Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, September 21, 2022

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

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

Blue Box Press: A Light in the Flame: A Flesh and Fire Novel by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Irh Press: The Unknown Stigma Trilogy by Ryuho Okawa

Other Press (NY): The Rebel and the Thief by Jan-Philipp Sendker, translated by Imogen Taylor

Holiday House: Welcome to Feral (Frights from Feral) by Mark Fearing

Charlesbridge Publishing: Too-Small Tyson (Storytelling Math) by Janay Brown-Wood, illustrated by Anastasia Williams

Berkley Books: Stone Cold Fox by Rachel Koller Croft


Heartleaf Books Opens in Providence, R.I.

Cooperative bookstore Heartleaf Books officially opened in Providence, R.I., last week, the Brown Daily Herald reported. Located next to St. John's Park at 374 Atwells Ave., the bookstore is a consumer and worker-owner co-op selling books for children, teens and adults that are inclusive and lean into the "queer, artsy spirit" of Providence.

Co-owners and sisters Caroline and Mads Vericker, both former librarians, have been working toward opening a bricks-and-mortar location for more than a year. Heartleaf debuted as a pop-up store at the Providence Flea in July 2021. Over the past year they raised $9,500 through a Kiva campaign and secured a $50,000 loan from the Cooperative Fund of the Northeast. They signed the lease for their current space in June and have an opening inventory of about 2,000 books.

"We saw that on this neighborhood, the West Side, there's really not a lot of bookstores and libraries," Caroline Vericker told the Herald. "We just wanted to fill that gap."

Minotaur Books: A World of Curiosities (Chief Inspector Gamache Novel #18) by Louise Penny

PNBA: Energy and Excitement

The Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association show took place over the past three days in Tacoma, Wash., an event that drew more than 200 attendees and more than 100 authors. "Last year we came out of the ashes of the pandemic with modest goals for the show and it's very clear to me that members are ready to dive back in," said PNBA executive director and marketing director Brian Juenemann. "We're at 85% to 90% of our pre-pandemic experience."

Participants agreed: Sarah Hutton of Village Books, Bellingham and Lynden, Wash., said, "People are excited to be back and negotiate this new frontier. The energy is great."

Tina Ontiveros of Klindt's Booksellers & Stationers, The Dalles, Ore., and a member of the PNBA board, said, "Booksellers are excited about the PNBA show and the buzz is building for Winter Institute in the Pacific Northwest."

Sally McPherson of Broadway Books, Portland, Ore., noted that "the timing of the PNBA show is perfect this year, before the start of fourth-quarter buying and upcoming rep appointments."

And James Crossley of Madison Books, Seattle, Wash., said there was "lots of great energy the on the trade show floor."

PNBA 2022 kicked off with the Brown Bag Brunch featuring (l.-r.) Ava Chin (Mott Street: a Chinese American Family’s Story of Exclusion and Homecoming; Penguin Press, Apr. 2023), Victor LaValle (Lone Women; One World, Mar. 2023), Matt Ruff (The Destroyer of Worlds: A Return to Lovecraft Country; Harper, Feb. 2023) and Kristina McMorris (The Ways We Hide; Sourcebooks Landmark).

PNBA's Amber James, Tina Ontiveros and Brian Juenemann at the organization's table on the show floor, featuring titles from their Holiday Catalog.

On Monday night, PNBA hosted the "Authors on the Town" reception, sponsored by Shelf Awareness, at the Dystopian State Brewing Company.

PNBA partygoers (from l.) Sylla McClellan and Allie Bisset, Third Street Books, McMinnville, Ore.; Tina Ontiveros, PNBA board; Sarah Hutton, Village Books, Bellingham, Wash.; Jane Danielson, Eagle Harbor Book Store, Bainbridge Island, Wash.; Raeanne Blake, The Next Chapter Bookstore, Hermiston, Ore.

At "Bookselling as a Career," panelists Kate Larson (Ballast Book Company, Bremerton, Wash.), Shawn Donley (Hachette), Claire McElroy-Chesson (Village Books, Bellingham, Wash.) and Kalani Kapahua (Third Place Books Ravenna, Seattle) explored ways to make bookselling a fulfilling, long-term career.

GLOW: Sourcebooks Landmark: Clytemnestra by Costanza Casati

Spotify Adds Audiobooks

Spotify has added audiobooks to its U.S. streaming service, with 300,000 titles now available for purchase. 

Audiobooks can be found alongside music and podcasts in search, curated recommendation feeds and libraries, but appear with a lock icon on the play button. Users are taken to a web page to purchase audiobooks, and once the transaction is completed they can stream the audiobook or download it for offline listening. There is also a rating feature for audiobooks that will display a given title's aggregate rating

Nir Zicherman, vice-president and global head of audiobooks and gated content at Spotify, noted that users have been requesting audiobook functionality for years, and going forward the streaming service plans to add new authors and publishers and look to expand audiobooks to other markets.

Barefoot Books: Save 10%

International Update: Canadian Publishers See Increased Revenue in 2021; Philippine Bookstore Chain Gets New Nickname

More than half of publishers (55%) saw an increase in revenue for 2021 compared to 2020, according to the State of Publishing in Canada 2021 study, released by BookNet Canada, that provides a comprehensive overview of the country's English-language publishing landscape. 

Small publishers, accounting for 65% of survey respondents, had 2021 gross revenue of under C$1 million (about US$755,035). The remainder were made up of mid-sized publishers (26%) with revenue between C$1 million to C$9,999,999 (about US$7,540,340) and large publishers (9%) with revenue of C$10 million or more. The largest share of publishers (40%) had been in business for more than 35 years. There was an average of 20 full-time and nine part-time employees in 2021 for publishing firms based in Canada.

In terms of digital books in 2021, 52% saw increases in e-book revenue compared to 2020, and just over a quarter of all publishers (28%) saw increases in audiobook revenue in the same period.

Primary industry challenges cited by publishers in 2021 were printing (27%), shipping (20%) and operational challenges (19%), while achievements noted were their sales (28%), titles (28%) and navigating Covid-19 (26%). Overall, 49% of publishers described the health of their company as excellent in 2021, based on their ability to withstand challenges, adapt and change. Remote or hybrid work arrangements was one of the changes brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic and 63% of responding publishers indicated they would be implementing some changes permanently. BookNet's State of Publishing in Canada 2021 is available here


"What is 'Nash' and why is it trending on Twitter" on Philippine Twitter? GMA News reported that Nash is short for National Book Store and "trended overnight when netizen @barrrrre tweeted a recent experience at the popular bookstore, where school supplies seem to constantly be out of stock."

"I remember as a kid going to Nash was always exciting because they had it all," he ended his tweet, then followed up with another tweet recalling previous, better experiences at NBS. 

"But his followup seemingly went unnoticed by netizens, who quickly reacted to his initial tweet where he called National, 'Nash,' " GMA News wrote. "It's blew up pretty big, pretty quickly so much so that National Book Store itself hopped on the trend."

"Call me National, Nash for short," @nbsalert tweeted late Monday. 

"I know a lot of people from Ateneo/Miriam who call it Nash, so pretty weird that people find it weird calling it as such," @barrrrre wrote to a friend, adding he didn't realize his post would blow up. As of yesterday, the original tweet had garnered more than 8,000 retweets and over 55,000 likes


The 99th Australian Booksellers Association Annual Conference and Trade Exhibition has been scheduled for June 17-19, 2023, at the Adelaide Convention Centre, which the ABA described as "a striking landmark on Adelaide's Riverbank" as well as "one of the world's most modern, flexible and technologically advanced venues. Located just 15 minutes drive from Adelaide International Airport and a stone's throw from South Australia's famed tourist regions."


Posted by Canadian author Louise Penny on Facebook: "Am in Paris for meetings with bookstores. Walking to one, I passed this. Will return to London tomorrow and watch the funeral on Monday with friends." --Robert Gray

Ginger Fox: Free Freight and a Free Book Lovers Mug

Obituary Note: Lily Renée Phillips

Artist Lily Renée Phillips, a refugee from Austria after the Nazi takeover who "started a new life in New York drawing powerful, glamorous heroines and broke barriers in a male-dominated field," died August 24, the New York Times reported. She was 101. "In the 1940s, few people reading the comic book adventures of Señorita Rio, a stylish spy working for U.S. intelligence in South America, appreciated just how much the artist drawing her was putting into those vivid images. Few even knew that the artist was a woman."

"Señorita Rio got clothes that I couldn't have," Phillips told comic book artist and historian Trina Robbins in 2006. "She had a leopard coat, and she wore these high-end shoes and all of this, and had adventures and was very daring and beautiful and sexy and glamorous." In 2011, Robbins published the biography Lily Renée: Escape Artist as a graphic novel.

Phillips "earned respect in a largely male field--she was one of the few women to draw comic book covers in the 1940s--despite a harrowing early life and on-the-job harassment," the Times noted, but her work went largely unrecognized until being rediscovered in the last two decades, largely through the efforts of Robbins. "She did not stay in the comics business long, but her work has come to be recognized for its inventive variations on the traditional grid format, and for its strong women."

In 1942, her mother had seen a want ad for cartoonists placed by the publisher Fiction House and encouraged her to apply. She started out drawing backgrounds and cleaning up the work of more experienced artists. Phillips described the job to Jim Amash, a comic book artist and historian, as "erasing other people's pages, drawing the backgrounds, and being totally miserable because the men thought of nothing but sex, and they were always making innuendos, and they just stared at me, which made me very uncomfortable."

Eventually she was given feature work, which ultimately led to drawing Señorita Rio, a feature that had first been drawn by Nick Viscardi but was turned over to her. Amash said Phillips "added an elegance, charm and anatomical fluidity that eluded many of those workmanlike house artists. As her pictorial approach to human anatomy improved with experience, so did a glamorous sheen that helped refine the 'good girl' style of the time period with more natural, feminine women."

She had left Fiction House by the end of the 1940s and began drawing with her first husband, artist Eric Peters, working on Abbott and Costello comics, romances, even an Elsie the Borden Cow comic. She later moved on to other professions, including working in textile design and writing and illustrating children's books.


Image of the Day: Legendary Olympian at the Library of Congress

(l.-r.) Dawud Anyabwile, Ramunda Young, Tommie Smith, Derrick Barnes

Posted on Instagram yesterday by Ramunda Young, co-owner of MahoganyBooks, Washington, D.C., and Oxon Hill, Md.:

"Imagine walking through the halls of the Library of Congress alongside an Olympic Gold medalist who shook up the world in 1968 with his silent protest. Fist aimed unwavering towards the sky, focused and accompanied by an Emmy award winning illustrator and a New York Times best selling author with one of the most awarded children’s books in history? The auditorium of close to 300 area youth was the icing on the cake. An image this little Oklahoma girl will never forget. So grateful for this book Victory. Stand! Which documents @tommiesmith68 life through the powerful words of @authorderrickdbarnes and unforgettable illustrations of @brothermancomix. Forever grateful. The public event starts at 7 p.m. tonight, come through or watch live from the @librarycongress page. I'm ready for round two!"

PRHPS and Dark Horse Comics Expand Distribution Agreement

Penguin Random House Publisher Services will exclusively sell and distribute Dark House Comics' new and backlist comic book periodicals, graphic novels and manga to direct market comic shops worldwide, beginning June 1, 2023. This expands the companies' current partnership in which PRHPS sells and distributes Dark Horse's trade-book frontlist and backlist to bookstores.

Founded in 1986 by Mike Richardson, Dark Horse has published the work of such major creators as Yoshitaka Amano, Paul Chadwick, Geof Darrow, Will Eisner, Neil Gaiman, Dave Gibbons, Faith Erin Hicks, Kazuo Koike, Matt Kindt, Jeff Lemire, Mike Mignola, Frank Miller, Kentaro Miura, Moebius, Chuck Palahniuk, Wendy Pini, Richard Pini, Gerard Way and more. Dark Horse also publishes licensed comics, graphic novels, collectibles and art books, including properties such as Stranger Things, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Minecraft, The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario, James Cameron's Avatar, Mass Effect, The Witcher and Halo.

Dark Horse founder and CEO Mike Richardson commented: "It's an exciting time for the industry, and our move to Penguin Random House for Direct Market distribution comes after years of being thrilled with our partnership with them in bookstore distribution. Dark Horse will continue to champion groundbreaking, character-driven stories, and Penguin Random House will help expand these stories' reach to retailers and fans around the globe. Diamond Distribution has been a key partner for Dark Horse for nearly 30 years. As we move on to this next stage in our company's growth, we want to thank Steve Geppi, Chuck Parker, and the Diamond team, and wish them only the best. While we will be moving our comics distribution to Penguin Random House, it is important to note that our products will still be available through Diamond as well."

Direct Market retailers can choose to order Dark Horse products direct from PRH, or alternatively, through Diamond, as a wholesaler, under terms established by Diamond in the U.S. and the U.K. These retailers now have full access to online ordering and can also visit, a website for comics, graphic novels, manga, and more, designed specifically for U.S. Direct Market comic shop retailers and consumers.

Jeff Abraham, president of PRHPS, said, "We are incredibly proud of our longstanding partnership with Dark Horse, and are excited to reach new heights with this expansion. We've grown together in an ever-evolving retail landscape for graphic storytelling, and we see this next step as further commitment to supporting Dark Horse, and our retail partners, well into the future."

Personnel Changes at Yale University Press

Marty Gosser is joining Yale University Press as national accounts manager. He has previously represented Perseus Books Group/Hachette Book Group and Norton.

Media and Movies

Author Karen Kingsbury Launches Production Company

Inspirational fiction author Karen Kingsbury has launched Karen Kingsbury Productions, to "introduce fans and newcomers alike to Kingsbury's characters on the big screen," according to the company, which is in preproduction on the first project, to be filmed this fall. 

"Karen Kingsbury Productions will create beautiful, redemptive, unforgettable love stories," said the author of almost 70 novels. "My audience will laugh and cry and walk away with a deeper sense of hope. I think these movies will make a tremendous impact on the market for such a time as this." 

Kingsbury's previously adapted stories include Maggie's Christmas Miracle, A Time to Dance and The Bridge, debuting on the Hallmark Channel; and the theatrical release of Like Dandelion Dust in 2009. A Thousand Tomorrows will be released on Pure Flix in late December and an announcement about the Baxter Family series is coming later this year.

"Some authors would choose to continue writing two blockbuster books a year and call it good," said Rick Christian, Kingsbury's literary agent. "Instead, Karen is just getting started. Her novels have often been called life-changing fiction, and I believe that life-changing will apply to her productions as well."

Media Heat: Neil deGrasse Tyson on Colbert's Late Show

Good Morning America: Ariel Fox, author of Spice Kitchen: Healthy Latin and Caribbean Cuisine (Kingston Imperial, $35, 9781954220249).

Rachael Ray: Jenny Mollen, author of Dictator Lunches: Inspired Meals That Will Compel Even the Toughest of (Tyrants) Children (Harvest, $27.99, 9780063242647).

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Neil deGrasse Tyson, author of Starry Messenger: Cosmic Perspectives on Civilization (Holt, $28.99, 9781250861504).

Books & Authors

Awards: Atwood Gibson Writers' Trust Fiction Finalists

The shortlist has been released for the C$60,000 (about US$45,240) Atwood Gibson Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, which recognizes the best novel or short story collection of the year by a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. 

The award is named in honor of Writers' Trust of Canada co-founders Margaret Atwood and the late Graeme Gibson, who started the organization in 1976 "with the help of a few fellow writers and an aim to encourage a Canadian literary culture at home." The winner will be announced November 2. This year's finalists, who each receive C$5,000 (US$3,770), are: 

Manam by Rima Elkouri
Some Hellish by Nicholas Herring
Querelle of Roberval by Kevin Lambert
Ezra's Ghosts by Darcy Tamayose
Her First Palestinian by Saeed Teebi

Reading with... Michael Pedersen

photo: Kate Gollock

Michael Pedersen is a Scottish poet, author and animateur. He's written two collections of poetry, Play with Me and Oyster (illustrated by musician/artist Scott Hutchison). Pedersen was a recipient of the Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship and the John Mather Trust Rising Star Award. He also founded the literary production house Neu! Reekie! His prose debut is Boy Friends (Faber & Faber, September 13, 2022), a paean to the gorgeous male friendships that have transformed his life.

Handsell readers your book in about 25 words:

A sloppy word casserole baked in celebration of friendship in all its weird and wonderous manifestations and a gooey tribute to friends here, there & elsewhere.

On your nightstand now:

Salena Godden's Mrs Death Misses Death; Malachy Tallack's Illuminated by Water; Bryan Washington's Memorial; Douglas Stuart's Young Mungo; Ada Limón's Bright Dead Things. I always have a fiction, a nonfiction and a poetry book on the go at once. This enables me to grasp for the tome that most connects to the version of myself that's surfaced to play that day. I also read stories to my long-distance lover over video calls a few nights a week, so there's one of those constantly within reach, too. This started during lockdown and was impossible to stop.

Favorite books when you were a child:

R.L. Stine's Goosebumps series.

Your top five authors:

I'm going to go narrow it down to living authors: Hollie McNish, Ocean Vuong, Irvine Welsh, Jenni Fagan, Jackie Kay.

Book you've faked reading:

I've seen this answer unfurl before and, no doubt, it'll unfurl again--Ulysses by James Joyce. My birthday is actually on the 16th of June, i.e., Bloomsday. And this year I'm going to wake up in the Shakespeare and  Company bookstore in Paris on Bloomsday, the bookshop's press being the original publisher. Plus, I just took part in their podcast series: 100 writers read Ulysses for the 100th anniversary of the novel, so I've been digitally mingling with sages of the text. Oh, the shame!

I've read it now, of course. Or have I?!

Book you're an evangelist for:

Ocean Vuong's On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous. I worship at the altar of my favourite Ocean.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Meat Loaf's Bat Out of Hell. Oh wait, that's a record. (The heartbreaker that is) Watership Down by Richard Adams. And anything (cover designer to the stars) Jon Gray puts his hand to (nail them to the wall if the book's a bogie).

Book you hid from your parents:

My own books, mainly. They contained nefarious behaviour I was keen to keep schtum.

Book that changed your life:

Tom Buchan's Poems 1969-1972 (Edinburgh: The Poni Press, 1972). Plucked from my mum's bookshelf in my early teens, this pale-yellow volume detonated inside of me. It was the first time I read a poetry book outside of the classroom--that's to say, for pure pleasure. The work was testament to the fact that poetry could be profane, political, provocative, sexy, smutty and surreal in one fell swoop. Henceforth, I knew this was the work for me.

Favorite line from a book:

I initially read that as favourite opening line (because I wanted to) so am sticking to that. Titus Groan (from the Gormenghast series) by Mervyn Peake:

"Gormenghast, that is, the main massing of the original stone, taken by itself would have displayed a certain ponderous architectural quality were it possible to have ignored the circumfusion of those mean dwellings that swarmed like an epidemic around its outer walls."

Setting, tone, intrigue, bamboozlement, literary splendour--it's all there with bravura.

Five books you'll never part with:

I'm pretty good at passing books on, so these are noted here because they're collector's items:

A first edition of Aldous Huxley's Collected Essays (1958). It's tatty and scribbled all over and definitely not of any great value, but Huxley was my teenage crush and this book, having been printed while he was still alive, is a wordy monument Aldous may well have clasped.

Max Porter's Grief Is the Thing with Feathers (signed first edition).

Alice Oswald's Falling Awake (signed first edition).

A Ted Hughes limited edition, hand-numbered, pamphlet/single poem print of Crow (112/250).

It'd be unforgivable not to mention (for it is at the acme of things cherished) the first edition of my own book Oyster. I'm not an egomaniac; it's because this creation is signed by my dearest Scott, who illustrated the book and then left this planet not long after. And because it has flaps, which some of the later editions don't possess on account of Brexit-induced paper price increases. Yup, the wings of Oyster wings were clipped because of Brexit (f**k Brexit--Scotland misses the EU).

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

J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. It triggered a new epoch of fantasy reading for me and remains one of the most trenchant, mordant and magical compendiums of male friendship that exists in the written word. Sure, Frodo and Sam but also Merry and Pippin and--the more contentious and then consoling friendship--Legolas and Gimli.

Whether or not your book has a tagline (imagine such a thing):

Yes, I thought you'd never ask. The tagline/song that thrums within in it croons, friendships might just be the greatest love affairs of our lives.

Book Review

YA Review: A Scatter of Light

A Scatter of Light by Malinda Lo (Dutton, $18.99 hardcover, 336p., ages 13-up, 9780525555285, October 4, 2022)

Malinda Lo follows up her 2021 National Book Award-winning YA novel, Last Night at the Telegraph Club, with the companion novel, A Scatter of Light, which takes place in 2013 and tells the powerful story of one young woman's life-changing summer of self-discovery.

Eighteen-year-old, half-Asian Aria Tang West was supposed to spend her final summer before college "on Martha's Vineyard with my friends, not in the remote woods [of California] with my grandmother." Aria's "summer plans completely unraveled" after a boy she hooked up with during a party posted nude photos of her online. He "didn't seem to get punished at all," but Aria's parents insist she spend the summer in Northern California under her grandmother's "supervision." Aria expects a few forgettable months until she befriends Steph, her grandmother's gardener. "Boyish" 20-something Steph inspires confusing feelings for Aria--"a sweet ache that I was embarrassed to feel"--even as Aria befriends Steph's girlfriend, Lisa, and the other members of their working-class queer community. Against a verdant, sundrenched California backdrop, Aria reevaluates her desires: who she wants to be and who she wants to be with.

Lo's novel explores the complexity of queer identity through a sex positive lens. Flashbacks to Aria's past sexual encounters reveal her struggle distinguishing between her own desires and social expectations. The knowledge that boys find her attractive "thrilled me," but Aria's experiences "didn't light a spark in me." Lo illustrates the pressure teenage girls feel to reciprocate male attention: Aria isn't attracted to the first boy she hooks up with, but "I didn't want to be a tease" so "I tried to act like I wanted him, too."

No one has ever made Aria feel the way Steph does, and Lo vividly conveys the giddy euphoria of a teenage crush--"that warm purr, that fizzing lift." Lo also recognizes the fraught nature of Aria and Steph's mutual attraction when Steph is in a relationship with someone else: "Always at the back of my mind lurked the knowledge that Lisa existed," Aria admits, but Steph makes her "push all reason aside." And yet A Scatter of Light does not make moral judgments about its characters--Aria's foibles and mistakes are what make her a compelling protagonist.

Both newcomers and longtime fans of Lo's work should enjoy this narrative of a young woman coming to understand herself and her wants better. --Alanna Felton, freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: The companion novel to the National Book Award-winning Last Night at the Telegraph Club is an engrossing story of a young woman exploring her queerness during one summer in 2013 California.

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