Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Algonquin Young Readers: the Beautiful Game by Yamile Saied Méndez

Berkley Books: Books that will sweep you off your feet! Enter Giveaway!

Feiwel & Friends: The Flicker by HE Edgmon

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Pumpkin Princess and the Forever Night by Steven Banbury

St. Martin's Griffin: Murdle: The School of Mystery: 50 Seriously Sinister Logic Puzzles by GT Karber

Quotation of the Day

'Good Bookstores Are the Bastions of Truth'

"Though we may not always agree, we always engage and provide a space for them to talk.... In time of political turmoil people often look to their local independent bookshop as a place of solace, just as they might a close friend.... We have observed customers connecting with each other after picking up the same political title. Good bookstores are the bastions of truth, offering books that can enlighten and inform, offering diverse and well-rounded perspectives."

--Rachel Eadie of Scorpio Books, Christchurch, New Zealand, quoted in a Booksellers NZ piece headlined "Bookstores as Political Spaces"

Blackstone Publishing: Rogue Community College: A Liberty House Novel by David R Slayton


The Wind, The Willow Bookstore Opens in Texas

Mary Grace Rodriguez has opened The Wind, The Willow Bookstore in Greenville, Tex., the Herald-Banner reported. The town has not had a bookstore since Hastings closed its stores in 2016. Rodriguez was inspired to open the store, she told the paper, by a passage in Neil Gaiman's American Gods: "A town isn't a town without a bookstore. It may call itself a town, but unless it's got a bookstore, it knows it's not foolin' a soul."

The small store stocks a range of titles, from children's books to adult fiction, from poetry to self-help. Rodriguez plans to hold regular events, author visits, book readings and more. For now, she's lined up Lewis Ben Smith, author of The Gnostic Library, to appear in July and hopes soon to host Bobby Briscoe, author of Jungle Warriors. The first children's book reading is planned for later this month.

Rodriguez has a BA in philosophy and an MA in English, and has been "an avid reader and writer since I was a kid."

B&N Chooses Anne Tyler's Clock Dance for Book Club

Barnes & Noble has chosen Clock Dance by Anne Tyler (Knopf) as its second, summer selection for the Barnes & Noble Book Club. The company will sell an exclusive edition of the book that includes an essay by the author and a Reading Group Guide for discussion. It is also hosting a book club night to discuss the book in B&N stores across the country on Wednesday, August 8, 7-8 p.m. Customers can order the book in advance and sign up for the book club in local stores or online.

B&N described Clock Dance as "the latest novel from the critically acclaimed author Anne Tyler, who is loved by readers for books including The Accidental Tourist, Breathing Lessons, and A Spool of Blue Thread. Clock Dance follows the arc of a woman's life from childhood to adulthood, and is filled with wonderful characters and surprising twists."

Senior director of merchandising Liz Harwell added: "Ms. Tyler is one of the most beloved and respected writers working today, and Clock Dance adds to her incredible repertoire with a story of second chances."

B&N launched the book club earlier this year with The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer.

iBranding: Apple Books to Replace iBooks

A redesign of the iBooks app was among the developments announced during Apple's recent Worldwide Developers Conference. The Verge reported that iBooks is getting a new update in iOS 12, including a redesign and new name, Apple Books, which "will now feature a new 'Reading Now' section when you first open the app, showing you a live preview of the book you most recently were reading and where you left off. There's also an updated library view that puts a better emphasis on your content, and a new Apple Books store that appears to be inspired by the App Store redesign from iOS 11, with the same highlighted content for books and audiobooks that Apple's already been offering with apps." Apple Books is expected to launch alongside iOS 12 sometime this fall.

Obituary Note: Barbara Kafka

Barbara Kafka, a food columnist and cookbook author "who horrified American epicures by publishing recipes that placed her imprimatur on the microwave oven and the food processor as respectable tools for home cooking," died June 1, the New York Times reported. She was 84.

"How could you not love a woman who liberates us from the tyranny of conventional wisdom?" said Ann Bramson, her longtime editor. "I remember balking at a verb choice in one of her books--she had us 'slick' the vegetable with oil. I pictured the Exxon Valdez. But she was right. Slick--it's so vivid and visual and immediate. Who wouldn't love such precision and decisiveness in word choice?"

Kafka's books include The Microwave Gourmet (1987), The Opinionated Palate: Passions and Peeves on Eating and Food (1992), Food for Friends (1984), Roasting: A Simple Art (1995), Vegetable Love (2005) and The Intolerant Gourmet: Glorious Food Without Gluten & Lactose (2011).

Food journalist Corby Kummer said Kafka's writing displayed "the relentless intellectualism of the voracious reader that she became as the only child of two very successful parents ('two self-made men,' she called them) who weren't there much and left her in the care of a helper and cook she adored.... The food world was and is full of people who never really fit in anywhere until they discovered the kitchen, and could come together with the common vocabulary of cooking. She was one of them."

An eight-time James Beard Award winner, she was also inducted into the JBF Awards Cookbook Hall of Fame in 2015.

Mitchell Davis, executive v-p of the James Beard Foundation, said: "The food world has lost a strong, definitive, unequivocal voice about taste and quality with the loss of Barbara Kafka. Through her work in restaurants, her books and columns, her openness to new technologies, and her love of good food, she helped shape the way we eat and laid the groundwork for the great American food revolution of which we are the fortunate beneficiaries."

BookExpo 2018: Booksellers Present Indies Introduce Authors

Booksellers Present Indies Introduce Authors, held during BookExpo on the Downtown Stage, showcased eight of the 18 indie booksellers on the committee that chose the Indies Introduce Summer/Fall 2018 titles, along with five of the authors on the list. They gathered together for brief readings and q&a sessions, as well as a discussion of the selection process.

The authors featured were Tommy Orange for There There, Gabriela Alemán for Poso Wells, Adib Khorram for Darius the Great Is Not Okay, Nicole Chung for All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir and Martin Riker for Samuel Johnson's Eternal Return.

(l. to r.): Brechner, Yasinsky, Cummins, Yeomans, Watson, Yturralde, Martini, Herrmann.

Booksellers in attendance included Adult Debut panel chair Michael Herrmann of Gibson's Bookstore in Concord, N.H.; Adlai Yeomans of White Whale Bookstore, Pittsburgh, Pa.; Elijah Watson of A Room of One's Own, Madison, Wis.; Vanessa Martini of City Lights Books, San Francisco; Maryelizabeth Yturralde of Mysterious Galaxy, San Diego, Calif.; Middle Grade/YA Debut panel chair Kenny Brechner of Devaney, Doak & Garrett Booksellers, Farmington, Maine; Buffy Cummins of Second Star to the Right, Denver, Colo.; and Nicole Yasinsky of Novel, Memphis, Tenn.

"It was so much fun to work with this great panel of booksellers from all around the country and all kinds of backgrounds," said Herrmann, adding: "I think of how we whittled down this list.... First and foremost, they had to be good stories, a good book, but a lot of the times the conversations settled on 'I'd really like to promote this kind of writing. I want this type of person to have a voice.' And I thought that was very valuable."

Brechner observed that there are many things he loves about the Indies Introduce process, including a recognition of the concept of discovery: "It's very much the absolute core and center of what we do here. And we think about it in unusual ways.... We're looking at books and we're making basic assumptions that they are not going to have a big push coming out into the world around us.... We think a lot about which books are the most worthy, but also those we can do the most for. And that's interesting."

Yturralde said she thought "everybody who participated was really good about recognizing their moments of 'I didn't like this because of this element' or 'I did like this because of this element,' but knowing that might be a completely subjective rather than objective take. At the end of the day, objectivity is a good goal, but recognizing that we all have our personal foibles I think actually made for more interesting discussion."

"I found it made me think about, as a reader, what do I value most," Brechner said. "The books that I gravitated to were a gut punch, books that affected me strongly, viscerally as a reader, that grabbed me by the throat and made me really feel and think. That was the value I put above all others when I was going through the process and advocating which ones go forward and which get left behind."

The final results intrigued Herrmann: "If we had started a month later or a month earlier, we might have ended up with a different list of books. Or if one person on the committee had been changed to somebody else.... That's the magic of books, really. There's so many great books out there. So many great books to discover. You really just can't go wrong putting together a list like this." --Robert Gray

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
A Forty Year Kiss
by Nickolas Butler
GLOW: A Forty Year Kiss by Nickolas Butler

A Forty Year Kiss by Nickolas Butler is a passionate, emotionally complex love story that probes tender places within the heart and soul. When 60-somethings Charlie and Vivian--married then divorced in their 20s--reunite after four decades, they are swept up by the very best of what their romantic relationship once offered. "Anyone who has ever thought about what might have been will find this book fascinating," says Shana Drehs, senior editorial director at Sourcebooks Landmark. "The story is a brilliant exploration of a second chance at love, always realistic but never saccharine." As Charlie and Vivian build a bridge from past to present, their enduring love paving over potholes, Butler (Shotgun Lovesongs) raises questions about how life changes people--or does it?--and delivers another heartening, unforgettable novel. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

(Sourcebooks Landmark, $27.99 Hardcover, 9781464221248, 
February 4, 2025)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported


Cool Idea of the Day: Reader Prom & Book Drive

Porter Square booksellers at Reader Prom.

Last Saturday, Porter Square Books, Cambridge, Mass., hosted a Reader Prom and Book drive at the Davis Square VFW, with all proceeds going to the Porter Square Books Foundation. Guests were invited to "dress up in your finest prom fashion. Bring a copy of your favorite book as your date to donate to the Y2Y Homeless Shelter in Harvard Square. (It's the only prom where you're supposed to dump your date at the door!)."

Like any prom, this one had a "King" and "Queen," but Porter Square noted that "because this is a Reader Prom (and we're not that big on monarchy as a system of government or strict genders as a system of interpersonal relationships) we'll have an 'Author' and 'Illustrator.' Our Reader Prom Author and Illustrator will be randomly selected from all of the attendees and will each receive a $50 gift card. (A celebratory Author and Illustrator dance is not expected but we certainly won't stop you!)"

Chaperones for the prom were author Celeste Ng (who tweeted a selfie in her prom dress); educator, writer and performer Krysten Hill; and illustrator Raul the Third. Porter Square also tweeted photos from the event.

Personnel Changes at Dutton; Sourcebooks

Leila Siddiqui has been promoted to assistant marketing manager at Dutton.


Lizzie Lewandowski has joined Sourcebooks as events marketing specialist.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Fatima Farheen Mirza on Today

Today Show: Fatima Farheen Mirza, author of A Place for Us: A Novel (Hogarth, $27, 9781524763558).

Steve Harvey: Jon Taffer, author of Don't Bullsh*t Yourself!: Crush the Excuses That Are Holding You Back (Portfolio, $26, 9780735217003).

Daily Show: Ian Bremmer, author of Us vs. Them: The Failure of Globalism (Portfolio, $27, 9780525533184).

TV: Dark One

FremantleMedia North American (American Gods), with Random House Studio, is partnering with fantasy novelist Brandon Sanderson "to develop drama Dark One for television, part of a multi-pronged project," Deadline reported, adding that in addition to a TV series, Sanderson is "concurrently creating a graphic novel that will be published by Vault Comics" and "writing a supplementary, multi-volume book series that will expand on the storyline from the show and further explore subsidiary characters." The multi-media project includes a Dark One podcast.

"I'm used to painting a picture in words. Dark One came to life when I freed myself to think of it as a project for actual visual media, with the setting, characters and outline all coming together," said Sanderson. "I'm excited to be able to partner with FremantleMedia North America and Random House Studio on this for television."

"Brandon Sanderson is a powerful storyteller and one of the world's most admired fantasy writers," said Dante Di Loreto, president of scripted entertainment, FremantleMedia North America. "The narrative of Dark One will examine the dual roles we often take on in life--the ability to be a savior as well as a destroyer, and this innovative creative partnership with Brandon will serve as a catalyst for deepening the connection between him and his many fans."

Peter Gethers, executive v-p and general manager, Random House Studio, called Sanderson "one of the most exciting storytellers within the enormous group of authors published by the Penguin Random House Group. We are thrilled to be working with him to create one of his extraordinary worlds for a television audience for the first time."

Books & Authors

Awards: PEN Pinter; Stephen Leacock Humor

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has won the PEN Pinter Prize 2018 for her "refusal to be deterred or detained by the categories of others," the Bookseller reported. The prize honors a writer from Britain, Ireland or the Commonwealth who, as Pinter said in his Nobel speech, casts an "unflinching, unswerving" gaze upon the world, and shows a "fierce intellectual determination ... to define the real truth of our lives and our societies." She will be presented the award in October.

Author Antonia Fraser, one of the judges and Pinter's widow, commented: "Not only is Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie a brilliant, compelling writer but she embodies in herself those qualities of courage and outspokenness which Harold much admired."


Jennifer Craig won the C$15,000 (about US$11,550) Stephen Leacock Medal for Humor, which honors the best book of humor written by a Canadian, for Gone to Pot. The other finalists, who each received C$1,500, were Laurie Gelman for Class Mom and Scaachi Koul for One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter.

After the announcement, Koul tweeted: "I lost!! But the formidable Jennifer Craig won!!!!!!!!!!!! Never forget that men are not funny, but Jennifer is." This was the first time since the Leacock Medal was first presented in 1947 that the three shortlisted writers were all female, Quill & Quire noted.

Book Review

Review: Empress: The Astonishing Reign of Nur Jahan

Empress: The Astonishing Reign of Nur Jahan by Ruby Lal (W.W. Norton, $27.95 hardcover, 336p., 9780393239348, July 3, 2018)

Ruby Lal's biography, Empress, sheds new light on Nur Jahan, who, in the early 17th century, became the only female co-sovereign in the history of the Mughal Empire. According to Lal (Coming of Age in Nineteenth-Century India), "It would be another 350 years, when Indira Gandhi became India's first female prime minister, before another woman ascended to such heights in Indian statecraft."
Nur Jahan is a well-known figure in South Asia, the subject of "at least eight movies, several plays, an opera, and numerous historical romances." As a result, much of the book involves separating popular legends of Nur from the real-life person. For example, Lal recounts a charming story purporting to describe the moment when Nur met her future husband Jahangir that ends with the future emperor losing "not only his rare pigeons, but his heart as well." While recognizing the appeal of these stories and legends, Lal seeks to humanize the empress and focus less on the royal romance than her achievements as a ruler.
Nur Jahan's family fled Persia eventually to take up a prominent position in the Mughal court, a Muslim dynasty that ruled "much of Hindu-majority India for more than three hundred years." Before marrying Jahangir, however, she first married the prominent military officer Ali Quli and had a daughter. Quli became a casualty of the maelstrom concerning succession, and Nur was sent to the imperial harem, a hotbed of political intrigue. She quickly became Jahangir's favorite wife. From his surviving writings, it's not difficult to see why. According to Lal, Jahangir "paints an admiring portrait of Nur Jahan as a sensitive companion, superb caregiver, accomplished adviser, hunter, diplomat, and aesthete."
Many contemporaneous or even recent accounts of Nur's life argue that her unprecedented ascent was partly due to the emperor's weaknesses. While Jahangir was not a perfect emperor--his appetite for alcohol was substantial--Lal argues that those accounts undervalue Nur's notable strengths. One of her more striking skills was her expert marksmanship, which she famously used to kill a tiger that had been terrorizing villagers. A remarkable portrait shows her wearing masculine clothing and holding a musket.
As a co-sovereign, Nur issued currency, designed buildings, issued "important orders under her own signature" and protected peasants from "harassment and overtaxation." In a particularly cinematic episode, Nur also led rescue attempts that saved her husband after he was kidnapped.
Empress succeeds in its mission to impress upon the reader the remarkable character and achievements of Nur Jahan. Nur eventually lost power after Jahangir's death, but her ability to navigate treacherous Mughal politics for so long and come out alive is its own accomplishment. According to Lal, Nur has been unfairly blamed for the civil strife that accompanied the latter part of her rule with Jahangir and given little of the credit she deserves. Empress remedies these slanders and oversights while telling an engrossing tale of female power. --Hank Stephenson, bookseller, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, N.C.
Shelf Talker: Empress: The Astonishing Reign of Nur Jahan recounts the life of Nur Jahan, who, in the early 17th century, rose to become the only female co-sovereign of the Mughal Empire.


The Wanted: Clarification Needed

Yesterday's trailer for The Wanted by Robert Crais was made for the U.K. edition, which has just gone on sale and is published by S&S U.K. The U.S. edition, which has a different cover, was published in December by Putnam.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Stay With Me by Kristen Proby
2. Part-Time Lover by Lauren Blakely
3. The Red Ledger: 1 by Meredith Wild
4. Mine After Dark by Marie Force
5. Mogul by Katy Evans
6. The Red Ledger: 2 by Meredith Wild
7. Talk Nerdy to Me (The Sterling Shore Series Book 12) by C.M. Owens
8. The Templar's Revenge (A James Acton Thriller Book 19) by J. Robert Kennedy
9. Speakeasy (True North Book 5) by Sarina Bowen
10. Cocktales: The Cocky Collective by Various

[Many thanks to!]

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