Shelf Awareness for Monday, November 23, 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


Fla.'s Writer's Block Opens Second Location, in Winter Garden

On Friday, Writer's Block Bookstore, Winter Park, Fla., opened its second store, in downtown Winter Garden, at 32 E. Plant Street. The 1,500-square-foot store will stock thousands of new bestselling and indie titles, gifts, games, and will have an extensive children's section. Like the Writer's Block in Winter Park, which opened in 2014, the new store will offer adult and children's programming, including author events, book clubs, literary trivia and game nights, and more.

Writer's Block described the area as "a quaint and trendy shopping and entertainment district positioned west of Orlando. In addition to the abundance of retail options, Downtown Winter Garden is known for its popular outdoor events that run the gamut from concerts to community and holiday gatherings to a weekly farmers market."

Owner Lauren Zimmerman said, "This week marks a sentimental time for us. We moved our store to a brand-new location on the main street of Winter Park one year ago. We are now adding a new bookstore to Winter Garden's main street, thanks to the warmth and generosity of its citizens. We are bringing the success we created in Winter Park and are bringing a full-service community bookstore to downtown Winter Garden."

Winter Garden economic director Tanjn Gerhartz said, "The City of Winter Garden is extremely excited to have a bookstore opening up in our community. The Writer's Block Bookstore will be a perfect addition to our mix of downtown retail stores and really bolster downtown businesses. The bookstore will finally fill a void created when Barnes & Noble closed back in 2015 and make a lot of people in our community happy."

The store was aided in opening the store with a $50,000 grant from the city and the Community Redevelopment Agency to help pay for interior alterations and buildout costs before opening. In September, city manager Mike Bollhoefer said he initially resisted the grant, because it is something the city had not done before, but warmed up to the idea and described bookstores as "anchorettes," the Orange Observer wrote, noting their importance to a downtown area.

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

powerHouse Opens New Bookstore in Sunset Park, Brooklyn

powerHouse in Industry City

powerHouse Books, the publisher and bookseller in Brooklyn, N.Y., is opening a 2,300-square-foot bookstore in Industry City in Sunset Park and moving its publishing offices to the bookstore. powerHouse has two other bookstores--on 8th Avenue in Park Slope and the POWERHOUSE Arena at 28 Adams Street in Dumbo, where it has had its publishing offices.

Called POWERHOUSE@IC, the new bookstore is in the Food Hall of Building 2, next to New York Harbor. The space has an open-concept layout, bright yellow accents and hand-painted table signage. It will feature selected fiction, nonfiction, photography, design and art books, along with a large kids area with a Spanish-language section. The store said that the addition of Spanish-language books for children and adult readers draws inspiration from the surrounding Latinx community of Sunset Park. The bookstore also has a lower level that will be used as an exhibition space and rare and archival showroom, featuring recently discovered archives of first and signed and limited editions.

POWERHOUSE@IC plans to offer book events focusing on design, DIY, food, drink and entertaining, as well as the tech and craft industries, incorporating "the vibrant creative spirit of Industry City." The store will also offer kids events such as story time, which will use the pink-lit stage prominently featured in the new kids section.

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

How Bookstores Are Coping: 'Overwhelmed' by Support; Holiday Prep

Book No Further in Roanoke, Va., reopened for browsing in early June after being closed for 11 weeks, reported Doloris Vest, who owns the store with her husband, Craig Coker. Initially the store reopened only for appointment browsing but there were few takers, and because so many people were trying to walk in anyway, Vest and her team soon allowed limited in-store browsing. During the shutdown, Vest added, the store sold exclusively through its IndieCommerce site and had several major sales through area non-profits.

Masks are required and gloves are available if requested; Vest said there have been "very few difficulties with masks." She attributed that to her clientele being "savvy enough to understand the importance." The one family that refused to wear masks and "got huffy and left" when she suggested scheduling a private browsing appointment were not regulars, she noted.

In the months since reopening, sales have gradually built back up to last year's levels and, if one counts the CARES money the store received, sales are actually ahead of last year. Vest pointed out that in-store traffic has steadily increased and there's been good retention of online customers as well. The store has also been fortunate to receive a fair amount of financial assistance, including PPP funds, an EIDL grant, BINC grants and a number of loans and grants from local business associations.

The store has, of course, dropped in-store events for Zoom events, which Vest said have gone fairly smoothly. There have been some "incredibly successful workshops" featuring faculty from Hollins University, which has a well-known creative writing program. Thanks to Zoom, Book No Further has attracted event participants from as far afield as Hawaii and Ireland.

Vest said she's been "overwhelmed" by the support from both customers and local authors, and IndieCommerce has been a "godsend." While turning her store into an online fulfillment center was not easy, she has learned "so many things" about the platform and she "truly appreciates" the technical assistance from the IndieCommerce team. She also gave a shout-out to the ABA and to SIBA, calling their open-discussion events "wonderful."

On the subject of holiday buying, Vest said this was only her fourth holiday season as a bookstore owner, and she's "still rather eclectic" in her approach. The store, which prominently features books by local and regional authors, orders from many small presses, and this year she's trying to "buy deeper into their backlists." She's keeping a close eye on new releases, and lists and reviews mentioned by regular customers as well.

Since the start of October, Vest has been following an "extensive weekly marketing calendar" to get the word out about shopping early. In addition to social media posts, paid online advertising and newsletters, she's working with several local media operations to advertise. For the first time, she is inserting the SIBA holiday catalogue, along with a coupon, in the Roanoke Times. Vest added that the average dollar amount and item count per sale, both in-store and online, are considerably up at the moment, which she attributed to early holiday shopping.


In Houston, Tex., Brazos Bookstore began doing curbside pick-up three days per week in April, and general manager Ülrika Moats reported that operations have slowly but steadily grown over the months since. The store is now open seven days a week for in-store browsing, with no more than seven customers allowed in at once. Moats noted that this limit is not from any sort of mandate, but is based on "what we think will be comfortable for customers."

Masks are required and hand sanitizer is available. There have been no major issues with mask resistance, and Moats said people have been "more than happy" to wait to enter the store. In general, the store's customers have been "very supportive," which has been one of the major bright spots of the last several months.

When it came to ordering for the holidays, Brazos Bookstore kept numbers a bit lower than normal, but otherwise approached things largely as the store normally would. As the holidays near, Moats and the team will keep an eye on where the store needs to reorder and will try to keep inventory of major titles at a high enough level. Customers seem to be doing more personal shopping than holiday shopping at the moment, she added, but the store will be releasing its holiday catalogue earlier and will start pushing early shopping more. --Alex Mutter

Joy Harjo Gets Third Term as U.S. Poet Laureate

Joy Harjo
(photo: Shawn Miller/Library of Congress)

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden has appointed Joy Harjo, the first Native American to serve as U.S. Poet Laureate, to a third term in the office, making her only the second person in the position's 77-year history to do so. She will start that third year next September. Harjo has also launched her signature project, "Living Nations, Living Words," which features 47 contemporary Native poets through a story map and online audio collection.

"Throughout the pandemic, Joy Harjo has shown how poetry can help steady us and nurture us. I am thankful she is willing to continue this work on behalf of the country," said Hayden. "A third term will give Joy the opportunity to develop and extend her signature project."

Rob Casper and Anne Holmes of the Library's Literary Initiatives office noted that when Harjo first accepted the position in April 2019, "she talked about wanting to create an online map of living Native poets.... As Joy explored the platform and talked about the possibilities for her project, it became clear that she not only wanted to feature a number of Native poets, but wanted to hear from them, too, reading and discussing their work. She felt strongly that these poets should choose their own poems, while keeping in mind the theme of place and displacement, and the following touchpoints: visibility, persistence, resistance and acknowledgment.... Today, we invite you to dive in and explore all that 'Living Nations, Living Words' has to offer."

Univ. of New Mexico Press Launches High Road Books

The University of New Mexico Press has formed a new imprint, High Road Books, that will launch in March 2021 with titles "dedicated to thoughtful, stylish, provocative fiction and nonfiction with western roots and national appeal."

Director Stephen Hull said, "We have been the publisher of New Mexico for more than 90 years. With the launch of High Road Books, we continue to expand upon our legacy as New Mexico's window on the world."

Katherine White, sales and marketing manager, said, "High Road Books will offer an exciting new opportunity for UNM Press to share amazing authors with readers, some who may be discovering our catalog for the first time."

The first three titles, to be published next March, are:

Fortunate Son: Selected Essays from the Lone Star State by Rick Bass, "a literary tour of the state, from Galveston Bay to the Hill Country outside Austin, and from Houston in the 1960s to today."

The Believer: Alien Encounters, Hard Science, and the Passion of John Mack by Ralph Blumenthal, "the weird and chilling true story of Dr. John Mack, the eminent Harvard psychiatrist and Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer who risked his career to investigate the phenomenon of human encounters with aliens."

Hill of Beans: A Novel of War and Celluloid by Leslie Epstein, which "chronicles the making of Casablanca, as studio head Jack Warner attempts to engineer an improbable publicity stunt: the invasion of North Africa by British and American forces to coincide with the release of the film in 1942. This is the novel that Epstein--the son and nephew of Philip and Julius Epstein, the screenwriters of Casablanca--was born to write."

Obituary Note: Jan Morris

Jan Morris

British journalist, travel writer and historian Jan Morris, "who wrote about history's sweep and the details of place with equal eloquence and chronicled her life as a transgender woman," died November 20, the New York Times reported. She was 94. As James Morris, she was a military officer in one of Britain's most renowned cavalry regiments, and then, as a world class journalist, "excelled as a travel writer, drawing literary portraits of places like Manhattan, Hong Kong, her beloved Wales (she was a dedicated Welsh nationalist), Oxford in England and Trieste in Italy."

James Morris married and had five children, but "became increasingly despondent over the issue of gender identity," the Times wrote. At 46, she underwent transition surgery, explaining the reasoning in the memoir Conundrum (1974), which was written two years after the operation under a new byline, Jan Morris: "I was three or perhaps four years old when I realized that I had been born into the wrong body, and should really be a girl.... I thought of public success itself, I suppose, as part of maleness, and I deliberately turned my back on it, as I set my face against manhood."

Her more than four dozen books, half of which were published after her transition, include Venice (1960), which won Britain's Heinemann Award for Literature; Destinations (1980); Last Letters From Hav (1985), a finalist for the Booker Prize; Thinking Again (2020); In My Mind's Eye: A Thought Diary (2018); Fisher's Face, or, Getting to Know the Admiral (1995); The Hashemite Kings (1959), Heaven's Command: An Imperial Progress (1979); and a three-volume history of the British Empire. A final work, Allegorizings, will be published posthumously.

Angus Cargill, publishing director at Faber, which published Morris for more than 60 years, told the Bookseller: "We are extremely sad to hear the news of Jan Morris's death today. A trailblazer and an extraordinary life force, her wonderful, generous books opened up the world for so many people."

The Guardian noted that the greatest distance traveled by Morris "was not across the Earth's surface but between extraordinary identities: from being the golden-boy newspaper reporter James Morris to the female voyager and historian Jan Morris. James became Jan when what was then called a sex change was unexplored territory, from which she boldly sent back an early dispatch in 1974. The '70s reaction to that transformation was at best incomprehension, at worst hostility, especially literary hostility, but Morris wrote on.... She became an institution after having experienced the world, and herself in it, change radically in a lifetime."

In her preface to Among the Cities (1985), Morris wrote: "First to last, the world never ceased to astonish me, and I hope at least a little of that power to amaze, if nothing more profound, may be found between the covers of this book."


Bookseller Moment: Pages Bookshop

Posted on Facebook by Pages Bookshop, Detroit, Mich.: "From our inbox: 'I wanted to tell you how much I appreciated having Pages in the neighborhood. Each visit to the shop was a delight. The evening sessions with authors I attended were always fascinating and inspirational. Such a great enhancement all of this is for the community.'

"This e-mail came from one of our customers who recently moved away from Detroit to be closer to her grandkids. That she took the time to send us this note reminds us why we're here and how special neighborhood bookstores really are. It's more than just the books. It's community; it's people; it's us, together in all of this, even when we're apart. Thank you."

Unboxing Video: Bookmiser New & Used Books

Bookmiser New & Used Books, Marietta, Ga., shared a video many booksellers will identify with: "Do you know what one of our favorite days is at Bookmiser? It's White Box Day! Around mid-month, we get the ABA White Box and it's filled with promotional materials and, most importantly, ARCs! ARCs are Advanced Reader Copies of books sent to booksellers ahead of release date. They may have small editing errors and sometimes have a plain cover. The hope is that we will read them and love them, so that when they're officially released, we'll stock them to sell in our stores. These days we get a lot of ARCs digitally (well, Jenn does), but we all love the real, physical copies the best."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Barack Obama on Colbert's Late Show

Late Night with Seth Meyers: Jeff Tweedy, author of How to Write One Song: Loving the Things We Create and How They Love Us Back (Dutton, $23, 9780593183526).

Late Late Show with James Corden: Michael J. Fox, author of No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality (Flatiron, $27.99, 9781250265616).

Axios on HBO: Charles Koch, co-author of Believe in People: Bottom-Up Solutions for a Top-Down World (St. Martin's Press, $29.99, 9781250200969).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Barack Obama, author of A Promised Land (Crown, $45, 9781524763169).

Tonight Show: Joe Scarborough, author of Saving Freedom: Truman, the Cold War, and the Fight for Western Civilization (Harper, $29.99, 9780062950499).

TV: Shantaram

Steven Lightfoot (Hannibal, The Punisher), will be the showrunner for Apple's saga Shantaram, based on Gregory David Roberts' 2003 novel, which has been published in 39 languages and sold more than six million copies, Deadline reported.

Starring Charlie Hunnam, the Apple Original drama series is written and executive produced by Lightfoot, alongside exec producers Steve Golin, Andrea Barron, Nicole Clemens and Richard Sharkey. Lightfoot replaced Eric Warren Singer, who had earlier "exited the ambitious international production shot across two continents. As part of the pact, Lightfoot also has signed a multi-year, overall deal with Apple," Deadline noted.

Books & Authors

Awards: Tony Ryan, Writers' Trust Winners

Better Lucky Than Good: Tall Tales and Straight Talk from the Backside of the Track by various authors, edited by Joe Manning and the Louisville Story Program, has won the $10,000 Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award, honoring the best books published in a given year on the subject of horse racing.

The organizers said that in the book, "a diverse cross section of Churchill Downs denizens--including exercise riders, grooms, assistant trainers, hotwalkers, outriders, security guards, silks makers, outriders, and touts--penned their personal and very different takes on racing as they have experienced it. Altogether, this is the ultimate insider's view of a sport that has captured the imaginations of multitudes down through the centuries."

Judge Kay Coyte added that Better Lucky Than Good "goes well beyond the barns to encompass stories of little-heralded employees, neighbors outside the gates and the ancillary business owners who also are so important to the sport of racing. All the stories are recorded, guided and edited with great respect and affection by the Louisville Story Program team."


The Writers' Trust of Canada announced winners of the 2020 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction and the Writers' Trust Fiction Prize:

Jessica J. Lee won the C$60,000 (about US$45,880) Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction for Two Trees Make a Forest: In Search of My Family's Past Among Taiwan's Mountains and Coasts. The jury said the author "shares her knowledge of linguistics and environmental history as she hikes the fault lines of her own family's story in sentences that make you gasp in admiration. Hers is a tale of political disruption, civil war, displacement, environmental ravages, and intergenerational trauma. She sets a speedy narrative pace, like a trained guide with nightfall looming, but she knows the value of slowing her stride so readers can absorb the luscious vistas she is describing and the familial tragedy she is mourning. This book will haunt you."

Gil Adamson received the C$50,000 (about US$38,235) Writers' Trust Fiction Prize for Ridgerunner, which the jury said "sinks readers into a Wild West never before seen in an adventure as sprawling and impeccably rendered as the land itself--a scrupulously researched, evocative landscape that shapes the spaces, both interior and exterior, of those who live there as well as the dangerous ties that bind them. Through the eyes of an infamous thief and the 12-year-old son for whom he is searching, Adamson explores notions of good and evil as ubiquitous as gun smoke and just as nebulous, along with the reminder that all which is fought for comes at a cost."

On December 2, recipients of four C$25,000 (about US$19,115) career achievement awards will be honored: the Matt Cohen Award: In Celebration of a Writing Life; Latner Writers' Trust Poetry Prize; Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People; and Writers' Trust Engel Findley Award.

Top Library Recommended Titles for December

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

Top Pick
How to Fail at Flirting by Denise Williams (Berkley, $16, 9780593101902). "Naya, a straight-laced professor, meets charismatic Jake at a bar. He might check off one item on Naya's boundary-pushing to-do list--if only he wasn't in charge of defunding her department at the university. How can they balance a relationship and a professional career? For fans of The Kiss Quotient, The Wedding Date, and The Hating Game." --Kari Bingham-Gutierrez, Olathe Public Library, Olathe, Kan.

The Arctic Fury: A Novel by Greer Macallister (Sourcebooks Landmark, $16.99, 9781728215693). "Virginia Reeve is a take-no-prisoners adventurer and trail guide when she's asked by a mysterious benefactor to lead a group of 12 women to find the lost captain of the shipwrecked vessel The Franklin. Not for the squeamish or easily offended, this thrilling read is recommended for those who enjoyed Into the Wild and In the Kingdom of Ice." --Joy Matteson, Downers Grove Public Library, Downers Grove, Ill.

How to Catch a Queen: Runaway Royals by Alyssa Cole (Avon, $7.99, 9780062933966). "Shanti and Sanyu are in an arranged marriage, thrown together as his father the King lays dying. As they begin to work together to better the kingdom, they grow closer. Cole weaves humor into the storyline in a way that does not undercut the themes of political action, equity, and adaptation. And as always, Cole's female characters are driven, smart, sexy, and savvy. For fans of Talia Hibbert and Alexa Martin." --Sarah Skrobis, Staunton Public Library, Staunton, Va.

Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder: A Novel by T.A. Willberg (Park Row, $27.99, 9780778389330). "Marion is a new recruit of a detective agency that works undercover and under the streets of London. When she gets involved in investigating the death of one of their own agents, she is not sure who she can trust, or what forces are working against her. This is a great start to a new series that is perfect for Agatha Christie and Harry Potter fans alike." --Sharon Layburn, South Huntington Public Library, Huntington Station, N.Y.

Pretty Little Wife: A Novel by Darby Kane (Morrow, $16.99, 9780063016408). "When Aaron doesn't show up for work and no one hears from him, an unofficial investigation begins. What secrets is Lila, his beautiful wife, keeping? The more the police discover, the more questions they have. A thriller for fans of Gone Girl and The Last Mrs. Parrish." --Chris Markley, Kingsport Public Library, Kingsport, Tenn.

Take It Back: A Novel by Kia Abdullah (St. Martin's Press, $27.99, 9781250273017). "Jodie, a teen with facial deformities, accuses four Muslim boys of raping her after a party. Jodie's mom, her best friend, and her classmates don't believe her. The only one who believes her is Zara Kaleel, a former high powered attorney who now works as a sexual assault advocate. For fans of The Holdout and Night Swim." --Yvonne Selander, Somerset County Public Library, Bridgewater, N.J.

Ten Rules for Faking It by Sophie Sullivan (Griffin, $16.99, 9781250624161). "Anxious Evelyn becomes a sudden podcast star and the romance she was sure was a one-way street, maybe isn't anymore. She can't let her nerves get in the way of happiness. Did I mention that the leading man is completely swoony? For readers who enjoyed The Roommate." --Emily Flynn, Berkeley County Library System, Summerville, S.C.

Ten Things I Hate About the Duke by Loretta Chase (Avon, $7.99, 9780062457400). "In the second book of the Difficult Dukes series, Cassandra Pomfret has a reputation for having strong opinions and not keeping them to herself. Lucius, the Duke of Ashmont, is a devastatingly handsome trouble maker. Let the battle of wills begin. For readers who enjoyed the Rules of Scoundrels series or the Bow Street Bachelors series." --Jessica McGee, Red Wing Public Library, Red Wing, Minn.

This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens (Putnam, $16, 9780593191200). "Minnie Cooper and Quinn Hamilton were born in the same hospital on January 1, 1990. After a series of missed connections, they are about to meet again on New Year's Day 2020. This Time Next Year hits the perfect note for readers who enjoyed Bridget Jones' Diary and the original Shopaholic." --Janet Schneider, Peninsula Public Library, Lawrence, N.Y.

The Wrong Family: A Thriller by Tarryn Fisher (Graydon House, $17.99, 9781525810008). "The Crouches--Winnie, Nigel, and their teenage son Samuel--are perfect on the outside. In reality, Winnie is controlling, Nigel is tuned out, and confused Samuel is trying to forge his own identity. Juno, a former therapist who has become attracted to the Crouches, gets caught up in their family drama and takes the story in a surprising direction. For fans of Ruth Ware and B.A. Paris." --Connie Laing, Great River Regional Library, St. Cloud, Minn.

Book Review

Review: Truth, Lies, and Second Dates

Truth, Lies, and Second Dates by MaryJanice Davidson (St. Martin's Griffin, $16.99 paperback, 320p., 9781250053176, December 15, 2020)

MaryJanice Davidson writes romance across genres, from comedy to horror to paranormal. The diversity of her books broadens her appeal, and in her Tropes trilogy--a series that pays homage to romance novels--she's riffed on mainstays like "nobody knows the rich guy is rich" (Danger, Sweetheart) and "poor little rich man needs rescuing" (The Love Scam). In Truth, Lies, and Second Dates she plays on "you can run but cannot hide from the past."

This novel focuses on Ava Capp, a snarky, flawed heroine with an unresolved past. Not yet 30 years old, Ava is already an accomplished, lauded pilot for a commercial airline. Her need to fly away began years before. Ava had a terrible childhood. As a teenager, she and her best friend, Danielle, were inseparable--until Danielle was brutally murdered when the girls were 16. The tragic loss of Danielle and her unsolved murder led Ava to abuse drugs and alcohol, until she dried out, turned her life around and became a pilot--one plagued with romantic commitment issues.

One day, on a routine flight, the no-nonsense, foul-mouthed, seemingly self-assured pilot crosses paths with Danielle's twin brother, Dennis, who invites Ava to a 10-year memorial service for his sister. The invitation brings Ava back to her hometown, Minneapolis, Minn., where she's welcomed coolly by Danielle's family--especially by her mother, who still suspects Ava killed her daughter.

When things go dreadfully awry at the service, and Ava leaves abruptly, she meets Dr. Tom Baker. When Baker was 13, the grisly murder of Danielle intrigued him so much that it launched him into a career as a medical examiner. As Ava and Tom strike up a friendship (on the way to romance), mysterious happenings resurrect the past and begin to threaten Ava's sanity and safety. Might Danielle's killer still be prowling about, seeking to ruin Ava's life?

This, the third of Davidson's clever Trope novels, is billed as a sweet-and-sassy romantic comedy. However, beyond snarky humor, whip-smart dialogue and a memorable cast of quirky characters, the story ripens with elements of mystery and horror as the plot ratchets up in pursuit of a killer. Readers will root for the flawed heroine and the pull of romance. However, they'll be more apt to keep turning pages, eager to solve the suspenseful whodunnit embroiled in the midst of it all. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

Shelf Talker: A snarky romance--and well-crafted whodunnit--about a successful airline pilot forced to revisit the long-ago murder of her best friend.

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