Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Scholastic Press: Beastly Beauty by Jennifer Donnelly

St. Martin's Essentials: Build Like a Woman: The Blueprint for Creating a Business and Life You Love by Kathleen Griffith

Margaret Ferguson Books: Not a Smiley Guy by Polly Horvath, Illustrated by Boris Kulikov

Bramble: Pen Pal Special Edition by J.T. Geissinger

Sourcebooks Landmark: Long After We Are Gone by Terah Shelton Harris

Soho Crime: Broiler by Eli Cranor

Berkley Books: We Love the Nightlife by Rachel Koller Croft


Notes: Freeload Press, Download Fest

The AP via Newsday profiles Freeload Press, St. Paul, Minn., which has been developing a textbook model that offers free textbooks--both in print and electronic form--that contain advertising. The company is publishing some 100 titles this fall.

The company says that ads already appear in academic journals and that its ads will be placed at natural breaks in the material and not involve products like alcohol or tobacco.

Most of Freeload's texts available now are business texts. The AP says Freeload has 25,000 registered users and 50,000 books have been downloaded.


The Boston Globe reports that "more than 30 million books were downloaded in the past month as part of the World eBook Fair, a giveaway of books in electronic form. Originally intended to run July 4 to Aug. 4, the project was extended for a week because unexpected demand at the start temporarily overwhelmed computer servers."

The fair was coordinated by Project Gutenberg and included offerings from World eBook Library and other libraries and collections; some 300,000 books were available altogether, most of which were free. The project will be repeated beginning October 1 "to coincide with World Book Fair Month."


A $1 million addition at the Heard Museum, Phoenix, Ariz., will open November 17 and include the new Berlin Gallery and expanded gift shop and bookstore space, according to the Arizona Republic, which called it "an innovative way to view and buy contemporary American Indian art."

"This is a dream come true in that it allows the Berlin Gallery to showcase contemporary fine art in a true gallery setting," Bruce McGee, Heard Museum director of retail sales, told the paper. "Collectors from all over the world will now have the opportunity to experience modern American Indian art at its best."


The Lompoc Record profiles Covenant Books, Gifts & Music in Lompoc, Calif., a Christian bookstore that Stan Chang and his family bought four years ago, when the previous owners were considering closing it.

Covenant sells "inspirational books, Christian music CDs, statuettes, greeting cards, coffee mugs, pens, bumper stickers, and even popcorn," according to the paper. Books are the bestselling medium.

The store also has a wardrobe display, built when The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe came out last year, with a replica of a sword on it.


The Mountain Press takes a hike to see the Great Smoky Mountains Association's new bookstore at the Highway 66 Visitors Center in Kodak, Tenn., part of an expansion of the center, which is owned by the Sevierville Chamber of Commerce.

The store offers maps, trail guides, field guides, clothes, postcards, DVDs about the Smokies and screensavers.

University of California Press: May Contain Lies: How Stories, Statistics, and Studies Exploit Our Biases--And What We Can Do about It by Alex Edmans

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Tom Kean on 9/11; Memory Keeper's Daughter

This morning on the Today Show: Fantasia, author of Life Is Not a Fairy Tale (Fireside, $13, 0743282655).

Also on the Today Show: Beppe Severgnini, author of La Bella Figura: A Field Guide to the Italian Mind (Broadway Books, $23.95, 0767914392).


Today on Anderson Cooper 360, John McQuaid talks about his new book, Path of Destruction: The Devastation of New Orleans and the Coming Age of Superstorms (Little, Brown, $25.99, 031601642X).


On this morning's Writer's Roundtable on World Talk Radio, Antoinette Kuritz talks with Jeff Abbott about his new book, Fear (Penguin, $24.95, 0525949720), and Lawrence Block about the latest in his John Keller series, Hit Parade (Morrow, $24.95, 0060840889).


Today WAMU's Diane Rehm Show features a Readers' Review section that will focus on The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards (Penguin, $14, 0143037145), a book that, as the show put it, "explores the secrets we harbor from those we love, our ability to rationalize lies, and our fear that there will always be something unknowable about the people we love most." A panel will talk about the book, and listeners will call in. Panelists are author Judith Viorst, Lisa Page, a freelance writer who teaches creative writing at George Washington University, and Ron Charles, fiction editor of the Washington Post Book World.


Tonight on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Thomas H. Kean, chair of the 9/11 Commission and co-author of Without Precedent: The Inside Story of the 9/11 Commission (Knopf, $25.95, 0307263770). He will also appear on Hardball and the Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.

GLOW: becker&mayer! kids: The Juneteenth Cookbook: Recipes and Activities for Kids and Families to Celebrate by Alliah L. Agostini and Taffy Elrod, illus. by Sawyer Cloud

Books & Authors

Books for Understanding: Terrorism and Counterterrorism

The Association of American University Presses has revised and expanded the terrorism and counterterrorism category of its Books for Understanding bibliography, which was originally a sub-section of the September 11 section.

Scholarship on the history, theory and analysis of terrorism and counterterrorism has grown in recent years, the AAUP said, and the book list currently presents more than 120 titles from experts in the field. Among subjects investigated: What are the motivations of groups or individuals employing terrorism? What are the broader effects such attacks have on civilian populations? What are the best strategies to counter the use of terrorism, and bring terrorists to account for their atrocities?

A sampling of titles:

  • Knowing the Enemy: Jihadist Ideology and the War on Terror by Mary Habeck (Yale University Press, 2005)
  • Countering Terrorism: Dimensions of Preparedness edited by Arnold M. Howitt and Robyn L. Pangi (MIT Press, 2003)
  • The Politics of Terror: The U.S. Response to 9/11 edited by William Crotty (University Press of New England, 2005)
  • My Life Is a Weapon: A Modern History of Suicide Bombing by Christoph Reuter (Princeton University Press, 2006)
  • The Official Record of the Oklahoma City Bombing by the Editors of Oklahoma Today Magazine (University of Oklahoma Press, 2005)

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Assassins Anonymous by Rob Hart

Book Review

Mandahla: Still Life Reviewed

"Miss Jane Neal met her maker in the early morning mist of Thanksgiving Sunday. It was pretty much a surprise all around." Canadian author Louise Penny's mystery begins with the discovery of Miss Neal's body on a pathway in the woods. At first she was thought to have been victim of a hunting accident, but that easy solution fades as events preceding her death come to light. A few days prior, the retired school teacher had decided to enter her painting Fair Day in the local Arts Williamsburg show. This was quite untypical on her part, as she'd been painting and drawing all her life but refused to let anyone see her art; indeed, would not even let anyone beyond the mudroom and kitchen of her house. What was typical was her courage at an earlier event of that day, when Miss Neal stopped three young boys as they threw duck manure at Olivier's Bistro and hurled gay-bashing words at Olivier and Gabri, the proprietors.

A trio from the Sûreté du Quebec are sent to the village of Three Pines to investigate: Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, in his mid-50s, for whom violent death is still a sad surprise ("He always felt a pang when looking at the hands of the newly dead . . . the most poignant were the hands of young people who would never absently brush a lock of gray hair from their own eyes."); Jean Guy Beauvoir, Gamache's second in command, whose air of studied nonchalance was balanced by the tension of his stance ("[he] was loosely wrapped but tightly wound."); Yvette Nichol, on her first murder investigation, ambitious, manipulative and pathetically unaware of her limitations. They find not only a murder, but a charming community and emotional intricacies. The personalities at first seem stock, but Penny's descriptions go beyond the customary, and she has a gift for effective detail. Standard in this type of mystery is the tea-at-tragedy scene, but she takes the reader beyond the routine: "Rummaging through the cupboard like a wartime surgeon frantically searching for the right bandage, Peter swept aside Yogi Tea and Harmony Herbal Blend, though he hesitated for a second over chamomile. But no. Stay focused, he admonished himself. He knew it was there, that opiate of the Anglos. And his hand clutched the box just as the kettle whistled. Violent death demanded Earl Grey."

Equally in play is Penny's humor, both acerbic, as with the badinage between the cane-wielding and extremely crotchety Ruth and the suave Olivier, or naming the mercenary niece Yolande Malenfant, and gently sly--"The tail of Hurricane Kyla was forecast to hit later that night and the expectation added a frisson to the event, as though going to the opening meant taking your life in your hands and reflected both character and courage. Which wasn't, actually, all that far off the mark for most Arts Williamsburg shows." She also writes with tenderness. After Jane's friend Clara takes in her dog Lucy, Clara despairs that the golden retriever will ever recover from her loss, with this poignant rendering: "Every day for Lucy's entire dog life Jane had sliced a banana for breakfast and had miraculously dropped one of the perfect disks on to the floor where it sat for an instant before being gobbled up. Every morning Lucy's prayers were answered, confirming her belief that God was old and clumsy and smelt like roses and lived in the kitchen. But no more. Lucy knew her God was dead. And she now knew the miracle wasn't the banana, it was the hand that offered the banana."

Louise Penny has written an extremely satisfying mystery, one that will please on many levels, not just the puzzle angle. From lessons in archery to the tension between Francophones and Anglophones to a celebration of friendship with all the loving and sniping and compromises that real life involves, this book touches the heart while engaging the mind. Miss Jane Neal kept a well-read book on her nightstand, C.S. Lewis' Surprised by Joy. That title is a fitting phrase for Still Life.--Marilyn Dahl

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Summer Romance by Annabel Monaghan

Deeper Understanding

Willow Bridge Books Brings Books to the Community

The opening of Willow Bridge Books in Oakhurst, Calif., moved at least one customer to near weeping. "Someone recently came in and said, 'I'm so happy you're here,' " recalled Willow Bridge owner Monica McClanahan. "She had tears in her eyes." The reaction might seem extreme except for one thing. "We're a remote community," said McClanahan, a Los Angeles native who moved to the area a year and a half ago. The closest bookstore (aside from a children's bookshop and a used books purveyor) is 45 miles away in Fresno.

Taken aback that buying a new book necessitated a 90-mile round trip, McClanahan revisited an idea she had 10 years ago. "I considered opening a bookstore then," she said, "but when Amazon got really hot I thought there was no way I could compete and put it in the back of my mind." Seeing a need in the marketplace was one motivation McClanahan had for opening a bookstore, along with a more personal reason. Recently retired from a career in information technology, she found herself "facing these long days with nothing to do." Not so anymore.

Willow Bridge Books held its grand opening celebration on June 30. The event included a ribbon-cutting ceremony courtesy of the local chamber of commerce, which made the store's opening part of its summer kickoff promotion. From April to October, the otherwise secluded Oakhurst area plays host to more than 1.5 million visitors. Some own vacation homes at nearby Bass Lake, but the big draw is Yosemite National Park. Willow Bridge is 10 miles from the park's southern entrance, situated in a shopping center that's a frequent stopping point for tour buses.

Other businesses in the highly-trafficked shopping center include a grocery store, a department store, a pizza parlor and a movie theater. Willow Bridge has 1,200 square feet of selling space, and in addition to books, it carries children's toys, greeting cards, candy from a local merchant and handmade bookmarks. The building's cathedral ceilings make for ample wall space, and on display (and for sale) are photographs, paintings and sculptures by area artists.

One of the store's window displays features books by local authors and another consists of regional interest titles. "Visitors are interested in Yosemite, the old West, the gold rush and cowboys and Indians," commented McClanahan. One of the store's top sellers is Exploring the Sierra Vista National Scenic Byway by Roger and Loris Mitchell, a guidebook published by Track & Trail Publications, a local press.

Willow Bridge currently carries 4,800 titles, mostly single copies until McClanahan has a better handle on customer demand. "My goal is to appeal to the tourist population, especially during the summer and also to carry enough interesting titles that local people will want to shop here," she said. The store is averaging 10 special orders per day, and popular choices are the canine-related reads Marley & Me and Cesar's Way, science fiction and fantasy titles, and cookbook and diet books. An "under $10" table at the front of the store--with books selected from USA Today's top 150 such as The Devil Wears Prada and Eleven on Top--has been a hit with vacationers looking for reading material.

In-store events include signings on Friday evenings with local and regional authors. Kids' night takes place the third Friday of every month and story time on Tuesday mornings. A book club held its first meeting in the store on August 8, and several customers have inquired about starting a writers' group.

Before opening Willow Bridge, McClanahan, who invested half of her retirement savings in the business after being turned down for financing, attended the ABA's inaugural Winter Institute as well as training sessions with Paz & Associates. The NCIBA put McClanahan in touch with a former ABA executive who worked with her to determine the best town in Eastern Madera County in which to open a bookstore, and for merchandising and marketing she enlisted the aid of an independent retail consultant.

"I did my homework," McClanahan said, and so far Willow Bridge has exceeded expectations. "My business plan called for doing $185 per square foot of selling space, and it's closer to $250. Of course, that was just the first month," she added. "There will be slow periods here when the tourism stops." The tourist season is integral to McClanahan's business, but she is cognizant of the importance of gaining a stronghold among year-round residents. It seems Willow Bridge Books is well on its way to, as McClanahan envisions, "fulfilling a real need within the community."--Shannon McKenna

Willow Bridge Books is located at 40015 Highway 49, Raley's Shopping Center, Oakhurst, Calif, 93644; 559-692-2665.

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