Shelf Awareness for Thursday, November 1, 2018

Disney-Hyperion: 10 Truths and a Dare by Ashley Elston

Disney-Hyperion: Willa of Dark Hollow by Robert Beatty

Candlewick Press: Zonia's Rain Forest by Juana Martinez-Neal

Amulet Books: Atlantis: The Accidental Invasion by Gregory Mone

Quirk Books: The Wild World Handbook: Habitats by Andrea Debbink, illustrated by Asia Orlando

Bloomsbury Publishing: Girlhood by Melissa Febos


Southern Fried Books to Open in Newnan, Ga.

Southern Fried Books is launching this month at 29 Jackson St. in Newnan, Ga. A subsidiary of multimedia company Southern Fried Karma, the pop-up retailer will be open Wednesday through Friday beginning November 14, with expanded weekend hours starting November 23.

"This summer my granddaughter sold copies of our newest SFK Press releases from the front porch of our office," said Southern Fried Karma co-founder and bookstore owner Steve McCondichie. "So, we decided to professionalize the pop-up concept until we can decide on a larger and more permanent location."

The new bookstore will have a regional approach to bookselling, with a focus on catering to a local audience. "We have highly curated content that focuses on Southern authors--both the classics we all know and new voices we want to introduce you to," McCondichie added. "Southern Fried Karma has a mission to tell a million tales of 'Y'all Means All.' Southern Fried Books is another way for us to fulfill that mission."

The "front porch bookstore" will stock some 700 titles, and in the near future plans to develop beyond a bookstore and into a community space that hosts author events and workshops, and partners with other indie booksellers and organizations.

"We have the whole perspective," McCondichie said. "We're readers, we're writers, and we're publishers. We're committed to books and independent booksellers."

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Version Zero by David Yoon

WH Smith Buying InMotion to Expand into U.S.

In a move to expand to the U.S., U.K. retailer WH Smith is buying InMotion for $198 million, according to the Bookseller. Founded in 1998, InMotion has 114 stores in 43 airports in the U.S. that sell "digital accessories" such as headphones and earbuds, travel accessories, mobile power, portable speakers and cameras. WH Smith said InMotion would provide it with "a scalable platform to launch the WH Smith airport format into the U.S." At the same time, the company said the move will allow it "to grow the digital accessories format in key markets outside of North America where WH Smith is present."

In some 1,400 shops that are primarily at airports, train stations, downtowns, highway stops and hospitals, WH Smith sells books, stationery, magazines, newspapers, entertainment and travel products and some food. Most of its stores are in the U.K., although it has operations in some 27 other countries, mostly in airports, but not in the U.S. At various times, WH Smith owned Waterstone's and Hodder Headline.

WH Smith group chief executive Stephen Clarke said that the acquisition will double the size of the company's international travel business. InMotion will operate as a standalone part of that business, and the senior management team will continue to head InMotion.

Tyndale House Publishers: Under the Magnolias by T I Lowe

Sharjah International Book Fair Underway

The 37th Sharjah International Book Fair in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, officially opened Wednesday morning. It runs until November 10 and features some 1.6 million books for sale, nearly 2,000 exhibiting publishers and 470 guest authors and speakers. Attendance is free to the public, and students from Sharjah and across the UAE are bused in daily to visit the fair. Japan is the year's Guest of Honor.

KidsBuzz for the Week of 03.08.21

B&N's Chronicle of a Deal Undone

More on Barnes & Noble's response and counterclaims to the suit filed in August by former CEO Demos Parneros, who charged breach of contract and defamation and asked for severance of more than $4 million, damages and punitive damages:

Filed on Tuesday, B&N's 35-page rebuttal charged again that Parneros engaged in sexual harassment and bullied other executives but went into the most detail concerning what it called his "sabotage" of a deal to sell the company that was made public for the first time in Parneros's suit, indicating perhaps that the collapse of the deal is at the core of B&N's decision to fire Parneros under extremely hostile terms.

In B&N's telling, Parneros consistently worked against the offer and successfully destroyed it. Parneros has said that he supported the offer and that the suitor backed out after doing due diligence.

When the potential buyer, who remains unnamed, made an "indicative proposal" in early 2018 and the board agreed to pursue the offer, B&N said, Parneros "reluctantly" met with people from the potential buyer. The first instance was in February, when the potential buyer's CEO requested a meeting with Parneros, which Parneros "insisted be kept short, even though the Potential Acquiror had requested a longer meeting."

Before a second meeting at the end of March, "the Potential Acquiror made numerous requests for information to the Company. Parneros repeatedly interfered with the Company's responses to these requests by demanding that the Barnes & Noble finance team provide less detailed data to the Potential Acquiror. When one executive disagreed with Parneros and cautioned that providing a detailed response was an important step in securing an indicative proposal from the Potential Acquiror, Parneros continued to press for less detailed disclosure of information to the Potential Acquiror."

At the March meeting, B&N alleged, "Parneros did not prepare for the meeting, and he did not bring any materials with him. For most of the meeting, Parneros harshly criticized the Company. He described the Company as 'spiraling' and 'ugly,' and he even questioned his own decision to join the Company, stating: 'Why did I come here?' Parneros also attempted to paint himself as a hero by claiming that he had brought back opportunities for the Company."

At the end of the March meeting, B&N continued, the buyer's CEO "asked Parneros if he could briefly meet for a drink. Parneros declined the invitation, claiming that he already had plans. The CEO then suggested meeting for breakfast the following morning. Again, Parneros declined."

In April, the other company sent B&N "a revised indicative proposal with an increased offer price. At that time, the Potential Acquiror informed the Company that it remained committed to entering into a definitive transaction agreement on an expeditious timetable."

In May, the B&N board "asked Parneros to provide answers to a list of questions in order to assess whether to go forward with the potential transaction. At a meeting with directors, Parneros portrayed the Company and its expected future performance in a positive light and advocated that the Company forgo the potential acquisition, and instead have him continue to lead the Company."

Nevertheless, the board decided to move ahead with the offer and "expressly directed Parneros on at least two occasions to do so. Parneros appeared visibly upset with the directors' decision." B&N attributed Parneros's reaction to this reasoning on his part: "If the transaction went through, Parneros would no longer be the CEO of a standalone public company, and instead could be relegated to the position of a divisional head, or lose his job entirely."

Then, on June 18, a "critical" third meeting was attended by Parneros and other B&N executives, as well as the CEO and executives of the potential purchaser. The meeting was supposed to "last several hours and be followed by a dinner attended by both sides." B&N said that beforehand, the CEO wanted Parneros "to explain a recent downward sales trend."

The meeting "did not go well, due in large part to Parneros's disloyal conduct," B&N said, claiming that he "showed little interest" in preparations for a presentation by B&N's finance team and held no "strategy or preparation sessions with the other Barnes & Noble executives in advance of the meeting, nor did he even discuss the strategy or approach for the meeting with them. Instead, acting in furtherance of his own self-interests and against the clear mandate he had received from Riggio and the Board, through his conduct at the meeting, Parneros attempted to sabotage the potential deal entirely."

He did so by following the potential buyer's CEO's opening remarks with "a long, rambling monologue, which failed to address the issues and questions posed by the Potential Acquiror and, instead, portrayed the Company in an extremely and unduly negative light, with no realistic prospects for success. Among the many shocking and disparaging statements Parneros made during the meeting, he described the Company as an 'ugly mess' and complained that the Company had 'no talent' before he arrived."

At the same time, he "did not provide positive information concerning initiatives that the Company had made in 2018 or about the Company's expectations for growth in 2019." Parneros's behavior "stunned and horrified" the other B&N executives at the meeting, the company added.

The potential buyer "immediately and negatively reacted to Parneros's damaging characterizations of the Company. Soon after Parneros finished his speech, the Potential Acquiror abruptly cut the meeting short and cancelled the scheduled dinner. Parneros did not appear dismayed by the Potential Acquiror's decision to abandon the meeting. Instead, at the end of the meeting, Parneros declared to his colleagues and the Company's advisors that there would be no need for future meetings about a potential acquisition."

The next day, the potential buyer "informed [B&N chairman Len] Riggio that it was withdrawing its revised indicative proposal, citing the Company's failure to explain its sales decline--information that it had specifically requested at the June 18 meeting and information which the Board had expressly directed Parneros to provide to the Potential Acquiror at the meeting."

Among other demands, B&N is asking to recover "all compensation paid to Parneros, including salary, bonus payments, and other payments and benefits during the period in which he acted adversely to Barnes & Noble, lasting at least five months, totaling in excess of one million dollars."

Sterling Children's Books: Aven Green Sleuthing Machine, Volume 1 by Dusti Bowling

PRH Takes Majority Ownership of Brazilian Publisher

Penguin Random House has acquired majority ownership of Brazilian publisher Companhia das Letras, a move that "enables us to increase our reach in South America and in the Portuguese-language market," PRH CEO Markus Dohle said in an announcement. The publisher has, he continued, "the largest market share among Brazilian trade publishers, with more 4,500 active titles in its impressive and growing catalogue, which includes 34 Nobel Prize winners and the finest Brazilian fiction and poetry."

In 2012, PRH bought a 45% stake in the 32-year-old company with the aim of eventually taking majority ownership. Founders Luiz Schwarcz will continue as CEO and chairman of the board, and Lilia Moritz Schwarcz will continue as chief content officer and board member. The Moreira Salles family is leaving the partnership.

Luiz Schwarcz commented: "The day-to-day operations and publishing objectives and direction of Companhia das Letras will not change, as they have not these last six years. The principal ethics and editorial values of the two publishers are strongly aligned, with shared long-term visions for the bright future of book publishing. Now, with PRH's majority ownership, we will gain more support for important initiatives, such as innovations in our supply chain for print and e-content distribution to our customers, and further insights into how to market our books even more effectively to the widest readership. In addition, we will benefit from the closer involvement of Markus Dohle, who has an unparalleled understanding of the global publishing industry, with a strong vision for the future of the book."

Dohle thanked the Schwarczes and "their brilliant team" and said, "I'm grateful to Luiz that he will continue to lead Companhia, and I'm confident that in the long term, the macro economic situation in Brazil will improve. Now, together, we will be able to further grow Companhia by celebrating the strength of our local teams and ensuring they manage the local market dynamics with the shared goal of connecting our authors with the widest audience of readers in Brazil and beyond."

Red Lightning Books: A Guide to Sky Monsters: Thunderbirds, the Jersey Devil, Mothman, and Other Flying Cryptids by T S Mart and Mel Cabre


Image of the Day: Getting Stoned at Work

Penguin Classics has a recent Halloween tradition based on Shirley Jackson's short story "The Lottery": Penguin Random House "villagers" gather in the "square" and select one among them via a lottery drawing to be "stoned." This year Glory Anne Plata of Riverhead Books publicity pulled the unlucky ticket, faced her peers, and was bombarded with stones (old manuscript pages).
photo: Molly Fessenden

Bloomsbury Publishing: Girlhood by Melissa Febos

Hopkins to Distribute Northeastern University Press

Hopkins Fulfillment Services will provide distribution services for Northeastern University Press, effective in December. The press has been distributed by University Press of New England, which is closing at the end of the year.

Founded in 1977, Northeastern University Press doesn't currently publish new books but has an evergreen backlist that it aims to keep in print. Its publishing program focused on the areas of criminology, history, musicology, and women's studies, with an emphasis on local and regional topics. In addition to new material, the press published new editions or new compilations of work by historical figures such as Louisa May Alcott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Samuel Eliot Morison. The press also republished notable fiction, including Grace Metalious's Peyton Place and works in the Northeastern Library of Black Literature series. In addition, the press distributed material for American museums and historical institutions, such as the Massachusetts Historical Society and the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.

Hillary Corbett, director of scholarly communication and digital publishing at the Northeastern University Library, said, "We look forward to working with HFS to ensure the legacy of the Press continues, in alignment with Northeastern's exploration of new modes of dissemination for future publishing activities."

Davida Breier, manager of HFS, which is a division of Johns Hopkins University Press, said that the Northeastern University Press "list runs the gamut from Peyton Place to The Red Sox to The Boston Strangler, displaying a wide breadth of scholarly content and regional focus. Although Northeastern ceased publishing new books in 2015, we agree that it is important to keep their works in print and available and are delighted to work with them to support that objective."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Doris Kearns Goodwin on CBS This Morning

CBS This Morning: Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of Leadership: In Turbulent Times (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781476795928).

This Weekend on Book TV: The Boston Book Festival

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, November 3
2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Coverage of the 2018 Boston Book Festival in Boston, Mass. (Re-airs Sunday at 1 a.m.). Highlights include:

  • 2 p.m. A panel discussion on youth activism with Jenn Abelson, Eric Dawson, Amanda Matos, Melissa Falkowski and Alexandra Styron.
  • 2:56 p.m. A panel discussion on sports and social change with Etan Thomas, Amy Bass and Howard Bryant.
  • 4:06 p.m. A panel discussion on true crime writing with Peter Hellman, Kirk Wallace Johnson and Paige Williams.
  • 5:13 p.m. A panel discussion on the political divide in the United States with Sarah Kendzior, Ben Bradlee, Jonathan Weiler and Austin Smith.
  • 6:16 p.m. Steven Pinker, author of Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress (Viking, $35, 9780525427575).

7 p.m. Karen Prior, author of On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life through Great Books (Brazos Press, $19.99, 9781587433962). (Re-airs Sunday at 5:10 p.m.)

7:50 p.m. Alan Greenspan and Adrian Wooldridge, authors of Capitalism in America: A History (Penguin Press, $35, 9780735222441), at Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C.

9 p.m. Christine Lagorio-Chafkin, author of We Are the Nerds: The Birth and Tumultuous Life of Reddit, the Internet's Culture Laboratory (Hachette Books, $28, 9780316435376).

10 p.m. Charlotte Pence, author of Where You Go: Life Lessons from My Father (Center Street, $26, 9781546076186). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Stanley McChrystal, co-author of Leaders: Myth and Reality (Portfolio, $30, 9780525534372). (Re-airs Sunday at 8:15 p.m.)

Sunday, November 4
12 a.m. Anne Lamott, author of Almost Everything: Notes on Hope (Riverhead, $20, 9780525537441), at Greenlight Bookstore in New York City.

12 p.m. Live In-Depth q&a with Jodi Picoult, author, most recently, of A Spark of Light: A Novel (Ballantine, $28.99, 9780345544988). (Re-airs Monday at 12 a.m.)

4 p.m. Major Garrett, author of Mr. Trump's Wild Ride (All Points Books, $28.99, 9781250185914), at Politics & Prose. (Re-airs Monday 5:20 a.m.)

6:40 p.m. Jason Stanley, author of How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them (Random House, $26, 9780525511830).

10 p.m. Susan Orlean, author of The Library Book (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781476740188).

11 p.m. Stephen Carter, author of Invisible: The Forgotten Story of the Black Woman Lawyer Who Took Down America's Most Powerful Mobster (Holt, $30, 9781250121974).

Books & Authors

Awards: Cundill History; Specsavers National Book

Finalists for the $75,000 Cundill History Prize, administered by McGill University in Montreal, are:

Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser (Metropolitan Books)
The Dawn Watch: Joseph Conrad in a Global World by Maya Jasanoff (Penguin Press)
A Cold Welcome: The Little Ice Age and Europe's Encounter with North America by Sam White (Harvard University Press)

The winner will be announced November 15. The two runners-up will each receive $10,000.


Finalists in 11 categories have been named for the Specsavers National Book Awards, which have returned after a three-year hiatus. The winners will be announced November 20 at an event to "celebrate the best and most popular books of the year."

The awards were judged by the Academy, a handpicked group of "the most senior and influential people in the book trade," including publishers, agents, booksellers, journalists and influencers who voted for the shortlists and will choose the winning books. An outstanding achievement award will also be given to an author or illustrator "who has truly made their mark in books."

After the category winners are announced, the public will be invited to vote for their Book of the Year from among them. This winner will be announced just after Christmas.

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, November 6:

Heads You Win: A Novel by Jeffrey Archer (St. Martin's Press, $28.99, 9781250172501) tracks the life of a child a forced to flee the Soviet Union in 1968.

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty (Flatiron, $28.99, 9781250069825) follows nine strangers at a remote spa resort.

The Noel Stranger by Richard Paul Evans (Simon & Schuster, $19.99, 9781501172052) is a Christmas-themed romance.

The Kinship of Secrets by Eugenia Kim (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26, 9781328987822) follows two sisters separated by the Korean War.

Body & Soul by John Harvey (Pegasus, $25.95, 9781681778730) is the fourth mystery featuring Frank Elder.

Monument: Poems New and Selected by Natasha Trethewey (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26, 9781328507846) collects poems by the two-term U.S. Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner.

Welcome Home: A Memoir with Selected Photographs and Letters by Lucia Berlin (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $25, 9780374287597) is a nonfiction companion to Berlin's fiction writing.

A Savage Order: How the World's Deadliest Countries Can Forge a Path to Security by Rachel Kleinfeld (Pantheon, $28.95, 9781101871997) looks at how violent societies can achieve peace.

Solomon's Code: Humanity in a World of Thinking Machines by Olaf Groth and Mark Nitzberg (Pegasus, $27.95, 9781681778709) explores the present and future of artificial intelligence.

What Makes a Wine Worth Drinking: In Praise of the Sublime by Terry Theise (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25, 9781328762214) explores the qualities of desirable wine.

Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around the World by Vashti Harrison (Little, Brown, $17.99, 9780316475174) is the picture book follow-up to her bestselling Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History.

Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix by Julie C. Dao (Philomel Books, $18.99, 9781524738327) is the final book in the Rise of the Phoenix fantasy duology.

Wakanda Forever by Nnedi Okorafor and Alberto Albuquerque (Marvel, $15.99, 9781302913588).

The Girl in the Spider's Web, based on David Lagercrantz's continuation of Stieg Larsson's Millennium series, opens November 9. Claire Foy takes over as goth hacker Lisbeth Salander. A movie tie-in edition (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard, $9.99, 9780525564577) is available.

The Front Runner, based on All the Truth Is Out by Matt Bai, opens November 9. Hugh Jackman stars as prospective 1988 presidential candidate Senator Gary Hart. A movie tie-in edition (Vintage, $15.95, 9780525566137) is available.

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:

There Will Be No Miracles Here: A Memoir by Casey Gerald (Riverhead, $27, 9780735214200). "Casey Gerald's There Will Be No Miracles Here might very well--and rightfully so--come to be considered one of the great memoirs of African American experience in America. Gerald recounts his childhood and life beginning with his early years in Dallas, which were rife with family drama, religious questioning, and grappling with his sexuality, through his football career at Yale. In his meditative, lyrical, and ruminative tone, Gerald questions American identity, myth, and success. His conversational and conspiratorial style is undergirded by a proficient, experimental, and stylish set of literary techniques." --Margaret Grace Myers, Books Are Magic, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth by Sarah Smarsh (Scribner, $26, 9781501133091). "A classic is born! Sarah Smarsh takes us on a five-generation trek through the hardscrabble life of her Kansas childhood in the '80s and '90s. Just as J.D. Vance's Hillbilly Elegy and Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed addressed the uncomfortable topic of poverty in this country, Heartland successfully gives the reader an in-depth look at impoverishment in the bread basket of America. She writes with a crystal-clear and objective voice, never giving in to self-pity or malevolence. Indeed, tongue-in-cheek humor and tenderness often shine through. This book is a must-read, a milestone in the life of our country." --Nancy Simpson-Brice, Book Vault, Oskaloosa, Iowa.

Night Moves by Jessica Hopper (University of Texas Press, $15.95, 9781477317884). "Like reading the diary of your best friend from the best time of your life, Night Moves is a music-as-literature, literature-as-music bildungsroman set in Chicago's indie music underground, but it's also everywhere: the moment the gentrification and glass luxury condos began to take over everything original in this country, a fading glimpse at youth gone by in the slow burn into adulthood that we've all shared. It's all of us who've ever ridden a bike through our town late at night, watching the lights glowing, to a playlist of our own creation inside our heads." --Will Evans, Deep Vellum Books, Dallas, Tex.

For Ages 4 to 8
Lovely Beasts: The Surprising Truth by Kate Gardner, illustrated by Heidi Smith (Balzer + Bray, $17.99, 9780062741615) "With simple text and gorgeous illustrations, Lovely Beasts tackles stereotypes about animals (spiders=creepy, octopi=slimy) and turns them on their head (spiders are actually amazing crafters and octopi are quite intelligent) for the youngest readers. Not only good for classrooms, but also for everyday reading." --Melissa Fox, Watermark Books & Café, Wichita, Kan.

For Ages 9 to 12
Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier (Amulet, $18.99, 9781419731402). "Nan Sparrow is the sort of heroine the word 'plucky' was invented for. From her unconventional life traveling with her beloved Sweep--with whom all difficulties turned into treasured memories--she has fallen into indentured servitude as a 'climbing boy.' Even though she's one of the best around, when she gets lodged in a chimney during a fire, she's sure she's a goner... until she awakens in the rubble of that chimney with a sentient bit of char rolling at her feet. Thus begins her new life on the lam with Charlie. Anyone who loved the strange but sweet relationship at the center of Anna and the Swallow Man will owe their whole heart to this heartfelt and satisfying story of found family that shows how even devastating loss can be transformed into beautiful remembrance." --Sarah Holt, Left Bank Books, St. Louis, Mo.

For Teen Readers: An Indies Introduce Title
Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram (Dial, $17.99, 9780525552963). "A beautiful, thoughtful book that is all the more impressive for being a debut! Darius is visiting Iran with his family and meeting his grandparents in person for the first time. He struggles with fitting into an unfamiliar culture and feeling like a disappointment to his father, but a new friendship helps him learn some truths about himself and see the world in a new way. An achingly relatable story in a wry, honest voice. Stunning." --Cecelia Cackley, East City Bookshop, Washington, D.C.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: My Sister, the Serial Killer

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (Doubleday, $22.95 hardcover, 240p., 9780385544238, November 20, 2018)

This short, sharp debut novel from Nigerian writer Oyinkan Braithwaite, a 2016 Commonwealth Short Story Prize finalist for "The Driver," follows a nurse who would get along better with her sister if the young woman would stop committing murder.

Korede and Ayoola have little in common. Elder sister Korede is plain, diligent and devoted to Ayoola, who is beautiful, vapid and devoid of empathy. In the opening scene, Korede receives a call for help from her sister, who has stabbed her boyfriend to death, allegedly in self-defense. As this incident marks the third time one of Ayoola's boyfriends has wound up dead after supposedly assaulting her, Korede finds herself less inclined to believe her sister. Nonetheless, she rushes to clean up the scene and dispose of the corpse, as usual.

However, more work remains after destroying the evidence; Korede must manage questions from the police and remind Ayoola that grieving girlfriends of missing men do not immediately begin posting pictures of their food and outfits to Instagram. Korede finds solace only at the hospital where she works. There, she can sneak away to confide her woes to a coma patient because he cannot repeat her secrets, and she can see Tade, a handsome doctor who appreciates her intelligence and treats her with respect. Even this escape is shattered, however, when Ayoola visits the hospital and catches Tade's eye. If Korede wants to save Tade, whom she secretly loves, she may have to betray the sister she has always protected.

Beauty is a beast in this sly, absurd take on the black widow trope. Braithwaite's greatest trick lies in keeping the sisterly relationship believable, with Korede constantly scoffing in disbelief at Ayoola's shallowness and lack of common sense, yet always rushing in to tidy her sister's messes. Readers can sympathize with Korede enough to forget at times that she is an accessory to murder, no matter how noble her motivations.

While the serial killer plot device suggests the horror genre, My Sister, the Serial Killer has frequent overtones of dark comedy brought on by Ayoola's naïveté and lack of remorse as Korede wonders, "Isn't there an option where no one dies and Ayoola doesn't have to be incarcerated?" In the end, readers may question how different the sisters are despite their opposite personalities. This diminutive chiller comes with a surprising bite and a reminder never to underestimate a pretty face--or a plain one. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Shelf Talker: Korede will do anything to protect her younger sister, including dispose of the bodies as Ayoola murders a string of lovers.

KidsBuzz: Schiffer Kids: A Poem Is a Firefly by Charles Ghigna, illus. by Michelle Hazelwood Hyde
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