Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Little Brown and Company: Wolf at the Table by Adam Rapp

Tor Nightfire: Ghost Station by S.A. Barnes

Severn River Publishing: Covert Action (Command and Control #5) by J.R. Olson and David Bruns

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


Indigo CEO Peter Ruis Resigns

Peter Ruis

Peter Ruis has resigned as CEO of Indigo Books & Music and will serve as a consultant for two months "to support a smooth transition in leadership," the Indigo board said. In the meantime, as the company searches for a new CEO, Craig Loudon, CFO, and Damien Liddle, senior v-p and general counsel, will "provide day to day direction." The board thanked Ruis for "his contributions to the company and wishes him well as he moves on to new challenges in his career."

Ruis was appointed CEO just a year ago, when founder and CEO Heather Reisman became executive chair. (She retired in August.) Originally hired as president in early 2021, Ruis joined Indigo with more than 30 years of retail experience, including as CEO of Jigsaw Group, the executive buying & brand director at John Lewis, and managing director of Anthropologie URBN Group.

Ruis's departure follows a year of problems and losses at Indigo. Besides changes at the top, the company suffered a debilitating ransomware attack in February that knocked out systems and its website, and in June four board members resigned. Most recently, the company reported that sales in the quarter ended July 1 had dropped 12%, to C$179.2 million (about US$132.2 million) compared to the same period a year earlier and that the net loss was C$28.5 million (US$21 million) compared to a net loss of C$25.4 million (US$18.7 million).

University of California Press: The Accidental Ecosystem: People and Wildlife in American Cities by Peter S. Alagona

Semicolon Books, Chicago, Ill., Reopens as Nonprofit

Semicolon Books in Chicago, Ill., has reopened as a nonprofit bookstore after a temporary closure, WGN9 reported. 

Earlier this year, store owner Danielle Mullen announced that she would be switching to a nonprofit model in order better to fulfill the store's mission of supporting literacy and public schools. Before the switch, Mullen noted at the time, all of those efforts were funded by book sales, and when sales slowed over the past year, so did those programs. Now Semicolon has access to grants and other forms of funding.

During the temporary closure, Mullen added more tables and chairs to the store and did some other remodeling. She plans to continue the store's existing literacy programs while establishing new ones.

Mullen founded Semicolon in Chicago's River West neighborhood in 2019. In 2021, she moved the store to a new space in Wicker Park but returned to the original home in 2022 after buying the building.

"We are known for our commitment to bridge the literacy gap among minoritized communities," Mullen told WGN9.

Henry's Books, Spearfish, S.Dak., Launches Crowdfunding Campaign

Married couple Elizabeth and Dylan Mattson have launched a Kickstarter campaign to help them open Henry's Books, an all-ages bookstore with a focus on community and diversity, in Spearfish, S.Dak., this fall, the Rapid City Journal reported.

The Mattsons are looking to raise $45,000 by October 5; so far they've raised just over $5,000. They have found a suitable space in Spearfish and need the funds from the campaign to secure it. Should they be able to reach that goal, they could be open as early as November, in time for the holiday shopping season.

The store, which is named for the couple's son, will carry new books for children, teens, and adults across a wide variety of genres. Community members will have a hand in building the inventory by being able to sponsor specific genres and even making sure that individual titles are always on the shelves.

"We really want to see as many people sponsor as much of the store as possible for the sake of having community involvement in every element of the store," Lizzie Mattson told the Journal. "Our greatest hope for these sponsorship options is that you would choose something that is meaningful to you in one way or another."

They intend to make Henry's Books a community hub and plan to host workshops, author readings, adult book fairs, storytime sessions, and more. A commitment to diversity, inclusion, and creating a safe space for everyone in the community will run through all their efforts.

"We want everyone to feel welcome," Mattson added. "Accessibility is really important to us. We want a space that is accessible to as many people as possible."

The Mattsons have lived in Spearfish since 2014, and while the town has breweries, cafes, boutiques, and even two farmer's markets, it sorely lacked a bookstore. Mattson explained: "It's almost like the elephant in the room. It's so obvious we're missing a bookstore. I couldn't stop thinking about it. If I was ever to contribute any kind of storefront, this is absolutely the most perfect fit for us as a family."

Bookends in Ybor City, Fla., Plans Physical Bookshop Launch

Bookends: Literature & Libations, Ybor City, Fla., which launched as a mobile bookstore earlier this summer, plans to open a physical location in June 2024 in a historic renovated bungalow on the 2200 block of Second Avenue. 83 Degrees reported that co-owners Laurie and Teresa Rodriguez "have set up shop regularly at the Ybor City Saturday Market and the University of Tampa's Sustainable Spartan Market. They also regularly put on author talks and events that showcase the literary talent here in Tampa Bay."

Laurie Rodriguez said they always wanted to start a business that featured the things they enjoy--gathering with friends for a glass of wine and good conversation. The sisters and Teresa Rodriguez's husband, Rob Jordan, are also educators who love reading and books, which led to their decision to launch a bookstore that would feature Florida authors and books, along with beer, wine, and their own homemade appetizers and baked goods. 

"When we go to events we're usually approached by two or three local authors who have books out," Jordan said. "It's amazing how many authors there are in Tampa. It's a pretty big literary scene. So we want to support them as much as we can."

The co-owners hope to fill the void left after longtime independent bookstore Inkwood Books closed in 2019. "The naysayers always say no one reads books anymore," Jordan said. "We are finding that is not true. When we are at the Ybor market every Saturday, we see that people love books."

Laurie Rodriguez added that they are also excited about being part of a resurgent and revitalized Ybor City that is seeing an influx of residents and artists. "It's really coming back," she noted.

Texas Bookman Buys U.K. Wholesaler the Speaking Tree

Texas Bookman, the wholesale division of Half Price Books, has purchased U.K. book wholesaler the Speaking Tree and the imprint the Lost Library.

The Speaking Tree, Glastonbury, U.K., was founded in 1997 and focuses on mind, body, and spirit and related titles, with customers in the U.K. and around the world. The Lost Library was founded in 2011 and specializes in bringing classic and hard-to-find esoteric texts back into print.

Gareth Mills, director of the Speaking Tree, and James Palmer, acquisition director of Half Price Books.

"Texas Bookman has been buying books from the Speaking Tree for a quarter of a century and I believe we share a common philosophy," said Gareth Mills, director of the Speaking Tree. "When I told them that I wanted to stop wholesaling to concentrate on printing and binding fine letterpress limited editions, they generously offered to transplant the Speaking Tree and find new ground for its roots in the States."

Sharon Anderson Wright, CEO of Half Price Books, said, "Texas Bookman has been friends and supporters of the Speaking Tree for so many years. When Gareth expressed interest in moving on from his core business, we knew this was an opportunity to honor his legacy by maintaining his relationships and high quality service as well as adding to our offerings in the Mind, Body, Spirit category. We look forward to growing our worldwide customer base and publishing program."

Texas Bookman will exhibit at the CIANA Remainder and Promotional Book Fair in London, September 10-11, and include the Speaking Tree name and books and Lost Library titles.


Image of the Day: Author Event with a View

Point Reyes Books and Sibylline Press hosted a launch event for Susannah Kennedy, author of Reading Jane: A Daughter's Memoir, in Muir Beach, Calif. (north of San Francisco), overlooking the Pacific Ocean. More than 80 people drove the narrow, windy road above the 200-foot cliffs on Highway 1 and through the mountains to the east to get there. Pictured: publisher Vicki DeArmon, Kennedy, bookseller Kriz Bell.

IBPA's 2nd Annual 'Fall into Indie Books at Indie Bookstores' Campaign

This month, the Independent Book Publishers Association is encouraging readers to "Fall into Indie Books at Indie Bookstores" through a social media campaign that aims "to demonstrate the important ties between independent publishers and independent bookstores." Each day of September, the association is picking one person to win $50 to spend at their favorite indie bookstore, meaning there will be 30 winners overall. To qualify, readers need to visit a bookstore, post a pic on Instagram, and tag @ibpalovesindies, the bookstore, and #FallintoIndieBooks.

IBPA noted that "as a best practice, IBPA encourages our members to make their books available via multiple retail outlets and include buy buttons inclusive of indie bookstores, and/or, and/or Together let's get readers to Fall into Indie Books at Indie Bookstores, show Indie Bookstores some love, and promote wonderful books from Indie Publishers!"

This is the IBPA's second annual "Fall into Indie Books at Indie Bookstores" campaign.

Reese's September Book Club Pick: Mother-Daughter Murder Night

The September pick of Reese's Book Club is Mother-Daughter Murder Night by Nina Simon (Morrow). Reese Witherspoon wrote, "In Mother-Daughter Murder Night, a cancer diagnosis leaves Lana Rubicon trapped in a sleepy coastal town with her adult daughter Beth and teenage granddaughter Jack. When Jack happens upon a dead body while kayaking near their bungalow and quickly becomes a suspect in the homicide investigation, their family must come together to uncover a web of lies, family vendettas, and land disputes lurking beneath the surface of their community. But as their amateur snooping advances into ever-more dangerous territory, the headstrong Rubicon women must learn do the one thing they've always resisted: depend on each other."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Cedric the Entertainer on Tamron Hall

CBS Mornings: Graham Norton, author of Forever Home: A Novel (HarperVia, $30, 9780063338616).

Also on CBS Mornings: Bernie Taupin, author of Scattershot: Life, Music, Elton, and Me (Hachette Books, $32.50, 9780306828676).

Good Morning America: Cody Rigsby, author of XOXO, Cody: An Opinionated Homosexual's Guide to Self-Love, Relationships, and Tactful Pettiness (Ballantine, $27, 9780593722534).

Tamron Hall: Cedric the Entertainer, author of Flipping Boxcars: A Novel (Amistad, $30, 9780063258990).

TV: Lupin Season 3

Netflix has released a trailer for the third season of Lupin, the French TV series that is a contemporary adaptation of the novels by Maurice LeBlanc, who created the character in 1905. Deadline reported that "the third instalment of the streamer's smash French crime thriller sees Assane (Omar Sy) in hiding, learning to live far from his wife and son. With the suffering they endure because of him, Assane can't stand it any longer and decides to return to Paris to make them a crazy proposal: leave France and start a new life elsewhere. But the ghosts of the past are never far away, and an unexpected return will turn his plans upside down."

The series also stars Ludivine Sagnier, Antoine Gouy, Soufiane Guerrab, and Shirine Boutella. Lupin is created by George Kay for Netflix and Gaumont Télévision. Ludovic Bernard, Podz, and Xavier Gens direct.

Books & Authors

Awards: Arab American Book Winners

The winners of the 2023 Arab American Book Awards, sponsored by the Arab American National Museum, are:


Fiction: The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah (Orbit) and If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English by Noor Naga (Graywolf Press)
Nonfiction: Muslims of the Heartland by Edward E. Curtis IV (NYU Press) and Hadha Baladuna, edited by Ghassan Zeineddine, Nabeel Abraham, and Sally Howell (Wayne State University Press)
Poetry: O by Zeina Hashem Beck (Penguin)
YA: Ida in the Middle by Nora Lester Murad (Crocodile Books)
Children's literature: Arab, Arab All Year Long! by Cathy Camper (Candlewick Press)

Honorable mentions

Nonfiction: Broken: The Failed Promise of Muslim Inclusion by Evelyn Alsultany (NYU Press), Sajjilu: A Reader in SWANA Studies, edited by Louise Cainkar, Pauline Homsi Vinson, & Amira Jarmakani (Syracuse University Press), and Learning America: One Woman's Fight for Educational Justice for Refugee Children by Luma Mufleh (Mariner Books)
Poetry: DEAR GOD. DEAR BONES. DEAR YELLOW. by Noor Hindi (Haymarket Books) and Your Blue and the Quiet Lament by Lubna Safi (Texas Tech University Press)
YA: The Turtle of Michigan by Naomi Shihab Nye (Greenwillow Books)
Children's literature: Mama in Congress: Rashida Tlaib's Journey to Washington by Rashida Tlaib, Adam Tlaib, and Miranda Paul (Clarion Books)

Book Review

Review: Cross-Stitch

Cross-Stitch by Jazmina Barrera, trans. by Christina MacSweeney (Two Lines Press, $24 hardcover, 224p., 9781949641530, November 7, 2023)

In Cross-Stitch, the inventive first novel by Mexican author Jazmina Barrera (On Lighthouses), a sudden death provokes an intricate examination of three young women's years of shifting friendship. Their shared hobby of embroidery occasions a history of women's handiwork, woven into a relationship study that may remind readers of works by Elena Ferrante and Deborah Levy.

Mila, a Mexico City writer with a young daughter, is blindsided by the news that her friend Citlali has drowned in Senegal. Citlali, who worked for an environmental NGO, struggled with mental illness. New antidepressants slowed her reaction times when she went swimming, so whether her death was accidental or a suicide is unclear.

Mila, Citlali, and Dalia had been best friends since middle school. While waiting to be reunited with Dalia for Citlali's memorial service, Mila browses a journal she kept during their travels in Europe and to a Mexican village to remember key moments from their friendship. They all volunteered one summer in high school, for an adult literacy campaign in Yospí. Later, at age 19, Dalia and Mila visited Citlali, who had moved to France instead of attending college. Before meeting Citlali in Paris, the pair packed in lots of London sightseeing.

Although they give the appearance of being chosen at random, it's clear that Mila has carefully curated the scenes to reveal the friends' dynamic over time. They all had romantic vicissitudes and drifted apart in adulthood. Citlali's troubles included an eating disorder and her father's abusive tendencies. Dalia moved to Spain and has a nonbinary partner. Mila, the only one with a child, struggles to balance her career with motherhood.

Like a scrapbook or commonplace book, the novel--elegantly translated from the Spanish by Christina MacSweeney--pieces together Mila's memories with references to the history of the textile arts. A repeated icon of a threaded needle separates the fragments. Barrera builds a rich collage of vignettes about art, etymology, and legends that illuminate the womanly traditions of handicraft. Cross-stitch becomes its own metaphorical language, passed on by female ancestors and shared across social classes. It is also the basis for the enduring bond between the three main characters: after Citlali's death, Dalia and Mila vow to complete their friend's spider-motif embroidery project.

A feminist, intertextual gem reminiscent of Still Born and A Ghost in the Throat, Cross-Stitch considers friendship and grief alongside women's work, musing on its serious themes with nimble grace. --Rebecca Foster, freelance reviewer, proofreader, and blogger at Bookish Beck

Shelf Talker: Jazmina Barrera's first novel is an intricate portrait of the friendship among three Mexican women over time, with themes of bereavement, environmentalism, and handicraft.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Twisted Love by Ana Huang
2. Haunting Adeline by H.D. Carlton
3. A Thousand Boy Kisses by Tillie Cole
4. King of Pride by Ana Huang
5. Twisted Games by Ana Huang
6. Flawless by Elsie Silver
7. King of Wrath by Ana Huang
8. Hooked by Emily McIntire
9. Hunting Adeline by H.D. Carlton
10. Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves

[Many thanks to!]

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