Shelf Awareness for Thursday, April 29, 2021

Margaret K. McElderry Books: Spell Bound by F.T. Lukens

Forge: Mr Katō Plays Family by Milena Michiko Flašar, translated by Caroline Froh

Ballantine Books: The Wishing Game by Meg Shaffer

Island Press: The Jewel Box: How Moths Illuminate Nature's Hidden Rules by Tim Blackburn

Berkley Books: Business or Pleasure by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Berkley Books: The First Ladies by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray

Texas Bookman Presents Texas Remainder Expo

Minotaur Books: Deadlock: A Thriller (Dez Limerick Novel #2) by James Byrne


Grand Opening for Flint Hills Books in Council Grove, Kan.

Flint Hills Books held its grand opening April 17 at 130 W. Main St. in Council Grove, Kan. Owner Jennifer Kassebaum noted that the new bookshop is located "in a beautifully restored 1887 Bank Building, restored by Christy Davis of Davis Preservation, but my heart swells when customers compliment the bookstore's selection."

Kassebaum fell in love with reading as a child and, as she considered how she could make a positive difference in a second career, turned to books: "I believe in the power that books hold to change our individual lives and our society, particularly if we study and learn from history--and gain empathy from reading contemporary fiction and the classics."

Although Flint Hills Books is in a small rural area, it is located only 20 minutes from the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, which draws thousands of visitors from all over the world. The shop is also less than an hour away from two Kansas university towns: Emporia and Manhattan. Council Grove, which is celebrating its bicentennial this year, is on the old Santa Fe Trail where traders stopped for supplies and preparation of oxen and wagons before heading west.

Jennifer Kassebaum

"I am indebted to all of the Kansas booksellers that I spoke to in 2018 when I began researching the feasibility of opening a bookstore in Council Grove--but I am especially grateful for the time and advice provided by Sarah Bagby at Watermark Books and Danny Caine at the Raven Bookstore," said Kassebaum, who also attended the Paz & Associates Bookstore Boot Camp while preparing to launch her bookshop.

Noting that she is "defying the odds by opening a 800-square-foot store in a community with a population of less than 5,000 during a pandemic," Kassebaum said, "It has been a whirlwind year thus far but I am so encouraged by the readers and visitors who have supported this quiet little bookstore."

William Morrow & Company: Ink Blood Sister Scribe by Emma Törzs

Books and Stuff in Philadelphia, Pa., Goes Online-Only

Books and Stuff, a Black-owned bookstore that began as a bricks-and-mortar store in Philadelphia, Pa., has gone entirely virtual, AL DÍA News reported.

Owner Lynn Washington opened the store in 2015, focusing mainly on children's books by and about people of color. Her inventory has grown to include books for all ages as well as a variety of non-book items like puzzles, games and toys.

After closing her storefront last year due to the pandemic, Washington has decided to close the bricks-and-mortar shop entirely and switch to an all-virtual model. While shut down last year, Washington began selling surprise packages that range in price from $15 to $35 and contain themed books and sidelines. She offers them for age groups ranging from small children up to high schoolers.

In addition to selling books online, Washington will host pop-up shops at various locations in Philadelphia and partner with local schools.

Prior to opening Books and Stuff, Washington had a career as a graphic designer at the Free Library of Philadelphia. As she neared retirement, she decided to open a bookstore that could help children be comfortable in their own skin.

William Morrow & Company: A Death in Denmark: The First Gabriel Præst Novel by Amulya Malladi

Authors, Publishers Helping Binc, We Need Diverse Books

A group of 12 authors and illustrators has created a $40,000 matching pool for the Book Industry Charitable Foundation's Survive to Thrive grant program, which will provide independent bookstores and comic shops with substantial grants over the summer.

The group of authors and illustrators consists of Garth Stein (The Art of Racing in the Rain), Amor Towles (A Gentleman in Moscow), Sandra Boynton (Jungle Night), Michael Chabon (Moonglow), Anthony Doerr (All the Light We Cannot See), Gayle Forman (If I Stay), Linda Kass (Tasa's Song), Ann Patchett (The Dutch House), Chris Raschka (In the City), Charlaine Harris (the Sookie Stackhouse novels), Emma Straub (All Adults Here) and Kiki Thorpe (the Never Girl series). Stein, who is the chair of Binc's author leadership circle, led the push for the $40,000 matching pool.

"We are grateful to this stellar group of authors and illustrators for coming together to raise the visibility of the Survive to Thrive campaign, helping to get the word out among their readers and fans and for their generous donations which will double the next $40,000 in campaign contributions," said Binc executive director Pamela French. "Every gift will help us reach our campaign goal of $2 million total by June 1."

Binc launched the grant program on March 31 with initial gifts totaling $1 million from Ingram,, Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan and Penguin Random House. The organization plans to provide grants of up to $10,000 each to as many as 200 bricks-and-mortar bookstores and comic shops throughout the U.S. Grants will be awarded based on a juried review process. Applications for the program are currently open and will be accepted until May 10 at 5 p.m. Eastern. Grants will be awarded in early June.


The virtual event series Indie Shindig, introduced last summer, is returning and features more programming for independent booksellers and will raise funds for Binc and We Need Diverse Books. The initiative is spearheaded by Workman Publishing in partnership with Abrams Books, Bloomsbury Publishing, Candlewick Press, Chronicle Books and Sourcebooks.

The 2021 Indie Shindig will consist of six hour-long events, on the second and fourth Mondays of each month, beginning Monday, May 10, through Monday, July 26, and starting at 4 p.m. Eastern. The participating publishers will split a donation of $20 per bookseller attendee for each event between Binc and We Need Diverse Books with a cap of $18,000 total.

Each event will have its own theme, and the structure will vary, from authors in conversation to rep picks and editors' buzz. Altogether, Indie Shindig will feature more than 130 titles from a variety of genres. The first event will feature authors Shruti Swamy, Jamise Harper, Jane Mount, Xio Axelrod, Hilma Wolitzer and Gene Kwak for an adult fiction panel moderated by Pamela Klinger-Horn of Valley Bookseller, Stillwater, Minn. Next up is an adult nonfiction panel, with Mari K. Eder, Molly Wizenberg, Trystan Reese, Emma Marris, Colin Nissan, Rowan Jacobsen and Brian A. Primack, which will be moderated by BrocheAroe Fabian of Sourcebooks and River Dog Book Co. The full schedule of events can be seen here; booksellers can sign up here.

Liz Hunter, associate director of field sales at Workman, said, "Although the outlook for in-person events has dramatically improved since we first launched Indie Shindig, it's clear that some things haven't changed: publishers need to deliver useful virtual content to booksellers and organizations like Binc and We Need Diverse Books need our financial support. In 2020, Indie Shindig raised $5,000 for Binc and brought together 163 bookstores, and I'm excited to see if we can beat those numbers with our stellar 2021 lineup of events."

AuthorBuzz for the Week of 02.06.23

International Update: Scottish Bookshops Reopen, German Covid Restrictions

Booksellers in Scotland are experiencing "huge demand" for their services after they were allowed to reopen April 26 as "non-essential retail" lockdown restrictions in the country were eased, the Bookseller reported. Bookshops in England and Wales had reopened April 12.

"There were some quite emotional moments as people were visibly moved by being allowed to touch and choose the books again," said Sarah-Lou Bamblett of Fort William's Highland Bookshop. "Lots and lots of greetings cards were sold, which happened after the first lockdown too."

At Golden Hare Books in Edinburgh, Julia Koenig noted that Monday "was really lovely. We had a steady stream of customers and everyone seemed excited to be back in an actual shop. We were thrilled to be able to open our doors again, it felt like ages since that was last possible. It's just been really nice to speak to customers who said they'd been waiting eagerly to be able to come back."

Sally Pattle of Far from the Madding Crowd, Linlithgow, said, "Business has been steady, there's no sense of people panic-buying or overcrowding issues, but we took more in our opening day than the past week's click-and-collect total by a long way.... It is wonderful to hear our shop bell ringing again, to walk around a corner and find someone quietly browsing, or to head downstairs and find a family reading to each other."

Mainstreet Trading Company in St. Boswells reopened Tuesday and owner Rosamund de la Hey described the atmosphere since then as "nice and busy, and just lovely to see so many familiar faces back in the shop. One stand out has been a regular, who has been working on a Covid ward for the past six months, gleefully buying a huge pile of books to take her mind off the day job."


The European and International Booksellers Federation's latest NewsFlash provided an update on where booksellers currently stand in relation to pandemic restrictions in Germany and the Netherlands: 

"Germany has for the first time since the start of the pandemic introduced a set of nationwide restrictions, which will apply in all areas with a seven day incidence rate of more than 100 infections per 100,000 inhabitants. While bookshops are permitted to stay open within the federal regulations, every state may impose stricter rules if they wish. At the moment, only in North Rhine-Westphalia are bookshops closed, following the reversals in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg."

The Dutch government "has announced easing of Coronavirus restrictions, some of which will benefit booksellers.... [A]ll shops may admit customers without an appointment. Certain conditions still apply, such as limiting the number of shoppers allowed inside at the same time, as well as wearing a face mask."


Winners of the 2021 Australian Book Industry Awards were announced this week. In the business categories, Avid Reader in Brisbane was awarded bookshop of the year and Readings in Melbourne was named book retailer of the year. Penguin Random House Australia won publisher of the year, while the University of Queensland Press was named small publisher of the year. See the complete list of ABIA winners here. --Robert Gray

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Killing Me by Michelle Gagnon

S&S & Mike Pence: A Battle over Who & What to Publish

Jonathan Karp
Mike Pence

Last week, in the wake of Simon & Schuster's decision not to distribute a book by Jonathan Mattingly, a Louisville, Ky., police officer involved in the murder of Breonna Taylor, that was to be published by distribution client Post Hill Press, a group of S&S employees posted an online petition demanding that S&S not publish a just-announced book by former Vice President Mike Pence--or any books by Trump administration officials--and that S&S no longer distribute any Post Hill Press titles.

The petition was signed by more than 200 Simon & Schuster employees and 3,500 others, including some S&S authors, and reactions to it highlight tensions in the book business and deeply held, sometimes contradictory principles.

The petition--formally presented on Monday--said in part that S&S "has chosen complicity in perpetuating white supremacy by publishing Mike Pence and continuing to distribute books for Post Hill Press, including predator Matt Gaetz's Firebrand. By choosing to publish Mike Pence, Simon & Schuster is generating wealth for a central figure of a presidency that unequivocally advocated for racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, anti-Blackness, xenophobia, misogyny, ableism, islamophobia, antisemitism, and violence."

The petition called S&S's continued distribution of Post Hill Press an indication that it "openly supports and normalizes violence against minors, Black women, and all Black people by individuals and the state."

The petition also said: "Rehabilitating fascists is antithetical to the statements released by Simon & Schuster in support of AAPI/Black lives. It puts all of our BIPOC, women, LGBTQ+, disabled, neurodivergent, immigrant, working class employees, and the greater bookseller/reviewer/reading community in immediate and long term danger and dismisses the generations of violence that have contributed to our direct oppression."

The petition called for S&S to "commit to ongoing reevaluations of all clients, authors, distribution deals, and all other financial commitments that promote white supremacist content and/or harm the aforementioned marginalized communities."

According to the Wall Street Journal, the petition was signed by 216 S&S employees, representing about 14% of the company's work force, and more than 3,500 others, including S&S authors Jesmyn Ward and Scott Westerfeld.

S&S president and CEO Jonathan Karp responded to the complaints in a letter to employees last week. Saying that the company will "proceed in our publishing agreement" with Pence, he wrote in part, "The question of which books we should publish is addressed by our editors and publishers on a daily basis. Our role is to find those authors and works that can shed light on our world--from first-time novelists to journalists, thought leaders, scientists, memoirists, personalities, and, yes, those who walk the halls of power. Regardless of where those authors sit on the ideological spectrum, or if they hold views that run counter to the belief systems held by some of us, we apply a rigorous standard to assure that in acquiring books, we will be bringing into the world works that provide new information or perspectives on events to which we otherwise might not have access.

"As a publisher in this polarized era, we have experienced outrage from both sides of the political divide and from different constituencies and groups. But we come to work each day to publish, not cancel, which is the most extreme decision a publisher can make, and one that runs counter to the very core of our mission to publish a diversity of voices and perspectives....

"The judgment each of us renders about particular books is inherently subjective. Discussing how we perceive various works is one of the joys of our business. When we share an enthusiastic consensus about a title, we are a positive and powerful force in the culture. When we allow our judgment to dwell on the books we dislike, we distract ourselves from our primary purpose as a publisher--to champion the books we believe in and love.

For his part, Post Hill Press publisher Anthony Ziccardi told the Journal, "We're proud of our publishing program. That's what we're focused on."

Several free speech organizations issued statements in support of S&S. PEN America said in part that while it understood why people didn't want to publish anything by Mike Pence, "a top official in an administration that posed grave dangers to our society and democracy, including the cause of free expression... there may be things to learn from his book, including how he justifies the policies and abuses that he enabled. The debate over the book--whether it is credible and truthful, whether his accounts stand up to scrutiny, whether he reckons with the consequences of what he wrought--could inform how historians, political scientists, and the public make sense of the Trump era and what there is to learn from it.

And the National Coalition Against Censorship said in a statement, in part, "Limiting what books are written, published and circulated based on the personal beliefs of a group of people who work in publishing deprives readers of the opportunity to decide for themselves whether they have any value and limits debate over important public issues.

"For over a century, publishers have played a leading role in defending free speech. However, they are increasingly being pressured to act as moral guardians by rejecting authors based on allegations about their personal conduct and their political views. But lasting social change comes from vibrant discussion and even bitter debate. Censoring books does not eliminate bad ideas.

The New York Times took a broad view of the controversy, writing in part, "In another era, book deals with former White House officials were viewed as prestigious and uncontroversial, and major publishers have long maintained that putting out books from across the political spectrum is not only good for business but an essential part of their mission. In today's hyperpartisan environment, however, Simon & Schuster has become a test case for how publishers are trying to draw a line over who is acceptable to publish, and how firmly executives will hold in the face of criticism from their own authors and employees."

Some publishers told the Times anonymously that they wouldn't publish anything by former President Trump or those who questioned the validity of last year's election. Some agents said that they were trying to place controversial books quietly, to avoid a backlash until after a contract is signed.

The Times noted that larger publishers' hesitations about publishing some conservative titles has opened opportunities for smaller conservative publishers and conservative imprints at larger houses.

Adam Bellow, executive editor of Post Hill's Bombardier imprint, told the newspaper: "It's a purge that's becoming more of an exodus. Many conservative authors are telling their agents they don't want to be pitched to publishers who have canceled conservative books. It's one thing to be published by a group of people who are holding their noses, but it's another thing to be published by a group of people who hate you."

The Times pointed out that "some publishing employees said the decision to sign Mr. Pence and other Trump officials was especially jarring as major publishers have taken pains to stress their commitment to diversity over the past year." It quoted HarperCollins assistant editor Stephanie Guerdan, speaking in her role as a shop steward at its union: "It feels like you're talking out of both sides of your mouth. You want to make a safe space for your Black employees and your queer employees and put out your anti-Asian-discrimination statements. You can't say the company supports these causes and then give money to people who have actively hurt those causes."

Texas Bookman Presents Texas Remainder Expo


Personnel Changes at Scholastic

In the Scholastic Trade publishing division:

Netta Rabin, v-p, publisher & creative director of Klutz, is becoming head of Klutz, succeeding Stacy Lellos, Klutz president, who is resigning to seek new opportunities and will be with the company through May 31.

Emily Heddleson has been promoted to director, library & educational marketing. She was previously assistant director.

Vicki Kopidakis has been promoted to marketing associate, advertising. She was previously advertising coordinator.

Taylan Salvati has been promoted to senior publicist. She was previously publicist.

Sydney Tillman has been promoted to senior publicist. She was previously publicist.

Jordana Kulak has been promoted to associate publicist. She was previously publicity coordinator.

PGW Adds Nine Publisher Clients

Ingram's Publishers Group West division has added nine publisher clients, effective spring 2021:

Black Sands Entertainment, owned by authors and military vets Manuel Godoy and his wife, Geiszel Godoy, publishes children's books, novels, and animations that focus on African mythology as black heroes and aims to promote quality art and diverse storytelling while highlighting traditional family values for people of color.

Carus Books, Chicago, Ill., and its imprint Open Universe, a new company that publishes mainly trade paperbacks on popular culture, comparative religion, psychotherapy, philosophy, science, education, and public policy. Though its authors are knowledgeable scholars, its key target market is the informed general reader.

Cune Press, Seattle, Wash., whose focus is on both Middle East/Africa and West Coast writers, with autobiographical work by Arab-Americans, educational books about Arab and Islamic culture, and education titles of general interest.

Felony & Mayhem, which specializes in mystery fiction, particularly British titles, with both originals and reissues of crime classics. The press was an outgrowth of Partners & Crime, the specialist mystery bookstore in New York City.

Gibson House Press, Chicago, Ill., which focuses on books from both working musicians and musicians at heart. Recent and forthcoming books include titles by Suzzy Roche and Franz Nicolay.

Invisible Publishing, a Canadian publisher focusing on contemporary literature, including fiction, poetry, and nonfiction--and the Bibliophonic series of music books. Recent nonfiction titles include Enya: A Treatise on Unguilty Pleasures by Chilly Gonzales and The Only Way Is the Steady Way: Essays on Baseball, Ichiro, and How We Watch the Game by Andrew Forbes.

PM Press, a publisher of books and media that features radical authors, artists, and activists. Its aim is to deliver bold political ideas and vital stories to readers in all walks of life and arm the dreamers to demand the impossible.

Red Comet Press, a small children's publisher for talented creators who seek a boutique experience and the personal touch of a passionate publisher.

You Live Right Publishing, a press launched by author and publisher Mona Dolgov that focuses on titles to help home cooks simplify meals and build long-term healthy habits, emphasizing nutritional balance, plant-forward meals, satisfying portions, empowerment and kitchen confidence.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Imbolo Mbue on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Imbolo Mbue, author of How Beautiful We Were (Random House, $28, 9780593132425).

Drew Barrymore Show: Oprah Winfrey, co-author of What Happened to You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing (Flatiron, $28.99, 9781250223180).

Tamron Hall: Tamika D. Mallory, author of State of Emergency: How We Win in the Country We Built (Atria/Black Privilege, $26, 9781982173463).

Late Night with Seth Meyers repeat: Brandi Carlile, author of Broken Horses: A Memoir (Crown, $28, 9780593237243).

This Weekend on Book TV: Cindy McCain

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, May 1
1 p.m. Frank M. Snowden, author of Epidemics and Society: From the Black Death to the Present (Yale University Press, $22, 9780300256390).

2:05 p.m. Peter Canning, author of Killing Season: A Paramedic's Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Opioid Epidemic (Johns Hopkins University Press, $27.95, 9781421439853), at Bank Square Books in Mystic, Conn.

6:10 p.m. Josh Rogin, author of Chaos Under Heaven: Trump, Xi, and the Battle for the Twenty-First Century (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30, 9780358393245).

7 p.m. David O. Stewart, author of George Washington: The Political Rise of America's Founding Father (Dutton, $32, 9780451488985).

8 p.m. Judy Batalion, author of The Light of Days: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler's Ghettos (Morrow, $28.99, 9780062874214).

9 p.m. Chris Bail, author of Breaking the Social Media Prism: How to Make Our Platforms Less Polarizing (Princeton University Press, $24.95, 9780691203423), at the Strand in New York City.

10 p.m. Cindy McCain, author of Stronger: Courage, Hope, and Humor in My Life with John McCain (Crown Forum, $28, 9780593236888). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

Sunday, May 2
12 p.m. Live In-Depth q&a with Craig Shirley, author of Mary Ball Washington: The Untold Story of George Washington's Mother (Harper, $29.99, 9780062456519). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

4 p.m. Dorothy A. Brown, author of The Whiteness of Wealth: How the Tax System Impoverishes Black Americans--and How We Can Fix It (Crown, $27, 9780525577324), at Charis Books and More in Decatur, Ga.

5:15 p.m. Kim Todd, author of Sensational: The Hidden History of America's Girl Stunt Reporters (Harper, $27.99, 9780062843616).

6 p.m. Katie Engelhart, author of The Inevitable: Dispatches on the Right to Die (St. Martin's Press, $27.99, 9781250201461).

7 p.m. Mustafa Akyol, author of Reopening Muslim Minds: A Return to Reason, Freedom, and Tolerance (St. Martin's Essentials, $27.99, 9781250256065).

8:05 p.m. Karen Tumulty, author of The Triumph of Nancy Reagan (Simon & Schuster, $32.50, 9781501165191).

Books & Authors

Awards: Women's Fiction Shortlist; Anna Dewdney Winner

The shortlist for the 2021 Women's Prize for Fiction was revealed yesterday during a special online event hosted by chair of the judges Martha Lane Fox. The winner, who receives £30,000 (about $41,730) and a limited edition bronze figurine, will be named July 7. This year's shortlisted titles are:

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett 
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke 
Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller 
Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi 
How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones 
No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood

Chair of judges and novelist Bernardine Evaristo said: "These novels will take the reader from a rural Britain left behind to the underbelly of a community in Barbados; from inside the hectic performance of social media to inside a family beset by addiction and oppression; from a tale of racial hierarchy in America to a mind-expanding tale of altered perceptions. Fiction by women defies easy categorization or stereotyping, and all of these novels grapple with society’s big issues expressed through thrilling storytelling. We feel passionate about them, and we hope readers do too."


Brown Baby Lullaby, written by Tameka Fryer Brown and illustrated by AG Ford (Macmillan Children's Publishing) has won the fifth annual Anna Dewdney Read Together Award, sponsored by Penguin Young Readers, the Children's Book Council, and Every Child a Reader and honoring "a picture book that is both a superb read-aloud and also sparks compassion, empathy, and connection."

The organizers called Brown Baby Lullaby "a must-have for every baby's bookshelf. From sunset to bedtime, two parents lovingly care for their beautiful brown baby: first, they play outside, then it is time for dinner and a bath, and finally a warm snuggle before bed."

This year's honor books are:
I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes, illus. by Gordon C. James (Penguin Young Readers)
If You Ever Want to bring an Alligator to School, Don't! by Elise Parsley (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Nana Akua Goes to School by Tricia Elam Walker, illus. by April Harrison (Random House Children's Book)
Swashby and the Sea by Beth Ferry, illus. by Juana Martinez-Neal (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
You Matter by Christian Robinson (Simon & Schuster)

The winning author/illustrator is awarded a prize of $1,000 from the Children's Book Council, and Penguin Young Readers donates 250 copies of the winning title to a school, library, or literacy organization of their choice.

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, May 4:

The Newcomer: A Novel by Mary Kay Andrews (St. Martin's Press, $28.99, 9781250256966) follows a woman on the run from her late sister's murderous ex.

The Secret to Superhuman Strength by Alison Bechdel (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $24, 9780544387652) is a graphic memoir about pursuing fitness fads.

21st Birthday by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro (Little, Brown, $29, 9780316499347) is a Women's Murder Club mystery. (May 3)

Project Hail Mary: A Novel by Andy Weir (Ballantine Books, $28.99, 9780593135204) is the author's latest science-based thriller in which a lone astronaut must save the world from disaster.

The Woman with the Blue Star: A Novel by Pam Jenoff (Park Row, $17.99, 9780778389385) follows two girls, one Jewish and the other well-off, in Nazi-occupied Kraków.

No One Succeeds Alone: Learn Everything You Can from Everyone You Can by Robert Reffkin (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27, 9780358454618) explores a tech CEO's path to success.

My Time Will Come: A Memoir of Crime, Punishment, Hope, and Redemption by Ian Manuel (Pantheon, $25.95, 9781524748524) shares the story of an activist who was sentenced to life in prison at age 14.

Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe by Niall Ferguson (Penguin Press, $30, 9780593297377) traces historical trends in political responses to disasters.

Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest by Suzanne Simard (Knopf, $28.95, 9780525656098) is the first book by an expert in plant communication and intelligence.

Madhouse at the End of the Earth: The Belgica's Journey into the Dark Antarctic Night by Julian Sancton (Crown, $30, 9781984824332) explores Adrien de Gerlache's doomed 1897 polar expedition.

Killing the Mob: The Fight Against Organized Crime in America by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard (St. Martin's Press, $30, 9781250273659) is the 10th entry in the pop-history Killing series.

The Bruce Swap by Ryan T. Higgins (Disney-Hyperion, $17.99, 9781368028561) is another entertaining entry in the author's Bruce series in which Bruce's fun-loving cousin, Kevin, shows up for a visit.

Last Gate of the Emperor by Kwame Mbalia and Prince Joel Makonnen (Scholastic Press, $17.99, 9781338665857) is an Afrofuturist middle-grade novel about a mythical Ethiopian empire.

The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba by Chanel Cleeton (Berkley, $17, 9780593197813).

The Glorious Guinness Girls by Emily Hourican (Grand Central, $16.99, 9781538720233).

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

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

Gold Diggers: A Novel by Sanjena Sathian (Penguin Press, $27, 9781984882035). "Gold as a drug. Gold as a metaphor for the glittering hopes and burdens new immigrants put on their children's shoulders. Gold as the thread weaving history, memory, and imagination, a meditation on how the past blends into the present. Gold as the object of an improbable heist. There is so much in this book, but it is first and foremost an extraordinarily good yarn, the story of two generations of American-Indian immigrants trying to become Americanized while clinging to a fetishized, culturally commodified India. There is love, drugs, alchemy, and stories about the gold rush, both the forty-niners and the new gold diggers of the tech bubble. It's fun and fast-paced, except when you stop short for a sentence so evocative you want to dwell on it. A seriously good book by a seriously talented writer." --Françoise Brodsky, Shakespeare & Co., New York, N.Y.

What Comes After: A Novel by JoAnne Tompkins (Riverhead, $28, 9780593085998). "Abandoned and homeless, a pregnant 16-year-old finds shelter in the home of a man who has recently lost his son and his faith. Achingly poignant, What Comes After by JoAnne Tompkins brims with raw emotions and conflicting feelings. A redemptive story of loss and love. Keep tissues nearby." --Jane Simons, The Dog Eared Book, Palmyra, N.Y.

The Roxy Letters: A Novel by Mary Pauline Lowry (Simon & Schuster, $17, 9781982121440). "Move over Bridget Jones, Roxy is here to stay! Thank goddess! I loved every sentence of The Roxy Letters; I found myself laughing out loud at some of her wacky antics. I also loved the quirky cast of characters that danced across the pages, and I think Roxy is the perfect antihero for the new millennium. I can't wait to see where Mary Pauline Lowry's career is headed!" --Kathleen Caldwell, A Great Good Place for Books, Oakland, Calif.

For Ages 4 to 8
Regina Is NOT a Little Dinosaur by Andrea Zuill (Schwartz & Wade, $17.99, 9780593127285). "Andrea Zuill captured my heart with her wonderful book Wolf Camp, she kept it safe and sound with Sweety, and she continues to make me feel warm and fuzzy with her newest, Regina Is NOT a Little Dinosaur. I don't know what it is--the words? The personalities of the characters coming through in conversation bubbles? The expressive art? It must be all three, because each of Zuill's books brings me such joy!" --Liesl Freudenstein, Boulder Book Store, Boulder, Colo.

For Ages 9 to 12
Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken and Leigh Dragoon, illus. by Kit Seaton (Disney-Hyperion, $21.99, 9781368015882). "Reminiscent of the whimsical magic of Howl's Moving Castle, Brightly Woven features a strong female lead with a young wizard who is determined to put an end to a magical war. Sydelle's world is flipped upside down when wizard Wayland North takes her on the adventure of a lifetime. Alexandra Bracken weaves a tale of dangerous wizards, crumbling mountains, and buried secrets that is compulsively readable." --Jessica Dushame, White Birch Books, North Conway, N.H.

For Teen Readers
The Cost of Knowing by Brittney Morris (Simon & Schuster, $18.99, 9781534445451). "Love, grief, power, and family all come together in The Cost of Knowing as Alex struggles to live his life as a young Black man grieving the loss of his parents and best friend. His grief must also contend with his anxiety and a mysterious power that allows him to see the future of anything he touches. When learning of an event that he would do anything to prevent, he must come to terms with the origins of his power and the consequences of his actions as a brother, boyfriend, and Black teenager. Morris dives deep into an emotionally nuanced story, layering grief, masculinity, and generational trauma that will leave readers with a powerful message about regret, choice, and knowledge. A book to support with full hearts, unashamed tears, and powerful voices." --Jessica Palacios, Once Upon a Time, Montrose, Calif.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Madam

Madam by Phoebe Wynne (St. Martin's Press, $27.99 hardcover, 352p., 9781250272041, May 18, 2021)

Madam, Phoebe Wynne's debut, is a deliciously gothic take on patriarchy, class and the purpose of education. Rose is a young classics teacher just hired by Caldonbrae Hall, an elite girls' boarding school hidden away in a remote corner of Scotland. It's 1993, a time when girls and women are supposed to have already been liberated from the strictures of gender and tradition that prevent them from seeking their own paths in life. But what Rose finds in her new post is a claustrophobic, regressive atmosphere filled with secrets and the simmering tension one expects in a gothic novel. Readers will recognize hallmarks of the genre: a protagonist confined to a forbidding manor, a suffocating pressure that tightens as the plot progresses, a haunting mystery that leaves people dead and a reverberating fear that grips the audience.

There are no jump scares, no dead rabbits hanging from a doorway, but it's in small moments that Rose realizes the truth of her situation, such as when a guard won't let her leave the school premises: " 'I'm not permitted to let anyone out by foot.'/ .../ 'Can't I just go through and you look the other way?'/ 'Course not!' he almost shouted. 'They're recording everything.' "

As she attempts to settle in at Caldonbrae, Rose is initially optimistic and dedicated to her subject matter and students. It's not long before she discovers that her new pupils are not especially interested in Latin or education, however, and that they're often vicious to her and each other. Strange things start happening, beginning with a creepy student who follows her around the school and appears in her office before accusing her of improper behavior. Watched and judged at every turn, Rose is also trapped by circumstance. Her terminally ill mother is in a care home paid for by the school as part of her compensation package, and Rose is reminded of this as she learns the school's true purpose and tries to leave.

Without escape as an option and with more disturbing details emerging every day, she tries to change things from within. But like the historical and mythological Greek and Roman women of whom she tells stories, Rose will have to seize freedom however she can. No matter the consequences.

Madam is a haunting, atmospheric novel about agency, power and the things people do to keep both. --Suzanne Krohn, editor, Love in Panels

Shelf Talker: This twisty take on patriarchy, education and consent, set at an elite boarding school for girls in 1990s Scotland, will appeal to fans of classic gothic novels.

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