Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Severn House Publishers: Night Watch (First World Publication) (Michael Cassidy Thriller #3) by David C. Taylor

St. Martin's Press: A Week at the Shore by Barbara Delinsky

Workman Publishing: Who Got Game?: Baseball: Amazing But True Stories! by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by John John Bajet

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: Sunnyside Plaza by Scott Simon

Other Press: Machiavelli: The Art of Teaching People What to Fear by Patrick Boucheron, translated by Willard Wood

News

Notes: Bookstore Tourist Cancels Trip; School Book Fairs

Sadly Larry Portzline, who founded bookstore tourism, has given up his idea of visiting more than 200 bookstores in all 50 states next spring (Shelf Awareness, June 27, 2007) and has taken down his bookstore tourism website--apparently because of a lack of funding. See Jessica Stockton Bagnulo's Written Nerd blog for more information.

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"Don't tell Dawn and Eric Hart that times are bad for independent booksellers," cautioned the Florida Times-Union in its profile of the owners of Book Bonanza, Orange Park, Fla., who have "carved out a niche in Northeast Florida as the only local company that specializes in school book fairs."

The article noted that the Harts tailor their book fairs to individual schools: "They handpick each book, making sure the selection takes into account the school's economics and any special requests from teachers. They make restock runs on call, driving to and from their storefront on College Drive. The flexibility and willingness to customize--part of a wider trend in independent bookselling--is winning over school librarians throughout the region."

"It's so exciting to hear the kids say, 'Book fair! Book fair!'" said Dawn.

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How do you find the perfect book for a child? The San Marcos Daily Record offered eight tips, several of which pointed readers toward bookshops. Number seven: "Take your older children to the bookstore with you and give them the freedom to pick for themselves from the apropriate section, without judgment on their selections."

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More book gift lists:

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution suggested that its readers "say 'ho ho ho' in a healthy way with books."

And both Orlando Sentinel and the Washington Times offer gift guides for comic books.
 
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Next March, Borders will open a 23,071-sq.-ft. store at Westfield Plaza Bonita at the intersection of Sweetwater Road and Plaza Bonita Road in National City, Calif., just south of San Diego.

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Is your favorite children's book character a lawbreaker? The Guardian explored the bad behavior readers have come to love in characters like Paddington Bear, Alice and Tigger; and the possible effect on these "treasured characters of children's literature and television, if forced to conform to modern law."

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Kenny Brechner of Devaney, Doak and Garrett Booksellers, Farmington, Me., and Vicky Uminowicz of Titcomb's Bookshop, East Sandwich, Mass., have been named co-chairs of the 2008 New England Children's Booksellers Advisory Council. According to the Lewiston Sun Journal, "Brechner said he has gotten so much out of the council's work that this new position will only increase his ability to be a better children's bookseller."

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In her recent review of Scouts in Bondage (Shelf Awareness, December 7, 2007), Marilyn Dahl puzzled over the word "tossa," a word she and the rest of us didn't recognize, wondering if this were a Britishism. Merry White, adult services librarian at the Park City Library, Park City, Utah, comes to the rescue. White explains: "I had heard the expression 'tosser' on a BBC program and wondered about it too, so of course I did some looking up Apparently it means an idiotic, incompetent, or worthless person--something to be tossed aside, I guess."

We thank Merry White, who is the opposite of a tossa.

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Ani Chamichian has become U.S. sales director for U.K. publisher Frances Lincoln, which is distributed here by PGW. Chamichian has worked in sales and marketing for publishers in San Francisco, Calif., for most of her career, and most recently has been a consultant.

 


GLOW: ECW Press: Moments of Glad Grace: A Memoir by Alison Wearing


Holiday Hum: More Travelers, Sales at BWI Borders Express

Travelers in the Southwest Airlines terminal at Baltimore-Washington International Airport are using down time for holiday shopping. The Borders Express store, located past the security screening point, saw a spike in sales around Thanksgiving and expects the same in the days leading up to Christmas as more passengers take to the skies.

The 600-sq.-ft. store is selling an array of merchandise this season, reflecting the "diverse population that comes through here," said general manager David Watt. Selections range from James Patterson's Double Cross and Marcus Luttrell's Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10--the store's top-selling fiction and nonfiction title, respectively--to Chicken Soup for the Wine Lover's Soul and Ben Stein's The Real Stars: In Today's America, Who Are the True Heroes? Also popular are the movie tie-in editions of I Am Legend and No Country for Old Men.

Two displays of Christmas-themed books are attracting customers' attention, one with adult titles and the other with children's tales. Featured are Janet Evanovich's Visions of Sugar Plums, David Baldacci's The Christmas Train and John Grisham's Skipping Christmas. For kids there is the ever-popular How the Grinch Stole Christmas! and Jan Brett's The Three Snow Bears. "Anything with a Christmas tree or a Santa Claus on it goes pretty well," noted Watt.

The store typically hosts one event per week, and today Ralph Nader is stopping by to promote his memoir, The Seventeen Traditions. Watt expects the activist's appearance to draw in additional foot traffic as customers purchase signed copies of the tome for gifts. Nader's The Good Fight: Declare Your Independence and Close the Democracy Gap is also doing well at the store.

One of Watt's favorite handsells is Color Me Butterfly: A True Story of Courage, Hope, and Transformation by local author L.Y. Marlow, in which she recounts the story of four generations of women in her family who overcame a cycle of domestic abuse. Last year, as covered in our July 12 and July 30, 2006, issues, Watt garnered impressive results handselling Life Is So Good, the autobiography of George Dawson written with Richard Glaubman, which is still selling.

The holiday spirit has already been evident here at Borders Express. Last week the store wrapped up a fundraiser for First Book, a company-wide initiative that provided Borders gift cards to underprivileged children. "I loved that," said Watt. "One of the best gifts you can give kids is books." His customers agreed--one patron even donated $100. That generosity helped the store raise the sixth largest amount out of the more than 1,000 Borders and Waldenbooks locations across the country.--Shannon McKenna Schmidt

 


Plough Publishing House: Poems to See by: A Comic Artist Interprets Great Poetry by Julian Peters


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Alex Frankel Punches in Early This Morning

This morning on NPR's Morning Edition: Alex Frankel, author of Punching In: The Unauthorized Adventures of a Front-Line Employee (Collins, $24.95, 9780060849665/0060849665).

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This morning on Good Morning America: Mehmet C. Oz, M.D., co-author of You: On a Diet: The Owner's Manual for Waist Management (Free Press, $25, 9780743292542/0743292545).

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This morning on the Today Show: Mark Bittman, author of How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food (Wiley, $35, 9780764524837/0764524836).

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This morning's Book Report, the weekly AM radio book-related show organized by Windows a bookshop, Monroe, La., has the theme "holiday books" and features two interviews:
  • Edie Hand, author of The Last Christmas Ride (Cumberland House, $12.95, 9781581826241/1581826249)
  • Mary Kay Andrews, author of Blue Christmas: Now with More Holiday Cheer (HarperCollins, $14.95, 9780061370489/0061370487)

The show airs at 8 a.m. Central Time and can be heard live at thebookreport.net; the archived edition will be posted this afternoon.

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Today on the Diane Rehm Show: Eileen McDonagh and Laura Pappano, authors of Playing With the Boys: Why Separate Is Not Equal in Sports (Oxford University Press, $28, 9780195167566/0195167562).

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This morning's Fox & Friends features the J. K. Lasser Institute's Your Income Tax 2008: For Preparing Your 2007 Tax Return (Wiley, $17.95, 9780470137543/0470137541).

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Today on NPR's News & Notes: Gregory Rodriguez, author of Mongrels, Bastards, Orphans, and Vagabonds: Mexican Immigration and the Future of Race in America (Pantheon, $26.95, 9780375421587/0375421580).

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Today on Ellen: Jenna Bush, a First Daughter and author of Ana's Story: A Journey of Hope (HarperCollins, $18.99, 9780061379086/0061379085).

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Tonight on the Charlie Rose Show: Steve Martin, author of Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life (Scribner, $25, 9781416553649/1416553649).

 


Grove Press: Writers & Lovers by Lily King


Books & Authors

Awards: Sami Rohr Prize Finalists

Five finalists have been named for this year's Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature, which honors "an emerging author in the field of Jewish literature who has written a book of exceptional literary merit that stimulates an interest in themes of Jewish concern." The award focuses on fiction and nonfiction in alternating years. The $100,000 prize, administered by the Jewish Book Council and created last year by the children and grandchildren of Sami Rohr, will be given next spring.

The inaugural winner last year was fiction writer Tamar Yellin for The Genizah at the House of Shepher (Toby Press).

The finalists for this year are:

  • Ilana M. Blumberg for Houses of Study: A Jewish Woman Among Books (University of Nebraska Press)
  • Eric L. Goldstein for The Price of Whiteness: Jews, Race and American Identity (Princeton University Press)
  • Lucette Lagnado for The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit: My Family's Exodus from Old Cairo to the New World (Ecco)
  • Michael Makovsky for Churchill's Promised Land: Zionism and Statecraft (Yale University Press)
  • Haim Watzman for A Crack in the Earth: A Journey Up Israel's Rift Valley (FSG)

 

 


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Providence by Max Barry


Mandahla: Cookbooks

The Bacon Cookbook by James Villas (Wiley, $35, 9780470042823/0470042826, October 2007)

What's a cookbook year without a bacon cookbook? Healthier, some might argue, but not as much fun. Wiley has won the honors this year with The Bacon Cookbook by James Villas. He proclaims bacon "the greatest and most beloved food on earth" and describes not only "regular" bacon but artisanal bacons and an array of foreign types. He wants to quiet critics who decry bacon as a health hazard as well as admonish those who eat more than two or three slices per sitting--moderation in consumption, profligacy in enjoyment. His enthusiasm goes overboard when he says that vegetarians and religious abstainers are "haunted instinctively by the sensuous, irresistible enticement of bacon," but is on track for the rest of us, as the "taunting backwoods aroma" fills this book with happiness and the need to fry up some rashers right now. Russian Hash and Eggs, made with pumpernickel bread; Venezuelan Squash, Potato and Bacon Pancakes; the traditional Cobb Salad; Ecuadorian Smoky Pumpkin Soup with sage and dark rum; Smoky Hoppin' John, just in time for New Year's Day menus; Bacon Parmesan Biscuits; even Swedish Spice Cookies made with bacon drippings--oh, my goodness. Villas inexplicably leaves out a personal favorite, Pasta Carbonara, but that's a cavil; all in all, his cookbook is a treat.

Mocha by Michael Turback (Ten Speed Press, $9.95 paper, 9781580088619/1580088619, October 2007)

While James Villas thinks Bacon is the greatest food on earth, he could find some argument from both chocolate and coffee lovers. (I say have a mocha with your bacon and eggs--the classic salty sweet combo). Michael Turback has provided ample ammunition for a taste-off, with recipes from a simple Mocha to the complicated Night in Casablanca, which involves making white cardamom marshmallows first. Or try Mokka Peppar, whose cocoa base has paprika, cayenne, Tellicherry black peppercorns and pink peppercorns, with peppercorns in the whipped cream. Cocktails are included as are scrumptious desserts. The recipe and photograph for Kaffee Schokolade Coffeecake are swoon-inducing.

Hot Drinks by Mary Lou Heiss and Robert J. Heiss (Ten Speed Press, $16.95, 9781580088848/1580088848, October 2007)

All that mocha goodness needs to be cut with something like tea, and the authors (whose last name in German means hot) of Hot Drinks have just the thing: Moroccan Mint Tea, or perhaps Red Rocket--black tea with cinnamon sticks, Red Hots and orange slices. As a Dr. Pepper lover, I was pleased to find Monk's Robe tonic, made with the dark soda, red grapefruit juice, fresh ginger and lemon and orange slices. They also have some coffee and chocolate drinks--Café Viennoise with white crème de cacao and coffee and chocolate liqueurs, or Paris After Dark, coffee and cocoa with sweetened whipped cream sprinkled with a bit of fleur de sel. Festive drinks like Mistletoe and Holly, or Tres Leches, or the Highland Fling with orange juice, fresh sage, Meyer lemon juice and Drambuie, will warm you (and your guests) up nicely this winter.--Marilyn Dahl

 



Deeper Understanding

Shelf Talk/Mysteries: Book Group Suggestions

The following is another in our Shelf Talk series--the first focused on mystery books. Here Mary Alice Gorman, co-owner of Mystery Lovers Bookshop, Oakmont, Pa., offers advice on titles for mystery book groups. 

 

At Mystery Lovers Bookshop we have several book groups who meet here over food . . . an important factor. The oldest one is the Women Lawyers Group who celebrates 14 years in May. The others who have all met for more than 10 years--Second Thursday, Second Monday, History, No Lunch Bunch--and they read mysteries, too, while the Eclectic Book Group reads just that. There are other groups for whom we make suggestions when asked and order all books. Each year about a half dozen other groups come to the store for a mystery field trip. So you can see we have much experience with what works and what doesn't.
 
We try to suggest books that prompt good discussions, provide some new and interesting information and hold their own among the readers of the more "literary" novels. The following is a list of some hits and misses when Reading Groups come calling for a mystery suggestion.
 
1. Nancy Pickard's The Virgin of the Small Plains has headed our bestselling trade book list several times because it is such a good choice. Pickard sustains crackling suspense from the opening truck crash to the stories of what happened on January 23, 1987, and the impact of those events on the tiny town's professional leaders and their families. She also depicts the gorgeous country, a vicious tornado and lingering love with the sure grace of a gifted writer. The plot and characters are very rich and always promote a discussion of the element of suspense and the fate born of secrets.
 
2. Ken Follett's marvelously tense Jackdaws introduces a fictionalized version of the story of a heretofore little known group of English women. The central figure is Flick Clairet, an Englishwoman married to a Frenchman in the Resistance, who works for British intelligence--one of a small number of women serving behind enemy lines. The action takes place just before D-Day--the goal is to take out a crucial German installation before the invasion. Follett does his typically fine job of keeping you turning pages while filling in a slew of facts about the Resistance movement and why this operation had to be undertaken by women. Loads of discussion here about the real story behind the novel and the role of women in war.
 
3. Killer Smile by Lisa Scottoline is one of her best. In it, she moves beyond the legal thriller with mystery elements to embrace a story founded in her own personal history: the genesis of the book came from Lisa's discovery of her grandparent's alien registration cards. In the book, Mary DiNunzio--who fans may remember as the protagonist of Scottoline's debut, Everywhere That Mary Went--is involved in a case related to the internment of tens of thousands of Italian-American immigrants during World War II. (While many of us are familiar with the internment of Japanese-Americans, the internment of Italian-Americans was less well known.) This case involves a man interned during the war who committed suicide in the camp. Mary represents his estate, which is seeking reparations. All of Scottoline's trademark humor and suspense are present in full measure in this absorbing book. Discussion of the plot always brings forth a variety of memories of World War II.
 
4. Laura Lippman's To the Power of Three is a brilliant look at the lethality of loyalty when three best friends are found in a locked girl's room after a school shooting. The role of family, the details of teenage communications and the gripping secret that compels all of the survivors are riveting. Much discussion ensues about female relationships and teen-age experiences.
 
5. Mystic River by Dennis Lehane is a big surprise. At the book's heart are three men, once friends, whose lives have diverged although still bound by complex threads that lead back to their childhoods in the immigrant, working-class neighborhood of East Buckingham. Lehane has done an extraordinary job of bringing these characters to life. The neighborhoods, so well evoked, became a powerful fourth character. Much of the long discussion generated by this book involves neighborhood as well as the relation of the women characters to the story.
 
Misses

What doesn't work so well in book groups are the humorous mystery books like Janet Evanovich's. While mystery readers do love them, the discussions tend to be limited to punch lines and favorite scenes. Groups who read Sayers or Christie also report the same sort of flagging discussion.
 
My suggestion to all booksellers is to invite a group to meet in your store, if you don't have one already. Join the discussion and you will learn much. If a group needs a pick-up, try Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Armin or Angry Housewives Eating Bonbons by Laura Landvick. Enjoy!

 


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