Shelf Awareness for Thursday, March 16, 2023

Overlook Press: Bad Men by Julie Mae Cohen

Shadow Mountain: Highcliffe House (Proper Romance Regency) by Megan Walker

Simon & Schuster: Register for the Simon & Schuster Fall Preview!

Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster: The Ministry of Time Kaliane Bradley

Akaschic Books, Ltd: Go the Fuck to Sleep Series by Adam Mansbach, Illustrated by Ricardo Cortés

Tommy Nelson: You'll Always Have a Friend: What to Do When the Lonelies Come by Emily Ley, Illustrated by Romina Galotta


Bookstore Sales Jump 15.9% in January

In January, bookstore sales rose 15.9%, to $997 million, compared to January 2022, according to preliminary Census Bureau estimates. By comparison to pre-pandemic times, bookstore sales in January were 4.2% higher than in January 2020.

Total retail sales in January rose 8.1%, to $635.5 billion, compared to January 2022.

Note: under Census Bureau definitions, the bookstore category consists of "establishments primarily engaged in retailing new books." The Bureau also added this unusual caution concerning the effect of Covid-19: "The Census Bureau continues to monitor response and data quality and has determined that estimates in this release meet publication standards."

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!

A Great Notion Comes to Auburn, Mass.

A Great Notion, a new and used bookstore with after-school programs for children, is open for business in Auburn, Mass., News Break reported.

Owners Tyler and Courtney Galicia officially opened the bookstore's doors on February 18. The all-ages, general-interest inventory ranges from classics and bestsellers to romance and history. There is a significant children's section, and most of the used book inventory comes from community donations. Tea, coffee and cocoa are available, as are a variety of snack options, and nonbook offerings include store apparel, jewelry, toys and housewares.

Both Courtney and Tyler Galicia have backgrounds in education--Tyler is an English teacher at a nearby high school, and Courtney was a school counselor before leaving that job to manage the bookstore full-time. As such, it was extremely important to them to have a robust children's section, they told News Break.

Earlier this month they started hosting events, including children's book clubs that meet after school, and on Saturdays they host family trivia nights. Looking ahead, they hope to add a tutoring center and other programs that support families and education.

"I love books. I love reading," Tyler Galicia said. He and his wife had "always talked about doing this one day," possibly in 20 or 30 years, but ultimately decided, "why not now?"

GLOW: Workman Publishing: Atlas Obscura: Wild Life: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Living Wonders by Cara Giaimo, Joshua Foer, and Atlas Obscura

Absolutely Fiction, Lufkin, Tex., to Close

Absolutely Fiction in Lufkin, Tex., will close at the end of the month, Kicks105 reported.

Owners Jay and Becky Jackson, who founded the store seven years ago, have not renewed their lease at 903 South John Redditt Drive and will close on March 31. Until that time, they are offering 30% off all books and 10%-30% off all other inventory.

The Jacksons opened Absolutely Fiction, which sells general-interest titles along with games and gifts, after a Waldenbooks store in a local mall closed, leaving Lufkin without a bookstore. They felt "that no one should have to leave their town in search of their next summer read, a bedtime story for their kids or a classic to savor and enjoy."

They hope to reopen Absolutely Fiction eventually and are already on the search for a new location.

Graphic Universe (Tm): Hotelitor: Luxury-Class Defense and Hospitality Unit by Josh Hicks

Obituary Note: John Jakes

John Jakes

Author John Jakes, a "writer of historical fiction whose generational family sagas of the American Revolution and the Civil War mingled real and imaginary characters and became runaway best sellers and popular television fare," died March 11, the New York Times reported. He was 90.

Jakes wrote about 60 novels, including westerns, mysteries, science fiction, fantasy and children's books. He was best known for two book series: the Kent Family Chronicles, eight volumes written in the 1970s to capitalize on the 1976 Bicentennial celebrations (55 million copies were sold), and the North and South Civil War trilogy, which was released in the 1980s (10 million copies).

By the 1990s, Jakes "had joined the charmed circle of America's big-name authors--among them Mary Higgins Clark, Tom Wolfe, James Clavell, Thomas Harris and Ira Levin--whose publishers paid millions in advances for multi-book deals, although they had only vague ideas what the books might say," the Times noted.
"I feel a real responsibility to my readers," Jakes told the Washington Post in 1982. "I began to realize about two or three books into the Kent series that I was the only source of history that some of these people had ever had. Maybe they'll never read a Barbara Tuchman book--but down at the Kmart they'll pick up one of mine."

Jakes began his career freelance writing in his spare time while working in advertising from 1954 to 1971. He published hundreds of short stories and wrote novels, primarily westerns and fantasies, some under the pen names Jay Scotland and Alan Payne. His breakthrough came in 1974 with the publication of The Bastard, the first volume of what would be the Kent Family Chronicles. Other books in the series include The Rebels, The Seekers (both 1975), which were adapted for television as mini-series in 1978 and 1979; as well as The Furies, The Titans (both 1976), The Warriors (1977), The Lawless (1978) and The Americans (1979).
His success prompted Harcourt Brace Jovanovich to commission a Civil War-era hardcover trilogy that included North and South (1982), Love and War (1984) and Heaven and Hell (1987). Another mini-series was adapted from those books. 
After the success of the two earlier series, Random House paid Jakes a $4 million advance for the bestseller California Gold. A $10 million advance a year later produced the two-volume Crown Family Saga as well as In the Big Country (1993), a collection of his stories set in the American West.
"I love melodrama," he once told the Times in an interview. "I never outgrew my fondness for melodrama."


Image of the Day: One Day's Joanna Ho at Linden Tree Books

No power? No problem! Author Joanna Ho supplied all the energy needed for the launch of her latest picture book, One Day (HarperCollins), at Linden Tree Books, even though high winds knocked out power to downtown Los Altos, Calif.

Costco Picks: The Paris Apartment

Alex Kanenwisher, book buyer at Costco, has selected The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley (Morrow, $18.99, 9780063003064) as the pick for March. In Costco Connection, which goes to many of the warehouse club's members, Kanenwisher writes:

"After Jess leaves her job, she is pining for a fresh start. A visit to Paris to stay with her half-brother, Ben, seems like the ideal getaway. So what if he didn't sound thrilled when she asked if she could crash with him? He hadn't said no.

"Jess arrives to find a lovely apartment, but no Ben. As time passes without any sign of Ben, Jess finds that everyone has secrets, including the concierge, the scorned lover and the journalist."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Kara Goucher, Jocelyn Delk Adams on Good Morning America

Good Morning America: Kara Goucher, co-author of The Longest Race: Inside the Secret World of Abuse, Doping, and Deception on Nike's Elite Running Team (Gallery, $28, 9781982179144).

Also on GMA: Jocelyn Delk Adams, co-author of Everyday Grand: Soulful Recipes for Celebrating Life's Big and Small Moments (Clarkson Potter, $32.50, 9780593236215).

Drew Barrymore Show: Ali Landry, author of Reshape Your Life: Don't Settle Because You Are Worth It (Thomas Nelson, $28.99, 9781400235100).

This Weekend on Book TV: Kathleen McLaughlin on Blood Money

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.

8 a.m. Malcolm Harris, author of Palo Alto: A History of California, Capitalism, and the World (‎Little, Brown, $36, 9780316592031). (Re-airs Sunday at 8 p.m.)

8:55 a.m. Tim Goeglein, author of Toward a More Perfect Union (Fidelis, $26, 9781956454130). (Re-airs Sunday at 8:55 p.m.)

10 a.m. Kathleen McLaughlin, author of Blood Money: The Story of Life, Death, and Profit Inside America's Blood Industry (Atria/One Signal, $28, 9781982171964). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

2 p.m. Matthew Connelly, author of The Declassification Engine: What History Reveals About America's Top Secrets (‎Pantheon, $32.50, 9781101871577).

3:10 p.m. Nomi Prins, author of Permanent Distortion: How the Financial Markets Abandoned the Real Economy Forever (PublicAffairs, $30, 9781541789067).

Books & Authors

Awards: Jhalak Longlists

Longlists have been announced for the Jhalak Prize as well as the Jhalak Children's & YA Prize. The awards "seek to celebrate books by British/British resident BAME writers." Each winner receives £1,000 (about $1,300) along with a work of art created by artists chosen for the annual Jhalak Art Residency. Shortlists will be released April 18 and the winners named May 25.

Prize director Sunny Singh said: "This year's longlists feature books about mourning and memorialisation, survival and resilience, and most of all, finding hope, courage and joy in the unlikeliest of places.... It's the seventh year of the Jhalak Prize and although sometimes the challenges facing us seem insurmountable, there is also clear evidence of change and growth. Once again, I am struck by the quality and range of books submitted to us. These are testaments to the creativity, craft, imagination and most of all, literary excellence among writers of colour in Britain today."

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, March 21:

Commitment: A Novel by Mona Simpson (Knopf, $29, 9780593319277) follows a mother in 1970s California who enters a state hospital.

The Strange by Nathan Ballingrud (Gallery/Saga Press, $27.99, 9781534449954) is a genre-bending adventure across an alternate history Mars.

Beyond That, the Sea: A Novel by Laura Spence-Ash (Celadon, $27.99, 9781250854377) tracks a young woman from London to Boston and back during World War II.

A Flaw in the Design: A Novel by Nathan Oates (Random House, $28, 9780593446706) is a psychological thriller about a writing professor caring for his recently orphaned nephew.

Poverty, by America by Matthew Desmond (Crown, $28, 9780593239919) argues that poverty persists in the U.S. because enough better-off people benefit from systemic cruelty.

Guardians of the Valley: John Muir and the Friendship that Saved Yosemite by Dean King (Scribner, $30, 9781982144463) explores the partnership between Muir and editor Robert Underwood Johnson.

Armageddon: What the Bible Really Says about the End by Bart D. Ehrman (Simon & Schuster, $27.99, 9781982147990) explores interpretations of the Book of Revelation.

Eat to Beat Your Diet: Burn Fat, Heal Your Metabolism, and Live Longer by William W. Li (Balance, $30, 9781538753903) gives nutrition advice for weight loss.

My Powerful Hair by Carole Lindstrom, illus. by Steph Littlebird (Abrams, $18.99, 9781419759437) is a picture book celebration of the significance of hair in Indigenous cultures.

The Witch and the Vampire by Francesca Flores (Wednesday Books, $20.00, 9781250220516) is a queer YA retelling of Rapunzel.

The Lincoln Highway: A Novel by Amor Towles (Penguin Books, $19, 9780735222366).

The War That Made the Roman Empire: Antony, Cleopatra, and Octavian at Actium by Barry Strauss (Simon & Schuster, $18.99, 9781982116682).

Ellie Is Cool Now by Victoria Fulton and Faith McClaren (Forever, $15.99, 9781538739235).

The Anthropocene Reviewed: Essays on a Human-Centered Planet by John Green (Dutton, $18, 9780525555247).

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:

The Last Tale of the Flower Bride: A Novel by Roshani Chokshi (Morrow, $30, 9780063206502). "The chills that I got finishing this book! At once a dream and a slow building nightmare, the story is rich and lush as any fairytale. Chokshi's playful language pulls you into a present whose edges blur into myth and bittersweet yearning." --Jane Alice Van Doren, Rediscovered Books, Boise, Idaho

Users: A Novel by Colin Winnette (Soft Skull, $27, 9781593767372). "Wonder what the metaverse will be like? This novel gives a glimpse into one possible future, where users of virtual reality turn memories into 'experiences' anyone else can share. This story has stayed on my mind since I finished it." --Victoria Ford, Comma, a Bookshop, Minneapolis, Minn.

Love & Saffron: A Novel of Friendship, Food, and Love by Kim Fay (Putnam, $17, 9780593419359). "Love & Saffron reminds us of the beauty of letter writing. I loved the simplicity of this book--it filled my heart with love and connection to the human spirit, and left me with the desire to kindle a friendship by sending a letter." --Annette Avery, Bright Side Bookshop, Flagstaff, Ariz.

For Ages 0-8
In Every Life by Marla Frazee (Beach Lane Books, $18.99, 9781665912488). "Sometimes it takes an upside-down world to see what is most important to all of us. Frazee's sublime genius is her signature warmth of spirit, line and shading, and most importantly, the warmth of love. Such an exquisite gift for all!" --Maureen Palacios, Once Upon a Time, Montrose, Calif.

For Ages 8 to 11
When Sea Becomes Sky by Gillian McDunn (Bloomsbury Children's Books, $16.99, 9781547610853). "This is now one of my favorite books. I was devastated while reading this wonderfully crafted story. This book will rip your heart out and put it back together perfectly. I highly recommend When Sea Becomes Sky for readers young and old." --Rayna Nielsen, Blue Cypress Books, New Orleans, La.

For Teen Readers
Always the Almost by Edward Underhill (Wednesday Books, $18.99, 9781250835208,). "A relatable, honest exploration of grief, confusion, and second chances, Always the Almost is an empowering celebration of music and love." --Alyssa Raymond, Copper Dog Books, Beverly, Mass.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Camp Zero

Camp Zero by Michelle Min Sterling (Atria, $28 hardcover, 304p., 9781668007563, April 4, 2023)

Michelle Min Sterling's brilliantly unsettling debut novel, Camp Zero, is set in mid-21st-century, post-oil North America. Prioritizing perspectives from two all-female communities, it contrasts the heights of opulence and technology with the basic instinct for survival.

Camp Zero is at northern Canada's frontier, where the climate is desirably cool. Dominion Lake boomed in the age of fossil fuels but by 2049--15 years after an oil ban--is a ghost town. Enter the "Blooms," an elite group of sex workers known by floral pseudonyms. They set up in an abandoned mall to service the "Diggers" at the nearby construction site. "Rose," a 25-year-old mixed-race Korean American, moved here from the Floating City, a Boston-area offshore community where the wealthy escape sweltering summers. Her exclusive client there, Damien Mitchell, created the Flick, a news/social media feed and virtual reality device that is implanted behind the ear at birth. He assigns Rose a mission at Camp Zero; if she succeeds, he promises permanent Floating City citizenship for her and her mother.

Next to arrive at the camp is Grant Grimley, who was recruited to teach English at the planned Dominion College. An Ivy League graduate wounded by the end of a relationship, he's turned his back on his wealthy family and hopes to reinvent himself and make a difference. Alternating with these two third-person perspectives are sections in the first-person plural, voiced by the all-female staff of White Alice, a former Cold War radar station that now houses polar climate research.

How these three strands will connect is a mystery sustained through much of the book. Characters go by multiple names and harbor ulterior motives; scenes echo each other as disparate subplots meet in unexpected ways. The background--economic collapse, conflicts over land rights and resources, people migrating to avoid increasingly inhospitable climates--is all too plausible. Sterling also takes to its logical extreme the state of being constantly online, with the Flick resembling a warning about concomitant data harvesting and human memory loss. What people will risk for security--or for love--is a major question here. It's intriguing to see how these groups of women manipulate men (the ostensible power wielders) to their own ends.

Camp Zero is compelling dystopian cli-fi with three-dimensional characters--a perfect read for fans of Station Eleven, To Paradise and The Handmaid's Tale. The ending leaves the way open for a sequel. Bring it on. --Rebecca Foster, freelance reviewer, proofreader and blogger at Bookish Beck

Shelf Talker: Michelle Min Sterling's compelling dystopian debut features isolated groups--mainly women--driven to northern Canada by environmental and technological extremes.

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