Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Union Square Kids: The Door That Had Never Been Opened Before by Mrs. and Mr. MacLeod

Shadow Mountain: The Queen and the Knave (Proper Romance Victorian) by Sarah M. Eden

Andrews McMeel Publishing: The Wheel of the Year: An Illustrated Guide to Nature's Rhythms by Fiona Cook, illustrated by Jessica Roux

Tor Nightfire: What Feasts at Night (Sworn Soldier #2) by T. Kingfisher

Amulet Books: Nightbane (the Lightlark Saga Book 2) by Alex Aster


Seattle's Wide World Books & Maps Considers Options

Wide World Books & Maps, Seattle, Wash., announced yesterday in its newsletter that the business must vacate its space at 4411 Wallingford Ave. N by the end of April. The company is considering a few options, including reopening in another location or focusing solely on its Web business. Also under consideration are the possibilities of adding a coffee shop or wine/beer bar, or services like travel consulting "if we can find a different location that is already set up for these types of activities.... A partnership to share space with an existing café or coffee shop would also be of interest to us."

In February 2016, Wide World Books & Maps said it would have to close, but then "hundreds of customers and travel professionals came forward to share their love for the store, and many asked if there was anything they could do to help keep it open. A few suggested trying a crowd funding campaign, and due to the generosity of our customers, we were able to raise the money to help pay off some back rent and bills, restock the store inventory, and increase our advertising."

Ultimately, however, the company has not been able "to sufficiently turn the store around in its current location. There are several reasons for this, the main one being the exponential rise in internet shopping, a marked decrease in neighborhood foot traffic, and the continued rise in rent and utilities." A sale is currently underway to minimize the amount of inventory that needs to be moved and/or stored.

"We're proud that we were able to celebrate our 40th anniversary in the fall of 2016," Wide World Books & Maps wrote. "We will keep you posted about any developments, for example, if we find a new location, over the next few months. Thank you for our many loyal customers who have continued to support us over the past few years! You've enabled us to stay open as long as we have, and I'm truly hoping that we still have a future!"

Flatiron Books: Anita de Monte Laughs Last by Xochitl Gonzalez

Meet the Chowgirls: Heidi Andermack and Amy Brown

Chowgirls Heidi Andermack (l.) and Amy Brown

"I have joked that starting a catering company was really just the long and complicated route I needed to take to get a book published," said Amy Brown, a former bookseller and publisher rep and, with Heidi Andermack, co-founder of the Minneapolis catering company Chowgirls Killer Catering. Andermack and Brown created Chowgirls more than 10 years ago, and last October they published the cookbook Chowgirls Killer Party Food: Righteous Bites & Cocktails for Every Season (Arsenal Pulp Press).

"It's been a dream of ours since the beginning," said Andermack, referring to the creation of a Chowgirls cookbook. "But we never had time to do it when we were cooking, serving and selling events." Both she and Brown were English majors in college, she added, and so were "very proud having a published work."

The cookbook features Brown and Andermack's original recipes, along with the stories behind the creation of those recipes. The trickiest part of making the cookbook, Brown said, was thinking backward, in order to scale down recipes that they typically make to produce hundreds of servings. Many of the recipes have become so second nature to Brown and Andermack that they had to constantly remind themselves to measure ingredients and time various cooking processes.

"It was great fun, however, thinking back to the origin of these dishes and telling their stories," said Brown.

Booksellers who attended the opening reception at Winter Institute 2017 in January likely sampled some of Andermack's and Brown's recipes, and in October booksellers had the chance to talk to them and get signed copies of their cookbook at the Heartland Fall Forum. Since the book's publication, Brown and Andermack have also done cooking classes, signings and tastings, along with a photo shoot for the magazine Midwest Living, featuring a staged party with recipes from the cookbook.

Andermack and Brown met in 2003, when Andermack and her husband were living in Minneapolis but considering a move to Paducah, Ky., to take part in the revitalization of the city's downtown. While spending time in Paducah, Andermack and her husband met and immediately bonded with Nathan Brown, Amy's brother. He couldn't believe that Heidi and Amy didn't already know each other, Andermack recalled. He introduced them the next time he visited Minneapolis, confident that they would "be fast friends because we shared common interests in food and entertaining."

Brown and Andermack were also both newlyweds at the time and consequently "had a lot of new housewares." Perhaps because of that, said Brown, they were throwing a lot of parties, and it turned out that they had similar styles and were fans of each other's cooking. Around that same time, there had been a round of layoffs at Random House and so Brown was "kind of looking for a back-up plan." Meanwhile, Andermack had been helping her husband run his own business as a bookkeeper and business manager but was looking for an entrepreneurial outlet of her own. They also shared a desire to express themselves creatively through food.

Grilled Roasted Veggies with Saffron Aioli

"As my husband's art career blossomed, I took on the role of organizing his art openings, including preparations of appetizers," said Andermack. "And then I started making food for other artist friends' openings. I realized how much I loved to express myself creatively through food a couple of years before I met Amy."

According to Brown, at that stage in their lives and careers, neither of them wanted to "go work on 'the line' with a bunch of 20-something male chefs," and opening a restaurant of their own seemed like a huge risk. Starting a catering company, however, would require very little overhead and a smaller upfront cost, and the decision was made. The name Chowgirls grew out of "banter back and forth" from Ciao Baby to Chow Chicks to Chowgirls. The operation began with just Andermack and Brown renting a commercial kitchen on an as-needed basis. Now, years later, Chowgirls Killer Catering has grown to be one of the largest catering companies in the Twin Cities, with more than 125 employees, and construction has begun on an 11,000-square-foot headquarters in Minneapolis.

The Super Bowl will be in Minneapolis next year and the Chowgirls are "in the throes of preparation for a busy start to 2018." Brown and Andermack have chatted about shooting a pilot for a food and travel show, but nothing is officially in the works. And according to Andermack, both she and Brown would love to "do this whole cookbook thing again soon," though there are no concrete plans yet for a follow-up. --Alex Mutter

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Blackwell's Plans Pop-Up Frenzy at Oxford Literary Festival

U.K. bookseller Blackwell's will open 15 pop-up shops at venues around Oxford to coincide with the Oxford Literary Festival, to be held March 25-April 2, the Bookseller reported. The Blackwell's team will attend 350 events over the nine days of the festival, in addition to its specially erected marquee that will host the festival bookshop as well as a series of "Marquee Moments," where guest speakers will give 30-minute talks.

"The festival is a thrilling time of year for us," said Zool Verjee, deputy manager at Blackwell's Bookshop in Oxford. "As booksellers, we are always a little star struck by the many writers who make up the festival line-up, but we also have our work cut out at this challenging time of year. There's a good deal of hard graft involved in creating a marquee bookshop in 48 hours, as well as running mini bookshops in so many additional venues around Oxford, but it's also great for morale, as exhaustion is just about kept at bay by the huge adrenalin rush."

Obituary Note: Nancy Willard

Prolific children's book author Nancy Willard, "whose 70 books of poems and fiction enchanted children and adults alike with a lyrical blend of fanciful illusion and stark reality," died February 19, the New York Times reported. She was 80. Willard's A Visit to William Blake's Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers (1982) was the first volume of poetry to receive the Newbery Medal. Illustrated by Alice and Martin Provensen, it also earned a Caldecott Honor.

Her first children's book, Sailing to Cythera: And Other Anatole Stories, "was published in 1974 after her son, James Lindbloom, was born," the Times wrote, adding that she "published other 'Anatole' stories, and James became a model for a character in several other books."

Willard's many titles include A Nancy Willard Reader: Selected Poetry & Prose; A Starlit Snowfall, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney; The Nightgown of the Sullen Moon, illustrated by David McPhail; Swimming Lessons: New & Selected Poems; The Sea at Truro; Things Invisible to See; and In the Salt Marsh. Although best known for her children's books, Willard also wrote novels for adults, including Sister Water.

Poet Donald Hall wrote that "Willard's imagination--in verse or prose, for children or adults--builds castles stranger than any mad King of Bavaria ever built. She imagines with a wonderful concreteness. But also, she takes real language and by literal-mindedness turns it into the structure of dream."

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
Pangu's Shadow
by Karen Bao
GLOW: Carolrhoda Books: Pangu's Shadow by Karen Bao

Teenage academic rivals become murder suspects and reluctant co-investigators in this gripping far-future space mystery reminiscent of Alecia Dow's The Sound of Stars. Aryl and Ver together uncover rampant inequality in their scientific field, and moons-wide corruption. "Once they start looking past their assumptions about each other, they can't stop--and they can't help loving what they see," says Amy Fitzgerald, editorial director of Carolrhoda Books and Carolrhoda Lab. "But even after the girls team up, they're wary; either could sell out the other to walk free." This high-stakes, enemies-to-lovers science fiction grapples with real-world issues in an ambitiously imagined universe. --Samantha Zaboski

(Carolrhoda Lab, $19.99 hardcover, ages 12-up, 9781728477510, 
February 6, 2024)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported


Image of the Day: Well, That Was Awkward

Books & Books @ the Studios in Key West, Fla. (a partnership between Miami-based Books & Books and the nonprofit Studios of Key West) held an event with YA author Rachel Vail (center) and her new middle-grade novel, Well, That Was Awkward (Penguin). Vail was in conversation with her friend and fellow author Meg Cabot (l.), and was introduced by her mentor (and store co-founder) Judy Blume.

Colorado's Grand Valley Indies 'Adapting & Carving Out a Niche'

Locally owned, independent bookstores in Colorado's Grand Valley "are adapting and carving out a niche... as much more than repositories for reading material," the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reported, adding that the booksellers "are holding their own by doing something Amazon can't: serve as community gathering places."

Lithic Bookstore and Gallery owner Danny Rosen said the shop reflects the passion he and store manager Kyle Harvey have for "great books.... The service I offer is the selection that Kyle and I curated.... It's almost a political act to open an indie bookstore. I opened up a reading place. The rise of fake news comes from a lack of critical thinking. Reading engenders critical thinking, especially reading great books."

Cheryl Lucas, owner of Crystal Books and Gifts, said she doesn't consider the other Main Street bookstores as competitors because she sees each shop as having its own niche, including hers as a "body-mind-spirit" bookstore.

Grand Valley Books owner Margie Wilson noted that in addition to hosting various author events, the shop has partnered with nonprofit organizations to host events that end up garnering donations for the groups: "It gives people a sense of community. And it's enriching for us. It draws people who might not know about us."

Marya Johnston, owner of Out West Books, observed that "every single day I have people who come in and say, 'I don't know what I'm looking for.' We ask, 'What do you like?' We give suggestions. That doesn't happen on the Internet. There's no substitute for great customer service."

Personnel Changes at Grand Central Publishing

At Grand Central Publishing:

Amanda Pritzker has been promoted to associate director, GCP marketing, and continues as brand director for Nicholas Sparks. She has been with the company for almost five years.

Stephanie Sirabian has been promoted to associate director, advertising. She has been with the company since 2008 and earlier had several internships with Hachette.

Bailey Donoghue has been promoted to publicist at Twelve Books. She joined the company in 2015.

Diamond to Distribute Rabbit Publishers

Diamond Comic Distributors will handle exclusive worldwide distribution rights for YA publisher Rabbit Publishers to comic book specialty stores as well as, through Diamond Book Distributors, to bookstores, libraries, mass-market chains and other specialty outlets.

Rabbit Publishers, Arlington Heights, Ill., is best known for the Amazing Adventures of Harry Moon and the Enchanted World of Honey Moon series.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Mohsin Hamid on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Mohsin Hamid, author of Exit West: A Novel (Riverhead, $26, 9780735212176).

Good Morning America: Edward Grinnan, author of Always by My Side: Life Lessons from Millie and All the Dogs I've Loved (Howard, $24.99, 9781501156380).

Dr. Oz: Leeza Gibbons, author of Fierce Optimism: Seven Secrets for Playing Nice and Winning Big (Dey Street, $26.99, 9780062432520).

Also on Dr. Oz: Ellie Krieger, author of You Have It Made: Delicious, Healthy, Do-Ahead Meals (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30, 9780544579309).

TV: 13 Reasons Why Trailer

Netflix has released the first trailer for its upcoming series 13 Reasons Why, adapted from Jay Asher's bestselling 2007 novel. Entertainment Weekly reported that the trailer "shows snippets of scenes fans may recognize from the book: Clay and Hannah talk in the school hallways, Clay opens the package of tapes, Hannah records her own voice while still alive, Clay follows Hannah's clues to find out the truth." The series stars Katherine Langford, Dylan Minnette, Kate Walsh and Derek Luke.

"The most common thing I'd hear [from readers] was just 'This book makes me more aware that even the small things I do can have an effect on people,' " Asher told EW in 2011. "But I've also heard from teens who say, 'I was suicidal when I picked up your book, and I identified with Hannah, and I wanted her to live.' When I started getting e-mails like that… I can't even describe the feeling."

Books & Authors

Awards: PEN/Faulkner; Stella Prize; Louise Meriwether First Book

A shortlist has been unveiled for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. The winner, who receives $15,000, will be announced April 4, with the four finalists getting $5,000 each. All five authors will be honored May 6 during the 37th annual PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction ceremony at the Folger Shakespeare Library. The shortlisted authors are:

Viet Dinh for After Disasters (Amazon)
Louise Erdrich for LaRose (HarperCollins)
Garth Greenwell for What Belongs to You (FSG)
Imbolo Mbue for Behold the Dreamers (Random House)
Sunil Yapa for Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist (Hachette).

The judges noted that "the five finalists represent something worth reiterating today: that American fiction cannot be defined or contained by any particular border, wall, or edict.... Resonant and empathetic, these novels share a common insistence: that our recognition of and responsibility to the humanity we find in one another can be a great and lasting gift."


The shortlist for the 2017 Stella Prize, recognizing "the best books by Australian women, both fiction and nonfiction," is:

Between a Wolf and a Dog by Georgia Blain
The Hate Race by Maxine Beneba Clarke
Poum and Alexandre by Catherine de Saint Phalle
An Isolated Incident by Emily Maguire
The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose
Dying: A Memoir by Cory Taylor

Brenda Walker, chair of the judging panel, said that the shortlist "celebrates books that combine extraordinary literary accomplishment with the social and familial reverberations of some of the most significant issues of our time: racism, violence against women, the aftermath of totalitarianism, the place of art in everyday life and the way we confront our individual mortality."

The winner will be announced April 18.


YZ Chin has won the 2016 Louise Meriwether First Book Prize, sponsored by the Feminist Press and TAYO Literary Magazine, for her short story collection, Though I Get Home. She wins a $5,000 prize and the collection will be published by the Feminist Press in spring 2018.

The sponsors said Though I Get Home "explores oppression, dissent, artistic freedom, and the human condition through a series of interconnected vignettes set primarily in Malaysia."

The prize, which seeks "the best debut fiction by women and nonbinary writers of color," was founded last year to honor "landmark African American feminist author Louise Meriwether and her 1970 novel Daddy Was a Number Runner. One of the first American novels to feature a young black girl as the protagonist, the book inspired the careers of writers like Jacqueline Woodson and Bridgett M. Davis, among countless others."

Reading with... Samantha Shannon

photo: Louise Haywood-Schiefer

Samantha Shannon was born in West London in 1991. She started writing at the age of 15 and studied English language and literature at St. Anne's College, Oxford. The Bone Season, the first in a seven-book YA dystopian fantasy series, was the inaugural Today Book Club selection. Film rights were acquired by the Imaginarium Studios and 20th Century Fox. The Mime Order was the second in the series; the third book, The Song Rising, was published by Bloomsbury on March 7, 2017.

On your nightstand now:

I've just finished the moving and courageous The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Next I'm planning to read Welcome to Lagos by Chibundu Onuzo, Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed and Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Tough question. I'll have to give you a few: Sabriel by Garth Nix, Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman, Danny, Champion of the World by Roald Dahl, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and The Hobbit. I was also a huge fan of Jacqueline Wilson.

Your top five authors:

Margaret Atwood for her prescience and razor-sharp wit. Anthony Burgess for Nadsat. J.K. Rowling for her warm sense of humour. Laini Taylor for her lyrical and beautiful style. Tolkien for worldbuilding that leaves no stone unturned.

Book you've faked reading:

Fairly sure I haven't done this. Although I did once write an essay based on a poem I had only skimmed, if that counts.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Circle by Sara B. Elfgren and Mats Strandberg is the one I recommend most often. It's a gritty Swedish urban fantasy about six girls who discover they're witches. It has the most wonderful, haunting atmosphere, and the character development over the course of the trilogy is superb. I'm also evangelical about Way Down Dark by J.P. Smythe and The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury, the first books in two standout YA trilogies.

Book you've bought for the cover:

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi. The cover and the title both grabbed me immediately.

Book you hid from your parents:

I don't think I've ever hidden a book from my parents, actually. My mum in particular has always encouraged my love of literature and never tried to dictate what I read.

Book that changed your life:

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, which introduced me to both the dystopian genre and feminism. And Harry Potter, of course.

Favorite line from a book:

"And now there was only one voice, one demand; her own voice into which those millions had entered. A voice like the awful, deep rolling of thunder; a demand like the gathering together of great waters." --The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall

Five books you'll never part with:

The hardback of Oryx and Crake that I got signed when I met Margaret Atwood in Edinburgh; my battered old Handmaid's Tale; my stunning copy of Villette by Charlotte Brontë, which was a gift from a friend; the gold-sprayed hardback of Les Misérables that my parents gave me this Christmas, and The Poems of Emily Dickinson.

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

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. I'd love to be able to discover Hogwarts all over again.

Most anticipated books of 2017:

Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh, A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi, The City Bleeds Gold by Lucy Saxon, History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera, Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor and the as-yet-untitled final book in the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas are all high on my to-read list. There are also some fantastic books out this year that I'm fortunate enough to have read already, which I recommend you grab as soon as they hit the shelves: Hold Back the Stars by Katie Khan, A Shiver of Snow and Sky by Lisa Lueddecke, The Scarecrow Queen by Melinda Salisbury and The Heartbeats of Wing Jones by Katherine Webber.

Book Review

Children's Review: Bronze and Sunflower

Bronze and Sunflower by Cao Wenxuan, trans. by Helen Wang (Candlewick, $16.99 hardcover, 400p., ages 9-12, 9780763688165, March 14, 2017)

Cao Wenxuan is one of China's most beloved children's authors and winner of the 2016 Hans Christian Andersen Award. The English translation of his lyrical middle-grade novel Bronze and Sunflower is something to celebrate.

This moving story brings to life two devoted siblings: Bronze, the mysterious, mute young son of impoverished farmers in a remote Chinese village, and Sunflower, the seven-year-old city girl who comes to the country with her artist father after he is consigned to forced labor and reeducation during the harsh years of the Cultural Revolution. When her father drowns, Sunflower is adopted by Bronze's loving parents, the poorest people in the village. Like Laura Ingalls of the Little House on the Prairie books, Sunflower and her new family endure fire, locusts, freezing winters and starvation. Together they struggle on, each sacrificing to help the others. Bronze walks miles to the nearest town in freezing weather so he can sell shoes woven from river reeds to pay for Sunflower's schooling. Sunflower steals away on a boat so she can scavenge valuable ginkgo nuts at a distant plantation to raise funds for her grandmother's medical care.

The author, who grew up amid the chaos of the Cultural Revolution and often uses it as a setting for his novels, faces the hardships of village life head-on. Children are tied to trees and beaten for misbehavior, and when starvation takes hold, people grow so desperate they think "about gnawing on stones." But the natural world is a consolation, especially to Bronze, who sees a black bird as "a dark spirit, here one minute and gone the next." Despite privations, small pleasures--like riding to school on the back of a water buffalo or creating a sparkling necklace out of icicles--make life beautiful. The details about rural Chinese life are a revelation. Among other things, we learn that "new rice has a pale-green skin, like a luminous coating of oil, and when it is cooking, it gives off the most wonderful aroma." Cao shows English-speaking readers a foreign world where time is measured in the seasonal comings and goings of the swallows, but also a familiar one where the fabric of family is woven from shared hopes and unexpected acts of kindness. --Ann Shaffer, freelance writer and editor

Shelf Talker: This graceful story of a girl growing up in a poor village during China's Cultural Revolution introduces English-speaking readers to the work of Cao Wenxuan.

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