Shelf Awareness for Thursday, July 30, 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


Charlie's Corner in San Francisco Closing Permanently

Charlie's Corner, the children's and YA bookstore in Noe Valley in San Francisco, Calif., has closed permanently, reported.

Owner Charlotte Nagy said that after five months of shelter-in-place--and not being able to hold the store's four daily storytimes--the five-year-old store can't keep up with its $10,000 monthly rent as well as utilities, taxes and buying inventory. "It's a heartbreak," she said.

Late last year the store averted closure when it received an outpouring of community support and a fundraiser brought in more than $35,000. That crisis was caused because the store's building needed mandatory seismic upgrades, requiring the store to move for three months to a temporary location, where traffic and sales were lower than usual. When the store moved back into its old space, the rent increased to $10,000.

When Charlie's Corner decided to stay open, at the suggestion of customers, Nagy started a $125 monthly subscription program, which included unlimited storytimes, some free books and a discount on other books.

"Those storytimes were enormously popular in the neighborhood," wrote. "Families would take a seat on mushroom-shaped stools to hear a rotating cast of readers that included Mayor London Breed and her predecessor, the late Mayor Ed Lee. Sometimes, children's book author Mac Barnett or singer Erica Sunshine Lee would drop by."

When the pandemic hit, Nagy shifted storytimes online and ended the membership subscription.

She thanked "the incredible community... my family," and said she's putting the store's contents in storage for possible use in the future. "On any given corner, anywhere, there is a community," she explained. "I am hopeful."

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

How Bookstores Are Coping: Still Catching Up; Relieved to Reopen

In Washington, D.C., and Silver Spring, Md., both Loyalty Bookstore locations are closed to browsing but are doing contactless pick-up a few days each week and are shipping out books "like mad," said founder Hannah Oliver Depp. 

Depp explained that she waited longer than she would have liked to start doing pick-up because of inconsistent curfews issued by the city during Black Lives Matter protests in May and June. Emphasizing that while she and her team "absolutely support" the protests, Depp said it was hard to know when the curfew would come into effect on any given day and she did not want to risk her booksellers getting caught outside after curfew and being mistreated by police or federal agents. "Protecting my staff is the central guiding principle for operations during Covid-19."

Depp added that she had hoped to be doing appointment shopping by now, but that probably won't happen until autumn at the earliest, for two main reasons. "Folks are still not taking the pandemic seriously enough," especially tourists who are traveling to D.C. in increasing numbers, and Loyalty's online sales are strong enough to keep the stores going through the summer without having to open for browsing.

Shipping at Loyalty.

"I do not take that for granted," Depp said. She has three staff members working in-store and as of earlier this week has six more staff members working remotely on things like processing orders, customer service and growing Loyalty's digital events program. "We're working on building a structure for the duration of Covid-19 and beyond."

As protests spread across the country in late May and early June, Loyalty was among the Black-owned independent bookstores that experienced unprecedented surges in online orders. Depp said that it's no longer a "wildfire," but it is still enough to keep the store going. When asked what it was like trying to keep up with that demand, Depp said they initially experienced many of the same issues that other stores did. It wasn't safe to bring people in to work, so they had to come up with a system for doing things remotely, and there were sometimes significant delays as the most popular titles went on backorder. In fact, Loyalty is still "massively catching up" as some of those orders have yet to arrive.

There were some unexpected and frustrating problems as well. After seeing the store's orders increase by 3,000% in a single week, Loyalty's credit card processor dropped the account without notice, assuming that the bookstore was pulling some kind of scam. Loyalty's bank "freaked out as well," but the store had a stronger relationship with them and Depp is in the process of changing the store's accounts to handle the increased cash flow.

The store's customer base also changed overnight, and that brought its own challenges. First it went from a group of mostly community members to a wider group of "understanding and engaged" BIPOC and allies, the vast majority of whom understood the realities of running a small, independent business. From there, though, it came to include a huge group of people, predominantly white women, who were largely unfamiliar with ordering from small businesses and would do things like demand to know why Loyalty couldn't simply "act like Amazon." Depp's average work day during all of this, she pointed out, has been about 17 hours.

She remarked: "The Venn diagram of people who ordered White Fragility and the people who will write you a screaming e-mail in all caps is a circle."

Depp said that she and her team are honored to be getting national attention, and they are trying to use their newfound reach to "speak honestly about what it's like to run a Black, queer business." The store's next step is turning these online orders into an online community and finding ways genuinely to engage with them.


Lane Jacobson, owner of Paulina Springs Books in Sisters, Ore., reported that his store has more or less fully reopened for browsing, with restrictions in place to keep staff and customers safe. Only eight people are allowed in the store at a time--which Jacobson said is "well below" the maximum number they could technically allow--masks are required, hand sanitizer is available at the door and there are plexiglass shields at the registers.

Jacobson and his team have set up a rope to block the door, and before anyone is allowed in, a staff member gives them the "spiel" on the social-distancing restriction. There are reminders about masks and distancing posted throughout the store, and so far the response to these measures has been "overwhelmingly positive"; Jacobson said he's been especially impressed by the number of kids who keep their masks on and stop themselves from running amok.

Noting that the majority of the Sisters community is older, Jacobson said mask compliance has not been much of an issue with locals. Sisters is a tourist town, however, and it has not been rare to see visitors come to town and act like the pandemic isn't real, though the state's recent mask mandate has "definitely helped a lot."

Being open to the public again, Jacobson continued, has been a "huge weight lifted off of our shoulders." While there's a bit of extra anxiety with having customers browsing again, that's "entirely offset" by the relief of no longer having to do door service only.

Before reopening to browsing, he and his team had to handsell each and every item they sold and were constantly running around the store to grab things for customers. The phrase "working twice as hard for half as much" has bounced around a lot lately, Jacobson added, and that was definitely true for his store. Now that customers are in-store again, it's been much easier and sales have bounced back quite a bit.

On the subject of the protests that began in late May and early June, Jacobson said that though Sisters's year-round population is only about 2,000, there were multiple protests with around 100 attendees, which was "heartening" to see. A few budding youth activist groups have also held socially-distanced meetings on the store's lawn. 

The store donated 80 copies of White Supremacy and Me to the community, and they encouraged community members to share the books among their peers after they had finished reading them. It was a small gesture, Jacobson said, but it did leave some people in the community "no excuse" not to take a first step toward self-education. Looking ahead, he and his team are planning to turn this kind of thing into some sort of community-wide book discussion. --Alex Mutter

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

International Update: Head Office Layoffs at Waterstones, Book Sales in France, Italy

British bookstore chain Waterstones is currently in the process of making a number of redundancies at its London head office, though it would not specify how many jobs are being cut, the Bookseller reported. A spokesperson said the company is "in consultation with those whose Piccadilly-based roles are affected. These are part of a number of measures undertaken to align the overheads of the business to the level of sales now being achieved."

In addition, Waterstones confirmed that since lockdown ended it has chosen not to reopen several of its stores, including "its campus branches and one at Leadenhall Market in London. Its Covent Garden store, which reopened when lockdown measures eased, closed again after a week's trading, owing to the lack of footfall in central London," the Bookseller wrote.

"Waterstones has reopened all of its shops, excepting a small number where the circumstances make this impractical," the spokesperson said. "As for almost all high street retailers, sales are lower than before the pandemic, notably in our city-center shops. Notwithstanding the strong online performance of, it is necessary to reduce the cost base of the business to reflect the new reality of our overall trading."


Sales by French independent booksellers rose by 29% year on year between May 12--the day after France began its gradual easing of the lockdown--and July 12, according to the French Booksellers Association (Syndicat de la Librairie Française). The Bookseller cautioned, however, that "the figures, coming from the 250 members of the SLF's observatory which represent a cross-section of the trade, also show that sales are still down 14% overall since January 1."

Vincent Montagne, president of the French Publishers Association, "predicted a decline of 15% or less in sales for the year, instead of the 30% flagged at lockdown," due in part to the €230 million (about $259 million) the government allocated to the sector since the beginning of the crisis, the Bookseller wrote. Montagne told Les Echos the public might have found a taste for reading during the two months of lockdown, perhaps due to an absence of the performing arts and cinema.

The Bookseller cited Les Echos in noting that France's rentrée littéraire between mid-August and October, "when hundreds of new titles are published ahead of the literary prize season in the autumn, looks promising. Some publishers are delaying releases, but most are maintaining their initial plans."


Delivery at Todo Modo, Florence, italy

The Italian book market's year-on-year revenue losses improved from -20% in April to -11% in July, according to the Italian Publishers Association. The Bookseller reported that in addition to showing rebounding revenues, AIE's study "revealed the market share of bookshops and large-scale distribution experienced a partial increase in the past few months. Physical bookshops went from claiming 52% of sales in April to 56% in July, while the market share of online stores slid correspondingly, from 48% to 44%."

AIE concluded that the relative comeback in sales was due to the fact that, since mid-June, Italians have returned to buying as much as last year in bookshops and through large-scale distribution, while online purchases have increased compared to 2019, "thus allowing a partial recoup of market shares lost during the previous months."

"The data we present today shows encouraging signs of an upturn," said AIE president Ricardo Franco Levi. "The book market reveals a path to recovery for the entire Italian economy."

The study also showed that after registering 70% fewer weekly sales year on year between March and April, since mid-June bookshops and online stores registered with Nielsen's Arianna data service (excluding Amazon) had returned to 2019 levels, with sales peaking at 2.5% up year on year for the week ending July 19. "If we add Amazon, despite not having accurate week-by-week data, this past month's result is highly positive," AIE said. --Robert Gray

Shelf Awareness Delivers Indie Pre-Order E-Blast

Yesterday, Shelf Awareness sent our monthly pre-order e-blast to nearly half a million of the country's best book readers. The e-blast went to 488,790 customers of 92 participating independent bookstores.

The mailing features eight upcoming titles selected by Shelf Awareness editors and a sponsored title. Customers can buy these books via "pre-order" buttons that lead directly to the purchase page for the title on each sending store's website. A key feature is that bookstore partners can easily change title selections to best reflect the tastes of their customers and can customize the mailing with links, images and promotional copy of their own.

The pre-order e-blasts are sent the last Wednesday of each month; the next will go out on Wednesday, August 26. Stores interested in learning more can visit our program registration page or contact our partner program team via e-mail.

For a sample of yesterday's pre-order e-blast, see this one from BookPeople, Austin, Texas.


Image of the Day: Masked Mayes

Tuesday evening, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, N.C. hosted Jill McCorkle (Hieroglyphics) in conversation with Frances Mayes (See You in the Piazza); you can watch it here. Yesterday, Mayes stopped by the store to sign copies of her book.

Cool Idea of the Day: Lunchbox Books Program

Four indie bookstores in the Albany, N.Y., region have launched the Lunchbox Books initiative, which provides students receiving meals through a summer program with free books, and will "also help the bookstores left struggling financially from the coronavirus pandemic," WTEN reported. The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Market Block Books, Open Door Bookstore and I Love Books are making book donations to programs like the South End Children's Cafe and Schenectady Community Ministries Summer Lunch Program.

Book House owner Susan Novotny said her store had transitioned to curbside service and online sales during the Covid-19 crisis, it had to reach out with the other bookstores to the public for help, and now they are giving back to the community.

Novotny noted that "this summer the need is particularly critical and many of the meals are now delivered to their homes. Coming out of a tough school year, keeping the kids engaged in fun summer reading is a challenge, but if each and every child were given new fun books with their lunch meal, we could keep them reading til the start of the school year." The program's goal "is to make sure at-risk kids are supplied new books they can call their own, to read and share, and keep them reading throughout the summer."

S&S to Distribute Hallmark Publishing

Effective October 1, Simon & Schuster will be the exclusive distributor of Hallmark Publishing in e-book and print editions. The division of Crown Media Family Networks publishes mostly romances and mysteries, including originals and titles that draw on the Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries.

Hallmark Publishing launched as a digital publisher in 2017 and has since expanded into paperback offerings available at major book retailers nationwide. Two of its original novels, Wrapped Up in Christmas by Janice Lynn and Country Hearts by Cindi Madsen, were USA Today bestsellers. Another title, The Secret Ingredient by Nancy Naigle, was adapted into a Hallmark Channel original movie and others are in development.

Later this year, Hallmark Publishing will release three new Christmas novels: Christmas Charms by Teri Wilson, Wrapped Up in Christmas Joy by Janice Lynn, and Christmas in Evergreen: Tidings of Joy by Nancy Naigle.

Stacey Donovan, director of Hallmark Publishing, commented: "Hallmark Publishing has expanded swiftly from a digital publisher to a multi-faceted publishing house with books in major retail channels. We are delighted to partner with such an experienced and well-known publishing distributor as Simon & Schuster as we continue to grow our business."

Michael Perlman, v-p, general manager of Simon & Schuster Publisher Services, said about Hallmark Publishing: "One of the best-known brands in the media business, they have made great progress with their publishing program in just a few short years. We look forward to working together to take their business to new levels."

Personnel Changes at Insight Editions

At Insight Editions:

Julie Hamilton has been promoted to v-p of sales from sales director.

Roger Shaw promoted to v-p and publisher of Weldon Owen from publisher.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Robert P. Jones on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Robert P. Jones, author of White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781982122867).

Late Night with Seth Meyers repeat: Colin Jost, author of A Very Punchable Face: A Memoir (Crown, $27, 9781101906323).

This Weekend on Book TV: In-Depth with Wes Moore

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, August 1
5:10 p.m. Don Siegelman, author of Stealing Our Democracy: How the Political Assassination of a Governor Threatens Our Nation (NewSouth Books, $28.95, 9781588384294).

7 p.m. David Shimer, author of Rigged: America, Russia, and One Hundred Years of Covert Electoral Interference (Knopf, $29.95, 9780525659006).

8:10 p.m. Lisa Napoli, author of Up All Night: Ted Turner, CNN, and the Birth of 24-Hour News (Abrams, $27, 9781419743061). (Re-airs Sunday at 5:10 p.m.)

9:05 p.m. Julian E. Zelizer, author of Burning Down the House: Newt Gingrich, the Fall of a Speaker, and the Rise of the New Republican Party (Penguin Press, $30, 9781594206658), at the Strand in New York City.

10 p.m. Michael Shellenberger, author of Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All (Harper, $29.99, 9780063001695). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Ruha Benjamin, author of Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code (Polity, $19.95, 9781509526406).

Sunday, August 2
12 p.m. Live In-Depth q&a with Wes Moore, author of Five Days: The Fiery Reckoning of an American City (One World, $28, 9780525512363). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

4 p.m. John Yoo, author of Defender in Chief: Donald Trump's Fight for Presidential Power (All Points Books, $29.99, 9781250269577).

Books & Authors

Awards: AKO Caine African Writing Winner

Nigerian-British writer Irenosen Okojie won the £10,000 (about $12,530) AKO Caine Prize for African Writing for her short story "Grace Jones," which was published in her 2019 collection Nudibranch (Dialogue Books). Because of the coronavirus pandemic and continuing government restrictions, this year the organizers commissioned British-Nigerian filmmaker Joseph A. Adesunloye to direct and produce a documentary film celebrating the shortlist and announcing the winner.

Chair of judges Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp said that in "this heart-wrenching account of loss, fractured identity and bereavement, Okojie deftly layers the psychological trauma of the daily experience of a Black woman in contemporary British society and of the specific tragedy that befalls Sidra.... This year's winner of the AKO Caine Prize for African Writing is a radical story that plays with logic, time and place; it defies convention, as it unfolds a narrative that is multi-layered and multi-dimensional. It is risky, dazzling, imaginative and bold; it is intense and full of stunning prose; it's also a story that reflects African consciousness in the way it so seamlessly shifts dimensions, and it's a story that demonstrates extraordinary imagination. Most of all, it is world-class fiction from an African writer.... In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, which has prompted deeply powerful questions about race, justice and equality in the world today--this story offers a salient exploration of what it can mean to embody and perform Blackness in the world. This is a story of tremendously delicate power and beauty, and one in which we recognize the tradition of African storytelling and imagination at its finest."

Okojie's debut novel, Butterfly Fish, won a Betty Trask award and was shortlisted for an Edinburgh International First Book Award. Her short story collection, Speak Gigantular, was shortlisted for the Edgehill Short Story Prize, the Jhalak Prize, the Saboteur Awards and nominated for a Shirley Jackson Award.

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, August 4:

It Was All a Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump by Stuart Stevens (Knopf, $26.95, 9780525658450) is a Republican political consultant's lament about how his party lost its soul.

The Grifter's Club: Trump, Mar-a-Lago, and the Selling of the Presidency by Sarah Blaskey, Nicholas Nehamas, Caitlin Ostroff and Jay Weaver (PublicAffairs, $28, 9781541756953) is an investigation of Trump corruption by staff reporters at the Miami Herald.

Fallout: The Hiroshima Cover-up and the Reporter Who Revealed It to the World by Lesley M.M. Blume (Simon & Schuster, $27, 9781982128517) tells the story behind John Hersey's "Hiroshima" New Yorker article in August 1946.

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 Senator Bernie Sanders.

12 Seconds of Silence: How a Team of Inventors, Tinkerers, and Spies Took Down a Nazi Superweapon by Jamie Holmes (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9781328460127) chronicles the creation of proximity fuses, which helped defend London from V-1 bombs.

The First Sister by Linden A. Lewis (Skybound Books, $26, 9781982126995) is the first book in a new sci-fi trilogy.

Bronte's Mistress: A Novel by Finola Austin (Atria, $27, 9781982137236) is historical fiction about the Brontë family.

The Tunnel by A.B. Yehoshua and Stuart Schoffman (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $24, 9781328622631) is a novel about the mental decline of an Israeli military engineer.

The Ocean Calls: A Haenyeo Mermaid Story by Tina Cho, illus. by Jess X. Snow (Kokila/Penguin, $17.99, 9781984814869), features a Korean girl who wants to be just like her free diving grandmother.

The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinska (Sourcebooks Fire, $17.99, 9781728209982) is a queer #OwnVoices fantasy debut in which an innocent life must be sacrificed in order to keep an island city from drowning.

Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For by Susan Rice (Simon & Schuster, $20, 9781501189982).

Sweet Sorrow: A Novel by David Nicholls (Mariner, $16.99, 9780358248361).

The Orphan Collector by Ellen Marie Wiseman (Kensington, $16.99, 9781496715869).

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:

Florence Adler Swims Forever: A Novel by Rachel Beanland (Simon & Schuster, $25.99, 9781982132460). "Florence Adler comes alive on the pages of this book, from the first page until the last. Told mainly through the perspective of her 7-year-old niece, Gussy, the characters are fully realized as sympathetic yet flawed human beings. I was drawn to all, but mostly to Florence's mother, Esther. Esther's fierce love for Florence and her sister, and her drive to protect them, propels her actions throughout the book, and she doesn't allow the reader--or herself--to succumb to emotions until the end of the story. This may be the best book of the year." --Camille Kovach, Completely Booked, Murrysville, Pa.

Hardcover: An Indies Introduce Title
The Sirens of Mars: Searching for Life on Another World by Sarah Stewart Johnson (Crown, $28.99, 9781101904817). "I loved this quietly gorgeous book. Sarah Stewart Johnson brings her characters to vivid life--philosophers and scientists from the annals of Western history, family and teachers from her own life, or the dusty dunes of the 'red planet' itself--with clear, almost poetic prose, detailing the history of humanity's fascination with Mars, as well as her own. You will leave these pages with a deeper understanding of interplanetary science and the wonder of humanity's next discovery." --Jocelyn Shratter, Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, Calif.

Say Say Say: A Novel by Lila Savage (Vintage, $16, 9780525565529). "Say Say Say is a small and subtle debut novel that packs an emotional wallop. Lila Savage's writing is so beautiful and vulnerable it's impossible to put down. This is the kind of novel that shines with such honesty and compassion you feel the need to re-evaluate your life right along with the main character, Ella. I eagerly await reading anything else Savage writes." --Katerina Argyres, Bookshop West Portal, San Francisco, Calif.

For Ages 4 to 8
Llama Unleashes the Alpacalypse by Jonathan Stutzman, illus. by Heather Fox (Holt, $18.99, 9781250222855). "Funny and relatable. Who doesn't like a well-balanced breakfast but could do without the well-balanced mess it creates? In this hilarious sequel to Llama Destroys the World, Jonathan Stutzman once again regales readers with Llama's misadventures... this time involving his good friend Alpaca. Heather Fox's illustrations perfectly bring to life that lovable polymath, Llama." --Amanda Kothe, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Cincinnati, Ohio

For Ages 9 to 12
Kiki's Delivery Service by Eiko Kadono (Delacorte, $16.99, 9781984896667) "Kiki's Delivery Service is one of my favorite animated films, and reading this book allowed me to revisit the story with brand new eyes. I loved the clear writing, charming pictures, and varied adventures Kiki got up to. While different to the film in many ways, this book is just as wonderful and beautifully told."--Donna Liu, The Reading Bug, San Carlos, Calif.

For Teen Readers
The Montague Twins: The Witch's Hand by Nathan Page, illus. by Drew Shannon (Knopf, $25.99, 9780525646761). "What a perfect book for summer! The Montague Twins is a modern take on the Hardy Boys and the '60s. This graphic novel expertly mixes magic, detective skills, madcap adventure, brotherhood, and friendship. One of the most fun reading experiences I have had in a while--highly recommended!" --Chelsea Bauer, Union Avenue Books, Knoxville, Tenn.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Winter Counts

Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden (Ecco, $27.99 hardcover, 336p., 9780062968944, August 25, 2020)

David Heska Wanbli Weiden's first novel, Winter Counts, is a gripping story of crime investigation set on the Lakota Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. Virgil Wounded Horse is cynical. He can't imagine not living on the rez, but he's more than skeptical of Indian spirituality and ritual, and doesn't feel very connected to his people; his memories of being bullied in school are too fresh. Now that both his parents and his sister are dead, he doesn't have much family to feel loyal to--but he is devoted to his orphaned nephew, Nathan, now a teenager who shares his home.

Virgil makes his living as a private enforcer. Tribal police have very limited powers, and the feds don't bother with much on the reservation short of murder, so the Lakota often resort to hiring someone like Virgil to deliver vigilante justice. Now he gets to beat up his former bullies, and earn a few bucks doing so. It's not necessarily work to take pride in, though, especially in the eyes of his ex-girlfriend's politically powerful family. So Virgil is surprised when her father, a tribal council member, asks for his help. And he's even more surprised when the case brings Marie back into his life.

It seems a local small-time pot dealer might be moving up into dealing heroin on the reservation. And when Nathan accidentally overdoses, it all becomes very real, with high stakes. Virgil will end up traveling all over the rez and down to Denver to try to track this latest crime wave. The scope of the case quickly grows beyond this private enforcer's comfort zone, and he has a renewed romance to manage, while trying to keep Nathan safe at the same time. Out-of-town gangs, heavy hitters and hard drugs challenge Virgil's skills. To keep all these threads together, he may need to reconnect with his Native roots, after all.

While Weiden's prose is serviceable, his sympathetic characters and gripping plot keep readers engaged. Action and suspense are special strengths, and Weiden, himself a member of the Lakota nation, brings valuable perspective to the lives and experiences of his characters. The setting of Winter Counts offers an important and overlooked glimpse at the particular challenges faced by Native Americans, especially concerning crime and justice. But make no mistake: at the heart of this crime novel is a fight for the future of Rosebud Reservation and the lives of Virgil, Nathan, Marie and many more for whom this place is home. Tightly paced, compelling, realistic and deeply felt, Winter Counts offers a fresh take on the crime thriller. --Julia Kastner, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: On South Dakota's Rosebud Indian Reservation, local enforcer Virgil Wounded Horse is faced with a challenging and personal case.

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