Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Algonquin Young Readers: If I Promise You Wings by A.K. Small

Mariner Books: Everyone on This Train Is a Suspect by Benjamin Stevenson

S&s/ Marysue Rucci Books: The Storm We Made by Vanessa Chan

W by Wattpad Books: Night Shift by Annie Crown

Shadow Mountain: Under the Java Moon: A Novel of World War II by Heather B. Moore

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: So Let Them Burn by Kamilah Cole

Minotaur Books: The Rumor Game by Thomas Mullen


Bookstore Sales: Holiday Cheer Continues

General indications are that the solid sales at bricks-and-mortar bookstores reported during much of December continued at a healthy pace through the end of the year, a view that was reinforced by comments from indie booksellers in the days following Christmas.

For example, Judy Crosby, owner of Island Books, Middletown, R.I., called December sales "great, up from last year about 4%." There was "a long build from Thanksgiving on. With Christmas on a Monday, it seemed folks had time to shop, so there was never really that panicky frenzy that can occur at the end." Despite frigid temperatures, she continued, in the past week "people were still buying gifts for those they see after the 25th." In addition, families came in to visit and some were buying books for themselves.

In Chicago, Ill., Suzy Takacs, owner of the Book Cellar, also called December sales "great," likely the second-highest December for the store ever. The Saturday before Christmas was "crazy busy"--and a surprise because she thought more people would already be traveling. The store benefited, too, from several big events toward the end of the year.

The deep cold has led to some changes in consumer behavior. Traffic during the daytime is steady but slows at nighttime, "so once people stop coming, we close a little early," Takacs noted.

At Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, Tex., December sales were "definitely up from last year," owner Valerie Koehler said, and "last year overall" was up, too. Sales were boosted in part by Blue Willow's pop-up store at a design show at the beginning of the month. The store's solid results are striking in part because they happened even with the damage and disruption caused by Hurricane Harvey and by heavy construction around the store.

With more than a thousand homes in the area flooded, "we have temporarily lost some of our core customer base and, sadly, a good number of our elderly customers who were still in their homes but now will never be back," Koehler indicated. She called the construction "hideous," which included one day when there were "no entrances open to our shopping center on the street in front of us. They did leave a small one open to the side." Still, customers have been loyal, and Blue Willow tries hard "to make each person know that we were grateful for their perseverance in traffic to get to us." While walk-in business has been affected, "we are going strong with author events, conferences, and whatever else I can think of in the new year."

And at Gibson's Bookstore, Concord, N.H., December sales were up "significantly over the previous December," owner Michael Herrmann reported. Some of the gain was attributable to a signing by Hillary Clinton on December 5. The store would have had even higher sales, but storms on December 22 and 23 "cost us literally 4%-5% for the month," he added. "Awful to think about, but we live where we live."

Bitter cold "doesn't seem to be affecting sales" overall, Herrmann continued. But as at the Book Cellar, customers are shopping less at night and "squeezing their bookish activities into the 11-4 time slot."

Apple TV+: Lessons in Chemistry

Scrawl Books in Reston, Va., Is Relocating

Scrawl Books in Reston, Va., is moving to 11911 Freedom Dr. "next to Wells Fargo through the lobby by Talbots" from its Reston Town Center location on Market Street. The bookstore planned to remain open at its previous space until 4 p.m. on New Year's Eve, "then striking the set for our move."

Noting that the move "will take a little while to set up," Scrawl Books said that during January, customers can still shop in its Urban Pop at Reston Station location or online, and the store has expanded its free delivery area.

Soho Crime: My Favorite Scar by Nicolás Ferraro, translated by Mallory Craig-Kuhn

Brilliant Moon in Shelton, Wash., Settles in to New Home

Brilliant Moon, a book and gift store in Shelton, Wash., moved into a new 1,800-square-foot location in early December and will add a coffee shop some time this year, the Kitsap Sun reported. Mother-and-daughter owners Lindy Cameron and Mary Schroeder spent the days after Thanksgiving moving the store up the road to its new home in the 1912 building on Shelton's Railroad Avenue and managed to reopen before the first weekend of December, in time for Shelton's annual Holiday Magic event.

The new space is about 600 square feet smaller than its old location and previously was home to a restaurant. Despite the reduction in space, Cameron and Schroeder have not reduced the store's inventory, and later this year they plan to turn the store's back room, which has its own entrance, into a coffee shop.

"We'd wanted to have a coffee shop at our last place, but it never exactly worked out," Cameron told the Kitsap Sun. She added that the "separate space and entrance allow for there to be longer hours in the coffee shop without requiring staff to be in the bookstore."

Cameron and Schroeder opened Brilliant Moon in 2013 in McCleary, Wash., and moved to Shelton in 2015. The owners reported that though they'd been thinking of ways to save on overhead for some time, the decision to move came together somewhat suddenly.

"We needed lower overhead costs, the restaurant next door wanted to expand into our space and we got a text from a friend about the vacancy here," said Cameron. "It worked out really, really well."

AuthorBuzz for the Week of 09.25.23

Obituary Note: Sue Grafton

Sue Grafton

Sue Grafton, the "prolific author of detective novels known for an alphabetically titled series that began in 1982 with A Is for Alibi," died December 28, the New York Times reported. She was 77. With the publication of Y Is for Yesterday last August, Grafton's alphabetical series now ends, according to her daughter, Jamie Clark, who wrote on the author's Facebook page: "She was adamant that her books would never be turned into movies or TV shows, and in that same vein, she would never allow a ghost writer to write in her name. Because of all of those things, and out of the deep abiding love and respect for our dear sweet Sue, as far as we in the family are concerned, the alphabet now ends at Y."

Grafton's husband, Steven F. Humphrey, said her illness prevented her from making any progress on the planned final book in the series, though she did have the title: "She always said that last book would be Z Is for Zero. She'd been saying that for 30 years."

Before starting the alphabet series, Grafton had written seven novels, but then found her inspiration for the bestselling series from Edward Gorey's macabre 1963 book The Gashlycrumb Tinies ("A is for Amy who fell down the stairs") and the creation of Kinsey Millhone, who was introduced in A Is for Alibi like this: "My name is Kinsey Millhone. I'm a private investigator, licensed by the state of California. I'm thirty-two years old, twice divorced, no kids. The day before yesterday I killed someone and the fact weighs heavily on my mind."

The Millhone books "routinely made bestseller lists," the Times noted. "They also established a star female presence--both character and author--in a genre that leaned heavily male."

Grafton's honors include being named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America; the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Private Eye Writers of America; the Ross Macdonald Literary Award; the Cartier Diamond Dagger Award from Britain's Crime Writers' Association; the Lifetime Achievement Award from Malice Domestic; the Anthony Award given by Bouchercon; and three Shamus Awards.

Atria Books: Interesting Facts about Space by Emily Austin


Image of the Day: Wedding at Bear Pond Books

Just before the new year arrived, Bear Pond Books, Montpelier, Vt., hosted a bookish winter wedding in the shop and posted photos from the event on Facebook, noting: "So honored to host the beautiful wedding of Yana & Steve at the bookstore this evening! Congratulations!"

Flatiron Books: The Bad Ones by Melissa Albert

POTUS44's Reading List: Favorite Books of 2017

President Barack Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia shopped at Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C., on Small Business Saturday, 2014. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

There's a presidential reading list after all. Although President Trump has little to say about his reading habits, on New Year's Eve former President Barack Obama posted his favorite books and music from last year, noting: "During my presidency, I started a tradition of sharing my reading lists and playlists. It was a nice way to reflect on the works that resonated with me and lift up authors and artists from around the world. With some extra time on my hands this year to catch up, I wanted to share the books and music that I enjoyed most. From songs that got me moving to stories that inspired me, here's my 2017 list--I hope you enjoy it and have a happy and healthy New Year." Obama's best book picks are:

The Power by Naomi Alderman
Grant by Ron Chernow
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond
Janesville: An American Story by Amy Goldstein
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
Five-Carat Soul by James McBride
Anything Is Possible by Elizabeth Strout
Dying: A Memoir by Cory Taylor
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

*Bonus for hoops fans: Coach Wooden and Me by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Basketball (and Other Things) by Shea Serrano

Personnel Changes at Holiday House

At Holiday House Publishing:

Emily Mannon has been promoted to marketing coordinator from marketing assistant.

Emily Campisano has been promoted to associate publicist from publicity assistant.

Louisa Brady has joined the company as an editorial assistant. She was previously a bookseller at the Strand Bookstore in New York and interned at Folio Literary Management.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Jeff Goodell on Opposition with Jordan Klepper

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

Wendy Williams repeat: Van Jones, author of Beyond the Messy Truth: How We Came Apart, How We Come Together (Ballantine, $27, 9780399180026).

Late Night with Seth Meyers repeat: Michael Lewis, author of The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds (Norton, $16.99, 9780393354775).

The Opposition with Jordan Klepper: Jeff Goodell, author of The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World (Little, Brown, $28, 9780316260244).

Movies: Paddington 2

A new trailer for Paddington 2, the sequel based on Michael Bond's beloved children's book character, proves that "one thing has been true of Paddington Bear since he was but a wee cub: He loves marmalade," the Hollywood Reporter wrote.

The movie, directed by Paul King and based on a script he co-wrote with Simon Farnaby, stars Ben Whishaw, Hugh Grant, Sally Hawkins, Brendan Gleeson, Jim Broadbent, Julie Walters, Hugh Bonneville and Peter Capaldi. Paddington 2 made its debut in the U.K. November 10, and will open in U.S. theaters January 12.

Books & Authors

Awards: British New Year's Honors

British children's author Michael Morpurgo was knighted in this year's New Year's Honors List, while author and historian Lady Antonia Fraser and writer/broadcaster Melvyn Bragg have joined the Order of the Companions of Honor for outstanding achievements in the arts, literature, music, science, politics, industry or religion, the Bookseller reported.

Author and journalist Jilly Cooper was awarded a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) for services to literature and charity, along with Hay Festival co-founder and director Peter Florence. Revel Guest, chair of the Hay Festival, received an OBE (Officer of the British Empire) for services to literature.

Also honored with OBEs were Alison Wheeler, chief executive of Suffolk Libraries, for services to literature and libraries; Inez Lynn, former chief executive of the London Library; novelist and screenwriter Deborah Moggach; Veronica Wadley, chair of Arts Council England; and dramatist John Godber.

Book Review

Review: Peach

Peach by Emma Glass (Bloomsbury, $18 hardcover, 112p., 9781635571301, January 23, 2018)

Emma Glass is a research nurse specialist in London. Peach is her first novel, and it reveals an author already in fierce command of her own style. Like a bruised piece of fruit, it oozes with ruined sweetness that one can't wash off after reading. The novel's moral lessons stick, and they're meant to.

The plot is straightforward: a British teen named Peach is sexually assaulted and must cope with the trauma. She placates the concerns of her parents, who believe she's just going through normal sexual feelings, and also indulges her nice but clueless boyfriend, Green. Unfortunately the trauma takes on a life of its own, and Peach's tender world begins an inward putrefaction.

Writing in the first-person, Glass revels in rhythmic fragments, rhyme and alliteration that create an uncanny stream-of-consciousness: "I stutter. I splutter.... My heart batters my lungs and my breath bursts out in little bullets. I want to tell him. I was taking care of Baby. Weak words." From Peach's perspective, the people in her life resemble food items. Her teacher is a blob of custard spraying students with saccharine goop. Her friend Spud is a lumpy, dirty potato. Her attacker is the walking embodiment of fatty sausage, leaving a residue of grease everywhere he goes.

Glass gives literal reality to these food-based characters--even their names designate their physicality and edibleness--but also makes them greater symbols of a consumer society. Different types of food lend themselves to different associations. Peach is a soft fruit everyone wants to squeeze and pinch. The attacker's meaty greasiness, on the other hand, stains everything with a revolting, pernicious quality. The novel makes surrealistic, dream-like leaps when nonliving objects also begin to resemble the food chain: "I watch cars roll in rows in the street on sushi wheels."

All this adds up to a macabre playfulness that keeps Peach lively and luridly engaging throughout. Glass's imaginative wordplay opens up the very serious subject matter of sexual assault in new, frightening dimensions. In the end, Peach becomes a fable on revenge that is viscerally, gut-wrenchingly delivered. The conclusion is gasp-inducing and points to vegetarianism as a form of redemption. The novel elicits an uncomfortable question: in a world in which we consume each other, what is justice?

Peach is a deceptively short, hugely provocative novel worth every bite. --Scott Neuffer, writer, poet, editor of trampset

Shelf Talker: This debut novel explores the trauma of sexual assault and lust for revenge through surreal and morbid imagery.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. The Anthology Part 1: Limited Edition by Garth Brooks
2. The Elf on the Shelf by Carol V. Aebersold and Chanda B. Bell
3. Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo
4. The V Card by Lauren Blakely and Lili Valente
5. Magnolia Nights by Ashley Farley
6. Big Man by Penny Wylder
7. The Hookup by Kristen Ashley
8. Home for Christmas by Alexa Riley
9. 6 Mountain Brothers for Christmas by Rye Hart
10. What He Accepts Hannah Ford

[Many thanks to!]

Wicked Son: Adam Unrehearsed by Don Futterman
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