Shelf Awareness for Monday, March 29, 2021

Simon & Schuster: The Lightning Bottles by Marissa Stapley

Minotaur Books: The Dark Wives: A Vera Stanhope Novel (Vera Stanhope #11) by Ann Cleeves

Soho Crime: Exposure (A Rita Todacheene Novel) by Ramona Emerson

Wednesday Books: When Haru Was Here by Dustin Thao

Tommy Nelson: Up Toward the Light by Granger Smith, Illustrated by Laura Watkins

Tor Nightfire: Devils Kill Devils by Johnny Compton


Virginia Highland Books Coming to Atlanta, Ga.

Virginia Highland Books, a general-interest independent bookstore, will open later this spring in Atlanta, Ga., What Now Atlanta reported.

Owner Sandy Huff said she'll carry fiction and nonfiction, along with cookbooks, travel books and hiking books. Her plans for nonbook items include used and new vinyl records and art by local artists. Her event plans include storytime sessions for children, author readings and book club meetings. The store's opening is tentatively scheduled for late May or early June.

Huff told What Now Atlanta that she'd been shopping at a Paper Source store in Virginia Highlands when she noticed that a nearby storefront would soon be available. The space seemed like the perfect home for a new bookstore. Huff explained: "So many people walk in the neighborhood and it felt like the right place for the community to gather, discover new books, and everyone can share their favorite reads.”

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Indie Bookstore Day Author Ambassador: Glennon Doyle

Glennan Doyle

Glennon Doyle will be the 2021 Author Ambassador for Independent Bookstore Day, which will be take place Saturday, April 24. Doyle is the author of Untamed, a Reese's Book Club selection that has sold more than two million copies; Love Warrior, an Oprah's Book Club selection; and Carry On, Warrior; and is a champion of independent bookstores, Bookselling This Week noted.

"I have been to one million independent bookstores. I have met the booksellers who founded them and own them. I have fallen in love with them," she said. "Zero jerks own independent bookstores. They just don't. They are--always--people who believe in and deeply invest in communities and art and ideas. And during this pandemic, in which we have lost one local indie per week, we need to prioritize investing in these local businesses who invest so much in us."

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

Obituary Note: Larry McMurtry

Larry McMurtry

Larry McMurtry, the prolific novelist and screenwriter--and legendary bookseller--"who demythologized the American West with his unromantic depictions of life on the 19th-century frontier and in contemporary small-town Texas," died March 25, the New York Times reported. He was 84. McMurtry wrote more than 30 novels and several books of essays, memoir and history. His work also includes over 30 screenplays, including the Oscar-winning Brokeback Mountain (with Diana Ossana, his friend and writing partner).

His greatest commercial and critical success was Lonesome Dove, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1986 and was made into a popular TV mini-series. The Times noted that from the beginning of his career, McMurtry's books "were attractive to filmmakers," including Horseman, Pass By (Hud, directed by Martin Ritt and starring Paul Newman), The Last Picture Show (starring Jeff Bridges and Cybill Shepherd, directed by Peter Bogdanovich) and Terms of Endearment (directed by James L. Brooks and starring Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger and Jack Nicholson), which won the best picture Oscar in 1983.

In a handwritten note, Lonesome Dove star Robert Duvall told the Associated Press that McMurtry "was one of our most gifted of writers and one to be truly missed and revered.... Being in the TV series Lonesome Dove was the highlight of my life and for this I owe him great amounts of gratitude. His works reached out and blessed so many!"

James L. Brooks tweeted: "Sitting here thinking of the greatness of Larry McMurtry. Among the best writers ever. I remember when he sent me on my way to adapt Terms--his refusal to let me hold him in awe. And the fact that he was personally working the cash register of his rare bookstore as he did so."

Booked Up in Archer City. Tex.

For 50 years, McMurtry was also a serious antiquarian bookseller. While living in the Washington, D.C., area, he opened Booked Up in 1971 with a partner, and in 1988 launched a much larger bookstore in Archer City, Tex., which he owned and operated until his death. Booked Up "is one of America's largest," the Times wrote. "It once occupied six buildings and contained some 400,000 volumes. In 2012 Mr. McMurtry auctioned off two-thirds of those books and planned to consolidate. About leaving the business to his heirs, he said: 'One store is manageable. Four stores would be a burden.' " His private library held about 30,000 books, spread over three houses. He called compiling it a life's work, "an achievement equal to if not better than my writings themselves."

From 1989 to 1991, McMurtry served as president of PEN America. The AP noted that the group's current president, Ayad Akhtar, said McMurtry was "through and through a vigorous defender of the freedom to write." In 2014, President Obama presented him with a National Humanities Medal for work that "evokes the character and drama of the American West with stories that examine quintessentially American lives."

McMurtry's other books include the novels Cadillac Jack, Somebody's Darling, The Desert Rose, The Last Kind Words Saloon, Streets of Laredo and Buffalo Girls; as well as nonfiction works Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen, Books: A Memoir, Literary Life: A Second Memoir and Hollywood: A Third Memoir.

On Twitter, many writers paid tribute, including Stephen King ("Larry McMurtry was a great storyteller. I learned from him, which was important. I was entertained by him, which was ALL important. RIP, cowboy. Horseman, pass by."), Don Winslow ("No tweet can express or explain how much I loved Larry McMurtry's writing. I'm really crushed by his passing. Rest in Power Larry McMurtry. Legend.") and Michael Chabon ("Goodbye to the great #LarryMcMurtry, my mother's favorite novelist, the only writer I ever saw her get at all fan-girly about, to the point of making a pilgrimage w/ a gf to Booked Up, his Georgetown shop, sometime in the late 1970s, just to get a glimpse of him.").

The Los Angeles Times reported that Michael Korda, McMurtry's editor at Simon & Schuster, had once described the novelist as "the Flaubert of the Plains" for his "sure eye for the bleak landscape of small-town Texas and the isolated ranches of the Panhandle, as well as the history of the West."

"He cast a big shadow across the landscape," said journalist and Texan Lawrence Wright. "There are very few other writers in Texas history that had the popular appeal that he did.... He was always writing about America, but it was set in the Texas part of America."

McMurtry's obituary in the L.A. Times concluded: "His words were an expression of a lifetime devoted to the printed page and a nearly religious belief that reading is essential to humanity."

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Obituary Note: Beverly Cleary

Beverly Cleary

Beverly Cleary, creator of Henry Huggins and his dog Ribsy, bratty Ramona Quimby and her older sister Beezus, and Ralph S. Mouse--whose books sold more than 85 million copies--died on March 25 at age 104. The New York Times wrote that "Cleary, a librarian by trade, introduced a contemporary note into children's literature. In a humorous, lively style, she made compelling drama out of the everyday problems, small injustices and perplexing mysteries--adults chief among them--that define middle-class American childhood.... Always sympathetic, never condescending, she presented her readers with characters they knew and understood, the 20th-century equivalents of Huck Finn or Louisa May Alcott's little women, and every bit as popular."

In an article in the Horn Book, Cleary recalled as a child being disappointed by children's books, which seemed to feature "aristocratic English children who had nannies and pony carts, or poor children whose problems disappeared when a long-lost rich relative turned up in the last chapter." Thus, she said, "I wanted to read funny stories about the sort of children I knew, and I decided that someday when I grew up, I would write them."

After graduating from UC Berkeley and the University of Washington with bachelor's degrees in English and librarianship, respectively, Cleary became a librarian and worked at Sather Gate Book Shop in Berkeley and continued to be disappointed by books for children.

In her acceptance speech upon winning the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal from the American Library Association in 1975, she remembered this problem again: "Why didn't authors write books about everyday problems that children could solve by themselves? Why weren't there more stories about children playing? Why couldn't I find more books that would make me laugh? These were the books I wanted to read, and the books I was eventually to write."

"She began telling her own stories, along with fairy tales and folk tales, at schools and libraries," the Times wrote, which led to her first book, Henry Huggins, published in 1950. The popularity of the book led to sequels--including Henry and Beezus, Henry and Ribsy, Henry and the Paper Route, Henry and the Clubhouse and Ribsy--as well as spinoffs focusing on some of Henry Huggins's friends, including Ellen Tebbits and Otis Spofford.

From this group, Ramona Quimby "emerged as a superstar," the Times wrote. After Beezus and Ramona, she starred in Ramona the Pest, Ramona the Brave, Ramona and Her Father, Ramona and Her Mother, Ramona Quimby, Age 8, Ramona Forever and Ramona's World.

Ralph S. Mouse starred in The Mouse and the Motorcycle, Runaway Ralph and Ralph S. Mouse.

Staff at Abednego Book Shoppe in Ventura, Calif., posed with some of Cleary's books.

Cleary also wrote a series of YA novels dealing with the problems of adolescent girls, including Fifteen, The Luckiest Girl and Sister of the Bride.

Her memoirs included A Girl from Yamhill and My Own Two Feet.

Cleary won so many awards it's impossible to list them all here. Besides the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, she was the recipient of a National Medal of Art from the National Endowment for the Arts; winner of the Los Angeles Times Robert Kirsch Award; was named a "Living Legend" by the Library of Congress; and won several Newbery medals and honors.

In 2016, to celebrate her 100th birthday, three of her books were reissued with forewords by Judy Blume, Amy Poehler and Kate DiCamillo. And in 2017, her first series--the Henry Huggins books--was reissued with original art from the late Louis Darling. These six titles included forewords by award-winning authors and artists Tony DiTerlizzi, Marla Frazee, Tom Angleberger, Jeff Kinney, Jarrett J. Krosoczka, and Cece Bell.

Suzanne Murphy, president and publisher of HarperCollins Children's Books, her longtime publisher, said, "We are saddened by the passing of Beverly Cleary, one of the most beloved children's authors of all time. Looking back, she'd often say, 'I've had a lucky life,' and generations of children count themselves lucky too--lucky to have the very real characters Beverly Cleary created, including Henry Huggins, Ramona and Beezus Quimby, and Ralph S. Mouse, as true friends who helped shape their growing-up years. We at HarperCollins also feel extremely lucky to have worked with Beverly Cleary and to have enjoyed her sparkling wit. Her timeless books are an affirmation of her everlasting connection to the pleasures, challenges, and triumphs that are part of every childhood."

And the New York Public Library said it is "deeply saddened to hear of the loss of Beverly Cleary, whose award-winning, brilliant books consistently fly off our shelves and have delighted generations of readers. She believed reading should be fun, and she made that happen with beloved characters and stories that made us laugh, taught us important lessons, and shaped our childhoods. Those imaginative and accessible stories sparked a lifelong love of reading in so many children, a noble legacy that certainly won't end today. We know that her books will stand the test of time, and be checked out of our libraries for decades and centuries to come. Rest in peace, Ms. Cleary, and thank you."

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
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Becoming Little Shell:
Returning Home to the Landless
Indians of Montana
by Chris La Tray
GLOW: Milkweed Editions: Becoming Little Shell: Returning Home to the Landless Indians of Montana by Chris La Tray

Growing up in the 1970s, Montana Poet Laureate Chris La Tray was dimly aware of his paternal Chippewa ancestry--but his father had always rejected Indigenous identity. A series of funerals prompted him to delve into his family's history and, ultimately, to enroll in the Little Shell Tribe and join its successful campaign for federal recognition. Alternating past and present, La Tray weaves his personal experience with the wider history of Métis peoples. His book is also a love letter to Indigenous literature and Montana's natural landscapes. Daniel Slager, publisher and CEO at Milkweed Editions, noting the "beautiful flowering of writing" from Indigenous communities, was delighted to publish this "singular" work that "braids Chris's story with the history of his people, all in his inimitable voice, which is both fierce and tender." --Rebecca Foster

(Milkweed Editions, $28 hardcover, 9781571313980, 
August 20, 2024)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported


Lunar & Lake Book Market Named Best New Business

Congratulations to Margaux Mich, owner of Lunar & Lake Book Market, Fond du Lac, Wis., which was named Best New Business at the Downtown Fond du Lac Partnership's annual awards presentation for new, old and refreshed businesses in the Main Street area.

Instead of an in-person annual meeting this year, the organization published each award announcement and interview with the recipients on its YouTube page. The Fond du Lac Reporter wrote that Lunar & Lake Book Market earned the "public-nominated award whose recipients contribute to the community, conduct their business successfully and innovatively and have overcome challenges. Owner Margaux Mich went from selling elastic bookmarks online to opening a pop-up bookstore to opening a brick-and-mortar bookstore, which opened last fall. The store includes books of many genres, bookish items and local gifts, with two rooms within the store dedicated to young readers."

Christina Loff Founds Digital Marketing and Publicity Agency

Christina Loff is leaving her position at Chronicle Books as senior marketing and publicity director to launch her digital marketing and publicity agency, where she will work with creative companies, artists, authors and publishers. For more information, click here.

Aaron Jackson Joins Bookworks Bookstore

Aaron Jackson has become manager of Bookworks in Albuquerque, N.Mex. For 10 years, Jackson was director of visual merchandising for Strand Bookstore in New York City.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Scott Weidensaul on Fresh Air

Good Morning America: Amanda Gorman, author of The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem for the Country (Viking, $15.99, 9780593465271).

Fresh Air: Scott Weidensaul, author of A World on the Wing: The Global Odyssey of Migratory Birds (Norton, $32, 9780393608908).

Drew Barrymore Show: Giada De Laurentiis, author of Eat Better, Feel Better: My Recipes for Wellness and Healing, Inside and Out (Rodale, $32.50, 9780593138434).

Good Morning America: Andrew Morton, author of Elizabeth & Margaret: The Intimate World of the Windsor Sisters (Grand Central, $28, 9781538700464).

Drew Barrymore Show: Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Julie Tanous, authors of Food Between Friends: A Cookbook (Clarkson Potter, $32, 9780593136539).

Kelly Clarkson Show: Rachel Hollis, author of Didn't See That Coming: Putting Life Back Together When Your World Falls Apart (Dey Street, $20, 9780063010529).

The View: Jonathan Karl, author of Front Row at the Trump Show (Dutton, $18, 9781524745639).

A Little Late with Lilly Singh repeat: Priyanka Chopra Jonas, author of Unfinished: A Memoir (Ballantine, $28, 9781984819215).

George R.R. Martin Inks 'Massive Overall Deal' with HBO

George R.R. Martin

George R.R. Martin "is founding a new content kingdom at HBO" after a signing a "massive overall deal to develop more programming for the network and its streaming service, HBO Max," according to the Hollywood Reporter, which cited sources who said the contract "spans five years and is worth mid-eight figures."

HBO currently has five projects based on Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy world in the development stage and one (House of the Dragon) that's been greenlit to series. He is also developing for HBO the series Who Fears Death (an adaptation of Nnedi Okorafor's 2011 postapocalyptic novel) and Roadmarks (adapted from Roger Zelazny's 1979 fantasy novel), both of which he will executive produce.

Noting that Martin "first struck a deal to license his A Song of Ice and Fire novels to HBO in 2007," THR wrote that that deal led to Game of Thrones, the network's "biggest and most award-winning series of all time." He also has several projects in the works beyond HBO. 

Books & Authors

Awards: Dublin Literary, Ben Franklin, Sheik Zayed Book Finalists

A shortlist has been released for the €100,000 (about $117,965) Dublin Literary Award, sponsored by Dublin City Council to honor a single work of fiction published in English. The shortlist features novels from Ireland, Mexico, the U.K. and the U.S., nominated by librarians worldwide. The winner will be named May 20, as part of the opening day program of International Literature Festival Dublin. This year's shortlisted titles are: 

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo 
Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli 
Apeirogon by Colum McCann 
Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor, translated from the Spanish by Sophie Hughes
On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong 
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead 


Finalists in 55 categories of the 33rd annual Benjamin Franklin Awards, sponsored by the Independent Book Publishers Association, have been announced. Winners will be named during a set of four online ceremonies the evenings of May 11-14. To see the finalists, click here.


The shortlists in nine categories for the 2021 Sheik Zayed Book Awards have been announced and can be seen here. The winners will be announced in April and a ceremony will be held on May 23.

Book Review

Review: The Night Library of Sternendach: A Vampire Opera in Verse

The Night Library of Sternendach: A Vampire Opera in Verse by Jessica Lévai (Lanternfish Press, $16 paperback, 152p., 9781941360514, April 13, 2021)

Billed as a "vampire opera in verse," Jessica Lévai's debut novella is a deliciously swoony melodrama of star-crossed lovers told in five acts of Onegin sonnets.

In 1960s Germany, 19-year-old Kunigunde Heller yearns after books, magic and the Graf, a 400-year-old vampire lord with "a graceful, noble bearing." However, "the Heller clan, for generations/ Had hunted such abominations," and Kunigunde will one day succeed her grandmother Luzia as family head. Despite a fragile treaty in which the vampires swore not to kill humans if the vampire hunters would not hunt vampires, a relationship between the maiden and the monster is unthinkable. Nevertheless, with Luzia out of town, Kunigunde uses a request to visit the Graf's library as a pretext to see him, and maiden and monster strike up a passionate romance.

The specter of Luzia's return hangs over their assignations, and matters become more complicated when Amata, the Graf's vampiric bride of convenience, becomes fearful of losing her status to Kunigunde. Meanwhile Galen, Amata's human lover and the Graf's longtime retainer, finds in Kunigunde a symbol of the mortal world he has nearly left behind. As Kunigunde slowly learns that her family's history and their conflict with the vampires is not as black-and-white as Luzia led her to believe, events outside her control put her on a collision course with destiny.

As dramatic and pathos-inducing as any plot Puccini or Verdi could have conjured, The Night Library of Sternendach has its own brand of enchantment. Its distinctive format raises the beauty-and-the-beast trope to deliriously romantic new heights. Despite the Hellers' family business, readers should expect the vibe to echo Romeo and Juliet more than Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Lévai mentions training, but all vampire hunting takes place offstage, and the narrative focuses primarily on relationships and emotional awakenings.

Lévai's verse sweeps the story along as rhythmically as a Viennese waltz. Occasional sly or self-aware asides contrast with the romantic angst and add to the impression of an authorial voice in total control and having a wonderful time. The charm of this juxtaposition proves difficult to resist; Lévai has the storyteller's knack of inviting readers to sink into her carefully crafted tale. Paranormal romance fans longing for new blood will thrill to see fresh life breathed into the vampire/mortal pairing subgenre in such imaginative packaging. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Shelf Talker: This audacious, romantic "vampire opera in verse" tells the star-crossed love story of a vampire and a vampire hunter entirely in Onegin sonnets.

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