Shelf Awareness for Thursday, May 4, 2023

Margaret K. McElderry Books: Tender Beasts by Liselle Sambury

Scholastic Press: Heroes: A Novel of Pearl Harbor by Alan Gratz

Flatiron Books: Anita de Monte Laughs Last by Xochitl Gonzalez

Peachtree Publishers: King & Kayla and the Case of the Downstairs Ghost (King & Kayla) by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Nancy Meyers

Doubleday Books: The Husbands by Holly Gramazio


Big Red Books Coming to Nyack, N.Y.

Big Red Books will open this summer at 120 Main St. in Nyack, N.Y. The Rockland County Business Journal reported that owner Richard Fulco is aiming to have his bookshop offer "personal service, knowledge of books, a human experience where along with a bookseller one enters the magical kingdom of letters and the written word."

An author, poet, playwright, and high school teacher who lives in West Orange, N.J., Fulco said opening a bookstore is a lifelong dream and he chose Nyack for its vibe, friendliness, and its literary notables like Carson McCullers, who lived in South Nyack. 

He found the 700-square-foot, recently vacated space on a walk down Main Street, RCBJ noted. For years, he had been researching bookselling, working in bookshops, and envisioning a day when he'd have a bookstore of his own. "I was walking down the street and saw the spot," he recalled. "It called out to me. I don't mean to sound too new age-y, it just spoke to me." He has signed a three-year lease.

The name Big Red Books is a nod to the big red couch Fulco and his partner share in their home. The bookstore will also have a red couch. He plans to stock the shelves with a variety of genres, but "understands that bookstores are community hubs and that bookstores need to be more than just, well, stores that sell books. He's planning on readings, workshops for teens, getting involved with schools' book fairs. Eventually he hopes to open the backyard to use as a gathering place where coffee is served," RCBJ wrote.

"We are looking to be part of the community," said Fulco. "People want to go back to mom-and-pop shops where there is a personal touch. Where you can talk to someone who knows about books, where you can browse. Where it's personal."

Fulco added that he is ready for his second act: "Books have been my life. Everything I do is centered around the written word. I've been a teacher for a long time. I'm ready for a new journey. I've been thinking about this for a long time. This is a dream I haven't given up on."

Holiday House: The Five Impossible Tasks of Eden Smith by Tom Llewellyn; The Selkie's Daughter by Linda Crotta Brennan

Employees at Copperfield's Books in Petaluma Vote for Union

Last week, employees at the Copperfield's Books location in Petaluma, Calif., voted 13-2 in favor of unionizing, Bohemian reported.

In early March, a group of booksellers at the store announced their intent to join the Industrial Workers of the World, citing issues including pay, health-care benefits, and a lack of guidelines for responding to discrimination by customers. With their request for voluntary recognition denied, the next step became an election overseen by the National Labor Relations Board, which took place last week.

"Needless to say, we are ecstatic about the outcome of this election," the Copperfield's Petaluma union wrote in a statement. "We're all so proud of the effort and hard work we've put in, but there's still much to be done."

Paul Jaffe, president of Copperfield's Books, said in a statement that the company is "satisfied with the election results, and the NLRB seems to have done a very good job handling the mechanics of the election. We have always said we would honor the decisions of the employees, and we have no known reason to challenge the results."

Founded in 1981, Copperfield's has nine stores in Northern California.

Amistad Press: The Survivors of the Clotilda: The Lost Stories of the Last Captives of the American Slave Trade by Hannah Durkin

Brown Sugar Cafe & Books Staying in Katy, Tex.

Brown Sugar Cafe & Books is staying in Katy, Tex., following an incredible outpouring of community support, ABC13 reported.

Store owner Raven White, who opened the bookstore and cafe in early 2022, had announced in January that she would be closing the store and moving to Chicago, Ill. Almost immediately, White told Fox26, she received hundreds of messages from community members who were "not having it." They asked her to reconsider her decision, shared stories about the bookstore and told White how much the bookstore's diverse inventory and inclusive mission meant to them.

While White still intends to bring Brown Sugar Cafe & Books to other communities eventually, Katy will remain its "very first home." After deciding to stay in Katy, White and the Brown Sugar team held a reopening celebration on April 19 that saw more than a hundred people stop by for a "phenomenal block party-style event" that included appearances from plenty of independent vendors.

People came from as far away as Galveston, White recalled, and it was "confirmation that what we're doing is right." The surge of support "meant everything."

In addition to selling books and coffee, Brown Sugar is a community space and venue for local artists to showcase their work. White also holds events, from author talks to a summer camp program, and the bookstore even has a podcast room. Looking ahead, she hopes to expand Brown Sugar's mission by partnering with local libraries and school districts especially.

B&N Store in Orange, Calif., Closed Indefinitely After Fire

Author Maggie St Thomas shared a photo from scene of the Barnes & Noble fire.

A Barnes & Noble store in Orange, Calif., has closed indefinitely after a fire broke out on Saturday, the Orange County Register reported.

The fire began at around 5 p.m. on April 29, while author and photographer Maggie St. Thomas was reading from her book Still Life: The Photographs of Maggie St. Thomas. Customers and staff were safely evacuated from the store and no injuries were reported. About 45 firefighters responded to the 911 call and had the blaze put out by around 9 p.m.

St. Thomas recalled that about 45 minutes into the event, she noticed a "weird plastic smell and could see thick smoke outside filling up the plaza parking lot." The fire alarm went off, and she could see "the top and bottom floor was filling with layers of smoke, and we were all evacuated."

She said the entire staff "handled the chaos with grace and professionalism," and she thanked the responding firefighters.

As of Monday, the fire's cause was still under investigation, and the bookstore will remain closed until further notice.


Image of the Day: Oblong Books Presents Broadway Stars

Oblong Books, with stores in Millerton and Rhinebeck, N.Y., hosted Broadway legend Chita Rivera in conversation with Tony Award-winning writer and actor Harvey Fierstein at the Bardavon in Poughkeepsie for Chita: A Memoir (HarperOne).

New Manager for L.A.'s Chevalier's Books

Katie Orphan, who has managed Chevalier's Books, Los Angeles, Calif., for the last two years, has left the store to pursue writing and opening her own bookstore in her neighborhood of Elysian Valley/Frogtown, Larchmont Buzz reported. Before joining Chevalier's in April 2021, she managed the Last Bookstore in downtown L.A. for 10 years.

Miles Parnegg, who joined Chevalier's in October 2020 after completing an MFA in creative writing, has become manager of the store, which is located in the Larchmont area.

Orphan told Larchmont Buzz that as the main buyer at Chevalier's, her approach was "to have the books that you expect to find, bestsellers that draw you in, and then I want to sell you the books that you don't know about yet and encourage that discovery and delight."

Parnegg noted that "Chevalier's has such a diverse, multi-generational customers base because so many families live in the community. For example, we have a mom who is in our fiction book club; her kids are in the middle readers book club, and because she's a teacher over at Third Street School, she buys all the books for her classroom with us as well."

Bookish Sports Report: NHL Playoffs, Kentucky Derby

National Hockey League playoff fever is in the air for some booksellers. Last night, the Carolina Hurricanes opened their second round playoff series at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C., with a 5-1 win versus the New Jersey Devils. Quail Ridge Books "loves the Canes," and shared photos of the shop's sidewalk chalkboard message: "We have books about: Romance, Hockey, Hockey Romance. Go Canes!"

"LET'S GO KRAKEN!!!" Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, Wash., posted on Facebook in support of their Seattle Kraken, who currently have a 1-0 lead in the best-of seven games second round battle against the Dallas Stars, thanks to a 5-4 win on Tuesday.

The Half Price Books chain also weighed in: "Seattle Kraken vs. Dallas Stars... but in a bookstore! What should our stores wager? Who's taking the series in the #StanleyCup playoffs?"

Meanwhile Carmichael's Bookstore, Louisville, Ky., is preparing for Saturday's Kentucky Derby horse race: "It's Derby week! We have you covered to get you in the Derby spirit with lots of great books, puzzles, and games. One of our favorite books to recommend for those interested in the Derby is from @louisvillestory, Better Lucky Than Good: Tall Tales and Straight Talk from the Backside of the Track. This book gives you an in-depth look into the lives and stories of workers on the backside of Churchill Downs, written in their voices. A great addition to anyone's personal library. Find that book and other gems on our store Derby displays."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Jason Van Tatenhove on Dr. Phil

Good Morning America: Jimmy Rollins, author of Love Outside the Lines: Beyond the Boundaries of Race, Difference, and Preference (Thomas Nelson, $18.99, 9780785289814).

Today Show: Luvvie Ajayi Jones, author of Rising Troublemaker: A Fear-Fighter Manual for Teens (Philomel, $10.99, 9780593526040).

Tamron Hall: Deborah Roberts, author of Lessons Learned and Cherished: The Teacher Who Changed My Life (Andscape Books, $26.99, 9781368095051).

Dr. Phil: Jason Van Tatenhove, author of The Perils of Extremism: How I Left the Oath Keepers and Why We Should be Concerned about a Future Civil War (Skyhorse, $26.99, 9781510774421).

This Weekend on Book TV: Live In-Depth with Philip K. Howard

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, May 6
2:55 p.m. Gene Jarrett, author of Paul Laurence Dunbar: The Life and Times of a Caged Bird (Princeton University Press, $35, 9780691150529). (Re-airs Sunday at 2:55 a.m.)

6:45 p.m. Ricardo Herrera, author of Feeding Washington's Army: Surviving the Valley Forge Winter of 1778 (The University of North Carolina Press, $28, 9781469667317). (Re-airs Sunday at 6:45 a.m.)

Sunday, May 7
8 a.m. Mark Moyar, author of Triumph Regained: The Vietnam War, 1965-1968 (Encounter Books, $49.99, 9781641772976). (Re-airs Sunday at 8 p.m.)

10 a.m. Matika Wilbur, author of Project 562: Changing the Way We See Native America (Ten Speed Press, $50, 9781984859525). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

11 a.m. Mark Whitaker, author of Saying It Loud: 1966--The Year Black Power Challenged the Civil Rights Movement (Simon & Schuster, $29.99, 9781982114121). (Re-airs Sunday at 11 p.m.)

12 p.m. Live In-Depth q&a with Philip K. Howard, author of The Death of Common Sense: How Law Is Suffocating America (‎Random House, $17, 9780812982749).

5 p.m. Susan Crane, author of Nothing Happened: A History (‎Stanford University Press, $28, 9781503613478).

6:15 p.m. Carolyn Eisenberg, author of Fire and Rain: Nixon, Kissinger, and the Wars in Southeast Asia (Oxford University Press, $39.95, 9780197639061).

Books & Authors

Richard Charkin's My Back Pages

Richard Charkin at the launch party in London for his memoir My Back Pages.

For 50 years, Richard Charkin has been at different times a scientific and medical publisher, a journal publisher, a digital publisher, and a general publisher, and worked with such key figures as Robert Maxwell, Paul Hamlyn, Dieter von Holtzbrinck, Liz Calder, John Calder, Marjorie Scardino, and more. His employers have included Harrap, Pergamon Press, Oxford University Press, Reed International/Reed Elsevier, Bloomsbury, Macmillan, Current Science Group--a range of family-owned, publicly owned, university-owned companies, and start-ups. And he now has his own house, Mensch Publishing. In addition to many other activities, he has also been president of the International Publishers Association and president of the U.K.'s Publishers Association. He has unusually broad publishing experience and perhaps most important, he is a keen observer of book world trends--and has a great sense of humor. (We still laugh at his nickname for our mutual employer back in the day: Greed International.)

In his new memoir, My Back Pages: An Undeniably Personal History of Publishing, 1972-2022, written with Tom Campbell (Marble Hill Publishers, $30, 9781739265731), Charkin has a multitude of fascinating stories to tell about books, authors, publishers, and others. For example, the first title he published for a new paperback line at Reed was an early export edition of a U.S. import. "I knew to price it in line with the U.S. edition, but had no idea at all what the print run should be," he writes. "I hadn't long been out of academic publishing, and had never heard of the author or title. In the end, after a drink with a sales rep, we plumped for 10,000 copies. The book in question was The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris and all of the copies duly sold, as did a further million or two after the release of the movie."

Charkin was also involved in the publication of Madonna's Sex, for which he had secured non-U.S. English rights. He recalls that as publicity built about the book, some printers and book people didn't want anything to do with it, and his mother worried that he would be arrested for pornography. He showed proofs to Paul Hamlyn, then chair of Reed. He recalls: "We examined the pictures in sombre silence, with his only comment being: 'I'm not at all keen on the one with the dog.' " Of course, the first two printings of 180,000 each quickly sold out, and now "the book is regarded as a classic of 1990s pop culture and today a first edition of Sex still in its wrapper sells for $1,000."

A different kind of book that Charkin is proud of is The Anatomy of the Dromedary, published more than 35 years ago while he was at Oxford University Press. "Probably the lowest selling book I was ever involved with," the title nonetheless was "the only anatomical guide to the one-humped camel (they are very difficult animals to dissect) and up until then there had never been a detailed study--nor, I think, has there been one since. In other words, the scientific community needed this book.... No one at OUP faced any kind of reprimand for publishing such an obvious commercial dud--it wasn't how editors were generally judged."

Throughout My Back Pages, Charkin recalls how the book world has changed in both small and profound ways. When he started, for example, most female staff were either in a typing pool or worked in administration, everyone could smoke in offices, sales data was often fuzzy, and "drinking culture" was widespread.

He has mostly positive things to say about how the business has changed. These include employing many more women and LGBTQ+ people, having better sales information, the use of computers and digital technology, lower barriers to publishing and writing, and more. Among the areas needing improvement, he notes that on publishing staffs in the U.K., there is still a class divide and some groups in society aren't well represented.

In terms of bookselling, he says that in the U.K. as in the U.S. that "the biggest thing that's happened is the Internet, which is Amazon." That led to a loss of many indie and chain bookshops in the U.K., although there has been "a slight bounceback" in indie bookshops in the last few years. The fact that so many indies continue to operate, he continues, is "a tribute to their adaptability and will to exist."

My Back Pages itself is a nod to changes in the book world: it's a print on demand title published by Marble Hill (a house founded by veteran publisher Francis Bennett, who founded Book Data, now part of Nielsen) via Ingram Spark. "We don't have to worry about reprints" and changes are easy to make, Charkin says. The book is being published simultaneously around the world and in a sustainable way.

With a bit of a shock, he says, too, that his book is not "horrid" about anyone in the business. In fact, he says that he feels "really warm about the industry. People kept asking who was the most important person in my career, and the truth is there isn't one. I was blessed with [knowing] a series of really good people who were nice to me and put up with all the crap." --John Mutter

Awards: Sheikh Zayed Winners

The winners of the 2023 Sheikh Zayed Book Awards, organized by the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre under the auspices of the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, have been announced. The winner in each category receives a prize of AED 750,000 (about $204,200) that will be presented during the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair on May 23. The winners:

Literature: Ila Ayn Ayyathouha Al Kaseedah (Whereto, O Poem? An Autobiography) by Iraqi poet, literary critic and academic Ali Ja'far al-Allaq (Alan Publishers and Distributors)
Arabic Culture in Other Languages: L'invention du cadi. La justice des musulmans, des juifs et des chrétiens aux premiers siècles de l'Islam (The Invention of the Qadi. The Justice of Muslims, Jews and Christians in the First Centuries of Islam) by French author Mathieu Tillier (Éditions de la Sorbonne)
Young Author: Nehayat Al Sahra'a (The End of the Desert) by Algerian author Said Khatibi (Hachette Antoine/Nofal)
Translation: Tunisian Professor Chokri Al Saadi for the translation from English to Arabic of Expression and Meaning: Studies in the Theory of Speech Acts (Al-Ibara wa-al-Mi'na: Dirasat fi Nathariyat al-A'amal al-Lughawiya) by American linguistic philosopher John R. Searle (Ministry of Cultural Affairs--Tunisian Institute for Translation)
Literary & Art Criticism: Mara'i an-Nisaa': Dirasat fi Kitabat al-That an-Nisaa'iya al-Aarabiya (Women Views: Studies on Arab Women Self Writings) by Tunisian professor Dr. Jalila Al Tritar (La Maison Tunisienne du Livre)
Publishing & Technology: Independent Egyptian publisher ElAin Publishing, for its range of literary, academic, and non-fiction titles from all over the Arab world and for its focus on cultural and literary diversity

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, May 9:

Independence Square by Martin Cruz Smith (Simon & Schuster, $26.99, 9781982188306) is the 10th mystery with Russian detective Arkaday Renko, this time set in Ukraine just before Putin's invasion.

The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece: A Novel by Tom Hanks and R. Sikoryak (Knopf, $32.50, 9780525655596) follows the creation of a superhero movie and the comic book that inspired it.

Queen Charlotte by Julia Quinn and Shonda Rhimes (Avon, $30, 9780063305083) ties into Netflix's Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story spinoff series.

Fixit: An IQ Novel by Joe Ide (Mulholland, $28, 9780316531085) is the sixth mystery with private investigator Isaiah Quintabe.

Marfa's River by Marina Antropow Cramer (Apprentice House Press, $19.99, 9781627204323) touches on themes of refugee displacement, loss, and the burden of guilt.

Disruptive Thinking: A Daring Strategy to Change How We Live, Lead, and Love by T.D. Jakes (FaithWords, $27, 9781546004004) is a guide to trying new things.

The Daddy Diaries: The Year I Grew Up by Andy Cohen (Holt, $29.99, 9781250890924) chronicles a talk show host's year as a parent.

Mary Berry's Baking Bible: Revised and Updated: With Over 250 New and Classic Recipes by Mary Berry (Clarkson Potter, $40, 9780593578155) includes new "Americanized measurements."

Growing Up Powerful by Nona Willis-Aronowitz, illus. by Caribay Marquina (Rebel Girls, $20, 9781953424457) is a middle-grade guide to "keeping confident when your body is changing."

The Sea of Terror by Stuart Gibbs, illus. by Stacy Curtis (Simon, $12.99, 9781665917445) is the third book in the immensely popular author's Once Upon a Tim early chapter book series.

Under the Skin: The Hidden Toll of Racism on Health in America (Anchor, $18, 9780525566229).

The Midnight Library: A Novel by Matt Haig (Penguin Books, $18, 9780525559498).

The Boyfriend Candidate: A Novel by Ashley Winstead (Graydon House, $18.99, 9781525804960).

The Little Flower Shop by Lori Foster (Canary Street Press, $18.99, 9781335506382).

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

The House Is on Fire: A Novel by Rachel Beanland (Simon & Schuster, $27.99, 9781982186142). "The House is on Fire captures the early 1800s in the United States through the lens of a theater fire in Richmond. Beanland reconstructs the story of the fire while discussing slavery and abuse, womanhood, misogyny, and child labor." --Kyle Churman, Werner Books, Erie, Pa.

Ozark Dogs: A Novel by Eli Cranor (Soho Crime, $26.95, 9781641294539). "Wow, this southern noir thriller is gripping! Blood is thicker than water in these Ozark towns, but family relationships are complicated and there are no easy answers, leading to hard--and surprising--choices. Absolutely unforgettable." --Lia Lent, WordsWorth Books, Little Rock, Ark.

Paperback: An Indies Introduce Title
Saltwater Demands a Psalm: Poems by Kweku Abimbola (Graywolf Press, $16, 9781644452271). "Kweku Abimbola's collection is a dazzling appreciation of Black life. It reaches both backwards, to Ghana and a pre-American cultural past, and forwards to a life beyond violence, where Blackness and joy coexist in a single, uninterrupted river." --Camden Avery, The Booksmith, San Francisco, Calif.

For Ages 4 to 8
Gustav Is Missing!: A Tale of Friendship and Bravery by Andrea Zuill (Random House Studio, $18.99, 9780593487471). "Little Cap overcomes his fears when he has to go and find his best friend Gustav. Zuill's last book Sweety captured our imaginations because it was quirky and cute. Little Cap will make readers smile as they explore his world." --Margaret Neville, The King's English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, Utah

For Ages 8 to 12: An Indies Introduce Title
Jude Saves the World by Ronnie Riley (Scholastic Press, $18.99, 9781338855876). "This is a beautiful book with brave characters who fiercely guard friendship as a safe space filled with unconditional love--and set about to make the world that way. Jude Saves the World cracked my heart open and poured joy right in." --Justin Colussy-Estes, Little Shop of Stories, Decatur, Ga.

For Teen Readers
Throwback by Maurene Goo (Zando Young Readers, $19.99, 9781638930204). "Much more than a Back to the Future story, Throwback is a story about mothers, daughters, the immigrant experience, high school, and finding your dreams. Maurene Goo tackles friendship and family set in the best of the '90s." --Beth Seufer Buss, Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, N.C.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Deep as the Sky, Red as the Sea

Deep as the Sky, Red as the Sea by Rita Chang-Eppig (Bloomsbury , $28.99 hardcover, 304p., 9781639730377, May 30, 2023)

Rita Chang-Eppig's sharp, gritty first novel, Deep as the Sky, Red as the Sea, takes readers on a high-seas adventure alongside a legendary Chinese pirate queen who must reckon with government crackdowns on piracy and encroaching Europeans in the early 1800s.

Shek Yeung is co-commander of the Red Banner Fleet and Scourge of the South China Sea when her husband, fleet commander Cheng Yat, dies in battle against Portuguese sailors. Now that her greatest supporter is dead, she must secure her position as leader; hold together the Red Banner Fleet's alliances; and keep her boats and crew safe in the face of the emperor's violent crusade against piracy. Shek Yeung is no stranger to survival situations, though. A youth spent in forced prostitution on the flower boats after pirates murdered her family honed her skill at strategy, the quality that motivated her husband to abduct and marry her in the first place. She swiftly seeks a consolidation of power by marrying her husband's second-in-command, Cheung Po, who shares with her the distinction of having been both Cheng Yat's protege and captive. She fears her new husband may assassinate her and take full command of the fleet, but instead he seems bent on impressing her. Soon Shek Yeung must outwit a ruthless nobleman and uncover a plot by aggressive European powers, while struggling through a complicated pregnancy.

This fascinating portrait of a woman determined to survive no matter the challenge will captivate readers' imaginations. Shek Yeung is a smart, ruthless, and pragmatic heroine who believes "honor was scarcely different from stupidity." She kills without remorse, but she is also fiercely protective of her people and supportive of other women. Her story is a meditation on the meaning of power and what one must give up to keep it. Chang-Eppig emphasizes the logic of piracy in China during a time when land annexations drove many farmers to meager lives on fishing boats, and then to raiding other vessels. However, she never romanticizes their lives at sea, striving instead for a realistic imagining of an often cutthroat existence. The piratical cast includes a range of women with various crucial jobs, rather than portraying Shek Yeung as an anomaly. Book clubs and solo readers alike should find much food for thought in this blend of high-stakes action and a complex character sketch of a fierce and wily leader. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Shelf Talker: This gritty historical adventure on the high seas is based on the life of a legendary Chinese pirate queen.

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