Also published on this date: April 12, 2023 Dedicated Issue: S&S Fall Preview

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Blackstone Publishing: An Honorable Assassin (Nick Mason Novels #3) by Steve Hamilton

Clarion Books: The Man Who Didn't Like Animals by Deborah Underwood, Illlustrated by LeUyen Pham

Holiday House: Bye Forever, I Guess by Jodi Meadows and Team Canteen 1: Rocky Road by Amalie Jahn

Wednesday Books: Dust by Alison Stine

Running Press Kids: The Junior Witch's Handbook, The Junior Astrologer's Handbook, and The Junior Tarot Reader's Handbook by Nikki Van De Car

Scholastic Press: Ruin Road by Lamar Giles


Employees Unionize at D.C.'s Solid State Books

Booksellers at Solid State Books in Washington, D.C., have unionized, joining the United Food & Commercial Workers Local 400 Union. Store co-owners Jake Cumsky-Whitlock and Scott Abel have voluntarily recognized the union, which covers seven employees at the bookstore.

"Today, the owners of Solid State Books signed an agreement to voluntarily recognize our union," read a statement by the workers organizing committee. "We look forward to negotiating our first contract collectively and making Solid State the best workplace it can be. Solidarity forever!”

Solid State Books joins a growing list of independent bookstores around the country that have unionized, and it is the second indie in Washington, D.C., to do so. In December 2021 booksellers and baristas at Politics & Prose announced their intent to unionize; in September of last year their first union contract was ratified.

Help a Bookseller, Change a Life: Give today to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation!

Purple Fern Bookstore Comes to Eldorado, N.Mex.

Purple Fern Bookstore has opened in Eldorado, N.Mex., the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.

Owner Laura Slowinski and her sons Kody and Fischer Young carry predominantly new books with a focus on contemporary fiction, mysteries and thrillers. History titles are also available and there is a large selection of manga. The store has an open interior with upholstered armchairs and customers are invited to sit, read, and hang out.

Slowinski and her family are the owners of a shipping business in Eldorado called Quik Send Express. They experimented with carrying a small selection of books at Quik Send and were inspired to open a bookstore after seeing how popular they were.

"We couldn't keep books on the shelves," Kody Young told the New Mexican. They knew they had to open a bookstore, and so far "the response has been amazing. We try to carry something for everyone."

Slowinski also owns and operates an online bookstore called Wildman's Books.

New Owners at Hooked on Books in Colorado Springs

Joseph and Mikayla Shearer have officially taken over the Hooked on Books location at 3918 Maizeland Rd. in Colorado Springs, Colo., from previous owners Mary and Jim Ciletti, the Denver Post Gazette reported. Their first day in business as the store's new owners was April 1.

The Cilettis, who will retain ownership of the Hooked on Books location on East Bijou St. in downtown Colorado Springs, ran the bookstore for 42 years. The Shearers moved to Colorado Springs in 2017 and quickly became dedicated customers. Over the years they thought of opening a bookstore of their own, and when the store went up for sale they "decided to just go for it."

Mikayla Shearer noted that it was "a little sooner on the timelines than we had anticipated, but you don't really see these opportunities come up. It's always been a place that we've loved." She has a background as a family law attorney, while her husband works with veterans; he plans to start working at the bookstore full-time in the near future.

The Shearers are busy learning the ropes, and one of their major goals is modernizing the store's inventory system. At present, Joseph Shearer explained, "we need to know off the top of our heads where every book that we have is physically located in the store." Once they get their bearings, they plan to host events pertaining to books as well as the outdoors.

So far, Mikayla Shearer told the Gazette, the response from the community has been great. On a recent Saturday there were "over 100 people" in the store, constituting one of the store's busiest days "in a long time." Given the store's long history, she continued, "it's been neat seeing how much this place means to so many different people."

International Update: LBF International Excellence Awards; BookNet Canada's The Canadian Book Market 2022

Minoa Books, Beşiktaş Akaretler/Istanbul, Turkey, has won the London Book Fair International Excellence Award for Bookstore of the Year. The judges called Minoa Books "an exemplary bookstore, as well as a beautiful 'must-see' tourist attraction in Istanbul. The panel agreed that Minoa is 'a labour of love, serving their community through a team that is valued by both Minoa's owners and its customers.' The bookstore, located in the Akaretler district, was also praised for its event space, cafe, and used-book library."

Winners in the other three International Excellence Award categories are:

Audiobook Publisher: Macmillan Audio (U.S.). Judges were impressed with "the breadth of [Macmillan Audio's] publishing and their commitment to diversity and new voices and highlighted the U.S. company's casting workshops and dedication to building careers for audiobook narrators as particularly inspiring."
Inclusivity in Publishing: Bonnier Books (U.K.). Judges said that the company has "embedded inclusivity in their values and genuinely invested in making an impact across their organisation" and lauded Bonnier Books for "improving access to those from lower socio-economic backgrounds to the sector, their efforts to remove financial barriers for those starting out and to increasing equity in family policies."
Sustainability Initiative: Bloomsbury Publishing (U.K.). Judges praised the company's "holistic approach... which covers their operations and their influence within staff, suppliers and through the content they publish" as well as Bloomsbury's "solar-powered office and passionate staff who appear eager to embrace the changes needed to achieve net zero."

The winners will be celebrated along with Klaus Flugge, recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award, on April 19 during the London Book Fair.


BookNet Canada has released The Canadian Book Market 2022, a guide to "understanding the Canadian book market, making business decisions, identifying trends, opportunities for growth, and more." In 2022, BookNet tracked sales for 855,076 unique ISBNs, which translated to almost 52 million physical books sold at a total value of C$1.1 billion (about US$822 million). Among the highlights in this year's edition:

Combined, the sales of juvenile and YA subjects accounted for the majority of the market share at 41%, followed by nonfiction (32%) and fiction (26%). In the French-Canadian market, juvenile & YA also had the biggest portion of sales throughout 2022, accounting for 43% of the trade market.

Colleen Hoover dominated book sales this year: It Ends with Us and It Starts with Us were the top-selling titles across all categories and formats. The top 10 paperback titles in the fiction category include six of her books, as do the five top selling paperback titles in the fiction/romance category.


Germany is joining several other European countries, including France, Italy, and Spain, with the launch of its KulturPass in June. Booksellers "are hoping for an additional windfall during the summer thanks to KulturPass, an initiative by the government to support culture and the arts," the Bookseller reported.

Under the initiative, all German teenagers celebrating their 18th birthday this year will be able to claim a one-time cash gift of €200 (about $215) to be spent within a two-year period on books, music, theatre, and other cultural-related activities of their choice.

An estimated 750,000 young people will be eligible for the pass, which they can access through an app on their phones. The German government is providing €100 million (about $109 million) in funding. KulturPass aims to connect users with local venues and bookshops. Online platforms and streaming services such as Amazon and Netflix have been excluded. --Robert Gray

Obituary Note: María Kodama

Writer and translator María Kodama, who was best known for guarding the legacy of her husband, the legendary Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges, died March 26. She was 86. The New York Times reported that for years Kodama was Borges's secretary, aide, and traveling companion. A few months before he died in 1986, they married and Borges bequeathed the rights to his works to her. Soon after his death, she established the Jorge Luis Borges International Foundation "to further the appreciation of his writing and protect it from what she viewed as misappropriation and misinterpretation."

In the days since Kodama's death, there have been news reports that she apparently left no will and the status of the Borges estate is in limbo, the Times noted. Fernando Soto, her lawyer, told the Associated Press: "She didn't like to talk about those issues. She didn't talk about her death."

Kodama was devoted to Borges, who had lost his eyesight by the time he began working with her. "She would read to him, and he fell in love with her voice," Andrew Wylie, her literary agent in New York, said, "which was something that you could easily imagine him doing, because her voice was very particular and interesting and lovely."

At a presentation recorded by the Library of Congress in 2017, Kodama said that she first encountered Borges's work when she was five years old and a woman who was tutoring her in English read her two of his poems, which had been written, in English, to a woman he was interested in at the time. When she was 12, "she was taken to a lecture he gave. A few years later, now a budding scholar, she ran into him at a bookstore in Buenos Aires. She told him she had heard him speak when she was a girl; he invited her to join a study group he was leading on Anglo-Saxon literature," the Times wrote.

Biographers "have long speculated on the nature of their relationship, but there is no doubt that she read to him, took his dictation, eventually traveled with him extensively and on some works was essentially his collaborator--for instance, his Atlas (1984) was a collection of essays and stories based on their travels together," the Times wrote, adding that the years after Borges's death "were often contentious ones" for Kodama, who did some writing of her own, including publishing Homage to Borges, a collection of lectures she had given about him, in 2016, "but much of her time was consumed with fighting legal challenges and bringing some herself over rights, translations and other issues."

Despite the controversies, Wylie said that Kodama and Borges were a good fit: "She was a lovely and brilliant complement to his genius, which was considerable."


Image of the Day: Family Business

Hannah Moushabeck (center), celebrated the release of her debut picture book, Homeland: My Father Dreams of Palestine (Chronicle), at Booklink Booksellers (her uncle's bookstore) in Northampton, Mass. Pictured: Moushabeck with her family, the owners of Interlink Publishing, who are all featured in her book.

Carisa Hays Leaving PRH

Long-time publicity director Carisa Hays is leaving Penguin Random House. She can be reached at

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Dr. Sandeep Jauhar on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Dr. Sandeep Jauhar, author of My Father's Brain: Life in the Shadow of Alzheimer's (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $28, 9780374605841).

The Talk: Lisa Guerrero, author of Warrior: My Path to Being Brave (Hachette Books, $28, 9780306829499).

TV: Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers

Warner Bros. Television has acquired rights to Jesse Q. Sutanto's novel Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers. Deadline reported that Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Films will develop the book for TV with Mindy Kaling's production company Kaling International. 

Sutanto is the author of Dial for Aunties, which was optioned by Netflix to be adapted by Nahnatchka Khan and Chloe Yellin via their Netflix-based banner Fierce Baby Productions. Sutanto has also written Well, That Was Unexpected and the upcoming novel I'm Not Done With You Yet

Books & Authors

Awards: Fortnum & Mason Food and Drink Shortlists

Shortlists have been released in 13 categories, including six dedicated to books, for the Fortnum & Mason Food and Drink Awards, "celebrating the very best in food and drink writing, publishing, broadcasting and photography." The winners, who are voted for by the public, will be announced at a reception at Fortnum & Mason, the Royal Exchange, on May 11. Check out the complete list of book finalists here

Reading with... Daniel Wallace

photo: Mallory Cash

Daniel Wallace is the author of six novels. His first book, Big Fish, went on to become a movie and a Broadway musical. He lives in Chapel Hill and teaches in the creative writing program at the University of North Carolina. This Isn't Going to End Well (Algonquin) is a memoir in which Wallace tries to come to terms with the life and death of his multi-talented longtime friend and brother-in-law, who had been his biggest hero and inspiration.

Handsell readers your book in 25 words or less:

An unsolved murder and a mysterious suicide lead the author to explore the secret self of a man he thought he knew.

On your nightstand now:

The Slough House series by Mick Herron. Foster by Claire Keegan. In Touch magazine's "KARDASHIANS DESTROYED BY VANITY." The Ghost Writer by Philip Roth. Silver Alert by Lee Smith.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells. I have a memory of me reading this book in the back seat of a station wagon on the way to Ft. Walton Beach, Fla., a five-hour drive from Birmingham. The memory is in third person: I see myself reading it through the car windows as, pre-freeway, we rumble down the two-lane blacktop. I remember the book as being as long as any book ever written, but I found the 1969 edition and it's only 132 pages long. Most of the things I think I remember I'm pretty sure I've made up.

Your top five authors:

Always changing. I feel like there's a lovely old hotel where all of my favorite authors live; at any given time there's a different group of them in the dark-wood, high-ceilinged lobby, drinking tea. The group I see there now includes Claire Keegan, Miriam Toews, Lorrie Moore, Denis Johnson, and Randall Kenan.

Book you've faked reading:

So many! I was a precocious faker. At 12, I asked my mother for the collected works of Shakespeare's plays, Signet edition. A 12-year-old who's into Shakespeare the way I was into Shakespeare--the way I appeared to be into Shakespeare--is a rare thing, and I was celebrated for it. My older sister, Holly, would bring her friends into my room and point at the Shakespeare shelf. "My little brother is a genius," she would say, and I did not correct her. I did not break a spine on a single one.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Dolphin People by Torsten Krol. It's about a family whose small plane crashes in the Amazon and is rescued by a tribe of Stone-Age Indians, who assume they are terrestrial incarnations of magical dolphins. I know, right? And who is Torsten Krol? A pseudonym, obviously. But no one seems to know.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Chip Kidd has made me buy even more books I have pretended to read.

Book you hid from your parents:

Kim by Rudyard Kipling. Long story, but from Christmas 1973 until his next to last Christmas in 1995, and birthdays, my father gave me a copy of Kim. It was his favorite book from his childhood, and he wanted to share that with me. But I wouldn't read it. No matter how many copies he gave me, I would take the book and hide it in the back of my closet or under my bed, hoping he'd forget. He never did, though, and I never did either. I have more editions of Kim now than you can imagine.  

Book that changed your life:

It was a story, "A Perfect Day for Bananafish," by J.D. Salinger. My 11th-grade English teacher, Betty Caldwell, read that story aloud to us in class one day. She was an excellent reader and I was spellbound. How Salinger seemed to have remote control of my emotions--a story so funny and weird in the beginning, and then the very end of the story crushing me. I wanted to be able to do that to someone else. This is when I had the bright idea that I might want to be a writer.

Favorite line from a book:

" 'My, my. A body does get around. Here we ain't been coming from Alabama but two months, and now it's already Tennessee.' "

The last lines of Light in August by William Faulkner, spoken by Lena Grove. I love the way she faces her own life with such bright determination, and after all she's gone through--and after everything everyone in this book has gone through--she can still summon such optimism and hopefulness. I strive for that kind of hopefulness, even in the face of everything that argues against it.

Five books you'll never part with:

I'm at that time in my life when I'm giving away all my treasures, and that includes my books. There's nothing I like better than parting with books that I love.

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

The Collected Works of Shakespeare.

Book that made you go on a literary pilgrimage:

Even Cowgirls Get the Blues by Tom Robbins. This was in 1978, and the rock star of writing back then was indisputably Tom Robbins. My girlfriend and I, on a cross-country road trip, decided to track him down. Robbins was notoriously private, however, and his book jackets said only that he lived in a small town somewhere near Corvallis, Ore. We got to work, calling directory assistance of every town near Corvallis (lots of quarters) and finally found a Tom Robbins in one of them. But we didn't have an address. So, like a couple of goobers, we collared anyone we could and asked them if they knew where Tom Robbins the writer lived, and finally the check-out guy at the Safeway did. The house was hidden in a wooden lot not far from town. Mary and I had picked a bunch of blackberries that afternoon. Mary took the bag and knocked on the door, and after just a moment it opened. And it was him. "We picked these for you," Mary said. And he invited us in for dinner, just like that.

Book Review

YA Review: Saint Juniper's Folly

Saint Juniper's Folly by Alex Crespo (Peachtree Teen, $18.99 hardcover, 304p., ages 12-up, 9781682635773, June 16, 2023)

Three teenagers work together to solve the mystery of a haunted house in Alex Crespo's chillingly atmospheric yet heartfelt YA horror/romance debut, Saint Juniper's Folly.

Saint Juniper is a "postcard-perfect" small town in Vermont, bordered by Saint Juniper's Folly, "a massive, yawning valley" with woods that are rumored to be haunted. Seventeen-year-old Theo, who has hair "the color of butterscotch" and "pale blue-green" eyes, feels stifled by life in Saint Juniper, where "the most interesting thing... was that nothing interesting ever happened at all." While attempting to take a driving shortcut through the valley, Theo hears a scream. He follows the sound and finds an olive-skinned boy named Jaime trapped inside an abandoned house. Jaime is a foster kid who fled his latest home only to become imprisoned in a house haunted by a malevolent spirit. Theo and Jaime form a tentative friendship, and Theo promises to help Jaime escape.

Theo seeks assistance from Taylor, "a true-blue ancestral witch" who "draw[s] energy from nature to connect with spirits, living or dead." Taylor believes that Saint Juniper's Folly holds answers about the mysterious death of her mother, also a witch. She agrees to help Theo and Jaime, even though it means breaking her father's rules, specifically no "practicing magic on my own" and "stay away from Saint Juniper's Folly." The three of them gradually unravel the mysteries of the house's history and realize that the key to stopping the haunting may lie in their own painful pasts.

The vividly drawn features of Saint Juniper's Folly create a suspenseful, unsettling atmosphere--in the woods "every shifting leaf and creaking branch scraped like nails against a chalkboard" and "the looming pines seemed to grow taller the farther we walked." The chills and frights are interspersed with moments of levity and warmth, such as Theo and Jaime's flirtatious bickering or Taylor and Jaime's burgeoning friendship, as they bond over being Latino in a predominantly white town.

Crespo uses the conventions of a ghost story to explore the impact of generational trauma on families and communities, with protagonists who are haunted by the shortcomings of adults: Theo struggles to live up to the expectations of his image-obsessed parents; Taylor clashes with her "traditional Boricua dad"; Jaime blames himself for his parents' abandonment. Theo, Taylor, and Jaime cannot undo their parents' decisions, but they can address the harms of the past and create a better future for themselves. --Alanna Felton, freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: A group of teens attempts to decipher the mystery behind a haunted house in this horror-tinged, yet hopeful YA mystery.

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