Also published on this date: Wednesday, March 31, 2021: Maximum Shelf: The Woman with the Blue Star

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Flatiron Books: The Courting of Bristol Keats: [Limited Stenciled Edge Edition] by Mary E Pearson

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

Doubleday Books: Death at the Sign of the Rook: A Jackson Brodie Book by Kate Atkinson

Groundwood Books: Who We Are in Real Life by Victoria Koops

Agate Bolden: 54 Miles by Leonard Pitts Jr.


Binc Launches Survive to Thrive Grant Program

The Book Industry Charitable Foundation has announced Survive to Thrive, a grant program designed to help independent bookstores and comic book shops stabilize and recover during the waning months of the pandemic.

The grant program is being supported by initial gifts of $500,000 from Ingram Charities and Ingram Content Group, $250,000 from, and an additional $250,000 in donations from Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan and Penguin Random House.

Binc executive director Pamela French said the organization hopes to raise an additional $1 million by the end of May, and $2 million would allow Binc to provide 200 stores with grants of up to $10,000. Donations to the Survive to Thrive program are open and can be made here.

The grants will be awarded through a juried review process, with the jury comprised of industry leaders "who love book and comic shops and have the knowledge and expertise to review the grant applications." Applications for the program will open in mid-April, with the grants distributed in early June.

"We can't thank John Ingram enough for his visionary gift in support of independent bookstores and comic shops and for his hands-on advocacy in reaching out to other industry leaders," French said. "We are also grateful to the five additional companies that joined Ingram to kick-off the Survive to Thrive grant program."

"As we all turn our attention toward getting to the other side of the pandemic, I want to be sure local bookstores--gems of their communities--have a chance to not only survive, but thrive," said John Ingram, chairman of Ingram Industries and Ingram Content Group. "Bookstores are the lifeblood of local communities--their success is our success."

Andy Hunter, founder and CEO of, said, "Bookstores should not be worried about staying in business if they have one bad season, an unforeseen major expense, or even a global pandemic."

Hachette Book Group CEO Michael Pietsch said, "Hachette is a longtime supporter of Binc and the independent booksellers who are so essential to books, authors, and reading, and we're proud to be part of Binc's Survive to Thrive initiative in this urgent moment."

Josh Marwell, president of sales at HarperCollins, said, "One of the lessons of the pandemic will be the role that books and authors played in helping the public get through very difficult times and the aid and comfort local bookstores provided to their communities in bringing authors and readers together. There are thousands of examples of how the nation's independent booksellers quickly rallied, developed new ways of doing business and were beacons of hope for better times. Now is a critical time for independent booksellers and we are so proud to support Binc's Survive to Thrive Initiative which will play a crucial role in helping Independents to retain a solid footing in their communities, as well as extending and refining the many innovative ways of bookselling that have arisen out of necessity during the last year."

Don Weisberg, CEO, Macmillan Publishers, said, "The independent bookstores of America are critical to our bookselling environment, and now more than ever we all need to rely on each other."

Jaci Updike, president of sales, Penguin Random House U.S., said, "In this time when the availability of wide-ranging information and ideas is more necessary than ever to the future of society, Binc's support of our authors and their books, by their heroic sustaining of a healthy small-business bookselling ecosystem, is cheering and inspiring."

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Miranda Writes Books and Bar Coming to the Bronx

Miranda Writes Books and Bar, a general-interest bookstore and bar, hopes to open in the Bronx, N.Y., later this year, the Quadrangle reported.

Owner Kirstie Reynoso-Miranda is searching for a space in Riverdale, which has not had a bookstore for 13 years. In the meantime, she is selling books through the store's Bookshop page and online store. She also has plans for virtual events and pop-up shops later in the spring and summer.

Since her first job, in a library, Reynoso-Miranda, who is a Bronx native, has had the dream of owning a bookstore. Eventually she decided to take the plunge, with the pandemic emphasizing that "you never know what is going to happen, so you're always planning for later but might regret not doing something sooner."

The bricks-and-mortar store will stock some 12,000 titles across a range of genres. Reynoso-Miranda plans to host a variety of community events, including wine tastings, résumé-writing workshops and storytime sessions for children. She hopes the bookstore and bar will be a popular destination for students from nearby colleges.

International Update: Canadian Book Market 2020, Brisbane in Covid Lockdown

BookNet Canada has released The Canadian Book Market 2020, featuring data from the company's quarterly Canadian Book Consumer survey; French Canadian trade book market sales data from BookNet's sister organization the Société de gestion de la Banque de titres de langue française; and English Canadian trade book market sales data by subject from BNC SalesData. Among the highlights:

Despite the pandemic and its impact in 2020, BookNet Canda tracked sales for 843,785 unique ISBNs: a total of 53,052,463 physical books sold, at a value of CA$1.1 billion (about US$877 million).

Combined sales for juvenile and YA subjects accounted for the majority of the market share, at 41.2%, followed by nonfiction (33.2%) and fiction (24.1%). In the French-Canadian market, juvenile and YA also had the biggest portion of sales in 2020, accounting for 40% of the trade market. The Canadian Book Market 2020 can be purchased here.


In Australia, Brisbane is currently under a temporary lockdown due to an outbreak of the virulent U.K. Covid-19 strain. The restrictions, which began Monday, could extend through Easter weekend and beyond. Among the local booksellers checking in with their customers on social media:

The Mad Hatters Bookshop: "Looks like we're going into lockdown again. We will be open until 4:30 p.m. today and closed until Saturday, when we will wait on any updates to determine whether we can safely continue with our school holiday events. If you're coming out to the village today, please don't forget to shop locally. A lockdown at the end of the month (bills time!) is hard on any business.... Stay safe out there and look out for each other--from our mad home to yours."

Riverbend Books: "Drive-Through is back! Call us to collect some lockdown reading."

Avid Reader Bookshop: "We have puzzles, games, books and activities to get you through the 3 day lockdown! Come and collect them before 5pm today OR place online orders before 3 p.m.... Stay safe everyone."

Iwan Bookshop: "Breaking: Greater Brisbane ordered a three-day lockdown from 5pm today (Monday 29th of March). Iwan Bookshop is open during the lockdown only for takeaway coffee and our limited edition stylish 3-layered fabric masks. Don't hesitate to come by to grab a coffee and your unique facemask."

Dymocks Brisbane: "Hi booklovers! Due to the greater Brisbane lockdown, we'll be closed for the next few days. We'll let you know here as soon as we're back open! Stay safe!"

Bent Books: "3 day lockdown redux. good luck brissy!"


Jaromir Vytopil

"A year after the Czech Republic recorded its first death from the coronavirus, the central European nation paused to remember all the citizens who lost their lives in the pandemic," the Associated Press reported, noting that bookseller Jaromir Vytopil, who died November 9 at age 83, "was one of them. Without him, the town of Pelhrimov won't be the same."

As the country's longest-serving bookseller, Vytopil "had served the town's readers for almost six decades.... Books and customers literally were his life: He got into the trade at age 15, studied at a special school for booksellers and worked in six different towns before settling in Pelhrimov in 1963," the AP wrote, adding that as news of Vytopil's death spread, people placed flowers and lit candles in front of the bookstore, as an impromptu memorial.

"What was shining from him was an appetite for life and an effort to give people what he knew well, and that was the books," Marie Vytopilova, his widow, recalled. "He used to read a lot, really a lot, and over the course of the years, you accumulate knowledge.... He did exactly what he liked and did it right, no matter what it was. When we started, I remember his enthusiasm for the business. It was him who was carrying the weight of it."

The family announced in January they were putting the bookstore up for sale because they realized they didn't want to run it "without our dad, husband and its soul" anymore. --Robert Gray

How Bookstores Are Coping: 'Play-It-By-Ear Mode'; Tight-Knit Staff

In Oakland, Calif., East Bay Booksellers is still open for browsing, with no more than six customers allowed in at a time, store owner Brad Johnson reported. The team continues to offer front-door pick-up and shipping in addition to browsing, and Johnson said that once everyone is fully vaccinated they'll revisit the store's hours and occupancy limit, though any changes will be gradual and incremental. 

Reflecting on 2020, Johnson said that East Bay Booksellers weathered things "far better than I ever would have imagined." The team's early push for gift card purchases proved to be a "tremendous success" and has carried through to the beginning months of 2021. Many people, he added, seem to have approached the gift cards as a form of donation, and have not been in a rush to use them. While that makes things "slightly tricky" for the store's bookkeeper, it is ultimately "well worth it."

Book sales were "shockingly strong," and the store was able to do more direct ordering than Johnson would have anticipated. The store never switched its operations to direct-to-home fulfillment and was able to keep the cost of goods at a "more than reasonable level." All told, while 2020 was "physically and emotionally exhausting," the store's finances did not suffer as badly as Johnson had feared.

The store made a variety of changes throughout the pandemic that Johnson expects to provide long-term benefits. The store will continue to enhance the efficiency of its online fulfillment operations, and all staff members have been converted to full-time positions. The expanded use of e-mail correspondence during the pandemic, as well as the addition of virtual catalogues to the store's website, have helped East Bay Booksellers emphasize the personality and taste of every team member. Recently, Johnson added, the store introduced a feature where customers can ask a bookseller to "Surprise Me!" with a book while ordering.

Looking ahead in 2021, Johnson said everything is still in "play-it-by-ear mode." In terms of sales, he expects things to be on par with 2019, and certainly above 2020, with the biggest exception being stationery sales. Those, he explained, are almost exclusively in-store purchases, and he doubts stationery will recover until the second half of the year. 

Once in-store operations expand, East Bay Booksellers will have a great opportunity to reintroduce itself to its customers, Johnson said. By the start of the fourth quarter he thinks that capacity will be back to normal, but the store has not booked or even pursued any in-store events yet for this year.


McLean & Eakin Booksellers in Petoskey, Mich., continues to operate by appointment only, co-owner Jessilynn Norcross reported, though the frequency of appointments has increased. Phone and web orders continue to come in at a high rate, and the store has hired new staff members to help with that.

Norcross noted that there is a "huge fluctuation" in terms of those online orders. For whatever reason, Mondays are always the busiest days for web orders, which guarantees a bit of a frantic start to the week. Appointments, meanwhile, increase throughout the week, with Fridays generally being busiest.

Over the holidays the store created a front-door vestibule that serves as both a place for customers to wait prior to the start of their appointments and a pick-up location for orders. The vestibule was handmade from a tent, and features photos of some of the team's favorite authors along with QR codes, allowing customers to do some browsing without even entering the store. The vestibule has worked very well for book pick-up, Norcross added.

Once everyone at the store is vaccinated, which Norcross said she thinks will be by the end of May, they'll work toward opening for browsing in the summer. Norcross has no date in mind, as it depends on when everyone manages to get vaccinated and when all the new staff are ready, but safety will continue to be the main factor.

Asked how the store and staff fared in 2020, Norcross said that "nobody got sick," and everyone is "very happy and upbeat and excited to open." One bright spot amid the pandemic is that the staff has never been so tight-knit. There are meetings every morning and now "everybody knows how to do everything." They are "absolutely fantastic." --Alex Mutter

Quarto Launching Two Children's Imprints This Summer


Quarto Group will launch two new children's imprints this summer: Happy Yak and Ivy Kids.

Happy Yak, which will make its debut in June, will publish board books, cloth and bath books, along with picture books, commercial nonfiction and brand partnership titles for children up to seven years old. All Happy Yak titles will be inclusive and representative, and feature a bright, fun and accessible aesthetic, Quarto said.

The imprint's frontlist will include board books such as Animal ABC, Animal 123 and Animal Colors, as well as the nonfiction title The World's Most Pointless Animals. In 2022, Happy Yak will launch a partnership with the partyware company Meri Meri.

Ivy Kids, meanwhile, will return in June as a sustainability-focused children's imprint. It will publish children's titles featuring hopeful stories about the environment and nonfiction about the natural world. Every book will be locally printed on 100% post-consumer recycled paper using renewable energy, and remaining emissions will be calculated and offset.

Launch titles will include When We Went Wild, the first picture book from conservationist and author Isabella Tree, along with the activity title Let's Go for a Walk by Ranger Hamza.


Fountain Bookstore's 'Sunny Day"

Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, Va., channeled a little Sesame Street magic and blended it with an inspirational window display of Amanda Gorman's newly released book for a Facebook post yesterday:

Sunny day!
Sweepin’ the clouds away!
Friendly booksellers getting high on poh-eh-treeeeeee!
As we cheer The Hill We Climb
On East Cary Streeeeeet!

Chicago Distribution Center to Distribute CCAR Press

The University of Chicago Press and the Chicago Distribution Center will handle distribution worldwide for the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) Press, starting June 1.

Founded in 1889, CCAR Press is the primary publisher of Reform Judaism and a division of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. The Press publishes prayer books and other liturgy, commentaries on sacred texts including the Torah, Passover Haggadot, and books on contemporary Jewish life and ideas. Besides books and ebooks, CCAR Press produces apps, Visual T'filah digital services, certificates for lifecycle events, CCAR Journal: The Reform Jewish Quarterly, and more. The Press serves the Reform Movement--rabbis, cantors, educators, congregations, and other organizations--as well as the broader Jewish community.

Personnel Changes at Hachette Book Group

At Hachette Brook Group:

Megan Fitzpatrick has been promoted to executive director of marketing & publicity for Hachette Audio.

Barbara Slavin has been promoted to senior director of digital sales and business development.

Mary Urban has been promoted to associate director of digital sales.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Alec MacGillis on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Alec MacGillis, author of Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click America (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $28, 9780374159276).

Today Show: Padma Lakshmi, author of Tangy Tart Hot and Sweet: A World of Recipes for Every Day (Hachette Go, $17.99, 9780306926044).

Live with Kelly and Ryan: Priyanka Chopra Jonas, author of Unfinished: A Memoir (Ballantine, $28, 9781984819215).

Tonight Show repeat: Michelle Obama, author of Becoming: Adapted for Young Readers (Delacorte, $18.99, 9780593303740).

This Weekend on Book TV: In-Depth with Harriet Washington

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, April 3
1:45 p.m. Elizabeth Becker, author of You Don't Belong Here: How Three Women Rewrote the Story of War (PublicAffairs, $28, 9781541768208). (Re-airs Sunday at 3 a.m.)

2:40 p.m. Jeff Hawkins, author of A Thousand Brains: A New Theory of Intelligence (Basic Books, $30, 9781541675810).

3:45 p.m. Annabelle Gurwitch, author of You're Leaving When?: Adventures in Downward Mobility (Counterpoint, $26, 9781640094475).

4:50 p.m. Tobey Pearl, author of Terror to the Wicked: America's First Trial by Jury That Ended a War and Helped to Form a Nation (Pantheon, $29, 9781101871713).

5:40 p.m. The Audio Publishers Association's 2021 Audie Awards, "recognizing distinction in audiobooks and spoken-word entertainment."

6:50 p.m. Kate Washington, author of Already Toast: Caregiving and Burnout in America (Beacon Press, $24.95, 9780807011508), at Capital Books in Sacramento, Calif.

8 p.m. Brian Alexander, author of The Hospital: Life, Death, and Dollars in a Small American Town (St. Martin's Press, $28.99, 9781250237354).

9 p.m. Roya Hakakian, author of A Beginner's Guide to America: For the Immigrant and the Curious (Knopf, $27, 9780525656067).

10 p.m. Dana Perino, author of Everything Will Be Okay: Life Lessons for Young Women (from a Former Young Woman) (Twelve, $28, 9781538737088). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

Sunday, April 4
12 p.m. Live In-Depth q&a with Harriet Washington, author of Carte Blanche: The Erosion of Medical Consent (Columbia Global Reports, $15.99, 9781734420722). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

4:55 p.m. Abdul El-Sayed and Micah Johson, authors of Medicare for All: A Citizen's Guide (Oxford University Press, $19.95, 9780190056629).

6:50 p.m. John Archibald, author of Shaking the Gates of Hell: A Search for Family and Truth in the Wake of the Civil Rights Revolution (Knopf, $28, 9780525658115).

7:55 p.m. Sen. Carl Levin, author of Getting to the Heart of the Matter: My 36 Years in the Senate (Wayne State University Press, $29.99, 9780814348390).

Books & Authors

Awards: International Booker Prize Longlist

A 13-novel longlist has been revealed for the 2021 International Booker Prize, which recognizes a single book that is translated into English and published in the U.K. or Ireland. The contribution of both author and translator is given equal recognition, with the £50,000 (about $68,965) prize split evenly between them. Each shortlisted author and translator also receive £1,000 (about $1,380). The shortlist will be announced April 22, and a winner named June 2 in a virtual celebration. This year's longlisted titles are:

I Live in the Slums by Can Xue, translated from Chinese by Karen Gernant & Chen Zeping
At Night All Blood Is Black by David Diop, translated from French by Anna Mocschovakis
The Pear Field by Nana Ekvtimishvili, translated from Georgian by Elizabeth Heighway
The Dangers of Smoking in Bed by Mariana Enríquez, translated from Spanish by Megan McDowell
When We Cease to Understand the World by Benjamín Labatut, translated from Spanish by Adrian Nathan West
The Perfect Nine: The Epic Gikuyu and Mumbi by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, translated from Gikuyu by the author
The Employees by Olga Ravn, translated from Danish by Martin Aitken
Summer Brother by Jaap Robben, translated from Dutch by David Doherty
An Inventory of Losses by Judith Schalansky, translated from German by Jackie Smith
Minor Detail by Adania Shibli, translated from Arabic by Elisabeth Jaquette
In Memory of Memory by Maria Stepanova, translated from Russian by Sasha Dugdale
Wretchedness by Andrzej Tichý, translated from Swedish by Nichola Smalley
The War of the Poor by Éric Vuillard, translated from French by Mark Polizzotti

The Guardian noted that "Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o has become the first writer to be nominated for the International Booker prize as both author and translator of the same book, and the first nominee writing in an indigenous African language."

Reading with... Melissa Febos

photo: Beowulf Sheehan

Melissa Febos is the author of the memoir Whip Smart and the essay collection Abandon Me. Her second essay collection, Girlhood, was just published by Bloomsbury. The inaugural recipient of the Jeanne Córdova Nonfiction Award from Lambda Literary, Febos is an associate professor at the University of Iowa, where she teaches in the Nonfiction Writing Program. Her essays have recently appeared in the Paris Review, the Sun, the Believer and Vogue.

On your nightstand now:

Between Two Kingdoms by Suleika Jaouad. Suleika was a graduate student of mine at Bennington and has since become a friend. It's a gorgeous account of recovery from illness and the complicated aftermath of physical recovery that gets written about so much more rarely than illness itself, and which she does so with such grace and intimacy that it's hard to put down, even though I've read it before.

Favorite book when you were a child:

How could I possibly choose? Books were my obsession, my friends, my addiction and my heroes as a child. One of my first favorites was The Velveteen Rabbit, which resonated for me in such a profound and melancholy way. I wanted to be made real by love, as the rabbit is. I also reread the Chronicles of Narnia countless times, and my favorite one was The Magician's Nephew, because I was mesmerized by the idea that a person could jump into a pool of water and emerge into a whole other world, which I suppose is one way of describing the experience of reading itself.

Your top five authors:

Wow, this is a surprisingly hard-hitting interview! Forget top five, here are just five authors whose work I love and return to regularly: Siri Hustvedt, Toni Morrison, Annie Dillard, Maggie Nelson and Audre Lorde.

Book you've faked reading:

Oh god, I faked reading so many books as a young person. I was a high school dropout, and I had this idea (it wasn't mine, of course) that in order to be taken seriously as a writer, I had to have read what was considered the Western canon. Never mind that I had been reading feverishly since childhood, the books I'd grown up loving--most of them by women and queer writers--didn't count toward this prerequisite. I'm sure I lied about having read all of Shakespeare, definitely Faulkner and surely scads of other white dudes whose books I often had on my shelf. I just wasn't actually interested enough to read them. When I was in my early 30s, I drove a massive suitcase full of books to a donation site and said goodbye forever to all my white dude books that I was never going to read, or reread, and I haven't looked back since.

Book you're an evangelist for:

I have given Pema Chödrön's When Things Fall Apart to more people than I could possibly remember. I buy multiple copies of it per year, because I give it away so often. Life is hard, and it helps to read acknowledgment of that fact, along with wise instructions for how to hurt and not run away or panic. Also, Cruddy by Lynda Barry.

Book you've bought for the cover:

When I was a kid, I picked up Dorothy Allison's Bastard Out of Carolina from the public library because the photograph on it (taken by Dorothea Lange) was so haunting. I read it in one day and when I finished the last page, I burst into tears.

Book you hid from your parents:

Oh, all the masturbation material books, obviously! I remember keeping Anaïs Nin's Delta of Venus under my mattress for a long time.

Book that changed your life:

I'd say that Jeanette Winterson's Written on the Body changed something fundamental about my relationship to writing, which then changed my life. By the time I read it, when I was 15 or so, I already knew I wanted to be a writer, but I didn't know that a writer could write something so sexy and brainy and passionate and strange, not the way I understood it after reading that book. It was the first book that I remember reading and thinking, That. That is what I want to do.

Favorite line from a book:

The last line of Toni Morrison's Sula is the first I thought of: "It was a fine cry--loud and long--but it had no bottom and it had no top, just circles and circles of sorrow."

Five books you'll never part with:

Well, I like to give away my favorite books, so let's go with five books that are embedded in my heart, such that I could never be metaphysically parted from them: What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt; Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde; Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson; Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger; Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown.

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

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy or the Xenogenesis trilogy by Octavia Butler.

Books you are looking forward to in 2021:

The Renunciations by Donika Kelly (who is my beloved, but I would definitely say so if she wasn't!), White Magic by Elissa Washuta, Milk Fed by Melissa Broder, A Little Devil in America by Hanif Abdurraqib, Love Is an Ex-Country by Randa Jarrar, Outlawed by Anna North, Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge, God of Nothingness by Mark Wunderlich, Pilgrim Bell by Kaveh Akbar, Fake Accounts by Lauren Oyler, Let the Record Show by Sarah Schulman.... Honestly, I could keep going and going--it's going to be (and has already been) such a good year for books.

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, April 6:

First Person Singular: Stories by Haruki Murakami, trans. by Philip Gabriel (Knopf, $28, 9780593318072) collects eight new short stories.

Hope in Hell: You, the Climate Crisis, and How We Can Save the Earth by Jonathan Porritt (Weldon Owen/Earth Aware, $30, 9781647223618) outlines ways to mitigate climate change.

The Hard Crowd: Essays 2000-2020 by Rachel Kushner (Scribner, $26, 9781982157692) contains 19 essays about politics and culture.

High Conflict: Why We Get Trapped and How We Get Out by Amanda Ripley (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781982128562) examines the dynamics of moralized disagreement.

The Invention of Miracles: Language, Power, and Alexander Graham Bell's Quest to End Deafness by Katie Booth (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781501167096) is a biography focusing on Bell's impact on deafness.

Good Company: A Novel by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney (Ecco, $27.99, 9780062876003) follows an actress facing the fallout of her husband's years-old lie.

Mother May I: A Novel by Joshilyn Jackson (Morrow, $27.99, 9780062855343) is a thriller about a mother and her kidnapped baby.

The Place of No Stars by Erin Hunter (HarperCollins, $17.99, 9780062823762) is book five in the Warriors feline fantasy series.

Ivy & Bean Get to Work! by Annie Barrows, illus. by Sophie Blackall (Chronicle, $14.99, 9781797205106) is the 12th and final book in the early reader Ivy and Bean series.

Your Mama by NoNieqa Ramos, illus. by Jacqueline Alcántara (Versify/HMH, $17.99, 9781328631886) is a gentle and kind picture book twist on the timeworn "yo mama" joke.

Your Inner Hedgehog by Alexander McCall Smith (Anchor, $16, 9780593312674).

The Duke Undone by Joanna Lowell (Berkley, $16, 9780593198285).

The Intimacy Experiment by Rosie Danan (Berkley, $15.99, 9780593101629).

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:

The Girls Are All So Nice Here: A Novel by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn (Simon & Schuster, $27, 9781982144623). "The Girls Are All So Nice Here is the first, but not the last, lie you will read when you devour this dark and disturbing novel about college girls and how they treat each other in order to be popular or important. The writing is chilling and so authentic, I felt like I was back in high school or college with a group of toxic girls who would stop at nothing to get what they wanted. The more I read, the more I wondered how Flynn could possibly come up with an ending that would be both satisfying and as deliciously evil as the rest of the book. She managed to deliver, and then some." --Nancy McFarlane, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, S.C.

Brood: A Novel by Jackie Polzin (Doubleday, $24, 9780385546751). "Over the course of a year, told in a collection of snapshots, Brood shows the life of a woman grieving by doing anything but. She gives herself purpose by taking care of a small flock of chickens, as well as finding small but kind, funny, or wry ways of interacting with her neighbors, eccentric mother-in-law, and caring husband, Percy. There are plenty of clever and funny moments from scene to scene (not to mention the odd and interesting analyses of a chicken's life and point of view), but the beauty in this book lies in the narrator's acceptance of the everyday, and of all the things--bad, good, but mostly in-between--that come therein." --Cat Chapman, The Oxford Exchange, Tampa, Fla.

Sharks in the Time of Saviors: A Novel by Kawai Strong Washburn (Picador, $17, 9781250787316). "Sharks in the Time of Saviors is one of the best pieces of contemporary fiction I've had the pleasure to read. The fact that the book takes place in Hawaii makes it even more special. The author provides the reader with a unique 'chicken skin' experience. The book captures contemporary Hawaii's history over the past 20+ years, including the socioeconomics of race and being Hawaiian, income disparity, housing issues, family issues, and the diaspora that affects so many families in Hawaii who are unable or unwilling to deal with the cost of living. Truly a master work of art." --Benjamin "Buddy" Bess, Da Shop: Books & Curiosities, Honolulu, Hawaii

For Ages 4 to 8
Carpenter's Helper by Sybil Rosen, illus. by Camille Garoche (Schwartz & Wade, $17.99, 9780593123201). "This sweet children's book features a little carpenter named Renata and two even smaller carpenters in the form of wrens who decide to build a nest in the bathroom Renata and her Papi are renovating. This book will likely generate interest in two hobbies: carpentry and bird-watching! The illustrations are lovely; the little birds come to life on the page." --Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, N.C.

For Ages 9 to 12
Amber and Clay by Laura Amy Schlitz, illus. by Julia Iredale (Candlewick, $22.99, 9781536201222). "Amber and Clay is magnificent! It is a remarkable visit to the ancient world, where we readers (like the gods themselves) observe the difficult lives of mortals. Rhaskos is an enslaved stable boy who longs to release the art and grand thoughts that fill him. Melisto, the spoiled daughter of a wealthy father, burns with resentment over the love her mother withholds. Laura Amy Schlitz relates their painfully intertwined stories through vivid, urgent, poetic voices of both gods and mortals. The result is a stunning accomplishment, and a truly unforgettable read." --Christopher Rose, Andover Bookstore, Andover, Mass.

For Teen Readers
Perfect on Paper by Sophie Gonzales (Wednesday Books, $18.99, 9781250769787). "In Sophie Gonzales' latest YA contemporary, Darcy Phillips runs a secret business giving students at her school love advice, and she's very good at her job. But when she's found out by the swoony Alexander Brougham, Darcy finds herself helping him win back his girlfriend in order to protect her secret. The ensuing hijinks are packed with humor, romance, and wisdom but most of all a wonderful sense of queer pride. Perfect on Paper reads a bit like what you'd get if you mixed Leah on the Offbeat and Netflix's Sex Education, but Gonzales also captures a charming wit that's uniquely hers. With snappy dialogue, a lovable cast of side characters, and important conversations about bisexuality, this book absolutely won my heart!" --Julia DeVarti, Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, Mich.
[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Children's Review: That Thing About Bollywood

That Thing about Bollywood by Supriya Kelkar (Simon & Schuster, $17.99 hardcover, 352p., ages 8-12, 9781534466739, May 18, 2021)

Family and friend struggles lead to a dramatically (and magically) altered universe for Sonali, an Indian American sixth grader, in this poignant, entertaining middle-grade novel by Supriya Kelkar (American as Paneer Pie; Ahimsa).

Sonali has stuck to her decision to be stoic and never share her feelings ever since a disastrous family party five years ago when she presented a poster board display titled "Why Parents Shouldn't Fight." "All it led to was uncomfortable stares, being made fun of, upset parents, and nothing changing anyway." As the years go by and her parents' fighting escalates, Sonali knows for sure that the one thing she doesn't want to do is get as emotional as her little brother does--so emotive, in fact, that she believes he "would be a perfect fit in a Bollywood movie." Although Sonali loves her family's weekly Bollywood movie nights at home, the "loud, exaggerated, and colorful" displays make her uncomfortable.

So Sonali is horrified when she wakes up the morning after her parents announce they are separating to find that her life has become a Bollywood movie. Suddenly, she can't stop herself from performing flamboyant dance routines and bursting into song any time her emotions start to get out of control. A personal soundtrack accompanies her every mood; for a middle schooler who longs to fly under the radar, nothing could be more "mortifying, humiliating, embarrassing, and every other word you could find in a thesaurus next to them." To make matters worse, her best friend has designated another girl "co-best-friend," making a trio when Sonali was happy with the original pairing.

Supriya Kelkar uses the distinct lens of hyper-dramatic Bollywood films to explore the adolescent challenge of balancing one's emotional life. In front of her classmates and teachers, Sonali's hips inadvertently sway, her hair magically becomes windblown and song bursts from her now-shimmering lips; she is a literary every-tween (if you ignore the unwelcome-magic aspect), watching in horror as her body and voice betray her.

Take the inherent awkwardness of middle school, add in a family crisis, friend trouble and a girl's dogged commitment not to lose emotional control, frame the entire drama in Freaky Friday-like magic, and you have a script for a middle-grade novel that will have readers cringing in empathy one minute and laughing the next. --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor

Shelf Talker: An Indian American girl falls under a spell that makes her sing and dance like a Bollywood movie star every time she suppresses her emotions in this hilarious and harrowing middle-grade novel.

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