Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, June 8, 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


Hidden Gems Literary Emporium Opens in New Brunswick, N.J.

Hidden Gems Literary Emporium, a Black-owned bookstore with a focus on fostering literacy, has officially opened in New Brunswick, N.J., My Central Jersey reported.

Raymond Sykes and Kaila Boulware-Sykes, with their son, Truth.

Owners Kaila Boulware-Sykes and Raymond Sykes, photographers by trade who also operate the local food distribution program Tree House Cares, will sell books to keep the store afloat, but their goal is essentially to distribute as many free books in their community as possible. They also plan to establish literacy and arts programs as well as youth programs to help with things like scholarships.

"We will be selling books to sustain ourselves but we will host many events where people get books for free," Boulware-Sykes told My Central Jersey. "We cannot thank everybody enough--we are going to try though. It brings me to tears to think about how much love and support people have given us."

The bookstore had its grand opening on Sunday with an afternoon celebration that included signings with the authors Lattifa Bryant, Cande Moore, Lyle Omolayo and Sonja M. Schwartzbach, as well as book giveaways.

Boulware-Sykes and her husband hope to give away more than 1,000 books, along with 600 children's books and plenty of toys, during the bookstore's first week alone. As the store grows, they plan to expand the bookstore's collection of new books.

She and her husband, she explained, are avid readers, and their plans to open a bookstore grew out of distributing books as part of the Tree House Cares program. A few months ago they decided to take the step of opening the bookstore and expanding their book giveaways. Hidden Gems is located in a space belonging to the art gallery Above Art Studios, which served as a home base for Tree House.

Boulware-Sykes noted that they've received so many donations from people and local organizations that they practically outgrew their space before the bookstore even opened. "We are a true community bookstore."

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

N.C.'s Buxton Village Books Undergoes a 'Transformation'

The interior of Buxton Village Books, located on North Carolina's Outer Banks, underwent a complete transformation last winter during the pandemic. In Island Free Press, owner Gee Gee Roswell wrote that she had been planning the projects for years. When she opened the bookshop in 1984, "the original 1860 building was two rooms, two porches and a galley kitchen. Over the years, I've added several rooms until today we have eight rooms and a front porch.

"But long before I occupied the building, many layers of remodeling had taken place. As we began the process of planning the revitalization of the building, we aimed to peel back all the layers to reveal any of the original, 1860 structure that remained. Our goal was to not create a museum, but to preserve and showcase whatever history we found, and also make the building functional and comfortable for contemporary use. We were astounded to find so much original material intact."

Roswell shared details of the building's history "as we know it," noting: "As in many building projects, the big, expensive work is not visible. Our overall plan, which we hope was achieved, was to honor this history of this beautiful and important building, and strengthen it to work for many more years as a welcoming, comfortable retail space."

Several aspects of the renovation were explained, including the fact that the original ceiling beams, which are now exposed, were made from shipwreck timbers. When the building was constructed, "the easiest way to get lumber was to drag the remains of a wrecked ship off the beach. The entire original building was framed with this flotsam," Roswell wrote. 

She also noted that once the structural pieces were completed, "we refurbished the shelving and reinstalled it. Everything had been customized to fit the space, and over the years, our customers let us know which subjects they wanted to find where. We did not change the basic layout, because it already worked quite well.... We do hope you like what we've done. Our building is still the vintage treasure it always was, but now it's light, bright, and airy, and we are looking forward to another 37 years of bookselling!"

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

International Update: PRH, Waterstones Resolve Dispute, India's Retail Lockdowns Ease

Penguin Random House and Waterstones said they have "returned to 'business as usual' following a dispute that saw the bookseller limit the visibility of PRH titles in its stores," the Bookseller reported. In response to a limit placed on its credit by the publisher, Waterstones had stopped including books from the publisher in its promotions, and its Book of the Month selections had not included any PRH titles since before the start of 2021.

In a joint statement, the companies said: "Penguin Random House U.K. is pleased to have returned to business as usual with Waterstones and both companies look forward to continuing to work together closely as partners."


In India, the second phase of Covid-19 unlock is underway, as several states across the country have started to relax lockdown curbs. Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal is allowing markets and malls to resume their business under certain guidelines. 

The Bookshop in Jorbagh, New Delhi, posted on Facebook: "With further instructions soon to be announced, our team is delighted to come back to work in the coming week, which is perhaps the most exciting thing to have happened in the longest time!... 

"However, we are here, and if the wonderful mutual aid relations we cultivated are anything to go by, there is the solace that despite systemic failures and all manner of crap, we've got each other. There is little choice but to keep on living, so we might as well try to slowly relearn ourselves. To slowly unlearn escaping so much. That is the only way to do better by ourselves, and the loved ones who do surround us. That is the only way to perhaps do better by the loved ones who we lost.

"Our team too, will rediscover reading and loving a lot of things we quite frankly forgot through this time. But we have to, for there is little else to do. So we extend a welcome to you as well. If you'd like a chat, or books, or just rediscovering along with us the comfort of being able to pay attention to the written word again, just write to us. We'll try our very best to be your friends from afar, and maybe find you just that one book that lifts your spirit again. We know we're trying to find our own!"


Elly Griffiths

As National Crime Reading Month begins in the U.K., author Elly Griffiths (the pen name of author Domenica de Rosa) has been appointed by the Crime Writers' Association as a Booksellers Champion, a role that aims to build links between crime authors and bookshops. Griffiths will be supported in the new role by fellow crime authors Vaseem Khan and William Shaw.

"This last year has emphasized the importance of bookshops," Griffiths said. "We need books more than ever and it seems that crime novels are especially popular in difficult times. I'm delighted to be one of the CWA's Booksellers Champions, working with these wonderful people and places to ensure that readers have access to the very best of crime fiction." 


"Cream sodas, popsicles, musical organs, Mount Fuji--all these designs and more have graced the popular original book covers given free to customers buying books at Seiwado Book Store in Tsurumi Ward, Osaka, west Japan," the Mainichi reported. 

The person behind the book covers is Yasuhiro Konishi, the bookshop founder's grandson. "Every day about 200 books are published. I wanted to reduce the number that get crowded out without anyone knowing they exist," he said. 

Thus far, the book covers are set for distribution to about 70 bookstores in the Kansai, Tohoku and Kyushu regions, with delivery to start August 1. He also "wants to spread the custom of attaching covers to books even overseas, where it is not typically done, and further communicate the joys of bookstores and reading," the Mainichi noted. --Robert Gray

Edelweiss BookFest Starts Today

Edelweiss's Bookfest, "a virtual celebration of books," begins this morning and continues tomorrow. Aiming to fill some of the gap left by the cancellation of BookExpo, Bookfest features a range of authors and industry members.

Keynoters include Tayari Jones, TJ Klune, L. Penelope and Anthony Doerr. There are multiple buzz panels with authors, editors and reps; musical, yoga and meditation interludes; an author breakfast; and meetups and mingles. Donna Paz Kaufman and Mark Kaufman of Paz & Associates will discuss opening a bookstore. Brian O'Leary, executive director of the Book Industry Study Group, and Karina Urquhart, executive director of the U.K.'s Book Industry Communications, will talk about how the Green Book Alliance is working towards book industry sustainability.

Most notable from our point of view is the panel tomorrow at 3 p.m. called the Rise of Social Justice Publishing. Featuring Ramunda Lark Young, co-owner of MahoganyBooks, Washington, D.C., Jeff Deutsch, director of the Seminary Co-op Bookstore and 57th Street Books, Chicago, Ill., Anne Rumberger, marketing director of Verso Books, John McDonald of Haymarket Books, and Cristina Rodriguez, director of sales and marketing at A Public Space, the panel is moderated by Shelf Awareness editor-in-chief John Mutter.

Memorial Service Set for Dan Frank

The family of Dan Frank, the longtime editorial director of Pantheon Books who died on May 24 at age 67, will host a service in his memory. The service will take place Tuesday, June 22, at 4 p.m., at All Souls Church, 1157 Lexington Avenue (at 80th Street), in Manhattan.

A reception will follow, and all are welcome.


Costco Picks: The Book of Lost Names

Robert Poole, Costco's new book buyer, has selected The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel (Gallery, $16.99, 9781982131906) as his pick for June. In Costco Connection, which goes to many of the warehouse club's members, he writes:

"Kristin Harmel has found her niche: writing about World War II France.

"While her novels have mentioned characters that have used forged documents, The Book of Lost Names has a forger, Eva, as a main character.

"Eva flees Paris in 1942, finding refuge in the Free Zone. Once there, she forges documents for children fleeing to Switzerland.

"Years later, when Eva, now a retired librarian in Florida, sees an article about a coded book found in Europe, she wonders if she has the strength to revisit old memories."

Diamond to Distribute Penn State U. Press's Graphic Mundi Imprint

Penn State University Press's Graphic Mundi imprint will be distributed to the comic book specialty markets in North America by Diamond Comic Distributors and to the North American book market by Diamond Book Distributors.

Graphic Mundi publishes nonfiction and fiction graphic narratives for adults and young adults on topics such as health and human rights, politics, the environments, and science and technology, created by people from diverse backgrounds. Graphic Mundi expands on the list of critically acclaimed graphic novels published in the Penn State University Press's Graphic Medicine series, which launched in 2015 with the Eisner Award–nominated Graphic Medicine Manifesto.

Graphic Mundi launched in Spring 2021 with COVID Chronicles: A Comics Anthology, edited by Kendra Boileau, publisher of the imprint, and Rich Johnson, founder of Brick Road Media. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc) to support the employees of bookstores and comic shops and bricks-and-mortar stores affected by the pandemic.

Forthcoming titles include an English translation of Hakim's Odyssey, Book 1: From Syria to Turkey, the first volume of Fabien Toulme's nonfiction trilogy about a successful young Syrian forced to upend his life and become a refugee, and A Chance by Cristina Durán and Miguel Giner Bou, which chronicles the creators' struggles and triumphs as they build a family in the face of tremendous odds.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Daisy Hernández on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Daisy Hernández, author of The Kissing Bug: A True Story of a Family, an Insect, and a Nation's Neglect of a Deadly Disease (Tin House, $27.95, 9781951142520).

TV: Patricia Cornwell's 'Kay Scarpetta' Series

Jamie Lee Curtis's production company Comet Pictures and Blumhouse Television are developing a one-hour series based on Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta novels, Variety reported. Cornwell, Curtis, Jason Blum, Blumhouse Television president Chris McCumber and Jeremy Gold are serving as executive producers. They are in the process of seeking a showrunner for the series.

"I've had the honor and pleasure of knowing Jamie for a number of years, and have come to respect her hugely as an artist and a stellar human being. Blumhouse is a creative force of nature, and I'm confident that Scarpetta is going to make it to the screen in a fantastic way," said Cornwell. "To say I'm thrilled is an understatement, and I have no doubt my readers will feel the same."

McCumber added: "We are so honored to be partnering with one of the most successful authors in history in Patricia Cornwell. Kay Scarpetta has been a much sought-after character, for a long time, and we are excited to finally bring her to life on television. We are also grateful to Jamie Lee Curtis for connecting the Blumhouse team to Patricia, and to Patricia for trusting us with her iconic creation."

Describing Cornwell as "a bona fide literary trailblazer," Curtis said that "collaborating with her to bring her beloved character Kay Scarpetta to life through the power of television and to introduce her to an entirely new audience is exciting. The confluence of Blumhouse and Comet bringing to life a dark, fun and layered work world and family life, spearheaded by the smart and sexy indomitable Kay Scarpetta is going to be a thrilling ride."

Books & Authors

Awards: Shaughnessy Cohen Political Writing Finalists

The Writers' Trust of Canada has named the five finalists for the C$25,000 (about US$20,700) Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing, which recognizes "a book of literary nonfiction that captures a political subject of relevance to Canadian readers and has the potential to shape or influence thinking on Canadian political life." Each finalist receives C$2,500 (about US$2,070). The winner will be announced September 22 during a digital edition of the Politics and the Pen ceremony. This year's shortlisted titles are:

Can You Hear Me Now? How I Found My Voice and Learned to Live with Passion and Purpose by Celina Caesar-Chavannes
The Skin We're In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power by Desmond Cole
Reset: Reclaiming the Internet for Civil Society by Ronald J. Deibert
Whipped: Party Discipline in Canada by Alex Marland
The Abortion Caravan: When Women Shut Down Government in the Battle for the Right to Choose by Karin Wells

Book Review

Review: London's Number One Dog-Walking Agency

London's Number One Dog-Walking Agency: A Memoir by Kate MacDougall (Morrow, $27.99 hardcover, 368p., 9780063059788, July 6, 2021)

Kate MacDougall, "tall, gangly, butterfingered," may have had the right background, education and qualifications to work for four years at the prestigious Sotheby's auction house in London. However, a comedy of errors propels her out of her less-than-fulfilling back-office job, inspiring her, on a lark, to start a dog-walking business. Enjoyable, easy to read and thoroughly entertaining, London's Number One Dog-Walking Agency shares humorous, conversational stories of MacDougall serving as a pseudo-matchmaker between the dogs, dog owners and dog-walking employees who shaped her life and her growing business over nine years, starting in 2006.

Met by opposition and belittlement from her mother and some of her peers, who feel her new career is beneath her, MacDougall sets off on an exciting adventure that snowballs through her 20s--through dating, engagement, marriage and motherhood. Her supportive husband is, ironically, scared of and "doesn't like dogs. At all." MacDougall details pivotal experiences, dilemmas and interactions with clients. Some of the dogs are as quirky and neurotic as their owners--and dog-walkers--who, at times, are far more exasperating and difficult to deal with than their canine charges.

There are disarmingly detailed, typed lists of instructions about gluten-free diets and doggie apparel, maps for scenic walks and hectic schedules juggling playdates, pedicures and grooming appointments. Strict orders are delivered for a rambunctious Labrador retriever--owned by his "daddies," a gay couple--who insist their dog not get wet or, heaven forbid, muddy. Walking the dog in rain and through puddles poses panic, and matters grow worse after the couple splits up, entangling the dog and MacDougall in their personal tug-of-war.

There's also the tender transformation of a mysterious rescue, a "hermit" dog, who is not at all interested in dogs or people, but who is interested in food. And the author's own Jack Russell terrier, who undergoes a battle of the bulge. Threaded throughout are additional stories of employees, including one intent on poaching clients and another whose doggie devotion borders on the criminal. Besides the pitfalls of managing the dogs themselves, the 2008 economic recession also threatens the dog-walking agency with closure.

MacDougall's fun, brisk storytelling and cleverly rendered details largely focus on growing, improving upon and sustaining her business. However, philosophical undercurrents profoundly define how work--and canine companionship--can enrich the soul and spirit, ultimately giving shape and form to living a more meaningful existence. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

Shelf Talker: A fun, thoroughly entertaining memoir details the unforeseen challenges and rewards of operating an active dog-walking business.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. The Missing Sister by Lucinda Riley
2. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki with Sharon L. Lechter
3. Angel's Cage by Anna Zaires
4. The Boy Who Grew Wings by James Barlow
5. From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout
6. The Crown of Gilded Bones by Jennifer L. Armentrout
7. Wilderness Defender by Maggie K. Black
8. Heavy Petting by Erin Nicholas
9. Verity by Colleen Hoover
10. Fallen Jester by Devney Perry

[Many thanks to!]

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