Shelf Awareness for Friday, March 25, 2016

Chronicle Books: Poetry Comics by Grant Snider

Berkley Books: We Love the Nightlife by Rachel Koller Croft

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: Waiting in the Wings by Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton, Illustrated by Eg Keller

Webtoon Unscrolled: Boyfriends. Volume Two: A Webtoon Unscrolled Graphic Novel by Refrainbow

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

Quotation of the Day

Independent Bookshops Are Like a 'Seed Vault'

"In thinking about tonight, and Australia's independent booksellers, it struck me that you are like that seed vault. You are storehouses for the kernels not only of our literary culture but our history, our music, our food culture, our health and legal and technological culture, our visual arts, our politics. You are the safety vault for the seeds of our country's cultural and intellectual life, and your customers are the spreaders of those seeds out in the world.

"A few years ago, the outlook for our independent bookselling scene looked gloomy. But like those seeds packed into the cold mountain in Norway, you have survived, you are thriving, and because of your noticing and care, your love of words and your determination to flourish, you have kept Australian literature and our culture alive and thriving too."

--Charlotte Wood, author of The Natural Way of Things, in her acceptance speech as winner of the fiction and overall Book of the Year prizes at the 2016 Australian Indie Book Awards ceremony (see below)


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


BEA 2016: Poland Is Global Market Forum Guest of Honor

BookExpo America will host Poland at its Global Market Forum during this year's trade show. BEA officials noted that "over the past two decades, a publishing sector worth well over $1 billion has emerged, building on a rich tradition of book and reading culture. Through the partnership, Poland will host several panels and seek to give attendees a deeper understanding of the market.... The appearance at BEA in Chicago will also allow [Poland] to connect with a significant community of Polish descendants."

On May 11, as part of the education program, BEA will offer five panel debates with senior Polish and American speakers to provide an overview of the country's publishing market and a selection of its companies. Topics will include:

  • Highlighting current trends and dynamics of the book industry
  • Identifying opportunities to invest in Polish publishing houses
  • Showcasing particularly successful examples of Polish multimedia publishing projects
  • Introducing domestic and international samples of outstanding works for children and YA readers
  • Discussing strategies to connect American readers with contemporary Polish literature

The BEA Global Market Forum Poland is a joint effort of the Polish Book Institute in Cracow, the Polish Chamber of Books in Warsaw, the Polish Cultural Institute in New York and BEA.

University of Texas Press: Loose of Earth: A Memoir by Kathleen Dorothy Blackburn

Amazon: New Fulfillment Center in Kansas; Bezos Tops a List

Amazon plans to open a new 800,000-square-foot fulfillment center at Logistics Park Kansas City in Edgerton, Kan., that will offer about 1,000 full-time hourly positions, as well as managerial and support roles. The online retailer currently operates facilities in Lenexa. Akash Chauhan, v-p of North American operations, said, "We are grateful for the enthusiasm of our many state and local partners who have supported Amazon in bringing a new fulfillment center to Kansas. This has been a true team effort."

Calling it "good news for Kansas," Governor Sam Brownback noted that Amazon "is investing in our state, workforce and the community. The quality of the Kansas workforce and our central location in the heart of the nation contributed to their decision to locate in Logistics Park Kansas City."


"I dance into the office every morning," Jeff Bezos said in an extensive profile of Amazon's CEO that accompanied Fortune magazine's list of the "World's 50 Greatest Leaders," where he was ranked first. In the interview, Bezos "talks about becoming a 'leader of leaders' and about taking on the mantle of civic leadership at the Washington Post," Fortune wrote.

Harper: Our Kind of Game by Johanna Copeland

Marosevic Named Co-Publisher at Daunt Books

Zeljka Marosevic

Zeljka Marosevic has been appointed co-publisher at Daunt Books--alongside Karen Maine--effective April 11, the Bookseller reported. Marosevic, who was previously managing director of Melville House U.K., said, "I've had three very happy years at the helm of Melville House U.K. and I'm now thrilled to be joining Daunt Books. Daunt have built a list that is intelligent and imaginative and I'm excited to start working with Karen and the rest of the team."

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

Obituary Note: Ursula Rickman

Ursula Rickman

Ursula Rickman, co-owner of the Island Bookstore, with three locations on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, has died at the age of 76. In addition to children and grandchildren, she is survived by her husband, Bill Rickman, also co-owner of Island Bookstore.

As the store remembered: "Generations of visitors, as well as locals, have become enthusiastic readers due to her passion and discerning care in selecting and recommending the right book for everyone."

A memorial service will take place Tuesday, March 29, at 12 noon at All Saints Episcopal Church in Southern Shores, N.C.


Image of the Day: Harlan Coben/Lisa Scottoline Love Indies

Chester County Book Company in West Chester, Pa., hosted a well-attended conversation between authors Harlan Coben (whose new book is Fool Me Once, from Dutton) and Lisa Scottoline, followed by a signing. Pictured: (l.-r.) Scottoline and Coben with store manager Thea Kotroba.

Coben appeared earlier in the week on Good Day New York, where he spoke abut his love for independent bookstores; you can see the interview here.

An Unlikely Story Bookstore & Café Wins Design Awards

Interior of An Unlikely Story.

An Unlikely Story Bookstore & Café, Plainville, Mass., received three awards from the Association for Retail Environments during Tuesday night's ceremony in Las Vegas. The store, owned by author Jeff Kinney, won the Silver Award for Specialty Store Design and single awards for sustainability and flooring.

The Bookstore Training Group of Paz & Associates worked with Bergmeyer Associates on the design for the 2,300-square-foot retail space. Franklin Fixtures provided all of the fixtures, including the cabinetry for the cafe.

"We are thrilled that an indie bookstore is among the national retailers, chain restaurants, and popular grocery stores recognized with this year's awards," said Donna Paz Kaufman. "The line-up of award recipients proves that creativity goes a long way to delivering a unique and memorable experience that you just can't get when shopping online."

National Geographic's 'Top 10 Bookstores'

"Feed your inner bookworm with these magnificent bookshops," National Geographic advised in featuring its picks for "top 10 bookstores," culled from the pages of Destinations of a Lifetime.

GBO Picks Gordon and Tapir

The German Book Office in New York City has chosen Gordon and Tapir by Sebastian Meschenmoser, translated by David Henry Wilson (NorthSouth, $18.95, 9780735842533), as its March Pick of the Month.

As the GBO said, the book: "tells the comical story of odd-couple housemates (a particular penguin and an untidy tapir) and has been short-listed for the German Children's Book of the Year Award."

Sebastian Meschenmoser is an admired children's illustrator in Germany. At the Bologna Book Fair, his illustrations have been recognized as "most innovative."

David Henry Wilson has translated everything from literary theory to art and children's books from French and German. He is also a playwright, novelist and children's author.

For a chance to win a free copy of Gordon and Tapir, visit the GBO's Facebook page.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Bill Walton on Good Morning America

Good Morning America: Bill Walton, author of Back from the Dead (Simon & Schuster, $27, 9781476716862). He'll also be on NPR's Weekend Edition tomorrow.

Fox & Friends: Crystal McVea and Alex Tresniowski, authors of Chasing Heaven: What Dying Taught Me About Living (Howard, $16, 9781501124914).

TV: The Battle of Versailles; Highsmith's Ripley

Ava DuVernay (Selma) will direct The Battle of Versailles, an HBO Films project based on fashion journalist Robin Givhan's book The Battle Of Versailles: The Night American Fashion Stumbled into the Spotlight and Made History, Deadline reported. DuVernay is also co-writing the project, now in development, with Michael Starrbury (The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete). DuVernay was hired to direct a film version of Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle In Time for Disney and for TV she is writing, directing and executive producing the upcoming OWN drama series adaptation of Natalie Baszile's Queen Sugar.


A TV series adaption of Patricia Highsmith's Tom Ripley novels "has found a writer in Luther creator Neil Cross," Deadline reported, adding that the project has been in development at Endemol Shine Studios for the past year. The series is executive produced by Cross, Guymon Casady and Ben Forkner of Television 360, and Philipp Keel of Diogenes. Deadline noted that as "lifelong fans of the Ripley books, Casady and Forkner built a relationship with Keel and Diogenes, which evolved into a creative partnership to develop the novels together as a series."

Books & Authors

Awards: American Academy; Aussie Indie Book

The 21 writers who won the American Academy of Arts and Letters 2016 awards in literature can be seen here. The prizes, totaling $550,000, honor both established and emerging writers of fiction, nonfiction, drama and poetry. They will be presented in May.


Australian independent booksellers named Charlotte Wood's The Natural Way of Things as their choice for Indie Book of the Year, as well as fiction category winner. Galina Marinov, national group manager of Leading Edge Books, said the work "embodies all the qualities of an 'indie' winner--a gripping, imaginative and compulsively readable novel; a brave, timely and thought-provoking book that challenges our society's darkest traits. Hand-sold over the counters, read, re-read and discussed at book clubs and events all over the country, Charlotte Wood's gritty and powerful novel is a fine addition to the Indie Books Awards winners' list."

The other contenders and category winners were Reckoning: A Memoir by Magda Szubanski (nonfiction), Salt Creek by Lucy Treloar (debut fiction), The Bad Guys, Episode 1 by Aaron Blabey (children's) and Cloudwish by Fiona Wood (YA)

Book Brahmin: Lavie Tidhar

photo: Kevin Nixon

Lavie Tidhar is the author of A Man Lies Dreaming (Melville House, March 15, 2016), winner of the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize; Osama, winner of the World Fantasy Award; and The Violent Century, longlisted for the IMPAC Dublin Award. He's also written the Bookman Histories trilogy, several novellas, two collections and a forthcoming comics mini-series, Adler. He lives in London.

On your nightstand now:

My nightstand just tends to be an app on my phone, these days, and it's mostly loaded up with ARCs I get sent. But at the moment, I'm still trying to finish Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall, and I've got the collected H.P. Lovecraft, who I became interested in over the past year, so I've been dipping in and out of that. Other than that, it tends to be a bunch of assorted research books from finished and upcoming novels: Timothy W. Ryback's Hitler's Private Library; Anthony Boucher's obscure roman à clef mystery, Rocket to the Morgue; John Carter's Sex and Rockets: The Occult World of Jack Parsons; and a stack of volumes on Islamic history, which I haven't dipped into yet.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Tove Jansson's Moominland Midwinter (in the Hebrew translation). I love all the Moomin books but this one in particular stayed with me.

But, too many books, really. I think I practically lived in the library when I was a child.

Your top five authors:

The writers who most influenced me (for good or bad) are probably Philip K. Dick, Raymond Chandler, Cordwainer Smith (the pen name of Paul Linebarger, who was an intelligence specialist and the godson of Sun Yat-sen and wrote the most extraordinary and peculiar science fiction stories). Tim Powers--I still remember discovering him for the first time and being so blown away. T.S. Eliot.

It's a sort of Hardboiled Five, isn't it? It's more a list of people who directly influenced my writing in some way than anything else.

Book you've faked reading:

Mein Kampf. No one can read that all the way to the end, can they? I did it for work, I needed to get a handle on Hitler's voice for A Man Lies Dreaming, but it's really quite dire, and I didn't get very far. The only thing worse is Hitler's Table Talk, a series of transcribed recordings of his after-dinner conversation, which are mostly long monologues of him ranting and lecturing his captive audience on whatever came to his mind.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Kfor by Shimon Adaf. It's a Hebrew novel, not available in translation, sadly. An incredible mix of metafiction and science fiction and crime and poetry, it encapsulated so much of what I wanted to do with literature and didn't know how.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Oliver Jeffers's Lost and Found, most recently. I couldn't resist--the art is just fantastic. As soon as I saw it in the window, I knew I had to have it.

Book you hid from your parents:

It's funny, but Robert Silverberg's Across a Billion Years. I must have been about 10 years old, too young to borrow books from the adult library. But my friend got hold of it and he passed it to me, and I remember we were running to hide it from the grown-ups one night. I grew up on a kibbutz so this was in the communal children's house and we had to hide it until lights out.

Book that changed your life:

Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle probably had far too much of an influence over my eventual writing career.

Favorite line from a book:

"The mind blanks at the glare." It's from Philip Larkin's "Aubade," in Collected Poems. But almost any line from that poem would do. Or almost anything from Larkin, really. I'm a little bit obsessed with him and his work.

Five books you'll never part with:

I don't think there are any books I wouldn't part with. I do collect books, and I love them, but I try not to be tied down by material objects. I have some wonderfully rare books, or books with sentimental value, though--including a Chaim Nachman Bialik chapbook published in Warsaw in the 1920s (I think) and a first edition of Joseph Heller's Closing Time, which was inscribed to me a few months before his death. But some of my favourites are books I've had since childhood--my worn-out copy of Lennart Hellsing's The Wonderful Pumpkin, for example (in the Hebrew translation). I was looking for an English edition the other day, and it's been out of print for decades. I wish someone republished it!

I also have on my shelf an inscribed copy of David Tidhar's memoirs (Be'sherut Ha'moledet, or In the Service of the Motherland). He was a larger-than-life character, the so-called "first Hebrew detective," who starred in his own series of detective stories in the 1930s. He's not a relation, incidentally! I just became fascinated by him, and he keeps popping up in short stories I wrote. I also have one of the original Balash, or detective chapbooks, from 1932, which is near priceless, I think. You can still find adverts at the back for a café in Tel Aviv "with an electric radio!" And of course Tidhar saves the day....

So this is a very random selection.

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

Maybe Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird? It was the first book I read in English, and I really fell in love with it. But I am very happy re-reading it every few years instead.

Books you would take with you to a deserted island:

It's the sort of usually theoretical question I can actually answer, since I lived on one for a year (in Vanuatu, in 2007). It's a lot less exciting than you might suppose--it's essentially whatever you can pick up in a secondhand shop the day before and can fit into your luggage. In my case, it was an Ernest Hemingway omnibus and two old issues of Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. They're probably still there.

Book Review

Review: The Regional Office Is Under Attack!

The Regional Office Is Under Attack! by Manuel Gonzales (Riverhead Books, $28 hardcover, 9781594632419, April 12, 2016)

Manuel Gonzales's quirky story collection The Miniature Wife blurred genre boundaries and in 2014 won both the Sue Kauffman Prize for First Fiction and the Binghamton John Gardner Fiction Book Award. His first novel pretty much obliterates those boundaries entirely. With a title like something from a B-movie, The Regional Office Is Under Attack! is a wild mashup of comics, sci-fi flicks, fairy tales, shoot-em-up thrillers and literary fiction. The Regional Office is a secret global organization located deep beneath the Midtown Manhattan skyscraper that houses its cover company, Morrison World Travel Concern. Directed by the administrator, Mr. Niles, and his co-founder, the mystic Oyemi, the Regional Office is a complex hierarchy of women oracles and operatives with a mission to save the world "from destruction, from self-annihilation, from the evil forces of darkness, from interdimensional war strikes, from alien forces." And so they do--until their recruiter and trainer, Henry, and top operative Emma turn against the organization and stage an early dawn attack. Defended by Niles's loyal second-in-command, Sarah, with her powerful mechanical arm, the Regional Office is soon overrun with assailants led by Henry's well-trained, small-town Texas commando, Rose. A good chunk of the novel features this epic superhero battle, "an elaborate, somehow less fun game of paintball."

Gonzales's rambunctious storytelling reflects a youth of video games, Terry Brooks novels, Marvel Comics, The Day of the Triffids TV series and movies like The Black Hole and The Terminator. But his spitfire first novel doesn't shy from the more prosaic themes of identity, love, loyalty and ambition. Its violence and bot-war shenanigans are interrupted by excerpts from a presumed scholarly study of the Regional Office's history, as if it were an organization with a trajectory of growth and decline, like some sort of posse comitatus. Its disciplined insiders rarely consider that the outside world "might be full of nothing more than reality singing competitions and Donald Trumps and Kardashians and Angelina Jolie's cute ethnic kids, and Carson Daly, a world that hardly seemed worth saving." After the battle winds down and the few survivors on both sides attempt to regroup, they find themselves without the comfort of an organizational infrastructure. If given a chance for a do-over, can an individual really go it alone?

The Regional Office Is Under Attack! may occasionally go a bit over the top, but Gonzales brings it down to earth. When laser bullets are flying and severed mechanical limbs are crawling down the halls, he reminds readers that above this underground New York City fantasy world are a "piss-poor Mets team and so-so Affleck movies." When push comes to shove (as it often literally does), Gonzales pulls off an amusing winner. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Shelf Talker: Gonzales's wild first novel is part fantasy, part sci-fi, part thriller--and wholly original.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: March Madness--A Bookish Sweet 16

Now is the time to desperately look for signs of spring. Consider, if you will, a rabbit hole I tumbled down connecting the Easter bunny to the March Hare to basketball layup shots (sometimes called "bunnies") to March Madness, aka the NCAA College Basketball Tournament, which will have pared the remaining 16 teams in the bracket down to eight by tonight. This has all inspired me to create a bookish March Madness Sweet 16:

1. Staff Picks: When I was a bookseller, there were only a couple of years during which a serious effort was mounted to get the staff involved in the subtle art of bracketology. That's probably not a bad thing, given that a recent report "estimates that more than 50.5 million American workers, or 20%, could participate in March Madness office pools this year... time wasted on building brackets and watching games will add up to $1.3 billion."

2. #MagersandQuinnMadness: At Magers and Quinn Bookstore, Minneapolis, Minn., this week "the moment a lot of you have been waiting for" arrived in #MagersandQuinnMadness: a showdown between Harry Potter and A Wrinkle in Time.

3. Tournament of Books: We hope you've been heeding the sage Twitter advice of Wellesley Books, Wellesley, Mass.: "If you are not following The Tournament of Books we encourage you to start now! #tob16 @themorningnews."

4. Pizza Madness: It's not all about basketball and books. In New York City, McNally Jackson recently highlighted March Madness at Frannys in Brooklyn, where "the restaurants regular menu will be replaced with a special staff-crafted Pizza Madness menu with fifteen pies (and a calzone) that customers can vote on."

5. Book Harvest: "March Madness, you say? Here are OUR big winners this month!" noted Book Harvest. Among the highlights were Winning Strategy ("Babies need books to learn!"), Parents ("babies first and best teachers") and Winning Score ("Thank you for helping our kids achieve victory all year long!")

6. Tournament of Fictional Places: Half-Price Books is hosting a Tournament of Fictional Places, featuring "64 of our favorite fictional spots from books, myth, movies, music and TV."

7. "Mad Rush to Bookstore": This comes under the category of "headlines we'd like to see every day," though it's from a news report on University of Hawaii fans celebrating a win over California by purchasing apparel at the college bookstore.

8. Catawumpus: Nigel Hayes is back in the Sweet 16. Last year, the University of Wisconsin player tested an NCAA stenographer by introducing a number of words into his post-game interview sessions, including catawampus, onomatopoeia and syzygy. On March 9 this year,'s Word of the Day was catawampus. "I take full credit for that," Hayes said.

9. Giorgio Vasari: Although they didn't reach the Sweet 16, Holy Cross did make a literary impression last week when the New York Times reported that "Coach Bill Carmody took a book with him to read on the long bus and plane rides home after games: The Lives of the Artists, one of the foremost pieces of literature on art history, written by the Italian artist Giorgio Vasari in the 16th century."

10. March Book Madness: Students and classrooms are participating in March Book Madness using the hashtag #2016MBM.

11. Suvudu Cage Match: Penguin Random House's is running its March Madness-style original fiction tournament Cage Match. This year's theme is Dynamic Duos and features famous pairs from the sci-fi and fantasy canon in head-to-head battles written by acclaimed authors.
12. HCC March Madness: HarperCollins Canada's March Madness is an annual event that features "64 beloved books--one of which readers will crown as this year's champion."

13. Cooking the Books: The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook by Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez & Julia Turshen won Food52's annual Tournament of Cookbooks.

14. Meanwhile, in other March Madness News: Booksactually in Singapore held a Lewis Carroll- rather than basketball-inspired March Madness sale, noting: "We encourage book-buying frenzies."

15. These Guys Can Play... & Read: Three-time Academic All-American Marcus Paige, who is a key player for the University of North Carolina in tonight's Sweet 16 game against Indiana, is a "double major in journalism and history, with a 3.43 grade point average."

Pat Conroy playing for Beaufort High School in Beaufort, S.C., in 1963. (via)

16. My Losing Season: It seems only fitting to have the last words come from Pat Conroy, who died earlier this month. In My Losing Season, he wrote: "I have loved nothing on this earth as I did the sport of basketball.... I would not sell my soul to be playing college ball somewhere in this country tonight, but I would give it long and serious consideration. It was only when I had to give up basketball that I began to attract the unfavorable attention of the rest of the world. Basketball provided a legitimate physical outlet for all the violence and rage and sadness I later brought to the writing table. The game kept me from facing the ruined boy who played basketball instead of killing his father. It was also the main language that allowed father and son to talk to each other. If not for sports, I do not think my father ever would have talked to me."

--Robert Gray, contributing editor (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

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