Shelf Awareness for Thursday, January 13, 2022

Hachette: Public Affairs 25th Anniversary

St. Martin's Griffin: The Lost Witch by Paige Crutcher

Tordotcom: Leech by Hiron Ennes

Harper: The Mosquito Bowl: A Game of Life and Death in World War II by Buzz Bissinger

St. Martin's Press: Newsroom Confidential: Lessons (and Worries) from an Ink-Stained Life by Margaret Sullivan

St. Martin's Press: Althea: The Life of Tennis Champion Althea Gibson by Sally H. Jacobs

Del Rey Books: Luda by Grant Morrison

Berkley Books: Better Than Fiction by Alexa Martin


The Book Bar Coming to Richmond, Va., Next Month

The Book Bar's future home

The Book Bar, a Black- and women-owned bookstore and wine bar with an inventory centering BIPOC authors, will open next month in Richmond, Va. Owner Krystle Dandridge, who was a licensed therapist and mental health professional for 15 years before deciding to open a bookstore, told Richmond's StyleWeekly that she's eyeing an official opening date of February 5, depending on city permits being approved.

Located in Richmond's Shockoe Slip neighborhood, the Book Bar will sell new titles across all genres with an emphasis on works by Black authors, indigenous authors and other authors of color. Dandridge has already starting selling quarterly subscription boxes that feature a book and additional items ranging from "vodka cheesecake-flavored popcorn and bath bombs to knee socks and face scrubs," with an emphasis on self-care.

Dandridge recently launched the Book Bar Book Club, a reading group that already has more than 50 members. The group will read a new novel each month, chosen by the group from a selection provided by Dandridge. The first choice was In Every Mirror She's Black by Lola Akinmade Åkerström, who will join the book club for a virtual discussion later this month. Dandridge noted that her selections will all aim to help pull people out of their reading comfort zones, "because you will never know the full extent of what you like if you stay in just one lane."

The bar side of the business will serve a variety of wines by the bottle in a relaxed, lounge-style setting. Dandridge plans to host wine tastings and author signings, and she also wants the store to be an incubator of sorts for Black-owned businesses. The front of the store will have a space for nonbook items made by local Black vendors.

Dandridge recalled that when she opened her "first fantasy novel that described the main characters having coily hair and skin as dark as midnight, it opened a whole new world to me." She wanted to share that feeling with others, and her journey to becoming an independent bookstore owner began.

"Growing up, I don't think I walked into any business where the owner looked like me," she told StyleWeekly. "Worked there? Yes. But owned it? No. Representation matters. I used to walk into any bookstore and it was difficult to find books by authors who look like me. It's just not considered what is mainstream even though there are a lot of them out there. Our country is diverse, so I wanted to create a space where folks can find diverse reads."

Dandridge is working on scheduling a grand opening celebration for the Book Bar that will bring in a local author for a book signing and reading, with details to be announced.

University of Notre Dame Press: An Inconvenient Apocalypse: Environmental Collapse, Climate Crisis, and the Fate of Humanity by Wes Jackson and Robert Jensen

Employees at Minnesota Half Price Books Unionize

Employees at Half Price Books in St. Louis Park, Minn., have unionized, becoming the fourth Half Price Books store in the state to do so, Twin Cities Business reported. They've joined the United Food and Commercial Workers union, which is the largest private-sector union in the country.

While four out of the six Half Price Books locations in Minnesota have now unionized, they are the only stores out of the more than 120 Half Price Books across the U.S. to do so. The booksellers in Minnesota unionized in order to help secure "livable wages, better working conditions, and a seat at the table."

Kristin Tamayo, a bookseller at the St. Louis Park store, said in a statement: "We're so excited to be part of this labor movement happening right now with booksellers and other members of the working class across the country."

University of Minnesota Press: The Ski Jumpers by Peter Geye

Paul Bogaards Launches Bogaards Public Relations

Paul Bogaards

Paul Bogaards, longtime publicity head at Knopf who retired earlier this year, has set up a new company, Bogaards Public Relations LLC, which is launching today. Stephanie Kloss, who for 17 years ran the advertising and marketing department at Knopf and worked with Bogaards on many book campaigns, is joining the venture as a partner.

In an announcement about the firm, Bogaards called BPR's business model "a little different--we're a long runway business, not a quick fix shop. If you are looking for someone to book a tour--that's not us. Think of us as project managers--with you, your work, or your company as the project. Our mission is to help writers broaden their readership through careful analysis of their work and by developing long arc campaigns for their books and identities. Also to note: we are selective about the clients we take on. Much of trade publishing exists as a volume enterprise--our business does not (a former colleague suggested our motto should be 'Little, but Loud')."

Noting that his management responsibilities in recent years kept him from the part of the job he enjoyed most, Bogaards wrote, "I have always loved the architecture of title publishing. Taking the work of a writer, helping to identify an audience for it, and then figuring out a way to access said readership. Title work requires creativity and savvy and a measure of grit. With the launch of BPR, I'll be able to help authors in both a granular and a big picture way once again.

"It has also been a dream of mine to help companies beyond Penguin Random House, and now I'm in a position to do so. BPR will launch with one company already on the roster, and we will be adding select businesses to our portfolio of clients in the months to come."

Among BPR clients are:

  • Robert Caro ("Bob and I have been working together for three decades. I am delighted to continue our association.")
  • The Joan Didion Estate ("I had the great fortune of working with Joan Didion for over two decades... Our job at BPR will be to assist in keeping her work front and center with readers.")
  • Clémence Michallon, whose debut thriller, The Quiet Tenant, will be published by Knopf in Spring 2023.
  • Dani Shapiro, whose next book, Signal Fires, will be published by Knopf in October.
  • Tertulia, a company that aims "to change the way readers come to books. Tertulia has been working to solve the riddle of book discovery, using data and technology to capture word-of-mouth book talk."

In classic Bogaards style, he added that "stepping away from a good job at a great company and the security attendant with it after three-plus decades is a leap for sure. I can, however, pinpoint the moment when I knew it was time for a change: the day I was scheduled to attend a meeting about meetings (um, no thanks)."

And for anyone who misses his edgy commentary on the business, Bogaards will be writing a publishing newsletter on Substack--"a celebration of our genteel profession, with possibly a few takes that will make industry execs uncomfortable."

GLOW: Union Square & Co.: The Second Death of Edie and Violet Bond by Amanda Glaze

International Update: U.K. Hits £2 Million Mark, ACCC Files Case Against Booktopia in Australia has generated £2 million (about $2.7 million) to date for its 500 affiliated independent bookshops in the U.K. The Bookseller reported that between Black Friday and the end of the year, book sales totaled £1 million (about $1.4 million), "with more than 2,500 orders using its newly launched gift wrapping service, and almost 1,000 gift cards sold in just over a month."

Nicole Vanderbilt, managing director of UK, commented: "We believe readers should go into an indie bookshop whenever they can--there is simply nothing else like it, but when they can't, there is a better way to buy books online. By choosing for their holiday book shopping, readers have generated over £2 million in incremental profit for these amazing independent bookshops. This is a testament to the fact that there's a place for ethical shopping in online book-buying. We are looking forward to supporting independent booksellers throughout 2022 and to help them get great titles in the hands of their customers."

Booksellers Association managing director Meryl Halls added: "This £2 million milestone is a remarkable achievement by and the booksellers who use the platform. has proven itself a true friend to independent booksellers over its first year, and is a genuine alternative to Amazon for those book-buyers who want to support indie bookshops online, often from a distance and often in pursuit of a more ethical shopping decision."

"We know the positive impacts of the income generated by for some of our smaller booksellers, and it's been a welcome lifeline for many, used in conjunction, often, with the bookshop's own e-commerce offer. We congratulate the team at on this significant achievement."


The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has filed a case with the Federal Court against Booktopia, alleging the online bookseller made "false or misleading representations to consumers about their rights to refunds and other remedies for faulty or damaged goods," Books + Publishing reported. 

In a statement, the ACCC said that on Booktopia's website between January 10, 2020, and November 2, 2021, the company allegedly "represented that consumers had to notify it of a faulty, damaged or incorrect product within two days of delivery to have a right to a refund or other remedy, and that consumers had no right to refunds on certain products, including digital content and ebooks, in any circumstances."

ACCC chair Rod Sims said: "Consumers who buy digital products or buy products online have the same rights as those who shop in physical stores. Australian consumers have a right to refund, repair or replacement for goods that do not meet their consumer guarantee rights which apply for a reasonable period, and no business can exclude, limit or modify those rights.... Booktopia's conduct may have caused consumers not to seek a refund, replacement or repair for faulty digital products, books and other goods in circumstances where the Australian Consumer Law gave them a right to do so."


The International Publishers Association has issued a statement of support for Penguin Random House Peru, its CEO, Jéronimo Pimentel, and author Christopher Acosta, following a defamation judgment on Monday, January 10, that sentenced all three to $100,000 fines, and the CEO and author to suspended two-year prison sentences.
"Defamation cases are used to silence authors and publishers," said Kristenn Einarsson, chair of the IPA's Freedom to Publish committee. "The severity of this judgement and its inclusion of the CEO of a publishing house will cast a dark shadow over freedom of expression and the freedom to publish in Peru. The international publishing community stands in full support of the publisher and author in their appeal."

The defamation case was brought by Peruvian businessman and politician César Acuña following the publication of the unauthorized biography Plata como cancha (Money Like Popcorn). According to reports in El Pais (Mexico), the case concerned 30 passages in the book, released in February 2021 and now in its seventh edition. The book will remain available. --Robert Gray

Del Rey Books: Luda by Grant Morrison

Obituary Note: F. Sionil José

F. Sionil José

F. Sionil José, the author of "a dozen socially engaged novels and countless short stories and essays who was sometimes called the grand old man of Philippine letters and even the conscience of his nation," died January 6, the New York Times reported. He was 97. José's writing, "rich in themes drawn from his rural upbringing, amounted to a continuing morality play about poverty and class divisions in the Philippines" and often explored "his anguish over what he saw as his country's failure to overcome centuries of Spanish colonization, followed by further domination by the United States."

José founded the Philippine chapter of PEN International and "was a public figure in the world of letters, traveling often to lecture and to attend writers' conferences, and he was bursting with energy even into his 90s," the Times noted.

He opened and ran a bookshop in Manila, Solidaridad, which published his work and offered books and magazines that were hard to find elsewhere in the Philippines. He also published Solidarity, a monthly journal of "current affairs, ideas and the arts."

José wrote more than 35 books, all in English, with the core being the Rosales Saga, five interconnected novels published over 20 years, beginning with The Pretenders (1962) and continuing with My Brother, My Executioner (1973), Mass (1974) Tree (1978), and Po-on (1984). He received many awards, grants and fellowships from abroad as well as in the Philippines, where the government named him a National Artist for Literature. His works have been translated into 28 languages. 

In a tribute posted on Facebook, Philippine Center of International PEN noted, in part: "Through his prolific pen and prodigious energy, National Artist for Literature and Philippine PEN founder F. Sionil José transformed profoundly the country's cultural landscape by reconciling creative dedication and social commitment.... José was also a cultural dynamo who founded and managed a well-loved bookstore and cultural hub, set up a publishing house and edited a magazine that scholars now say helped 'construct' Southeast Asia and make Southeast Asian studies the vibrant field of study it is now, and held conferences and forums featuring local and foreign writers, artists, and experts to influence Philippine and Asian development directions."

G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Old Place by Bobby Finger


Chalkboard: Auburn Oil Co. Booksellers

Auburn Oil Co. Booksellers, Auburn, Ala., shared a photo of its chalkboard highlighting the Betty White Mocha Latte, noting: " 'There’s no formula. Keep busy with your work and your life. Keep the person in your heart all the time. Replay the good times. Be grateful for the years you had.'--Betty White. This month's latte is dedicated to you, Betty. Thank you for being a friend. January 17, 1922-December 31, 2021."

Personnel Changes at Abrams; Scribner

Kevin Callahan has joined Abrams as senior marketing director, adult books. He was formerly the director of marketing operations and backlist strategy at Other Press.


Ashley Gilliam Rose has been promoted to associate director of marketing at Scribner.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Nita Prose on Good Morning America

Good Morning America: Nita Prose, author of The Maid: A Novel (Ballantine, $27, 9780593356159).

The View: Ginger Zee, author of A Little Closer to Home: How I Found the Calm After the Storm (Hyperion Avenue, $26, 9781368042000).

Tonight Show: Cecily Strong, author of This Will All Be Over Soon: A Memoir (‎Simon & Schuster, $28, ‎9781982168315).

This Weekend on Book TV: Cokie: A Life Well Lived

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, January 15
10:10 a.m. Gloria Browne-Marshall, author of She Took Justice: The Black Woman, Law, and Power--1619 to 1969 (‎Routledge, $19.95, 9780367482190). (Re-airs Saturday at 10:10 p.m.)

2:52 p.m. Jeff Shesol, author of Mercury Rising: John Glenn, John Kennedy, and the New Battleground of the Cold War (Norton, $28.95, 9781324003243). (Re-airs Sunday at 2:52 a.m.)

4:15 p.m. Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Bomber Mafia: A Dream, a Temptation, and the Longest Night of the Second World War (‎Little, Brown, $27, 9780316296618). (Re-airs Sunday at 4:15 a.m.)

6:45 p.m. Judith Mackrell, author of The Correspondents: Six Women Writers on the Front Lines of World War II (Doubleday, $30, 9780385547666). (Re-airs Sunday at 6:45 a.m.)

Sunday, January 16
8 a.m. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, author of Pinkie Promises (Holt, $18.99, 9781250801029). (Re-airs Sunday at 8 p.m.)

8:20 a.m. Chris Christie, author of Republican Rescue: Saving the Party from Truth Deniers, Conspiracy Theorists, and the Dangerous Policies of Joe Biden (Threshold Editions, $28, 9781982187514).

10 a.m. Rep. David Price, author of The Congressional Experience (‎Routledge, $42.95, 9780367627072). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

2 p.m. Amy McGrath, author of Honor Bound: An American Story of Dreams and Service (‎Knopf, $28, 9780525659105), at the Kentucky Book Festival in Lexington, Ky.

2:46 p.m. Brian Kilmeade, author of The President and the Freedom Fighter: Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, and Their Battle to Save America's Soul (Sentinel, $28, 9780525540571), at the Kentucky Book Festival.

4:20 p.m. Nigel Poor and Earlonne Woods, authors of This Is Ear Hustle: Unflinching Stories of Everyday Prison Life (Crown, $28, 9780593238868).

5:30 p.m. John Pomfret, author of From Warsaw with Love: Polish Spies, the CIA, and the Forging of an Unlikely Alliance (Holt, $29.99, ‎ 9781250296054).

7 p.m. Steven Roberts, author of Cokie: A Life Well Lived (Harper, $27.99, 9780062851475).

Books & Authors

Awards: Crook's Corner Winner

Things We Lost to the Water by Eric Nguyen (Knopf) has won the ninth annual Crook's Corner Book Prize, which carries an award of $5,000 and honors the best debut novel set in the American South. Organizers said the book is about "an immigrant Vietnamese family who settles in New Orleans as they search for identity--as individuals and as a family--and struggle to remain connected to one another as their lives are inexorably reshaped."

Judge Ron Rash said, "There is much to admire in Nguyen's novel, but two aspects stand out to me. The first is his ability to reveal the inner lives of his characters. Their motivations and actions are distinctly individual, but they always feel true to the vagaries of the human heart. Equally impressive, and rarer in a first novel, is the novel's superb structure, which moves the characters and the reader toward a climax that is both surprising and inevitable."

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, January 18:

Antitrust: Taking on Monopoly Power from the Gilded Age to the Digital Age by Amy Klobuchar (Knopf, $32.50, 9780525654896) explores the history and hopeful future of antitrust legislation.

The Hag: The Life, Times, and Music of Merle Haggard by Marc Eliot (Hachette Books, $30, 9780306923210) is the biography of the country music artist.

Davos Man: How the Billionaires Devoured the World by Peter S. Goodman (Custom House, $29.99, 9780063078307) explains how billionaires have systematically plundered the world to the point where governments can no longer care for their citizens, especially in a crisis like the pandemic.

The Good Son: A Novel by Jacquelyn Mitchard (Mira, $27.99, 9780778311799) follows the mother of a son convicted of murder.

State Change: End Anxiety, Beat Burnout, and Ignite a New Baseline of Energy and Flow by Robin Berzin (S&S/Simon Element, $28, 9781982176808) gives self-improvement tips.

The Leopard Is Loose: A Novel by Stephen Harrigan (Knopf, $26, 9780525655770) takes place in 1952 Oklahoma City, where a leopard escapes from the zoo.

How High We Go in the Dark: A Novel by Sequoia Nagamatsu (Morrow, $27.99, 9780063072640) speculates a future defined by the emergence of an ancient virus from melting permafrost.

Akata Woman by Nnedi Okorafor (Viking Books for Young Readers, $18.99, 9780451480583) is the third book in the YA Akata series which has Sunny traveling to another realm to save Earth.

Icebreaker by A.L. Graziadei (Holt, $18.99, 9781250777119) is an enemies-to-lovers YA romance between college hockey players.

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:

A Thing of Beauty: Travels in Mythical and Modern Greece by Peter Fiennes (Oneworld, $27.95, 9780861540617). "I really enjoyed this mashup of travel writing, musings on Greek mythology, and thoughts about climate change and its effect on our world. Fiennes drew me in with his study of Lord Byron and from there I was happy to pop in on his travels." --Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, N.C.

The Churchill Sisters: The Extraordinary Lives of Winston and Clementine's Daughters by Rachel Trethewey (St. Martin's Press, $29.99, 9781250272393). "A meticulously researched biography of the daughters of one of the greatest statesmen of the 20th century. I greatly enjoyed learning about each of his children and their relationships with their father and their mother, Clementine." --Sarah Danforth, Towne Book Center & Café, Collegeville, Pa.

True Crime Story: A Novel by Joseph Knox (Sourcebooks Landmark, $16.99, 9781728245867). "True Crime Story is a riveting work of fiction that reads like a guilty pleasure tabloid. When a struggling writer delves into a mystery, she finds all involved have something to hide. A great twisty thriller where nothing is as it seems." --Mary O'Malley, Skylark Bookshop, Columbia, Mo.

For Ages 3 to 7
Gladys the Magic Chicken by Adam Rubin, illus. by Adam Rex (Putnam, $18.99, 9780593325605). "A perfect combination of silly and profound. Is Gladys magic, or do the humans who believe in her make their own magic? Follow Gladys's roundabout journey through a slightly less than historical version of ancient times and no matter what your age, you will believe, or just have a good time." --Anmiryam Budner, Main Point Books, Wayne, Pa.

For Ages 8 to 12
Orphans of the Tide by Struan Murray (HarperCollins, $17.99, 9780063043114). "An exciting, adventurous mystery and a touching story about family, memory, and trust--it will take you on a wild ride through a bustling, strange city full of secrets and danger with an amazing main character you'll love from the start." --Alissa Hugel, Folio Books, San Francisco, Calif.

For Teen Readers: An Indies Introduce Title
The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker (Inkyard Press, $18.99, 9781335405661). "This 1890s historical fantasy about a half British Reaper, half Japanese Shinigami soul collector is delightfully fresh, dark, thrilling, and immersive, seamlessly weaving magic, mythology, and adventure with a profound exploration of biracial identity, racism, belonging, resilience, and courage. Sequel now, please!" --Alyssa Raymond, Copper Dog Books, Beverly, Mass.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Cleopatra and Frankenstein

Cleopatra and Frankenstein by Coco Mellors (Bloomsbury, $28 hardcover, 384p., 9781635576818, February 8, 2022)

Ripples from one couple's tumultuous relationship spread widely in Coco Mellors's engaging debut novel, Cleopatra and Frankenstein. Cleo and Frank meet at a party and embark on the kind of immediate, passionate romance that seems bound for greatness or disaster, but it's not clear which at the beginning. Creative, magnetic Cleo is in her early 20s and a fitting counterbalance to Frank, owner of an ad agency in his 40s. Frank is always up for a party, and his carefree, stubbornly youthful lifestyle fits Cleo's post-college artistic one. They quickly marry, and Cleopatra and Frankenstein takes place within the emotionally turbulent first year and a half of their relationship.

While Cleo and Frank are the focus, Mellors also tells the stories of Santiago, the restaurateur who introduced the couple; Quentin, Cleo's troubled best friend; Anders, one of Frank's oldest friends; Eleanor, one of Frank's employees; and Zoe, Frank's much younger sister. These secondary characters' chapters are presented more like snapshots or sketches, but their narratives don't exist simply to support the main characters' arcs. Instead, they serve to remind readers that Cleo and Frank are two flawed people who create something of a disaster together, but everyone else has flaws, too. Mellors aptly moves the camera off her self-absorbed protagonists and focuses it on the people with whom their lives intersect, creating a nuanced, deeply emotional journey for her cast.

Mellors's prose is a compelling balance of beautiful phrasing and snappy dialogue that propels the story while allowing time for reflection. She varies the mood of her chapters to fit the point of view of the character, reflecting the chaotic misery of Quentin, the narcissistic ennui of Anders and the hopeful kindness of Santiago. She startles readers with moments of shocking violence--in thought and to the self--and lingers in character-revealing moments such as Zoe's attempt to recall a night when she partied to excess.

Coco Mellors manages to meld the mundane, self-destructive and tragically beautiful into a genuinely enjoyable story. Characters project their ideals onto each other, only to be disappointed when their friends, family and lovers turn out to be real humans. In the end, however, it's the fullness of their humanity that makes Cleopatra and Frankenstein a worthwhile read. The beauty lies in the broken bits, and Mellors captures both. --Suzanne Krohn, librarian and freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: Told in multiple points of view, this engaging literary debut reflects on the wide-ranging impacts of a marriage--and lives--gone astray.

Powered by: Xtenit