Shelf Awareness for Monday, June 30, 2014

William Morrow & Company: The Midnight Feast by Lucy Foley

Shadow Mountain: The Witch in the Woods: Volume 1 (Grimmworld) by Michaelbrent Collings

Hell's Hundred: Blood Like Mine by Stuart Neville

Delacorte Press: Last One to Die by Cynthia Murphy

Margaret Ferguson Books: Not a Smiley Guy by Polly Horvath, Illustrated by Boris Kulikov

Indiana University Press: The Grim Reader: A Pharmacist's Guide to Putting Your Characters in Peril by Miffie Seideman

St. Martin's Press: Lenny Marks Gets Away with Murder by Kerryn Mayne

Editors' Note

Now We Are Nine

Today Shelf Awareness celebrates our ninth birthday!

When John Mutter and I sat on my deck in Seattle a bit over nine years ago to plan our new business, one of the first topics of discussion was, "What shall we call it?" John came prepared with an entire notebook page of names; as soon as he read the name "Shelf Awareness" from the list, we knew it was the right one. It was different, and the name didn't immediately reveal what it was. We had no idea how much influence our "different" name would shape what we do.

Over the last nine years, our industry has seen tremendous change. Amazon grew to take about a third of the overall U.S. book market and more than 70% of the e-book market (thanks, Department of Justice!). Borders went under, and "showrooming" became a verb. In spite of all of this, or perhaps in reaction to this, one thing has emerged recently: there has never been a time where, well, the awareness of the importance of supporting your local independent bookstore has been more known among the general public. So much of this is due to the efforts made every day, every minute by our beloved indies. And we nod and bow to our friends at the ABA for their continued promotion of the concept of buying local and for providing the support for indies to be effective booksellers, and especially to James Patterson and Stephen Colbert for their amazing pro-bookstore campaigns lately.

For our part, three years ago, after so many newspaper book review sections dwindled, we launched our consumer-oriented Shelf Awareness for Readers. In our free twice-weekly newsletter, we review the best 25 books published that week, along with author interviews, q&as and other book-related items that appeal to readers. We now deliver this on behalf of more than 80 independent bookstores, who represent 300,000 readers. To see the list of stores and an example of our co-branded newsletter, click here. Last year, by our conservative estimates, Shelf Awareness for Readers helped booksellers sell 100,000 books. And, of course, besides introducing indie bookstore customers to an array of new (and "old") titles, we continue to inform them about the challenges of the industry and highlight the importance of buying from their local bookstores. Our "different" name has helped us remind others to think about where they buy.

We continue to refine our program. For booksellers who want to speak to their customers directly through our co-branded newsletter, we are proud to introduce our new custom editorial platform. Booksellers can now log in to their own Shelf portals and write editorials that will be featured in the editions going to their store's customers. This allows booksellers to discuss in their own words fave new titles, store pets, birthday sales, Hachette displays and more. If they don't write an editorial, our regular editorial will run that spot. A new cool video explains it all.

We are also thrilled to announce our platform has gone international: we are now sending our newsletter on behalf of American Book Center in Amsterdam and the Hague, Netherlands, and Sophos in Guatemala City, Guatemala, with many more to come. Check out the terrific display of Shelf-picked books at Sophos.

Every year at this time, we thank our staff for their Herculean efforts, our publishers and advertisers, and, of course, you, our dear readers. This year we'd like to give a special thanks to booksellers--and make a suggestion. One of the best things we can do to help our industry is to support indies. So we can't think of a better birthday gift to us than for each of you to go now and buy a book from your local bookseller. Tell them the Shelf sent you.

Send us birthday wishes or Bronx cheers here. It's our favorite day to hear from you--after April Fools, of course. --Jenn Risko

Harper: Our Kind of Game by Johanna Copeland


End of an Era: Bertelsmann Closing Book Club

By the end of 2015, Bertelsmann will close its German-language book club and book retailing operations, which were the cornerstone of the company's success in the post-war period.

"The business model of book clubs is old and has been largely superseded by online sales, where Amazon is the market leader," Sarah Simon, senior media analyst with Berenberg Bank in London, told the Wall Street Journal.

In the 1950s, under Reinhard Mohn, Bertelsmann's Lesering (Reading Ring) sold discounted books through the mail and in 1964, the first retail store opened. By the 1990s, there were more than seven million book club members and more than 300 stores in Germany, only 52 of which remain.

Bertelsmann has, of course, diversified, and now owns Random House and a 53% share in Penguin Random House, among other ventures. "Bertelsmann has come a long way from bookselling," Bettina Deuscher, a media analyst at Landesbank Baden-Wuerttemberg, told the Journal. "The bulk of its revenues today come from TV, publishing and business services. The company is trying to gain market share as media become more digital and advertising revenues shrink."

Chronicle Books: Life Wants You Dead: A Calm, Rational, and Totally Legit Guide to Scaring Yourself Safe by Evan Waite, Illustrated by Paula Searing

Upheaval at Book Culture After Union Vote

Employees of Book Culture, New York City, voted June 24 to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union--a move that has caused upheaval at the two Upper West Side bookstores. The Gothamist reported that after the election, five members of the 30-person staff were fired, and that owner Chris Doeblin said in an e-mail that two people in management had voted in the election "and effectively undermined the interests of the store."

At least two of the five fired people are managers who didn't vote in the election but support the union. They said that after the election, they were "given an ultimatum saying that either we had to stay on as employees who are completely, 100% behind the interests of the owners, and renounce our support for and allegiance to the union, or we would not be able to remain employees."

Some Book Culture staff members also told the Gothamist that when talk of unionizing arose at the beginning of the year, "a number" of employees were promoted to managers, so that now about half the staff are managers. But some critical of Book Culture's owners said that the pay raises were minimal and that many of them don't have true management functions.

On its blog, Book Culture responded to the Gothamist article, acknowledging that staff had voted for a union and saying that "once the NLRB certifies those election results, Book Culture will recognize the union as the bargaining agent for the employees. We expect to be engaging in contract negotiations soon and we look forward to working amicably with the union.

"As part of our country's labor-management legal structure intended to prevent employer-dominated unions, labor law mandates that supervisors are not allowed to be members of the collective bargaining unit, because their job is to supervise the bargaining unit employees. Following Tuesday's election, it became clear that several of the store's supervisors were not willing to continue to perform the role of supervisors within the new environment of having the unionized work force. We respect them for their candor, but they could not continue as employees when they were unwilling to perform their job's most essential functions. We are saddened to lose some good colleagues.

"Book Culture's business model, as a bookstore in today's challenging environment for independent brick-and-mortar book sellers, has been to survive by bring pleasure to our customers and by treating our employees with respect and fairness. That will continue to be our business model."

GLOW: Tundra Books: We Are Definitely Human by X. Fang

Miriam Chotiner-Gardner Wins Ashmead Award

Miriam Chotiner-Gardner, an associate editor at Crown, has won the Ashmead Award, named in honor of the late Larry Ashmead and designed to nurture the career of a promising young editor in the field of book publishing. As the winner, she will attend the Yale Publishing Course: Leadership Strategies in Book Publishing, July 20-25 in New Haven, Conn., and will also have access to an advisory committee of distinguished editors.

"Miriam stood out in a superb field of candidates this year," said Brenda Segel, HarperCollins senior v-p of rights, who spoke on behalf of the selection committee. "Miriam has been devoted to publishing since high school. She interned at Yale University Press and later at Norton and Oxford University Press throughout her high school and college years, and also spent a year working as a bookseller. She still finds time to moonlight on the retail side, which brings a very useful viewpoint to her editorial work. Her level of commitment to the industry and her curiosity across a broad spectrum of books shine through, and Larry would have loved to work with her."

A graduate of Williams College, Chotiner-Gardner spent a year at Three Lives & Company bookstore in Greenwich Village before joining Crown as an editorial assistant in 2011. Among her books is the forthcoming memoir A Fifty-Year Silence by Miranda Richmond Mouillot. Other titles she has worked on include Ben Macintyre's Double Cross and Timothy Geithner's Stress Test. She was promoted to associate editor this month.

Harper: Sandwich by Catherine Newman

Amazon Lockers Now in London Tube Stations

Effective today, Amazon and Transport for London have partnered to introduce Amazon Lockers at Finchley Central and Newbury Park tube stations. The Bookseller noted that although these are the first to be located in Underground stations, Amazon "introduced lockers in London in 2011, and partnered with the Co-op in 2012 to offer lockers in some of its stores." The company now has almost 300 lockers in the U.K.

Seth MacFarlane's $1 Million Reading Rainbow Pledge

"Bring Reading Rainbow Back for Every Child, Everywhere," LeVar Burton's impressively successful Kickstarter campaign to revive his popular PBS show as a Web series, has now topped the $4-million mark. The campaign received an additional boost last week from Seth MacFarlane (Ted, Family Guy), who promised to match up to $1 million in pledges made on the Kickstarter website through 3 p.m. on July 2, when the online fundraiser is scheduled to conclude, the Associated Press reported.

Obituary Notes: Michael Scanlon Sample, Nancy Garden

Michael Scanlon Sample, photographer and co-founder of Falcon Press, died tragically June 19 in Billings, Mont. He was 66. Falcon Press was established "specifically for western authors and artists like himself," the Billings Gazette reported, noting that the Falcon Guide series "remains the definitive source in the state and now much of the country for outdoor enthusiasts." Falcon became part of Globe Pequot in 2000.


Nancy Garden, the author of fiction for children and young adults, died on June 23. She was 76.

Garden wrote some 35 books and was best known for her 1982 novel Annie on My Mind, which earlier this year won the Lee Lynch Classic Award by the Golden Crown Literary Society, cited as one of the most important classics in lesbian literature. The book, one of the first teen novels to depict lesbian characters in a positive light, was frequently challenged by schools and others. Garden won the 2003 Margaret Edwards Award from the American Library Association, recognizing her lifetime contribution in writing for teens.


Image of the Day: Making Lemonade

Author Erin Kono visited the Book Frog, Rolling Hills Estates, Calif., on Sunday, June 22, to talk about and read aloud her latest book, Caterina and the Lemonade Stand (Dial). A standing-room-only crowd enjoyed the story, along with a drawing lesson, a craft and refreshments.

Berkeley's Bookish: New Owner & 'Stylish Makeover'

photo: Berkeleyside

Gina Davidson, who took over Bookish Bookstore, Berkeley, Calif., six months ago, has given the location "a fresh stock of books and a stylish makeover," Berkeleyside reported, adding: "Unlike its predecessors, Bookish focuses on new rather than used books, but there is also a section for first editions, rare books and collectibles, and one area dedicated to books about Berkeley and its history. Davidson has also sourced an appealing selection of greeting cards, stationery and small gifts."

"It's such a fabulous area to have a bookstore," she said. "Students, professors, rabbis, philosophers, neighbors and their kids--they all come in.... I thought I was well-read, but it's very humbling talking to some customers." Regarding her vision for Bookish, she said, "I want to be the one-stop corner bookshop where everyone wants to hang out.... If I can't make a bookstore work here in Berkeley, all is lost."

Davidson said she appreciates the support and guidance she has received from other booksellers, including Marion Abbott and Ann Leyhe at Mrs. Dalloway's in Berkeley, and a friend who inherited Klindt's Booksellers in the Dalles, Ore.

Cool idea of the Day: La Casa Azul's Book Drive

New York City's La Casa Azul Bookstore, in collaboration with the Unaccompanied Latin American Minor Project at John Jay College of Criminal Justice/Safe Passage Project, will host a book drive for children who were apprehended and detained at the Mexico-U.S. border and are currently in deportation proceedings in the New York City area. A book drive kick-off and information session is scheduled for Thursday, July 10.

"Children and teenagers are living in both local shelters and residing with legal guardians and need new and gently used Spanish-language books in good condition," La Casa Azul noted. "Bookstore staff will deliver books to local shelters and provide them directly to children and teenagers who are currently in deportation proceedings.

"Books should be in Spanish, age appropriate and culturally relevant for mostly Central American and Mexican children and teenagers and mostly fall between the pre-K to 8th grade reading levels."

La Casa Azul will also host screenings of the films Which Way Home on July 24 and Sin Nombre on August 10. Further details are available on the bookstore's website or by e-mailing

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Peter Temple on Morning Edition

This morning on NPR's Morning Edition: Peter Temple, author of White Dog: The Fourth Jack Irish Thriller (Text Publishing, $14.95, 9781920885298).


This morning on Fox & Friends: Ann Scott Tyson, author of American Spartan: The Promise, the Mission, and the Betrayal of Special Forces Major Jim Gant (Morrow, $27.99, 9780062114983).


Today on Tavis Smiley: Ron Capps, author of Seriously Not All Right: Five Wars in Ten Years (Schaffner Press, $25, 9781936182589).


Tomorrow on the View: Molly Bloom, author of Molly's Game: From Hollywood's Elite to Wall Street's Billionaire Boys Club, My High-Stakes Adventure in the World of Underground Poker (It Books, $26.99, 9780062213075).

Also on the View: Joan Rivers, author of Diary of a Mad Diva (Berkley, $26.95, 9780425269022).


Tomorrow on OWN's Where Are They Now?: Marion Barry Jr., co-author of Mayor for Life: The Incredible Story of Marion Barry, Jr. (Strebor Books, $25, 9781593095055).

TV: Masters of Sex Season 2 Trailer

A trailer has been released for the second season of Showtime's Masters of Sex, starring Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan. The series is based on Thomas Maier's book Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How to Love.

Indiewire noted that trailer the indicates "things are getting even trickier for Dr. Bill Masters. It would appear his relationship with Virginia will continue, even if it means spurning his wife, and putting his professional career in jeopardy. Oh hey look, there's Danny Huston in what looks like a substantial guest spot too. Where does research end and romance begin with Bill and Virginia? That line seems be getting more and more blurred." Masters of Sex returns on July 13.

Books & Authors

Awards: Locus Winners; Guardian Children's Fiction

The 2014 Locus Awards winners are:

Science fiction novel: Abaddon's Gate by James S.A. Corey (Orbit)
Fantasy novel: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (Morrow)
YA book: The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two by Catherynne M. Valente (Feiwel and Friends)
First novel: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (Orbit)
Novella: Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne M. Valente (Subterranean)
Novellette: "The Sleeper and the Spindle" by Neil Gaiman (Rags and Bones)
Short story: "The Road of Needles" by Caitlín R. Kiernan (Once Upon a Time: New Fairy Tales)
Anthology: Old Mars edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois (Bantam)
Collection: The Best of Connie Willis by Connie Willis (Del Rey)
Nonfiction: Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff VanderMeer (Abrams Image)
Art book: Spectrum 20: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art edited by Cathy Fenner and Arnie Fenner (Underwood)
Magazine: Asimov's
Publisher: Tor
Editor: Ellen Datlow
Artist: Michael Whelan


The books on this year's longlist for the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize are "challenging, funny, exciting, beautiful, thoughtful, bonkers," said judge and author Gillian Cross. The shortlist will be announced in August, and a winner named November 13. The longlisted titles are:

The Diaries of Bluebell Gadsby: Flora in Love by Natasha Farrant
Phoenix by S.F. Said
Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
The Dark Wild by Piers Torday
Shine by Candy Gourlay
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick
The Lost Gods by Francesca Simon

World's Longest Bookstore Tour: Part 2

Jenny Milchman, whose newest book is Ruin Falls (Ballantine), embarked recently on a cross-country author tour. This is the second installment of notes from her trip:

There are curve balls in baseball, and on book tours, too. A big one came for Carla Buckley as she and I headed south on the next leg of our shared tour. Instead of being together for six more events, Carla and I got to share only two, but we made them count.

Two road warriors just before parting: Buckley (l.) and Milchman.

In Arlington, Va., we visited One More Page, a bookstore that knows how to get people talking... sometimes over wine. One of the topics that came up is the work/life balance an author achieves, or doesn't. Carla and I spoke about the balancing act she faced--leaving life behind to come on the road--and how I evaded that tightrope by packing my whole family into the car.

Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Va., is beautiful itself, but owner Kelly Justice also knows how to host an off-site event. The Woman's Center of Richmond was where Carla and I were brought on the morning of our appearance, before being whisked into the historic building's green room to await our talk. It's also the place where that curve ball came at us. Carla received word about a family medical emergency. Though everything would resolve successfully, Carla had to leave the world's longest book tour.

We get book recommendations in many ways these days. Word-of-mouth will always be king, I suspect. There's the algorithmic intelligence of "you may also like." But the intimate knowledge that a bookseller develops from receiving thousands of advance reader copies and placing a some of them on shelves is unparalleled. One bookseller skilled at this is Jill Folden, who works at the Easton Town Center Barnes & Noble in Columbus, Ohio. Jill read my debut novel, invited me to the bookstore with my second, and was as much a part of the ardent discussion as the audience.

Lake Forest Bookstore's literary night out.

I wasn't sure what to expect from the Ladies Night Out set up by Lake Forest Bookstore in Lake Forest, Ill. Held off-site, the event placed me in a rococo wine parlor whose rear room was dressed in tapestries. Every one of the plush chairs was taken, and the air was full of the aroma of canapés. This was a blend of cocktail party, Parisian literary salon and book club. The room and conversation buzzed. Held regularly, these events always fill with a mix of devotees and newcomers.

Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville, Ill., is one of those bookstores of which an author dreams, not least because I was offered my pick of any book on the endless shelves as a treat for coming. One of the guests in attendance had been assigned by her creative writing professor to attend a book event, and this would happen more than once in the Windy City.

Anderson's gets the word out.

The Book Cellar in the Lincoln Square neighborhood of Chicago became the site of an impromptu reunion, as two authors I knew from International Thriller Writers appeared at the start of the evening. Again, a writing student came in, blink-eyed and unsure what to expect. I'm pretty sure we all entertained him with tales of what it's Really Like to be a Writer. The special joy of the evening was Susan Takacs, a bookseller as interested in the writing life as she is in books.

I've been doing book events with authors besides Carla--M.J. Rose (The Collector of Dying Breaths) shared her latest launch with me back at the Mysterious Bookshop in New York City. Getting published, not to mention staying published, is hard, and joining up for events can bring in a larger crowd to a bookstore. My greeting in the heartland was a variation on the shared event. Beaverdale Books in Des Moines, Iowa, welcomed me and a not-yet-published writer named Karolyn Graham. Karolyn and I contrasted our writing roads, and I offered tips I've picked up about how to get from there to here.

Tornadoes chased us across Nebraska, but we had a destination worth braving a trip to Oz. Authors come from all over to visit the Tattered Cover in Denver, Colo., and readers do, too. It's a bookstore that has become a land unto itself. My event was at the Highlands Ranch location, a huge, sunny, wood-framed space. I paired with local author Peg Brantley who is walking yet another publishing path. Peg began her own micro press to release her novels, and the two of us talked to an engaged group about the differences between being published by a major house and self-publishing.

Talking books at Beaverdale Books.

Steamboat Springs, Colo., is a getaway town boasting winter and summer sport, and I arrived in the lull between seasons. No matter. A theme to this set of events became apparent as we steamed west across the country, and it has to do with the booksellers who give each store a character as distinct as that in any novel. At Off the Beaten Path Bookstore, I sat around with a group of booksellers and chatted the evening away.

The power of books at the King's English.

The King's English Bookshop in Salt Lake City, Utah, is a bookstore I visited during the longing days I spent as an unpublished writer, then as a debut author, and now with a second novel out. On each visit, the booksellers were avid and engaged people who have become real friends. But this time, the patio under its bower of sun and branches was filled with customers. There was an energy to the evening that is already beckoning me back.

In Boise, Idaho, I got to meet a longtime virtual friend, mystery author Donna Crow, who is a friend of Rediscovered Books. Donna and I delved into a question that consumes me: What is the definition of a genre book, and does it hold any meaning when it comes to reading? What about bookselling? These are the kind of conversations we can have out here on the road... and in the hushed and near-reverent space of a bookstore.

Please join me next time as the conversation reaches the left coast, home to enough bookstores to comprise a tour in of itself.

Book Review

Review: The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing

The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing by Mira Jacob (Random House, $26 hardcover, 9780812994780, July 1, 2014)

Amina Eapen has always been an observer: watchful, quiet, with an eye for detail that eventually led her to a career in photography. The daughter of Indian immigrants, she grew up in the shadow of her brilliant but difficult brother, Akhil, until his sudden death left the family reeling.

Now a wedding photographer in Seattle, Amina is struggling to enjoy her work while secretly longing to return to her former photojournalism career. When her mother calls, panicked because Amina's father, Thomas, has begun having long conversations with his dead relatives, Amina is only too happy to escape to her parents' house in Albuquerque. But as the days in her childhood home stretch into weeks, Amina realizes her father isn't simply hallucinating: his visions of deceased family members have their origins in an ill-fated trip to India when Amina was a child.

Thomas has built a successful career as a brain surgeon but feels guilty about having left his home and extended family. When his mother's house is destroyed in a devastating fire, the news opens a deep well of grief that only deepens after his son's death. As his hallucinations worsen, Thomas buries a series of objects in the family garden. Amina, increasingly frightened for her father, must figure out how to reassure him as she navigates her own personal struggles.

Debut novelist Mira Jacob weaves a complex, layered saga of the immigrant experience, deftly illuminating the Eapens' ambivalence toward their homeland. The novel moves back and forth in time, from 1970s India to 1980s New Mexico and late-'90s Seattle. The shifting timeline traces the growth of Amina and Akhil from bickering children to eye-rolling teenagers eager to fit in at their all-white prep school. Their mother, Kamala, deals with her homesickness by cooking elaborate Indian feasts and clinging fiercely to her two best friends, Amina's "aunties." (All three older women cheerfully mangle American idioms to hilarious effect.)

Like many immigrant daughters, Amina is frustrated by her parents' expectations: grudgingly proud of her career success, they still hope she'll marry a good Indian man and settle down. Amina also longs to find love, but first she must deal with her lingering grief. Though at times her watchfulness slides into passivity, Amina quietly begins to take control of her life, even as she recognizes there are some things she can't change.

Heartbreaking and often surprisingly funny, The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing is a testament to the deep bonds of family and the importance of gaining the courage to move on. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Shelf Talker: This debut novel is a heartbreaking, often wryly funny story of grief, love and complicated relationships in an Indian immigrant family.

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