Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, September 30, 2015

William Morrow & Company: Death of the Author by Nnedi Okorafor

St. Martin's Press: Disney High: The Untold Story of the Rise and Fall of Disney Channel's Tween Empire

Running Press Adult: Scam Goddess: Lessons from a Life of Cons, Grifts, and Schemes by Laci Mosley

Graphix: 39 Clues: One False Note (39 Clues Graphic Novel #2) by Gordon Korman, Illustrated by Hannah Templer

Running Press: Enter For a Chance to Win a Moonlit Explorer Pack!

Quill Tree Books: The Firelight Apprentice by Bree Paulsen


Foyles Opens 'New Format' Store in Birmingham

The new Foyles bookstore in Birmingham, England, featuring "audio-visual 'author pods' reading stories to customers" and booksellers using iPads, opened today, the Bookseller reported. The store's "new format" will be used in other Foyles locations.

At the three "author pods" and a children's "story pod," customers will be able to see and hear authors read their works aloud. The first authors to be included are Simon Schama, Neil Oliver, Michael Rosen and several Man Booker shortlisted writers (whose names have not yet been revealed by Foyles).

Booksellers on the floor will carry iPads to handle inquiries and orders, which can include orders to be delivered to the customer at home.

Foyles trading director Siôn Hamilton commented: "This is 21st century bookselling. We wanted a shop that affords a wide range of options to delight customers however they wish to connect with us. We are using technology to empower our staff, to share their love of books and to provide a more interactive and personal experience for our customers. By enabling booksellers with hand-held digital devices, we also are able to greatly increase the range that we can provide in our smaller stores and to respond better to customer needs."

The Birmingham Foyles is the second Foyles to open outside the London area and is in the renovated Grand Central development above New Street Station, which has 66 restaurants and shops. The new Foyles will stock 15,000 titles and have an emphasis on children's books.

Zest Books: The Gender Binary Is a Big Lie: Infinite Identities around the World by Lee Wind

Amazon Begins Collecting Sales Tax in Michigan Tomorrow

Beginning tomorrow, Amazon and many other online retailers will begin collecting 6% sales tax in Michigan. Michigan is the 26th state in which Amazon customers will have to pay sales tax.

"It's a victory for the home team and allows everybody to compete on an equal footing," Jim Hallan, president and CEO of the Michigan Retailers Association, told the AP.

GLOW: Flatiron Books: Private Rites by Julia Armfield

Obituary Note: Brian Sewell

Brian Sewell, who "was for many years the best-known, most outspoken and most widely read art critic in Britain," died September 19, the Guardian reported. He was 84. His books include Outsider: Always Almost: Never Quite (two volumes); Sleeping with Dogs: A Peripheral Autobiography; The White Umbrella; and South from Ephesus: Travels through Aegean Turkey.

Alex Baker: Exceptional Design And Creative Services For The Publishing Industry


Image of the Day: The Saturday Cooking Club

Last weekend at BookCourt in Brooklyn, N.Y., Deborah Levine (l.) and JillEllyn Riley read from their new middle-grade novel The Saturday Cooking Club: The Icing on the Cake (Aladdin), the sequel to The Saturday Cooking Club: Kitchen Chaos. Children were invited to decorate their own cookies, baked for the event, and a yummy time was had by all.

Cool Idea of the Day: Pharrell's #readHappy

Singer Pharrell Williams and his book publisher, Penguin Young Readers, have launched a "Happy" campaign, partnering with nonprofit literacy organization First Book to donate up to 50,000 books to children in low-income families. The Associated Press reported that a Twitter hashtag, #readHappy, has been set up "for fans to post thoughts or images on why reading makes them 'Happy.' Every post shared elsewhere on social media will lead to a donation."

"Every child on this planet deserves to experience the joy of reading," said Williams, whose picture book, Happy, based on his hit song, will be released next week.

Indie Bookseller Secrets: 'First Music Ever Purchased'

The latest issue of Algonquin Annotations includes a number of indie booksellers revealing the first music they ever purchased. A sampling:

Mark LaFramboise, Politics & Prose Bookstore: 45 of Don McLean's "American Pie."
Jessica Stockton Bagnulo, Greenlight Bookstore: Hints, Allegations and Things Left Unsaid by Collective Soul.
Jamie Fiocco, Flyleaf Books: K-Tel's Starburst. A two-record set featuring hits from 1978.
Matt Norcross, McLean & Eakin Booksellers: Licensed to Ill by the Beastie Boys.
Nicole Magistro, Bookworm of Edwards: Use Your Illusion I by Guns & Roses.
Valerie Kohler, Blue Willow Bookshop: 45 of Bobby Sherman's "Easy Come, Easy Go."
Sarah Bagby, Watermark Books: 45 of the Archies's "Sugar, Sugar."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Ringo Starr on Tavis Smiley

Today on Fresh Air: Joby Warrick, author of Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS (Doubleday, $28.95, 9780385538213).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Bobby Flay, co-author of Brunch at Bobby's: 140 Recipes for the Best Part of the Weekend (Clarkson Potter, $29.99, 9780385345897).


Tomorrow on Diane Rehm: Steven Lee Myers, author of The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin (Knopf, $32.50, 9780307961617).


Tomorrow on the View: Amy Robach, author of Better: How I Let Go of Control, Held On to Hope, and Found Joy in My Darkest Hour (Ballantine, $27, 9780553392982).


Tomorrow on Tavis Smiley: Ringo Starr, author of Photograph (Genesis Publications, $50, 9781905662333). He will also appear on Friday's episode.

TV: Jessica Jones

A new teaser trailer has been released for Jessica Jones, an upcoming Netflix series based on the Marvel Comics character, Indiewire reported. The project, starring Krysten Ritter, David Tennant, Mike Colter, Rachael Taylor, Carrie-Anne Moss, Eka Darville, Erin Moriarty and Wil Traval, debuts November 20.

Books & Authors

Awards: Kirkus; Stanford Dolman Travel; SCBWI MSs

Finalists have been announced in three categories for the second annual Kirkus Prize, founded by Kirkus Reviews to recognize outstanding writing by authors whose books have earned a review star in the categories of fiction, nonfiction or young readers' literature. The winners, each of whom receives $50,000, will be named October 15 in Austin, Tex. The shortlisted titles are:

The Incarnations by Susan Barker (Touchstone/Simon & Schuster)‬
A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin (FSG)
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff (Riverhead)
The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli, translated by Christina MacSweeney (Coffee House Press)
The Book of Aron by Jim Shepard (Knopf)
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (Doubleday)

Between the World and Me: Notes on the First 150 Years in America by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Spiegel & Grau)
Whirlwind: The American Revolution and the War that Won It by John Ferling (Bloomsbury)
H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald (Grove)
The Deluge: The Great War, America and the Remaking of the Global Order, 1916-1931 by Adam Tooze (Viking)
Pacific: Silicon Chips and Surfboards, Coral Reefs and Atom Bombs, Brutal Dictators, Fading Empires, and the Coming Collision of the World's Superpowers by Simon Winchester (Harper)
The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World by Andrea Wulf (Knopf)

Young Readers' Literature
Picture Books:

The New Small Person by Lauren Child (Candlewick)
Lillian’s Right to Vote: A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Shane W. Evans (Schwartz & Wade/Random House)

Middle Grade:

Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan (Scholastic)
Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras by Duncan Tonatiuh (Abrams)

Young Adult:

The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough (Levine/Scholastic)
Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older (Levine/Scholastic)


Horatio Clare's Down to the Sea in Ships won the £5,000 (about $7,580) Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year award, which recognizes "a work of literary merit which shows excellence in the tradition of great travel writing, combining a personal physical journey with the discovery or recovery of places, landscapes and/or peoples." In addition, Bill Bryson was honored for his "outstanding contribution to travel writing," the Telegraph reported.


The Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators announced this year's winners of the Sue Alexander Award and Most Promising Picture Book Award, which were chosen from manuscripts submitted for individual critiques by editors and agents at the SCBWI Annual Conference in Los Angeles.

Ida Olson won the Sue Alexander Award, which is given to "the manuscript deemed most promising for publication," for Virago. She will have her synopsis presented to a group of editors and agents.  

Eileen Meyer took the Picture Book Award, which recognizes "the picture book manuscript with the most promise," for Discovering Lincoln: A Picture Book in Poems. She receives $500 to finish the work-in-progress.

Book Brahmin: Leslie Pietrzyk

photo: Susan Hale Thomas

Leslie Pietrzyk is the author of two novels, Pears on a Willow Tree (Avon, 1998) and A Year and a Day (Morrow, 2005). This Angel on My Chest (University of Pittsburgh Press, Oct. 2, 2015), a collection of unconventionally linked short stories, won the 2015 Drue Heinz Literature Prize. The stories, many of which have appeared in literary journals such as Gettysburg Review, Shenandoah, and The Sun magazine, meditate on loss, with each story about a different young woman whose husband dies suddenly and unexpectedly. A member of the core fiction faculty in the Converse Low-Residency MFA Program in Spartanburg, S.C., Pietrzyk also teaches fiction in the Johns Hopkins Masters in Writing program in Washington, D.C. She lives in Alexandria, Va.

On your nightstand now:

Tessa Hadley's Clever Girl and Richard Ford's Let Me Be Frank with You. A book of poetry, King Me by Roger Reeves; I heard him read an unforgettable poem about Emmett Till that made me buy the book with urgency. I recently admired and enjoyed Meghan Daum's The Unspeakable, so I'm mentally stacking another book of her essays, My Misspent Youth, onto the nightstand though it isn't physically there just yet.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I could name dozens, but I'll choose The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I grew up in Iowa, fascinated by pioneers, and apparently found it comforting to read about terrible blizzards and hay sticks while eating chicken and stars soup for lunch. Wait--Stuart Little by E.B. White. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien. A Wrinkle in--moving on to the next question....

Your top five authors:

...which is equally impossible. At this exact moment: Lionel Shriver, Flannery O'Connor, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Donna Tartt, Joan Didion. I would drive through a snowstorm to hear these writers read--the living ones, I mean.

Book you've faked reading:

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner. Caddy. Benjy. I can say those names meaningfully without even have to consult Wikipedia, I'm that good at faking this one. While I'm at it, I'd like to title-drop that I did read every page of Ulysses by James Joyce, not that I'm angling to be quizzed.

Book you're an evangelist for:

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. Dark and relentless, ambitious and important, a chilling page-turner that kept me up all night, literally. People I recommend it to either grab me by the lapels and thank me profusely or never speak to me again.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I'm not very visual, so your tricks don't often work on me, marketing people! But I was browsing Elliott Bay Book Company the one time I was in Seattle, with a mission to buy a book I had never heard of by a writer I had never heard of, and I picked up The Homesman by Glendon Swarthout which, in paperback, shows a sod house on a dry prairie. Sold! I read the book on the plane home, sobbing and gasping and making a spectacle of myself.

Book that changed your life:

On Becoming a Novelist by John Gardner let me know I wasn't insane to think I might be a writer, and his The Art of Fiction taught me how in a smart, stern voice of utmost authority. I bow to him still, and consult both books for advice and solace.

Favorite line from a book:

"Isn't it pretty to think so." --The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

Which character you most relate to:

Are we being honest? Probably Piglet in Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne. I, too, spend way too much energy worrying about Heffalumps.

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

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville. I read it later in life, having studiously avoided college classes where it might be required, and I devoted a summer to the project, self-shamed into tackling the Great American Novel. I read as a reader, savoring the prose and not worrying about footnotes and English department interpretations, and I often found my way to the pages at four in the morning thanks to a bout of insomnia, startled to find myself immersed in a postmodern book written before modernism was a twinkle in anyone's eye. I cried when I reached the end as Labor Day loomed, and honestly considered starting the whole thing over again right then. It remains the most majestic and perfect reading experience of my life.

First book you remember checking out of the library on your own:

The Castle of Adventure by Enid Blyton, about a group of British kids solving mysteries, possibly while on vacation. So exotic, calling their flashlights "torches!"

Book Review

YA Review: Six of Crows

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (Holt , $18.99 hardcover, 420p., ages 14-up, 9781627792127, September 29, 2015)

"Jesper always felt better when people were shooting at him." And, as twisted as that sounds, he's not the only character who feels that way in Leigh Bardugo's jaw-dropping fantasy Six of Crows, a companion to the Grisha trilogy that began with Shadow and Bone. Jesper is just one of 17-year-old Kaz Brekker's crew of six brilliant, profoundly damaged teenage criminals who are determined to pull off the heist of a lifetime. Each has a desperate reason--from revenge to escape to greed--for embarking on this insane gig: breaking into the most reinforced fortress in their world (a dark, otherworldly, Amsterdam-like place) in order to free an imprisoned chemist who holds the future of the planet in his hands. The unfolding of their epic, often grim adventure will keep readers up long past their bedtimes, while some of the more violent details will keep them from wanting to enter darkened rooms altogether.

Bardugo has a knack for swinging from brutality to almost hysterical humor in a single page. The nonstop banter among the gang--each of whom harbors decidedly unfriendly feelings toward at least one of the others--is sometimes surreal in its light tone, considering its morbid content:

"'Fine. But if Pekka Rollins kills us all, I'm going to get Wylan's ghost to teach my ghost how to play the flute just so that I can annoy the hell out of your ghost.'

Brekker's lips quirked. 'I'll just hire Matthias' ghost to kick your ghost's ass.'

'My ghost won't associate with your ghost,' Matthias said primly, and then wondered if the sea air was rotting his brain.' "

Sassy one-offs such as Nina's line, "You wouldn't know a good time if it sidled up to you and stuck a lollipop in your mouth," are followed up with gut-punching, heartbreaking flashbacks into each of the diverse cast's tragic personal histories: a murdered brother, enslavement in a brothel, a Nazi Youth-like adolescence.  

Six of Crows, in short, will take readers' breath away. Whether they are agonizing over Nina and Matthias's deadly love-hate relationship, rolling their eyes at poor, dopey Wylan, fantasizing about slipping invisibly through dark streets like spiderly Inej or just eaten up with curiosity about Kaz Brekker's monstrous ways--is he truly without a conscience?--readers will not breathe easily until the last semi-lovable crook has climbed the prison incinerator shaft, the last double-crosser is outed and the final page is read. Except... it's a bit of a cliffhanger. The sequel awaits. --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor

Shelf Talker: Leigh Bardugo's companion to the Grisha trilogy features a crew of strangely appealing underworld criminals who risk everything for money, love, revenge and survival.

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