Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Random House: Dreamland by Nicholas Sparks

Berkley Books: Better Than Fiction by Alexa Martin

Feiwel & Friends: A Venom Dark and Sweet (Book of Tea #2) by Judy I. Lin

Wednesday Books: Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove by Rati Mehrota

Jimmy Patterson: Nura and the Immortal Palace by M.T. Khan

Berkley Books: The Rewind by Allison Winn Scotch

Quotation of the Day

As Gifts, Paper Books 'Not Fiction Just Yet'

"Digital books do not merely change how we read, they change how we give…. The truth is, I understand as well as anyone that the digital genie is out of the bottle. I respect digital reading devices, just as I respect my smart phone. I simply believe that paper books make wonderful gifts and am mighty glad there are still bookstores around. So, big props and happy holidays to those booksellers who are still fighting the good fight on behalf of pulp--and can help me find the perfect gifts for family and friends."

--Author Chris Bohjalian in his column, 'Perhaps pulp is not fiction just yet," for Sunday's Burlington Free Press


G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Old Place by Bobby Finger


'Workampers' to the Breach at Amazon Warehouses

Focusing on several seasonal employees at an warehouse in Fernley, Nev., the Wall Street Journal has a long portrait of "workampers... a sort of modern-day migrant worker. Many of them are retirees who spend all or part of the year living in RVs and taking odd seasonal jobs around the country. While some workers really need the money, others said they take the gigs to help fund their adventures or just for fun."

Amazon hires "thousands" of seasonal workers, a spokesperson said, and it recruits some at RV shows, according to the Journal. The company also has a program called CamperForce that focuses on hiring RV residents for three warehouses, including the one in Fernley, and pays parking fees at several RV camps for its seasonal workers.

One current seasonal employee who learned about the job from a workamper website sometimes socializes with co-workers on Saturday nights, but, the Journal wrote, "most nights she is too tired to do anything but stay in her 16-foot trailer, which has room only for a small desk and a twin-sized bed. Off days are used to catch up on sleep and to do laundry." Still, she said she was glad to make new friends and "prove she could still handle tough labor" and "definitely would do it again."

Photo: AP

Blackstone Publishing: Imposter by Bradeigh Godfrey

Groupon's Anti-Amazon Price Check Promotion

Like eBay's deal offering consumers a discount for purchases in some bricks-and-mortar stores (Shelf Awareness, December 19, 2011), Groupon is offering a promotion that rewards customers who buy in physical stores. Under the Groupon plan, customers receive $10 in Groupon cash if they buy a Groupon deal in a bricks-and-mortar store before December 24.

Rough Edges Press: Elm City Blues: A Private Eye Novel (Tommy Shore Mystery #1) by Lawrence Dorfman

Holiday Hum: Book Sales at the Beach

The three bestselling items at Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach, Del., this holiday season "don't have pages," said owner Steve Crane. The Beaches of Delaware Wall Calendar by photographer Kevin Fleming is the #1 selection, followed by the Elf on the Shelf doll and Michael Bublé's album Christmas.

The top sellers with pages are Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever by Jeff Kinney. Shoppers are gravitating toward the perennially popular staff recommendations sections for gift ideas, selecting backlist titles such as Garth Stein's The Art of Racing in the Rain and new releases like Ellen Morgenstern's The Night Circus. Among store manager Susan McAnelly's favorite handsells are Tom McNeal's To Be Sung Underwater, the story of a middle-aged woman questioning whether she took a wrong turn in life, Veronica Roth's debut YA novel, Divergent, and John Stephens's middle grade tale The Emerald Atlas.

This time of year, Browseabout Books' clientele includes Rehoboth Beach residents, area vacation homeowners and tourists who come for weekend festivities. The store, situated a block from the Atlantic Ocean, is professionally decorated for the holidays, but even on its own the exterior is eye-catching enough that passersby stop for photo ops. A mural depicts well-stocked bookshelves with slightly skewed titles that play on the beach theme--Silas Mariner, Cods and Generals, Chicken Soup for the Surfer's Soul, Gull, Interrupted and hundreds more. T-shirts, ornaments, postcards, and other store-branded merchandise featuring an illustration of the unusual storefront are hits with customers.

Several titles featured in the local-interest section are by two famous figures and friends of the store: Today stars Kathie Lee Gifford, whose tomes include the children's picture books Party Animals and The Three Gifts: A Story about Three Angels and the Baby Jesus, and Hoda Kotb, the author of Hoda: How I Survived War Zones, Bad Hair, Cancer, and Kathie Lee. The duo, both of whom have family ties to Rehoboth Beach, did a joint signing this summer at Browseabout Books, which they mentioned many times on air.

Sales are holding steady so far this season at Browseabout Books. Open every day of the year except Christmas Day, the store has been a Rehoboth Beach fixture for more than three decades. Crane and his wife, Barbara, both former educators, originally owned three retail locations--a smaller bookstore, a toy store and a gift boutique--that have been consolidated into the 13,000 square foot Browseabout Books. When asked if he is doing anything differently this year during the holidays, Crane had a ready answer that might be the secret to his long-running success: "Just do it better." --Shannon McKenna Schmidt


KidsBuzz for the Week of 05.23.22


Ingram to Distribute HarperCollins to Christian Market

Effective January 1, HarperCollins will use Ingram Publisher Services and Spring Arbor as its exclusive distributor to the Christian market.

Josh Marwell, president of sales at HarperCollins, commented: "As we position our company for continued and future success, we are eager to grow our sales with Christian bookstores. Working with Ingram Publisher Services and Spring Arbor, we will expand coverage for our titles to this important segment."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Paul La Farge's Luminous Airplanes

Thursday on KCRW's Bookworm: Paul La Farge, author of Luminous Airplanes: A Novel (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $25, 9780374194314). The show called this "an accessible and lively conversation about Paul La Farge's innovation of the novel form. His new novel, though it is published between covers--only represents one third of the book. The other two-thirds can be found on the website La Farge reveals fascinating secrets about the novel's construction, and specifically, why he spent 11 years writing a book that's part text and part website."


Thursday on the View: Jim Karas, author of The Petite Advantage Diet (HarperOne, $25.99, 9780062025456).


Thursday on the Talk: Jamie Oliver, author of Jamie Oliver's Meals in Minutes: A Revolutionary Approach to Cooking Good Food Fast (Hyperion, $35, 9781401324421).


The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: Sequel Plans; New TV Spot

Today is the release of David Fincher's adaptation of Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but during a press conference last week the director was already focusing on the last two volumes of the Millennium trilogy--The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. reported that when Fincher was asked if he would consider shooting the sequels back to back, he replied: "Yes, the second two books are very much one story and it doesn't seem prudent to me to go to Sweden for a year. Come back for a year. Put out the second one. Go to Sweden for a year. Come back for a year. I don't think Rooney [Mara] wants to be doing this four years from now. So I think that would be crazy especially given the sense that it's really one story that's kind of bifurcated in the middle." featured a new TV spot for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Movie Project: The Devil in the White City

Warner Bros has named Graham Moore to write the script for a film version of Erik Larson's 2003 book The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic And Madness At The Fair That Changed America. reported that the studio "acquired the project from Appian Way partners [Leonardo] DiCaprio and Jennifer Killoran and Double Features partners Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher. They will produce, and they acquired the book late last year with DiCaprio attached to play Holmes, the 19th Century equivalent of Hannibal Lecter."

Moore, a transplanted Chicagoan, said he has been "obsessed with Devil in the White City for a decade. My high school was 50 yard away from where the Chicago World’s Fair was held, and I played soccer on a field near where Holmes murdered about 200 people. It was a truly horrible crime, but it’s a very Chicago story. Though I moved to LA, I think of myself as fundamentally Mid-Western, and in a weird way, this is a dark and twisted tribute to my hometown."

Books & Authors

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:


The Pilgrim: A Novel by Hugh Nissenson (Sourcebooks Landmark, $24.99, (9781402209246). "The reader is transported back to the earliest days of the settling of America by the sworn statement of one Charles Wentworth, who came to Plymouth soon after the Mayflower landing. The powerful influence of religion and the church is portrayed through his struggles with both his humanity and his faith, as Charles mourns the tragic loss of his betrothed while at the same time reveling in the death of the 'savages' who must be conquered to create a safe new home. This is a great work of historical fiction." --Carol Katsoulis, Anderson's Bookshop, Naperville, Ill.

Stone of Kings: In Search of the Lost Jade of the Maya by Gerard Helferich (Lyons Press, $24.95, 9780762763511). "In the spirit of Indiana Jones, author Helferich takes us on an amazing journey through history and through the mountains of Guatemala in search of the lost jade of the Maya. If you relish great fireside tales of adventure or going into the jungles from your armchair, you'll enjoy this book. And if you happen to be a gem or a rock lover, even better! By the way, you may be surprised to learn that jade comes in more colors than just green--especially the good stuff!" --Linda Bond, Auntie's Bookstore, Spokane, Wash.


Barnheart: The Incurable Longing for a Farm of One's Own by Jenna Woginrich (Storey Publishing, $14.95, 9781603427951). "This is the delightfully entertaining story of a young woman who longs to own her own farm. Woginrich wants to plant her garden, raise chickens and sheep, and play her banjo--all excellent pursuits, but hard to do while holding down a nine-to-five job and struggling on a rented farm. By sheer determination, she finally gets her own farm and everything that goes along with it. Written with great humor, and sure to be enjoyed by those with farm envy!" --Sherri Gallentine, Vroman's Bookstore, Pasadena, Calif.

For Ages 4 to 8

11 Experiments That Failed by Jenny Offill and Nancy Carpenter (Schwartz & Wade, $16.99, 9780375847622). "The inquisitive young scientist in this picture book is part Eloise, part Ms. Frizzle. She tests each of her hypotheses--such as that ketchup and snow are the only food groups a kid needs--with pure scientific standards. Fantastic illustrations demonstrate the scientific method and show the reader what goes on behind the scenes, for example, when you try to send a bottle to the ocean by flushing it down the toilet. This book had me giggling at every page." --Neysa Jensen, the Rediscovered Bookshop, Boise, Idaho

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

GBO Picks Invitation to the Bold of Heart

For its December pick, the German Book Office has chosen Invitation to the Bold of Heart by Dorothee Elmiger, translated by Katy Derbyshire, and just published by Seagull Books ($21, 9780857420190).

In the novel, a fire smolders for years in coal seams under the town where Margaret and Fritzi, sisters and the last remaining youth in the town, live. The pair set out on an expedition, determined to piece together the fragments of their family history. Only by learning their own story can they look to the future with hope. When they rediscover a long-forgotten river, Margaret and Fritzi sense a new life ahead. The GBO called Invitation to the Bold of Heart "a startling dystopian tale of hope and exploration and a testament to the timeless need of youth to rebel against authority."

Elmiger is from Switzerland and now lives in Berlin. Invitation to the Bold of Heart is her first novel and has won the Aspekte Prize and the Lauris Literature Prize, among others. Darbyshire recently translated Inka Parei's The Shadow-Boxing Woman, also published by Seagull Books.

Book Review

Review: The Odds: A Love Story

The Odds: A Love Story by Stewart O'Nan (Viking, $25.95 hardcover, 9780670023165, January 19, 2012)

In his 2007 novel, Last Night at the Lobster, Stewart O'Nan told the story of one man's effort to salvage a measure of dignity as the humble job he's dutifully performed for years is about to end. Now he's turned his keen eye on an equally modest but no less affecting story of a marriage in crisis.

If ever a couple were in need of a run of good luck it would be Art and Marion Fowler. Downsized from their middle-class jobs and facing imminent foreclosure, they travel by bus from their Cleveland home to Niagara Falls on a snowy Valentine's Day weekend to relive their honeymoon of 30 years earlier. They're improbably committed to risking their remaining cash at the roulette wheel in a plan that would seem rational only to the most desperate soul, "a fantastic last-ditch escape from the snares of their real life."

The Fowlers know failure guarantees both financial and marital ruin. But Art is ardent and romantic, desperate to ensure Marion is having a good time and fretting over when he'll give her diamond ring he's brought with him. "No matter what happened, all he needed to do was keep trying," he tells himself. Marion, the realist of the pair, still can't shake her bitterness over Art's two-decades-old affair, when she'd "fought for him as if he were hers, and then, having won, didn't know what to do with him." The memory of his infidelity lingers painfully, like a poorly healed wound.

Niagara Falls, decked out for the holiday weekend, is as much a character in this story as the troubled honeymooners. O'Nan evokes the surge of romantic impulses it inspires, its natural beauty wedded to kitschy attractions like the Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum. Art and Marion dutifully take in those sites as the hour looms when they'll stake their future on a few spins of the wheel, a climax that's an apt summing up of everything that's gone before.

The Odds is a realistic fairy tale about the gravitational pull of an enduring relationship. In deft, knowing strokes, Stewart O'Nan exposes all the tenderness and tension, the compromises and evasions that lie at the heart of any long-term marriage. "The happiest she'd ever been was with him," Marion realizes, "and the saddest. Was that the test of true love?" Anyone who's experienced those emotions and doesn't confess to seeing at least a cloudy reflection in the mirror O'Nan has so lovingly crafted isn't telling the truth. --Harvey Freedenberg

Shelf Talker: In his 14th novel, Stewart O'Nan offers a bittersweet portrait of a long-term marriage.

KidsBuzz: Schiffer Kids: Big P Takes a Fall (and That's Not All) by Pamela Jane, illus. by Hina Imtiaz
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