Also published on this date: Tuesday, August 16 Dedicated Issue: Mariner Books

Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Simon & Schuster: Register for Fall Preview!

Bramble: The Stars Are Dying: Special Edition (Nytefall Trilogy #1) by Chloe C Peñaranda

Blue Box Press: A Soul of Ash and Blood: A Blood and Ash Novel by Jennifer L Armentrout

Charlesbridge Publishing: The Perilous Performance at Milkweed Meadow by Elaine Dimopoulos, Illustrated by Doug Salati

Minotaur Books: The Dark Wives: A Vera Stanhope Novel (Vera Stanhope #11) by Ann Cleeves

Soho Crime: Exposure (A Rita Todacheene Novel) by Ramona Emerson

Wednesday Books: When Haru Was Here by Dustin Thao


The Books Bus Arrives in Savannah, Ga.

The Books Bus, a mobile bookstore selling new and used titles for children and adults, debuted last month in Savannah, Ga., Savannah Now reported.

Since hitting the road in the Books Bus in late July, owner Kaitlynn Perry, who is also a full-time student, has started making regular appearances at several locations throughout Savannah. Those spots include breweries, street markets and a food truck park, and while the inventory changes a bit from appearance to appearance, Perry stocks around 500 books in the bus. She noted that Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens and anything by author Colleen Hoover have sold especially well so far.

The Books Bus, which Perry calls Betty, is built inside of a short school bus. Perry bought the bus in January and began converting it with the help of a Kickstarter campaign that raised a little over $3,000. It took a lot of trial and error to build custom shelves that fit the bus and kept books secure, and acquiring a business license for the bus also proved to be a time-consuming challenge.

"Literacy impacts every area of life, it affects one's ability to do math and to be successful in high school," Perry said. "Literacy, and being literate, is the most important thing you can do to raise your odds of success in life. My goal is to get people excited about reading again, and the book bus provides a unique experience for people to climb in, buy a book and get back into reading."

Perry told Savannah Now that owning a bookstore has been a lifelong dream, but she knew that opening a bricks-and-mortar store in Savannah would be out of reach given the sky-high rents. She noticed that pop-up bookstores seemed to be having success, and last December she began researching buses and vans. 

At times the journey was a very difficult one, Perry said, but "I've pulled it off, and here we are. I am thankful for every supporter, everyone who has pitched in along the way to bring this book bus to life."

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Four Weekends and a Funeral by Ellie Palmer

Left Bank Books Flooding Update: The Community Responds

Volunteers helped with clean-up operations on Sunday at Left Bank Books, St. Louis, Mo., as the bookshop continued recovery efforts from flood damage caused by torrential rainfall in St. Louis at the end of July, KMOV reported. 

"We definitely never thought we would be running away from floodwater and saving books," said assistant manager Amber Norris, referring to the shop flooding twice, with the second inundation more damaging. "The drains on the floors of our offices started to back up and water started coming out like a fountain and we ended up with six inches of water throughout our lower level."

One of Sunday's clean-up volunteers, Wintaye Gebru, said Left Bank Books holds a special place in her heart: "I grew up in this bookstore. I grew up not very far from here so this was the bookstore I came to as a kid and then I worked here for almost five years as the general manager. As soon as I saw what was happening on social media, probably like everyone else I was horrified."

While insurance is covering half of the estimated damages, Norris noted that the bookstore has received donations from community members totaling nearly $20,000 to help cover additional costs: "A tragedy like this in the financial sense for a small business is a big hit. Which is why the way the community has rallied around us has been so key."

The lower level will be shut down until early September for clean-up, repairs and re-organization, while the upper level of the store remains open, as does the online store.

Norris told KDSK that community members have shown up day after day and spent hours of their own time cleaning: "Every volunteer that's come has had some sort of personal connection with Left Bank and it's been really touching to hear their stories."

Volunteer Linda Locke, who has been a customer for decades, said, "When you have that kind of connection, then you're compelled to go beyond just being a customer, but being a shelf mud cleaner.... It just tears at my heart to think that people are without something that they consider the source of their lifeblood."

Left Bank Books posted on Facebook yesterday: "We are so very grateful to be part of such a wonderfully caring community. Thank you so much!!!"

AuthorBuzz for the Week of 04.22.24

New Voices, New Rooms: Banned Books

During a session on banned books during last week's New Voices, New Rooms virtual conference, ABFE executive director David Grogan noted that during his time with the organization it's "never gone a month without fighting a ban," but the increase in book challenges and bans over the past year has been "frankly alarming." In particular, what has really escalated is the challenging of books by authors from marginalized groups, and while these challenges are going on all over the country, he pointed to efforts in Virginia Beach, Va., and in Utah as particularly troubling.

Grogan served as moderator for the discussion, which also included middle grade and YA author Amy Sarig King (Attack of the Black Rectangles) and Sam Droke-Dickinson, co-owner of Aaron's Books in Lititz, Pa. Lititz, where both King and Droke-Dickinson live, is not far from the Central York School District, where last year local students helped overturn a wide-ranging book ban. Droke-Dickinson was running for the school board at the time, and in her capacity as a bookseller reached out to the protesting students and to other candidates. She worked with them to do a book drive and get the banned books "into the hands of children."

Elaborating on the book banning surge, Droke-Dickinson said it's not exclusive to "super conservative areas." It is "everywhere and gaining ground," and she suggested that if anyone wanted to "not sleep tonight," they could go to the website of Moms for Liberty and see how widespread it is. She emphasized the point that as citizens and booksellers, "you can help your community," and offered a number of practical suggestions.

The first point she mentioned was paying attention and taking the time to know what's going on at school board meetings. Booksellers could attend in person, stream board meetings if their district is offering that, or read the minutes of past meetings every month. Droke-Dickinson added that local newspapers can be valuable sources of information, along with teachers themselves.

Booksellers need to decide "how vocal and involved you want to be," as there can be real repercussions for speaking out. Taking a stand could result in a loss of school sales and customers, and "you're going to get Internet trolls no matter what." Booksellers should also be aware of their own mental health, with Droke-Dickinson mentioning that she actually stopped attending school board meetings after it became "too much." 

Droke-Dickinson added that ABFE has templates for letters to school boards as well as responses to customers, and she has those templates saved on the store's computers so staff members can refer to them at any time. In-store displays of who is challenging a given book and why can be effective, and she said social media is "super important." The American Library Association's Instagram account posts a weekly report of the challenges sent to them, and Aaron's Books shares those on the store's account.

If a book is challenged or banned in your school district, Droke-Dickinson continued, "make sure you contact ABFE and the ALA." They will put it on their lists and "keep an eye on it," and if booksellers feel comfortable doing so they can speak at school board meetings about the bans and challenges. It can also be worth it to buy a few extra copies of those titles to place in Little Free Libraries or donate to teachers.

Droke-Dickinson raised the point that the people looking to ban and challenge books are starting to come up with new tactics, such as trying to change the processes school boards have for handling challenges, so that it's easier to challenge the same books "over and over again." Many are also trying to change the opt-out--allowing parents to have their child excluded from a specific assigned reading--to an opt-in, where every parent would have to essentially sign a permission slip allowing their child to read any book. The opt-in, she remarked, would add "hours and hours" more work for teachers, librarians and administrators, and is "bat sh-t crazy."

When it comes to resisting book bans, King said that empowering young people and students is one of the most effective things that anyone can do. Parents and other adults should show young people "what it is we have to do to fight for our actual rights," and she warned that underestimating a child is perhaps the biggest insult "you'll ever give them." King also has form letters available on her website that students can use to write to their school boards. Speaking about both her career as an author and her advocacy on behalf of teenagers, King said: "All I really want to do is remind them that they're important." --Alex Mutter

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!

Obituary Note: Christopher Foyle

Christopher Foyle with Hilary Mantel at the opening of Foyles' flagship store.

Christopher Foyle, the former chairman of Foyles bookshops who took charge of the family-owned bookseller in 1999, died August 10, the Bookseller reported. He was 79. In a statement, the bookstore chain said, in part: "Christopher's vision inspired the Foyles of today: after taking the helm in 1999, he modernized the business, opening new branches and was instrumental in creating the magnificent new Foyles flagship bookshop on Charing Cross Road which opened in 2014. Christopher Foyle was an affable and regular visitor to the bookshop who had plenty of stories to share and made time for everyone. He loved unusual words, which he collected in the two-volume Foyle's Philavery. Our thoughts are with his family." 

Waterstones, which bought Foyles in 2018, described him as a "careful and visionary custodian" and "a steady friend to the business following its sale." James Daunt, Waterstones managing director, added: "Christopher was an enthusiast. He guided Foyles through its transformation and continued to give his shrewd support after the sale. We will miss him greatly."

A "distinguished entrepreneur and philanthropist who achieved commercial success in two radically different fields: bookselling and aviation," Foyle had "an eclectic range of interests that reflected his lively, inquiring mind," the Telegraph reported, adding that "he was perhaps best known for his dynamic chairmanship of the famous bookshop in London that bears his family name. Before that, however, he built an impressive air cargo business that was notable for its innovative use of giant Russian aircraft."

He took charge of Foyle's bookshop in 1999 on the death of his Aunt Christina, under whose leadership the "store had become notorious... for such anachronisms as requiring customers to queue three times to pay for their purchases rather than going to a single till. But that was the least of the problems Christopher faced," the Telegraph wrote. "He found for example that, instead of being ordered alphabetically, books were grouped together by publisher across 30 miles of shelving." Despite the challenges, he turned the business around, returned it to profitability, and opened a series of other outlets before selling to Waterstones.

Earlier in his life, during an unsatisfactory spell at Foyles as a trainee manager in the 1960s, he had traveled to Germany, Finland and France to gain more experience in the book trade. "By a coincidence, one of the postcards still sold by Shakespeare and Company, the renowned English-speaking bookstore in Paris, features a dashing picture of Christopher from this period, clad in fashionable sunglasses and browsing through its outdoor display," the Telegraph noted.

Foyle was appointed a Deputy Lord Lieutenant in Essex in 2007 and appointed OBE in the Queen's birthday honors this year. 


Good Morning America Visits D.C.'s Loyalty Bookstore

ABC's Good Morning America kicked off its celebration of Black Business Month with a visit to the Loyalty Bookstores location in Washington, D.C., and highlighted the work of owner Hannah Oliver Depp, who "has made it her mission to write a new chapter for her community when it comes to access to books and representation." Check out the video here, featuring a special guest appearance by author Jason Reynolds and a surprise presentation of a $20,000 check sponsored by Wells Fargo to support Depp's bookmobile dream. 

In an e-mail yesterday, Depp wrote: "Normally I write these messages from a computer in our D.C. or Md. store buried under a to-do list, but today I write to you from a state of total SHOCK and immense gratitude. The lovely folks at Good Morning America asked Loyalty to be part of their Black Business Celebration month and gave us a chance to talk about why diversity on bookshelves and within independent bookstores matter. But they had an INCREDIBLE surprise for us (watch until the end!).

"We are going to gather as a store and figure out how to strengthen the work we already do and then start building our next adventure with you, our wonderful community. Thank you to everyone who have gotten us to three years and welcome to anyone joining team Loyalty today!"

Earlier yesterday morning, Loyalty Booksstore posted on Instagram: "Team Loyalty is here at our Petworth location bright and early this morning for something super duper exciting!! Tune into @goodmorningamerica at 8 a.m.!"

Personnel Changes at University of Pittsburgh Press

Lesley Rains has joined the University of Pittsburgh Press as publicity manager. Rains was formerly the manager of the City of Asylum Bookstore in Pittsburgh.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Rep. Adam Schiff on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Rep. Adam Schiff, author of Midnight in Washington: How We Almost Lost Our Democracy and Still Could (Random House, $20, 9780593231531). He will also be on a Late Show with Stephen Colbert repeat tomorrow.

Live with Kelly and Ryan: Sophie Liard, author of The Folding Lady: Tools and Tricks for Making the Most of Your Space Room by Room (Harper Design, $22.99, 9780063217027).

The View repeat: Simu Liu, author of We Were Dreamers: An Immigrant Superhero Origin Story (Morrow, $27.99, 9780063046498).

Movies: The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

Oscar, Emmy and Tony award-winning actress Viola Davis has joined the cast of Lionsgate's Hunger Games prequel The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, based on the novel by Suzanne Collins. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Davis will play Dr. Volumnia Gaul, the head gamemaker of the 10th annual Hunger Games. The cast also includes Tom Blyth, Rachel Zegler, Josh Andrés Rivera, Peter Dinklage and Hunter Schafer.

Francis Lawrence, who directed three of the four Hunger Games movies, is helming the project and will also produce, alongside franchise producer Nina Jacobson and her partner Brad Simpson. Collins and Tim Palen will executive produce. Meredith Wieck and Scott O'Brien are overseeing on behalf of the studio.

"The Hunger Games films have always been elevated by their exceptional casting, and we are thrilled to be continuing that tradition with Viola Davis as Volumnia Gaul. Her formidable and powerful presence will add layers of complexity and menace to this story," said Lionsgate motion picture group president Nathan Kahane.

Books & Authors

Awards: Diverse Book Longlists

Longlists in three categories have been released for the Diverse Book Awards, which recognize "diverse and inclusive books by authors based in the U.K. and Ireland across children's, YA and adult books," the Bookseller reported. Shortlists will be revealed September 20 and the winners in each category named October 20. See the complete longlists here.

Author Abiola Bello, co-founder of the annual prize with publicist Helen Lewis, said: "I was overwhelmed by the entries for this year's awards. We had entries from the Big Five, indies and self-published authors and the standard was so high. I love learning about new books from authors I haven't heard about but I also like seeing the new books from authors who have been listed before because it shows that these authors are continuously bringing the diverse content that I crave. The Diverse Book Awards continues to bring to light the best diverse books. I know the judges had a very hard time judging and I am very proud of the longlist. I hope everyone champions these amazing authors."

Noting that there had been a 40% increase in the number of books submitted this year, Lewis added: "This is wonderful news, not just for the prize itself, as it is gaining further recognition and acceptance within the publishing industry, but it also demonstrates that more and more books are being released by publishers. The Diverse Book Awards was one of the first prizes to be open to self-published as well as traditionally published authors. For readers, it is about the story itself, not the route to publication, that matters."

Book Review

Review: Utopia

Utopia by Heidi Sopinka (Scribe US, $17 trade paper, 272p., 9781957363134, October 4, 2022)

Heidi Sopinka's Utopia opens at a party with the first-person perspective of Romy, a performance artist, directly addressing her months-old daughter. The evening ends with an unexplained tragedy, and from there the novel jumps forward some months to follow a young woman named Paz, who is now raising Romy's baby and is married to Romy's husband, Billy. It is 1978, and Paz, Billy and all their friends are steeped in the Los Angeles art scene, where sex, drugs and free expression are soured by competition, infighting and wildly different rules for male and female artists. Paz attends women's groups and wishes for a freer life for herself, but many women see her as having taken over Romy's life in decidedly unfeminist fashion. Romy, the more successful and established artist, casts a long shadow; Paz loves Billy but is perhaps more in love with Romy, whose life and art obsess her. Caring for Romy's baby, lost in reading Romy's journals, Paz finds herself in something of a love triangle with a ghost, and begins to lose grasp of her own life and art. And then a postcard arrives, apparently from Romy. It is labeled "disappearance piece."

Utopia cleverly investigates layers of social issues: feminism and its intersections with race and class; gender roles in life and in art; women's relationships; the artist's relationship to commerce and social justice. The central narrative belongs to Paz, but that narrative is always shadowed by Romy, and intermingled with Romy's voice via her journal entries. "Everything Romy said assumed importance. She lived her life so strongly." The two women and all they have in common (including an art-star husband and a baby) offer plenty of room to examine questions about art and gender. Paz's best friend Essa (also an artist and mother) is another powerful character and model for Paz to chart her own path. They are surrounded by other women of the art scene and feminist groups; the novel is populated by strong women questioning norms.

Sopinka (The Dictionary of Animal Languages) excels in characterization and the evocation of the power of creation. In pursuing her predecessor's mysterious end, Paz must put herself in real danger and explore the very edges of not only art but existence. "She's driving a speed addict's car in an inside-out shirt, on painkillers, with a hand wrapped in gauze, on her way to find her husband's dead ex-wife. If she concentrates hard enough, these things will snap into a logical pattern." By the time the perspective shifts to that of a third woman near the novel's conclusion, Utopia has asked that the reader journey through some weighty questions--but all will be rewarded. --Julia Kastner, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: Art, gender, love and friendship are all under consideration in this novel of twisted relationships in the 1970s L.A. art scene.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Things We Never Got Over by Lucy Score
2. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki with Sharon L. Lechter
3. Mine to Hold by Natasha Madison
4. Scorch by Chelle Bliss
5. Everything Connects by Faisal Hoque with Drake Baer
6. The Growth Trap by Ralph DiBugnara
7. Heart Bones by Colleen Hoover
8. Melody of Flame (The Wildsong Series Book 2) by Tricia O'Malley
9. Madness & Mayhem by Emma Slate
10. Royally Not Ready by Meghan Quinn

[Many thanks to!]

AuthorBuzz: St. Martin's Press: The Rom-Commers by Katherine Center
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