Shelf Awareness for Thursday, February 25, 2021


Beach Lane Books: Nerdycorn by Andrew Root, illustrated by Erin Kraan

Minotaur Books: The Madness of Crowds (Chief Inspector Gamache Novel #17) by Louise Penny

Flatiron Books: Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber

Other Press: Disquiet by Zülfü Livaneli, translated by Brendan Freely

John Scognamiglio Book: After Francesco by Brian Malloy

Experiment: How We Do Family: From Adoption to Trans Pregnancy, What We Learned about Love and LGBTQ Parenthood by Trystan Reese

St. Martin's Press: Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff

News

Rizzoli New York Opens 'Store Within a Store' in B&N's Fifth Avenue Flagship

Publisher Rizzoli New York and Barnes & Noble have begun an exclusive collaboration under which Rizzoli has a dedicated retail display in the art and fashion department in the B&N flagship store at Fifth Avenue and 46th St. in Manhattan. The display will rotate monthly, highlighting books and authors of interest to New Yorkers and visitors alike. Rizzoli and B&N said it is the first time B&N Fifth Avenue will collaborate with a publisher on this type of retail partnership, featuring curated window displays and custom signage.

Rizzoli's current Black History Month window features a range of titles in art, fashion, music, and pop culture; the lead title is Ebony: Covering Black America by Lavaille Lavette, which was published February 2 and focuses on the 75-year history of Ebony magazine.

Future windows and store-within-store themes will tap into "all the lifestyle categories for which Rizzoli is renowned, including home & garden, cookbooks, photography, travel, and fashion & jewelry," the partners added.

Cal Hunter, B&N's manager of marketing/corporate partnerships and business department, said: "On behalf of Susan Halmy, store manager, and all of us here at Barnes & Noble Fifth Avenue, we are excited to commemorate Black History Month in collaboration with our good friends at Rizzoli, the artbook connoisseurs. Art, by its wit, style, charm, emotion and imagination, in all its splendor, particularly at this moment in time, reminds us of our yesterdays, how we arrived at where we are today, and compels us toward tomorrow's yet untold destinations. No matter life's obstacles art informs, nurtures, encourages, and inspires the indomitable human spirit in each and every one of us--art, the verve of life. Take a moment to stop by and see for yourself, you'll be glad you did."

Jennifer Pierson, Rizzoli's v-p of sales & marketing, added: "It is a great pleasure to have the opportunity to collaborate with an entrepreneurial and creative retail partner such as Barnes & Noble Fifth Avenue. Our vision is to celebrate together exquisitely produced illustrated books and to provide enticing window displays and book selections to Barnes & Noble Fifth Avenue's clientele. Now more than ever we need the comfort and delight that art books provide."


G.P. Putnam's Sons: When We Were Young by Richard Roper


BookBar Relaunches Read Club Hub with Jonah Kaplan as Manager

Nicole Sullivan, owner of BookBar in Denver, Colo., is relaunching Read Club Hub, a website that connects readers to book clubs and book clubs to indie bookstores, with book industry veteran Jonah Kaplan as manager.

After a rebrand in January 2020 and a year-long pandemic-induced hiatus, Kaplan will relaunch the site with the same mission: to help readers connect to book clubs that are a good fit for them, whatever their book discussion goals may be.

Jonah Kaplan

Kaplan grew up in his father Mitchell's Books & Books stores in Southern Florida. Although he always had a love for books and the business, Jonah Kaplan pursued a career as a professional basketball player until an injury ended his career while studying at the University of Miami. He then joined the family business, running the restaurant operations, a role that evolved, over five years, along with his love for indie bookstores.

"A bookstore is so much more than just a retail store. It's a community place that brings a certain magic and culture to its surroundings," said Kaplan.

"In this pandemic and soon to be post-pandemic world, we are all craving more meaningful connections than ever," Sullivan said. "It would have been easy to just scrap this whole idea after a pandemic and two rebrands, but in spite of that or maybe because of that we are more committed than ever to this idea of bringing people together (virtually now, in person someday soon) and directing more sales and customer loyalty to indie bookstores in the process."


Soho Teen: Summer in the City of Roses by Michelle Ruiz Keil


How Bookstores Are Coping: Optimistic Outlook; Okay Is Amazing

Arsen Kashkashian, head buyer and general manager at Boulder Book Store in Boulder, Colo., reported that the store has been open for browsing since May 31. There is a staff member stationed at the door with a big sign reminding customers to keep their masks on for the duration of their visit. The store's public restrooms have been closed; cash payments are not accepted; and customers must exit through the children's room rather than the front door. Kashkashian noted that the store has been operating like this for so long that it feels normal, but "how normal can speaking to our customers through plexiglass at the registers be?"

The store has about 80% of the staff that it did prior to the pandemic, which Kashkashian said roughly corresponds to where the store's sales have been since November. Sales of new books are almost entirely back to normal, but all other categories are down around 40%-50%, as they are much more reliant on browsing. This month Kaskashian and the team began their annual inventory process with the non-book items, and they plan to inventory the books in early April.

The single biggest change in operations has been the "outsized proportion" of the store's online sales. Around 25%-35% of the store's sales are now online, up from about 2% this time in 2020. That has necessitated "all sorts of adjustments" in the way the store does things. Other significant changes include no longer being open in the evenings and no longer hosting events a few times per week, which Kashkashian said "still feels strange."

All told, Boulder Book Store was down around 30% in 2020, with Kashkashian noting that it will be manageable in large part because of the PPP loans the store received. On the subject of bright spots amid all of the difficulty, he pointed out that the Boulder Book Store staff "really came together as a team," and there was a spirit of camaraderie. Limiting the store's hours has allowed them to hold staff meetings every morning. "It's been a really good thing," and Kashkashian hopes to find a way to keep doing them once hours return to normal. The store has also gotten much more efficient with web orders and the team hopes that customers will continue to use those services when the pandemic is over.

Looking ahead in 2021, Kashkashian said his outlook is "very positive." He expects the store to remain at about 80% of normal sales through April, but hopes to increase hours heading into the summer, especially once restaurants start to open back up.

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In Hockessin, Del., things at Hockessin BookShelf are about as normal as can be, given the circumstances, owner Rebecca Dowling reported. Everyone wears a mask, hand sanitizer is available, and capacity is limited to no more than seven customers at a time, as the store is only 826 square feet. There is a mobile workstation that allows for more than one bookseller to be in the store at once, and Dowling and her team are still offering curbside pick-up.

Dowling remarked that it was "amazing" how quickly everyone adapted. While she does see "a little fatigue setting in" among customers and community members, there are also customers coming in "doing a little happy dance once they have received their second shot." Everyone claps and people in the store frequently exchange information about signing up for vaccination. While the topic is very unusual, she continued, sharing with the community feels "super normal."

Reflecting on 2020, Dowling said the store did better than she'd imagined. She was still down, but by the end of the year the store was "creeping up" to some fairly normal sales numbers. Customers really came through during the holiday season, and she added that can't overstate how important the grants she received were. They allowed the team to stop focusing on the day-to-day numbers and instead be creative and forward thinking with things like virtual events and school book fairs.

The store has seen incredible community support throughout the pandemic, with Dowling adding that while she was initially worried about potential blowback from customers regarding all the restrictions that are in place, more than 90% of her shoppers have been on board. Looking ahead, Dowling noted that she would "really like to take a vacation," but the store is okay, and that feels amazing. --Alex Mutter


Hampton Roads Publishing Company: The Shaman's Book of Living and Dying by Alberto Villoldo and Anne O'Neill


Wi16: Neurodiversity at Work

During Winter Institute 16 last weekend, Emily Autenrieth, owner of A Seat at the Table Books in Elk Grove, Calif., led a discussion on neurodiversity and how bookstores can be more inclusive to both neurodiverse staff members and customers. On the panel were Katy Alexander, global director of marketing and communications for Digital Science; Jory Fleming, author of How to Be Human: An Autistic Man's Guide to Life; and Ed Thompson, CEO of Uptimize.

Thompson, who founded a company that helps other organizations recruit and retain neurodiverse talent, explained that broadly speaking, the term simply recognizes the "natural diversity of the human brain," though he acknowledged that there are "obviously less common thinking styles and traits."

Whether someone is neurodivergent/neurodistinct or not, he continued, everybody has different communication preferences, and he advised any organization to do a "communication audit," which involves simply asking team members how they prefer to communicate. He noted, too, that not everyone who is neurodistinct will be willing to disclose that information, and some neurodistinct people aren't aware of it themselves.

Alexander discussed her experience with dyslexia, saying that for her, the most important thing is coming up with coping mechanisms and making sure they are in place "as early on as possible." Organizing can be a real challenge, and though she emphasized the point that no single solution will work for everyone with dyslexia, she did recommend using a journal to stay organized or online tools like Trello or Monday. The use of dyslexic-friendly fonts can make a big difference without requiring much effort, and openness among team members is a major asset. With the teams that she manages, she tries to create an environment where no employee would have a problem telling her that the instructions she gave were unclear or asking for some space apart from the rest of the group.

Fleming likened having autism to having a "different operating system" from most people, with a different user interface and a different way of doing things. He said having autism has affected his life in a lot of ways, some of them positive and some negative. On the subject of neurotypical people worrying they'll say the wrong thing or ask the wrong question, Fleming reported that he doesn't always mind questions, but it all comes down to "framing and intention." If the questions come from a good place, if they come from good intentions, he always welcomes conversations about autism.

When it comes to work environments, he said he welcomes flexibility with regard to interfacing with colleagues. As an example he mentioned that coworkers sometimes like to go to bars together after work, but bars can be a major "sensory overload" for him, so being able to turn down those opportunities without worrying that his coworkers will hold it against him is major.

On the subject of making bookstores more inclusive, Alexander suggested carrying some books that have dyslexic-friendly fonts, and when it comes to children's books, don't group them by age. For a 10-year-old child with dyslexia, it can be discouraging and humiliating to go to the 10-year-old section and find that you struggle to read any of the books there. Fleming added that small bookstores can be very comforting when it comes to sensory input and noted that bookstores can carry titles that introduce people to the concept of neurodiversity and build displays around things like Dyslexia Awareness Month.

Autenrieth pointed out that sometimes customers will ask booksellers to recommend titles for a niece or nephew with autism, and the panelists agreed that the best response is to try to guide the conversation toward that child's interests and favorite books, as one would with a recommendation for any child. --Alex Mutter


PEN/Faulkner Foundation: Join us for the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award Celebration!


Stone Bridge Press Launches MONKEY Imprint

Independent publisher Stone Bridge Press has partnered with the literary magazine MONKEY New Writing from Japan to form a new imprint called MONKEY, which will focus on contemporary Japanese fiction in translation.

MONKEY editors Ted Goossen, Motoyuki Shibata and Meg Taylor, who are in Toronto, Tokyo, and Pittsburgh, will work with Stone Bridge publisher Peter Goodman, in Berkeley, Calif., to acquire novels, short stories and graphic novels written by Japanese authors. Consortium Book Sales and Ingram International will distribute.

"The new MONKEY imprint at Stone Bridge will be well positioned to ride this ever-expanding wave of interest in Japanese fiction," said Meg Taylor, president of the MONKEY nonprofit corporation and managing editor of the magazine. "MONKEY also seeks to elevate the contribution of Japanese-English translators by paying them competitive rates and a share of the royalties and by acknowledging them on the cover as well as the title page."

I"t is really exciting to be involved with MONKEY and they are a great fit for our Japan-focused list,” said Peter Goodman. "Publishing literary works is challenging on so many levels. Quality is job one, of course, but getting the word out, getting reviews, and reaching audiences are just as important. The MONKEY imprint will produce amazing works, and we are well positioned to deliver them to eager readers no matter where in the world they are."


G.P. Putnam's Sons: How to Raise Kids Who Aren't Assholes: Science-Based Strategies for Better Parenting--From Tots to Teens by Melinda Wenner Moyer


Obituary Note: Dick Gallup

American poet Dick Gallup, who in the 1960s and 1970s established himself as an important figure in the New York School of poets, died January 27. He was 79. His friend since childhood, poet Ron Padgett, wrote that what made Gallup's "poetry special was its combination of graceful lyricism and everyday language, and a willingness to explore unexpected corners of the mind and yet maintain a sense of humor about it all. His work was like him: intelligent, sensitive, hip, and gentle, quietly oblique and funny, but always with a clear-eyed view of human folly."

Gallup's life as a poet had a fortuitous start when, in 1949, his family moved from Massachusetts to Tulsa, Okla., buying a house across the street from Padgett. They became friends and in 1958, while in high school, founded (with artist and writer Joe Brainard, also a classmate) a small literary magazine, The White Dove Review, which published Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Leroi Jones (Amiri Baraka), Robert Creeley, as well as a new friend in Tulsa, Ted Berrigan.

After college, Gallup was living in the East Village in Manhattan, where he soon he became an active member of the downtown art and literary scene, giving readings, publishing widely in magazines, and publishing books, including Hinges (1965), The Bingo (1966), and Where I Hang My Hat (1970).

After a move to Boulder, Colo., to teach at the Naropa Institute in the mid-'70s, his book Above the Tree Line (1976) was released, but Gallup "began to feel a desire to withdraw from the poetry world and to go wherever his fancy dictated," Padgett observed, noting that the place he chose was San Francisco, "where for the rest of his life he led a somewhat secluded existence, driving a taxi all night, reading science fiction, playing guitar for his own pleasure, and raising his son, with whom he later shared an apartment."

Gallup brought out one more collection, Plumbing the Depths of Folly (1983), but had stopped writing, though he did agree to let Alan Kornblum, his former student, bring out Shiny Pencils at the Edge of Things: New and Selected Poems at Coffee House Press in 2001.

In a tribute published by the Brooklyn Rail, Nick Sturm wrote that Gallup's "presence in American poetry has remained, as he writes in the poem 'Easter,' as ephemeral as the '[r]ustling in the light breeze/ Which is my life.'


Notes

Image of the Day: #OurSnowmenAreLit

Anderson's Bookshops, with two locations in the snowy Chicago suburbs, recently held a snowman-building contest. Those who follow the store on social media were challenged to build a book-themed snowman and post it with the hashtag #OurSnowmenAreLit. The winner received a $25 gift card.

The store reported: "As you can see by this photo of Andrew Paetzold's Fahrenheit 451 entry, the winner really took that 'our snowmen are lit' thing seriously ha ha."


Bookseller Moment: Madison Street Books

"CHICAGO! The sun is out, the snow is melting, your feet are wet to your ankles from the pooling puddles BUT it's beautiful outside!" Madison Street Books posted on Facebook. "The city feels alive again. We'll be here enjoying the sunshine today until 6:00. Take a walk down Madison & grab a book to enjoy."


Personnel Changes at Knopf Doubleday; Little, Brown

At the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group:

Laura Keefe is joining the group as senior director of marketing for Knopf Pantheon Schocken. She was formerly senior director of marketing and publicity at Bloomsbury. Earlier she held marketing and publicity roles at Little, Brown and AssociatedContent.com.

Julianne Clancy has been promoted to associate director, marketing.

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At Little, Brown:

Pam Brown is promoted to executive director of marketing, Little, Brown.

Katharine Myers is promoted to senior director of publicity, Little, Brown.

Lena Little is promoted to director of publicity, Little, Brown.

Juliana Horbachevsky is promoted to associate director of publicity, Spark and Voracious.

Dan Denning is promoted to marketing associate, James Patterson.


B&T Publisher Services to Handle World Book, Inc., Warehousing, Fulfillment

Baker & Taylor Publisher Services will handle warehousing and fulfillment for World Book, Inc., effective March 1.

Founded in 1917, World Book has a mission of enhancing learning and reading for children around the world by developing trustworthy, engaging content to create products for children of all ages at home, on the go, in the classroom or in libraries worldwide. In addition to its legendary encyclopedias and yearbooks, World Book publishes reference sets and other educational resources.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Matt de la Peña, Christian Robinson on Good Morning America

Tomorrow:
Good Morning America: Matt de la Peña, author, and Christian Robinson, illustrator of Milo Imagines the World (Putnam Books for Young Readers, $18.99, 9780399549083).

The Real: Monique Kelley, author of Reality in Chaos (Black Rose Writing, $19.95, 9781684336197).


This Weekend on Book TV: Elizabeth Kolbert

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, February 27
12 p.m. Joann S. Lublin, author of Power Moms: How Executive Mothers Navigate Work and Life (Harper Business, $29.99, 9780062954909).

3:55 p.m. Kenneth R. Rosen, author of Troubled: The Failed Promise of America's Behavioral Treatment Programs (Little A, $24.95, 9781542007887).

5:30 p.m. Elizabeth Kolbert, author of Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future (Crown, $28, 9780593136270), at Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, Mass. (Re-airs Sunday at 1 p.m.)

6:30 p.m. Robert Watson, author of George Washington's Final Battle: The Epic Struggle to Build a Capital City and a Nation (Georgetown University Press, $32.95, 9781626167841).

7 p.m. James Oakes, author of The Crooked Path to Abolition: Abraham Lincoln and the Antislavery Constitution (Norton, $26.95, 9781324005858).

9 p.m. Maurice Chammah, author of Let the Lord Sort Them: The Rise and Fall of the Death Penalty (Crown, $28, 9781524760267), at BookPeople in Austin, Texas. (Re-airs Sunday at 12 a.m.)

10 p.m. Eric Metaxas, author of Fish Out of Water: A Search for the Meaning of Life (Salem Books, $32.99, 9781684511723). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

Sunday, February 28
2 p.m. Bart Wilson, author of The Property Species: Mine, Yours, and the Human Mind (Oxford University Press, $35, 9780190936792).

3 p.m. Roy Richard Grinker, author of Nobody's Normal: How Culture Created the Stigma of Mental Illness (Norton, $30, 9780393531640).

4:55 p.m. John M. Ellis, author of The Breakdown of Higher Education: How It Happened, the Damage It Does, and What Can Be Done (Encounter, $25.99, 9781641770880).

6:55 p.m. Madeleine Dean and Harry Cunnane, authors of Under Our Roof: A Son's Battle for Recovery, a Mother's Battle for Her Son (Convergent Books, $27, 9780593138069), at Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C.

8 p.m. Richard Thompson Ford, author of Dress Codes: How the Laws of Fashion Made History (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781501180064).

10 p.m. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, author of Prey: Immigration, Islam, and the Erosion of Women's Rights (Harper, $28.99, 9780062857873). (Re-airs Monday at 1 a.m.)

11:05 p.m. James Patterson and Matt Eversmann, co-authors of Walk in My Combat Boots: True Stories from America's Bravest Warriors (Little, Brown, $30, 9780316429092). (Re-airs Monday at 2:05 a.m.)



Books & Authors

Awards: Montana Book Winner; Walter Scott Historical Fiction Longlist; Lukas Shortlists

The winner of the 2020 Montana Book Award is Shakespeare in Montana: Big Sky Country's Love Affair with the World's Most Famous Writer by Gretchen E. Minton (University of New Mexico Press).

Three honor books were also chosen:

The Blaze by Chad Dundas (Putnam)
Life List by Marc Beaudin (Riverfeet Press)
Regarding Willingness by Tom Harpole (Riverfeet Press)

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The longlist has been unveiled for the £25,000 (about $32,375) Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction. A shortlist will be announced at the end of April, and the winner named in mid-June. Because of the postponement of the Borders Book Festival this year, the winner will be announced online and through media. This year's longlisted titles are:

Hinton by Mark Blacklock 
The Tolstoy Estate by Steven Conte 
The Year Without Summer by Guinevere Glasfurd 
A Room Made of Leaves by Kate Grenville 
Mr. Beethoven by Paul Griffiths 
Afterlives by Abdulrazak Gurnah 
A Treacherous Country by K.M. Kruimink 
The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel 
Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell 
Islands of Mercy by Rose Tremain 
The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams 

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The shortlists for the 2021 J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Awards, the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize and the Mark Lynton History Prize, honoring "the best in American nonfiction writing" and sponsored by Columbia Journalism School and the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, have been announced. Winners will be announced on March 24.

J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Awards shortlist:
The Movement Made Us by David Dennis Jr. (HarperCollins)
Addiction, Inc by Emily Dufton (University of Chicago Press)
House of Swann by Channing Gerard Joseph (Crown)
Diary of a Misfit by Casey Parks (Knopf)
The Mother of All Things by Elizabeth Rush (Milkweed Editions)

J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize shortlist:
We Keep the Dead Close by Becky Cooper (Grand Central)
Sisters in Hate by Seyward Darby (Little, Brown)
Dark Mirror by Barton Gellman (Penguin Press)
After the Last Border by Jessica Goudeau (Viking)
Caste by Isabel Wilkerson (Random House)

Mark Lynton History Prize shortlist:
The Broken Heart of America by Walter Johnson (Basic Books)
Vanguard by Martha S. Jones (Basic Books)
The Dead Are Arising by Les Payne and Tamara Payne (Liveright)
Those Who Forget by Géraldine Schwarz (Scribner)
A Question of Freedom by William G. Thomas III (Yale University Press)


Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, March 2:

Klara and the Sun: A Novel by Kazuo Ishiguro (Knopf, $28, 9780593318171) is Ishiguro's first novel since he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Lucky: How Joe Biden Barely Won the Presidency by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes (Crown, $30, 9780525574224) chronicles Biden's close White House win.

Women in White Coats: How the First Women Doctors Changed the World of Medicine by Olivia Campbell (Park Row, $27.99, 9780778389392) tells the story of three Victorian women who earned medical degrees.

Liftoff: Elon Musk and the Desperate Early Days That Launched SpaceX by Eric Berger (Morrow, $27.99, 9780062979971) gives an early history of SpaceX.

Come Fly the World: The Jet-Age Story of the Women of Pan Am by Julia Cooke (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9780358251408) explores the glamorous lives of Pan Am stewardesses between 1966 and 1975.

Who Is Maud Dixon?: A Novel by Alexandra Andrews (Little, Brown, $28, 9780316500319) finds the pseudonym of a famous novelist usurped by her assistant.

The Postscript Murders by Elly Griffiths (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25, 9780358418610) investigates a killer of crime novelists.

Infinite Country: A Novel by Patricia Engel (Avid Reader Press, $25, 9781982159467) focuses on a family split between Colombia and the United States.

Band of Sisters: A Novel by Lauren Willig (Morrow, $27.99, 9780062986153) follows a group of Smith College students on a relief effort to France during World War I.

I'm So Effing Tired: A Proven Plan to Beat Burnout, Boost Your Energy, and Reclaim Your Life by Dr. Amy Shah (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27, 9780358446422) gives lifestyle and diet advice to fight fatigue.

Hooked: Food, Free Will, and How the Food Giants Exploit Our Addictions by Michael Moss (Random House, $28, 9780812997293) roasts the processed food industry for exploitative behavior.

Make Your Own Sunshine: Inspiring Stories of People Who Find Light in Dark Times by Janice Dean (Harper, $26.99, 9780063027954) collects optimistic stories about decent deeds.

Parent Like It Matters: How to Raise Joyful, Change-Making Girls by Janice Johnson Dias (Ballantine, $27, 9781984819628) offers important advice to parents.

Chain of Iron by Cassandra Clare (S&S/McElderry, $24.99, 9781481431903) is the second in the author's Shadowhunters series, the Last Hours.

The Elephant in the Room by Holly Goldberg Sloan (Dial, $17.99, 9780735229945) features a girl who rescues a circus elephant.

Paperbacks:
The Conductors by Nicole Glover (John Joseph Adams/Mariner, $15.99, 9780358197058) is fantasy set in the aftermath of the Civil War.

Yes & I Love You by Roni Loren (Sourcebooks Casablanca, $14.99, 9781728229614).


IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at IndieBound.org, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

Hardcover
Beneath the Keep: A Novel of the Tearling by Erika Johansen (Dutton, $27, 9781524742720). "Centuries after the Crossing, the Tearling has fallen far from William Tear's dream of utopia. The gap between classes is wide and citizens at the bottom lead dark, brutal lives. A rebel uprising brings hope for change along with a prophecy about the coming of a True Queen. Readers just discovering the Tearling will be intrigued by the complex world-building. Those familiar with the original trilogy will delight in reading beloved characters' backstories in this ambitious prequel." --Tarah Jennings, Mitzi's Books, Rapid City, S.D.

Made in China: A Prisoner, an SOS Letter, and the Hidden Cost of America's Cheap Goods by Amelia Pang (Algonquin, $27.95, 9781616209179). "This powerful story arises from an improbable source: a crude, hand-written note slipped into Halloween merchandise made in China, a note that leads Pang on a search for its author and introduces her to the nightmare life of Chinese prison labor, so-called re-education camps, the worst horrors of living in a police state, and lives destroyed just for being an independent thinker. The toll on individuals is foregrounded here and summons us to be humane to all." --Susan Thurin, Bookends on Main, Menomonie, Wis.

Paperback
Vita Nostra: A Novel by Sergey and Marina Dyachenko (Harper Voyager, $17.99, 9780063054158). "One part coming-of-age parable and one part psychological horror, this book combines dark fantasy with contemporary magical realism, and I can't stop thinking about the resulting magnificence weeks after finishing it. Beautifully translated from its original Russian, Vita Nostra brilliantly explores the period in early adulthood where we consider the price we're willing to pay to discover our full potential, and how we make ourselves vulnerable when we strive for outside approval." --Ilana Darrant, Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, Calif.

For Ages 4 to 8
Wolfboy by Andy Harkness (Bloomsbury, $17.99, 9781547604425). "Wolfboy is an edge-of-your-seat suspense story fueled by the all-too-common feelings associated with being hungry. It is a fantastically fun read-aloud with incredible images. The detail of color, texture, and light in the clay sculptures make for amazing spreads. Best enjoyed right after snack time!" --Meghan Hayden, River Bend Bookshop, Glastonbury, Conn.

For Ages 9 to 12
A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus (Margaret Ferguson Books, $17.99, 9780823447053). "This is a heart-warmer! Three orphaned children, determined to stay together, are sent out of London to the safety of the country during the Blitz. All is not happy, but the library is a refuge. Love for reading and for family combine to make this one of the most satisfying books I have read in a long time. It stands right up with the Penderwicks and the Vanderbeekers, and it is perfect for middle-grade readers." --Carol Moyer, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, N.C.

For Teen Readers
Love in English by Maria E. Andreu (Balzer + Bray, $18.99, 9780062996510). "This is a beautiful YA novel, written from a teenage Argentinian immigrant's point of view, skillfully represents the idiosyncrasies of Americans and sometimes-painful teenage interactions. In addition to the first-person narrative, there are also whimsical 'handwritten' notes Ana takes in her journal as part of her assignment for her English language class. Her musings about being transplanted to a new country and reuniting with her father, who came to America three years before she and her mom could join him, give a wonderfully nuanced perspective." --Emily Autenrieth, A Seat at the Table Books, Elk Grove, Calif.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]


Book Review

Review: Windhall

Windhall by Ava Barry (Pegasus Crime, $25.95 hardcover, 368p., 9781643136264, March 2, 2021)

It's arguably a sign of laziness when a critic compares a novel under review to a film rather than to another book, and yet it would seem neglectful not to liken Windhall to something on the silver screen. That's because Ava Barry's thoroughly cinematic debut, which revolves around an unsolved Hollywood Golden Age murder, has Sunset Boulevard's curdled-glamor mise-en-scène, All About Eve's backstage intrigue and The Day of the Locust's crushing disillusionment with Tinseltown.

Windhall's narrator, Max Hailey, a journalist with the Los Angeles Lens, would gladly swap modern-day L.A.'s artisanal coffee-drinking hipsters for the impeccably dressed sidecar-swilling swells of the 1940s. He has long been captivated by the unsolved 1948 murder of movie star Eleanor Hayes: as the story goes, one night at a party at Windhall, the Benedict Canyon mansion belonging to A-list director Theodore Langley, he fatally stabbed the actress in his garden. Theo was arrested, but evidence tampering foiled the case against him. After he was released from all charges, he seemed to vanish. Windhall has been unoccupied ever since.

Sixty-nine years later, the body of a young woman is found in a garden near Windhall; she's wearing a green silk dress like the one that Eleanor was killed in and, like Eleanor, she has been stabbed. Spurred by the media's flogging of the two deaths' parallels, Max decides to write a story about Theo and prove that the director killed Eleanor. Still, even Max has to wonder how logical it would have been for a director to murder his star when they were in the middle of shooting a movie.

Windhall is such an intoxicating throwback that readers may find themselves picturing Max in a fedora and trench coat as he noses around a faded Los Angeles, following up leads. The mystery's reverse time travel vibe intensifies as Max reads from Theo's journals, which include scenes involving some of the era's big names: the actor Errol Flynn goes on a boozy spree with Theo, and at one point the gossip columnist Hedda Hopper tells the sozzled director, "You haven't achieved the kind of grandeur necessary to become an alcoholic wreck." Barry's ultimately rewarding plot employs old mystery tropes--telltale bloodstains; a discovered-by-chance photo that offers a vital clue--that play as homage, not clichés. By the time Max announces, "I'm after a big fish, and this time, I'm not going to let him go," readers will have conflated the terms "over-the-top" and "just right." --Nell Beram, author and freelance writer

Shelf Talker: This highly cinematic modern-day mystery, which revolves around a 70-year-old unsolved murder, is a sparkling homage to Hollywood's Golden Age.


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