Also published on this date: Tuesday, March 26 Dedicated Issue: BookExpo

Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Atria Books:  Spirit Crossing (Cork O'Connor Mystery #20) by William Kent Krueger

Ballantine Books: Gather Me: A Memoir in Praise of the Books That Saved Me by Glory Edim

Ace Books: Rewitched by Lucy Jane Wood

Graywolf Press: We're Alone: Essays by Edwidge Danticat

St. Martin's Press: Runaway Train: Or, the Story of My Life So Far by Erin Roberts with Sam Kashner

Other Press (NY): Hotline by Dimitri Nasrallah

Delacorte Press: The Midnight Game by Cynthia Murphy


'Revamped Version' of Oprah's Book Club for Apple

Winfrey with Michelle Obama, author of the most recent Oprah Book Club pick.

During Apple's "It's Showtime" event yesterday in Cupertino, Calif., Oprah Winfrey "was the last show biz personality to take the stage [about the 1:40:00 mark] in the confab's section about the new AppleTV+ streaming service," Deadline reported. Almost a year after she signed a multi-year deal with Apple for original content, Winfrey introduced several new projects and "put a brief spotlight on a revamped version of her successful book club."

"For me there is nothing more thrilling than being transported by a brilliant book," she said. "The only other thing more gratifying than an extraordinary read is being able to share that experience with others, and we're going to do just that by building the biggest, the most vibrant, the most stimulating book club on the planet."

Vulture noted that "details are scarce as to how exactly Apple TV+ will be arranging the various threads of the club, so in the meantime, please allow Winfrey to be her own hypewoman while teasing what to expect."

Winfrey said, "This is a club, imagine, where Apple stores stream a conversation with the author and me across all the devices, across all borders, uniting people to stories that remind us that no matter who you are or where you're from, every man, woman, and child looks up with awe at the same sky. So I want to literally convene a meeting of the minds through books."

Watkins Publishing: Fall Into Folklore! ARCS Available On Request

Owl Bureau Bookstore Opens in L.A.

Owl Bureau, a new and used bookstore with a focus on art, fashion, architecture and design, opened last week in Los Angeles, Calif., the New York Times Style Magazine reported.

Owner Richard Christiansen, founder of the ad agency Chandelier Creative, opened Owl Bureau in L.A.'s Highland Park neighborhood, in a space shared with his ad agency's office. The name Owl Bureau comes from the building, which once housed a pharmacy called Owl Drugs and still features that old signage.

The store features a small but specialized inventory that includes books from Christiansen's personal collection as well as new titles curated with the help of Mast Books, an art- and design-focused bookstore in New York City. All of Owl Bureau's books are shelved face-out, resting on wooden pegs and shelves protruding from a curved wooden wall. At the center of the curved wall is a wooden door featuring ornately carved reliefs of owls, cacti and bumblebees, which leads to the Chandelier offices.

Christiansen told the magazine that he plans to host book and magazine launches, along with readings and signings. One of the store's first events will be an evening with French architectural photographer François Halard, and eventually Owl Bureau will have an artist-in-residency program.

GLOW: Blue Box Press: In the Air Tonight by Marie Force

Waterstones Booksellers Petition for Living Wage

Some booksellers at Waterstones have set up an online petition seeking to have the U.K. bookstore chain pay its employees a "real living wage," and so far more than 6,000 people have signed the petition, the Bookseller reported.

Written to managing director James Daunt, the "Waterstones: Become a Living Wage Employer" petition seeks a starting wage of £9 (about $11.86) an hour in the country and £10.55 ($13.90) in the Greater London area.

A living wage, the petition stated, "will have a positive impact on the lives of booksellers, their performance in the role, and the success of the bookselling industry. Working for a rate of pay that is below the living wage results in booksellers who are stressed, preoccupied and who have little spare time and energy to devote to buying books, reading them, and keeping up with news and trends in the industry--all of which activities are undertaken outside contracted hours, and which many staff consider to be (and are encouraged to view as) integral to their role."

The petition was set up by April Newton, a bookseller at Waterstones Piccadilly in London, who told the Bookseller: "Booksellers at Waterstones work long hard hours and have incredible knowledge, you are on your feet all day working with something that requires a big intellectual effort and it reflects badly that people on the front line are so undervalued. The level of response has been incredible and it's really encouraging to see so many people agree and think it's the right thing to do."

Daunt told the Bookseller that he was aware of the petition and has been focusing on "career progression and rewarding long-serving staff with higher pay," adding, "We would all like to wave a wand and just pay it and have the same differentials for everyone above it. If you're being fair you bump everyone up proportionately and if we do that, we would find ourselves in considerable straits and the business has come from a deep, dark and horrible place and we are not taking it back there. It's a tricky time for high street retailers and in one sense I'm a great believer in the real living wage and the principles that underpin it, and the national living wage is a hugely popular thing that we've been able to ride ahead of. There's a constant debate about the real living wage and we are talking about it. I don't believe our responsibility as a company is just to deliver that, my responsibility is to deliver good pay and career progression."

Carolrhoda Lab (R): They Thought They Buried Us by Nonieqa Ramos

Amazon Debuts Updated Kindle

Amazon has introduced what it describes as an "all-new Kindle, the first Kindle with a front light for under $100." The device allows users to adjust the display brightness for various light conditions. It also features an updated design in black or white for $89.99 and is available for pre-order now in anticipation of an April 10 release.

Kevin Keith, v-p, Amazon Devices, said, "Customers consistently tell us how much they appreciate having a front light on Kindle devices so they can read in any environment--from a sunny patio to their bed at night. The team worked hard to bring this customer-favorite feature to our most affordable device."

Obituary Note: Gabriel Okara

Gabriel Okara, "one of Nigeria's foremost and famous writers, poets and novelists," died March 25, Vanguard reported. He was 97. In a statement, Bina Ilagha, chairperson of the Association of Nigerian Authors, Bayelsa State Chapter, said the organization "is ruffled by the news because it came at a time when preparations are in top gear to celebrate his masterpiece, The Voice, at 55. We are saddened by the news but are consoled that he left behind lofty legacies. Pa Okara, through his literary exploits put Bayelsa in the map of literary excellence."

"The first Modernist poet of Anglophone Africa," Okara is best known for his early experimental novel, The Voice (1964), and his award-winning poetry, including The Fisherman's Invocation (1978) and The Dreamer, His Vision (2005), Vanguard wrote.

Brenda Marie Osbey, editor of Gabriel Okara: Collected Poems, observed: "It is with publication of Gabriel Okara's first poem that Nigerian literature in English and modern African poetry in this language can be said truly to have begun."

Michael Afenfia, former ANA chairman, said: "It is with great sadness that I received the news of the passing of the renowned poet and novelist, Gabriel Okara. Even in passing, I am sure your poem, 'Piano and Drums,' will 'minister' to me in many ways. Your words are an inspiration! Your concerns about the African culture in the face of Western 'threat' as expressed in 'Once Upon a Time' are ever before me. Thank you for leaving us with so much to remember of your time here with us. Thank you for setting the pace for several generations of writers."

From his poem "You Laughed and Laughed and Laughed":

So a meek wonder held
your shadow and you whispered;
"Why so?"
And I answered:
"Because my fathers and I
are owned by the living
warmth of the earth
through our naked feet."


Image of the Day: 'Take a Bag, Leave a Bag' Takes Off

Nancy Baenen, children's book buyer and co-manager at Arcadia Books, in Spring Green, Wis., wrote on Saturday: "We were inspired by the Vermont Book Shop's fantastic idea [in last Wednesday's Shelf Awareness] and now have our own 'Take a bag, leave a bag' program. We just set it up a few hours ago and it's already had some takers and lots of social media attention. Mary, the woman in the picture, owns a screen-printing business in our little town of 1,600 people so she made some special bags using sample bags she's received. Every little bit helps, right?"

Personnel Changes at Chronicle Books

Carrie Gao has joined Chronicle Books as marketing assistant, special projects. Previously she was a marketing intern at HarperOne.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Stacey Abrams on CBS This Morning, the View, Andrea Mitchell

CBS This Morning: Stacey Abrams, author of Lead from the Outside: How to Build Your Future and Make Real Change (Picador, $17, 9781250214805). She will also appear on the View and MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell.

Live with Kelly and Ryan: Bridget Moynahan, co-author of Our Shoes, Our Selves: 40 Women, 40 Stories, 40 Pairs of Shoes (Abrams, $29.99, 9781419734533).

CNN's New Day: George Papadopoulos, author of Deep State Target: How I Got Caught in the Crosshairs of the Plot to Bring Down President Trump (Diversion Books, $28.99, 9781635764932). He will also appear on MSNBC's All in with Chris Hayes.

Daily Show: Jennifer L. Eberhardt, author of Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do (Viking, $28, 9780735224933).

Movies: The Secret Garden

STXfilms has acquired the North American distribution rights to Studiocanal/Heyday Films' The Secret Garden, based on the classic children's novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, Deadline reported. Directed by Marc Munden, the project stars Colin Firth, Julie Walters and Dixie Egerickx. Jack Thorne wrote the screenplay. The film is set "in a new time period in 1947 England, on the eve of Partition in India, and in the aftermath of World War 2 in Britain."

Books & Authors

Awards: Waterstones Kids Children's Book Winners

Onjali Q. Raúf won the overall £5,000 (about $6,590) Waterstones Children's Book Prize for The Boy at the Back of the Class, as well as the younger fiction category. James Daunt, Waterstones managing director, said, "Our booksellers, one after another, have given The Boy at the Back of the Class the highest and rarest of accolades, that it is a future classic. It is, notwithstanding its urgent contemporary relevance, a book that is funny, generous and vivid. It is a joy to read, and we recommend it unreservedly."

Waterstones children's book buyer Florentyna Martin said that Raúf "has distilled what it means to be a genuine and positive person into a story that sparkles with kindness, humor and curiosity. Her characters step out of the book with a warm smile, fully-formed as role models for everyday life, ready to take you on an ambitious adventure which is both fun and exceptionally gripping. Children's books have a raft of difficult topics to convey to young readers, and Raúf embraces this with an approach that is funny, upbeat and overwhelmingly open-hearted. Having recognized this, our booksellers have chosen a winner that showcases the very best of what stories can achieve."

Other category winners were Tomi Adeyemi's Children of Blood and Bone (older fiction) and The Girls by Lauren Ace and Jenny Løvlie (illustrated book).

Top Library Recommended Titles for April

LibraryReads, the nationwide library staff-picks list, offers the top 10 March titles public library staff across the country love:

Lost Roses: A Novel by Martha Hall Kelly (Ballantine, $28, 9781524796372). "The Ferriday family (The Lilac Girls) returns in this story of love, loss, and triumph. The voices of four compelling female characters tell of the devastating effects of the Russian Revolution and World War I. Highly recommended for book clubs and fans of Anthony Doerr, Susan Meissner, and Lauren Belfer." --Mamie Ney, Auburn Public Library, Auburn, Maine

The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves (St. Martin's Press, $26.99, 9781250200358). "A college romance with an odd, quiet girl fades when she fails to follow him to New York after graduation as promised. Ten years later, a chance meeting in Chicago reunites them. An interesting story giving insight into the world of a high functioning autistic adult. For readers who enjoyed The Rosie Project." --Virginia Holsten, Vinton Public Library, Vinton, Iowa

The Invited: A Novel by Jennifer McMahon (Doubleday, $25.95, 9780385541381). "Nate and Helen leave their teaching jobs to build their dream home in rural Vermont. Helen begins seeing ghosts, and Nate becomes obsessed with a white doe. An unputdownable thriller about a house with a tragic past. Perfect for fans of Erin Kelly and Attica Locke." --Terri Smith, Cornelia Library, Mt. Airy, Ga.

Little Darlings: A Novel by Melanie Golding (Crooked Lane Books, $26.99, 9781683319979). "A creepy, beautifully written story about a new mother of twin boys who claims to have seen a strange creature who wants to steal her babies. Doctors and the police are dismissive. Then the unthinkable happens. For fans of modern myths, psychological suspense, and Fiona Barton." --Amy Verkruissen, Calcasieu Parish Public Library, Lake Charles, La.

Miracle Creek: A Novel by Angie Kim (Sarah Crichton, $27, 9780374156022). "When a medical treatment facility explodes, killing two people, the ensuing murder trial rocks the town while witnesses go to extremes to conceal their darkest secrets. Part family drama, part whodunit, Miracle Creek is a gripping debut. For fans of Celeste Ng and Liane Moriarty." --Portia Kapraun, Delphi Public Library, Delphi, Ind.

The Mother-in-Law: A Novel by Sally Hepworth (St. Martin's Press, $27.99, 9781250120922). "Lucy hopes to have a good relationship with her husband Ollie's mother, but Diana makes it difficult. When Diana is found dead of an apparent suicide, Lucy reexamines everything she knows about Diana and the rest of the family. For fans of The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand and The Lake House by Kate Morton." --Chris Markley, Kingsport Public Library, Kingsport, Tenn.

Normal People: A Novel by Sally Rooney (Hogarth, $26, 9781984822178). "Follows the complicated relationship between Connell, a popular boy, and Marianne, a lonely and private girl, through their high school years and college. A great book club pick. For fans of Three Junes by Julia Glass and Idaho by Emily Ruskovich." --Anbolyn Potter, Chandler Public Library, Chandler, Ariz.

Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir by Ruth Reichl (Random House, $27, 9781400069996). "Reichl's captivating story about leaving her job as a New York Times restaurant critic to become Editor in Chief of Gourmet magazine. Her writing is as luscious as the food she critiques. For fans of Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain and My Life in France by Julia Child." --Katelyn Boyer, Fergus Falls Public Library, Fergus Falls, Minn.

Southern Lady Code: Essays by Helen Ellis (Random House, $27, 9781400069996). "A funny, spot-on collection of essays on topics ranging from marriage and manners, three-ways, and how to be a good friend in the middle of a murder trial. For fans of You Play the Girl by Carina Chocano and Thick by Tressie McMillan Cottom." --Linda Quinn, Fairfield Public Library, Fairfield, Conn.

Women Talking by Miriam Toews (Bloomsbury, $24, 9781635572582). "In a modern-day Mennonite community, eight women surreptitiously gather in a barn to decide their future after learning the truth behind two years of sexual assaults committed by neighbors and family members. Their circuitous, swooping two-day conversation touches on faith, autonomy, duty, anger, and their hopes for their lives and those of their children in this compelling and haunting read. For fans of Lauren Groff." --Andrea Gough, The Seattle Public Library, Seattle, Wash.

Book Review

Review: A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II

Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II by Sonia Purnell (Viking, $28 hardcover, 368p., 9780735225299, April 9, 2019)

Seven decades after the end of World War II, the stories of key players in the Allied intelligence services are still coming to light. Virginia Hall, a fearless American who spent much of the war working undercover in France for Britain's Special Operations Executive (SOE), is one of these formerly unsung heroes. Journalist Sonia Purnell (Clementine) tells Hall's story in her fast-paced, meticulously researched (and ironically titled) biography, A Woman of No Importance.

Restless, bold and bored by her mother's social-climbing ambitions, Hall relished horseback riding far more than genteel parties. In her 20s, she spent time in Paris and Vienna, studying languages and absorbing the culture, before working as a clerk for the U.S. State Department. A hunting accident in Turkey left her disabled (she lost part of one leg) but never slowed her down: she went back to work, and later volunteered as an ambulance driver in France. In 1940, Hall was headed home to the U.S. when she was recruited by the fledgling SOE.

Purnell expertly weaves Hall's narrative together with the story of SOE's founding, highlighting its attempts to build a new kind of covert operation (and its mistakes along the way). She traces Hall's trajectory from fresh-faced recruit to battle-hardened, savvy Resistance fighter, and brings her comrades and civilian supporters to life. She follows Hall's movements around occupied France: organizing air drops, setting up Resistance cells, finding safe houses for refugees and radio operators. The woman's bravery and brilliance are on constant display, but Purnell also highlights the quiet heroism of ordinary people who risked their lives daily to fight fascism. She also minces no words about the sexism Hall and other women faced at the State Department and in SOE--both agencies having started as well-heeled boys' clubs. The casual dismissal of Hall's shrewd intelligence plagued her throughout her career, but she remained tenacious and determined to help France gain its freedom.

Although some of Hall's exploits are epic, even cinematic, there's also a lot of nitty-gritty detail: cracking radio codes, planning elaborate prison escapes, agents narrowly avoiding capture (or not). Purnell's narrative moves along at a cracking pace, somehow managing to keep track of a large cast of characters against the ever-changing backdrop of war. (Hall's later years, though they are mentioned, read almost like a coda to her wartime adventures.) Purnell's book is a gripping account of an extraordinary woman, and a celebration of courage, ingenuity and grit. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Shelf Talker: Sonia Purnell tells the gripping story of an American spy who became a leader of the French Resistance.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Heart of the Devil by Meghan March
2. Your Love Is Mine (The Sullivans Book 19) by Bella Andre
3. Soaring with Fallon by Kristen Proby
4. A Conquest Impossible to Resist by Stephanie Laurens
5. Can't Hurt Me by David Goggins
6. The Cheater's Game (Glass and Steele Book 7) by C.J. Archer
7. Shopping for a Billionaire's Baby by Julia Kent
8. All Stars Fall by Rachel Van Dyken
9. The Empire by Lisa Renee Jones
10. Wicked Force by Sawyer Bennett

[Many thanks to!]

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