Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Minotaur Books: The Grey Wolf by Louise Penny

Minotaur Books: The Grey Wolf by Louise Penny

Minotaur Books: The Grey Wolf by Louise Penny

Minotaur Books: The Grey Wolf by Louise Penny

Quotation of the Day

PRH: 'Drive to Ensure Competitive Bookselling'

"For me, one of the most crucial components of our results is our wide range of initiatives directed toward preserving a vital and vibrant bookselling community. This is demonstrated in our support of the traditional sales channels--even those under commercial pressure--as well as growing ones. And those efforts have been further strengthened by maximizing efficiencies in our cutting-edge supply chain to make it an ever greater engine of profitability for our customers--and for us.

"Above all, we have been bolstered by our commitment to print--even when it was in decline earlier this decade--while also taking full advantage of our technological savvy to increase the reach and discoverability of our books. Regardless of format, driving consumer demand for our authors' works by making them more discoverable remains a leading strategic priority for us. Across our territories we will continue to explore and introduce new ways to improve the visibility of our titles in stores and online.

"Another major priority of 2016 that we are accelerating in 2017 is our drive for diversity: across retail to ensure competitive bookselling landscapes, in the content we publish and promote, and of course under our own roof. Diversity is essential in our timeless pursuit of our larger purpose--to create the future of books and reading--as we provide an unmatched platform for a full range of voices, ideas, and opinions. In these tumultuous times, this will be an even more urgent and important goal for our publishing programs as we serve readers across the spectrum."

--From a letter to staff by Penguin Random House CEO Markus Dohle commenting on parent company Bertelsmann's fiscal year results.

Minotaur Books: The Grey Wolf by Louise Penny


Marissa's in Utah Readies for Grand Re-Opening

Marissa's Books & Gifts, Murray, Utah, will reopen in a larger storefront on Thursday, April 6, after a move "just a few doors away" within the Southlake Shopping Center. In February the store closed its 2,900-square-foot location in preparation for the move to its new 4,200-square-foot space.

The original Marissa

Opened in 2012 by Cindy Dumas and named after her granddaughter (with whom Dumas spent many happy hours in other bookstores before opening this one), Marissa's became a full-fledged bookstore in 2013. It sells new, used, vintage and hard-to-find titles with a particularly large selection of children's books. It also offers religion, self-help, business, YA, history, sci-fi, adult coloring books, science, psychology, cookbooks, fiction and titles of regional and local Utah interest.

Marissa's also carries gifts such as essential oils and diffusers (next to massage books), tarot cards, original art, candles, music CDs, colored pens and pencils and a variety of kids' items such as Dr. Seuss erasers, pencils, pens, notebooks, etc.

Dumas is working on a "hybrid" website that, along with books, will list a variety of "fun choices" that pair well with books, especially in the children's section. "It's a year and a half in the making and is very customized," Dumas said.

Marissa's Books & Gifts is located at 5692 South 900 East, Suite 10, Murray, Utah 84121; 801-262-2873.

Minotaur Books: The Grey Wolf by Louise Penny

New Co-Owner at Lopez Bookshop in Washington State


Linda Brower, who with her sister, Karen Barringer, founded Lopez Bookshop, Lopez Island, Wash., in 2011, has left the business, and Barringer's new business partner is Beth St. George, the former youth services coordinator at Lopez Island Library.

Barringer said about Brower, "As much as Linda loved the bookshop, it just couldn't compete with her grandson Collin, who lives in Spokane." She praised Brower's knowledge of children's and YA literature.

Since the store's founding, Barringer and Brower have doubled its size, added used books, increased its social media presence and hosted events.

Barringer said that St. George's love of books and experience in schools and libraries makes for "the perfect continuum" at the store. St. George will continue to lead two book clubs that she founded with Brower, Young Adult Readers of Lopez Island, for adults and teens, and Pageturners, for middle-school students. She reads mostly youth literature "because so much excellent writing is coming out for youth today, and much of it can be appreciated by adults. It's often meaningful and entertaining without being graphic."

She is also an avid birder and naturalist and will combine her passions for books and nature on Book Walks, a walking tutorial of nature's wonders.

Montclair Literary Festival Debuts Friday

The inaugural Montclair Literary Festival opens this Friday afternoon in Montclair, N.J., with a discussion between Trevor Noah, host of the Daily Show and author of Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood (Spiegel & Grau), and his editor Chris Jackson; the event will take place at Montclair State University. The nonprofit Succeed2gether, which provides  tutoring and educational services to low-income children, organized the festival and is its main sponsor (proceeds from the talk with Trevor Noah and other ticketed events will go to Succeed2gether).

According to Jacqueline Mroz, Succeed2gether's program director and one of the festival's directors, the Montclair Literary Festival will have more than 20 events and speakers at six venues over two days. Mroz and co-director Catherine Platt expect high attendance, with more than 900 people anticipated at the Trevor Noah event alone. Author Paul Auster, meanwhile, will headline the second day of the festival with a talk about his new book, 4 3 2 1.

"I've lived in Montclair for nearly 19 years, and I've been wanting to start a book festival here for the past several years," said Mroz, who is also a journalist and writer. Her first book, Scattered Seeds, will come out in June from Seal Press. "Montclair is a writer's town; there are more than 80 published writers who live here!"

In total more than 50 authors will appear at the festival, including Garth Risk Hallberg (City on Fire), Laurie Lico Albanese (Stolen Beauty), D.T. Max (Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story), Siri Hustvedt (The Blazing World), Daphne Merkin (This Close to Happy: Reckoning with Depression) and more. Some of the panel topics include "Nasty Women" in fiction, alternative facts and fake news, the culinary history of Southern food, sports and social protest, and creating compelling characters in YA and children's books.

Montclair indie Watchung Booksellers is the festival's official bookseller and will donate most of the book sales from the event to Succeed2gether. Owner Margot Sage-EL said she's "very excited to highlight our incredible literary community" and support Succeed2gether, of which she is a board member. She added: "I loved the old Booktoberfest of the '90s and always looked for a partner to make it happen again. Here we are!" --Alex Mutter

Obituary Note: Chet Cunningham

Prolific writer Chet Cunningham, whose "450 published books--Westerns, thrillers, military history, medical guides--included one that he wrote in less than a week because a publishing house was desperate to fill an unexpected hole in its production schedule," died March 14, the Los Angeles Times reported. He was 88. Cunningham "credited his output to his daily deadline training as a journalist and to a work ethic that usually had him in his home office for 10 hours a day."

"That's what I do," Cunningham once told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "I write books."

Cunningham founded the nonprofit San Diego Book Awards in 1994 to honor local writers, both published and unpublished. Toni Noel, an author who served with him on the board of the book awards, told the Times: "Chet's legacy to beginning writers lives on in our hearts, and he will not soon be forgotten." 


Personnel Changes at HarperCollins Christian Publishing

Tim Marshall has joined HarperCollins Christian Publishing as senior marketing director for Thomas Nelson and Zondervan Gift Books. He formerly worked in the Christian music industry, serving as v-p of marketing at Provident Distribution and senior v-p president of brand management and sales at Word Entertainment before becoming an independent marketing and brand consultant.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Gillian Anderson and Jennifer Nadel on Dr. Oz

Dr. Oz: Gillian Anderson and Jennifer Nadel, authors of We: A Manifesto for Women Everywhere (Atria, $25, 9781501126277).

Movies: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Director Mike Newell has added several actors to his film adaptation of the international bestseller The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Deadline reported that new cast members include Glen Powell (Hidden Figures), Michiel Huisman (The Age of Adeline, Game of Thrones), Matthew Goode (The Imitation Game, Downton Abbey), Jessica Brown Findlay (Downton Abbey), Tom Courtenay (45 Years) and Penelope Wilton (The BFG, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel). They join Lily James, who will star as Juliet Ashton in the project, which has begun filming in the U.K.

The script was written by Don Roos, Kevin Hood and Tom Bezucha. Producing are Paula Mazur and Mitchell Kaplan from the Mazur/Kaplan Company (he is the owner of Books & Books in southern Florida and the Cayman Islands), with Graham Broadbent and Pete Czernin from Blueprint Pictures (Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, In Bruges).

Mazur/Kaplan "is a book-centric production company that recently wrapped production on The Man Who Invented Christmas, directed by Bharat Nalluri, starring Dan Stevens (Beauty and the Beast) and Christopher Plummer," Deadline noted. "Also on its slate is The Silent Wife with Nicole Kidman and All The Bright Places starring Elle Fanning and directed by Miguel Arteta."

Books & Authors

Awards: Marfield for Arts Writing; Dylan Thomas; Walter Scott

Rachel Corbett won the $10,000 Marfield Prize, the National Award for Arts Writing, for her book You Must Change Your Life: The Story of Rainer Maria Rilke and Auguste Rodin (Norton). Presented by the Arts Club of Washington, the prize "recognizes the author of an outstanding nonfiction book about the visual, literary, media or performing arts first published in the United States during the previous calendar year."

Corbett's book was selected from a field of finalists that included Jane Kamensky for A Revolution in Color: The World of John Singleton Copley (Norton); Alexander Nemerov for Soulmaker: The Times of Lewis Hine (Princeton University Press); Claudia Roth Pierpont for American Rhapsody: Writers, Musicians, Movie Stars, and One Great Building (FSG); and Paul Youngquist for A Pure Solar World: Sun Ra and the Birth of Afrofuturism (University of Texas Press).


The shortlist for the £30,000 (about $37,700) International Dylan Thomas Prize, for the best published literary work in English by an author 39 or younger, is:

The Story of a Brief Marriage by Anuk Arudpragasam (Sri Lanka)
Pigeon by Alys Conran (U.K.)
Cain by Luke Kennard (U.K.)
The High Places by Fiona McFarlane (Australia)
The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry (U.K.)
Dog Run Moon: Stories by Callan Wink (U.S.)

The winner will be announced on May 10.


The shortlist for the £25,000 (about $31,410) Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction is:

Jo Baker for A Country Road, A Tree
Sebastian Barry for Days Without End
Charlotte Hobson for The Vanishing Futurist
Hannah Kent for The Good People
Francis Spufford for Golden Hill
Graham Swift for Mothering Sunday
Rose Tremain for The Gustav Sonata

Book Review

Review: Guesswork: A Reckoning with Loss

Guesswork: A Reckoning with Loss by Martha Cooley (Catapult, $16.95 paperback, 192p., 9781936787463, April 25, 2017)

Each person's experience of profound loss is different. Novelist Martha Cooley (The Archivist) has chosen to describe hers in Guessswork: A Reckoning with Loss, a collection of lyrical personal essays. The 16 shimmering pieces pay homage to a group of recently departed friends while affirming, with a poet's sensibility, life's fragile beauty as Cooley experienced it in a sabbatical year she and her husband spent in a tiny Italian town.

The medieval village of Castiglione del Terziere, where Cooley took up residence in 2012 with her Italian husband--writer and translator Antonio Romani--is dominated by an ancient castle, whose haphazard restoration is the lifelong project of an eccentric doctor-pharmacologist and poet Cooley refers to as il professore. The town, teeming with bats and feral cats (one of which she adopts and names Tristana), serves as a base for the couple's excursions into the Italian countryside, including a memorable visit to the island of Giglio, the final resting place of the ill-fated cruise ship Costa Concordia in January 2012. It's a surreal "shipwreck unfolding in slow motion" described with cool and mournful precision in the essay "Casino."

The eight friends whose deaths Cooley experienced over the decade preceding her arrival in Italy include the writers David Markson and Nuala O'Faolain, along with others less well-known but no less dear to her. Cooley admits that these "accumulated losses have upended me," describing herself as "still down in an emotional crouch, hands over head." Yet one of these deaths--that of her husband Antonio's first wife from cancer--gave birth to the new life of their relationship, prompting Cooley to recall how the two of them stood "the autumn after Valeria's death, arms wrapped around each other, both of us astonished by a love so visceral and unexpected."

At some moments explicitly and at others more obliquely, the looming mortality of Cooley's ailing mother, Nancy, also shadows many of these essays. Approaching her 90th birthday, the elder Cooley had faced half a lifetime of health challenges, beginning with a diagnosis in her 30s of retinitis pigmentosa that stole her eyesight within a decade. Even as she spends her final years in an assisted living community with a husband in the early stages of dementia, Nancy Cooley remains a vital intellectual presence and a measuring rod for her daughter's anxiety over her own lack of literary productivity.

Cooley pays frequent tribute to the sources of her inspiration, who include the poets T.S. Eliot, Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman. Her description of a sky that is a "jeweler's pitch-black velvet cloth sprinkled with diamonds" is only one of many examples of her poetic gift of observation. Guesswork is anything but a maudlin work. It's a tribute to the enduring power of friendship and of the ability of love to outlast death. --Harvey Freedenberg, attorney and freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: Novelist Martha Cooley's Italian sabbatical inspires a moving collection of essays about the power of love to survive loss.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. The Play Mate by Kendall Ryan
2. Cole by Tijan
3. The Werewolf Tycoon's Baby by Celia Kyle
4. Bad Boys Unboxed II by Various
5. Circle of Influence by Annette Dashofy
6. When an Alpha Purrs by Eve Langlais
7. If You Were Mine by Melanie Harlow
8. The Leigh Koslow Mystery Series: Books Four and Five by Edie Claire
9. The Irish Cowboy by D.W. Ulsterman

[Many thanks to!]

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