Shelf Awareness for Thursday, May 23, 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


Auction June 12 to Sell Tattered Cover Draws at Least Eight Groups

At least eight groups have filed paperwork necessary to participate in an auction to purchase Tattered Cover on June 12, according to the Denver Business Journal, which cited a bankruptcy court filing this week by Tattered Cover. The Denver, Colo., bookseller added that "various other parties" have expressed interest but haven't yet filed the needed paperwork. None of the groups were named in the filing.

Tattered Cover filed for bankruptcy last October, closing three of its seven stores and letting go about a quarter of its 103 employees. In March, it submitted a plan to emerge from bankruptcy by June, but in April, it announced that there was interest from "individuals and businesses across the U.S." in buying the company, a move it had decided was "in the best long-term interests of the company, current investors, employees, suppliers, and Colorado's literary community."

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

DeMoir Books & Things Reopens in New Memphis Location

DeMoir Books & Things, Memphis, Tenn., which launched in 2021 at the Cloverleaf shopping center but had to switch to an online model in January 2023, has reopened as a bricks-and-mortar operation at 55 S. Main St. as part of the Downtown Memphis Commission's Open on Main initiative, the Business Journal reported. 

Owner and founder Jeremee DeMoir, who has taken on local poet Diana Townsend as a business partner, recalled that when he launched the store, business was booming, but then faded during the second year before flourishing again as an online operation. The co-owners work together at Literacy Mid-South, and it was Townsend who came upon the Open on Main initiative and suggested they partner on the new iteration of DeMoir Books. 

"I'm an avid reader turned writer," she said. "When I saw it, I thought, 'This will be perfect for us.' We said, 'We'll just put it out there and see what happens.' "

The new location, which specializes in titles with BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ representation, is larger than the original DeMoir Books. The shop also highlights books by DeMoir and Townsend. 

"We wanted to make sure that we have enough space to expand and add new things," DeMoir said. "We have a larger collection and we're offering merchandise and things like that. We wanted to keep the same intimate, cozy vibe [of DeMoir Books], but shift our focus a little bit. We still have our young adult collection, our adult fiction and nonfiction, and our children's collection.... We want to serve readers across the lifespan. It starts with our babies, and then works all the way up to 100."

He added that it was a terrific vote of confidence to get selected for the Open on Main initiative: "For me, as a person who started a business during the pandemic and was nervous about what that was going to look like and was worried about longevity, it's very affirming to hear people say, 'No, you're doing the right thing. We need this.' People love it and are invested in it, so that's really amazing."

Farrar, Straus and Giroux: Intermezzo by Sally Rooney

B&N Opening Two Stores Next Week

Barnes & Noble will open new stores next Wednesday, in Chicago, Ill., and in Sandy, Utah.

The Chicago store is located at 651 West Diversey Parkway, in a space that formerly housed an Urban Outfitters. Author Jeneva Rose will be on hand at 10 a.m. Wednesday for a ribbon cutting and signing of her newest book, Home Is Where the Bodies Are (Blackstone).

The Diversey Parkway store replaces B&N's Clybourn store, which closed after its lease ended in 2023, and some of the former Clybourn booksellers have stayed on to work at the Diversey Parkway location. The company will open another new store, in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood, next month, inside the Noel State Bank building.

The Sandy store, meanwhile, will reside at 10433 S. State St. in the Commons at Southtowne shopping center. Tricia Levenseller, author of Daughter of the Pirate King (Feiwel & Friends), will host the ribbon-cutting ceremony before signing copies of her books.

B&N previously operated a store in the Shops at South Town shopping center in Sandy, which closed last year. The new Sandy location features B&N's updated store design and a cafe.

Including the Sandy and Diversey Parkway stores, B&N will open six new stores this month. The company plans to open more than 50 this year.

Professional Booksellers School Launching 'Marketing, Display, and Storytelling Excellence' Course

The Professional Booksellers School is launching a new course on "Marketing, Display, and Storytelling Excellence," developed and taught by Lisa Uhrik and Steve Wax, who founded Beyond Bookstores. The two are interested, the school said, "in helping all bookstores think and work 'beyond the walls'--both literally and figuratively. They believe that pop-ups, B2B efforts, mobile shops and other innovations are critical to building book culture."

Uhrik also co-owns Franklin Fixtures and co-founded Plenty bookshop in Cookeville, Tenn. Wax is board chair of Heyday Books and co-founder of the Cooke Wax Partnership, "a creative studio that helps brands and causes raise their voice."

The new course is designed, the school said, "to offer fresh perspectives drawn from the disciplines of design, writing, entertainment and anthropology. Wherever a store is in its journey, this course will help stores elevate and expand their thinking and practice in connecting with customers, and improve the things that matter most to them. The course is designed for both brick-and-mortar and novel models bookstores."

The course has five online workshop sessions, each with a chapter to be read and field work assignments for participants to complete in store before coming to the class to discuss, share, and learn together. The workshops focuses are:

1. Your Book Haven Space (Crafting Experiences & Setting the Scene)
2. I'm Curious... (Marketing & Display as Emotional Curiosity)
3. Knowing You, Knowing Me (Using our Experience, Strength, Hope and Connections)
4. Better Together (How Marketing, Display, Events and Curation Work Better in Alignment)
5. Unforgettable (Methods of Storytelling in Display at Macro and Micro Levels)

The five sessions are 90 minutes long and held every other Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. Eastern, starting June 19, and go until August 14. Registration opens this coming Wednesday, May 29, at 12:30 p.m. Eastern. The course costs $425; members of the regional independent booksellers associations are eligible for discounts. Registration is limited to 30 students. For more information, click here.


Image of the Day: Kathleen Hanna with Hanif Abdurraqib

At Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Cincinnati, Ohio, Michael Link, manager of events and community affairs, reported, "We had a packed house for our incredible event with Kathleen Hanna in conversation with Hanif Abdurraqib (There's Always This Year: On Basketball and Ascension) discussing music, art, life, a little bit of basketball, and Kathleen's new memoir, Rebel Girl: My Life as a Feminist Punk (Ecco)."

Bookstore Proposal: Author Surprise at the Ripped Bodice

Author Elle Gonzalez Rose had extra cause to celebrate as she said "yes" to a proposal from her partner at the launch event for her sophomore novel, 10 Things I Hate About Prom (Joy Revolution) at the Ripped Bodice in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Personnel Changes at P&T Knitwear; Sourcebooks; Penguin Press

Tom McDonald is the new general manager of P&T Knitwear bookstore, New York City. McDonald has worked in the book industry more than 20 years, most recently at the Strand and earlier at the Newark Public Library and Barnes & Noble.


Brittany Pearlman has joined Sourcebooks as marketing and publicity manager for Bloom Books and Casablanca.


Jessie Stratton has been promoted to associate marketing manager at the Penguin Press.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Craig Whitlock on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Craig Whitlock, author of Fat Leonard: How One Man Bribed, Bilked, and Seduced the U.S. Navy (Simon & Schuster, $32.50, 9781982131630).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert: James Dyson, author of Invention: A Life of Learning Through Failure (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781982188429).

This Weekend on Book TV: Steven Hahn on Illiberal America

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.

Sunday, May 26
8 a.m. Steven Hahn, author of Illiberal America: A History (W.W. Norton, $35, 9780393635928). (Re-airs Sunday at 8 p.m.)

9:05 a.m. Candida Moss, author of God's Ghostwriters: Enslaved Christians and the Making of the Bible (‎Little, Brown, $30, 9780316564670). (Re-airs Sunday at 9:05 p.m.)

2:40 p.m. Edward Humes, author of Total Garbage: How We Can Fix Our Waste and Heal Our World (Avery, $28, 9780593543368), at Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle, Wash.

3:40 p.m. Debbie Hines, author of Get Off My Neck: Black Lives, White Justice, and a Former Prosecutor's Quest for Reform (‎The MIT Press, $27.95, 9780262048910), at Seminary Co-op Bookstore, Chicago, Ill.

4:35 p.m. Bryan Caplan, author of Build, Baby, Build: The Science and Ethics of Housing Regulation (‎Cato Institute, $25.95, 9781952223419).

6:10 p.m. Carol Swain, co-author of The Adversity of Diversity (Be the People Books, $14.99, 9781737419822).

Books & Authors

Awards: Dublin Literary, Ernest J. Gaines Winners

Solenoid by Mircea Cărtărescu, translated by Sean Cotter (Deep Vellum) has won the €100,000 (about $108,360) Dublin Literary Award, which is sponsored by Dublin City Council to honor a single work of fiction published in English. The announcement was made as part of the International Literature Festival Dublin. Nominations are chosen by librarians and readers from a network of libraries around the world. The author, who is Romanian, receives €75,000 (about $81,270), and the translator, who is American, receives €25,000 (about $27,090).

The judging panel commented: "By turns wildly inventive, philosophical, and lyrical, with passages of great beauty, Solenoid is the work of a major European writer who is still relatively little known to English-language readers. Sean Cotter's translation of the novel sets out to change that situation, capturing the lyrical precision of the original, thereby opening up Cărtărescu's work to an entirely new readership."

Cărtărescu called winning the award "one of the most significant achievements in my whole literary career, and a great honour for me. It shows an increase in my image as a writer in the English-speaking world after the publication of Solenoid, my breakthrough novel. I am grateful to the jury who chose my book from so many other wonderful ones."

Cotter said, "The Dublin Literary Award awards translators alongside authors, a choice as unusual as it is necessary. I am honored to be recognized with as great an author as Mircea, from as great a literature as the Romanian, and I hold in my heart the community of Romanian translators, all those who translate the world's smaller literatures, all those who translate."


Temple Folk by Aaliyah Bilal (Simon & Schuster) has won the $15,000 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence, which is given to an emerging African American fiction writer, celebrates the legacy of the late Ernest Gaines, and is sponsored by the Baton Rouge Area Foundation.

Organizers said that the winning short story collection "portrays the lived experiences of Black Muslims grappling with faith, family, and freedom in America. Through her narrative, Bilal offers a poignant look at the discrepancies between personal beliefs and actions. Temple Folk presents humanity's moral failures with compassion, nuance, and humor to remind us that while perfection is what many of us strive for, it is errors that make us human."

Bilal commented: "I am especially proud to be associated through this award with the legacy of Mr. Gaines, as his oeuvre informs my ambition to tell timeless stories in plain spoken, elegant prose. Mr. Gaines teaches us how to do this sacred work with grace, grit, and love."

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, May 28:

Camino Ghosts: A Novel by John Grisham (Doubleday, $29.95, 9780385545990) is the third Camino Island thriller.

Southern Man: A Novel by Greg Iles (Morrow, $36, 9780062824691) is the seventh thriller with Penn Cage and takes place 15 years after the Natchez Burning trilogy.

Summer on Highland Beach: A Novel by Sunny Hostin (Morrow, $30, 9780062994257) is a beach read set at a Black resort community on Chesapeake Bay.

First Frost: A Longmire Mystery by Craig Johnson (Viking, $30, 9780593830673) is the 20th mystery featuring Walt Longmire.

If Something Happens to Me: A Novel by Alex Finlay (Minotaur, $28, 9781250863799) is a thriller about a missing woman and her suspect boyfriend.

Another First Chance by Robbie Couch (Simon & Schuster, $19.99, 9781665935302) is a YA novel in which a teen takes part in a suspicious research study to avoid being blackmailed.

Twelfth Knight by Alexene Farol Follmuth (Tor Teen, $19.99, 9781250884893) is an enemies-to-lovers YA romance featuring secret identities, MMORPGs, and student government.

Glorious Lessons: John Trumbull, Painter of the American Revolution by Richard Brookhiser (Yale University Press, $30, 9780300259704) is the biography of the American painter.

Long Haul: Hunting the Highway Serial Killers by Frank Figliuzzi (Mariner, $25.99, 9780063265158), written by the FBI's former assistant director, looks at the trucker serial killers responsible for at least 850 murders.

Life's Too Short: A Memoir by Darius Rucker (Dey Street, $29.99, 9780063238749) is a memoir by a founder of Hootie & The Blowfish.

The Call to Serve: The Life of an American President, George Herbert Walker Bush by Jon Meacham (Random House, $45, 9780593729458) is a biography of the late president.

There Was Nothing You Could Do: Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A." and the End of the Heartland by Steven Hyden (Hachette Books, $32, 9780306832062) analyzes the iconic rock album and its cultural impact.

Corporate Coup: Venezuela and the End of US Empire by Anya Parampil and Jorge Arreaza (OR Books, $24.95, 9781682193594).

You Deserve Good Gelato by Kacie Rose (DK Eyewitness Travel, $18, 9780593840436).

Look on the Bright Side by Kristan Higgins (Berkley, $30, 9780593547649).

College Girl, Missing: The True Story of How a Young Woman Disappeared in Plain Sight by Shawn Cohen (Sourcebooks, $17.99, 9781728272993).

Girls Just Wanna Bake Cupcakes: Easy, Delicious Desserts Inspired by the '80s by Courtney Carey (Page Street, $22.99, 9798890030283).

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:

Colton Gentry's Third Act: A Novel by Jeff Zentner (Grand Central, $30, 9781538756652). "I loved this second-chance romance about a high school football star turned Country singer who heads back to Kentucky after his marriage and career fall apart. Zentner captures Colton and Luann's nostalgia and reconnection beautifully." --Amy Traughber, pages: a bookstore, Manhattan Beach, Calif.

Sipsworth by Simon Van Booy (David R. Godine, $26.95, 9781567927948). "Simon Van Booy performs a special type of alchemy by taking the simplest of tales--a woman approaching the end of her life discovering a small mouse in her house--and turning it into an astonishingly moving story of love and resilience." --Luisa Smith, Book Passage, Corte Madera, Calif.

A Living Remedy: A Memoir by Nicole Chung (Ecco, $19.99, 9780063031623). "A heartbreaking, yet deeply loving memoir about the complexities of healthcare inequality. Chung draws on her experiences in her white adoptive family to understand how inequalities perpetuate distance and divisiveness." --Erin Pastore, Water Street Bookstore, Exeter, N.H.

Ages 3 to 7
Two Together by Brendan Wenzel (Chronicle, $18.99, 9781797202778). "Two friends, Cat and Dog, share everything the day brings as they venture home together, yet see it all in their own unique way. The brilliant artwork shows us how they see the world differently until they are home at last asleep by the fire." --Lisa Plummer, Interabang Books, Dallas, Tex.

Ages 10+
Deep Water by Jamie Sumner (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, $17.99, 9781665935067). "I dove into this middle grade novel and didn't come up for air until the end. I love a well written novel-in-verse, and I was right there in the water with Tully, cheering her on and feeling her pain as she tried to process why her mother might have left." --Angela Sides, Monkey and Dog Books, Fort Worth, Tex.

Teen Readers
What's Eating Jackie Oh? by Patricia Park (Crown Books for Young Readers, $19.99, 9780593563410). "Loved this book. Patricia Park brings us a complicated, smart, compelling heroine in Jackie Oh. She manages to merge threads of family strife, race, secrets--and lots of great food--all so smoothly and beautifully done." --Kathy Crowley, Belmont Books, Belmont, Mass.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Mystery Lights

Mystery Lights by Lena Valencia (Tin House Books, $17.95 paperback, 256p., 9781959030621, August 6, 2024)

Mystery Lights, Lena Valencia's debut story collection, offers 10 genre-bending tales, mostly set in the American Southwest, that are as thoughtful as they are full of wonder. A perfect marriage of quiet character insight and pulpy plot, these stories entertain as they enlighten.

Valencia's stories range from the grounded to the supernatural. Some stories lean toward more realistic, albeit revelatory, conflicts, such as "Bright Lights, Big Deal," in which a recent college graduate struggles to find her footing in New York City while starting a social-climbing blog, and "Dogs," in which a horror movie screenwriter must determine the difference between real and imagined danger.

Meanwhile, surrealist obsession takes over in tales like "Reaper Ranch," which features an elderly widow who can't help but suspect that something isn't right at her care home, and "The Reclamation," which follows a group of women into the desert for a days-long retreat with a viral lifestyle guru that turns violent, fast. Valencia's skill with wide-ranging genres comes to the forefront in the titular "Mystery Lights," in which a marketing executive overseeing a reboot of an X Files-style cult classic whips the fan base into a frenzy after she uses a series of mysterious lights in the desert for her campaign.

With cinematic sensibilities, Valencia excels at blurring the lines between the literary and the commercial. While rabid fans become a chaotic mob in "Mystery Lights," the woman at its center remains an achingly realized protagonist, aloof despite her longing for familial connection. Such perceptive handling of characters allows quieter, existential insights to serve as the eye of the storm amidst rapidly progressing plots.

But the craft behind constructing such breakaway-train plots should also not be underestimated. The fast-paced progression of the horrors at the heart of "Reaper Ranch" and "The Reclamation" give many of Valencia's tales a heartbreaking but nonetheless breathtaking sense of inevitability. The more characters try to exert control, the less in control of their own stories they become. The tender touch of endings like that in "Bright Lights, Big Deal" are well-executed, but just as impressive are the perfectly timed punches of "The Reclamation." Using the raw, strange setting of the desert, and its uneasy proximity to the glossy grit of Hollywood, Valencia probes the dark obsessions her characters have with control and sublime spectacle, power and the surprising catharsis of a lack thereof. --Alice Martin, freelance writer and editor

Shelf Talker: Mystery Lights is a genre-bending debut collection by short story master Lena Valencia that follows its characters down the paths of chaotic transformations, both real and imagined.

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