Also published on this date: Wednesday, April 15, 2015: Maximum Shelf: The Book of Speculation

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, April 15, 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

Quotation of the Day

'Being in a Bookstore is Like Getting a Passport'

"In the ease of the Internet, in the promise of instant, I looked away from bookstores for a minute and when I looked back some had disappeared. They were closed. They were gone.

"We didn't just lose a bookstore though, we lost a bit of magic. We lost a bit of wonder. We lost a safe haven where it's still OK to dream big dreams. To walk down aisles and aisles of 'what if?' Books are not collections of paper, they're invitations to different worlds. And being in a bookstore is like getting a passport....

"Bookstores matter to authors, but more than that, I think they matter to humans.

"They offer something no Internet site can deliver, they offer space.

"A room where 40 people or 4 people can get together and discuss an idea.

"Long live the local bookstore."

--Jon Acuff, author most recently of Do Over, in a blog post headlined "Why I fell back in love with bookstores."

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


Patterson Increases Donation to U.K. & Irish Indies

James Patterson will provide a second donation of £250,000 (about $369,465) to independent bookshops in the U.K. and Ireland following the success of this year's grants. More than £130,000 has already been allocated to 73 independent bookshops since the the first round of applications last September. Patterson also named the 68 booksellers who will receive the remaining grant allocation of £120,000.

James Patterson

"I have been completely overwhelmed by just how many people have applied for the grants second time round, and yet again have been impressed and enthused by the caliber of the applications," Patterson said. "It's been very exciting to see the ideas from the first round in action. I have again worked to identify independent bookshops for whom this money may make a difference and I'm excited to follow their progress. I can't wait to see what the U.K. and Ireland's incredible and pioneering bookshops propose for next year."

Tim Walker, president of the Booksellers Association, commented: "We are very much looking forward to seeing the grant funding being implemented by the successful bookshops.  We are thrilled that so many U.K. and Irish indies have shown such creativity and passion in their applications. For the lucky shops, the James Patterson money will make a real difference to how they reach children and encourage them to read. The announcement of a further donation of £250,000 is fantastic news for bookshops and anyone who loves reading. We are delighted that James Patterson is continuing to act on his love of bookshops and his appreciation of their vital importance to cultural and community life." Eligible bookshops in the U.K. and Ireland can apply for a grant via the Booksellers Association website.

CBC, WNDB Partner for Internship Program

The Children's Book Council and We Need Diverse Books are partnering on educational programming and resources for interns selected for the WNDB Internship Program, which launches this summer. The program is designed to open up the children's book publishing industry to talented job-seekers from diverse backgrounds, providing them with the opportunity to learn about the industry through professional guidance and hands-on experience.

The CBC will offer WNDB publishing interns:

  • Exclusive educational opportunities, including a luncheon with the CBC Diversity Committee
  • Inclusion in the CBC Early Career Committee's summer event
  • Invitation to a CBC Forum
  • Invitation to a CBC Diversity Panel
  • Tip sheets for getting jobs in the publishing industry and making the most of their internships
  • CBC-member exclusive multimedia content
  • Access to the CBC Early Career Committee's ECC Newsletter
  • Access to CBC's Diversity in the News monthly newsletter

CBC executive director Jon Colman said the organization "has been a dedicated champion of diverse books and voices since the launch of the CBC Diversity Initiative in 2012. We are excited to team up with WNDB to further the work of creating an inclusive and representative children's book publishing industry."

WNDB President Ellen Oh commented: "We are thrilled to be partnering with the CBC on our pilot internship program. Not only do we need diverse books, but a diverse and dedicated workforce."

Closings: Lyon Books, Bound to Be Read Books

Lyon Books, Chico, Calif., is closing after 12 years in business. On the store's website, co-owners Heather and Aaron Lyon said they "are so grateful to have had the opportunity to serve the community in this way," but have decided to pursue other business endeavors in the city.

The bookshop was put up for sale last summer, but the owners found "those who were interested weren't well versed in what it would take to run a bookstore," the Oroville Mercury Register reported.

"There were some people who expressed interest in the store but when we talked about the reality of the numbers and the effort that goes along with running a bookstore, they didn't want to do it," said Heather Lyon. "It is hard work and physical." She added that regarding the closure, the "decision is making itself. It became obvious it was necessary."

Noting that patrons have expressed sadness about the news, Lyon said, "They're not just customers. They are friends that you talk about books with. We love to talk about books. You really get to know people when you talk about their interests. I'm going to miss that a lot."

She also praised her six booksellers: "I would like to say we've had a wonderful staff over the many years. I'm proud of giving people their first jobs.... The staff we have has been so great about this change. Everyone agreed to stay through the end. And they've had a great attitude about such a hard thing. They are all excellent employees."


Bound to Be Read Books, Atlanta, Ga., the new, used and discount bookstore, is closing. In an e-mail to customers, owner Jeff McCord wrote, "After 10 great years of serving our wonderful community, I'm at a point in my life where I need to spend more time with my family and friends."

When he put the store up for sale a year and a half ago, McCord estimated that between his full-time job with the State of Georgia and the bookstore, he was working 80-90 hours a week.

To clear inventory and to show his appreciation to customers, McCord said that the store closing sale, which begins tomorrow, will feature a contest for prizes that include a gas/charcoal grill, a Keurig brewer and more.

Reading Local: Gulf Coast Bookstore's Grand Opening

Gulf Coast Bookstore, which focuses on local authors, celebrated its grand opening last week in Fort Myers, Fla. The News-Press reported the store is run by children's author/illustrator Patti Brassard Jefferson and local history writer Timothy Jacobs, who rented "a small room from the Butterfly Estates. Local authors, in turn, rent shelf space for $60 every three months. That includes marketing and frequent public book-signing events."

"Our goal is to help as many local authors as we can," Jefferson said. Currently there are 25 writers represented in the store, with room for eight more.

Obituary Notes: Elizabeth Brown Pryor; D. Jayakanthan

Civil War historian Elizabeth Brown Pryor, who shared the 2008 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize for her book Reading the Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee through His Private Letters, died yesterday, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. She was 64. Pryor also wrote Clara Barton: Professional Angel.


Indian author D. Jayakanthan, who "significantly enriched modern Tamil literature by portraying the lives of those on the fringes of society," died April 8, the Hindu reported. He was 81. Jayakanthan's more than 35 novels and novellas, innumerable short stories and other writings "made him a household name in Tamil society."  


Image of the Day: Meet the Authors in Charlotte

Monday night, the Women’s National Book Association of Charlotte, N.C., hosted five authors at Park Road Books, at their annual "Meet the Authors" evening. L.-r.: Leigh Ann Henion, author of Phenomenal: A Hesitant Adventurer’s Search for Wonder in the Natural World (Penguin Press); Marianne Gingher, editor of and contributor to Amazing Place: What North Carolina Means to Writers (UNC Press); David Joy, author of Where All Light Tends to Go (Putnam); Susan M. Boyer, author of Lowcountry Boneyard (Henery Press); Karen White, author of A Long Time Gone (NAL)

Photo: Emily Smith Pearce

Librarians Who Inspired 'Unlimited Possibilities @ Your Library'

Scott Bonner

Noting that 57 years after its launch, National Library Week "is still going strong with a variety of celebrations and awareness campaigns," Bustle featured 17 librarians, past and present, who made this year's theme, "Unlimited Possibilities @ Your Library," possible.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: David Brooks on Diane Rehm

Tomorrow on VH1's Big Morning Buzz: Bethenny Frankel, author of I Suck at Relationships So You Don't Have To: 10 Rules for Not Screwing Up Your Happily Ever After (Touchstone, $24.99, 9781451667417).


Tomorrow on Diane Rehm: David Brooks, author of The Road to Character (Random House, $28, 9780812993257).


Tomorrow night on Conan: Barney Frank, author of Frank: A Life in Politics from the Great Society to Same-Sex Marriage (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $28, 9780374280307).


Tomorrow night on the Daily Show: Eric Greitens, author of Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26, 9780544323988). He will also appear on the Today Show.

King's Dark Tower Series: The Gunslinger Rides Again

The ambitious, but on-again/off-again, film and TV adaptation of Stephen King's The Dark Tower novel series appears to be on again. reported that Sony Pictures has teamed with MRC to co-finance the project, with Sony distributing "what is planned to be the first in a series of movies. A complementary TV series is also being developed by MRC."

A new script, co-written by Akiva Goldsman and Jeff Pinkner, is primarily based on The Gunslinger and "was totally re-conceived... from the version that had been previously developed and which took root first at Universal and later at Warner Bros," wrote, adding that "Sony and MRC will go right out after filmmakers with this script, and put this on the fast track that hard-core fans of King's book have long desired."

"I'm excited that the Dark Tower is finally going to appear on the screen," King said. "Those who have traveled with Roland and his friends in their search for the Dark Tower are going to have their long-held hopes fully realized. This is a brilliant and creative approach to my books."

Books & Authors

Awards: SIBA Book Finalists

The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance has determined finalists for the 2015 SIBA Book Awards, "representing booksellers' favorite handsells of the year." Winners will be announced July 4, "Independents Day." Finalists and winners will be honored during SIBA's Trade Show in Raleigh, N.C., in September. Check out the SIBA Book Award shortlist here.

Book Brahmin: Beth Kephart

Beth Kephart is a National Book Award finalist for her memoir A Slant of the Sun: One Child's Courage; an adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania, where she teaches the writing of memoir (also the subject of her book Handling the Truth); and the author of several young adult novels, including Going Over (which takes place on both sides of the Berlin Wall) and Small Damages (set in Spain). Her most recent novel is One Thing Stolen (Chronicle, April 14). She lives with her husband, photographer William Sulit, near Philadelphia, Pa.

On your nightstand now:

If, by nightstand, we mean the towers of books on the couch, the line-up of downloads on the iPad and the books on the floor in my office, then (a mere sampling): Outline (Rachel Cusk); Notes from No Man's Land (Eula Biss); the three essays I've not yet read in Leslie Jamison's The Empathy Exams; Lives in Ruins (Marilyn Johnson); and American Innovations (Rivka Galchen). In the I'm-keeping-them-close-to-read-them-again category: Jenny Offill's Dept. of Speculation; Dear Thief (Samantha Harvey); and All the Light We Cannot See (Anthony Doerr). Can we count magazines? Please? They are also on my metaphorical nightstand. The New Yorker. The latest National Geographic. And sure, it's true: Vanity Fair. I have decided against listing all the research books in that corner over there. You would not be interested. And besides, that's secret.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I'd like to keep this short, in compensation for the answer above. A gorgeously illustrated version of the great Robert Louis Stevenson poem "The Land of Counterpane." It conjured a world for me then. It conjures childhood for me now.

Your top five authors:

This is such a cruel question. Truly, it is. (Can you see me grimacing as I type? Can you hear me exhaling?) I'll regret at once the many names a five count forces me to leave off, so I might as well just close my eyes and type this fast and get on with it: Michael Ondaatje, Alice McDermott, Colum McCann, Per Petterson and, because I miss knowing he is in the world, because I adored his gentleness, Kent Haruf.

Book you've faked reading:

I have no problem confessing my inadequacies to the world (the professional hazard of a quasi-reformed memoirist). I don't fake reading. I just say, often enough, too often: Oh! I wanted to read that! (I know. The exclamation marks are annoying.)

Book you're an evangelist for:

I am an excellently good evangelist. Indeed, I evangelize on a many-days-a-week basis on my blog. It is my privilege and my pleasure to tell the world about books I love, books that have taught me, books that I teach, books that make me ponder--books that have been out for a while, or are newly out, or are still revving up their engines. I've lately used my blog as a trumpet for a variety of titles. A mini-sampling: My Life as a Foreign Country (Brian Turner); The Last Flight of Poxl West (Daniel Torday); The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace (Jeff Hobbs); Little Failure (Gary Shteyngart); Brown Girl Dreaming (Jacqueline Woodson); Rain Reign (Ann M. Martin); Neverhome (Laird Hunt); What Comes Next and How to Like It (Abigail Thomas); Language Arts (Stephanie Kallos); Glory O'Brien's History of the Future (A.S. King); and Life Drawing (Robin Black).

Book you've bought for the cover:

Falling Upwards by Richard Holmes. I gave one to my dad. Then, missing the book's general artfulness, I bought one for me. There can never be too many books on my floor.

Book that changed your life:

I'm sorry, but again I must break the rules (what's with the singular?) and here list four:

The Marvelous Journey Through the Night by Helme Heine, for all the beautiful hours it gave to me and my son.

Natalie Kusz's Road Song, which introduced me to the memoir form, changed my writing life and led me back to the University of Pennsylvania campus, where I now teach memoir.

Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient, which radicalized my idea of what language and story can do and which led me to every other Ondaatje title, which then led me to Colum McCann, and so on. Also, when I--a reader only at that time and a reader mostly to this day--wrote to Michael Ondaatje, he wrote back. He wrote back. There. I've said it.

Marilyn Nelson's Carver: A Life in Poems, which I read when I chaired the National Book Awards' Young People's Literature jury in 2001. So rich, so right, so respectful of the intelligence of the young reader, so genre busting. A form that led me to write my own uncategorizable book, a river autobiography called Flow: The Life and Times of Philadelphia's Schuylkill River, and which made me a righteous advocate for the unbounded, unlabeled, ungenre-fied book. A book that also led to my own writing of so many young adult novels that squirm whenever they are pressed beneath a label.

Favorite line from a book:

"What began it all was the bright bone of a dream I could hardly hold onto." --Michael Ondaatje, Running in the Family. Look at that. Isn't that the start of every writerly impulse? That bright bone? That elusive bright bone?

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping. Because!

Book Review

YA Review: The Boys Who Challenged Hitler

The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club by Phillip Hoose (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $19.99 hardcover, 208p., ages 12-up, 9780374300227, May 12, 2015)

As he did with Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice--which won the National Book Award and a Newbery Honor--Phillip Hoose here highlights another rebellious, brave teen who stood up for his beliefs. Hoose intersperses the narrative with lengthy first-person quotes, derived from e-mail messages and interviews the author conducted with Knud Pedersen in Copenhagen.

Pedersen was in eighth grade in Odense, Denmark, when the German military invaded on April 9, 1940. One day later, the Danish king and prime minister signed an agreement allowing Germany to occupy the country and control the government. Knud and his older brother, Jens, were "totally ashamed." Watching their classmates and neighbors continue life as usual, and even profit from the German occupation, the brothers decided that if the adults weren't going to fight back, they would. Knud, Jens, a cousin and two friends formed a resistance unit called the RAF Club ("after the heroic British Royal Air Force," according to Pedersen) and concentrated on acts of sabotage and propaganda--daringly perpetrated in broad daylight because of a curfew.

In 1941, Knud and Jens's father took a job in the northern city of Aalborg, a crucial link between Germany and Sweden, which supplied the homeland with iron ore for weapons. The brothers assembled a new group of friends and allies, named it the Churchill Club, and expanded their mission to include capturing weapons and building bombs. The audacity of their operations will boggle readers' minds. One day, Knud noticed a rifle in the open window of a German barracks and decided to steal it--despite a soldier cleaning a window in the next room.

In May 1942, the Churchill Club members were caught. Their conviction and subsequent imprisonment made them international heroes, and by the time the Pedersen brothers were released in May 1944, the Danish resistance had spread to such an extent that Germany declared Denmark "enemy territory." But the boys did not escape unscathed; several never recovered from their time in jail and either died young or lived unhappy lives.

In his author's note, Hoose says that he interviewed Pedersen for more than 25 hours, and ends with a touching acknowledgement of his admiration for Pedersen and for his work as member, spokesman and researcher for the Churchill Club. Hoose supplements the text with period photographs, diagrams and maps. Teens will be inspired by the bravery this young man showed in the face of great danger. --Angela Carstensen, school librarian and blogger

Shelf Talker: An account of an inspiring group of brave young teenagers in Denmark in World War II who stood up to the German occupation.

Deeper Understanding

Stand Up Comics: Family Comes in All Shapes

Stand Up Comics is a regular column by Adan Jimenez. These titles need no introduction: just read the column, then read some good comics!

Shutter Vol. 1: Wanderlost by Joe Keatinge, illustrated by Leila Del Duca, Owen Gieni and Ed Brisson (Image, $9.99, 9781632151452)
Kate Kristopher used to be a world-renowned explorer. She and her dad were archeologists of the unknown, finding dangerous places, discovering lost items and occasionally visiting the moon. Then her father died, and Kate decided to hang up her adventuring hat and try to live a normal life in a very strange world.

Shutter is at its heart a saga about family, the secrets they keep from each other and how that ultimately comes back to bite them in the ass. This family inhabits a fantastic world: it's full of anthropomorphic Irish lion gangs, undead butlers, dinosaurs you can ride on, and assassins right out of a Richard Scarry book.

This world is so weirdly put together it's a miracle it works at all. But work it does, and a lot of that is thanks to Del Duca's awesome art, in which a minotaur in a bespoke suit riding a subway looks just as normal as a steam-powered robot riding a fire-breathing, multi-headed chicken.

Handselling opportunities: People who like pastiche worlds and fans of Richard Scarry's Busytown who thought those animals were just a little too happy.

Soppy: A Love Story by Philippa Rice (Andrews McMeel, $14.99, 9781449461065)
Soppy is a collection of one-panel art pieces and short comics about a new relationship arrayed in chronological order. The two nameless protagonists (who may or may not be Rice and her partner, Luke Pearson) go through the beginning of their relationship, move in together and settle into a comfortable routine.

Full disclosure: I got this book for my birthday from my wife and we immediately read it together. We saw a lot of ourselves in the small, everyday moments. From buying groceries together and receiving their first bill to whose turn it is to do the dishes and the endless variations in which they sleep next to each other, every panel is a sweet affirmation of couplehood.

Rice's art is simple, but her use of blacks, whites and reds throughout lend the work an extra layer of cuteness. Also, since most of the story is wordless, the simplicity of the art makes it easy to understand what's going on in any given panel.

Handselling opportunities: People in sappy, almost saccharine relationships and anybody who wants to irritate their single friends.

Revival Vol. 1: You're Among Friends by Tim Seeley and Mike Norton (Image, $12.99, 9781607066590)
Zombies are as popular as they have ever been, thanks mostly to The Walking Dead, so it's not always welcome news to hear yet another zombie property is premiering. But Seeley and Norton have created something special.

Welcome to Wausau, Wis., a small town that is at the heart of the most amazing and inexplicable event in human history. The dead are coming back to life, but they retain their memories and their personalities, and they're called "Revivers." The CDC isn't sure if this is some kind of contagion, so they've closed off Wausau to the rest of the world, but pilgrims are coming to the borders. Some of them think the Revivers are a sign of the End Times, that they prove the Rapture is imminent. But most folks are just worried the Revivers may have mental issues and will go full-on zombie.

This twist on the zombie trope feels so new and fresh, I'm surprised no one's done it before. At the center of the story is Officer Dana Cypress, who is trying to keep her small town, and her small son, safe from threats within and without. Her father is the sheriff she has to report to and her sister is a college student taking a break. As in all families, secrets are kept, but when one of you might be a Reviver these secrets could prove deadly.

Handselling opportunities: Fans of zombies and family dramas looking for something a little different.

The Sculptor by Scott McCloud (First Second, $29.99, 9781596435735)
In an article for the Guardian, Jonathan Jones writes that "The vast majority of graphic novels today are drawn with studied banality," and he namechecks The Sculptor as one of these graphic novels. Among the many assertions he makes (including his belief that comics are only a visual art form), he is most obviously wrong, in my opinion, about The Sculptor itself. It is anything but banal.

David Smith is a sculptor in his late 20s who has burned most of his bridges in the art world. He doesn't have many friends and he hasn't created anything in months. He's hit as close to rock bottom as he's ever been and drinking boilermakers at a diner when Death shows up and offers him a deal: David can sculpt anything he wants with his bare hands, but he will have only 200 more days to live.

David Smith is a compelling character, often temperamental and obnoxious, but possessing an earnestness that makes us root for him regardless. He really does love art for its own sake, but gets too caught up in the popularity contests in the art world. Death is always a compelling character, but McCloud shows it as a grieving old man, not as the force of nature that it actually is.

In the end, The Sculptor is amazing, moving, poignant and profound, but above all, it is most certainly not banal.

Handselling opportunities: Artists of any denomination who think their time to make it is running out.

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