Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Hampton Roads Publishing Company: Becoming Baba Yaga: Trickster, Feminist, and Witch of the Woods by Kris Spisak, Foreword by Gennarose Nethercott

Dial Press: Like Mother, Like Mother by Susan Rieger

Severn House: A Messy Murder (Main) (The Decluttering Mysteries #4) by Simon Brett

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


Burst into Books, Chicago, Ill., Wins $250K Grant

Jurema Gorham

Jurema Gorham, founder of the Chicago, Ill., nonprofit Burst into Books, has won a $250,000 Neighborhood Opportunity Fund grant and will use that money to open a bookstore and business incubator in Chicago's Roseland neighborhood.

Gorham was one of 27 entrepreneurs on Chicago's South and West sides who received grants last week, Block Club Chicago reported. She plans to carry a range of children's books and provide a space where kids can take part in educational activities. The building's second floor, meanwhile, will be open to other nonprofit organizations.

"I know a lot of people with programs who struggle with finding space where can they host their program," Gorham told Block Club Chicago. "We are going to have space where people can come, have their meetings and do their programs in conjunction with the work that we're doing, as well. There will be opportunities for kids to engage in different activities or even new hobbies that they didn't even notice they liked."

Burst into Books debuted in August 2018 after Gorham saw how few educational programs there were for her son in her neighborhood. The nonprofit began as a children's book club that Gorham organized.

"My hope is that we're able to really be part of transforming and getting Roseland back," Gorham said. "I want us to be able to be the beginning of a momentum of investing on the South Side."

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Urban Reader Bookstore Opens in Charlotte, N.C.

Urban Reader Bookstore, carrying new and used titles written by Black authors, has opened in Charlotte, N.C., with owner Sonyah Spencer holding a grand opening celebration over the weekend.

Located in Charlotte's University City, Urban Reader sells everything from children's books and adult nonfiction to cookbooks and books by self-published authors, Q City Metro reported. Spencer hopes to partner with local, Black-owned businesses, and her future event plans include Black trivia nights, chess competitions and wine tastings. She will also start a children's reading program called "Young, Gifted and Black," in honor of her oldest son, Brandon, who died in 2013.

Spencer told Q City Metro that that devastating event proved to be her motivation to fuflill her dream of owning a bookstore. She explained that books have helped her get through the most difficult times in her life and she hopes Urban Reader becomes a place where community members can "embrace the culture, ask questions and heal."

Part of her goal is also building generational wealth for her family, and her son Breon is working for her as the store's manager. "That generational wealth is still in honor of my deceased son, but also giving wealth to my surviving child."

While Spencer hasn't had a bricks-and-mortar store before, she has been selling books since 2000, both online and as a pop-up vendor at festivals and other events. Spencer saw her online sales increase by roughly 30%-40% during the pandemic, and she said she feels confident that plenty of people still want the experience of shopping at a local bookstore.

GLOW: Sourcebooks Landmark: A Forty Year Kiss by Nickolas Butler

One Grand Books Expanding to Livingston Manor, N.Y.

One Grand Books in Narrowsburg, N.Y., will open a second location, in Livingston Manor, N.Y., this August, the Times Union reported.

Like the original store, the new One Grand location will carry selections of "desert island books" chosen by famous authors, musicians, actors and other celebrities. Owner Aaron Hicklin told the Times Union that while he always loved bookstores, he felt that the conventional "A to Z organizational system" was limiting and that it was predicated on customers already knowing what they want. He envisioned carrying the top-10 lists of 100 people, hence the name One Grand.

Prior to the pandemic, Hicklin balanced the bookstore with his career as a magazine editor in New York City. After losing that editing job last year, Hicklin chose to remain in the Catskills full time and focus on One Grand. He noted that he had considered opening the original One Grand in Livingston Manor before deciding on Narrowsburg.

International Update: Spring U.K. Book Sales 'Held Steady', Hong Kong Book Fair Challenges

The top title in the U.K. for the first six months of 2021.

Noting that even though 2021 has seen a third national lockdown, three-and-a-half months of closed bookshops and 10 weeks of missing Nielsen BookScan sales data, the U.K. print market has held steady, the Bookseller reported. 

Since March 14, when Nielsen began reporting sales numbers again, until July 3, 54.4 million books were sold for £456 million (about $634 million), an increase of 8% in both units and value against 2019. Both adult fiction and children's books categories registered double-digit growth compared to the same period two years ago, with adult fiction gaining 15% in both units and value, while children's jumped 13% in units and 12% in value. Trade nonfiction was the only category to drop in volume compared to 2019 (down 2%, though up 2% in value). 

Booksellers at Hong Kong's annual book fair "are offering a reduced selection of books deemed politically sensitive, as they try to avoid violating a sweeping national security law imposed on the city last year," the Guardian reported. 

"Every vendor will read through the books that they are bringing to the book fair to see if there is any content that might cause trouble," said Jimmy Pang, president of the Subculture publishing house. "We don't want to get into trouble that will affect the operation of the book fair, so we self-censor a lot this time. We read through every single book and every single word before we bring it here."

Benjamin Chau, deputy executive director of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, which organizes the fair, had said that books written by pro-democracy authors could still be sold as long as they didn't break the law.

Raymond Yeung, a spokesman for publisher Hillway Culture Company, said: "When we publish a book, we put a lot of effort into ensuring the content is legal. That's why we don't think there's a big problem and would still bring them. We hope this will be an encouragement to our fellow publishers, to show that there's still some people publishing books like this."


"We're so very pleased to finally show you what we've been working on for so long!" British bookseller Olivia Rosenthall, owner of Maldon Books, said in introducing the Book Hut, a versatile pop-up bookshop that was funded by a Booksellers Association grant, "and comes 18 months after the indie bookshop in Maldon High Street jointly won the National Book Tokens Newcomer of the Year award," the Bookseller reported. 

Rosenthall noted on Facebook: "Early this year, when we had to close our doors once again in the third national lockdown, we were so unsure of how things would be for us. Despite the support our customers gave us, like many new businesses on the High street, we just didn't know what the future held for our little bookshop.... The restrictions have made it very difficult to do all the things that we wanted to do, and being a small premises, we weren't sure of what might be possible for us outside of lockdown. So in January we decided to put our heads together, and we came up with The Book Hut!" --Robert Gray

Obituary Note: Floyd Cooper

Floyd Cooper

Floyd Cooper, "an award-winning illustrator and author of children's books whose mission to offer candid and positive images of Black history included subjects ranging from Frederick Douglass and the civil rights movement to Venus and Serena Williams," died July 16, according to the AP (via ABC News). He was 65 and had been ill with cancer.

Cooper grew up poor in Tulsa, Okla., moving so often that he attended 11 elementary schools in the city. He drew on stories his grandfather told about the 1921 Tulsa race massacre when illustrating Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre by Carole Boston Weatherford.

He also illustrated Weatherford's Becoming Billie Holiday. She told the AP that Cooper's "cinematic illustrations brought stories to life and held readers close. A devoted family man and genuine friend, Floyd was a gifted illustrator and truth-teller. His legacy will continue to enlighten and to inspire for generations to come."

Cooper had an early gift for drawing and received a scholarship to attend the University of Oklahoma. He then worked on greeting cards for Hallmark in Kansas City. After moving to New York City, he illustrated his first published book, Eloise Greenfield's Grandpa's Face, published in 1988.

He later settled in Easton, Pa., with his wife and agent, Velma, and two sons. He illustrated dozens of books, and for his work on Joyce Carol Thomas's The Blacker the Berry, he won the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award in 2009.

He also collaborated with such authors as Nikki Grimes, Walter Dean Myers, Jacqueline Woodson and Howard Bryant, whose Sisters & Champions, was about the Williams sisters.

Bryant told the AP: "Floyd was a wonderful artist and a fantastic collaborator. I remember when I first received his initial pages for Sisters & Champions, I was just blown away. For my first children's book, I was so proud to share a project with him and really looked forward to doing so again. This is an enormous loss."

Other projects included Myers's Frederick Douglass: The Lion Who Wrote History, Ruth Vander Zee's Mississippi Morning and Leah Henderson's A Day for Rememberin': Inspired by the True Events of the First Memorial Day. He also wrote a handful of books, among them Juneteenth for Mazie and The Ring Bearer.

The AP wrote that Cooper "prided himself on the bold, dramatic images he produced through what he called 'oil erasure,' a style dating back to his childhood for which he used an eraser to form shapes on a canvas. When taking on a book, he would read the manuscript over and over until pictures began to appear in his mind."

In a 2018 post, Cooper wrote, "Sometimes I get a flood of images from the very first reading! That is what we illustrators call 'finding the connect.' I connect with the story in that special way, as if that story was written just for me."


Image of the Day: The King's English Celebrates

The King's English, Salt Lake City, Utah, celebrated the arrival of new co-owner Calvin Crosby and the retirement of owner Betsy Burton this past weekend with a special shopping day, cupcakes and a Champagne toast. A portion of the day's proceeds went to the Utah Pride Center and the Rural Utah Project. Pictured: (second from left) Calvin Crosby, (in front of him) co-owner Anne Holman and Betsy Burton (third from right) with TKE staff and supporters.

'Planning a Vacation? Add Indie Bookstores to Your Travel Itinerary'

"Whenever I travel, there's one must-see on my itinerary: a local independent bookstore," Suzanne Perez noted in a piece for NPR station KMUW in Wichita, Kan., sharing some of her favorite destinations. "I'm a reader, and readers love bookstores. An hour or two of peace and quiet, browsing the shelves, is heaven on a normal day. It's even better on vacation.

"But beyond that, local bookstores provide a window into the real flavor, culture and history of a place.... I make a point of buying a book wherever I travel--usually something related to the destination. Booksellers are the friendliest people on the planet, and I love when they press a book into my hands. Even better is coming home with a beloved title that I wouldn't have known about otherwise. Books are the best souvenirs."

Personnel Changes at Penguin Random House

Hal Hlavinka is rejoining the Penguin Random House sales team as manager, account marketing.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Julie K. Brown on Fresh Air, CBS This Morning

CBS This Morning: Julie K. Brown, author of Perversion of Justice: The Jeffrey Epstein Story (Dey Street Books, $27.99, 9780063000582). She will also appear on Fresh Air.

Kelly Clarkson Show repeat: Matthew McConaughey, author of Greenlights (Crown, $30, 9780593139134).

Tonight Show: Brandi Carlile, author of Broken Horses: A Memoir (Crown, $28, 9780593237243).

TV: Oscar Acosta's Novels to Be Series

Natalie Chaidez (The Flight Attendant, Queen of the South) has acquired the film and TV rights to Oscar "Zeta" Acosta's novels Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo and The Revolt of the Cockroach People, and will executive produce and supervise writing for an upcoming TV series, Deadline reported.

Chaidez is developing the project with Joe Loya (Queen of the South, Baby Driver) and Phillip Rodriguez (The Rise and Fall of the Brown Buffalo, Ruben Salazar: Man in the Middle).

Acosta was a Mexican American attorney, politician, novelist and activist in the Chicano Civil Rights Movement who disappeared in Mexico in 1974, a year after his second novel was released and is presumed dead, Deadline noted, adding that he "is also famously known for his friendship with Hunter S. Thompson, who characterized Acosta as Samoan attorney Dr. Gonzo in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas."

"Oscar Zeta Acosta has been a passion of mine since I first encountered his books in an East L.A. library," Chaidez said. "Acosta's story is one of the deepest and cinematic stories in the Latinx canon. I'm thrilled to bring his story to life." 

Books & Authors

Awards: Branford Boase Winner

Struan Murray won the £1,000 (about $1,390) Branford Boase Award, which is given annually to the author and editor of the outstanding debut novel for children, for Orphans of the Tide. The award is shared with his editor, Ben Horslen, of Puffin.

Judge and last year's winner Liz Hyder said: "This book utterly stole my heart. Exquisitely written, it's a phenomenal page-turner with characters that leap off the page and straight into your imagination. Orphans of the Tide explores lots of big themes--environmental issues, friendship and xenophobia to name but a few--all wrapped up in an utterly compelling tale told by a master storyteller. Struan is an exceptional talent and I can't wait to read everything else he ever writes."
Murray noted that the award "is extremely special as it celebrates not only the author but the editor too, and understands and recognizes that writing is a collaborative process that wouldn't be possible without the commitment, imagination and skill of the editor. Working with Ben has stretched me as a writer and his insight contributed so much to the world of Orphans of the Tide that I couldn't imagine it without him."

Horslen commented: "Every year I look forward to the announcement of the Branford Boase Award shortlist with particular excitement. The author-editor relationship lies at the very heart of our industry, and to have an award that celebrates and showcases that relationship is a very special thing indeed. To be nominated is a career highlight that every editor hopes for. To win is simply a dream come true."

Book Review

Review: The King of Infinite Space

The King of Infinite Space by Lyndsay Faye (Putnam, $27 hardcover, 384p., 9780525535898, August 10, 2021)

Lyndsay Faye (The Paragon Hotel) reimagines Shakespeare's Hamlet in The King of Infinite Space, a mind-bending update on the classic tragedy that cleverly keeps its spirit intact while modernizing relationships and plot points. 

Lia Brahms would have an easier time getting over Ben Dane if he would stop pulling her into his dreams. Specifically, Ben dreams them into the burned-out remains of the World's Stage Theatre in New York City, where he and Lia practically lived as children, his father its owner and hers the manager. In one such dream, they learn Ben's father has died. Back in the real world, Ben finds the dream failed to mention that his mother, Trudy, has hastily married Claude, his uncle. Ben summons his best friend and constant "empathy factory," Horatio Ramesh Patel, from London to his Manhattan apartment, insisting something is rotten in his father's death despite the official ruling of suicide. When they uncover a video of Ben's father claiming Claude wanted him dead, Ben insists on investigating a murder that may not have even happened, while older mysteries lurk in the margins. Meanwhile, Lia copes with the loss of her relationship with Ben under the watchful eyes of three enigmatic, powerful women in Louisiana, while their puckish antagonist Robin makes plans for the Danes. 

Faye drops the Bard's best beats into a blender with thought experiments, existential dilemmas and some snicker-worthy double entendres, then sets it to delirious fun. The story draws its allusions from a few of Shakespeare's best-known works. However, readers unfamiliar with the source material should have no trouble following the plot or investing in the emotional stakes. Ben and Horatio's complicated history and heavy sexual tension add a heart-stirring romantic subplot, but don't mistake this mind-bending romp for Hamratio slashfic. Faye has invested considerable care in creating and balancing her trio of protagonists. A "suicidal-optimist and philosopher-detective," Ben has a mind that "operates as part philosopher, part scientist, and part torture device." He needs gentle, steadfast Horatio to shelter his raw nerves, but his friend struggles to balance his loyalty to Ben with his need to guard his own heart. Lia, given far more depth and agency than her namesake Ophelia, embodies artistic curiosity and intuition. An intriguing mix of the mystical and rational, The King of Infinite Space wears its heart on its sleeve down to its explosive and sentimental conclusion. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Shelf Talker: Set in New York City, this queer, feminist retelling of Hamlet is a dazzling mesh of wit, philosophy and romance.

The Bestsellers

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Verity by Colleen Hoover
2. How to Have a Meeting with God, Buddha, Allah by Woo Myung
3. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki with Sharon L. Lechter
4. Just One Scandal (The Kingston Family Book 2) by Carly Phillips
5. Scoring With Him by Lauren Blakely
6. From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout
7. Life Mastery by Sherry Stirling Fernandez
8. The Spark by Vi Keeland
9. The Crown of Gilded Bones by Jennifer L. Armentrout
10. The Moonlight Child by Karen McQuestion

[Many thanks to!]

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