Shelf Awareness for Monday, February 23, 2015

Random House Worlds: Damsel by Evelyn Skye

St. Martin's Press: The Girls of Summer by Katie Bishop

Soho Crime: The Rope Artist by Fuminori Nakamura, transl. by Sam Bett

Flatiron Books: Once Upon a Prime: The Wondrous Connections Between Mathematics and Literature by Sarah Hart

Grand Central Publishing: Goodbye Earl: A Revenge Novel by Leesa Cross-Smith

Texas Bookman Presents Texas Remainder Expo

Steve Madden Ltd: The Cobbler: How I Disrupted an Industry, Fell from Grace, and Came Back Stronger Than Ever by Steve Madden and Jodi Lipper

St. Martin's Griffin: The Bookshop by the Bay by Pamela M. Kelley


The Oscars: Birdman Leads Bookish Gold Rush

At last night's Academy Awards ceremony, five of the eight best picture nominees were based on books or were book-related. Although Birdman turned out to be the big winner, other bookish films garnered a healthy share of Oscar gold as well. The movies (and books) honored included:

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), which centers on a Broadway stage adaptation of Raymond Carver's story "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love": best picture, director (Alejandro G. Iñárritu), original screenplay (Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo) and cinematography (Emmanuel Lubezki)

Still Alice, based on the novel by Lisa Genova: actress (Julianne Moore)

The Theory of Everything, based on Jane Hawking's memoir, Traveling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen: actor (Eddie Redmayne)

The Imitation Game, based on Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges: adapted screenplay (Graham Moore)

The Grand Budapest Hotel, inspired by the writings of Stefan Zweig: original score (Alexandre Desplat), production design, costume design, makeup & hairstyling

American Sniper, based on American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History by Chris Kyle and Scott McEwen: sound editing

Blackstone Publishing: What Remains by Wendy Walker

The Rabbit & the Dragonfly Opens in Lancaster, Pa.

The Rabbit & the Dragonfly, a coffee shop, bookstore (selling new and used titles) and creative community center, opened Saturday in downtown Lancaster, Pa., at Place Marie Mall, 51 N. Market St.

Partners Jason Zimmerman, Dave Seyfried, Dr. David Eisenberg, Laurie Keener, Stephanie Todoroff and Melissa Garland "took inspiration from the Inklings, an informal literary group from the 1930s and 1940s whose members included C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien," LancasterOnline reported, adding that a "corner of the cafe has been set up to look like the Rabbit Room, a lounge in the Oxford pub where the group often met."

GLOW: Flatiron Books: Bad Summer People by Emma Rosenblum

Snow Damage Closes New Hampshire B&N

Most of the stores at the Crossings at Fox Run mall in Newington, N.H., near Portsmouth, had to be closed on Thursday after the ceiling of a Barnes & Noble in the mall began to sag and steel beams cracked, Foster's Daily Democrat reported.

Workers were called in to remove snow from the mall's roofs. Fire Chief Andrew Head told the paper, "There's so much snow up there it's unbelievable." Much of New England has had record snowfall in the last month.

Mall spokesman Bill Lawler said snow removal is "a pain-staking process" because only a limited number of workers can be on the roof at a time and OSHA guidelines must be followed.

The closing affected all but one store at the 475,000-square-foot mall. Much of the mall was expected to reopen by now, but engineers will have to inspect B&N thoroughly, Head told the Union Leader.

William Morrow & Company: The God of Good Looks by Breanne Mc Ivor

Open Books Drops Readings, Promotes 'Communal' Events

In an unusual move that runs against the grain of independent bookselling trends, Open Books: A Poem Emporium, Seattle, Wash., last month began a new policy of no longer hosting poetry readings. Owners John Marshall and Christine Deavel said in a store post that the reasons were "various and cumulative." Since 1987, the store has hosted "hundreds of readings" by a range of authors, including Sherman Alexie, "a young man with a new first book, The Business of Fancydancing. He paced as he read, his voice crackling with the grace, wit, and fire that immediately made obvious the creative power he possessed, and which has only increased over the years."

While the events have been memorable, they said, "Imagine (or remember) the exhaustion that comes from having taken a very long hike. The scenery may be grand, but the steps take a toll. Hosting readings means responding to requests for readings, coordinating various calendars, preparing and sending out information about events, ordering readers' books, writing introductions, setting up chairs and sound system, nervously awaiting audience and/or poet, staffing the till, and after the last attendee leaves, putting the store back together and heading home for a late dinner, some evenings very late. If this sounds like whining perhaps it is; ending the whining is a goal and reason enough."

They continued: "The reading model is pretty much a one-way street--poet at the podium speaking constructions of words to assembled listeners who, once the reader has finished, socialize awhile, perhaps, then go on their way."

Instead, Marshall and Deavel want to emphasize "events in which the participation is more communal." These kinds of events include the Poetry in Conversation series; recitation gatherings, evenings at which people who've memorized a poem or two recite them; and a Poetry Trivia: Not a Redundancy event. Open Books is also continuing its relationship with the Seattle Arts & Lectures Poetry Series and expanding cooperative ventures with literary organizations such as APRIL and the Hugo House.

Deavel and Marshall

Marshall said that reactions have "run the gamut. We've heard actual disappointment from people who say they dream of reading here. Others have told us they enjoyed this or that particular reading and say that they'll miss having the opportunity to hear more. We've heard from those who understand our exhaustion, thanking us for the readings that did happen. We've had a few people say they think we are making a smart decision. A fellow who has read here twice called it a move toward 'sanity.' A couple of people have assumed we're closing the store."

But Marshall is delighted with the decision, saying, "I'm so happy not having to weigh requests for store readings! The second request to read here, after we'd made our decision public in conversations with customers, came from a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet who'd read for us before. That tested the resolve. But the resolve held easily, and we worked out a co-hosting arrangement for her reading with a local literary nonprofit.

"This decision has simplified our lives. And knowing the events we do host will take place at times we choose feels truly luxurious." He added, "Now our calendar feels truly like it is our own" and that the store can now focus on selling books. "Sometimes I think readings even distracted potential book buyers from seeing that bookselling is the core purpose of the store."

G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Celebrants by Steven Rowley


Image of the Day: Women & Children First

Thursday night, Women & Children First, Chicago, Ill., featured Chicago author Sara Paretsky (r.) in conversation with Danish author Sara Blaedel (The Forgotten Girls, recently published by Grand Central).

Then, on Saturday, the store held a Grand Reopening Open House to show off its recent storewide renovation, which includes a new community and events area that will allow it to diversify events. The store also has a more navigable floor plan, new flooring and a brightened and refreshed children's area. Women & Children First was able to fund the renovation in large part by raising more than $35,000 in 28 days on Indiegogo last fall.

Literati Bookstore Hosts 'Typing Bee'

From the Facebook page of Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, Mich.: "Twelve typewriters click clacking away. Heaven exists. Thanks Harlequin Creature for hosting your typing bee in our events space!"

Harlequin Creature, a nonprofit organization that produces hand-typed and bound journals, responded: "[W]e had soooo much fun this evening at the Literati Bookstore #‎typingbee! our amazing typists managed to complete a whopping 20 copies, and a further 8 have less than one page to go! all that in just 2.5hrs!!!"

'Charming & Unusual Bookstores Around the World'

Powerhouse Arena, Brooklyn, N.Y.

In showcasing some "charming and unusual bookstores around the world," Smithsonian magazine wrote: "For travelers, these shops go beyond well-curated selections of books: they pack in an abundance of beauty, quirky character and local history within their walls. And they serve as community hubs, where you can tap into the creative pulse of a destination."

Personnel Changes at HMH, Legato, Perseus, Riverhead

Ken Carpenter is promoted to v-p, associate publisher, in the General Interest Group at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. He was previously v-p, director of trade paperbacks. In addition to his current responsibilities for Mariner Books, CliffsNotes and the Tolkien line, he will be responsible for reference and field guides.


Effective March 2, Mark Hillesheim is joining Legato Publishers Group as national accounts manager and will be sales liaison for all business in Canada. He was formerly a v-p of national accounts at HarperCollins, where he worked for 16 years in various sales roles. Earlier he was a sales rep for Simon & Schuster for five years.

Kim Highland has joined Perseus Distribution as manager, client services. She was most recently director of national accounts and director of Amazon sales at Penguin Young Readers Group and earlier worked in sales and marketing at Dorling Kindersley and Macmillan.

Jessie Borkan has joined Perseus Distribution as manager, client services. She was previously director of rights, contracts, and finance at Kuhn Projects Literary Agency.


At Riverhead:

Claire McGinnis has been promoted to senior publicity manager. She has been with the company for 10 years.

Liz Hohenadel has been promoted to publicity manager.

Margaret Delaney has been promoted to associate publicist.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Lynsey Addario on the Daily Show

Today on NPR's All Things Considered: Elisa Albert, author of After Birth (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $23, 9780544273733).


Today on Live with Kelly and Michael: Lawrence Zarian, author of Lawrence Zarian's Ten Commandments for a Perfect Wardrobe (Bird Street Books, $24.99, 9781939457004).


Today on Fresh Air: David Treuer, author of Prudence: A Novel (Riverhead, $27.95, 9781594633089).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Ryan Ferguson, author of Stronger, Faster, Smarter: A Guide to Your Most Powerful Body (Tarcher, $16.95, 9780399173066).


Tomorrow on Dr. Oz: Michael F. Roizen, author of This Is Your Do-Over: The 7 Secrets to Losing Weight, Living Longer, and Getting a Second Chance at the Life You Want (Scribner, $26, 9781501103339).


Tomorrow on the Meredith Vieira Show: David Duchovny, author of Holy Cow: A Modern-Day Dairy Tale (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $24, 9780374172077).


Tomorrow on Live with Kelly and Michael: Martin Short, author of I Must Say: My Life As a Humble Comedy Legend (Harper, $26.99, 9780062309525).


Tomorrow night on the Daily Show: Lynsey Addario, author of It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War (Penguin Press, $29.95, 9781594205378).


Tomorrow night on the Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore: Reggie Love, author of Power Forward: My Presidential Education (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781476763347). He will also appear on MSNBC's Now with Alex Wagner.

TV: Sketchy; New Maigret Projects

ABC Family is developing Sketchy, a series based on the Bea Catcher Chronicles YA novels by Olivia Samms, who will write the adaptation for Charles Roven's Atlas Entertainment, reported.


Rowan Atkinson (Bean; Johnny English) will star as French detective Jules Maigret in two feature-length dramas for ITV based on Georges Simenon's Maigret Sets a Trap and Maigret's Dead Man, reported. The first of the two-hour long films will go into production in September.

"I have been a devourer of the Maigret novels for many years, and I'm very much looking forward to playing such an intriguing character, at work in Paris during a fascinating period in its history," said Atkinson.

Books & Authors

Awards: SFWA Nebula Nominees

Nominees have been announced for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Nebula Awards, the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation and the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy Book. Winners will be named in June at SFWA's Nebula Awards banquet at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago, Ill.

Book Brahmin: Laurie R. King

photo: Chris Schmauch, GoodEye Photography

Laurie R. King is the author of five contemporary novels featuring Kate Martinelli; the Stuyvesant & Grey novels Touchstone and The Bones of Paris; several stand-alone novels; and 13 Mary Russell mysteries, including Dreaming Spies (Bantam Books, February 17, 2015). She lives in Northern California.

On your nightstand now:

Because I'm dipping into the Victorian era for the next book, I'm renewing my acquaintance with Mr. Charles Dickens, in this case, Great Expectations, a book that I forever connect with the white athletic socks my clumsy and earnest young English teacher wore as he perched on his desk reading aloud to 30 squirming teenagers. Also on my table is the second Silk Road novel by my friend Dana Stabenow, By the Shores of the Middle Sea: a kick-ass young woman crossing Asia to get to Marco Polo's Venice. Then, since a crime writer needs a break, Jack McDevitt's Echo, satisfyingly traditional sci-fi, though not without a detective-story element. Two others (it's a teetering pile) are Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, since we've been rereading it for the LRK Virtual Book Club, and Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle, which somehow I've managed to miss until now.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Walter Farley's The Black Stallion, hands down. I lived that book--no, really, when I was a kid I spent all my spare hours shaping an imaginary island atop a bedroom storage unit, peopling it with crude human and equine characters shaped out of Plasticine clay. (A generation later, I'd have been dragged off to spend those spare hours with a child psychiatrist.)

Your top five authors:

Pat Barker, Peter Dickinson, Reginald Hill, Penelope Lively, Jan Morris, Dorothy L. Sayers, Josephine Tey--wait, you were serious about stopping at five?

Book you've faked reading:

I can't think of one I've actually lied about, although I think all writers practice the occasional polite inaccuracy to fellow panel members or writer friends about whether we've actually finished something.

Book you're an evangelist for:

I read Lyndsay Faye's The Gods of Gotham in manuscript, and for three years now I've been shoving it into peoples' hands. There may be one or two books that I personally adore just the tiniest smidge more, but this novel is perfect for all kinds of readers with all manners of tastes.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Probably a lot of them, truth be told. I'm a sucker for a pretty face--or not necessarily pretty, but striking. After all, when a publishing house's art department gets a book, it's often because it's a strong one.

Book that changed your life:

Wow, there's a question, although the answer might have more to do with my life at the time than the book itself. In which case, I'd have to name Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers: not a perfect novel by any means, but one that awoke me to how a crime story could have substance, intellect and humor, and be both rousing plot and subtle character study.

Favorite line from a book:

"It was one of the quietest and peacefullest dogs I have ever seen." --from Jerome K. Jerome's classic gem of English ridiculousness, Three Men in a Boat.

(If you'd like the context, the men have just settled down with cups of tea made from river water when they "saw, coming down towards us on the sluggish current, a dog. It was one of the quietest and peacefullest dogs I have ever seen. I never met a dog who seemed more contented--more easy in its mind. It was floating dreamily on its back, with its four legs stuck up straight into the air. It was what I should call a full-bodied dog, with a well-developed chest. On he came, serene, dignified, and calm, until he was abreast of our boat.")

Which character you most relate to:

"Bending to adjust the claw of her crowbar against a joist, Lydia saw the man's feet.... She didn't turn round because it amuses most men to see a woman struggling with a man's work, and consequently it amused Lydia to startle them. She heaved firmly on the crowbar...." Those are the opening lines of The Lively Dead by Peter Dickinson, one of the few men who writes the kind of women I know.

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

Because I have a lousy memory for plots, I can often reread crime books afresh. But one book I'd love to come across for the first time now, when I've fought nearly two dozen novels of my own to standstills, would be T.H. White's The Sword in the Stone. Actually, come to think of it, it might be better not to, lest its gentle humane perfection make me give up in despair.

Book Review

Review: Above Us Only Sky

Above Us Only Sky by Michele Young-Stone (Simon & Schuster, $25 hardcover, 9781451657678 , March 3, 2015)

With Above Us Only Sky Michele Young-Stone (The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors) delivers a gorgeous sophomore effort rich with themes of family and rebirth.

In 1973, Prudence Vilkas is born with formations on her back that the doctor calls "bifurcated protrusions" but that her father, Freddie, more succinctly identifies as wings. Because of Freddie's estrangement from his parents, he doesn't know that Prudence's abnormality runs in the family: the Vilkas clan produces winged girls sometimes. Despite her father's enchantment with his "little bird" of a daughter, her mother, Veronica, initially refuses to hold Prudence and agrees to have the wings surgically removed. After her parents' divorce, Prudence lives with her mother and rarely sees Freddie. Growing up, she takes solace in her friendship with Wheaton, a creative boy her age who can see the ghosts of her wings.

In 1989, Frederick Vilkas, most commonly called the Old Man, begins having dreams about his parents and sisters who were murdered in his native Lithuania during World War II. His yearning for family inspires him to contact his granddaughter, the child of his prodigal son, Freddie, for the first time. He tells Inge, his wife and Prudence's grandmother, that he hopes she will look like his sisters. They meet, and in once-winged Prudence, the Old Man sees the hope of reviving the Vilkas legacy. Prudence finds a sudden connection with the past through the grandfather who immediately understands her and the grandmother who instantly loves her.

Young-Stone disregards chronological time, instead alternating chapters set in World War II or Cold War Lithuania with chapters set during Prudence's 1970s girlhood or her 1980s adolescence, as well as snippets from a present day in which Prudence is an ornithologist and mourning the imminent death of the Old Man and several years' separation from Wheaton, who left her life without an explanation. The metaphor of Prudence's clipped wings and her fascination with birds enfolds each element of the narrative as the Vilkas family in the past and present searches for different forms of freedom. Despite the pain of war, loss and living in the U.S. with the knowledge that Lithuania is oppressed by Soviet rule, the Old Man looks for hope and teaches Prudence that our roots often show us our future. Young-Stone's bittersweet and complex look at the ties that bind reminds us that "hope is the thing with feathers." --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Shelf Talker: An American teenager born with wings learns about her Lithuanian family's wartime tragedies and enduring strength.

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