Shelf Awareness for Thursday, September 10, 2015

Shadow Mountain: In Times of Rain and War by Camron Wright

St. Martin's Press: Into the Forest: A Holocaust Story of Survival, Triumph, and Love by Rebecca Frankel

Harper: A Line to Kill (A Hawthorne and Horowitz Mystery) by Anthony Horowitz

Chronicle Books: You Will Leave a Trail of Stars: Words of Inspiration for Blazing Your Own Path by Lisa Congdon

Simon & Schuster Children's Fall Preview: Pre-register now! Space is limited!

Shadow Mountain: Strong Like the Sea by Wendy S Swore

Magination Press: Jacob's School Play: Starring He, She, and They by Ian Hoffman and Sarah Hoffman, illustrated by Chris Case


Perseus Books Group Up for Sale

Perseus Books Group has begun "a formal process to explore a potential sale of the business."

Perseus Books CEO David Steinberger said that this year the company has received "multiple inquiries" from inside and outside the industry about buying the company. "The Perseus Books board has determined that it is our fiduciary responsibility to explore a potential sale transaction."

Toward that end, Perseus has hired Greenhill & Co. to help in the possible sale. Greenhill managing director and head of media Gregory Miller commented: "Perseus Books is a digitally innovative company, with a proven business model and a demonstrated record of successfully growing sales and profits."

Quinn Morgan, co-founder and managing director of Centre Lane Partners, which has a controlling interest in the investment funds of private equity firm Perseus LLC, including the funds that own Perseus Books, said, "The Perseus Books track record speaks for itself. Perseus Books just completed the most successful three-year period in its history, and the momentum continues to build for the company."

Only last year, Perseus came close to being bought by Hachette Book Group, which would have retained its publishing operations and sold its distribution business to Ingram Content Group. But the three-way deal collapsed in August. At the time, Perseus was estimated to have about $400 million in sales. The failed deal was somewhat different from the current situation: last year, Perseus was approached and had no adviser like Greenhill & Co., and no one else was encouraged to make offers for the company.

In February, when Centre Lane Partners took its controlling interest in Perseus LLC, Quinn Morgan said that the company works "closely with management teams to help great companies grow. Our capital and skills will enable the Perseus Books team to continue to build on its record of growth and accomplishment."

Perseus Books Group was founded in 1996 by Frank Pearl, and Perseus LLC and has grown steadily through a combination of acquisitions and internal growth. Frank Pearl died in 2012.

Wiley: A Letter to My White Friends and Colleagues: What You Can Do Right Now to Help the Black Community (1ST ed.) by Steven Rogers

B&N Stock Plummets on Earnings Report

Shares of Barnes & Noble fell 27.6%, to $11.80, yesterday in response to the company's first quarter sales and earnings. (Consolidated revenue fell 1.5%, to $1.2 billion, and the net loss rose to $34.9 million. Analysts had expected a slight gain in revenue and a net profit.).

B&N had the largest percentage decline of any company on Wall Street, and it hit a 52-week low. Nearly 9.5 million shares traded hands, about six times the usual daily volume.

Besides being surprised by the down numbers, analysts noted that this was the fifth quarter in a row that B&N had reported a decline in sales, and Nook sales suffered another dramatic drop, down 22.4%.

Speaking with the New York Times, James McQuivey of Forrester Research said, "The Nook was the big attempt to say, 'We can go beyond the physical retail boundaries of this business.' It didn't work."

The thud in B&N stock came on new CEO Ronald Boire's second day on the job. Former president and CEO of Sears Canada, he said yesterday that the company aims to "increase foot traffic to stores with special events and to increase sales by integrating its stores, website and Nook device content to give the company a 'strong, omni-channel presence,' " the New York Times wrote.

Boire told the Wall Street Journal that B&N is considering a new store prototype, saying, "The industry is evolving, and we think there are opportunities ahead with a different format. I've sat in on a couple of meetings about this and we'll have more to discuss later."

Platform Books, LLC: An Especially Good View: Watching History Happen by Peter L W Osnos

With John Duff Retirement, Tarcher and Perigee Combining

John Duff, publisher of Perigee for 23 years, is retiring at the end of the month. Madeline McIntosh, president of Penguin Publishing Group, called him "irreplaceable," but noted that Duff "has brought his characteristic careful attention to helping plan a smooth transition for his team, and for their books and authors."

As a result of Duff's retirement, Joel Fotinos, v-p, publisher, Tarcher Books, will become v-p, publisher, of a newly combined Tarcher Perigee imprint. McIntosh said that the two lists "have always been complementary, each bringing a slightly different approach to many shared categories of focus: creativity, wellness, self-improvement, parenting, and spirituality. This alignment extends and expands their longstanding operational unity:  as individual imprints, they already have been supported by many of the same teams, including marketing, publicity, and managing editorial."

Before joining Tarcher in 1996, Fotinos held worked at several bookstores, most notably as the religion and philosophy buyer at the Tattered Cover in Denver, Colo. "He has successfully developed a list known not just for its core strengths in religion and spirituality, but also across a broad spectrum of topics grounded in self-empowerment, wellness, creativity, and parenting," McIntosh said.

The senior editorial staff reporting directly to Fotinos are Mitch Horowitz, v-p, director of backlist and reissues, and editorial directors Sara Carder and Marian Lizzi. Brianna Yamashita, executive director, marketing and publicity, for Tarcher and Perigee, continues to report to Fotinos. All other members of Tarcher and Perigee are continuing with the new combined entity.

John Duff began his career in Canada as a librarian and a bookseller, then came to the U.S. to become director, special interest publishing, at Doubleday. Since 1992, at Perigee, his mission, McIntosh said, "has centered on books that are either completely useful-- targeted, prescriptive non-fiction--or delightfully "useless"--rewarding readers' needs for the fun, the curious, the playfully esoteric. This approach has given Perigee the flexibility to bring to market a range of national bestsellers as diverse as The Book of Useless Information, Keri Smith's Wreck This Journal, Joanna Lund's Healthy Exchanges, Daniel Solin's The Smartest Investment Book You'll Ever Read, and Goldie Hawn's 10 Mindful Minutes."

She noted that he has "no shortage of interests to enjoy post-Perigee, such as traveling, gardening, volunteering, and of course, reading. But among us, he will be missed not only for his accomplishments on behalf of the business, but also as a warm and generous mentor to so many. I know you will join me in thanking him for everything he has done for our books, our authors, and for Penguin."

KidsBuzz for the Week of 04.12.21

BookPeople of Moscow Launches Indiegogo Campaigns

BookPeople of Moscow in Moscow, Idaho, has launched an Indiegogo campaign to help finance new chairs and a new sound system for the store--the first of several planned Indiegogo campaigns. Rather than ask for one large sum of money to fulfill many goals, store owner Carol Spurling and her staff have decided to run several smaller campaigns for specific projects. In this case, BookPeople of Moscow looks to raise $4,800 toward that goal before the campaign closes in 60 days. According to the Indiegogo page, Spurling has wanted to replace the store's bulky, heavy and hard-to-move chairs for some time, but the store's budget wouldn't allow for it. In the past few years, Bookpeople of Moscow has hosted more and more author events, but at times it can be hard to hear what's going on, even with a microphone and amplifier. The new chairs will be comfortable, lightweight and easy to set up and store, while the new sound system would ensure that anyone attending an author event can hear everything that goes on. Reward tiers for the campaign include a backer's name on one of the new chairs, a BookPeople of Moscow mug or T-shirt and a year-long 20% discount, among others.

Among the other planned campaigns is one for a learning wall--manipulable wall toys to help keep children engaged and prevent book damage--for the children's section and another for a fireplace in the store's back room, so that staff members "don't freeze in the winter."

GLOW: Simon & Schuster: Smile: The Story of a Face by Sarah Ruhl

Amazon: $50 Tablet Coming; Fire Phone Gone

Noting that Amazon "has struggled to draw customers to its pricier tablets," the Wall Street Journal reported that the online retailer is "going further down-market" with plans to release a $50 tablet with a 6-inch screen. Citing "people familiar with the matter," the Journal noted that the device would debut in time for this year's holiday season, making it "one of the least-expensive tablets on the market and half the price of the company's current Fire HD 6-inch tablet."

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos "had set an internal goal of the $50 price tag for versions of both the Fire tablet and Kindle e-reader, viewing the rock-bottom prices as a crucial lure for a more cost-conscious group of buyers," the Journal wrote. The new device will be "part of a slate Amazon is planning to release this year that will also include tablets with 8-inch and 10-inch screens."  

"Will people tolerate a potentially inferior experience just because a tablet is $50?" asked Frank Gillett, a Forrester Research analyst. "Amazon has to be very careful about what they're giving up to get to that low price point."


In other Amazon tech news, the company appears to have finally sold out of its Fire Phone, which was introduced last year with great hoopla. GeekWire noted that the phone's product page now lists the device as "currently unavailable," with a note in the buy box that advises: "We don't know when or if this item will be back in stock." An Amazon spokeswoman "confirmed that the company sold out of its inventory of Fire Phones in the U.S. and globally at the end of August."

Custom House: Appleseed by Matt Bell

Memorial Service Set for Marjorie Braman

A memorial service for Marjorie Braman, who had a 26-year career in publishing and died July 2 of complications from breast cancer, will be held on Thursday, October 1, at 5:30 p.m. at the Center for Fiction, 17 E. 47th St., New York, N.Y. 10017.

Spiegel & Grau: Fox and I: An Uncommon Friendship by Catherine Raven

Obituary Note: Barbara Carle

Barbara Carle, who co-founded the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Mass., with her husband, the renowned illustrator and author, died Monday, reported. She was 76. In a post on the museum's website, executive director Alexandra Kennedy wrote that "for 13 years, she inspired us with her vision, her warmth and grace, her intelligence, her wit and her lifelong commitment to children and the arts. She was always a passionate supporter of The Carle, and a tremendous champion of our work and our staff."

Christopher B. Milne, the museum's board chair, called Carle a "warm-hearted woman of tremendous grace and generosity. Throughout her life, art and books and the welfare of children were her sustaining passions. She believed that picture books could enrich children's lives, that they could transform us. She and Eric were determined to create a museum where generations of families could gather together and feel nurtured. From day one, Bobbie was a force behind The Carle."


Image of the Day: Celebrating Secondhand Firsthand

Fans had fun with Christopher Moore Tuesday night at Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville, Ill. Moore's new book, Secondhand Souls (Morrow), is a sequel to A Dirty Job.

Points of Light Shines on Farmer Will Allen

The Points of Light Foundation, founded by President George H.W. Bush, has selected Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table as the book to break the Guinness world record for the number of children being read to in a 24-hour period as part of the "Read Across the Globe" initiative. Volunteers all over the world will read Farmer Will Allen on October 19-20. The goal is to reach more than 300,000 children during this time. "Even astronaut Scott Kelly plans to read the book aloud from outer space, although he won't be counted in the tally since he won't be in a classroom," the Foundation said. More details and info on signing up at CultureMap Houston

Cool Idea of the Day: Book House's Comedy Festival

The Book House, Maplewood, Mo., began a week-long comedy festival yesterday. Called Wednesday to Wednesday Comedy Festival, it mixes some of the store's regularly scheduled events with new and unusual ones. Last night, the festival kicked off with the weekly two-hour improv show, Wednesday Night Improv Lab. Tonight's programming includes the first meeting of a new monthly poetry club at 6 p.m. and the start of the 24-Hour Theater Project, where participants have a day to write, block and memorize a 10-15 minute play based on an assigned theme. The plays will be performed Friday night at 6 p.m., followed by staged readings of the comedies Pitch and Unconventional by the St. Louis Comedy Connection at 8 p.m.

Saturday features a BYOB Drunk Lit party at 8 p.m. This adults-only event encourages intoxicated readings of work by famously inebriated authors (some drinks will be supplied while supplies last). Patrons not nursing a hangover the next day can attend an improv workshop, starting Sunday at noon, run by Ben Noble, author of Improv ABC: The A-Z Guide to Becoming An Unstoppable Improviser, who will sign books at 2 p.m. Adventure Club Improv for Kids, an acting class for ages 6-12, starts at 3 p.m. Sunday ends old school with the Super 8 Comedy Show from 7 to 10 p.m. Classic comedy, including Abbott and Costello, the Marx Brothers, Little Rascals, Mel Brooks and Monty Python, will be projected on Super-8 film.

On Monday, September 14, local filmmakers will screen short comedy films at 7 p.m. The Improv Comedy Cabaret improvises songs on Tuesday at 7 p.m., followed by performances from local sketch comedy troupe STL SketchPAD at 8 p.m. The Comedy Festival winds down on Wednesday, September 16, with another Wednesday Night Improv Lab at 7 p.m. and a No Confetti Improv & Stand-Up show at 9 p.m. See the full schedule here.

Personnel Changes at Knopf and Pantheon, Hachette Group

At Knopf and Pantheon:

Josie Kals has been named associate director of publicity. She joined Knopf and Pantheon in 2009.

Maggie Southard has been named associate publicist. Last year, she joined Knopf and Pantheon from ICM.

Jordan Rodman is being promoted to associate publicist. She joined Knopf and Pantheon in 2013.

Katie Schoder is being promoted to associate publicist. She joined Knopf and Pantheon in 2013.


Effective September 21, Sarah Clayton is joining the Hachette Group international sales team as international sales manager, Middle East and North Africa. For the last three years, she has been in Dubai as the senior buyer for Virgin Megastore Middle East. Before that, she was a Waterstones head office buyer.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Daniel J. Levitin on Diane Rehm

Today on Diane Rehm: Daniel J. Levitin, author of The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload (Plume, $17, 9780147516312).


Tomorrow on Access Hollywood: Beverly Johnson, co-author of The Face That Changed It All: A Memoir (Atria, $28, 9781476774411).


Tomorrow night on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Stephen King, author, most recently, of Finders Keepers: A Novel (Scribner, $30, 9781501100079).


Tomorrow night on Jimmy Kimmel Live: Mindy Kaling, author of Why Not Me? (Crown Archetype, $25, 9780804138147).

This Weekend on Book TV: Senator Amy Klobuchar

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, September 12
4:30 p.m. Edward Larson, author of The Return of George Washington: Uniting the States, 1783-1789 (Morrow, $16.99, 9780062248688), at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.

5:15 p.m. Linda Hirshman, author of Sisters in Law: How Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World (Harper, $28.99, 9780062238467), at Politics & Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C. (Re-airs Sunday at 11 p.m.)

6:15 p.m. Stephen Harding, author of Last to Die: A Defeated Empire, a Forgotten Mission, and the Last American Killed in World War II (Da Capo, $26.99, 9780306823381), at Busboys and Poets in Washington, D.C. (Re-airs Monday at 6:20 a.m.)

7:30 p.m. Charlotte Jacobs, author of Jonas Salk: A Life (Oxford University Press, $34.95, 9780199334414). (Re-airs Sunday at 10:45 a.m.)

8:45 p.m. Jack Cashill, author of Scarlet Letters: The Ever-Increasing Intolerance of the Cult of Liberalism (WND Books, $26.95, 9781935071921). (Re-airs Monday at 4 a.m.)

10 p.m. Senator Amy Klobuchar, author of The Senator Next Door: A Memoir from the Heartland (Holt, $30, 9781627794176). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Tim Weiner, author of One Man Against the World: The Tragedy of Richard Nixon (Holt, $30, 9781627790833), at Politics & Prose. (Re-airs Sunday at 3:15 p.m.)

Sunday, September 13
7:30 a.m. Juliana Barbassa, author of Dancing with the Devil in the City of God: Rio de Janeiro on the Brink (Touchstone, $27, 9781476756257). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

1:30 p.m. Elizabeth Fenn, author of Encounters at the Heart of the World: A History of the Mandan People (Hill and Wang, $18, 9780374535117), at the National Book Festival.

6:45 p.m. Chris Papst, author of Capital Murder (Sunbury Press, $29.95, 9781620065914).

7:45 p.m. John Markoff, author of Machines of Loving Grace: The Quest for Common Ground Between Humans and Robots (Ecco, $26.99, 9780062266682).

Books & Authors

Awards: Dayton Literary Peace Prize Finalists

Finalists were named for the $10,000 Dayton Literary Peace Prize, which recognizes fiction and nonfiction that "celebrates the power of literature to promote peace, social justice, and global understanding." A winner and runner-up in each category will be announced September 30, and honored November 1 at a ceremony in Dayton. The shortlisted titles are:  

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (Scribner)
An Untamed State by Roxane Gay (Grove Atlantic)
Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique (Riverhead)
The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez (Knopf)
The Care and Management of Lies by Jacqueline Winspear (HarperCollins)
The Great Glass Sea by Josh Weil (Grove Atlantic)

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (Spiegel & Grau)
No Man's Land by Elizabeth D. Samet (FSG)
The Other Side by Lacy Johnson (Tin House Books)
The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs (Scribner)
There Was and There Was Not by Meline Toumani (Metropolitan Books)
Who We Be by Jeff Chang (St. Martin's)

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, September 15:

So You Don't Get Lost in the Neighborhood by Patrick Modiano, translated by Euan Cameron (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $24, 9780544635067) is a suspense novel from the winner of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature.

The Court and the World: American Law and the New Global Realities by Stephen Breyer (Knopf, $27.95, 9781101946190) is a Supreme Court justice's analysis of how the Court's rulings influence and are influenced by international law.

The Zig Zag Girl by Elly Griffiths (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25, 9780544527942) begins a new mystery series starring a group of magicians who served in World War II together.

One Year After: A Novel by William R. Forstchen (Forge Books, $25.99, 9780765376701) is a sequel to One Second After, in which an EMP exploded over the U.S.

Loosed Upon the World: The Saga Anthology of Climate Fiction, edited by John Joseph Adams (Saga Press, $16.99, 9781481450300) is a collection of short stories about the impact of climate change.

Fast Girl: A Life Spent Running from Madness by Suzy Favor Hamilton (Dey Street, $26.99, 9780062346223) reveals an Olympic runner's struggle with biopolar disorder. (September 14)

Never Broken: Songs Are Only Half the Story by Jewel (Blue Rider, $27.50, 9780399174339) is the memoir of a singer-songwriter.

How's Your Faith?: An Unlikely Spiritual Journey by David Gregory (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781451651607) is a former journalist's exploration of his religious beliefs.

Yes, My Accent Is Real: And Some Other Things I Haven't Told You by Kunal Nayyar (Atria, $26, 9781476761824) are autobiographical essays from a star of The Big Bang Theory.

House of Thieves by Charles Belfoure (Sourcebooks, $25.99, 978192617891), set in New York City in the 1880s, features a society architect forced to join a criminal gang and plan robberies of the buildings he's designed to pay off his son's gambling debts.

The Mystery of the Lost Cezanne: A Verlaque and Bonnet Mystery by M.L. Longworth (Penguin Books, $15, 9780143128076).

Born to Be Awkward: Celebrating Those Imperfect Moments of Babyhood by Mike Bender and Doug Chernack (Three Rivers Press, $15, 9780804140737).

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (Simon & Schuster, $20, 9781501127625), a reissue to coincide with the forthcoming movie release on October 9.

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, the second film based on James Dashner's YA series, opens September 18. A movie tie-in edition (Delacorte, $18.99, 9780553538229) is available.

Black Mass, based on the book by Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill, opens September 18. Johnny Depp stars as infamous Boston kingpin and FBI informant Whitey Bulger. A movie tie-in (PublicAffairs, $15.99, 9781610395533) is available.

Captive, based on the book by Ashley Smith and Stacy Mattingly, opens September 18. Kate Mara stars in this true story of an Atlanta woman who convinced her captor (David Oyelowo) to surrender peacefully. A tie-in (Morrow, $14.99, 9780062439208) is available.

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:

Barbara the Slut and Other People by Lauren Holmes (Riverhead, $27.95, 9781594633782). "Holmes' stories are powerful, sweet, tenderhearted, and honest depictions of contemporary experience. She navigates the thresholds of relationships, sex, and life-changing choices with poignancy and authenticity, bringing lovably imperfect characters to life through their struggles to negotiate the demands of culture as they strive to balance personal decisions and desires. A bold and beautiful debut." --Sarah Nemire, Bookbug, Kalamazoo, Mich.

Avenue of Spies: A True Story of Terror, Espionage, and One American Family's Heroic Resistance in Nazi-Occupied Paris by Alex Kershaw (Crown, $28, 9780804140034). "Dr. Summer Jackson was the chief surgeon at the American Hospital in Paris during the Nazi occupation. After observing the ever-escalating levels of Nazi brutality, Dr. Jackson, at great danger to himself and his family, became directly involved in an underground network that smuggled imperiled people to safety in Spain and Great Britain. A gripping true story of courage, this is a moving testimony to the power of the human spirit." --Alden Graves, Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, Vt.

Multiply/Divide: On the American Real and Surreal by Wendy S. Walters (Sarabande Books, $15.95, 9781941411049). "In Multiply/Divide, Walters sifts through the weird, quietly horrifying wreckage that structural racism has left behind in everyday American life and presents something like a mythology, but stranger because, of course, it is real, and we have never known life without it. Her prose is as clear as day, her stories are candid, and only a poet could have written a book of essays like this. City by city, over radio waves and under the street, Walters beautifully maps for us what should have been obvious: that nearly all of our heartbreak--and even our joy--is rooted in this mythology." --Daniel Poppick, BookCourt, Brooklyn, N.Y.

For Ages 4 to 8
8: An Animal Alphabet by Elisha Cooper (Orchard Books, $17.99, 9780545470834). "Cooper's latest book is stunning both in its simplicity and its complexity. With a page of animals for each letter of the alphabet, Cooper asks the reader to identify which creature is drawn eight times. An index in the back offers more information on each animal. This gorgeous book is perfect for art and animal lovers of all ages!" --Suzanna Hermans, Oblong Books & Music, Rhinebeck, N.Y.

For Ages 9 to 12
I'm With Cupid by Anna Staniszewski (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, $7.99, 9781492615460). "Lena is a reaper. When people are about to die, she touches them and sends them on their way. Marcus is a cupid. When he touches people, they fall in love. Lena and Marcus are both at the same eighth grade party when Connie pushes them into a closet and dares them to kiss. But this is no ordinary first kiss--it's electric, and now Lena is a cupid and Marcus is a reaper. What follows is chaos at its funniest. This is the start of a new series that promises to be great fun!" --Janice Hunsche, Kaleidosaurus Books, Metamora, Ind.

For Teen Readers
Undertow by Michael Buckley (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt‎, $18.99, 9780544348257). "Undertow is an exciting new sci-fi teen thriller. Lyric lives in a state of fear--fear that her family's secret will be revealed, fear for the safety of her best friend, and fear of the feelings she is developing for the Prince of the Alpha, the beings that walked out of the ocean three years ago. Soon, Lyric discovers that there is more at stake than her own personal safety and that of those on Coney Island. How far will she go to save those she loves and the world itself?" --Lisa Nehs, Books & Company, Oconomowoc, Wis.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Furiously Happy

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson (Flatiron Books, $26.99 hardcover, 9781250077004, September 22, 2015)

Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess, follows up her popular memoir, Let's Pretend This Never Happened, with Furiously Happy, another book of essays about incidents that sound too wacky to be true but which longtime fans of her writing will recognize as everyday occurrences in her life.

This time around, Lawson also delves into the serious topic of mental illness, which she struggles with, having suffered depression, panic attacks, anxiety disorders and a "terrible boxed set" of other disorders and phobias. For those who don't understand, Lawson explains succinctly: "Depression is like... when you don't want cheese anymore. Even though it's cheese." Several years ago, when she'd had enough of the disease, she embarked on a mission to be furiously happy and started a trending hashtag and movement of people who wanted to take their lives back from depression.

Despite the serious subject matter, Lawson's sense of humor remains intact. Readers will likely shake with laughter at her escapades, such as encountering inept ninjas trying to break into her hotel room in Japan, receiving the skins of three dead cats in the mail, running away from killer swans, and her cats stealing her voodoo vagina.

But the stories are most effective when Lawson reveals her most vulnerable self, the one full of fear and feeling that her brain is trying to kill her. In "It Might Be Easier. But It Wouldn't Be Better," she notes that openly discussing her intense suffering has encouraged others to say, "Me too," and that public response inspired 24 people to stop planning their own suicides when they read the comments on her blog posts. Lawson keeps their letters to her in a folder, and while on tour for her last book, many fans approached her to say they're number 25.

In the piece entitled "Pretend You're Good at It," Lawson tells about one night in New York City when she can't sleep, is gripped by an anxiety attack and her foot is bleeding badly from the combination of cold weather and rheumatoid arthritis. When she looks out a window and sees falling snow, she decides to takes a walk in her bare feet and experiences a sense of calm. On the way back, she notices her footprints: "One side was glistening, small and white. The other was misshapen from my limp and each heel was pooled with spots of bright red blood. It struck me as a metaphor for my life. One side light and magical.... The other side bloodied, stumbling.... It was my life, there in white and red. And I was grateful for it." It could also be a description for this book--half light and humorous, half dark and raw. And fans will be grateful for it. --Elyse Dinh-McCrillis, blogger at Pop Culture Nerd

Shelf Talker: The Bloggess offers frank but funny discussions about mental illness.

KidsBuzz: Katherine Tegen Books: Are You a Cheeseburger? by Monica Arnaldo
KidsBuzz: Poppy Books: The Other Side of Perfect by Mariko Turk
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