Shelf Awareness for Thursday, December 12, 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

Quotation of the Day

Indies Offer 'Something We Will Never Cede to an Algorithm'

"Interestingly, I did not see any reference to the reason our independent bookstore sees thousands of customers every year: the personal relationships, the unique nature of our store and the integrated relationship with our community.

"Our downtown book shop, with its compassionate and activist staff, acts as a safe space for the many locals and travelers who need to deliver a good rant about the stresses of life under the Trump regime or a place to nurse a baby, or those who have health problems and know they will find a sympathetic ear.

"While Amazon is always a presence in retail at this time, we do not compete with Amazon. What we offer is something we will never cede to an algorithm--commitment to making the world a more just and compassionate place."

--Nancy Braus, owner/manager of Everyone's Books, Brattleboro, Vt., in a letter published in the New York Times responding to the newspaper's recent feature article examining the effects of Amazon on commerce and life in general in the U.S.

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


Patterson Launches Holiday Bonus Contest for B&N Booksellers


Bestselling author James Patterson will be distributing more than $200,000 in holiday gifts to booksellers in Barnes & Noble stores this year "as part of a year-end thanks for booksellers who come up with the most creative and festive holiday displays," B&N said. Patterson has been giving holiday bonuses to indie booksellers in the U.S. since 2015.

For B&N, Patterson has created a holiday contest as a thank you to the chain's 23,000 booksellers. He will give $300 to a bookseller in every store who comes up with the best holiday book display, including some of Patterson's books, as judged by their store manager.

"I'm excited about all of the recent changes at Barnes & Noble and to see where they go next," said Patterson, likely referring to new CEO James Daunt's stated mission to improve the bookstore chain's stores, reemphasize books and empower staff. "But I've always been immensely grateful to the many booksellers at B&N stores across the country for their dedication to books and reading--and these holiday bonuses are my way of acknowledging their hard work."

Frank Morabito, v-p, stores, B&N commented: "James Patterson is beloved by our booksellers, and his holiday bonus contest was a fun and creative way for us to participate in James' generosity, as well as his love for books and bookselling. Whether writing page-turning thrillers, books for young readers, or supporting literacy and bookselling around the world through his various charitable programs, Mr. Patterson is a true partner and friend to Barnes & Noble booksellers."

The winning holiday book displays can be seen in B&N stores around the country starting December 14.

Tor Books: One for My Enemy by Olivie Blake

Avoid the Day Bookstore Opening Permanent Location in January

Avoid the Day Bookstore, Bar & Cafe, which debuted as a pop-up shop and itinerant community space in Rockaway Beach, N.Y., around two years ago, will reopen in a permanent location at 99-04 Rockaway Beach Blvd. next month, the Wave reported.

Avoid the Day owners Jason and Jianna Heuer

Co-owners Jason and Jianna Heuer envision a space with community tables, couches, a bar and a children's reading nook in addition to the general book inventory, and they plan to source their drinks and food from local vendors.

"There aren't spaces like that in Rockaway," Jianna Heuer told the Wave. "There aren't places people go and hang out."

Over the past few years the Heuers have operated a dozen pop-up shops, experimenting with a variety of events. They found that while traditional author events weren't the most successful, anything that started a conversation among community members met with enthusiastic responses. During their time as a pop-up shop, they also donated 10% of their proceeds to local nonprofits, which they hope to continue to do once the permanent location is financially stable.

"We're making sure that we're intertwined with the other businesses," Heuer added. "That's how this community really is. Everybody's really tied together."

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

Word After Word in Truckee, Calif., Moving This Spring

Word After Word Bookshop, an all-ages, general-interest bookstore in Truckee, Calif., is moving to a new location in spring 2020. 

The store, which opened in the city's downtown in February 2017, will move down the street to 10052 Donner Pass Road, where co-owners Andie Keith and Nicolle Sloan will take over the historic Truckee Mercantile Building. The larger space will allow for a wider selection of books and gifts as well as bigger events.

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

COVEN Bookshop & Cafe Launches Fundraising Campaign

COVEN's Lucie Camara and Louise Binns

Co-founders Lucie Camara and Louise Binns have launched a Kickstarter campaign to help open COVEN, a planned French and English bookstore and cafe with a focus on intersectional feminism in Paris, France, Frenchly reported.

Camara and Binns are looking to raise $27,641 over the next 31 days. So far, they've raised just over $2,820 from 32 backers, and backer rewards include things COVEN apparel and merchandise, author-themed prize packs and the ability to host a private party at the bookstore for a night. Camara grew up in Paris and founded the COVEN book club a few years ago, while Binns grew up in the U.K. and founded a feminist bilingual book club called FBC Paris.

Binns and Camara hope to open their store in 2020. The bookstore side of COVEN will focus on French- and English-language literature, while the cafe will serve sustainable and ethically sourced fare. Events are a major part of the store's plans, and they hope to host podcast recordings, panel discussions, author talks and a variety of other community events.

Blink: Come Home Safe by Brian G. Buckmire

Obituary Note: Kate Figes

Kate Figes, author and You magazine books editor, died December 7, the Bookseller reported. She was 62. Figes wrote two novels and six works of nonfiction, including her 2018 work On Smaller Dogs and Larger Life Questions, "which dealt with subjects including the diagnosis that her breast cancer had metastasized."

Figes began her career in the book trade with a stint as sales rep, then publicist and editor at Pandora Books. She turned to journalism and writing full time after her first child was born. Her book Life After Birth, a Sunday Times top-10 bestseller, was followed by Terrible Teens. Her titles also include Because of Her Sex; The Big Fat Bitch Book for Girls and Couples and Our Cheating Hearts: Love & Loyalty, Lust & Lies. Her two novels are What About Me and a sequel, What About Me, Too?. She was the books editor at You magazine for 25 years.

Lennie Goodings, who published two of her books at Virago, said Figes "was brilliant on moving from the personal to the general, from the specific to the more universal in a way that illuminates and really helps us to understand life. What makes her books all the more authentic and meaningful is that she celebrated the ordinary. She understood that it is the quotidian parts of our lives--love, birth, raising children, making a home, friends, sustaining long-term relationships, dealing with the loss of parents--that both break and make our spirits.... Famed for her huge enthusiasm for books and life and blessed with an enormous, infectious laugh, she will be much missed."

In the Guardian's obituary, Claire Armitstead noted: " 'I don't believe that any of us can ever accept the inevitability of our own death. Life is too bloody wonderful.' So wrote Kate Figes... in her final piece of journalism, published only a fortnight ago. After listing some of the medical crises that had made her life rather less than wonderful over the last few months, she concluded that even this terrible year had its 'surprising silver lining,' in that 'by coming that much closer to dying I have learned a little more about how to live well.' Living well, for Figes, meant continuing to look beyond her own determined struggle to beat the odds."

Elizabeth Buccleuch, co-founder and fellow judge of the Walter Scott Prize, said, "What made Kate such a unique and powerful person is that she lived every book she read. That is a rare gift. She felt deeply every emotion and narrative that makes books sing."


Image of the Day: PAWS to Read at Byrd's Books

Byrd's Books, Bethel, Conn., hosted a "PAWS to Read" event, where children could read to adoptable cats and kittens. Owner Alice Hutchinson reported, "Our local animal shelter, the Danbury Animal Rescue Society, brought five feline friends to the bookstore for an adoption event that included an opportunity for children to read to cats and kittens. We had a great response from the kitties, prospective homes for the felines and some wonderful reading from the children. Some new friends were made!"


FoxTale Book Shoppe Named 'Best Neighborhood Bookstore'

FoxTale Book Shoppe, Woodstock, Ga., was named "Best Neighborhood Bookstore" for the second time by Atlanta magazine in its annual Best of ATL issue, which noted: "Nestled in downtown Woodstock, this charming bookstore carries New York Times bestsellers and the latest releases from Georgia authors that everyone needs to know. Karen Schwettman opened the store in 2007 with her friends as a passion project for their second act. For Schwettman, 'the fox tail is a symbol for feminine creative energy.' They've run with that baton over the years, hosting a wide variety of authors, such as Fancy Nancy author Jane O'Connor and Dog the Bounty Hunter for book signings. FoxTale also hosts workshops for writers of all ages."

The bookseller expressed gratitude on Facebook: "Drumroll, please! We're thrilled to share we have been named the Best Bookstore by ATLANTA magazine for the second time! It is with a grateful heart that we share this exciting news with you. We couldn't do it without your love, support and patronage. We couldn't do it without our amazing author friends, publishing partners and staff. Thank you one and all!"

Bookstore Video: Linden Tree Books

Chris Saccheri, co-owner of Linden Tree Books, Los Altos, Calif., shared a video of "a fun thing our store did for the release of Dav Pilkey's new Dog Man book [Dog Man: Fetch-22] today. We hand-delivered pre-orders to customers in our town... early this morning and, since it was a big job, we recruited a special deliveryman to help out. (Hint: he has a list and he checks it twice)."

Personnel Changes at Scholastic; Sourcebooks

Courtney DeVerges has been promoted to national account manager for Scholastic Klutz. She was previously national account sales representative.


At Sourcebooks:

Cristina Arreola, former senior books editor at Bustle, has joined the company as associate impact marketing manager, Landmark.

Sophia Ramos has joined the company as subsidiary rights and international sales associate.

Media and Movies

Movies: Let Him Go

Focus Features has set August 21, 2020 as the release date for Let Him Go, based on Larry Watson's novel, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Directed by Thomas Bezucha, the movie stars Kevin Costner, Diane Lane and Lesley Manville. Paula Mazur and Mitchell Kaplan (owner of Books & Books in southern Florida and the Cayman Islands) of the Mazur Kaplan Company produced alongside Bezucha.

This Weekend on Book TV: S.C. Gwynne

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, December 14
12 p.m. S.C. Gwynne, author of Hymns of the Republic: The Story of the Final Year of the American Civil War (Scribner, $32, 9781501116223), and Donald L. Miller, author of Vicksburg: Grant's Campaign That Broke the Confederacy (Simon & Schuster, $35, 9781451641370), at Lemuria Books in Jackson, Miss. (Re-airs Monday at 5:40 a.m.)

4:30 p.m. Richard Bell, author of Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped into Slavery and Their Astonishing Odyssey Home (37 Ink, $27, 9781501169434), at Ivy Bookshop in Baltimore, Md.

5:25 p.m. Ruth Marcus, author of Supreme Ambition: Brett Kavanaugh and the Conservative Takeover (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781982123864), at Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C.

7 p.m. Eric K. Washington, author of Boss of the Grips: The Life of James H. Williams and the Red Caps of Grand Central Terminal (Liveright, $27.95, 9781631493225).

8:30 p.m. Les Standiford, author of Palm Beach, Mar-a-Lago, and the Rise of America's Xanadu (Atlantic Monthly Press, $27, 9780802128492).

9:20 p.m. Amity Shlaes, author of Great Society: A New History (Harper, $32.50, 9780061706424). (Re-airs Sunday at 5:30 p.m.)

10 p.m. Joe Ricketts, author of The Harder You Work, the Luckier You Get: An Entrepreneur's Memoir (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781501164781). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch, authors of Crime in Progress: Inside the Steele Dossier and the Fusion GPS Investigation of Donald Trump (Random House, $30, 9780593134153). (Re-airs Sunday at 8 p.m.)

Sunday, December 15
12 a.m. Brendan and Timothy McNulty, authors of The Meanest Man in Congress: Jack Brooks and the Making of an American Century (NewSouth Books, $32.95, 9781588383211).

2:50 p.m. Steve Vogel, author of Betrayal in Berlin: The True Story of the Cold War's Most Audacious Espionage Operation (Custom House, $29.99, 9780062449627).

6:10 p.m. Kerri Greenidge, author of Black Radical: The Life and Times of William Monroe Trotter (Liveright, $35, 9781631495342).

7 p.m. Paul Richter, author of The Ambassadors: America's Diplomats on the Front Lines (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781501172410).

10 p.m. T.H. Breen, author of The Will of the People: The Revolutionary Birth of America (Belknap Press, $29.95, 9780674971790).

10:55 p.m. Charles Barber, author of Citizen Outlaw: One Man's Journey from Gangleader to Peacekeeper (Ecco, $27.99, 9780062692849).

Books & Authors

Awards: Center for Fiction; Edward Stanford Travel Writing

De'Shawn Charles Winslow has won the Center for Fiction's $10,000 2019 First Novel Prize for his debut book, In West Mills (Bloomsbury). The Center commented: "Spanning decades in a rural North Carolina town where a canal acts as the color line, In West Mills is a magnificent, big-hearted small-town story about family, friendship, storytelling, and the redemptive power of love."

The Center for Fiction also presented the 2019 Maxwell E. Perkins Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Field of Fiction to literary agent Lynn Nesbit, co-founder of Janklow & Nesbit Associates. The Center's inaugural On Screen Award, which honors "the groundbreaking creation of original series that mirror the complexity and vision of great novels," went to The Handmaid's Tale on Hulu, honoring author Margaret Atwood, Craig Erwich, Hulu senior v-p of originals; and Bruce Miller, creator and showrunner.


Shortlists in 10 categories have been announced in multiple categories for the 2020 Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards, which recognizes "the best travel writing in the world." The recipient of the Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year (in association with the Authors' Club) gets £2,500 (about $3,290), and all winners are presented with a hand-made globe featuring a design produced exclusively for the ESTWAs.

The prizes will be presented at an awards ceremony February 26 in London. The final award is the Edward Stanford Outstanding Contribution to Travel Writing. Previous winners were Colin Thubron, Bill Bryson, Michael Palin and Jan Morris. A complete list of finalists is available here.

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, December 17:

A Small Town: A Novel of Crime by Thomas Perry (Mysterious Press, $26, 9780802148063) follows the aftermath of a large prison break in a small town.

Bowls: Vibrant Recipes with Endless Possibilities by America's Test Kitchen (America's Test Kitchen, $27.99, 9781945256974) includes 75 bowl recipes with interchangeable bases and toppings.

LEGO Build Yourself Happy: The Joy of LEGO Play by Abbie Headon (DK, $16.99, 9781465491121) shows how adults can use LEGOs for relaxation and inspiration.

Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things by Jacqueline Firkins (HMH Books for Young Readers, $17.99, 9781328635198) is a YA debut featuring a young woman torn between two romantic interests.

Welcome, Baby! by Karen Katz (Little Simon, $6.99, 9781534430716) is a lift-the-flap board book about bringing a new baby home.

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:

Mary Toft; or, The Rabbit Queen: A Novel by Dexter Palmer (Pantheon, $27.95, 9781101871935). "This is the story of Mary Toft, a woman who gave birth to dead rabbits in 1726. She did this more than 10 times, confounding surgeons and townsfolk alike. Is this a hoax, a curse, a miracle, or something in between? Based on a true story--if you are not familiar with it, don't look it up until you finish the book--we follow surgeon John Howard and apprentice Zachary as they try to understand what is going on with their stunning patient. Extremely readable while still evoking the language and atmosphere of the time period, the book takes readers from the small village of Godalming, England, to London as John Howard and Zachary recruit the help of the top surgeons of the day. I highly enjoyed this disturbing novel. It is brutal, unexpected, and unputdownable." --Katrina Bright-Yerges, Books & Company, Oconomowoc, Wis.

The Innocents: A Novel by Michael Crummey (Doubleday, $26.95, 9780385545426). "Michael Crummey is a master chronicler of isolation, and The Innocents is a perfect example. Following an orphaned brother and sister trying to survive on the coast of Newfoundland, this is a spare and elemental novel about the power of family and the act of survival, even in the harshest circumstances." --Tyler Goodson, Avid Bookshop, Athens, Ga.

NVK: A Novel by Temple Drake (Other Press, $15.99, 9781590519356). "A weirdly wonderful tale of love, tragedy, lust, and, yes, a new breed of vampire: the auto-created immortal creature. Set in modern-day Shanghai, NVK tells the story of a young businessman who meets and falls hard for an aloof foreign beauty. Their torrid affair transforms into one of mystery as well as unasked and unanswered questions as Drake seductively draws the reader into a world of secrets and death. Here is a different telling of the lone vampire story that will appeal to readers who believe, perhaps, that the undead do walk amongst us, seeking love and connection, and not necessarily looking for their next meal." --Helen Gregory, Maria's Bookshop, Durango, Colo.

For Ages 4 to 8
Wild Honey from the Moon by Kenneth Kraegel (Candlewick, $17.99, 9780763681692). "What would a mother do for her child? In this poignant and adventurous tale, Mother Shrew goes beyond the ends of the earth--to the moon--to fetch some wild honey for her son, who is sick at home. With cozy illustrations and just enough suspense for little listeners, this story will enchant children and their parents alike." --Heather Hebert, Children's Book World, Haverford, Pa.

For Ages 9 to 12
Shine! by J.J. and Chris Grabenstein (Random House, $16.99, 9781524717667). "Growing up can be tough, especially when your superstar mom died when you were young and you have to figure out how to shine at the private school where your dad now teaches. You miss your old friends, especially when Ainsley seems to be turning everyone against you. Shine! by husband and wife J.J. and Chris Grabenstein is a charming novel about the highs and lows of growing up and what it takes to truly shine!" --Marilyn Robbins, BookBar, Denver, Colo.

For Teen Readers
Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw (Simon Pulse, $18.99, 9781534439412). "In this spine-tingling young adult novel, Nora Walker is the last in a long line of witches but has never found her magic. She lives a quiet life across the lake from a camp for wayward boys. With the arrival of each full moon (and only at the full moon), she ventures into the darkest, most dangerous part of the woods, where she finds lost things. This time, the lost thing she finds is a boy. Very atmospheric and full of surprises." --Lisa Wright, Oblong Books and Music, Millerton, N.Y.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: The Majesties

The Majesties by Tiffany Tsao (Atria, $26 hardcover, 272p., 9781982115500, January 21, 2020)

Since comparisons to Kevin Kwan's Crazy Rich Asians seem unavoidable, here's what might be familiar: yes, crazy, rich, Asian characters populate Tiffany Tsao's The Majesties. Differences, however, immediately overshadow superficial similarities, most obviously from the very first sentence: "When your sister murders three hundred people, you can't help but wonder why--especially if you were one of the intended victims." As the sole survivor of her sister's deadly machinations, Gwendolyn--called "Doll"--lies in a coma. She claims the position of omniscient narrator, revealing how she became trapped in her hospital bed. The determination to understand why Estella did what she did keeps Doll alive.

Doll and Estella are Sulinados, who are among Indonesia's über-wealthiest families. The patriarch--prone to outbursts--is turning 80, and the extended clan gathers to celebrate, only to die by poison-laced shark fin soup. Estella flawlessly executes this mass murder by including herself among her victims. Her final words are only for Doll: "Forgive me." The trespasses in The Majesties are many, although Estella is hardly the lone perpetrator: three generations of Sulinados have used their unfettered power to create alliances, multiply holdings, exert and sustain control.

From childhood into early adulthood, the sisters--so close that they needed only each other--consumed the privilege of wealth: amassing possessions, luxury travel, overseas educations. Not until both are Berkeley college students do they experience first adversity, when Estella's involvement with the man who becomes her husband almost sunders the sororal bond. While Estella's marriage ensnares her in a platinum cage, Doll becomes an international entrepreneurial superstar, and the exclusive accessories company she founds provides the illusion of independence. Only Estella's young widowhood returns the estranged duo to some semblance of recovered sisterhood.

When Estella is charged with creating the slideshow for the upcoming birthday fête, she makes an impossible discovery among the long-forgotten photographs. The sisters' youngest aunt, who drowned two decades ago, appears in a snapshot dated three years after her official death. Estella must know the truth and insists on Doll's confidence and companionship. The answers they discover--the breadth of disregard, the abuses of power, the lack of consequences--sets in motion the family's doom.

Originally published in 2018 as Under Our Wings in Australia, where Tsao resides, The Majesties is an urgent literary thriller that also affectingly, seamlessly acts as a social treatise exposing the moral and legal abuses of the ultra-elite. Born in San Diego and raised in Singapore and Indonesia, Tsao displays obvious comfort with the Indonesian language and evokes a convincing sense of place. (She is also the translator for Indonesian fiction writers Dee Lestari and Laksmi Pamuntjak, among others.) Vivid geographic and cultural details notwithstanding, Tsao's (The Oddfits) first non-fantasy novel proves to be an engrossing, eloquent story of fatal familial dysfunction. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

Shelf Talker: The mass murder of one of Indonesia's über-elite families is a mystery that can only be solved by the comatose sole survivor in Tiffany Tsao's absorbingly maleficent The Majesties.

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