Shelf Awareness for Monday, December 18, 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


That Bookstore in Blytheville (Ark.) Has New Owners, New Name

After being sold by founder Mary Gay Shipley in 2012, That Bookstore in Blytheville, Blytheville, Ark., has had several owners. Now a new set of owners has come in and is making significant changes: the store's name is now Blytheville Book Company, and it will close after Christmas for "a significant facelift and infrastructure improvements" and will reopen in March, according to the Blytheville Courier.

Despite the changes, store manager Debra Caudle told the paper, "We want to continue Mary Gay Shipley's legacy for the community. The bookstore is world famous. People, truly, all over the world know about this store." After its reopening, Caudle added, the Blytheville Book Company will offer new books and classics, as well as toys and gifts "more in the vein of what you would find in a museum shop."

Andrew and Erin Carrington recently bought the store from Chris Crawley, who bought the store in 2013 from Grant Hill, who had purchased it from Shipley.

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

Bookman, Grand Haven, Mich., for Sale

The Bookman, Grand Haven, Mich., is for sale. The owners said in part: "The Bookman enjoys relationships and partnerships with area libraries, schools, our Tri-Cities Museum, and other non-profit organizations and businesses. We also work with our Grand Haven Main Street Downtown Development Authority, and we support many events related to the arts: authors, artists, and musicians. Grand Haven is a serious destination for resorters and retirees who continue to appreciate a good book. Our year-round residents, including our great schools, enjoy our personal service."

The Bookman, which has 3,500 square feet of space and carries new and used books, was founded in 1974 by Jim Dana, who later became the first executive director of the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association. In 2015, Sharon and Dick Tanis, Diane Steggerda and Alexa McGuinness bought the store from John and Judy Waanders.

Interested parties should contact Dick Tanis or Diane Steggerda at 616-846-3520 or via e-mail.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux: Intermezzo by Sally Rooney

French Government Fines Amazon for Bullying Suppliers

If only in the U.S...

Following a two-year investigation by its consumer fraud agency, the French government has filed a complaint with the Paris Commerce Court against Amazon for "abusing its dominant position with some suppliers," Le Parisien (via Reuters) reported. The Economic Ministry is seeking a fine of €10 million (about $11.8 million).

"The [Amazon] platform imposes unbalanced relations to its vendors," Loic Tanguy, an official at the consumer fraud agency, DGCCRF, told Le Parisien, which added that Amazon can, for example, unilaterally change contract terms or suspend contracts it has with the more than 10,000 French companies using its platform to sell their goods.

Obituary Note: Aline Griffith

Aline Griffith, author of several books and "a former model from suburban New York City who transformed herself into a dressed-to-kill self-proclaimed spy and Spanish countess," died December 11, the New York Times reported. She was in her mid-90s. Her books, "brimming with tales of her escapades as an American espionage agent, which began in Spain during World War II, were billed as memoirs--though they were believed to be heavily embroidered."

Griffith, known as Aline, Countess of Romanones, published her first memoir, The Spy Wore Red: My Adventures as an Undercover Agent in World War II, in 1987. In the New York Times Book Review, Michael Gross described the book as "delightful as it dances before the eye, detailing dirty tricks" and said her narrative introduced a new genre: "cafe espionage."

In 1990 she published a sequel, The Spy Went Dancing. Her other works include The Spy Wore Silk (1991); The Well-Mannered Assassin (1994) and The End of an Epoch (2015).

A Granite State Bookstore Tour, Part 2

On our bookstore tour in New Hampshire the week before last, one of the two stores NEIBA executive director Steve Fischer and I visited at length was Innisfree Bookshop, Meredith, a 5,000-square-foot store that celebrated its 25th anniversary earlier this year. The store was well-decorated for the holidays--elegant red-and-green-wrapped presents and bags around the store made the point tastefully.

Innisfree is also undergoing some significant changes: Casey Gerken, who worked in the store as a bookseller from 2009 to 2013, bought Innisfree in June from longtime owners Jim Meryman and Laura Mammarelli. While some of the transition has been very smooth--Innisfree remains in its spacious location near the center of the picturesque town on Lake Winnipesaukee and the staff has stayed on--Innisfree has installed Anthology, its first-ever point-of-sale inventory-control system, and Gerken is taking over buying, which, with the help of Meryman, she is mastering.

Replacing a system that was "just a cash register," Anthology has been working well, Gerkin said, after staff spent much of October adding inventory and purchases to it so that most information was available when the system went live. Gerken called Anthology "very intuitive."

Buying has also been a major new task for Gerken, who has been helped by former co-owner Jim Meryman. "Especially at the beginning of the summer, I couldn't have done it without him," Gerken said. He did a lot of the fall backlist ordering, and they shared an Edelweiss page so she could see how he ordered. He also went through the fall frontlist orders to make sure "I didn't miss anything," she continued.

Among the pleasant surprises as a new owner for Gerken is the positive reception she has received. "Since I worked here, reps remember me and have been very encouraging. Generally everyone's very happy for me and happy the store is staying here."

Among other changes, the store is starting to expand events, which "haven't been a big part of things," Gerken said. Already Innisfree is working with the Winnipesaukee Playhouse on collaborations, including use of the theater for some events.

Two Bros. Bows display

Some small changes have been made on the floor, and Gerken is considering more. Innisfree is actually three stores, said Bev Newton, manager for 21 years. There is the adult general bookshop, the children's section and "other stuff," which includes cards and sidelines.

Fiction is the bestselling book category, and booksellers each have a full shelf for their picks. Remainders also do well, particularly cookbooks, children's and art books, and are sold both in a section in the store and on carts in the lobby entrance. The store does a lot of cross-merchandising with toys and books.

As at White Birch Books in North Conway, cards are very popular, along with LEGO. The most popular sideline right now is kid-friendly (and parent-friendly!) bows and soft arrows from Two Bros. Bows, which retail for $29.95. In the summer, the store does well with plush and activity kits.

The store has a small section with "f bomb products," mostly pencils, notecards and pouches. Newton noted, "10% of customers think it's freaking hilarious. 80% think they're cute but don't laugh. And another 10% pull me aside to say this used to be a nice bookstore."

Steve Fischer, Casey Gerken and John Mutter

Summer is the "most challenging" time, Gerken said, when the area swells with summer people and tourists. "On a rainy day in July or August, we're jammed," Newton added. Still, the store has plenty of year-round customers as well as many people who have camps and come up at various times in the off season as well as during the summer.

A personal note: as always, NEIBA's Steve Fischer was a wonderful, generous host--and driver. With his retirement early next year, the association is losing a great leader, a savvy book person and an entertaining raconteur. Steve says he plans to stay involved in the book world, and I'm hoping that includes more bookstore tours! --John Mutter


Image of the Day: Molly's Game Premiere

Ben Steinberg, associate publisher at Dey Steet, Carrie Thornton, executive editor at Dey Street, literary agent Lisa Gallagher of DeFiore & Co. and Molly Bloom, author of Molly’s Game, at the New York premiere of Molly's Game, written and directed by Aaron Sorkin, starring Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba, which opens December 25. The movie tie-in edition is published by Dey Street ($15.99, 9780062838582).

Faherty Rep Molly Divine Retiring

Molly Divine, who has been in the book business for 40 years--for the past 25 years as a rep at Flaherty & Associates--is retiring at the end of the year. "There is never, really, a perfect time to make a major life change," she wrote. "But sometimes, the next opportunity presents itself, and instead of saying, not yet, maybe later, you look toward the future and say yes."

In 1968, Divine was hired as a receptionist at Johnson Printing (& Publishing) in Boulder, Colo. In the early '70s, she joined the staff at Columbine Books and Records in Denver, since "she already spent so much time there." She next moved to the sales staff of Gordon's Books, the onetime book wholesaler in Denver. In 1987, she became Simon & Schuster's Rocky Mountain sales rep. (During that interview, she recalled, when asked why they should hire her, she replied she would be a very dedicated and loyal employee, she really needed a company car, and she could already spell Albuquerque.)

In 1992, she became a sales rep for Faherty & Associates, based first in Denver, then Northern California and Oregon, and eventually became Faherty's in-house telemarketing rep.

In 2007, she was named Gordon Saull sales rep of the year by the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association.

As for retirement plans, Divine said she's "keen on adventures"--she loves travel and has visited all seven continents. She's been a volunteer in El Salvador, Nepal and Kenya, and has walked 500 miles on the Camino de Santiago in Spain. This past summer, she and her husband, Gary Baker, and several friends became owners of the Hush Valley Lodge and trout farm in Costa Rica.

Blast from the Past: Harry W. Schwartz Xmas TV Ad

As a bit of holiday season nostalgia, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, Wis., shared on Facebook a 2007 Christmas TV ad for the iconic Harry W. Schwartz bookstores, where Boswell's owner Dan Goldin previously worked.

"It's time to remember the iconic Harry W. Schwartz Christmas television ad from ten years ago, filmed at the Shorewood location (now the Metro Market)," Boswell noted. "Our buyer Jason is the fourth Santa from the left."

Personnel Changes at Thomas Nelson

Mark Glesne has joined Thomas Nelson as marketing director. He was most recently director of marketing and digital commerce at TOL, Inc.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Jennifer Egan on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Jennifer Egan, author of Manhattan Beach: A Novel (Scribner, $28, 9781476716732).

Steve Harvey: Hillary Clinton, author of What Happened (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781501175565).

Harry: Melissa Ben-Ishay, author of Cakes by Melissa: Life Is What You Bake It (Morrow, $26.99, 9780062681270).

Tonight Show: Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal, authors of Rhett & Link's Book of Mythicality: A Field Guide to Curiosity, Creativity, and Tomfoolery (Crown Archetype, $21, 9780451496294).

Conan repeat: Stephen Colbert, co-author of Stephen Colbert's Midnight Confessions (Simon & Schuster, $19.99, 9781501169007).

Live with Kelly and Ryan: Jojo Siwa, author of JoJo's Guide to the Sweet Life (Abrams, $18.99, 9781419728174).

Watch What Happens Live: Christian Siriano, author of Dresses to Dream About (Rizzoli, $45, 9780847858385).

Late Late Show with James Corden repeat: Denis Leary, author of Why We Don't Suck: And How All of Us Need to Stop Being Such Partisan Little Bitches (Crown Archetype, $27, 9781524762735).

TV: Little Women

The first trailer has been released for Little Women, the TV adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel from Masterpiece, BBC One and Playground (Wolf Hall, Howards End), Deadline reported. Heidi Thomas (Cranford, Call the Midwife) wrote the adaptation and Vanessa Caswill (Thirteen) directs.

The project stars Maya Hawke (Jo), Willa Fitzgerald (Meg), Annes Elwy (Beth) and Kathryn Newton (Amy), with Emily Watson as their mother, Marmee, Angela Lansbury as Aunt March, Jonah Hauer-King as Laurie Laurence and Michael Gambon as Mr. Laurence. Little Women premieres on PBS Masterpiece May 13, 2018.

Books & Authors

Awards: Max Ritvo Poetry

Grady Chambers won the inaugural Max Ritvo Poetry Prize, for his manuscript, North American Stadiums. The prize "honors the legacy of one of the most original and accomplished poets to debut in recent years, and to reward outstanding emerging poets for years to come." It was created by Milkweed Editions in partnership with Riva Ariella Ritvo-Slifka and the Alan B. Slifka Foundation. Chambers will receive $10,000 and publication by Milkweed in June 2018.

The winner was chosen by poet and judge Henri Cole, who said: "This powerful, absorbing first book has the sound and feel of a younger generation. Brilliant language, intelligence, and feeling make North American Stadiums matter. Factory lights, border patrol, gin, handguns, smoke stacks, and war are the geography of many of these eloquent poems, but the solitary poet is always scrutinizing the world with the eyes of a lover."

Milkweed publisher and CEO Daniel Slager commented: "I can think of no better way to honor Max Ritvo and his legacy than a first-book poetry prize, which rewards outstanding accomplishment in the art form he excelled. Nearly a thousand poets submitted manuscripts in this contest, and the quality of them confirms our sense that American poetry is livelier than ever. Congratulations to Grady Chambers for emerging from this mix, and hearty thanks to Henri Cole and the poets who served as first readers. We are very excited to publish North American Stadiums in 2018."

Top Library Recommended Titles for January

LibraryReads, the nationwide library staff-picks list, offers the top 10 January titles public library staff across the country love:

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin (Putnam, $26, 9780735213180). "A thought-provoking, sweeping family saga set in New York City's Lower East Side, 1969. Four siblings sneak out to visit a psychic who reveals to each, separately, the exact date of his or her death. The book goes on to recount five decades of experience shaped by the siblings attempts to control fate." --Kelly Currie, Delphi Public Library, Delphi, Ind.

The Wife Between Us: A Novel by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen (St. Martin's Press, $26.99, 9781250130921). "A thriller told from the perspective of three narrators: a woman, her ex-husband, and his fiance. The storyline is intricate and nonlinear and the characters are likable, but unreliable. This one will keep you guessing." --Kelly Moore, Carrollton Public Library, Carrollton, Tex.

The Woman in the Window: A Novel by A.J. Finn (Morrow, $26.99, 9780062678416). "A menacing psychological thriller that starts out like Rear Window and then veers off into unexpected places. An agoraphobic recluse languishes in her New York City home, drinking wine and spying on her neighbors. One day she witnesses a crime that threatens to expose her secrets." --Joseph Jones, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Cuyahoga, Ohio

Promise Not to Tell by Jayne Ann Krentz (Berkley, $27, 9780399585272). "Virginia owns a successful art gallery in Seattle now, but she has had to overcome many demons from her childhood in a cult. When one of her artists commits suicide, leaving her a mysterious message, she suspects the cult leader may have resurfaced." --Kelly Rohde, Mead Public Library, Sheboygan, Wis.

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory (Berkley, $15, 9780399587665). "Drew is in San Francisco for his ex-girlfriend's wedding. When he finds himself stuck in an elevator with Alexa, they hatch a plan to go to the wedding together, pretending to be a couple. Told in alternating points of view, this is a delightful multicultural romance." --Elizabeth Gabriel, Milwaukee Public Library, Milwaukee, Wis.

Carnegie's Maid: A Novel by Marie Benedict (Sourcebooks Landmark, $25.99, 9781492646617). "Engaging, richly-detailed, biographical, and historical fiction. In 1860s Pittsburgh, Clara, an Irish immigrant, takes a job working as a maid for Andrew Carnegie, with whom she falls in love, and then goes missing." --Carol Ann Tack, Merrick Library, Merrick, N.Y.

Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire (Tor, $17.99, 9780765393586). "McGuire continues her astounding Wayward Children series with the third volume. A fantastical journey to find and resurrect a mother in a land of sweets. A great fantasy for those who want to give the genre a try." --Andrienne Cruz, Azusa City Library, Azusa, Calif.

Still Me: A Novel by Jojo Moyes (Pamela Dorman, $27, 9780399562457). "The irrepressible Louisa Clark is back and she has a new job as an assistant to the super wealthy Gopniks in New York City. She's thrilled, a little overwhelmed, and unsure how distance will affect her relationship with her boyfriend, Sam. A spirited look at New York high society." --Lynn Lobash, New York Public Library, New York, N.Y.

The Girl in the Tower: A Novel by Katherine Arden (Del Rey, $27, 9781101885963). "Vasilisa's gift for seeing what others do not won her the attention of Morozko and together they saved her people from destruction. Compelling political intrigue set in medieval Russia with a twist of folklore and some lush and inventive world building." --Beth Mills, New Rochelle Public Library, New Rochelle, N.Y.

Eternal Life: A Novel by Dara Horn (Norton, $25.95, 9780393608533). "Ever since she made a deal to save her son's life in Roman-occupied Jerusalem, Rachel has been doomed to live eternally. When one of her grandchildren tries to study the secret of her longevity and asks for a DNA sample, her world spins out of control." --Kimberly McGee, Lake Travis Library, Austin, Tex.

Book Review

Review: The Infinite Future

The Infinite Future by Tim Wirkus (Penguin Press, $28 hardcover, 400p., 9780735224322, January 16, 2018)

In an ambitious second novel that combines literary and speculative fiction, Tim Wirkus (City of Brick and Shadow) rolls a host of wildly disparate stories into one structured yet trippy whole.

Wirkus opens with a foreword introducing himself as the messenger. He knew narrator Danny Lazlo, Wirkus tells the reader, as an enigmatic classmate at Brigham Young University. The two were briefly reacquainted when Danny gave Wirkus a manuscript by obscure Brazilian science fiction writer Eduard Salgado-MacKenzie entitled The Infinite Future. With it is a 200-page translator's note by Danny, his account of the wild and woolly journey he and two companions undertook to track down the mysterious author.

Danny first hears about Salgado-MacKenzie during a research trip to São Paulo, while working on a flailing attempt at the Great American Mormon Novel--his project for the highly suspect Young Religious Novelist Grant. Librarian Sergio Antunes, Danny's liaison, introduces him to Salgado-MacKenzie's stories of spaceship captain Irena Sertorian and her valiant crew, who travel the universe facing deadly peril and ethical dilemmas in the style of classic Star Trek. Sergio, a lifelong fan, also shows Danny a book proposal indicating the existence of an unpublished Salgado-MacKenzie novel. Danny goes home to demands from the granting agency that he return the money they paid him, with interest. Soon, however, Sergio renews contact, claiming to have found a lead on Salgado-MacKenzie's whereabouts through Dr. Harriet Kimball. The feminist scholar was excommunicated from the Church of Latter-Day Saints and once translated some of Salgado-MacKenzie's work. She regrets never finding out whether he was "a raving crank or one of the greatest minds of his generation." Together, the three undertake a journey to find the man at the heart of the mystery and seek out The Infinite Future in the most unlikely of places.

To call Wirkus's opus labyrinthine perhaps conveys its scope and intricacy. Unlike a true labyrinth, however, The Infinite Future contains blind alleys that may not contribute to forward momentum, although they always provide a thought-provoking diversion. Wirkus swings wide, presenting an obsessive quest, a road trip story, a two-sided look at Mormonism and faith itself, a mystery and, finally, The Infinite Future, the lost novel. With more layers than Damascene steel, the end result shouldn't work but, against all odds, it does. As Wirkus the character muses, "any story that creates a more potent and delightful version of itself in the reader's memory" has pulled off a magical metamorphosis, and Wirkus the author has given us just such a story. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Shelf Talker: Two novels in one, The Infinite Future follows a man in search of a mysterious Brazilian author and also contains that author's long-lost unpublished science fiction novel.

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