Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, July 14, 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


Go Set a Watchman on Sale: 'Bought by the Bucketload'

Crowd rushing in to Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Cincinnatti, Ohio, at midnight.

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee went on sale this morning, and many bookstores held midnight release parties with a range of events, including showings of To Kill a Mockingbird and marathon readings of that classic.

Initial reports indicated that even though some reviews have been very negative and many readers were shocked to learn that Atticus Finch, the beloved father and lawyer in To Kill a Mockingbird, is depicted as a racist in the new book, many customers are still enthusiastic about reading and buying Go Set a Watchman. It may not be the cozy, polished extension of To Kill a Mockingbird that many had hoped for or the "masterpiece" promised by the publisher, but it still features Lee's prose, many of her characters and is a key element in the author's development as a writer.

More than 200 people attended the midnight party at the Ol' Curiosities & Book Shoppe in Harper Lee's hometown of Monroeville, Ala., the AP (via U.S. News & World Report) reported. People dressed as characters from the book. The store ordered more than 10,000 copies of Go Set a Watchman.

"Several hundred" people bought copies of the book at Foyles' flagship store in London, according to the Bookseller. Foyles marketing manager Simon Heafield commented: "We had a buzzy evening with the queue starting to form at 10 p.m. We welcomed a few hundred customers who were thrilled with their purchases. We also sold out of DVD and book bundles of To Kill a Mockingbird. If this evening is anything to go by, Go Set a Watchman will live up to its billing as the publishing event of the year."

The midnight party at Hodges Figgins in Dublin.

The Wall Street Journal said that "hundreds of fans braved long 'queues' in the British capital to buy copies of the book just minutes after Big Ben struck midnight." James Daunt, managing director of Waterstones, predicted the chain will sell 20,000-30,000 copies of the book today and 100,000 this week.

The Guardian reported copies of the book being "bought by the bucketload" at the midnight party at Waterstones in Piccadilly Circus in London. At the Waterstones in Barnstaple, a store that did not hold a midnight party, 10 copies of the book sold this morning in its first hour and a half of business, the North Devon Journal reported. Seventy copies are on pre-order.

At least one U.S. retailer jumped the gun on the embargoed book. A Walmart store in West Monroe, La., put out a full display of Go Set a Watchman last Friday. Alerted by a librarian who saw the display while shopping, HarperCollins contacted Walmart, and the display was taken down, Melville House reported. Stephanie Wilkes, a YA coordinator at Ouachita Parish Public Library in Monroe, posted online that after she asked about it, "The manager shrugged and asked me what I was gonna do about it."

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Image of the Day: Harvard Bookstore's Watchman Celebration

Harvard Bookstore, Cambridge, Mass., offered tea and homemade cookies as people read some of their favorite passages of To Kill a Mockingbird. At midnight, booksellers broke out copies of Go Set a Watchman. The store also sold some 40 copies at the nearby Brattle Theater when a 9:30 p.m. showing of To Kill a Mockingbird ended after midnight, according to the New York Times.

Books-A-Million Agrees on Sale to Anderson Family

Books-A-Million has agreed to be purchased by executive chairman Clyde Anderson and his family--who already own or control 58.2% of the company--in a transaction valued at about $21 million, BAM announced yesterday.

Under the deal, shareholders will receive $3.25 per share in cash, which is 23% higher than its closing price yesterday of $2.64, and 93% higher than the stock's trading price on January 29, when the Anderson Family initially proposed buying the company for $2.75 a share.

The transaction will be financed through a combination of the contributions of the BAM shares owned by the Anderson family and any management rollover participants and borrowings of approximately $21 million under the company's existing credit facilities.

After the initial offer in January, BAM formed a special committee of directors independent of the Andersons to decide if the proposal was "the best option for stockholders other than the Anderson family, and if so to negotiate its terms." That special committee unanimously approved the sale, which was approved by the full board (family members did not vote).

Clyde Anderson commented: "We believe the transaction is a positive result for everyone, most importantly the company's shareholders. The special committee and its advisors have done a thorough job to assure that all terms and conditions are arms' length, and we are pleased to have come to a fair and balanced agreement."

In April 2012, the Anderson family made a similar offer to buy the company, bidding $3.05 a share. At the time, it owned 53% of the company. In July 2012, the Anderson family withdrew its offer after meetings with the Books-A-Million board of directors and a special independent committee that had been set up to evaluate the offer.

Under the Books-A-Million, Books & Co., Bookland and 2nd & Charles names, Books-A-Million has 255 stores in 33 states and the District of Columbia and sells online at It also owns Yogurt Mountain, a retailer and franchisor of 42 self-serve frozen yogurt stores, and owns and operates several shopping centers through its Preferred Growth Properties subsidiary. The companies roots go back to 1917; it went public in 1992.

ABA, Authors, Agents Seek Investigation of Amazon

Yesterday, "in an unprecedented joint action," U.S. booksellers, authors and literary agents called upon the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate Amazon's business practices, Bookselling This Week reported.

In a letter delivered to the Justice Department, Authors United requested that "the Antitrust Division investigate Amazon's power over the book market, and the ways in which that corporation exercises its power, bearing in mind the very special constitutional sensitivities that have historically been applied to any business that has established effective control of a medium of communication."

Also yesterday, a letter signed by American Booksellers Association CEO Oren Teicher and ABA president Betsy Burton, co-owner of the King's English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, Utah, urged the Justice Department to "give careful consideration" to the Authors United letter, adding that "a central tenet of ABA's mission is to ensure that a broad array of books is as widely available to American consumers as possible.... We fear that Amazon's business tactics directly threaten publishers' ability to support these authors and publications, which take time to identify, edit, market, and support--business activities previously supported by publishers' profits on bestselling works sold by mega-retailers such as Amazon."

BTW noted that the Authors Guild and the Association of Authors' Representatives "have expressed their support of the action, and the Authors Guild is also sending a letter to the DOJ."

Douglas Preston, who founded Authors United last year, told the New York Times: "Disruption is healthy, an inevitable byproduct of a world that changes. But there isn't a single example in American history where the concentration of power in one company has in the long run benefited consumers."

"Our point of view seemed to have been ignored," said ABA's Teicher. "But the climate has changed. There are efforts in the European Union--in Germany and a few other countries--to take a closer look at Amazon's practices. That has ramifications on what happens here."

Obituary Note: Chenjerai Hove

Novelist, poet and playwright Chenjerai Hove, one of Zimbabwe's best-known writers and a leading critic of President Robert Mugabe, died July 12, BBC News reported. He was 59. Hove won several awards for his work. He is perhaps best known for Bones, "set after independence on a white-owned farm, the book asks what difference the end of colonial rule in 1980 really made," BBC News wrote.


Happy 20th, Turn the Page Bookstore

Congratulations to Turn the Page Bookstore, Boonsboro, Md., which will host a celebration of its 20th anniversary on Saturday. The shop is owned by author Nora Roberts and her husband, Bruce Wilder. Authors scheduled to attend the birthday party include Roberts, Karen Rose, Jill Shalvis, Nalini Singh, Beatriz Williams and Grace Burrowes.

Hosting community-focused events has helped the bookstore thrive, according to store manager Janeen Solberg, who told the Hagerstown Morning Herald: "That's what's keeping bookstores alive."

The Book Seller: 'An Institution of the Community'

Located in downtown Grass Valley, Calif., the Book Seller is "an institution of the community if ever there was one," the Union reported in showcasing the bookstore that originally opened in 1977 and moved to its current location in 1985.

"For me, I've practically grown up here, it's like a second home," said manager Angie Kelsey, adding: "We're a community bookstore, and that's the main thing. Our main clientele is our locals.... We feel we want to represent what our readers are reading, so our bestseller list might look different from a Bay Area independent book store list."

'Why Powell's Bookstore Will Outlive the Kindle'

In a piece headlined "Why Powell’s Bookstore Will Outlive the Kindle," Condé Nast Traveler profiled Powell's City of Books, Portland, Ore., "a temple of print so vast that visitors find their way around via fold-up maps (free souvenir alert) and giant directory boards that resemble the arrivals-and-departures signage at the airport.... The best way to visit Powell's is with lots of time and no agenda whatsoever.... Landing a job here is competitive, even for the most devoted bookworms; if you're not sure what to read next, the 'staff pick' tags with hand-written recommendations are always solid bets."

"Take the bookstore in your brain and multiply it by 10--then you're close," said CEO Miriam Sontz in describing the visceral experience that is Powell's. She added that the bookstore sees 8,000 visitors a day. "It's all about growing a reading culture."

Pennie Picks The Girl on the Train

Pennie Clark Ianniciello, Costco's book buyer, has chosen The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (Riverhead Books, $26.95, 9781594633669) as her pick of the month for July. In Costco Connection, which goes to many of the warehouse club's members, she wrote:

"In this business, it's important to stay on top of publishing sensations. While thrillers aren't typically my thing, this month's book buyer's pick, The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, deserves every bit of buzz that it's been getting.

"Rachel Watson can't stop thinking about the couple she sees every day on her way to and from work. 'Jess and Jason' live a few houses away from where Rachel used to live. She believes them to have the perfect relationship--like the one she used to have. When 'Jess' goes missing, Rachel finds herself at the middle of the investigation.

"The characters are believable, and the storytelling is flawless. If you've been waiting for the right thriller to get you hooked on the genre, I can't say enough good things about this one."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Stoned on Fresh Air

Today on Fresh Air: Dr. David Casarett, author of Stoned: A Doctor's Case for Medical Marijuana (Current, $27.95, 9781591847670).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Colin Quinn, author of The Coloring Book: A Comedian Solves Race Relations in America (Grand Central, $26, 9781455507597).


Tomorrow on Diane Rehm: Jonathan M. Bryant, author of Dark Places of the Earth: The Voyage of the Slave Ship Antelope (Liveright, $28.95, 9780871406750).


Tomorrow on the Talk: Rob Gronkowski, co-author of It's Good to Be Gronk (Jeter Publishing/Gallery, $26, 9781476754802).


Tomorrow on Fox Sports Radio's Jay Mohr Sports: Molly Knight, author of The Best Team Money Can Buy: The Los Angeles Dodgers' Wild Struggle to Build a Baseball Powerhouse (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781476776293).

Movies: The Rosie Project; The Last Duel

Jennifer Lawrence will star in The Rosie Project, a film adaptation of the Graeme Simsion book that is being developed by Columbia Pictures. The Hollywood Reporter noted that Phil Lord and Christopher Miller "were looking to direct the project, but the Lego Movie filmmakers bowed out when they took on the young Han Solo Star Wars movie. The project is now on a fast-track search for a director." Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber ((500) Days of Summer) wrote the script.


Shaun Grant (Snowtown, Berlin Syndrome) will adapt Eric Jager's novel The Last Duel for Jeff Robinov's Studio 8, reported. Francis Lawrence (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2) is directing. 

Books & Authors

Awards: SCIBA Book Finalists

The Southern California Independent Booksellers Association has announced the finalists for its 2015 SCIBA Book Awards, Jacket Copy reported. The awards will be presented October 24 at the SCIBA Trade Show.

Shelter Us: A Novel by Laura Nicole Diamond
The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness
Life #6 by Diana Wagman

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty
A Curious Mind by Brian Grazer
To Live and Dine in L.A.: Menus and the Making of the Modern City by Josh Kun

T. Jefferson Parker Mystery Award
Marry, Kiss, Kill by Anne Flett-Giordano
The Replacements by David Putnam
The Cartel by Don Winslow

Children's Picture Book
The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee
The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak
Ninja Bunny by Jennifer Gray Olson

Middle Grade
Space Case by Stuart Gibbs
The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer Holm
Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan

Young Adult Novel
The Young Elites by Marie Lu
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Glenn Goldman Award for Art, Architecture, and Photography
Both Sides of Sunset by Jane Brown
Why L.A.? Pour quoi Paris? by Diane Ratican
100 Not So Famous Views of L.A. by Barbara Thomason

Daniel José Older: 'Ghost Stories Are About Life'

Daniel José Older has published a collection of stories, Salsa Nocturna, and co-edited an anthology of speculative fiction titled Long Hidden. His first adult novel, Half-Resurrection Blues, was published by Roc earlier this year. In his first book for young adults, Shadowshaper (Arthur A. Levine Books, June 30, 2015), Older brings ancestral spirits and shadowshapers to modern Brooklyn, and introduces Sierra, a realistic young heroine who uses her artistic talent to protect the living and the dead.

You've written a book in which many teens will recognize themselves, perhaps for the first time, and others will learn about an urban culture they may not have encountered before. But more than anything, you've given readers a rip-roaring good story. Can you tell us how you combined thriller pacing and a vivid cultural setting so successfully?

Thank you! That means a lot because that is exactly what I set out to do. We have this idea that something can either be an "issues" book or an adventure. I reject the premise. Great stories are made up of messy, complicated power dynamics and challenging times. Tackling difficult issues requires vivid storytelling.

From a craft point of view, I've found that looking at context as a source of conflict and crisis not only enhances the plot by raising tension, but also allows room to talk about those nitty-gritty intersections of oppression and resistance. I write about cities, and the American city is in crisis, so this is also a question of telling the truth.

Sierra is such a vivid and strong teenager. What was your inspiration?

I'm blessed to be surrounded by many amazing women that I have always looked to for inspiration: my amazing wife, my mom, sister, some of my closest friends, my mentors Tananarive Due and Sheree Renée Thomas, and the young women I've taught over the years. Beyond that, I think it's important to be very intentional about reading non-male writers, and most of all, it's important to listen, truly listen.

Is the magic in this book--the shadowshapers, corpuscules and throng haints--borrowed from a particular tradition or did you make it up?

The word haint comes from a Southern black tradition. I added throng to the front of it because these particular creatures are a mashed-together jumble of captured spirits. I made up corpuscules; they're a kind of modified zombie with somebody else's soul stuffed into it. Both are ways of thinking about captivity, consent and free will. These are the actual bodies and souls of people being used to do things they would've never done in life. So when Sierra has to confront them, she's often up against familiar faces, which is an added challenge and speaks to the complicated way power functions in community.

Shadowshaping is something I came up with along the journey of writing the book. Originally, there were a lot more monsters and different collectives of creatures around the city, one of which was called the Painted Dead. Somewhere along the way, the Painted Dead became central to the story and so Sierra needed a magic that would speak to that.

Murals, and memorial murals in particular, have always struck me as a very alive, awesome kind of art--they're not in museums, they're right there in everyday life and they can catch you off guard; that glory will sneak up on you. I love that. There is resistance in the act of remembering, especially in these times of what Eduardo Galeano called "obligatory amnesia." In the landscape of changing neighborhoods and forced displacement, a painted face on a wall can be a very palpable act of resistance. I also love the idea of art literally coming to life and doing things, taking action, because in a symbolic kind of way, it does exactly that: it changes the world. At some point in writing this book, I realized that ghost stories aren't about death at all--they're about life. --Angela Carstensen, school librarian and blogger

Book Review

Review: This Is Not a Love Story: A Memoir

This Is Not a Love Story: A Memoir by Judy Brown (Little, Brown, $26 hardcover, 9780316400725, July 28, 2015)

Judy Brown (Hush, writing as Eishes Chayil) opens a door to her Chasidic childhood with loving parents and five siblings, and her struggle to make peace with her "crazy" brother.

As a third grader, Brown made a pact with God that if she could fast for 40 days and nights, he would cause a pair of coveted earrings to come her way. Like any growing eight-year-old, Brown soon had to adjust her fasting plan: "I would start fasting each morning right after the cereal." Four days into the fast, Brown's father surprised her with earrings nearly identical to the pair she wanted, clueless that his child had dabbled in covenants with the Almighty. Four weeks later, buoyed by this experience, Brown once again offered to fast, this time for a much bigger miracle. Her seven-year-old brother, Nachum, had just come back to live with her family after a year in Israel, and Brown begged God to accept her sacrifice and make him normal.

Many readers will quickly recognize Nachum's symptoms as typical of autism. However, to the Chasidic community inhabited by Brown's family in the 1980s, Nachum's behavior indicated that someone in the family had a stiah--an obstruction to prayer caused by a sin or a soul with a grudge, similar to a curse. At that time, the presence of such a child could ruin the marriage prospects of his siblings even before adulthood. Brown prayed not out of compassion for Nachum, but out of despair that his existence would ruin her future, that it would tear her family apart as her father urged her mother to give up on her relentless quest to help their eldest son. In the midst of the turmoil, Brown heard a horrifying rumor that her parents fell in love before their marriage, an affront to God from the Chasidic perspective. As her brother remained unchanged and her parents fought, Brown slowly put together the pieces of their youth in Jerusalem and uncovered the story of how a poor fatherless boy came to marry the daughter of a celebrated Chasidic dynasty.

Brown's memories in This Is Not a Love Story run the gamut from painfully funny--her aunts loved to speculate on which of the children would survive a new Holocaust--to achingly candid, such as her younger self's wish that Nachum would simply die and leave the family in peace. Throughout her narrative, though, she shows a family that loves deeply even in times of great strain and takes solace in the promise of their faith. Readers will get a fascinating glimpse into a closed community, but it's the tear-jerking conclusion that lingers in the heart. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Shelf Talker: Judy Brown, who grew up as an ultra-Orthodox Jew but later left the community, shares a tender memoir of her childhood with an autistic younger brother.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Sweet Sinful Nights by Lauren Blakely
2. The 20/20 Diet by Phil McGraw
3. A Forever Family by Sandi Lynn
4. Bang Switch (Code 11-KPD SWAT Book 3) by Lani Lynn Vale
5. Priest: A Love Story by Sierra Simone
6. Burned by Darkness (Dragons of Eternity: Volume 1) by Alexandra Ivy
7. Nice Girl to Love by Violet Duke
8. Hired Bride (Beaufort Brides Book 1) by Noelle Adams
9. The Chocolate Garden: Dare River (Dare River: Volume 2) by Ava Miles
10. Lexi Graves Mysteries Omnibus Volume One by Camilla Chafer

[Many thanks to!]

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