Also published on this date: Wednesday, January 13, 2021: Kids' Maximum Shelf: The Rock from the Sky

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Simon & Schuster: Fall Cooking With Simon Element

Tor Nightfire: Devils Kill Devils by Johnny Compton

Shadow Mountain: Highcliffe House (Proper Romance Regency) by Megan Walker

Simon & Schuster: Register for the Simon & Schuster Fall Preview!

Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster: The Ministry of Time Kaliane Bradley

Quotation of the Day

'Indie Bookstores Mean the World to Me'

"I love indie bookstores! Some of my earliest memories are visiting indie bookstores with my mom and sitting on the floor with books I'd just found. We'd go hunting for old Star Trek books and I can remember the sheer joy we'd get from finding one we hadn't read before.

"I still make it a point to visit the indie bookstores in the area whenever I'm traveling. I've found that the biggest and most passionate story lovers operate those places and they give you a warmth and a coziness that you just can't find anywhere else. Indie bookstores mean the world to me."

--B.B. Alston, whose book Amari and the Night Brothers (Balzer + Bray) is the #1 Winter Kids' Indie Next List pick, in a q&a with Bookselling This Week


BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!


Three Stories Books Coming to Lemont, Ill., in March

The future home of Three Stories Books.

Children's bookstore Three Stories Books is coming to downtown Lemont, Ill., in March, reported. Store owner Sommer Steele plans to carry new books, ranging from board books to young adult titles, along with a selection of gifts.

Rather than have "rows and rows of bookshelves," Steele told Patch, she'll have a very curated collection, and her event plans include book clubs and storytime sessions. Steele is also the owner of Mabel's Market, another business in downtown Lemont, and she has been dreaming of opening a children's bookstore for years.

"We need a destination for families and kids," Steele remarked, adding that she hopes the store helps the other downtown businesses too.

The bookstore will reside in a space that formerly housed a State Farm insurance office. Steele was so thrilled with the space that after she first saw it, she "walked out almost in a panic." Her plan for the interior of the store is to give it a "modern, Scandinavian feel," with a color palette full of teals and oranges.

Prior to fully opening in March, Steele will host several pop-up previews of the bookstore at Mabel's Market.

Graphic Universe (Tm): Hotelitor: Luxury-Class Defense and Hospitality Unit by Josh Hicks

Powell's Faces Protests over Anti-Antifa Title

Powell's Books in Portland, Ore., has faced protests over the past few days over the availability on its website of an upcoming anti-Antifa book by right-wing commentator Andy Ngo, the Oregonian reported.

The book, Unmasked: Inside Antifa's Radical Plan to Destroy Democracy, will not be released until February 2, but is available for pre-order on In a statement responding to the protests, Powell's explained that the title was listed on the store's website automatically through a data feed from Hachette Book Group, and the store noted that while "a lot of our inventory is hand-selected, and hand-promoted," a lot of it is not, and Unmasked was one of the latter. And while Powell's said it will not put the book on its shelves or promote it, it will remain available in the store's online catalogue.

Powell's emphasized its commitment to free speech in the same statement, writing: "There are books in our stores and online inventory that contain ideas that run counter to our company’s and our employees’ values of safety, equality, and justice. However, many of us also read these books to inform ourselves about events; learn about local and global history; and to understand the arguments of people and groups with whom we disagree. While we understand that our decision to carry such books upsets some customers and staff members, we do not want to create an echo chamber of preapproved voices and ideas. It is not our mission or inclination to decide to whom our customers should listen."

The store's reading lists, blog posts and in-store displays, the statement continues, "highlight and promote our support for minority voices, racial justice and human rights." Powell's will use its platform to "amplify righteous causes," but also continue to carry a wide inventory in order to "disseminate ideas and foster dialogue."

Ngo is from Portland and was formerly an editor for the Vanguard, Portland State University's student newspaper. He was fired from that job in 2017 due to an ethics violation, and has since become a "right-wing agitator" and "vocal conservative commentator." His book is coming from Hachette's Center Street imprint. 

Dustin Brandon, one of the protestors who gathered at Powell's on Monday, told the Oregonian that Ngo "goes out of his way to dox the Black Lives Matter community which he considers 'antifa'," and puts lives at risk "through what he does online."

GLOW: Workman Publishing: Atlas Obscura: Wild Life: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Living Wonders by Cara Giaimo, Joshua Foer, and Atlas Obscura

The Bookstore Plus Owners Launch Blue Line Book Exchange

Sarah and Marc Galvin, owners of the Bookstore Plus in Lake Placid, N.Y., have launched Blue Line Book Exchange, which will distribute books and related products with an Adirondack focus to regional retailers. The Galvins said their new company fills the gap left by North Country Books, the publisher/distributor in Utica, N.Y., that will be closing at the end of January due in part to the Covid-19 pandemic. The closure threatened to leave small specialty publishers, authors and producers of Adirondack-themed books, maps and sideline products, without an efficient way to get their products into stores.

Marc and Sarah Galvin

"We knew first-hand the necessity of having a supplier of Adirondack materials for independent stores in the Adirondack Park, from museums to outdoor gear suppliers to general stores," said Sarah Galvin. "We knew this would be a great fit for us; the Bookstore Plus has been long-time customers of North Country Books."

Galvin also thanked Rob Igoe, owner of North Country Books, "for working with us to ensure a smooth transition so that we can be up and running in early 2021. We look forward to working with North Country's customers and suppliers."

The new company's mission statement reads: "At Blue Line Book Exchange, we distribute a wide range of quality Adirondack-themed books, maps, and sideline products to retail accounts, offering outstanding customer service and on-time delivery, while striving for a carbon neutral footprint in our operations."

Nick Gulli, long-time manager and buyer at the Mountaineer in Keene Valley, will be the manager of Blue Line Book Exchange, which will be located in Lake Placid. The first catalogue for retailers will be available in early February, offering a full line of Adirondack literature, including guidebooks, local history, art books, fiction and nonfiction, children's titles from board books through YA, maps, calendars, posters, note cards and more.

For more information, contact Blue Line Book Exchange at 518-637-5647 or

Harpervia: Only Big Bumbum Matters Tomorrow by Damilare Kuku

Obituary Note: Jean Valentine

Jean Valentine, "a former New York State Poet whose minimalist, dreamlike poetry was distinguished by crystalline imagery followed by an unexpected stab of emotion," died December 29, the New York Times reported. She was 86. Valentine, who published 14 poetry collections, received the 2004 National Book Award in poetry for Door in the Mountain: New and Collected Poems, 1965-2003 and was a finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Break the Glass. Seamus Heaney once described her work as "rapturous, risky, shy of words but desperately true to them."

At 30, Valentine "had never been published and was about to give up on poetry when she won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award in 1964," the Times noted, adding that the untitled manuscript she had submitted as her application was published a few months later as Dream Barker and Other Poems.

Valentine served as the New York State Poet from 2008 to 2010. She also collaborated with the Russian poet Ilya Kaminsky to interpret into English the work of Marina Tsvetaeva. In her 80s, Valentine was awarded Yale's prestigious Bollingen Prize for American Poetry. The judging committee wrote: "Jean Valentine is fearless when moving into charged territory. Without compromising substance or sacrificing a reckoning with painful reality, inequity and loss, there is solace and spirituality, and she radiates responsibility as a voice of clarity and compassion."

Michael Wiegers, her editor at Copper Canyon Press, said, "A Jean Valentine poem is often understated and quiet, yet is not impersonal. Entering her poems almost feels like a secret is being shared with you, a secret you've known all along yet which she is sharing as a reminder. A reminder that we are all here together with our collective senses. Her humility was in service to a desire for fairness and doing right, while her understated voice was an invitation to solidarity and companionship. Her poems remind us each that we belong."

From Valentine's poem "Sanctuary":

What happens when you die?

What do you dread, in this room, now?

Not listening. Now. Not watching. Safe inside my own skin.
To die, not having listened. Not having asked… To have scattered life.

Yes I know: the thread you have to keep finding, over again, to
follow it back to life; I know. Impossible, sometimes.


Pre-Spring Bookshop Cleaning: Village Booksmith

Village Booksmith, Baraboo, Wis., got a jump on spring cleaning yesterday, posting on Facebook: "Caroline braved cold store temperatures, heights, dead bugs and years of dust to make the Booksmith shine today! (The benefit of having a college kid home who is bored and likes to clean.)"

Chalkboard: Titcomb's Bookshop

Titcomb's Bookshop, East Sandwich, Mass., shared a photo of the shop's Mary Oliver-inspired chalkboard message, noting: "I decided to keep the hand that created this masterpiece in the shot. Thank you to our wonderfully artistic Matthew for honoring the great Mary Oliver with artwork that reflects her writing: simple, elegant, rugged, and beautiful."

Reading Group Choices' Most Popular December Books

The two most popular books in December at Reading Group Choices were The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab (Tor Books) and The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune (Tor Books).

Personnel Changes at St. Martin's Publishing Group

Erica Martirano has been promoted to director, marketing & multicultural initiatives at St. Martin's Publishing Group. She was formerly senior associate director of marketing. In addition to continuing to lead the title marketing efforts for major SMPG authors, including Kristin Hannah, Mary Kay Andrews, Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen, Lisa "Hungry Girl" Lillian, Heather Morris, and Dr. Ian Smith, Martirano will take a leading role in SMPG's multicultural marketing efforts, including B2B and B2C outreach.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Kerri Greenidge on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Kerri Greenidge, author of Black Radical: The Life and Times of William Monroe Trotter (Liveright, $19.95, 9781631498756).

TV: August Snow

ABC has landed August Snow, based on Stephen Mack Jones's August Snow novels, "in a competitive situation," Deadline reported. The drama series, which stars and is executive produced by Keegan-Michael Key, is written by Paul Eckstein, who is also exec producing with Brian Grazer and Samie Kim Falvey for Imagine TV Studios, Gaspin Media's Jeff Gaspin and Tony Sabistina as well as Key's producing partner Elle Key. Jones serves as a consulting producer.

Published in 2017, August Snow is the first book in a trilogy for which Jones won the Nero Award for excellence in mystery writing, as well as the Hammett Prize awarded by the International Association of Crime Writers for excellence in crime writing. Gaspin Media acquired the book, partnered with Keegan-Michael and Elle Key, and brought the project to Imagine.

Books & Authors

Awards: Pacific Northwest Book Winners; Story Prize Finalists

Winners have been unveiled for the 2021 Pacific Northwest Book Awards, sponsored by the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association. The winning titles were selected by a volunteer committee of independent booksellers from 400 nominated titles published in 2020. This year's winners are: 

  • Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas (Swoon Reads/Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan)
  • Lupe Wong Won't Dance by Donna Barba Higuera (Levine Querido)
  • The Magical Language of Others: A Memoir by E.J. Koh (Tin House Books)
  • Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Del Rey)
  • rough house by Tina Ontiveros (Oregon State University Press)
  • This Is My America  by Kim Johnson (Random House Books for Young Readers)


The finalists for the Story Prize, honoring the outstanding short story collection published in 2020, are:

  • Likes by Sarah Shun-lien Bynum (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans (Riverhead Books)
  • The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw (West Virginia University Press)

Instead of the usual reading and award event at the New School in New York City, the Story Prize will post a video online on March 10 consisting of short readings and interviews with each of the three finalists, the announcement of the winner and the acceptance of the award. The winning writer receives $20,000 and an engraved silver bowl. The two runners-up will each receive $5,000.

Reading with... Jamie Harrison

photo: Melanie Maganias Nashan

Jamie Harrison, who has lived in Montana with her family for more than 30 years, has worked as a caterer, a gardener and an editor. She is the author of the Jules Clement mystery series and The Widow Nash, a finalist for the High Plains Book Award and the winner of the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association Reading the West Book Award. The Center of Everything (Counterpoint, January 12, 2020) is her sixth novel.

On your nightstand now:

Providing a photo of the tower. I'm way behind, decades behind, so I try to follow a new release with something older that I missed, and sometimes a reread. I just finished the beautiful and brutal The Atlas of Reds and Blues by Devi S. Laskar and started The Transit of Venus by Shirley Hazzard. I'm reading Meander, Spiral, Explode by Jane Alison in between, to try to remember how to write a book.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Childhood feels pretty endless, but let me pick grade school--maybe The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis or Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh. The hidden valley in Walter Farley's The Black Stallion, the hidden garden in Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden--I seemed to have a thing for disappearing into my own hidden kingdom, and what else is reading? When I was trying to spend time in my eight-year-old brain while writing The Center of Everything, I realized some illustrations stuck with me far longer than the words. The way a book made you feel, rather than the language or the plot.

Your top five authors:

Sticking to people who are living, and most recently on my mind: Peter Carey, Hilary Mantel, George Saunders, Lauren Groff, Shirley Hazzard. I want to name another 20, at least.

Book you've faked reading:

I lied about reading A Man Without Qualities by Robert Musil to impress a man (possibly without qualities) when I was in my 20s. It's still on the shelf, goading me. Mostly I try to keep my mouth shut.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Most recently, Francis Spufford's vivid and oddly sweet Golden Hill, and Tom McGuane's short story collection Cloudburst. Always: Michael Ondaatje's The Collected Works of Billy the Kid and Louise Erdrich's The Last Report on the Miracles of Little No Horse. She slides one of the best love affairs in literature into about three pages.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Two I would have bought eventually anyway, but beauty made them irresistible: Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton and Gould's Book of Fish by Richard Flanagan.

Book you hid from your parents:

It wasn't that kind of house--they probably should have hidden the racier stuff from me. I was ridiculed during an early teen binge on Daphne du Maurier, Mary Stewart, Mary Renault, Ian Fleming.

Book that changed your life:

Impossible to track, but maybe Songlines by Bruce Chatwin. It somehow made the world temporarily fall into place when I was in college, back when I hoped to possess every country.

Favorite line from a book:

I used a line about another great love affair from Richard Flanagan's Narrow Road to the Deep North as an epigraph in The Center of Everything: "This beautiful sound. Like you're thrown a plum and an orchard comes back at you."

But in these troubled times, and given that I'm working on a mystery, instead of the dozen poems I'd love to cite I'll go with glorious silliness:

"Unseen in the background, Fate was quietly slipping lead into the boxing-glove." From Very Good, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse.

Five books you'll never part with:

I'm an idiot--I loan books out. The ones I've replaced most often are an odd collection: Toni Morrison's Beloved, Peter Matthiessen's At Play in the Fields of the Lord, Kate Atkinson's Case Histories, Lily King's Euphoria, Denis Johnson's Train Dreams. But I'll never loan my father's battered paperback copies of Lorca, Rilke, Whitman.

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

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez, for the sense that my heart could actually blow up.

Book Review

Review: Zonia's Rain Forest

Zonia's Rain Forest by Juana Martinez-Neal (Candlewick, $17.99 hardcover, 40p., ages 4-8, 9781536208450, March 30, 2021)

What is kid catnip if not a picture book full of adorable animals? In Juana Martinez-Neal's Zonia's Rain Forest, super-cute critters are out in full force, ready to woo lap sitters. But the book also offers something for their older siblings, who have outgrown Old MacDonald's farm and are ready to do some sightseeing beyond the familiar comforts of the First World.

Young Zonia lives in the rain forest among "those she loves"--namely, her mother, her baby brother and a bevy of creatures she greets at the start of each new day. "Good morning!" she says "one, two, three, four times"--that is, once for each of four shaggy, moonfaced Hoffman's two-toed sloths. "Welcome! I live next door," she says to some red-feathered, bitty-eyed Andean cocks-of-the-rock. "You are my favorite," she whispers to the most darling of a half dozen South American coatis, all charmers with mouselike snouts and the tails of raccoons. On it goes. For Zonia, the daily ritual is more than a series of salutations: "Every morning, the rain forest calls to Zonia./ Every morning, Zonia answers."

After she has finished making the rounds one day, Zonia encounters something she hasn't before: her friend the blue morpho butterfly is sitting on the trunk of one of several freshly cut trees. Zonia runs home and alerts her mother: "The forest needs help!" When her mother reminds her that the forest "is speaking to you," Zonia vows to answer it, "as I always do." "We all must answer" is the only text on a concluding two-page spread that shows Zonia standing with a protective hand on a tree, proudly defiant in traditional dress and face paint.

Zonia's Rain Forest's generous and valuable back matter includes, among other things, insight into the significance of Zonia's face paint, information about her background (she's Asháninka, the Peruvian Amazon's largest Indigenous group), and a pictorial glossary of her rain forest friends. Caldecott Honor recipient (Alma and How She Got Her Name) and Sibert Medal winner (Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story) Martinez-Neal created Zonia's art on handmade banana bark paper, which has a mottled-looking bamboo-colored surface against which dabs and swaths of well-chosen color blaze. (The art also includes a naturalistic image that's rare in picture books revolving around families with very young children: a mother nursing her baby.) Readers too young to appreciate the book as a call to environmental action will find sport in spotting the blue morpho butterfly that Martinez-Neal has introduced in each spread, nearly every illustration a tropical enchantment. --Nell Beram, freelance writer and YA author

Shelf Talker: A girl who lives in the rain forest begins each day by greeting her animal friends in this exuberant picture book crowned with an environmental message.

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