Shelf Awareness for Monday, March 17, 2014

Graphix: Unico: Awakening (Volume 1): An Original Manga Created by Osamu Tezuka, Written by Samuel Sattin, Illustrated by Gurihiru

Shadow Mountain: A Kingdom to Claim by Sian Ann Bessey

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: Immortal Dark (Deluxe Limited Edition) by Tigest Girma

Bramble: Swordcrossed by Freya Marske

Soho Teen: Only for the Holidays by Abiola Bello

Berkley Books: Hair-raising horror to sink your teeth into!


Giovanni's Room: New Owners 'May Be Waiting in the Wings'

In September, Ed Hermance, who has owned Giovanni's Room, Philadelphia, Pa., for 37 years, announced his retirement plans. With both the nation's oldest, continuously operating LGBT bookstore and its building up for sale, he said he was exploring options for keeping the business running under a new owner if possible.

Last week, during a celebration of the store's 40th anniversary, Hermance told CBS-3 potential owners "may be waiting in the wings.... The oldest of this group of people is 31 years old. I'm 73 so it's really, very encouraging to think that maybe these 20-somethings and 31-year-olds can actually make a go of this store."

Tom Wilson Weinberg, one of the two original owners, added that the bookstore has meant a lot to many people during the evolution of the LGBT movement and hoped it can still make a positive impact: "It's a for-profit, or for-loss in this case, business. But the community feels ownership in it and I hope it continues."

Henry Holt & Company: A Banh Mi for Two by Trinity Nguyen

Kona Stories: The Big Island's Community Indie

In 2006, Brenda McConnell and Joy Vogelgesang came to the Big Island of Hawaii from California to open an independent bookstore. Vogelgesang had worked for many years in the corporate world before quitting her job and holding positions at both Barnes & Noble and Borders, while McConnell had worked in medicine and had no prior experience in bookselling. (Before opening the store, McConnell "hadn't even run a cash register.") They opened Kona Stories during Thanksgiving weekend 2006.

Joy Vogelgesang (left) and Brenda McConnell

"By that time I'd left the medical profession and wasn't sure what I wanted to do," recalled McConnell. "It was much the same for Joy. We had this far-fetched dream of owning an indie bookstore."

The owners worked hard to make the store successful (a "great, fun project," according to McConnell), and, after four years, moved to a larger location in the Keauhou Shopping Center in Kailua-Kona, on the west side of the island of Hawaii.

Today, Kona Stories is a 2,000-sq.-ft. general-interest store with some 10,000 titles. Although the store has "every section imaginable," books by local authors and Hawaiiana books--titles pertaining to the history and culture of Hawaii--are especially popular. By volume, greeting cards are the store's bestselling sideline. McConnell, Vogelgesang and one part-time bookseller make up the staff, and two cats, Noble and Shadow, prowl the premises.

"We went from a pretty small shop to a larger shop, and being in a shopping center meant longer hours, more publicity. It boosted our storefront," explained McConnell.

The Big Island has a population of about 150,000, with some 35,000 on the west side of the island. "Our community is pretty small," McConnell noted. "What makes it all work is that there are so many tourists." She called the store size "perfect" for the community. "Any bigger wouldn't benefit us."

Hawaii isn't exactly a regular stop on the author tour circuit, but that doesn't stop McConnell and Vogelgesang from running frequent, and very popular, author events. They've hosted authors--mostly local, self-published writers--since opening, but their author program didn't take off until after the move to the shopping center.

"We used to do events all the time with just one author," said McConnell. "And they'd bring their five people and it would be sort of frustrating--you go to all this trouble to host and promote the event and here's five people. Then it was kind of a light bulb moment of 'oh, if we have three authors this would work better.' They'd each bring their five people, and then we'd get 15."

The realization resulted in Words and Wine, an author event series that launched in 2010. On the first Tuesday of each month, three authors are invited to a joint reading. The majority of these authors are locals; authors who are on the island for vacation will also occasionally drop in. The first half of the event is a "meet-and-greet mingle" with appetizers (called pupu in Hawaiian) and, of course, wine. Then, each author speaks or reads from his or her book for 15 to 20 minutes.

"All of a sudden it became really successful," recounted McConnell, adding that Words and Wine typically draws between 35 to 70 people. "It's a festive thing. Food and wine bring people in. That was really the turn-around for author events at our store. Now people come in and are flabbergasted. They can't believe the turnout; authors can't believe the sales."

Many of the store's fixtures are on rollers, and McConnell and Vogelgesang push them to the side to make space. For large events, such as the monthly children's storytime series and visits from very prominent authors, Kona Stories takes over the Keauhou Shopping Center's courtyard. The store also hosts three monthly, active book clubs: a fiction group, a nonfiction group and a lesbian fiction group.

"We're a little off the radar screen," said McConnell, "but that doesn't stop us." --Alex Mutter

GLOW: Sourcebooks Landmark: Remember You Will Die by Eden Robins

After Amazon Listing, Vernon Downs on Sale Now

No matter how much one author-bookseller tries to shun Amazon, it doesn't seem to work.

Jaime Clarke, co-owner of Newtonville Books, Newton, Mass., is the author of Vernon Downs, a novel being published by Roundabout Press. Since last fall, he's  been encouraging readers and booksellers to order the book directly from Roundabout before its April 15 pub date--and Clarke is donating all royalties from those orders to Roundabout to support the new indie publisher. Part of Clarke's campaign has been a slogan along the lines of, he said, "Get the book here before you can on Amazon."

Now, pre-orders have shipped and Clarke is selling the book at Newtonville Books and has quietly encouraged a handful of nearby indies to do so as well, despite the official April 15 pub date. So far so good--but apparently because Roundabout's distributor, SPD, has filled all orders--including Amazon's--Clarke was miffed to learn that Amazon has begun selling Vernon Downs, too, which, he said, "Obviously puts independent bookstores at a disadvantage.


"It's baffling (but maybe not surprising since they're bullies) that Amazon would feel the need to steal sales away from a new small publisher like Roundabout," Clarke continued. "And of course the nightmare scenario for me as a bookstore owner is to have it available on Amazon now, a month before bookstores think they can sell it!"

As a result, Clarke is encouraging all independents to begin selling Vernon Downs!

'Simply Because She Loved to Read': NYPL Inherits $6 Million

Lotte Fields, who died last summer, bequeathed $6 million to the New York Public Library "simply because she loved to read," the New York Times reported, adding that library president Tony Marx said the library was "astounded" by the bequest and "deeply honored to pick up her mantle and promote the joy of reading." At her request, the funds will be evenly divided between the branch library system and the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on 42nd Street.

"One of her great joys was spending the weekend reading with her husband," said Fields's executor, Irwin Cantor. "Her donation shows just how much Lotte loved books and how important she felt it was to support her fellow book lovers."


Image of the Day: First NoVa Teen Book Festival

Authors Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (Now I'll Tell You Everything, Shiloh) and Marie Lu (the Legend trilogy) were among more than 20 authors who participated in the inaugural NoVa Teen Book Festival in Arlington, Va. The all-day event, which drew nearly 300 attendees, was the brainchild of One More Page bookseller Danielle Ellison, and was sponsored by the bookstore along with the Arlington Central Library, Arlington Public Schools, Fairfax County Public Schools, George Mason University’s Fall for the Book and Fairfax County Public Library.

Some of the NoVa authors and volunteers.

Ellison said, "We went into this event not really knowing what to expect. To call it 'blind' isn't even a strong enough word, but we were passionate. It was birthed as a random idea that grew and grew, and we're thrilled with the outcome! We had two featured speakers, four main panels, and 11 break-out q&a sessions which included 23 authors. All of the authors had positive comments on the event, and we're still getting messages from local teens about how amazing and grateful they were to have this."

Booksy Galore: 'Little Bookstore with a Big Heart'

Booksy Galore, "a little bookstore with a big heart" in Pound Ridge, N.Y., "serves up a unique variety of new releases, great literature, treasured children's tales, nonfiction and an awesome assortment of used books," according to its Facebook profile, as well as "unique book-themed gift baskets, artisan cards, stationary products, and stuff we think to be cool and clever tchotchkes."

The shop opened in October, and the Bedford Daily Voice recently spoke with owner Susan Williamson, who "says her experiences working on Wall Street, television and film have been the perfect training ground to open a little bookstore in sleepy Pound Ridge."

Noting that she has been able to break even thus far "thanks to her background in finance, promotion and academia, which she was happy to discover are useful skills when running a new business," the Daily Voice wrote that Williamson's ultimate goal is to become a community fixture: "There's a big difference between people just dropping off books to get rid of them and people saying it's important to have a community space for artists and writers and to just hang out and talk about books."

Video Tribute: Toronto's Cookbook Store

Chef Matt Kantor and filmmaker Brilynn Ferguson produced a video farewell to Toronto's the Cookbook Store, which has closed after 31 years in business. Quillblog reported that the bookshop's staff "is planning a potluck meal at the store on March 23 at 11:30 a.m. Attendees are invited to bring a dish from a favorite cookbook or something that brings back memories of the shop."

Now on Pottermore: History of the Quidditch World Cup has posted the first part of J.K. Rowling's "History of the Quidditch World Cup," a 2,400-word essay that is one of the longest pieces of original material ever featured on the site.

Part one provides "historical background about the tournament, information about how the tournament works and examples of controversial tournaments, including the infamous 1877 match played in Kazakhstan's Ryn Desert now known as the Tournament that Nobody Remembers," according to Pottermore. Part two, scheduled to be published March 21, will feature "amusing recaps of some notable recent matches that have been held every four years since 1990."

Pottermore CEO Susan L. Jurevics said, "We're committed to being the only digital destination where fans can discover new original content about the world of Harry Potter from J.K. Rowling. 'History of the Quidditch World Cup' helps us not only fulfill that mission, but it also serves to entertain and delight our community."

Personnel Changes at Highlights, HarperCollins, Tor/Forge

Effective March 31, Jack W. Perry is joining Highlights for Children as v-p, print and e-book sales, for Highlights' major imprints: Highlights Press, Boyds Mills Press, Calkins Creek and WordSong. For the past five years, he has run his own consulting firm, 38enso, and earlier was v-p, sales and marketing at Random House, Scholastic and Sourcebooks.


Stephanie Cooper has been promoted to associate director of marketing at HarperCollins. She was formerly senior marketing manager.


Adynah Johnson has joined Tor/Forge as associate publicist. She previously worked at Skyhorse Publishing.

Book Trailer of the Day: May the Stars Drip Down

May the Stars Drip Down by Jeremy Chatelain, illustrated by Nikki McClure (Abrams), in which the artist takes viewers inside her process in her medium, paper-cutting.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Harlan Coben on CBS This Morning

Today on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Simon Schama, author of The Story of the Jews, The: Finding the Words 1000 B.C.-1492 A.D. (Ecco, $39.99, 9780060539184).


Today on Fresh Air: Penelope Lively, author of Dancing Fish and Ammonites: A Memoir (Viking, $26.95, 9780670016556).


Today on CBS's the Doctors: Hollye Jacobs and Elizabeth Messina, authors of The Silver Lining: A Supportive and Insightful Guide to Breast Cancer (Atria, $35, 9781476763507). They will also appear on Dr. Phil.


Today on PBS's Tavis Smiley: Sarah Lewis, author of The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781451629231).


Tonight on the Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson: Salman Rushdie.


Tomorrow morning on CBS This Morning: Harlan Coben, author of Missing You (Dutton, $27.95, 9780525953494). He will also appear on Morning Joe.


Tomorrow on Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends: Douglas Stone, co-author of Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well (Viking, $27.95, 9780670014668).


Tomorrow on Dr. Oz: Kelly A. Turner, author of Radical Remission: Surviving Cancer Against All Odds (HarperOne, $25.99, 9780062268754).

TV: Inside-Out

Full Circle: A True Story of Murder, Lies and Vindication, Gloria Killian's memoir about "putting herself through law school while in prison and fighting a wrongful conviction for murder, is coming to TV," according to the Hollywood Reporter. Independent studio Entertainment One has teamed with Killian and co-author Sandra Kobrin to adapt their book as a drama series called Inside-Out. Kobrin is writing the script, Jon Amiel directs the pilot and will executive produce with Robert Lawrence, eOne's John Morayniss and Michael Rosenberg. Worldwide distribution for the series will be handled by eOne.

Movies: Football Project from Nicholas Sparks

Author Nicholas Sparks and Theresa Park, who acquired Chicago Bears legendary running back Gale Sayers's life rights as well as rights to his memoirs I Am Third and Sayers: My Life And Times, have partnered with Michael Costigan to produce a film focusing on the friendship between the NFL Hall of Famer and teammate Brian Piccolo at the beginning of their careers.

"In an atmosphere where white players and black players didn't congregate much, the two slowly became friends and then roommates," reported. "When Sayers tore ligaments in his right knee in his third season, Piccolo coaxed him through a grueling rehab. When Piccolo became ill with cancer, Sayers stayed by his side until his death."

Their story was previously told in the 1971 TV movie Brian's Song, starring James Caan and Billy Dee Williams, but the group behind the new project "aren't remaking that pic, they will get an original script based on Sayers' books, and Sparks and Park will produce under the Nicholas Sparks Production banner with Costigan through his COTA Films." Sparks won't write the script.

Books & Authors

Awards: IACP Food Writing; PEN/Hemingway, PEN New England

Stone Edge Farm Cookbook by John McReynolds, which was published by the California vineyard/farm of the same name, was honored as Cookbook of the Year by the International Association of Culinary Professionals, which recognizes the best in food writing, photography, design and journalism. Stone Edge Farm Cookbook also won in the first book category. Check here for a complete list of IACP category winners.


NoViolet Bulawayo won the 2014 PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction for her novel We Need New Names (Little, Brown).

Winners of this year's PEN New England Awards are Jennifer Haigh in fiction for News From Heaven (HarperCollins), Douglas Bauer in nonfiction for What Happens Next? Matters of Life and Death (University of Iowa Press) and Karen Skolfield in poetry for Frost in the Low Areas (Zone 3 Press).

The honorees will be celebrated April 6 in Boston at an event featuring Geraldine Brooks as the keynote speaker.

AAUP Books for Understanding: Ukraine

Because of the situation in Ukraine, the Association of American University Presses has published Books for Understanding: Ukraine. The scholarly bibliography features 87 titles from more than 20 scholarly publishers on the history and culture of Ukraine. It includes such titles as:

Ukraine: A History, 4th Edition by Orest Subtelny (University of Toronto Press, 2009)
Orange Revolution and Aftermath: Mobilization, Apathy, and the State in Ukraine by Paul D'Anieri (Woodrow Wilson Center Press and Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010)
Politics of Energy Dependency: Ukraine, Belarus, and Lithuania Between Domestic Oligarchs and Russian Pressure by Margarita M. Balmaceda (University of Toronto Press, 2013)
Building Fortress Europe: The Polish-Ukrainian Frontier by Karolina S. Follis (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012)

Book Review

Review: Hotel Brasil: The Mystery of the Severed Heads

Hotel Brasil by Frei Betto, trans. by Jethro Soutar (Bitter Lemon Press, $14.95 trade paper, 9781908524270, March 18, 2014)

Frei Betto's Hotel Brasil is a plunge into the gritty reality of Rio de Janeiro, where ancient slave religions echo in current events and lethal pre-teen street kids shoot each other in the streets. The fiendishly clever mystery plays straight to the reader's blind spot, and the hotel provides a delightful register of guests and residents as suspects and potential victims.

Though the police are utterly corrupt and the inspector determined to make someone confess isn't much better, the heart and center of Betto's story is motorbike-riding Professor Candido, a publisher's hack forced to edit a new middlebrow magazine combining sexuality and spirituality, who volunteers at a local center to help homeless street children. Once educated to be a priest, Candido ends up sheltering a runaway street girl as the breakout of a hundred street kids from a correction facility collides with the investigation of the murdered hotel resident, an old gemstone peddler found with his head severed and eyeballs missing.

In scrupulously lean prose, with exactly the right details, Betto--a political activist and Dominican friar jailed by Brazil's military dictatorship in the 1970s--brings to life the residents at Hotel Brasil, including a political aide with a thirst for power, a pretty housecleaner who dreams of being a telenovela star, a madam who provides girls for nightclubs, a football-loving, beer-drinking journalist and an elegant professional sexual transformista, all of them watched over by a pockmarked, ponytailed caretaker and a landlady who believes in all religions equally. One by one, they are grilled by the pompous, determined inspector, a great fan of police films eager to solve the murder before the press does. But no one solves this mystery except the reader.

Hotel Brasil comes at you in short little bullets of narrative, each with its own title, sometimes no more than a paragraph or two long. The odd technique works. The actual plot is simple, but erupts into flamboyant life in Betto's characters, on which he lavishes colorful details and continuous respect. Alternately comic, insightful and harrowing in equal proportions, Betto is a thorough entertainer, painting a Rio of road accidents and shoeshine boys, kidnappings and murderous neighborhood mobs, topping it all off with a horribly satisfying ending, not to mention a glue-sniffing, revolver-toting 12-year-old street girl who threatens to walk away with the story. --Nick DiMartino

Shelf Talker: Frei Betto, a political activist and Dominican friar jailed by Brazil's military dictatorship in the 1970s, makes his literary debut with a thrilling mystery set in a very realistic Rio.

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