Also published on this date: Monday, May 24, 2021: Maximum Shelf: The Orphan Witch

Shelf Awareness for Monday, May 24, 2021

Margaret K. McElderry Books: Tender Beasts by Liselle Sambury

Scholastic Press: Heroes: A Novel of Pearl Harbor by Alan Gratz

Flatiron Books: Anita de Monte Laughs Last by Xochitl Gonzalez

Peachtree Publishers: King & Kayla and the Case of the Downstairs Ghost (King & Kayla) by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Nancy Meyers

Doubleday Books: The Husbands by Holly Gramazio

Quotation of the Day

'Let's Have a Dialogue'

"Don't just do it because something traumatic happened. It has been happening for years. Let's have a dialogue."

--Dexter George, owner of Source of Knowledge, Newark, N.J., the Black community center that offers books, artwork, cultural resources and framing services, in a New York Times profile, noting a rise in white customers after the killing of George Floyd a year ago.

Holiday House: The Five Impossible Tasks of Eden Smith by Tom Llewellyn; The Selkie's Daughter by Linda Crotta Brennan


The King's English: Betsy Burton Selling to CALIBA's Calvin Crosby

Betsy Burton, co-founder and co-owner of the King's English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, Utah, is retiring this summer and selling her majority interest (along with silent partner and shareholder Deon Hilger) to Calvin Crosby, executive director of the California Independent Booksellers Alliance. Crosby will join part-owner Anne Holman, effective July 1.

Betsy Burton

Burton, who is a past president of the American Booksellers Association and a prime mover of the Local First movement in Utah and nationally, said that the store's "booksellers and customers are going to love Calvin. His experience in bookselling is vast, he has a keen understanding of finances, he's creative, he's kind, and he loves this business--and books--passionately. With his vast experience on all sides of the book business and Holman's on-the-ground expertise in all things involving the King's English in particular and the book industry in general, I'm pleased to say that the store is in very accomplished, caring and enthusiastic hands moving forward."

Before becoming executive director of the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association (CALIBA's predecessor) six years ago, Crosby had 25 years of bookselling experience, mostly at Book Passage in Corte Madera and Books Inc., where he opened new stores and did everything from store management to community relations, gift buying to merchandising--and bookselling, his favorite part. He also was sales and marketing director at McSweeney's.

Calvin Crosby

Crosby spent his childhood in Utah County and Magna, and has always expressed his love for the King's English. Growing up gay and Cherokee, he remembers the King's English not just as his bookstore but as his safe place, he said. Since leaving Utah he always makes it his first stop on visits with his family. "I'm already fond of half the staff," he said. "Anne, Rob, Margaret, who I hung out with at bookseller events and store visits--and booksellers I've met in the store, both when I've come back to visit and recently as I've spent more time at TKE. It's an amazing group of booksellers. I can't wait to work with them."

He added: "I'm looking forward to being near my sister and her family. And settling in at the King's English. Bookselling is my first love, and being inside this store feels like coming home. My husband Keith and I are going to be very happy here. I can't wait to start."

Burton said she will "sorely miss seeing the booksellers and customers at TKE on a regular basis. I've known some of them for the entire 44 years we've been in business--along with all the wonderful writers and publishing professionals I've been friends with over the decades. It's been a blissfully good way to spend a life, but at nearly 75, it's time to make a change. I'm hoping that with more leisure time I can write another book." She is the author of The King's English: Adventures of an Independent Bookseller, published by Gibbs Smith in 2005. She will continue to publish and edit the Inkslinger, the store's quarterly review.

The sale process began when Burton reached out to potential buyers, and former ABA CEO Oren Teicher suggested she ask Crosby for recommendations. As Crosby recounted, "Ann Seaton and I have been consulting at Underground Books in Sacramento since last summer, and it has been amazing. It also reminded me that my heart never left bookselling. When Betsy called for advice about selling, it dawned on me that I can live the dream of sharing ownership of a bookstore--the bookstore I frequented as a young adult."

Amistad Press: The Survivors of the Clotilda: The Lost Stories of the Last Captives of the American Slave Trade by Hannah Durkin

Samantha Schoech Leaving IBD

Samantha Schoech

Samantha Schoech, program director of Independent Bookstore Day, will leave the position at the end of May. Schoech has developed and overseen the annual celebration of bookselling for eight years, since it began in 2014 as California Bookstore Day. 

"I have loved working on Bookstore Day," Schoech said, "I'm very proud of what we've accomplished for bookstores, and I'm happy to be leaving the program in the ABA's capable hands."

Begun by the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association and the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association, the inaugural California Bookstore Day saw 93 stores participate. For Independent Bookstore Day 2021, more than 730 stores took part and 50 states were represented. Major authors have been involved, including Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Ann Patchett, Tayari Jones and Angie Thomas.

The ABA, which took over management of IBD in 2019, will keep the program going, and Courtney Wallace, the association's new marketing manager, will be the contact for publishers and bookstores. She can be reached at or

Schoech, meanwhile, said she plans to continue assigning book reviews for the San Francisco Chronicle, catch up on reading, write and "pursue other bookish opportunities."

Michael Link Moving from Joseph-Beth to WordPlay Cincy

Michael Link

Effective June 1, Michael Link, director of book strategy and experience at Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Cincinnati, Ohio, is leaving after 14 years at the bookseller to join WordPlay Cincy in the newly created role of chief storyteller.

Link has been involved with WordPlay Cincy, a creative writing & arts organization, since before it opened its doors. He called it "a difficult decision to leaving bookselling" after 20 years, but said he is "excited by this new opportunity and certainly hope that you will visit when you are around... I will miss working with you all and look forward to seeing you at the Carla Gray Memorial Horse Congress and Karaoke Throwdown when Winter Institute comes to Cincinnati," scheduled for February 13-16, 2022. Link can be reached via e-mail.

He added that at Joseph-Beth, Erin Caudill will lead the book team, and Hilary Mahadevan will oversee the events program. "I will still be hosting the occasional event and helping out during the transition."

International Update: 'Beloved' Gaza City Bookshop Destroyed, Welsh Publishers Launch CCPW

Samir Mansour's Bookshop in Gaza City, "a beloved local institution," was destroyed last Tuesday by an Israeli air strike targeting the building where it was located, AFP (via NBC News) reported. Founded 21 years ago, the bookshop and publishing house "was one of the Gaza Strip's largest sellers of books for children, students, academics and anyone else who loved to read. He also printed books and published stories written by local authors."

"The bookstore was like my soul," said Mansour, who was born in the Gaza Strip and said he had no involvement with politics. "Books are my life." He would like to rebuild his store eventually, though he's unsure when it will happen: "We will wait until the war finishes."

For Palestinians, "the bookstore played a key role as a center of intellectual life, and its destruction represents the wider loss of culture in Gaza," AFP wrote. 

Staring at the rubble, Mansour told AFP (via France 24): "Forty years of my life were obliterated in less than a second. There are 100,000 books under this rubble." A GoFundMe campaign set up for the bookseller has already raised more than $100,000 toward its goal of $250,000.


Several Welsh publishers have joined forces to form the umbrella organization Cyhoeddi Cymru/Publishing Wales. The Bookseller reported that CCPW "was launched in recognition of the absence of a single voice for Wales' publishing sector." 

The group includes the University of Wales Press, Welsh Academic Press and Firefly Press in Cardiff; Graffeg in Llanelli; Crown House in Carmarthen; Y Lolfa in Talybont; Honno in Aberystwyth; Parthian Books in Cardigan; and Atebol, which has offices in Aberystwyth, Carmarthen and Cardiff.

CCPW "intends to develop publishing from Wales and promote it to the world, establishing a clear identity for the sector," the Bookseller wrote, adding that it "will also be a platform to showcase the country's writers and illustrators, as well as its publishing across all genres."

David Bowman, publisher at Crown House, said that CCPW's "aim is to be the recognized, authoritative voice for the publishing sector in Wales, representing all Welsh publishers, both for our collective benefit and for the advancement of the sector. The organization will support members to expand our reach across the globe, and will foster an ambitious and professional environment in which the sector can thrive."


"Change is afoot" at Canadian indie Munro's Books, Victoria, B.C., which posted on Facebook: "You may know our store was originally a Royal Bank of Canada. Built in 1909, it has undergone many transformations over the years.... Perhaps our most striking behind-the-scenes features are the old bank vault doors. They don't get much use these days, though we still name our storage spaces after them ('the hardcover vault,' 'the remainder vault'). 

"While we treasure the touch of drama they bring to our bookselling home away from home, they're not the most practical feature when trying to haul boxes of books in and out of tight spaces. That's why tomorrow, we'll be removing one--just one!--of the doors from our receiving room.... (And rest assured, the door is not an original feature. Our building has received multiple heritage awards, and we're devoted to maintaining its character even as we modernize.)" On Thursday, the deed was done. --Robert Gray

Obituary Note: Ruth Freitag

Ruth Freitag, 1985

Ruth Freitag, longtime research librarian at the Library of Congress, called "the librarian to the stars" by the New York Times for helping so many science and technology writers, died on October 3 at age 96. Her death became widely known only in the last few weeks.

"In a way," the Times wrote, "Ms. Freitag was her own analog version of Google, providing answers to a wide array of queries from writers and researchers in astonishing depth and detail decades before computers and the internet transformed the research process."

Among her fans and the people who relied on her were Carl Sagan and Isaac Asimov. David DeVorkin, the recently retired curator of astronomy at the National Air and Space Museum at the Smithsonian Institution, told the Times, "She was absolutely the go-to person for getting manuscript material and books."

She was also renowned in the field for compiling bibliographic guides and resources on a range of subjects. "Her crowning achievement was her illustrated, annotated, 3,235-entry bibliography on Halley's comet, replete with citations of books, journals, charts and pamphlets, as well as references in fiction, music, cartoons and paintings. It was indexed and bound and published by the Library of Congress in 1984, just in time for the celebrated comet's last pass-by of Earth in 1986. Even the Halley's Comet Society in London called Ms. Freitag for information."

Jennifer Harbster, head of the science reference section at the Library of Congress, observed: "These bibliographies would take months and even years to do. It wasn't like you just found a title and put it in your bibliography. She would annotate it all."

After graduating from Penn State in 1944, Freitag joined the Women's Army Corps and spent three years in China. She then joined the Foreign Service and was stationed in London and Hong Kong. She traveled with her mother for a time around the world, then after her mother's death earned a master's degree in library science from the University of Southern California in 1959. As the Times recounted: "The Library of Congress recruited her that year as part of its elite program for outstanding graduates of library schools. After six months of training, she joined the library as a full-time employee and stayed until she retired in 2006 at 82."


Happy 10th Birthday, hello hello books!

Congratulations to hello hello books, Rockland, Maine, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Bangor Daily News reported that it "seems like a surreal time to be celebrating an anniversary," since owner Lacy Simons "is still trying to navigate running a small business during a global pandemic and processing the recent news that another bookstore will be opening this summer across town."

While Simons "hasn't yet planned anything to mark the anniversary, she's just grateful that sometime--hopefully soon--hello hello books will operate once again as the 'organism' she set out to create," the Daily News wrote, adding that "all in all, she's optimistic. The community of book lovers that has grown around hello hello books in the last decade rallied around the store when the business pivoted to mostly online sales during the pandemic, helping to keep it afloat."

"The idea that on the other end of this are people who have been patient and compassionate and excited for us to continue to be a community resource, is a pretty great feeling," Simons said. "Overall, I'm just really happy to be in Rockland; I couldn't have made it anywhere else."

David Gogel, executive director of Rockland Main Street Inc., observed: "Over the last 10 years, they've really used the bookshop as a platform, both to reflect the change that they want to see in the world and as a way to share this message of what books can be. We are really, really lucky because Lacy and the team work so hard to make it a place where everyone is welcome, but they have such a high taste level and their curation is amazing."

Masking Up: 'Wear the Mask. Or Go Shop Elsewhere.'

"It's been a tough week," Reads & Company Bookshop, Phoenixville, Pa., posted on Facebook Sunday. "Again, we respectfully ask that all customers wear a mask when inside our shop. If instead you decide to use your valuable time eye rolling, heavily sighing, debating the merits of masks, explaining your PHD-level understanding of virology, or berating our friendly booksellers who are just trying to do their damn jobs, save it. Please. We're too busy trying to run a small business in unprecedented circumstances, caring for an immunocompromised unvaccinated child, and grieving the parents and grandparents we lost recently. To Covid. 

"Look, we're doing the best we can as things keep changing around us. How about a little patience and support. Wear the mask. Or go shop elsewhere. 
We realize the people who need to hear this probably don't follow us on social media--we're kind of shocked that they even come into a bookstore--but there, we said it. Thanks."

OUP Moving Warehouse & Fulfillment to Ingram Distribution

In the fall of this year, Oxford University Press is moving its U.S. warehouse and fulfillment operations to Ingram Distribution Solutions, Ingram's third-party logistics division. As part of the shift, Oxford University Press will close its Cary, N.C., warehouse.

Phil Davies, Oxford University Press group supply chain and inventory director, said, "This is a great opportunity for Oxford University Press to leverage the deep experience and scale of Ingram's supply chain services by building on our long and successful relationship, and we are delighted with the service and flexibility Ingram offers to meet our customers' needs."

Sabrina McCarthy, Ingram Publisher Services' v-p and general manager, said, "This is a significant and strategic move for Ingram. As one of the most prestigious and one of the longest standing university presses in the world, we are honored that OUP has chosen to partner with us. This partnership integrates our print on demand services, digital services, and warehousing and logistics services to maximize OUP's ability to efficiently reach readers in North America."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Casey Wilson, Jake Tapper on Late Night with Seth Meyers

Late Night with Seth Meyers: Casey Wilson, author of The Wreckage of My Presence: Essays (Harper, $26.99, 9780062960580).

Good Morning America: Katie Sturino, author of Body Talk: How to Embrace Your Body and Start Living Your Best Life (Clarkson Potter, $25, 9780593232125).

Ellen: Yvonne Orji, author of Bamboozled by Jesus: How God Tricked Me into the Life of My Dreams (Worthy Books, $26, 9781546012672).

Late Night with Seth Meyers: Jake Tapper, author of The Devil May Dance: A Novel (Little, Brown, $28, 9780316530231).

TV: Bloody Women

Synchronicity Films "is following up its BBC drama The Cry with another Helen Fitzgerald television adaptation--this time based on her 2009 novel Bloody Women," Deadline reported. Lorna Martin, co-creator of Women on the Verge alongside Sharon Horgan, will adapt the novel into an eight-part series. All3Media International is distributing as part of its first-look deal with Synchronicity.

Synchronicity founder and creative director Claire Mundell said Bloody Women was a "gloriously playful" story with an “idiosyncratic but instantly lovable female lead." FitzGerald added: "I am bowled over to have screenwriter Lorna Martin adapting, whose work is funny and dark and twisted and poignant--exactly my cup of tea."

Books & Authors

Awards: Wolff Translator's Winner

Jackie Smith has won the $10,000 2021 Helen & Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize for her translation of An Inventory of Losses by Judith Schalansky (New Directions). Sponsored by the Goethe-Institut New York, the prize, celebrating its 25th year, honors "an outstanding literary translation from German into English published in the U.S. the previous year."

Judges said, "Judith Schalansky's genre-bending (or blending) text roams across time and space in 12 chapters whose identical lengths belie their tremendous diversity of subject matter, as they transport us from an island that disappeared into the South Pacific all the way to the moon, from ancient Greece to present-day Germany--and beyond.

"Jackie Smith's translation follows this back-to-the future slalom with remarkable grace and agility, brilliantly capturing the musicality of the original text, its philosophical depths, psychological insights, meticulous scientific observations--as well as its playful ingenuity and deeply poetic imagination. In fact a catalogue of these achievements might properly be construed as an 'Inventory of Gains.' "

Smith worked as a commercial translator, including several years at a German bank, before venturing into book translation. She translates fiction and non-fiction, and in 2017 was the winner of the Austrian Cultural Forum London Translation Prize. An Inventory of Losses is her first full-length literary translation and, in addition to winning the Wolff Translator's Prize, was longlisted for the International Booker Prize 2021.

The Wolff Translator's Prize award ceremony will take place at the Goethe-Institut New York on June 24, featuring Alexander Wolff, grandson of Kurt Wolff and author of Endpapers: A Family Story of Books, War, Escape, and Home, published earlier this year by Atlantic Monthly Press.

Top Library Recommended Titles for June

LibraryReads, the nationwide library staff-picks list, offers the top 10 June titles public library staff across the country love:

Top Pick
One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston (St. Martin's Griffin, $16.99, 9781250244499). "A phenomenal read with well-developed diverse characters and a unique, compelling plot. For August, romance is way at the bottom of her to-do list. Then she meets mysterious Jane, who's always on the same subway car no matter where or when August gets on. Before she knows it, they are a thing, with a circle of friends to share their life. There's only one catch: Jane isn't really here. For fans of Meryl Wisner, Morgan Rogers, and Jasmine Guillory." --Heather Cover, Homewood Library, Birmingham, Ala.

The Maidens by Alex Michaelides (Celadon Books, $27.99, 9781250304452). "Tragedy dogs Mariana's footsteps as she struggles to recover from the deaths of her husband, sister, brother-in-law, and father. Then, in her beloved Cambridge, young girls are being killed. Fearing for her niece, Mariana is determined to find the murderer, and in a twisted plot discovers that she doesn't know who to believe, including herself. For readers who liked The Sea of Lost Girls and The Secret History." --Courtenay Reece, Millville Public Library, Millville, N.J.

Neon Gods by Katee Robert (Sourcebooks Casablanca, $14.99, 9781728231730). "Robert masterfully turns the myth of Persephone and Hades on its head, making it modern and kinky and exploring issues of consent and the arranged marriage trope (which she delightfully subverts). The steamy sex is absolutely integral to the plot, and Robert includes nods to the original myth. For fans of The Unhoneymooners and The Dating Plan." --Kate Fais, New York Public Library, New York, N.Y.

The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot: A Novel by Marianne Cronin (Harper Perennial, $17, 9780063017504). "In a Glasgow hospital, two dying patients, one a teen and one much older, begin an art project to chronicle their lives. This delightful 'Odd Couple' pair, along with the hospital chaplain and a gaggle of well-meaning staff, help Lenni live her best life through Margot's stories and show what really is important. For readers who love Fredrik Backman and Gail Honeyman." --Kimberly McGee, Lake Travis Community Library, Austin, Tex.

The Other Black Girl: A Novel by Zakiya Dalila Harris (Atria, $27, 9781982160135). "Nella, an editorial assistant at Wagner Books, is excited when another Black girl is hired at her publishing company. But after a mysterious note turns up on her desk that warns her to 'Leave Wagner. Now,' she is left questioning who would want her gone. Provocative and suspenseful, this genre-bending book is perfect for fans of When No One Is Watching and the movie Get Out." --Erin Shea, Ferguson Library, Stamford, Conn.

Our Woman in Moscow: A Novel by Beatriz Williams (Morrow, $27.99, 9780063020788). "A spy novel set in Europe during and after World War II featuring twin sisters, Ruth and Iris. A cat and mouse game of intrigue where it is often hard to tell not only who is guilty or innocent, but also, who is who? Give this one to readers who enjoy Kate Quinn's brave female characters." --Gail Christensen, Kitsap Regional Library, Bremerton, Wash.

The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray (Berkley, $27, 9780593101537). "Both history and homage to the Morgan Library, one of the world's greatest private libraries. It is also the story of a young African-American woman named Belle posing as a white woman of Portuguese descent. For fans of Fiona Davis' historical novels." --Jennifer Winberry, Hunterdon County Library, Flemington, N.J.

The Queer Principles of Kit Webb: A Novel by Cat Sebastian (Avon, $15.99, 9780063026216). "Lord Holland is being blackmailed, he will do anything to get back his mother's book of secrets that has been stolen by his father, so he hires a reformed highwayman for one last job. For readers who enjoyed The Vicar and the Rake and A Fashionable Indulgence." --Chris Ely, Whitewright Public Library, Whitewright, Tex.

To Sir, with Love by Lauren Layne (Gallery Books, $16, 9781982152819). "A modern take on You've Got Mail set in New York City. Gracie is running her family's champagne boutique while Sebastian and his family are trying to buy out the building. The results are a meet-cute times two that would certainly make Nora Ephron proud. For fans of Jennifer Cruisie and Talia Hibbert." --Amy Mehrle, Gwinnett County Public Library, Dacula, Ga.

The Woman They Could Not Silence: One Woman, Her Incredible Fight for Freedom, and the Men Who Tried to Make Her Disappear by Kate Moore (Sourcebooks, $27.99, 9781492696728). "In 1860, Elizabeth Packard was committed to an insane asylum by her husband with no evidence of any condition other than she disagreed with him on some issues and spoke her mind. Moore deftly presents Packard's story of her confinement, subsequent trial, and crusade to improve women's legal standing. Give this book to those interested in stories of trailblazing women, legal thrillers, and even true crime." --PJ Gardiner, Wake County Public Library, Raleigh, N.C.

Book Review

Review: The Tangleroot Palace

The Tangleroot Palace: Stories by Marjorie Liu (Tachyon Publications, $16.95 paperback, 256p., 9781616963521, June 15, 2021)

In The Tangleroot Palace, Marjorie Liu gathers six previously published short stories and an original novella in a powerful collection of speculative fiction, showcasing the talent that's won her several Eisner and Hugo awards. With a range of themes and settings, the stories in The Tangleroot Palace showcase immersive world building and emotionally evocative prose, the same writing that has made her so successful in her paranormal romance novels and in powerhouse comics like Monstress (with Sana Takeda).

The collection opens with "Sympathy for the Bones," a story best described as creepy, in which a woman just crossing into adulthood murderously breaks free from the woman who has been her savior and captor for most of her life. The book ends with the titular novella, which reads like a fairytale, complete with a dangerous enchanted forest, an unwanted betrothal and an alluring stranger. In between are five stories varying widely in subject, but united by the same themes and archetypes readers will recognize from Liu's other work. She focuses on people, mostly women, who are morally gray. Monsters with good motivations, humans who do monstrous things, women doing whatever they must for freedom and revenge.

Liu's love of fairytales and superhero stories shows throughout. In "The Last Dignity of Man," a character who styles himself as Lex Luthor has built an empire based on biotech, and "There is no Superman. Alexander must be his own moral compass."

Featuring two women overcoming oppression, Liu's subversive "The Briar and the Rose" best captures the essence of the collection. It's a sapphic retelling of Sleeping Beauty and directly addresses the sexual assault and lack of female agency in the source material. As with each of the stories, Liu discusses the original project for which she wrote the story--in this case a collection of "fresh takes on old fairytales"--and the motivation for her plot and character choices. Though the book would be complete without them, these notes from the author add context and connect readers to the stories as well as to the time in which Liu wrote them.

Introducing the collection, Liu remarks that she noticed her stories are connected by a few common threads, but one lingers long after reading. Writing in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, she notes that "hope in the possibility of something good--even the tiniest, most wee little good--is sometimes all we've got." While The Tangleroot Palace is certainly not lighthearted, that thread of hope guides everyone through even the darkest of times. --Suzanne Krohn, editor, Love in Panels

Shelf Talker: Marjorie Liu collects seven darkly fantastic stories in The Tangleroot Palace, showcasing immersive world building and emotionally evocative prose.

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