Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, November 24, 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


Our 2020 Best Children's & Teen Books of the Year

This challenging year has given us a number of outstanding children's and young adult titles. Here are our top picks for 2020; click here to read our reviews of these impressive books. (Shelf Awareness's Best Adult Books will be announced December 1.)

Picture Books
The Old Truck by Jarrett Pumphrey, Jerome Pumphrey (Norton Young Readers)
Every Color of Light: A Book About the Sky by Hiroshi Osada, trans. by David Boyd, illus. by Ryôji Arai (Enchanted Lion Books)
We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom, illus. by Michaela Goade (Roaring Brook Press)
I Talk Like a River by Jordan Scott, illus. by Sydney Smith (Neal Porter Books/Holiday House)
All Because You Matter by Tami Charles, illus. by Bryan Collier (Orchard Books/Scholastic)
Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera by Candace Fleming, illus. by Eric Rohmann (Neal Porter Books/Holiday House)

Chapter and Middle Grade Books
Skunk and Badger by Amy Timberlake, illus. by Jon Klassen (Algonquin Young Readers)
All Thirteen: The Incredible Rescue of the Thai Boys' Soccer Team by Christina Soontornvat (Candlewick Press)
Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park (Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Mañanaland by Pam Muñoz Ryan (Scholastic Press)
The List of Things that Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead (Wendy Lamb/Random House)
Trowbridge Road by Marcella Pixley (Candlewick Press)
King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender (Scholastic Press)

Young Adult Books
Tigers, Not Daughters by Samantha Mabry (Algonquin Young Readers)
The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta (Balzer + Bray)
Apple (Skin to the Core) by Eric Gansworth (Levine Querido)
A Phoenix First Must Burn: Sixteen Stories of Black Girl Magic, Resistance, and Hope, edited by Patrice Caldwell (Viking)
Punching the Air by Yusef Salaam and Ibi Zoboi (Balzer & Bray)
Dark and Deepest Red by Anna-Marie McLemore (Feiwel & Friends)
Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger, illus. by Rovina Cai (Levine Querido)


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

Marisa Neyenhuis New Co-Owner of Chapter One, Hamilton, Mont.

Marisa Neyenhuis

Marisa Neyenhuis has joined Shawn Wathen and Mara Lynn Luther as an owner of Chapter One Book Store, Hamilton, Mont. Neyenhuis was first associated with the store when she served as an intern during high school. That led to a job, and in college she continued to work at the store during holiday seasons. Thus, Wathen and Luther said, she "made a place for herself in the Chapter One family album."

After almost two decades away from Hamilton, Neyenhuis returned last summer and "added her voice to the conversation about the future of Chapter One." Last month, "in the middle of a global pandemic, when every future seems unpredictable, Marisa became the third owner of her childhood bookstore. We're so lucky to have her."

Chapter One celebrated its 45th anniversary last year. Previous owners (in partnership with Wathen) included Russ and Jean Lawrence, who joined the Peace Corps in 2009. (Russ is a former ABA president.)

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

How Bookstores Are Coping: Resilient Customers; Inspiring Team

In Danville, Calif., Rakestraw Books has "rolled through the various stages" of reopening since having to close in the spring, owner Michael Barnard reported. The store began doing direct-to-home orders when still closed to the public, and "fairly quickly" moved from that to a "semblance" of regular ordering. Barnard noted that most of the staff lives within a few blocks of the store, so when they were barred from working at the shop, deliveries were redirected to booksellers' homes.

Rakestraw Books did that until late May, when it started curbside pick-up. The store reopened for in-store browsing in early June, with masks required and only a few people allowed in at a time. The store never increased the capacity from that original number, even though it was later allowed to do so, and Barnard pointed out that if they had, they would have had to reduce the capacity this week to comply with California's latest Covid restrictions.

When asked about any bright spots throughout all this, Barnard said it has been "surprising, gratifying and incredibly reassuring" to see Rakestraw's customers stay with the store through each successive stage of reopening. Had he been asked a year ago, he continued, if his customers were online shoppers, he would have said no, they want the in-store experience. During the pandemic, though, they've "shifted avidly" to shopping online, and it's become clear that what they really want is to shop at Rakestraw specifically, and "they will do it however it takes." Barnard has also been pleased at how avidly customers have taken to online events, and said he was "thrilled at how resilient they are as customers."

Barnard admitted that he had long believed that preorders were not the best use of his team's time, given how much effort they require. The pandemic has proved him wrong on that--there seems to be a "marquee success" every week and customers are enthusiastically using preorders. Looking ahead, he said he believes that both curbside pick-up and delivery are "here for a long time."

On the subject of holiday buying, Barnard said he's tried to be more conservative while also trying to support the titles he and his team feel strongly about. They've also ordered larger and earlier on key titles. Barnard said it's clear that customers are shopping early and that's "helping us a lot." It's especially valuable considering the possibility of another shutdown in December.


M. Judson Booksellers & Storytellers in Greenville, S.C., has reopened with "relatively normal operations," reported store owner June Wilcox. Masks are required for staff and customers, booksellers are required to take their temperature at the start of every shift, and cleaning happens "constantly" throughout the day. The community, she added, has been "relatively conscientious," and employees and customers have felt safe in-store.

Wilcox said sales are down significantly from last year, and there are far fewer customers in the store on a daily basis. She called people's adaptability and creativity "inspiring," and the "commitment, positivity and ingenuity of our team" have been "incredible to witness." The store is "stronger for all we have been through together."

The store has implemented private shopping, curbside service and deliveries during the pandemic, and Wilcox and her team have also expanded online services. She imagines that all of these things will stick around for a long time, and she noted that private shopping has been particularly successful for the store. Her booksellers have also really enjoyed hosting those private shopping sessions.

Wilcox's approach to holiday buying involved ordering early and heavily on major titles and non-book items that she wants to make sure stay in stock. She and her team have been encouraging  customers to shop early and to take advantage of the aforementioned services, particularly private shopping. --Alex Mutter

International Update: Canadian Bookstores Are 'Essential', IPA President Confirmed

In Canada, booksellers and publishers are calling upon Ontario Premier Doug Ford to declare bookstores an essential service, as Toronto went back into Covid-19 lockdown yesterday, closing most non-essential businesses and services, the Star reported.

"We believe that the availability of books should be built into the strategy to maintain the well-being of Ontario communities and families," wrote Kristin Cochrane, the CEO of Penguin Random House Canada, in a letter to Ford. "Bookstores perform an essential role in their communities, providing critical informational, entertainment and educational resources for Ontarians; they contribute to the maintenance of freedom of accurate information; and most particularly during this time, books play a significant role in children's education, cognitive development and mental health."

Heather Reisman, CEO of Indigo Books & Music, told the Star: "The important thing is the role that we've been playing in supporting education and mental well-being is so clear. For the first time in almost a decade not only are book sales up, educational materials that are supporting kids, creative activities, those things are experiencing huge increases.... But also all the books that relate to anxiety, depression, mindfulness, the spike has been tenfold. Premier Ford has had a huge commitment to mental health and well-being. He knows that there's an issue. And he has a huge commitment to education. This aligns with two things he cares about a lot."

In addition, Indigo stores "have been following the full protocol from the beginning, and we have had literally no Covid experience because of the intense protocol. We are safe," Reisman said.

Jo Saul, a partner at Toronto indie Type Books, said that with the holiday season here, "we are busy gearing up for our busiest seven weeks of the entire year. The month of December is what allows for the rest of the year. We have strategically filled our stores to the brim." Calling a lockdown now will make it harder for her to sell those books. "More than half of our business is in-store business." Another lockdown is "uncharted territory. Could those sales be made up by online and phone and curbside? I simply don't know. I don't have a crystal ball.... The hunger for books right now is more than I've ever witnessed in my 15 years of business. People are (looking for ways) of understanding this crazy world."


Bodour Al Qasimi (l.) and Karine Pansa

The International Publishers Association confirmed Bodour Al Qasimi (Kalimat Group, UAE) as president-elect and Karine Pansa (Girassol Brasil Edições, Brazil) as v-p-elect at the first-ever virtual IPA General Assembly.

Al Qasimi, who succeeds Hugo Setzer as IPA president, said: "As the second woman to assume the role in 124 years, this is an important advancement in our efforts to promote diversity and inclusion. Leading by example puts the IPA on an even firmer footing to make the case for a diverse publishing industry. I plan to work closely with all of our members to help our industry recover from the ravages of 2020 and transition smoothly to a post-Covid world; and to set our essential industry on a bright, new track."

Pansa added: "It is an honor for me to be elected the next vice president of the International Publishers Association. I am looking forward to working with our president-elect, Bodour Al Qasimi, to overcome the many challenges created by this difficult year, but also to seize the opportunities it creates to reshape our industry for the future."


The Australian Booksellers Association 2021 National Conference will be held June 20-22 at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne. ABA CEO Robbie Egan noted: "Planning is difficult for obvious reasons and we have to be flexible, the Wheeler Centre provides for that and have been incredibly helpful. The event will be a 'hybrid' format and be live streamed for delegates unable or unwilling to travel. We are also currently planning for a dedicated day of publisher highlights presentations. We'd love to have a celebratory dinner event and we will be speaking with the State Library of Victoria about options in their newly renovated spaces and will keep you all informed along the way. Our Sydney conference is on the calendar for 2022 when Covid-19 will be a memory and hugs will be plentiful." --Robert Gray

Amazon: New Facilities in Miss., N.Y.; Local Pushback in Fla.

Amazon plans to open a 700,000-square-foot robotics fulfillment center in Madison County, Miss. In 2019, the company launched its first facility in the state, and another fulfillment center opened in August in Olive Branch.

Alicia Boler Davis, v-p of global customer fulfillment, said Amazon is "excited for our future in the magnolia state, and for what this means for our customers as we continue to grow. We'd also like to thank local and state leaders for their strong support in making this project possible."

Governor Tate Reeves added that Mississippi is "well-positioned to be a leader in logistics, and I want to thank the leadership in Madison County and at Amazon for bringing more than 1,000 jobs to the area."


Amazon has signed a lease to build a shipping center in Brooklyn, N.Y., one of two it plans to open a half-mile apart in East New York in 2021, the Daily News reported. The facility, which would be located at 1255 Flatlands Blvd., is in addition to the delivery station set to open early next year at 2300 Linden Blvd.


In Florida, Amazon wants to build a 65,000-square-foot distribution center near Boynton Beach, but "nearby communities are not exactly putting out the welcome mat," the Palm Beach Post reported, adding that two large golf-club communities nearby are gearing up for a major fight to kill the project.

Amazon's agent recently met with Village of Golf planners to request major changes to the town's growth plan in order to accommodate the facility. Village manager Christine Thrower said representatives for Amazon were told to revise their plans to see if they could be made more palatable to area residents, who contend that most Amazon facilities are in industrial centers, not adjacent to residential communities.

"This is basically an around the clock 24/7 operation that is not suited for our community," nearby Delray Dunes wrote in a letter. "The high-intensity industrial use contained in a single 44-foot-tall building is not compatible with the surrounding communities and will impact all of us negatively."

Kelly Smallridge, president and CEO of the business development board of Palm Beach County, countered that the 10-acre site is already approved for seven separate warehouse buildings that would generate far more traffic and employ far more people than the Amazon facility.


Holiday Chalkboard: The Book Jewel

The Book Jewel, Los Angeles, Calif., shared a photo of the store's festive sidewalk chalkboard message for Thanksgiving, featuring a quotation from John Milton: "A grateful mind by owing owes not."  

Bookstore Window Art: Firestorm Books & Coffee

Firestorm Books & Coffee, Asheville, N.C., shared photos of the shop's window art on Facebook, noting: "Medusa was so upset to learn that isn't run by a mythological society of women warriors from the island of Themyscira. Who are they trying to fool?! Thankfully someone told her about a great feminist bookstore.

"We've been delighting over this fantastical window art created by Austen Mikulka to promote our online sales. Check out Medusa's pet pup, Julius the Cerberus, who's taking a giant nap beside tiny Julius the Store Dog."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Kwame Alexander on Morning Edition

NPR's Morning Edition: Kwame Alexander, author of Light for the World to See: A Thousand Words on Race and Hope (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $14.99, 9780358539414).

Good Morning America: Eden Grinshpan, author of Eating Out Loud: Bold Middle Eastern Flavors for All Day, Every Day (Clarkson Potter, $32.50, 9780593135877).

Rachael Ray: Erin Jeanne McDowell, author of The Book on Pie: Everything You Need to Know to Bake Perfect Pies (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $35, 9780358229285).

Movies: Chaos Walking

A trailer has been released for Doug Liman's long-delayed Chaos Walking, based on the 2008 novel The Knife of Never Letting Go. Starring Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley, the film "has gone through multiple scripts from the likes of Charlie Kaufman and The Blind Side filmmaker John Lee Hancock," IndieWire reported. The cast also includes Mads Mikkelsen, Demián Bichir, Kurt Sutter, Nick Jonas, Cynthia Erivo, and David Oyelowo.

Robert Zemeckis had originally been "tapped to direct the movie in 2013 off a script he liked from Kaufman," IndieWire wrote. "No progress on the project was made until Liman stepped in to make the movie in 2016. Production began in 2017 and Lionsgate set a March 1, 2019 release date, an opening that got pushed back when major reshoots had to be scheduled for 2018. By 2019, news got out that an early cut of the $100 million tentpole was deemed 'unreleasable' by Lionsgate executives. More reshoots were needed to salvage the movie and a 2021 release was set."

Books & Authors

Awards: MWA Grand Master, Raven Winners

The Mystery Writers of America has announced the recipients of its special awards. The board chose Charlaine Harris and Jeffery Deaver as the 2021 Grand Masters, an award that acknowledges important contributions to the genre as well as for a body of work that is both significant and of consistent high quality. The Raven Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement in the mystery field outside the realm of creative writing, goes to the Malice Domestic mystery conference, founded in 1989 and held every spring since then. The honorees will receive their awards at the 75th Annual Edgar Awards Ceremony, scheduled to be held April 29.

MWA President Meg Gardiner said, "Over the course of decades, Deaver and Harris have gripped tens of millions of readers while broadening the reach of the genre with transformative books--notably, Deaver's Lincoln Rhyme series, and Harris's Sookie Stackhouse novels--and while generously encouraging and supporting fellow writers and the reading public."

Deaver said, "When I was a (relatively) young writer new to this business of penning novels, many years ago, the first professional organization I joined was Mystery Writers of America.... Yet it never once occurred to me, in all my years as a member and my two terms as president, that I might be invited into those very ranks [as a Grand Master]. I wish to express by boundless gratitude to MWA for this honor, which stands, without question, as the highpoint of my career."

Harris commented: "This is like winning the lottery and the Pulitzer Prize in one day. I am so honored and thrilled to join the ranks of revered writers who are Grand Masters. I thank the MWA Board from the bottom of my heart."

Verena Rose, currently chair of the Malice Domestic board of directors, stated: "What an absolutely, amazing surprise and as the chair, I can't wait to give my fellow board members the news."

Book Review

Review: The Chanel Sisters

The Chanel Sisters by Judithe Little (Graydon House, $28.99 hardcover, 400p., 9781525806384, December 29, 2020)

Before Coco Chanel became an haute-couture icon, she was simply Gabrielle, one of three sisters left at the convent at Aubazine by their peddler father after their mother's death. Though they learned to sew at the convent, Gabrielle and her sisters chafed against the strictures of their new life, longing to leave and make their own way in the world. In her second novel, The Chanel Sisters, Judithe Little (Wickwythe Hall) tells the story of Gabrielle's rise to fame through the eyes of her sister, Antoinette.

Four years younger than Gabrielle, Antoinette (known as "Ninette") shares her sister's desire to leave Aubazine and become something more than a seamstress or a peasant's wife. Little's narrative recounts their grim years at the convent in the company of their older sister, Julia-Berthe; their eventual connection to their father's family, especially their young aunt, Adrienne; and their early post-convent years, working odd jobs in Moulins and then in Vichy. Gabrielle dreams of a career on the stage and Adrienne wants to marry a rich man, but Ninette--to her own surprise--discovers a facility for making hats. Quiet but determined, she learns all she can at the milliner's shop where she works. When Gabrielle, now the bored mistress of a wealthy man, decides she wants to make hats, too, Ninette lends her skill to her sister's new project. Through the next several years, the sisters hone their craft and dream of opening their own shop, eventually founding Chanel Modes in Paris.

Little expertly blends the few known facts about Ninette (and the much more extensive details of Gabrielle's biography) with fiction, narrating her story in Ninette's voice and drawing a sharp portrait of the privations the sisters face. They have no money and very few connections, getting by on backbreakingly hard work and a bit of luck. Central to Ninette's motivation (and, she suspects, to Gabrielle's) is proving she is worthy of love and admiration after being abandoned by their father. Both sisters become entangled in complicated affairs with wealthy men--an English aristocrat for Gabrielle, an Argentinian horse breeder for Ninette. When Europe plunges into World War I, the fortunes of Chanel and its owners will change in unexpected ways.

Full of rich period detail and lush descriptions of the designs that would make Chanel famous, Little's novel is a tribute to gritty hard work, ingenuity and determination. A moving portrait of the deep and complex bonds between sisters, Ninette's story shines a light on a courageous, talented woman too often left in her sister's shadow. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Shelf Talker: Coco Chanel's sister Antoinette tells her own story in a lushly described novel of struggle, romance and gritty hard work.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Dawnshard: From the Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson
2. Nobody Knows (SWAT Generation 2.0 Book 11) by Lani Lynn Vale
3. Wicked Truths by Jodi Ellen Malpas
4. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki with Sharon L. Lechter
5. Amish Christmas Miracles Collection by Various
6. Noble Prince by Devney Perry
7. See Me After Class by Meghan Quinn
8. Rushing In (The Bailey Brothers Book 4) by Claire Kingsley
9. Office Grump by Nicole Snow
10. The Winning Game Plan by Jamey Rootes

[Many thanks to!]

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