Also published on this date: Wednesday, April 26, 2017: Maximum Shelf: Girl in Snow

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Algonquin Young Readers: the Beautiful Game by Yamile Saied Méndez

Berkley Books: Books that will sweep you off your feet! Enter Giveaway!

Feiwel & Friends: The Flicker by HE Edgmon

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Pumpkin Princess and the Forever Night by Steven Banbury

St. Martin's Griffin: Murdle: The School of Mystery: 50 Seriously Sinister Logic Puzzles by GT Karber


Bards Alley Hosting IBD Event Ahead of May Opening

Bards Alley, a new bookstore and wine café in Vienna, Va., will not be open in time for Independent Bookstore Day Saturday, but it is still planning to "get the community involved in the festivities. The bookstore is hosting a free scavenger hunt around town Saturday for book worms of all ages," the Vienna Patch reported. Participants will be searching for books wrapped in brown paper and featuring Bards Alley stickers.

"Independent bookstores lead readers to new books," said owner Jen Morrow, whose Church Street store is under construction and could open before Memorial Day weekend. "We are excited to connect Vienna readers with books that will be published later this summer and in the fall. That means that people who find our books will be among the first in the nation to read them."

Blackstone Publishing: Rogue Community College: A Liberty House Novel by David R Slayton

Bookstores Get Ready for IBD 2017

With Independent Bookstore Day 2017 rapidly approaching, here's a last look of what some indie bookstores around the country have planned for the third annual celebration:

Watermark Books & Cafe in Wichita, Kan., is celebrating IBD and its own 40th anniversary with a two-week celebration. Starting this week, the store will host local and national authors, arts and crafts demonstrations, wine and margarita tastings, a happy hour and much more. On Indie Bookstore Day itself, Watermark will offer special varieties of coffee along with anniversary chocolates and scented candles. Activities will include a book quiz tied to Ronald Rice's My Bookstore, a special storytime session, an art class, poster signing with artist Grant Snider, and a talk and signing with mystery writer John Sandford (Golden Prey).

For Eagle Eye Bookshop in Decatur, Ga., April 29 also happens to be the store's 14th birthday. The day will include special sales, giveaways, and events. Author David Fulmer will kick off the day with a one-hour fiction workshop, and Eagle Eye Bookshop owner Diane Robinson will teach crafts and tell stories in the afternoon. Mary Kay Andrews will share treats from her upcoming Beach House Cookbook, and mystery writer Susan Crawford (The Pocket Wife), will host a storewide mystery. The day's final event will be a cocktail party featuring Joshilyn Jackson (who has a story in the IBD Literary Cocktail Party collection) and Anna Schachner (You and I and Someone Else).

Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, N.C., is creating an Independent Bookstore Night of "1920s literary fun." In the evening, customer can "pass through our blue side door and into a speakeasy, featuring literary themed cocktails." Two literary sessions will take place at 6:30 and 7:45 p.m.; individuals and teams can participate.

In Greenwood, Miss., the festivities at Turnrow Book Co. begin early with a visit from a local beekeeper, followed by two special storytime sessions. After lunch, customers will have a chance to meet four Mississippi authors: Jamie Kornegay (Soil), Michael Kardos (Before He Finds Her), Catherine Pierce (The Tornado Is the World) and Becky Hagenston (Scavengers). To celebrate the 75th anniversary of Little Golden Books, Turnrow will host an interactive art hour complete with kits for making Little Golden Books. And finally, the day will conclude with a beer tasting from a local craft brewery and live music.

At the King's English Bookshop in Salt Lake City, Utah, IBD will begin with a special storytime in honor of the late author Amy Krouse Rosenthal. After that, customers will be able to try their hands at calligraphy, learn how to repair a book's binding, and compete in a Bookworm Spelling Bee. The King's English will also be taking part in a regional Bookstore Crawl with three other independent bookstores. Customers can pick up a passport at any of the participating stores (Booked on 25thWeller Bookworks, The Printed Garden), and those who collect stamps from all four stores will be entered to win gift cards and more.

On Independent Bookstore Day, Let's Play Books! in Emmaus, Pa., will debut a new set of bookcase stairs, put together through the help of 14 donors and a local artist, leading up to the store's "Cattic," before asking customers to vote on the store's next project. Throughout the day, every $10 spent at the store will earn a raffle ticket, giving customers a chance to win signed books and a variety of special items from other local stores. The festivities will also include a handful of other giveaways and prizes, along with appearances by authors David Lubar (The Weenies Series) and Kate Racculia (This Must Be the Place), a Little Golden Book activity room, and an outdoor chalk wall. --Alex Mutter

NCAC Executive Director Bertin to Step Down

Joan Bertin

Joan Bertin, the longtime executive director of the National Coalition Against Censorship, is stepping down from her role in June. She originally took the position in 1997, after more than two decades working in the non-profit legal sector. "I was drawn to NCAC because the First Amendment is such a dynamic and fascinating area of the law, because it intersects with so many critical issues, including civil rights, academic freedom, government accountability, privacy, sexual speech, commercial speech, and much more," she said.

NCAC includes American Booksellers for Free Expression, the American Library Association, the Association of American Publishers and the Authors Guild.

Noting that there are new challenges facing First Amendment advocates now, Bertin observed: "We are in uncertain times, politically, legally and culturally, which pose new demands for free speech advocacy. While I made the decision to step down long before the election and afterwards chose not to rethink it, I'm pleased I can continue to contribute to NCAC's mission as an advisor and board member. Stepping into a different role will make room to bring new talent to the organization and to the fight to preserve our fundamental freedoms."

Jon Anderson, chair of the NCAC Board of Directors, commented: "The NCAC has been incredibly fortunate to have Joan Bertin as its executive director for two decades, and we are thrilled that she will be staying on with the organization as a member of the board. Her commitment to the ideals of free expression and access to information for all has been a hallmark of her tenure at NCAC and been instrumental in helping it grow it into an organization that is the go-to resource for anyone facing a censorship challenge. Finding a successor of Joan's caliber will be a formidable task, but the Board has already begun a search and we hope to have a new executive director in place soon."

Selbach Named Managing Director of Pluto Press

Veruschka Selbach has been named managing director of British independent publisher Pluto Press, the Bookseller reported. She will succeed Anne Beech, who is retiring after 30 years with the press and over 40 in publishing, later this year.

Most recently, Selbach has been consulting on sales, marketing and digital strategies for various independent publishers. In 2011, she co-founded a business and environmental publisher, Do Sustainability, which was sold in 2015.

Beech said she has known Selbach "as a publishing associate and a friend for some years now, and it's very clear to me that she has the energy and the vision to sustain Pluto's editorial independence and to oversee the expansion of Pluto's publishing program in what are exciting times for independent radical publishers."

Selbach commented: "We have very exciting plans that will take advantage of new technologies and communication strategies to enhance our unique position in the market. We will continue to develop a fiercely independent list with integrity."

Obituary Note: Rebecca Swift

Rebecca Swift, founder and director of the Literary Consultancy, died April 18. She was 53. The Bookseller reported that Swift "worked for seven years at Virago Press before co-founding TLC together with Hannah Griffiths in 1996. The U.K.'s first editorial consultancy for writers, its aim was to bridge the gap between writers, agents and publishers." Swift was also a published poet, and wrote a biography of Emily Dickinson, Dickinson: Poetic Lives.

TLC's editorial services manager Aki Schilz commented: "It is with huge sadness that we say goodbye to one of the leading lights of the publishing industry. Becky was a visionary, an innovator, and a staunch and tireless defender of writers and of literary values. She was also a talented poet and librettist, a mentor, a friend, colleague, beloved daughter, partner, sister, aunt and godmother, and a true literary hero. Her compassion, joy, uninterruptable sense of mischief, and deep psychoanalytic understanding of the relationships between writers, writing and their myriad potential readerships have left an important and singular legacy from a woman who understood this changeable industry with as much intuition as she had intelligence."

In a Guardian tribute, Melanie Silgardo wrote that Swift "will be remembered by friends, family and colleagues for her wit, warmth and wonderful storytelling. Noisy, confident and pioneering, she was curious about people, always wanting to push the boundaries in life and work. She has left publishing in a better place than where she found it."

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
A Forty Year Kiss
by Nickolas Butler
GLOW: A Forty Year Kiss by Nickolas Butler

A Forty Year Kiss by Nickolas Butler is a passionate, emotionally complex love story that probes tender places within the heart and soul. When 60-somethings Charlie and Vivian--married then divorced in their 20s--reunite after four decades, they are swept up by the very best of what their romantic relationship once offered. "Anyone who has ever thought about what might have been will find this book fascinating," says Shana Drehs, senior editorial director at Sourcebooks Landmark. "The story is a brilliant exploration of a second chance at love, always realistic but never saccharine." As Charlie and Vivian build a bridge from past to present, their enduring love paving over potholes, Butler (Shotgun Lovesongs) raises questions about how life changes people--or does it?--and delivers another heartening, unforgettable novel. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

(Sourcebooks Landmark, $27.99 Hardcover, 9781464221248, 
February 4, 2025)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported


Image of the Day: The Gold Leaf

Community Bookstore in Brooklyn, N.Y., hosted the launch party on Sunday for the picture book The Gold Leaf (Enchanted Lion Press). Pictured: author Kirsten Hall and illustrator Matt Forsythe signing copies.

Her Book Shop Among Nashville Gems 'Only Locals Know About'

Despite having become "SUCH a wild and exciting city to so many people," Nashville, Tenn., still features "small pockets of places that locals like to keep to themselves," OnlyInYourState reported. Among the hidden gems highlighted was East Nashville's Her Book Shop, "a newly opened bookstore that is stocked full of beautifully designed stories. From cookbooks to that fiction novel you've been waiting for, it's here--and bound to be displayed stunningly."

'Great Independent Bookstores in Greater Cleveland & Beyond'

"There's a certain magic to skimming the shelves of your hometown bookstore," noted in featuring "15 great independent bookstores in Greater Cleveland and beyond." Each of the Northeast Ohio indies highlighted "has its own character we've come to love, from the new shops creating community gathering places to the longstanding institutions that we revisit like our favorite novels. With staff behind the counter ready to offer their recommendations, authors dropping in for readings and book clubs sparking conversations, they leave our neighborhoods brimming with storytelling."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Sheryl Sandberg on the View

CBS This Morning: Virginia Hanlon Grohl, author of From Cradle to Stage: Stories from the Mothers Who Rocked and Raised Rock Stars (Seal Press, $27, 9781580056441) and her son Dave Grohl.

The View: Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant, authors of Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy (Knopf, $25.95, 9781524732684).

Daily Show: Katy Tur, author of Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History (Dey Street, $26.99, 9780062684929).

Tonight Show: W. Kamau Bell, author of The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell (Dutton, $28, 9781101985878).

Movies: Haints Stay

Michael Johnson (All the Wilderness) is on board to adapt and direct a film version of Colin Winnette's 2015 novel Haints Stay. Production company filmscience optioned the film/tv rights to the book from publisher Two Dollar Radio. Recently, filmscience's I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore--directed by Macon Blair and starring Melanie Lynskey and Elijah Wood--won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. In addition to Haints Stay, Winnette is the author of Revelation, Animal Collection, Fondly, Coyote, and the forthcoming The Job of the Wasp.

Books & Authors

Awards: George Washington; Arabic Fiction; Arthur Ellis; Pushkin House

Nathaniel Philbrick has won the $50,000 George Washington Prize, recognizing the best new books about "the nation's founding era," for Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution (Viking).

Prize organizers--George Washington's Mount Vernon, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and Washington College--called Valiant Ambition "a surprising account of the middle years of the American Revolution and the tragic relationship between George Washington and Benedict Arnold. Philbrick creates a complex, controversial, and dramatic portrait of a people in crisis and of the war that gave birth to a nation. He focuses on loyalty and personal integrity as he explores the relationship between Washington and Arnold--an impulsive but sympathetic hero whose misfortunes at the hands of self-serving politicians fatally destroy his faith in the legitimacy of the rebellion. As a country wary of tyrants suddenly must figure out how it should be led, Washington's unmatched ability to rise above the petty politics of his time enables him to win the war that really matters."


A Small Death by Mohammed Hasan Alwan has won the 2017 International Prize for Arabic Fiction. The book is a fictional account of the life of spiritual teacher Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi, from his birth in Muslim Spain in the 12th century until his death in Damascus and follows his mystic experience and travels.

Chair of the judges Sahar Khalifeh said: "With striking artistry and in captivating language [A Small Death] sheds light on Ibn 'Arabi's view of spiritual and temporal love in their most refined forms. The life of Ibn 'Arabi, the man, evolves and takes shape against the background of a tumultuous historical period filled with wars and conflicts."

Born in Saudi Arabia and living in Toronto, Canada, Alwan has published four novels. The Beaver, which appeared in 2011, was shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction; the French translation by Stéphanie Dujols won the Arab World Institute's Prix de la Littérature Arabe in 2015. He has also published a nonfiction book, Migration: Theories and Key Factors (2014).


Crime Writers of Canada announced the shortlists in eight categories for this year's Arthur Ellis Awards, which recognize excellence in Canadian crime writing. Winners will be named May 25 in Toronto.


A shortlist has been unveiled for the £5,000 (about $6,415) Pushkin House Russian Book Prize, which "supports the best nonfiction writing in English on the Russian-speaking world." The winner will be announced June 7 in London. This year's shortlisted titles are:

The House of the Dead by Daniel Beer
The Russian Canvas by Rosalind P. Blakesley
Putin Country by Anne Garrels
Bolshoi Confidential by Simon Morrison
The Romanovs by Simon Sebag Montefiore
Memories: From Moscow to the Black Sea by Teffi, translated by Robert Chandler, Elizabeth Chandler, Anne Marie Jackson and Irina Steinberg, with an introduction by Edyth C. Haber 

Reading with... M.L. Rio

photo: Rebecca Watson and Eli Zwiebach-Cohen

M.L. Rio has worked in bookstores and theaters for years and has an MA in Shakespeare Studies at King's College London. If We Were Villains (Flatiron, April 11, 2017) is her debut novel.

On your nightstand now:

Jonathan Lethem's A Gambler's Anatomy--which is delightfully irreverent, like all of Lethem's work--and Simon Reynolds's Retromania. I've often wondered whether I was born a few decades (or maybe centuries) too late, and thought I'd investigate my own anachronistic nostalgia. I'm also taking a stab at historical fiction with my next writing project, so you could chalk it up to research. It's on the top of a nightstand stack, which also includes Brad Tolinski and Alan Di Perna's Play It Loud and David Oshinsky's Bellevue.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The first book I have clear memories of is The Hobbit, which my mother read out loud to my brother and me when we were too young to read it ourselves. Years later it's still a favorite, because despite its being (nominally) a children's book, there's conflict and danger and loss there, too. Just because something's unpalatable doesn't mean kids should be sheltered from it. Tolkien understood that, and I learned to love him at five years old because he didn't talk down to me.

Your top five authors:

Oh, this is a cruel question. It's like choosing the five friends or family members you'd least like to lose. So, I'm going to pick people who are all dead already: Shakespeare goes without saying. And Homer, whoever he may have actually been. The others would include Iris Murdoch (I worship her), Robert Frost (the only poet who can write scintillating lines about walking into a door) and maybe Dumas (I need a healthy dose of good old-fashioned swashbuckling every now and then).

Of course, ask me next week and you might get a totally different list.

Book you've faked reading:

I still haven't made it all the way through Pride and Prejudice. I've tried about four times and each time I get a little farther, but I also get bored and give up. The last time, I was barely 20 pages from the finish line. I have managed to finish Emma and Northanger Abbey but after that I finally admitted that I don't enjoy Jane Austen. Sacrilege, I know.

Book you're an evangelist for:

If I haven't shouted at you about how you need to read Keri Hulme's The Bone People, we probably haven't known each other very long. It's a devastating book. I found it in a Little Free Library sometime in 2014, and read it knowing nothing about it except that it won a Booker Prize in the '80s. I'm still not over it and probably never will be.

Book you've bought for the cover:

My favorite cover art I've seen in recent years is probably Lily King's Euphoria. It's stunning, and it's a marvelous book. When I was working at Barnes & Noble, I faced it out religiously, because it just seemed a crime to hide it between two other books.

Book you hid from your parents:

This could be such a long list. I was a strange precocious child and I read all kinds of things I shouldn't have been reading at various ages--Jaws at seven or eight, American Psycho at 12 or 13. My parents are very well behaved people, and I'm not a well-behaved reader. I still have stuff in my library I probably wouldn't want them to pick up. Filth by Irvine Welsh, I, Lucifer by Glen Duncan, Aleister Crowley's The Book of the Law. Oscar Wilde says in the preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray that "there's no such thing as a moral or an immoral book," and I happen to agree. I'll read anything.

Book that changed your life:

John Knowles's A Separate Peace was the first book that wounded me. I was 11, and I hadn't realized fiction could be so unfair. But I'm a bit of an artistic masochist, and after reading the book every year for five or six years, and constantly seeking similar stories, I realized that I wanted to write fiction that hurt like that.

Favorite line from a book:

"Show me a man who keeps his two feet on the ground and I'll show you a man who can't get his pants off." From James A. Michener's The Drifters, another that was less a book than an event in my life, read in bits and pieces while I rambled around Greece, alone and unmoored. (This was about a month after I finished my master's degree in London and found myself facing the unpleasant prospect of returning to the States just in time for Trump's inauguration.) True to Michenerian style, it's 800 pages long, but this line stuck in my head from the moment I read it. Throughout the story there's this kind of humor and startling insight in precisely the same instant.

Five books you'll never part with:

The Riverside Shakespeare, my own annotated copy of King Lear, The Chicago Manual of Style, The Complete Works of Lewis Carroll and Robert Fitzgerald's translation of The Iliad.

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

Probably Murdoch's The Book and the Brotherhood. It's so terrifically intricate and has the best/worst plot twist I've ever encountered in fiction. (I screamed out loud on a crowded bus.) It was like getting kicked in the stomach, it was so unexpected, and that's not a feeling you're ever going to have again once you know what's coming. Like I said, I'm an artistic masochist. I just think it's remarkable that printed words on a page can have such a visceral effect.

Book you would recommend everyone read in 2017:

Kurt Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions. It's a bit of a throwback and not his most popular novel, but I think--like The Drifters--it strikes just the right balance between absurdity and insight. Humanity has always had problems. Maybe we'll learn from some of our past mistakes or maybe we won't. Maybe reading Vonnegut won't fix anything but it might at least make you laugh. I think it puts things in perspective. Culture is always in crisis. The crisis itself is the only thing that changes.

Book Review

Children's Review: Rickety Stitch and the Gelatinous Goo

Rickety Stitch and the Gelatinous Goo Book 1: The Road to Epoli by Ben Costa, James Parks (Knopf, $18.99 hardcover, 208p., ages 12-up, 9780399556135, June 6, 2017)

Rickety Stitch lives in a world of imps, unicorns and gnomes, but as a skeleton with a soul, he's the odd one out. Other skeletons are passive "workin' machines," but he's prone to dozing off, cracking wise and "inciting a mutiny with song and dance" in a way that makes corporeal humans nervous. After these and other bad habits lead Rickety Stitch and his friend the Gelatinous Goo to be unceremoniously fired from their job of de-rusting the iron maiden and cleaning the gut-wheel in the torture chamber of Subterranean Pits and Lairs LLC, they begin a quest to find out who Rickety was when he was alive. With little to go on but vague scraps of music, Rickety and Gooey are thrust into the vivacious and unruly world of Eem in search of Epoli, a place they know only through Rickety's dreams. The unlikely pair confound everyone they meet--both being the only one of their kind--including a tricky imp who offers to guide them. When the Goo is held hostage by "Ogre-Spawn of Gordak, Glutton King of Grimly Wood," Rickety must head out on a rescue mission that tests his devil-may-care temperament--the first in what could be a lengthy saga of self-discovery.

Costa and Parks have been creating Eem together for years online, and the solid world-building strengthens every panel of Rickety Stitch and the Gelatinous Goo: The Road to Epoli. Though Costa's full-color, jaunty illustrations may appeal to younger readers, due to a healthy dose of cartoon violence and adult humor ("I still have, like, six days of PTO left"), the book is definitely meant for teens and adults. The book is most compelling when the text and visuals balance each other out. From the start, with its first scene in the corporate torture chamber, it uses the interplay between the two to shift effortlessly between fearful darkness and upbeat irreverence. The goofy jokes leavened with existential musings recall Terry Pratchett and Patricia Wrede, and well-read fans of fantasy will appreciate the loving homage to the genre. "You are someone, Rickety Stitch. That much I know," the skeleton is told toward the end of the story. Rickety and his readers will have to wait for the second installment to find out who, and they'll likely be impatient to see the next steps of his journey. --Stephanie Anderson, assistant director for public services, Darien Library (Conn.)

Shelf Talker: Ben Costa and James Parks launch their skeleton bard and his gelatinous buddy on a grand graphic adventure that's just the right mixture of serious and silly.

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