Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Margaret K. McElderry Books: Tender Beasts by Liselle Sambury

Scholastic Press: Heroes: A Novel of Pearl Harbor by Alan Gratz

Flatiron Books: Anita de Monte Laughs Last by Xochitl Gonzalez

Peachtree Publishers: King & Kayla and the Case of the Downstairs Ghost (King & Kayla) by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Nancy Meyers

Doubleday Books: The Husbands by Holly Gramazio


Diamond Hollow Books & Healing Opening This Weekend in Andes, N.Y.

Sue Kovacs and Miles Bellamy at Diamond Hollow Books and Healing.

Diamond Hollow Books & Healing, a combination bookstore and healing space, is having a soft opening this coming Saturday and Sunday, October 2-3, in Andes, N.Y., in the Catskills.

The owners are Miles Bellamy, co-founder and former co-owner of Spoonbill & Sugartown, Brooklyn, N.Y., which he left earlier this year after 21 years, and Sue Kovacs, a certified Shamanic Reiki Master Teacher who is also a visual artist, the creator of the tarot deck Dream Dust Shamanic Tarot, and facilitator of a variety of intuitive workshops and trainings.

Diamond Hollow Books & Healing will offer used and new books in literature and poetry, visual arts, architecture and design, and the natural world, with sections devoted to Dante Alighieri, Emily Dickinson, Bob Dylan, all things mushroom, Asian classics, mysticism, and sacred texts. Artwork and ephemera will also be for sale. Kovacs will offer energy healing services by appointment in the Wolf Room as well as remotely.

After settling in the new area, Bellamy had intended to start an online book business and Kovacs planned to continue providing clients virtually with her special healing modalities based on Shamanic Reiki. But, they recounted, "one day a door was open at 72 Main Street, Andes, and they walked up the stairs and the proprietor there said he was leaving soon and offered them the space. In a week they'd signed a lease and Diamond Hollow Books and Healing moved from a website-in-formation to a vision of a shop ready to be formed."

Holiday House: The Five Impossible Tasks of Eden Smith by Tom Llewellyn; The Selkie's Daughter by Linda Crotta Brennan

Parable Opens in Tacoma, Wash.

Parable, a new and used bookstore with a focus on books by women authors, people of color, and queer and trans people, opened earlier this month in Tacoma, Wash., the Tacoma Ledger reported.

Co-owner LaKecia Farmer opened the store alongside their twin, Le'Ecia Farmer, and cousin Deatria "DeeDee" Williams. In addition to books for children, teens and adults, Parable carries plants, records, clothing, accessories and a variety of local artisan goods. The name is a reference to Octavia Butler's novel Parable of the Sower, and Farmer said the inventory centers "social-justice and speculative oriented themes." And while the owners plan eventually to serve tea and other refreshments, that part of the store is still being built out and permits still need to be acquired.

Located in an older building in Tacoma that required renovations, the store had to delay its opening a bit due to "several mishaps." Farmer reported that despite "getting derailed" repeatedly, the delays "proved our tenacity" and gave them more time to learn about their community.

"We always wanted to start a business together, we have the entrepreneurial spirit," Farmer told the Ledger. "I was walking in our neighborhood and saw an empty space and we all dreamed of what it could be used for. We thought of multiple generations--from new parents reading to their toddlers to elders sipping tea--enjoying our space. So we started fundraising at the end of the year."

The Parable team has started hosting community events, and fostering education through those events is a "top priority." There will be book club meetings and children's reading circles, and in October a monthly event series called Black Mamas Meetup will make its debut. The plan is to have a series of grand opening celebrations over the next few weeks featuring comedians, DJs and live music.

Amistad Press: The Survivors of the Clotilda: The Lost Stories of the Last Captives of the American Slave Trade by Hannah Durkin

Roxane Gay Is this Year's Indies First Spokesperson

Roxane Gay

Author, editor and professor Roxane Gay will be the 2021 spokesperson for Indies First, the American Booksellers Association's national campaign in support of independent bookstores that takes place on Small Business Saturday, November 27.

"Independent bookstores have been the foundation of my writing career but more importantly, they have also been the foundation of my reading life," said Gay. "Stepping into a bookstore where the books are carefully curated and enthusiastically recommended is an unparalleled experience."

She added that indie booksellers are passionate about books and community: "And it is because of their work that I am thrilled to serve as this year's spokesperson for Indies First. This vital initiative features independent booksellers and authors during the busiest book buying time of the year, culminating with Small Business Saturday. Independent bookstores are a place to find connection, to celebrate books, and to nurture a diverse community. They are a place where we can imagine and contribute to a better future. I am excited to work with the ABA to raise awareness of the importance of independent bookstores, now more than ever."

Gay, whose new imprint, Roxane Gay Books, debuts at Grove Atlantic in 2023, is the author of the Ayiti, An Untamed State, Bad Feminist, Difficult Women and Hunger, as well as World of Wakanda for Marvel. She has several books forthcoming, is working on TV and film projects, and has a newsletter, The Audacity.

PRH's Two-Day Transit Program Returns, with No Minimum Requirements


For the 10th year in a row, Penguin Random House is launching its two-day holiday transit program, which this year begins this Friday, October 1, and runs through March 1, 2022. As usual, PRH has enhanced the program, and this year it is eliminating the minimum-retail-value requirement for independent bookstores. As the company stated, "Booksellers can now submit orders in whatever amounts work best for them, on their schedule, without having to build up to a minimum-retail-value threshold." Weather and transport conditions permitting, PRH will expedite the picking and packing of orders received from indies at its Westminster, Md., Crawfordsville, Ind., and Reno, Nev., operations centers and schedule transit "from our dock to the bookseller's door" to arrive in two days or less. The three centers will have weekend shifts on duty to expedite Monday shipping for orders received Friday and Saturday.

The program includes all frontlist and backlist titles from the imprints of the Knopf Doubleday, Penguin Publishing Groups, Random House, Random House Children's Books, Penguin Young Readers, Penguin Random House Audio divisions, and DK Publishing--as well as all the clients of Penguin Random House Publisher Services, which include a range of publishers such as Beacon Press, Berrett-Koehler, Candlewick, DC, Highlights, IDW, Kodansha, Kensington, the Library of America, Melville House, New York Review Books, North Atlantic Books, Quirk, Rizzoli, Seven Stories, Shambhala, Soho, Steerforth and Wizards of the Coast, among others.

Jaci Updike, president, U.S. sales, Penguin Random House, said, "While we can't 100% predict what the supply chain will look like in the fourth quarter this year, we do know that rapid replenishment is a key element of profitability and success at the all-important holiday season, and as always, we want to step up our efforts to get books into stores as quickly as possible. Some things are out of our control--including the unprecedented challenges the shipping companies are facing--but the PRH team is committed to going above-and-beyond to pick and pack indie orders with full speed. The elimination of minimums will help booksellers become even more responsive to what their customers are looking for. We want to make it as easy as possible for booksellers to build reorders, and are delighted to be able to give indies additional support at this extremely busy time of year."

The elimination of the minimum grew out of conversations with booksellers about the changing needs of their stores during the pandemic. Increased online ordering, coupled with changes in store inventory levels, has shifted how many stores schedule and manage their reorders.

Stacy Lellos New Publisher of Workman Children's Books

Stacy Lellos

Stacy Lellos is joining Workman Publishing as publisher of Workman Children's books, effective October 18. She was most recently president of Klutz for seven years and earlier was v-p of brand marketing at Toys "R" Us. She started her career at Simon & Schuster, where she worked for five years in marketing before moving to Scholastic, where she held multiple roles over an almost 14-year period, culminating in v-p, marketing & multi-platform publishing. Altogether she has 28 years of experience in book publishing and children's retail.

Senior v-p and Workman Publishing publisher Dan Reynolds said, "The Workman Children's program is one of the strongest parts of our business, consisting of tremendous brands like Brain Quest, the Big Fat Notebooks, and Indestructibles, and filled with titles that represent our commitment to innovative, smart publishing and thinking outside the book. In Stacy, we think we've found just the right person to lead our highly talented and hard-working children's team."

Susan Bolotin, publisher and editorial director of the Workman imprint, said, "Finding the right publisher for Workman's children's group wasn't easy. We knew we needed an experienced visionary who would grow the business while honoring what it is and the people who create it--but we have found that person in Stacy. I look forward to working closely with her as we make this important transition."

Lellos said, "Like everyone in the children's publishing world, I've long admired what Workman does. Getting to work with this team is a dream job, and I'm honored to continue the rich Workman tradition of joyously bringing books to children that celebrate the curiosity and passion of all young readers."

MacArthur 'Genius' Fellowship Writers

Hanif Abdurraqib and Ibram X. Kendi are among the 25 recipients of this year's MacArthur Foundation "genius" grants--$625,000 paid out over five years to "talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction."

Cecilia Conrad, MacArthur Fellows managing director, said: "As we emerge from the shadows of the past two years, this class of 25 Fellows helps us reimagine what's possible. They demonstrate that creativity has no boundaries. It happens in all fields of endeavor, among the relatively young and more seasoned, in Iowa and Puerto Rico. Once again, we have the opportunity for exultation as we recognize the potential to create objects of beauty and awe, advance our understanding of society, and foment change to improve the human condition."

The 2021 MacArthur Fellows include these writers:

Hanif Abdurraqib, music critic, essayist and poet, for "forging a distinctive style of cultural and artistic criticism through the lens of popular music and autobiography."

Daniel Alarcón, writer and radio producer, for "chronicling the social and cultural ties that connect Spanish-speaking communities across the Americas."

Reginald Dwayne Betts, poet and lawyer, for "promoting the humanity and rights of individuals who are or have been incarcerated."

Don Mee Choi, poet and translator, for "bearing witness to the effects of military violence and U.S. imperialism on the civilians of the Korean Peninsula."

Nicole Fleetwood, art historian and curator, for "elucidating the cultural and aesthetic significance of visual art created by incarcerated people."

Ibram X. Kendi, American historian and writer, for "advancing conversations around anti-Black racism and possibilities for repair in a variety of initiatives and platforms."

Monica Muñoz Martinez, public historian, for "bringing to light long-obscured cases of racial violence along the U.S.-Mexico border and their reverberations in the present."

Safiya Noble, Internet studies and digital media scholar, for "highlighting the ways digital technologies and internet architectures magnify racism, sexism, and harmful stereotypes."

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, historian and writer, for "analyzing the political and economic forces underlying racial inequality and the role of social movements in transforming society."


Oprah's Book Club Pick: Bewilderment

Oprah Winfrey has chosen Bewilderment by Richard Powers (Norton) as her latest Oprah's Book Club selection. The author's 2018 novel The Overstory was named the 2019 Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction.

Winfrey called Powers "one of our country's greatest living writers. He composes some of the most beautiful sentences I've ever read. I'm in awe of his talent."

Powers commented: "I'm honored and moved to be named an Oprah Book Club choice. 'Bewildered' doesn't begin to describe it. This is among the most rewarding recognitions I've received over my 40-year career."

Winfrey's interview with Richard Powers will air October 22 on Apple TV+.

R.I.'s Savoy Bookshop & Cafe Named Slightly Foxed's Bookshop of the Quarter

Congratulations to Savoy Bookshop & Café, Westerly, R.I., which has been named the Bookshop of the Quarter by Slightly Foxed, the London quarterly magazine and book publisher.

Slightly Foxed wrote that Savoy has "two floors of inviting book-lined retail space as well as a café serving locally sourced coffee, tea and pastries." And it interviewed Savoy bookseller, event host and social media manager Stephanie Kruse. A choice q&a:

Slightly Foxed: What is your favourite bookshop anecdote?

Stephanie Kruse: "Savoy has three miniature fairy doors that are built into our baseboards (or skirting) around the shop. The doors open and inside you can see three intricately detailed rooms: a cosy reading room (complete with a slice of pie waiting to be enjoyed on the table), a kitchen and a sitting room. Children often write notes to the fairies, and they are delighted to learn that the fairies actually write back!

"Just the other day, two older women came into the shop specifically looking for the fairy doors. They were both crawling around on their hands and knees just to have a peek inside! It's fun to watch people of all ages discover them."

Kruse added: "Savoy started carrying Slightly Foxed in August and their books have been flying off our shelves! 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff has by far been the most popular."

More Banned Books Week Displays: 'Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.'

At Books & Books at The Studios, Key West, Fla.

Indie booksellers nationwide are sharing photos on social media of their creative displays for Banned Books Week, including: 

Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.: "It's #bannedbooksweek and it's more important now than ever to show support to those who are shut down and silenced by the system. Did you know banned books go beyond the modern classics like To Kill a Mockingbird and The Catcher in the Rye? Among this year's top 10 we have some amazing authors with important messages that are regularly pulled from the shelves of schools and libraries: Alex Gino, Jason Reynolds, Ibram X. Kendi and Angie Thomas, to name a few. Books unite us. Censorship divides us."

Plaid Elephant Books, Danville, Ky.: "Books are powerful. To some people, they are also frightening and dangerous. Every year, hundreds of books are banned or challenged, meaning that people lobby to have them removed from libraries and school curricula.... Stop by the shop to check out our Banned Book display--and maybe even buy one of these forbidden tomes... if you dare!"

Vroman's Bookstore, Pasadena, Calif.: "Censorship denies us the opportunity to explore new ideas and connect to experiences that are not our own. #BannedBooksWeek is September 26th-October 2nd and we encourage you to exercise your freedom to read anything and everything!"

Books & Books at the Studios, Key West, Fla.: "Celebrate your freedom to read. Come by and check out our display of banned and challenged books. Pick up a book to see what the fuss is about or pick up something you've been meaning to read. It's your choice."

Personnel Changes at Insight Editions

In Insight Editions's marketing and publicity department:

Rachel Kempster Barry has been named v-p of marketing, publicity and e-commerce. She was previously v-p, marketing and publicity at DK, director of the Morristown Festival of Books, and principal at Tuesday Magic Marketing.

Colleen Lindsay has joined the company as senior publicity and marketing strategist with an emphasis on pop culture, gaming and entertainment. She previously was a publicity lead at Amazon Publishing, marketing director for Open Road Integrated Media, and worked in publicity at Del Rey Books.

Kayla Kohlmeister has joined the company as associate publicist and marketing strategist with an emphasis on lifestyle and stationery. She previously worked in sales and marketing at Chronicle Books and No Starch Press.

Marysol Olvera has been promoted to marketing and publicity associate. She was previously a publicity intern.

Yasuaki Daito has been promoted to marketing and publicity assistant. He was previously a marketing intern.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Tarana Burke on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Tarana Burke, author of Unbound: My Story of Liberation and the Birth of the Me Too Movement (Flatiron Books, $28.99, 9781250621733).

TV: The Sandman; Amber Brown

Noting that "audiences have been waiting years for a proper adaptation of author Neil Gaiman's The Sandman," IndieWire shared the first footage from its upcoming live-action series, adding that "now we're one step closer." Netflix describes the series as a "rich blend of modern myth and dark fantasy in which contemporary fiction, historical drama and legend are seamlessly interwoven."

The cast includes Tom Sturridge, Kirby Howell-Baptiste and Mason Alexander Park. IndieWire noted that The Sandman was slated to enter production last year before the Covid-19 pandemic forced a delay. Filming began in October 2020 and wrapped this summer. No release date has been provided yet.


Sarah Drew (Grey's Anatomy) and Carsyn Rose (The Rookie) will star in Amber Brown, an Apple TV+ comedy series based on the books by Paula Danziger. Deadline reported that the series, which co-stars Darin Brooks (Blue Mountain State) and Liliana Inouye, is written and directed by Bonnie Hunt (Life with Bonnie), who also serves as executive producer and showrunner. Filming on the series, produced by Boat Rocker, is underway in Salt Lake City.

Movies: The Last Mrs. Parrish

Liv Constantine's novel The Last Mrs. Parrish "is getting the movie treatment at Netflix," Variety reported, adding that the streaming service acquired the rights to the book and plans to adapt it into a feature film. Casting has not been announced yet. Lisa Rubin (Gypsy) is adapting the screenplay. While the search proceeds for a director, Rubin will be working on bringing another popular novel, The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins, to the screen. 

Margaret Chernin, Lynne Constantine and Valerie Constantine will serve as executive producers on The Last Mrs. Parrish. Producers include Liza Chasin for 3dot Productions through her overall deal with Netflix, as well as Molly Sims for Something Happy Productions.

Books & Authors

Awards: RNA's Joan Hessayon Winner

Caroline Day won the £1,000 (about $1,370) Romantic Novelists' Association's Joan Hessayon Award for new writers for her debut novel, Hope Nicely's Lessons for Life. The judges were unanimous in their decision, praising the author, "not just for a wonderful idea but for the care, respect and the research that gave such depth to the novel about a difficult subject," and calling the book "a powerful novel, and incredibly accomplished for a debut. It is a challenging read, and although not a traditional romance, it is a book filled with love. Hope captured our hearts with her heart-warming, at times funny and always brilliantly clear, character voice."

RNA acting chair Jean Fullerton commented, "Funny in places and poignant throughout--I defy anyone not to be impressed by Caroline Day's debut novel."

Reading with... Brad Ricca

photo: Caroline Markel

Brad Ricca is a writer who lives in Cleveland. He was written five books, including the Edgar Award-nominated Mrs. Sherlock Holmes and the Ohioana Award-winning Super Boys. True Raiders (St. Martin's Press, September 21, 2021) is the untold true story of Monty Parker, a British rogue nobleman who, after being dared to do so by Ava Astor, the so-called "most beautiful woman in the world," headed a secret 1909 expedition to find the fabled Ark of the Covenant.  

On your nightstand now:

My nightstand is a wobbly tower of books, comics and a phone I am trying to ignore. I'm reading When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain, which is beautiful and intense. Also The Ninth Metal by Benjamin Percy, which is fascinating, like if Faulkner wrote sci-fi in the Midwest. Also the Beowulf translation by Maria Dahvana Headley (amazing) and Riff on Six: New and Selected Poems by James Reiss, which has been there for most of this past year. Lots of comics, including Immortal Hulk by Al Ewing, the end of Ta-Nehisi Coates's Black Panther and Captain America runs, and X-Men by Jonathan Hickman, which I've read more or less nonstop since the '80s. I'm working on something new, so there is also an old paperback of John Flint Roy's A Guide to Barsoom, which smells amazing.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Great Brain series by John D. Fitzgerald, which is about the adventures of two brothers--one of them a wildly intelligent swindler--out on the Mormon frontier at the end of the 19th century. Full of believable wonder for young readers (a chapter on the family's first toilet is unforgettable) and masterful to read as a writer. Also Alan Mendelsohn, The Boy from Mars by Daniel Pinkwater, which cannot be spoken of, only experienced.

Your top five authors:

I went to grad school for 500 years to get a Ph.D. so: Emily Dickinson, Emily Brontë, Walt Whitman and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Plus Charles Schulz. So many more, but these are the ones I always go back to.

Book you've faked reading:

My college Organic Chemistry textbook.

Book you're an evangelist for:

For kids: Frog Goes to Dinner by Mercer Mayer. No words, but a hilarious story with the single best depiction of being in a car with silently furious parents.

For parents and anyone who has them: Mister Miracle by Tom King and Mitch Gerads. A careening story about parenthood, nostalgia and trauma--with superheroes and veggie trays.

For 2021: Notes on the Sonnets by Luke Kennard is a reworking of Shakespeare's sonnets set at a lame house party. Beyond its laughter, sadness and incredible expertise of language, this book just plain helps. I cannot recommend it enough.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Anything with a cover by Frank Frazetta.

Book you hid from your parents:

Whether it was orchestrated or just fatigue, my parents never policed my reading, which I am grateful for. I could read dinosaur books or Power Man and Iron Fist, though I did hide a sickly yellow That's Incredible! TV tie-in with an "actual ghost photo" in it that terrified me. I eventually threw it up into the back of the attic like a grenade.  

Book that changed your life:

Dracula by Bram Stoker. Because it was fantasy presented as some kind of truth across letters and facts, medicine and folklore. It was a horror story--the horror story--but we were reading it in Jon Thompson's eighth grade G/T English class as literature. That book has never let go of me.

Favorite line from a book:

It's really the whole page, but from Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson: "This is death in my hand, this is ruin in my breast pocket, where I keep my reading glasses."

Five books you'll never part with:

My Dad's beat-up copy of Walden, which he always kept in his nightstand. My Regards to the Man in the Moon signed by Ezra Jack Keats that my Mom got for me after hauling me to a Young Author Conference when I was in first grade. My mass-market Fantastic Four reprint by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, my original blue paperback The Fellowship of the Ring, and the aforementioned Dracula from middle school. These are all books from my youth, so maybe I'm being overly nostalgic, but they are foundational to me.

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

There are a lot of books in this category, but I'd say The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. Not only is the story perfectly paced, but the sentences are droolworthy.

The book you would choose for the country to group-read (or listen to, etc.) during the pandemic:

For whatever reason, this is something I have put a lot of thought into, and I would love to hear other people's answers. I am not remotely confident of my own choice and am obviously stalling, but I think The Road by Cormac MacCarthy. My hope would have been that it might have scared more of us--not through politics or disease--but by story, into protecting those we love.

Book Review

Children's Review: We Shall Overcome

We Shall Overcome by Bryan Collier (Orchard Books, $18.99 hardcover, 40p., ages 4-8, 9781338540376, November 2, 2021)

Bryan Collier's We Shall Overcome uses the evocative lyrics of the famous gospel anthem of the civil rights movement to encourage readers to investigate the present-day racial injustices endured by Black people in the United States. Collier's striking artwork draws in young readers and invites them to engage with the text, the art, the music and the history.

"We Shall Overcome" is an inspiring gospel anthem that has been used for decades as a nonviolent way for African Americans to protest unjust conditions and treatment. Originally sung by enslaved people in the United States and used during worker strikes, this legendary song was formerly known as "I'll Overcome Someday," published by Reverend Charles Albert Tindley. It was popularized by Pete Seeger during the 1950-'60s civil rights marches and protests, and eventually became a symbol of hope all over the world.

Four-time Caldecott Honor recipient Collier (Trombone Shorty; The 5 O'Clock Band) uses powerful illustrations perfectly to blend the past and the present. Collier's signature mix of collage, watercolors and double-page spreads creates a story that follows a Black girl in a yellow dress from home to school to a protest. The illustrations of the girl and her contemporary world are in color but, as she moves through her city, Collier places her within and alongside black-and-white images of people, places and events from the civil rights movement. On one page, the girl can be seen riding a bus alongside Rosa Parks; on another spread, she walks past a grayscale depiction of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala. Also featured are more current images, such as a Black Lives Matter mural, "a statement and a movement" that brings "attention to the unjust treatment of Black people by the police." Collier continues the motif used in All Because You Matter (written by Tami Charles) of a single flower petal shape to build "a blossoming effect." A single flower petal is a sign of peace on the cover, the girl's shoe prints are lines of flower petals and, eventually, she has wings made of dozens of flower petals--every one of them displaying the face of an ancestor.

The empowering lyrics of "We Shall Overcome" and Collier's stirring illustrations are the perfect way to bridge the past and present. The book, like the song, acts as a rallying cry for people "to stand up and speak out against injustices so that there may finally be a day when we are all equal." --Natasha Harris, freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: In this electrifying picture book, a famous gospel anthem connects the past and the present as it is reimagined with beautiful contemporary artwork.

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