Also published on this date: Monday, June 19, 2023: Maximum Shelf: One Summer in Savannah

Shelf Awareness for Monday, June 19, 2023

Union Square Kids: The Door That Had Never Been Opened Before by Mrs. and Mr. MacLeod

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

Andrews McMeel Publishing: The Wheel of the Year: An Illustrated Guide to Nature's Rhythms by Fiona Cook, illustrated by Jessica Roux

Tor Nightfire: What Feasts at Night (Sworn Soldier #2) by T. Kingfisher

Amulet Books: Nightbane (the Lightlark Saga Book 2) by Alex Aster


New Owners for Douglasville Books in Ga.

Andrionna Williams and her son, D'Juan Williams, are the new owners of Douglasville Books, a new and used bookstore in Douglas, Ga. They reopened the store in May after purchasing it from Teresa Rice, who had been the owner of the business, which was first established in 1985, for the past six years. 

Rice told the Douglas County Sentinel she had announced in January she was selling the business and searching for the right buyers to take over. She was contacted on Facebook about two months ago by the Williams family with an offer, but it wasn't a cold contact even then, she said. "This is someone I'd known in the other store. She'd also done a couple of author signings in the other store. Out of all the people I talked to, they seemed the best match."

A lifelong reader, Andrionna Williams recalled that her first visit to Douglasville Books was in 2017. "I've been writing for a very long time and when I moved to Georgia in 2017, Douglasville Books was the first bookstore I did a book signing in. And I just kind of kept in touch and then we saw the notice; I've wanted a bookstore since I was a little girl, so I felt like it would be a great opportunity," she said.

D'Juan Williams, who is also a writer and has his own production company, will manage the store. Adrionna Williams oversees some other businesses, including a health and wellness clinic in New Orleans. 

"We're excited," Adrionna Williams said. "We definitely want to keep existing customers, and we welcome the new. We're here in the area, everything is staying the same, and we just want to do more community events. We're adding story time, and doing quite a few different things."

On the store's website, Douglasville Books noted that it "aims to continue growing so that customers can enjoy abundant benefits through our physical stores as well as offer a conducive and relaxing ambience for a whole new reading and browsing experience. Douglasville Books is continuously reinventing itself to become a customer-centric and dynamic retailer of the new millennium."

Flatiron Books: Anita de Monte Laughs Last by Xochitl Gonzalez

Texas's New 'Book Sexual Rating' Law Denounced

Last week, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed into law HB900, which requires suppliers of books to school libraries, librarians, and teachers to rate the books, both on future sales and retroactively. As the Texas Tribune wrote, all vendors, including bookstores, would have to assign ratings to books "based on the presence of depictions or references to sex. A book would get a 'sexually relevant' rating if the material describes or portrays sexual activity and is part of the required school curriculum. A book would get a 'sexually explicit' rating if the material describing or portraying sexual behavior is 'patently offensive' and not part of required curriculum. State law defines 'patently offensive' as materials that are an affront to 'current community standards of decency.' "

Several organizations have responded. The ABA's American Booksellers for Free Expression said in part, that it was disappointed that the Governor "ignored the outpouring of opposition from booksellers and Texans across the state and signed HB900 into law. HB900 is an onerous law that will chill speech, and it could threaten the livelihoods of independent bookstores. The governor described HB900 as 'empowering parents,' an ironic statement at best. The government dictating what other parents' children can and cannot read is hardly empowering to parents or students.

"From the day this bill was introduced, ABFE and independent bookstores in Texas have fought against HB900. Now that HB900 has been signed into law, ABFE will pursue every option available to ensure independent bookstores do not suffer its consequences."

ABFE added that the law will make librarians and vendors "inevitably err on the side of caution by not selling or carrying a book title for fear it might run afoul of the law. Whether or not a book or materials are 'sexually relevant' or 'sexually explicit' is inherently prejudiced and could result in different ratings from different vendors.

"Moreover, simply from a pragmatic standpoint, abiding by these strict guidelines would almost be impossible--resulting in access to far fewer books than in the past. Most vendors (other than publishers) are not content creators and rely on professional reviews and information provided by publishers to describe and categorize the books they sell--they can't read every book and they do not have the expertise to rate books. And it will be impossible for vendors to rate books they have sold to districts that are still in active use by September 1. Therefore, it is a real possibility that students would not have new library books in the 2023–2024 school year."

Jonathan Friedman, director of the free expression and education program at PEN America, said: "This law is clearly an effort to intimidate publishers and police the circulation of ideas and information. It forces a legislatively-mandated rating system on book vendors under threat of punishment, and creates new government power to limit what books can be available in schools for all to read--a power that could easily be exercised subjectively and influenced by political motives. Publishers already assign age-relevant categories to books using industry-adopted conventions (such as picture book, easy reader, middle grade, and young adult). In the current climate of educational censorship nationwide, this law looks like a new tool for constraining the availability of books in Texas that is deeply undemocratic."

In a series of tweets, the ACLU of Texas said that the new law "is going to be deployed in such a way that a lot of students are going to miss out on chances to see representation of themselves in their schools and in their libraries. Students should be able to read the books that represent them."

The law "will ban books about LGBTQIA+, Black, and Brown experiences in public schools. Lawmakers have no right taking away the freedom of Texas students to read--just because they don't believe certain people are worth reading about.

"HB900 creates new categories of books and materials that would either be completely banned in public school libraries or subject to restriction. Many categories are extremely broad or undefined--like materials that are 'sexually relevant' or 'educationally unsuitable.'

#HB900 gives the state the power to get books pulled off shelves, furthering some politicians’ goals of censoring books about gender, sexuality, and race. We'll say it again and again: Texas students deserve access to books that reflect their diverse identities. Full stop."

Shelf Awareness Job Board: Click Here to Post Your Job

B&N Opens in Wareham, Mass.

B&N Wareham booksellers with Pete the Cat

A new Barnes & Noble store has opened in Wareham, Mass., the Wareham Week reported.

Located at 2421 Cranberry Highway, the store held a grand opening and ribbon-cutting celebration Wednesday morning that included an appearance by local author Erin McHugh, whose new book is Pickleball Is Life: The Complete Guide to Feeding Your Obsession (Harvest), and a mascot of children's book character Pete the Cat.

The Wareham store is just under 8,000 square feet and does not have a cafe. Per Wareham Week, it is the first bookstore to open in Wareham since a Borders location closed in 2011.

International Update: Borders Malaysia Closing; King's Birthday Honors for Aussies in Book Trade

Borders Malaysia will cease operations in Malaysia on August 31, more than a decade after the original U.S. book chain, Borders Group, filed for bankruptcy and closed all of its U.S., FMT reported. The chain's online store has been closed since May 31.

Berjaya Books, which operates Borders Malaysia, thanked customers for their support through the years. "We are truly grateful for the trust and loyalty you have shown us and we would not have been able to come this far without you," the company said in a notice posted at the Bangsar Village 2 Borders outlet, which will close after July 31. "Although our journey is coming to an end, our commitment to our customers remains unchanged. We will ensure that you receive the best customer service until the very end." The bookstore chain has not said when its other outlets will be shutting down.

Coconuts KL noted that over the years, Borders Malaysia had "also lost out to its competitors in terms of marketing and publicity. Some patrons also said that its selection and stock was not as expansive as other competitor bookstores."


Fiona Stager

Several Australian booksellers, publishers, authors were among those recognized in the 2023 King's Birthday Honors, Books+Publishing reported.

Fiona Stager, owner of Avid Reader in Brisbane and former Australian Booksellers Association president, was recognized with a medal in the general division for service to literature as a bookseller. Suzy Wilson, owner of Riverbend Books, Bulimba, and founder of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, was honored as a member of the general division for significant service to the Indigenous community, to the book industry, and to education.

Suzy Wilson

Author Tim Winton was recognized as an officer in the general division for distinguished service to literature as an author and novelist, to conservation, and to environmental advocacy. Author Jen McVeity, CEO of Seven Steps for Writing Success, who established SCBWI Australia, is recognized with a medal in the general division for service to literacy education as an author and publisher.

Caroline Wood, co-founder and CEO of the Centre for Stories and founder of the Margaret River Press, was recognized as a member in the general division for significant service to literature as a publisher, and to the community through a range of roles. Susan Hayes, former director of the Literature Board of the Australia Council, received a medal in the general division for service to literature, particularly as an administrator.


During Madrid's Book Fair (Feria del Libro de Madrid), Spanish newspaper El País featured a piece by writer and former bookseller Carlos Pardo, in which the author praised the role of booksellers who "I like to think are the best literary critics," the European & International Booksellers Federation's Newsflash reported.

Pardo added that the bookselling profession "protects a certain mental health in a world that otherwise fosters our lack of self-esteem, envy and arrogance," and suggested that public funds should be devoted to bookshop internships for writers, in what he considers to be "a win-win for literature."


More than 2.3 million participants from 22,542 locations took part in last month's National Simultaneous Storytime, according to the Australian Library and Information Association. Noting that this was the largest total in the event's 23-year history, Books+Publishing reported that children across Australia, New Zealand and the world joined together to read The Speedy Sloth by Rebecca Young, illustrated by Heath McKenzie on May 24. In total, 2,357,960 participants took part. Last year's event attracted 2.18 million readers. --Robert Gray

Obituary Note: Carol Higgins Clark

Carol Higgins Clark

Carol Higgins Clark, "who as a young woman retyped manuscripts by her mother, the famed mystery writer Mary Higgins Clark, before going on to become a bestselling suspense novelist herself," died June 12, the New York Times reported. She was 66. Clark wrote more than a dozen novels of her own and several others with Christmas themes in collaboration with her mother, who died in 2020.

Starting out as an aspiring actress, Carol Higgins Clark "eventually accumulated a handful of credits in movies, several of them based on her mother's books," the Times noted. In 1975, while home for the summer from Mount Holyoke College, another career opportunity appeared when she bailed her mother, who was just beginning her suspense-writing career, out of a jam.

"She had her first suspense novel coming out, and had to get her second one in to her agent," Clark told NPR in 2008. "It was before computers, and she didn't know how she was going to get it retyped in time, so I did it. And that's really what got me into it, because I had talked to her about the characters and the plot. And I did that for a number of her books, which was great for me to learn about how to write."

As her mother's books gained popularity, Higgins Clark "continued to act as a sounding board--doing research, helping her make dialogue for younger characters more authentic, and more" the Times wrote. In 1986, when Mary Higgins Clark's Where Are the Children? was adapted into a film, Carol Higgins Clark had a small role as a television reporter. Over the next 28 years she continued to appear in movies, many of them made for TV, based on her mother's books, including A Cry in the Night (1992), in which she played a leading role.

That same year marked her own debut as a novelist with Decked, which introduced private investigator Regan Reilly. Her other titles include Snagged (1993) and Twanged (1998). She and her mother first collaborated on Deck the Halls (2000), which brought together Regan Reilly and one of Mary Higgins Clark's characters, Alvirah Meehan--a character Carol essentially raised from the dead.

"I had murdered off Alvirah in my first book," Mary Higgins Clark told Newsday in 2000. "Carol insisted I get her out of the coma. She said: 'You have a great character here and you're killing her? That's really bad writing.' "

Carol Higgins Clark was often asked if her mother ever gave her any advice. She generally gave the same answer: "She said, 'If someone's mean to you, make them a victim in your next book.' "

Author Harlan Coben tweeted: "Devastated to hear that my dear friend and colleague Carol Higgins Clark died after bravely living with appendix cancer for the past three years. Here's hoping she and Mom (Mary Higgins Clark) are sharing a bottle of wine together."


Image of the Day: Elizabeth Loudon at Broadside Bookshop

U.K. author Elizabeth Loudon (r.) visited Broadside Bookshop in Northampton, Mass., to celebrate the publication of her fiction debut, A Stranger in Baghdad (Hoopoe/The American University in Cairo). Also pictured: Julio Alves (l.), director of the Jacobson Center and Debra Carney (center) of the Sherrerd Center for Teaching & Learning, both of Smith College, where Loudon was previously a student and teacher.

Cool Idea of the Day: The Green Dragon Bookshop's 'Plant Chandelier'

"One of my decor pieces I take great pride in is my plant chandelier, which I made from scratch. I'm not handy with tools and had a vague idea of how to make it come together," the Green Dragon Bookshop, Fort Dodge, Iowa, posted on Instagram. Yet, I was able to make this. When I am faced with a challenge and am doubting my abilities, I think about this piece and tell myself to go for it and try. It may become a point of pride. What is something you take pride in?"

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Blair LM Kelley on Fresh Air

Good Morning America: Chris Paul, author of Sixty-One: Life Lessons from Papa, On and Off the Court (St. Martin's Press, $30, 9781250276711). He will also appear tomorrow on the Today Show.

Fresh Air: Blair LM Kelley, author of Black Folk: The Roots of the Black Working Class (Liveright, $30, 9781631496554).

Today Show: Steven Rowley, author of The Celebrants (Putnam, $28, 9780593540428).

Also on Today: Mauricio Umansky, author of The Dealmaker: How to Succeed in Business & Life Through Dedication, Determination & Disruption (Gallery, $27.99, 9781668010648).

TV: All the Light We Cannot See

Netflix has released the latest trailer for Shawn Levy's Netflix limited series, All the Light We Cannot See, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by  Anthony Doer, Deadline reported. The project, which premieres November 2, stars Aria Mia Loberti, Mark Ruffalo, Nell Sutton, Lars Eidinger, and Marion Bailey.

Levy directs all four episodes, written by Steven Knight, and produces under his 21 Laps Entertainment banner alongside Dan Levine and Josh Barry. Joe Strechay serves as associate producer, blindness and accessibility consultant.

Books & Authors

Awards: German Peace Prize Goes to Salman Rushdie

Salman Rushdie will receive the 2023 Peace Prize of the German Book Industry, which will be presented to him on October 22 during the Frankfurt Book Fair. He also receives €25,000 (about $27,300).

In its announcement, the Peace Prize Foundation said, "Since his masterwork Midnight's Children appeared in 1981, Salman Rushdie has had an influential perspective on migration and global politics. In his novels and nonfiction, he combines storytelling vision with constant literary innovation, humor, and wisdom. In the process, he portrays the rage with which authoritarian regimes destroy whole societies, but also portrays the indestructible spirit of the resistance of individuals.

"Because Iranian Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against him in 1989, Salman Rushdie lives in constant danger. Nevertheless, he continues to be a passionate defender of the freedom of thought and speech--and not only of his own, but also of people whose views he doesn't share. With great personal risk, he defends the essential premise of peaceful interconnectedness.

"In August 2022, shortly before the publication of his latest novel, Victory City, he was the victim of a violent attack. Despite deep physical and psychic injuries, with which he still grapples, he continues to write: imaginatively and with deep humanity. We honor Salman Rushdie for his indomitability, his affirmation of life, and his storytelling joy that has enriched the world."

The Peace Prize Foundation, part of the Börsenverein, the German book industry association, noted that in addition to his writing and many awards, Rushdie was president of PEN America from 2004 to 2006 and chair of the PEN World Voices International Literary Festival for 10 years.

Book Review

Review: The Art of Scandal

The Art of Scandal by Regina Black (Grand Central, $28 hardcover, 304p., 9781538722770, August 1, 2023)

Regina Black's aptly titled debut, The Art of Scandal, is a character-driven multicultural romance featuring a political scandal, romantic and artistic passion, and delicious prose.

At 37, Rachel Abbott is stunned to receive a sext--one he'd meant to send to someone else--from her husband of 13 years, Matt Abbott, the mayor of the wealthy D.C. suburb where they live. That night, she meets 26-year-old Nathan Vasquez at the drive-in theater where she's angry-drinking. He's immediately captivated by her, and they connect again when she later walks into the laundromat he owns. Their relationship grows ever more complicated as Black builds up a series of barriers that seem insurmountable. Rachel is still married, her husband has congressional ambitions, and she signed an agreement--she's made a deal to stay his dutiful political wife in public for a year in exchange for a million dollars and the house. Nathan (who refers to himself as "a big brown guy with ink up to his neck") is the son of the powerful, wealthy Vasquez family with class ties to the Abbott dynasty. When Rachel is put in charge of a fundraising gala and art show, the artist backs out, and Nathan is thrust into the role of featured artist, even though he's never professionally pursued his art.

In The Art of Scandal, Black puts her mastery of character on full display. Rachel and Nathan could easily have been reduced to stereotypes: the self-sacrificing wife betrayed, the privileged 20-something losing himself as he coasts through life. They are these things, but they're also much more. Rachel's experience as a Black teen mom isn't a stereotype, either, though the Abbott political machine loves to trot it out as they try to paint their white would-be Democratic congressional candidate as a beacon of progressive ideals. Both have complicated relationships with money, and their attempts to reckon with financial stability, risk, and respectability drive the plot as much as their intense attraction to each other. What Nathan represents to Rachel is a return to the passionate, hopeful life she once led. To Nathan, Rachel is an inspiration to focus on his art, and to step outside his early-onset ennui to make his life something of his choosing.

At heart, this is a gorgeous love story, and as the threat of discovery and disaster looms large, readers will be racing through the pages to find out how Black will pull off a happy ending. The Art of Scandal is a riveting debut perfect for readers of Seven Days in June. --Suzanne Krohn, librarian and freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: Political scandal, family strife, art, and passion combine with Regina Black's mastery of character in her soapy yet insightful debut novel.

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