Shelf Awareness for Thursday, March 23, 2017

S&S / Marysue Rucci Books: The Night We Lost Him by Laura Dave

Wednesday Books: When Haru Was Here by Dustin Thao

Tommy Nelson: Up Toward the Light by Granger Smith, Illustrated by Laura Watkins

Tor Nightfire: Devils Kill Devils by Johnny Compton

Shadow Mountain: Highcliffe House (Proper Romance Regency) by Megan Walker


Amazon: Victory for Indies on Sales Tax; Government Subsidies Grow

When Amazon begins collecting sales tax next month in New Mexico, Hawaii, Maine and Idaho, it marks the first time that the company will collect sales tax in all 45 states that have sales tax, which yesterday the American Booksellers Association called a victory for booksellers and Main Street retailers.

In Bookselling This Week, ABA CEO Oren Teicher commented, "It is safe to say that the arguments that we have been making--about fairness and equity--have finally won out. The campaign for e-fairness was a long one--longer than we expected--but now that Amazon collects in every state that has sales tax laws on the books, independent booksellers everywhere can take great pride in a remarkable accomplishment."

The e-fairness effort goes back to the late 1990s. "For much of the new century, used its sales tax advantage to aggressively grow its sales and market share, and, along the way, the retailer vigorously fought against collecting and remitting sales tax to states," BTW wrote. "But the persistent advocacy efforts of Main Street retailers, led by indie booksellers, and growing bipartisan support at both the state and federal levels--coupled with numerous, decisive blows in the courts and Amazon's move to a rapid delivery model--brought about Amazon's strategic reversal."

Now, in a similar battle, Main Street retailers, the ABA and others--including Advocates for Independent Business, of which the ABA is a co-founding member--are fighting against local and state governments and agencies' increasing subsidization of Amazon's warehouse growth across the country. A key part of the educational effort has been the study the ABA commissioned from Civic Economics, Amazon and Empty Storefronts, which highlighted the retailer's pernicious effect on jobs, governments and communities across the country.

Bloomberg BNA Tax & Accounting has pointed to a study by the progressive economic policy research and advocacy group Good Jobs First that says this year Amazon will "vault past a record for state and local tax subsidies held for many years by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the undisputed king of brick-and-mortar retail sales." The group estimates that Wal-Mart has won "more than $1.2 billion in tax abatements, credits, exemptions, infrastructure assistance and financing deals during four decades of rapid expansion that has left the company with 4,672 retail locations across the country."

At the end of last year, Amazon's similar subsidies were estimated at about $1 billion. Bloomberg noted, "The new year began with Amazon committing to build out its rapid-delivery business model, and states and municipalities lined up to help. In less than three months, Amazon racked up another $92 million in tax credits and exemptions to develop warehouses and fulfillment centers in California, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland and Michigan."

"Amazon is a juggernaut in terms of tax breaks," Greg LeRoy, executive director of Good Jobs First, told Bloomberg BNA. "They were pulling down $125 million annually for at least two years and they are on pace for that in 2017, given the deals we've seen already for the year. So it won't be long before they surpass Wal-Mart."

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!

AAP Sales: October Surprise, Down 9.3%

In October, total net book sales fell 9.3%, to $861.7 million, compared to October 2015, and represented sales of 1,207 publishers and distributed clients as reported to the Association of American Publishers. For the first 10 months of the year, total net book sales fell 6.4%, to $11.964 billion. 

Likely the presidential election was a cause of lower sales during the month. Religious presses and children's & YA revenues increased in the month, but overall trade book revenues fell 7.5%, and adult book sales fell 13.1%. While adult e-book sales were up 2.6% (their first monthly gain in 19 months), overall e-book sales continued to be down.



GLOW: Workman Publishing: Atlas Obscura: Wild Life: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Living Wonders by Cara Giaimo, Joshua Foer, and Atlas Obscura

Bookstore Emphasizing Diversity Planned for Louisville, Ky.

Kristen and Agyei Williams

Aiming to highlight stories of diversity and create a welcoming space for the community, Kristen and Agyei Williams plan to open Blackberry Books and Coffee in Louisville, Ky., sometime this fall, the Courier-Journal reported.

The couple has launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise $55,000 that will be used to purchase and renovate a location in the Russell neighborhood in West Louisville. They have, they wrote, already purchased furniture, bookcases and "collected thousands of books."

The Williamses early on began searching for ways to bring stories of diversity to their neighborhood, the newspaper wrote, and for the last four years have been holding storytelling events featuring "revised tales that addressed issues facing kids in the community." They've partnered with nonprofits Louisville Grows and New Roots and worked with libraries, too. At some performances, they've sold books under the name Blackberry Bookstand.

"We had parents coming up to us, we thought they would be buying two to three books," Kristen Williams told the Courier-Journal. "But they would walk away carrying as many books as they could carry.

She added, "When you go into a bookstore nowadays, it's very difficult for you to find characters of color. Being able to know that you are a main character in this world, that you have a main role to play and that you belong here, that's why we wanted to do the bookstore."

Weldon Owen: The Gay Icon's Guide to Life by Michael Joosten, Illustrated by Peter Emerich

Obituary Note: Colin Dexter

British mystery author Colin Dexter, "whose irascible, poetry-loving detective, Chief Inspector Morse, pursued clues and cask-conditioned ale through 13 novels and a popular television series," died March 21, the New York Times reported. He was 86. Dexter published his first Morse novel, Last Bus to Woodstock, in 1975, and in "the dozen novels that followed, Mr. Dexter, a fan of cryptic crosswords, planted false clues and red herrings with abandon, presenting Morse, and his readers, with fiendishly difficult puzzles to solve."

In 1989, the Crime Writers' Association of Britain gave him the Golden Dagger for The Wench Is Dead, and he received the award again in 1992 for The Way Through the Woods. In 1997, he was presented with the organization's Diamond Dagger for lifetime achievement. The popular Inspector Morse TV series, starring John Thaw as Morse and Kevin Whately as Lewis, ran from 1987 to 2000 (it was seen on PBS in the U.S.) and generated the sequels Lewis and Endeavour.

"He was one of the greatest crime novelists of the 20th century and deserves to be ranked alongside Chandler, Christie and Doyle," said Andrew Gulli, the editor of the Strand magazine.

Jeremy Trevathan, Dexter's publisher at Macmillan, told the Bookseller that Dexter's writing represented "the absolute epitome of British crime writing" and his death would mean a "tectonic shift in the international crime writing scene." His most recent editor, Maria Rejt, said Dexter had "the sharpest mind and the biggest heart."

David Kelly, sales manager at Blackwell's, which has its head office and flagship branch in Oxford, said Dexter and the Morse novels "were synonymous with Oxford and indeed our shop, so it's with great sadness that we received the news. The success of the Morse series continues every year and draws tourists from across the world to Oxford. Colin was a great friend and supporter of our shop, even writing an article in the Bookseller citing ourselves as his favorite ever bookshop. Many of us have met him over the years as an author and as a customer and have always thoroughly enjoyed his fantastic company."

Calling Dexter a "revolutionary," author Lee Child said, "He wrote a character without any concessions at all to likely popularity--Morse was bad tempered, cantankerous, esoteric and abstruse--and thereby showed us that integrity and authenticity work best. His literary descendants are everywhere. When our genre's family tree is drawn, he's the root of a huge portion of it."

Graphic Universe (Tm): Hotelitor: Luxury-Class Defense and Hospitality Unit by Josh Hicks

Marina Antropow Cramer's Road from Bookseller to Novelist

For Marina Antropow Cramer, the publication on May 1 of her first novel, Roads, by the Academy Chicago imprint of the Chicago Review Press, "still feels unreal," she says. "It still feels like this is happening to someone else."

One might think that for Cramer, because of her bookselling background, publishing a book would be more familiar than for most new authors: for 17 years, she owned Cup & Chaucer Bookstore in Montclair, N.J., then for 12 years after that, she was a bookseller at Watchung Booksellers, also in Montclair.

"Being on the other side of the counter, so to speak, even though I know what happens over there, has been a revelation and an education," she says. One example is the letter she is sending to bookstores and libraries seeking to arrange appearances, something she has put great care into. "I've read a lot of these letters and know how easily they get overlooked," she remembers. And the editing process was "a little painful," she says. "But a better book came out of it."

Her bookselling experience was important for the writing of Roads, Cramer says. "Going to work and being in an environment that's all about books was something that fed me. Handling books all the time, talking with people about books, arranging books, shelving books, meeting with writers and editors and agents and serious readers. I don't know if I could have this without that."

She had experience in general retail before setting up a bookstore, which she found much more satisfying because "with books, you're dealing with stories and ideas and history and all the wonderful things books deal with. It matters what book you put in people's hands. Books are not interchangeable. They're a big part of my life, and I couldn't have done this without having done that."

Roads, the story of a Russian family living in Yalta, in the Crimea, begins in the late 1930s, when life under Stalin has many challenges; some people go along with the regime while others continue to find sustenance in the old ways. Then the Nazis invade. As the occupation becomes increasingly difficult, the main characters--an older couple, their young daughter, and the daughter's husband--volunteer for agricultural work in Germany so that they can stay together--and be treated better than the many Russians who are being picked up in the streets and sent to Nazi labor camps. In Germany, they find they were lied to--but they survive appalling conditions and just miss being caught in the firebombing of Dresden in 1945. But as the war comes to its bloody conclusion, they're separated and, after the German surrender search for each other amid the chaos of postwar Germany--while needing to avoid the Red Army and allies who might return them to a grim fate in the Soviet Union. The characters are strongly drawn and fascinating, from the young dreamer Filip to his formidable mother-in-law, Ksenia, who cares for the family in a variety of ways--from finding and preparing food to providing the kind of grounding and clearsightedness needed to survive a string of harrowing situations.

Cramer's writing is lush and poetic with a refreshing edge. Just when some of the characters seem to be familiar, they do or say something significant that surprises the reader and puts everything that has happened before in a new light--and leads down a new road. Throughout Roads, the family takes a variety of roads, from literal to emotional to developmental. In different ways, Cramer says, her characters "get from one place to another in their lives."

Cramer's own family had a similar background to those of the main characters in her novel. They lived in Yalta, then worked in German labor camps, before living for a time in Belgium and finally emigrating to the U.S. Cramer was born in postwar Germany and was nine when the family moved here.

"Roads has elements of my family history in it," she says, "but it's not the story of my family." She took parts of her family's history, parts from others who went through the similar experiences, and "made some things up." She emphasizes that the characters are composite and that she doesn't appear in the book.

For Cramer, the crux of the story is the immigrant experience, which she was drawn to increasingly over time, especially after her grandmother died, when, she says, "I started thinking about where I came from."

That interest led her to focus on the key problem faced by immigrants who move under duress and is common "wherever there's military conflict or environmental upheavals": "knowing you have to go, and all that you can take with you has to fit in maybe two suitcases and that you won't come back. How would you decide what to take? How do you start on that road and deal with not coming back?"

And once a person takes that road, it raises other questions, Cramer says. "What is home? Where do you belong if you can't be there? Who are you?" As an immigrant herself, Cramer said she knew "the sense of displacement" when she traveled to the U.S. at age nine. "It didn't feel right. It didn't feel like the place I belonged." She thought she might feel a sense of belonging in Europe, but when she visited as an adult, while she thought it "very nice," she didn't feel she belonged there, either. "There's always that sense of displacement and not knowing where you belong. I don't think that goes away."

It didn't go away for her mother either, Cramer says, who has been in the U.S. for 60 years and still says things like, "Americans! Why do they smile so much?"

Cramer's mother, who will turn 91 in April, is "astute and cryptic" about Roads, Cramer says. She told her mother repeatedly that she was writing a work that has roots in family lore, but her mother focused on this only once, asking, "Did you tell the truth?" Cramer still is not sure how to take the question: "I don't know if she meant, 'You didn't tell the truth, did you?' or if she meant I should tell the truth."

Cramer had to travel down other roads before the subject fully engaged her. At first, she says, "I wasn't interested. I had been hearing the family history since I was born and thought, 'Okay, all right. The war is over, let's talk about something else.' "

Cramer wrote the book over 15 years, writing parts of it out of sequence. At one point, she spread out the parts she had written on a table, and saw where the gaps were. "It was a very visual assessment of where the work was and what needed to get filled in." She also traveled to Europe for research and to "get a feeling" for some of the places where Roads is set. She visited Belgium, Germany and Russia, but not Yalta. Still, her portrait of Yalta is vivid, "absorbed through things my parents and their parents talked about. Through them it became a very real place in my mind." She still hopes to visit someday.

Cramer says that since she was a child, she was always interested in writing. "I had written stories years ago, but they weren't good because I didn't know what I was doing," she says. It wasn't until later that she learned to "read critically like a writer," focusing on how the writing was done, the structure, what makes a certain passage so powerful, "how words are put together." Eventually the idea for Roads began to form, and "I knew it was more than a story. I realized it was a novel."

She continues to write and has several projects "in various stages of completion" that are "completely not ethnic." She calls this "a good exercise. Here are four people, and that's all you have to know." She also is shopping around a collection of short stories featuring Vera, "a character who entered my life and wouldn't leave."

The launch for Roads will take place at Watchung Booksellers on May 13. Cramer will also appear at bookstores and other sites in New York State, where she lives, and maybe at the Tolstoy Foundation, which for many years has helped immigrants from around the world settle here--including her own family when it was on the road to a new life in the U.S. --John Mutter


Image of the Day: The New Old Me

Book Passage, Corte Madera, Calif., hosted Meredith Maran, whose book The New Old Me: My Late-Life Reinvention was just published by Blue Rider Press, in conversation with Ramona Ausubel. Pictured: (l.-r.) authors Janine Reid, Terri Tate, Ausubel, Maran, a fan and Anne Lamott.

Happy 45th Birthday, Toad Hall Bookstore!

Congratulations to Toad Hall Bookstore, Rockport, Mass., which is celebrating its 45th birthday tomorrow with the Toad Hall Book Hop party and fundraiser from 7 to 10 p.m. at the nearby Shalin Liu Performance Center. Sponsored by the Friends of Toad Hall Bookstore, the party features raffles of a variety of items and gift certificates, food, a cash bar and live music from local musicians Mike Forgette and the band Nollege.

Store manager Ardis Francoeur told the Gloucester Times, "We decided to make it both [a party and fundraiser] to give it a theme, to make it fun and to have an excuse to buy a big cake."

All proceeds benefit the nonprofit store; most of the money will be used to replenish inventory. Toad Hall, which has a used book section, is also asking partygoers to bring a book to donate if they want to.

'The Best Bookstore in Every State'

Let the debate begin. To create an ambitious list called "the best bookstore in every state," Real Simple magazine partnered with Yelp "to explore the best independent bookstores our country has to offer. There are no chains on this list. Using an algorithm that looks at the number of reviews and star rating for each business, Yelp singled out the top bookseller in each state." Check out the complete list here

In addition, Real Simple noted that "we couldn't be in touch with bookstore employees without asking for a list of recommendations. Though the picks run the gamut (local history, critically acclaimed novels, children's books, textbooks), many stores recommended local authors. Take a peek--maybe you'll even discover your new favorite author."

Bookstore Chalkboard of the Day: Black Bond Books

"My book smells better than your tablet." Black Bond Books, British Columbia, shared a photo of the sidewalk blackboard outside one of its locations.

Diamond to Distribute AfterShock Comics

Diamond Comic Distributors has been named the exclusive worldwide distributor for comic book publisher AfterShock Comics in English-speaking countries. The agreement includes distribution rights to comic book specialty stores and in book publishing through its sister company, Diamond Book Distributors.

Founded in 2015, AfterShock Comics has published work by Marguerite Bennett (InSeXts and Animosity), Garth Ennis (Dreaming Eagles and Jimmy's Bastards), Warren Ellis (Shipwreck), Brian Azzarello (American Monster), Paul Jenkins (Replica and Alters) and Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti (SuperZero).

"Not only will we now be able to reach more outlets, but it will become much easier for retailers to more accurately order our titles," AfterShock publisher and CCO Joe Pruett said.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Kate Hennessy on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Kate Hennessy, author of Dorothy Day: The World Will Be Saved by Beauty: An Intimate Portrait of My Grandmother (Scribner, $27.99, 9781501133961).

Ellen: Ben Falcone, author of Being a Dad Is Weird: Lessons in Fatherhood from My Family to Yours (Dey Street, $25.99, 9780062473622).

This Weekend on Book TV: The Virginia Festival of the Book

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, March 25
10 a.m. Live coverage from the 2017 Virginia Festival of the Book in Charlottesville, Va. (Re-airs Sunday at 12 a.m.)

5 p.m. Todd Starnes, author of The Deplorables' Guide to Making America Great Again (Frontline, $16.99, 9781629991702). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

6 p.m. Bradley Graham and Lissa Muscatine, owners of Politics & Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C., share reading lists and bookstore events tailored to the era of Donald Trump. (Re-airs Monday at 2:30 a.m.)

6:30 p.m. Coverage from the 2017 National Book Critics Circle Awards in New York City. (Re-airs Monday at 1 a.m.)

8 p.m. Rod Dreher, author of The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation (Sentinel, $25, 9780735213296). (Re-airs Sunday at 1 p.m.)

10 p.m. Lisa Servon, author of The Unbanking of America: How the New Middle Class Survives (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27, 9780544602311). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Scott Miller, author of Agent 110: An American Spymaster and the German Resistance in WWII (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781451693386). (Re-airs Sunday at 3 p.m.

Sunday, March 26
8:15 a.m. Natasha Warikoo, author of The Diversity Bargain: And Other Dilemmas of Race, Admissions, and Meritocracy at Elite Universities (University of Chicago Press, $26, 9780226400143). (Re-airs Sunday at 7:45 p.m.)

6 p.m. Pankaj Mishra, author of Age of Anger: A History of the Present (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $27, 9780374274788).

11 p.m. Peter Moskowitz, author of How to Kill a City: Gentrification, Inequality, and the Fight for the Neighborhood (Nation Books, $26.99, 9781568585239), at Book Culture in New York City.

Books & Authors

Awards: Whiting; Audiobook of the Year; RITA

The 10 winners of the Whiting Awards, which give $50,000 each based on "early-career achievement and the promise of superior literary work to come" to "10 diverse, emerging writers of fiction, nonfiction, drama and poetry," are:

Clare Barron (drama)
Lisa Halliday (fiction)
Jen Beagin (fiction)
James Ijames (drama)
Francisco Cantú (nonfiction)
Tony Tulathimutte (fiction)
Clarence Coo (drama)
Simone White (poetry)
Kaitlyn Greenidge (fiction)
Phillip B. Williams (poetry)

Presentations were made last night at the New-York Historical Society, with a keynote by Pulitzer Prize-winner Siddhartha Mukherjee, author of The Gene and The Emperor of All Maladies. The Whiting Awards are sponsored by the Whiting Foundation.


Finalists for the Audie Awards' Audiobook of the Year are:

Boys in the Trees, written and narrated by Carly Simon (Macmillan Audio)
The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, written and narrated by Amy Schumer (Simon & Schuster Audio)
Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter, narrated by Mariska Hargitay, with the authors (Hachette Audio)
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, narrated by Bahni Turpin (Penguin Random House Audio/Books on Tape)
Year of Yes, written and narrated by Shonda Rhimes (Simon & Schuster Audio)

The winners of the Excellence Awards (see the full list of nominees here) will be announced at the Audio Publishers Association Conference on May 31, in New York. The winner of the Audiobook of the Year will be announced at the Audie Awards Gala on June 1, at the French Institute/Alliance Française in New York City, which will be emceed by Paula Poundstone.


The finalists for the 2017 RITA Awards, sponsored by the Romance Writers of America and honoring the best in romance fiction, include 84 novels and novellas. Winners will be announced on July 27 during the 2017 RWA annual conference in Orlando, Fla. See the list of finalists here.

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, March 28:

The Cubs Way: The Zen of Building the Best Team in Baseball and Breaking the Curse by Tom Verducci (Crown Archetype, $28, 9780804190015) looks at how the Chicago Cubs won the World Series for the first time since 1908.

My Darling Detective by Howard Norman (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26, 9780544236103) is a noir mystery set in 1970s Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The Women in the Castle: A Novel by Jessica Shattuck (Morrow, $26.99, 9780062563668) follows three German widows at the end of World War II.

It Happens All the Time: A Novel by Amy Hatvany (Atria, $26, 9781476704456) explores a seemingly platonic friendship shattered by a drunken kiss.

The Day of the Lie: A Father Anselm Thriller by William Brodrick (Overlook Press, $27.95, 9781468311167) stars a former lawyer who became a monk/detective.

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley: A Novel by Hannah Tinti (Dial Press, $27, 9780812989885) follows the daughter of a mysterious single father exploring his criminal past.

Old School: Life in the Sane Lane by Bill O'Reilly and Bruce Feirstein (Holt, $27, 9781250135797) complains about young people.

Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves (Knopf, $17.99, 9781101935996) is the first in a proposed YA fantasy trilogy set against the romance and political unrest of 19th-century Eastern Europe.

Happy Dreamer by Peter H. Reynolds (Orchard Books/Hachette, $17.99, 9780545865012) is a picture book about creativity and the messes and trouble it sometimes brings.

Sonora by Hannah Lillith Assadi (Soho Press, $16, 9781616957926).

Who You Think I Am by Camille Laurens (Other Press, $14.95, 9781590518328).

The Zookeeper's Wife, based on the book by Diane Ackerman, opens March 31. Jessica Chastain stars in this true story of the Warsaw zookeepers who saved people and animals from the invading Nazis. A movie-tie in version (Norton, $15.95, 9780393354256) is available.

The Boss Baby, based on the children's book by Marla Frazee, is an animated film featuring the voices of Alec Baldwin, Steve Buscemi, Jimmy Kimmel, Lisa Kudrow and Tobey Maguire. It opens on March 31.

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

Setting Free the Kites by Alex George (Putnam, $27, 9780399162107). "This heartfelt and compelling novel from A Good American author Alex George is a story of friendship, loss, and how we deal with grief, a story about how a single friendship can change us forever. Yet again, George has developed beautiful, layered characters and you will quickly fall in love with Nathan, Robert, and Liam in blustery seaside Maine in the 1970s. You will hear the excitement each hot, blistering summer of children and families visiting the amusement park owned by Robert's family. You will laugh, you will cry, and you will grieve, but you will not be disappointed." --Amanda Zirn, Bethany Beach Books, Bethany Beach, Del.

The Mother's Promise: A Novel by Sally Hepworth (St. Martin's Press, $26.99, 9781250077752). "The Mother's Promise is an emotional story of a mother's love for her teenage daughter, who is struggling with severe social anxiety. Alice and her daughter, Zoe, cope with their problems until Alice becomes critically ill and is faced with a heartbreaking prognosis. She turns to two strangers for help with Zoe and her future. As the relationship among Zoe and these women evolves, they all confront their own personal problems and secrets. This beautifully written story will move readers to tears of grief, compassion, and, at its conclusion, hope." --Fran Duke, Where the Sidewalk Ends, Chatham, Mass.

Paperback: An Indies Introduce Title
Rabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett (Tin House Books, $15.95, 9781941040560). "When Eva Rose Babbitt, mother of daughters Lizzie, 15, and Elvis, 10, drowns while sleep-swimming, her daughters are left to fend for themselves emotionally while their father tends to his grief by wearing his wife's bathrobe and lipstick. Elvis stays up at night, trying to keep Lizzie, a sleepwalker and sleep-eater, from burning the house down with her nocturnal 'cooking.' But Elvis doesn't trust the circumstances of her mother's death and is determined to finish her mother's book, The Sleep Habits in Animals and What They Tell Us About Our Own Slumber, so she does a little research of her own. Annie Hartnett has created endearing and memorable characters in a delightfully original story that is sure to become a beloved favorite of readers everywhere." --Kris Kleindienst, Left Bank Books, St. Louis, Mo.

For Ages 4 to 8
A Perfect Day by Lane Smith (Roaring Brook Press, $17.99, 9781626725362). "With evocative, textured artwork and playful scenes, Lane Smith has created a fantastic picture book that kids and adults will both love. A Perfect Day combines the sensibilities of Smith's previous work, placing the artistic mastery of Grandpa Green alongside the humor from It's a Book. I can't wait to share this as a read-aloud in groups or one-on-one so little listeners can point out beautiful details in the artwork and talk about the animals in action!" --Johanna Albrecht, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, N.C.

For Ages 9 to 12
Grand Canyon by Jason Chin (Roaring Brook Press, $19.99, 9781596439504). "Jason Chin is amazing, both as an artist and author. Who doesn't want to journey to the Grand Canyon in the pages of a book? I'm so excited about sharing this book with kids. I love the way the technical illustrations play off the larger picture book illustrations in the story. It's gorgeous and educational, as are all of Chin's books." --Jenny Lyons, The Vermont Book Shop, Middlebury, Vt.

For Teen Readers: An Indies Introduce Title
You're Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner (Knopf, $17.99, 9780399551413). "When Julia covers up derogatory graffiti about her best friend with her own art--and then her best friend outs Julia to save herself--Julia is expelled from her deaf school and mainstreamed. With her biggest meaningful relationship destroyed by betrayal and her mothers both watching her more closely due to her act of 'vandalism,' Julia just wants to keep her head down in public school and get out so she can recapture the rush of putting her art out in the world. But someone keeps challenging her by adding on to her art, calling her out. You're Welcome, Universe really emphasizes the power and complexity of female friendships; the window that it opens into deaf culture is an added bonus!" --Ann Childs, Odyssey Bookshop, South Hadley, Mass.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Startup

Startup by Doree Shafrir (Little, Brown, $26 hardcover, 304p., 9780316360388, April 25, 2017)

What happens if you take a piece of Silicon Valley and drop it near Manhattan's Madison Square Park? In BuzzFeed culture writer Doree Shafrir's first novel, Startup, you get the same laid-back techie incubator open offices with nerf guns, iced coffee kegerators and lunchtime yoga classes--but you also get huddled sidewalk-smoking employees and four a.m. Uber rides to shotgun flats in Greenpoint. Hers is a funny, grittier New York version of kids in their 30s wearing fat do-not-disturb earphones while coding, Slacking, Tweeting and Instagramming to hustle a new app company from nowhere into that rarified billion-dollar unicornland.

Mack McAllister is the wunderkind founder/CEO of TakeOff, whose corporate motto is "Do good work, and the work will help the good." He's on the verge of a second round of a $500-million venture capital valuation that will raise him into the ranks of the big boys who can "buy a condo in Tribeca, marry a beautiful blonde publicist named Lauren or Whitney who would soon quit her job and have three perfect babies." But Mack's intense secret hookup with Isabel, his company's "Sales Hero" (aka v-p), threatens to undo him. He inadvertently texts her a dick pic outside of their usual ephemeral Snapchat sexting. Katya, a young edgy daughter of Russian immigrants trying to make it in serious journalism for TechScene, sees it at a networking bar party when Isabel carelessly leaves her phone while on a bathroom break. With a screengrab of the pic, Katya has a story that could take her from trolling endless tweet and retweet gossip and "into that scrum... with the quote or angle that no one else has found yet."

As Shafrir's story unfolds, it moves easily from the sendup of techie emoji, acronyms, and marketing and business palaver into the more tangled politics of startups. She dissects the male domination at the top, with Katya realizing, "They are just little boys and they can be little boys together." Shafrir also takes aim at the shallowness of "fun" jobs; as the oldest woman at TakeOff, with two children and an online keep-up-with-Park-Slope shopping jones, Sabrina wonders when work had to be happy, since "happiness was elusive, ephemeral, and in any case, not suited to life in New York City." Shafrir doesn't miss a lick and she's clearly having a good time. But Startup is more than entertainment--it pushes lots of the right buttons. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Shelf Talker: Funny, hip and clever, Shafrir's Startup slices through the world of tech startups and the kids running them.

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