Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Papercutz: Children of the Phoenix Vol. 1: The Eye of the Storm by Oskar Källner, illustrated by Karl Johnsson

Shadow Mountain: Under the Java Moon: A Novel of World War II by Heather B. Moore

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: So Let Them Burn by Kamilah Cole

Minotaur Books: The Rumor Game by Thomas Mullen

Tordotcom: The Dead Cat Tail Assassins P. Djèlí Clark

Shadow Mountain: The Queen and the Knave (Proper Romance Victorian) by Sarah M. Eden


Akimbo Bookshop, Rochester, N.Y., Reopening in Spring

Akimbo Books before the fire.

Thanks to a crowdfunding campaign that has brought in more than $30,000, Akimbo Bookshop will reopen in a new space in Rochester, N.Y., just months after a devastating fire, the Democrat & Chronicle reported.

Store owner Rachel Crawford, who opened the bookstore last year, has signed a lease for a new location in Rochester's Neighborhood of the Arts. She has yet to announce the exact location but plans to have the new space ready soon.

"Thank you to everyone who has supported us through this journey," Crawford wrote in an Instagram post. "From last year's opening, the new friends we made along the way, the collaborators, the misfits and wallflowers who just want to read in solace, the rabble rousers and fist shakers fighting for a better world, our fellow nerds, the community that held us and who we're here to elevate right back--Akimbo 2.0 is coming soon this spring."

On January 4, a fire broke out in an adjacent restaurant and did extensive damage to the bookstore. Everything inside, including books, furniture, appliances and other equipment, was "deemed unsalvageable," and Crawford's insurance would not even cover "a small percentage of the damage."

Crawford turned again to the community for help (she opened Akimbo's bricks-and-mortar space with the help of a GoFundMe campaign) and received an incredible outpouring of support.

"People here really care about one another," Crawford told the Democrat & Chronicle. "I found the community I was looking for."

Running Press Adult: You Are a Badass(r) (Ultimate Collector's Edition): How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero

Grand Opening for the Booksmiths Shoppe, Danbury, Conn.

The Booksmiths Shoppe recently celebrated its grand opening in the Summit building at 100 Reserve Road in Danbury, Conn. The News Times reported that owner Michelle Smith has sold new and used books as an online business, but this is her first bricks-and-mortar retail bookstore.

"I was a little nervous, opening a new indie bookstore in Danbury," Smith said. "But we had a great first day, better than expected. The traffic here was steady and I couldn't be more pleased with it.... What we have here is a cozy bookstore with all kinds of variety. My very first customer came in looking for a specific book and couldn't find it. But he kept looking around and he found another book and bought it."

During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, Smith had decided to sell books on eBay and other online sites before taking the next step and opening a bricks-and-mortar retail store. "I was looking for the right place to go, where there was potential for a lot of customer traffic," she said. "I thought it would be a good fit for me here at the Summit."

Atria Books: Interesting Facts about Space by Emily Austin

Veerle De Laet New Executive Director of the American University in Cairo Press

Veerle De Laet

Veerle De Laet has joined the American University in Cairo Press as executive director. She was formerly at Leuven University Press, where she was managing director and publisher since 2016 and earlier acquisitions editor.

From 2005 to 2009, De Laet was affiliated with the University of Antwerp as a Ph.D. assistant of the Foundation for Scientific Research in Flanders, and from 2010 as a postdoctoral researcher at the Erasmus University Rotterdam, in the School of History, Culture, and Communication. She was a visiting Fellow at the University of Bordeaux, in the Art History Department, and participated in a research project on the history of glassmaking with the Antwerp Academy of Fine Arts, in the Department of Restoration and Conservation Studies. She holds a Ph.D. in cultural history from the University of Antwerp.

De Laet commented: "Joining AUC Press as the new executive director is a new and exciting step in my academic publishing career. I will build on my expertise and know-how of the academic publishing ecosystem to navigate the complexities and challenges of the constantly evolving publishing landscape and developments in scholarly communication... I am eager to work closely with AUC Press's staff to expand our publishing collection, add new thematic fields of research, launch new book series, foster publishing partnerships, explore new formats and publishing programs, and advance AUC Press's global reach in terms of marketing, distribution and sales."

GLOW: Carolrhoda Books: Pangu's Shadow by Karen Bao

Obituary Note: David Harris

David Harris
(photo: Jason Henry)

David Harris, the activist and journalist "who in the late 1960s became a national figure for encouraging young men to resist being drafted to serve in the Vietnam War, and who went to jail after refusing the draft himself," died February 6, the New York Times reported. He was 76. 

When Harris was drafted in 1968, he refused to report for induction and was almost immediately indicted by federal authorities. A few months after his indictment, he married singer Joan Baez, whom he had met through the antiwar movement. They had been touring the U.S. for 16 months, with Baez performing as a warm-up to his antiwar speeches.

Harris was convicted in 1969, sentenced to three years in federal prison, and served 20 months. After his release, he and Baez divorced, though they remained close friends for the rest of his life.

"There wasn't any question to me that this guy had enormous talent for speaking," Baez said. "We'd go around, do this dog and pony show, and I would open up for him, singing, and people would all get together to hear David Harris talking about how we're going to change the world."

Harris eventually wrote a letter to Jann Wenner, the publisher of Rolling Stone magazine, offering to sell him a series of antiwar essays. Wenner suggested instead a profile of Ron Kovic, a Marine whose battlefield injuries in Vietnam had left him unable to use his legs, and who went on to be a prominent antiwar activist. 

The article, "Ask a Marine," ran in 1973 and launched Harris's second career as a magazine journalist and author. He spent the next five years writing for Rolling Stone and in 1978 became a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine. A decade later, he left the magazine to write books full time. Kovic would later write his own autobiography, Born on the Fourth of July.

Harris published several investigative books about sports, politics and the environment, including I Shoulda Been Home Yesterday: Twenty Months In Prison for Not Killing Anybody (1976); The Last Stand: the War Between Wall Street and Main Street Over California's Ancient Redwoods (1996); Our War: What We Did in Vietnam and What It Did to Us (1996); and, most recently, My Country 'Tis of Thee: Reporting, Sallies and Other Confessions 2020).

"The death of David Harris marks the passing of a hero who stood by his conviction that the Vietnam War was morally wrong," Book Passage bookstore, Corte Madera, Calif., noted in an e-mail tribute. "He strongly opposed the draft that fed so many young men into that conflict, and he never shrank from the consequences of his leadership against that war. Book Passage was honored to host Harris at events for each of his brilliant books. His last Book Passage appearance was in 2020 in an online interview with Peter Coyote during the height of the Covid pandemic."

Flatiron Books: The Bad Ones by Melissa Albert


Image of the Day: Book Soup Presents Tim Blake Nelson

Book Soup, Los Angeles, Calif., hosted actor and author Tim Blake Nelson (right), whose debut novel is City of Blows (The Unnamed Press), in conversation with filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, at Zipper Hall in downtown L.A.

Soho Crime: My Favorite Scar by Nicolás Ferraro, translated by Mallory Craig-Kuhn

Media and Movies

Movies: Geronimo Stilton

Radar Pictures has acquired the feature film rights for Geronimo Stilton, the children's book series by Italian author Elisabetta Dami "about the crime-solving adventures of a mouse journalist and his eccentric gang of family and friends," Deadline reported. Canadian animation writer, director and voice actor David Soren (Turbo, Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie) is attached to adapt and direct the project.

The character was created by Dami in the 1990s from stories she invented for young patients while volunteering at a children's hospital. "Since then, the character has been featured in more than 300 books, translated into over 50 languages, as well as graphic novels, an animated series, eight live stage productions, video games and toys," Deadline noted. The original books and their spin-offs have sold 180 million copies in 150 countries. The series is published in Italy by Edizioni Piemme and by Scholastic in the U.S. and other English-speaking countries.

"I'm excited to be working with Radar Pictures to bring this incredibly popular book series to life," Soren said. "Geronimo Stilton is beloved around the world, and it's high time for his first hilarious, feature film adventure."

Books & Authors

Awards: Gotham Book Finalists

Finalists have been unveiled for the $50,000 Gotham Book Prize, which honors works that either are about New York City or set in New York City. The winner will be named in April. The 2023 finalists are:

Stories from the Tenants Downstairs by Sidik Fofana
Activities of Daily Living by Lisa Hsiao Chen
Big Girl by Mecca Jamilah Sullivan
Trust by Hernan Diaz
The Deceptions by Jill Bialosky
Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez
An Honest Living by Dwyer Murphy
Roses, in the Mouth of a Lion by Bushra Rehman
Didn't Nobody Give a Shit What Happened to Carlotta by James Hannaham
Three Muses by Martha Anne Toll
The Sewing Girl's Tale: A Story of Crime and Consequences in Revolutionary America by John Wood Sweet

Book Review

Review: Piñata

Piñata by Leopoldo Gout (Tor Nightfire, $28.99 hardcover, 304p., 9781250781178, March 14, 2023)

Author is just one of Leopoldo Gout's (Monarca, with Eva Aridjis; Genius) many roles. His visual work--particularly in producing/directing films and television series--seems to be his dominant genre, including his adaptations of James Patterson novels such as Alex Cross. Gout's novel Piñata might originate on the page, but it's undoubtedly close-up ready, a multi-layered, multi-cultural paranormal thriller that screams "film me!"

The year is 2027, and Carmen Sánchez has arrived in Tulancingo, a small town two hours outside Mexico City, with her daughters, 16-year-old Izel and 11-year-old Luna. Born in Mexico, single mother Carmen hasn't been back to her birth country in years and her daughters have never been there. She's overseeing the renovation of an ancient abbey into a fancy hotel. She couldn't leave the girls at home with her overworked mother, so they've come along for the summer. Izel is less than thrilled, missing theater camp with her closest friends, but Luna is especially adaptive and eager to experience everything her ancestral land offers--chapulines (grasshoppers) included.

Being a woman boss--who looks like a local but clearly isn't--proves challenging, to say the least, but Carmen finds allies in the abbey's onsite representative, Father Verón, and physicist-turned-artisan Quauhtli. Despite their support, they can't protect her when a suspicious accident puts Carmen's job in jeopardy. She's not fired, but she's to be replaced by another colleague--male and white. By the time the family returns to New York, Luna, whose usually sunny personality was already being overshadowed by what Carmen thought was just adolescent moodiness, has changed completely. She's gone sullen and secretive, and Carmen hears inexplicable noises in Luna's locked room. And then Carmen's mother falls down the stairs and almost dies, and Luna swears she heard nothing. Just what did the Sanchez women bring back?

Gout, who shares his protagonist's Mexican roots, impressively weaves into his chilling narrative brutal Latin American colonial history, savagely enforced Christianity, ancient cultural beliefs and practices, and ongoing colonial erasure. Young Luna's classroom takedown of her well-meaning, misinformed white teacher reads like every POC student's wishful rebellion: "Not from you, gringa," Luna snaps after being told what she "should want to learn." "This melting pot was created by stealing, raping, killing, enslaving, and exploiting our native people." While Gout's initial exposition tends to meander and repeat, as soon as the otherworldly realms are fully unleashed, the cinematics take over in fast-action, vividly graphic, haunting, corpse-dropping splendor. And you thought those colorful piñatas were just for kids! --Terry Hong, BookDragon

Shelf Talker: Leopoldo Gout's paranormal thriller cinematically pits a single mother and her two daughters against vengeful, destructive ancestral spirits.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. The New Model of Selling by Jerry Acuff and Jeremy Miner
2. The Score by Kristen Proby
3. Flack (Guardian Security Shadow World Book 10) by Kris Michaels
4. Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves
5. The Perfect Marriage by Jeneva Rose
6. The Temporary Wife by Catharina Maura
7. Final Offer by Lauren Asher
8. The Right Move (Windy City Series Book 2) by Liz Tomforde
9. Black Ties and White Lies by Kat Singleton
10. Never Marry Your Brother's Best Friend by Lauren Landish

[Many thanks to!]

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