Shelf Awareness for Monday, June 5, 2017

Harper: Evil Eye by Etaf Rum

Tor Books: Starling House by Alix E. Harrow

St. Martin's Press: The Last Outlaws: The Desperate Final Days of the Dalton Gang by Tom Clavin

Page Street Kids: Payden's Pronoun Party by Blue Jaryn, illustrated by Xochitl Cornejo

Annick Press: Dragging Mason County by Curtis Campbell

Flatiron Books: Where There Was Fire by John Manuel Arias


BookCon 2017: Mild Insanity

The crowd waiting for BookCon to open.

Entering the Javits Center in New York was a quiet experience at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday--the doors to the exhibit floor were closed, the main floor empty except for staff, and the Starbucks by the front door without a single person in line. BookCon ("the event where storytelling and pop culture collide"), the consumer-focused two-day weekend event following BookExpo, was back in New York after a weekend in Chicago last year and was set to begin in half an hour. This eerie quiet wasn't due to lack of attendance; it was due to extreme planning by ReedPOP, the event's organizers. After attendees arrived, they were directed downstairs, where a massive, snaking line filled much of the cavernous space.

At 10 a.m., those lined up (a majority of whom were young women and girls) were allowed up the escalators and onto the floor amid many (many) yells of "No running!" and "Slow down!" from ReedPOP personnel. As the line unspooled, it was clear that BookCon numbers were back up. BookCon's first year (2014) capped attendance at 10,000; its second year saw it grow by 80% to reach 18,000; and 2016 in Chicago saw a drop in numbers, with only an estimated 7,000 in attendance. But 2017's end-of-Expo event was clearly very popular--even with all the planning, at 11 a.m. the line of attendees still waiting to register filled the entry level of the Javits and flowed out the front door, across the drive and onto the sidewalk.

"Magic with an Edge": Moderator Cristina Arreola (books editor at Bustle); Holly Black (The Cruel Prince, Little, Brown; Jan. 2018); Leigh Bardugo (The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic, Macmillan, September).

Publishers who had booths at both last year's BookCon and this year's commented that, while last year had been pretty tame, this year appeared to be mild insanity. Author lines wrapped all the way around booths, choking the aisles, and lines for free gifts and treats at times spanned the entire length of the floor. Book giveaways were completely demolished by 10:30 a.m. and so many people were interested in panels that whole rooms of the convention center had been set aside to build lines--lines that one needed to find a place in at least half an hour before the panel was to start.

Jason Reynolds promoting his upcoming books Miles Morales (Marvel, Aug.) and Long Way Down (Atheneum, Oct.).

This isn't surprising, considering some of the big names both on panels and available for signings. Jeff Kinney was in attendance, celebrating the 10th anniversary of Diary of a Wimpy Kid; Bill Nye the Science Guy (Unstoppable) talked about the first book in his new nonfiction series, Jack and the Geniuses; and Dav Pilkey was on site to tell everyone about Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie. Young adult VIPs were in abundance: Veronica Roth, Rainbow Rowell, Holly Black, Leigh Bardugo, Sarah Dessen, Laini Taylor, Jason Reynolds, V.E. Schwab, RJ Palacio and more talked about their new books and hung out with their fans. And celebrities could be found around every corner: Margaret Atwood, Chad Michael Murray, Marc Maron, Jeffrey Tambor and Mayim Bialik were all spotted on stage and in booth.

All in all, BookCon was exactly what it aims to be: an event in which storytelling and pop culture collide, where fans can get sneak peeks, some treats and meet their author idols. --Siân Gaetano

Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster: Drowning: The Rescue of Flight 1421 by T.J. Newman

BookExpo 2017: Notes from the Floor

This year BookExpo dropped America from its name and dropped to just two days with the trade show floor open. Besides being shorter, the show was smaller, taking up most of one level at the Javits Center, with more things on the show floor that were elsewhere in many past shows. Aisles grew larger, and some groups were noticeably absent, such as international publishers. Book bloggers were not welcome, and some long-established independent book publicists had difficulty obtaining badges. It was hard not to be concerned about the direction and overall health of the show.

Still, despite the shrinkage problem, BookExpo 2017 was full of activity: many wonderful established and new writers signed and discussed their work; the American Booksellers Association held its annual meeting and town meeting; groups celebrated major awards, including the Audiobook Publishers Association's Audies and Every Child a Reader's Children's & Teen Choice Book Awards; editors built buzz about upcoming books; panels addressed a range of topics, from how to handle controversial books and authors to how to improve diversity; booksellers introduced themselves to publisher publicists; and a huge crowd heard Hillary Clinton and Cheryl Strayed in conversation. There were excellent parties around the city, too, ranging from huge events hosted by large publishing houses to, for example, a wonderful celebration of commission group Parson Weems's 20th anniversary. And once again the serendipitous nature of BookExpo was rewarding: it's a great place to meet old friends and make new friends and important new contacts. Let's hope the show goes on!


Rozanne Seleen at the ABA town hall

During the ABA's annual town hall meeting last Thursday, Rozanne Seelen, owner of the Drama Book Shop in Manhattan, announced that her store will turn 100 years old this year and remarked that "contrary to legend," she has "not been there since the beginning." Seelen said she was concerned with the increased consolidation among publishers and the possibility of having to pay fewer but far larger and more expensive bills. At various times over the years, she has had to spread out payments to help keep the store afloat; that is harder to do when one bill can cover dozens of publishers. Reflecting on these and other changes in the industry, Seelen said she hoped to see independent bookstores hanging on together for as long as she lives. "We do books. These large places do products."


While introducing Hillary Clinton and Cheryl Strayed for their Thursday evening panel conversation, Simon & Schuster president and CEO Carolyn Reidy remarked: "No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, remember that 65 million people voted for Hillary Clinton last year. And if just a small fraction of those purchase the book, we will still have the biggest book of the year. We at Simon & Schuster welcome your help in achieving that milestone."


Senator Al Franken (D., Minn.) and comedian Marc Maron began their Friday afternoon discussion, entitled "WTF Is Happening, Senator Franken?," with a brief reminiscence of Franken's debate with former Fox News host Bill O'Reilly at BookExpo America in 2003. The debate, which was televised on BookTV, began a much-publicized feud between O'Reilly and Franken that saw Fox News file an injunction against Franken in the hopes of stopping the publication of Franken's book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right (Dutton). The case was ultimately thrown out, and Franken's book became a number one bestseller before it was even released.

What Bill O'Reilly and Fox News didn't understand was that "satire is protected speech even if the object of the satire doesn't get it," Franken said last week, and recalled that his wife suggested hiring a marching band to play outside of the Fox News headquarters as a thank you for increasing the book's sales. He also reported that not long afterward, Arianna Huffington told him that it was as if "Bill O'Reilly walked up to you and handed you a check for a million dollars." Reflecting on the collapse of both Bill O'Reilly's and Roger Ailes's careers due to sexual harassment scandals, Maron said that they had managed to eventually "hoist themselves on their own petards," to which Franken quickly replied that it was "not the petard they're hoisting themselves on."

Toward the end of the conversation, Maron asked if Franken's new book, Al Franken: Giant of the Senate, might signal a future run for president. Franken insisted that he doesn't want to run for president, and neither does his family want him to run for president, but joked that he was tempted to do his first book signings in Manchester, N.H., and Des Moines, Iowa, just to fuel speculation. After Maron insisted that Franken could do it, the latter remarked that everyone was saying that only "because Trump is the president."


During a panel discussion called "Bestseller to Blockbuster: Authors Talk About the Book to Film Adaptation Process," author and director Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) described adapting a book into a movie as akin to "turning a cauldron of soup into a bouillon cube," adding that the most important thing for an author to do is to "make sure you choose people of like mind who love your book."

R.J. Palacio, the author of Wonder (Chbosky is directing the upcoming movie adaptation), likewise compared the process of adapting a screenplay with turning "a page of dialogue into a haiku," and had looked to the movie versions of To Kill a Mockingbird and Stand by Me as examples of what Wonder the film could be.

Nicola Yoon, author of Everything, Everything, said she got incredibly lucky in that she connected immediately with the director of the movie version of Everything, Everything, who valued and often sought feedback from Yoon. She also reported that she and her husband went to go see the second Fifty Shades of Grey movie simply to see the trailer for Everything, Everything run beforehand.

GLOW: Pajama Press: The Imaginary Alphabet by Sylvie Daigneault

James Patterson Boosts Bookseller Bonus Bucket by $100K

James Patterson at BookExpo last week.

For the third year in a row, James Patterson is giving holiday bonuses to independent bookstore employees--and this year he's adding $100,000 to the bonus pool, for a total of $350,000, American Booksellers Association CEO Oren Teicher announced at the Celebration of Bookselling luncheon at BookExpo.

Bookstore employees, publishing professionals, authors and bookstore customers may nominate bookstore employees of ABA members stores for Patterson bonuses, which range from $750 to $1,250 each. Winners of bonuses in 2016 are not eligible, but those who won in 2015 are eligible. Nominations may be made online here.

The bonuses will be distributed between December 1-18 and will be announced on the ABA's website.

G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Hike by Lucy Clarke

June Indie Next List E-Newsletter Delivered

Last Thursday, the American Booksellers Association's e-newsletter edition of the Indie Next List for June was delivered to more than a third of a million of the country's best book readers. The newsletter was sent to customers of 106 independent bookstores, with a combined total of almost 416,000 subscribers.

The e-newsletter, powered by Shelf Awareness, features all of the month's Indie Next List titles, with bookseller quotes and "buy now" buttons that lead directly to the purchase page for the title on the sending store's website. The newsletter, which is branded with each store's logo, also includes an interview (from Bookselling This Week) with the author whose book was chosen by booksellers as the number-one Indie Next List pick for the month, in this case Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz (Harper). (See a trailer for Magpie Murders here.)

For a sample of the June newsletter, see this one from Main Street Books, St. Charles, Mo., which just began sending the e-version of the Indie Next List.

And new this week! The first Kids' Indie Next List e-newsletter will publish this Thursday, and go to approximately 400,000 customers of about a hundred independent bookstores.

Obituary Note: Ron Heapy

Ron Heapy, former Oxford University Press children's publisher, has died, the Bookseller reported. He was 82. OUP described him as "one of the most influential editors of British children's books that you've never heard of.... And because since the war U.K. publishing has become, and remains, perhaps the world's leading maker and exporter of children's books and stories, you can make a case for Ron quietly being one of the most influential editors in the world."

Heapy began working for OUP in 1959, becoming deputy manager of the Karachi office and manager in Hong Kong, before returning to the U.K. to work on the Oxford African Encyclopedia in London and in the educational department in Oxford. He began running the Oxford children's book list in 1979, "taking the department by the scruff of its neck to build a commercially and critically successful list, which produced numerous prizewinners, and many books which remain bestsellers to this day," OUP noted.

He officially retired in 2000, though for years after remained "a frequent presence in the OUP offices--generous, inspiring and mildly anarchic--dispensing wit and wisdom to the various children's editors."


Image of the Day: PRH Schmoozefest

For a serendipitous moment on the BookExpo show floor on Friday, editors from Crown, Knopf Doubleday, Penguin and Random House were gathered at the PRH booth, along with booksellers from Politics & Prose, Octavia Books, Blue Willow Bookshop, City Lights and more.


Diamond to Distribute Chapterhouse Comics

Diamond Comic Distributors has been named exclusive worldwide distributor for Chapterhouse Comics, an agreement that includes distribution to comic book specialty stores and the book market though Diamond Book Distributors.

Founded in 2015, Chapterhouse Comics, Toronto, Canada, publishes a range of monthly comics series, archive classics, graphic novels and prose novels. It was created to publish the Canadian superhero Captain Canuck comic. It also publishes creator-owned titles such as Die Kitty Die, Spirit Leaves, Queen Street and The Fourth Planet.

"Diamond has helped us grow from a fledgling company to the largest publisher of comics and graphic novels in Canada," Chapterhouse Comics publisher Fadi Hakim said. "We're honored to be invited to join their thriving book division and can't wait to get started."

Personnel Changes at Berkley

In the Berkley publicity department:
Heather Connor has been promoted to publicity director.
Diana Franco has been promoted to associate publicity director.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Sheryll Cashin on Fresh Air

CBS This Morning: Ezekiel J. Emanuel, author of Prescription for the Future: The Twelve Transformational Practices of Highly Effective Medical Organizations (PublicAffairs, $27, 9781610397254).

Fresh Air: Sheryll Cashin, author of Loving: Interracial Intimacy in America and the Threat to White Supremacy (Beacon Press, $26.95, 9780807058275).

Wendy Williams: Nicole Lapin, author of Boss Bitch: A Simple 12-Step Plan to Take Charge of Your Career (Crown Business, $27, 9780451495860).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Kevin Hart, author of I Can't Make This Up: Life Lessons (Atria/37 INK, $26.99, 9781501155567). He will also appear tomorrow on Good Morning America.

CBS This Morning: John Grisham, author of Camino Island: A Novel (Doubleday, $28.95, 9780385543026).

The View: David O. Brown, co-author of Called to Rise: A Life in Faithful Service to the Community That Made Me (Ballantine, $28, 9781524796549).

The Chew: Clinton Kelly, author of I Hate Everyone, Except You (Gallery, $24.99, 9781476776934).

The View: Sheila Nevins, author of You Don't Look Your Age...and Other Fairy Tales (Flatiron, $24.99, 9781250111302).

Watch What Happens Live repeat: Gabourey Sidibe, author of This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25, 9780544786769).

Daily Show: John Avlon, author of Washington's Farewell: The Founding Father's Warning to Future Generations (Simon & Schuster, $27, 9781476746463).

Books & Authors

Awards: Audies; Pinckley; Children's & Teen Choice; Maine Literary

The winners of the 2017 Audie Awards were announced and celebrated last week at the Audio Publishers Association's annual gala, held at the French Institute Alliance Française in New York City, which Paula Poundstone hosted for the second time. Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter, read by Mariska Hargitay, with the authors (Hachette Audio) was named audiobook of the year. See the complete list of Audie winners and finalists here.


Louise Penny and Trudy Nan Boyce have won the Pinckley Prizes for Crime Fiction, honoring Diana Pinckley, longtime crime fiction columnist for the New Orleans Times-Picayune. The prizes will be presented September 8 in New Orleans.

Penny, the first Canadian to receive the award, is receiving the Pinckley Prize for Distinguished Body of Work. The jury said, "In the village of Three Pines, Quebec, readers take refuge and delight among its endearing inhabitants. Crime may occur, but it never triumphs, not when Gamache is on the case. Penny finds her mantra in the words of W.H. Auden--'Goodness exists'--something we need reminding of in these times."

Boyce wins the Pinckley Prize for Debut Novel for Out of the Blues, the beginning of a series featuring Detective Sara Alt, or "Salt," which the jury called a "gutsy, confident first novel."


The 2017 winners of the Children's and Teen Choice Awards, sponsored by Every Child a Reader and picked by readers, are:

K–2nd Grade Book of the Year: Madeline Finn and the Library Dog by Lisa Papp (Peachtree Publishers)

3rd–4th Grade Book of the Year: Once Upon an Elephant by Linda Stanek, illustrated by Shennen Bersani (Arbordale Publishing)

5th–6th Grade Book of the Year: The Misadventures of Max Crumbly 1: Locker Hero by Rachel Renée Russell, with Nikki and Erin Russell (Aladdin/Simon & Schuster)

Teen Book of the Year: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo (Holt/Macmillan Children's Publishing)


The 2017 Maine Literary Awards, sponsored by the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance, have been given in 20 categories, including three youth awards and a special award. Winners can be viewed here.

Book Review

Review: Gork, the Teenage Dragon

Gork, the Teenage Dragon by Gabe Hudson (Knopf, $24.95 hardcover, 400p., 9780375413964, July 11, 2017)

In a weird and wacky first novel, Gabe Hudson (Dear Mr. President) pits an anthropomorphized adolescent dragon against the forces of evil, the chief of which may be high school.

Gork the Terrible, grandson of the infamously cunning and ruthless Dr. Terrible, fails to live up to the family name. Orphaned straight out of the egg when his parents' spaceship crashed on Planet Earth, Gork survived in the wild for three years until his rescue by Dr. Terrible, who returned him to the dragon planet Blegwethia and raised him like his own son--which is to say, with plenty of psychological manipulation and belittlement. The action fast forwards to Gork's senior year of high school at WarWings Academy--where the mortality rate is off the charts and seniors must pass the final survival challenge on Crown Day, when each male dragon must convince a female to wear his crown and lay his eggs. The alternatives, death or slavery and death, don't bear contemplating.

With the moral support of his cyborg dragonette pal Fribby and his talking spaceship, Athenos II, Gork aims to give his crown to the beautiful Runcita. Unfortunately, she ranks at MegaBeast on the school's "Will to Power Ranking Index" while Gork's rank is, sadly, Snacklicious. As Gork races against time to find his queen in the chaos of Crown Day, Dr. Terrible schemes in the background and a prophecy unfolds. In his search for true love, Gork strives to be terrible in a world that just might need a good guy.

Although immediately challenged to survive, Gork also faces the typical pits and pratfalls of a teenage human--with the inherent insecurity, shifting social alliances and mystery of how to break into the dating scene. Hudson often plays the awkward stage for a laugh, particularly in Gork's cheerful determination to court Runcita, which he refuses to acknowledge as a suicide mission. The pursuit leads Gork through the halls of his school, the Underworld and the lair of Dr. Terrible, a frenetic tour that constantly gives the audience new reasons to chuckle or goggle. Though the conceit of a high-tech society populated by dragons skews toward quirky, Hudson revels in his unusual world, throwing "Mutant" multi-headed and no-headed dragons, "MortalMachine" cybernetic dragons, singing trees and sentient spaceships into the mix with alacrity, as though challenging the reader to keep pace. Big-hearted and gawky, Gork gives us a lovable loser sure to win the hearts of sci-fi readers and fans of offbeat comedies. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Shelf Talker: A teenaged dragon must find a dragonette willing to be his queen, or he'll graduate from high school into slavery in this quirky sci-fi comedy.

The Bestsellers

Top Book Club Picks in May

The following were the most popular book club books during May based on votes from book club readers in more than 47,000 book clubs registered at

1. A Man Called Ove: A Novel by Fredrik Backman
2. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
3. Small Great Things: A Novel by Jodi Picoult
4. The Underground Railroad (Oprah's Book Club) by Colson Whitehead
5. Lilac Girls: A Novel by Martha Hall Kelly
6. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance
7. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry: A Novel by Fredrik Backman
8. The Nightingale: A Novel by Kristin Hannah
9. The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
10. Commonwealth: A Novel by Ann Patchett

Rising Stars:
Anything Is Possible by Elizabeth Strout
Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

[Many thanks to!]

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