Shelf Awareness for Thursday, December 8, 2016


St. Martin's Press: The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

Houghton Mifflin: Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me by Adrienne Brodeur

DC Comics: Heroes in Crisis by Tom King, art by Clay Mann

John Scognamiglio Books: The Long Flight Home by Alan Hlad

Harper Paperbacks: The Starlet and the Spy by Ji-min Lee

DC Zoom: The Secret Spiral of Swamp Kid by Kirk Scroggs

Beach Lane Books: Fly! by Mark Teague

Sterling Children's Books: Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling

Quotation of the Day

Andrew Keen: The 'Centrality of Books in Our Culture'

"Your industry needs to take advantage of this particular situation, because this cultural crisis is not just the flavor of the month, this is the beginning of a serious rethinking of the nature of information in a digitial age which promised so much and delivered so little. So my advice to you would be to be unbookish and to show off, stress the fact that your industry is still creating works of value in a post-truth age, in an age where the most popular networks are those which destroy photographs after a few seconds, in an age of the 140 character tweet, of the Facebook update, in the fake news of the post-truth age....

"I think that if you do that, responsibly and coherently, and maintain your traditional business model, your focus on this remarkably historic analogue product that generation after generation of consumers have loved, a product that creates real long-form value for a culture in crisis, because of its ephemeral nature then I think you can do very well....

"Because of the centrality of books in our culture, because of the growing appetite for understanding a world responsibly, because of the way in which technology will allow us to know more and more what everyone else is doing legally, I think you're on the verge of, if not a renaissance, certainly something very profitable, both in economic, cultural and intellectual terms."

--Andrew Keen, author of The Internet Is Not the Answer, speaking at the Bookseller's FutureBook Conference

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Fair Play: A Game-Changing Solution for When You Have Too Much to Do (and More Life to Live) by Eve Rodsky


News

Over the Moon Bookstore, Crozet, Va., Relocating

Over the Moon Bookstore & Artisan Gallery, Crozet, Va., is in the process of relocating from 5798 Three Notch'd Rd. to the Piedmont Place Market. On Facebook Tuesday, the bookstore posted: "We're starting the big move! It's true... we're finally heading over to Piedmont Place Market this week. We'll be ready to open on Thursday the 8th--there's an Open House that day from 3:30-7:30, and we'll be there, ready to serve you (even if we're still a little messy--you may have to poke around in some boxes to find what you want."


Ecco Press: Sontag: Her Life and Work by Benjamin Moser


Holidays 2016: The Season Is Humming Along

With just over two weeks to go until Christmas and the start of Hanukkah, the holiday shopping season is in full swing, and booksellers from around the country report here on what's been selling, what hasn't, and whether the 2016 presidential election has had an effect on sales.

University Book Store in Seattle, Wash., has been in the thick of the holiday selling season since Thanksgiving. Pam Cady, manager of the general book department, said that things were "eerily quiet on the book front" for a few weeks before the election and for a couple of days immediately afterward, but now customers are back and buying books. Some of the store's bestsellers, Cady noted, are certainly related to the election and understanding what happened: those include Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance, Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In by Bernie Sanders, and Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi, among others. Cady also reported a large amount of requests for "literary fiction that uplifts," such as Zadie Smith's Swing Time or Fredrik Backman's A Man Called Ove, and that Mary Oliver's newest collection, Upstream, and the memoir Lab Girl by Hope Jahren, were selling particularly well. And on the non-book front, the Washington Huskies are the #4 college football team in the country, and according to Cady "our entire store is benefiting from their historic season. Everyone is jazzed."

In Madison, Ind., Nathan Montoya, co-owner of Village Lights Bookstore, reported a strong start to the holiday season. Helped by two weekend events--Indies First/Small Business Saturday and Madison's annual Christmas parade--sales at Village Lights are up over last year. The Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association's holiday catalogue, which the store runs as an insert in the local paper, has also helped bring people into the store. Montoya said that since the election, demand for The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behavior Is Almost Always Good by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith has skyrocketed, so much so that he's been unable to fulfill a special order placed weeks ago. Hillbilly Elegy has been a strong seller, as has Mary Roach's newest book, Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War. One surprise so far has been the relatively low demand for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: The Illustrated Edition by J.K. Rowling and Jim Kay, compared to demand for the illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone last holiday season. Montoya said he's hopeful that as Christmas Eve nears and the "panic shopping" begins in earnest, demand will go up.

For Barbara Peters, owner of the Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale, Ariz., the holiday season has become extremely busy, but in a way that's atypical for the majority of bookstores. The Poisoned Pen is the "home" bookstore for many major genre authors, including Diana Gabaldon, Douglas Preston and Clive Cussler, and during the holidays, Peters is swamped not with droves of customers in store but with fulfilling literally thousands of special orders for signed, hardcover books. The last major event of the year for the Poisoned Pen will be for James Rollins's thriller The Seventh Plague, coming out on December 15. The British Library Crime Classics series, including Serpents in Eden, Silent Nights and Death in the Tunnel, has sold well for Peters, as has The Champagne Conspiracy: A Wine Country Mystery by Ellen Crosby. And though Poisoned Pen began as a genre-only store, it has increasingly diversified its inventory: recently Peters has been pushing Michael Lewis's The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds and Phaidon's Plant: Exploring the Botanical World, while the children's book Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White by Melissa Sweet has also been popular. And since the election, Peters said, she's seen a rise in "comfort books," such as cozy mysteries.

At Oblong Books and Music in Rhinebeck and Millerton, N.Y., a bigger-than-usual Black Friday kicked off the holiday season, with Small Business Saturday and the rest of Thanksgiving weekend being a little bit down. Suzanna Hermans, co-owner of Oblong, said that Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad might end up being the stores' book of the year, while Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras and Ella Morton, has been Hermans's number one gift pick; she's reordering "cases" of it. Among other bestsellers: A Man Called Ove, Hillbilly Elegy, Paul Beatty's The Sellout and The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate--Discoveries from a Secret World by Peter Wohlleben. In terms of sidelines, Blue Q socks are selling "hand-over-fist insane." Hermans also noted less demand than expected for both the illustrated Chamber of Secrets and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay by J.K. Rowling. Though she hasn't seen an uptick in "true political books" since the election, Hermans did note that Yuge!: 30 Years of Doonesbury on Trump by G.B. Trudeau and Michael Ian Black's A Child's First Book of Trump have been selling very well.

In Ann Arbor, Mich., Literati Bookstore has seen surprisingly strong sales this season of nonfiction titles. Fiction and poetry tend to be the store's bestsellers, co-owner Hilary Gustafson explained, adding that it was good to see Trevor Noah's memoir Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood as the store's bestseller for the first week of December. Books on social and political issues have been doing particularly well, including Hillbilly Elegy, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander and Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild brought  "record turnout" for a book club discussion. Fiction bestsellers include The Mothers by Brit Bennett, Swing Time and Moonglow by Michael Chabon, and award winners like The Underground Railroad and The Sellout. Among gift books, Atlas Obscura and In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs by Grace Bonney and Appetites: A Cookbook by Anthony Bourdain are shaping up to be hits.

Erica Luttrell, the general manager of Chevalier's Books in Los Angeles, Calif., reported having a great Small Business Saturday and an influx of shoppers following Thanksgiving. Atlas Obscura and the photography book On Reading by Steve McCurry have proven to be strong gift books, along with the local-history book Larchmont (Images of America) by Patricia Lombard. As for surprises, Luttrell said she was thrilled by the success of Hidden Life of Trees, and that there was a sudden post-election spike in popularity for Chinua Achebe's classic Things Fall Apart. She added that after the election, there was a run on My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, while books like Between the World and Me, Hillbilly Elegy and anything that helps people "better understand and communicate" have been popular. Like other booksellers mentioned above, Luttrell too has noticed a relatively low demand for the illustrated Harry Potter books, and wondered whether the original screenplay for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them might be dividing Potter fans' attention. Said Luttrell: "It may do better as we get to the actual day."

At the Learned Owl Book Shop in Hudson, Ohio, the season actually began the week before Thanksgiving, with many people coming in to shop early. According to owner Kate Schlademan, bestsellers include the children's book Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins, Diary of a Wimpy Kid #11: Double Down by Jeff Kinney, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape, and the Making of Winston Churchill by Candice Millard and John Grisham's The Whistler. Schlademan said that the store's sales have picked up in general since the election, but aside from the success of Our Revolution there hasn't been a surge in political books. Overall, Schlademan continued, the store is trending toward a "prosperous holiday season," and every year more customers declare "their desire to shop local." --Alex Mutter


KidsBuzz for the Week of 06.24.19


B&N Opening New Concept Store in Folsom, Calif.

B&N's concept store in Edina, Minn

Folsom, Calif., "is getting ready for a brand new Barnes & Noble bookstore, complete with a new twist," KCRA reported. Opening December 13 in the Palladio shopping center, the location is one of the bookseller's new concept stores, featuring a full-service restaurant and serving local wine and craft beer.

"Bookstores are still a tremendously important thing to have in a community," said B&N's Dave Deason. "We've been receiving requests from Folsom for many, many years, and we are really excited to finally be able to open our doors next Tuesday."


Publishers! Last call for the One California Holiday Catalog Campaign! Learn more>


Expanded Plans for Children's Book Week 2017

Every Child a Reader's anchor program, Children's Book Week (May 1-7, 2017), will feature an increased number of events, reformatted book awards, new websites, original materials and artwork, and more.

"Children's Book Week is one of the cornerstones of Every Child a Reader's literacy work, and we are pulling out all the stops for the biggest and best Children's Book Week yet," said Shaina Birkhead, programming & strategic partnerships director for Children's Book Council and ECR. "Our goal is to more than triple the number of library, school, and bookstore Book Week event participants nationwide."

Registration to be an official Children's Book Week library, bookstore, or school in 2017 will begin online in January after an extensive trade media push, complemented by publisher outreach, social media and e-mail notifications, as well as promotion at ALA Midwinter and ABA Winter Institute. The streamlined application process will ask schools, libraries, and bookstores to choose whether to hold a Book Week story time, activity hour, or author event--or a combination of celebrations. All locations will receive a quantity of the official 2017 Book Week poster illustrated by Christian Robinson.

Event locations will also be asked to host voting for the Children's and Teen Choice Book Awards, as, for the first time next year, voting will extend through the final day of Book Week, May 7. In 2017, the award winners will be announced in conjunction with the ABC Children's Group/ABFE art auction on May 31 at BookExpo. Also for the first time, the award winners will include two Honor Books as well as a Medalist in each category.

A new website will be ready by February 1, featuring downloadable event and voting kits, press release templates, and exclusive new bookmarks by four prominent children's book illustrators. Also in the works are two Every Child a Reader original booklets--a Spanish-English first words coloring book and a graphic novel based on Book Week's 2017 theme: One World, Many Stories.

Carl Lennertz, CBC and Every Child a Reader executive director, said, "We're going to energize the entire children's book world this spring, thanks to the enthusiastic support of teachers, parents, librarians, booksellers, authors, illustrators, CBC committees, publishing employees, the media, other literacy groups--and kids and teens--for this wonderful annual tradition known as Children's Book Week."


Berkley: Man's 4th Best Hospital by Samuel Shem


Obituary Note: Robert A. Wilson

Bookseller and publisher Robert A. Wilson, who bought the Phoenix Book Shop in Greenwich Village in the early 1960s and turned it "into a sanctuary for new poetry, an important trading post for first editions and a hangout for his, and his customers', literary idols," died November 29, the New York Times reported. He was 94.

His regular customers included Allen Ginsberg, Diane di Prima and Denise Levertov. "He relished the day he introduced Edward Albee to William S. Burroughs and then to Gregory Corso. Years later, when the punk-rock star Patti Smith became interested in Beat Generation authors, she made the Phoenix, as it was known, a destination," the Times noted. In 1988, Wilson closed the Phoenix after a dispute with his landlord. 

Wilson published more than 40 books, including limited editions of works by Gertrude Stein, Marianne Moore, W.S. Merwin, W.H.Auden and Ginsberg, as well as comprehensive bibliographies of Jack Kerouac, Corso, Levertov and Gertrude Stein, among others. He also wrote Seeing Shelley Plain: Memories of New York's Legendary Phoenix Book Shop (2001) and Modern Book Collecting: A Guide for the Beginner Who Is Buying First Editions for the First Time (1980).


G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
The Truants
by Kate Weinberg

In Kate Weinberg's The Truants, set in East Anglian academia, three students, a seductive journalist and a charismatic professor fascinated by Agatha Christie are swept up and battered in a whirlwind of friendship and passion. Helen Richards, associate editor at Putnam, knew from the first page she wanted to introduce Weinberg's incredible debut novel to American readers. Her writing is "so potent--so delicious, so atmospheric and at times so heart-achingly vulnerable--that it creates a world all its own on every page. I found it impossible to drag myself away! It offers the best of two worlds: a seductive mystery wrapped in an unconventional coming-of-age story." She says everyone at Putnam is "obsessed with the dark vibe and the smart, juicy writing." Campus obsession, editor obsession, sales force obsession--all will surely be joined by reader obsession. --Marilyn Dahl

(Putnam, $26 hardcover, 9780525541967, January 28, 2020)

CLICK TO ENTER


#ShelfGLOW
Shelf vetted, publisher supported

 


Notes

Image of the Day: Lodestar at Kepler's

Shannon Messenger (front row, far r.) visited Kepler's in Menlo Park, Calif., on her tour for Lodestar (Aladdin), the fifth book in her Keeper of the Lost Cities series. The store was packed with very eager, very thrilled fans. Kepler's reported: "They came from far and wide, many traveling hours to get here, often in vanfuls. And every one of them clutching their much-read, much-loved books, beside themselves with glee. We saw many books full of stickies highlighting their favorite places in the books, and one young man told me he thought these books were better than Harry Potter. Many said this was the best day of their lives. One dad brought his daughter's books and stood in line for a very long time to get them signed because she was sick and Shannon is her favorite author. One woman drove four hours to get a signed set of books for her sister's birthday. Enthusiastic fans, heroic parents driving them by the bus load--we couldn't hope for more."

Happy 40th Birthday to the Bookloft!

Congratulations to the Bookloft, Enterprise, Ore, which celebrated its 40th anniversary recently with an open house. The Wallowa County Chieftain reported that in a tribute to the bookshop's "reputation as a gathering place, inclement weather didn't keep a steady stream of well-wishers from pouring through the door throughout the day. Owner Mary Swanson went all out with free cake, beverages and conversation for customers, while most of the store's tables were filled with local authors selling copies of their books or chatting with visitors."

Swanson and her husband, Tom, bought the Bookloft more than 28 years ago from Rich and Judy Wandschneider. Swanson had previously been a bookseller in Portland. "Once you work in a bookstore you're always thinking it would be nice to own your own bookstore,” she said, adding: "I consider the Bookloft as part of the community, so it's give and take. If I want the community to support the bookstore, I have to support the community, and I do it whenever it's possible through donations or supporting local authors....

"Local support is just huge, and the tourist population in the summer helps. I pay attention to the business end of business. I think very carefully about what I'm buying, and I think the bookstores that figured that out have survived. I also think the diversity of offerings helps keep it going. When times are tough, we have cheaper books or coffee or whatever. It all seems to work out. After 30-plus years in the bookselling business, you get to know how to pick books and what books to stock."

Her primary goal hasn't changed: "Of course it's wonderful being around books all day long, but the real thrill is putting the right book in a person's hand after they came to you for recommendations, and you find the right thing. That's what it's all about."


Road Trip: The New York Times Loves Bookstores

This week the New York Times has been featuring several bookstore-related pieces in its Travel section, including:

7 Writers on Their Favorite Bookstores: "Geraldine Brooks, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Pamela Paul and others in the literary world reveal their favorite bookstores."

Ann Patchett's Guide for Bookstore Pilgrims: "If bookstores are a must on your travel itinerary, Ann Patchett has a road map for you."

Temples for the Literary Pilgrim: "From Mexico City to Hangzhou, bookstores that are destinations in and of themselves."

A Bookworm's Travel Plan: "For the writer, a good bookstore in a faraway place is as basic a need as a decent hotel, a hot shower and enough underwear."


Personnel Changes at Workman

Caitlin Kleinschmidt has joined Workman Publishing as associate manager of national accounts, responsible for selling Workman's adult and juvenile lines to Ingram, Barnes & Noble College and B&N.com, including the sales and merchandising of e-books in Nook format. She will also be responsible for developing sales analytics. She was most recently associate marketing manager at Penguin Random House.



Media and Movies

Movies: The Circle; Lady Macbeth

"If Hermione Granger had gotten ahold of a laptop instead of a wand, she'd likely be one of those idealistic, over-achiever young Muggles powering the world in Silicon Valley," Wired observed in featuring a trailer for The Circle, an adaptation of Dave Eggers's novel. Directed by James Ponsoldt, the film stars Emma Watson, Tom Hanks and John Boyega. The Circle hits theaters April 28, 2017.

---

The first trailer has been released for Lady Macbeth, a film adaptation of Russian author Nikolai Leskov's 1865 novel that "was greeted with strong reviews when it had its world premiere at this past September's Toronto International Film Festival," Yahoo News reported. Directed by William Oldroyd, Lady Macbeth will be featured in the "Spotlight" section of January's Sundance Film Festival, ahead of its release in New York and Los Angeles theaters on June 2, 2017, and later expansion to other locations during the summer.


This Weekend on Book TV: Megyn Kelly

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, December 10
3:15 p.m. Nina Willner, author of Forty Autumns: A Family's Story of Courage and Survival on Both Sides of the Berlin Wall (Morrow, $27.99, 9780062410313), at Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C. (Re-airs Sunday at 11 p.m.)

4 p.m. James Mitchell, co-author of Enhanced Interrogation: Inside the Minds and Motives of the Islamic Terrorists Trying to Destroy America (Crown Forum, $28, 9781101906842). (Re-airs Sunday at 7:30 p.m.)

5:30 p.m. Patrick Phillips, author of Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America (Norton, $26.95, 9780393293012). (Re-airs Sunday at 5:45 a.m.)

6:45 p.m. S.L. Price, author of Playing Through the Whistle: Steel, Football, and an American Town (Atlantic Monthly Press, $27, 9780802125644). (Re-airs Monday at 1 a.m.)

7:45 p.m. Courtney Martin, author of The New Better Off: Reinventing the American Dream (Seal Press, $24, 9781580055796). (Re-airs Sunday at 2:15 p.m.)

9 p.m. Megyn Kelly, author of Settle for More (Harper, $29.99, 9780062494603). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

10 p.m. Eugene Soltes, author of Why They Do It: Inside the Mind of the White-Collar Criminal (PublicAffairs, $29.99, 9781610395366). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Blanche Wiesen Cook, author of Eleanor Roosevelt, Volume 3: The War Years and After, 1939-1962 (Viking, $40, 9780670023950). (Re-airs Sunday at 1 p.m.)

Sunday, December 11
12:30 a.m. Tyler Anbinder, author of City of Dreams: The 400-Year Epic History of Immigrant New York (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $35, 9780544104655). (Re-airs Sunday at 4 p.m.)

2 a.m. Jules Farber, author of James Baldwin: Escape from America, Exile in Provence (Pelican Publishing, $29.95, 9781455620944), at Book Culture Bookstore in New York City. (Re-airs Sunday at 5:30 p.m.)

6:30 p.m. Chuck Raasch, author of Imperfect Union: A Father's Search for His Son in the Aftermath of the Battle of Gettysburg (Stackpole Books, $29.95, 9780811718936).

Books & Authors

Awards: Ruth Rendell; One More Grammy Nominee

Andy McNab won the inaugural Ruth Rendell Award, which "was launched in memory of the novelist Ruth Rendell by the National Literacy Trust and the Authors Licensing & Collecting Society to celebrate writers helping to raise literacy levels in the U.K.," the Bookseller reported.

Baroness Gail Rebuck, who nominated McNab for the award, said his "honesty and down to earth approach has given so many people of all ages and from all backgrounds the confidence and inspiration to give reading a chance. My nomination is supported by a host of organizations and individuals, from schools, libraries and charities to bookshops and prisons, all of whom have experienced the life-changing benefits of his campaigning work."

Jonathan Douglas, director of the National Literacy Trust, called McNab "an incredibly worthy winner. He has campaigned tirelessly for the importance of literacy, and has inspired, enthused and encouraged thousands of children and adults to get reading. He has given many the tools to turn their lives around."

---

In addition to the book-related Grammy nominations announced in yesterday's Shelf Awareness, the Best Children's Album category includes Secret Agent 23 Skidoo for his "intergalactic superfunk" album Infinity Plus One. Though primarily a hip-hop artist, Skidoo published a book, Weirdo Calhoun and the Odd Men Out, with Eifrig Publishing in 2014.


Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, December 13:

Buried in the Country: A Cornish Mystery by Carola Dunn (Minotaur, $25.99, 9781250047038) is book four in the Cornish Mystery series, set in Cornwall, England.

The Seventh Plague: A Sigma Force Novel by James Rollins (Morrow, $27.99, 9780062381682) is the 11th Sigma Force thriller, in which the world is threatened by an ancient pandemic.

Word of Mouse by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein, illustrated by Joe Sutphin (Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown, $13.99, 9780316349567) is a middle-grade adventure about a blue mouse's friendship with a human girl.

Paperback:
I Hate Fairyland Volume 2: Fluff My Life by Skottie Young (Image Comics, $14.99, 9781632158871).

Movie:
A Kind of Murder, based on The Blunderer by Patricia Highsmith, opens December 16. Patrick Wilson stars as a 1960s New York architect whose obsession with an unsolved murder leads to deadly results.


IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

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

Hardcover
The Next: A Novel by Stephanie Gangi (St. Martin's Press, $26.99, 9781250110565). "With only hours left before cancer kills her, Joanna DeAngelis is dying badly. Instead of focusing on saying goodbye to her daughters and her beloved dog, she spends her last day cyber-stalking her ex-boyfriend and his Internet-famous new girlfriend. When Joanna draws her last breath, mysterious heavenly powers decide that she needs to resolve a few things before moving on to the next world. What happens when ghost-Joanna returns to New York City bent on revenge is terrifying, funny, and, finally, break-out-the-tissues touching. A gorgeous book about love in all its forms: familial, canine, romantic, lost and found again." --Hillary Nelson, Gibson's Bookstore, Concord, N.H.

The Girl From Venice: A Novel by Martin Cruz Smith (Simon & Schuster, $27, 9781439140239). "Fans of Gorky Park and other Arkady Renko mysteries are about to be surprised. The Girl From Venice is not a mystery, and it takes place in Venice at the end of World War II, not in countries of the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War. The pace is still taut, however, and the characters still fascinating. Italy in the last days of the war, with the Germans retreating and everyone hedging their bets, is a complicated place to be, one where every future is uncertain and one very fitting for a master of subtlety like Smith." --Olga Onal, Bookmiser, Roswell, Ga.

Paperback
Inheriting Edith: A Novel by Zoe Fishman (Morrow, $15.99, 9780062378743). "It's a familiar cast of characters: a single mom raising a spunky kid; an older woman descending into Alzheimer's; the inhabitants of a small town; a nice eligible man. And then comes the twist: the single mom and the older woman aren't related by blood, but connected through the older woman's now deceased daughter. With humor and heart, long-held secrets come to light and special bonds are formed. Inheriting Edith is both entertaining and poignant." --Jenny Stroyeck, The Homer Bookstore, Homer, Ark.

For Ages 4 to 8
Fox and the Jumping Contest by Corey R. Tabor (Balzer + Bray, $17.99, 9780062398741). "As soon as a picture book includes depictions of adorable, fuzzy forest animals, I am almost always sold, and this book is no exception! With comically cute and colorful illustrations, this story about forest animals having a jumping competition features a trickster fox that will do anything to win. An energetic debut from Tabor with a witty resolution that kids will love." --Meg Hughey, Bookbug, Kalamazoo, Mich.

For Ages 9 to 12
The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon (Disney-Hyperion, $16.99, 9781484781517). "Subhi is a refugee born in a camp in Australia. He lives for stories of his dad, who is not with him in the camp, where he has known only fences, mushy meals, guards, and hardship. One day a girl named Jimmie makes an appearance inside the fence. She has lost her mother and wants someone to read her mother's diary to her. The two form a friendship, with Jimmie bringing food and love to Subhi as he creates a picture of her mother for her. The treatment of the refugees is a big part of this novel--a universal story definitely pertinent to our times." --Paula Primavera, Covered Treasures Bookstore, Monument, Colo.

For Teen Readers
My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier (Soho Teen, $18.99, 9781616956745). "Che's life revolves around the whims of his little sister, Rosa. Even though she seems like a beautiful and charming 10-year-old, Che knows she has a complete disregard for rules, is devoid of empathy, and has no fear of the consequences. She scares Che and he can't convince his parents to see what he sees in his 'psychopathic' sister. When the family's move to New York City begins to go horribly wrong but also very right for Che, he begins to discover more about his family and himself than he may be prepared to deal with. With a unique cast of characters and carefully plotted writing, My Sister Rosa is a fascinating thriller!" --Jessica Perez, University Book Store, Seattle, Wash.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]


Book Review

Review: Little Heaven

Little Heaven by Nick Cutter (Gallery Books, $26 hardcover, 496p., 9781501104213, January 10, 2017)

Horror novelist Nick Cutter (The Troop) continues his streak of genre mash-ups with Little Heaven, a nasty epic that grafts Lovecraftian imagery onto a Neo-Western foundation, throwing in a cult subplot for good measure. The novel bounces back and forth in time between the 1960s (when three guns-for-hire named Micah, Minerva and Ebenezer get roped into a scheme to rescue a young boy from Little Heaven, a Jonestown-like cult in the backwoods of New Mexico) and the 1980s (when Micah rounds them back up to help save his daughter). The 1960s plot has the three gunfighters gradually discovering the horrific supernatural underpinnings of Little Heaven, while the 1980s storyline is about the trio's reluctant return to a place they've never been able to forget.

The plot borrows liberally from western story beats and even clichés, but Cutter cleverly re-contextualizes them under the doomy umbrella of horror. In the 1980s, Micah, Minerva and Ebenezer have made Faustian bargains that give them enormous, even supernatural gifts with terrible costs. Minerva is incapable of both losing a gunfight and ending her own life--despite her repeated attempts. Ebenezer asked to see the face of God, and his request was granted: "God's face was that of an idiot. The moronic, drooling, palsied face of an enormous infant." Micah, meanwhile, seems to have been given something like a normal life, until a creature from his past kidnaps his daughter and takes her back to Little Heaven.

As might be apparent from the novel's length and complicated structure, Little Heaven is a sprawling horror epic comparable to Stephen King's It. Nick Cutter has a similar affinity for pulp storytelling adapted on a grand scale and narrated with delightfully purple prose:

"Micah had been thinking about it lately. Souls ascending. It wasn't Little Heaven that turned his thoughts in that direction.... No, just the feeling a man gets when he senses the chain of his own life drawing tight around his throat. Micah felt the links of that chain cutting into his neck. And he wondered, idly but with as much feeling as he could summon, how thin a cut it was between a man like Augustus Preston and the man he himself had been at some earlier, rottener time in his existence."

Cutter might not be as pithy as Elmore Leonard, but his hardboiled prose is perfect for the flowery unknowability that characterizes Lovecraftian horror: "When humans experience something that challenges their fundamental belief of the world--its reasonableness, its fixed parameters--well, their minds crimp just a bit. A mind folds, and in that fresh pleat lives a darkness that cannot be explained or accounted for." Which is not to say that Cutter is shy with gross-out scares: "It opened its mouth. Its face split in half, pulling its head apart; the top of its skull levered back like a Pez dispenser." The novel even includes grotesque illustrations perversely reminiscent of the charming sketches commonly found in 19th-century classics. Cutter knows horror, and he nails the basics well enough to support ambitious plotting and refreshing genre experimentation. --Hank Stephenson, bookseller, Flyleaf Books

Shelf Talker: Little Heaven is a horror epic mashed up with a neo-western about hardened mercenaries encountering supernatural evil on their mission to save a child from a dangerous cult.


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