Also published on this date: May 11, 2023 Dedicated Issue: Gibbs Smith

Shelf Awareness for Thursday, May 11, 2023

Hampton Roads Publishing Company: Becoming Baba Yaga: Trickster, Feminist, and Witch of the Woods by Kris Spisak, Foreword by Gennarose Nethercott

Dial Press: Like Mother, Like Mother by Susan Rieger

Severn House: A Messy Murder (Main) (The Decluttering Mysteries #4) by Simon Brett

Forge: My Three Dogs by Bruce W Cameron

Running Press Adult: Scam Goddess: Lessons from a Life of Cons, Grifts, and Schemes by Laci Mosley

Chronicle Books: Taste in Music: Eating on Tour with Indie Musicians by Luke Pyenson and Alex Beeker


SpellBound Books & Cafe Opens in Owego, N.Y.

SpellBound Books & Cafe is opening on a limited basis today in Owego, N.Y., WNBF reported.

The bookstore, which has a folk and fairy tale theme, is located at 20 Church St. and sells a variety of new and used books for all ages, along with gifts, store-branded clothing, and botanicals. The cafe, meanwhile, sells coffee, tea, bagels, sandwiches, and other healthy food items.

Co-owners and siblings Jennifer Whitmore and Joseph McElwain hope to host book clubs, art clubs and host live music, and each month they'll display the work of different local artists. They also sell a monthly subscription box called "Drawing with Scissors," which features arts and crafts supplies.

Whitmore first had the idea to start the business about three years ago, and roughly six months ago she and her brother found a space in Owego and began renovating it. For the time being the bookstore and cafe will be open Thursdays through Sundays, with the owners planning to add more hours in the future.

BINC: We want your feedback. Take the survey!

New Owners, Logo for Booked, Evanston, Ill.

Abby Dan and Betsy Haberl are the new owners of Booked, Evanston, Ill., succeeding previous owner Rachel Round, who welcomed them to the store as booksellers after years as Booked customers. Dan and Haberl are Evanstonians, parents, writers, and avid and enthusiastic readers. Along with the change in leadership, Booked has unveiled a new logo, designed by Richa Cordero. 

"It is with bittersweet emotion that I announce my departure from Booked," Round said. "The last several years of owning Booked have been some of the most fun and joyful of my life. It has not been an easy decision, but due to health and medical reasons, I can no longer run Booked in the way that it deserves. However, I am thrilled that Betsy and Abby are the excited, passionate and community-minded new owners. I know they will run the store with all the same joy it has always held and add their own twist as well."

Abby Dan and Betsy Haberl

Both new owners hold degrees in Creative Writing from Northwestern University (Dan a BA, Haberl an MFA), and have diverse backgrounds in programming, marketing, fundraising and more.

"I know I speak for both of us when I say we're honored to lead Booked into its next era," said Haberl. "The store is such a gem in Evanston and on the Main Dempster Mile, and we've already had so much fun revitalizing it in the last year as booksellers and event organizers." 

In the months they have worked together at Booked, Dan and Haberl have hosted events with local authors; relaunched a weekly story time with their colleague Jessica Iverson; grown the store's social media presence; and curated the selection of adult titles available in-store. They have also hosted publisher-driven events for Shannon Messenger's Keeper of the Lost Cities series and Dav Pilkey's Dog Man series.

Since it opened in 2018, Booked has focused on children's books, from board books to YA titles, with a small selection of titles for adults. Though Booked will remain, as founder Chelsea Elward called it, "A Bookstore for Youthful Readers," the new owners said increased interest in adult books at the store is undeniable. 

Haberl observed: "We want to update Booked's image to better reflect our dedication to readers at any level and age, and Richa Cordero did a fantastic job helping realize our vision in our new design. Adults want to experience the joy of reading at Booked just as much as the kids do! Plus, we have curated a fantastic selection at Booked." 

Dan added: "The store will still focus on books for kids ages 0-18, and our staff can help any customer find just the right thing for that birthday or upcoming holiday, but we want Evanston to know that we've got great titles for grown-ups, too, that we love to read and love to talk about."

GLOW: Sourcebooks Landmark: A Forty Year Kiss by Nickolas Butler

TikTok Parent Company ByteDance Files Trademark for Publishing Venture

ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, has filed a trademark for 8th Note Press, an app that would allow users to read, buy and discuss books, TechCrunch reported.

Per the trademark filing, which was first detailed by Business Insider, 8th Note Press "includes an app to read, download and discuss fiction e-books in an online community; retail bookstore services; ordering books in audio, printed and digital formats; publishing e-books, audiobooks and physical books; as well as providing online, non-downloadable fiction and non-fiction books."

TechCrunch went on to note that while "corporations register trademarks all the time in anticipation of expansion into new verticals," there are no indications that ByteDance has started making inroads into digital publishing yet. A person with knowledge of the matter told TechCrunch that ByteDance is "always exploring new opportunities," and the 8th Note Press filing is "not related to TikTok."

The app would put ByteDance into competition with Amazon not only as a publisher and distributor of books but also with GoodReads as a social platform for books.

Obituary Note: Ronald Steel

Historian Ronald Steel, "who derided America's Cold War foreign policies as a succession of misguided adventures and wrote a definitive biography of Walter Lippmann, the dean of 20th-century foreign policy realism," died May 7, the New York Times reported. He was 92. "In the high-stakes game of global chess, Mr. Steel infuriated presidents, secretaries of state and other national leaders with astringent yet sparkling essays," which filled seven books and hundreds of commentaries in the New Republic, the New York Times, and the New York Review of Books. He also taught at Yale, Princeton, the University of Southern California, and other universities.

His best-known book, Walter Lippmann and the American Century (1980), was one of the most discussed political biographies of its time and a bestseller. It won the National Book Critics Circle Award for general nonfiction, Columbia University's Bancroft Prize, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for History; and was a finalist for the National Book Award and the 1981 Pulitzer Prize for biography. Its critical reception was divided, largely along political lines.

Steel insisted that Washington's strategy for dealing with Moscow--the postwar "containment doctrine" that defined American policy toward the Soviet Union for four decades--had been "wasteful and deluded, spawning costly wars in Korea and Vietnam and obsessions with national security that left Americans no more secure, prosperous or free than the rest of the world," the Times wrote.

In his first book, The End of the Alliance (1964), Steel argued that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was already obsolete five years after its birth in 1949 and should be dissolved. In Pax Americana (1967), he warned of an obsession with "the Communist menace." The historian Henry Steele Commager called the book "the most persuasive critique of American foreign policy over the last 20 years."

Even after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Steel contended in Temptations of a Superpower (1995) that American foreign policy remained incoherent because, he wrote, it was based on activism by presidents promoting their own political interests and causes, and because the U.S. still viewed itself as a global policeman, determined to guarantee stability around the world. Steel's last book, In Love with Night: The American Romance with Robert Kennedy (2000), attacked what he called myths about the senator that arose after his assassination in Los Angeles during the 1968 presidential primaries. 

Steel kept an apartment in Washington for years, and rarely visited his hometown in Illinois. "I lived in New York and Paris and London, and in a dozen other places across the globe that for a time I called home," he told World Authors. "All those places shaped me in one way or another. But somewhere along the way I also stopped trying to escape from the small town. Confinement, I've come to think, lies more in the head than in the place."


Image of the Day: Booktowne Hosts Andrew McCarthy

Actor and author Andrew McCarthy (center) visited Booktowne, Manasquan, N.J., for the launch of his travel memoir Walking with Sam: A Father, a Son, and Five Hundred Miles Across Spain (Grand Central). The store hosted a talk and signing with the author at the nearby Algonquin Arts Theatre.

Personnel Changes at Little, Brown

Lauren Ortiz has been promoted to publicity manager at Little, Brown. She joined the company as an associate publicist in September 2020.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Kenny Smith on Morning Joe, Today Show, First Take

Rachael Ray: Sunny Hostin, author of Summer on Sag Harbor: A Novel (Morrow, $30, 9780062994219).

Live with Kelly and Mark: Andrew McCarthy, author of Walking with Sam: A Father, a Son, and Five Hundred Miles Across Spain (Grand Central, $28, 9781538709207).

Morning Joe: Kenny Smith, author of Talk of Champions (Doubleday, $29, 9780385548052). He will also appear on the Today Show and ESPN's First Take.

This Weekend on Book TV: The San Antonio Book Festival

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 13
9:30 a.m. Pete Souza, author of The West Wing and Beyond: What I Saw Inside the Presidency (Voracious, $50, 9780316383370). (Re-airs Saturday at 9:30 p.m.)

4:10 p.m. Keith Beutler, author of George Washington's Hair: How Early Americans Remembered the Founders (University of Virginia Press, $34.50, 9780813946504).

5:10 p.m. Kidada Williams, author of I Saw Death Coming: A History of Terror and Survival in the War against Reconstruction (Bloomsbury, $30, 9781635576634).

Sunday, May 14
8 a.m. Daniel Runde, author of The American Imperative: Reclaiming Global Leadership through Soft Power (Bombardier Books, $28, 9781637582008). (Re-airs Sunday at 8 p.m.)

8:55 a.m. Debra Lee, author of I Am Debra Lee: A Memoir (‎Legacy Lit, $29, 9780306828591). (Re-airs Sunday at 8:55 p.m.)

10 a.m. Alexandra Robbins, author of The Teachers: A Year Inside America's Most Vulnerable, Important Profession (Dutton, $29, 9781101986752). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

2 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Coverage of the 2023 San Antonio Book Festival. Highlights include:

  • 2 p.m. Jeff Guinn, author of Waco: David Koresh, the Branch Davidians, and a Legacy of Rage (Simon & Schuster, $29.99, 9781982186104).
  • 2:43 p.m. Roxanna Asgarian, author of We Were Once a Family: A Story of Love, Death, and Child Removal in America (‎Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $28, 9780374602291).
  • 3:29 p.m. Mary Beth Rogers, author of Hope and Hard Truth: A Life in Texas Politics (University of Texas Press, $26.95, 9781477325735).
  • 4:17 p.m. Ricardo Nuila, author of The People's Hospital: Hope and Peril in American Medicine (‎Scribner, $28, 9781501198045).
  • 5 p.m. Dean King, author of Guardians of the Valley: John Muir and the Friendship that Saved Yosemite (Scribner, $30, 9781982144463).
  • 5:43 p.m. Renee Dudley, co-author of The Ransomware Hunting Team: A Band of Misfits' Improbable Crusade to Save the World from Cybercrime (‎Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $30, 9780374603304).

Books & Authors

Awards: Christian Book Winners

The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association has announced the 14 winners of the 2023 Christian Book Awards:

Christian Book of the Year: Find Your People: Building Deep Community in a Lonely World by Jennie Allen (WaterBrook)
Audio: Shackled: One Woman's Dramatic Triumph Over Persecution, Gender Abuse, and a Death Sentence by Mariam Ibraheem with Eugene Bach, narrated by Zoleka Vundlz (ONE Audiobooks)
Bibles: CSB Explorer Bible for Kids (B&H Publishing Group)
Bible Reference Works: Early New Testament Apocrypha: Ancient Literature for New Testament Studies edited by Christopher Edwards (Zondervan Academic)
Bible Study: Blessed: Experiencing the Promise of the Book of Revelation by Nancy Guthrie (Crossway)
Biography & Memoir: Seasons of Sorrow: The Pain of Loss and the Comfort of God by Tim Challies (Zondervan Reflective)
Children (tie):
The Biggest Story Bible Storybook by Kevin DeYoung, illustrated by Don Clark (Crossway)
Our God Is Bigger Than That! by Michelle Medlock Adams and Eva Marie Everson, illustrated by Anna Jones (End Game Press)
Christian Living: How to Inhabit Time: Understanding the Past, Facing the Future, Living Faithfully Now by James K.A. Smith (Brazos Press/Baker Publishing Group)
Devotion & Gift: When You Don't Know What to Pray: 100 Essential Prayers for Enduring Life's Storms by Charles F. Stanley (Zondervan)
Faith & Culture: Still Time to Care: What We Can Learn from the Church's Failed Attempt to Cure Homosexuality by Greg Johnson (Zondervan Reflective)
Ministry Resources: A Non-Anxious Presence: How a Changing and Complex World will Create a Remnant of Renewed Christian Leaders by Mark Sayers (Moody Publishers)
New Author: Breath as Prayer: Calm Your Anxiety, Focus Your Mind, and Renew Your Soul by Jennifer Tucker (Thomas Nelson Gift)
Young People's Literature: How to Pray: A Guide for Young Explorers by Pete Greig with Gemma Hunt (Hodder & Stoughton and NavPress)

In addition, Philip Yancey received the Pinnacle Award for "the outstanding contribution of his body of work to the industry, church, and society at large," and Luci Shaw received the Kenneth N. Taylor Lifetime Achievement Award for her "innovative, influential and enduring work in Christian publishing."

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, May 16:

The Shadow Docket: How the Supreme Court Uses Stealth Rulings to Amass Power and Undermine the Republic by Stephen Vladeck (Basic Books, $30, 9781541602632) explores how the court makes sudden secret rulings.

The Russo-Ukrainian War: The Return of History by Serhii Plokhy (Norton, $30, 9781324051190) is by the author of The Gates of Europe.

King: A Life by Jonathan Eig (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $35, 9780374279295) is a biography of Martin Luther King Jr. that includes material from recently declassified FBI files.

My Own Magic: A Reappearing Act by Anna Kloots (Harper Horizon, $28.99, 9780785255659) is a memoir about traveling.

The Guest by Emma Cline (Random House, $28, 9780812998627) follows a young woman scamming wealthy people on Long Island.

Fractal Noise by Christopher Paolini (Tor, $28.99, 9781250862488) is the second entry in the Fractalverse sci-fi series.

The Enchanted Hacienda by J.C. Cervantes (Park Row, $30, 9780778334057) takes place on a magical family farm in Mexico.

The True Love Experiment by Christina Lauren (Gallery, $27.99, 9781982173432) is about a romance between a novelist and a filmmaker.

Yellowface by R.F. Kuang (Morrow, $30, 9780063250833) follows a white author who pretends to be Asian.

Only the Dead by Jack Carr (Atria/Emily Bestler, $29.99, 9781982181697) is the sixth Terminal List thriller.

The Crayons Go Back to School by Drew Daywalt, illus. by Oliver Jeffers (Philomel, $9.99, 9780593621110) features the friendly drawing implements getting ready to see old friends and make new ones at school.

Penny Draws a Best Friend by Sara Shepard (Putnam, $14.99, 9780593616772) is a highly illustrated middle-grade novel from the author of the Pretty Little Liars series.

Quietly Hostile: Essays by Samantha Irby (Vintage, $17, 9780593315699).

Summer Reading by Jenn McKinlay (Berkley, $17, 9780593545720).

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:

If We're Being Honest: A Novel by Cat Shook (Celadon, $28, 9781250847546). "Shock, awe, and hilarity at a funeral start off this highly original novel. Serious topics are treated with a light enough hand to entertain, and strong characters, surprises, and intriguing family dynamics make this a great choice." --Patience Allan-Glick, Hills & Hamlets Bookshop, Chattahoochee Hills, Ga.

With My Little Eye: A Novel by Joshilyn Jackson (Morrow, $30, 9780063158658). "Wow! A roller coaster ride combining Dungeons and Dragons with Agatha Christie. Joshilyn Jackson continues to refine her mystery/suspense cred in this compelling whodunnit. Great for beach reading or any other time!" --Diana Robinson, Eagle Eye Book Shop, Decatur, Ga.

The Fiancée Farce: A Novel by Alexandria Bellefleur (Avon, $18.99, 9780063258495). "In all her books, Bellefleur gives well-loved tropes a fresh point of view and honors what makes romance so special. The perfect book for anyone who wants a sapphic, spicy, laugh out loud romance with great characters and plenty of T-Swift!" --Rachel Johnson, Content Bookstore, Northfield, Minn.

For Ages 5 to 7
Manolo & the Unicorn by Jackie Azúa Kramer and Jonah Kramer, illus. by Zach Manbeck (Cameron Kids, $18.99, 9781951836528). "This is a magnificent story about an inquisitive little boy who succeeds in making an ordinary world feel extraordinary. The book's ethereal artwork and charming story make it a top book to put into the hands of magic seekers of all ages." --Courtney Roach, The Novel Neighbor, Webster Groves, Mo.

For Ages 8 to 12
Grace Needs Space!: A Graphic Novel by Benjamin A. Wilgus and Rii Abrego (Random House Graphic, $13.99, 9780593182383). "Wow! This was great! Good art, good storyline, exciting, and a wonderful read for anyone interested in what it might be like to actually live and work in space." --René Kirkpatrick, University Book Store, Seattle, Wash.

For Teen Readers: An Indies Introduce Title
I Kick and I Fly by Ruchira Gupta (Scholastic, $18.99, 9781338825091). "This book had me crying AND cheering on the subway. It's an age-appropriate indictment of global sex trafficking that's also inspiring and illuminating, and a powerful story about courage and community. Highly recommended!" --Rebekah Shoaf, Boogie Down Books, Bronx, N.Y.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: What the Dead Know: Learning About Life as a New York City Death Investigator

What the Dead Know: Learning about Life as a New York City Death Investigator by Barbara Butcher (Simon & Schuster, $28.99 hardcover, 288p., 9781982179380, June 20, 2023)

Barbara Butcher is one tough lady. Only the second woman ever appointed to serve as a death investigator in Manhattan, she's borne witness to--and helped solve--crimes that could've callused and darkened her heart many times over. However, in her fascinating, down-to-earth memoir, What the Dead Know, she tells riveting personal stories about investigating homicides, suicides, and tragic accidents that moved and changed her life in extraordinary ways--ways that reveal her deeply sensitive soul.

Butcher came to the profession through a series of unexpected, fortunate events. A teen who suffered from depression and suicidal impulses, and experimented with drugs, Butcher struggled for direction after high school. A woman she worked for at a nursing home took note of Butcher's potential and encouraged her to become a physician assistant. College coursework on anatomy, physiology, chemistry, pathology, and solving diagnosis puzzles lit a fire under Butcher's ambitions. She did work stints in surgery and gynecology and went on to earn a master's degree in public health. Just as Butcher was en route to a cushy career as a hospital administrator--a job that ultimately bored her--her personal life unraveled into drinking, drugs, sex, lies, cheating, and manipulation: "My life looked like an EKG: up and down spikes of things going well, things falling apart."

After she hit rock bottom, she received help from good people who crossed her path at just the right time. They led her to Alcoholics Anonymous and ultimately to career counseling. Butcher was deemed best suited for a career either as a poultry veterinarian or a coroner. More inclined toward the latter, Butcher asked for an "informational interview" with Dr. Charles Hirsch, Chief Medical Examiner in the City of New York, who saw promise in her and ultimately gave her a job--training her to become a medicolegal investigator. Butcher spent nine years in the field studying 5,500 individual murders, suicides, accidents, and garden-variety tragedies and then another decade training other forensic medical investigators.

Inquisitive readers--especially fans of mysteries and true crime--will be captivated by Butcher's appealing, conversational writing style. She presents a trove of detailed, sobering case studies of how notorious investigations--including a chilling section about her work during 9/11--often wore her down, while also expanding her skill set and intellect, and enriching the depths of her character. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

Shelf Talker: A dedicated medical examiner from the City of New York shares fascinating, soul-searching stories that came to define her career--and her life.

Powered by: Xtenit