Shelf Awareness for Friday, May 10, 2013

Harper Perennial: Pandora by Susan Stokes-Chapman

Wednesday Books: Missing Clarissa by Ripley Jones

Berkley Books: Sisters of the Lost Nation by Nick Medina

Ronin House: So Close (Blacklist #1) by Sylvia Day

Bloom Books: Queen of Myth and Monsters (Adrian X Isolde #2) by Scarlett St. Clair

Blue Box Press: A Light in the Flame: A Flesh and Fire Novel by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Irh Press: The Unknown Stigma Trilogy by Ryuho Okawa

Other Press (NY): The Rebel and the Thief by Jan-Philipp Sendker, translated by Imogen Taylor


Report of Microsoft Buying Nook Media Boosts B&N Shares

After a TechCrunch story yesterday that Microsoft plans to buy the digital assets of Barnes & Noble's Nook Media for $1 billion, B&N stock closed at $22.08 a share, up 24.3%, on a down day on Wall Street. Neither B&N nor Microsoft commented on the TechCrunch story.

Citing "internal documents," TechCrunch also said that Nook will discontinue selling Android-based tablets by the end of fiscal year 2014 and instead sell Nook content through apps on third-party devices.

Last year Microsoft bought 17.6% of the newly formed Nook Media subsidiary for $300 million. TechCrunch said that the internal documents value B&N as a whole at "$1.66 billion. When Nook Media was first formed, the valuation of that division alone was $1.7 billion. When Pearson invested $85 million at a 5 percent stake in January, it was valued at $1.8 billion. If the deal goes through, Microsoft's $1 billion purchase will be well below the price it had originally bought in at."

Berkley Books: Jane & Edward: A Modern Reimagining of Jane Eyre by Melodie Edwards

Pannell Winners: Nicola's Books, The Bookbug

Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor

Two Michigan booksellers have won this year's Pannell Award, given annually since 1983 to a general bookstore and children's-only bookstore "that excel in contributing to their communities in ways that bring books and young people together." The winner in the General Bookstore category is Nicola's Books in Ann Arbor, and the Children's Specialty Store winner is the Bookbug in Kalamazoo.

A jury of five book industry professionals selected the winners based on creativity, responsiveness to community needs and an understanding of young readers. Nicola's Books was cited for its "over and above" commitment and "partnering skills to benefit children, families, and the community at large."

The Bookbug, Kalamazoo

The Bookbug was praised for having a "terrific history of civic engagement, actively engaging in all aspects of the local community to stay relevant and of service to children and their families."

The awards will be presented at the Children's Book and Author Breakfast on Thursday, May 30, at BookExpo America in New York. Each winning store will receive a check for $1,000 and framed original art donated this year by James Dean of Pete the Cat series (HarperCollins) and Susan Stockdale, author and illustrator of Stripes of All Types (Peachtree).

ECW Press: We Meant Well by Erum Shazia Hasan

General Retail Sales in April: Cool Weather, Modest Growth

General retail sales "continued to grow modestly in April as bad weather delayed spring shopping in much of the country and frugal consumers gravitated toward discount chains," Reuters reported. For the month, Thomson Reuters reported that sales at stores open at least a year increased 3.8%, short of the anticipated 4.3% gain, for the 13 retailers tracked.
Steve Nevill of AlixPartners observed that Wall Street got ahead of itself with upbeat expectations. "I still don't see us breaking out of this average performance until something big happens to lift consumer confidence."

Reuters also noted that "TJX and Ross will no longer report monthly sales after April. That will leave 11 U.S. chains reporting monthly sales, down from a peak of 68 in 2006."

BINC: Carla Gray Memorial Scholarship

Booked for Murder Gets New Owner, Name, Location

Booked for Murder, the Madison, Wis., independent bookshop that was put up for sale in February, has a new owner. In a letter posted on the store's website, Sara Barnes reported that the store's inventory has been purchased by Joanne Berg, most recently a vice-provost at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. "You will find her funny, wise and charming; I can't imagine anyone to whom I would rather pass the torch," Barnes wrote.

Booked for Murder will close its current location May 15, and Berg's new bookshop, Mystery to Me, is scheduled to open on June 15 at 1863 Monroe Street. "I know you'll show her all the support you always showered on me and that I can count on you to do your very best for our town's newest bookseller," Barnes noted.

Joanne Berg

In an accompanying message, Berg thanked her predecessor "for passing your dream of owning a bookstore on to me." To her new customers, she wrote: "Just when you think you have life all figured out a door opens and a dream is made possible. That's what happened to me when I heard Sara was selling Booked for Murder.... She's been a great teller of tales about the store, about books you love to read and about her love of independent bookstores. I have greatly appreciated her openness and her kindness. I will do my best to bring all of what you love about Booked for Murder to Mystery to Me."

Quirk Books Promotes Cohen and Rekulak

At Quirk Books, Brett Cohen has been promoted to president. Formerly v-p, he will continue to be responsible for operations, finance, production, marketing and digital, and will take responsibility for sales.

Also at Quirk Books, Jason Rekulak has been promoted to publisher. He was formerly associate publisher and creative director and will continue to be primarily responsible for the list, overseeing acquisitions, editorial and design.

"Individually, Jason and Brett have brought their passion, ingenuity, and leadership to Quirk. Together, they have been the key players behind our ongoing growth and success," said David Borgenicht, who assumes the role of owner/CEO of Quirk Productions (the parent company of Quirk Books), with a focus on development partnerships in film, television and digital media.

Former Borders CFO Nominated for BAM Board

Books-A-Million's board of directors has nominated Edward W. Wilhelm to serve as a director and will recommend him for election by the company's stockholders at their annual meeting May 28. Wilhelm is currently executive v-p, CFO, of the Finish Line. Before that, he served in several capacities with Borders Group, including as executive v-p and CFO from 2000 to 2009.

"Ed has significant experience in the general retail and book industries, all of which will be invaluable to the company," said Clyde B. Anderson, executive chairman of BAM's board of directors.

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
Simon Sort of Says
by Erin Bow
GLOW: Disney-Hyperion: Simon Sort of Says by Erin Bow

When 12-year-old Simon's family moves to Grin And Bear It, Neb., he pretends it's because of an unfortunate alpaca incident at their previous town's church. The aching truth is that two years earlier Simon was the only kid in his class to survive a shooting, and the trauma has lingered. Editor Rachel Stark says, "I've honestly never seen a team respond to a book quite the way the Disney-Hyperion team rallied behind this one. Simon Sort of Says is one of the first middle-grade books to tackle the subject of school shootings--without ever dramatizing or sensationalizing the event itself." Bow has written a near-perfect novel that features quirky friendships, wild astronomy exploits (that almost work!), zany animal capers and plenty of humor amidst the darkness. --Emilie Coulter

(Disney-Hyperion, $16.99 hardcover, ages 8-12, 9781368082853, 
January 31, 2023)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported


Image of the Day: President, Publisher & Poetry

From the Facebook page for Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, Colo.: "Tattered Cover Press was working with Iris Craig from AmeriCorps, who had come in to proof the poetry collection she's publishing on our Espresso Book Machine with the students at John Amesse Elementary here in Denver. President Bill Clinton happened to drop into the store to shop, and it was he who had the biggest hand in creating the program Iris so capably represents. He took a moment to talk with her and pose for a picture."

Celebrating Norton Stillman's 80th Birthday

Norton Stillman, a leader in the Twin Cities book community, celebrated his 80th birthday on April 21, with 350 family and friends at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. A 20-member host committee organized the party that included refreshments, music by accordion player Mark Stillman, photographs and memorabilia.

From l.: Mark Stillman, Norton Stillman, author Jill Breckenridge and Carol Connolly, Poet Laureate of Saint Paul.

A surprise present: guests had contributed toward gifts of a photograph of the Arboretum's crabapple orchard, a favorite spot for Stillman, who has been a long-time Arboretum member, and of a lasting tribute at the Arboretum--a bench dedicated in Stillman's name.

Stillman has been involved for more than 50 years in the book world as Nodin Press book publisher, Bookmen distributor and Micawbers bookstore owner. He received the Kay Sexton Award in 1995 from the Minnesota Book Awards; the Star of the North Award in 2003 from Barnes & Noble--with his relatives, Brett and Ned Waldman, for their collective contribution to the book community in Minnesota; and the Publisher of the Year Award in 2004 from the Midwest Independent Publishers Association. 

Among the attendees were civic leaders, such as former Minneapolis mayor Don Fraser, and many writers whom Norton published, previous employees in his book businesses and sales representatives. According to Margaret Hasse, a poet published by Nodin Press and chair of the party host committee, "One of the most remarkable things about Norton is his capacity to forge lasting friendships, including with people encountered through work." Thus, everyone at the gathering, including business colleagues, considered Stillman first and foremost a dear friend or family member.

 "I have known Norton for 46 years, first meeting him through the book business," wrote Chuck Erickson in response to the invitation. "He was always a fair, knowledgeable buyer and a true gentleman. We have been friends since. I really love the man."

BookPeople in India

Steve Bercu, owner of BookPeople, Austin, Tex., and incoming president of the American Booksellers Association, "recently traveled to India where he visited local booksellers and spread a little Austin love," the bookstore's blog reported. "Thank you to all of the bookstore owners who allowed Steve to decorate their walls and doors with our bumper stickers. International book love is a beautiful thing.

"Now that he's back, Steve's been busy handing out souvenirs and rallying the cause for a BookPeopleIndia. Will he succeed? Weirder things have surely happened."

Blough Joins Random House Publisher Services

Diana Blough is joining Random House Publisher Services as imprint sales director, with primary responsibility for the children's publishers among the client group. She will also oversee National Geographic Adult and Random House of Canada U.S. distribution.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Emily Matchar and Homeward Bound

Today on MSNBC's the Cycle: Emily Matchar, author of Homeward Bound: Why Women Are Embracing the New Domesticity (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781451665444).


Today on Access Hollywood: Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, Alan Hunter and Martha Quinn, authors of VJ: The Unplugged Adventures of MTV's First Wave (Atria, $25, 9781451678123). The authors will also appear tomorrow on the Weekend Today Show.


This weekend on NPR's All Things Considered: Neal Thompson, author of A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert "Believe It or Not!" Ripley (Crown Archetype, $26, 9780770436209).


Tomorrow morning on the Weekend Today Show: Phil Robertson, co-author of Happy, Happy, Happy: My Life and Legacy as the Duck Commander (Howard, $24.99, 9781476726090).


Sunday on NPR's Weekend Edition: Kevin Fedarko, author of The Emerald Mile: The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Though the Heart of the Grand Canyon (Scribner, $30, 9781439159859).

TV: American Dream Machine; About a Boy

Showtime is developing a project based on Matthew Specktor's novel American Dream Machine, in which Michael C. Hall (Dexter) will star and be an executive producer. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Hall "is said to be eyeing a small part in the ensemble if the project moves to pilot," but would be more focused on his role behind the scenes. Dexter showrunner Scott Buck will supervise the script.

NBC has picked up About a Boy, an adaptation of Nick Hornby's novel and the 2002 Hugh Grant film, for the 2013-2014 season, the Hollywood Reporter wrote. The show stars David Walton (Bent), Benjamin Stockham (1600 Penn), Minnie Driver, Anjelah N. Johnson, Leslie Bibb and Al Madrigal.

Books & Authors

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:

River of Dust: A Novel by Virginia Pye (Unbridled Books, $25, 9781609530938). "Drawing on the journals of her grandfather, Pye has created a compelling and original tale. Her debut novel tells the story of Reverend Wesley Watson and his wife, Grace, as they confront the bleak landscape of northwestern China shortly after the Boxer Rebellion. Intending to bring the word of God to the Chinese, they are immediately sidetracked by the kidnapping of their young son. What follows is the heart-wrenching tale of the search for their son and its consequences. A must-read for fans of quality historical fiction." --Nancy Simpson-Brice, the Book Vault, Oskaloosa, Iowa

Snapper by Brian Kimberling (Pantheon, $24.95, 9780307908056). "Snapper is a beautiful collection of related short stories from first-time author Kimberling. The stories observe Nathan Lochmueller, bird researcher and romantic underachiever, and his fellow residents of southern Indiana. By turns melancholy and suspenseful, optimistic and rueful, Snapper is warm, endearing, and wise. You don't have to be a bird lover to spot the charm in this book." --David Enyeart, Common Good Books, St. Paul, Minn.

The Watchers: The Angelus Trilogy by Jon Steele (Signet, $9.99, 9780451416797). "Set in the gothic Lausanne Cathedral, this is a haunting and beautiful tale of fallen angels, the innocents and the not-so-innocent who fall prey to them, and those who are there to defend against evil. Steele offers a terrifyingly suspenseful yet mystical and extremely tender story, and the reader will wonder who and what are real and who and what they can trust." --Lynn Pellerito Riehl, Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor, Mich.

The Fairy Bell Sisters 1: Sylva and the Fairy Ball by Margaret McNamara, illustrated by Julia Denos (Balzer + Bray, $4.99, 9780062228017). "This is a fun new series for early chapter book readers. In Book 1, Sylva wants to go to the fairy ball, but she isn't old enough. When she tries to help her older sisters with their ball gowns, all her plans go awry, but in a delightful twist she manages to save the day. In Book 2, the summer children arrive for one month each year and wreak havoc on the island, forcing the fairies to go into hiding. It isn't until Rosy breaks that rule that children and fairies meet. Denos's charming illustrations bring the fairies' world to life." --Janice Hunsche, Kaleidosaurus Books, Fishers, Ind.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Brahmin: Randy Singer

photo: Don Monteaux

Trial attorney Randy Singer has written more than 10 legal thrillers. He was recently a finalist, along with John Grisham and Michael Connelly, for the inaugural Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction, sponsored by Alabama Law School and the ABA Journal. Singer runs his own law practice and serves as teaching pastor for Trinity Church in Virginia Beach, Va. He calls it his "Jekyll and Hyde thing: part lawyer, part pastor." He also teaches at Regent University Law School. His most recent book is Dead Lawyers Tell No Tales, published by Tyndale House on May 1, 2013.

On your nightstand now:

Imperium by Robert Harris.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Walt Disney's Peter Pan.

Your top five authors:

Richard North Patterson, C.S. Lewis, John Grisham, Scott Turow, Ann Wroe.

Book you've faked reading:

Anything written by Hemingway.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Big Short by Michael Lewis.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I don't really buy books for the cover.

Book that changed your life:

The Bible. Sounds clichéd but it's not. Also loved A Time to Kill by John Grisham. It inspired me as a lawyer and an author.

Favorite line from a book:

"Martyrs know the truth and, by dying for it, proclaim how strong it is." --from Pontius Pilate by Ann Wroe.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

Name of your first dog:

Vincent LaGuardia "Vinny" Gambini, named after Joe Pesci's character in My Cousin Vinny.

Most embarrassing moment as an author:

Winning an award for my first book and promptly thanking the wrong publisher in my acceptance speech. And, no, I am not still with them.

Book Review

Review: The Shining Girls

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes (Mulholland Books, $26 hardcover, 9780316216852, June 4, 2013)

South African author Lauren Beukes loves genre-bending. Her first novel, Moxyland, created a futuristic cyberpunk world; Zoo City is a noir thriller with magic. Now welcome The Shining Girls, her best yet. It turns The Time Traveler's Wife upside down with a mixture of time travel and serial killing that works wickedly well.

Beukes has fashioned an elaborate structure: 62 short chapters in a labyrinthine, nonlinear time sequence. At the story's center are Harper Curtis, a sadistic killer, and Kirby Mizrachi, one of his victims. Harper first visits Kirby in June 1974, giving the 6 1/2-year-old girl an orange plastic pony that she thinks looks "kinda dopey." When he leaves, he tells her: "I'll see you when you're all grown up."

1931: Harper kills an old woman in Chicago and steals her big warm coat. The pocket holds some change and an old, tarnished key--for The House. Inside The House is a room, filled with souvenirs. Where are they from? And why do they seem familiar to him? Why are things moving outside the room's window? It takes only a few trips for Harper to understand the time-traveling power of the room--and its demand for "potential." (There are limits, though; he can't travel earlier than 1931, nor past 1993.)

Harper uses the room to pursue strong women--his "shining girls"--like Zora ('43), Alice ('51) and Jin-Sook ('93). Then he visits a grown-up Kirby. This time, however, it's different. His brutal attack fails; feisty and resilient, like a physically and psychologically damaged Lisbeth Salander, she survives. He returns to the room and the past, to escape--for now.

Kirby gets a job at the Chicago Sun-Times as an intern. It gives her the opportunity to try to find out more about her attacker. Through old newspaper files, she learns about similar attacks and odd souvenirs left by the bodies of the women who died over the decades. Could it be the same man?

A number of interesting subplots add real depth to Beukes's powerful and unsettling hybrid of a story, as she crosses a feminist novel with narrative twists and turns reminiscent of Alain Robbe-Grillet's The Voyeur. --Tom Lavoie

Shelf Talker: Readers will unwind the subtle narrative knot as a serial killer and his one surviving victim hurtle toward each other across time for a second confrontation.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Books for Mother's Day? But of Course.

"So buy away. It's Mother's Day. It's coming up." First Lady Michelle Obama offered this sound advice to those in attendance during her book signing at Politics & Prose, Washington, D.C., earlier this week for American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America (Crown).

It's no state secret that Mother's Day is big business. The National Retail Federation predicts consumers will spend an average of $168.94 on Mom this year, up 11% from $152.52 in 2012. Total spending is expected to reach $20.7 billion.

Mother's Day is big book business, too. On my computer screen, approaching holidays tend to gather momentum like a digital information wave until they inevitably crest into quiet backwash for another year. Our industry is currently surfing the annual Mother's Day breaker because, lovely maternal sentiments aside, this is a key spring retail weekend. Here are a few items that attracted my attention:

"How do you find the perfect gift that sums up what they are all about?" asked R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison, Conn., in its e-newsletter yesterday. "Because most moms are multi-faceted, it's not always easy. However, it gives us the perfect opportunity to meet your challenge so that your mom has a face that lights up the moment she sees the book or gift we have recommended for her."

In their latest e-newsletter, McLean & Eakin Booksellers, Petoskey, Mich., opened with a seasonally appropriate quote from Jane Sellman ("The phrase 'working mother' is redundant") and concluded with: "Mother's Day is Sunday, May 12. You've got time, and we've got all kinds of ideas."

Cathy Langer, lead book buyer for Tattered Cover Bookstore, used her regular guest spot on Bertha Lynn's 7News Denver midday program to recommend some great Mother's Day gift books.
To honor local moms, the Regulator Bookshop, Durham, N.C., is donating 10% of its sales this Saturday to the city's shop local organization, Sustain-a-Bull.

"I started with the idea that I wanted people to write about an object," Elizabeth Benedict, editor of What My Mother Gave Me: Thirty-One Women on the Gifts That Mattered Most (Algonquin), told NPR. "And if I had said to all these people, 'Write me a story about your mother,' I think I wouldn't have gotten anything because people would've freaked out. But I think being able to focus on one object and tell the sort of beginning and middle and end of that object and how it radiates and reverberates really allows people to get to the core of the relationship."

That book in digital format is also part of a joint ABA/Kobo promotion. "Can't decide what to get mom for Mother's Day? Give her the gift of e-reading!" noted Odyssey Bookshop, South Hadley, Mass., highlighting the deal on Kobo eReaders that includes a "free e-book copy of What My Mother Gave Me--AND a card!"

Speaking of greeting cards, a Mother's Day retail mainstay for indie booksellers, check out the blog at Boswell & Books, Milwaukee, Wisc., where "Daniel and Halley Talk Moms... or Specifically Mother's Day Cards."

Elinor Lipman, author most recently of The View from Penthouse B and I Can't Complain: (All Too) Personal Essays, wrote on her Facebook page earlier this week that for readers attending her event at Brookline Booksmith, she would "inscribe your Mothers' Day present warmly, personally, lovingly. You'll get all the credit!"

Open Road Media created a video/trailer featuring several authors recalling how being mothered and becoming mothers themselves had shaped their lives and work, including Erica Jong, Alice Walker, Anne Perry and Rexanne Becnel.

The staff at Milkweed Editions, ("the only thing our mothers love as much as their children are the books we publish") offered "recommendations for books we know our own mothers would like," with accompanying photos.

Equal time, you say? Shame on you, but just to counteract the temptation of being too sappy on this justifiably sappiest of holidays, consider the Scottish Book Trust's ranking of "worst mothers in literature, from the irritating to the purely evil" or Bookish's "meanest moms in literature" or Redbook magazine's "the best & worst mothers in our favorite books."

Of all the items arriving on my virtual desk this week, however, the one that had the most impact was an invitation from Masha Hamilton's extraordinary Afghan Women's Writing Project to "celebrate the mother(s) in your life by sharing with them AWWP's newly released collection of poems and stories about love & forgiveness, the heart and soul of motherhood. Then, HONOR her with a donation to AWWP in her name!" And so I did. Of course, I'll also buy my mother books... and a card. --Robert Gray, contributing editor (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now).

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