Shelf Awareness for Thursday, July 18, 2019


Simon & Schuster: Race Against Time: A Reporter Reopens the Unsolved Murder Cases of the Civil Rights Era by Jerry Mitchell

Sfi Readerlink Dist: Sesame Street: The Monster at the End of This Book: An Interactive Adventure by Jon Stone, adapted by Autumn B Heath

Minotaur Books: The Woman in the Mirror by Rebecca James

Tor Books: The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

DK: Free Pack of The Wonders of Nature Wrapping Paper - Click to Sign Up!

News

ABA Taking Over Management of Independent Bookstore Day

Saying that the event "has grown exponentially since its launch," the American Booksellers Association is taking over management of Independent Bookstore Day, which began as California Bookstore Day in 2014 and became a national event the following year, Bookselling This Week reported. IBD program director Samantha Schoech will remain in her position and work closely with ABA on planning and promoting the event.

During the fall regional booksellers association shows, the ABA will put on the educational program "Independent Bookstore Day: Celebrate with Success," which will offer "an overview of the event and tips from booksellers who have successfully made the best of the national celebration of indie bookstores." The program will feature a panel of booksellers who will "offer information on how to order and make the most of the exclusive merchandise created for IBD, how to organize and publicize their store's party, and strategies for using social media to increase sales and community participation."

The next IBD will take place on April 25, 2020.


G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers: The Best of Iggy by Annie Barrows, illustrated by Sam Ricks


Virginia's Hooray for Books Reopens After Flooding

Hooray for Books, the children's bookstore in Old Town Alexandria, Va., that had to close after being flooded by heavy rains a week ago, was back in business yesterday. The bookshop posted on Facebook: "It is with great pleasure that we opened our doors this morning! Thank you to our volunteers who helped us out yesterday--we couldn't have done it without you. A special thanks goes out to our friends and neighbors at the Uptowner Cafe. They provided water for our volunteers and gave us a brand new 'Open' sign. Things are back to business as usual so stop by today to say hi, cool down from the heat and admire our new carpet."


KidsBuzz for the Week of 10.14.19


Harlequin Realigns Business

Harlequin has realigned its business into two groups: the Harlequin Trade Publishing Group, which will be responsible for all trade publishing activities, and Harlequin Brand Group, which combines Harlequin series publishing, Carina Press and brand development.

Loriana Sacilotto

Effective immediately, Loriana Sacilotto has been named executive v-p & publisher, Harlequin Trade Publishing, and will lead strategic publishing, editorial, marketing and publicity for all Harlequin trade imprints: Hanover Square Press, Park Row Books, Graydon House, HQN Books, Mira and Inkyard Press.

Reporting to Sacilotto are Margaret Marbury, v-p, editorial; a newly created position of associate publisher, adult imprints, for which the company is recruiting; Heather Connor, v-p publicity & trade communications; and Bess Braswell, publishing director of Inkyard Press.

Brent Lewis

Also effective immediately, Brent Lewis has been named executive v-p & publisher, Harlequin Brand Group, and will lead all strategic series publishing, series editorial, Harlequin brand marketing and publicity, Harlequin Studios, new business development and direct to consumer initiatives.

Reporting to Lewis are Dianne Moggy, v-p, editorial, responsible for all global series and Carina Press Publishing, as well as overseeing author engagement and communications; Merjane Schoueri, v-p, marketing, who will continue to lead the Feel Good Project and other new business development; Heather Allen, senior director, DTC; and Marianna Ricciuto, director of digital sales.

The Harlequin Brand Group aims to build the brand and grow series sales through new programs like Harlequin Studios, the Feel Good Project and other new business development opportunities.


GLOW: St. Martin's Press: The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner


Arcadia Launches Children's Book Program

Nancy Ellwood

Arcadia Publishing is launching Arcadia Children's Books, a publishing program for children focused on its specialty of hyper-local titles. The imprint will be headed by former DK editorial director Nancy Ellwood, who has more than 20 years of experience in children's publishing, particularly in children's nonfiction.

Arcadia president and CEO David Steinberger commented: "Retailers everywhere are telling us that their customers are hungry for local content, and we keep getting asked to add a hyper-local program for kids. We're listening to our customers, and we couldn't be more pleased to have Nancy Ellwood, such a proven and talented children's publishing leader, joining the Arcadia team."

Ellwood added: "It's an honor to apply my years of experience to building a new children's program for Arcadia, America's leading publisher of books of local interest. We are going to tap into kids' natural compassion, curiosity and openness, and create books that focus on here, now, home and community."

Publisher of the Images of America series, Arcadia has a catalogue of almost 15,000 titles and a frontlist of 500 new titles annually. While Arcadia has published a few children's titles in the past, this marks its first major step into publishing books for children.


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Firewatching by Russ Thomas


Another Prime Day Winner: Libro.fm

Another beneficiary of the love shown independent bookstores on Prime Day this Monday (and Tuesday) was Libro.fm, which had the highest number of membership signups in a two-day period in the history of the company, as well as a 400% increase in traffic to its website.

On social media, booksellers, authors, and indie bookstore supporters extolled Libro.fm as a way to support local bookstores. For example, on Twitter, Washington Nationals player and indie bookstore supporter Sean Doolittle encouraged his 96,000 followers to shop online through IndieBound and Libro.fm. And author Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein called it "a GREAT day to switch providers for your book needs! Shop your local indie! You can shop local audiobook through libro.fm."

Libro.fm CEO Mark Pearson said, "This year we used Prime Day to tell a story about the audiobook curation and community offered through local bookstores. As a result, we had a record number of customers switch from Amazon's Audible to a local bookstore. It was a surprise that the biggest two-day sales stretch in our history occurred on Amazon's biggest day, even surpassing sales of our own Independent Bookstore Day. We can't wait for Prime Day 2020."


Arcadia Publishing: Stock Your Shelves!


Obituary Note: Andrea Camilleri

Andrea Camilleri, one of Italy's most popular authors and creator of the Inspector Montalbano series, died July 17, the Guardian reported. He was 93. Camilleri had written a few historical novels when, in 1994, he wrote The Shape of Water, the first book starring a Sicilian detective based in the fictional town of Vigata.

The Montalbano series includes more than two dozen books, which have been translated into 32 languages and sold more than 30 million copies. The Potter's Field, translated into English by Stephen Sartarelli, won the British Crime Writers Association's International Dagger. Camilleri published his 27th Montalbano novel, Il cuoco dell'Alcyon, in 2018.

The final novel in the series was written 13 years ago, but has been kept in his publisher's Palermo offices for safekeeping. In 2012, Camilerri said, "When I get fed up with him or am not able to write any more, I'll tell the publisher: publish that book. Sherlock Holmes was recovered... but it will not be possible to recover Montalbano. In that last book, he's really finished."

The Italian TV adaptation of Camilleri's books "has brought tourists by the busload to Sicily. Camilleri's home town of Porto Empedocle is so proud of its connection that it officially changed its name to Porto Empedocle Vigata" from 2003 to 2009, the Guardian noted.

Had he died in his 50s, Camilleri's obituary "would certainly not have been published in the Guardian. His death might have been noted in the cultural sections of the odd Italian newspaper and it would doubtless have merited a substantial article in the journal of Italy's pre-eminent drama school, the Accademia Nazionale d'Arte Drammatica, where Camilleri was for many years in charge of teaching directing."

Success as a novelist, however, "inspired Camilleri to a frenzy of literary activity at an age when most writers are in tranquil decline," the Guardian wrote. "Between 1994, when his first Montalbano story appeared, and his death, at the age of 93, he not only published 30 books detailing the exploits of his grouchy sleuth, but more than 60 others."

Europa Editions noted that toward the end of his life, Camilleri "brought his trademark wit and noir pacing to a new project: a series of historical novels retelling key, forgotten moments in Sicilian history." Translated from the Italian by Stephen Sartarelli, these works include The Sect of Angels, The Sacco Gang and The Revolution of the Moon.

Europa editor-in-chief Michael Reynolds commented: "Andrea Camilleri was a writer of the highest order whose books entertained and edified millions of readers worldwide. His humanity, his generous spirit, his biting humor, and his unwavering sense of justice were repaid with the adulation and admiration of fans of all ages, nationalities, and walks of life. The world is left a little darker by his passing, but we can be profoundly grateful for all that he was able to give us."

Expressing "great, great sadness," Maria Rejt, Camilleri's U.K. editor, told the Bookseller: "I have published the English translations of his novels for seventeen years now and, throughout that time, his passion for social justice and the people of Sicily--which shines through in everything he writes--has never wavered. The millions of readers he has gained over the world are a testament to the universality of his characters, principles and literary genius. The legacy he leaves us is beyond measure."


Grove Press, Black Cat: Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo


Fountain Bookstore's Pre-Order Campaigns: Lessons, Tips, Part 2

Yesterday, Shelf Awareness took a look at how Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Va., handles its pre-order campaigns and what owner Kelly Justice has learned from running them for nearly a decade. Today, we look at how Justice and her team get these books to their customers.

Justice said that putting together a pre-order page that "looks decent" takes her only a few minutes. Once the page is live and Fountain Bookstore is officially accepting pre-orders, Justice and her team do most of their promoting online, and much of it is driven by the book's author and publisher. And thanks to Fountain Bookstore's longstanding partnerships with several authors, the store is now being seen as a destination for pre-orders.

For major pre-order campaigns--those with around 500 or more books involved--it becomes impossible to process, package and ship them all from Fountain Bookstore's 1,000-square-foot storefront. Justice and her team rent temporary office or warehouse space on a monthly basis as needed. She advised against renting or buying anything long-term, noting that the pre-order business works in bunches: between massive, large-scale campaigns, things can be very quiet for months at a time.

There are lots of details to consider when leasing a temporary space or hiring temporary staff, including extending business insurance coverage to make sure that inventory and staff are covered in the new location. She also recommended booksellers audit their shipping costs every three or four months and keep an eye out for rate increases, especially when doing things a year or eight months ahead; she added that Fountain Bookstore learned this the hard way, when the store lost $1,600 in one day due to shipping costs.

Justice said her operations manager Carl Kranz manages the staffing to handle these campaigns and makes sure that there isn't a lack of customer service at the main store during the busiest times. Given Fountain Bookstore's size, one or two booksellers can cover that space "pretty well," and when asked if she worries about the store experience being diminished while the staff is all hands on deck for a pre-order campaign, she answered that she didn't.

"What diminishes the experience is a store full of cartons and people packing stuff," Justice elaborated. "We know because we did that already. We realized it was not a good experience."

Justice added that it's important to "take care of your people," especially during larger campaigns, which can be "quite stressful." And while some people do enjoy the "mind numbingness" of packing and shipping, it is hard work and the hours are long. Making sure everyone is taken care of and that all the books still get out on time, she said, requires a robust internal communication system.

In addition to temporary staff, there is a contingent of local authors, book lovers and volunteers who often help out with the biggest campaigns and "enjoy being part of the party." Justice described it as a "celebration" when one of these hugely anticipated books comes out, with Justice and her team sharing photos and videos of the packing and shipping process on social media, and customers sharing photos and videos of them opening their books and pre-order bonuses with the store and author. 

"People think it's different from regular bookselling, but it's not," Justice said. She's found some of her industry colleagues to be "very resistant" to the idea of selling books online, as if it's not legitimate or not real bookselling. "These are real relationships. It is independent bookselling and if done properly, it's a beautiful experience that's very fulfilling for all parties involved."

When asked if her own staff members were ever resistant to the idea of doing pre-orders, Justice answered that her staff "never saw it as anything other than making customers happy." She continued: "It's not about being an online business. It's about being in the joy and delight business." --Alex Mutter


Berkley Books: Happy and You Know It by Laura Hankin


Notes

Image of the Day: Habitat for Humanity

Volunteers from St. Martin's Press/Macmillan recently visited Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newburgh, N.Y., to help work on a project. Above, team members pose with an advance copy of Our Better Angels: Seven Simple Virtues That Will Change Your Life and the World (October 8) by Habitat for Humanity CEO Jonathan Reckford, with a foreword by former president Jimmy Carter. (photo: Caitlin Dalton/Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newburgh)


Happy 30th Birthday, Bartleby's Books!

Congratulations to Bartleby's Books, Wilmington, Vt., which is celebrating its 30th birthday this Saturday, July 20, 5-7 p.m., during the "Eat Local Stroll." Fans can sample local foods, get new Bartleby's totes and share favorite store memories in the "30 Years of Bartleby's" book.


Bookseller Q&A: Tegan Tigani of Queen Anne Book Co.

Tegan Tigani, ABA board member and children's book buyer at Queen Anne Book Company in Seattle, Wash., was featured in the latest installment of Bookselling This Week's "Face Out" q&a series. Among our favorite exchanges:

Tegan Tigani

Did you hold other positions in the book industry before becoming a bookseller?
A part-time job at Queen Anne Avenue Books was my first job out of college. In high school, I worked in the school library, was president of the Library Club, and had the librarian as my advisor, so I had been on a bookish path for a while. Since becoming a bookseller, I have added to my book industry resume, though: I also work as a developmental editor for Girl Friday Productions and as a children's picture book acquisitions editor-at-large for Sasquatch Books.

How did you begin as a bookseller, and how long after starting in bookselling did you begin to feel that you had found a special vocation?
For two years after I moved to Seattle, I worked five days a week as the operations manager at the Children's Museum and one day a week at the bookstore. I'll never forget when a little girl came into the museum art activity I was leading and whispered loudly to her mom, "It's THE BOOKSTORE LADY!" That was the first time I really identified as a bookseller. Katie is still a customer, even after going off to college, and she still makes me proud to be a bookseller.

What do you think are some of the most important changes in bookselling since you joined your store?
As a children's book buyer, I am extremely excited about the call for increased diversity in publishing. The We Need Diverse Books movement continues to be such an inspiration and a change for good. It's a place where the children's book side of the industry is really leading the way. When more diverse characters are on the shelves of bookstores, more readers feel truly at home. Our stores can open up new worlds for readers, and more diverse books are an important part of that.


Personnel Changes at Chronicle

Eden Sugay has been promoted to associate marketing manager, events and retail marketing, at Chronicle Books.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Joe Namath on Colbert's Late Show

Today:
CBS This Morning: Andrew McCabe, author of The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump (St. Martin's Press, $29.99, 9781250207579).

Watch What Happens Live: Ellie Kemper, author of My Squirrel Days: Tales from the Star of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and The Office (Scribner, $17, 9781501163357).

Tomorrow:
Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Joe Namath, co-author of All the Way: My Life in Four Quarters (Little, Brown, $30, 9780316421102).


This Weekend on Book TV: Travis Rieder on In Pain

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, July 20
7 p.m. Alexander Nazaryan, author of The Best People: Trump's Cabinet and the Siege on Washington (Hachette, $28, 9780316421430).

7:55 p.m. Dan Schilling, author of Alone at Dawn: Medal of Honor Recipient John Chapman and the Untold Story of the World's Deadliest Special Operations Force (Grand Central, $29, 9781538729656), at Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C.

8:55 p.m. Suketu Mehta, author of This Land Is Our Land: An Immigrant's Manifesto (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27, 9780374276027), at Astoria Bookshop in New York City.

10 p.m. Mollie Hemingway and Carrie Severino, authors of Justice on Trial: The Kavanaugh Confirmation and the Future of the Supreme Court (Regnery, $28.99, 9781621579830). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Sunday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Travis Rieder, author of In Pain: A Bioethicist's Personal Struggle with Opioids (Harper, $27.99, 9780062854643), at Politics and Prose.

Sunday, July 21
12 a.m. Guillaume Serina, author of An Impossible Dream: Reagan, Gorbachev, and a World Without the Bomb (Pegasus, $25.95, 9781643130842).

6:50 p.m. Andrew Blum, author of The Weather Machine: A Journey Inside the Forecast (Ecco, $25.99, 9780062368614), at Politics & Prose.

7:50 p.m. Thomas Abt, author of Bleeding Out: The Devastating Consequences of Urban Violence--and a Bold New Plan for Peace in the Streets (Basic Books, $30, 9781541645721), at Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, Mass.

10 p.m. Carl Hulse, author of Confirmation Bias: Inside Washington's War Over the Supreme Court, from Scalia's Death to Justice Kavanaugh (Harper, $28.99, 9780062862914), at East City Bookshop in Washington, D.C.

11 p.m. Kim Wehle, author of How to Read the Constitution--and Why (Harper, $26.99, 9780062914361), at Politics and Prose.



Books & Authors

Awards: Clarke Winner; New England Book Finalists; Gordon Burn Shortlist

Rosewater by Tade Thompson has won the 33rd annual Arthur C. Clarke Award, honoring the best science fiction novel first published in the U.K. during the previous year. Thompson received a check for £2,019 (about $2,520) and an engraved bookend.

---

The finalists for the 2019 New England Book Awards, sponsored by the New England Independent Booksellers Association, are:

Fiction:
Bunny by Mona Awad
Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes
Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grames
 
Nonfiction:
Black Is the Body by Emily Bernard
Formation by Ryan Leigh Dostie
Frederick Douglass by David W. Blight
Inheritance by Dani Shapiro
The Not Good Enough Mother by Sharon Lamb
 
Children's (Birth-11):
Cilla Lee-Jenkins: The Epic Story by Susan Tan
New Kid by Jerry Craft
The Line Tender by Kate Allen
The Stuff of Stars illustrated by Ekua Holmes
Planting Stories by Anika Aldamuy Denise
 
Young Adult:
Attucks! by Phillip Hoose
Once & Future by Cori McCarthy and Amy Rose Capetta
Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Shatter the Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells
Wilder Girls by Rory Power

---

Finalists have been named for the £5,000 (about $6,217) Gordon Burn Prize, which "highlights and rewards work that is fearless and uncompromising in its ambition and execution, often pushing boundaries or challenging readers' expectations." The winner will be named October 10. This year's shortlisted titles are:

For the Good Times by David Keenan
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo
Heads of the Colored People by Nafissa Thompson-Spires
Lanny by Max Porter
The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
This Brutal House by Niven Govinden


Reading Group Choices' Most Popular June Books

The two most popular books in June at Reading Group Choices were The Guest Book: A Novel by Sarah Blake (Flatiron Books) and Before and Again by Barbara Delinsky (Griffin).


Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, July 23:

The Liberation of Paris: How Eisenhower, de Gaulle, and von Choltitz Saved the City of Light by Jean Edward Smith (Simon & Schuster, $27, 9781501164927) explores both Allied and German efforts to save Paris from destruction.

After the Fall: The Remarkable Comeback of Richard Nixon by Kasey S. Pipes (Regnery History, $29.99, 9781621572848) looks at Nixon after his resignation.

Home for Erring and Outcast Girls: A Novel by Julie Kibler (Crown, $27, 9780451499332) revolves around a women's shelter in early 20th century Texas.

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Del Rey, $26, 9780525620754) takes place in Jazz Age Mexico, where a girl accidentally releases the Mayan god of death.

Thrawn: Treason by Timothy Zahn (Del Rey, $28.99, 9781984820983) is set in the Star Wars universe.

IntersectionAllies: We Make Room for All by Chelsea Johnson, LaToya Council, Carolyn Choi, illus. by Ashley Seil Smith (Dottir Press, $18.95, 9781948340083) is a picture book about intersectionality for readers 6 to 12.

Clever Little Witch by Muon Thi Van, illus. by Hyewon Yum (Margaret K. McElderry Books, $17.99, 9781481481717) features one smart little witch who tries to turn her baby brother into a goldfish.

Paperbacks:
Plain Chinglish by Oliver Lutz Radtke (Gibbs Smith, $9.99, 9781423652656).


IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at IndieBound.org, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

Hardcover
The Tenth Muse: A Novel by Catherine Chung (Ecco, $26.99, 9780062574060). "Catherine Chung's female protagonist is a mathematician, and it is thrilling to have a woman scientist who is a complex character in an even more complex novel. In trying to solve a math riddle, she ends up exploring the riddle of her own childhood, which is inextricably linked to one of the darkest episodes in human history. Catherine Chung has woven a rich tapestry mixing present and past, ambition, identity, and gender issues. A beautiful book." --Francoise Brodsky, Shakespeare & Co., New York, N.Y.

The Stationery Shop: A Novel by Marjan Kamali (Gallery, $27, 9781982107482). "The Stationery Shop is one of the most beautifully written novels I have read in a long time. The masterful plot brings us to a lost time and culture, but also transcends time and country. In a story set against the upheaval of 1953 Tehran, we discover how events change the destiny of two teenagers who meet in a book and stationery shop and fall in love. This novel of political dreams, family loyalty, lingering memories, love, and fate will haunt you long after the story ends." --Janet Hutchison, The Open Door Bookstore, Schenectady, N.Y.

Paperback
Whiskey When We're Dry: A Novel by John Larison (Penguin Books, $16, 9780735220454). "A haunting and remarkable debut, John Larison's Whiskey When We're Dry stays true to the western genre while subverting many common themes of the American West, producing a wholly original narrative that will linger in your mind for days. I have never encountered a protagonist quite like Jess; she embodies the incredible strength and resolve required to survive in the West, but also the vulnerability necessary to retain humanity in the face of so much violence and brutality. Larison's prose goes down as smooth as a glass of whiskey, and I didn't want to stop reading until I'd finished every last drop." --Tori Odea, Politics and Prose Bookstore, Washington, D.C.

For Ages 4 to 8
A Curious Menagerie: Of Herds, Flocks, Leaps, Gaggles, Scurries, and More! by Carin Berger (Greenwillow, $17.99, 9780062644572). "As a child, one of my favorite topics to ask about was the collective nouns for groups of animals. This book gathers some of the more interesting ones into a list, with amusingly literal illustrations of various animal groups, such as a 'business of ferrets.' " --Gwendolyn Baltera, Buttonwood Books and Toys, Cohasset, Mass.

For Ages 9 to 12
Maximillian Fly by Angie Sage (Katherine Tegen, $16.99, 9780062571168). "Maximillian Fly is the middle-grade mash-up you didn't know you needed! Metamorphosis combines with Lemony-Snicket-esque prose to perfectly tell the strange and fascinating tale of Maximillian, a human with the features of a cockroach who becomes entangled with two fugitives of an oppressive government. Wacky, fun, and so satisfying, Maximillian Fly will steal your heart!" --Laura Graveline, Brazos Bookstore, Houston, Tex.

For Teen Readers
Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi (Feiwel & Friends, $17.99, 9781250299482). "If you wanted Gilmore Girls to be a little less white and a whole lot gayer, this is the book for you. It's a rom-com about two ambitious women fighting against the world, themselves, and their feelings for each other, and learning how all those things can peacefully coexist. This book is a lot like your favorite rom-coms but with a cast of characters you don't usually see." --Mackenzie Van Engelenhoven, The King's English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, Utah

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]


Book Review

Review: Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession

Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession by Rachel Monroe (Scribner, $26 hardcover, 272p., 9781501188886, August 20, 2019)

Rachel Monroe has been "murder minded" since childhood, part of an overwhelmingly female demographic that consumes true-crime books, podcasts and television shows. It's an obsession that makes her a little uncomfortable. She develops a theory: "Perhaps we liked creepy stories because something creepy was in us." Monroe's first book, Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession, explores these interests through four case studies: detective, victim, defender and killer.

Frances Glessner Lee chafed at the limits placed on her by 1890s high-society gender norms. Barred from attending college, she became an expert on early forensic studies and built the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death, miniature houses (fully functional, furnished and wired) portraying crime scenes. The Nutshells are still studied today: they are on display in Baltimore in the medical examiner's office.

Twenty-one years after the Tate murders, Alisa Statman moved into the garage apartment at the former Tate-Polanski residence. She avidly studied the case and befriended Patti, Sharon Tate's youngest sister. The two lived together and claimed domestic partnership. By the time of Patti's death, Statman was telling a very public story of Tate family tragedy that included herself, but all but erased Debra, the middle Tate sister.

The West Memphis Three were teenaged boys wrongfully convicted of murder because they were social outcasts. Their story, and one of them in particular, caught the attention of Lorri Davis, who moved cross-country and devoted her life to freeing him from death row; they are now married.

As an awkward teenager, Lindsay Souvannarath nursed a growing interest in mass murder. At 22, she met her match in a young man with a plan. He got the guns and she chose her outfit, but by the time she arrived, the cops were on to them. "I had a skull mask I was going to wear, and he had his scream mask. We would've looked perfect." Her accomplice killed himself, and Lindsay is currently serving life in prison for their plans.

These case studies, exploring the archetypes that structure our thinking about crime, are intercut with stories of Monroe's own life, her own guilty obsessions and research. Each story receives intelligent context: the "tough on crime" crackdown in the wake of the Tate murders; the panic over imagined satanic sacrifices that drove the conviction of the West Memphis Three; the fangirls who call themselves Columbiners and swoon over school shooters. She references Harriet the Spy, Ayn Rand, the Oxygen true crime television channel and a multitude of serial killers.

Monroe attends CrimeCon and Souvannarath's sentencing hearing, giving herself nightmares, and ultimately mines her personal experience of true-crime obsession to question the appeal of violent crime. Is it possible that within each of us resides detective, victim, defender and even some version of killer? Savage Appetites is a chilling, compelling examination of the darkness in us all. This is obviously a book for true-crime fans, as well as anyone interested in human nature. --Julia Kastner, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: A powerful, well-researched inquiry into why we find violent crime so fascinating, viewed though the stories of detective, victim, defender and killer.


KidsBuzz: Bloomsbury Children's Books:  Spies, Lies, and Disguise: The Daring Tricks and Deeds That Won World War II by Jennifer Swanson, illustrated by Kevin O'Malley
KidsBuzz: Bloomsbury Children's Books: More Than a Princess by E.D. Baker
Powered by: Xtenit