Also published on this date: Wednesday, January 31, 2018: Maximum Shelf: The Map of Salt and Stars

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, January 31, 2018

William Morrow & Company: The Midnight Feast by Lucy Foley

Shadow Mountain: The Witch in the Woods: Volume 1 (Grimmworld) by Michaelbrent Collings

Hell's Hundred: Blood Like Mine by Stuart Neville

Delacorte Press: Last One to Die by Cynthia Murphy

Margaret Ferguson Books: Not a Smiley Guy by Polly Horvath, Illustrated by Boris Kulikov

Indiana University Press: The Grim Reader: A Pharmacist's Guide to Putting Your Characters in Peril by Miffie Seideman

St. Martin's Press: Lenny Marks Gets Away with Murder by Kerryn Mayne

Quotation of the Day

Bringing #Wi13 Back Home

"Last week, the Briar Patch was represented among close to 700 booksellers and several hundred publishers, distributors, wholesalers, authors and more at American Booksellers Association's Winter Institute in Memphis. Over 3+ days of educational programming included best practices and idea exchanges on the nuts and bolts of running a successful independent bookstore. Perhaps more importantly, we discussed diversity & inclusiveness in all aspects of bookselling and how to be a great partner in our communities. This week, we're excited to bring all of this back to Bangor and continue to do what we do best--put books in the hands of readers of all ages. Thank you to the ABA, the many publisher reps and, especially, all of our sister bookstores for welcoming us at this positive and healthy event."

--Posted Monday on Facebook by the Briar Patch bookstore, Bangor, Maine

Harper: Our Kind of Game by Johanna Copeland


Kwame Alexander to Launch Versify Imprint with HMH

Kwame Alexander

Kwame Alexander, the poet, educator, Newbery Medalist and bestselling author of 25 books, is heading a new imprint called Versify for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's Books for Young Readers group. Versify will publish "innovative creators with fresh stories," reflecting Alexander's vision that "accessible and powerful prose and poetry--in picture books, novels, and nonfiction--can celebrate the lives and reflect the possibilities of all children," according to the publisher. Seeking new authors and artists as well as established writers and illustrators, Versify will publish works that "explore the beauty, hurdles and hopefulness of life... books that will engage, entertain, and empower young people to imagine and create a better world."

Working with Alexander will be his editor Margaret Raymo, a longtime HMH senior executive editor; Erika Turner, editorial project manager; and an advisory council of students from across the country.

"I get asked what will make Versify different from other imprints," said Alexander. "The truth is we are not reinventing publishing. It's the same ingredients in our kitchen as everyone else's: we want to publish books for children that are smart and fun, that inform and inspire, that help children imagine a better world. My goal is just to make sure there are more chefs in the kitchen, more voices in the room, that create unique and intelligent entertainment that electrifies and edifies young people. So yes, I too am looking for the next Mo Willems and Jacqueline Woodson. It's just that I plan to look far and wide in places unseen to most. As Langston Hughes said, 'Life is a big sea full of many fish. I let down my nets and pull.' "

Versify launches in spring 2019, with an inaugural list that will include This Is for Us, a picture book by Alexander and illustrator Kadir Nelson that pays tribute to the sacrifices and triumphs of African Americans; The Last Last-Day-of-Summer, a middle-grade "modern day Phantom Tollbooth" by Lamar Giles, founding member of We Need Diverse Books; ¡Vamos!/Let's Go!, the first in a new bilingual picture book series by illustrator Raúl the Third; and White Rose, a YA novel in verse about Nazi resistance leader Sophie Scholl, by YARN poetry editor Kip Wilson.

"We're thrilled to partner with Kwame on Versify," said Catherine Onder, senior v-p and publisher of HMH Books for Young Readers. "From The Crossover to his international touring to his extensive literacy work with students and teachers, he brings an extraordinary vision, passion and outreach that will surely resonate with readers young and old, long into the future."

Chronicle Books: Life Wants You Dead: A Calm, Rational, and Totally Legit Guide to Scaring Yourself Safe by Evan Waite, Illustrated by Paula Searing

Judith Curr Leaving Atria/S&S

Judith Curr

After 19 years with Simon & Schuster, Judith Curr has decided to leave her position as president and publisher of the Atria Publishing Group, effective immediately, S&S said yesterday. While a search is underway, Peter Borland and Suzanne Donahue will oversee Atria's editorial and publishing activities.

In a letter to S&S staff, president and CEO Carolyn K. Reidy wrote: "Smart, creative, personable and always keen to try out new ideas and methods of publishing, Judith was also deeply committed to bringing new and underserved voices to readers and has been a true champion of diversity both on her staff and on Atria's lists.... I know you will join me in thanking Judith for her many contributions to Atria and Simon & Schuster."

Curr joined the company in 1999 as president and publisher of Pocket Books. In 2002, she became the founding publisher of Atria Books, and in 2012 was named to her most recent position.

"During her time here, Judith was particularly adept at identifying trends and cultural phenomena and then publishing to satisfy a readership that did not exist previously," Reidy noted, citing Rhonda Byrne's The Secret as "perhaps the most impressive example of her 'publisher's intuition'.... Under Judith's direction, Atria has developed a diverse and eclectic roster of well-known and bestselling authors."

GLOW: Tundra Books: We Are Definitely Human by X. Fang

Café Con Libros Opens in Crown Heights, Brooklyn

Café Con Libros opened recently at 724 Prospect Place in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y. Owners Kalima Desuze and husband/barista Ryan Cameron have launched a "feminist community bookstore catering to folks who are book lovers, coffee aficionados, or both. We aim to provide space for anyone seeking a community of readers and thinkers and, to spread the love of reading as a source of healing and joy."

Plans for community programming include a book club, book fairs for children and young adults, prison outreach and hosting local artists.

"I wanted a space that was explicitly feminist," DeSuze told amNewYork, which featured a gallery of photos highlighting the new bookstore/café.

Harper: Sandwich by Catherine Newman

#WI13: Partnering for Offbeat Events

During Winter Institute 13 last week in Memphis, Tenn., four booksellers gathered to discuss their experiences hosting offbeat and nontraditional events. The panelists were sweet pea Flaherty, owner of King's Books in Tacoma, Wash., Rebecca George, co-owner of Volumes Bookcafe in Chicago, Ill., and Denise Chávez, owner of Casa Camino Real Book Store & Art Gallery in Las Cruces, N.Mex.; Susan Hans O'Connor, owner of the Penguin Bookshop in Sewickly, Pa., moderated the discussion. They offered some examples of what they've done, as well as insights into running unusual events.

Flaherty reported that some of his most fun events have been done in partnership with a local burlesque troupe. The first time they visited the store was right after Banned Books Week for a banned book storytime that featured "no actual burlesque" but many "creative readings" of banned books. Last year he partnered with the troupe for a second time for an event tied to "the holiday known as Spanksgiving" that featured creative readings of cookbooks and a bit of culinary-themed burlesque.

Recently, King's partnered with the Tacoma Film Festival to showcase several VR films throughout the bookstore, using headsets and chairs that the film festival provided. Other events Flaherty has run have included a Halloween-themed storytime for adults at a local botanical conservatory; an event celebrating Frank Herbert and Dune at a local cocktail lounge, featuring Dune-themed cocktails, quizzes and panels; Scrabble nights; and a concert with local musicians who were all too young to be part of NPR's Tiny Desk concert series. He also added that almost all of his store's book clubs have become community partnerships now, with community members running clubs focused on everything from narrative nonfiction to veganism and birdwatching.

Poetry reading at Volumes Bookcafe

At Volumes Bookcafe, meanwhile, Rebecca George has had success with several monthly events, including an all-women's comedy night run by a local comedian that is part open mic and part featured comics. Volumes also hosts a monthly open mic night organized by a local poet and artist. George said the comedy night brings in between 60 and 80 people per month and "just continues to grow," while the more conventional open mic regularly draws 30-50 people.

George's store is also the site of a weekly trivia night, which used to be run by staff members but is now organized by two people in the community, as well as a yoga storytime hosted in partnership with a local yoga studio, which has been "exploding for us." Other partnerships include working with local theater companies to host short performances; a community storytelling series inspired by The Moth; reading partnerships and literary scavenger hunts with local schools; and bringing in artists to paint in store.

Denise Chávez explained that when it comes to running events, she strives to do things that "empower, enlighten and enrich" her community, which is primarily lower-income Mexican American, African American and Native American families. As such, many of the events involve donations or some kind of giveaway. On International Friendship Day she hosted a Wash Your Hair, Read a Book event, during which community members could take home hair products and used books for free.

Chávez added that she plans many community events around lesser-known holidays--on National Lasagna Day she and her staff served lasagna to 200 people--and suggested other booksellers make the most of such occasions. And though they are not events in the usual sense, she also uses the calendar to plan sales: in August, for example, books by authors born in August were half off. Chávez has also run short story workshops, classes on how to cook with local ingredients like cactus pads, and events that highlight local history, including an event that saw a bus-full of mystery novel readers visit to learn about Billy the Kid and the Southwest.

During the panel's q&a portion, O'Connor said that one of the most valuable lessons she learned after buying Penguin Bookshop was that "it's okay to say no to things," adding that it's okay to not pack your schedule so tight that "you're out of your mind." --Alex Mutter

Budget Cuts Threaten the University Press of Kentucky

The University Press of Kentucky is in danger of losing its state funding due to Governor Matt Bevin's proposal that the General Assembly cut all state funding for UPK and 69 other small programs. The Lexington Herald-Leader reported that "nobody seems to know why Bevin targeted UPK's $672,000 allocation in the University of Kentucky budget, which pays the salaries of seven of the press' 16 employees. All other costs of the non-profit press are covered by annual book sales of about $1.8 million."

If the money disappears, director Leila Salisbury said the publisher will have to close, despite the fact that the challenge "comes at a time when the press is doing great." UPK published about 50 books last year and plans to be back to its pre-recession level of about 60 books in 2018.

Peter Berkery, executive director of the Association of University Presses, told Inside Higher Ed: "At first blush the governor's proposal seems both shortsighted in its policy and conspicuous in its granularity. The University Press of Kentucky is such a prominent and prestigious member not only of our community, but also of the communities it serves throughout the commonwealth; why anyone would want to eliminate an award-winning curator of their own culture and history is baffling."


Image of the Day: Everything Is Horrible and Wonderful

photo: Liezl Estipona

Actor Jon Hamm (pictured) and comedian Weird Al were among those who attended a pre-publication party for Stephanie Wittels Wachs, author of the memoir Everything Is Horrible and Wonderful (Sourcebooks, Feb. 26, 2018), in Los Angeles.

Harry Potter & the World Read Aloud Day

As part of an ongoing effort to encourage reading aloud to kids of all ages, the global literacy nonprofit LitWorld and title sponsor Scholastic are teaming up February 1 for the ninth World Read Aloud Day, which coincides this year with Harry Potter Book Night. Numerous activities have been scheduled across the world to prompt classrooms and families to discover the power and joy of reading aloud.

Scholastic CEO Richard Robinson said that the timing of the two worldwide celebrations on the same day should help to encourage "even more children to discover the power and joy of reading aloud by exploring the magical worlds, characters, and stories that await them inside beloved books including Harry Potter."

Pam Allyn, executive director of LitWorld, commented: "We know that books and stories are companions to every journey, resilience-builders for every child, and lifelong tools for independence and autonomy for everyone. Join us on February 1 and every day to build a world of hope and possibility through the profound joy of reading together."

Great Moments in Bookseller Conversations

Posted on Facebook earlier this week by New Zealand bookshop Volume in Nelson:

Bookseller 1: We have had this book on the bottom shelf for a long time. It is a good book, but nobody's going to find it. I'm going to put it on display.

Bookseller 2: Well, OK. Yes, it is a good book but it is quite obscure and specialised, and has a bad cover. People will see it on display but they still won't buy it. If we put it on display, we are taking display space away from a book that we would sell.

Bookseller 1: Let's try it and see.

Bookseller 2: Well, OK. But only for a short time.

[30 seconds pass.]

Customer (enters shop and glances at display): Oh, look at that. I had better have that one. (Purchases book, exits.)

Bookseller 1 (aside): Ha ha.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Ronen Bergman on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Ronen Bergman, author of Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel's Targeted Assassinations (Random House, $35, 9781400069712).

Daily Show: Rose McGowan, author of Brave (HarperOne, $27.99, 9780062655981).

TV: The Chemist

Tomorrow Studios will develop a TV project based on The Chemist by Twilight series author Stephenie Meyer, Deadline reported. Meyer and Meghan Hibett will produce via their Fickle Fish Films banner (Austenland), along with Tomorrow Studios' Marty Adelstein and Becky Clements.

"Stephenie is one of the most prolific authors of our time with her unique portrayal of heroines that resonate with readers and television viewers around the world, and we look forward to working with her and Meghan on bringing the The Chemist to television," said Adelstein.

Books & Authors

Awards: Costa Winner; PEN America Lit Finalists

Helen Dunmore, the acclaimed British author and poet who died last June, won the £30,000 (about $42,450) Costa Book of the Year award for her poetry collection, Inside the Wave. She is the second writer to take the overall prize posthumously in the award's 46-year history, joining Ted Hughes, who was honored in 1998 for Birthday Letters.

Wendy Holden, chair of the final judges, said: "We all felt this is a modern classic; a fantastic collection, life affirming and uplifting. The poems carry powerful messages that speak to all of us." Luan Goldie won the £3,500 (about $4,950) Costa Short Story Award for "Two Steak Bakes and Two Chelsea Buns."


Finalists have been announced for the 2018 PEN America Literary Awards. Nearly $315,000 will be awarded altogether to writers and translators whose exceptional literary works were published in 2017 and span fiction, nonfiction, poetry, biography, essays, science writing, sports writing, translation, and more. Winners will be named February 20. View the complete shortlists here.

For the first time, all five finalists for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction are women, including Hannah Lillith Assadi for Sonora (Soho Press), Venita Blackburn for Black Jesus and Other Superheroes: Stories (University of Nebraska Press), Carmen Maria Machado for Her Body and Other Parties: Stories (Graywolf Press), Emily Fridlund for History of Wolves (Grove Atlantic), and Jenny Zhang for Sour Heart (Lenny).

Bridget Lawless Launches Thriller Book Prize

The inaugural £2,000 (about $2,815) Staunch Book Prize, founded by author and screenwriter Bridget Lawless, has been launched to honor the author of a thriller novel "in which no woman is beaten, stalked, sexually exploited, raped or murdered.... As violence against women in fiction reaches a ridiculous high, the Staunch Book Prize invites thriller writers to keep us on the edge of our seats without resorting to the same old clichés--particularly female characters who are sexually assaulted (however 'necessary to the plot'), or done away with (however ingeniously)."

The competition opens February 22 and closes on July 15. A shortlist will be announced in September, with the winner named November 25, coinciding with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Lawless said she was compelled to create and fund the Staunch Book Prize "after seeing the number of films featuring rape as a plot device at last year's BAFTAs. She is entitled to vote in the awards, but this year abstained, writing in the Guardian that it was not clear if the films in the running were free from the accusations of sexual abuse that have swept Hollywood in the wake of claims made against the film producer Harvey Weinstein."

"I thought, I can do one small thing. I thought I'd start with books. They are a source for so much material, and if I can have a tiny bit of influence there, it will help," she said. "There are so many books in which women are raped or murdered for an investigator or hero to show off his skills... This is about writers coming up with stories that don't need to rely on sexual violence... Is there no other story?"

Reading with... Jessica Fellowes

photo: Sara Weal

Jessica Fellowes, a journalist and public speaker who lives in Oxfordshire, England, is best known for her five companion books to the television show Downton Abbey, created by her uncle Julian Fellowes. Jessica Fellowes's debut novel, The Mitford Murders (Minotaur Books, January 23, 2018), is the start of a six-book crime fiction series focusing on the famous Mitford sisters.

On your nightstand now:

I'm writing and researching the second novel in the Mitford Murders series--Bright Young Dead--so I'm deep in a number of books about the 1920s, most of which are out of print. Although I spend a lot of time in the past in my books (something that's become very evident in the course of this interview!), I do try to keep up with modern authors. I'm very much enjoying Amanda Craig's The Lie of the Land right now.

Beside my bed I also have a tall pile, ready and waiting for when the right moment strikes: The Fourteenth Letter by Claire Evans, The Word Is Murder by Anthony Horowitz and A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. If I need a quick comfort read when feeling tired and stressed, I reach for my well-thumbed copy of Bella & Co by Jilly Cooper, her short stories from the 1960s, which are brilliantly funny.

I also enjoy audiobooks when walking my dog (a large Labradoodle prone to running for miles when chasing pheasants) and am listening to The Power by Naomi Alderman.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I read widely and a bit beyond my years as a child because of my deafness (books were a retreat, easier and more comforting than the fuzzy and hard-to-hear real world) so it's hard to remember one. I loved Little Women by Louisa M. Alcott, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Borrowers by Mary Norton, Malory Towers by Enid Blyton... I basically fantasized about being an old-fashioned child in long white nightdresses having midnight feasts at a cozy boarding school.

Your top five authors:

W. Somerset Maugham, Dorothy Parker, Anne Tyler, Nancy Mitford and Thomas Hardy.

Book you've faked reading:

Anything by Charles Dickens--I want to read his books, I feel as if I have read them (I've seen the musicals!), but every time I pick one up I immediately feel rather daunted and suffocated by the density of his writing. But of course I'll tell anyone he's one of the great storywriters.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Far from the Tree by Andrew Solomon. This is nonfiction, huge and full of words I don't know (medical terms, mostly), but I think it needs to be read by everybody. Solomon painstakingly, sensitively and honestly explores what it means to be different from your parents--biologically, rather than by choice--and the cultures that have evolved as a result of this happening in the past. And he asks what happens when we develop the means to eliminate biological "weaknesses" in future generations. In fact, we have developed the means so this is a question of some urgency now, for both scientists and philosophists.

Book you've bought for the cover:

The Anna Karenina Fix by Viv Groskop--gorgeous cover and a fabulous bit of writing, too, on how the Russian classics can help you fix your life.

Book you hid from your parents:

Forever by Judy Blume--I remember we passed it around in a paper bag, girl to girl at school. Then my mother wondered why I was being so secretive with it and insisted on reading it herself, much to my horror. Even though I talked to her about pretty much everything, I wasn't ready to talk about THAT. Brilliant book, though.

Book that changed your life:

Every book makes you think, even the really bad ones. But I was inspired by Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro and Life After Life by Kate Atkinson because they are both books that vividly and accurately evoke a time past, yet the authors wear their knowledge and research very lightly. They allowed me to try to strive to do the same.

Favorite line from a book:

(My favourite line is the very last line but it only works in context so I've put a little more in. It's about the frustration of all of us, even artists, in trying to communicate what we really feel.)

"We seek pitifully to convey to others the treasures of our heart, but they have not the power to accept them.... We are like people living in a country whose language they know so little that, with all manner of beautiful and profound things to say, they are condemned to the banalities of the conversation manual. Their brain is seething with ideas, and they can only tell you that the umbrella of the gardener's aunt is in the house." --From The Moon and Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham

Five books you'll never part with:

Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy, because it is heartbreaking. Hardy writes the story that needs to be told, not because he seeks to please his readers. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, which is so modern in its sensibilities you can't believe it wasn't written last week. Mrs. Miniver by Jan Struther, which makes me ache with nostalgia and pleasure. The Collected Works of Dorothy Parker--all of life is contained in these pages, in short stories, poetry and critical essays. A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf because it reminds me why I write--to afford my own room in which I can write and that I am so lucky and privileged to be able to do this.

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

Frost in May by Antonia White, the first of a trilogy. It was one of my mother's favourite books so it brings her close to me again (she died of multiple sclerosis and premature dementia when I was 30 years old), but it is also an extraordinary piece of writing in which White describes with frightening clarity how madness begins.

Book Review

YA Review: Tess of the Road

Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman (Random House, $18.99 hardcover, 544p., ages 13-up, 9781101931288, February 27, 2018)

When high-spirited Tess Dombegh is six, she becomes "immoderately obsessed" with "the mystical origins of babies." Tess's energetic attempts to discover the mechanics behind brother Ned's birth disappoint her very devout, very unhappy mama, who gives her a spanking "for the ages." Mama requires "the wicked punished," and years of spankings have let Tess know she is "singularly and spectacularly flawed." Tess realizes that she'll have to work much harder than her twin sister, Jeanne, to make it into heaven.

Ten years later, Tess is a lady-in-waiting at court, tamping down her more "esoteric interests." Tess (now with a much more thorough understanding of those "mystical origins of babies") has the "whiff of scandal" about her, so it's up to sweet, mild, virtuous Jeanne to marry and save the family. Since it was discovered that their father's first wife was a dragon in human form ("illegal five times over"), he was stripped of his license to practice law and the family has suffered much ill fortune. When the very eligible Lord Richard proposes to Jeanne, Tess dares to hope that "[a]fter two years at court, diligently securing her family's future," she might be set free. But Mama wants her sent to a convent and, after making a horrible, drunken mess of Jeanne's wedding, the abhorrent plan becomes Tess's only apparent option.

That is, until Tess is gifted with a pair of fine leather boots that "[seem] to be a suggestion"--she runs off to a distant city to make a new start as a seamstress. On the way, she meets up with her old best friend, the "lizardy" quigutl (a subspecies of dragon) named Pathka, who is on a journey of his own. Pathka's quest is an old dream of Tess and the two agree to adventure together. Eager to be rid of her past, Tess disguises herself and desperately tries to keep the unbidden voice of her mother--accusatory, destructive and quoting vindictive saints--out of her head.

Tess of the Road, first in a duology, is a companion book to Seraphina and Shadow Scale, which introduced Tess's half-dragon half sister. Now, author Rachel Hartman returns to this same world to share the story of fully human Tess, whose life has been constrained by shame and the medieval expectations of others. Her growing awareness of the inequality and unfairness she has been subjected to, along with an unfolding sense of herself and her potential, will captivate any reader. Tess's ultimately unquenchable spirit, her struggles and adventures--be they at home or on the road--are a delight. --Lynn Becker, blogger and host of Book Talk, a monthly online discussion of children's books for SCBWI

Shelf Talker: Tess's spirit has been crushed by the weight of her mother's vindictive saints, but when Mama decides to send her to a convent, Tess runs off to make her own way.

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