Shelf Awareness for Thursday, December 19, 2013

S&S / Marysue Rucci Books: The Night We Lost Him by Laura Dave

Wednesday Books: When Haru Was Here by Dustin Thao

Tommy Nelson: Up Toward the Light by Granger Smith, Illustrated by Laura Watkins

Tor Nightfire: Devils Kill Devils by Johnny Compton

Shadow Mountain: Highcliffe House (Proper Romance Regency) by Megan Walker


Shareholder Sues B&N Over SEC Investigation

What may be the first of a series of shareholder lawsuits against Barnes & Noble over accounting issues has been filed in New York State Supreme Court. Bloomberg News reported that B&N shareholder David Shaev is asking the court to order B&N "to improve its corporate governance and internal procedures, saying the restatement and the accounting allegations are 'only two symptoms of a pervasive deficiency of internal controls.' "

Shaev continued: "Barnes & Noble has operated with deficient and inadequate financial reporting and inventory management systems since at least 2001. These systems do not adhere to industrywide best practices and company internal audits have repeatedly shown them to be unreliable and subject to manipulation."

Shareholder rights law firms had announced they were "investigating" B&N after the company disclosed earlier this month that the Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into its restatement of losses for two years and an ex-employee's allegation of improper allocation of IT expenses.

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!

A Room of One's Own Faces Odd Boycott


Sandy Torkildson, owner A Room of One's Own bookstore, Madison Wis., "is no stranger to boycotts or protests," the Isthmus Daily News reported, noting that she "has at times faced the wrath of evangelical Christians upset with her carrying feminist and gay and lesbian literature. She even suspects, but can't prove, that her store has been vandalized because of the books she sells."

Recently, however, A Room of One's Own has been threatened with a boycott because Torkildson is serving on the committee evaluating proposals for the city's Judge Doyle Square. According to the Daily News, attorney and journalist Ann E. Fleischli, who opposes development in the square, has urged people to boycott the bookstore.

"If [Torkildson] thought being on this committee only gave her status in this community, she should know there are other possible consequences," Fleischli said. "I don't ever intend to go in that store again." She added, however, that if Torkildson withholds support, "Then I would walk back into her store. And I'm a very good customer of that store."

Torkildson said she will not be intimidated: "It takes a lot to get people to serve on these committees because it takes a lot of time. This kind of intimidation doesn't do anybody any good."

GLOW: Workman Publishing: Atlas Obscura: Wild Life: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Living Wonders by Cara Giaimo, Joshua Foer, and Atlas Obscura

Italian Government Proposes Book Purchase Rebates

As part of a plan to encourage foreign investment in Italy and promote culture, the Italian government is proposing a 19% tax rebate for book purchases, up to 2,000 euros (about $2,740) per person, TeleRead reported.

Destination Italy, as the program is called, allows 1,000 euros in credits to be used for "school books and college" and another 1,000 euros for "all other publications." Premier Enrico Letta said the measure aims "to promote greater dissemination of reading physical books."

The plan says that "world demand for culture is growing exponentially" and that culture can be part of the "diplomacy of attraction." Destination Italy also offers tax credits for  music and film productions. Italy has a VAT rate of 4% on books, much lower than the basic 22% rate, and less than the 7% rate on books in France and Germany.

Weldon Owen: The Gay Icon's Guide to Life by Michael Joosten, Illustrated by Peter Emerich

BISG's Making Information Pay to Be Held at BEA

For the first time, the Book Industry Study Group is holding the Making Information Pay conference as part of the International Digital Publishing Forum's Digital Book Conference at BookExpo America. The 2014 Making Information Pay conference will be held on the afternoon of Thursday, May 29, the second day of the Digital Book Conference and the day BEA's trade show floor opens. Making Information Pay has been a free-standing event held in the spring.

BISG executive director Len Vlahos said that "by bringing our two audiences together, we amplify each organization's mission, enabling us to deliver more robust, high quality content."

While the program has not been set, BISG outlined subjects to be covered, saying, "New data confirms the consolidation of consumer preferences in physical and digital book consumption, with significant variation by genre, subject, and demographics. Making Information Pay dissects these shifting patterns with new information from a range of BISG research including BookStats, the Joint Venture between the Book Industry Study Group and the Association of American Publishers, which provides a comprehensive and trendable report on the size and shape of the U.S. book publishing industry. Industry leaders add invaluable perspective."

Discounted early bird registration to IDPF Digital Book 2014 is open and includes access to BISG's Making Information Pay conference as well as BEA.

Graphic Universe (Tm): Hotelitor: Luxury-Class Defense and Hospitality Unit by Josh Hicks

BAM Store Closing in Mobile, Ala.

On Christmas Eve, Books-a-Million will close its Bel Air Mall store in Mobile, Ala., reported, noting that "employees only received notice on Wednesday... The company is trying to keep as many of their staff-members as they can and assign them to the location at 3690 Airport Boulevard." That BAM store just reopened last month in the Pinebrook Shopping Center. The two stores "will be merging as much as they can," wrote.

Lake City Books Opens in Plattsburgh, N.Y.

Steve McDonald, the owner of the new Lake City Books in Plattsburgh, N.Y., spent most of his high school and college years working in his mother's independent bookstore. In the mid 1990s, his mother sold the store; it went out of business within two years.

"I wasn't in a position at that time to buy the store," explained McDonald, who has thought of opening a bookstore for many years. "I was kind of kicking myself because I couldn't take over the store for her. It was pretty sad to see it close."

Since then, he worked in marketing for several Fortune 500 companies. Around two and a half years ago, McDonald was diagnosed with cancer. Surgery, treatment and a lengthy recovery process made him leave work. About eight months ago, McDonald said, his doctors gave him the "all clear," and he began to think once more about his future.

"I was 53 years old, with a two-year gap in my work history," said McDonald. "I realized that trying to enter a weak market at this time wasn't going to happen. I've always wanted to open a store, and my wife and I, we're at a point in life now where it's possible. I've been thinking about it for quite some time, so we said, let's give it a go."

McDonald opened Lake City Books in the last week of November. It is 1,200 square feet, with a small cafe that sells coffee, hot chocolate, scones and other baked goods, and offers free wi-fi. According to McDonald, approximately 90% of the store's 20,000 volumes are used. The new titles consist mostly of children's books, some new hardcovers and books by local authors or about local interests. He was able to build up a sizable inventory of used books in a relatively short amount of time; the bulk of his collection (along with most of his shelves and other fixtures) comes from a bookstore in Hartford, Conn., that closed at the beginning of the summer.

"I purchased everything in early June," recounted McDonald. "And I didn't have a store yet. So I put it all in storage while I kept on looking for the right spot. For about four months or so, I perused for the perfect bookstore. It all comes down to a combination of location, size and cost; I could never find three out of three, just two out of three."

The spot McDonald presently occupies became available about six weeks ago. It's a bit smaller than what he envisioned (he estimates that 1,600-1,800 square feet would be ideal); he still has boxes of books in storage, and ideally he'd like to expand the cafe. At the moment, it's a one-man operation.

The first few weeks have been hectic, and McDonald hasn't been able to host any events. He plans to do a sort of open house on January 4, with free coffee and donuts in the cafe, to celebrate the opening. Further down the road, he'd like to bring in local authors for book signings, readings and workshops.

The community's response, McDonald said, has been fantastic: "They probably think I'm a little crazy for opening a bookstore, but they're so happy to finally have another one." --Alex Mutter


Image of the Day: Early Christmas at Changing Hands

Congratulations to our friends at Changing Hands, Tempe, Ariz.! On Facebook, the store announced, "Our  Indiegogo project just passed the $80,000 mark--six days early. The fundraiser continues through December 24, but we decided to pop some bubbly now to celebrate. Changing Hands is coming to Phoenix in the spring, and you helped make it happen. Thank you, thank you, thank you!"

Sizing Up Indie Bookstores by the Square Foot


How big is a bookshop? "Independent Bookstores by Square Footage" was the focus of the most recent "This by That" mini column in the New York Times' One Page Magazine. The booksellers highlighted ranged from A Room of One's Own Books, Madison, Wis. (6,000 square feet), to BookPeople, Austin, Tex. (40,000 square feet).

Personnel Changes at Penguin, Abrams, Perseus

Doug Whiteman, Penguin's executive v-p of business operations, will leave the company, effective January 3, to become chief administrative officer of Acelero Learning, an early childhood education company that works to improve the delivery of Head Start services at the local level.

In a staff memo about Whiteman's departure, Penguin Random House president and COO Madeline McIntosh wrote: "As much as we are all sorry to see him leave after 30 great years of outstanding contributions and service, this move will not come as a surprise to the friends and colleagues who know of Doug's longstanding philanthropic contributions."


Leslie Stoker, v-p and publishing director, lifestyle at Abrams, will leave the company at the end of the year to pursue opportunities as a consultant and agent. She can be reached at


Hayley Gonnason has joined the Simon & Schuster Children's Division as a publicist. She has worked at Random House Children's Books/Tricycle Press and most recently at Holiday House.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: The Every Other Day Diet

This morning on CBS This Morning: Dr. Krista Varady, author of The Every Other Day Diet: The Diet That Lets You Eat All You Want (Half the Time) and Keep the Weight Off (Hyperion, $25, 9781401324933).


Tomorrow on CNN's State of the Union: Mark Halperin, co-author of Double Down: Game Change 2012 (Penguin Press, $29.95, 9781594204401).

Movies: The Fault in Our Stars Poster

Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort "cozy up on the grass in this first look at the highly anticipated adaptation" of The Fault in Our stars by John Green, Buzzfeed reported.

On his Tumblr, Green addressed the mildly controversial issue of the "one sick love story" tagline: "I did not write the tagline.... These things are not my decision. It’s not my movie, or my poster.... That said, I like the tag line.... I mostly wanted something that said, 'This is hopefully not going to be a gauzy, sentimental love story that romanticizes illness and further spreads the lie that the only reason sick people exist is so that healthy people can learn lessons.' But that’s not a very good tag line. I like the tag line because it says, literally, the sick can also have love stories. Love and joy and romance are not just things reserved for the well. That said, I might be wrong. I’m wrong all the time."

The movie poster (signed or unsigned) and other John Green perks are part of this year's Project for Awesome fund-raising campaign at Indiegogo.

This Weekend on Book TV: Heraldo Munoz

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, December 21
12 p.m. Book TV visits Dayton, Ohio, to interview several of the city's authors and tour its literary sites. (Re-airs Sunday at 10:45 a.m.)

3:30 p.m. Michael Scharf, author of Customary International Law in Times of Fundamental Change (Cambridge University Press, $32.99, 9781107610323).

4:30 p.m. Edwin Black, author of Financing the Flames: How Tax-Exempt and Public Money Fuel a Culture of Confrontation and Terrorism in Israel (Dialog Press, $19.95, 9780914153313). (Re-airs Sunday at 8:30 a.m.)     

7 p.m. Richard Kurin, author of The Smithsonian's History of America in 101 Objects (Penguin, $30, 9781594205293). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 a.m.)

7:45 p.m. Michael Rubin, author of Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes (Encounter Books , $27.99, 9781594037238). (Re-airs Monday at 2 a.m.)

8:45 p.m. Thom Hartmann, author of The Crash of 2016: The Plot to Destroy America--and What We Can Do to Stop It (Twelve, $28, 9780446584838).

10 p.m. After Words. Kim Barker interviews Heraldo Munoz, author of Getting Away with Murder: Benazir Bhutto's Assassination and the Politics of Pakistan (Norton, $26.95, 9780393062915). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m., Monday at 12 a.m. & 3 a.m.)  

11 p.m. Paul Chappell, author of The Art of Waging Peace: A Strategic Approach to Improving Our Lives and the World (Prospecta Press, $21, 9781935212782).

Sunday, December 22
12:30 a.m. Dan Bongino, author of Life Inside the Bubble: Why a Top-Ranked Secret Service Agent Walked Away from It All (WND Books, $22.95, 9781938067365). (Re-airs Sunday at 3:15 p.m.)

7 p.m. Andrew Graybill, author of The Red and the White: A Family Saga of the American West (Liveright, $28.95, 9780871404459), at Tattered Cover Bookstore, Denver, Colo.

7:45 p.m. Clint Hill and Lisa McCubbin, co-authors of Five Days in November (Gallery Books, $30, 9781476731490). (Re-airs Monday at 5:15 a.m.)

10 p.m. Kevin Peraino, author of Lincoln in the World: The Making of a Statesman and the Dawn of American Power (Crown, $26, 9780307887207).

11 p.m. Alan Dershowitz, author of Taking the Stand: My Life in the Law (Crown, $28, 9780307719270).

Books & Authors

Awards: Digital Book Finalists

Finalists for the Digital Book Awards, honoring the year's best apps and e-books, have been selected. Winners will be announced be announced at a dinner January 14 during the Digital Book World Conference & Expo.

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:

At Night We Walk in Circles: A Novel by Daniel Alarcón (Riverhead, $27.95, 9781594631719). "Set in an unnamed South American country years after a protracted civil war has ended, At Night We Walk in Circles chronicles the life and dark fate of Nelson, a bright and promising young man who joins a small guerrilla theatre group. Nelson and the group's two founders, one of whom is a psychically battle-scarred casualty of the political conflict, bring their play, The Idiot President, to villages in the countryside and mountains, looking for escape, renewal, and perhaps redemption. The village that is the troupe's final destination holds deep secrets, and an innocent and kind act results in a shocking outcome. Alarcón is a genius, and this novel is a work of brilliance." --Cathy Langer, Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, Colo.

Jeeves and the Wedding Bells: An Homage to P.G. Wodehouse by Sebastian Faulks (St. Martin's Press, $25.99, 9781250047595). "Dash it all! Jeeves and Bertie Wooster return in Faulks' homage to Wodehouse. Jeeves seems to interfere with Bertie's plans to save the engagement of a friend. Georgiana, a right smashing gal by any standard and the cousin of Woody's fiancée, dives right into the bumbles and misguided efforts that seem to surround any Wooster plan. Jeeves impersonates a lord while Bertie becomes his butler--and a thief--but all in a good cause, of course. Great fun and a wonderful entrée in to the world of Wodehouse!" --Becky Milner, Vintage Books, Vancouver, Wash.

A Fork in the Road: Tales of Food, Pleasure & Discovery on the Road edited by James Oseland (Lonely Planet, $15.99, 9781743218440). "The tastes of new places--from the sublime to the ridiculous--are the ingredients of these essays. Writers as varied as Padma Lakshmi and Frances Mayes consider a pivotal meal or taste that simultaneously brings a place and a moment to vivid life and makes it live forever in memory. With tales about fishheads and Twinkies and dishes more exotic still, these essays will stir wonderful personal memories for every reader. Bon appétit!" --Michael Barnard, Rakestraw Books, Danville, Calif.

For Teen Readers
Reality Boy by A.S. King (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, $18, 9780316222709). "I'm not sure if there is a subject that A.S. King cannot handle with perfect dexterity. She wins your trust by creating characters that are real and then paves the story's way with glass shards, heartbreak, and, ultimately, gold. Reality Boy is a fascinating emotional dissection of life under the watchful eye of the American public and the subsequent fallout for one angry young man." --Jane Knight, Bear Pond Books, Montpelier, Vt.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Foreign Gods Inc.

Foreign Gods, Inc. by Okey Ndibe (Soho Press, $25 hardcover, 9781616953133, January 14, 2014)

Ike (pronounced ee-kay), the protagonist of Okey Ndibe's Foreign Gods, Inc., is a Nigerian cab driver in New York City with a degree from Amherst who hates the way everyone notices his accent. He's borrowed a fortune to buy an airline ticket back to Nigeria and his remote home village, where he'll steal the wooden god Ngene, then make his fortune selling it to a Manhattan gallery that specializes in exotic deities.

Going back to Utonki will bring him face-to-face with his aging, fragile mother, who hasn't received any support from her son since he became addicted to gambling, as well as his uncle, Ngene's chief priest, whose commitment to the god is utterly sincere, and Pastor Godson Uka, a Christian preacher who's been convincing villagers to fear each other's evil magic while he drains them financially for protection. Pastor Uka's shameless manipulation of Ike's mother, his primary convert, rubs Ike the wrong way. Then Ike gets a visit from his first love, now a frumpy battered woman with five kids, her wealthy deceased husband having been fleeced by the greedy pastor.

Along with the Reverend Walter Stanton, a hot-tempered Anglican missionary who dares to challenge Ngene, Ndibe provides several other nicely rounded secondary characters, especially Bernita, Ike's sexual tornado of an ex-wife, and Ike's former classmate "Tony Curtis," now a fabulously wealthy politician with two houses and a six-car garage. Still, it's Ike's show all the way as his soul is battled over by two gods, two priests and his mother.

Ndibe writes with a folksy inclusiveness, inviting characters in to stay a little longer than they're needed, allowing for colorful banter among villagers who have an altogether different sense of time. The village humor, the greetings and teasing, lend the Utonki sequences a lyrical magic, interrupted by the ubiquitous ringing of cell phones.

Just as Ndibe's ear is attuned to the musical rhythms of Nigerian dialogue, the novel itself accommodates "his people's knack for... meandering, circumlocutory, proverb-laced talk." Into this richly stocked brew of characters, Ndibe skilfully introduces some genuine suspense in the final stretch, guiding readers through the nail-biting tension of getting through customs Nigerian-style. As an author with a foot in Nigeria and the U.S., he expertly brings both worlds to life before they collide. --Nick DiMartino

Shelf Talker: A taxi driver in New York City decides to steal the wooden god from his remote Nigerian village and sell it to a gallery specializing in exotic deities.

Deeper Understanding

Stand Up Comics: A 2013 Sampling

Welcome to the first of a series of columns about comics and graphic novels. Adan Jimenez has loved comics since he was 10 years old, when his cousin, stationed in Japan, sent him a box of comics. He says: "I devoured the box and never looked back."

Jimenez has worked in and around comics his entire adult life, at Midtown Comics in New York City, and Comic Foundry magazine and, in Singapore, at Harris Bookstores, Paradigm Infinitum gaming stores and geek paradise store Planerds.

The aim of this and subsequent Stand Up Comics columns is to highlight comics and graphic novels (and occasionally books about comics and graphic novels) that may have gone under the radar of many booksellers. These books offer many handselling opportunities, as well as (mostly) easy entries for non-comics and graphic novel readers.

Here's a sampling of some solid titles published earlier this year:

Lost Cat by Jason (Fantagraphics, $24.99, 9781606996423)
Jason is a Norwegian cartoonist whose comics have been translated into English for more than a decade. His sparse art, anthropomorphic animals and deadpan humor have graced 17 collections, in which he explores universal truths like loneliness, death, relationships, time travel, and Musketeers on Mars.

Lost Cat is a Humphrey Bogart-style noir detective story featuring a lost cat, a lost woman, a lost painting and a lost life. Private investigator Dan Delon finds a lost cat that leads him to Charlotte Mardou, a French divorcee and bookstore owner, who instantly captivates Delon and then immediately goes missing. Delon spends the rest of the story looking for her and imagining what his life might have been like if she were in it, all while solving other cases. The story ends in a way no one could see coming, but after you read it, you can't imagine it ending any other way.

Audience: People who like noir detective stories and people who like irreverent and deadpan humor.

Super Graphic: A Visual Guide to the Comic Book Universe by Tim Leong (Chronicle, $18.95, 9781452113883)
In Super Graphic, which is not really a comic, but a beautiful book about comics featuring innovative infographics, Tim Leong, director of digital design at Wired magazine, put together more than 150 bar charts, pie charts, Venn diagrams, matrices and other kinds of infographics detailing idiosyncrasies of the comics we love to read. These include, but are certainly not limited to: Oppression and Rebellion in Persepolis, the Schedule of a Manga Artist, the Pizzas of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the Chris Ware Sadness Scale and my personal favorite, the Politics of Good vs. Evil (full disclosure: this is my favorite because I helped design it while still with Comic Foundry, which Leong founded!).

Leong covers a large swath of the medium, from corporate to independent, superheroes to autobiographies. The book also includes charts on movies and TV series based on comics. It's often hilarious, but the jokes will likely be lost on non-comics readers, unfortunately.

Audience: People who like well-designed infographics and people who want to see the medium they love explained in well-designed infographics.

B.P.R.D.: 1948 written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi, art by Max Fiumara (Dark Horse, $17.99, 9781616551834)
Mike Mignola has spent the last two decades creating a fascinating world full of most every monster that has ever been created: from folklore and mythology, from science fiction and fantasy, and even from Universal Studios and the Cthulhu mythos. His famous Hellboy is a demon from the abyss who beats up other monsters.

1948 is the third "historical" BPRD volume about the early days of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense. Professor Trevor Bruttenholm (pronounced "broom") travels to Utah after nuclear bomb tests result in creatures from another world showing up. He attempts to explain this in both scientific and paranormal terms (this may be the first time quantum mechanics and shamanistic rituals have ever been paired). At the same time, the beautiful and brilliant Dr. Anna Rieu, working on the atomic project, hopes to end all nuclear testing.

Readers new to the genre should be able to enjoy this with very little background information. They will likely only wonder why Agent Anders is acting oddly (he was possessed by vampires in BPRD: 1947) and who the creepy girl only Professor Bruttenholm can see is (she is the demon Varvara, Professor Bruttenholm's counterpart in the Soviet Union's version of the BPRD, who first appeared in BPRD: 1946). Otherwise, it should serve as a great jumping-off point for readers not currently immersed in Mignola's monster-filled world.

Audience: People who like '50s-era atomic science fiction and people who love good monster stories.

Journalism by Joe Sacco (Metropolitan Books, $22, 9780805097931)
Probably the best known comics journalist in the business, Joe Sacco has reported on the war in Bosnia, the battles and détentes between Palestine and Israel, the first Gulf War, the "sacrifice zones" in the United States, World War II-era Crete and much more.

Journalism collects much of his shorter reportage, including a war crimes trial at the Hague for Dr. Milan Kovacevic, a Bosnian Serb accused of genocide; a return trip to the Palestinian territories to report on Hebron and Gaza; the Chechen conflict and displacement of refugees to Ingushetia; conversations with U.S. marines, Iraqi national guardsmen and Iraqi businessmen suing U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld; African refugees fleeing war and poverty and landing on the island nation of Malta; and, the abject poverty that dalits--the "untouchables" in the Indian caste system--face daily in small villages near and around Lucknow, India.

Sacco is a well-respected journalist, going where few others will and reporting on things many people would rather not be reminded of, but he can be too partisan for my tastes, regardless of whether or not I agree with him. That said, I have been made aware about many things around the world that I probably wouldn't have been if not for him.

Audience: People who want to know a little bit more about disparate parts of the world and people who don't mind some opinion with their news.

Fairest Vol. 2: The Hidden Kingdom written by Bill Willingham and Lauren Beukes, art by Inaki Miranda and Barry Kitson (Vertigo, $14.99, 9781401240219)
The second comics work by South African journalist and science fiction writer Lauren Beukes is featured in the Fables spin-off Fairest and takes place in the recent past of the Fables universe, before many landscape-altering events. In search of her children, Rapunzel of extremely long hair fame must travel to Japan to face both the literal and figurative demons of her past as she stumbles into the middle of a yokai civil war.

Ricocheting between the recent past (2002) and the distant past (circa 1102), Beukes (with Willingham, in a consultant role) weaves a tale of love, betrayal and war, and still has enough time for Jack Horner to sex up anything that moves. Bonus: every chapter has an appropriately meta-Japanese title, like "Hard-Boiled Wonderland," "Lost in Translation" and "The Bad Sleep Well."

Even though this is the second volume of a spin-off series, The Hidden Kingdom is still a good starting point for new readers because it takes place in the past and doesn't feature a lot of characters already familiar to regular Fables readers. The story will probably require more background information to understand, but it's pretty funny, so this can be forgiven.

Audience: People who love folk tales and mythology in general and people who are interested in reinterpretations of Japanese folk tales and mythology in particular.

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