Also published on this date: Monday, April 10, 2017: Walter Foster Publishing

Shelf Awareness for Monday, April 10, 2017

Atlantic Monthly Press: Those Opulent Days: A Mystery by Jacquie Pham

Feiwel & Friends: The Flicker by HE Edgmon

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Pumpkin Princess and the Forever Night by Steven Banbury

St. Martin's Griffin: Murdle: The School of Mystery: 50 Seriously Sinister Logic Puzzles by GT Karber

Carolrhoda Lab (R): Here Goes Nothing by Emma K Ohland

Allida: Safiyyah's War by Hiba Noor Khan

Ace Books: Servant of Earth (The Shards of Magic) by Sarah Hawley


New Owner for Lorelei Books, Vicksburg, Miss.

Effective May 1, Kelle Barfield will become the new owner of Lorelei Books, Vicksburg, Miss., which was founded in 2006 by Laura and Troy Weeks, who are retiring to North Carolina. At the same time, Haley Sellers is becoming the bookstore's new fulltime manager. In January, the Weekses had said that the store, "a profitable business," was for sale.

The store will hold a Hail and Farewell event on Sunday, April 30, 1-3 p.m., both to say goodbye to the Weekses and to welcome Barfield and Sellers.

New owner Kelle Barfield (left) and current owner Laura Weeks.

Laura Weeks commented: "The Vicksburg community has played a lead role in Lorelei Books' story, which now comes full circle with this transition. By carrying the bookstore forward, two local customers, Kelle and Haley, will soon experience first-hand how essential it is to the life of the community."

Barfield said, "Response from the Vicksburg community to news that the bookstore will remain open has been outstanding. Having access to a local book retailer is important, but most people see it as much more than that. A bookstore offers an opportunity to browse new ideas, discuss and consider trends and events and be inspired by creativity."

Barfield plans to continue many of Lorelei Books' traditions, including emphasizing new and backlist titles based on regional interests, hosting book signings and focusing on children and tourists, among others. Barfield is adding a section on the second floor, to be called the Lie in Lore Loft, that will offer space for community literary and learning events. "I hope to make the second floor an additional community resource for groups and events such as book clubs, lectures by locals or workshops," Barfield said. "Vicksburg has so many gifted writers, artists, musicians, chefs and other creative talent. Bringing their stories together and sharing them with our residents and visitors is the perfect role for an independent bookstore to play."

PM Press: P Is for Palestine: A Palestine Alphabet Book by Golbarg Bashi, Illustrated by Golrokh Nafisi

Page 158 Books in N.C. Moving--with a Twist

Page 158's current location.

Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, N.C., is moving into larger space in the Renaissance Center plaza, about two blocks from its current location. The new 1,600-square-foot location is being built out.

The only problem: Page 158 Books must be out of its current space by May 1, before the new space will be ready. "We are considering all alternatives at the moment," owner Dave Lucey wrote. A likely scenario is to "get a storage container and a tent and set it up in the parking lot of our new place."

Still, the new space will be worth the wait. It's 150 square feet larger than Page 158's current space. Before it opens, Lucey is planning "a more thoughtful layout" for various categories, the kids' section and the event space, a contrast to the current store layout, which is "challenging" because of various walls and stairwells.

"We will be able to accommodate more people for events in the new space just by fixing those layout issues and are adding a small bar area so we can sell beer and wine," Lucey added. The new location also has "air conditioning that works," adequate parking, and a bowling alley and "a very popular restaurant" as neighbors.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux: Intermezzo by Sally Rooney

Challenges for Billings, Mont., Cooperative Bookstore

The deep financial problems and possible solutions for This House of Books, the cooperative bookstore that opened October 1 last year in Billings, Mont., were outlined at the store's annual meeting last week, which KTVQ covered.

Board president Carrie La Seur said that business last year had begun well, with sales of $24,000 in October (in part because of the 2016 High Plains BookFest), $16,700 in November and $24,000 again in December. But the beginning of 2017 has been a disaster, largely because of cold, snowy weather, with sales of only $9,700 in January and $11,700 in February.

Payroll costs were "eating up all or nearly all our revenue," La Seur said. An hourly worker was let go in early February, but then, as reported earlier, the store let go CEO and manager Gary Robson (whose assets in Red Lodge Books and Tea the store had bought last year) and tea bar manager Gwen Gunn. (Gustavo Belotta was named store manager, and Jamie Winter became manager of the tea bar.) The changes cut payroll expenses by 70%.

As a result, after months of losing money, La Seur said that in March, This House of Books had enough money to pay the rent and meet payroll without borrowing money, for the first time in three months.

La Seur said the store still owes Robson and Gunn pay for their last two pay periods and still owes Robson some money for the purchase of the Red Lodge Books and Tea assets. "Things are very tight, and we've cut expenses absolutely to the bone," she added.

La Seur emphasized that she considers This House of Books "a viable business" but acknowledged that the store needs to raise money--to increase inventory and finish interior décor--mainly through selling more shares, promoting the business, receiving donations of needed items and finding more volunteers.

Obituary Note: Roy Fisher

Roy Fisher, the British poet who "came to enjoy a unique reputation among his contemporaries as a humorous and versatile writer, an English modernist open to American influences, such as the Black Mountain Poets, yet distinctively English and local in his concerns," died March 21, the Guardian reported. He was 86. His 30 books include The Long and the Short of It: Poems 1955-2010; and A Furnace.

Fisher "did everything wrong--from a literary-careerist perspective," the Guardian wrote. "He rejected the political posturing that has been known to secure a writer public attention and prestige. He was indifferent to fame, and temperamentally provincial rather than metropolitan. Writing in both avant-garde and traditional modes, he was mainly published by small presses; and his early work, in the 1950s and '60s, gave way to silence for several years."

From his poem "The Afterlife":

The afterlife back then
was fairly long:
nothing demented like for ever,

nothing military. The afterlife
would come to the party.


Ci5: Jason Reynolds: 'Karibu Means Welcome'

"I gave up books at nine years old," said Jason Reynolds, author of Ghost and As Brave As You, during a moving and frequently funny keynote address at the ABC Children's Institute 5 in Portland, Ore., on Friday morning. He discussed his journey as a reader and writer and the importance of seeing oneself reflected in art and fiction. "So the question becomes: How is it possible a kid like this, who didn't read anything, grows up to become a man who writes books for kids?"

Reynolds recalled going to school in Washington, D.C., and being asked to read books such as To Kill a Mockingbird and Of Mice and Men, books to which he could not relate and in which he never saw reflections of his own life, at a time when virtually no books were being published about what was going on in communities like his. During the 1980s and 1990s it was only in rap music that he could find those reflections. He realized that despite how much older generations seemed to detest rap music, rappers were the YA authors of his generation, who "told our stories honestly," in ways that might make others feel uncomfortable but made him feel "so necessary" and "so significant." It dawned on him that rappers like Queen Latifah and Tupac were poets, and part of a poetic tradition that has been around much longer than rap music itself.

"Nobody ever told me that, though, because our parents and our grandparents were too busy trashing our music," he said. "So here I am, mind blown, and I realize that perhaps Queen Latifah's 'Ladies First' and Maya Angelou's 'Phenomenal Woman' are the exact same poem, just a generation apart."

After that, Reynolds knew he wanted to be part of that poetic tradition--to be Queen Latifah, as he put it--and though he didn't read during the rest of grade school and high school, he wrote poems every day, about his own life and the world around him. In college, he struggled in his literature classes for many of the same reasons he disdained books at a younger age. It was not until he got a job working at a bookstore that all that began to change.

Karibu Bookstore [which had several stores in the Washington, D.C., area, and closed in 2008] celebrated the works of people of African descent. ("Except when Harry Potter came out, we had that," remarked Reynolds. "We're not going to pass up on that money.") While working there, he read Black Boy by Richard Wright, the first book he'd read since childhood, and saw some of his own life reflected in it. Gradually he began going through the shelves, reading James Baldwin, Zora Neale Hurston and Toni Morrison, and the way he thought about literature began to change.

At the same time, a new genre of books emerged. Known as street fiction or urban fiction, and featuring titles like Every Thug Needs a Lady, the books proved immediately popular but were derided as an insult to literature--"it became the new craze, but it also became the new pariah." As a community-focused bookstore and given the demand for those titles, Karibu had to stock those books, while hoping to use such titles as an opportunity to handsell better books. And although many were perfectly willing to dismiss the books and judge those who bought them, few bothered to wonder why they were so popular in the first place.

"The truth is, as far as I'm concerned, that those books were serving and filling the same void that rap music filled for me 15 years before," said Reynolds. He realized that these books were not so different from the work of Donald Goines and Iceberg Slim. "For some of us it was like, this is my life. Whether you like it or not."

Reynolds worked at Karibu only for only a year, and not long after that he graduated from college and moved to New York. Six months later, he signed his first book deal, but the book came out and flopped. After working a plethora of jobs for a number of years, he thought his "Queen Latifah days" were over and that he would leave the book world for good. But then writer and illustrator Christopher Myers encouraged him to take a chance on himself, to write in his "natural tongue." He tried, and wrote a story about his life growing up, in a style of his own, that became When I Was the Greatest, his break-out title.

"What I like to tell young people is that the story that you're looking for, you already have it," said Reynolds. "Booksellers, it's your jobs to do the same thing, to buttress that, to reinforce that by the selections that you have in your stores... by the stories and the books that may seem a little on the margins. It's your responsibility to know those books, too." --Alex Mutter


Image of the Day: Laini Taylor at Kepler's

Kepler's Books in Menlo Park, Calif., hosted Laini Taylor (r.) in conversation with author Jandy Nelson. Taylor is on tour for her new YA novel, Strange the Dreamer (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers), the first of a duology.

Labyrinth Books: 'A Princeton, N.J., Fixture' looked at Labyrinth Books, Princeton, N.J., "the one and only bookseller on Nassau Street," which over the past 10 years has become "a Princeton fixture."

The store has grown largely because of its partnership with Princeton University, which "went against the trend of the day in bringing an independent, scholarly and community bookstore to town for all their book needs and has remained an incredible partner and supporter over the years," said Dorothea von Moltke, who owns the store with her husband, Cliff Simms, and brother-in-law Peter Simms.

Labyrinth also had stores in New York City, catering to Columbia University, and New Haven, Conn., catering to Yale University. The Connecticut store was closed, and after Chris Doeblin bought out Cliff Simms, the New York City store morphed into Book Culture.

Since 2012, with the help of the university, Labyrinth has been able to offer a 30% discount on coursebooks. "For better or worse, students have become very savvy at finding 'free' books online, at circulating pdfs of textbooks, at substituting video tutorials for textbooks, and at using social media for buying and selling from each other," von Moltke said. "So you can see why our course book operation has needed to adapt. Fortunately, in all of this Princeton University has remained always willing to sit down with us to come up with joint solutions that benefit the students and the university while helping to support the store."

The store also carries many trade books and has strong sales to the non-school market. It hosts three to four author events a week, and through wholesaler Great Jones Books, which the Labyrinth owners also own, the store has been able to stock a lot of remainders. "This allows us both to bring books back into circulation, which other stores have given up on, and to offer these books at often very steep discounts," von Moltke said. "You could say that in order to be the kind of booksellers we are, we also have to be book wholesalers."

Pennie Picks The Nest

Pennie Clark Ianniciello, Costco's book buyer, has chosen The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney (Ecco, $16.99, 9780062414229) as her pick of the month for April. In Costco Connection, which goes to many of the warehouse club's members, she wrote:

"I am an only child, so few things fascinate me more than stories about sibling interactions. What better way to dip into that world than with this month's book buyer's pick, The Nest, by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney?

"This debut novel tells the story of the four adult Plumb children and their individual plans for a shared trust fund. Trouble begins when their mother uses some of the money to keep oldest sibling Leo's legal drama out of the public eye. Now the other children must decide if they need to reimagine their futures or make Leo pay back the money.

"Regardless of your own family history, The Nest is sure to make you recognize the power--for better or worse--of family relationships."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Elisabeth Rosenthal on Fresh Air

CBS This Morning: James E. Ryan, author of Wait, What?: And Life's Other Essential Questions (HarperOne, $19.99, 9780062664570).

Fresh Air: Elisabeth Rosenthal, author of An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back (Penguin Press, $28, 9781594206757). She is also on Good Morning America today.

Wendy Williams: Nicole Lapin, author of Boss Bitch: A Simple 12-Step Plan to Take Charge of Your Career (Crown Business, $27, 9780451495860).

Late Night with Seth Meyers repeat: Mohsin Hamid, author of Exit West: A Novel (Riverhead, $26, 9780735212176).

Last Call with Carson Daly repeat: Jay Chandrasekhar, author of Mustache Shenanigans: Making Super Troopers and Other Adventures in Comedy (Dutton, $27, 9781101985236).

CBS This Morning: John Mackey, co-author of The Whole Foods Diet: The Lifesaving Plan for Health and Longevity (Grand Central Life & Style, $28, 9781478944911).

Good Morning America: Erica Komisar, author of Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters (TarcherPerigee, $26, 9780143109297).

Fresh Air: Jeff Guinn, author of The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781476763828).

CBS's the Doctors: Mackenzie Phillips, author of Hopeful Healing: Essays on Managing Recovery and Surviving Addiction (Atria Books/Beyond Words, $16, 9781582705705).

The View: Kelly Rowland, co-author of Whoa, Baby!: A Guide for New Moms Who Feel Overwhelmed and Freaked Out (and Wonder What the #*$& Just Happened) (Da Capo, $25, 9780738219424).

Jimmy Kimmel Live: Kelly Oxford, author of When You Find Out the World Is Against You: And Other Funny Memories About Awful Moments (Dey Street, $26.99, 9780062322777).

TV: Genius; Sleeping Beauties

A first clip has been released for National Geographic Channel's upcoming 10-part series Genius, based on Walter Isaacson's biography Einstein: His Life and Universe. Indiewire reported that in "the very timely clip below, Einstein (Geoffrey Rush) and his wife Elsa (Emily Watson) are trying to escape the anti-Semitism and war efforts of Nazi Germany. As they attempt to emigrate from Germany to America, they face an unjust and heated interrogation from a consulate official (played by Vincent Kartheiser) within the United States embassy."

The first episode of Genius will be directed by Ron Howard, who is also the executive producer alongside Brian Grazer and Gigi Pritzker. The series premieres on April 25 at 9 p.m.


"In a very competitive situation," Anonymous Content acquired the rights to Sleeping Beauties, the upcoming novel [S&S, Sept.] by Stephen King and his son, Owen King, Deadline reported. Anonymous is partnering with the Kings to develop Sleeping Beauties as a TV series. Oscar-winning producer Michael Sugar (Spotlight) and Ashley Zalta will executive produce the project for Anonymous. 

Books & Authors

Awards: Minnesota Book Winners

The winners of the 2017 Minnesota Book Awards, sponsored by the Friends of the St. Pau Library, are:

Novel & Short Story: Wintering by Peter Geye (Knopf)
Genre Fiction: The Heavens May Fall by Allen Eskens (Seventh Street Books/Prometheus Books)
Poetry: Unbearable Splendor by Sun Yung Shin (Coffee House Press)
General Nonfiction: The War on Science: Who's Waging It, Why It Matters, What We Can Do About It by Shawn Otto (Milkweed Editions)
Memoir and Creative Nonfiction: The Song Poet: A Memoir of My Father by Kao Kalia Yang (Metropolitan Books)
Minnesota Nonfiction: The Big Marsh: The Story of a Lost Landscape by Cheri Register (Minnesota Historical Society Press)
Children's Literature: Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian, illustrated by Mike Curato (Balzer + Bray)
Middle Grade Literature: The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse by Brian Farrey (Algonquin Young Readers)
Young Adult Literature: The Memory Book by Lara Avery (Poppy/Little, Brown)

Book Review

Review: The Scribe of Siena

The Scribe of Siena by Melodie Winawer (Touchstone, $26.99 hardcover, 464p., 9781501152252, May 16, 2017)

Neurosurgeon Beatrice Trovato has always been a deeply empathetic person. But when she begins having sudden, deeply emotional reactions while performing surgery, she worries that her new sensitivity will interfere with her job. As she plans a long-overdue vacation to visit her brother Ben in Italy, she receives news of his unexpected death. As the sole beneficiary of his estate, Beatrice boards her flight to Siena, saddened but eager to explore the city Ben loved. Her story unfolds in two widely separated time periods--and with rich detail--in Melodie Winawer's debut novel, The Scribe of Siena.

Arriving in Siena (a place she has never been), Beatrice feels immediately and deeply at home. Grieving Ben's death but captivated by his city, she ensconces herself in Ben's house and begins digging into his scholarly research on Siena during the Plague. Before his death, Ben was edging closer to solving a centuries-old mystery: why Siena was hit harder by the Plague than other Italian cities and why it never recovered its former prominence. Delving into local archives (with the help of a kind librarian), Beatrice discovers the journal of a medieval artist, Gabriele Beltrano Accorsi, who painted several frescoes on the facade of Siena's Duomo. Slipping into the church one day, Beatrice is abruptly transported to 14th-century Siena--months away from the advent of the Plague, and soon is face to face with Accorsi himself.

Readers will admire Beatrice's presence of mind as she struggles to adjust to an entirely new context, posing as a grieving widow and finding employment as a scribe. She builds a few cherished friendships and even falls in love with Gabriele, the painter--but she misses her own century, and has no idea how to return there. Meanwhile, a vicious conspiracy by Florentine and Sienese noblemen (including relatives of the Medici family) threatens to wipe out Siena completely--putting both Beatrice and Gabriele in danger. Racing against time in more ways than one, Beatrice tries to identify the culprits while wondering if she can ever return to her own time, or if she wants to.

Winawer renders her story in compelling detail, in Beatrice's whip-smart, observant, often sarcastic voice. Supporting characters in both eras--Ben's neighbor Donata in the present day; the sharp-eyed nun Suor Umiltá in 1347; Gabriele and his family--are also vivid and endearing. The conspiracy is vital as a plot device, but the more resonant theme is Beatrice's deep love for both her centuries and her heartfelt struggle to decide where she belongs. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Shelf Talker: A 21st-century neurosurgeon is transported to pre-Plague Italy in Melodie Winawer's vivid, compelling debut novel.

Powered by: Xtenit