Also published on this date: Thursday, December 7, 2017: Kids' Maximum Shelf: Moon

Shelf Awareness for Thursday, December 7, 2017

Hampton Roads Publishing Company: Becoming Baba Yaga: Trickster, Feminist, and Witch of the Woods by Kris Spisak, Foreword by Gennarose Nethercott

Dial Press: Like Mother, Like Mother by Susan Rieger

Severn House: A Messy Murder (Main) (The Decluttering Mysteries #4) by Simon Brett

Forge: My Three Dogs by Bruce W Cameron

Running Press Adult: Scam Goddess: Lessons from a Life of Cons, Grifts, and Schemes by Laci Mosley

Chronicle Books: Taste in Music: Eating on Tour with Indie Musicians by Luke Pyenson and Alex Beeker


Shelf Awareness Wins PubWest's Rittenhouse Award

Shelf Awareness is very proud to announce that PubWest is awarding its 2018 Jack D. Rittenhouse Award to John Mutter and Jenn Risko, co-founders of Shelf Awareness.

John Mutter and Jenn Risko

"The Jack D. Rittenhouse Award recipients have all made extraordinary contributions to how books are made and sold," said Bill Fessler, PubWest board president and publisher at American Traveler Press. "The roster of honorees includes publishers, retailers, educators, and writers who have made a real contribution to the Western community of the book. This year, it is a true pleasure to induct Jenn Risko and John Mutter for their work at Shelf Awareness."

The award was founded in 1990 "to thank and honor those who have made an important contribution to the Western community of the book" and is given in memory of Jack D. Rittenhouse, legendary bookman in the West. Last year's recipients were Chuck and Dee Robinson, founders of Village Books, Bellingham and Lyden, Wash.

The award will be made during PubWest's annual conference, to the held February 15-17 at the Westin Pasadena in Pasadena, Calif.

PubWest recounted our story this way:

John Mutter was the longtime executive editor for bookselling at Publishers Weekly. In the mid-1990s, he launched one of the first trade e-newsletters: the former PW Daily for Booksellers. It became very popular, and when it was ended and John left PW, booksellers immediately rallied, asking him to start his own newsletter.

Jenn Risko landed her dream job with Pacific Pipeline 25 years ago, where she was given an old Ford Taurus, an enormous territory, and bags of western publishers' titles. She has held sales and marketing positions at Rand McNally, Falcon/Insiders’ Guides Publishing and the National Academies Press. She met John Mutter at a Falcon Publishing sales conference, and got into trouble for "hogging" him. Upon hearing of John's exit from PW, she called him to ask what his plans were.

Shelf Awareness was born shortly thereafter in June of 2005, out of a need for a community newspaper for independent booksellers, librarians, and the publishing trade at large. Shelf Awareness Pro, as it's now known, quickly became the daily must-read of 40,000 industry subscribers. The publication is well known for championing independent bookstores at a time when their future was in doubt.

In 2011, as book review sections were dwindling, indie bookstores were being referred to as "showrooms" for Amazon, and Borders had collapsed, Shelf Awareness launched a consumer-facing e-newsletter, Shelf Awareness for Readers. It highlights the best books being published each week and is branded on behalf of more than 100 independent bookstores to more than 415,000 indie bookstore customers. It is estimated to have helped indies sell hundreds of thousands of books.

Following the success of Shelf Pro and Readers, in 2016 the American Booksellers Association enlisted Shelf Awareness to build a new platform and create the e-newsletter for its Indie Next List program. The Indie Next List e-newsletter is delivered on behalf of more than 100 bookstores to 465,000 avid readers.

In 2017, Shelf Awareness will have delivered more than 70 million e-newsletters, and has more than 650,000 combined Twitter followers, Facebook likes, and Instagram followers. It has successfully deployed tens of thousands of advertisements for publishers, and remains the industry favorite to influence booksellers, librarians, and the largest audience of independent bookstore customers.

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B&N Maintains Dividend; Riggio Buys a Million Shares

Barnes & Noble has declared another quarterly dividend of 15 cents a share, maintaining its annual dividend rate of 60 cents a share at a time when some observers had speculated that the company might have to lower or suspend the dividend because of declining revenues. The quarterly dividend will be paid January 26 to stockholders of record at the end of the business day on January 5. Because of the company's slow, steady decline in share price, the dividend yield has kept rising, and now is nearly 9%.

In other B&N news, founder and chairman Len Riggio bought a million shares of company stock last Friday at $6.8027 a share, for just over $6.8 million, bringing his total share of B&N stock to slightly over 14 million shares, above 19% of B&N's shares outstanding. (At yesterday's closing price of $6.60 a share, his shares in the company are worth about $92.4 million.)

GLOW: Sourcebooks Landmark: A Forty Year Kiss by Nickolas Butler

At Follett, New President and CEO in the New Year

Patrick Connolly

Effective January 2, Patrick E. Connolly, a former executive at Sodexo, an international food services and facilities management company, will become president and CEO of Follett Corporation, succeeding Ray A. Griffith, who is retiring in March.

Griffith has headed Follett, which owns Baker & Taylor and Bookmasters, since 2015, after a long career at Ace Hardware. During his tenure, Follett bought B&T, Bookmasters and more than 200 Nebraska Book Company campus stores. Follett operates some 1,200 college bookstores and 1,600 virtual stores, and provides education technology, services, print and digital content to schools and colleges.

Follett chairman Todd A. Litzsinger commented: "Ray significantly expanded our business and developed a talented and mission-focused management team to take Follett into the future. He has inspired a culture focused on Follett's unique role in education and earned the respect of our customers, team members and family shareholders."

Connelly worked for nearly 30 years at Sodexo, where he was most recently CEO of Universities Worldwide.

Litzsinger said, "Pat's experience, leadership style and understanding of education make him the ideal choice to succeed Ray and lead Follett into the future. Pat is well known for his ability to connect with and engage the teams he leads, and he has a strong track record of driving business growth and positive financial outcomes."

Holiday Hum: Souza's Obama Hard to Find; Da Vinci Doing Well

With Thanksgiving weekend and Small Business Saturday in the rearview mirror, Hanukkah beginning next week and Christmas less than three weeks away, the holiday shopping season is well underway. Shelf Awareness takes a look at how the first week of December has gone for bookstores around the country.

Holiday decor at Interabang

Interabang Books in Dallas, Tex., is celebrating its first Christmas after holding its grand opening in September. General manager Jeremy Ellis said that though he has little to compare it against, the store has certainly seen an influx of customers since Thanksgiving, with many shoppers buying stacks of books and looking for gift recommendations. Among some of the early season standouts are Walter Isaacson's Leonardo da Vinci, which Ellis said was "going to be everyone's break out," The Secret Lives of Color by Kassia St. Clair, and Texas Blood by Roger D. Hodge. On the children's side, Ellis said that Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 has been flying off the shelves.

Ellis said that he's been a little surprised by quite how popular interior decorating, photography and design books have been with his customers, and consequently the store is "playing catch up" when it comes to bringing in those sorts of books. Haute Bohemians by Miguel Flores-Vianna and Amy Astley has been extremely popular but also difficult to get back in stock, and Pete Souza's photography book Obama: An Intimate Portrait in particular has been out of stock and unavailable. Ellis added that with the store being only about six months old, they were still learning about their customers and, in turn, getting discovered by new customers. He said: "It's exciting. It's always fun to do it the first time."

In St. Louis, Mo., the holiday season began for Left Bank Books with strong sales on Black Friday followed by a fantastic Small Business Saturday that saw sales up 40% over the previous year, said owner Kris Kleindienst. Some strong sellers include Obama: An Intimate Portrait, which Kleindienst said she had some trouble with at first but was now confident they'd be okay, and Joe Biden's memoir Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose. For adult fiction, Tom Hanks's book of short stories Uncommon Type has done "surprisingly well," and Celeste Ng's Little Fires Everywhere, George Saunders's Lincoln in the Bardo and Isabel Allende's In the Midst of Winter are all going strong. On the young adult front, Turtles All the Way Down by John Green and The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas are the strongest sellers, and for children's books, there is a Dragons Love Tacos window display, and Dragons Love Tacos 2: The Sequel by Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri is on the store's bestseller list.

Kleindienst said that Left Bank has only a few events left for the year, with the last in-store event scheduled for this week. She also has not brought on any additional help for the season, but the past two weekends have been so busy that she may reconsider. "This past Saturday was breathtaking, literally," she explained. "It was an aerobic experience."

For their second holiday season, Bea and Leah Koch, the owners of the romance-only bookstore The Ripped Bodice in Culver City, Calif., have drawn from what they learned during last year's holidays to make shopping for gifts easier and more inviting. Leah Koch explained that while the store always does "blind dates with a book," they are wrapped with Christmas wrapping paper this time of year and are "moving like crazy." For the first time, the store is offering curated gift boxes that are already wrapped and assembled. They come at two different price points and are based on the Bennet Sisters from Pride and Prejudice; both contain a book, and one comes with a canister of tea and a pair of socks, while the other has nail polish and a necklace. Said Leah Koch: "Anything that makes it easier for people to just grab and go is good."

The Koch sisters have also put out a table of their favorite books from 2017, and all of those are doing very well. The gift book Women's Libation!: Cocktails to Celebrate a Woman's Right to Booze by Merrily Grashin is also selling great, and Leah Koch reported that the holidays are the store's best times for sideline sales. Some of the bestsellers include tea, new lines of lipstick and nail polishes, mugs and a variety of store-branded merchandise, including a calendar featuring their dog. The Ripped Bodice has also created an elaborate holiday window display featuring a menorah made of books; last year, the store had a Christmas tree made out of books.

Getting ready at Greenlight

In Brooklyn, N.Y., Greenlight Bookstore in Fort Greene and Prospect Lefferts Gardens saw a slight holiday uptick in the week leading up to Thanksgiving, with Small Business Saturday then kicking things into high gear. Co-owner Rebecca Fitting reported that as of this week, it "feels like each day is building steadily upward," and she expects each weekend between now and Christmas to take a big jump as well. Among the big sellers for adults are Jennifer Egan's Manhattan Beach, Min Jin Lee's Pachinko, Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit and Obama: An Intimate Portrait. For children, Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls has been a "runaway self publishing success story." She added that new and old titles by Jesmyn Ward and "all-things-Didion" are selling "hand over fist."

Fitting said that, typically, Greenlight does not carry many self-published books without a local connection, but demand for Rebel Girls was so high that they'd be losing out if they didn't have it in stock. She was also surprised about the recent success of Men Explain Things to Me-- the book seemed to have leveled off months ago, but has jumped back up recently due to "current events." They are "chasing" Souza's Obama, along with a handful of bestsellers including Pachinko, but she's optimistic those will all "work themselves out soon." In an effort to both round out their selections and raise overall profit margins, Fitting and her co-owner Jessica Stockton Bagnulo have been "really bullish" this year on children's gifts and toys. So far, it is well received, and Fitting remarked that she's heard customers say that they hadn't intended to do so much shopping in the store, but "then their arms were full with multiple books and gifts."

Holiday window at Magers & Quinn

At Magers & Quinn Booksellers in Minneapolis, Minn., assistant manager Annie Metcalf said that sales have certainly picked up since Thanksgiving on the weekends, while the weekdays are still fairly normal. She expects sales to build steadily over the coming weeks, with the weekend rush increasingly bleeding into the week. Strong sellers include Chris Riemenschneider's art book First Avenue: Minnesota's Mainroom, which has a local focus; Metcalf called it a "home run" for the store. Metcalf also reported a rush on Souza's Obama, and while she pointed to Leonardo Da Vinci as a major book so far, she said that there didn't seem to be a single, breakaway fiction title this year the way Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See dominated holiday sales a few years ago. Instead, it seems like a wider array of adult fiction titles, driven by staff recommendations, are doing well.

Magers & Quinn has only a couple of traditional author events left for the year. For the most part, December events consist of casual meet-and-greets with authors, who stop by the store on weekends to meet and chat with customers. This way, customers can still get signed books and meet authors but the events are much less disruptive. Upcoming guests will include Chef Sean Sherman and writer Beth Dooley, the pair behind the cookbook The Sioux Chef's Indigenous Kitchen; Dave Page, author of F. Scott Fitzgerald in Minnesota: The Writer and His Friends at Home; and a variety of children's book authors. --Alex Mutter


George Carroll to Retire as Publishers Rep

George Carroll

George Carroll, independent publishers representative in the Pacific Northwest, has announced that the spring season will be his Farewell Tour. He has sold university press and trade books for more than 40 years, most recently as the principal of Redsides Publishing Services. The publishers he's represented longest--for more than 30 years each--are the University of Chicago Press and Oxford University Press. He began his career in bookselling as a teenager at Pickwick Bookshops in Southern California

But George is not fully retiring: among other activities, he writes about world literature occasionally for Shelf Awareness and is managing editor of

Personnel Changes at Soho Press

At Soho Press, Steven Tran has been promoted to sales assistant. He was previously publisher's assistant.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Ginger Zee on the View

The View: Ginger Zee, author of Natural Disaster: I Cover Them. I am One. (Kingswell, $26.99, 9781484780428).

Movies: Turtles All the Way Down

John Green released a video announcing that his latest novel, Turtles All the Way Down, has been optioned by Fox 2000 and is headed to the big screen, Deadline reported. Green is working on the adaptation and will serve as an executive producer with Rosianna Halse Rojas.

"This maintains the relationship between the author and studio and keeps in the spirit with Fox's prior adaptations of Green's teen-driven novels including Paper Towns and the uber-successful The Fault in Our Stars," Deadline noted.

Green said, "It doesn't mean there will definitely be a movie, but it means that there might be one. So now's the time to begin inundating me with casting suggestions."

This Weekend on Book TV: Khizr Khan on An American Family

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 9
3 p.m. Lydia Kang, author of Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything (Workman, $22.95, 9780761189817). (Re-airs Sunday at 9:30 a.m.)

4 p.m. Richard Aldous, author of Schlesinger: The Imperial Historian (Norton, $29.95, 9780393244700). (Re-airs Sunday at 7:45 a.m.)

5:40 p.m. Yasutsune Hirashiki, author of On the Frontlines of the Television War: A Legendary War Cameraman in Vietnam (Casemate, $32.95, 9781612004723), at the Fall for the Book Festival in Fairfax, Va. (Re-airs Monday at 4 a.m.)

8 p.m. Julie Lythcott-Haims, author of Real American: A Memoir (Holt, $27, 9781250137746), at BookPeople in Austin, Tex. (Re-airs Sunday at 4:30 p.m.)

9:15 p.m. Jerry Yellin, co-author of The Last Fighter Pilot: The True Story of the Final Combat Mission of World War II (Regnery History, $25.99, 9781621575061). (Re-airs Sunday at 1:45 p.m.)

10 p.m. Khizr Khan, author of An American Family: A Memoir of Hope and Sacrifice (Random House, $27, 9780399592492). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Steven Ross, author of Hitler in Los Angeles: How Jews Foiled Nazi Plots Against Hollywood and America (Bloomsbury, $30, 9781620405628), at Chevalier's Books in Los Angeles, Calif. (Re-airs Sunday at 3:15 p.m.)

Sunday, December 10
12 a.m. Abigail Marsh, author of The Fear Factor: How One Emotion Connects Altruists, Psychopaths, and Everyone In-Between (Basic Books, $28, 9781541697195), at Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C.

1 a.m. Haroon Ullah, author of Digital World War: Islamists, Extremists, and the Fight for Cyber Supremacy (Yale University Press, $25, 9780300231106). (Re-airs Sunday at 7 p.m.)

8 p.m. Greta Van Susteren, author of Everything You Need to Know about Social Media: Without Having to Call A Kid (Simon & Schuster, $19.99, 9781501132445), at Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C.

10 p.m. Helen Thorpe, author of The Newcomers: Finding Refuge, Friendship, and Hope in an American Classroom (Scribner, $28, 9781501159091).

11 p.m. Russell Shorto, author of Revolution Song: A Story of American Freedom (Norton, $28.95, 9780393245547). 

Books & Authors

Awards: Center for Fiction First Novel

Julie Lekstrom Himes has won the $10,000 2017 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize for her novel, Mikhail and Margarita (Europa Editions). The organizers wrote, in part:

"It is 1933 and Mikhail Bulgakov's enviable career is on the brink of being dismantled. His friend and mentor, the poet Osip Mandelstam, has been arrested, tortured, and sent into exile. Meanwhile, a mysterious agent of the secret police has developed a growing obsession with exposing Bulgakov as an enemy of the state. To make matters worse, Bulgakov has fallen in love with the dangerously candid Margarita. Facing imminent arrest, and infatuated with Margarita, he is inspired to write his masterpiece, The Master and Margarita, a scathing novel critical of both power and the powerful.

"Ranging between lively readings in the homes of Moscow's literary elite to the Siberian Gulag, Mikhail and Margarita recounts a passionate love triangle while painting a portrait of a country whose towering literary tradition is at odds with a dictatorship that does not tolerate dissent. Margarita is a strong, idealistic, seductive woman who is fiercely loved by two very different men, both of whom will fail in their attempts to shield her from the machinations of a regime hungry for human sacrifice. Debut novelist Julie Lekstrom Himes launches a rousing defense of art and the artist during a time of systematic deception, and she movingly portrays the ineluctable consequences of love for one of history's most enigmatic literary figures."

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, December 12:

Women & Power: A Manifesto by Mary Beard (Liveright, $15.95, 9781631494758) uses historical and modern misogyny to critique power structures.

The Truth Beneath the Lies by Amanda Searcy (Delacorte, $17.99, 9781524700898) is a thriller in which two young women meet under homicidal circumstances.

This Little Trailblazer: A Girl Power Primer by Joan Holub, illustrated by Daniel Roode (Little Simon, $7.99, 9781534401068) is a board book all about influential women who changed history.

Atkins: Eat Right, Not Less: Your Guidebook for Living a Low-Carb and Low-Sugar Lifestyle by Colette Heimowitz (Touchstone, $30, 9781501175442) includes 100 Atkins-friendly recipes.

Ferdinand, loosely based on the children's book The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf and Robert Lawson, opens December 15. John Cena voices the titular bull in this story of a misunderstood animal taken far from his home.

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

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

Mr. Dickens and His Carol: A Novel of Christmas Past by Samantha Silva (Flatiron Books, $24.99, 9781250154040). "Full of fantastic period detail and delightful prose, Mr. Dickens and His Carol is a wonderful companion to the enduring holiday classic A Christmas Carol. A month before Christmas, Charles Dickens is informed that his latest serial is a failure and he must produce a holiday story in one month's time or pay back his publishers for their losses. Beleaguered by his demanding relatives and expectant children, Dickens turns churlish and is unable to find any Christmas left within him to produce a fitting book. Fate intervenes when a mysterious woman crosses his path and becomes his much-needed muse, sending Dickens on a journey of inward reflection and reminding him not only of the joys of the season but how his cherished works are a gift for everyone who reads them." --Meaghan Beasley, Island Bookstore, Kitty Hawk, N.C.

It's All Relative: Adventures Up and Down the World's Family Tree by A.J. Jacobs (Simon & Schuster, $27, 9781476734491). "For anyone interested in climbing their own family tree, A.J. Jacobs' It's All Relative offers a lighthearted crash course into the addictive world of genealogy. Inspired by the record-breaking get-togethers of the Lilly clan and heartened by the theory that we're all related, Jacobs embarks on a quest to hold the world's largest family reunion. As Jacobs juggles the mechanics of such a massive undertaking, he interviews well-known researchers in the field, discovers famous 'cousins,' and considers some of the ethical issues of diving into an ancestor's past. An enjoyable introduction to genealogy and the living family tree." --Molly Gillespie, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Cincinnati, Ohio

Mister Monkey: A Novel by Francine Prose (Harper Perennial, $15.99, 9780062397843). "I came to this book expecting to be entertained, and it is laugh-out-loud funny. But in the wise and observant ways of Prose, Mister Monkey is more than just a protracted joke. The story begins in the narrow spaces of a theater set to be demolished for condos and widens as Prose shifts points of view from actor to costume designer to writer to waiter to Hindu deity and back to the stage. Adolescent rage, loneliness, divinity, the end of the world, the beginning of love, the way we fail to live up to our dreams for ourselves, the fear of our own mediocrity, the unexpected victories that are the grace that fills the spaces made by disappointment: these are the soul of this novel with an agile, monkey heart. Both deeply moving and light, this is one of my favorite novels of the year." --Melanie McNair, Malaprop's Bookstore/Café, Asheville, N.C.

For Ages 4 to 8
The Bad Seed by Jory John, illustrated by Pete Oswald (HarperCollins, $17.99, 9780062467768). "The bad seed is adorable. Does he know this? No. This is the story of a sunflower seed from very ordinary circumstances who has a very bad thing happen to him. After this trauma, he feels bad, acts bad, and cares even less. Eventually, after considering the things that others say about his behavior (he has great hearing for a seed), he decides to try to change things a bit. Not entirely, just a bit. And these manageable changes give him something to be proud of. Good on you, little seed." --Lauren Dalhaus, Watermark Books, Wichita, Kan.

For Ages 9 to 12
Top Elf by Caleb Huett (Scholastic Press, $16.99, 9781338052121). "Top Elf is a fun adventure due to generous helpings of suspense and mystery sprinkled throughout this very Christmassy book set at the North Pole. The story of two elf best friends and the role they play in the Santa Trials has loads of heart-pounding action as well as actual heart. Huett has cleverly hidden tidbits of strong positive messages throughout this tale that young readers will absorb subconsciously, like supporting your friends and being kind. The writing is tight and the exploits seriously exciting." --Rachel Watkins, Avid Bookshop, Athens, Ga.

For Teen Readers: An Indies Introduce Title
The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee (Amulet Books, $18.99, 9781419725487). "In The Epic Crush of Genie Lo, competitive overachiever Genie gets sucked into the world of ancient Chinese gods and demons, but she'd rather work on her college applications. But when you've got the strength of the most powerful weapon in the world and the unwanted assistance of a famous reincarnated trickster god, there's no way out of super-powered temper tantrums, hordes of demons on the loose, and maybe even a reluctant romance. Someone has to save the world, and the only person up for it is Genie Lo. Totally badass and completely terrific." --Sami Thomason, Square Books, Oxford, Miss.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: This Could Hurt

This Could Hurt by Jillian Medoff (Harper, $26.99 hardcover, 384p., 9780062660763, January 9, 2018)

Corporate America during nine months of the Great Recession is the setting of This Could Hurt, Jillian Medoff's shrewd and deeply affecting fourth novel. Ellery Consumer Research--with offices in New York City, Raleigh and Atlanta--is a cutting-edge, boutique market research firm for clients like Walmart and General Motors. Medoff roots the story amid the shrinking human resources department of Ellery in New York, offering a well-drawn ensemble cast of flawed characters--a staff reflecting a diversity of races, generations and sexual orientations--who orbit around Rosalita "Rosa" Guerrero, the 64-year-old HR chief.

Rosa is a seasoned old-timer--personally and professionally. She adheres to the adage, "Business is cyclical.... Everything rises, eventually." However, her task in keeping those who report to her at Ellery "engaged while simultaneously assessing each one's value as a performer, team member, and long-term investment" is quite a challenge. She is bossy, but fair. Her take-charge, no-nonsense approach serves as a "voice of clarity and calm" in her quest to advocate for and boost the morale of those in her department despite drastic corporate cutbacks. Rosa's predicament grows more complex when she's forced to fire the v-p of operations--a trusted confidant of Rosa and her right hand--who was being groomed as her successor, but was embezzling from the company.

His departure leaves an open door for the rest of the HR staff, most of whom are scrambling to find ways to stay employed under the corporate restructuring and downsizing. They include Robert Hirsch, a family man and the burned-out assistant director of recruiting and training, who, as a 20-year employee, ponders paths not taken in his life. Kenny Verville, senior manager of compensation with Ellery for only three years, is a Wharton MBA with marital troubles and a very high opinion of himself who becomes more fixated on looking for a better job rather than focusing on the one he already has. Hopelessly single Lucinda "Lucy" Bender, v-p of communications policy, is working hard for a promotion and to find Mr. Right. But at what cost? And Leonard "Leo" Smalls, v-p of employee benefits, is capable and loyal, but floundering in his love life. When Rosa faces an illness that threatens to undermine her position of power at Ellery, she is forced to seek out trustworthy professional allies. Whom can she turn to, whom can she trust?

Medoff (I Couldn't Love You More) has a spot-on grasp on the often cutthroat nuances of office politics--especially within the high-stakes uncertainty of the Great Recession. She skillfully reveals the modus operandi of the staff as they vie to keep their jobs. Sharply drawn intimate details about the lives of each character add even greater depth and broaden the timeless appeal of this very smart, thoroughly absorbing story. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines.

Shelf Talker: A shrewd novel of corporate culture that examines how a group of HR employees face fallout from the Great Recession.

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