Shelf Awareness for Thursday, April 16, 2020

William Morrow & Company: Polostan: Volume One of Bomb Light by Neal Stephenson

Shadow Mountain: The Legend of the Last Library by Frank L Cole

Atlantic Monthly Press: The Elements of Marie Curie: How the Glow of Radium Lit a Path for Women in Science by Dava Sobel

Ace Books: Dungeon Crawler Carl by Matt Dinniman

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Millicent Quibb School of Etiquette for Young Ladies of Mad Science by Kate McKinnon

Annick Press: Bog Myrtle by Sid Sharp

Minotaur Books: Betrayal at Blackthorn Park: A Mystery (Evelyne Redfern #2) by Julia Kelly


#VirtualBookstoreParty; #SaveIndieBookstores; Binc Fundraisers

While Independent Bookstore Day is now tentatively rescheduled for Saturday, August 29, IBD is encouraging booksellers to celebrate virtually next week, April 19-25, using the hashtag #VirtualBookstoreParty, according to Bookselling This Week. (IBD originally was to be held Saturday, April 25.)

Among tips for celebrating: post on social media regularly using #VirtualBookstoreParty and #BookstoreDay; use IBD-suggested posts; participate in the April 21 indie-only release of IBD exclusive Renee Watson's Ways to Make Sunshine; launch a Twitter game; host events on Zoom or Instagram.

For more information, see BTW's article here.


The #SaveIndieBookstores campaign, a partnership between the American Booksellers Association, the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc) and James Patterson, has raised some $210,733 since its April 2 launch, in addition to the $500,000 seed donation from Patterson, Bookselling This Week reported.

#SaveIndieBookstores runs through April 30, when Binc will distribute the funds to eligible independent bookstores. To be considered for a grant, ABA member bookstores should visit to fill out a short application form through April 27. Funds will be distributed in mid-May.


More than 130 comics writers, artists, authors and other supporters are participating in the #Creators4Comics Twitter auction to raise money for Binc to be used to help comic book retailers and independent bookstores affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. The auction will offer everything from signed comics and artwork to unusual events and experiences, and will run through next Monday, April 20, under the hashtag #Creators4Comics. Winning bidders will donate directly to Binc.

The auction effort is being coordinated by comic book creators Kami Garcia, Brian Michael Bendis, Gwenda Bond, Sam Humphries and Phil Jimenez.

Art by David Mack for the #Creators4Comics auction.

"Print is the heart of comics and books, and the brick and mortar stores that keep print alive are struggling, so I reached out to other concerned creators/friends," said Garcia. "They enthusiastically agreed we needed to help."

"These stores have supported us throughout our careers," said Bond. "Now is our chance to support them. Comic shops and indie bookstores are at the heart of our industry and our neighborhoods."

"The phenomenal response we've seen so far from creators makes it clear that comic book stores are the foundation of our industry," added Sam Humphries. "But we can't do this alone--anyone who loves comic stores can join us and create an auction of their own!"

Among the contributors are Kelly Sue DeConnick, Neil Gaiman, Marv Wolfman, Geoff Johns, Joe Hill, Shannon Hale, Brad Meltzer, Mariko Tamaki, Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Donny Cates, Tom King, Mitch Gerards, Danielle Paige, Gene Luen Yang, Jason Aaron, Gabriel Picolo, Mark Guggenheim, Gail Simone, Jeff Lemire, Vita Ayala, David Mack, Ryan North, Meg Cabot, Bryan Lee O'Malley, Cassandra Clare, James Tynion IV, Marieke Najkamp, Margaret Stohl, Greg Rucka, Jock, Alyssa Wong, Stephanie Garber, Mico Suayan and G. Willow Wilson.

With permission, #Creators4Comics is borrowing the Twitter auction format used by #AuthorsForFireys, which raised more than $500,000 in less than a week to assist Australian firefighting efforts.


Stanford University Press is helping independent booksellers and bookstores by pledging 5% of its online sales in April and May to Binc.

"We think of independent booksellers as our valued partners, but in their communities, they are absolutely essential," said Alan Harvey, director of Stanford University Press. "We are grateful to Binc for establishing this fund for quick and direct relief for so many of our colleagues in this time of great need. A world with fewer bookstores would be a catastrophe."

Binc executive director Pamela French said, "We continue to be humbled by how quickly the book industry has come together to provide support for booksellers and bookstores. As the weeks go by and the number of requests for assistance increases, so does the support. I cannot thank Stanford University Press enough for supporting booksellers and Binc."


Mango Media, Coral Gables, Fla., is offering the Humble Book Bundle: Spring Clean Your Life, a deal on e-book editions of some of its titles, with a portion of the proceeds going to Binc.

As Mango put it: "Up to $306 worth of incredible e-books that can help you reset your mind and your life this unseasonably chaotic spring. You can pay as little as $15 for the full set of almost 20 e-books--or as low as $1 for a subset of five inspiring works." The offer is available until April 27.

The titles include The Clutter Connection by Cassandra Aarssen; Keto Meal Prep by Bobby and Desi Parrish; You Can Do All Things by Kate Allen; The 7 Habits on the Go by Steven Covey; and Badass Affirmations by Becca Anderson.

Running Press Kids: Your Magical Life: A Young Witch's Guide to Becoming Happy, Confident, and Powerful by Amanda Lovelace

Bookstore Sales Up 0.8% in February

In what will probably be the last month of positive sales for a long while, bookstore sales in February rose 0.8%, to $649 million, according to preliminary estimates from the Census Bureau. For the year to date, bookstore sales fell 2.8%, to $1.73 billion.

By comparison, through February 12, sales at ABA member stores, as reported to the weekly bestseller lists, were down 2.7% compared to the same period in 2019.

Total retail sales in February rose 8.1%, to $481 billion. For the year to date, total retail sales rose 6.7%, to $903.9 billion.

Note: under Census Bureau definitions, the bookstore category consists of "establishments primarily engaged in retailing new books."

G.P. Putnam's Sons: William by Mason Coile

Bruce Nichols to Head Little, Brown

Bruce Nichols

Effective May 4, Bruce Nichols is joining Little, Brown as senior v-p and publisher, filling the spot vacated earlier this year when Reagan Arthur moved to Penguin Random House to become executive v-p, publisher of Knopf, Pantheon and Schocken.

Nichols has been senior v-p and publisher of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt since 2009, where "he has led significant expansion of the company's range of publishing and increased revenue more than 65%," Hachette said. "Nichols oversaw the full range of adult publishing which includes fiction, nonfiction, and lifestyle books. He is recognized for publishing bestselling books in politics, history, and science, among other categories, and he has overseen publishing programs for major commercial brands including The Whole30 and the Tolkien estate."

Among authors he has worked with are Douglas Brinkley, Tim Ferriss, Adam Hochschild, Eric Lichtblau, Tim O'Brien, Cynthia Ozick, Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, James Risen, Paul Theroux and Esther Wojcicki.

Before joining Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Nichols held publishing and editorial roles at HarperCollins and Free Press, and started his publishing career at Little, Brown, in the company's former college publishing division.

Hachette Book Group CEO Michael Pietsch commented: "As Little, Brown's publishing range has expanded significantly, it was important to find someone with the proven ability to publish brilliantly across many categories. Bruce has worked with great writers in literary fiction and commercial fiction and in narrative nonfiction, history, cookbooks, business, inspiration, and more. It's rare to find someone with such editorial breadth and strong business skills."

Nichols said, "I have long admired the range and strengths of the publishing program at Little, Brown, its enormously talented staff, and the spectacular writers they have brought into the world. Continuing their remarkable programs, and finding new opportunities for growth and innovation, is the challenge of a lifetime that I'm honored to accept. It's a thrill to come full circle and rejoin Little, Brown, and to lead such a sterling team."

Around the Regionals: NEIBA, MIBA, GLIBA


Beth Ineson, executive director of the New England Independent Booksellers Association, reported that over the past three weeks, member booksellers' needs have changed rapidly. At first, it was clarity on state-by-state orders about what businesses could and could not do, which sometimes differed by muncipality within the same state. Then, it was all about publishers' and wholesalers' shipping restrictions. Most recently, it's been all grant and loan applications, all the time.

Ineson and her team have been hosting daily Zoom calls for information sharing, as well as weekly owner and manager calls by state. There's a Covid-19 resource page on the NEIBA website now, and the NEIBA team has been extending these resources to stores that are in the region but are not members.

The association has been sharing technology to help stores switch to online events and more online promotion. There have been digital rep pick sessions, and NEIBA is soliciting nominations for an upcoming region-wide event called "One Quarantine/One Book." Ineson and her colleagues are also working on collecting bookseller video pitches for new release titiles that can be shared on social media by all member stores.

NEIBA has made a substantial donation to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation, and while NEIBA's membership year usually begins July 1, the association will not collect membership dues until 2021.

"I am constnatly impressed with the kindness, business-savvy and resiliency of our member booksellers," said Ineson. "The circumstances in which we find ourselves are extraordinarily challenging, but through it all the stores in my region have shared information, supported each other, and shown blazing creativity when it comes to moving their businesses forward."



In the weeks since states began shutting down businesses and limiting social contact due to the coronavirus pandemic, Carrie Obry and her team at the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association have been helping bookstores throughout the region navigate differing safety mandates and the struggles associated with transitioning to being mainly online businesses.

Obry reported that while some stores are able to do curbside pickup, the option hasn't proven to be worthwhile for everyone. Delivery, however, is generally going very well for member stores, with Obry noting that one bookseller even bought a magnetic store sign for the top of his car. It is easier to adhere to safety restrictions while doing delivery, she continued, and some stores may well offer it even after restrictions are lifted. Mystery boxes and grab bags of varying dollar amounts have been doing well for many stores. They can be tailored to suit particular age ranges or to focus on specific genres and are a fun surprise for the recipients.

Some member stores are down dramatically, while others have been able to hold steady. Much of that, Obry said, depends on things like what kind of community the store is in and how many booksellers there are on staff. She noted that one member store in a dense college town with a strong downtown has kept sales steady, but another store in a tourist-heavy area is down. Bookseller are also continuously having to reinvent their business models and are putting in long days to keep up with orders.

MIBA has posted a guide to the state-by-state mandates on its website and is sending urgent information out to booksellers through the association's newsletter. Obry and her team are increasing conversations on MIBA's private Facebook group to share best practices as well as inspiration. In addition, Obry is contacting every member store individually to get a better sense of what they need.

The association has started a weekly Happy Hour series via Zoom, and the plan is to start with a four-week series that focuses on one bookseller's story per session, along with open conversation. And with Independent Bookstore Day on hold until August, MIBA is using the individual store art created by artist Kevin Cannon for custom graphics and promotional messages, instead of the usual IBD roadmap.


The Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association, meanwhile, has adjusted plans for its Virtual Spring Forum. With member booksellers busy trying to adapt to the current crisis through things like curbside pickup, local delivery and online events, all while trying to raise funds and navigate relief programs, executive director Larry Law and his team have decided to spread the Spring Forum out over weeks, so booksellers can participate at their convenience.

Instead of holding the entire Spring Forum on one day, GLIBA will be hosting online video chats for members every Wednesday and posting a new video from a Spring Forum author each week. All author presentations will be sent to member booksellers, shared on social media and hosted on GLIBA's website. At the same time, GLIBA is opening up its Spring Forum to booksellers from across the country.

The forum will begin next Wednesday, April 22, with the bookseller chat scheduled to run from 9-10 a.m., and the first author video posted that same day. Once stay-at-home orders are lifted, GLIBA will start sending galleys to registered booksellers.

How Bookstores Are Coping: The Reading Bug; EW's Indie Report

Lauren Savage, owner of The Reading Bug in San Carlos, Calif., reported that her store has been closed since March 16, when San Mateo County issued a shelter-in-place order. Savage is currently the store's sole employee, and she said she is working 14- to 16-hour days both at home and at the store. 

Savage is still shipping the store's subscription box, called the Reading Bug Box, and it has increased in popularity with so many stuck at home and in need of reading material. She has also started selling one-time "care packages" that include art and science titles, workbooks and other things that can help keep parents and children busy. She is shipping to all 50 states as well as delivering locally, and the store is open for curbside pickup one hour each day. She noted that the store is getting "pretty great traffic this way."

Savage said the staff has been "incredible." They are all on unemployment but are still trying to help by sending her recommendations from home. Savage said she's eager to get them back in store as soon as it is legal and safe to do so (at the moment, only one person is allowed in the store at a time). She added that while she has "applied for everything" as far as relief programs go, she has heard nothing. She's launched a crowdfunding campaign hoping to raise $18,000.

Savage has been hosting livestreamed events almost every day. Every weekday morning at 11 a.m., Savage hosts a storytime session on Facebook Live, and on Sundays the store posts a craft project presented by her mother-in-law. Her most-watched storytime ever, she said, had 4,000+ hits and included her youngest son having a "full-on meltdown" on camera while eating an apple and asking her to "just stop reading." She pointed out that kids and families need that sort of normalcy at the moment, and having a consistent, reliable schedule helps.

Reading Bug Adventures, the store's podcast, is in its fifth season, and Savage and her family are recording new episodes at home rather than in a studio. They've been able to "churn out stories," and her husband has been furiously editing them from home before sending the episodes to their production team at Resonate Recordings for mixing. She also gave a shout-out to the show's sponsors, including Scholastic, Penguin Random House Audio and Sourcebooks.

While she and her family are "bone tired," Savage said, they are proud of being able to provide a needed service at the moment. It's not the "frontlines" of the pandemic, she continued, "but I really feel we are doing our small part."


"The only thing certain right now is uncertainty--and if you happen to run an independent bookstore, that rings perhaps even more true," Entertainment Weekly noted in its report on how several indies are coping with the Covid-19 pandemic.

"I don't think anyone becomes a bookseller because they think the profit margin [will] make them rich. We're all thoughtful people and we're doing it because we care about books and what they mean to us and what they mean to our community," said Amy Kane of the Bookstore, Haines, Alaska, which had its grand opening March 6 before closing on March 14. "I'm hoping that I can still provide books to the folks at least here in the community, and I'm having to brainstorm and completely re-envision, my whole business model. I have a bit of a learning curve to get my online presence more robust. At this point, I've been focusing so much on just getting the doors open that I have a website but it's basically [the store info]."

Eileen McGervey of One More Page Books, Arlington, Va., noted that bookstores "focus on being a community meeting place, and we differentiate ourselves from online by having author events and book discussions. The very things that distinguish us right now we cannot do.... It's a whole new paradigm right now. A lot of indies didn't make it through [the Amazon boom], but the ones that did really had to change how they did business. This might be like that--we all have to step back and break the mold of what we've be doing."

At Love's Sweet Arrow, Tinley Park, Ill., co-founder Roseann Backlin observed: "We're still building our base. We started with a very small amount of money, and we put our profit back into the store so we don't pay ourselves yet, because we can't afford to. You just hear all the time that places fail without something like this in their first year. The odds are really stacked against us."

Leah Koch of the Ripped Bodice, Culver City, Calif., cautioned: "People are really making a point to support us, which is so incredible. My concern is, are they still going to be doing that five weeks from now?"


Image of the Day: Special Delivery

Rakestraw Books, Danville, Calif., shared: "Susan and her boys are safely delivering local orders made at Rakestraw Books! Thanks to you they're getting some exercise while you safely get your books."

Bookstore Video: Underground Books Is Candle-Lit

Underground Books, Carrollton, Ga., shared a video offering help completing your home library with Frostbeard Candles: "Well, hello! Didn't see you there! I must have been too entranced by my book and the sweet, sweet nose-scents of my 100% soy wax book lovers' candle from Frostbeard Studio. Made with lead-free cotton wicks and hand-selected fragrance oils, these luminescent scent experiences are also vegan, reusable, and recyclable. Complete the circle of comfort in your home library with Frostbeard book lovers' candles, available from Underground Books...."

Personnel Changes at Abrams; Little, Brown

Andrew Gibeley has joined the Abrams adult publicity department as publicist. He was formerly at HarperCollins, where for three years he worked on books at William Morrow, Avon, Voyager, and Dey Street.


Stephanie Reddaway has joined Little, Brown as a publicist, working primarily on the Spark and Voracious imprints as well as an occasional project on the larger Little, Brown list. She was formerly at Penguin Random House, where she was an associate publicist for the Random House Publishing Group.

IPG Adds Seven Publishers

Independent Publishers Group is adding seven publishers to its Trafalgar Square Publishing division:

Otter-Barry Books, a U.K. children's publisher founded by Janetta Otter-Barry, who previously ran her own imprint at Frances Lincoln. The company produces picture books, nonfiction titles and poetry that address themes like identity, family, diversity, cross-cultural issues, inclusion and world history. Authors include Jackie Morris, James Mayhew and Robert Macfarlane. Effective July 15.

Little Steps, an Australian bespoke publisher focused on beautiful and high-quality children's books. Effective June 1.

Mount Orleans Press, which publishes books in the areas of poetry, cooking, travel, art, architecture and children's. Effective June 1.

Ad Lib, a new U.K. nonfiction publisher founded by John Blake that will release more than a dozen books each year covering true crime, autobiography/biography and military. Effective July 1.

The Lilliput Press, an Irish publisher specializing in biography, historical nonfiction, memoir and fiction, whose titles includes books by James Joyce, John Moriarty and J.P. Donleavy. Effective July 1.

Richardson Publishing Group, a new London publisher founded by Will Richardson whose books both entertain and educate. Effective January 2021.

Fairlight Books, founded in 2017, which publishes, promotes and supports writers of literary fiction. Effective January 2021.

Media and Movies

This Weekend on Book TV: Ben Bernanke

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, April 18
1 p.m. Jamie Metzl, author of Hacking Darwin: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Humanity (Sourcebooks, $16.99, 9781728214139). (Re-airs Sunday at 7:45 a.m. and 10 p.m.)

7 p.m. Victor Davis Hanson, author of The Case for Trump (Basic Books, $17.99, 9781541673557). (Re-airs Sunday at 8:55 a.m. and Monday at 1 a.m.)

7:50 p.m. Mike Davis, author of The Monster at Our Door: The Global Threat of Avian Flu (Holt, $20, 9780805081916). (Re-airs Sunday 2:30 p.m. and Monday at 5 a.m.)

9:15 p.m. Ben S. Bernanke, co-author of Firefighting: The Financial Crisis and Its Lessons (Penguin Books, $16, 9780143134480). (Re-airs Sunday at 9:45 a.m. and 11:10 p.m.)

10 p.m. Jim McKelvey, author of The Innovation Stack: Building an Unbeatable Business One Crazy Idea at a Time (Portfolio, $26, 9780593086735). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Book TV explores titles by historian David McCullough. (Re-airs Sunday at 7:30 p.m.)

Books & Authors

Awards: Jhalak Shortlist

A shortlist has been released for the £1,000 (about $1,305) Jhalak Prize for Book of the Year by a Writer of Color, the Bookseller reported. In addition to the cash award, the winner receives a work of art by Neda Koochakian Fard. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the prize will be awarded online May 26. A reception celebrating longlisted writers, judges and supporters is planned for later in the year. This year's shortlisted titles are:

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta
Remembered by Yvonne Battle-Felton
Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
Fleche by Mary Jean Chan
Suncatcher by Romesh Gunesekera
Afropean: Notes from Black Europe by Johny Pitts

Prize director Sunny Singh said: "The global Covid-19 pandemic has brought us one of the greatest challenges of our times. It has also emphasized how much we need great literature, especially literature that can take us to new places, light up our memories, nudge our collective conscience and lead our imaginations to new horizons. Our 2020 shortlist is such a celebration, offering brilliant insights and exquisite writing in a feast for our minds, hearts and souls."

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Make Change: How to Fight Injustice, Dismantle Systemic Oppression, and Own Our Future by Shaun King (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26, 9780358048008) includes a foreword by Bernie Sanders.

I'm Your Huckleberry: A Memoir by Val Kilmer (Simon & Schuster, $27.99, 9781982144890) is the memoir of the actor.

Home Baked: My Mom, Marijuana, and the Stoning of San Francisco by Alia Volz (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27, 9780358006091) is a memoir by the daughter of a woman who ran an edibles empire in San Francisco during the 1970s and '80s. (Publishing on Monday, 4/20.)

The Women With Silver Wings: The Inspiring True Story of the Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II by Katherine Sharp Landdeck (Crown, $28, 9781524762810) tells the inspiring story of the more than 1,100 female pilots in the Army Air Forces.

Outsmarting the Sociopath Next Door: How to Protect Yourself Against a Ruthless Manipulator by Martha Stout (Harmony Books, $27, 9780307589071) helps identify sociopaths and gives tools for dealing with them.

The Kill Chain: Defending America in the Future of High-Tech Warfare by Christian Brose (Hachette Books, $28, 9780316533539) explores the future of American war.

Strange Situation: A Mother's Journey into the Science of Attachment
by Bethany Saltman (Ballantine, $27, 9780399181443) explores the study of the attachment between parents and children.

Master Class by Christina Dalcher (Berkley, $27, 9780440000839) takes place in a dystopia where children are harshly segregated based on test scores.

On These Magic Shores by Yamile Saied Mendez (Lee & Low Books, $19.95, 9781643790312) features a young girl who must take care of her little sisters after their mother disappears.

Not Playing by the Rules: 21 Female Athletes Who Changed Sports by Lesa Cline-Ransom (Knopf Books for Young Readers, $18.99, 9781524764531) is a middle-grade collection of women who broke new ground in sports.

Reproduction by Ian Williams (Europa Editions, $18, 9781609455750).

First Comes Scandal: A Bridgerton Prequel by Julia Quinn (Avon, $7.99, 9780062956163).

Defending Jacob: A Novel by William Landay (Ballantine, $17, 9780593237960) is a tie-in to the Apple TV+ streaming series starring Chris Evans.

Party in Your Plants: 100+ Plant-Based Recipes and Problem-Solving Strategies to Help You Eat Healthier by Talia Pollock (Avery, $25, 9780525540267).

The Englisch Daughter: A Novel by Cindy and Erin Woodsmall (WaterBrook, $15.99, 9780735291027).

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:

Darling Rose Gold: A Novel by Stephanie Wrobel (Berkley, $26, 9780593100066). "Rose Gold's mother is being released from prison and has asked her daughter for temporary shelter. Despite having been the target of her mother's abuse, Rose Gold decides to give it a try. Has she really forgiven her mother for past crimes? This is a roller coaster of a story! Loved it!" --Marcia Vanderford, Vanderford's Books & Office Products, Sandpoint, Idaho

Beheld: A Novel by TaraShea Nesbit (Bloomsbury, $26, 9781635573220). "Beheld is a story of the Pilgrims and Puritans, the beginning of the Plymouth colony, and the first murder that occurred there. It's a fascinating look at family, love, the importance of friendship, corruption, and human behavior. I have not read many books that take place during this time period but this one, which is primarily told from the voices of two women, is just fantastic!" --Kathy Morrison, Newtown Bookshop, Newtown, Pa.

The Honey Bus: A Memoir of Loss, Courage and a Girl Saved by Bees by Meredith May (Park Row, $16.99, 9780778309758). "I loved this perfect memoir so much that I read it twice and already know that it will be one of my favorites of the year. Meredith May learns to withstand pain, loss, and grief through the lessons her beloved grandfather teaches her. After her mother moves the family away from her father and shuts down emotionally, Grandpa shows May and her brother love, patience, and understanding using honeybees as an example of how to survive and thrive in a confusing world. I cannot wait to put this moving, emotionally compelling memoir into many hands this spring!" --Diane Grumhaus, Lake Forest Book Store, Lake Forest, Ill.

For Ages 4 to 8
Vote for Our Future! by Margaret McNamara, illus. by Micah Player (Schwartz & Wade, $17.99, 9781984892805). "Your vote counts--just ask the students at Stanton Elementary School, who are making their voices heard and working hard to get out the vote. Vote for Our Future! explains the voting process in vivid illustrations and language that children--and adults!--can easily understand. An important and timely book that would work well in an elementary classroom and with parents who want to discuss this topic with their children." --Judy Hayes, Kids Ink Children's Bookstore, Indianapolis, Ind.

For Ages 9 to 12
Bloom (The Overthrow, Book 1) by Kenneth Oppel (Knopf, $16.99, 9781524773007). "A destructive plant begins to invade the entire planet. Blooms follow and throw off deadly toxic pollen. Enormous sinkholes emerge, endangering lives and swallowing buildings. Strangely, three teenagers appear to be immune to the effects of the deadly plant. Why? What do they have in common? Can they figure out how to destroy the plant? Just as their efforts are gaining ground and success is assumed, the book ends and leaves the reader breathlessly waiting for the sequel. A book not to be missed!" --Jean Fennacy, Petunia's Place, Fresno, Calif.

For Teen Readers
Foul Is Fair by Hannah Capin (Wednesday Books, $18.99, 9781250239549). "Featuring a razor-sharp take on Lady Macbeth, this book is gripping. In the rise of antihero narratives in pop culture, this deserves to be up there with some of our favorites. It's cathartic to see karma come around in the form of our protagonist, Jade. For Shakespeare fans, all of the nods to the original play are clever. Hannah Capin gets the balance just right between the source material and her own unique vision. As a tale of revenge, Foul Is Fair soars. No matter what happens in the book, we are always rooting for the girls." --Sofia Silva Wright, Phoenix Books, Burlington, Vt.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: The Royal Abduls

The Royal Abduls by Ramiza Shamoun Koya (Forest Avenue Press, $16.95 paperback, 304p., 9781942436416, May 12, 2020)

In her provocative, intense debut novel, The Royal Abduls, Ramiza Shamoun Koya introduces the extended members of a fractured family four years after the horrors of 9/11. Each is attempting to deal with ongoing anti-Muslim challenges, from microaggressions to outright civil rights abuses. Despite a shared history that includes overlapping teenhoods, Amina, her brother Mo and her sister-in-law (and friend since high school) Marcy now seem to have only Marcy and Mo's 11-year-old son, Omar, in common. The Abduls are all living in the same city, for the first time in many years. Evolutionary biologist Amina accepted a post-doc in Washington, D.C., providing a rare chance to reconnect. For Omar, Amina arrives just in time. Stifled by Marcy's liberal white colorblindness and neglected because Mo's work excuses enable avoiding family responsibilities, Omar is virtually starved for cultural connection--so unlike Amira and Mo (conveniently short for Mohammad), who grew up detached from their immigrant parents' Indian Muslim heritage.

Omar struggles with his mixed-race identity in a climate where he's more likely to be called terrorist than friend. He starts mimicking his paternal grandfather's accent and inventing stories of faraway royal ancestry. And then he's expelled from his private school for threatening another student with an ornamental knife--an Indian artifact gifted from Amira to Mo that Omar claims as symbolic proof of his own authenticity. While Marcy and Mo's marriage implodes, Amina offers Omar opportunities (more often as co-discoverers than as guide) to explore cricket, Indian restaurants, South Asian grocery shopping, his grandmother's recipes and Bollywood films. And yet, no matter how much Omar needs her--and perhaps his estranged parents, too--Amina can't, won't stick around as her lifelong avoidance of attachment pulls her away yet again.

Alternating Amina and Omar's points of view, Koya deftly presents dual perspectives as she thoughtfully, pointedly confronts race, white privilege, cultural appropriation and erasure in a volatile new world. Koya, who was born in California to a Fijian father and Texan mother and identifies as Indo-Fijian and now lives in Oregon, channels her own multi-layered, multiculti, mixed-race background with affecting, potent results. Koya has been in the news for bittersweet reasons recently as fellow authors and industry advocates show their support since the reveal of her terminal cancer diagnosis. That her debut may be her finale adds further gravitas to an already sobering, resonating narrative. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

Shelf Talker: Ramiza Shamoun Koya's The Royal Abduls explores the growing relationship between an Indian American biologist and her mixed-race tween nephew amid post-9/11 hostility.

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