Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Harper: The Farewell Tour by Stephanie Clifford

Dial Press: Sam by Allegra Goodman

Flatiron Books: The God of Endings by Jacqueline Holland

Blackstone Publishing: Blood Circus by Camila Victoire

Wednesday Books: Missing Clarissa by Ripley Jones

Berkley Books: Sisters of the Lost Nation by Nick Medina

Ronin House: So Close (Blacklist #1) by Sylvia Day

Bloom Books: Queen of Myth and Monsters (Adrian X Isolde #2) by Scarlett St. Clair

Quotation of the Day

'I Owe My Career to Indie Bookstores'

Jamie Ford

"I owe my career to indie bookstores. Truly. It's wonderful to be a bestselling author, whatever that means. But indie bookstores are reality. They're what booksellers are reading and recommended to their readers, they're what readers are coming in and asking for. They're not the dictates of a large retail corporation and they're not affected by co-op. It's a more honest, more pure system that comes from an ecosystem that's created by independent booksellers. It's real, it's tangible, it's substantial. When it comes to going out on tour, I do go out of my way to visit as many indies as I can, either for an event or for a stock signing. For my first book we drove from Bellingham, Washington, down to California and we hit every indie store on the way just to pop in and do stock signings and say hi to people. 

"Bookstores matter.... I don't have any kind of success on my own outside of that ecosystem. It's just impossible. My career is built upon that support."

G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Hunter by Jennifer Herrera


New Voices, New Rooms Wraps Up: Looking Ahead, Looking Back

The final day of NAIBA/SIBA's virtual conference New Voices, New Rooms, wrapped up on Wednesday, August 10, with two more excellent author panels.

At the author breakfast discussion, "Alternate Futures: Four Scenarios," moderator Jason Hafer, co-owner and general manager of Reads & Company in Phoenixville, Pa., observed that although this quartet of novels all take place in the future, "each is a response to things happening in real time; after writing it, do you feel better about where we might end up?

Clockwise from top left: moderator Jason Hafer; Ewan Morrison; Silas House; Ruthanna Emrys; Lucinda Roy.

Lucinda Roy put it another way, "Is it flagellation or catharsis?" Flying the Coop (Tor), the second in her Dreambird Chronicles, takes place 20 years from now, during a second U.S. civil war. "Catharsis," Roy said, answering her own question. Her three characters discuss race and how they're seen from the outside versus how they feel on the inside. As a biracial woman, Roy said, she wanted to explore "not so much why the caged bird sings, but how the caged bird flies," she added, "I think of imagination as an antidote to despair."

Ruthanna Emrys's A Half-Built Garden (Tordotcom) is a first contact story set in the 2080s. Humans have solved climate change when a "helpful alien" arrives, who wants to rescue humans "whether or not they want to be rescued," Emrys said. Her heroine, Judy, lives with her family in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, and they've seen what has changed and what has stayed the same. Emrys finished drafting the book in March 2020, writing in fear of fascism, and edited it during the pandemic. She believes: "Hope is a discipline."

Ewan Morrison was less optimistic. While he was writing, he said, "I started out cathartic. Now I'm worried." How to Survive Everything (Harper Perennial, Nov. 15) grew out of the pandemic, people driven by fake news and how it separated families into maskers versus anti-vaxxers. Teenaged Haley's parents have divorced: her father is a prepper and conspiracy theorist who believes the apocalypse is upon them, and her mother believes Walmart is still open. Her father kidnaps Haley and her brother to "keep them safe." Morrison was interested in "looking at the consequences of where we are now, and create the myths of the future--the growth of survivalism and preppers, that idea of locking away the family until it's 'over.'"

Silas House's Lark Ascending (Algonquin, Sept. 27), set 20 years from now, finds his hero, Lark, having lost everything: fires consume the U.S. and he is on the run from fundamentalist powers--queer existence has been outlawed and is punishable by death--and he seeks refuge in Ireland. House said, "My greatest fears are coming true" with Judge Clarence Thomas's concurring opinion raising questions surrounding the future of gay marriage and the safety of the LGBTQ+ community. "I also worry about climate change and Christian nationalism." Yet what sustained House through the pandemic were walks, his dogs and music. His book includes a chapter narrated by a beagle. He liked Emrys's idea of hope as a discipline. After all, his title is taken from a beautiful composition written by Vaughan Williams in the early days of the First World War.

Reflecting on the Past
While the authors at the breakfast focused on the future, the authors at the dinner on "Memoir" reflected on the past. Kathy Ellen Davis, author and content manager for NAIBA, moderated; she stepped in for Hannah Oliver Depp, owner of Loyalty Books, Washington, D.C., who prepared the questions but couldn't be present.

"My parents loved me through food," said Rabia Chaudry, the Pakistani American author of Fatty Fatty Boom Boom (Algonquin, Nov. 8). "This is the rawest book I could write. [My family] wanted to see you eat, but would also say, 'Have you thought about walking?' " Chaudry added that as Muslims, "we don't drink, we don't party; food is all we have." She pointed out that one cannot simply give up food, but rather must find a way to discover healthy ways to eat. Filled with humor, Chaudry's book also includes some of her favorite recipes.

Continuing on the family theme, Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar discovered while completing their first collaboration, You'll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey (published by Grand Central in 2021), "the stories are still happening!" As Davis said, delivering Depp's observation, "Micro[aggressions] once you put them in writing, are not so micro." Lamar, who still lives in Omaha, Neb., said white people came up to her after the book was published and said, "What you described in the book, I did that! I don't do that anymore!" And for readers of color, Lamar said she wanted them to know "what's gonna keep you safe in that situation." For Ruffin and Lamar's second book, The World Record Book of Racist Stories (Grand Central, Nov. 22), the sisters involved their whole family's stories. Just as with the first book, "it's just us talking," Ruffin said, in their new book, "We note it the way the family tells it."

The title of singer/songwriter Craig Morgan's memoir says it all--God, Family, Country (Blackstone, Sept. 27)--as he reflected on "all the things that shape our life." His service in the U.S. Army exposed him to cultures beyond what he'd seen growing up in Tennessee. When Davis asked him how songwriting differed from writing a book, he said, "I have three minutes to tell a story in a song; it took me a year to write the book." One of the more challenging things was deciding which stories not to tell. Morgan wanted to share "why I do what I do with the platform I've been given."

With his book Black Hollywood (Ebony Magazine Publishing, Oct. 4), photographer Carell Augustus "wanted people to think, and think twice, and I wanted to undo some things you were taught, add some controversy, get folks talking." He wanted to "take iconic images and redo them with Black figures." He suspended Corbin Bleu like Tom Cruise in one photo; posed Vanessa L. Williams as Cleopatra, and (the cover image) depicted Amber Stevens West as Holly Golightly, among others. "I'm dealing with cultural icons, and people want to protect them," he said. He recalled loving Dukes of Hazzard as a child, then growing up to discover he'd been cheering for a car named the General Lee, with a Confederate flag on the roof. "This [book] is a little bit of a correction of that."

During the banter as the session wound down, Lamar offered to Augustus that she would pose as Rapunzel for his next book. Ruffin told Morgan she'd been listening to "Almost Home" and asked him what he's working on now. Morgan then serenaded the audience with his just-completed song, "How You Make a Man." Ruffin followed with, "You have to write a sequel to 'Almost Home'!" Morgan said he would go to it as soon as they logged off. Stay tuned. --Jennifer M. Brown

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Women's Health Care Physicians: Your Pregnancy and Childbirth: Month to Month (7TH ed.)

All Things Inspiration Opens Second Location, in Marietta, Ga.

All Things Inspiration, a Christian bookstore in Mableton, Ga., has opened a second location in Cobb County, in Marietta, Ga., East Cobb News reported. The new store opened in a limited capacity back in March, but is now fully open for business and hosted a grand opening celebration last week.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held last Wednesday, and there were daily giveaways, special discounts, a storytime on Saturday morning and more. The new store's inventory will be similar to the original--Bibles, Christian books, church supplies, Bible study materials and a variety of Christian-themed gifts.

Owner LaVonya Williams-Tensley said the store has a meeting space that will be used for hosting study groups, book clubs and author signings. "We are so excited to be blessed with the opportunity to make Marietta the home of our second store."

Berkley Books: Jane & Edward: A Modern Reimagining of Jane Eyre by Melodie Edwards

International Update: More Support for Salman Rushdie; Edinburgh's Rare Birds Books Shop Expanding

Salman Rushdie

In a statement, the International Publishers Association said that, "like the entire publishing community around the world, [we] reacted with a combination shock and disgust at the news of the brutal attack on Salman Rushdie at the Chautauqua Institution in New York last Friday."

IPA secretary general José Borghino said: "First of all, we send our unwavering support to Salman Rushdie as he recovers from this barbaric act. We wish him a quick recovery, and we assure him that we will never shift from our pledge to uphold Freedom to Publish everywhere. We also send our best wishes to Mr. Rushdie's family and loved ones as they comfort him at this terrible time."
Kristenn Einarsson, chair of the IPA's freedom to publish committee, added: "The assault on Salman Rushdie was not just a repulsive personal attack, it was also a strike against the very concept of freedom of expression and Freedom to Publish. These ideas are central the IPA's work because without these freedoms, publishers and writers are effectively muzzled. The attack on Salman Rushdie is tragic but it will serve to redouble our commitment to fighting for the right of authors to speak out and of publishers to disseminate their words."


Scottish indie bookseller Rare Birds Book Shop, in the Edinburgh suburb of Stockbridge, is expanding to include a nonfiction hub as it celebrates its first anniversary, the Bookseller reported. The bookshop's mission is "to champion female authors and help you discover brilliant books you'd never have otherwise heard of."

Opening August 20, the new area will double the shop's size to create a new space dedicated to nonfiction and expand the bookstore's role as a community space. In addition to offering books for younger readers, the expansion will increase the selection of fiction titles and allow the shop to host events that can accommodate more people.

Founder Rachel Wood said, "In the last year the shop has become a staple in the community, hosting many events including a Tarot reading workshop, a 'Make Friends Mixer,' author events and even a wedding. Thanks to this incredible support from our customers, we are now at a stage where we are able to extend the bookshop even further."

The decision to expand and take over the space next door arose from the huge popularity of nonfiction titles. "The demand has been so strong for nonfiction," Wood noted. 


Australian indie bookstore chain Readings in Melbourne has purchased a new warehouse space in West Melbourne to replace the company's current Carlton warehouse, Books+Publishing reported. The purchase follows the sale of the existing warehouse building in 2021, which left Readings with no option to renew its lease.

"We had outgrown our current warehouse space and the working conditions were becoming increasingly intolerable and unsafe," said owner Mark Rubbo, adding that "the new space is about double the size and very clean.... We now have security and the ability to create a safe and functional working space tailored to our needs. Everyone is very excited." Readings hopes to move its warehouse operations to the new premises in mid-October.


Posted on Facebook by New Zealand bookseller Wardini Books, Havelock North: "Last night saw the whole Wardini crew together for the first time in over a year. It was loud and lovely and we could have done with another 17 hours to talk about everything we wanted to talk about. But fear not, wild schemes and plans are afoot and we shall continue to deliver awesome experiences in person and online. Thank you to The Great Wardini for cooking up his world famous in our house veggie bolognese. Yum." --Robert Gray

ECW Press: We Meant Well by Erum Shazia Hasan

Obituary Note: Nicholas Evans

Nicholas Evans

Nicholas Evans, the British journalist, filmmaker and author "whose novel-turned-film, The Horse Whisperer, broke publishing and movie records, along with the hearts of readers who made the book a bestseller in 20 countries," died August 9, the New York Times reported. He was 72. 

In 1993, Evans had been working as a journalist and documentary filmmaker when he began thinking about an idea for a novel. He "had found an intriguing subject: the mystical, manly art of horse whispering. His source was a farrier, and Mr. Evans soon learned that the vocation of calming horses had a long history stretching back centuries," the Times wrote. To escape the class implications of the English horse world, Evans "looked to the American West for his story. He came up trumps when he met Tom Dorrance, a terse cowboy then in his 80s, and watched him soothe a frenzied mare in California. He then found two other cowboys who practiced the same compelling magic, and began to craft a character inspired by these three men."

Evans wrote about 150 pages of what would become The Horse Whisperer, then showed the draft to agent Caradoc King, who sent the partial manuscript to a number of publishers on their way to the Frankfurt book fair that year. Suddenly, Evans was in the middle of a bidding war, juggling offers from Hollywood as well as from book publishers. Hollywood Pictures and Robert Redford’s film studio, Wildwood Pictures, "won the bid, at the time the largest amount ever paid for the rights to a first novel (almost $6 million in today’s money). Mr. Evans’s North American book advance, of $3.15 million from Dell Publishing, set another record," the Times noted.

Published in 1995, The Horse Whisperer was a global bestseller, translated into 40 languages, though not a critical success. The movie, which came out in 1998, was more favorably reviewed and a modest box office success. Coincidentally, Evans also unknowingly introduced the word "whisperer" into the popular lexicon to denote experts who can tame complicated creatures. 

“It was an extraordinary event,” said King of the frenzy surrounding The Horse Whisperer. "It was just the magic of the story. That was the thing.”

Charlie King, managing director of Little, Brown Book Group, told the Bookseller that Evans "was a masterful storyteller and one of the most successful, best-loved novelists of his generation. His era-defining bestseller The Horse Whisperer and his four subsequent novels, The Loop, The Smoke Jumper, The Divide and The Brave, have been enjoyed by millions of readers around the world. Little, Brown is extremely proud to be Nick’s publisher--he will be greatly missed, but his words will live on for years to come."


Image of the Day: Larry Beinhart at the Golden Notebook

The Golden Notebook in Woodstock, N.Y., hosted the launch signing for Larry Beinhart's new novel, The Deal Goes Down (Melville House). Pictured: Beinhart flanked by Golden Notebook owners Jackie Kellachan and James Conrad.

Banned Books Display: Anderson's Bookshops

Anderson's Bookshops, with locations in Naperville and Downers Grove, Ill., shared a photo of its banned books display on social media, noting: "After a summer of challenging books in libraries and bookstores, the book banners are ramping up for the start of a new school year. Over the last week, we have once again tracked an increase in the number of books being pulled off of school library and classroom shelves across the country, with one school district in Florida freezing all book purchasing by its employees--and even book donations to its schools--in the wake of Florida HB 1467, which requires all reading material in schools to be selected by an employee with special certification approved by the state.... 

"Because we continue to feel frantic over this developing situation and have no idea what else to do, we continue to update our lists and displays of banned titles and we highly encourage you to read them and make up your OWN mind about them."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Beth Macy on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Beth Macy, author of Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America (Back Bay Books, $17.99, 9780316551304).

Tamron Hall repeat: Gabrielle Bernstein, author of Happy Days: The Guided Path from Trauma to Profound Freedom and Inner Peace (Hay House, $25.99, 9781401965495).

Kelly Clarkson Show repeat: David Duchovny, author of The Reservoir (Akashic Books, $19.95, 9781636140445).

TV: Natural Beauty

In "a very competitive situation," eOne has landed the rights to Natural Beauty, the debut novel by writer and concert violinist Ling Ling Huang, to develop for TV, Deadline reported. The series will be produced by Constance Wu (Fresh Off the Boat), via her Tempo Wubato Productions, and Yellowjackets executive producer Drew Comins, via his Creative Engine Entertainment. 

Natural Beauty will be published by Dutton in April 2023. The search is underway for a writer to adapt the novel, which "draws on Grammy winner Huang's experience as a violinist for various ensembles, including the Oregon Symphony, ProMusica, Experiential Orchestra, Carnegie's Hall Link Up Orchestra, and Music Kitchen, an organization that partnered with Carnegie Hall to bring concerts to shelters for those experiencing homelessness," Deadline wrote.

Books & Authors

Awards: Leacock Medal for Humor Shortlist

A shortlist has been released for the C$25,000 (about US$19,565) Leacock Medal for Humor, which honors "the best Canadian book of literary humor published in the previous year." The winner will be named September 17 at the Leacock Medal Gala Dinner, where the three 2022 finalists will join the shortlisted authors from 2020 and 2021 for celebrations that have been delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic. This year's finalists are:

An Embarassment of Critch's by Mark Critch
The Prairie Chicken Dance Tour by Dawn Dumont
Talking to Canadians by Rick Mercer

Reading with... Melody Razak

photo: Patricia Niven

Melody Razak is a British Iranian writer from London and has an M.A. in Creative Writing from Birkbeck. Razak has had stories published in a variety of anthologies and has also written for the Sunday Times and the Observer Food Monthly. Before she started writing, she owned a café in Brighton, where she lives now. Her debut novel, Moth (Harper, August 9, 2022), is the saga of one Indian family's trials through the tumultuous 1947 partition of Pakistan from India, exploring its impact on women, what it means to be "othered" in one's own society and the redemptive power of family.

Handsell readers your book in 25 words or less:

Moth is the story of the unravelling of a Brahmin family living in Delhi in the 1940s during India's independence and subsequent partition.  

On your nightstand now:

War Music: An Account of Homer's Iliad by Christopher Logue. A retelling of books 16-19 of the Iliad, it's wonderfully contemporary in language and imagery. I'm reading it aloud and the sentences jump off the tongue.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Witches by Roald Dahl. When I was a child, this was the most deliciously exciting book I had ever come across. I remember clearly, desperately wishing the witches were real and yet so horrified at the prospect and then, as a side note to self, wondering if I might--please--grow into one?

Your top five authors:

Arundhati Roy. For The God of Small Things, which made me want to write and taught me that prose could be playful and horrific and important all at the same time. A study of the most intimate details of life set against the larger political and social scale of injustice. I read various pamphlets of her political essays when I was in India writing Moth, and each of them filled me with rage and impotence and ignited a desire to speak.

Virginia Woolf. For Mrs Dalloway and To the Lighthouse and The Waves. For how language flows in and out of consciousness, how it can pinpoint and pierce with such clarity and exactness. For A Room of One's Own and Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown, the best essays on character I have ever read.

Maggie Nelson. For The Argonauts, The Art of Cruelty, The Red Parts and Bluets. I feel that each word she writes causes me to see beauty in unexpected places and to expand my compassion and understanding of nuance. Her honesty floors me every time and encourages me to attempt the same.

Angela Carter. Mostly for The Bloody Chamber, though I have enjoyed many of her novels too. A rich and bloody retelling of traditional fairy tales that I have read many times over. In fact, my copy is falling apart at the seams. There is simple, sparse, true language, and I am always attempting to cut and refine my work but then am reminded of Angela Carter: all those layers and colors and images that swell the imagination.

William Dalrymple. Quite possibly the best travel writing I have read. Ever. Nine Lives, in particular, explores individual lives with such sensitive curiosity and love. William Dalrymple has a real regard for human life, for suffering, for humor, for India in all its guises. He searches for grains of truth and nearly always finds them.

Book you've faked reading:

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville. Tried and tried but never got past the halfway point. Left each time with the burning question: But do I care?

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James. The most exquisite portrait of character I have ever come across. A book to study in detail.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Little Eyes by Samanta Schweblin. That red-eyed panda got me from across the aisle.

Book you hid from your parents:

Flowers in the Attic by Virginia Andrews. Incest and child ballerinas and an attic and a mean old grandmother. At 13, I was obsessed. Enough high drama to fulfill a thousand adolescent dreams.

Book that changed your life:

Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. A female modernist voice, this stopped me in my tracks when I was 18 and caused me to examine how I write, why I write and how I would like to write. I covered my notebooks with quotes and memorized several.

Favorite line from a book:

As above. "Then, for that moment, she had seen an illumination; a match burning in a crocus; an inner meaning almost expressed."

Five books you'll never part with:

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. The historical details are so well-researched and Thomas Cromwell so well-penned that you find yourself falling in love with all his flaws, forgiving them, understanding them, wishing against all hope you had the power to change history.

Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey. Old-school, exceptional storytelling in the style of Dickens. Characters to flirt with, gamble with and drink cups of tea with.

A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit. A beautiful, honest and wise study that encourages the reader to stand on the edge of a precipice, to wander, to get lost, to take all the risks. I read this religiously when I was researching Moth and drank in every word.

Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong. For the poetry that makes you stop and listen, reread and reread for the simple pleasure of hearing the words out loud. For the range of emotions that simmer beneath each carefully placed word.

The Neapolitan Quartet by Elena Ferrante. Because four books in one. Explores family, female friendship, passion and what it means to be truly, achingly alive.

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

Vanity Fair by William Thackeray. I read this almost 20 years ago on an island off Sumatra, and I have never forgotten Becky Sharp. Her bad behavior and her charm had me utterly seduced.

Book you wish you had written:

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. Because, quite simply, a masterpiece. Prose so beautiful you want to bathe in it.

Book Review

YA Review: Holler of the Fireflies

Holler of the Fireflies by David Barclay Moore (Knopf Books for Young Readers, $17.99 hardcover, 368p., ages 10-13, 9781524701284, September 27, 2022)

CSK-John Steptoe Award winner David Barclay Moore (The Stars Beneath Our Feet) offers upper middle-grade readers a resonant and evocative story in his sophomore novel, Holler of the Fireflies

Twelve-year-old Javari Harris is excited to get away from home for the summer. The recent police killing of an unarmed Black man on Javari's block has his whole community on edge. His emotional stress is intensified by the fear of becoming unhoused: Javari's parents are unable to afford the rising cost of rent in swiftly gentrifying Bushwick and are on the verge of eviction from an apartment that has been in the family for three generations. When Javari's uncle suggests he apply to the STEM camp at Appalachian Ridge Christian College (ARCC) in Horsewhip Hollow, W.Va., the tween jumps at the opportunity to spend 14 "fun-filled days" with nothing to do but "build rockets, race boats, explore nature and learn code!"

At ARCC, he chooses to study math and science in addition to coding and is excited about a group contest to create a STEM project. The competition offers a chest full of prizes including cash, a perfect solution for Javari's family troubles. But Javari is shy, short for his age and insecure about his "crossways"-staring eye, and making friends at ARCC is difficult. Additionally, although the campers are a diverse group of children, Javari is somehow surrounded by racism (like Confederate flags). Then Javari meets a Black boy with freckles named Cricket, who is a local activist and occasional thief. The two become friends and Cricket shows Javari a different side of the holler while also introducing him to the little-known history of the ignored Affrilachians (African Americans living in Appalachia). Javari, now armed with new knowledge about the holler and a team of kids to work with, decides on the final STEM project for the contest. But will it be enough to win the prize?

In this outstanding novel, Moore covers topics such as friendship, racism, poverty, class, corporate greed, the opioid crisis and social justice. His thoughtful approach to big ideas is honest and his text attends to the topics in a way that allows middle-grade readers to understand and older readers to relate to them. Holler of the Fireflies is a feel-good book that still manages to go deep into heavy topics. This profound and proficiently written novel connects Appalachia's rich and sensitive past and present. --Natasha Harris, freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: In this outstanding novel, a preteen from Brooklyn attends a STEM camp in a small Appalachian town and experiences a life-changing summer.

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