Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, August 30, 2016

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


Porter Square Books Launches Virtual Bookseller

Porter Square Books in Cambridge, Mass., has launched the Virtual Bookseller, an online resource that allows customers to receive personalized bookseller recommendations without having to visit the store.

"I think readers really do value those conversations [with booksellers] even if they don't feel as though they can really fit those conversations into their daily lives," said bookseller Josh Cook. "As useful as reviews and data can be, there is something special about the associations, intuition and serendipity that happens when you talk about books with someone who's got a ton of books in their brain."

Shoppers fill out a form on the Porter Square Books website, including information on books they did or didn't like, preferred genres and other reading preferences, which is then sent to the team at Porter Square and circulated among the staff. Within a day or two, once a solid list of at least 5-10 recommendations is compiled, Cook will create a custom page on the store's website for that recommendation list and send a link to the person who originally filled out the form. On the list, each recommended title will come with a short description explaining why it should be a good fit, and from there, customers can buy the book directly from Porter Square, share the list on social media, or send it to family and friends.

The team at Porter Square Books has been trying to come up with some kind of personal shopper or recommendation service for a while but never found a way to make the staffing logistics work, Cook explained. At around the same time, it occurred to Cook that online book discovery tools and book-related apps are really just trying, in a plethora of ways, to replicate the experience of talking to a knowledgeable bookseller. Added Cook: "So, we thought we could bring those two elements together and essentially put the one-on-one conversation with experts online."

Once Porter Square Books decided to go online with the personal shopper idea, it took about three or four months to put the project together. Much of that time was spent figuring out how best to work it into staff members' workloads, deciding how to describe and explain it, and working with the ABA to add the functionality to the Porter Square website.

"This is very much an experiment, and we're really curious to see if readers use it, how they use it, and what other conversations might be inspired by it," said Cook. He acknowledged that there is a chance that the service might not be instant enough for those who prefer online shopping and not personal enough for people who prefer real conversations, "but part of the strength and fun of small businesses and independent bookstores in particular is the freedom to experiment, to try to find new ways to reach readers and get them the right books." --Alex Mutter

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

Bexter Book & Copy Debuts in Milaca, Minn.

Becky Rittenour opened Bexter Book & Copy earlier this summer at the corner of Second Avenue and First Street in Milaca, Minn. The Mille Lacs County Times reported that the building is owned by the Rittenours' mother, Elly, who for years operated the CopyFast business at the location, where Becky's brother Jim later ran 3-D Printing.

"The timing was just right. My heart was really down here because my family's down here," said Becky Rittenour, for whom the bookstore, selling new and used books, is a project of passion, while the printing and copy services will help keep the business financially secure. "That's the feet under the business," she added.

Rittenour said she believes a bookstore can succeed in a small community like Milaca: "I did a lot of research before I decided to jump into this, and the statistics show that people in rural areas actually read more than people in metro areas.... It's just amazing how many people from Milaca come in here and thank me for opening the store. What a lucky place to open a business. Everybody's so welcoming here."

GLOW: Flatiron Books: Private Rites by Julia Armfield

Let's Play Books! Launches GoFundMe Campaign

Let's Play Books!'s current location

Let's Play Books!, a children's bookstore in Emmaus, Pa., has launched a GoFundMe campaign to help support its relocation to a storefront three times its current size down the street. Let's Play Books! opened nearly two and a half years ago, and, according to store owner Kirsten Hess, now hosts more than 100 in-store events per year and partners with a variety of local organizations and schools.

"We are relocating (just down the street) to a larger space--a place that our experience tells us will be a perfect new home for our community bookshop," Hess wrote on the campaign's page. The new location will feature both a community room for book clubs, writing sessions, language classes and more, as well as gratitude areas, where there will be thank-you notes at all times. "Our goal is to make our business sustainable, and we believe we can in our new location. However, the move is a big step up for us, and the growth comes at an expense."

To help defray the cost of the move, Hess is asking for $20,000 from the GoFundMe campaign, which unlike a Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign has no deadline. In a little over a week, Let's Play Books! has raised $1,745. Some of the campaign rewards include one- and two-year bookstore memberships for donations of $30 and $55, respectively, and for larger sums, up to $5,000, the ability to sponsor new rooms and genre sections within the bookstore.

"Many of our customers have offered to help us over the years, emotionally, physically and financially," added Hess. "We are moving very fast and hope to raise these funds in the next few weeks."

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

Waterstones Returning to Watford

U.K. bookstore chain Waterstones will open a branch in Watford on September 24 "after vacating its last premises in the city on Christmas Eve 2012," the Bookseller reported, adding that the announcement follows recent news the company is also opening a branch in Yarm, Teeside, one of several towns where Waterstones is opening that had recently lost an independent bookstore.

"We are so pleased that we are finally able to bring a Waterstones bookshop back to Watford," said Sean Farrell, cluster leader at Waterstones. "A great number of customers have expressed terrific support for our return and we are sure that our new shop, with its elegant design, a book selection tailored for the people of Watford and top-notch customer service will be everything they hope for. Our booksellers are incredibly excited to be involved in this brand new venture to bring a specialist bookshop to Watford's high street."

Obituary Note: Max Ritvo

Max Ritvo, "an accomplished poet who spent much of his life under the cloud of cancer while gaining wide attention writing and speaking about it," died August 23, the New York Times reported. He was 25. His poems have appeared in Poetry Magazine and the New Yorker, which featured his poem "Poem to My Litter" in June.

Ritvo's first published volume of poetry, Four Reincarnations, will be released this fall by Milkweed Editions. On Milkweed's blog, publisher and CEO Daniel Slager recalled reading the manuscript last spring and being "completely transfixed. It is not easy to describe Max Ritvo's poetry adequately. Along with the intelligence, the music, the beautiful lines, there is a profoundly boundless energy at work. And yet this boundlessness confronts throughout a real, concrete grasp of the finite nature of life. I had never encountered such a rapprochement of ecstasy and pain, of beauty and dread. Put simply, reading Four Reincarnations for the first time, I had an overwhelming sense of awe and admiration--an initial sense that has only deepened."

He added that Ritvo "possessed the rarest kind of genius. Even more uncommon, his brilliance was accompanied by the most beautiful kind of humanity. Max did hold an advance reading copy of Four Reincarnations in his hands, and I know he was delighted. Soon we will publish the book, and I know his vision and artistry will endure."


Image of the Day: Going Incognito

Middle grade mystery author Kristen Kittscher (The Tiara on the Terrace, Harper Children's) and audiobook narrator Amanda Philipson (l.) recently went incognito with young readers at Barnes & Noble at the Grove in Los Angeles to help celebrate B&N's nationwide Summer Reading Triathlon closing ceremonies.

Personnel Changes at Sourcebooks

At Sourcebooks:

Stephany Daniel has joined the company as publicist. She was formerly publicity and marketing coordinator at Shambhala Publications.

Stefani Sloma has joined the company as an assistant publicist. She was formerly young adult librarian at Pearl Public Library, Central Mississippi Regional Library System.

Book Trailer of the Day: High Stakes

High Stakes: A Wild Cards Novel edited by George R.R. Martin and Melinda Snodgrass, by the Wild Cards Trust (Tor Books), a trailer starring Martin, Snodgrass and author/producer Michael Cassutt. The series of 23 anthologies and mosaic novels is being adapted for television by Universal Cable Productions. (Note the sign for Rainy Day Books, Fairway, Kan., in the background--this segment was filmed during Worldcon in Kansas City earlier this month.)

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Rep. John Lewis on Colbert's Late Show

Today Show: Michele Borba, author of UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World (Touchstone, $25, 9781501110030).

Diane Rehm: Witold Rybczynski, author of Now I Sit Me Down: From Klismos to Plastic Chair: A Natural History (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $25, 9780374223212).

Wendy Williams repeat: Chrissy Teigen, co-author of Cravings: Recipes for All the Food You Want to Eat (Clarkson Potter, $29.99, 9781101903919).

Tavis Smiley repeat: Maria Toorpakai, co-author of A Different Kind of Daughter: The Girl Who Hid from the Taliban in Plain Sight (Twelve, $27, 9781455591411).

Late Night with Seth Meyers: Tahereh Mafi, author of Furthermore (Dutton, $17.99, 9781101994764).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Rep. John Lewis, co-author of March: Book Three (Top Shelf Productions, $19.99, 9781603094023).

Movies: Lion Trailer

"If there's one film this fall that will leave moviegoers reaching for their Kleenexes, it's Weinstein Co.'s emotional drama Lion directed by Garth Davis," Deadline wrote in showcasing a trailer for the film, which is adapted from Saroo Brierley's 2013 memoir A Long Way Home.

Lion, which stars Dev Patel, Sunny Pawar, Nicole Kidman, David Wenham and Rooney Mara, will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival September 10 and open November 25.

Books & Authors

Awards: Kelpies Winner; Boardman Tasker Shortlist

First-time children's novelist Elizabeth Ezra won this year's Kelpies Prize for new Scottish writing for children for her entry Ruby McCracken: Tragic Without Magic, the Bookseller reported. The prize included a £2,000 (about $2,620) award and a contract with Floris Books.

"The standard of entries this year was exceptionally high overall, but the irreverent contemporary humor and sassy voice in Ruby McCracken: Tragic Without Magic really made it stand out, said Eleanor Collins, senior commissioning editor for Floris Books.


A shortlist has been announced for the £3,000 (about $3,930) Boardman Tasker Prize for Mountain Literature, which "recognizes and rewards outstanding books of literature concerned with the mountain environment." The winner will be named November 18 at the Kendal Mountain Festival. The shortlisted titles are:

Alone on the Wall by Alex Honnold, with David Roberts
The Bond by Simon McCartney
Eruption by Steve Olson
Wild Country by Mark Vallance
The Maverick Mountaineer by Robert Wainwright

Book Review

Review: The Motion of Puppets

The Motion of Puppets by Keith Donohue (Picador, $26 hardcover, 272p., 9781250057181, October 4, 2016)

With The Motion of Puppets, Keith Donohue (The Boy Who Drew Monsters) evokes a bizarre underworld with an array of mythological references in a story of lovers seeking reunion. Newlyweds Kay and Theo Harper have come to Quebec for the summer, where she works as an acrobat in a cirque and he wrestles with a work in translation between semesters teaching French literature in New York City. The first line of the novel reads: "She fell in love with a puppet." And this is where the trouble begins.

A puppet shop in Quebec's Old City draws Kay's attention daily, but the door is always locked, the lights off. One night, when returning from a party after midnight, she fears she is being followed and, finding the door unlocked for once, slips inside. Theo contacts the police when she does not return home, but no trace can be found of her. The rest of The Motion of Puppets alternates between their two experiences. Theo searches Quebec all summer for his wife, then returns to New York City and his work, distracted and mourning. Meanwhile, Kay adjusts to new circumstances: she has become a puppet. Along with the other puppets shut away in the shop she once admired, she is able to speak and move on her own only between midnight and dawn--once she learns how to move again in her new body. Eventually, she takes pleasure in performing (with the help of a puppeteer) for audiences, as she had in the cirque. And she makes new friends, especially with the one puppet who also remembers and yearns for her human form.

This dreamy, sinister novel alludes widely to history, literature and legend. Theo's translation project is a biography of the photographer Eadweard Muybridge, whose work involved scientific knowledge of human and animal locomotion. Muybridge shot and killed his much younger wife's lover, a story that preoccupies Theo, also an ardent--if not clingy--older husband. One of Theo's colleagues is a professor of antiquities who is equally eager to find relationships between past and present. Most pointedly, however, Kay's predicament is a reference to the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, in which Orpheus misses his wife so terribly that Hades agrees to let her leave the underworld and return to life with him, under one diabolical condition. In Donohue's novel, Theo's ability to save Kay from her incarnation as a puppet relies on his ability to trust her. But first, she must make him recognize her in her new form.

An engrossing novel of love, fancy and enchantment, The Motion of Puppets offers a perfectly wrought moodiness, detailed settings and an unsettling plot. Kay and Theo are underdeveloped as characters, but serve the mythic proportions of the story well. Smart, eerie and moving, this puppet show holds the potential to transport its reader to another world. --Julia Jenkins, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: This reworking of the myth of Eurydice features a woman locked in a world of sentient puppets.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. A Beautiful Funeral (Maddox Brothers Volume 5) by Jamie McGuire
2. Neighbor Dearest by Penelope Ward
3. Midnight Soul (The Fantasyland Series Volume 5) by Kristen Ashley
4. Bossman by Vi Keeland
5. Chased by Love by Melissa Foster
6. The Complete Hearts Series by Claire Contreras
7. Arcana Rising by Kresley Cole
8. Mr. Corporate (The Mister Series Volume 3) by JA Huss
9. A Beautiful Sight by Sandi Lynn
10. Knight & Culverhouse Box Set by Adam Croft

[Many thanks to!]

Powered by: Xtenit