Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, June 23, 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


Grey's Black Ink: Sales Top a Million in Four Days

E.L. James's Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Christian has sold more than one million trade paperback, e-book and audio copies in the U.S. since its release last Thursday, Anne Messitte, publisher of Vintage Anchor, announced yesterday. Vintage has gone back to press for third, fourth and fifth printings, to bring the total of copies in print to 2.1 million.

"This is an astonishing number of books to sell over a weekend and speaks to the engagement and passion readers have for the Fifty Shades books," Messitte said. "Christian's side of the story is proving to be irresistible."

E.L. James signing at the Bookworm Box.

It was certainly irresistible in East Texas. On Saturday morning at the Bookworm Box, Sulphur Springs, Tex., James signed more than 500 copies of Grey for a crowd that had gathered during the night. KETR noted: "Women--and men--alike from all across the globe who follow not only James but her friend and fellow author Colleen Hoover, owner of the bookstore, attended. Some fans were from as far as Korea, Canada, Seattle, Philadelphia, Arkansas to areas of Texas from Houston, Georgetown, Dallas, Waco, Tyler, Denton along with locals and many more."

The Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy has sold more than 125 million copies worldwide. The film of the first book was released in February and has earned more than $569 million at the box office. The next two films, based on the second and third books, respectively, will be released in February 2016 and February 2017.

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Independent Bookshop Week in U.K. & Ireland

Independent Bookshop Week, which began its ninth year Saturday and continues through June 27, is part of the Books Are My Bag campaign and seeks to celebrate indies in the U.K. and Ireland. We'll be featuring some of the highlights, and you can also follow the fun on Twitter (@IndieBound_UK).

How did it all begin? "The final Harry Potter had been published and this had become a regular feature for boosting sales in July," Matthew Clarke, founder of IBW and owner of the Torbay Bookshop in Paignton, told the Western Morning News. "I realized that what we needed was something that we could all focus on to create interest in bookshops at a relatively quiet time of year--so Independent Bookshop Week was born. Now, more than 350 bookshops take part and it has become an important part of the calendar."

"Despite the heft of Amazon, Meryl Halls at the Booksellers Association is hopeful that more high streets will be graced with independent booksellers in 10 years time," the Guardian reported. Halls observed: "There was a sense that bookshops were doomed... but we have turned that conversation round. Consumers really value a diverse high street and value book stores as part of that."

Winners of this year's IBW Book Awards are The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters (adult category), An Island of Our Own by Sally Nicholls (children's) and A Walk in Paris by Salvatore Rubbino (children's picture book). "I have such a lot of respect for independent booksellers, most of whom work long hours for little reward, and do so out of a deep love and commitment to bookselling," Nicholls said, adding: "They don't just make the world better, they quite literally make you better, and through you the world. Mess with a bookseller at your peril." Rubbino commented: "I always feel at home in an independent bookshop, it's where I go to feel nourished with ideas and new picture books. Hurrah for the 'independents', they give the high street its soul!"

The staff at Oxford University Press U.K. was asked to name their favorite independent bookstores: "We received a very enthusiastic response, and discovered that our U.K. staff visit and revisit indies all over the country for the love of books that these stores inspire."

A Sunday tweet from the Book Fayre in Woodhall Spa: "#IBW2015 Visited today by lots of lovely people on their shiny machines! #HarleyDavidson."

Pushkin Press's Picturehouse Pop-Up

Pushkin Press is "one of the founding partners of the new Picturehouse Central cinema in London, and will have a pop-up shop in the venue," the Bookseller reported. The independent publisher's London shop will be in place by the end of June for at least six weeks, displaying titles from the Pushkin Collection, including works by Stefan Zweig, whose fiction inspired Wes Anderson's Oscar-winning The Grand Budapest Hotel.

"I'm thrilled for Pushkin to be a key part of the new, flagship Picturehouse Central," said publisher and managing director Adam Freudenheim. "So many great films have been inspired by books that it's fitting for books to have a central place at this exciting new cinema.... If it is a roaring success, it could go longer. It is an experiment, and we're both very excited about it."

Obituary Note: Allen Weinstein

Allen Weinstein, "a historian of Cold War espionage," died last Thursday. He was 77.

Weinstein's 1978 book, Perjury: The Hiss-Chambers Case, "marshaled a mountain of new evidence to argue that Alger Hiss was guilty as charged in one of the most famous spy trials of the postwar era, and who served as the ninth national archivist of the United States," the New York Times wrote.


'A Literary Walking Tour of San Francisco'

Quoting Elaine Katzenberger, publisher and director of City Lights Booksellers and Publishers, who describes San Francisco's iconic bookstore as "a good place to feel like you're among like-minded people," said that that attitude applies to most of literary San Francisco --and offered a tour. Among the highlights:

City Lights itself: "Perhaps the literary sight to see, City Lights Books is located next to Vesuvio Cafe and is known for its historic support and publication of paperback titles by poets and writers such as Allen Ginsberg, Frank O'Hara, and Jack Kerouac. Katzenberger describes City Lights as 'a center of gravity,' a place where other writers could gather and feel comfortable. According to Katzenberger, the store also carries unusual books, ones not always found on the bestseller list. 'Here you find things you just didn't know existed,' she says."

San Francisco's First Bookstore (19 Walter U. Lum Place): "Although City Lights Books is perhaps San Francisco's most well-known bookstore, this plaque marks the site of the city's first bookstore, which was opened by John Hamilton Still in 1849. The plaque can be found just across the street from Portsmouth Square."

Dennis Awsumb Retiring from Gibbs Smith Publisher

At the end of June, Dennis Awsumb is retiring as national accounts manager at Gibbs Smith Publisher. He started his publishing career in 1973 at Bookcraft, where he managed the company's shipping warehouse until he joined the sales team. When Bookcraft merged with Deseret Book, he continued working in sales, which eventually led him to his current position at Gibbs Smith in 2002.

Awsumb commented: "There hasn't been a day when I haven't wanted to go to work."

Gibbs Smith called Awsumb "a consummate gentleman and a lover of books and the book business. I appreciate all he has contributed to our company and wish him the best."

Personnel Changes at Penguin Random House

At the Penguin Random House Sales Group, Kim Shannon has been promoted to v-p, director, retail sales, Penguin Random House.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Mary Higgins Clark on Closing Bell

Today on Good Morning America: Holly Madison, author of Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny (Dey Street, $25.99, 9780062372109). She also appears tomorrow on the Wendy Williams Show.


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Bret Baier, co-author of Special Heart: A Journey of Faith, Hope, Courage and Love (Center Street, $16, 9781455583621).


Tomorrow on CNBC's Closing Bell: Mary Higgins Clark, author of The Melody Lingers On (Simon & Schuster, $26.99, 9781476749112).


Tomorrow on Diane Rehm: readers review Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng (Penguin, $16, 9780143127550).

TV: Hunters

Britne Oldford (American Horror Story, Ravenswood) will play the female lead in Hunters, Syfy's 13-episode, straight-to-series project based on Whitley Strieber's novel Alien Hunter. Indiewire reported that Gale Anne Hurd (The Walking Dead) is executive producer of the show, which is slated to premiere in 2016 and will also star Nathan Phillips, "who has been in negotiations for the male lead." Written by Natalie Chaidez (Heroes), Hunters is set to film in Melbourne, Australia.

Books & Authors

Awards: CILIP Carnegie, Kate Greenaway; Warwick

Tanya Landman won the CILIP Carnegie Medal for children's literature for her historical novel Buffalo Soldier, and author/illustrator William Grill took the CILIP Kate Greenway Medal for excellence in illustration for his book Shackleton's Journey. The medals are judged by librarians across the U.K. and have been awarded annually since 1936 and 1956, respectively. The winners each receive £500 (about $790) worth of books to donate to their local library and Grill, as winner of the CILIP Kate Greenaway medal, is also awarded the £5,000 (about $7,900) Colin Mears award cash prize.

Agnès Guyon, chair of this year's judging panel, said: "These books push boundaries, from Charley O'Hara's often harrowing experiences in Buffalo Soldier, to the brutal landscapes and innovative colors of Shackleton's Journey. They do not shy from difficult topics but are ultimately life-affirming in the view they offer of the human spirit's will to survive and succeed."


A 13-book longlist has been released for the £25,000 (about $39,450) Warwick Prize for Writing, which is given every two years by Warwick University "for the best writing in English in all forms and disciplines," the Bookseller reported. The theme for this year's prize is instinct. A shortlist will be announced in October, with the winner named in November. The complete longlist, which includes seven works of fiction, five nonfiction and a poetry collection, can be viewed here.

Book Review

Review: The Love She Left Behind

The Love She Left Behind by Amanda Coe (W.W. Norton, $25.95 hardcover, 9780393245493, July 6, 2015)

A dead woman is the central character of The Love She Left Behind by British author Amanda Coe (What They Do in the Dark). The deceased is Sara, who, 35 years before her death from stomach cancer, deserted her husband and children--Nigel, then age 13, and Louise, age 10--and gave up everything to live with Patrick, a playwright for whom she was muse. Patrick never had any fondness for his stepchildren. After Sara uprooted her life for him, Patrick paid for Nigel to attend boarding school and Louise was shipped off to live with an aunt--this, after their birth father remarried and rejected them.

The book opens in Cornwall, in the now-dilapidated house Sara and Patrick shared. Nigel--a married, Type-A lawyer and father with a nervous stomach--has little care or respect for Louise, a divorced, overweight, working-class mother of two rebellious teenagers over whom she has little power or control.

Both children were under the impression that Sara and Patrick had shared a storybook life together. However, when Nigel and Louise arrive in Cornwall, they are faced with Patrick's irritability, drunkenness and writer's block. They are also surprised to discover that Sara had been sleeping in a separate bedroom for months and that Patrick was completely unaware of Sara's prolonged illness.

As the three go over details and assimilate the contents of Sara's will, it is revealed that the couple's house and the dramatic rights to Bloody Empire--a popular play Patrick wrote in the 1980s--were put in Sara's name for tax purposes. Patrick battles Nigel and Louise over the transfer of ownership, and brother and sister also lock horns.

In the midst of the strained family dynamic, Mia, a journalism student who's always been intrigued by Patrick's work, arrives to write a feature about the once-great playwright. Patrick relishes the attention of Mia, who is charmed by the aura surrounding a writer's life. Affection between the two grows, and they ultimately become allies in the fight that escalates when Louise starts to depend on a telephone psychic for guidance, the house undergoes a renovation and old friends pay Patrick a visit.

Throughout the narrative, letters written by Sara and Patrick shed light on their relationship and how it frayed over time; their interactions with her children; and the hard-bitten and provocative nature of Patrick's most notable work.

Coe employs dark comedy to piece together and acutely observe emotional issues dealing with abandonment, loss, death and grief. The idea that we do not truly know the ones we love--and even if we think we do, we never really get the whole picture--serves to solidify the cracked fault lines in the foundation of this thoroughly entertaining and thought-provoking family saga. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

Shelf Talker: A torn-apart British family is forced back together to settle the affairs of its deceased matriarch.


Let It Snow's Three Authors

Two authors were missing from yesterday's announcement that the film adaptation of Let It Snow will be released December 9, 2016. In addition to John Green, the book features stories by Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle.

Deeper Understanding

Stand Up Comics: History Repeats

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

Trees Vol. 1: In Shadow by Warren Ellis and Jason Howard (Image Comics, $14.99, 9781632152701)
"...they did nothing and did not speak as if there were no-one here and nothing under foot. Ten years since we learned that there is intelligent life in the universe but that they did not recognize us as intelligent or alive. They stand on the surface of the Earth like trees exerting their silent pressure on the world as if there were no-one here."

Trees is Warren Ellis doing what he does best: old-school science fiction with a creepy undertone about what humanity does once an unexplainable phenomenon becomes the new normal, and how that exposes and amplifies current social problems. With characters in Greece, China, Somaliland, New York and Svalbard in the Arctic Ocean, Ellis explores the ramifications of first contact around the world, even as that first contact presents itself as nothing we ever expected.

Like most science fiction, Trees concerns itself with the social, cultural, political and economic changes that a great planet-wide upheaval like this might instigate, but does not include any kind of adventure narrative (at least not yet) for its characters, unlike Neill Blomkamp's District 9, George Miller's Mad Max: Fury Road or Ann Leckie's Ancillary Justice. Of course, there's nothing wrong with an adventure narrative; it's simply not present here, and the text is better for it.

Handselling Opportunities: Fans of the kind of science fiction that reads like very entertaining new world almanacs instead of adventure stories.

Avengers: Rage of Ultron by Rick Remender, Jerome Opena, Mark Morales and Pepe Larraz (Marvel, $24.99, 9780785190400)
Once upon a time, Hank Pym created life in the form of an artificial intelligence named Ultron. Pym thought Ultron would help him and the Avengers make the world a safer place, but Ultron rebelled and sought to exterminate mankind instead of protect it, so Hank Pym murdered his only son. Ultron survived and attempted to destroy humanity multiple times. Pym was finally forced to shoot his son into space, all the while lamenting that, from the moment he was born, his son never loved him back.

Despite the very similar title, this book has nothing to do with the summer blockbuster. Instead, it is a character study of one of the Avengers' most damaged and multi-faceted members. Hank Pym is a character who has been defined almost exclusively by the failures in his history: beating his wife, creating a genocidal robot and suffering numerous mental breakdowns. But Pym's self-loathing eclipses any loathing others may have for him, including his mad son's, who likely inherited this hatred from his father.

Handselling Opportunities: Anybody looking for a dissection of a pained character preoccupied by the question of what constitutes sentient life, a generational family saga and a cautionary tale about AI.

Seraphim: 266613336 Wings by Mamoru Oshii and Satoshi Kon (Dark Horse Comics, $19.99, 9781616556082)
The world is suffering a pandemic unlike any it has ever seen before, one the World Health Organization dubs Seraphim, which poisons the mind with religious hallucinations and twists the body into unearthly shapes. The WHO has chosen three "Wise Men" to go into the quarantine zone in fractured China to search for a cure while escorting a young girl named Sera, who may contain the key to ending the plague.

Even though the manga was written and drawn by two of Japan's most influential anime creators of all time, I almost didn't review this title. It was originally serialized in Animage magazine, but ended because of creative differences, and only this one volume of what looked to be a very expansive story exists. So, as great and interesting as the story is, it's difficult to recommend knowing we will never see an ending, and will be forever dissatisfied.

However, the real prize is the essay after the story by Carl Gustav Horn; an essay not just on Oshii and Kon and their partnership, but on manga, anime, the culture that surrounds it and the history of it in the U.S. This essay is worth the price of admission, so think of this volume as a fantastic cultural essay that happens to include a fantastic unfinished collaboration by two masters.

Handselling Opportunities: Fans of Oshii or Kon, and anybody interested in learning about the early U.S. otaku (fans of manga/anime) scene.

The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye by Sonny Liew (Epigram Books, $34.90, 9789810731069)
Charlie Chan Hock Chye describes himself as Singapore's greatest comics artist in an interview from the opening pages of this book, an assertion that is difficult to argue against, as the man has been creating comics since 1956, nine years before Singapore's independence. However, because of various historical and economic factors, Charlie Chan remained mostly unknown throughout his career. It didn't help that many of his comics were either self-published and therefore difficult to track down, or not published at all.

Liew has created a work that encompasses biography, art book, history and political commentary in one ambitious tome. Chan's history is recounted alongside that of Singapore's, while most of his artwork is reproduced, much of it for the first time ever. The political commentary comes from the fact that any history that does not hew to the Singapore government's official story is automatically political, best exemplified during a sequence that features Chan's unpublished Sinkapor Inks strips, in which Singapore in the '70s is reimagined as a stationery supply company, alongside Liew's own running commentary on what government policy each strip is lampooning. The cartoon Liew gets increasingly agitated as "Sinkapor Inks" institutes more and more draconian measures to curb press freedoms.

Handselling Opportunities: Anybody interested in a personal view of Singapore's history before it's available to most American audiences (Pantheon will be publishing this in the U.S. next year).

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