Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Ballantine Books: Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

St. Martin's Press: Madam by Phoebe Wynne

Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster: Animal by Lisa Taddeo

Soho Crime: Lady Joker, Volume 1 by Kaoru Takamura, translated by Allison Markin Powell and Marie Iida

Rodale Books: Get Good with Money: Ten Simple Steps to Becoming Financially Whole by Tiffany Aliche

Beach Lane Books: Try It!: How Frieda Caplan Changed the Way We Eat by Mara Rockliff, illustrated by Giselle Potter

Counterpoint LLC: The Elephant of Belfast by S Kirk Walsh

Shadow Mountain: Real by Carol Cujec and Peyton Goddard

Quotation of the Day

Recipe for Indigestion: Same Title, Same Subject

"I am thinking about [working on a book], and maybe I should call it The Da Vinci Code."--Raymond Sokolov in an article in yesterday's New York Times about his unhappiness that a new book by Bob Spitz will have the same title as his 30-year-old The Saucier's Apprentice. Titles, of course, cannot be copyrighted.


Sourcebooks Casablanca: The Girl with Stars in Her Eyes by Xio Axelrod


Notes: Bookstore Changes; Edgar Nominees

Baby Grand Books, Warwick, N.Y., has "become a cultural center," according to the Warwick Advertiser, which profiled the bookshop owned by George Nitti and Steve Calitri.

Baby Grand Books "is not standing still," the Advertiser noted, adding that one of the exciting new plans is the construction "currently under way to add a 50-seat lecture hall and reception area on the main level to the rear of the bookstore along with an artist cooperative on the lower level."

"I can't believe what we've accomplished so far," said Nitti. "We have many loyal customers and we're getting great feedback. We want this to be a store that's in a class by itself."


After four years in business, Neighbors Bookstore, Tahoe, Nev., closed this past Saturday, and "went out in style," as the Nevada Appeal put it. On its last day, the store offered food and beverages, raffles, live music. Owner Michael Stroschein told the paper that the store hadn't covered its overhead since the second year in operation.


Little Sisters Book and Art Emporium, Vancouver, B.C., the store that filed several several obscenity suits against the Canadian customs agency, is up for sale, the Globe and Mail reported. The store has withdrawn from the suits--because of daunting legal costs--and has no outstanding legal matters. Still, co-owner Jim Deva said he wants to sell only to "someone willing to keep up the fight."

Deva said that he wants to sell because  he wants to try something new after almost 25 years and because of co-owner Bruce Smyth's health problems.

"It's a good viable business, but it's going to be a unique fit," Deva added. "Maybe we won't find that fit, I'm not sure. But that's what we're trying for: to honour the store and to honour its history."


Nominations for the 2008 Edgar Awards, sponsored by the Mystery Writers of America, are listed online. Winners will be unveiled at the Edgar Awards banquet, to be held Thursday, May 1, in New York City.


The Australian, the national newspaper Down Under, charged that the chronology of events in A Long Way Gone, Ishmael Beah's memoir of life as a refugee and child soldier in Sierra Leone's civil war is off, meaning that, as the paper put it, although Beah "clearly went through a terrible ordeal in the war," that ordeal lasted one year, not three.

In letters to the Australian, Beah and his U.S. publisher Sarah Crichton defended the book and Beah denied knowing the teacher who told the paper that Beah was his student for a crucial period.


Barnes & Noble plans to open and close stores in Asheville, N.C., in spring 2009. The day before B&N opens a store in the Asheville Mall at 3 South Tunnel Road, it will close the B&N in the Dreamland Shopping Center at 83 South Tunnel Road.


Books-A-Million plans to open a store in the Statesboro Crossing shopping mall in Statesboro, Ga., inland from Savannah. This will be the 16th BAM store in Georgia. 


On February 27, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., wholesaler BookStream, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., is hosting an event for booksellers in East Hartford, Conn. Called TitleWave, the event features a lunch with three authors as well as presentations of new titles and handselling tips from BookStream staff. Booksellers will be invited to share their favorite reads and bestselling titles. Authors participating in the lunch are: Steve Toltz, author of Fraction of the Whole (the inaugural title of Random's Spiegel & Grau imprint); Hillary Jordan, author of Mudbound (Algonquin); and Richard Price, author of Lush Life (FSG).

Last October, BookStream held a similar event geared towards children's booksellers. Called KidSplash, the event drew 26 booksellers from 10 stores.

For more information about the February 27 event, contact sales rep Carolyn Bennett at 845-790-7807 or For more information about TitleWave, contact Jessica Stockton Bagnulo at 917-539-0186 or

Incidentally Jessica, who writes an occasional column for Shelf Awareness about graphic novels, is working for BookStream about half time while continuing at McNally Robinson bookstore in New York City. Her role in part, Herr said, is to help the company "intermediate beyond the book, connecting publishers, authors and retailers in ways in which publishers alone really can't," which is part of the emphasis of TitleWave. 


Effective at the beginning of the year, Chronicle Books has moved all of its customer service, order fulfillment, credit and warehousing to Hachette Book Group. Chronicle continues to sell its titles through its trade and specialty sales force. The company has new retail and wholesale terms, including free freight. For more details go to In addition, as noted here late last year (Shelf Awareness, December 2, 2007), Chronicle is distributing Moleskine, the Italian maker of little black notebooks, journals, planners and guidebooks.

The bulk of Chronicle's titles have been moved to the Hachette warehouse in Lebanon, Ind., and the rest will be moved by the end of February.

GLOW: Greystone Books: Seed to Dust: Life, Nature, and a Country Garden by Marc Hamer

Cell-Phone Novels in Japan: Big $ales as Books :)

Cell-phone novels, "composed on phone keypads by young women wielding dexterous thumbs and read by fans on their tiny screens," dominated the bestseller lists in Japan in 2007, according to the New York Times. Five of the top 10 novels were originally cell-phone novels.

The cell-phone novels are available at websites that specialize in them. Many authors upload to the sites as they work on the "books"; readers comment as the serials continue. The genre has been helped because most Japanese cell-phone companies allow unlimited transmission of packet data, including text messaging, as part of flat rates.

The authors earn no money from their cell-phone novels' popularity online; the payoff comes when they are published in book form.

Cell-phone novelists are primarily women who write about "affairs of the heart," as the Times put it, and their works read like diaries. Not surprisingly, the cell-phone novels are written in short sentences and have little plotting or character development. One cell-phone novelist who has made it big, Chaco, now composes her work on a computer, which ironically has changed her style. Her publisher noted: "Since she's switched to a computer, her vocabulary's gotten richer and her sentences have also grown longer."


Berkley Books: The Social Graces by Renée Rosen

Tally Ho!: Bookseller Trip to Londontown

Chuck and Dee Robinson of Village Books, Bellingham, Wash., are leading a group of U.S. booksellers who will attend the London Book Fair, April 14-16, as VIP guests. A few spots remain open for interested booksellers.

Participants pay for travel and hotels at a price arranged by the fair. They also will partake of a literary pub crawl of Bloomsbury, author breakfasts and lunches, a side trip to Oxford and more. Book fair tickets and special events are being sponsored by publishers and partners of the book fair.

Among attendees are Barbara Morrow from Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, Vt.; Roberta Rubin from the Bookstall at Chestnut Court in Winnetka, Ill.; Neil Van Uum of the Joseph-Beth Bookstores whose headquarters are in Cincinnati, Ohio; Tony and Catherine Weller of Sam Weller's Bookstore, Salt Lake City, Utah; and Carla Cohen of Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C. For more information, contact Chuck Robinson at, 360-671-2626 or 360-319-6069.


One World: My Broken Language: A Memoir by Quiara Alegría Hudes

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Stephen King Today on Today

This morning on the Today Show: Stephen King, author of Duma Key (Scribner, $28, 9781416552512/1416552510).


This morning on Good Morning America: Jane Buckingham, author of What's Next: The Experts' Guide: Predictions from 50 of America's Most Compelling People (HarperCollins, $24.95, 9780060885359/0060885351).


This morning on the Early Show: John Gray, author of Why Mars and Venus Collide: Improving Relationships by Understanding How Men and Women Cope Differently with Stress (HarperCollins, $24.95, 9780061242960/0061242969).


Today on Dr. Phil: Steven Cojocaru, author of Glamour, Interrupted: How I Became the Best-Dressed Patient in Hollywood (Collins, $23.95, 9780060791360/0060791365).


Today on the Diane Rehm Show: Stephen Marks, author of Confessions of a Political Hitman: My Secret Life of Scandal, Corruption, Hypocrisy and Dirty Attacks That Decide Who Gets Elected (and Who Doesn't) (Sourcebooks, $23.95, 9781402208546/1402208545).


Books & Authors

Book Sense: May We Recommend

From last week's Book Sense bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Book Sense Picks:


The Steep Approach to Garbadale by Iain M. Banks (MacAdam Cage, $25, 9781596922716/1596922710). "The saga of a wealthy Scottish family who invented a board/computer game. The matriarch has scheduled a meeting so the family can vote on whether to sell the stock. Alban arrives at Garbadale to discuss the sale, see his childhood love, and unearth long-held secrets. Excellent characterizations add to the enjoyment of this engrossing tale."--Susan Wasson, Bookworks, Albuquerque, N.M.

Rule Number Two: Lessons I Learned in a Combat Hospital by Dr. Heidi Squier Kraft (Little, Brown, $23.99, 9780316067904/0316067903). "Lieutenant Commander Kraft, a clinical psychologist, was deployed to Iraq when her twin children were 15 months old. She gives us an inside view of a combat hospital and of providing comfort to patients amid the chaos of war. I read this amazing book in one sitting."--Diana Cohen, Books & Company, Oconomowoc, Wis.


Broken Colors by Michele Zackheim (Europa Editions, $14.95, 9781933372372/1933372370). "In a climate keen on funny memoirs and short stories, it's pretty gutsy to write an honest-to-goodness novel set in wartime Europe. This story follows a young artist as she moves through Europe developing her voice and views. The first section gave me chills."--Annie O'Hare, McNally Robinson Booksellers, New York, N.Y.

For Ages 9 to 12

Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow by James Sturm (Jump at the Sun, $16.99, 9780786839001/0786839007). "This excellent comic-book-style biography portrays the peerless pitcher's life from the viewpoint of a fellow Negro League baseball player, whose parallel story shines a light on the crushing experience of being a second-class citizen. In perfectly paced words and illustrations, Paige's oddball, grandstanding career arrives like a cool drink of water that reminds fans of their worth and equality."--Mark Bradshaw, Watermark Books, Wichita, Kan.

[Many thanks to Book Sense and the ABA!]


Book Review

Mandahla: Every Last Cuckoo

Every Last Cuckoo by Kate Maloy (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, $22.95 Hardcover, 9781565125414, January 2008)

At age 75, Sarah Lucas finds herself and her husband, Charles, a bit grumpy, sometimes "edgy as two knives in a drawer," but also filled with "a broader spirit . . . a ferocious joy. There was more to being old than she had ever expected." They have a close marriage and a good life--an old, comfortable house, dear friends, two daughters and a son, a granddaughter, Lottie, and dogs Sylvie and Ruckus. But recently Sarah had felt events "conspiring toward some menacing end." Her feelings are proven true when the family gathers for Thanksgiving, and a little girl, Hannah, falls through the iced-over pond. She's saved by Sylvie, and resuscitated by Charles. Lottie, inconsolable over failing to watch Hannah at a crucial moment, is told by the child's mother that it's impossible perfectly to protect the people you love. Those words come back to Sarah when, later that winter, Charles dies after falling on a hike. Sarah cursed herself for not telling him to be careful, failing "to voice the necessary charm." Now she's a widow, living with an emptiness "as unnatural as a hole in the water."

Unable to transform her grief into grace and courage, Sarah feels she's letting Charles down, with no ideas or will to practice this form of alchemy: "Even simple aging confounded her, the relentless flight of her remaining days." Change comes in the spring with a simple request from a friend: would Sarah rent her cabin by the pond to an Israeli professor on sabbatical? Shortly after, her granddaughter, in contention with her mother, asks to move in; later, two of Lottie's friends with stormy home lives follow. Then neighbor Sandy and her son Tyler seek refuge after their trailer burns and her husband is hospitalized. Calling her house the Inn of the Desperate and Disaffected, Sarah's capacity is further stretched by taking in a battered woman and her baby. Her home fills with people laden with baggage, people with entire luggage carts.

Sarah becomes a woman who still hurts, still misses her husband terribly, but who finds that the emptiness fills up in surprising ways. "There she was, only one person, one old woman unwilling to buckle. She could tend only to her family, her friends, her cats, dogs and garden. In the time she had left, that would have to suffice. The very thought drew her further into peace and light." Kate Maloy draws us into Sarah's newfound contentment and courage with warmth and wisdom, artfully weaving pain into grace.--Marilyn Dahl


Deeper Understanding

Laura Amy Schlitz: School Librarian on Winning the Newbery

Laura Amy Schlitz won the 2008 Newbery Medal for Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!: Voices from a Medieval Village, illustrated by Robert Byrd, making this the second year in a row that a librarian has taken the top prize (Shelf Awareness, January 15). Schlitz started these 21 dramatizations as pieces for her classes to perform at the Park School near Baltimore, Md., where she serves as librarian, and where each year students study the Middle Ages. Even though The Hero Schliemann: The Dreamer Who Dug for Troy, also illustrated by Robert Byrd, and A Drowned Maiden's Hair [both published in 2006 by Candlewick] came out earlier, Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! was the first book Schlitz wrote that was accepted for publication at Candlewick. Here Shelf Awareness's Jennifer M. Brown speaks with Schiltz, who reflects on winning the Newbery and the contributions her students have made to her writing process.
Congratulations! You and Susan Patron are setting some pretty high standards for librarianship.

It's all of us librarians sticking together.

Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! may have been new to readers outside the Park School, but in fact, your students have been performing many of these plays for some time, haven't they?

I wrote them in the summer of 1996, so that's a generation, really. The children who first performed them are seniors in college now.

Have you heard from any of your graduates since last week's announcement?

I have heard from some of them, and particularly, the writers. One young writer, who used to come and stand by my desk and tell me these wonderful, involved horror stories about creatures who would sit on people's graves and absorb their entrails through their anuses, has just signed with an agent.

Do you often try out your work on your students?

The Hero Schliemann [the biography of a 19th-century storyteller and archaeologist who searched for the lost cities of Homer's epic poems] I read to fourth-graders. The children listened really attentively to the story of Schliemann. One girl asked, "Who is this Homer?," which I thought was a fair question from a fourth-grader, so we added a note about Homer.
The Drowned Maiden I read to fourth-graders. I had only one comment on that one: a boy said, after chapter one, "Boy, was that long." I didn't have the courage to take it back after that. That response made me think maybe this was more of a story for sixth-graders and seventh-graders. Since then, younger kids have come back to it. Maybe I didn't read it courageously enough. When you read someone else's work, you commit to it. And when I read my own work, perhaps a certain timorousness crept in, and the audience smelled fear.

When the students at the Park School learned that you had won the Newbery, did they feel they were a part of your victory?

I'm trying to find a stronger word than absolutely. Indubitably?
It's been touching and enthralling to see how much on my side these children are, how generous they are with their congratulations. These are children who've heard me yell at them in the hall, who've seen me with a cold on bad days. They have great generosity.
Was it your idea, after seeing Robert Byrd's illustrations for The Hero Schliemann, to suggest him for Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!?

The suggestion originally came from Chris Paul who had worked on the design for this book. She had come up with a design in the early stages when we had envisioned Trina Shart Hyman doing the book. [Hyman passed away in 2004.]
We were so enchanted by what Byrd did for The Hero Schliemann. I love the humor and vitality in the illustrations, yet they also have such realistic attention to detail. Schliemann is such a comic opera character on the one hand, yet there was also sadness in his life. We wanted someone who could capture the drama and humor of the story but also someone who could attend to the details of the [archaeological] sites and layouts. I felt Byrd captured his inner self and also his enormous theatricality.

Did you work with Robert Byrd on factual references on Good Masters?

It was a series of interesting coincidences. We have a program at the Park School called the Gordon Berman Memorial Lower School Resident Author program. It's a single-day program. Every year the children at Park get to talk to a real author or real illustrator. I hear children say, "He uses the same kind of water paints I use."
Robert Byrd was the visiting author, and then the decision was made to have him also illustrate Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! I got to see some of his sketches. Candlewick is unusual in that they're interested in getting the author's response. I loved Robert Byrd's drawings. There were one or two instances when the characters were wearing more 15th-century than 13th-century clothing. [I pointed that out and] he immediately went back and started deleting fancy pleats. So many of the inspired touches of this book--people holding cats, the addition of animals, birds following the grain in the fields--they're so informative.
You've mentioned that at one time you nearly gave up writing. What would you say to those writers out there who are at the point of giving up?

I actually have never succeeded in giving up writing. I think what I may have said was I'd given up on getting published. Can you take one more rejection? Can you find the money for the postage? When you've written an 800-page novel, the postage is not insignificant. Everyone has a book they haven't published, that's mine.
I'm proof that the miraculous is alive and well in the world. I am so grateful to Candlewick for fishing me out of the slush pile and treating my work with such respect and treating me with such kindness.

I do remember talking to a class of children about how I'd tried to get published. One clear-eyed student looked at me and said, "Maybe you gave up too quickly."


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