Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Flatiron Books: The Familiar by Leigh Bardugo

St. Martin's Griffin: One Last Shot by Betty Cayouette

Flatiron Books: Anita de Monte Laughs Last by Xochitl Gonzalez

Page Street YA: The Final Curse of Ophelia Cray by Christine Calella

HarperOne: I Finally Bought Some Jordans: Essays by Michael Arceneaux

Tor Nightfire: Ghost Station by S.A. Barnes


Our 2017 Best Children's & Teen Books of the Year

This has been a fantastic year for children's books! It was tough, but we've managed to chose our favorites for 2017; click here to see
Shelf's reviews of these wonderful books that brought joy to child and teen readers.

Picture Books
Stolen Words by Melanie Florence, illus. by Gabrielle Grimard (Second Story Press)
Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library by Carole Boston Weatherford, illus. by Eric Velasquez (Candlewick Press)
A Different Pond by Bao Phi,‎ illus. by Thi Bui (Capstone)
Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers,‎ illus. by Shawn Harris (Chronicle)
Why Am I Me? by Paige Britt,‎ illus. by Selina Alko and Sean Qualls (Scholastic)
The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse by Mac Barnett, illus. by Jon Klassen (Candlewick)
Buddy and Earl Go to School by Maureen Fergus,‎ illus. by Carey Sookocheff (Groundwood)
Now by Antoinette Portis (Roaring Brook)
Town Is by the Sea by Joanne Schwartz,‎ illus. Sydney Smith (Groundwood)
Silent Days, Silent Dreams by Allen Say (Arthur Levine/Scholastic)

Middle Grade Books (Ages 9-12)
Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team by Steve Sheinkin (Roaring Brook)
The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore (Knopf)
Pablo and Birdy by Alison McGhee,‎ illus. by Ana Juan (Atheneum)
A Properly Unhaunted Place by William Alexander,‎ illus. by Kelly Murphy (McElderry/Simon & Schuster)
Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth by Frank Cottrell Boyce (Walden Pond/HarperCollins)
Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar (Paulsen/Penguin)
The Doorman's Repose by Chris Raschka (New York Review Children's)
The Secret of Nightingale Wood by Lucy Strange (Chicken House/Scholastic)
The Lotterys Plus One by Emma Donoghue,‎ illus. by Caroline Hadilaksono (Arthur Levine/Scholastic)
Wicked Bugs (Young Readers Edition): The Meanest, Deadliest, Grossest Bugs on Earth by Amy Stewart,‎ illus. by Briony Morrow-Cribbs (Algonquin)

Teen Books
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (Balzer + Bray)
You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham (Little, Brown)
The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco (Sourcebooks Fire)
Crossing Ebenezer Creek by Tonya Bolden (Bloomsbury)
The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (Tegen/Harper)
Landscape with Invisible Hand by M.T. Anderson (Candlewick)
A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge (Abrams Amulet)
Queer, There, and Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed the World by Sarah Prager,‎ illus. by Zoe More O'Ferrall (HarperCollins)
The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives by Dashka Slater (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Peachtree Teen: The Absinthe Underground by Jamie Pacton

In Depth: 2018 Fiction Edition to Debut on Book TV

Describing the initiative as "a special project for 2018," Book TV on C-Span 2 will depart from its nearly 20-year-old nonfiction mission with a monthly In Depth: 2018 Fiction Edition series featuring 12 bestselling fiction writers, focusing on historical fiction, science and national security thrillers, and social commentary. In Depth, which debuted on Book TV in 2000, airs live on the first Sunday of each month.

Brad Thor, Jeff Shaara, Cory Doctorow, Geraldine Brooks and Walter Mosley have each agreed to spend three hours live at the In Depth interview table, discussing their craft, characters and the stories they tell. The interactive programs will allow Book TV's audience to ask questions via telephone and social media. Washington Post writer David Ignatius, author of 10 fiction titles, will kick off the special series on Sunday, January 7, at 12 p.m.

"This special year-long In Depth Fiction Edition gives us a different lens by which to view Book TV's typical fare of American history and national issues," said Book TV executive producer Peter Slen. "The 12 fiction writers we've selected for this project spend years researching their subject matter, developing high-level sources and they bring that expertise to the stories they tell.... We obviously also hope that this special In Depth series will introduce fiction readers to Book TV's unique long-form style of television programming and they will stay around for more."

HarperOne: Be a Revolution: How Everyday People Are Fighting Oppression and Changing the World--And How You Can, Too by Ijeoma Oluo

Tenn.'s Words of Wisdom Bookstore Closing

Owner Ken Pruitt and manager Rebekka Pruitt

Words of Wisdom Bookstore, which opened in Nashville, Tenn., only this last August, is closing at the end of the month.

In a Facebook post, the store said, "We can no longer sustain a viable presence at this store. We have appreciated your business. We hope to continue online in the coming days. We especially want to thank those of Nashville's writing community who have so kindly supported our efforts. We have made a great number of friends during this venture; you have truly blessed us."

In September, the store launched a $3,000 GoFundMe campaign because sales had "fallen very short of projections." The campaign raised only $335.

Words of Wisdom is owned by Ken Pruitt, an author, publishers' rep, minister, consultant and national educational speaker, and managed by Pruitt's daughter, Rebekka Pruitt, who had earlier worked at the now-defunct Family Christian Bookstore in Nashville.

The 1,400-square-foot store carries fiction and nonfiction books, as well as a large collection of works by local authors, children's and religious titles, some music and DVDs, professional and curriculum materials for teachers, and greeting cards.

Harpervia: Behind You Is the Sea by Susan Muaddi Darraj

Pike and Powder Publishing Group Formed

Winged Hussar Publishing, Point Pleasant, N.J., and New England Publishing Associates, Lawrence, N.J., have formed a new publishing house, Pike and Powder Publishing Group, that will specialize in books on military and social history, and quality historical fiction and science fiction for all ages. Pike and Powder will combine the imprints the Knox Press, the Nafziger Collection, Winged Hussar and Zmok Books; two new imprints, Liberty Bell Press and Poplar Press, will be launched next year. Pike and Powder will be distributed by Simon & Schuster worldwide.

Recent releases from Pike and Powder include Halsey's Bluff, a novel by Larry Schweikart; The Art of Giuseppe Rava, a collection of military art through the ages; and Crossroads of the Revolution: Trenton 1774 to 1783 by William L. Kidder.

Winged Hussar Publishing was formed in 2012 by Vincent Rospond, who has more than 25 years of experience in publishing and is editor of The Journal of America's Military Past. The press has focused on military history with an Eastern European bent and includes the Nafziger Collection, a series of military history titles, and Zmok Books, which publishes science fiction and fantasy, adventure and horror for original and genre books, such as the Great Martian War series.

New England Publishing Associates, a literary agency and book packager since 1983, was purchased by Roger S. Williams in 2010. In 2016, NEPA launched the Knox Press, publishing works of American military history. NEPA will continue to operate two divisions: property rights promotion and management under and the publishing group under its Knox Press, Poplar Press and Liberty Bell Press imprints. Williams has worked in the book world for more than 38 years, as a bookseller a sales rep, sales director and literary agent.

University of California Press: The Accidental Ecosystem: People and Wildlife in American Cities by Peter S. Alagona

Obituary Note: Don Coles

Canadian poet and novelist Don Coles, who "was revered for his 14 volumes of poetry, including The Prinzhorn Collection, Forests of the Medieval World, which won the Governor-General's literary award for poetry in 1993, and Kurgan, winner of the Trillium Prize in 2000," died November 29, the Globe & Mail reported. He was 90. Coles also wrote "the intellectually persuasive" novel Doctor Bloom's Story, which was a finalist for a Toronto Book Award in 2005.

Michael Redhill, winner of this year's Scotiabank Giller Prize for his novel Bellevue Square, met Coles at York University in the mid-1980s, but really got to know him at Banff a few years later: "He gave me the courage to try to be better," Redhill said, adding that "when you love someone's work, you're motivated to listen closely.... what he said to me about my young poems, face to face, and later in life, the many different conversations and e-mails I had with him that sent me running to the bookshelf or the bookstore. The depth of his knowledge, and the certainty he held in the importance of poetry, excited my intellect every time I encountered him."

Poet David O'Meara noted that Coles "encouraged and grounded me. He reminded me, by speaking about what he loved to read, that writing takes a lifetime of thinking, as reading does. He defended patience and subtlety and led by example." 


Image of the Day: Happy 242nd Birthday, Jane Austen!

Last Saturday, The Novel Neighbor, Webster Groves, Mo., held a 242nd birthday party for Jane Austen, in partnership with the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, as a conclusion to the Pages & Stages book club series. Some 30 attendees enjoyed tea, ornament making and a presentation by local historians about 19th-century St. Louis holiday traditions.

Cool Idea of the Day: Send a Book to Congress

A group of concerned citizens in Seattle recently approached Kim Hooyboer, manager of Third Place Books, Seward Park, with the idea of sending a copy of Timothy Snyder's book On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century (Tim Duggan Books) to every member of Congress. Seattle magazine reported that the "response from Hooyboer and her bosses was enthusiastic. Third Place Books offered the group, who asked to remain anonymous to emphasize the community effort, a significant discount on more than half the books needed, plus space to write personalized letters and stuff envelopes." A friend of the group who lives in Vermont connected them with Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury, which is contributing the other half of the books.

"How we can be active resistance hubs: I've been talking about this with a lot of other bookstores around the country in the last year," said Hooyboer. "Our role as booksellers is to bring the right books to the right people at the right time. To be principled, not partisan. That's why it makes so much sense for this group to come to us and for us to help in whatever way we can.... I think it's really easy right now to want to close the doors, turn the lights off, and sit in a corner, but one of the important things we can be doing right now is educating ourselves and reading these books and having these conversations with your community."

Personnel Changes at IglooBooks/Bonnier

Becky Kriete has joined IglooBooks, an imprint of Bonnier Publishing USA, as publishing manager. She was formerly publishing coordinator at Parragon.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Naomi Judd on Harry

Harry: Naomi Judd, co-author of River of Time: My Descent into Depression and How I Emerged with Hope (Center Street, $15.99, 9781455595730).

The Opposition with Jordan Klepper repeat: Scott Kelly, author of Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery (Knopf, $29.95, 9781524731595).

The View repeat: Tiffany Haddish, author of The Last Black Unicorn (Gallery, $26, 9781501181825).

TV: Watergate

CBS Television Studios is developing a series based on Thomas Mallon's novel Watergate after optioning the rights in association with Paul Giamatti and Dan Carey's production company Touchy Feely Films, Deadline reported. Screenwriter John Orloff (Band of Brothers) is set to adapt and write the project, which is being considered for premium and streaming networks such as CBS-owned Showtime and CBS All Access.

Books & Authors

Awards: Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry

Paul Muldoon will receive the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry, which was instituted by King George V in 1933 and is awarded to a published poet from the U.K. or a Commonwealth realm "for excellence in poetry, on the basis either of a body of work over several years, or for an outstanding poetry collection issued during the year of the award." He will be presented with the medal by the queen in 2018.

Queen Elizabeth II approved the Poetry Medal Committee's recommendation of Muldoon on the basis of the body of his work. Summing up the committee's choice, poet laureate Dame Carol Ann Duffy said that Muldoon "is widely acclaimed as the most original and influential poet of the past 50 years and is rightly celebrated alongside Seamus Heaney. His poetry displays a restless playful brilliance, forever searching for new ways to channel his ideas and new language to dress them in. He is ambitious, erudite, witty and musical. He can experiment with form and stand tradition on its head, craft a tender elegy or intimate love poem with equal skill. His work is of major significance internationally--poetry of clarity, invention, purpose and importance which has raised the bar of what's possible in poetry to new heights."

Reading with... André Aciman

photo: Sigrid Estrada

André Aciman is the author of Call Me by Your Name (Picador, October 2017; now a major motion picture), Enigma Variations (FSG, January 2017; available in paperback from Picador January 9, 2018), Eight White NightsOut of EgyptFalse PapersAlibis and Harvard Square, and is the editor of the Proust Project. He teaches comparative literature at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and lives with his wife in Manhattan.

On your nightstand now:

Journey by Moonlight by Antal Szerb (NYRB Classic). Haven't figured it out yet!

Favorite book when you were a child:

Treasure Island and Wuthering Heights: I started reading classics very early, and in many ways the great authors of the past have determined my taste for books. I judge most books by the first few sentences of the opening chapter. It's almost as unfair as judging a book by its cover, but the first three to four sentences give you a sense of the temperament, the attitude, the schooling, call it even the behavior, the overall orientation of the author--the author's fundamental taste. If we don't share the same taste, I stop reading.

Your top five authors:


All five share one thing in common: they are constantly trying to figure out human motivation, which is another way of saying that they are committed to fathoming human psychology. That they all assume people lie to others as well as to themselves does not mean they are pessimists; it just means they are struggling to remain disabused. They don't trust others--or themselves.

Book you've faked reading:

Moby-Dick: Too long. Great prose. But not for me.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Proust's Remembrance of Things Past changes how you read your life and people in general. We are all sick and twisted, but sick or twisted and definitely obsessive does not mean we lack charm, knowledge, even brilliance, or that we are incapable of this strange, unwieldly thing called passion.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Mikhail Lermontov's A Hero of Our Time. The portrait of the author as a young soldier won me over. I knew what awaited me. I read the whole book in a few hours in my bedroom in Rome at the age of 15. It taught me things I wouldn't have discovered otherwise: why we do things that go against our nature, why we spite people, why sarcasm and irony are so vital a mask and why with very best intentions we opt for the worst.

Book you hid from your parents:

Stoker's Dracula. I was seeing a girl at the time who recommended I read it. She also recommended Tolkien. I knew my father would consider either one fluff.

Book that changed your life:

Ovid's Metamorphoses taught me everything I needed to know about desire and how strange are the pathways of desire. I thought I was weird because I desired, until I realized that every person on this planet is driven by desire. They just couch it better; I eventually learned to couch it, too.

LaFayette's The Princesse de Clèves: Possibly my favorite novel. Because it is about how two individuals who are madly and hopelessly in love learn to hide and ultimately to stifle that love.

Favorite line from a book:

"The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there." --from The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley

I quoted that line in Enigma Variations. How we alter the past is what allows us to live. And with writers and memoirists, how we hijack true facts to allow us to live with them.

Five authors whose works you'll never part with:


Without them, what is there?

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

Dostoyevsky's The Idiot

The problem is finding the time. It was a brilliant book, and it taught me that a good writer is interested in how warped everyone is. I thought I was the only living being struggling to hide how warped I was. It was good to know there were others.

The best-written book in the English language:

The King James Bible. There is something unforgettably stately in the cadence of its prose. It reminds me that stateliness, even when it is to the point and remains irreducibly plain and simple, is the most luminous state a writer could aspire to.

Book Review

YA Review: Thunderhead

Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman (Simon & Schuster, $18.99 hardcover, 512p., ages 12-up, 9781442472457, January 9, 2018)

Readers are thrown back into the postmortal world of Neal Shusterman's Scythe in this high-speed sequel.

The scythedom is a society of individuals, beholden only to their own laws, that is charged with keeping the immortal population of the world at a sustainable level by choosing people to be "gleaned," or killed in a final, true death. Scythes have a tenuous relationship with the Thunderhead--the benevolent artificial intelligence that runs the world--that is much like mortal-age Merica's separation of church and state. The Thunderhead has dominion over the living; the scythes have dominion over themselves and death.

Citra Terranova has finished her scythe training under the "Granddame of Death," Scythe Curie, and is now a junior scythe. Scythe Anastasia, as Citra is now known, gleans in an unusual fashion: she visits the person to be gleaned and gives them a month to get their affairs in order. At the end of the month, the individual must return to Scythe Anastasia, at which point they will be gleaned in the manner of their choosing.

Rowan Damisch, who had been pitted against Citra for the scythe position, is on the run. He has illegally taken on the duties of a scythe, calling himself Scythe Lucifer, and gleans amoral scythes who abuse their power and status. While the scythedom "had, for many, many years, administered the quietus of death with a noble, moral, and humane hand," there is a new branch of the scythedom full of "dark hubris" and a "frightening pride... that finds pleasure in the act of taking life." It is the scythes who align with this "new order" that Scythe Lucifer seeks and destroys. The new order, however, is growing in power and popularity. They see Scythe Anastasia as something of a thorn in their side; Scythe Lucifer, however, is clearly someone who must be stopped.

Scythe Anastasia also has an uneasy relationship with Scythe Lucifer. Having trained side by side and then survived being pitted against each other, Citra and Rowan share an extremely strong bond. The last time they were together, "they both said the words they had sworn they'd never allow themselves to say. In the heat of that desperate but triumphant moment, he told her that he loved her, and she admitted to him that, yes, she loved him, too." Citra wants Rowan to be safe; Scythe Anastasia has a problem with Scythe Lucifer's methods.

Navigating this political and moral landscape is difficult but, as the scythedom becomes more fractious, Citra and Rowan find themselves facing ever greater danger. Readers will fly through this 500+-page novel, barely aware of the time passing as the stakes rise rapidly, and the plot races at a breathless pace to a massive cliffhanger. --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness

Shelf Talker: Citra and Rowan find themselves at the center of a growing divide between scythes in this intense second book in Neal Shusterman's Arc of a Scythe series.

The Bestsellers

Top 10 Book Club Picks of 2017

The top 10 book club picks of 2017, based on votes from book club readers in more than 50,000 book clubs registered at

1. A Man Called Ove: A Novel by Fredrik Backman
2. Small Great Things: A Novel by Jodi Picoult
3. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
4. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance
5. The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
6. Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
7. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
8. Lilac Girls: A Novel by Martha Hall Kelly
9. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
10. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

[Many thanks to!]

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