Shelf Awareness for Thursday, May 25, 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

Quotation of the Day

Amanda Gorman: 'A Hill We Will Conquer'

"I'm gutted. Because of one parent's complaint, my Inaugural poem, 'The Hill We Climb,' has been banned from an elementary school in Miami-Dade County, Florida.

"Book bans aren't new. But they have been on the rise--according to the ALA, 40% more books were challenged in 2022 compared to 2021. What's more, often all it takes to remove these books from our libraries and schools is a single objection. And let's be clear: most of the forbidden works are by authors who have struggled for generations to get on bookshelves. The majority of these censored works are by queer and non-white voices.

"I wrote 'The Hill We Climb' so that all young people could see themselves in a historical moment. Ever since, I've received countless letters and videos from children inspired by 'The Hill We Climb' to write their own poems. Robbing children of the chance to find their voices in literature is a violation of their right to free thought and free speech.

"What can we do? We must speak out and have our voices heard. That's why my publisher, Penguin Random House, joined PEN America, authors, and community members in a lawsuit in Florida's Escambia County to challenge book restrictions like these. To help, donate to and visit @PENAmerica and spread the word about these book bans.

"Together, this is a hill we won't just climb, but a hill we will conquer."

--Amanda Gorman in reaction to her poem "The Hill We Climb" being restricted in a Miami Lakes, Fla., school after a parent's complaint and school review

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New Owner for Encore Books, Yakima, Wash.

Encore Books, Yakima, Wash., which had been put up for sale last fall but was in danger of closing as recently as March, has a new owner. KAPP reported that local Kerstin Luisi "decided to fulfill her lifelong dream of owning her own bookstore and make sure those doors stayed open." 

"It's just been like a dream from the very beginning," she said. "I never thought it would happen this early in life, but it happened sort of naturally and it was a blessing."

Luisi, who took over from previous owners Brett, Sharon, and Loren Lamb on May 1, plans to keep much of the store the same, but will add her own style and updates to the place to reflect the way she wants people to feel when they walk in.

"I would like people to feel very welcomed when they come into the store," she said. "Everybody that comes in, they're not only going to find what they're looking for but they're going to find more because they got the help that they needed."

There are a few changes she is looking forward to making: "I would like to expand the kids section and make it more kid-friendly. I would also like to expand the new books to encompass sort of those things that people are looking for on a regular basis."

Her plans also call for hosting events featuring local authors and holding an open house next month, when a new coffee shop will be opening next door. "Encore Books is going to stay open and remain open and there's no question about that," Luisi said.

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

Rachael Conrad Joining NEIBA as Marketing Coordinator

Rachael Conrad

Rachael Conrad is joining the New England Independent Booksellers Association as marketing coordinator, effective June 5. She has been event coordinator and social media manager at Print: A Bookstore, Portland, Maine, and earlier was a frontline bookseller and school liaison at Wellesley Books, Wellesley, Mass. Her writing appears on and

NEIBA executive director Beth Ineson noted, "When she's not writing or reading, Rachael can often be found exploring the woods and tide pools of Maine and discussing who the best Chris is (it's Pine, obviously)."

To insure a smooth transition, Conrad will overlap with Alexandra Schmelzle, who is leaving NEIBA and the industry. Schmelzle joined NEIBA in 2019.

B&N Opening New Store in Delray Beach, Fla.

B&N's future location in Delray Beach, Fla.

Barnes & Noble will open a new location in Delray Beach, Fla., this fall. The company is eyeing a November opening for the bookstore, which will span about 10,000 square feet and feature B&N's new store design, with new furniture and a new format. It will not have a cafe.

Janine Flanigan, B&N's director of store planning, said 10,000 square feet is a "newer size" for the company, and has been trialed in a few stores in the past year. She noted that it affords B&N "many more opportunities" to open stores in places where larger retail spaces are unavailable. Flanigan said this location--in the Delray Place shopping center on Federal Highway--was a "recent find for us," and B&N's real estate team has been working on securing the site for "just a short period of time."

Obituary Note: Bob Sharrard

Bob Sharrard, who was hired as a bookseller at City Lights, San Francisco, Calif., in 1977 and stayed for a 40-year career, ultimately becoming a senior editor and rights manager for City Lights Publishers, died April 23. He was 69. Sharrard retired in 2017 and lived in his longtime North Beach apartment until his passing. In a tribute, several City Lights staff members shared memories of their friend and colleague, including:

Nancy J. Peters: "Bob loved to walk the streets of the city, observing people and places with a wry eye. He was a charming San Francisco flaneur. He always had amusing stories to share about the lives of writers (both living and dead), and about people he knew in the city and those met on his travels. Bob was astute about politics and international affairs, but his great love was literature. He read avidly and as an editor he brought a number of fine writers to City Lights Publishers--among them, Jaime Gil de Biedma, Mohammed Mrabet, Janice Eidus, Rebecca Brown, Nathaniel Mackey, James Purdy, and many more." 

Amy Scholder: "I remember working alongside Bob in the City Lights publishing offices when we were located just up the spiral stairs above the entrance to the bookshop. We would read manuscripts and smoke cigarettes at our adjacent desks until it was a reasonable time (4 p.m.?) to move over to Vesuvio's across the alley for a chat and the first drink of the day. He was so pleased to have another queer person on staff, and enjoyed regaling me with stories of his travels to gay enclaves around the world. Though we differed in our approach to work and life in most ways, we did see in one another a shared love for beauty and literature from underrepresented communities."

Andy Bellows: "One of the things I remember most about Bob was his generosity. He was always quick to loan me the latest CD collection he had just gotten (which was often) or some hard-to-find book we had been talking about. Even after Bob retired, I would get the occasional e-mail from him letting me know about some, usually obscure, collection of recordings being released or a link to a New York Times article, which was most often about surfing (something Bob knew I am passionate about)."

Elaine Katzenberger: "Bob welcomed me to City Lights when I first started working at the bookstore back in 1987, taking time to walk me up to the Caffé Puccini for coffee, commiserating about mutual interests, and generally being his friendly, affable self. At that point, he was still pulling regular shifts at the front counter, and Bob was a wry presence wreathed in smoke, jousting with Scott, Richie and Paul, colleagues he worked with for years. Bob was incredibly erudite, an insatiable consumer of books, movies, and music. He was an adventurer who loved to travel, and his devil-may-care attitude seemed to protect him wherever he went. I was always impressed by Bob's generosity to the people he'd meet on his travels, and on his regular journeys throughout the City, too. Bob knew how to enjoy life and live well. He was a survivor, a savvy, funny, and complex man--incredibly self-revealing at times, but also intensely private. I won't forget his laugh, and I'll miss his easygoing grin."

Greg Ruggiero: "Bob was a wellspring of knowledge on literature in general and City Lights in particular. Among his many contributions, Bob brought important gay titles to City Lights readers. As I work remotely, I only met him in person in San Francisco a few times. On one such occasion, he took me to a Mission District drag bar, where he introduced me to his large circle of compadres who affectionately called him güerito. He was a free spirit, storyteller, explorer, rebel, editor, and cherished friend to many."


Image of the Day: Building Community Relationships at Bart's Books

Steven Hawley read from Cracked: The Future of Dams in a Hot, Chaotic World (Patagonia) at outdoor bookstore Bart's Books in Ojai, Calif. Events programmer Emma Bailey said, "The issue of removing our local Matilija dam has been going on since before I was born. When I heard our neighboring independent publisher Patagonia was releasing a book on dams, I jumped to organize a space to come together around this subject. I see these events as more than just publicity, but occasions where we build relationships and strengthen commitments to each other."

Three Indie Booksellers Featured in James Patterson's The 23rd Midnight

The 23rd Midnight, the newest Women's Murder Club title by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro (Little, Brown), features cameos by three independent booksellers and their stores: Elaine Petrocelli, founder and president of Book Passage in Corte Madera and San Francisco, Calif.; Joel Sheldon, chairman of Vroman's in Pasadena, Calif.; and Barbara Peters, owner of the Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, Ariz.

"I always love reading James Patterson’s books. But when I read The 23rd Midnight, I was delighted and surprised," said Petrocelli. "Over the years, many authors have brought their books to the store for a Book Passage event, but only James Patterson has managed to bring a Book Passage event into his book. We are blown away! Many thanks to a great friend of booksellers everywhere."

Peters said: "The Poisoned Pen had been in business four years before Along Came a Spider published, so we've been fortunate to work with James along the entire arc of his career. We were honored to be included in the first round of James Patterson grants to bookstores. And now again--and such fun--to be mentioned in 23rd Midnight. Thank you, JP."

"Bookstores are the heart and soul of the literary community and I've been lucky enough to visit hundreds of them while on tour throughout my career," said Patterson. "The booksellers featured in The 23rd Midnight certainly deserve a shoutout for the impact they've made on their communities, but I look forward to highlighting many more of them next spring in The Secret Lives of Booksellers and Librarians."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Selena Rezvani on the Today Show

Today Show: Selena Rezvani, author of Quick Confidence: Be Authentic, Boost Connections, and Make Bold Bets on Yourself (Wiley, $27, 9781394160945).

Jennifer Hudson Show: Bill Bellamy, author of Top Billin': Stories of Laughter, Lessons, and Triumph (Amistad, $29.99, 9780063237629).

This Weekend on Book TV: Gabrielle Blair on Ejaculate Responsibly

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 27
9:30 a.m. Richard Norton Smith, author of An Ordinary Man: The Surprising Life and Historic Presidency of Gerald R. Ford (Harper, $50, 9780062684165). (Re-airs Saturday at 9:30 p.m.)

Sunday, May 28
8 a.m. Bethany Mandel, author of Stolen Youth: How Radicals Are Erasing Innocence and Indoctrinating a Generation (DW Books, $28.99, 9781956007084). (Re-airs Sunday at 8 p.m.)

9 a.m. Jody Heymann and Aleta Sprague, authors of Equality within Our Lifetimes: How Laws and Policies Can Close--or Widen--Gender Gaps in Economies Worldwide (University of California Press, $34.95, 9780520392311). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m.)

2 p.m. Gabrielle Blair, author of Ejaculate Responsibly: A Whole New Way to Think About Abortion (Workman, $14.99, 9781523523184).

3:15 p.m. Kate Zernike, author of The Exceptions: Nancy Hopkins, MIT, and the Fight for Women in Science (Scribner, $30, 9781982131838).

4:25 p.m. Erika Bachiochi, author of The Rights of Women: Reclaiming a Lost Vision (University of Notre Dame Press, $35, 9780268200824).

5:30 p.m. Coverage of the 2023 National Book Critics Circle Awards in New York City.

Books & Authors

Awards: Prix Voltaire Winners

Iraqi publisher Mazin Lateef Ali was awarded the International Publishers Association's 2023 Prix Voltaire, which honors publishers, individuals and organizations "for their exemplary courage in upholding the freedom to publish and enabling others to exercise their right to freedom of expression," at a ceremony during the World Expression Forum in Lillehammer, Norway. The IPA also announced a Prix Voltaire Special Award for murdered Ukrainian children's book author and poet Volodymyr Vakulenko.

The IPA noted that Mazin Lateef Ali "has been missing since being abducted in 2020. As a student in Baghdad, Iraq, Mazin Lateef started buying and selling books on Al-Mutanabi Street. He went on to establish Dar Mesopotamia for Printing, Publishing, and Distribution in 2007, earning a reputation as a distinguished and highly regarded member of Iraq's cultural community. Lateef published a variety of books, including several centered around the Jewish communities and individuals of Iraq. Unfortunately, on January 31, 2020, he was abducted at gunpoint and has not been heard from since."

Accepting the award on behalf of his father, Abdulmoahimen Mazin Lateef said in a video address: "Never before did I imagine that someday I would stand in such a distinguished place to speak about my father, who always used to fill the atmosphere with his conversations about culture and thought. Unfortunately, his voice was silenced, and his sin was that he had a passion for freedom of thought, and sought--through his publishing house--to present readers with everything related to the cultural foundations of Iraq. Sincere thanks to all of you, for recognizing Mazin Lateef. His spirit is present with us right now, urging to find peace by knowing his fate for sure. It is not humanity to deprive a family from visiting the tomb of their father."

Vakulenko, the IPA Prix Voltaire Special Award laureate, wrote 13 books, including works about his region's heritage, poetry, as well as children's titles. He was a winner of several Ukrainian and international literary prizes and was well-known for his strong patriotic stance. He was arrested twice following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The second time he was not released. His body was found in one of the mass graves in Izium.

Accepting the award on behalf of Vakulenko, Ukrainian writer and war crimes researcher Victoria Amelina said: "I am a Ukrainian writer speaking on behalf of my colleague Volodymyr Vakulenko who, unlike me, didn't survive another attempt of the Russian Empire to erase Ukrainian identity. The Ukrainian literary community is grateful for the award. This award is unique, meaningful, and moving to us, partly because no one out of hundreds of other Ukrainian writers who, like Vakulenko, were murdered throughout Ukrainian history ever received such an international award posthumously. I am sure that Volodymyr Vakulenko would like to dedicate this award to them too."

Kristenn Einarsson, chair of the IPA's Freedom to Publish Committee, said: "Mazin Lateef's commitment to the literary community and freedom of expression in Iraq should be an inspiration to us all. We call on those who have taken him to return him safely. Volodymyr Vakulenko is a symbol of the horrific cultural destruction perpetrated by the Russian army in Ukraine. May we hold him in our memory and celebrate the stories and poems he left us before being taken too soon."

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, May 30:

Good Night, Irene: A Novel by Luis Alberto Urrea (Little, Brown, $29, 9780316265850) follows two American women working for the Red Cross in Europe during World War II.

Killing Moon: A Harry Hole Novel by Jo Nesbø, trans. by Seán Kinsella (Knopf, $29, 9780593536964) is the 13th thriller with investigator Harry Hole.

Central Park West: A Crime Novel by James Comey (Mysterious Press, $30, 9781613164037) is the crime fiction debut by the former director of the FBI.

Drowning: The Rescue of Flight 1421 by T.J. Newman (Avid Reader Press, $28, 9781982177911) takes place on a crashed plane 200 feet underwater.

Weapons of Opportunity by Dale Brown and Patrick Larkin (Blackstone, $28.99, 9798212188340) is the third Nick Flynn military thriller.

Witch King by Martha Wells (Tordotcom, $28.99, 9781250826794) is a fantasy novel from the author of the Murderbot Diaries series.

The Song of Significance: A New Manifesto for Teams by Seth Godin (Portfolio, $25, 9780593715543) gives business leadership advice.

Break the Wheel: Ending the Cycle of Police Violence by Keith Ellison (Twelve, $30, 9781538725634) explores the murder of George Floyd and its wider context, by the Minnesota Attorney General.

Everything All at Once: A Memoir by Stephanie Catudal (HarperOne, $28.99, 9780063253131) is the memoir of a woman whose husband nearly died of lung cancer.

The Forgotten Girls: A Memoir of Friendship and Lost Promise in Rural America by Monica Potts (Random House, $28, 9780593730898) explores the diverging life paths of childhood friends from rural Arkansas.

The Summer of 1876: Outlaws, Lawmen, and Legends in the Season That Defined the American West by Chris Wimmer (St. Martin's Press, $30, 9781250280893) chronicles an eventful period in the history of the American frontier.

Legendary Legends of Legendarious Achievery (The Books of Clash, Vol. 1) by Gene Luen Yang, illus. by Les McClaine and Alison Acton (First Second, $17.99, 9781250816269) is the first in an eight-volume series about the mobile game, Clash of Clans.

Falling Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix (Tegen, $19.99, 9780063251618) is a companion novel to the author's 1997 novel Running Out of Time.

Once More with Feeling: A Novel by Elissa Sussman (Dell, $17, 9780593357378).

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 Salt Grows Heavy by Cassandra Khaw (Tor Nightfire, $21.99, 9781250830913). "Khaw's terrifying, beautiful fairy tale is drenched in horror, but under the violence and the blood, despite immeasurable loss, there's a surprising strand of love striving to survive in an all-but-hopeless world." --Emma Aprile, Carmichael's Bookstore, Louisville, Ky.

Clytemnestra: A Novel by Costanza Casati (Sourcebooks Landmark, $26.99, 9781728268231). "If you think you know Clytemnestra's story, this book will surprise you. The emotional impact sneaks up on you like a summer storm--the world grows darker until lightning strikes! Brutal, visceral, layered, and so well-researched." --Emily Lessig, The Violet Fox Bookshop, Virginia Beach, Va.

The Caretakers: A Novel by Amanda Bestor-Siegal (Morrow Paperbacks, $18.99, 9780063138209). "This book took me completely by surprise as it wormed its way into my heart. An absolutely stunning portrayal of motherhood, wealth, and pretense told through the interconnected stories of the women in a small French neighborhood." --Courtney Ulrich Smith, Underbrush Books, Rogers, Ark.

For Ages 4 to 8
Real to Me by Minh Lê, illus. by Raissa Figueroa (Knopf, $18.99, 9780593377499). "Real to Me perfectly captures the joy and magic of friendship, the complicated feelings when friendship is lost, and the delight and wonder in discovering new friends. This book will stay in my heart forever, it is a modern classic!" --Christine Bollow, Loyalty Bookstores, Washington, D.C.

For Ages 8 to 12
A Work in Progress by Jarrett Lerner (Aladdin, $17.99, 9781665905152). "A harrowing look at what can go through the mind of a young person, and serves as a cautionary tale: it's important for all of us (not just kids) to love who we are. This outstanding, accessible book stands to be on shelves for a very long time."--Paul Swydan, The Silver Unicorn Bookstore, Acton, Mass.

For Teen Readers
If Tomorrow Doesn't Come by Jen St. Jude (Bloomsbury YA, $19.99, 9781547611362). "The morning Avery plans to drown herself, she learns that an asteroid will hit Earth in eight days. She decides to ride out the end of the world without telling anyone what almost happened. A devastating, hopeful book about what makes life worth living." --Marianne Wald, East City Bookshop, Washington, D.C.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: My Husband

My Husband by Maud Ventura, trans. by Emma Ramadan (HarperVia, $28.99 hardcover, 272p., 9780063274822, July 11, 2023)

My Husband, written by debut novelist Maud Ventura and translated from the French by Emma Ramadan, is a sexually charged contemporary drama, crackling with marital intrigue and domestic unease. The story, set in a Paris suburb, unfolds over the course of a single eventful week, and is narrated by a high school teacher who is besotted with her husband and fears his betrayal to the point of near insanity. Blessed with beauty and intellect, she works as a French-English translator for a publishing house in addition to her teaching job.

The couple remains enigmatic, unnamed protagonists in this darkly humorous story of a woman's obsessive infatuation with the man she fell in love with 15 years ago and her willingness to go to any lengths to make sure her marriage survives. Not only is he handsome and successful, but they also have two well-mannered children and a stunning home, an absurdly perfect trifecta of good fortune that only exacerbates her intense paranoia about losing it all.

Readers observe the couple's interactions during social engagements, including their daughter's birthday party, and in entertaining vignettes where the wife vigilantly monitors "the romantic weather of [their] relationship" and analyzes everything her husband says and does for subversive hints that he intends to divorce her. His every supposed infraction against her is documented in a notebook, and her every move is calculated to make him love her more. Devastatingly, he calls her "sweetheart" while she yearns to be seen by him as a "femme fatale."

Ventura is clearly enjoying herself as she skillfully mines the wife's overactive imagination for comedy, while also acknowledging the suffering that results from her chronic self-doubt and "overly intense and inappropriate love." Wondering what advice she would give her 10-year-old self, the narrator doesn't hesitate: become an astrophysicist or an astronaut, and don't waste a minute being in love.

My Husband is an incisive character study of a woman's complicated interiority, her manic, manipulative behavior concealed beneath a perfectly composed exterior. The author's finely crafted scenes reveal so much more than the narrator intends to share, and she expertly ratchets up the tension until nerves are unbearably frayed, both the narrator's and the readers'.

By the time the weekend arrives, the unmistakable scent of betrayal permeates the air. But whose betrayal exactly? Ventura's cleverly constructed, one-sided portrait of a marriage delivers a breathtaking conclusion that is as unexpected as it is deviously brilliant. --Shahina Piyarali, reviewer

Shelf Talker: A wife is convinced her husband is about to betray her in this darkly humorous, suspenseful domestic drama set in Paris.

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