Shelf Awareness for Thursday, May 30, 2019

William Morrow & Company: The Midnight Feast by Lucy Foley

Shadow Mountain: The Witch in the Woods: Volume 1 (Grimmworld) by Michaelbrent Collings

Hell's Hundred: Blood Like Mine by Stuart Neville

Delacorte Press: Last One to Die by Cynthia Murphy

Margaret Ferguson Books: Not a Smiley Guy by Polly Horvath, Illustrated by Boris Kulikov

Indiana University Press: The Grim Reader: A Pharmacist's Guide to Putting Your Characters in Peril by Miffie Seideman

St. Martin's Press: Lenny Marks Gets Away with Murder by Kerryn Mayne


BookExpo 2019: Pictures from an Exhibition, Day 1

BookExpo opened yesterday at the Javits Center in New York City with a full round of panels and author appearances, followed by an evening of parties and dinners (despite torrential rain).

Eager crowds waited patiently for the show floor to open at noon. 

Word Up Community Bookshop hosted an Uptown Literary Happy Hour Tuesday night. Pictured: (l.-r.) Jaquira Diaz (Ordinary Girls), Veronica Liu of Word Up, Kalisha Buckhanon (Speaking of Summer), Ta-Nehisi Coates (The Water Dancer) and Dina Nayeri (The Ungrateful Refugee) and Malcom Tariq (Heed the Hollow).

Housing Works Bookstore, New York City (booth 2551), is the official charity partner of BookExpo. Publishers and attendees can donate leftover stock to help fight AIDS and homelessness, and help fund services that include housing, job training, healthcare and legal services, and provide a community for those in need.

Actor/author/activist George Takei signed autographs at the Top Shelf Productions/IDW Publishing booth (1051) after speaking to an enthusiastic Downtown Stage audience about his upcoming graphic memoir, They Called Us Enemy, which revisits his haunting childhood in American concentration camps as one of 120,000 Japanese Americans imprisoned by the U.S. government during World War II. The work was created with co-writers Justin Eisinger and Steven Scott and artist Harmony Becker. "I wanted to tell that story because it is an important chapter of American history," Takei said. "Our history is filled with a series, a never ending cycle, of injustice, cruelty and violence to minority people from the very beginning of our nation.... But today, the amazing use of our democracy is personified by the grandchildren of those who were categorized as enemy aliens, who are now in the halls of Congress as lawmakers. Japanese Americans who were enemy aliens, and imprisoned, and impoverished, and made to suffer the cruelty of that imprisonment. Their descendants are now part of the law-making process of this country. And that's the story I wanted to share. And we do it in graphic form because we wanted to capture a child's view of first being exposed to that incarceration. An innocent child. We wanted to get the sweetness of that child's memories and then expand it to telling the larger story.

"I'm proud of what we've achieved with They Called Us Enemy and I hope you will all spread the word and get more and more people because this book is aimed at the youth, the youngsters. It's a comic book. And we want to have young people know about the history of America; know about the unending cycle of American history. And that with these young people growing up to become the movers and shakers of a new America of tomorrow, they will help build a better American democracy."

Harper: Our Kind of Game by Johanna Copeland

BookExpo 2019: Storytelling in 2020 and Beyond

BookExpo 2019 kicked off yesterday morning with an opening keynote and leadership roundtable featuring Dominique Raccah, publisher and CEO of Sourcebooks; Kim Sayle, v-p and associate publisher at Hachette Audio; and Jacqueline Woodson, author of Brown Girl Dreaming and the upcoming Red at the Bone, in conversation with New York magazine features editor Genevieve Smith.

During the wide-ranging panel, the speakers touched on everything from the explosive growth in audiobooks and what they look for in a story to increasing diversity in the publishing industry and what gives them the most hope for the future of the book industry.

Left to right: Jacqueline Woodson, Kim Sayle, Dominique Raccah, Genevieve Smith.

Sayle remarked that in the past five years, everyone, from authors to readers to publishers, has become "hyper aware" of audiobooks. Authors are much more concerned now with how their books sound, and take a larger part in the creation of the audiobook than ever before. She noted, too, that for a long time publishers thought of audiobooks as more competitive than complementary. Now there's no question that they supplement each other.

Commenting on how her writing has changed over the years, Woodson said that the things she was writing 20 years ago often had much longer chapters and a single narrative "imposed" on a "whole bunch" of characters. Her most recent work, meanwhile, features points of view from many characters and is told through shorter vignettes. She explained that the evolution of the way we "hear and take in" stories is as much responsible for the change as is the evolution of the "many ways we tell stories."

Raccah said that one of the most defining aspects of the publishing industry was the sheer amount of formats available to both readers and publishers. She noted that unlike in other industries, newer formats haven't grown at the expense of others, and added that in particular, audiobooks and boardbooks are currently driving much of the growth in publishing. Raccah relayed that according to the data, a reader typically has one or two favorite formats in which they read everything, and there are plenty of new audiobook listeners who only "read" in that format.

On the subject of diversity in publishing, the panelists were in agreement that although progress has been made, a lot of work still needs to be done. Woodson in particular noted that while more diverse voices are finally reaching the marketplace, the people who make the content decisions are still almost overwhelmingly white. She said: "We have to talk about how that change can happen inside the rooms. How do we get publishing browner?" 

The roundtable's final question was what makes the panelists most hopeful for the future of the book industry. Raccah pointed to the "sheer new crop of booksellers" that she's seen in recent years, along with all the new, emerging authors entering the industry, as well as the "remarkable new ways" in which people are trying to connect authors and readers. Woodson also brought up the resurgence of indie booksellers. 

"What I'm very hopeful for and excited about is not only all of these stores coming to fruition, but the gatherings that are happening inside them around books," she said. "And the conversations that books are pushing people to have and that people are hungry to have." --Alex Mutter

Chronicle Books: Life Wants You Dead: A Calm, Rational, and Totally Legit Guide to Scaring Yourself Safe by Evan Waite, Illustrated by Paula Searing

BookExpo 2019: The New Wave of International Fiction

"We are here to talk about some trends and exciting projects in international literature with five very different perspectives," said moderator Karen Phillips, executive director of Words Without Borders, to open yesterday's panel discussion on the new wave of international fiction. "This is hopefully not the typical discussion in which we kind of wring our hands and moan and groan about how hard it is to publish and promote international literature. I think we all have heard that story and we know it well. This is instead a time to talk about what's happening next, the exciting challenges and opportunities that you're facing."

Left to right: Karen Phillips, Johanna Castillo, Yuma Terada, Jenny McPhee, Juan Mila, Heddi Goodrich

Panelists were Heddi Goodrich, author of Lost in the Spanish Quarter (HarperVia, September); Juan Mila, executive editor of HarperOne Group; Jenny McPhee, author, translator and director of NYU Center for Applied Liberal Arts; and literary agents Yuma Terada, co-founder of CTB, and Johanna Castillo of Writers House.

Goodrich wrote the original manuscript of her novel in English a decade ago, but after extensive rewriting and re-editing, she still felt something was missing. Ultimately she realized that "I had the wrong language the whole time. And since I had learned Italian as a teenager, it was deeply ingrained in my brain and in my heart. And once I started rewriting the book in Italian, everything just came together magically.... So for me finding my voice in Italian was a real amazing moment in my life. This is me; this is what I was supposed to be doing." She now writes in Italian and translates her own work.

Mila noted that with HarperVia, which is part of HarperOne Group, "We are creating a new imprint that will be very international.... There are wonderful stories out there to be published in translation and Heddi is a great example--the first book we acquired for HarperVia. We read it in Italian almost a year ago and we understood immediately that this was the kind of story that was going to help us bring these projects to readers in English.... And it had all the elements that kind of embody what the imprint wants to do."

McPhee shared insights she gained while teaching literary translation to undergraduates at Princeton this past spring: "The exposure to world literature across time and geography was thrilling. And our discussions of the translation work showed how language difference shapes cultural and political difference. We were made acutely aware that the rest of the world does not speak, think and feel homogeneously, but in an infinite variety of ways.... As they continue their studies in various fields and on into their careers, these undergraduates will now be ambassadors for translation, spreading the idea that literature by its very nature is global literature; that it fosters and promotes intercultural communication as nothing else can."

Terada said that he co-founded CTB six years ago "because we looked at the landscape and noticed that shockingly few contemporary authors of Japanese literature were being consistently translated and read, especially in the English language.... That struck us as quite strange, especially because we as editors work with many young contemporary authors who are commercially and critically successful, not only in Japan but also in many Asian countries compared to some of the authors you might have heard of here.... I think there are a lot of them in Japan, and we look forward to bringing out more of their works here."

After leaving her previous role as an editor to return to being an agent, Castillo said, "it's exciting to see what is happening now that I'm back on the other side, what the big publishers are doing. For me as an agent now it's interesting to see that finally books in translation are being published as any other book written in English. It wasn't that common years ago, and I think that's really exciting. It's probably also an answer to what is happening today in the world where we can communicate with each other in minutes.... I think that will be affecting literature and books in translation in general."

"We are in the middle of this exciting wave for international fiction and it's great to know that all of you are part of it," Phillips observed. "So thank you for being here and celebrating international works." --Robert Gray

GLOW: Tundra Books: We Are Definitely Human by X. Fang

Indigo Fourth Quarter: Sales Down 7.5%

In the fourth quarter ended March 30, revenue at Indigo Books & Music fell 7.5%, to C$199.2 million (about US$147.3 million), and the net loss rose to C$23.8 million (US$17.6 million) compared to a net loss of C$10.7 million (US$7.9 million) in the same period a year earlier. Sales at stores open at least a year fell 8.7%.

In the fiscal year ended March 30, revenue fell 3%, to C$1.05 billion (US$776 million), and the net loss was C$36.8 million ($US27.2 million) compared to a net gain of C$22 million (US$16.3 million) the previous year. Sales at stores open at least a year fell 1.1%.

Indigo, which has Indigo, Chapters, Coles, IndigoSpirit, and the Book Company stores across Canada and a branch in Short Hills, N.J., said that revenue in the fourth quarter was hurt by "a broader slowing of consumer discretionary spending" and "the timing of Easter." For the full year, there were "operating stresses" resulting from "major store renovations, relocations, store closures, and the prolonged Canada Post strike, which significantly impacted performance throughout the period with lagging effects into the fourth quarter. Results were then further impacted by a pullback in consumer spending on nonessentials in the fourth quarter."

During the year, the company introduced its new store concept in 17 more locations and opened its first store in the U.S. It also opened a new distribution center in Alberta to provide better service to customers in Western Canada, and in the fourth quarter, Indigo launched a cost reduction and productivity initiative focused on improving profitability this fiscal year.

CEO Heather Reisman commented: "This year we experienced a shift in our top line momentum of the last several years. That said, we have every confidence in the investments we have made, in our customers' deep affection for our brand, and in our mission to enrich the lives of Canadians."


In other Indigo news, the company has promoted Kirsten Chapman to president and Gil Dennis to COO, effective immediately, and Nathan Williams has been named chief creative officer, effective June 3.

Chapman will continue to oversee marketing and digital channels and add Indigokids and Indigobaby. Dennis will oversee the retail network, human resources and organization development, legal, real estate and construction. Williams is the co-founder of Kinfolk magazine and Ouur, an apparel, homewares and accessories company.

Reisman commented: "Kirsten and Gil have made incredible contributions in their time with Indigo, and I look forward to their continued efforts as outstanding leaders and partners. Kirsten has been with Indigo since we began this company and is deeply connected to our brand, our people, and our values. Similarly, Gil who joined us over three years ago, began impacting the culture of Indigo from the moment he joined, and like Kirsten, is deeply connected to the values and ambitions of Indigo... Nathan began Kinfolk in 2011 and in a few short years drove it to be a globally recognized lifestyle brand. In 2016, he was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in Retail and E-Commerce. Nathan will bring his unique talent to advancing our brand, our product, and our content."

Harper: Sandwich by Catherine Newman

Golden Fig Books Opens in Durham, N.C.

Golden Fig Books, a 1,000-square-foot bookstore, opened in Durham, N.C., on May 24. While the majority of the store's inventory will be used, owner David Bradley does plan to offer a small selection of new titles, particularly those written by diverse authors. It will also emphasize children's books.

"We want Golden Fig Books to be a place where the whole of Durham's community can find their next great read," said Bradley. "Focusing the inventory on used books, with their superior affordability and sustainability, helps us to exemplify our town's values. At the same time, we believe stocking and ordering new books is a vital service as it gives us the ability to highlight diverse authors whose works can be extremely difficult to find used."

Prior to founding Golden Fig Books, Bradley was store manager of Letters Bookshop from 2015-2017, and worked at Barnes & Noble before that. In 2013, he partnered with Algonquin Books to write a series of feature articles about 44 indie bookstores across the country.

Obituary Note: Binyavanga Wainaina

Kenyan author Binyavanga Wainaina, "one of Africa's best-known authors and gay rights activists," died May 21, the Guardian reported. He was 48. Wainaina, who won the 2002 Caine Prize for African writing, "made headlines around the world in 2014, when he responded to a wave of recent anti-gay laws around the continent by publicly outing himself in a short essay ['I Am a Homosexual, Mum'], published to mark his 43rd birthday. He also revealed he was HIV positive." He called the essay a "lost chapter" of his 2011 memoir, One Day I Will Write About This Place.

Wainaina was also known for his biting essay "How to Write About Africa." Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, a friend of Wainaina and chair of the Caine Prize, said the author was "unbound in his imagining--reminding us, with art and characteristic playfulness, what English can look like when it's an African language. Unflagging in his generosity, unflinching and direct in his criticism, he produced work in his short life that will have impact longer-lasting than those whose time here is twice as long. On a deeply personal level, and as one who acknowledges the wings he gave to a generation of writers, I am bereft."

Granta's Sigrid Rausing observed that the magazine had published nothing so widely read or influential as "How to Write About Africa," which she said "started as a letter to the editor, protesting about Granta's 1994 issue on Africa, which, he wrote, was 'populated by every literary bogeyman that any African has ever known.' He could have become a poster boy for liberal literary Africa, a 'cultural personality,' but he resisted turning himself into anything other than what he was: a writer, and an editor. And yet he had a profound influence, through Kwani?, his literary magazine, through his refusal to accept the othering of Africa and Africans, through coming out in a homophobic society and through advocating for feminist principles, for the idea of 'upright Africans.' "

In Daily Nation, Ng'ang'a Mbugua wrote that Wainaina "offered part of his Caine Prize for African Writing money to start a publishing company speaks volumes about his uncommon love for creatives and creativity. Kwani? gave many new young writers a voice and space to come to their own. This gave rise to such voices as Yvonne Owuor's and other subsequent winners of the prize from Kenya. He also used his influence to bring to Nairobi such gifted literary voices as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, among others."


'Timothy Simons's Favorite Place': hello hello books

Timothy Simons, the Maine native who portrayed the incomparable Jonah Ryan on HBO's Veep, told Down East magazine that his "favorite place" in the region is hello hello books in Rockland, Maine.

"Simons, his wife, and their 7-year-old twins travel from L.A. for a Maine camp week every summer. And in the winter, they stay in Rockland, home of hello hello books, his sister Lacy's small, bright shop tucked in back of Rock City Café," Down East wrote. "The family likes to bundle up, walk into town, and grab a bite there. 'Then, you can post up and look at books,' Simons says. 'Sometimes I'll just sit behind the register with my sister, and we'll talk as customers come in.' "

Lest anyone think he was making a "shameless plug," Simons pointed out that hello hello books was a finalist for PW's Bookstore of the Year honors and does quite well without his help. "I just love it there," he said, "and Lacy doesn't need it."

Personnel Changes at Hachette Book Group

Dana Renert has joined Hachette Book Group as v-p of supply chain. Her background is in the music business, and she was most recently v-p, U.S. supply chain operations at Sony Music Entertainment.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: John Waters on Real Time with Bill Maher

Today Show: Dan Whalen, author of S'mores: Gooey, Melty, Crunchy Riffs on the Campfire Classic (Workman, $14.95, 9781523504336).

Ellen: Stedman Graham, author of Identity Leadership: To Lead Others You Must First Lead Yourself (Center Street, $27, 9781546083375).

HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher: John Waters, author of Mr. Know-It-All: The Tarnished Wisdom of a Filth Elder (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27, 9780374214968).

This Weekend on Book TV: Tony Horwitz

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, June 1
5:15 p.m. Tony Horwitz, the late author of Spying on the South: An Odyssey Across the American Divide (Penguin Press, $30, 9781101980286). (Re-airs Sunday at 8 p.m.)

7 p.m. Coverage of the 2019 PEN America Literary Gala, hosted by John Oliver, with awards given to Bob Woodward, Anita Hill, and Scholastic chairman and CEO Richard Robinson. (Re-airs Sunday at 4 p.m.)

9 p.m. Charlotte Pence and Karen Pence, author and illustrator of Marlon Bundo's Day in the Nation's Capital (Regnery Kids, $18.99, 9781621579298). (Re-airs Sunday at 7 p.m.)

10 p.m. Scott Pelley, author of Truth Worth Telling: A Reporter's Search for Meaning in the Stories of Our Times (Hanover Square Press, $26.99, 9781335999146). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Joshua Muravchik, author of Heaven on Earth: The Rise, Fall, and Afterlife of Socialism (Encounter Books, $18.99, 9781594039638).

Sunday, June 2
12:25 a.m. Caroline Fredrickson, author of The Democracy Fix: How to Win the Fight for Fair Rules, Fair Courts, and Fair Elections (The New Press, $25.99, 9781620973899), at Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C.

12 p.m. Live In-Depth q&a with Thomas Sowell, author of Discrimination and Disparities (Basic Books, $30, 9781541645639). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

6 p.m. Annie Jacobsen, author of Surprise, Kill, Vanish: The Secret History of CIA Paramilitary Armies, Operators, and Assassins (Little, Brown, $30, 9780316441438), at Politics and Prose.

Books & Authors

Awards: Boston Globe-Horn Book

The winners of the 2019 Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards are:

Picture Books:
Winner: The Patchwork Bike written by Maxine Beneba Clarke, illustrated by Van Thanh Rudd (Candlewick)
Honor: Dreamers written and illustrated by Yuyi Morales (Neal Porter Books/Holiday House)
Honor: We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga written by Traci Sorell, illustrated by Frané Lessac (Charlesbridge)

Fiction and Poetry:
Winner: The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon (Wendy Lamb Books/Random House)
Honor: Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram (Dial Books/Penguin Random House)
Honor: On the Come Up by Angie Thomas (Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins)

Winner: This Promise of Change: One Girl's Story in the Fight for School Equality by Jo Ann Allen Boyce and Debbie Levy (Bloomsbury Children's Books)
Honor: Hey, Kiddo written and illustrated by Jarrett J. Krosoczka (Graphix/Scholastic)
Honor: Nine Months: Before a Baby Is Born written by Miranda Paul, illustrated by Jason Chin (Neal Porter Books/Holiday House)

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, June 4:

Siege: Trump Under Fire by Michael Wolff (Holt, $30, 9781250253828) chronicles the Trump presidency from its second year through the delivery of the Mueller report.

Soulless: The Case Against R. Kelly by Jim DeRogatis (Abrams, $26, 9781419740077) explores decades of a musician's abuse of underage women.

Naturally Tan: A Memoir by Tan France (St. Martin's Press, $27.99, 9781250208668) is a memoir by a cast member of Netflix's Queer Eye.

The Plaza: The Secret Life of America's Most Famous Hotel by Julie Satow (Twelve, $29, 9781455566679) explores the history of the Plaza Hotel in New York City.

The Targeter: My Life in the CIA, Hunting Terrorists and Challenging the White House by Nada Bakos and Davin Coburn (Little, Brown, $29, 9780316260473) is the memoir of a CIA targeting officer.

Fall; or, Dodge in Hell: A Novel by Neal Stephenson (Morrow, $35, 9780062458711) combines science-fiction and epic fantasy into a story about digitized consciousness.

This Storm by James Ellroy (Knopf, $29.95, 9780307957009) is a mystery set in 1942 Los Angeles.

The Electric Hotel: A Novel by Dominic Smith (Sarah Crichton, $27, 9780374146856) is historical fiction about a washed up silent filmmaker living in Los Angeles.

Montauk: A Novel by Nicola Harrison (St. Martin's Press, $27.99, 9781250200112) takes place in 1938 Long Island, where a wife feels estranged from her busy husband.

The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $19.99, 9780062933621) follows a young woman as she spends her summer learning about her deceased mother and her own roots.

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson (S&S/McElderry, $17.99, 9781481497619) features a teen raised in a magical library who is framed for a terrible crime.

Calypso by David Sedaris (Back Bay, $17.99, 9780316392426).

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin (Berkley, $16, 9781984802798).

Exposed by Jean-Philippe Blondel, translated by Alison Anderson (New Vessel Press, $16.95, 9781939931672).

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:

Rules for Visiting: A Novel by Jessica Francis Kane (Penguin Press, $26, 9780525559221). "A skillful writer can show how things that seem unrelated are actually intertwined. In this way, Kane quietly reminds us that friendships and plants may be deeply rooted but need tending to bloom completely, that words matter, that going back to their roots may change how we think about what we say, and that a quiet life can be a full one. This gentle book grows on you (the puns just keep coming), but it is a refreshing change from the stresses of our digital age or the angst of so many recent books about contemporary life. Entertaining and erudite, I highly recommend this book." --Ann Carlson, Waterfront Books, Georgetown, S.C.

Rough Magic: Riding the World's Loneliest Horse Race by Lara Prior-Palmer (Catapult, $25, 9781948226196). "Lara Prior-Palmer's journey in the Mongol Derby is one of excitement, pain, and profound inner dialogue. There was not a moment in this fast-paced memoir where my attention wavered. Prior-Palmer weaves a coming-of-age tale with expert grace and worldly knowledge alongside an intensely riveting competition against herself and the land. Rough Magic is a fantastically written and introspective memoir worthy of great praise." --Travis McGuire, Skylark Bookshop, Columbia, Mo.

The Book of Essie: A Novel by Meghan MacLean Weir (Vintage, $16, 9780525436072). "The Book of Essie is a captivating debut. The original plot moves at lightning speed while giving the reader characters to hang on to, care for, and sympathize with. The novel focuses on 16-year-old Essie Hicks, a star on a reality TV show following her preacher father and her ultra-religious, conservative family. When Essie finds out she is pregnant, she must protect herself and her future in the face of public scorn. I couldn't stop turning the pages to see what would happen to Essie and Roarke, the boy Essie's mother has decided she will marry in a primetime, live-televised wedding. Weir proves herself to be a brilliant new talent with a sensitive but unflinching take on child exploitation and life in the public eye. A must-read!" --Liv Stratman, Books Are Magic, Brooklyn, N.Y.

For Ages 4 to 8
Little Taco Truck by Tanya Valentine, illustrated by Jorge Martin (Schwartz & Wade, $17.99, 9781524765859). "Hey, everyone! THIS is how capitalism should work! Let's all make space, work together, and celebrate diversity! FANTASTICO!" --Tegan Tigani, Queen Anne Book Company, Seattle, Wash.

For Ages 9 to 12
Extraordinary Birds by Sandy Stark-McGinnis (Bloomsbury, $16.99, 9781547601004). "Sandy Stark-McGinnis brilliantly and passionately writes about 11-year-old December's reluctant and courageous struggle from heartbreaking disappointment to trust. After bouncing around from one unhappy foster home to another, December has found her own way to cope with the rejection and pain of a devastating childhood. McGinnis writes a sensitive story about family, trust, bullying, mental health, and identity in a way that middle-grade kids can empathize with. I'm sure this novel will find its way into many classrooms and into the hearts of readers everywhere." --Sara Ornelas, Blue Baboon Books, Wichita, Kan.

For Teen Readers: An Indies Introduce Title
Nocturna by Maya Motayne (Balzer + Bray, $18.99, 9780062842732). "Maya Motayne's Nocturna is the fantasy that you have been waiting for. With the sneaky cleverness of Stephanie Gaber's Caraval and the moral grayness of Marissa Meyer's Renegades, Nocturna offers up a tale of a brother in search of a way to save his kingdom, and a girl doing all she can to survive. This tale set in a Latin-inspired world provides just the right amount of magic and adventure, as heir-to-the-throne Alfie and shape-shifter Finn race to stop the terrible darkness they have released." --Jen Pino, Vroman's Bookstore, Pasadena, Calif.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Evvie Drake Starts Over

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes (Ballantine Books, $26 hardcover, 304p., 9780525619246, June 25, 2019)

Linda Holmes, NPR correspondent and host of the podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, makes her fiction debut with this bright and lively romantic comedy that charts the course of 33-year-old widowed and childless Eveleth "Evvie" Drake of Calcasset, Maine. A transcriptionist who considers herself "a professional eavesdropper," Evvie saw her life derail when her high school sweetheart-turned-husband, Dr. Tim Drake, died in a car crash on the very day Evvie was packed up and ready to leave him. Family and friends were completely unaware of Tim's dark, abusive side and Evvie's exit plan. This includes Evvie's closest friend, Andy, whose wife walked out on him and their two young children.

The secrecy of Evvie's planned escape on the day of Tim's death riddles her with guilt. And when small-town talk of Tim keeps circling back to Evvie, it only exacerbates her isolation. She holes up like a recluse in their big, old, empty house. But her life changes when Andy's pal Dean Tenney, a pitcher for the New York Yankees who's struggling with an emotional block that has rendered him unable to throw a baseball straight, heads to the small fishing village of Calcasset to escape the media and paparazzi.

Andy asks Evvie to let Dean rent the small apartment in the back of her house so Dean can have privacy and regroup. Evvie agrees, but sets conditions: Dean will not ask Evvie any questions about her marriage or her deceased husband. And Evvie will not ask Dean why his successful pitching career tanked to the point that he's known as "Baseball's Exiled 'Head Case.' "

Over the course of four seasons, the slow reveal of truth and the gaining of trust drive an easy-going narrative that explores an intriguing opposites-attract romantic plot. Dean--who loves to indulge in grilled cheese sandwiches and Pringles chips and has a penchant for old pinball machines--immerses himself in coaching football at the local high school and donates his talents to a nearby minor league baseball team. Evvie, meanwhile, grapples with her past and her identity in the wake of her husband's death. She's also forced to reconfigure her relationship with Andy, who suddenly has less time to spend with Evvie.

Evvie Drake Starts Over, ripe with amusing wit and charm, skillfully explores regret and longing, friendship, love and forgiveness, and the challenges posed by reinvention. Strong characterizations and short, well-plotted scenes are filled with clever banter. Holmes has a firm grasp on the realities of everyday life and the difficulties of carving out happiness in the modern world. She understands what makes people hurt and pine, and the forces that ultimately conspire to encourage them to pick up, dust off and start again. Readers will cheer for this richly drawn cast as they swing, sometimes miss and even manage to hit a few home runs off the curveballs of life. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines.

Shelf Talker: A smart romantic comedy about two lost, wounded souls who lean on each other as they step into their futures. 

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