Shelf Awareness for Monday, July 10, 2023

Del Rey Books: Black Shield Maiden by Willow Smith and Jess Hendel

St. Martin's Press: Lenny Marks Gets Away with Murder by Kerryn Mayne

Hell's Hundred: Blood Like Mine by Stuart Neville

Spiegel & Grau: Tiananmen Square by Lai Wen

Tor Books: The Daughters' War (Blacktongue) by Christopher Buehlman

Tommy Nelson: Just in Case You Ever Feel Alone (Just in Case) by Max Lucado, Illustrated by Eve Tharlet

Bramble: The Spellshop by Sarah Beth Durst

Quotation of the Day

'I Still Can't Pass an Independent Bookstore on the Street Without Going In'

"I think it's telling that, after being in books for this long, and a lot of the job being that you go to bookstores, I still can't pass an independent bookstore on the street without going in. You don't have that compulsion because you are wondering if they have different books than other stores have, though that's a little of it. You go in mainly because you want to see how they've done it, what it feels like in there, what they're choosing to foreground, and what they believe in.

"I talked earlier about being just as interested in arranging known quantities as I am in making new things from scratch, and I imagine that applies to owning a bookstore too. Running a bookstore is a form of expression, and a political act, the same as any creative work is a political act. Even if the books aren't political themselves, you are saying something by how you set them up. When you are in a bookshop that you agree with, or in a shop that shows you a whole new way to be, and that's only being described to you by the particular arrangement of other peoples' books, it's profound and important. And only truly independent bookstores are capable of that. There's no other place like them." 

--Jon Klassen, whose The Skull (Candlewick Press) is the #1 July/August Kids' Indie Next List pick, in a q&a with Bookselling This Week

Harper: Sandwich by Catherine Newman


Bookstore, Author, Others Sue to Block Montana's 'Anti-Drag' Law

Montana Book Company, Helena, Mont., is among a dozen plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit filed last Thursday against Montana's "anti-drag" law, passed in May. The law bans people dressed in drag from reading to children in public schools or libraries, and prohibits businesses and state-funded entities from allowing minors to see so-called "sexually oriented performances."

Calling the law unconstitutional, an abridgement of free speech, and "motivated by anti LGBTQ+ animus," the suit seeks a temporary injunction as well as damages for one of the plaintiffs, Adria Jawort, an author, transgender woman, and member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, whose appearance to speak at the Butte-Silver Bow Library on June 2 was cancelled because, as a librarian said, the new law made it "too much of a risk to have a transgender person in the library."

The defendants are Montana's Attorney General, the Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction, and the chief executive of the city and county of Butte-Silver Bow. The plaintiffs' law firm is Upper Seven Law in Helena.

The suit describes plaintiff Montana Book Company as "an independent LGBTQ+-owned bookstore [that] aims to create an open and inclusive community space for marginalized populations in Montana. The Montana Book Company has hosted and plans to continue to host age-appropriate drag shows open to the public."

Bookstore co-owner Chelsia Rice said, "Drag has long been an important artistic and cultural expression. This law wrongly targets the constitutionally protected speech of performers, artists, authors, and other Montanans." Coincidentally, the suit was filed on Montana Book Company's fifth anniversary.

Many of the plaintiffs have "well-founded fears of criminal and civil liability." In the Montana Book Company's case, the suit noted that it "sells and displays books that include 'lewd or lascivious depiction[s] or description[s] of human genitals or sexual conduct.' " Another plaintiff, the Myrna Loy cultural center, "shows a broad spectrum of movies from around the world, including classic films and first-run new releases, many of which include 'sexually oriented performances.' " Yet another plaintiff, BumbleBee Aerial Fitness, is a fitness studio that "publicly performs dances that may be described as 'salacious.' "

And Rachel Corcoran, a teacher in the Billings Public Schools, "has dressed up as fictional and historic male and female characters to connect with students, enhance learning, and build community. For example, she has dressed as a crazy cat lady, the rapper Eazy-E, Tina Turner, Waldo (of Where's Waldo? fame), Lilo (from Lilo & Stitch), and Princess Bubblegum (from Adventure Time). While in gendered costumes, she reads to students and engages in learning activities at school." Under the law, she is considered "a 'drag queen' or 'drag king' participating in 'drag story hour' at such times. Thus, she faces criminal penalties, lawsuits, and revocation of her teaching certificate."

The suit calls the law "a Frankenstein's monster" that "prohibits drag performers from leading story hours in schools and libraries, which is an unconstitutional content- and viewpoint-based restriction on free speech. But that's not all: the bill bans reading to a child in a library in a superhero costume, conducting classroom activities dressed as Ms. Frizzle, inviting a Disney princess impersonator into the classroom, and staging a production of Shakespeare's As You Like It. These restrictions apply regardless of a person's gender identity and sex."

In addition, the law "limits First Amendment activities of artists, businesses, and entities that receive state funds. Displaying or disseminating obscene materials and performances has long been illegal in Montana," but the law "creates new, confusing restrictions on 'sexually oriented performances'--with a definition that, inter alia: allows the display of human cleavage but not prosthetic cleavage; restricts 'stripping,' regardless of whether nudity results; and may--this is unclear--prevent allowing minors to view 'any simulation of sexual activity,... salacious dancing, [or] any lewd or lascivious depiction or description of human genitals.' " Unlike the state's obscenity statute, the law "does not incorporate the Miller test--the classic definition of obscenity--which safeguards artistic expression, political speech, and science. Worse still, an entity that receives any state funds--e.g., any art museum or independent theater--cannot display a live or prerecorded performance with essentially any sexual content, regardless of artistic merit and even if the audience is limited to adults."

And the law's penalties are "as confusing as they are draconian," the suit stated. "Everyone involved in putting on a 'drag' (read: costumed) story hour or so-called 'sexually oriented performance' can be sued within ten years of the event by a minor who attends the performance--even if the minor and their guardian consented at the time--with statutory damages and attorney's fees assured to the plaintiff." If the violator is "a library, school, teacher, school or library administrator, [an] 'entity that receives any form of funding from the state,' or employee of such an entity, they shall be fined $5,000. Moreover, teachers and other school personnel will be suspended for a year; upon a second offense, they will lose their certificates. And if the violator is a business that serves alcohol, it will be fined between $1,000 and $10,000 per violation and ultimately lose its business license."

Spiegel & Grau: Tiananmen Square by Lai Wen

Following Fire, NYC's Yu & Me Books Raises More Than $300K

After suffering extensive damage from a fire that broke out on July 4, Yu & Me Books in New York City's Chinatown has already raised more than $300,000 for its recovery fund.

Store owner Lucy Yu wrote on the Yu and Me Books GoFundMe page that the fire, which started in a residential unit above the bookstore, caused such significant smoke and water damage that the store will require a "complete gut renovation," expected to take about a year. The store will remain closed for the foreseeable future and all upcoming author events have been canceled; furthermore, nearly all of its inventory and equipment were lost.

With insurance money not coming in "for at least eight months," Yu turned to crowdfunding to help her cover staff wages, replace damaged inventory and equipment, pay insurance deductibles, fund pop-up and temporary spaces, and much more. The campaign, which went live late last week, was boosted by authors Celeste Ng and Min Jin Lee as well as the actor Simu Liu, and very quickly exceeded its initial goal of $150,000.

Yu opened the bookstore and cafe, which has a focus on diverse voices, immigrant stories, and the Asian diaspora, at 44 Mulberry St. in December 2021.

GLOW: Tundra Books: We Are Definitely Human by X. Fang

Thompson's Bookstore, Fort Worth, Tex., Eyes Late July Reopening

Thompson's Bookstore in Fort Worth, Tex., is aiming to reopen on July 29 following extensive renovations, reported.

The bookstore and cocktail bar, which also features an event space and cigar lounge, is located in a building in downtown Fort Worth dating back to 1910. From 1972 to 1993, it housed the original Thompson's Bookstore. The current version of Thompson's Bookstore opened in early 2015.

William Morrow & Company: Lula Dean's Little Library of Banned Books by Kirsten Miller

Obituary Note: Mavis Cheek

British author Mavis Cheek, who wrote a series of comic novels "that cast an acute eye on middle-class marriage and relationships and marked her out as one of the wittiest commentators of her generation," died June 14, the Guardian reported. She was 75. Cheek began writing journalism and short stories in the 1980s and published her first novel, Pause Between Acts, in 1988 after an agent advised her that she was funny and should write as she spoke. The book won the She/John Menzies prize, and 14 books followed.

"When I started writing funny books, the bookshelves in shops had no category for me," she once observed. "They put me in Romance, and frankly, my books were as close to Romance as Rudolph Nureyev was to arc welding."

Cheek's other titles include Amenable Women (2008), Janice Gentle Gets Sexy (1993), Mrs. Fytton's Country Life (2000), Aunt Margaret's Lover (2003), The Sex Life of My Aunt (2002), Patrick Parker's Progress (2004), Yesterday's Houses (2007), and her last novel, The Lovers of Pound Hill (2011).

"It's an art, getting the comic timing right on the page," Cheek told comedian, writer, and actress Helen Lederer. "You don't just knock it out. I'm quite sure that if women writers had been promoted like some of their male counterparts, we'd have more women's humorous writing out there. How much we all long to pick up a book and laugh our socks off. Women can do that for you: as in real life, so on the page." In 2020, she received the recognition award by Comedy Women in Print, which acknowledges witty women writers who have contributed significantly during their lifetime.

Beginning in 2010, Cheek spent several years working for the Marlborough Literature Festival. Nick Fogg, Mayor of Marlborough, said, "I met Mavis shortly after the inception of the Literature Festival at a party at Aldbourne. She accepted my invitation to join with alacrity and proved a vital force with her knowledge and enthusiasm. Her constant theme was 'Back to Basics'--she shunned the cult of the celebrity writer whose fame had been forged elsewhere. She got us off on the funding campaign by inviting the Chairman of ALCS down to Marlborough and we had a meeting in the Mayor's Parlour: the grant that was forthcoming really set the festival on its way. Her conviviality and relaxed approach made her a pleasure to be with. Whether we could have done it without her is a question--thanks to her--that we don't have to ask."   

Harper Celebrate: Why Do We Stay?: How My Toxic Relationship Can Help You Find Freedom by Stephanie Quayle, with Keith W. Campbell


King's English's Calvin Crosby Honored

Calvin Crosby

Congratulations to Calvin Crosby, co-owner of the King's English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, Utah, who was honored by the University of Utah's American Indian Resource Center at the inaugural Native Excellence Gala last month. The event celebrated "changemakers and leaders who are making a positive impact on behalf of the Indigenous community."

Crosby, a member of the Cherokee Nation, was recognized "for Native Excellence as a Community Partner. He works in conjunction with health clinics at the Navajo Nation to provide books to school-age Native children."

Last year, the King's English launched Brain Food Books, a nonprofit dedicated to distributing children's books to classrooms, schools, pediatric clinics, and daycare centers in the state and in parts of Arizona.

Bookseller Video: 'RIP Rolly Table'

Bear Pond Books, Montpelier, Vt., shared a poignant memorial video for a long-serving member of the store's book display furniture family: "Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives. Goodbye, loyal friend. You’ve been duct taped, nailed, glued, brought back from the brink countless times. Today we retire you, and we thank you for your service. RIP Rolly table. The dawn of time-July 7, 2023."

Personnel Changes at Open Road; Sourcebooks; HarperCollins

Sarah Janet has been promoted to senior v-p, business analytics and growth at Open Road Integrated Media.


Hannah Kil has joined Sourcebooks as senior marketing associate for Callisto Publishing.


Nicole Wills has been promoted to senior associate and is joining the middle grade marketing team at HarperCollins Children's Books. She was previously a coordinator on the early readers marketing team.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Jake Tapper on the View

Good Morning America: Karen Akunowicz, author of Crave: Bold Recipes That Make You Want Seconds (Countryman Press, $35, 9781682687055).

Sherri Shepherd Show repeat: Sen. Raphael Warnock, author of Put Your Shoes On & Get Ready! (Philomel, $19.99, 9780593528877).

Good Morning America: Kay Redfield Jamison, author of Fires in the Dark: Healing the Unquiet Mind (Knopf, $30, 9780525657170).

The View: Jake Tapper, author of All the Demons Are Here: A Thriller (Little, Brown, $29, 9780316424387).

Rachael Ray: Harlan Coben, author of I Will Find You (Grand Central, $30, 9781538748367).

Movies: It Ends With Us

It Ends With Us, Sony Pictures and Wayfarer Studios' adaptation of Colleen Hoover's 2016 novel, is set to be released on February 9, 2024. The Hollywood Reporter noted that the film, starring Blake Lively, Justin Baldoni, and Brandon Sklenar, "began production in New Jersey in May but shut down a month later with a little more than half of the movie completed after facing picketers due to the writers' strike. Production is hoping to resume filming once the strike is over, and the February release date suggests they are confident it will be completed on time."

On NBC's Today show, Hoover recently addressed fans who seem unhappy with Lively and Baldoni's casting because of their ages. "Back when I wrote It Ends With Us, the new adult [genre] was very popular," she said. "You were writing college-age characters. That's what I was contracted to do. I made Lily very young. I didn't know that neurosurgeons went to school for 50 years. There's not a 20-something neurosurgeon. As I started making this movie, I'm like, 'We need to age them out, because I messed up.' So, that's my fault."

In addition to starring in the project, Baldoni is also directing and executive producing, with Lively and Hoover joining him as EPs. Christy Hall (I Am Not Okay With This) wrote the screenplay.

Books & Authors

Awards: CWA Dagger Winners; Hugo Finalists

Maxim Jakubowski (l.) and Walter Mosley, who received the Diamond Dagger at the CWA award dinner. (photo: Sage Mears)

The winners in a dozen categories of the Crime Writers' Association 2023 Dagger Awards were announced July 6 and can be seen here. Among them, the Gold Dagger went to George Dawes Green for The Kingdoms of Savannah and the Debut Dagger went to Jeff Marsick for Sideways.

Walter Mosley received the Diamond Dagger, which honors authors whose "crime-writing careers have been marked by sustained excellence, and who have made a significant contribution to the genre. It is the most prestigious U.K. lifetime award awarded to a crime writer."

CWA chair Maxim Jakubowski said that Mosley's "voice has dominated the fiction scene for decades and I can think of no more deserving and ground-breaking an author to be given this ultimate accolade, for the so many things he has contributed to our genre but also to modern society."

Mosley said, "At the beginning of my writing career I was fortunate enough to be awarded the CWA's New Blood Dagger, otherwise called the John Creasey Award. That was the highest point of my experience as a first book author. Since then, I have picked up other honors along the way but the only award that comes near the Diamond Dagger is the Mystery Writers of America's Grand Master nod. These two together make the apex of a career that I never expected."


The 81st World Science Fiction Convention, hosted in Chengdu, China, has announced the finalists for the 2023 Hugo Awards, Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book, and Astounding Award for Best New Writer. Members of the Chengdu Worldcon will vote and winners will be presented on October 21 during the Chengdu Worldcon. See the full list of finalists here.

Book Review

Review: Dearborn

Dearborn by Ghassan Zeineddine (Tin House, $17.95 paperback, 240p., 9781959030294, September 5, 2023)

A short story collection sparkling with humor and charming insight, Dearborn by Ghassan Zeineddine invites readers to experience contemporary life in the midwestern United States through the lens of Arab Americans who have settled in the titular Michigan city--men and women at various stages of reinvention, each striving toward their own version of the American dream.

For Yasser, a muscular Lebanese butcher with "furry hands," it means escaping his responsibilities on Friday mornings to dress up covertly as Yusra, his female alter ego, and to walk the streets as her, disguised conveniently in a niqab and abaya. To Hiyam, who fled civil war in Lebanon and is married to a wholesome American man, owning her own real estate business and driving a black Escalade with tinted windows represents the epitome of self-made success. Even while piously praying, she finds herself thinking, "I'm a CEO, bitches."

The inhabitants of Dearborn, many of them U.S. citizens, share a patriotic pride in their adopted country and an irrational fear of being ousted from their midwestern lives. Uncle Sam came to Dearborn in 1982 as a refugee during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, and tries to blend in by adorning his house in Michigan sports flags, desperate to deflect the unwanted attention of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials conducting raids in his neighborhood.

Zeineddine is an assistant professor of creative writing at Oberlin College. A subtle comic undertone runs through his 10 stories, drawing on the naiveté of newcomers with Hollywood aspirations and Arab parents longing for that ultimate brag-worthy status symbol: to see their adult child's business advertised for all their friends to admire. "When will I see your gorgeous face on a billboard?" a mother beseeches her deadbeat son in "Zizou's Voice."

The satire "Speedoman" is narrated alternately by a husband and wife, sharing their vastly different reactions when a newcomer, muscular and well-groomed, arrives at their community pool wearing a Speedo. The wife is intrigued while her potbellied husband is dismissive and suspicious. The eldest and arguably the most fascinating of Zeineddine's characters is Madame Ayda, a chain-smoking 99-year-old who survived the sinking of the Titanic when she was a 14-year-old bride.

With an uncanny talent for peering deep into his characters' souls, and drawing on the basic humanity they share with their American neighbors, Zeineddine's stories illuminate the vast, comforting similarities culturally divergent communities share with one another. --Shahina Piyarali, reviewer

Shelf Talker: Dearborn is a charming, insightful collection of 10 stories with a delightful, comic edge, exploring the distinct experiences of Arab Americans who have made a home in the midwestern United States.

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