Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, October 14, 2020

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


ABA Launches 'Boxed Out' Campaign

Solid State Books in Washington, D.C., dressed up for "Boxed Out."

The American Booksellers Association is launching a campaign called "Boxed Out," aiming to emphasize to customers "the high stakes indie bookstores face this holiday season in the age of Amazon and Covid-19." Timed in part as a counterpoint to Amazon Prime Day--yesterday and today--"Boxed Out" refers to the ubiquitous Amazon delivery boxes that are "boxing out" bookstores and other small businesses across the country, the association said.

The key elements of "Boxed Out" are a social media campaign, posters and other material as well as major "Boxed Out" displays. Six bookstores--McNally Jackson, New York City; Greenlight Bookstore, Café con Libros and Community Bookstore, Brooklyn, N.Y.; Solid State Books, Washington, D.C.; and Book Soup, West Hollywood, Calif.--are setting the standard by using custom-made signage to cover their front windows, and setting piles of boxes on sidewalks outside. The window coverings and boxes feature a range of "Boxed Out" slogans, including "The Don't Box Out Bookstores Event," "Buy Books from People Who Want to Sell Books, Not Colonize the Moon," "#BoxedOut #ShopIndie," and "Our Wifi Is Free. Please Don't Use It to Make a $1.6 Trillion Company Even Richer." Another 14 stores are helping launch a targeted Twitter campaign, and all ABA member bookstores are being provided with social media assets as well as posters and DIY materials to create displays or even their own versions of the large displays.

"People may not realize the cost and consequences of 'convenience shopping' until it's too late," ABA CEO Allison Hill commented. "More than one indie bookstore a week has closed since the Covid-19 crisis began. At the same time, a report forecasts that Amazon will generate $10 billion in revenue on October 13 and 14 during its Prime Day promotion. Connecting these dots, it's clear to see convenience has a cost and a consequence. Closed indie bookstores represent the loss of local jobs and local tax dollars, the loss of community centers, and the loss of opportunities for readers to discover books and connect with other readers in a meaningful face-to-face way."

The "Boxed Out" campaign was designed by DCX Growth Accelerator, the ad agency, as the AP said, known for "culture hacking" and its fake "Palessi" luxury shoe store that was actually stocked with items from Payless--showing the quality of the company's discounted merchandise.

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

Charter Books Coming to Newport, R.I., in Early 2021

Architect's rendering of the Charter Books storefront

Bookseller Steve Iwanski is working to open Charter Books, a general-interest independent bookstore, in downtown Newport, R.I., before spring 2021. The store will sell books and gifts for children, teens and adults, and will have about 2,300 square feet of retail space across two floors, 4,200 square feet in total. There will be a dedicated area for children's storytime sessions and the inventory will feature categories pertaining to Newport's history and culture.

Iwanski, who grew up in Rhode Island before moving to the Mississippi Delta in 2010, became a bookseller at Turnrow Books in Greenwood, Miss., in 2014. He became the store's manager in 2016, and he explained that whenever he came home for holidays and vacation, he felt the desire to bring a store like Turnrow to downtown Newport. When he and his wife decided to move back to Rhode Island, he began looking into commerical real estate, and last summer found the perfect spot on Lower Broadway.

Charter Books in progress.

Noting that while there have been some setbacks and delays this year, Iwanski reported that everything is still on track. The location remains under construction and is being converted from a restaurant space to a retail space. Iwanski has set up a page for the store and expects to operate online or via curbside pickup through the rest of the year. He noted that some of the shops nearby are hoping to host a holiday street fair, and so Charter Books may make its debut as a pop-up.

Architect's rendering of the Charter Books entryway.

The store's name, Iwanski continued, comes from the story behind the Rhode Island Royal Charter of 1663, which was authored primarily by Newporters and signed by Charles II. The name is a "tribute to the Newporters of 1663 who placed their faith, literally, in the power of the written word to enact change and secure essential liberties."

When asked about any plans for a food or drink component, Iwanski said the store is surrounded on all sides by great bars, restaurants and coffee shops, and he would "rather not compete with my neighbors in that department since they're already doing it way better than I could."

Two Airbnb suites will be located above the store, and while Iwanski will not own them, he will be managing the rentals for the property owners. The arrangement will allow the bookstore to offset its rent with revenue from the rentals, which Iwanski said will be especially valuable as the store gets on its feet. Eventually he'd like to offer trip packages and bookstore coupons for the Airbnb guests, but that will likely come a few months after opening.

Iwanski added that the community response has been great, with the store's neighbors excited to have new retail on the block. "The city of Newport has been welcoming and supportive, and so have my fellow R.I. booksellers at Island Books, Savoy Bookshop and Riffraff."

Farrar, Straus and Giroux: Intermezzo by Sally Rooney

Facing Relocation, Chevalier's Books Makes Plea to Customers

Chevalier's Books in Los Angeles, Calif., has asked its customers and community for increased support in advance of having to move by the end of the year, the Los Angeles Times reported. The 80-year-old independent bookstore's lease in Larchmont Village will expire at the end of 2020 and Christina Development, the store's landlord, has decided to not renew the lease.

Chevalier's co-owners Bert Deixler and Darryl Holter, who have transformed and revitalized the store since purchasing it six years ago, wrote in a message to customers that they've found a prospective new home, also on Larchmont Boulevard. The new space is larger, and the rent there will be more than double what the store currently plays.

"There will also be significant moving and design costs," they wrote. "It will be a huge financial undertaking for us, made even more daunting by the uncertainty that Covid-19 poses for our business and everybody's lives."

Holter and Deixler have asked their customers to "help keep Chevalier's Books a part of the Larchmont community," and so far the response has been "overwhelming." Deixler told the Times that they've been "overrun with sales" and are "selling gift certificates like crazy." Lots of community members have also offered to help. When asked if he felt optimistic about the store's prospects, Deixler said based on Monday, "I've never been more confident about anything in my life!"

Christina Development has also decided not to renew the leases of the other businesses in the same building as Chevalier's. The company told the Times that the building's previous owners had intentionally set all tenant leases to expire at the end of 2020, so the building could undergo necessary and "long overdue" repairs. Whenever those repairs are complete, the real estate company expects the storefronts to be occupied by "smaller, neighborhood-friendly tenants."

Chevalier's plea to customers comes just a few weeks after Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena, Calif., made a similar plea of its own.

Uncle Hugo's/Uncle Edward's Considers Relocating

Don Blyly, owner of Uncle Hugo's Science Fiction Bookstore and Uncle Edgar's Mystery Bookstore, in Minneapolis, Minn., which were burned to the ground amid the protests in late May after the murder of George Floyd by city police, continues to struggle with the city in his efforts to rebuild the "Uncles" and is considering relocation as an option. 

The Star Tribune outlined the latest challenge Blyly faces: "One month after Minneapolis officials promised to make it easier for property owners to remove rubble and begin the post-riot rebuilding process, a city inspector slapped a 'stop work' order on one of the first projects to move forward. The action in late September forced workers to stop hauling debris from the site of the former Uncle Hugo's and Uncle Edgar's bookstores on Chicago Avenue and threatened to derail the expansion of the dental clinic next door."

Blyly cannot afford to rebuild on his current site, so he had agreed to sell the property to his neighbor, Dr. Ali Barbarawi, but complications with the city soon arose regarding the property. Although a compromise has been reached, Blyly told the Star Tribune he is not sure he will be rebuilding in Minneapolis and is considering a move to St. Paul or Richfield. "It would be more convenient for me and a lot of my customers if I stayed in Minneapolis, but Minneapolis has felt very unfriendly toward businesses--especially after the riots."

In a detailed update on Uncle Hugo's GoFundMe page, Blyly noted: "The dentist and I have had several meetings on how to get the city to go along with what we both want and he has hired a civil engineer to argue with the city, but at this point there is still no progress."

Bookshop Introduces U.K. Board has introduced the members of its U.K. board, which includes Bookshop founder and CEO Andy Hunter and U.K. managing director Nicole Vanderbilt, along with Booksellers Association managing director Meryl Halls; Sharmaine Lovegrove, founder and publisher of Dialogue Books; and Fleur Sinclair, owner of Sevenoaks Bookshop, the Bookseller reported.

As previously announced, the Bookshop U.K. team is also led by Foyles' former head of buying Jasper Sutcliffe, who is publisher and affiliate manager; and bookshop partnership manager Mark Thornton, former owner of Mostly Books.

In preparation for U.K.'s November launch to consumers, the board "will drive forward the launch strategy and work to ensure it 'stays true to its core values of providing consumers with a socially conscious way to shop, while promoting diversity within bestseller lists by offering book discoverability from beyond an algorithm,' " the Bookseller wrote.

"We have built a fantastic U.K. team at Bookshop, and we're delighted to have recruited such a strong board as we approach the U.K. launch," said Vanderbilt. "Each board member's unique expertise, and their breadth and depth of experience, will be vital in building Bookshop's foundations ahead of our launch in the U.K."

Lovegrove commented: "Independent bookshops are at the heart of the communities they serve and I am excited that they now have the opportunity to be better supported as Bookshop, with its innovative and inclusive approach, is arriving in the U.K. I am delighted to be joining the Bookshop board and will to use my two decades of knowledge and experience of the industry to support the platform's ambitious endeavors.”

Halls observed: "We've been following the progress of in the U.S. throughout this year with great interest, and is entering the U.K. market at a critical juncture for independent bookshops, with the need for a hybrid bookselling model--online and physical--ever-more important. I'm delighted to be part of that process, advocating for the indie members of the BA at this key moment, and supporting the team of such a new and innovative company as it develops its mission in support of independent bookshops in the U.K."

MPIBA's FallCon: Feast of Fiction

For Thursday night's MPIBA FallCon keynote, Feast of Fiction, Cristina Rodriguez of Deep Vellum Books in Dallas, Tex., introduced the six authors featured.

Brandon Hobson discussed his novel The Removed (Ecco, February 2021), set in Southeast Oklahoma, where a policeman shot a teenage boy. Fifteen years after the shooting, the boy's mother is trying to bring the family together. The Echota family is Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma.

Brandon Hobson

"Their last name refers to the Echota Treaty, and there's a spirit voice, Tsala (based on a real figure, Tsali), who refused to leave the land and was killed for it," Hobson said. Each family member is attempting to heal from their trauma. The father, Ernest, suffers from Alzheimer's. When the family takes in Wyatt as a foster child, Ernest's symptoms start to diminish, and the family believes it's due to the resemblance between Wyatt and Ray Ray, their son who was killed. Their daughter is in love with a non-Native man. The youngest brother, Edgar, finds himself in the darkening land, an alternate universe where there is gun violence and racism, especially toward Native Americans.

Mateo Askaripour

"When you think of a salesperson, who do you think of?" asked Mateo Askaripour, debut author of Black Buck (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, January 2021). "I picture Vin Diesel, Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross, Michael Douglas in Wall Street." Askaripour spoke of his own experience as a salesperson managing a couple dozen other salespeople at a tech startup. "Salespeople are ripe for disruption. I hired a handful of Black and brown people but I wish I'd done more. I wish I'd taught them how to handle it." Askaripour set out to write a page-turning narrative and "wanted it to double as a sales manual so that anyone--especially people of color--could be a successful salesperson."

Te-Ping Chen

Te-Ping Chen based her short story collection Land of Big Numbers (Mariner Books, February 2021) on the people she met while covering China as a journalist for the Wall Street Journal. An elderly farmer living in the countryside decides to build a robot to make noodles, smashed with garlic and sesame, as a way to impress his neighbors and win his way into the Communist party. "Robots really do make noodles in China," Chen said. Another story depicts a neighborhood in Beijing when a new fruit arrives and upends lives. Yet another features twins who go in different paths--one a professional gamer, the other a political activist. Raised in Oakland, Calif., Chen considers herself authentically Chinese, yet no one in her family had been back to China in a generation. As a journalist, she came to love the country. "I've lived there longer than anywhere else except my hometown," she said. "China is a place where you encounter so much that's surreal, woven into the fabric of everyday life. On certain cloudy days, you knew the government would seed the clouds and make it rain. I also remember in Beijing, the fashion was to wear a green plant on your head, like an accessory. Sometimes it looked like you were in a moving field. I hope this book can create a sense of empathy between our two countries."

Laird Hunt

Laird Hunt set his novel Zorrie (Bloomsbury, February 2021) in rural Indiana, where he spent summers on his grandmother's farm. Here was "a life marked by love, loss, yearning, contentment and frustration, doubt and grace." He called the book "a love letter to a way of life that meant everything to me." It took him 30 years to find a way to tell it. "The core of the book has been with me for a long time," Hunt said. He showed images of the cemetery where his grandmother is buried, a field of corn encroaching on an abandoned barn on all four sides. "There's a lot of loss in this book. Cemeteries are rarely mentioned, though they're all over this place."

Janet Skeslien Charles

Janet Skeslien Charles's The Paris Library (Atria, February 2021) is set in occupied World War II Paris, and based on a true story. "It's the Nazis vs. the librarians, and the librarians win," she said. They defy the Nazis to deliver books to Jewish citizens. The Paris Library was a depot for the books, but people wanted it to be a real library. Dorothy Reader came to Paris on her own, started in the periodical section and worked her way up to directress. Boris, a Russian, was head librarian and went on to make a full recovery after being shot in the lung by a Nazi soldier. There was a woman from Ohio who had married a French count. During the war she was 70 years old, and so worried about the library she slept there to keep watch. Charles came to Paris for one year, "as many of us do," she said. "I met my husband here and stayed."

Katherine Seligman

Longtime journalist Katherine Seligman's debut novel is At the Edge of the Haight (Algonquin Books, January 2021). Her character flees Los Angeles and ends up living in Golden Gate Park. She's always taken care of herself, so she thinks she can now--until she discovers a body. "This story takes place in an area people don't often see: the homeless of San Francisco," Seligman said. "It's fiction, but I have lived here, been a writer and journalist for 25 years in the middle of Haight Ashbury, the birthplace of the hippie movement." The author said that ever since the Summer of Love more than 50 years ago, kids and drifters have come through the neighborhood. "You won't see Jerry Garcia, Janis Joplin--there are fewer musicians and more tech workers," she said. The seed of the novel was the night she and her husband were driving through Golden Gate Park, and a man threw himself in front of their car, begging for help. They called the police, and they shone a light on a man who was breathing his last. Seligman said, "I couldn't get this out of my head: How many people outside my window had been leading these secret lives?" --Jennifer M. Brown, senior editor


Harriett's Bookshop Leads 'Sisterhood Sit-In'

"Wade in the Water. Yes, there is forecasted rain for today. And the question is do we move forward or retreat, yet again, on the Sisterhood Sit-In [News10 coverage]. We have decided to wade through the waters," Jeannine Cook, owner of Harriett's Bookshop, Philadelphia, Pa., posted on Facebook Monday, in anticipation of an event created in response to racism generally, and in particular an incident last month when 10 Black-owned businesses in the city received racist and threatening e-mails.

"On Monday evening, dozens of people came to a Fishtown restaurant for what was billed as a sit-in for the bookshop," WHYY reported. "When they arrived at the dramatically lit event space, those people became part of a social experiment: civic intervention as Afrofuturist theater.... Cook, dressed in a long white gown circa 1831, a wide-brimmed, white hat and matching parasol, lifted into the air in a swing suspended from the ceiling. Her sister, Jasmaine Cook, was dressed similarly--though in darker colors--and acted as the event's MC....

"Fourteen selected participants were asked to sit in a circle around two chairs facing each other. Jasmaine walked the circle and tapped two of them, gesturing them into the chairs. There, they would be asked to talk with each other about a particular topic.... After the discussion, the two costumed sisters went outside to Frankford Avenue and led a procession around the corner to the bookstore on Girard Avenue, quietly singing 'Wade in the Water.' "

On Facebook, Jeannine Cook wrote: "We pondered over possibility for days and decided that sometimes it is best to wade in the water. This song, which gained its popularity as a battlecry for members of the underground railroad informed fugitive freedom seekers how to avoid capture and the route to take to successfully make their way to their promised land. In 1863 it is said that Harriett Tubman used this song to settle unrest and guide over 700 people to freedom during the The Combahee Ferry Raid. Sometimes the only way to the other side is through the water, my friends."

'Small Business Spotlight' Shines on Avoid the Day Bookstore

WPIX-TV's "Spotlight on Small Business" series focused on Avoid the Day Bookstore & Café in Rockaway Park, N.Y., which opened last winter. For co-owners Jianna and Jason Heuer, the dream of owning a bookshop "was short lived--just a few weeks after opening, the bookstore had to close as the coronavirus pandemic upended small business life across the boroughs and beyond."

"There wasn't a lot to do in February, but for the first seven weeks we got an actual taste of what running a bookstore would feel like before we closed," Jason Heur said.

They were able to reopen, with restrictions, on June 1, and now offer messages of hope for their Queens neighborhood: "This community is awesome, and people come together to help each other and support one another. We will continue to support people in the way we have and in any other new ways we can think of."

'October Is the New December': RoscoeBooks

"We know it's a bit unusual to start thinking about holiday shopping in October (especially when it's this nice outside!), but nothing about 2020 has been usual," RoscoeBooks, Chicago, Ill., posted on Facebook. "With slower shipping times this year and potential supply chain disruptions, we’d encourage you to start thinking about your holiday book orders now--and get them in (on our website, in person, or over the phone) as soon as you can. That way, you can be sure to be the Book Santa hero you deserve to be!"

Sidewalk Chalkboard: Second Star to the Right Books

Second Star to the Right bookstore, Denver, Colo., shared a photo of its October is the New December-themed sidewalk chalkboard message: "Holiday cheer without the fear. Shop for gifts by Halloween this year!"

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Hoda Kotb on the Kelly Clarkson Show

Kelly Clarkson Show: Hoda Kotb, author of This Just Speaks to Me: Words to Live By Every Day (Putnam, $24, 9780593191088).

Drew Barrymore Show: Henry Winkler, co-author of Lights, Camera, Danger! (Amulet Books, $14.99, 9781419740992).

Ellen: Colin Jost, author of A Very Punchable Face: A Memoir (Crown, $27, 9781101906323).

Late Night with Seth Meyers repeat: Brian Stelter, author of Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth (Atria/One Signal, $28, 9781982142445).

TV: The Growing Season

ABC has put into development The Growing Season, from Empire co-creator Danny Strong and Hung co-creator Colette Burson, Deadline reported. The project is based on Sara Frey's book The Growing Season: How I Built a New Life--and Saved an American Farm. Burson will be the showrunner, with Strong as a non-writing executive producer. Frey is also exec producing, along with and Danny Strong Productions chief Mandy Safavi.

Books & Authors

PEN International Writer of Courage: Amanuel Asrat

Amanuel Asrat

Amanuel Asrat, the Eritrean poet, critic and editor-in-chief of the newspaper Zemen, has been named this year's recipient of the PEN International Writer of Courage award. Presented to a writer who has been persecuted for speaking out about their beliefs, the honor was announced by 2020 PEN Pinter Prize winner Linton Kwesi Johnson. Asrat is also the first featured writer in PENWrites--English PEN's international letter-writing campaign in solidarity with writers in prison and at risk around the world.

An award-winning poet and songwriter whose work detailed the daily life of the underprivileged, and explored themes of war and peace, Asrat co-founded a grassroots literary club, Saturday's Supper, in 2001. He was also editor-in-chief of Zemen, the leading literary newspaper in Eritrea. On September 23, 2001, he was arrested, alongside the editors of all privately owned newspapers, and has been incommunicado since. English PEN noted that Asrat "is believed to be among the few surviving journalists arrested in 2001, detained in the purpose-built maximum-security prison Eiraeiro."

Johnson commented: "Keeping a citizen incarcerated, incommunicado, without charge or trial for nearly 20 years is the kind of egregious brutality that we associate with totalitarian states and dictatorships. As a gesture of solidarity from a poet of the African diaspora, I have chosen the Eritrean poet, songwriter, critic, and journalist Amanuel Asrat as the Writer of Courage for 2020."

Accepting the honor on behalf of his brother, Daniel Mebrahtu said, "Many thanks to English PEN and Mr. Linton Kwesi-Johnson.... We wish Amanuel was aware of this prize and honor somehow. We ask the international community to intervene in his case and other prisoners of conscience in Eritrea, and demand their immediate release. Thank you for the recognition, for your thoughts and prayers. Thank you for your constant support. We really appreciate it."

Reading with... Dylan Farrow

photo: Ted Ely

Dylan Farrow is a writer, mother and advocate for survivors of sexual assault. Growing up in New York City and rural Connecticut, she spent countless hours drawing and writing for pleasure. After graduating from Bard College, Farrow joined CNN as a production assistant and later moved into graphic design. After getting married, Farrow returned to writing full time, exploring her love of YA fantasy. Hush, her debut novel, is now available from Wednesday Books.

On your nightstand now:

A few years back, one of my best friends recommended The Diviners by Libba Bray. Becoming a parent shortly after put my reading list on hold for obvious reasons, but I was able to pick it up again recently. I'm only a couple chapters in, but it's already got me enthralled and I can't wait to see where it goes.

Favorite book when you were a child:

No matter how many times I finished, I always went back to A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. I love the entire series but something about the first adventure always resonated with me. Meg Murry was the first literary heroine I felt a personal connection with.

Your top five authors:

Ursula K. Le Guin, Philip Pullman, Anne Rice, Colleen McCullough and Douglas Adams. My big hooks are characters and stories that are unique and inventive without losing realism. The creations of these authors stayed with me long after I finished their books.

Book you've faked reading:

Just one? I slacked on a lot of reading in high school, so it probably goes without saying that The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald sadly falls into this category. And before you ask, no, I haven't seen the movie either.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Probably Dante Alighieri's Inferno. The language and imagery are timelessly dark, beautiful and compelling.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I will never forget browsing the book fair sometime during middle school and stumbling upon Sabriel by Garth Nix. The cover art for that edition was created by Leo and Diane Dillon, and it was absolutely exquisite. It remains one of my favorite books and most beloved purchases, and I still have the same book on my shelf today.

Book that changed your life:

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed, definitely. The empathy and honesty were at times so overwhelming I found myself in tears, but at the end I felt I learned something very important on approaching life insightfully and compassionately.

Favorite line from a book:

"This planet has--or rather had--a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which was odd because on the whole it wasn't the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy." --Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Five books you'll never part with:

The Princess Bride by William Goldman, Dune by Frank Herbert, Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, Watchmen by Alan Moore and I, Claudius by Robert Graves.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. It's partly the simplicity and partly the complexity. It was one of the books I read in high school and I couldn't put it down. I felt like it transported me somewhere.

Book Review

YA Review: A Universe of Wishes

A Universe of Wishes: A We Need Diverse Books Anthology by Dhonielle Clayton, editor (Crown Books for Young Readers, $18.99 hardcover, 416p., ages 12-up, 9781984896209, December 8, 2020)

Through this inclusive We Need Diverse Books (Fresh Ink) fantasy anthology, editor Dhonielle Clayton (The Belles) shows that all children may be "destined for greatness" and that "every voice [should] be allowed into every kind of space."

A Universe of Wishes brings together accomplished YA fantasy and science fiction writers to present stories for readers of all races, ethnic backgrounds, gender identities and sexual preferences. Acclaimed authors such as Samira Ahmed, Zoraida Córdova, Tochi Onyebuchi and Nic Stone contribute stories about magicians who make memories disappear, queer boys who harvest magic from dead bodies and spaceship captains who right the wrongs of colonization, one museum heist at a time.

This collection prioritizes marginalized voices, including BIPOC and trans and nonbinary individuals, but it's also a mirror for people living in poverty and with chronic illness. In "Wish," by Jenni Balch, a 14-year-old Venusian can't travel to Earth with the rest of her friends to attend school because she has immune thrombocytopenic purpura, an autoimmune disorder that causes low platelets. Balch, who also shares this diagnosis, makes clear the loneliness and isolation that often come with such a disease. The Venusian makes contact with a "Granter," and it's from his perspective that readers glean the emotional toll--"restlessness, impatience, and frustration"--on people who feel held back by their diagnoses, a feeling not too different than how the Granter feels when stuck in the "LAMP" for too long.

With a variety of authors comes a variety of themes, but most stories fall into these categories: romance, social justice and reimagined fairy tales. In Anne-Marie McLemore's "Cristal y Ceniza," a family of "los campesinos" sends their daughter to a transgender prince's ball so she can ask the royal family to protect her mothers from "la corrección"--forced marriages between queer men and women. McLemore easily infuses magic, romance, oppression and fighting injustice into this tightly told reimagining of Cinderella. In addition to wholly original stories with new characters, readers will be pleased to also find new stories about beloved characters from familiar worlds. Characters from V.E. Schwab's Shades of Magic series, Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle trilogy and Clayton's own Belles books all make a welcome appearance. --Lana Barnes, freelance reviewer and proofreader

Shelf Talker: A Universe of Wishes is a noteworthy collection brimming with empowering tales that confirm all readers deserve to have their stories told.

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