Shelf Awareness for Friday, July 1, 2022

William Morrow & Company: The Midnight Feast by Lucy Foley

Shadow Mountain: The Witch in the Woods: Volume 1 (Grimmworld) by Michaelbrent Collings

Hell's Hundred: Blood Like Mine by Stuart Neville

Delacorte Press: Last One to Die by Cynthia Murphy

Margaret Ferguson Books: Not a Smiley Guy by Polly Horvath, Illustrated by Boris Kulikov

Indiana University Press: The Grim Reader: A Pharmacist's Guide to Putting Your Characters in Peril by Miffie Seideman

St. Martin's Press: Lenny Marks Gets Away with Murder by Kerryn Mayne

Editors' Note

Happy Fourth of July!

Because of Independence Day, we are skipping Monday's issue and will see you again on Tuesday, July 5. Enjoy the holiday!

Harper: Our Kind of Game by Johanna Copeland


Plenty on Spring Bookstore Coming to Cookeville, Tenn.

Work has begun on Plenty on Spring, an indie bookstore and event space at 35 West Spring St. in Cookeville, Tenn. The business is owned by Lisa and Dave Uhrik, who are well known in the book world as the owners and operators of retail display company Franklin Fixtures. Ashley Michael will co-manage the store, which is expected to open this fall. The online bookshop is already operating. 

Plenty on Spring in progress.

The new bookstore will feature a carefully curated selection of books, both classics and new releases. Highlights include new bestsellers, books by Tennessee authors, a large children's section, locally made goods and other gift items. The shop will also feature events including local singer-songwriter performances, theater troupes, children's events, classes and workshops and book clubs. The event side of Plenty on Spring includes a cafe serving up drinks, snacks, local Tennessee cheeses, loose-leaf tea and freshly baked cookies.

Franklin Fixtures has been deeply connected to the book world for nearly 50 years, offering retail display options and shelving in more than 30,000 bookstore projects. The Uhriks said they "have kindled a lifelong passion for books, bookstores and all things literary, believing that literacy, conversation and service action are keys to community building, quality of life and individual growth."

Lisa and Dave Uhrik

After years of helping to create and learn from independent bookstores, the Uhriks said they are excited to join their friends across the country in creating a magical community space of their own: "We love the collaborative spirit in this region, and getting to add to the exciting things that are happening in downtown Cookeville sooner than we'd hoped is especially nice. Ashley Michael has agreed to co-manage the store, and we are inviting a strong and large team to contribute made-here items, music, theater, author and children's events. We know our customers will be expecting us to live what we teach, and we will try our best to be a great example of all we've learned from their successes."

The Spring Street store is just the beginning of the Uhriks' vision. The overarching project is called Plenty on Poplar, and includes plans for a destination bookstore in the form of a barn, soon to be built on what they described as a "lovely piece of land adjacent to City Lake in Cookeville. The barn bookstore/venue, called Plenty on Poplar, will be set among lavender fields and will host farm-to-table events, author events, outdoor concerts, and will even include a dog park." 

Chronicle Books: Life Wants You Dead: A Calm, Rational, and Totally Legit Guide to Scaring Yourself Safe by Evan Waite, Illustrated by Paula Searing

The Squirrel and Acorn Bookshop to Open in State College, Pa.

Future home of The Squirrel and Acorn.

The Squirrel and Acorn Bookshop, "a general interest bookshop where stories are discovered and created, voices heard and celebrated, and where imagination and a bit of whimsy are constant companions during your visit," will open at 103 S. Allen St. in State College, Pa., later this summer. 

Andrew Aschwanden, the bookshop's owner and a research technician at Penn State, told the Centre Daily Times that the store, located "in the heart of the borough," will sell books, stationery, ink, pens and pencils, bookshelves and more. He also hopes to host contests and workshops for local readers and writers, as well as local and national authors for book signings and appearances. 

"We hope to have our bookstore be a cornerstone for the community--a hub that not only attracts the university community but connects with people throughout Centre County," Aschwanden noted. "Though we hope everyone who can will visit our shop, we also hope to provide opportunities to connect with them outside of the store as well." 

The Squirrel and Acorn Bookshop is moving into the former location of the Animal Kingdom, a children's store that was owned and operated by Lindsay Williamson. The Daily Times wrote that following more than 30 years in business, the Animal Kingdom merged with Growing Tree Toys two blocks away, at 202 S. Allen St. 

Aschwanden told "I thought it would be unique opportunity. I felt we have the right kind of mix of community to be supportive of it, so I thought I'd go ahead and try to do it. The Animal Kingdom space came about and my family has shopped there for years so we knew how interesting the space was and I jumped at the opportunity and went from there."

GLOW: Tundra Books: We Are Definitely Human by X. Fang

For Sale: Bookends on Main, Menomonie, Wis.

Bookends on Main, a new and used bookstore that has operated in downtown Menomonie, Wis., for nearly 26 years, has been put up for sale by owner Susan Thurin, the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association reported

In addition to an eclectic book inventory that includes a "little bit of everything" for readers of all ages, the store carries sidelines like journals, guitar strings, ukuleles, greeting cards, puzzles, tarot decks and toys. The shop is across the street from the historic Mabel Tainter Theater, adjacent to the UW-Stout campus and near a hotel and post office. It has resided in its current location for the past 14 years.

Interested parties can contact Thurin at 715-233-6252 or by e-mail at

Harper: Sandwich by Catherine Newman

Jesmyn Ward to Receive Library of Congress American Fiction Prize

Jesmyn Ward

Jesmyn Ward will receive the 2022 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction, which honors an American literary writer whose body of work "is distinguished not only for its mastery of the art but also for its originality of thought and imagination... [and] seeks to commend strong, unique, enduring voices that--throughout long, consistently accomplished careers--have told us something essential about the American experience."

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden selected Ward--who, at 45, is the youngest person to receive the Library's fiction award for her lifetime of work--as this year's winner based on nominations from more than 60 distinguished literary figures, including former winners of the prize, acclaimed authors and literary critics from around the world. The virtual prize ceremony will take place September 3 during the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.

"Jesmyn Ward's literary vision continues to become more expansive and piercing, addressing urgent questions about racism and social injustice being voiced by Americans," said Hayden. "Jesmyn's writing is precise yet magical, and I am pleased to recognize her contributions to literature with this prize."

Ward commented: "I am deeply honored to receive this award, not only because it aligns my work with legendary company, but because it also recognizes the difficulty and rigour of meeting America on the page, of appraising her as a lover would: clear-eyed, open-hearted, keen to empathize and connect. This is our calling, and I am grateful for it."

Ward is the author of the novels Where the Line Bleeds; Salvage the Bones, winner of the 2011 National Book Award; and Sing, Unburied, Sing, winner of the 2017 National Book Award. Her nonfiction work includes the memoir Men We Reaped, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; and the 2020 work Navigate Your Stars. She is also the editor of the anthology The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race.

Obituary Note: Deborah James

Deborah James, a British podcaster, writer and cancer campaigner "who chronicled her struggle with an incurable bowel tumor with candor and vivacity," died June 28, the New York Times reported. She was 40. James co-hosted You, Me and the Big C, a BBC podcast about cancer; wrote a column about her journey through her illness for the British tabloid the Sun; tirelessly raised awareness and funds for the cause; and wrote a book, F*** You Cancer: How to Face the Big C, Live Your Life and Still Be Yourself (2018).

In May, Ebury imprint Vermilion had moved up the publication date of her second book, How to Live When You Could Be Dead, from January 2023 to August 18, 2022, the Bookseller reported. Samantha Jackson, editorial director at Vermilion, said: "We are incredibly sad about the passing of Dame Deborah James. Deborah's determination to live life on her own terms in the face of death was an inspiration to us all. The awareness Deborah brought to bowel cancer has saved so many lives and we are truly honored that Deborah entrusted us to publish her books, F*** You Cancer and the forthcoming How to Live When You Could Be Dead, which Deborah was working to complete very recently. Our thoughts are with her family."

In the podcast, which she founded in 2018 with Lauren Mahon, she "hosted conversations with other patients about how cancer affected their sex lives or what it meant to have the disease during the coronavirus pandemic. But she also opened up about her personal life and condition, and detailed her anxieties and feeling of powerlessness," the Times wrote. 

"We changed the way people talk about cancer in this country," Mahon, who co-hosted the podcast, said. "I don't even know any celebrity or Hollywood star that could have this profound impact on so many people on such a deep level."

Among her supporters were Prince William and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge. On May 12, 10 Downing Street announced that Queen Elizabeth II had approved a damehood for James. The next day, Prince William visited James at her family house.


Image of the Day: Superhero Visits Book Passage

Book Passage at the Ferry Building in San Francisco, Calif., hosted Simu Liu, star of the 2021 Marvel movie Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, for a signing of his memoir, We Were Dreamers: An Immigrant Superhero Origin Story (HarperCollins). Pictured: (l.-r.) event host Alison Bainbridge, Simu Liu, operations manager Zack Dubuc, store manager Katherine Ralph and bookseller Robert Correia. 


Ingram's Two Rivers to Distribute Two More Publishers

Ingram's Two Rivers Distribution has added two new publisher clients, effective in September with the fall season:

Exisle, which has offices in Australia and New Zealand, and publishes a range of adult nonfiction, including the Empowerment series, some biography, nature and military books, titles on skincare, the Animal Magic series, and books on cats. Exisle's children's imprint, EK, focuses on illustrated stories that have helpful messages.

Mayo Clinic Press, Rochester, Minn., the trade and consumer publishing division of the Mayo Clinic, which publishes a range of titles about human health and medicine--from trusted health and wellness guides rooted in decades of clinical practice to thought leadership, explorations of the frontiers of medicine, kids' books, and more.

Personnel Changes at Chronicle Books

At Chronicle Books:

Annabelle Oh has been hired as senior distribution client manager.

Kristie Raycroft has been hired as associate sales director.

Shivangi Sangwan has been hired as associate director, ecommerce.

Mikaela Luke has been hired as marketing coordinator, children's.

Mary Duke has been promoted to senior marketing manager.

Bora Kim has been promoted to sales coordinator.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Eddie Muller on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Eddie Muller, author of Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir, revised and expanded edition (Running Press, $30, 9780762498970).

New Regency Forms Publishing Division in Partnership with Insight Editions

New Regency has partnered with Insight Editions to create a new company division focused on publishing books based on New Regency's film and television titles from its library and upcoming productions. The first books from the partnership will include high-end, large-format art books and collectibles presenting never-before-seen images and behind-the-scenes stories from the films Fight Club, HeatThe Revenant and The Northman, as well as upcoming releases like the David O. Russell feature film Amsterdam.  

Yariv Milchan, New Regency's chairman and CEO, said: "I am extremely proud of our library of critically acclaimed films and New Regency Publishing is a next logical step in our evolution. It's exciting to partner with Raoul Goff and the exceptional team at Insight Editions who will help us share these stories using their fantastic platform that provides fans additional ways to experience incredible storytelling through visually stunning images and behind the scenes information."

Insight Editions founder and CEO Raoul Goff added the publisher "is known for creating beautiful books that showcase and celebrate the creativity, passion, and talent of groundbreaking Hollywood filmmakers. Our partnership with New Regency is an incredible and unique opportunity to tell the stories behind acclaimed and iconic films in books that fans will treasure."

TV: Trust

Two-time Emmy winner Kate Winslet (Mare of Easttown) will star in and produce an adaptation of Hernan Diaz’s novel Trust, Deadline reported, adding that HBO "acquired the recent bestseller from Riverhead Books in a competitive situation." Diaz will also executive produce the project.

The logline: "When a wealthy financier reads a novel based on his own life and is dissatisfied by his and his wife's portrayal, he asks a secretary to ghostwrite his memoir and set the record straight. She, however, grows uncomfortably aware that he is rewriting history--and his wife's place in it. Told in four different voices and genres, Trust is a narrative puzzle that subverts the notion of truth and who gets to define it."

Books & Authors

Awards: CWA Dagger Winners

The Crime Writers' Association celebrated winners in 11 categories of the 2022 Dagger Awards, which "honor the very best in the crime writing genre." Ray Celestin received two Daggers for his novel Sunset Swing, including the CWA Gold Dagger for the crime novel of the year as well as the Historical Dagger. 

CWA chair Maxim Jakubowski said: "This is a book bursting with heart, soul and spirit, at once all-encompassing and intimate, superbly paced and immaculately constructed. It's a testimony to this book that Ray has scooped not just one, but two CWA Daggers."

Other winners included M.W. Craven for Dead Ground (best thriller), Janice Hallett for The Appeal (best debut), and Julia Laite for The Disappearance of Lydia Harvey: A True Story of Sex, and Crime and the Meaning of Justice (nonfiction). Check out the complete list of Dagger winners here.

Reading with... Riley Sager

photo: Michael Livio

Riley Sager is the author of six novels, including Lock Every Door, Home Before Dark and Survive the Night. His debut novel, Final Girls, won the ITW Thriller Award for Best Hardcover Novel and has been published in more than 30 countries. A native of Pennsylvania, Sager now lives in Princeton, N.J. His latest book, The House Across the Lake (Dutton, June 21, 2022), is an escapist work of psychological suspense about an actress on retreat after a streak of bad press.

Handsell readers your book in 25 words or less:

It's Rear Window on a lake, with a mid-book twist so wild that we had to beg early readers to keep it a secret.

On your nightstand now:

Things We Do in the Dark by Jennifer Hillier, which comes out this month. She's one of my favorite writers. We became friends more than a decade ago, and it's been a joy watching her talent continue to grow.  

Favorite book when you were a child:

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. Reading it was the first time I felt truly transported by a book. It really made me understand the hypnotic power of the written word.

Your top five authors:

In alphabetical order: Agatha Christie, Stephen King, Lorrie Moore, David Sedaris, Anne Tyler. Because I'm a thriller writer, some of these names might come as a surprise. But I love all genres and styles, especially stories told in a distinctive voice. All five of these geniuses have that in spades.

Book you've faked reading:

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt is one of those books I bought with the best intentions but never got around to reading more than 50 pages. I thought it was amazing, but I got so distracted by life, work and other books that I haven't picked it up again.

Book you're an evangelist for:

I love Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter more than I love certain family members. There are books that come into your life at exactly the right moment and give you everything you didn't know you needed. This is one of those books. It's gorgeously written, and the sprawling narrative about love and longing and Hollywood just took my breath away.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt. In my defense, it's an iconic cover. Like a lot of people, I was drawn to it because of that photograph of the Bird Girl statue. Lucky for all of us, it also turned out to be a great book.

Book you hid from your parents:

My parents still don't know how much Stephen King I read in secret when I was way too young to be doing so. I would say The Shining, but I didn't finish it because I was too scared. So Pet Sematary for the win! That one I was able to finish, even though the ending left me shaken for days.

Book that changed your life:

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie is the first "adult" novel I ever read. It blew my young mind. I grew up on Dr. Seuss and Judy Blume. I had no idea books were capable of being this sinister and suspenseful. But after reading Agatha Christie, there was no going back.

Favorite line from a book:

"Only connect," from Howards End by E.M. Forster. The line is so famous that I feel a little chagrined for choosing it. But those two words speak so powerfully to me that I couldn't help myself.

Five books you'll never part with:

The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Misery by Stephen King
The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler
Dare Me by Megan Abbott
Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl

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

Definitely Jess Walter's Beautiful Ruins. (I truly am an evangelist for this book!) I'd love to enter it again not knowing any of its pivots and time jumps and glittering surprises.

Book Review

Review: The Marsh Queen

The Marsh Queen by Virginia Hartman (Gallery Books, $27.99 hardcover, 384p., 9781982171605, September 6, 2022)

Loni was 12 years old when her beloved father headed into the northern Florida marsh in his johnboat and did not return. At 36, she is working her dream job as a natural history artist at the Smithsonian, ignoring her past and her remaining family as hard as she can, until her younger brother calls to insist she come home to help care for their mother. The Marsh Queen, Virginia Hartman's fast-paced, compelling first novel, sees the prodigal daughter return to the swamps, the family she left behind, the mystery of her father's death and the possibility of a fresh start.

"Daddy wasn't just a visitor to the swamp, he was a part of the place." Loni's father, Boyd, was a Fish & Game officer, a fisherman, a devoted husband and father and a most unlikely suicide, although that was the rumored--and covered up--cause of his death. Loni was his usual companion in the swamps, uninterested in fishing but a passionate and talented illustrator of the birds they watched together. As an adult, she's kept that passion, but grown distant from her brother and especially from her always-prickly mother, Ruth, now suffering from dementia. A serious gardener and herbalist, Ruth struggles with painful secrets long kept from her daughter. Loni's leave of absence from the Smithsonian comes at an especially stressful time at work, and returning home is always painful; nothing about this trip feels right. But Loni canoes the swamps, discovers family secrets, investigates her father's death, finds herself involved in fresh intrigues and dangers--and meets a handsome stranger. The Smithsonian, and leaving Florida behind, have always been central to Loni's life plan, but as she sinks back into the quirks of family and home, she may just find a new way.

Hartman's descriptive writing and clear passion for her subject are on best display when Loni immerses herself in the natural environment, in her art and in her memories of Boyd. In her contemporary relationships, Loni can be frustratingly obtuse and lacking in self-awareness. As the enigma around Boyd's suspicious death gets more complex, the plotting can feel a little unwieldy. But the subversion of Loni's expectations is frequently refreshing; a few secondary characters offer intriguing perspectives, and the novel's framing details of Florida marshland, ornithology, museum work and fine art are expertly and beautifully drawn. The Marsh Queen is unwavering in its lush, finely detailed, appreciative portrayal of a distinctive natural setting, and ends on a redemptive, even inspirational note. --Julia Kastner, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: Mystery, romance, conspiracy, family drama, natural history and art combine in this excursion into a decades-old suspicious death in the swamplands of northern Florida.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Surfing & the Art of 'Reconstructed Reading'

Agatha Christie

What if we re-imagined legendary mystery writer and noted surfer Agatha Christie's novel The Man in the Brown Suit as a surfing-themed adventure story? 

There was some perfectly entrancing bathing going on. The people had short curved boards and came floating in on the waves. It was far too early to go to tea. I made for the bathing pavilion, and when they said would I have a surfboard, I said 'Yes, please.' Surfing looks perfectly easy. It isn't. I say no more. I got very angry and fairly hurled my plank from me. Nevertheless, I determined to return on the first possible opportunity and have another go. I would not be beaten. Quite by mistake I then got a good run on my board, and came out delirious with happiness. Surfing is like that. You are either vigorously cursing or else you are idiotically pleased with yourself.

Agatha has set the theme. What happens next? That's where reconstructed reading comes in. 

Imagine this: You're on vacation and all the books you brought along are read or abandoned. Fortunately, any summer lodging worthy of its tradition will have stray books left behind by previous visitors. They might not be irresistible, but could be reconstructible. 

A century ago, the Atlantic Monthly (July 1922 issue) included a brief Contributors' Club piece headlined "Books as they are read." The anonymous writer (I think I'll call them Nony) observed: "People blessed with a stable residence are apt to think reading a simple matter. That is because they can select their books.... With an author of your own choice, there is no need for ingenuity. You begin with the first page and read to the end. His thought fits your mind as a made-to-measure suit fits your figure. But try one of those hand-me-down novels which find their way into the bookcases of the Continental pension, and see if it does not gall you into despair. These books are invariably left behind by transient locataires. Naturally, they take the good ones with them."

Mrs. Henry de la Pasture

Nony suggests "the necessity of what I have called 'reconstruction.' Here's how it works: I pick up a copy of The Grey Knight by Mrs. Henry de la Pasture... and read the opening paragraph: "A woman rested upon a bench placed beneath a gayly striped awning in the front court of a small French provincial hotel."

Nony is unimpressed. "Obviously it won't do. The woman and the bench are the only substantives unescorted by adjectives in the whole sentence. Invidious distinction.... I skip to the middle of page 138, as I should have done in the first place, and read:

"Anna, before I go, won't you congratulate me and say you are glad?"
"Glad isn't the word," said Anna gruffly. "It's a load off my mind. I don't think you're the sort of person who is suited to live alone, and any kind of husband is better for you than none." 

"That's better," Nony writes. "One is interested in Anna immediately. We must look for more of her, and turn, say, to page 195: 'She has been in the chapel, which is like an ice house; that's why Margaret went in there. Something has happened.' It says nothing about Anna.... One thing is certain, however: that delightful 'something has happened' refers to something satisfyingly material--a throat cut, a body hanged, a fainting fit at the very least.... But isn't the book already vastly improved? How far have we come from the striped awnings beneath which nothing can happen? Intended by the author for a hammock tale, we have transformed it into a detective story, fit to be read in the dead of winter before an open fire."

Nony believes that it is one of the cardinal principles of "reconstruction" to leave out the hero and heroine parts entirely: "The subordinate characters and wicked people--unless one of the latter chances to be a regular 'heavy'-- have some traces of humanity. But the hero and the heroine--no amount of skipping backward and forward suffices usually to save them."

Reconstructing books you don't want to read cover to cover could become a new summer tradition. Imagine Peter Benchley's novel Jaws from the perspective of Tom Cassidy, whose date is the Great White's Chapter 1 victim. The couple were just partying at a beach house in Amity. Where does Tom go from that grisly moment? Nowhere. We've already forgotten him by chapter 4 as the body count rises.

Flip to page 175: "He couldn't speak. He wanted to stand and walk out to the kitchen, but he didn't trust his legs. He'd never make it without holding on to something. Just sit still, he told himself. It'll pass." It's not Tom, but maybe it could be in a reconstructed Jaws

Or... what if we brought Tom and Agatha together? "I learned to become expert--or at any rate expert from the European point of view--the moment of complete triumph on the day that I kept my balance and came right into shore standing upright on my board!" Christie wrote in her autobiography. In a surfing adventure/redemption novel, maybe she could help Tom get his sea legs back.

As Nony suggested a century ago, "try the method over on your own library.... Browning once spoke of 'sundry verses of St. Paul, which, read directly, sanctify the soul, but muttered backwards cure the gout and stone.' (I quote from memory). The transforming influence of reconstructive reading was never better set forth."

--Robert Gray, contributing editor

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