Shelf Awareness for Friday, March 13, 2015

Simon & Schuster: The Lightning Bottles by Marissa Stapley

Minotaur Books: The Dark Wives: A Vera Stanhope Novel (Vera Stanhope #11) by Ann Cleeves

Soho Crime: Exposure (A Rita Todacheene Novel) by Ramona Emerson

Wednesday Books: When Haru Was Here by Dustin Thao

Tommy Nelson: Up Toward the Light by Granger Smith, Illustrated by Laura Watkins

Tor Nightfire: Devils Kill Devils by Johnny Compton

Quotation of the Day

'Bookstores Add Another Texture to a Community'

"People really do want to read, and if we have a passion for reading or passion for information and knowledge and understanding, then bookstores are another wonderful and tried and true vehicle for that. I like to say that bookstores add another texture to a community."

--Janet Jones, owner of Source Booksellers, Detroit, Mich., speaking with Michigan Radio about the rise of independent bookstores.

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Quarter Moon in North Carolina Renovates, Celebrates

Quarter Moon Books, Gifts and Wine Bar, Topsail Beach, N.C., has reopened after a major two-month renovation and is marking its 20th anniversary. The store is holding a party all day tomorrow to celebrate both occasions and has related author events planned in May, June and July, including a "mix and mingle" with many authors on Saturday, June 6.

Part of the store's recent makeover was a response to the popularity of the wine bar and the live music offered on weekends and was intended to give the store a more literary ambiance. While it was closed, the store was reconfigured to provide more seating, and books and women's clothing were moved around so that when musicians play inside, they perform surrounded by books rather than clothing. The store now has a more comfortable space for readings and signings, too.

Owner Lori Fisher bought Quarter Moon in November 1995, after the couple who had opened the store in May 1995 realized they didn't want to run a retail business. Fisher recalled: "After about a year, I decided to add coffee, offering espresso and brewed gourmet coffee. Gradually, I added greeting cards and some sleep shirts with book related designs. In 1999, I purchased a building just down the street with a friend. My friend started a small antique business within the space, and I initially filled my share with books and coffee. About a year later, my friend liquidated her business and sold her share of the building to me. After a short time passed, I realized I needed to diversify my offerings in order to support my book habit, so I expanded the greeting cards, sleepwear and coffee bar menu. Over time, gifts, women's clothing, sandals and jewelry were also added. Three years ago I decided to incorporate a Wine Bar within the Quarter Moon. It has grown to include an impressive wine list and a variety of domestic and craft beer. The book selection shrunk for a while but has rebounded and has become the heart of the store once again...

"My best employee over the years has been my daughter, Lauren. She was nine years old when I purchased Quarter Moon. She is now a research associate at Duke University Medical Center but she continues to be my best business advisor!"

Graphic Universe (Tm): Hotelitor: Luxury-Class Defense and Hospitality Unit by Josh Hicks

Bookstore Sales: Year Starts Down 0.8%

January bookstore sales fell 0.8%, to $1.491 billion, compared to January 2014, according to preliminary estimates from the Census Bureau. Total retail sales in January rose 3.3%, to $401.1 billion.

Last year, bookstore sales fell 4.3%; sales rose only during the months of August and December.

Note: under Census Bureau definitions, the bookstore category consists of "establishments primarily engaged in retailing a general line of new books. These establishments may also sell stationery and related items, second-hand books, and magazines."

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Obituary Note: Terry Pratchett

Beloved fantasy author Sir Terry Pratchett died yesterday at age 66, according to the BBC. In 2007 Pratchett was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease, and had since become an advocate for dementia research funding. He died "with his cat sleeping on his bed, surrounded by his family,” according to Larry Finlay of Transworld Publishers.

Pratchett was the author of more than 70 books, including 40 Discworld novels, a humorous fantasy series set in a flat world balanced on the back of a giant turtle. The Discworld series has sold more than 80 million copies in 37 languages. Pratchett was a prolific writer, averaging two books a year since his first Discworld book was published in 1983, and a frequent collaborator, co-writing works with authors like Neil Gaiman (Good Omens) and, most recently, with Stephen Baxter (the Long Earth series). He was knighted in 2009.

Pratchett's death was announced via his Twitter account with a tweet fashioned in the all-caps style used for the character Death in his Discworld novels: "AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER," followed by: "Terry took Death's arm and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless night. The End." As of this morning, a Just Giving page for the charity RICE, Research Institute for the Care of Older People, set up in Pratchett's honor, has raised £26,205 (almost $40,000).


Happy Fifth Birthday, {pages}!

Congratulations to {pages} a bookstore! The full-service indie, located in Manhattan Beach, Calif., celebrated five years in business yesterday with cake, balloons and special discounts for customers. Co-owner Margot Farris said, "Our vibrant bookstore thanks our book-loving community for their amazing support."  

Pictured: (l.-r.) manager Scott Becker; co-owners Linda McLoughlin Figel, Margot Farris and Patty Gibson; and children's specialist Lisa Fleury.

Cool Idea of the Day: Return of Eagle Harbor's Limerick Contest

After a year's hiatus, Eagle Harbor Book Company, Bainbridge Island, Wash., has brought back the Limerick Contest. As the store wrote: "Break out your rhyming dictionary and brush up on the form--judges consider proper syllable count and scansion--and let your creative juices flow." Entries are due by Monday, March 23.

Winners receive gift certificates. A gala reading with winners, honorable mentions and editors' choices takes place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 23.

Major Stop on a NYC 'Eurotrip': the Albertine

The Culture Trip called the Albertine bookstore, which opened last September, "one of the top five places in New York City that take you on a Eurotrip." The site wrote:

"On a mission to bring French literature to American audiences, the Albertine is the only bookshop in New York City dedicated entirely to books written in French and English, offering 14,000 titles from 30 Francophone countries. Located in the historic Payne Whitney House on the Upper East Side, the French Embassy established this multicultural literary platform in an effort to promote a French-American intellectual exchange. Designer Jacques Garcia is the mastermind behind the building's Italian flair, Lorenzo de' Medici's 15th century villa serving as Garcia's main source of inspiration. The bookshop displays a remarkable set of sculptures gifted by the talented ateliers of the Musée du Louvre, fostering a Renaissance-style atmosphere perfect for homesick European bookworms everywhere."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Cynthia Weil on Fresh Air

Today on Fresh Air: Cynthia Weil, author of I'm Glad I Did (Soho Teen, $18.99, 9781616953560).


Today on NPR's the Takeaway: Barry Strauss, author of The Death of Caesar: The Story of History's Most Famous Assassination (Simon & Schuster, $27, 9781451668797).


Today on the Meredith Vieira Show: Hannah Brencher, author of If You Find This Letter: My Journey to Find Purpose Through Hundreds of Letters to Strangers (Howard Books, $23, 9781476773605).


Today on MSNBC's Now with Alex Wagner: Maz Jobrani, author of I'm Not a Terrorist, But I've Played One on TV: Memoirs of a Middle Eastern Funny Man (Simon & Schuster, $24, 9781476749983).


Sunday on CBS Sunday Morning: Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly, authors of Enough: Our Fight to Keep America Safe from Gun Violence (Scribner, $25, 9781476750071).


Sunday on CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS: Gerald Posner, author of God's Bankers: A History of Money and Power at the Vatican (Simon & Schuster, $32, 9781416576570).

Books & Authors

Awards: NBCC Winners

The winners of the National Book Critics Circle Awards, announced last night in New York City, are:

Autobiography: Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast (Bloomsbury)
Biography: Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh by John Lahr (Norton)
Criticism: The Essential Ellen Willis, edited by Nona Willis Aronowitz (University of Minnesota Press)
Fiction: Lila by Marilynne Robinson (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Nonfiction: The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Emancipation by David Brion Davis (Knopf)
Poetry: Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine (Graywolf Press)

Book Brahmin: Anne Bishop

Anne Bishop is the author of 18 novels, including the Black Jewels Trilogy. Vision in Silver (Roc, March 3, 2015) is the third title in her urban fantasy series about the Others. When she's not writing, Bishop enjoys gardening, reading and music. You can visit her at or keep up with news at annebishopscourtyard on Facebook.

On your nightstand now:

The Taste of War by Lizzie Collingham; When Maidens Mourn by C.S. Harris; Wait for Signs by Craig Johnson; Second Grave on the Left by Darynda Jones; Songs of Love and Death, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois; Quiet by Susan Cain; and Dreamer's Pool by Juliet Marillier. Different books for different moods.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Any book about horses, but especially The Black Stallion by Walter Farley.

Your top five authors:

I go through cycles of what kind of story or subject captivates me, so this year it's Jane Austen (a perennial), Patricia Briggs (love the Mercy Thompson series), Susan Cain (for the insights in her book Quiet), Deborah Crombie (mysteries I can read on the writing days) and Craig Johnson (I recently discovered the Walt Longmire books).

Book you've faked reading:

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville. I skipped over some of the bits--you know which ones.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Virginian by Owen Wister. It reads more like a television season with episodes that don't always quite mesh, but it's the book that created so many of the archetypes we associate with the western genre. And the Virginian is a wonderful, romantic character.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Why Mermaids Sing by C.S. Harris. This was the first book I read in the Sebastian St. Cyr series, and I bought it because the cover art and the title intrigued me.

Book that changed your life:

The Moon of Three Rings by Andre Norton. The Twilight Zone taught me that the strange could be wrapped around the ordinary. But it was The Moon of Three Rings that showed me stories could be written about alien worlds and races and still be about human emotions, whether the characters were human or not.

Favorite line from a book:

"When you call me that, smile!" --Owen Wister, The Virginian

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

None. If I read a beloved book for the first time now, it wouldn't be the same experience and might not have the same impact that the story had when I was younger. Some stories fit a particular time in a person's life and remain bright only as a memory, while other stories can be revisited many times and still shine. That said, a book I would like to experience again in another stage of my life would be The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley.

A new book you recommend:

Gideon by Alex Gordon is a deliciously creepy paranormal thriller, the kind that makes you turn on more lights and check the locks on your doors.

Book Review

Review: The Animals

The Animals by Christian Kiefer (W.W. Norton, $25.95 hardcover, 9780871408839, March 23, 2015)

In his great poem "The Bear," Galway Kinnell refers to "the chilly, enduring odor of bear." In Christian Kiefer's outstanding new novel, The Animals, that enduring odor rises up in Majer, a blind bear with "eyes filmed in milk, the pupils twin gray pools." Bill Reed lovingly cares for Majer and other animals--a wolf, raccoons, porcupines, martens, raptors and more--at the North Idaho Wildlife Rescue. This second novel, after the well-received The Infinite Tides, goes deep into the dark, poetic places Kinnell's poem explored.

Kiefer uses the classic noir technique of portraying a man trying to escape his past in order to atone for it. Through a series of flashbacks we learn that Bill (Nat back then) was in Reno 12 years earlier, where something bad happened that meant prison time in Carson City. It's now 1996, and he's happy to be living a fairly isolated existence in the woods. He has a nice girlfriend, Grace (the local veterinarian), a new name, and he's enjoying taking care of the animals he has saved, "brought back from whatever deprivations had been enacted upon them," whether collision, firearms, fences, traps, poisons. Right now he's trying to get ready for winter while dealing with all the permits and paperwork necessary to protect the animals--"he would not let them lead his animals to slaughter. He could not. They had saved him and he would do the same for them."

All that changes when he gets a phone call. It's from Rick, an old Nevada friend he grew up with who's just out of prison after 12 years. He wants his share of "the money," and he's coming to get it. Kiefer does a fine job of showing us Bill's (or Nat's) early years in Nevada and why Rick is so eager see him again. The style in these chapters is fast, employing short, choppy sentences and lots of dialogue to create a sense of recklessness, while the style in the other chapters is slow, mature, with long paragraphs, reflective and thoughtful, filled with powerful imagery. The juxtaposition of Kiefer's portrayal of past with present, the lost with the found, and a life without love with one filled with it gives this novel great depth and feeling. And then there are the animals.

Kiefer beautifully brings to life the German philosopher Arthur Schopenauer's famous statement: "Men are the devils of the earth, and the animals are its tormented souls." If you love great fiction--and animals--the raw emotional power of this book will leave you devastated. --Tom Lavoie, former publisher

Shelf Talker: Exquisitely wrought prose combined with a contemporary noir thriller create a heartbreaking tale of one man's quest for redemption.

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