Shelf Awareness for Monday, August 3, 2015

Tor Nightfire: Echo by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

Big Picture Press: Art of Protest: Creating, Discovering, and Activating Art for Your Revolution by De Nichols

Callaway Arts & Entertainment: The Beatles: Get Back by The Beatles, photographed by Linda McCartney

St. Martin's Press: The Christie Affair by Nina De Gramont

Soho Crime: My Annihilation by Fuminori Nakamura, translated by Sam Bett

Candlewick Press: Hello, Little Fish!: A Mirror Book by Lucy Cousins

Merriam-Webster Kids: Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day: 366 Elevating Utterances to Stretch Your Cranium and Tickle Your Humerus by Merriam-Webster


Karin Snelson Is New Children's Editor at Shelf Awareness

Karin Snelson

We are very happy to announce that Karin Snelson is joining Shelf Awareness as children's editor, effective today. She has more than 25 years experience in the children's book world as a bookseller, editor, author and reviewer. She has contributed reviews and interviews to Shelf Awareness over the past several years and has also been a reviewer at Amazon, Booklist and Kirkus Reviews. She was on the ALA Notable Children's Book Committee for two years, and later on the 2011 Newbery Medal selection committee. She replaces Jennifer M. Brown, who is becoming v-p and publisher of Knopf Books for Young Readers.

Karin lives in Seattle, so we're asking all publishers to send galleys and other material to her in care of our office in Seattle: 1932 1st Avenue, Suite 300, Seattle, Wash. 98101.

Karin is an excellent editor and writer, enthusiastic and knowledgeable, and we're so looking forward to her being a part of Shelf Awareness.

Berkley Books: Sadie on a Plate by Amanda Elliot

Australian Online Retailers Unite: Booktopia Buys Bookworld

Australian online retailer Booktopia has bought Bookworld, Penguin Random House Australia's online book retailer, uniting Australia's two main online booksellers that together represent about $90 million (US$65.5 million), or 80%, of domestic online book sales, according to the Financial Review. Its chief rival is no shocker: Amazon sells an estimated $200 million to $350 million (US$145.6 million to $255 million) in books to Australia.

Penguin Random House Australia bought Bookworld in 2011 from the bankrupt REDGroup Retail, which had also owned Borders and Angus & Robertson. Gabrielle Coyne, Penguin Random House Australia CEO, told the Bookseller: "Bookworld and Booktopia share the same commitment to delivering a first class online experience for Australian readers, and together will have the economies of scale and the brands to strengthen and grow an important channel."

James Webber, CEO of Bookworld, who is leaving the company, said, "I am extremely proud of what the Bookworld team have achieved in such a short time and it has been very gratifying to see this recognised by the industry awards we have won over the last couple of years."

Booktopia CEO Tony Nash told the Financial Review: "We have a 10,000-square-metre facility in Sydney and have 90 staff. Once we integrate those teams it will be profitable and will make a fantastic contribution to what we are currently doing." He said Booktopia has about 1.7 million registered users and Bookworld about 1.5 million, with some overlap.

The two sites list about four million titles each, but Booktopia has "100,000 titles in stock at its dedicated online fulfillment centre in Homebush and a wider range of backlist and academic titles," the Financial Review said.

Australian online book sales have increased 26% a year over the past five years, according to IBISWorld, but still account for only about 7% of the overall book retail market.

Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association: We're throwing a bookselling party and you're invited!

M. Judson Bookstore Open in Greenville, S.C.

M. Judson: Booksellers & Storytellers opened in an "airy renovated space of a historic courthouse" in downtown Greenville, S.C., last week, according to the Greenville News. The space has undergone extensive renovations that took longer than expected.

The store offers a range of titles with an emphasis on Southern literature, children's/YA titles and culinary literature. M. Judson aims to be "more than a bookstore," its website said. "It's a literary hub, a cultural hive. It's trade in a story-centered lifestyle, and that's the philosophy reflected in everything we do. You'll see it in the farmer-inspired seasonal dishes on our menu, our commitment to local artists, our funky gifts and vintage housewares, and our special events and author signings."

The owners are Samantha Wallace, publisher of the local seasonal food magazine Edible Upcountry; Ashley Warlick, who is the author of four novels, the latest of which, The Arrangement, will be published by Viking next year, and an editor at Edible Upcountry; Tricia Lightweis, longtime owner of the Booksmith in nearby Seneca, S.C.; and consultant June Wilcox.

The bookstore's name refers to Mary Camilla Judson, teacher and principal at the Greenville Female College at the turn of the 19th century. She began the Judson Literary Society, "a gathering of women engaged in thoughtful debate, where she encouraged her students to find their point and hit it, too," the store wrote. "She donated her life savings to begin a library on campus, later named in her honor. Her annual calisthenics drill, a part of graduation ceremonies, featured students in flowing robes instead of corsets and stays, moving right up to the edge of dance for a packed house audience, as well as the protests of Baptist ministers. This is to say Mary Judson was a woman who believed in the brains and bodies of women, a woman ahead of her time."

M. Judson is located at 130 South Main St., Suite 200, Greenville, S.C. 29601; 864-603-2412.

Berkley Books: 30 Things I Love about Myself by Radhika Sanghani

Obituary Note: Alan Cheuse

Alan Cheuse, novelist, teacher and book reviewer and commentator on NPR, died on Friday. He was 75 and had been severely injured in a car crash earlier last month when he was driving from the annual conference of the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley, where he led fiction workshops, to Santa Cruz, Calif.

Speaking with NPR, his daughter Sonya Cheuse, who is director of publicity at Ecco, said, "On behalf of the family, we are in deep grief at the loss of our beloved father, husband and grandfather. He was the brightest light in our family. He will always remain in our hearts. We thank everyone for the outpouring of love and support."

Cheuse had worked more than 25 years at NPR, taught creative writing at George Mason University and wrote five novels. (Prayers for the Living was published in March by Fig Tree Books.) He was beloved by so many who love books and writing.

Mitchell Kaplan, owner of Books & Books, told NPR that he met Cheuse early in his bookselling career: "He became a friend and a mentor, and someone I admired so greatly. So willing to promote other writers. So involved and appreciative of the work that anyone was doing. He always took so much pride in what others were doing."

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
Four Treasures of the Sky
by Jenny Tinghui Zhang

GLOW: Flatiron Books: Four Treasures of the Sky by Jenny Tinghui ZhangDaiyu, named after a tragic heroine, is the young protagonist of Jenny Tinghui Zhang's stunning debut novel, Four Treasures of the Sky, a work of historical fiction set in the 1880s. Daiyu happily follows a stranger when he promises her a full belly, but instead of feeding her noodles, he smuggles her from China to California, where she begins a dizzying journey that fuses folklore and history with a masterful eloquence. "There's still a strong bias toward thinking of the lone cowboy as the quintessential symbol of the West," says Flatiron senior editor Caroline Bleeke, who quickly fought to preempt the book after reading an early manuscript. "But that elides the experiences of everyone else, particularly women and POC." A book to sit alongside Yaa Gyasi's Homecoming and Anna North's Outlawed, this is a powerful tale of reclamation, spun with soul by a remarkable new talent. --Lauren Puckett

(Flatiron Books, $27.99 hardcover, 9781250811783, April 5, 2022)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported



Image of the Day: Misty Copeland

Photographer Richard Corman gives ballerina Misty Copeland a copy of Misty Copeland: Power and Grace (Michael Friedman Group), featuring images of and quotes by the inspiring dancer (and author). You can see videos of the photo shoots from which the book was compiled here and here.

'America's Digital Goddess' Touts Indie Bookstores

Kim Komando

Radio host and Web entrepreneur Kim Komando, who bills herself as "America's Digital Goddess," offered some unexpected advice to fans this week in a post headlined "Find a great independent book store near you":

"Downloading books to read onto your e-reader, tablet or smartphone is quick, easy and convenient. But there's one thing digital books lack: the thrill of the hunt. How many times have you found yourself spending hours in a great bookstore just looking at all the cool stuff? You might not know what you're looking for, but since it's so easy to spend hours browsing, there's not a doubt in my mind that there's something for everyone.

"Not only are independent bookstores lots of fun to look around, some offer a quiet reading place where you can grab a cup of joe, and some have hidden gems stored away on their shelves. So if you're in the market for a good new book, or just want a new cool bookstore to check out, try using the Indie Store Finder, brought to you by IndieBound.

"What are you waiting for? Adventure awaits!"

Nanjing's 'Honesty Bookstore' Has No Staff


On July 24, Honesty Bookshop, a "bookstore with no cashier desk and no working staff was opened to the public in a busy city square in Nanjing," Shanghaiist reported, adding that the shop "actually managed to cover costs with its 'pay what you will' policy."

Although the location "is relatively small and consists of four bookshelves holding around 1,500 titles," one of the organizers of the experiment said "they sold over 300 books on the store's opening day and the money put into the box was 'basically' the right amount," Shanghaiist wrote.

Legato Adds Three Publishers

Legato Publishers Group has added three new clients:

Maven House Press, Palmyra, Va., which publishes business, leadership and career enhancement titles, effective July 15. Maven House was founded by Jim Pennybacker in 2012.

Zakka Workshop, Salem, Mass., which publish a variety of craft titles including embroidery, quilting, weaving, sewing and kid's crafts, effective July 15.

The Cornell Lab Publishing Group, which publishes adult and children's books and guides for birders and nature lovers with material from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology at Cornell University, effective January 1, 2016.

Personnel Changes at Abrams

At Abrams:

Mamie VanLangen has joined the adult marketing department in the new role of digital and social media marketing associate. She formerly was a marketing coordinator at Simon & Schuster for Gallery, Pocket and Threshold.

Raquel Avila has joined the sales team as gift rep sales manager, special markets. She was formerly sales, inventory and promotions manager at the New Press.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Buzz Bissinger on Fresh Air

Today on Fresh Air: Buzz Bissinger, author of Friday Night Lights, 25th Anniversary Edition: A Town, a Team, and a Dream (Da Capo, $29.99, 9780306824210).


Today on Diane Rehm: Jerry Kaplan, author of Humans Need Not Apply: A Guide to Wealth and Work in the Age of Artificial Intelligence (Yale University Press, $35, 9780300213553).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Jason Segel, author of Nightmares! The Sleepwalker Tonic (Delacorte, $16.99, 9780385744270). He will also appear on Live with Kelly and Michael.


Tomorrow on Sean Hannity's Radio Show: Mark R. Levin, author of Plunder and Deceit (Threshold Editions, $27, 9781451606300).


Tomorrow on Bloomberg's Surveillance: Juliana Barbassa, author of Dancing with the Devil in the City of God: Rio de Janeiro on the Brink (Touchstone, $27, 9781476756257).

Movies: The Danish Girl; Beasts of No Nation

The first posters have been released for The Danish Girl, based on the novel by David Ebershoff. Indiewire reported that the film "is one of those projects that has been lying around in many, many different incarnations for several years.... But the project took on a new direction when Academy Award winner Tom Hooper (The King's Speech) took on the mantle. Instead of two female leads, one of them undergoing surgery to become a man, Hooper decided to cast Academy Award winner Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) as Elbe which seems like an inspired choice given our cultural conversation about gender fluidity and the rise of transgendered awareness, acceptance and empathy."

The movie, which co-stars Alicia Vikander, Ben Whishaw, Amber Heard and Matthias Schoenaerts, "will be doing the rounds at the fall film festival circuit, making its world premiere in Venice and its North American premiere in Toronto" before its general release November 27.


The first trailer is out for Cary Fukunaga's Beasts of No Nation, adapted from the book by Uzodinma Iweala and starring Idris Elba. Indiewire reported that "while the film will debut on Netflix [October 16], it will also receive a theatrical release to qualify for the Oscars and will land all over the fall film festival circuit."

Books & Authors

Awards: Great Lakes, Great Reads; The Alice

The winners of the 2015 Great Lakes, Great Reads Awards, sponsored by the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association, are:

Adult Fiction: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (Knopf)
Adult Nonfiction: The Arsenal of Democracy: FDR, Detroit and an Epic Quest to Arm an America at War by A.J. Baime (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Children's Picture Book: Otis and the Scarecrow by Loren Long (Philomel)
Children's/YA Fiction: Mosquitoland by David Arnold (Viking Books for Young Readers)

The awards will presented at the awards dinner on October 9 during the Heartland Fall Forum in Lombard, Ill.


The shortlist for the $25,000 Alice Award is:

Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland, 1861-2008 (Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art)
Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Detroit (Detroit Institute of Arts)
One Hundred Books Famous in Children's Literature (Grolier Club)
The Open Road (Aperture)
A Portrait of Britain (National Portrait Gallery)

The Alice Award was founded in 2013 by Joan K. Davidson in honor of her mother, Alice M. Kaplan, as a part of Furthermore, the grants in publishing program of the J.M. Kaplan Fund, to "buttress the kind of slow reading movement that recognizes and cherishes the lasting values of the well-made illustrated book." The Alice Award will be presented at the Frick Collection on October 27.

Book Review

Review: Flood of Fire

Flood of Fire by Amitav Ghosh (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $28 hardcover, 9780374174248, August 4, 2015)

Amitav Ghosh concludes his Ibis trilogy (Sea of Poppies, River of Smoke) with Flood of Fire, a panoramic fictional re-creation of the lead-up to the Opium Wars of 1839 to 1842. This richly populated novel teems with characters on both sides of conflicts large and small; like the preceding novels, it's another mesmerizing story that captures rippling costs of human greed and ambition that alter lives and countries in profound and permanent ways.

Zachary Reid, the wide-eyed young American son of a slave, who passes as white and lived through the voyage of the Ibis in Sea of Poppies, reappears here as a central character. He is now in Calcutta employed as a "mystery," a repairman on a riverboat owned by the wealthy Burnhams. Mrs. Burnham soon coaches him in the fine points of giving and taking sexual pleasure, within the social confines of a rigid colonial society and a very illicit affair, even while he is schooled as an opium trader by Mr. Burnham.

Other characters, too, reappear from the earlier books. Among the passengers aboard the Hind, a ship sailing from India to China, are Kesri Singh, a soldier whose sister Deeti was a key character in Sea of Poppies, and Shireen Modi, widow of an opium trader, who travels to China to reclaim his lost fortune and reputation, only to find herself drawn into his secret life. These disparate characters' stories converge when British India, to protect its opium wealth, prepares to attack China, which has cracked down on opium smuggling, and the Hind is requisitioned for the attack. The spectacular battle scenes result in a devastating Chinese defeat and the British seizure of Hong Kong.

Flood of Fire is vintage Ghosh. He mixes war drama with domestic comedy, playful glee with skewering critiques. He does not shy away from the human tragedies that serve to count the costs of geopolitical and colonial ambitions. Ghosh's skill at balancing the high and low is especially effective in the passages dealing with Zachary and Mrs. Burnham, where class, gender and race collide. When they first meet, Mrs. Burnham becomes determined to instill in him Victorian moral values, especially those in the sexual arena. Her prim bawdiness and pidgin double-speak infuse these sections with an exuberantly lowbrow humor, even as Ghosh subverts expectations about the equations of privilege, power and morality.

Sharp, epic, teaming with characters and activity, Flood of Fire is bravura story telling. It is world history writ large through the minutiae of social interactions by a master of the craft of fiction. --Jeanette Zwart, freelance writer and reviewer

Shelf Talker: Flood of Fire is another expansive tragicomedy, teaming with characters, action and relationships--satisfying both on its own and as a fitting conclusion to Amitav Ghosh's extraordinary Ibis trilogy.

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