Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Hampton Roads Publishing Company: Becoming Baba Yaga: Trickster, Feminist, and Witch of the Woods by Kris Spisak, Foreword by Gennarose Nethercott

Dial Press: Like Mother, Like Mother by Susan Rieger

Severn House: A Messy Murder (Main) (The Decluttering Mysteries #4) by Simon Brett

Forge: My Three Dogs by Bruce W Cameron

Running Press Adult: Scam Goddess: Lessons from a Life of Cons, Grifts, and Schemes by Laci Mosley

Chronicle Books: Taste in Music: Eating on Tour with Indie Musicians by Luke Pyenson and Alex Beeker


New Bookstore and Cafe Coming to Owosso, Mich.


Owosso Books & Beans, an independent bookstore and cafe, will open next month in downtown Owosso, Mich., the Argus-Press reported.

State Representative Ben Frederick and his wife, Lydia Frederick, are the store's principal owners. Supporting the Fredericks is a team consisting of operations manager Dani Caswell; marketing professional Kelen Caswell; and Dave and Dianne Acton, the owners of the town's previous bookstore Owosso Books and More, who will serve as mentors and advisers.

"Lydia and I have been excited about the renewal we have seen in downtown Owosso and throughout this country for many years," Frederick told the Argus-Press. "We can think of no better business to bring to our community than a vibrant and welcoming bookstore/cafe. Our team is excited to serve others in a warm and inviting atmosphere which mingles the familiar scent of coffee and baked goods with that of the printed page."

The bookstore side of the business will focus on community events, and the Fredericks plan to enlist knowledgeable Owosso residents to help curate various sections of the inventory. Events will be organized around specific topics, like the state of higher education, writing a personal memoir or caring for children with special needs, and books related to each session's themes will be available for purchase.

On the cafe side, Owosso Books & Beans will feature a custom-made, "cutting-edge" espresso bar and offer a variety of baked goods for sale. There will be plenty of seating for customers and the cafe will offer "3D coffee art," which allows customers to make intricate, custom latte art with the help of a 3D printer and an app.

Books & Beans will be the first independent bookstore in Owosso since Owosso Books and More closed several years ago. In fact, the Fredericks actually purchased that business from the Actons and, in launching Books & Beans, have changed its name and location.

"We're sharing anything and everything we've ever learned," Dave Acton said. "The value of an independent bookstore is in the face-to-face conversations with people, and being able to build relationships and a rapport with the community. You can't get that on Amazon."

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AAP Files Suit Against Audible over Captions Feature

The Association of American Publishers has filed suit against Audible in response to the company's announcement of a planned feature called "Audible Captions," which would transcibe and display the text of narrated performances.

The plaintiffs--AAP member companies Chronicle Books, Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, Macmillan Publishing Group, Penguin Random House, Scholastic and Simon & Schuster--have asked the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York to enjoin Audible, which is owned by Amazon, "from providing its audiobook customers the entire machine-generated text of literary works without any authorization from, compensation to, or quality control by the copyright owners."

Maria A. Pallante, president and CEO of the AAP, said: "In what can only be described as an effort to seek commercial advantage from literary works that it did not create and does not own, Audible is willfully pushing a product that is unauthorized, interferes and competes with established markets, and is vulnerable to grammatical and spelling inaccuracies--it is a disservice to everyone affected, including readers."

The complaint asserts willful copyright infringement on the part of Audible and details the company's efforts to "take for itself cross-format features that incorporate both audio and electronic text, outside of the careful decision-making, financial participation, copyright protection, and quality control of copyright owners."

The suit notes that the machine-generated text in the "Audible Captions" feature is prone to errors, and contrasts it with the existing "Immersion" feature, which also combines text and audio simultaneously but is created with the permission of a title's creators and is error-free.

GLOW: Sourcebooks Landmark: A Forty Year Kiss by Nickolas Butler

Ogden, Utah's Booked on 25th Closing

Booked on 25th, a new and used bookstore that was opened by Taylor Rizzi in 2016, will close at the end of the month. On Facebook yesterday, the store posted: "We are sad to announce that Booked on 25th will be closing for good on Saturday, August 31st at 6 p.m. We offer our heartfelt thanks for your kind support and encouragement over the past three years as we have struggled to make a go of it. Between Wednesday (8/28) and Saturday (8/31), we'll be offering all inventory at 50% OFF. Please stop by to say farewell, and find a new favorite book or two, or re-discover an old favorite."

Torrey House Press posted: "There will be a Booked on 25th shaped hole in our hearts. We're so sad to see you go. Thank you for the books, laughter, and important conversations that took place in your space."

Wi15 Registration Opens September 18

Registration opens September 18 for the American Booksellers Association's 15th annual Winter Institute, which will take place January 21-24 at the Hilton Baltimore Inner Harbor in Baltimore, Md., Bookselling This Week reported, noting that booksellers and publishers should mark their calendars for the following dates:

  • September 11: Winter Institute program announced on
  • September 18: Winter Institute registration opens for all attendees (including a new day pass option for Friday, January 24, which also grants access to the Thursday evening Author Reception)
  • October 1: The ABA hotel room block opens for accommodation at the Hilton Baltimore Inner Harbor
  • October 29: Registration opens for special programming at Winter Institute

Wi15 will officially kick off on Tuesday evening, January 21, with an opening reception featuring a special acknowledgment of the ABA's 120th anniversary and the Winter Institute's 15th anniversary.

Booksellers attending the fall regional trade shows can drop a business card at the ABA booth for a chance to win a scholarship to Wi15. BTW also noted that "any attendee (booksellers, publishers, authors, or guests) interested in having childcare during Winter Institute can fill out a survey here to indicate their needs."

Obituary Note: David Cohen

David Cohen, one of Britain's most active cultural philanthropists and founder of the £40,000 (about $49,145) David Cohen Prize for Literature, died August 4. He was 89. The Bookseller reported that the award was created in 1992 when Cohen responded to a newspaper interview in which former Arts Council of Great Britain chair Lord Palumbo said the organization aspired to found a literary award bigger than the Booker Prize.

Cohen subsequently endowed the initiative, which honors a living writer from the U.K. or the Republic of Ireland for a lifetime's achievement in literature. The last recipient was Tom Stoppard in 2017. Other winners include Seamus Heaney, V.S. Naipaul, Beryl Bainbridge and Hilary Mantel. The 2019 David Cohen Prize for Literature winner will be announced November 12.

Claire Malcolm, founding CEO of New Writing North, which has managed the prize since 2017, said, "We will continue to work with the Cohen family to maintain the work of the David Cohen Prize for Literature, which of course now carries an added meaning for all of us, as we also look to uphold David's legacy."

Mark Lawson, chair of the prize for his fifth term, said Cohen's aim was for the award "to become a British/Irish equivalent of the Nobel Prize in Literature, and it quietly pleased him when, on a number of occasions, his award recognized writers who were only later honored by Stockholm. The prize now becomes his memorial, and his family will continue its great service to writers and readers.”

Cohen was awarded a CBE in 2001 for charitable services, especially to the arts.


Image of the Day: Greenwood's Knights

The Raven Book Store, Lawrence, Kan., and the Lawrence Public Library teamed up to host the release party for Bryn Greenwood's The Reckless Oath We Made (Putnam). To tie in with the book's chivalric elements, the store invited some knights, courtesy of the Kansas City Serpents. Pictured with knights: Bryn Greenwood and Lawrence Public Library's Kristin Soper.

Louise Penny Reclines at Brome Lake Books

Brome Lake Books, Knowlton, Que., shared a photo of a certain bestselling Canadian mystery author bookishly reclining: "We couldn't stop her! Louise Penny just had to have a little alone time with her new book. A Better Man signed copies (and some reclined upon by the author) available at the launch party in Coldbrook park on August 24th or in store August 27th and onwards."

Penny posted on her Facebook page: "People streaming in to Knowlton for the big pre-launch party 11am tomorrow. Tent up in the park across from the bookstore. And... as you see... books already signed. Here I am (as my assistant Lise, the scamp said), lying on top of A Better Man. One could only wish...."

Bookshop Ephemera: Great 20th Century Receipts

"About 46 years ago, someone visited an iconic bookstore. Found in a copy of Rising Tides: 20th Century American Women Poets," Main Street Books, Mansfield, Ohio, posted on Facebook along with a photo of a receipt from an iconic bookseller in San Francisco you may recognize.    

Chalkboard of the Day: The Book Catapult


Seth Marko, co-owner of the Book Catapult, San Diego, Calif., shared a photo of the shop's recent sidewalk chalkboard creation, noting that "we love whales, have probably too many whale books, so our bookseller Alexiss Rivas crafted this awesome sidewalk chalkboard art with a big ol' whale on it. (Art is derived from the cover art for Philip Hoare's The Whale, from Ecco--a Catapult bestseller.)"

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Dr. Jen Gunter on On Point

NPR's On Point: Dr. Jen Gunter, author of The Vagina Bible (Citadel/Kensington, $18.85, 9780806539317).

TV: The King; The Long Call

A "moody, good-looking" first teaser trailer has been released for David Michôd's (Animal Kingdom) Netflix period-drama The King, starring Timothée Chalamet in the title role, Deadline reported. The project is based on Shakespeare's plays Henry IV (Parts 1 and 2) and Henry V, "in which a young disgraced prince Hal (Chalamet) inherits the crown at a particularly turbulent time in English history and must learn what it means to be a king."

The cast also includes Robert Pattinson, Sean Harris, Ben Mendelsohn, Lily-Rose Depp and Joel Edgerton. Michôd and Edgerton wrote the script, and Brad Pitt's Plan B is among the producers of the film, which will get its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival and release in select theaters and on Netflix this fall.


ITV-backed producer Silverprint Pictures will adapt Ann Cleeves's upcoming crime novel The Long Call for television. Deadline reported that the producer "has optioned the book, which is the first novel in Cleeves' Two Rivers series, from Rebecca Watson at Valerie Hoskins Associates on behalf of literary agent Sara Menguc."

Silverprint previously adapted Cleeves's Shetland, which has run for five seasons on the BBC, and Vera, which was recently renewed for a 10th season by ITV.

"I'm delighted that the team at Silverprint has optioned The Long Call," Cleeves said, "The adaptations of Vera and Shetland have captured the essence of my books, while making TV dramas that are hugely successful in their own right."

Books & Authors

Awards: Rona Jaffe; Royal Society Science Book

Winners have been named for the 2019 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Awards, given annually "to identify and support women writers of unusual talent and promise in the early stages of their writing careers." Each of the six receives $40,000 and will be honored at a private reception September 12 in New York City.

This year's winners are Selena Anderson (fiction), Magogodi oaMphela Makhene (fiction), Sarah Passino (poetry), Nicolette Polek (fiction), Elizabeth Schambelan (nonfiction) and Debbie Urbanski (fiction/nonfiction).

"Our 2019 award winners are not only formidably talented but using their challenging and thought-provoking work to address our shifting cultural landscape and wrestle with complex and difficult political and social issues," said Beth McCabe, director of the writers' awards program. "They are experimenting with genre bending in exciting ways to both push the boundaries of their work but also to re-conceptualize and interrogate some of our most inner beliefs about community and selfhood. We are pleased to support these original literary voices and provide a welcome respite from the financial pressures and market forces that often impinge upon and dictate a writer's world. It is heartening and humbling to recognize that Rona's vision remains vital and necessary as her program continues to support and inspire women writers in their creative endeavors."


A shortlist has been announced for the 2019 Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize, "celebrating the very best in popular science writing from around the world for a non-specialist audience," the Bookseller reported. The winner, to be named September 23, receives £25,000 (about $30,715), with £2,500 (about $3,070) awarded to each of the five shortlisted authors. This year's shortlisted titles are:

Clearing the Air: The Beginning and the End of Air Pollution by Tim Smedley
Infinite Powers: The Story of Calculus--The Language of the Universe by Steven Strogatz
Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez
The Remarkable Life of the Skin: An Intimate Journey Across Our Surface by Monty Lyman
The Second Kind of Impossible: The Extraordinary Quest for a New Form of Matter by Paul Steinhardt
Six Impossible Things: The 'Quanta of Solace' and the Mysteries of the Subatomic World by John Gribbin

Reading with... Chris L. Terry

photo: Jacob Boll

Chris L. Terry was born in 1979 to an African American father and an Irish American mother. His debut novel, Zero Fade, was named a Best Book of the Year by Slate. Our review called his second novel, Black Card (Catapult, August 13, 2019), a "bold and affecting novel--funny, infuriating and at times profound. Terry is a new talent who's managed to examine race in America like few writers before him." Terry lives in Los Angeles with his family.

On your nightstand now:

Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James, which I am digesting in small chunks; Savila Sueños poetry zine by Alma Rosa Rivera; an e-reader full of my friends' manuscripts (save a tree, y'all); my phone with an audiobook of Ghost Month, the first Taipei Night Market novel by Ed Lin; and, uh, a wave cap and a sweating glass of tequila.

I think my nightstand is only missing one book format: someone doing a reading. Holler at me if you want to do a reading on my nightstand.

Favorite book when you were a child:

When I was around nine, The Snarkout Boys and The Avocado of Death by Daniel Pinkwater made me feel like anywhere could be exciting. I last read it front-to-back after finishing a half-marathon and some lamb chops in Chicago in 2012. That was a great day.

Your top five authors:

Nella Larsen showed me that mixed-race black identities could be written about; Danzy Senna showed me that those stories could be set now; Roddy Doyle indulges my obsession with the ways people talk; Raymond Chandler validates my need to be alone, moody and sassy; and I hate quantifying and wish this list could be a whole lot longer so I'll just say that I love the way Steph Cha writes Los Angeles and she's number 5.

Book you've faked reading:

If I haven't read it, I haven't read it, and that's fine by me.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Sharing books is like cooking for guests, you've gotta tailor what you're serving to their tastes. I just passed my wife My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite and that's going well.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I love the bright green lettering and cool woman in shades and headwrap on the cover of My Sister, the Serial Killer, but probably would have read it anyway because I love crime stories and unreliable narrators. The shades got me to pull out some cash instead of my library card, though.

Book you hid from your parents:

My parents were really permissive about art, plus my mom's a librarian, so this was never an issue.

Book that changed your life:

I got Incognegro by Mat Johnson when I knew I wanted to be a writer but wasn't sure what I might write about. Seeing a black character passing for white so they can report on lynchings made me go, "Oh, something like that."

Favorite line from a book:

"She would of been a good woman," The Misfit said, "if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life."

That's from the end of A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Connor. I wish I could be that direct and mean.

Five books you'll never part with:

I'm a library person, so books come and go, but I have been accumulating signed books over the last few years. In a few decades, I hope to impress my grandkids like, "See, I met Sam Greenlee, Amiri Baraka, Roxane Gay, J. Ryan Stradal and Meg Howrey!" 

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

On the Road by Jack Kerouac was really cool when I was 14. My reaction would be hilariously different if I read it for the first time now.

Book Review

YA Review: Ordinary Hazards

Ordinary Hazards: A Memoir by Nikki Grimes (Wordsong/Boyds Mill, $19.99 hardcover, 336p., ages 12-up, 9781629798813, October 8, 2019)

In her haunting memoir in verse, award-winning author and poet Nikki Grimes shares what she believes is "the most important story" she has to tell: that of her own devastatingly difficult childhood. Though many of her memories were so fractured by trauma that she could glue together only the fragments, the assembly of these shards is in an exquisite collection of linked verses that tells a more real, heartbreakingly beautiful story than any smooth, chronological narrative ever could. Grimes, author of Coretta Scott King Award-winning Bronx Masquerade, as well as Between the Lines, The Watcher, Chasing Freedom and many others, is nakedly honest in Ordinary Hazards about her broken memories: "Author and storyteller,/ I cry out for order,/ logical sequences,/ and smooth transitions./ A modicum of skill/ allows me to create as much--/ in story. But here?/ Where is the chronology of a life/ chaotic from the start?"

Grimes does work within a loosely chronological structure, starting with her birth in 1950 at Harlem Hospital and moving through the years to 1966, when her mother's mental illness escalates and her beloved though mostly absent father dies. During these years, coinciding with the civil rights movement, she and her sister, Carol, pinball between foster homes and stints with their mother and her sexually abusive husband. At three, she and her older sister are locked in a cockroach-infested closet all day, every day, by a woman their mother had hired to watch them, leading to a years-long fear of the dark. ("No one warned me/ the world was full of/ ordinary hazards/ like closets with locks and keys.") The horror of her days relents occasionally when she's in a good foster home, finds a friend or, most significantly, discovers writing at age six. For the first time, she lets her thoughts "gush like a geyser,/ shooting high into the moonless sky."

Ordinary Hazards is a gorgeous piece of writing that also serves as powerful inspiration for any reader who has struggled and sought grace: "the invisible bridge/ spanning the abyss,/ the single light/ that outstrips the dark/ every time." Grimes offers up the details of her young life--often appalling, sometimes wickedly funny--but the undercurrent of hope makes the horror just bearable. Her triumph over adversity is matched only by her skill with the written word. Ordinary Hazards is accessible to poetry enthusiasts and detractors alike, and will linger after the final lines, a response to a favorite teacher's question about what young Nikki wants to do with her life: "I want to write books about/ some of the darkness I've seen,/ real stories about real people, you know?/ But I also want to write about the light,/ because I've seen that, too./ That place of light--it's not always easy/ to get to, but it's there./ It's there." --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor

Shelf Talker: In this stunning YA memoir in verse, Nikki Grimes tells the harrowing story of her childhood, out of which she rose, against all odds, to become an award-winning poet and author.

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