Also published on this date: Wednesday, September 2, 2015: Maximum Shelf: Home Is Burning

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Chronicle Books: Stella & Marigold by Annie Barrows, Illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Poisoned Pen Press: The Boyfriend by Frieda McFadden

St. Martin's Press: Disney High: The Untold Story of the Rise and Fall of Disney Channel's Tween Empire

Running Press Adult: Scam Goddess: Lessons from a Life of Cons, Grifts, and Schemes by Laci Mosley

Graphix: 39 Clues: One False Note (39 Clues Graphic Novel #2) by Gordon Korman, Illustrated by Hannah Templer


Sept. Grand Opening for Phoenix Books in Rutland, Vt.

The new Phoenix Books in progress

Phoenix Books, which operates stores in Essex Junction and Burlington, Vt., has scheduled a September 28 grand opening for its new location in Rutland, followed two days later by an event with bestselling Vermont author Chris Bohjalian. The Rutland bookshop was made possible through a community-supported pre-buy program and local investment.

"We've been blessed with incredible community support, so we wanted to do something big to mark the opening," said co-owner Michael DeSanto. "Few Vermont authors are more successful than Chris. His appearance is kind of a 'thank you' to the community for the amazing reception we've received."

"We've created a spectacular space that will be welcoming and warm, and will fill a need not just for books, but for discussion and debate and connecting with one another," said manager Tricia Huebner, who is a co-owner with her husband, Tom. "This is a dream fulfilled for me personally, and for a lot of people in Rutland County."

Phoenix Books plans a reception for pre-buyers and other key supporters September 27, but DeSanto noted: "We are considering a soft opening, like restaurants often hold, to whet the appetite."

Rutland Mayor Chris Louras said the opening was symbolic of larger efforts to revitalize downtown, and address broader issues in the region: "Every success we have had has come through collaboration. Collaboration is bringing Phoenix to life, rejuvenating the downtown and improving quality of life in Rutland."

Peachtree: The Littlest Yak: Home Is Where the Herd Is by Lu Fraser, Illustrated by Kate Hindley

AAP Sales: Down 5.2% in April

In May, total net book sales fell 5.2%, to $1.05 billion, compared to May 2014, representing sales of 1,207 publishers and distributed clients as reported to the Association of American Publishers. For the year to date, total net sales are down 5.8%, to $4.04 billion.

Among highlights: the category with the largest sales gains was, once again, downloaded audio, up 62.4%, to $17.2 million. It was followed by higher ed course materials, up 20.9%, to $160.4 million; and religious paperbacks, up 19.9%, to $7.1 million. Adult paperbacks were the only general adult category that showed a sales gain: up 13.4%, to $112 million.

E-books had lower sales in all categories, with the biggest drops in children's/YA and religious e-books. 












Agent Buys Award-Winning U.K. Indie Dulwich Books

Susie Nicklin, executive chair and co-founder of the Marsh Agency, has purchased British indie Dulwich Books, winner of the 2014 Bookseller Industry Awards independent bookshop of the year title. The Bookseller reported that the genesis of the deal occurred last March when former owner Sheila O'Reilly announced she was "looking for a business partner to help expand the company in multiple directions," but Nicklin made an offer O'Reilly "couldn't refuse."

O'Reilly and her staff will remain with the bookstore, where she will focus on "continuing the shop's growth, building publisher relations and developing the store's event strands with the aim of becoming 'the leading programmer for literary events in South London,' " the Bookseller noted.

"I have always been fascinated by the days of the first John Murray, when Fleet Street was teeming with entrepreneurs engaged in every aspect of literary activity from bookselling to printing, publishing and distribution," Nicklin said. "We are entering a similar era now, as people with extensive experience of the book industry create companies that undertake multiple functions, from agenting, bookselling and e, p and magazine publishing, to events and festivals, classes, prizes and lively salons."

"It's exciting to be part of this neo-literary entrepreneurialism in which retail plays such a crucial role in the cross fertilization of expertise. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to work again in partnership with the authors and organizations industry-wide in developing and progressing platforms and outlets that enrich the experience of book lovers everywhere."

Event Sked Released for HarperCollins BookLab 'Pop-Up'

An event schedule has been released for the HarperCollins BookLab, a pop-up retail and event space that will be located in New York City's Seaport Culture District from September 12 through October 22. The space within Seaport Studios at 19 Fulton Street will feature a curated list of titles available for purchase, along with readings, signings, discussions, panels and talks with authors. You can find a schedule of events here.

CILIP Carnegie Medal Opens to Translations

Yesterday, as nominations opened for the 2016 Carnegie (children's literature) and Kate Greenaway (illustration) Medals, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals announced new rules that will now allow both awards to recognize works in translation. CILIP said the decision stems from its "aim to be inclusive and demonstrates its commitment to the values of diversity and cross-cultural understanding in literature for children and young people." The updated Carnegie medal criteria will see translators listed as co-authors. The Kate Greenaway medal criteria already allows translated works and works previously published as long as the illustrations are entirely new.

"As awareness of world literature in translation has risen within both the book trade and among the wider public, it feels absolutely right that, as a globally recognized award, the CILIP Carnegie Medal should reflect this," Joy Court, chair of the working party for both medals, commented. "At CILIP, we believe that this clarification of the eligibility criteria will maintain and strengthen the reputation for our two Medals as recognizing the most outstanding writing and illustration for children and young people in the world."

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
Seriously HAPPY:
10 life-changing philosophy lessons from Stoicism to Zen to supercharge your mindset
by Ben Aldridge
illus. by Michelle Brackenborough
GLOW: Holler: Seriously HAPPY: 10 Life-Changing Philosophy Lessons from Stoicism to Zen to Supercharge Your Mindset by Ben Aldridge

Mental health matters are unpacked through philosophy and quirky challenges in Ben Aldridge's uplifting first YA title, Seriously HAPPY, which mixes personal stories and synopses of teachings from OG philosophers. Alongside Aristotle and Socrates, Aldridge includes insights from lesser-known great minds like Bao Gu, a female Chinese Taoist physician, and Nigerian philosopher Orunmila, to show readers how to be confident, decisive, and resilient. Aldridge personally "employed Stoicism and other philosophies as key strategies in overcoming severe and debilitating anxiety and panic attacks as a young man," says Holler publisher Debbie Foy, adding that Aldridge's conversational tone makes the subject matter accessible and inviting to a young adult audience. "He is clear that everyone deserves happiness in their lives but what constitutes 'happiness' is different for all of us." --Rachel Werner

(Holler, $12.99 Hardcover, ages 12-up, 9780711297807, 
September 3, 2024)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported


Image of the Day: Thanking the Booksellers

photo: Laura Stanfill

Ellen Urbani, during her launch event for Landfall (Forest Avenue Press) at Powell's in Portland, Ore., invited authors who have had their books on the store's shelves to stand up and join her in thanking the booksellers for their support of local talent. The group of 18 included, from left, Monica Drake, Ellen Urbani, Rene Denfeld, Joe Kurmaskie, Cheryl Strayed, Elissa Wald, Valerie Geary and Katie Schneider. 

'Four Reasons Why Independent Bookstores Are Thriving'

Citing Brooklyn's BookCourt as "one of thousands" of indies in the U.S. that are doing well "long after analysts predicted their demise," the Week considered "four reasons why independent bookstores are thriving":

  1. They offer an experience.
  2. They curate and recommend in a human way.
  3. They're diversifying their offerings.
  4. They foster community.

"We're doing very well," said BookCourt bookseller Andrew Unger. "We don't like people coming in and saying 'Oh you guys are suffering so much,' because we're not."

"I definitely wanted to create an experience," noted Josh Spencer, owner of the Last Bookstore in Los Angeles. "I thought, people aren't gonna come just to buy books, because they can buy them on Amazon."

Katie Orphan, a manager at the Last Bookstore, added: "We've had a really wonderful advantage in that our store is not just a place to pick up whatever book you need but it's also a place that people go for the experience of having come here. You get a unique experience with a bookstore you can't get online. That has been a really valuable part of the store for us."

"Every store has its own reason why it survives," Unger observed. "Every store has a different way of going about it. One thing we're just really grateful for is there's a community here that wants us to be here and so they make sure we're able to be here."

HBG to Handle All Hachette U.K. Distribution in U.S.

Effective in January, Hachette Book Group will handle all sales and distribution for Hachette U.K. in the U.S.

Hachette Book Group has long provided sales and distribution services in North America for some of Hachette U.K., including Octopus Books and Quercus Books. During the past year, Hachette U.K. has been consolidating its remaining U.S. distribution. As a result, in January Hachette U.K. is ending its relationships with Trafalgar Square Publishing as well as Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which has distributed the Chambers line of reference material. And this past January, Hachette Book Group began selling and distributing the Asterix line in the U.S.

Ben Wright, international sales director of Hachette U.K., commented: "The move to working with HBG for all U.K. books distributed in North America is the latest step in the consolidating all our worldwide English-language sales arrangement within the Group: we've been delighted by the development of the Canadian business under HBG and look forward to seeing that progress continue. Trafalgar Square Publishing have been our partners for many years and our thanks go to them for all they have done for us."

Todd McGarity, v-p of Hachette Client Services, added, "With HBG already selling and distributing most of HUK's titles into Canada, it's logical that we expand the relationship into the United States. We're looking forward to helping bring HUK's excellent catalogue of titles to U.S. readers."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Steve Silberman on Fresh Air

Today on Fresh Air: Steve Silberman, author of NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity (Avery, $29.95, 9781583334676).


Tomorrow on a repeat of the Meredith Vieira Show: Melissa Rivers, author of The Book of Joan: Tales of Mirth, Mischief, and Manipulation (Crown Archetype, $26, 9781101903827).

TV: Wizard of Lies

Wizard of Lies, HBO Films' "long-gestating" project based on the book The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust by Diana Henriques (with Laurie Sandell's Truth and Consequences: Life Inside the Madoff Family providing additional source material), "is going ahead with a lead cast and a director," reported.

Starring Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Alessandro Nivola, and directed by Barry Levinson, the TV movie "had been in the works at HBO since 2011, when the network optioned Henriques' book, attached De Niro to play Madoff and hired John Burnham Schwartz to write the script," noted. "Two years later, HBO brought in a new writer, Sam Baum, and acquired Sandell's book. There has been a third writer taking a stab at the script since, with Sam Levinson credited as a writer on the movie alongside Baum and Schwartz."

Movies: The Danish Girl; Go with Me

Watch Academy Award winner Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) and Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina) in the official trailer for Focus Features' The Danish Girl, directed by Tom Hooper (The King's Speech, Les Misérables) and based on the book by David Ebershoff. The film opens in New York and Los Angeles November 27 before expanding to additional cities in December.


"Channeling a vibe that feels at home with something like Winter's Bone," a new clip from Go with Me "paints a bleak picture of blue collar life in a small town where a local strongman holds sway over the community," reported. Adapted from the 2008 novel by Castle Freeman, Jr., the film's cast includes Anthony Hopkins, Julia Stiles, Alexander Ludwig, Steve Bacic, Lochlyn Munro, Ray Liotta and Hal Holbrook. Daniel Alfredson directs.

Books & Authors

Awards: Ruth Lilly/Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowships

The Poetry Foundation and Poetry magazine have awarded $129,000 in prizes to five young poets through the Ruth Lilly & Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowships, which are "intended to encourage the further study and writing of poetry" and are open to all U.S. poets between the ages of 21 and 31. Nate Marshall, Erika L. Sánchez, Danniel Schoonebeek, Safiya Sinclair and Jamila Woods will each receive $25,800.

Don Share, editor of Poetry magazine, said the winners "are accomplished in the most capacious and meaningful sense of the word. They are not only gifted writers but also keen educators, activists, leaders in their communities. Each of these distinctive and skillful people, both at and away from the writing desk, is devoted to illuminating us in significant and inspiring ways." 

Book Brahmin: Nancy Marie Brown

photo: Jennifer Anne Tucker and Gerald Lang

Nancy Marie Brown writes about Iceland and Vikings, science and sagas. She is the author of six nonfiction books, including Song of the Vikings: Snorri and the Making of Norse Myths, as well as one YA novel. Her latest book is Ivory Vikings: The Mystery of the Most Famous Chessmen in the World and the Woman Who Made Them (St. Martin's Press, September 1, 2015). Brown lives in Vermont with her husband, the writer Charles Fergus, four Icelandic horses and one Icelandic sheepdog.

On your nightstand now:

I don't have a nightstand. I have a pile of books on the floor by the bed. Sometimes a tower of books that periodically tumbles and is banished to the living room, where only unread books and books I cannot yet bear to shelve are allowed; every other room in the house has a wall of bookcases. In the stack are H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald and a book it led me to, The Wild Places by Robert MacFarlane; The Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan; Women in Old Norse Literature by Jóhanna Katrín Fridriksdóttir; and two books by modern Icelandic writers, Skáld by Einar Kárason, in Icelandic, and Boy on the Edge, a young adult novel in English by Fridrik Erlings. At the base of the stack is Amy Sackville's magical Orkney, which I read a few months ago and want to read again.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. I'm told my babysitter read it to me when I was four; I read it myself (for the first of countless times) by the time I was 12; I read it to my son when he was in the womb (and numerous times thereafter). It explains a lot about me--particularly my fascination with all things Icelandic, since Tolkien was greatly influenced by Icelandic literature and myth.

Your top five authors:

J.R.R. Tolkien, T.H. White, Halldór Laxness, Snorri Sturluson and Anonymous. Lots of Anonymous, since the authors of most medieval books are unknown.

Book you've faked reading:

The Bible. Given my love of myth and my interest in ancient religions, you'd think I'd have read it through by now. But I've only dipped into it, mostly when I was young. My parents decided it was appropriate for me to be reading the Bible at church on Sundays, rather than squirming during the sermon.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Icelandic sagas, which, I know, are a genre not a single book, but the one I'm pushing at any given moment changes. Right now, I'd say you absolutely have to read Egil's Saga (which may have been written by Snorri Sturluson, if not by Anonymous). It's the story of an ugly and brutal Viking who is, nonetheless, a sensitive poet and a loving father. Written in the 13th century, it can lay claim to being the first "novel," as well as being the first (and one of the best) of the Icelandic "family sagas."

Book you've bought for the cover:

H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald. Actually, I bought it because it's partly about T.H. White, who was the ostensible subject of my master's thesis on "The Trickster Merlin," though my adviser convinced me to quit writing at about 150 pages, before I actually reached what I wanted to say about White's The Once and Future King. The cover of H Is for Hawk is so magnificent, though, that I've delayed shelving the book for months now after I've read it.

Book that changed your life:

Snorri Sturluson's book about Norse mythology, The Prose Edda. It was just another college reading assignment until I came to the list of dwarf names and found Bifur, Bafur, Bombor, Nori, Ori, Oin--and Gandalf! What was Tolkien's wizard doing in medieval Iceland? I read a biography of Tolkien, where I learned about the club he created at Oxford University to translate Icelandic sagas. I met a professor who had a bookcase full of sagas that he lent me, one after the next. When I ran out of translations, I found another professor to teach me Old Norse. Then I went to Iceland and, like many other writers before me, captivated by the literature and the landscape and the horses--oh, the horses!--I never fully left.

Favorite line from a book:

"I will take the Ring, though I do not know the way." That line from Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring has always meant to me, "I will take the adventure, though I do not know how it will turn out." And it chimes with the beginning of a poem by Robert Penn Warren, "How to Tell a Love Story," that has been posted above my writing desk for the last 30-odd years: "There is a story that I must tell, but/ The feeling in my chest is too tight, and innocence/ Crawls through the tangles of fear...."

Which character you most relate to:

Gudrid the Far-Traveler, a Viking woman about whom I've written two books, one fiction and one nonfiction. A thousand years ago, she set off in an open boat to explore the fabulous lands west of Greenland. She stayed in the New World for three years, had a child here, and then sailed east to Norway, before settling in Iceland. Then, as a grandmother, she took a pilgrimage to Rome. Altogether, she crossed the icy North Atlantic eight times and saw more of the world than most men of her day.

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

Tolkien's The Hobbit. I know so much now about his sources of inspiration that I can no longer read his words. They quiver and flash at me, as if each one were a hypertext link that I can't resist clicking on. It rather takes the magic away. And I think magic is always what we're seeking when we read: magic that transports and transforms us.

Book Review

YA Review: These Shallow Graves

These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly (Delacorte, $19.99 hardcover, 496p., ages 13-up, 9780385737654, October 27, 2015)

Acting like a proper lady is the least of 17-year-old Josephine Montfort's concerns in These Shallow Graves, a riveting historical mystery-thriller from Jennifer Donnelly (A Northern Light; Revolution).

In 1890s New York City, being a lady is difficult work. One must know proper etiquette and the rules for society. A lady must be especially aware of all the things she's not to do. But Jo Montfort is "suffocating among the potted palms and porcelain" of Gramercy Square. Her lack of freedom makes her dream of becoming a reporter like Nellie Bly seem impossible. Coming to terms with her inevitable arranged marriage seems to be the biggest challenge Jo will ever face... until her father's untimely death. According to the official police reports, Charles Montfort, "rich, well-connected, a pillar of society," accidentally shot himself while cleaning his revolver. Jo knows her father, though. He would never show such carelessness with guns. Certain that there's more to the story, Jo puts her investigative instincts to the test and enlists Eddie Gallagher, a handsome, ambitious, "rumpled and brash" young reporter from the Standard, her father's newspaper, to help. Jo and Eddie's stealthy sleuthwork takes them from the cavernous morgue of Bellevue Hospital to the dangerous docks by South Street to a drunk man on Mulberry Street who mutters, "Shallow graves always give up their dead." As they venture closer to the truth, darkness looms larger and those in the shadows will do whatever it takes to keep their secrets buried.

Donnelly makes 19th-century New York come alive as she explores the criminal underworld, high society and the ugly truths that bind them. Various facets of society are mirrored in memorable side characters: a snooty Grandmama, a meddling butler, a menacing crime lord known as the Tailor ("New York's very own Fagin") and a lovable pickpocket named Fay. Their types may be familiar, but the characters feel fresh and serve real purpose in the taut, intricately crafted narrative. Jo is an admirable heroine, fighting for a voice in a world where "The moment a girl learned how to talk, she was told not to."

These Shallow Graves succeeds as a wonderfully paced thriller, a heart-pounding romance and an unflinching look at the hard choices one young woman must make when society disparages her dreams. --Kyla Paterno, reviewer

Shelf Talker: In Jennifer Donnelly's gripping YA novel, a distraught daughter investigates her high-society father's allegedly accidental death in 1890s New York.

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