Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Simon & Schuster: The Lightning Bottles by Marissa Stapley

Minotaur Books: The Dark Wives: A Vera Stanhope Novel (Vera Stanhope #11) by Ann Cleeves

Soho Crime: Exposure (A Rita Todacheene Novel) by Ramona Emerson

Wednesday Books: When Haru Was Here by Dustin Thao

Tommy Nelson: Up Toward the Light by Granger Smith, Illustrated by Laura Watkins

Tor Nightfire: Devils Kill Devils by Johnny Compton


Ann Arbor's Aunt Agatha's Mystery Bookshop to Close

Aunt Agatha's Mystery Bookshop, Ann Arbor, Mich., which was honored in 2014 with the Mystery Writers of America's Raven Award, will close in August. In a letter to customers announcing their decision, owners Robin and Jamie Agnew wrote: "We have enjoyed getting to know many of you, discussing books with you, sharing author events with you and sharing the love of mysteries with you for 26 years. Many of you we are happy to think of as friends. It's been a wonderful journey.

"As in the great Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express there are many culprits for our demise--we are getting older; constant street construction; Amazon; and fierce local competition. We hope you will keep local bookstores vital and alive by patronizing the many exciting stores that remain open."

The Agnews are planning a closing event on August 26, featuring William Kent Krueger, "and we hope you'll join us for a final gather round the communal mysterious hearth," they said.

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Prairie Pages Finalizing Deal to Sell the Store

Prairie Pages in Pierre, S.Dak., will be open for at least another month while owners Peggy Stout and Kathy Villa work on finalizing a deal with prospective buyers, the Capital Journal reported.

Villa and Stout are planning an event for Independent Bookstore Day on April 28 that will, hopefully, celebrate the new owners taking possession of the store. Stout told the Capital Journal that the deal is close to being finalized and the prospective buyers are "local people" with history in Pierre. According to the Journal, all that's left to be done before the deal is closed is for the buyers to get "the final details sorted out for the required financial backing."

Stout and Villa, who have owned Prairie Pages for 11 years, have been looking for buyers since late last year. Initially, they said that if they couldn't find a buyer by March 31, the date their lease ended, they would close the store. But with new buyers on the horizon, they have switched to a month-to-month lease, giving them time to finalize a deal. Should the deal not go through, however, the co-owners said April 28 will mark the beginning of a store liquidation sale that would likely run through May.

Stout said that she and Villa "really, really want this to happen."

Graphic Universe (Tm): Hotelitor: Luxury-Class Defense and Hospitality Unit by Josh Hicks

Eight Cousins Update: Back in the Space Next Week

Eight Cousins, Falmouth, Mass., is moving closer to reopening. Over the weekend, the store, whose ceiling collapsed in January, wrote to customers, "We think we'll be back in our space next week. The ceiling is complete, the floor is in progress, the office is being constructed.

"We need some time before we officially open, which is why we are still not identifying a specific date. We need to finish constructing the office, redo the bathroom (we sincerely apologize: because of miscommunication there was a pigeon casualty), build a new register, set up the computers, reassemble our shelving--some is in storage although we won't know the condition until it arrives and a few new pieces are being delivered.

"Due to the loss of shelving, the layout of the store will be different and we want to give ourselves time to develop our new plan. Last but not least we need time to receive and shelve the new books and gifts.

"The store will not look the same, but we think it will feel the same. We're looking forward to adding a bit more seating, creating displays, and redirecting the flow. Our dedicated staff will be on hand to talk books and we're looking forward to adding new book lovers to the team this summer."

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LSC Buys TriLiteral

LSC Communications, which was spun off from R.R. Donnelley & Sons in 2016 and offers print and digital media services globally, has bought TriLiteral, which specializes in distributing university press and academic publishers' titles. In addition, LSC has signed multi-year fulfillment agreements with Harvard University Press, the MIT Press and Yale University Press. With a warehouse in Rhode Island, TriLiteral was formed in 2001 as a joint warehousing and fulfillment venture by the three presses and provides a range of publisher services.

Dave McCree, president of book sales at LSC, commented: "TriLiteral is a tremendous strategic fit to our book publisher services platform and expands our leadership position in the academic press market. We look forward to providing fulfillment services to three of the leading publishers in this space."

MIBA Launches Midwest Bookseller of the Year Award

The Midwest Independent Booksellers Association has founded the Midwest Bookseller of the Year Award, which will be presented annually to a bookseller in the MIBA region "in recognition of excellence in the field of bookselling. Winners will exemplify the courage, commitment, and creativity that characterizes independent bookselling in the Midwest." Any bookstore employee is eligible for the award--part time, full time or owner. MIBA's region consists of North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Minnesota, Missouri and Nebraska.

Through the end of the month, members of the book industry--publishers, reps, distributors and fellow booksellers--can make nominations. MIBA's staff and board of directors will determine the finalists in May and vote on the winner in June. The winner will be announced in early July and will be honored at the Heartland Fall Forum's Book Awards Celebration, to be held this year on October 3. The winner will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the trade show and conference, including all nights at the hotel, a $400 scholarship to cover travel expenses and entry to all ticketed events.

For details and to make nominations, go to MIBA's website.

Obituary Note: Drue Heinz

Drue Heinz, "a generous patron of the arts, Pittsburgh's biggest literary angel, co-founder of Ecco Press and publisher of The Paris Review for 15 years," died March 30, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported, describing her as a "lively, engaging woman of discerning taste and probing intellect." She was 103.

In 1970, the literary magazine Antaeus, which had been launched by Daniel Halpern and Paul Bowles in Tangier, caught Heinz's attention. When she wrote to request a subscription and learned the publication was going to fold because of lack of funds, she agreed to finance publication if Halpern would help her start Ecco Press, which she also underwrote. In 1999, HarperCollins acquired the publisher, renaming it Ecco.

Halpern recalled that he first met Heinz in 1970 when she invited him to a party at her home in Manhattan. "It turned out to be a rather grand black tie event," he said. "The only person I knew was Renata Adler. She was dating Warren Beatty. Eventually, I met Drue and she sent down a check by driver to cover the cost of the next issue. I didn't have a bank account."

In 1980, Heinz began supporting the University of Pittsburgh's fiction prize, and 15 years later, she endowed the prize with a $1 million gift to the university. Winners of the Drue Heinz Prize for Literature receive $15,000, and the University of Pittsburgh Press publishes their short stories or novellas.

Ed Ochester, who edits the University of Pittsburgh Press's poetry series, said Heinz "was good at drawing people out" because "she was intellectually hungry and a voracious and passionate reader." He added that when she endowed the literature prize, she wrote two checks, each for $500,000: "The revenue from that million has exceeded the needs of the press for publication and promotion of the Heinz books so it keeps growing."

Heinz's "abiding love for literature and poetry, coupled with her generosity, made her part of the circle of people who founded The Paris Review in France in 1953," the Post-Gazette wrote, noting that she was publisher from 1993 to 2007. She also sat on the board of the MacDowell Colony.

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
Becoming Little Shell:
Returning Home to the Landless
Indians of Montana
by Chris La Tray
GLOW: Milkweed Editions: Becoming Little Shell: Returning Home to the Landless Indians of Montana by Chris La Tray

Growing up in the 1970s, Montana Poet Laureate Chris La Tray was dimly aware of his paternal Chippewa ancestry--but his father had always rejected Indigenous identity. A series of funerals prompted him to delve into his family's history and, ultimately, to enroll in the Little Shell Tribe and join its successful campaign for federal recognition. Alternating past and present, La Tray weaves his personal experience with the wider history of Métis peoples. His book is also a love letter to Indigenous literature and Montana's natural landscapes. Daniel Slager, publisher and CEO at Milkweed Editions, noting the "beautiful flowering of writing" from Indigenous communities, was delighted to publish this "singular" work that "braids Chris's story with the history of his people, all in his inimitable voice, which is both fierce and tender." --Rebecca Foster

(Milkweed Editions, $28 hardcover, 9781571313980, 
August 20, 2024)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported


Image of the Day: Peter Brown with Roz, the Wild Robot

Author Peter Brown was in Traverse City, Mich., as guest of honor at a Battle of the Books event sponsored by the National Writers Series. He's pictured here with a local book lover wearing a life-size Roz costume, inspired by the main character in his Wild Robot books. The Wild Robot (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) was one of the books the competing teams of students studied for this competition; Brown presented awards to the winning and second-place teams.

Book Dedication of the Day: Charles Frazier for Nancy Olson

Nancy Olson

Chuck Frazier has dedicated his new novel, Varina (Ecco), to the late Nancy Olson, founder of Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, N.C., who in 1997 championed Frazier's breakout book, Cold Mountain.

In a q&a with Bridgette A. Lacy of the Raleigh News & Observer, Frazier explained: "When Cold Mountain was about to be published, [Nancy] was so helpful to me in so many ways, including telling me how to do a book store event. I had never done one before. She offered all kinds of bits of advice, things to do and not to do."

He added: "She was so supportive of me from the start, well before Cold Mountain. We were living close to the original location... I'd published a short story of mine in an anthology and a travel book for Sierra Club Books. When she found that out, she stocked those in the store. She included me in the community of the store.... She was there in New York for the National Book Award, at the table with me. She was such a positive supportive figure in my life."

Olson sold more than 6,000 copies of Cold Mountain, 1,200 of them at Frazier's first reading at Quail Ridge. For Varina, which is being published today, he'll return to Quail Ridge on April 17.

Abrams to Distribute Cameron + Company's Cameron Books, Cameron Kids

Effective tomorrow, Cameron + Company's Cameron Books and Cameron Kids imprints are distributed in North America by Abrams. Cameron + Company's general nonfiction imprint, Roundtree Press, will continue to be distributed by Publishers Group West.

Personnel Changes at Dutton; Sourcebooks

At Dutton:

Jamie Knapp has been promoted to associate director of publicity.

Becky Odell has been promoted to associate publicist.


James Hegberg has been promoted to senior online marketing manager at Sourcebooks. He was previously online marketing manager.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Madeleine Albright on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Madeleine Albright, author of Fascism: A Warning (Harper, $27.99, 9780062802187).

Good Morning America: Claire Shipman, co-author of of The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance--What Women Should Know (HarperBusiness, $16.99, 9780062230638).

Ellen: Lauren Graham, author of In Conclusion, Don't Worry About It (Ballantine, $15, 9781524799595).

TV: Cursed

Netflix has given a 10-episode order to Cursed, which will be based on writer/artist Frank Miller (Sin City) and writer/producer Tom Wheeler's upcoming illustrated YA book, set to be published in fall 2019 by Simon & Schuster. Deadline reported that "this is believed to be the first time the same creative team will be writing a book and TV series based on it simultaneously as they get to explore the characters from the book in more detail on screen."

Cursed is a re-imagining of an Arthurian legend, "told through the eyes of Nimue, a teenage heroine with a mysterious gift who is destined to become the powerful (and tragic) Lady of the Lake," Deadline wrote. Miller and Wheeler will write the TV series as well as executive produce.

"I have always been entranced by the mythological Arthur story--and by Nimue, in particular," Miller said. "It can be interpreted in any number of ways--from a delightful children's story, as in The Sword in the Stone, to a terrifying interpretation like Excalibur."

Wheeler commented: "I am honored and humbled to be working with the living legend Frank Miller on Cursed. I cannot think of a writer-artist who has had a more formative impact on my growth as a storyteller."

Books & Authors

Awards: Sarton Winners; Hugo Finalists

Winners of the 2017 Sarton Women's Book Awards, given to women authors writing chiefly about women in memoir, biography, and fiction and published in the United States and Canada by small/independent publishers, university presses and author-publishers, are:

Memoir: Gathering From the Grassland by Linda M. Hasselstrom (High Plains Press)
Biography: Lincoln's Generals' Wives: Four Women Who Influenced the Civil War by Candice Hooper (Kent State University Press)
Contemporary Fiction: Venetian Blood: Murder in a Sensuous City by Christine Evelyn Volker (She Writes Press)
Historical Fiction: Dark Lady: A Novel of Emilia Bassano Lanyer by Charlene Ball (She Writes Press)
Young Adult Fiction: Defiance on Indian Creek by Phyllis A. Still (White Bird Publications)


Finalists for the 2018 Hugo Awards, the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer and the World Science Fiction Society Award for the Best Young Adult Book can be seen here. Winners will be announced and celebrated on August 19 during Worldcon 76 in San Jose, Calif.

Book Review

Review: West

West by Carys Davies (Scribner, $22 hardcover, 160p., 9781501179341, April 24, 2018)

In the newspaper, Cy Bellman reads of bones pulled from the Kentucky mud--enormous, ancient bones, belonging to some mythic creature taller than the tallest trees. Grieving his lost wife, he is now transported: he all but stops eating and sleeping, too disturbed to give his full attention to his work as a breeder of mules, or to his 10-year-old daughter, Bess. He can't help but go in search of the beasts that have so captured his imagination, and leaves Bess and their small farm in rural Pennsylvania in the care of his hard-edged sister, Julie, with the occasional help of an odd neighbor, Elmer. With some weapons, trinkets for trade and a new stovepipe hat, Bellman travels west, toward the wild frontier.

West is Carys Davies's first novel (though she's published two short story collections, The Redemption of Galen Pike and Some New Ambush), and it is an epic tale of early 19th-century adventure in a small package. With fewer than 200 pages, its scale is nonetheless mighty, conjuring both history and fable. Davies's simple, conversational prose stays out of the way of her gripping plot.

Julie and the town's citizens think Bellman a fool at best. Bess, however, adores her father, and is heartbroken to be left alone with no books or pleasures, only a motley bunch of mules; her dead mother's gold ring is hidden away by her unloving aunt. In her father's absence, she makes up charms for his good luck: "if she made it from the pump to the house without slopping a drop of water over the lip of the bucket, it meant he was in good health." She takes long walks with her favorite mule, until Elmer's awkward attentions to the deserted household become too alarming, and she shuts herself up inside.

Meanwhile, Bellman wanders the wild countryside, farther and farther south and west, first alone and then with an unlucky Shawnee boy named Old Woman from a Distance for his guide. Bellman's dreams of the enormous creatures grow vivid, and then less so, as his distance and time away from home increase. He promised Bess he would be gone two years at the most, but as her 12th birthday approaches, his grip on both his promise and his quest look doubtful.

West is a novel about family commitments, small-town agitations and the irresistible, fanatic pull of the unknown. Bellman is either enchanted or suffering a good old-fashioned midlife crisis. Davies writes of small fates: hopeful young Bess, bitter Julie, the enigma of slovenly Elmer, and Old Woman from a Distance, with a troubled past of his own.

This quick, compelling read will please lovers of historical fiction, legendary quests and stories of humble familial devotion. It may prove as hard for Bellman to find happiness at home as to find the monstrous "animal incognitum" he seeks. Readers, however, are the richer for his efforts. --Julia Kastner, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: A mule breeder heads west to search out a mythic beast while his daughter struggles quietly at home in this tale of fantasy, hope and risk.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Wanderlust by Lauren Blakely
2. Tempting Little Tease by Kendall Ryan
3. Damien (Slater Brothers Book 5) by L.A. Casey
4. Reckless Whisper by Barbara Freethy
5. The Billionaire Next Door (The Sherbrookes of Newport Book 10) by Christina Tetreault
6. Fearless by Carly Phillips
7. Bad Boys After Dark: Brett by Melissa Foster
8. P.S. I Hate You by Winter Renshaw
9. What He Always Knew by Kandi Steiner
10. The Swedish Prince by Karina Halle
[Many thanks to!]

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