After giving away more than 400 books on that project, she continues to make similar offers whenever she finds a book she's passionate about.

Weiner also spoke about what she sees as a longstanding mistreatment of her and her books by the New York Times, which she claimed, has viewed her as "a symptom of what it saw as literature's wrong turn." She also questioned her ranking on the paper's bestseller lists. "This week, my current paperback, Then Came You, [is] the #8 bestselling book on Bookscan," she said. "For the same time period, it's #22 on the Times list. This has happened with every book since Little Earthquakes. My publisher will go to the Times and say, 'We think Jen's book should be higher, and here are our numbers to support our claims.' The Times will say, 'We think Jen's book is right where it should be, and we're not showing you our numbers. They're proprietary.' "

While admitting that she can't do anything about that situation, Weiner did allow that she is no longer giving the Times permission to hurt her feelings; instead, she's focused on using Twitter to communicate directly with readers and other writers. She encouraged the assembled bloggers at the conference to do the same: "Dance like no one's watching. Sing like no one can hear. Tweet like your mother's not online." --Ron Hogan


Atheneum Books for Young Readers: Tune It Out by Jamie Summer

BEA: 'Why Indies Matter'--They Just Do

"These are times of real opportunities," said Becky Anderson, ABA president and owner of Anderson's Bookshops in Naperville and Downers Grove, Ill. She was speaking to a large audience at yesterday's "Why Indies Matter" event featuring broadcaster and author Lynn Sherr interviewing author Richard Russo. Anderson noted Russo's long and positive relationship with independent bookstores, calling him "an author we have known and loved and whose books we have loved handselling."

In Sherr's introductory remarks, she gave the ABA's new "Why Indies Matter" campaign high marks: "What I think is important is this isn't a question, but a statement." Of her own childhood bookstore experiences, she said she "felt both safe and adventurous among the stacks," adding that "your stores today are a glorious transformation of that experience" and the primary challenge now is to see what must be done to ensure experiences like hers for future generations.

Russo began by recalling his first author tour--and indie power learning experience--for the Vintage Contemporaries edition of Mohawk. One of the stops on that tour was Barbara's Bookstore in Chicago. "I remember that they optimistically set out five or six chairs," he said. "I didn't learn until later that they did fill the chairs, but they were all Barbara's staff.... My sense was the employees at Barbara's Bookstore had read the book. I was astonished. Those people who filled those five or six chairs were going to be handselling that book and the next book and the one after that. I was disappointed, but they weren't disappointed at all. They felt buoyed they had discovered a new writer. They had more faith than I had."

In reference to his much-publicized New York Times Op-Ed piece, "Amazon's Jungle Logic," in which he took the online retailer to task for promoting and rewarding "showrooming," Russo observed: "What really struck me about all that and everything else was how cruel it was. They wanted to fill the bookstores with people but nobody's buying anything. It was so cold."

Russo also emphasized the role of indies in discovering great new writers, and young writers like Lauren Groff and Jess Walter in particular. "I wouldn't be sitting in front of you. You wouldn't know who the hell Richard Russo was if indies in 1986 weren't handselling my books.... Anybody can sell my books now, but they couldn't in 1986."

Ultimately, Russo expressed optimism about the future for independent bookstores, despite the challenges they face: "I'm like the government," he said. "I'm cautiously optimistic."

AuthorBuzz for the Week of 07.06.20

BEA: Editors Buzz Sets the Stage

John Evans, co-owner of Diesel Books, with three stores in California, opened the annual Editors Buzz panel yesterday by reminding attendees that, as a bookseller, he sees first-hand how books found and championed by editors reach customers every day. "Every year books rise" above the din of the thousands published, books that "change the conversation."

Presenting in alphabetical order of editors ("because booksellers love the alphabet," Evans said), Millicent Bennett started out with an admission: she said that Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan, a memoir by a New York Post reporter who contacted a disease that robbed her of her sanity and nearly sent her to an institution for life, was the kind of book she wished she had acquired--but didn't. She actually inherited the project when she was pregnant and thinking a lot about the futility of life.

The memoir, to be published by the Free Press in November, tells how Cahalan, then 24--who'd just landed a plum New York newspaper job and met a great guy--wound up strapped to a hospital bed. Her estranged father was camped outside her room, determined, like her boyfriend and others, to hold on to hope that the Susannah they knew was still inside the seemingly crazy person. In a stroke of luck, a new doctor diagnosed Cahalan with an autoimmune disease that had not even been named before 2007, but might now explain some other mental illnesses (autism and schizophrenia among them.)

Bennett admitted she developed "medical student syndrome" while reading the book--imagining similar symptoms in her own life--that were not quelled by the doctor's belief that Cahalan was likely infected by a stranger's sneeze on the subway. "Enjoy the next few days going back and forth from the convention center," joked Bennett.

After that dose of reality, Evans noted, it was good the rest of the books were fiction.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by British actress and playwright Rachel Joyce is about a retired man whose life changes when he receives a note from a distant dying friend. "He thinks, if I do the extraordinary by going to her, she might do the extraordinary and survive," said the book's acquiring editor, Kendra Harpster from Random House.

At first, Harold's wife is angry and does not understand what she sees as his foolish journey. "It is a love story in reverse," said Harpster. As husband and wife shift further away from each other, and from their day-to-day lives, their thoughts and memories start to converge, bringing them closer together. Inspired when her own father was dying, Joyce began the story as a radio play.

Harpster noted that Joyce's acting background informs her character development. "She thinks about how they are off the page in way that I never thought to ask about as an editor."

Responding to Bennett's comments about germs on the subway, McSweeney's editor Eli Horowitz looked at the panel's shared microphone with horror. "Is this going to be some Hunger Games thing, with four of us slaughtered?" he wondered.

Horowitz remembered well how John Brandon's first novel, Arkansas, arrived at his office in a manila envelope. McSweeney's published the then-unknown author and followed up with his Citrus County to some critical acclaim. "This one is so much better than those other two books that it is not even funny," Horowitz said. "But it is actually funny." Still, it might not sound amusing: A Million Heavens is about a boy piano prodigy languishing in a hospital in New Mexico who becomes the target of a weekly parking lot vigil manned by the unlikely cast of characters, including a girl missing her dead bandmate, a secretly romantic mayor, an orphan on the run and a possibly immortal wolf taking in the whole scene. It is as if Barbara Kingsolver and Denis Johnson were locked in a room to rewrite the movie Ghost--"only good"--promised Horowitz.

Trish Todd at Simon & Schuster said she had been about to take vacation time when she brought home a manuscript about the Cambodian genocide; she expected to read only 50 pages. After realizing she had not moved one muscle while reading In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner, she knew her vacation was not to be.

Talking with an author before you acquire their book can be tricky, Todd explained, but her first conversation with Ratner left the 30-year publishing veteran speechless. "I asked why she wrote it as a novel and not a memoir." The answer: the author wanted to memorialize those she had known as a work of art. In giving us a protagonist who honors her poet father's death by seeing beauty around her, Ratner thinks she has succeeded.

In-house buzz at S&S places this book alongside The Kite Runner, Little Bee and even The Diary of Anne Frank, but Todd shared perhaps the most moving critique, which came from the author's mother: "You always believed the world was good, even though it stole so much from you," Ratner's mother wrote.

"If this was the Hunger Games," said Alexis Washam, editor at Crown's Hogarth imprint, "I would hope one of my characters would take my place, because she'd win hands down." The People of Forever Are Not Afraid, a debut by Shani Boianjiu, is about three girls who graduate from high school in a remote town in Israel and join the Israeli Defense Forces.

Washam acquired the book when Boianjiu, after serving in the IDF, was a senior at Harvard. With a ferocious, electric voice, Washam said Boianjiu captures the surreal reality of girls on the cusp of womanhood--forced into maturity yet still obsessed with pop culture, including Dawson's Creek and Ally McBeal.

"It's Tim O'Brien's What They Carried meets The Mean Girls," said Washam, a tagline she doubted has never been used before.

Rounding out the session was Lauren Wein, who acquired a second novel by Antoine Wilson, titled Panorama City, for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for September release. "This is a novel that brings you back to your childhood self without losing your adult self," she said. Twenty-eight-year-old Oppen Porter, a self-described "slow absorber" who thinks he is dying, speaks about his life into a cassette tape for his unborn son as he spends 40 days and nights traversing the San Fernando Valley.

"It's the modern strip-mall version of Odysseus," said Wein. The editor recalled a line from Kafka: "A book should take an axe at the frozen sea within us." The manuscript for Panorama City was, Wein said, more like a "raft, oar and compass all in one," arriving at a time when she felt rudderless. "That's a big embarrassing statement, but it's true," she said. Wein said Wilson wrote Panorama City as he was about to become a father, and that it shows; she read it after coming back to work after maternity leave.

Peter Carey said Panorama City had a goodness "you might have even stopped believing is even possible." Wein described the Iowa Workshop graduate's first book, The Interloper, as edgier.

"As an editor you have to be open to things," said Wein. But with e-books and the contraction of bookselling, she asked, "How do you keep true to yourself and not let all of that in?"

Perhaps simply by getting lost on the page--which is what all of these editors hope readers do with their personal picks of the season. --Bridget Kinsella


University Press of Kentucky: The Redshirt (University Press of Kentucky New Poetry & Prose) by Corey Sobel

BEA: Pictures from an Exhibition

Bargain book buyers got an early start on this year's BEA as they checked out offerings at the CIROBE Remainders & Gift Shops Pavilions yesterday.


This year's stairway to BEA heaven is brought to you courtesy of Shadowhunters, the first title in Cassandra Clare's next young adult fantasy series, the Dark Artifices (Margaret K. McElderry/S&S).

Throughout the day, Teamsters and exhibitors worked hard to prepare the show floor.

And the Teamsters had some unusual assistance over at the Workman booth, courtesy of Jordan Matter, who started the website On the website and in his book, Dancers Among Us, he features dancers in "everyday" situations. Matter will be at BEA today from 8 a.m. to noon, taking photos of dancers on line and signing posters in the Workman booth.


Walter Dean Myers, the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, kicked off School Library Journal's Day of Dialog. "Language Poverty" is how he described the growing reading gap between kids in homes with unemployed or underemployed parents and kids whose parents use the language of the workplace. "We must change the educational system to deal with 'unequal scholars,' " he said, arguing that a major part of the problem is the "silence" around the topic. The two crises in this country, he suggested, are "a growing illiteracy rate and a high incarceration rate." We have to either "take the leap of faith, he urged, or accept the consequences of the world illiteracy will introduce."


Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Jon Klassen, Tom Lichtenheld, D.B. Johnson, Mac Barnett (l. to r.) discussed "Pushing the Picture Book Envelope," with Betsy Bird, Youth Materials specialist at New York Public Library, moderating. Rosenthal said her book with Lichtenheld, Wumbers (Chronicle), grew out of her love of words, both their meaning and their physical representation, such as palindromes. Lichtenheld spoke of the influence of Steig's CDB and Charles Addams, and the idea that "visuals could be manipulated to tell stories." Barnett talked about metafiction and its role in "exposing the artifice"; he wanted to not only break the fourth wall, but also show how that breakthrough influences the world outside, with his book Chloe and the Lion, illustrated by Adam Rex (Hyperion/Disney). Jon Klassen played with the idea of negative space for his book I Want My Hat Back and what Bird called his growing line of "hat-based morality tales" with the addition of This Is Not My Hat (both Candlewick Press). And D.B. Johnson, creator of Magritte's Marvelous Hat (Houghton Mifflin), turned to Klassen and said, observing their two hat books, "Your hat has a point. Magritte's Hat is about embracing nonsense." Johnson added, "Once you accept the nonsensical premise, everything is logical."


G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss

BEA: The High Line

In the early 1900s, the western area around the Meatpacking District and Chelsea was the largest industrial section of Manhattan, and a set of elevated tracks were created to move freight off the cluttered streets below. As New York City evolved, the rails eventually became obsolete, and in 1999 a plan was made to convert the scarring strands of metal into an unusual elevated public green space. On June 9, 2009, part one of what quickly became the city's most beloved urban renewal project opened. Full of blooming flowers and Kelly-green trees, it's been one of New York's star attractions ever since. Here is information and some tips about the High Line from Lonely Planet.

A Green Future

Section 1 starts at Gansevoort St. and runs parallel to Tenth Avenue up to W. 20th St. Full of sitting space in various forms--from giant chaise lounges to bleacher-like benching--this part quickly became the setting for various public works and activities, many geared towards the neighborhood's growing population of families.

Section 2 opened in June of 2011, adding another 10 blocks of green-ified tracks, and the final section will meander across the partially privately owned West Side Rail Yards up to 34th St in a U-like fashion. Negotiations for renovation are still under way and an official opening date has yet to be slated.

As you walk along the High Line, you'll find staffers wearing shirts with the signature double-H logo who can point you in the right direction or offer you additional information about the converted rails. There are also myriad staffers behind the scenes organizing public art exhibitions and activity sessions for family and friends. Group tours for children can be organized on a variety of topics from the plant life of the high-rise park to the area's history.

Highline Highlights

Robert Hammond, co-founder and executive director of Friends of the High Line, gave us his tips about what, in his opinion, makes the "park in the sky" and its surrounding neighborhood so special:

"To me, the West Village is a reminder of New York's industrial past and residential future. What I love most about the High Line are its hidden moments, like at the Tenth Avenue cut-out near 17th St. Most people sit on the bleachers, but if you turn the other way you can see the Statue of Liberty far away in the harbor. Architecture buffs will love looking down 18th St., and up on 30th is my favorite moment--a steel cut-out where you can see the cars underneath.

"For lunch near the High Line, I recommend Hector's Café & Diner (44 Little W. 12th St.). It's cheap, untouristy and not at all a see-and-be-seen spot--the cookies are great. If you're in the area, you have to visit the galleries in Chelsea. There are more than 300, and check out Printed Matter, with its artist-made books. Check out the Hôtel Americano in northern Chelsea--it's very up-and-coming. For an evening out on the town, head to the Boom Boom Room at the top of the Standard Hotel. Go early and book ahead.

"The High Line is also great for children, with scheduled kids' programming on Saturdays and Wednesdays."

Find out more, including upcoming events at

Amazon Buys Avalon Books' 3,000 Titles

Amazon Publishing has bought the rights to more than 3,000 backlist titles--mostly romance, mystery and westerns--published by Avalon Books (not to be confused with the Avalon Publishing Group, which Perseus bought in 2007). The titles will be published under Amazon's West Coast imprints, including Montlake Romance and Thomas & Mercer.

Amazon plans to digitize the titles, which have not yet been sold as e-books, and is seeking rights for some of the older titles for which Avalon does not have e-rights. The books will continue to be available in print for booksellers and libraries.

Ellen Bouregy Mickelsen, publisher of Avalon Books since 1995 and daughter of founder Thomas Bouregy, said, "It is time for me to explore the next chapter of my life. I chose Amazon Publishing because they care deeply about the writers, readers, and categories that have long mattered to our family business and they are uniquely positioned to assure that our titles make the leap forward into the digital future. I am pleased they have asked me to assist during a period of transition to provide continuity and support for our authors."


Hamptons International Book & Author Festival to Launch in 2013

Books & Books Westhampton Beach (N.Y.) and the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center are co-sponsoring the first annual Hamptons International Book and Author Festival, which will be held Columbus Day weekend, October 12-14, 2013.

The festival will offer a variety of author- and book-related events, children's events, food- and wine-related demonstrations and musical performances. A special track will be devoted to books by local authors and of local interest.

The directors of the festival and its organizing committee are Jack McKeown and Denise Berthiaume, owners of Books & Books Westhampton Beach. Mitchell Kaplan, founder of the Miami International Book Fair and owner of Books & Books, with six stores in Florida and the Cayman Islands, will be honorary chairman of the festival.

The central venue for the festival is the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center and its adjacent studio spaces. Claire Bisceglia, executive director of the Center, will serve as head of the Festival Advisory Council. Some events will take place at the Westhampton Free Library as well as area galleries, restaurants and school auditoriums.

McKeown commented: "The Hamptons Festival represents a vote of confidence in the future of the literary arts and the importance of local independent bookstores and community arts organizations."


Image of the Day: Happy 10th Birthday, Point Reyes Books

Steve Costa offered a toast, with his wife and co-owner, Kate Levinson, to the more than 150 customers who attended Point Reyes Books' 10th anniversary party this past weekend in Point Reyes Station, Calif.

Photo: Gwendolyn Meyer

Cool Idea of the Day: Writers on Their Favorite Bookstores

My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read, and Shop, edited by Ronald Rice with illustrations by Leif Parsons, will be published by Black Dog & Leventhal November 13. Bookselling This Week reported that the book "features essays from more than 75 authors who pay tribute to their favorite bookstores and booksellers." Richard Russo wrote the introduction.

"We are delighted to be able to work with so many bookstores and the wonderful authors who love those bookstores," said publisher J.P. Leventhal. "We are further honored to be part of a project that pays tribute to the values, virtues, and pleasures of a bricks-and-mortar experience."

At BookExpo America, the Black Dog & Leventhal booth (#4158) is "constructed and decorated to resemble a bookstore, and staff will be giving away a 40-page reader featuring eight author essays. The publisher is also  currently working on a series of events in bookstores across the country to coincide with the book’s fall release," BTW noted.

You can see the complete list of contributing authors and their favorite bookstores here.

Happy 20th Birthday, Books on the Square!

Books on the Square, in Wayland Square in Providence, R.I., is celebrating its 20th anniversary on Saturday, June 16. The party begins at 2 p.m. with a magic act starring Matt Roberts, followed by children's activities, raffles and stories and cupcakes 3-5 p.m. From 6-8 p.m. adults will be able to participate in raffles, trivia contests and a presentation of hot summer reads. Throughout the weekend, the store is offering a 20% discount, and 10% of proceeds will be donated to Reach Out and Read Rhode Island.

Founded in 1992, the store was purchased in 2007 by Merc and Rod Clifton. The store said, "Today we continue to flourish due to their strong leadership, loyal customers and a dedicated, knowledgeable staff. We like to think of ourselves as a welcoming center, with a cherished tradition of story times for children, book clubs, and neighborhood meetings. Promoting our love of reading, we have interesting author events and book signings. Our monthly newsletter and website feature upcoming events, as well as book reviews and staff picks. In a world where many are losing a sense of community and personal service, Books on the Square values these old traditions."


GBO Picks Every Day, Every Hour

The German Book Office has selected Every Day, Every Hour by Nataša Dragnić, translated by Liesl Schillinger (Viking, $25.95, 9780670023509) as its book of the month for May.

Set in Makarska, a small coastal city in Croatia, in the early 1960s, Every Day, Every Hour begins when five-year-old Luka, smitten by a new classmate, Dora, faints in excitement. She wakes him with a kiss. Dora and Luka become inseparable over the next few years, wandering the shores of their town as Luka learns to paint, until one September day, when Dora must move with her parents to Paris, leaving Luka behind in Croatia. After 16 years apart, Dora and Luka meet again by chance in Paris. Luka is now an artist, and Dora an actress. They spend three wonderful months together, which they suppose is the beginning of a whole life together. First, Luka needs to settle a few things back in Croatia. He returns to Makarska with the promise of returning to Dora as quickly as possible. Luka is not heard from again.

The GBO said that "Every Day, Every Hour captures the universal experience of love delayed and long-waited for. The lovers in this book find their love thwarted by distance, timing and bad luck and yet their yearning only grows more intense."

Dragnić was born in 1965 in Split, Croatia. In 1995, she finished her language and literature studies in German, English and French and then attended the Croatian School of Diplomacy. She now lives in Erlangen, Germany, where she gives language lessons at the university. Every Day Every Hour, her first novel, was written in German.

Schillinger has published criticism, essays, features and other works in the New York Times Book Review, the New Yorker and other publications. Her translations of German and Italian short stories have appeared in Words Without Borders and Tin House. Her neologisms blog, WordBirds, appears weekly on the Faster Times.

Geiger and Smith Promoted at Chronicle Books

At Chronicle Books:

Rachel Geiger has been promoted to director of trade sales from senior sales manager.

Holly Smith has been promoted to senior sales manager from associate director of sales.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Joan Rivers on the View

This morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe: Rep. John Lewis, author of Across That Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change (Hyperion, $22.99, 9781401324117).

Also on Morning Joe: Mark K. Shriver, author of A Good Man: Rediscovering My Father, Sargent Shriver (Holt, $24, 9780805095302).


Tomorrow morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe: Lindsey Hilsum, author of Sandstorm: Libya in the Time of Revolution (Penguin, $27.95, 9781594205064).


Tomorrow on CNN's Starting Point: Jill Biden, author of Don't Forget, God Bless Our Troops (Simon & Schuster, $16.99, 9781442457355).


Tomorrow on Connie Martinson Talks Books: Luanne Rice, author of Little Night (Pamela Dorman Books, $26.95, 9780670023561).


Tomorrow on the Book Report With JJK: Lisa Yee, author of Bobby the Brave (Sometimes), illustrated by Dan Santat (Scholastic, $5.99, 9780545055956).


Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Amanda Bennett, author of The Cost of Hope (Random House, $26, 9781400069842).


Tomorrow on the View: Joan Rivers, author of I Hate Everyone...Starting with Me (Berkley, $25.95, 9780425248300).

Also on the View: Rachael Ray, author of The Book of Burger (Atria, $24.99, 9781451659696).


Tomorrow on the Judith Regan Show: Lisa Bloom, author of Swagger: 10 Urgent Rules for Raising Boys in an Era of Failing Schools, Mass Incarceration, and Thug Culture (A Think Publication/Vantage Point, $26.95, 9781936467693).


Tomorrow on Tavis Smiley: Buzz Bissinger, author of Father's Day: A Journey into the Mind and Heart of My Extraordinary Son (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26, 9780547816562).


Tomorrow on NPR's On Point: Elizabeth L. Cline, author of Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion (Portfolio, $25.95, 9781591844617).


Tomorrow night on the Daily Show: Dan Rather, author of Rather Outspoken: My Life in the News (Grand Central, $27.99, 9781455502417).


Tomorrow night on Jimmy Kimmel Live: Adam Carolla, author of Not Taco Bell Material (Crown Archetype, $25, 9780307888877).

Books & Authors

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Monday and Tuesday, June 11 and 12:

The Dark Monk: A Hangman's Daughter Tale by Oliver Pötzsch, translated by Lee Chadeayne (Mariner Books, $18, 9780547807683) takes place in a 1660s Bavarian village, where a monk's murder involves the local hangman and his daughter.

Capital: A Novel by John Lanchester (Norton, $26.95, 9780393082074) follows a disparate ensemble of London residents during the 2008 financial meltdown.

Dark Pools: High-Speed Traders, A.I. Bandits, and the Threat to the Global Financial System by Scott Patterson (Crown Business, $27, 9780307887177) explores the vast underworld of algorithmic trading programs.

XO: A Kathryn Dance Novel by Jeffery Deaver (Simon & Schuster, $26.99, 9781439156377) investigates a country singer's dangerous stalker.

Brand New Human Being by Emily Jeanne Miller (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25, 9780547734361) follows a young father through his disintegrating marriage.

Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead (Knopf, $25.95, 9780307599469) brings together a dysfunctional wealthy family for a daughter's wedding.

Between You and Me: A Novel by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus (Atria, $25, 9781439188187) reunites two long-separated cousins, one of whom struggles with stardom.

Now in paperback:

The Devil She Knows by Bill Loehfelm (Picador, $16, 9781250007599).

East of the West: A Country in Stories by Miroslav Penkov (Picador, $14, 9781250007612).

Book Review

Review: The World Without You

World Without You by Joshua Henkin (Pantheon, $25.95 hardcover, 9780375424366, June 19, 2012)

In The World Without You, Joshua Henkin (Matrimony) covers the perilous and rocky terrain of the Frankels, who gather at their summer home in the Berkshires on the Fourth of July. Leo Frankel, an investigative journalist and a fearless adventurer, was killed in Iraq one year ago and this mostly nonobservant Jewish family is now ready to unveil his tombstone.

The eldest sister, Clarissa, is 39 and has peremptorily decided that she wants to have a baby. This has not been a priority for her and her husband, Nathaniel, a brilliant fellow with more than one Ph.D. and a waning interest in the conception process--which they have just discovered will require medical intervention.

Lily, a hot-tempered D.C. lawyer on the liberal side of every cause, has arrived without Malcolm, her boyfriend, a restaurateur looking for financing for his own restaurant. Eventually Malcolm does show up, despite Lily telling him that she can do this alone, and he is a welcome relief from high Frankel drama. While Lily is cause-oriented like her physician mother, she is probably the most sane of the bunch.

The youngest girl, Noelle, has become an Orthodox Jew and moved to Israel, where she's rearing four boys with her husband, the feckless, terminally insecure and arrogant Amram. She was the last person to see Leo alive, which gives her a certain cachet. Noelle has never been comfortable in her family. She makes the reader wonder if siblings are hardwired for antagonism, jealousy and resentment. Lily and Clarissa can't stand her; she was a troubled teenager, got kicked out of schools, turned to promiscuity as a pastime, then became born-again. Now, she keeps kosher and is a militant Jew--except when she isn't. Nothing can fill the hole in her psyche.

Thisbe, Leo's widow, arrives with Calder, their three-year-old son and a very big secret. It's hard to know whether the blindside, bombshell announcement from Marilyn and David, the Frankel parents, or Thisbe's secret will take first prize in this family game of oneupmanship.

There is very little to like about the Frankels, but the reader ends up loving each and all of them. They are grieving, after all, and should be forgiven for a great deal of bad behavior. Henkin navigates treacherous shoals and brings the reader to shore, stabilizing the craft that is a family without a soppy-sweet ending. --Valerie Ryan

Shelf Talker: A family gathers to mourn their journalist brother, killed in Iraq one year ago. The baggage they bring with them isn't in their suitcases.


The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Titles on in May

The bestselling books on during May were:

1. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
3. Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James
4. Sula by Toni Morrison
5. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
6. Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson
7. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
8. The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
9. 1984 by George Orwell
10. Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

The bestselling signed books on during May were:

1. Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
2. My Cross to Bear by Gregg Allman
3. Canada by Richard Ford
4. Home by Toni Morrison
5. Means of Ascent by Robert A. Caro
6. Insurgent by Veronica Roth
7. One Person by John Irving
8. The Chemistry Tears by Peter Carey
9. Imagine by Jonah Lehrer
10. Brundibar by Maurice Sendak

[Many thanks to!]

AuthorBuzz: Constable: The Mimosa Tree Mystery (A Crown Colony Novel) by Ovidia Yu
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