Shelf Awareness for Thursday, August 13, 2015

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


Itinerant Literate Launches Bookmobile Campaign

Itinerant Literate founders Christen Thompson and Julia Turner, who have been running pop-up events since last winter around Charleston, S.C., officially launched their $65,000 crowdfunding campaign this week. With the goal of creating a full-service mobile bookstore, they are seeking support from the local community. The Indiegogo campaign will raise funds for a used Airstream trailer, shelving and storage for books, purchase of point-of-sale and inventory systems and other business necessities. They hope to have a mobile Itinerant Literate operation fully functional before the end of the year.

"The majority of the funding is needed for the books themselves, which is something we're proud of: keeping most of the overhead for the books," said Turner. Although they have purchased carefully selected titles for each event they have worked, raising money for Itinerant Literate will allow them to carry a broader spectrum of titles to reflect the varied interest of the community: "Over the past few months, we've discovered customers who are excited about the idea and value the adaptability of mobile retail."

Harper: Our Kind of Game by Johanna Copeland

Waltham's Back Pages Books Closes

Back Pages Books, Waltham, Mass., closed Tuesday after 10 years in business. Owner Alex Green told the Boston Globe that he "had increasing opportunities to be part of the book world overall, including as a writer myself. It's very hard to balance the time it takes to be a writer and running something as labor intensive as a bookstore." Noting that financial challenges of owning an indie bookstore were "absolutely a component" of his decision, Green cited the loyalty of his customers, but added: "It's a book store--you don't go into these things to make a lot of money. We had up years and down years. I definitely felt those pressures."

In a note to customers posted on the store's website, Green observed "it has been my great fortune that Back Pages has never wanted for love and support in Waltham and the greater Boston community.... I opened Back Pages when I was 22. I was the youngest owner of an independent bookstore in the entire country, and all of us knew that the odds on surviving were slim. At 32, I look at the life of this little bookstore and marvel at how outsized its existence has been. From that success I have had personal opportunities arise that I never could have expected. They now deserve my full attention and if I am to give them their full respect, I cannot balance them with continuing to run Back Pages." In 2009, Green launched a small publishing business.

He also offered a list of other local indie booksellers: "Below, I have included a list of similar places--locally owned and operated independent bookstores who are members of a national union of independent bookstores--where you can walk through the doors and find the same thing. If they are too far afield, consider opening your own. Looking back on having done it for ten years, I promise you that you will have no regrets."

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

Trump Book's Pub Date Moved Up Again

With "the Donald's" controversial campaign making daily headlines, St. Martin's has bumped up the release date again for Michael D'Antonio's Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success (Thomas Dunne) to September 22. Jacket Copy reported that with Trump currently topping the polls among Republican presidential candidates, the publisher "hopes to capitalize on Trump's unexpected--and perhaps fleeting--political popularity." The book was recently moved from its original pub date early next year to October 6. 

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

The Sparrow Sisters: Ellen Herrick's Debut Novel

"I'd written all through high school and college, but it had never occurred to me that I could get anywhere near writing as a profession," said Ellen Herrick, author of the upcoming novel The Sparrow Sisters. Due out September 1 from William Morrow Paperbacks, it's the story of three sisters--Sorrel, Nettie and Patience--who live and work together as gardeners and healers in the small New England town of Granite Point. It wasn't until just a few years ago, and at the urging of her daughter, that Herrick began writing again in earnest.

The novel, which is Herrick's debut, combines elements of magic realism with romance and a tale of a small community turning in on itself in fear and suspicion. A new doctor arrives in Granite Point and soon hears of the Sparrow sisters and the remedies that Patience, the youngest of the siblings, makes for the townspeople. As Patience and the doctor become attracted to each other, tragedy befalls a young boy. Patience's cures are quickly implicated, and a kind of witch hunt hysteria sets in. Before long, the women of Granite Point must work together with the Sparrow sisters to set things right.

"You should write the book you want to read," Herrick said. "I was in the mood for the Sparrow sisters--for a little New England town, for summer, for things to go wrong. I thought, if I don't sit down and write that, I won't be reading that anytime soon. I basically told myself the story."

Long before Herrick became an author, however, she was a publishing professional: she spent eight years at Warner Books/Time Warner Trade Publishing, where she eventually became v-p of marketing.

"I worked in book publishing because I wanted to read, and I wanted to be paid to read," said Herrick, who also sat on the editorial board at Warner. She recalled that the first thing she did when she arrived in the Warner Books office to interview for a job was to stop and peruse the books on the wall. "Reading for a living was my idea of heaven, and I did do a lot of that. I was around books all the time."

Herrick left publishing in the 1990s when her husband relocated to London for work. Once in the U.K., Herrick decided to put her career on hold and concentrate on raising a family. Close to 20 years later, a family vacation set Herrick writing again.

"The year before we moved back [to the U.S.], my children went off on a skiing trip and I stayed home," Herrick recalled. Before leaving on the trip, her daughter asked her what she'd do for 10 days while her family was away. Herrick had planned to spend most of that time reading. She then started to think about what she could attempt with 10 uninterrupted days. "I said, I'll write a novel. And my daughter said, 'Great, I can read it when I get back.' "

Herrick did in fact sit down during that break and begin writing. What she worked on was not The Sparrow Sisters, but the experience got her writing regularly again. Three years ago, she began working on The Sparrow Sisters intermittently. After moving back to the U.S., Herrick joined a writing program in Boston, and there she "dragged it back out." Prior to sharing The Sparrow Sisters in that workshop, she had never shown anyone her writing.

"I was taking a three-month course, and halfway through it the teacher said, 'I think maybe you know what you're doing,' " Herrick said. It was not long after that when she got into touch with an agent.

"It's much different now, but I do know what it's like to be on the other side," Herrick said. Given that past experience, she worried throughout the acquisition and editing process how she appeared to her publisher.

"I kept wanting to say, 'Don't hate me, I'm not one of those authors,' " she added, laughing.

Her book tour will begin with a pre-publication event at the Brewster Bookstore in Brewster, Mass., on August 26. On September 6, she'll sign books at a party in Orleans, Mass., with books for that event sold by Orlean's Main Street Books. She has a September 10 event at the Harvard Coop Bookstore in Cambridge, Mass., and on September 19 she'll be one of several Cape Cod authors signing and reading at the Falmouth Public Library in Falmouth, Mass.

Said Herrick: "It's all something I've found wonderfully exciting." --Alex Mutter

Harper: Sandwich by Catherine Newman

C.K. Stead Named Poet Laureate of New Zealand

C.K. Stead has been named New Zealand Poet Laureate for 2015-2017 by the National Library. The N.Z. Herald reported that upon receiving news of his appointment, Stead observed that "poetry has been somewhere near the center of my consciousness for the past 70 years, so this affects me more than any other honor I could have." He will be formally inducted later this month.

C.K. Stead

A world-renowned author whose works also include novels, short stories and literary criticism, Stead has been honored for his poetry with numerous awards, including the Jessie Mackay award, the New Zealand Book Award for poetry, the King's Lynn Poetry prize, the Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine, and the Sarah Broom prize. His Collected Poems 1951-2006 received a Montana Prize in 2009. 

Stead's international presence as a poet, teacher, editor, literary critic and novelist is central to his nomination and appointment, according to Chris Szekely, chief librarian of the Alexander Turnbull Library: "Karl Stead has been a constant contributor to New Zealand's literary landscape across a range of disciplines for over sixty years but by his own admission, it is poetry that is central to his life as a writer. His Collected Poems contains poetry written in 1951 yet he continues to create new works of freshness and originality with poems written in 2015."


Image of the Day: #JoanOnTheTen

Getting a jump on the proposed redesign of the $10 bill to feature a woman's image, Book Soup, West Hollywood, Calif., has launched "a social media campaign--#JoanOnTheTen--in the hopes the U.S. Department of the Treasury will select Joan Didion," the Hollywood Reporter wrote.

Rob Bieselin, a graphic designer at Book Soup, initially debuted the idea on the store's sidewalk chalkboard. When "customers responded enthusiastically, Bieselin substituted a publicity photo of Didion for Hamilton, printed a 4-foot-long poster of the redesigned bill and hung it in the front window," THR noted.

Didion's novel Play It as It Lays "is a big L.A. voice and a bestseller at the store; people react to her image the same way for her literature and essays," said Bieselin. Book Soup is also giving away the Didion-adorned $10 bills with each book purchase.

Steinem Wins Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award

Steinem signing My Life on the Road (Random House) at BEA 2015.

Congratulations to iconic author and activist Gloria Steinem for being named winner of Dayton Literary Peace Prize's Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award, which "honors writers whose work uses the power of literature to foster peace, social justice and global understanding." She will receive the award November 1 in Dayton, Ohio.

"Gloria Steinem's words have changed the world, not only opening horizons for the female half of the world's population, but also opening the hearts and minds of men to the issues women have faced from the beginning of time," said Sharon Rab, founder and co-chair of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation. "Her work reflects the issues that have been the focus of winning Dayton Literary Peace Prize books over the last decade: issues of race, class, gender, and their connections to violence."

In response to news of the honor, Steinem noted that "as a little girl reading about Eleanor Roosevelt in a Toledo neighborhood library--or a grown-up recommending books like Sex and World Peace to all who will listen--I've learned that words give us our ideas of what is possible. I'm honored to be any part of a recognition that words and ideas must lead the way."

Cool Idea of the Day: Booksellers on Stage

Turnrow booksellers, ready for the show.

TurnRow Book Company, Greenwood, Miss., will be closing for a good cause over the next three nights as booksellers stage a production of David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross, with proceeds going to Greenwood Mentoring Group, a nonprofit dedicated to providing "opportunities for establishing leadership and community development for a diverse group of youth in the Mississippi Delta to serve, learn, lead and grow through mentoring."

Store proprietor and novelist Jamie Kornegay told the Clarion-Ledger that the play is a staff favorite, and often booksellers will quote favorite lines at work, like "coffee's for closers" and "always be closing." Over time, they became so familiar with the play that they decided to stage it in the bookstore, and "reached out to the community, borrowing lights for the production, casting themselves in some roles and asking customers and local actors to participate in the play."

Bill Clay, Greenwood Mentoring Group's founder, said he was "elated" to discover the production's profits were going to his organization, the Clarion-Ledger wrote.

"If we fall flat on our faces, at least (the play's patrons) can't say we ripped them off," said Kornegay, adding: "This is just straight-up entertainment. And it's just another way of contributing to the local art scene."

Book Trailer of the Day: Leo: A Ghost Story

Leo: A Ghost Story by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Christian Robinson (Chronicle Books). The video was created by Robinson, a former Pixar animator, with help from the students at San Francisco's Sherman Elementary School.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Claire McCaskill on NPR's Here & Now

Tomorrow on NPR's Here & Now: Claire McCaskill, co-author of Plenty Ladylike: A Memoir (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781476756752).

Movies: The Devil in the White City

Paramount has "closed a splashy deal" to acquire Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair that Changed America, reported, adding that the project will feature director Martin Scorsese re-teaming with Leonardo DiCaprio, who gets the "killer role" that he "has wanted to play for a long time."

Billy Ray will write the script. noted that the "trick with this property has been interlacing the two main characters, the producer/architect of the World's Fair and the man who works for him and turns out to be a mass murderer. Ray cracked that, and the town flipped for it."

This Weekend on Book TV: Dinesh D'Souza

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, August 15
2 p.m. Robert W. Doubek, author of Creating the Vietnam Veterans Memorial the Inside Story (McFarland, $35, 9780786479092), at Politics & Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C. (Re-airs Sunday at 7 p.m.)

5 p.m. David Hoffman, author of The Billion Dollar Spy: A True Story of Cold War Espionage and Betrayal (Doubleday, $28.95, 9780385537605).

7 p.m. Barton Swaim, author of The Speechwriter: A Brief Education in Politics (Simon & Schuster, $25, 9781476769929). (Re-airs Monday at 2 a.m.)

7:45 p.m. Kathleen Duval, author of Independence Lost: Lives on the Edge of the American Revolution (Random House, $28, 9781400068951), at Regulator Bookshop in Durham, N.C. (Re-airs Sunday at 9 a.m.)

8:30 p.m. Dinesh D'Souza, author of America: Imagine a World without Her (Regnery, $29.99, 9781621572039). (Re-airs Sunday at 10:30 a.m. and Monday at 1:30 a.m.)

9 p.m. Jonathan W. Jordan, author of American Warlords: How Roosevelt's High Command Led America to Victory in World War II (NAL, $28.95, 9780451414571).

10 p.m. Senator Claire McCaskill, author of Plenty Ladylike: A Memoir (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781476756752). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Anthony Pitch, author of Our Crime Was Being Jewish: Hundreds of Holocaust Survivors Tell Their Stories (Skyhorse, $27.99, 9781632206541). (Re-airs Sunday at 5 p.m.)

Sunday, August 16
1 p.m. Philip Kotler, author of Confronting Capitalism: Real Solutions for a Troubled Economic System (AMACOM, $26, 9780814436455). (Re-airs Monday at 1 a.m.)

8 p.m. Walter E. Williams, author of American Contempt for Liberty (Hoover Institution Press, $19.95, 9780817918750).

11 p.m. Christopher Dickey, author of Our Man in Charleston: Britain's Secret Agent in the Civil War South (Crown, $27, 9780307887276), at Politics & Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C.

Books & Authors

Awards: FT/OppenheimerFunds Emerging Voices

The Financial Times and OppenheimerFunds announced finalists for the new $40,000 FT/OppenheimerFunds Emerging Voices Awards competition in fiction, film and art. The winners will be honored October 5 at the New York Public Library. The 2015 fiction category finalists are:

Dust by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (Kenya, Granta Books)
Our Lady of the Nile by Scholastique Mukasonga (Rwanda, Archipelago Books)
The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria, Pushkin Press)

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, August 18:

Last Bus to Wisdom: A Novel by Ivan Doig (Riverhead, $28.95, 9781594632020) follows an 11-year-old boy in the 1950s American West.

The End of Tsarist Russia: The March to World War I and Revolution by Dominic Lieven (Viking, $35, 9780670025589) explores connections between World War I and the Bolshevik Revolution.

Sonic Wind: The Story of John Paul Stapp and How a Renegade Doctor Became the Fastest Man on Earth by Craig Ryan (Liveright, $27.95, 9780871406774) is the biography of an Air Force doctor who conducted extreme research on seatbelts and ejection seats. (August 17.)

Sea Lovers: Selected Stories by Valerie Martin (Nan A. Talese, $25.95, 9780385533522) is a collection of 12 short stories.

Everybody Rise: A Novel by Stephanie Clifford (St. Martin's Press, $26.99, 9781250077172) follows a socially ambitious 26-year-old Manhattanite in 2006.

Deceptions by Kelley Armstrong (Dutton, $26.95, 9780525953067) is book three in the supernatural Cainsville series.


Gray Mountain: A Novel by John Grisham (Dell, $9.99, 9780345543257).

It IS About Islam: Exposing the Truth About ISIS, Al Qaeda, Iran, and the Caliphate by Glenn Beck (Threshold Editions, $14.99, 9781501126123).

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

Let Me Explain You: A Novel by Annie Liontas (Scribner, $26, 9781476789088). "Let Me Explain You opens with an e-mail message written by Stavros Stavros Mavrakis, Greek immigrant and restaurateur, to his three grown daughters and his ex-wife. He is dying, with just over a week left to live, he believes, and his e-mail message outlines how he wants these women's lives to be better--if only they will follow his sage advice. From this concise and brilliant setup, the novel takes off with vivid, endearing characters and captures the tender complexity of relationships between parents, children, and siblings. With the quirkiness and humor of a light read combined with true depth of insight into relationships, this is a wonderful debut from a promising new writer." --Jamaica Ritcher, BookPeople of Moscow, Moscow, Idaho

Dancing With the Devil in the City of God: Rio de Janeiro on the Brink by Juliana Barbassa (Touchstone, $27, 9781476756257). "Rio de Janeiro is one of the world's most exotic cities and much in the news over the past few years, hosting both the World Cup in 2014 and the upcoming 2016 Olympics. Journalist and Brazilian native Barbassa presents a complex portrait of a city, country, and society attempting to present the best possible face to the world while having to confront numerous problems, particularly a level of crime that is almost beyond belief. Barbassa's description of this massive change being attempted from on high and the resulting disruption to an entrenched society is informative, instructive, and mesmerizing as she strips bare the glitter and glitz of the famous beaches and gives us a revealing portrait of the true Rio." --Bill Cusumano, Square Books, Oxford, Miss.

Hold the Dark: A Novel by William Giraldi (Liveright, $14.95, 9781631490422). "In a remote Alaskan village where wolves have been taking the local children, a mother calls for a stranger to help locate her missing son. This is the beginning of a harrowing tale of loyalty, dark secrets, and violence, set in the uttermost regions of the Alaskan frontier. Giraldi weaves a sinister story that involves family secrets, ritual, and the wildness of a remote land. Perfect for lovers of the works of Cormac McCarthy and Donald Ray Pollack." --Helen Gregory, Maria's Bookshop, Durango, Colo.

For Teen Readers
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (Bloomsbury, $18.99, 9781619634442). "After her father loses his wealth, Feyre, a young girl in her teens, must hunt to keep her impoverished family. When she kills a faerie disguised as a wolf, Tamlin, one of his fellow immortals, invades her home and demands that she pay the penalty: she must spend the rest of her life in his kingdom or face death. Resigned to imprisonment, Feyre discovers that Tamlin is no ordinary faerie, but a High Lord. In spite of herself, love for him blossoms in her young heart and she strives to help him combat ancient threats to his kingdom. A Court of Thorns and Roses is the first in a new series that promises magic, love, and adventure." --Staci Rice, Bluebird Books, Hutchinson, Kan.

For Ages 4 to 8
Miss Hazeltine's Home for Shy and Fearful Cats by Alicia Potter (Knopf, $16.99, 9780385753340). "There are lots of cats who are too scared to be proper cats--cats scared of mice, of birds, of pouncing and climbing. So, Miss Hazeltine opens her home to them and gives them lessons in how to be brave. One night, when Miss Hazeltine leaves to get milk and doesn't return, it's up to Crumb, the most shy and fearful cat of all, to lead the others on a quest to rescue their rescuer. This is a story for anyone who needs help conquering their own fears." --Melissa Oates, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, S.C.

For Ages 9 to 12
The Golden Specific by S.E. Grove (Viking, $17.99, 9780670785032). "The Glass Sentence introduced a world unhinged from time and space in 1799 by the Great Disruption which plunged different areas of the world into completely different historical periods. In The Golden Specific, 13-year-old Sophia Timms, apprentice mapmaker to her Uncle Shadrake, and her friend Theo have been searching for her explorer parents, who disappeared many years ago while on an expedition. When Sophia discovers a clue to their destination, she embarks on a journey to a dangerous part of the disrupted world and meets new characters along the way. I look forward to the next book in order to continue the journey with these characters." --Pam Stilp, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, Wis.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: A Clue to the Exit

A Clue to the Exit by Edward St. Aubyn (Picador, $16 trade paper, 9781250046031, September 1, 2015)

Edward St. Aubyn (Mother's Milk) calls A Clue to the Exit his favorite of his own novels. Originally published in 2000, it's now being reissued by Picador.

Charlie is a hack screenwriter who's just been told he has six months to live. (He takes issue with the idea that his doctor has "given" him six months, as if it were a gift he should be grateful for.) He starts driving more carefully, even as he considers suicide, experimenting with the proper response to this news. He contacts his ex-wife about seeing his daughter; he sells his house and takes half his riches to Monte Carlo to lose it as quickly as possible. And, suddenly inspired, he sets out to write a serious novel--much to his agent's exasperation.

In Monte Carlo, he meets a beautiful stranger, who he imagines might help him with his burden of mortality. Angelique is a gambling addict, and in her company Charlie feels an equal craving for his own writing. They have a deal: she gambles away his fortune, and he writes in the casino as he watches her. His novel, On the Train, tackles the big question of consciousness, or nothing less than the meaning of life, and Charlie's autobiographical protagonist is none other than Patrick Melrose, St. Aubyn's most famous character, who is joined by others that St. Aubyn's fans will recognize from previous work. The characters of the novel within the novel argue philosophy on a train stuck in Didcot, as Charlie finds himself stuck as well between games of chance and the need to map his own final months.

St. Aubyn's craft is on full display with this inward-looking work of simultaneous parody and earnestness. Nearly every line is quotable, a small but shining victory of prose. On the Train visits with Proust and Buddha, while "a clue to the exit" references Henry James on "the human maze," but alongside serious, even wearying considerations, Charlie's story is often very funny and self-referential. A third-person narrative "is so much more personal than a first-person narrative, which reveals too flagrantly the imposture of the personality it depends on," writes St. Aubyn in Charlie's voice: A Clue to the Exit is told in first-person, while On the Train is in the third. This feedback loop is a central device. "Feeling too upset to write, I made the brave decision to write about feeling too upset." A parade of absurd characters and dinner parties accompanies Charlie's, and his character Patrick's, contemplations of death. As Charlie's six months run out, St. Aubyn continues to surprise his reader in the final pages.

A refined and stylish novel of cynicism and the question of death, A Clue to the Exit is a perfect sample of St. Aubyn's craft. --Julia Jenkins, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: Edward St. Aubyn's favorite of his own novels surveys characters from his other work, in a clever, sophisticated consideration of death and consciousness.

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