Shelf Awareness for Monday, January 26, 2015

Blackstone Publishing: An Honorable Assassin (Nick Mason Novels #3) by Steve Hamilton

Clarion Books: The Man Who Didn't Like Animals by Deborah Underwood, Illlustrated by LeUyen Pham

Holiday House: Bye Forever, I Guess by Jodi Meadows and Team Canteen 1: Rocky Road by Amalie Jahn

Wednesday Books: Dust by Alison Stine

Running Press Kids: The Junior Witch's Handbook, The Junior Astrologer's Handbook, and The Junior Tarot Reader's Handbook by Nikki Van De Car

Scholastic Press: Ruin Road by Lamar Giles


National Readathon Day: Marathons of Reading

Penguin Bookshop's mascot (bookseller Thomas) reading the store book club's January pick, The Boston Girl.

The first National Readathon Day, held on Saturday, drew crowds to stores that had events highlighting the occasion, according to reports to Shelf Awareness. (Book lovers were asked to pledge to read for four hours starting at noon in their respective time zones--nearly 200 bookstores, libraries, schools, universities and other organizations hosted events and helped raise funds to benefit National Book Foundation education programs. As of this morning, teams and individuals had raised more than $50,000. The Day was sponsored by the Foundation, Penguin Random House, GoodReads and Mashable.)

At the Penguin Bookshop (related only ornithologically to Penguin Random House), Sewickley, Pa., booksellers moved the store's Storytime chair to one of the front windows and invited customers to sit in it and read. "Adults, teens, kids, and parent-child pairs were thrilled to climb into our window and settle down with a book," social media and marketing coordinator Kate Madison said. The unusual arrangement, easily visible from the street, which is Sewickley's main street, got a lot of attention and brought in more National Readathon Day donations.

At Magers & Quinn

Magers & Quinn Booksellers, Minneapolis, Minn., celebrated National Readathon Day with a marathon reading of Beowulf. Events coordinator Ann Mayhew said that the event went "really, really well! We had at least 25 people come in and read, and many more who just came by to listen and watch, including people who stayed the entire time. A handful of readers knew Old English, so our ears were treated to both the delights of the original poem and the Seamus Heaney translation."

At the Curious Iguana, Frederick, Md., the local authors and star of Turbo the Flying Dog stopped in to share Turbo's story, reported. "Turbo the Flying Dog developed when we rescued this little guy from West Virginia," co-author Victoria Zajko said. "It was a four hour drive so instead of driving, my husband and I flew to pick him up and he's been flying with us ever since."

Help a Bookseller, Change a Life: Give today to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation!

Crab Apple Books Opens in Middletown, Ohio

"After a year of rehabbing the building at 1385 Central Ave.," Braydon Soale opened Crab Apple Books, Middletown, Ohio, a store that "has already generated business from Cincinnati State students as well as Middletown residents," the Journal-News reported.

"I wanted to have something where people can find new and used fiction, nonfiction and history books as people like buying half-price books," he said. "I'm still trying to figure out what Middletown likes to read." His own primary interest is history, which led Soale to write and self-publish From Foggia to Freedom, the story of 50 World War II veterans who were held as prisoners of war in Germany.

"I would love to help people get published," he said, adding that he is planning to renovate the building's basement for book signings and writers workshops.

Washington's Snow Goose Migrates 'Down the Block'

Snow Goose's store cat, Jennie, surveying her new home.

The Snow Goose Bookstore, Stanwood, Wash., moved yesterday and is reopening tomorrow in its new location "just down the block" in the Let's Frame It frame shop. The new store will be a joint bookstore-frame shop, the store said on its Facebook page.

The Snow Goose's new address is 8716 271st Street, N.W., Stanwood, Wash. 98292; 360-629-3631.

Foyles Opening Store in Birmingham

Foyles will open a bookstore at the new Grand Central Birmingham station, marking just the second time the British chain has opened a location outside London, following its Bristol launch in 2011, the Bookseller reported. The latest addition brings Foyles's total number of shops to six after some closures in recent years.

"Our strategy remains the same: to focus our efforts on other stores so there is not so much reliance on the flagship store," said CEO Sam Husain. "The Bristol shop is trading well ahead of last year but it takes a while for customers to work out what Foyles stands for and that we are a good range bookshop. Now Bristol is becoming more and more important to us. In Birmingham, we are not as well known, but I would hope with 50 million passengers coming into the station every year there will be an opportunity to reach out and find new customers."

Amazon to Begin Collecting Illinois Sales Tax

Effective February 1, Amazon will begin collecting the 6.25% Illinois sales tax for online purchases. The law went into effect January 1, but the state granted a month-long grace period to online retailers, Crain's Chicago Business reported. In October, Amazon announced plans to open fulfillment centers in the state. 

"What does help now is that the tax code is no longer picking the winners and losers," said Rob Karr, president of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association.

Obituary Note: Mike Marqusee

Writer and political activist Mike Marqusee, who "enjoyed an intellect as dazzling as it was unique" and "made the most of a boundless curiosity and a powerful memory to educate himself, and others, about a kaleidoscope of topics," died January 13, the Guardian reported. He was 61. His books included Redemption Song: Muhammad Ali and the Spirit of the Sixties and If I Am Not for Myself: Journey of an Anti-Zionist Jew.


Image of the Day: Master Booksellers, Master Thieves

Booksellers and museum store buyers gathered last week in Cambridge, Mass., to preview Master Thieves: The Boston Gangsters Who Pulled Off the World's Greatest Art Heist (PublicAffairs) by Stephen Kurkjian, an investigative reporter for the Boston Globe. The book will be released on March 10--the 25th anniversary of the heist--and presents new details about the theft of art worth $500 million from Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, as well as a new theory of whodunit.

Front row: Sean Halpert, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Lindsay Fradkoff, marketing director, PublicAffairs; author Stephen Kurkjian; Jeanne Emanuel, v-p, special markets and custom publishing, Perseus Books Group; Pam Lowe, Winters Group. Back row: Lynne Francis-Lunn, Peabody Essex Museum; Rachel Cass, Harvard Book Store; David Duddy, DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum; Mike Katz, New England sales rep, Perseus Books Group; Lorna Ruby, Wellesley Books; and Richard Gregg, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston.

Blizzard Prep: Stock Up on Books!

From the Facebook page of Greenlight Bookstore, Brooklyn, N.Y., yesterday: "Mayor de Blasio says, 'This could be the biggest snowstorm in the history of this city. My message for New Yorkers is prepare for something worse than we have ever seen before.' We recommend you do so by stocking up on books. We're open till 10 tonight!"

'50 of the Most Majestic Libraries in the World'

Noting that "libraries were once central hubs of human intellectual progress," Architecture & Design magazine showcased 50 of the "most majestic," observing: "Because of their critical importance, libraries were often built to be beautiful and built to last. Combined with the sometimes priceless treasures that they hold, their simultaneously enormous and intimate spaces possess a charm that no other type of building can command."

Personnel Changes at Oni Press, Hachette Nashville

Fred Reckling has joined Oni Press as director of publicity. He was formerly social media and community manager at Machinima, a video game YouTube network and gaming company, and earlier was social media marketing manager at M80, a marketing firm.


Sarah Falter is joining Hachette Nashville as publicist. She has been publicist and social media manager at the History Press.

IPG/Trafalgar Square Add Publishers

IPG will distribute the following publishers:

Beacon Audiobooks, a new digital audio company owned by Spectra Music Group that publishes original and classic works. Upcoming projects include 12 Years a Slave and works by Edgar Allan Poe. Effective January 1.
Mystic Productions Press, Anchorage, Alaska, which publishes instruction books on Shibari Japanese rope bondage, spirituality and sexuality. Effective January 1.
Technical Education Research Center (or TERC), a nonprofit focusing on math and science education. IPG will distribute TERC's digital and print backlist, beginning January 2015 with new titles appearing in IPG's children's catalogue, starting fall 2015.

New publishers for IPG's Trafalgar Square subsidiary, distributed in the U.S. and Canada, starting July 1:
Myriad Editions, Brighton, England, publisher of literary fiction and graphic novels, including the first book by Elizabeth Haynes, Into the Darkest Corner.
Pikku Publishing, London, a new publisher of humorous children's books.
Finch Publishing, Sydney, Australia, which specializes in nonfiction books about family, health, social ecology, relationships, gender and society.
Orenda Books, London, which publishes literary fiction emphasizing crime and thrillers.

By Architect Publications, Barcelona, Spain, which publishes seven to 10 books a year about architecture and design, will be distributed by Art Stock Books, IPG's subsidiary specializing in highly illustrated books, effective fall 2015.

Editorial Kókinos, Madrid, Spain, which publishes children's literature, will be distributed by IPG Spanish Language, beginning July 1.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Jill Leovy Talks About Ghettoside

This morning on Fox & Friends: Steve Israel, author of The Global War on Morris: A Novel (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781476772233).


Today on Fresh Air: Jill Leovy, author of Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America (Spiegel & Grau, $28, 9780385529983). She will also appear tomorrow night on the Daily Show.


Today on Diane Rehm: Levi Tillemann, author of The Great Race: The Global Quest for the Car of the Future (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781476773490).


Today on Hannity: Robert L. Grenier, author of 88 Days to Kandahar: A CIA Diary (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781476712079). He will also appear tomorrow on MSNBC's Now with Alex Wagner and All In with Chris Hayes.


Tonight on the Late Late Show with David Letterman: Martin Short, author of I Must Say: My Life As a Humble Comedy Legend (Harper, $26.99, 9780062309525). Short is also on the Today Show this morning.


Tomorrow on Diane Rehm: Sarah Chayes, author of Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security (Norton, $26.95, 9780393239461).


Tomorrow night on the Tonight Show: Patton Oswalt, author of Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life from an Addiction to Film (Scribner, $25, 9781451673210).

Movies: Z for Zachariah; Carrie Pilby

A clip has been released for notable Sundance Film Festival entry Z for Zachariah, based on the novel by Robert C. O'Brien, HitFix reported. Directed by Craig Zobel, the movie stars Chris Pine, Margot Robbie and Chiwetel Ejiofor.


Hailee Steinfeld (The Homesman, Hateship Loveship) will star in the film adaptation of Caren Lissner's novel Carrie Pilby. Word & Film reported that the movie "promises to be a veritable hotbed of powerful women both behind and in front of the camera: Mean Creek producer Susan Johnson will make her directorial debut, Nancy Meyers collaborator Suzanne Farwell will produce Kara Holden's adapted screenplay (Dean Craig is a co-writer), and Susan Cartsonis will executive-produce."

Books & Authors

Awards: SCBWI On-the-Verge Emerging Voices

The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators announced the winners of this year's On-the-Verge Emerging Voices Award, which is given to two writers or illustrators "who are from ethnic and/or cultural backgrounds that are traditionally under-represented in children's literature in America and who have a ready-to-submit completed work for children."

The 2014 recipients are Heidi Kim "for her poignant young adult novel," The Certainty of Tides; and Adria Quinones, author of The Disappeared, "a middle grade novel following one boy's journey to reconcile the disappearance of his father." Each winner receives an all-expense paid trip to the SCBWI Summer Conference in Los Angeles and several private meetings with editors, art directors and other industry professionals.

"Every child should have the opportunity to experience many and diverse of points of view," said the organization's executive director Lin Oliver. "SCBWI is proud to contribute to this all-important effort to bring forth new voices."

Book Review

Review: The Orphan Sky

The Orphan Sky by Ella Leya (Sourcebooks Landmark, $14.99 trade paper, 9781402298653, February 3, 2015)

In a debut novel devastating both in its sorrow and its beauty, Azerbaijani-American musician Ella Leya delves into the oppression of artists under the Soviet regime as well as the human spirit's unending capacity to follow art and music to freedom against all odds.

"By the time I turned fifteen, Communism had become my religion.... And God? Well, we had Lenin." In 1979 in Baku, Azerbaijan, Leila epitomizes the perfect Soviet teenager. She proves her dedication to her government by serving as a committed member of the Komsomol--the Communist Youth League--and by competing for the glory of her homeland as a promising concert pianist. Daughter of a prominent oilman, Leila's birth into the privileged nomenklatura comes with certain advantages, such as residence in a luxury apartment, access to music lessons with the exacting but brilliant Professor Sultan-zade, and the attention of handsome Comrade Farhad, who holds an important position on the city Komsomol Committee. When Farhad judges Leila's attitude too elitist, she jumps at the chance to redeem herself by spying on a suspected capitalist sympathizer who runs a music shop. Expecting corruption, she instead finds Tarhid, a passionate consumer and creator of art, music and literature whose time in the West opened his eyes to a liberated world. Although only a few years Leila's senior, Tarhid has lost much to the Communist cause. He unveils its hypocrisy to Leila, showing her the poverty in their allegedly classless city and revealing his family's sad history; he also introduces her to the smoky, forbidden flavor of jazz. Soon the two youths have struck up a clandestine friendship. A salon of two, their artistic endeavors feed into each other, Tarhid's painting helping Leila to find the soul in her music as her playing helps him to find his muse and create a painting that evokes "piano arpeggios in scarlet layers. Violin pizzicatos in gold and silver brushstrokes."

Leya captures a tense period in the history of a country that blended Turkish, Persian and Soviet cultures, where Communist corruption mingled with the remnants of sharia law. Her talent and gender combine to entrap Leila as she finds herself playing to her country's tune, forced into an engagement with the increasingly volatile Farhad, and struggling against a love for Tarhid she can never safely express. Leya slowly but inexorably shrinks the cage around Leila until her wings beat at the bars and she must show that she is no canary but rather the Firebird of her homeland's folktales. Breathing music and color into the direst moments with her lyrical prose, Leya shows that she herself is a talent who cannot be confined. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Shelf Talker: A brilliant young pianist finds her creativity and her heart at odds with her strict Communist upbringing in 1979 Azerbaijan.

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