Shelf Awareness for Thursday, January 25, 2024


Atlantic Monthly Press: Those Opulent Days: A Mystery by Jacquie Pham

Feiwel & Friends: The Flicker by HE Edgmon

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Pumpkin Princess and the Forever Night by Steven Banbury

St. Martin's Griffin: Murdle: The School of Mystery: 50 Seriously Sinister Logic Puzzles by GT Karber

Carolrhoda Lab (R): Here Goes Nothing by Emma K Ohland

Allida: Safiyyah's War by Hiba Noor Khan

Ace Books: Servant of Earth (The Shards of Magic) by Sarah Hawley

News

Ibi Zoboi: Coretta Scott King Book Award Winner

Ibn Zoboi
(photo: Nicole Mondestin)

Earlier this week, the American Library Association announced the 2024 Youth Media Award winners. Author Ibi Zoboi won the Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award, which recognizes "an African American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults," for her young adult book Nigeria Jones (Balzer + Bray).  

You have been awarded a CSK every year for the past three years: an author honor for The People Remember Us, illustrated by Loveis Wise, in 2022; an author honor for Star Child in 2023; and now the author award for Nigeria Jones in 2024. How are you feeling about getting the win?

I am immensely proud of this recognition. There are so many ways to define success for every book, especially when I'm writing about topics that most readers are unfamiliar with--Kwanzaa, science-fiction author Octavia Butler, and the daughter of a Black separatist group leader. I'm intentional about bringing ideas and stories that I don't often see in the media. So it's always a win to just have those books out in the world. It's important that I remain humble so that I meet every recognition with deep gratitude.

Would you tell our readers about the book? What inspired it?

Nigeria Jones is the homeschooled daughter of a Black separatist leader in Philadelphia. When her mother disappears, she's left to care for her baby brother and take on the duties of helping her father care for their community. But a family friend shares a letter her mother had written to a prestigious private school. She learns that her mother had her own dreams for her, and Nigeria sets out on a journey to forge her path, liberate herself from her father's control, and peel away at the layers of her mother's absence all while making new friends and exploring romantic relationships with two very different boys.

I've seen this book referred to as "the Constitution of Nigeria Jones." Why did you decide to format this book with a preamble, articles, amendments, etc.?

I officially became a U.S. citizen when I was 19, at the same time that I was learning about the real history of this country in terms of slavery and the Civil Rights Movement. As part of the naturalizing process, we had to be familiar with the U.S. Constitution. It was the first time I remember thinking about whether the Constitution really applied to me as a Black immigrant girl. I've always wanted to write a book that tackles Black girlhood and the Constitution, and using the framework could help readers to really think about what those articles and amendments mean in our daily lives. I wanted to ask in big and small ways, "Who was written into the Constitution and who was left out?"

Could you speak to the quotes that open each chapter?

Those quotes are either from or about important figures in American history, including Haiti's founding fathers. All of them are about freedom and liberty. My character had to learn about all these important people as part of her homeschooling, but when she begins to question her place in her family and in the world, she remixes them to fit her own ideas of freedom.

This book focuses on Black women, Black mothers, Black girls. What would you like readers to take away from this book? Who do you hope reads this?

I hope everyone reads this book because my character is gripping with layers upon layers of marginalization. Acknowledging intersectional identity allows for greater empathy. Marginalized young people are grappling with how to define different parts of themselves and show up authentically in the world.

Black girls, Black mothers, and Black women have a unique set of circumstances they have to navigate in order to feel validated, supported, and seen. I remember seeing a post on social media where someone said, "Police brutality is to Black boys and men what the maternal health crisis is to Black girls and women." This is absolutely true. But there are a plethora of books, movies, and news stories highlighting police brutality and not about the alarming rates of maternal mortality. This is a national crisis in the same way that police brutality is a national crisis, and it goes back to the Constitution. Who gets to live freely? Whose rights are protected?

Places--Philadelphia, the Village House--are very important. What purposes do these specific settings serve?

Since I wanted to infuse the Constitution into the novel, Philadelphia was a no-brainer. This book also pays homage to Black separatist communities, namely the MOVE organization, which was founded in Philadelphia. The city and the state of Pennsylvania were founded by William Penn, who was a Quaker. The Quakers were considered separatists at the time and had some radical ideas about society and were the first abolitionists. The Village House is a communal living space where the members of the Movement can put their altruistic ideas into practice, much like the Amish, Quakers, and other separatist communities. But who gets to be sovereign in this country? Who is protected under the Constitution when members of our society decide to opt out, like the Movement, or opt in, like Nigeria Jones?

Why did you want to make Black-centered education key to Nigeria's story?

Afrocentric schools or Freedom Schools have always been an integral part of this country. There's a fairly recent New York Times article about the schools that continue to thrive, especially now when school districts are rife with discrimination. Philadelphia has a number of both Quaker schools and Freedom Schools, and I wanted to juxtapose those two educational philosophies and place a girl in the center to ask, "Which environment will affirm her identity? What sort of school environment will allow a highly intelligent, headstrong Black girl to thrive?"

Was there anything you wanted to include but couldn't?

Early drafts of Nigeria Jones included essays written by my character. I wanted readers to know about the Black and Indigenous girls in American history who were connected to either the founding fathers or the founding of this country. Ona Judge was 16 years old when she ran away from the capital of the country--she was enslaved by George Washington, who pursued her for years. There was Sally Hemings, who was also a teen when she was held captive by Thomas Jefferson. Sacagawea was in her late teens when she led Lewis and Clark across the Pacific Northwest. There were short essays about Mary McLeod Bethune and Susan B. Anthony and the ideas surrounding body autonomy. But at that point, it would've been an entirely other book. My editor was absolutely right in helping me to make sure that readers stay with Nigeria's story.

Is there anything you'd like to add?

I haven't always been confident that readers will want to tackle such a heavy, cerebral book. But I've been to school visits where I had to present Nigeria Jones, and I'm absolutely blown away by the readers who are craving this sort of intellectual rigor and want to step into the lives of teens who don't look like them. In Philadelphia, I signed several copies that were dog-eared and written in the margins. A couple of weeks ago, a boy told me how much he related to Nigeria's story because his father didn't want him to leave China to go to school in America. I'm glad this book is out in the world, and I'm confident that it will reach the readers who need it most. --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness


PM Press: P Is for Palestine: A Palestine Alphabet Book by Golbarg Bashi, Illustrated by Golrokh Nafisi


Illustrator Dare Coulter: Coretta Scott King Book Award Winner

Dare Coulter

This week, the American Library Association announced the 2024 Youth Media Award winners. The Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Book Award, recognizing "an African American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults," was given to Dare Coulter for An American Story (Little, Brown), written by Kwame Alexander.

How are you feeling about winning the CSK Illustrator Award?

I'm SO EXCITED!!!!! I'm incredibly happy, and I'm so grateful. I'm also very sleepy. I've slept most of today--this morning was such a big rush of emotion. I have shirts that I made that say "Blessed by Beautiful Black Books" with the names of Black authors and illustrators up and down the sleeves. Some of those authors and illustrators are messaging and posting to tell me congratulations, so I feel surrounded by love. I feel fortunate in being a part of a legacy of Black excellence and greatness.

The illustrations in this book are beyond impressive--you put the phrase "mixed media" to shame. Have you illustrated in this style before?

I remember the first time I heard the term mixed media; I was applying for the Women's Club's art competition in high school. And when the category was explained, this little lightbulb went off because I realized I could use anything I wanted--it didn't have to be just one media. And then I proceeded to fall in love with everything. I sincerely feel like artwork is a love letter, and I've got to put everything in it that I can to make sure that it gets to be its best self. I've not illustrated in this style before but it's not going to be the last time you see this style! It just has to make sense for the manuscript/project.

What made you want to illustrate this book in this way?

I hope it doesn't sound silly, but I needed to find a way to make sure that the art I loved the most could make it into the most important work I feel I am doing. Also, I've very repeatedly said that Kwame [Alexander] is the Beyoncé of children's books and if Beyoncé calls you for your first feature, you don't not give Beyoncé your most innovative work! Right?

On a more reflective note, it was important to me that the humans in this story--who we knew would ultimately have their humanity discarded by the institution of slavery--felt as close to human as they could. Water-based clay (specifically the red kind) is weird because it starts to smell like skin while you're working with it. There comes a moment where I get weirded out because it feels like the sculpture could open its eyes, and it's very bizarre. You start to feel bad for cutting into the clay. I didn't think a 2-D drawing or painting would provide that same nuance. Sculptures were necessary to create the gravity of humanity in the context of this story. Kwame is brilliant and wrote a beautiful manuscript, and I wanted to make sure that my art could meet the magnificence of his words. (Can I add in how proud of Kwame I am, and how grateful I am to be able to watch him supernova through the world right now?)

Was it your idea to use different mediums to illustrate different timelines in the story (clay for the past, charcoal for the present)?

I don't think the world will understand how many conversations I had with Rubin [Pfeffer, her agent] while developing this work... he was "in the trenches" with me. (Sincerely, he helped me keep it together and stay on track and I will love him forever for many reasons but especially for that!) One of us would present a "what if" and the other would respond and it would evolve from there. Between the two of us there were several ideas about portraying time, enslaved vs. free, classroom vs. not, etc.

...How? Like seriously how did you do this? Were you also your own photographer?

Giiiiirl, NO! I was absolutely NOT my own photographer because I tried, and it was horrible. I need to thoroughly explain how terrible the pictures I took were. They were so bad!

I packed my car up with artwork and drove to Brooklyn to the studio of Howard Huang who is a magician at work. We were in his studio, and it was me, Saho Fuji, Dave Caplan, and Rubin, and [Huang] would shoot an image, air drop it to Saho, she'd put it in the layout, I'd check it out, and she would say something she needed. So, Howard would re-shoot, and we would go back and forth like that until it was perfect. But it was only perfect because Howard has the skillset to make it look good. He's sincerely the reason the mixed media works so well; I was outside of my skill range on this one. I use this as an example when I do school visits to tell kids that it's okay to ask for help. I really needed help!

You say in your illustrator's note that your work usually focuses on joy. What was it like to illustrate a heavy book that carries such a painful history?

I know I started this interview with talking about sleep, but to bring it back in, I think there's a point where you've got to figure out how to shut it all off. Sometimes that was just throwing in the towel and going to bed. It's weird feeling like you know a lot about a subject and then still experiencing new emotions about it. Once you start digging into the artifacts of slavery and oppression, you realize that you're seeing physical experiences of brutality. I don't think I did well separating from that.

But it's worth sorting through the complexities that I experienced on my own to be able to tell this story. Joy is my jam, but I've had to reason with the notion that in the Black experience there is a simultaneous presence of joy and pain. And telling the stories of pain just helps underscore why the stories of joy are important and valid.

Is there anything you'd like to add or to tell Shelf readers?

Man, do I have something to add! Do you and do it well.

I saw this post about a person making art of a peacock. They were in critique and someone who wasn't a fan of the aesthetic said, "Make me hate it." They basically said they thought it was tacky because it was glittery and bejeweled. Something like that. So, since they would never be providing a positive review of it, they were saying that they would love to see it be as glittery and embellished as possible.

At a certain point you can't be concerned about whether people who aren't into the thing that you do are going to appreciate it--your job is to breathe life into your work and to let it be its best self. The quarrelsome man has no good neighbors; don't be your own quarrelsome man to your art. And don't let other people who don't hold value for the type of work that you produce be your quarrelsome man. Glitter that peacock! --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness


Farrar, Straus and Giroux: Intermezzo by Sally Rooney


Call & Response Coming to Chicago, Ill., This Year

Following its debut as a pop-up shop and a successful crowdfunding campaign, Call & Response Books is aiming to open a bricks-and-mortar store in Chicago, Ill., this year, Block Club Chicago reported.

Courtney Bledsoe

Owner Courtney Bledsoe hopes to open the bookstore, which will carry books for all ages written by Black authors and authors of color, on Chicago's South Side. Alongside books there will be coffee and tea, and Bledsoe plans to host author readings, open mics, workshops, trivia nights, and plenty of other community events.

Last week, Bledsoe's GoFundMe campaign surpassed its initial goal of $5,000. While she has not settled on a final location, Bledsoe is looking at spaces in the Hyde Park and Kenwood neighborhoods, and the bricks-and-mortar space could be open as early as this spring.

"I view Hyde Park as a kind of a cultural center," Bledsoe told Block Club. "I love the fact that if you go to a chamber of commerce meeting, or any of the places there, it is a strong Black community. There are so many Black-owned businesses and businesses run by other people of color. Having a kind of space [amplifying] books that center people of color, that center Black people, really falls in line with what's going on in Hyde Park right now."

In 2021, Bledsoe began highlighting books by authors of color on Instagram under the username Busy Black Bookworm, and in 2022 she launched the bookstore. Her pop-up appearances have taken her to places like the Hyde Park Holiday Market and the Chicago Art Department Holiday Market.

Bledsoe added that she's learned a lot from and been encouraged by other Black booksellers in Chicago, saying: "It's never felt competitive--it's a 'rising tide raises all ships' kind of situation. We're striving to uplift Black people and people of color in this area, and that's a goal we can all work toward together."


New B&N Opening in Visalia, Calif., Jan. 31

Barnes & Noble is opening a new store in Visalia, Calif., on January 31.

Located in the Sequoia Mall, the store will feature B&N's new store design and an updated cafe. There will be a ribbon cutting on the morning of the 31st featuring Gary Soto, author of Puppy Love. B&N plans to open more than 50 new stores this year.


Karen Phillips of Words Without Borders Stepping Down

Karen Phillips

Karen Phillips, who has headed Words Without Borders for 10 years, is leaving the organization. In an open letter, she wrote, in part, "It feels good to pass the torch at a moment of organizational strength, and I see this change as an opportunity to build on the momentum of recent years.

"I am proud of how much we've achieved in the last decade: we more than doubled our budget and nearly tripled our staff, allowing us to bring greater depth and breadth to the international literature we publish, especially when it comes to marginalized languages and literatures; we've launched and expanded our innovative education program, WWB Campus, enabling thousands of students across the world to read translated literature; we've created important opportunities for emerging professionals, including our editorial fellowship and Momentum Grant; and we've brought our global community together through virtual and in-person literary events.

"None of this would have been possible without the work of WWB's brilliant and committed staff, our highly engaged and supportive board of directors, our devoted readers and supporters, and, above all, the authors and translators who make WWB possible and necessary. I am grateful to each of you."

A search committee has been formed to look for a new head for the organization. Phillips will remain as executive director and publisher through June and help with a transition.


Obituary Note: Patrick Heffernan

Patrick Heffernan, bookseller, collector, and craftsman, died in December. He was 57.

Patrick Heffernan (l.) with Pierce Brown at Comic-Con International 2023.

Heffernan began his bookselling career at B. Dalton Bookseller and later spent more than 25 years as a bookseller and so much more at Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego, Calif. He continued his passion for handselling and preserving physical books as the proprietor of EverythingAboutBooks.com, producing custom-built slipcases. As recounted by friends and colleagues, "His career in the book industry was an expression of his passion for reading, and for the collection, care, restoration, and preservation of rare and important works."

Terry Gilman, co-founder of Mysterious Galaxy, said, "Patrick was part of our story for over 30 years, since the first day we opened Mysterious Galaxy in May, 1993. When we worked together, it was a partnership in every way. I was warmed by his hugs when we were together, learned from his bookselling expertise, and impressed by his ingenuity. He could do the impossible: plan the move (multiple times!) of an entire store's inventory and fixtures to a new location in a single day, create beautiful book boxes that are works of art I will always treasure, and discover the next amazing genre author for us all to read and love. He loved all things book-related and to that end, dedicated his passion and effort to every task he took on. It is hard to imagine a book world without him."

Mysterious Galaxy lead bookseller and horror maven R.J. Crowther, Jr. added, "For 30 years, Patrick was my bookseller guru, and a champion of new voices in fiction. More than that, he became a brother to me, and made me a better reader and writer. Patrick's passing was not the final chapter: his story continues in the hearts of everyone who loved him and for all those with whom he shared the magic of stories. Love you, Big Bro."

Author Pierce Brown wrote, "Patrick was one of my first supporters. As a young writer, I cherished the early review he gave my debut novel and the nights of debating Tolkien semantics over beers. In time, I came to love him as a friend. He was fierce in his loyalty, generous with his time, devoted to his friends, and true in his love for science fiction and fantasy. I'll miss him like hell now that he's passed into the Gray Havens, and that would probably make him smirk and roll his eyes."

Author Charlaine Harris shared: "Patrick and I were friends from the first time we met each other, in the way people are who don't get to spend a lot of time together. He was so knowledgeable about the science fiction world, books, about other writers, all the things I cared about. We could talk about books endlessly. I was honored he'd enjoyed a few of mine. Patrick really enjoyed being a werewolf in one of my stories, and we traded jokes about that back and forth every time we e-mailed. I never saw Patrick without smiling, I never said goodbye to him without regret."


Notes

Image of the Day: Kemper Donovan Launch at DIESEL

DIESEL: A Bookstore, Brentwood, Calif., hosted the launch for Kemper Donovan's mystery The Busy Body (Kensington). Pictured: Donovan (left) with Diesel bookseller Joseph, who introduced him. (photo: Hannah Smith)


Personnel Changes at NorthSouth Books; Abrams; Entangled Publishing

Andie Krawczyk has joined NorthSouth Books in the dual role of managing director and sales and marketing director. Previously she was children's marketing director at Chronicle Books and director of library marketing and outreach at Candlewick Press.

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At Abrams:

Gabby Fisher has been promoted to director of publicity.

Tayla Monturio has joined the company as associate publicist, children's books.

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Lauren Cepero, formerly publicity manager at Page Street Publishing, has joined Entangled Publishing as marketing & publicity manager.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Jamie Oliver on the Sherri Shepherd Show, the Kelly Clarkson Show

Tomorrow:
CBS Mornings: Chris Anderson, author of Infectious Generosity: The Ultimate Idea Worth Spreading (Crown, $30, 9780593727553).

The Talk: Nicole Walters, author of Nothing Is Missing: A Memoir of Living Boldly (Simon Element, $27.99, 9781668000953).

The Sherri Shepherd Show: Jamie Oliver, author of 5 Ingredients Mediterranean: Simple Incredible Food (Flatiron, $39.99, 9781250319852). He will also appear on the Kelly Clarkson Show.


This Weekend on Book TV: Alejandra Campoverdi on First Gen

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, January 27
9:30 a.m. Matthew Algeo, author of When Harry Met Pablo: Truman, Picasso, and the Cold War Politics of Modern Art (Chicago Review Press, $28.99, 9781641607872). (Re-airs Saturday at 9:30 p.m.)

Sunday, January 28
8 a.m. Alejandra Campoverdi, author of First Gen: A Memoir (Grand Central, $28, 9781538757185). (Re-airs Sunday at 8 p.m.)

9 a.m. Alex Tapscott, author of Web3: Charting the Internet's Next Economic and Cultural Frontier (Harper Business, $35, 9780063299955). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m.)

10 a.m. Donald G. McNeil Jr., author of The Wisdom of Plagues: Lessons from 25 Years of Covering Pandemics (Simon & Schuster, $28.99, 9781668001394). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

2 p.m. Nikhil Goyal, author of Live to See the Day: Coming of Age in American Poverty (Metropolitan Books, $29.99, 9781250850065), at Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C.

3:05 p.m. Alissa Quart, co-editor of Going for Broke: Living on the Edge in the World's Richest Country (Haymarket Books, $19.95, 9781642599657).

6:15 p.m. Schuyler Bailar, author of He/She/They: How We Talk About Gender and Why It Matters (Hachette Go, $30, 9780306831874).

7:15 p.m. Michael Harriot, author of Black AF History: The Un-Whitewashed Story of America (Dey Street, $32.50, 9780358439165), at Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn, N.Y.



Books & Authors

Awards: National Jewish Book Winners; Oregon Book Finalists

Winners have been announced for the 73rd National Jewish Book Awards and include:

Time's Echo: The Second World War, the Holocaust, and the Music of Remembrance by Jeremy Eichler (Knopf), which won the Everett Family Foundation Jewish Book of the Year Award, the Gerrard and Ella Berman Memorial History Award, and the Holocaust Award in Memory of Ernest W. Michel.

The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store by James McBride (Riverhead Books), which won the JJ Greenberg Memorial Award in Fiction and the Miller Family Book Club Award in Memory of Helen Dunn Weinstein and June Keit Miller.

Kibbitz & Nosh: When We All Met at Dubrow's Cafeteria by Marcia Bricker Halperin (Cornell University Press), which won the Jane and Stuart Weitzman Family Food Writing & Cookbooks Award.

Happily: A Personal History--with Fairy Tales by Sabrina Orah Mark (Random House), which won the the Krauss Family Autobiography & Memoir Award in Memory of Simon & Shulamith (Sofi) Goldberg.

Other winners and finalists in several categories can be seen here. The winners will be honored on March 26 in New York City.

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Finalists have been selected for the 2024 Oregon Book Awards, sponsored by Literary Arts. Winners will be announced at a ceremony April 8 in Portland hosted by Kwame Alexander. To see the finalists in seven categories, including the biennial award for graphic literature, as well as a special award recipient, click here.


Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, January 30:

Missing Persons by James Patterson and Adam Hamdy (Grand Central, $32, 9781538754535) is book 16 in the Private thriller series.

Come and Get It by Kiley Reid (Putnam, $29, 9780593328200) follows a college resident assistant and her entanglements with unruly students and a professor.

Everyone on This Train Is a Suspect: A Novel by Benjamin Stevenson (Mariner, $30, 9780063279070) is a murder mystery set on a train filled with thriller writers.

Good Material: A Novel by Dolly Alderton (Knopf, $28, 9780593801307) is a romantic comedy with two endings.

House of Flame and Shadow by Sarah J. Maas (Bloomsbury, $32, 9781635574104) is book three in the Crescent City fantasy series.

Interesting Facts about Space: A Novel by Emily Austin (Atria, $27.99, 9781668014233) is a dark humor book about a paranoid woman obsessed with space.

Poemhood: Our Black Revival, edited by Amber McBride, Taylor Byas, and Erica Martin (HarperTeen, $19.99, 9780063225282) is a Black YA poetry anthology.

José Feeds the World by David Unger, illus. by Marta Álvarez Miguéns (duopress/Sourcebooks, $18.99, 9781728279527) is a picture book about chef José Andrés and his disaster-relief organization, World Central Kitchen.

The Grift: The Downward Spiral of Black Republicans from the Party of Lincoln to the Cult of Trump by Clay Cane (Sourcebooks, $26.99, 9781728290225) is a history of Black Republicans.

I Did a New Thing: 30 Days to Living Free by Tabitha Brown (Morrow, $29.99, 9780063286115) is a guide to creating positive life changes.

The Hunger Habit: Why We Eat When We're Not Hungry and How to Stop by Judson Brewer (Avery, $30, 9780593543252) offers ways to heal one's relationship with food.

Subculture Vulture: A Memoir in Six Scenes by Moshe Kasher (Random House, $28.99, 9780593231371) humorously explores six phases of a wildly varied life.

The War Below: Lithium, Copper, and the Global Battle to Power Our Lives by Ernest Scheyder (Atria/One Signal, $30, 9781668011805) chronicles the economic wars waged over green energy materials.

Fight Right: How Successful Couples Turn Conflict into Connection by Julie Schwartz Gottman, Ph.D., and John Gottman, Ph.D. (Harmony Books, $30, 9780593579657) is a guide to help couples become closer when in conflict by a married couple who are experts on marriage.

Paperbacks:
How to Train Your Dog: Transform Your Dog's Behavior and Strengthen Your Bond Forever by Adam Spivey (Rodale, $17.99, 9780593797303).

All Rhodes Lead Here: A Novel by Mariana Zapata (Avon, $18.99, 9780063325890).

Quoz: A Financial Thriller by Mel Mattison (Post Hill Press, $18.99, 9798888452028).

IntuWitchin: Learn to Speak the Language of the Universe and Reclaim Your Inner Magik by Mia Magik (Hay House, $16.99, 9781401973568).

The Queen of Sugar Hill: A Novel of Hattie McDaniel by ReShonda Tate (Morrow, $19.99, 9780063291072).

Stress Resets: How to Soothe Your Body and Mind in Minutes by Jennifer L. Taitz (Workman, $19.99, 9781523523320).


IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

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

Hardcover: An Indies Introduce Title
The Storm We Made: A Novel by Vanessa Chan (Marysue Rucci Books, $27, 9781668015148). "An incredible book from a strong new voice, focusing on the choices that a mother makes in the middle of colonial occupation during World War II. Vanessa Chan touches upon the murky grey areas of survival in a time of oppression and upheaval." --Jesse Hassinger, Odyssey Bookshop, South Hadley, Mass.

Hardcover
Mercury: A Novel by Amy Jo Burns (Celadon Books, $29, 9781250908568). "An extraordinary novel! Mercury is the lyrically written, unputdownable story of the Joseph brothers and the women who hold them together. I adored this family's remarkable journey through love and loyalty, loss, and forgiveness." --Anderson McKean, Page and Palette, Fairhope, Ala.

Paperback
Familia: A Novel by Lauren E. Rico (Kensington, $17.95, 9781496744647). "A transformative story about how we find ourselves and what makes family. It's about how our advantages shape our lives and world view, a crime thriller in places, and a journey into a fractured sisterhood. One of my favorite books of the year." --Sara Crow, Crow & Co. Books, Hutchinson, Kan.

Ages 4 to 8
Angela's Glacier by Jordan Scott, illus. by Diana Sudyka (Neal Porter Books, $18.99, 9780823450824). "Angela's Glacier is a heartwarming reminder of why we need to live in sync with nature, not just near it. Beautifully illustrated and sweetly told." --Bex Frankeberger, Books Are Magic, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Ages 10+
Courtesy of Cupid by Nashae Jones (Aladdin, $17.99, 9781665939881). "So, EJ is Cupid's daughter. Yes, the Cupid, and she's inherited his powers. Will she use that power only for good, even against her nemesis Trevor? This sweet middle grade romcom is great for readers who are not quite ready for YA books." --Paul Swydan, The Silver Unicorn Bookstore, Acton, Mass.

Teen Readers: An Indies Introduce Title
Shut Up, This Is Serious by Carolina Ixta (Quill Tree Books, $19.99, 9780063287860). "I loved this thoughtful and impactful coming-of-age story! The book is anchored by Belén and Leti's friendship, and the girls face problems with family, school, and growing up. A powerful debut!" --Ann Branson, Beach Books, Seaside, Ore.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]


Book Review

Review: The Morningside

The Morningside by Téa Obreht (Random House, $29 hardcover, 304p., 9781984855503, March 19, 2024)

Téa Obreht (The Tiger's Wife; Inland) is a wildly inventive magician of a writer, every performance new and wonder-inducing, every book a distinctive blend of realism and fantasy. The Morningside enters the same world as the author's short story of the same name, published as part of the New York Times Decameron Project, but the novel is a weightier thing. It teases out the strands of truth and secrets that circle the narrator, Sil, who moves with her mother to the Morningside building when she is 11.

Their presence in Island City is due to the Repopulation Program, an effort to save the once-great city, much of which is now under water. Sil's aunt Ena serves as the super for the mostly uninhabited apartments at the Morningside and, as she is their only living relative, she welcomes them in. When the book opens, however, readers know none of these details, dropped into this place with little to orient them. Obreht loads the first pages with scintillating details: a case file, a photo of a corpse, an old Polaroid featuring Sil and her mother and, in the background, the mysterious Bezi Duras and her three massive dogs.

Despite those true-crime teasers, readers will temporarily shelve that mystery as they delve into the lives of these characters and their taut existence in a world gone terribly wrong. There are familiar elements, notes of wildfires and refugees and rising sea levels, but this is not a story about an unfolding climate disaster. It's a novel about people and their histories and the truths they might choose to withhold or even create.

Where Sil's mother has revealed almost nothing about their past, Ena opens Sil to a world of family stories, mythologies, and magic: "If the past had previously felt like a forbidden room, briefly glimpsed as my mother was shutting its door, here was Ena, holding the door wide." With this knowledge of "a world underneath the world," Sil fixates on the elusive painter who lives in the penthouse, becoming convinced that Bezi Duras is actually a Vila, a fairylike creature, whose dogs transform into men each day and back to dogs at night.

Reminiscent of Harriet the Spy, Sil attempts to discover incontrovertible evidence of her truth, and in the process learns more than she could have imagined, about her mother, their past, and about what happens when a person is ruled by a need for secrecy. --Sara Beth West, freelance reviewer and librarian

Shelf Talker: Téa Obreht takes readers on an inventive tour inside The Morningside, a once-great apartment building full of magic, mystery, and the remnants of a city in decline.


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