Shelf Awareness for Thursday, April 18, 2019

Tordotcom: The Saint of Bright Doors by Vajra Chandrasekera

Minotaur Books: Deadlock: A Thriller (Dez Limerick Novel #2) by James Byrne

Ballantine Books: The Second Ending by Michelle Hoffman

Tor Books: One for My Enemy by Olivie Blake

Henry Holt & Company: Warrior Girl Unearthed by Angeline Boulley

Little, Brown Ink: The Princess and the Grilled Cheese Sandwich (a Graphic Novel) by Deya Muniz

Flatiron Books: Once Upon a Prime: The Wondrous Connections Between Mathematics and Literature by Sarah Hart


AAP Sales: Trade Leads Big Jump in February

Total net book sales in February in the U.S. rose 7.2%, to $754 million, compared to February 2018, representing sales of 1,373 publishers and distributed clients as reported to the Association of American Publishers. During the month, downloadable audio once again had the largest sales increase--36.4%, to $46.7 million--and most trade categories rose substantially, including adult and children's/YA hardcovers, up 13.4% and 22.7%, respectively.

For the year to date, total net book sales have risen 0.6%, to $1.818 billion. At the same time, publisher net revenue for trade books rose 3.2%, to $1.06 billion.

Sales by category in February 2019 compared to February 2018:


Sourcebooks Young Readers: Global: One Fragile World. an Epic Fight for Survival. by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin, illustrated by Giovanni Rigano

Garrison Keillor Sells Common Good Books

Garrison Keillor, who founded Common Good Books in St. Paul, Minn., in 2006, has sold the store to St. Paul native Nick Ballas, who has renamed the store Next Chapter Booksellers. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that Ballas will make "some minor interior changes" and add new signage, but the store will remain open and the staff is continuing.

MPR News said that a celebratory open house will be held on May 19 and noted that longtime manager David Enyeart will stay on in that role. "There was uncertainty and that is not an easy way to live," he commented. "That's not an easy way to be. It's great to have everything settled and to know that the store is going to be around for quite a while."

Keillor had put the store on the market early this year. At the time, Keillor said: "I opened Common Good Books because I loved the bookstores I knew around the U, Perrine's and McCosh's and Heddan's and Savran's. And now I'm leaving town and am busy writing a book of my own so it's time to turn over the business to someone else. The world is full of wonderful independent bookstores and needs every one."

Ballas told the Star Tribune that he wants to host more events at the store and across the street at Macalester College, as well as expand the store's online presence and sell more books online. "We have the capability to do that today," Ballas commented, "but we haven't focused so much on it because we're a store that really specializes in personalized service."

Nick Ballas

The newspaper said Ballas worked for manufacturing companies--Nexans and Cabot Corp.--in Asia for several decades before returning to St. Paul in 2016 to be closer to his children. Managing director of Cathedral Hill Advisory, a consulting firm to small and medium-sized organizations, Ballas said in a statement on the store website: "I know firsthand what an independent bookstore means to a city, and when the opportunity to support this one came along, I jumped at the chance. The store is filled with wonderful books and booksellers dedicated to helping customers find just what they're looking for. We have something special, and I'm so happy to be able to keep this store here for St. Paul readers."

Common Good Books opened on Cathedral Hill and moved to its present location, at 38 S. Snelling Ave., in 2012.

The founding host of Minnesota Public Radio's A Prairie Home Companion and author of many bestselling books, in 2017 Keillor was accused of inappropriate behavior with a female co-worker. That led to an MPR investigation that found he also wrote and posted an off-color limerick about a young woman who was a bookseller at Common Good Books.

Tor Books: One for My Enemy by Olivie Blake

S&S Founding Tiller Press

In June, Simon & Schuster is launching Tiller Press, a "trend-driven imprint focused on publishing timely, culturally relevant books," the company said. Tiller titles will be nonfiction in the areas of wellness, self-expression, empathy, food and cooking, diet, parenting, home, workplace, play, creativity, travel, fan culture and civic engagement.

S&S executive v-p and chief marketing officer Liz Perl commented: "The time is right to turn to the latest in social listening, research and analytical capabilities to discover new readers and meet their needs with the right books at the right time. The skills developed for Tiller Press will also serve our larger publishing effort as we develop a deeper understanding of our readers."

Theresa DiMasi will head Tiller Press as v-p, publisher. Most recently, she was v-p, head of content and editor-in-chief at Weight Watchers International, and earlier held senior editorial, content strategy, and product innovation positions at Condé Nast and elsewhere. She said, "We are committed to finding audiences hungry for books that have yet to be written, and using data science and trend analysis for taking risks on ideas and authors that might not traditionally find their way to a publisher. This approach will enable us to bring books to engaged, niche and underserved audiences."

Other Tiller Press staff members include Sam Ford, who has been named director of cultural intelligence, overseeing the imprint's cultural trends analysis and research efforts. Ford is a research affiliate with MIT Comparative Media Studies/Writing and a Knight News Innovation Fellow with Columbia University's Tow Center for Digital Journalism. He previously served as v-p, innovation & engagement, at Univision's Fusion Media Group.

Anja Schmidt has been named executive editor. She was most recent editorial director at Oxmoor House, part of Time Inc. Books.

Tiller Press will publish 19 titles this year, including:

  • Sorted, A Transgender Memoir: Growing Up, Coming Out, and Finding My Place by Jackson Bird
  • The Art of Flaneuring: How to Wander with Intention and Discover a Better Life by Erika Owen
  • Seeing Red: Transforming Women's Health One Period at a Time by Kirsten Karchmer
  • The Art of Jin Shin: The Japanese Practice of Healing with your Fingertips by Alexis Brink
  • Meals that Heal: 100 Everyday Anti-inflammatory Recipes and Menus for Brain, Heart, and Gut Health by Carolyn Williams
  • Soulbbatical: A Corporate Rebel's Guide to Finding Your Best Life by Shelley Paxton

GLOW: Blackstone Publishing: The Wisdom of Morrie: Living and Aging Creatively and Joyfully by Morrie Schwartz, edited by Rob Schwartz

Arcadia Hiring Indie Bookseller, Others

Arcadia Publishing, Charleston, S.C., has announced hirings and promotions that include a local indie bookseller:

Christen Thompson

Christen Thompson, who continues as co-owner of Itinerant Literate, North Charleston, S.C., is rejoining Arcadia on April 29 in the newly created position of director of special projects. She had earlier been an editor at Arcadia and acquired such titles as New Orleans Style, Austin Breakfast Tacos, Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch, and Hope & New Orleans. Itinerant Literate was a mobile bookstore for three years and last July opened a bricks-and-mortar location. Thompson and co-owner Julia Turner both worked at Arcadia's History Press before starting Itinerant Literate.

Leigh Scott will take on the newly created role of independent sales manager, strategic growth, and will be the team leader for Arcadia's field sales reps.

Mike Nieken is being promoted to independent sales manager East.

Elysia Walton is being promoted to independent sales manager West.

Cameron Haines has rejoined the company as production editor.

G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Three of Us by Ore Agbaje-Williams

Obituary Note: James Anderson Winn

James Anderson Winn, "whose scholarly writings on Queen Anne, John Dryden and other subjects showed the influence of his side interest as a professional-caliber flutist," died March 21, the New York Times reported. He was 71. Winn also wrote about Alexander Pope's letters and the poetry of war, as well as essays on Bach and on the Beatles.

His books include John Dryden and His World (1987), Queen Anne: Patroness of Arts (2014), The Poetry of War (2008), The Pale of Words (1998), and A Window in the Bosom (1977).

"James was always from the beginning interested in interdisciplinary things," said Robert Freeman, former director of the Eastman School of Music, who advised Winn when he was a student at Princeton. "He believed that the academic world tends to isolate itself into a bunch of silos."

In a 1988 interview with the Times, Winn discussed how being raised in the South, with its rich history, had influenced him: "We grew up with a very large sense of the past. What I found attractive about the age of Dryden and Pope at the time I fell in love with it was that it seemed to me old and fine, elegant and polished, complex in ways that I didn't then understand--and don't now."

Blink: Come Home Safe by Brian G. Buckmire


Image of the Day: Debut Authors at TXLA

Maika Moulite (l.) and Maritza Moulite (r.), sisters and authors of the debut YA novel Dear Haiti, Love Alaine (Inkyard Press, September 3), with their publicist, Laura Gianino, at the Texas Library Association conference in Austin.

NYPL Bookmobile to Hit the Streets

Citing its long history with bookmobiles, the New York Public Library announced that "a new chapter will begin with the arrival of the new NYPL Bookmobile, which will serve patrons across the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island."

The mobile library's mission includes making stops at community events and local partner organizations, as well as providing dedicated service in neighborhoods where the local branch is temporarily closed for renovation.

Capable of transporting up to 1,000 books that have either been requested for checkout or browsed curbside, the NYPL Bookmobile will also serve as a venue where books can be returned or renewed. New Yorkers can also sign up for library cards as well as receive reference and reader services.

Personnel Changes at the American University in Cairo Press

Sue Ostfield has joined the American University in Cairo Press as marketing manager, North America, and will be based in Minneapolis, Minn. She was formerly sales manager at Redleaf Press and earlier held marketing and sales positions at Milkweed Editions, Publishers Group West, Holt and Coffee House Press.

Dr. Nigel Fletcher-Jones, director of AUC Press and Bookstores, commented: "With her breadth of knowledge of the North American marketplace, we are thrilled to add Sue Ostfield to our team, elevating the profile of our exceptional list of varied Middle Eastern viewpoints in the subjects of literature, history, language, art, travel, and architecture, among other subject areas."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Tyler Kepner on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Tyler Kepner, author of K: A History of Baseball in Ten Pitches (Doubleday, $28.95, 9780385541015).

The Real: Trevor Noah, author of It's Trevor Noah: Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood (Adapted for Young Readers) (Delacorte, $17.99, 9780525582168).

This Weekend on Book TV: The San Antonio 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, April 20
2 p.m. to 7:25 p.m. Coverage of the seventh annual San Antonio Book Festival, which took place on April 6 in San Antonio, Texas. (Re-airs Sunday at 12 a.m.)

  • 2 p.m. Anna Merlan, author of Republic of Lies: American Conspiracy Theorists and Their Surprising Rise to Power (Metropolitan, $28, 9781250159052).
  • 2:43 p.m. Hector A. Garcia, author of Sex, Power, and Partisanship: How Evolutionary Science Makes Sense of Our Political Divide (Prometheus, $18, 9781633885141).
  • 3:26 p.m. Hugh Fitzsimons III, author of A Rock between Two Rivers: The Fracturing of a Texas Family Ranch (Trinity University Press, $24.95, 9781595348401).
  • 4:07 p.m. Steve Luxenberg, author of Separate: The Story of Plessy v. Ferguson, and America's Journey from Slavery to Segregation (Norton, $35, 9780393239379), and Helen Thorpe, author of The Newcomers: Finding Refuge, Friendship, and Hope in an American Classroom (Scribner, $28, 9781501159091).
  • 5:04 p.m. Marie Brenner, author of A Private War: Marie Colvin and Other Tales of Heroes, Scoundrels, and Renegades (Simon & Schuster, $16, 9781501183867).
  • 5:48 p.m. Monica Muñoz Martinez, author of The Injustice Never Leaves You: Anti-Mexican Violence in Texas (Harvard University Press, $35, 9780674976436).
  • 6:33 p.m. Douglas Brinkley, author of American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race (Harper, $35, 9780062655066).
  • 7:25 p.m. Taya Kyle, co-author of American Spirit: Profiles in Resilience, Courage, and Faith (Morrow, $27.99, 9780062683717).

8:20 p.m. Bettina Love, author of We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom (Beacon Press, $24.95, 9780807069158). (Re-airs Sunday at 2:30 p.m.)

10 p.m. Arthur C. Brooks, author of Love Your Enemies: How Decent People Can Save America from the Culture of Contempt (Broadside Books, $27.99, 9780062883759). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Julie M. Albright, author of Left to Their Own Devices: How Digital Natives Are Reshaping the American Dream (Prometheus, $24, 9781633884441).

Sunday, April 21
8:15 a.m. Cara Robertson, author of The Trial of Lizzie Borden (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781501168376), at Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C. (Re-airs Sunday at 4:10 p.m.)

6 p.m. Mark H. Rose, author of Market Rules: Bankers, Presidents, and the Origins of the Great Recession (University of Pennsylvania Press, $39.95, 9780812251029).

7:30 p.m. Reshma Saujani, author of Brave, Not Perfect: Fear Less, Fail More, and Live Bolder (Currency, $25, 9781524762339).

11 p.m. Joan Biskupic, author of The Chief: The Life and Turbulent Times of Chief Justice John Roberts (Basic Books, $32, 9780465093274).

Books & Authors

Awards: RSL Ondaatje; Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse

Finalists have been named for the £10,000 (about $13,040) Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize, honoring "a book of the highest literary merit--fiction, nonfiction or poetry--which best evokes the spirit of a place." The winner will be announced on May 13. This year's shortlisted titles are:

No Turning Back: Life, Loss, and Hope in Wartime Syria by Rania Abouzeid
The Wife's Tale: A Personal History by Aida Edemariam
Happiness by Aminatta Forna
Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss
The Crossway by Guy Stagg
Kings of the Yukon: A River Journey by Adam Weymouth


A shortlist has been released for the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction, the Bookseller reported, noting that the contest returns "after last year's prize was withheld because none of the books were deemed funny enough." This year's winner, who will be announced just ahead of the Hay Festival, receives a special rollover prize of a methuselah of Bollinger Special Cuvée, along with a case, a particularly large rare breed pig named after their winning novel and a complete set of the Everyman Wodehouse. This year's shortlisted titles are:

Reasons to Be Cheerful by Nina Stibbe
Charlie Savage by Roddy Doyle
Old Baggage by Lissa Evans 
In at the Deep End by Kate Davies
Vacuum in the Dark by Jen Beagin
Francis Plug: Writer in Residence by Paul Ewen

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, April 23:

Machines Like Me: A Novel by Ian McEwan (Nan A. Talese, $26.95, 9780385545112) takes place in an alternate 1980s London, where a couple program then fall in love with a synthetic human.

Everything in Its Place: First Loves and Last Tales by Oliver Sacks (Knopf, $26.95, 9780451492890) is a posthumous essay collection from the neurologist and science writer.

The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World by Melinda Gates (Flatiron, $26.99, 9781250313577) explores women's issues around the globe.

Dawn: Stories by Selahattin Demirtas (SJP for Hogarth, $22, 9780525576938) is a collection of short stories written by a Turkish political prisoner.

Neon Prey by John Sandford (Putnam, $29, 9780525536581) is the 29th thriller with Lucas Davenport.

D-Day Girls: The Spies Who Armed the Resistance, Sabotaged the Nazis, and Helped Win World War II by Sarah Rose (Crown, $28, 9780451495082) tells the story of three women recruited by the British Special Operations Executive.

You Must Not Miss by Katrina Leno (Little, Brown, $17.99, 9780316449779) features a teen girl who hides in a fantasy world to cope with reality.

Big and Little by Cheryl Pilgrim (Holiday House, $17.99, 9780823440214) is a picture book story about opposites.


Transcription: A Novel by Kate Atkinson (Back Bay, $16.99, 9780316176668).


The White Crow, based on Nureyev: The Life by Julie Kavanagh, opens April 26. Ralph Fiennes directs and stars in this story of the dancer's 1968 defection from the Soviet Union.

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:

The Bird King: A Novel by G. Willow Wilson (Grove Press, $26, 9780802129031). "Fatima is a concubine of the sultan of the last emirate in the Iberian Peninsula to submit to the Spanish Inquisition. When her dearest friend, Hassan, a mapmaker who can map places he has never seen (and that do not always exist), is singled out by the Inquisition, she flees with him and a jinn, following the trail of the elusive and mythical Bird King, who may or may not be able to grant them sanctuary. Wilson's latest novel is rich with the historical detail, lush description, and fantastical elements that we have come to know and love from her. A story of resistance, freedom, seeking, and strength, and a true fable for our times." --Anna Eklund, University Book Store, Seattle, Wash.

The Trial of Lizzie Borden: A True Story by Cara Robertson (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781501168376). "Cara Robertson's first book details the events surrounding the infamous murders of Andrew and Abby Borden in Fall River, Massachusetts, in 1892. Based entirely on primary sources--trial transcripts, contemporary accounts, and even recently discovered letters from Lizzie herself--The Trial of Lizzie Borden is an in-depth look at the circumstances surrounding the incident and her subsequent trial. Robertson has poured decades of research into this sensational book, breathing new life into a story that has captivated the American psyche for over a century. An excellent read for fans of David Grann's Killers of the Flower Moon and Michelle McNamara's I'll Be Gone in the Dark." --Rachel Haisley, The King's English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, Utah

Mr. Flood's Last Resort: A Novel by Jess Kidd (Washington Square Press, $16.99, 9781501180644). "Jess Kidd has done it again. I absolutely loved her first book, Himself, and her latest does not disappoint. This tale of Mr. Flood and his caregiver, Maud, brings together eccentric characters, ghosts, saints, a crumbling mansion, missing children, and a suspicious suicide. It perfectly balances tragedy with dark comedy; the dialogue crackles and every detail enchants. I will miss spending time in Maud's world." --Kathi Kirby, Powell's Books, Portland, Ore.

For Ages 4 to 8
The Panda Problem by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Hannah Marks (Dial, $17.99, 9780735228504). "This panda definitely breaks the fourth wall, so to speak, as he talks to the narrator. The back-and-forth banter is both fun and imaginative. Great fun!" --Debbie Buck, Vintage Books, Vancouver, Wash.

For Ages 9 to 12
A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramée (Balzer + Bray, $16.99, 9780062836687). "Shayla's a relatable character trying to make sense of her world and whose ideas of following the rules are challenged when she's confronted with unjust rules, but the Black Lives Matter movement empowers her to stand up for her beliefs. The viewpoint and tone are perfect for a middle-grade audience, and Lisa Moore Ramée raises questions and opens eyes while telling a strong story." --Jennifer Kraar, City of Asylum Bookstore, Pittsburgh, Pa.

For Teen Readers: An Indies Introduce Title
White Rose by Kip Wilson (Versify, $17.99, 9781328594433). "With spare but powerful verse, Kip Wilson brings us the haunting story of the young resistance group that risked everything to speak out against the Nazi regime. Based on a true story, Wilson conveys the hearts and minds of the characters beautifully." --Alicia Michielli, Talking Leaves Books, Buffalo, N.Y.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Middlegame

Middlegame by Seanan McGuire (Tor, $29.99 hardcover, 528p., 9781250195524, May 7, 2019)

In a fantasy as deftly twisted as her Wayward Children series, Nebula winner Seanan McGuire (That Ain't Witchcraft) once again demonstrates her instinct for turning sweetness into darkness.

Twin siblings Roger and Dodger reconnect during elementary school after their separation at birth, but their reunion is no Hayley Mills summer camp singalong. For one thing, they live on opposite coasts of the United States and communicate through an inexplicable telepathic link. For another, the twins weren't born but built and harvested in a secret lab by someone with ambitions to rule the world by incarnating the Doctrine of Ethos. Fabricated in turn by the great alchemist Asphodel Baker, James Reed "left his master in a shallow grave knowing his purpose, and fully intends to ascend to the heights of human knowledge with the fruits of his labors clutched firmly in his hand."

Using the directions Asphodel encoded in a series of children's novels similar to The Wizard of Oz, Reed creates multiple pairs of "cuckoos," seemingly human twins who at maturity could manifest the godlike powers Reed seeks to control. Failed pairs are killed. By design, Roger has great facility with language and strong powers of persuasion, while Dodger lives for mathematics and can reset the timeline of the universe. As they grow up, the twins connect psychically but are separated repeatedly both by Reed's machinations and their own angst, only to find themselves drawn back together, often resetting the timeline to stop Reed from terminating them. Eventually, aided by another construct whose twin was murdered, Roger and Dodger must decide whether to remain puppets or take the fight to Reed.

Alchemy and its pseudoscientific accoutrements strike the perfect balance between the mystical and the eerie in this high-concept fantasy. McGuire's penchant for snappy, character-revealing dialogue carries the day and makes the more mind-bending plot twists go down easily. References to L. Frank Baum, the Midwich Cuckoos and more recent pop culture also help to break down the sometimes dense logical structure for the reader. Occasional excerpts from Asphodel's book series, Over the Woodward Wall, lend a metafictive quality and will leave readers wondering whether Harry Potter secretly holds the recipe for immortality.

As atmospheric and suspenseful as a gothic thriller, Middlegame is at heart a loving examination of the push-and-pull nature of the sibling bond, in which the parties can simultaneously be best friends, worst enemies and each other's biggest weakness. Readers should come for the tightly constructed world and stay for the pleasure of watching the twins choose each other, come what may. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Shelf Talker: In this standalone fantasy by the author of The Wayward Children, telepathically linked siblings could achieve godlike powers if they manage to survive.

The Bestsellers

Top Book Club Picks in March

The following were the most popular book club books during March based on votes from book club readers in more than 48,000 book clubs registered at

1. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (Putnam)
2. Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover (Random House)
3. Becoming by Michelle Obama (Crown)
4. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (Penguin Press)
5. The Alice Network: A Novel by Kate Quinn (Morrow Paperbacks)
6. Before We Were Yours: A Novel by Lisa Wingate (Ballantine)
7. The Woman in the Window: A Novel by A.J. Finn (Morrow)
8. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (Balzer + Bray)
9. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (Algonquin Books)
10. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee (Grand Central)

Rising Stars:
The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib (St. Martin's Press)
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides (Celadon Books)

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