Annie's Book Stop of Worcester

The little bookstore that's bigger on the inside

 

Jennifer Estep is a New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author of Urban Fantasy books. Her latest book, CAPTURE THE CROWN, coming out in July is the first book in her new Gargoyle Queen series. Jennifer talks about Capture the Crown and writing in general in this interview with Selina Lovett from Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester. This video was originally published on July 2, 2021.

 

 

 

 

 

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is very happy to shine our Friday spotlight on children’s book author Kyle Lukoff. Kyle spent ten years as a bookseller, and then nine more years as a school librarian, which means that basically his entire life has always been books. He mostly write picture books, with some middle grade and early readers, and his work focuses on trans kids, wordplay, and social/emotional issues.

 

Kyle, my first question is, where can people find your work? (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester–though they should totally check here first!)

 

Your favorite local bookstore BESIDES Annie’s!

 

 

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

 

I’m on Twitter (for now) as @KyleLukoffWrites, and my Instagram is the same handle. Sometime I might have an email list but for now my website is kylelukoff.com

 

 

For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write?  What can readers expect from If You’re A Kid Like Gavin?

 

I write all kinds of stories! I have a whole series of early chapter books about a mermaid and her octopus-kid friend. My first picture book was about collective nouns, and my second was about poetry. I am most well-known for my books about trans kids, but I’m excited for books I have coming out in the next few years about friendship, forgiveness, and a few other topics. My most recent picture book, If You’re A Kid Like Gavin, is the first book where I collaborated with a real-life person, Gavin Grimm, to tell his story in my first non-fiction book.

 

 

What kind of research went into writing this book?  What is your favorite research story? What cool facts and findings didn’t make it into the book, but you loved discovering?

 

Most of my research for this book involved talking to Gavin, and learning more about his court case. I wanted to make sure that everything was true, and also that everything felt good for Gavin to put out in the world. My favorite part of researching this book is that Gavin and I became friends through it, and he’s now one of my favorite people. One of my favorite facts is that I get a tattoo for each book, taking one detail from an illustration, and the detail I chose for this book is a turtle that was also named Gavin.

 

 

What was the inspiration for If You’re A Kid Like Gavin? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?

 

This book was inspired by four of my students. When I was still a school librarian, a small group of kids worked together to make the bathrooms more inclusive for nonbinary people, and in their research we talked a lot about Gavin’s case. I kept wishing there was a book that I could read to them, and decided to write it. The most important part was getting in touch with Gavin, but luckily I knew his lawyer at the ACLU who put me in touch with the main person there he works with, Chris. I kept telling Gavin that I could never promise it would become a real book, because publishing is such a tricky industry, and the day we got an offer was one of the proudest moments of my life.

 

 

 

 

What else can we expect from you in the near future?

 

I’m very excited about my next book. It’s a board book, also being released as a picture book, and it’s called “Awake, Asleep,” illustrated by Nadia Alam. It’s the shortest book I’ve ever written, 126 words, and half of those words are the word “A.” It’s a very simple story about the things that happen in a baby’s day, from waking up to falling asleep, but it is in a very intricate rhyme scheme that I think I invented. The easier a book is to read aloud, the harder it was to write, and this book proved it to me.

 

 

What does your writing space look like? What do you need to have around you while writing or editing?

 

For a long time I thought that I could only write out at a coffee shop or a library or something, because being at home in the quiet felt too isolating. Then Covid hit and I wrote a whole novel sitting at the foot of my bed. Now I feel like I can write anywhere, but I get my best work done in my office, the morning.

 

 

Writers very often have furry or feathered or otherwise non-human companions to “help” them through their work.  Do you? What do you have? How do they “help” (or, “not-help”) with your writing?

 

As I am typing these very words, a 17-year-old black cat named Tux is sitting on my lap. His head is resting on my left hand, which doesn’t seem very comfortable because I am typing, but he’s been curled up here for several minutes. I don’t find it very helpful, but I do find it very cute so it’s hard for me to shove him away when I’m working. Chase, the other cat who lives here, is much more polite and is currently sleeping on the bed (ew, Tux just sneezed on my keyboard. He often has a stuffy nose).

 

 

Do you have any favorite foods or drinks that must be in the vicinity (or must be avoided) while you’re writing or editing a piece of work?

 

I love drinking coffee but I’ve realized that it’s not as good for me as I wish it was, so now I always have a cup of tea while I write (occasionally a seltzer or kombucha or something). I never snack while I write.

 

 

What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned, thus far, in your writing career?

 

I always thought that famous writers were simply a different category of human being than myself. I also thought that if I ever became a successful writer, I would stop feeling insecure or anxious or like everyone was better than me. I discovered, for better or worse, that famous writers are in fact the exact same as every other category of human being, and that a successful writing career wasn’t a magic wand that could make bad feelings go away. Oh well, maybe it’ll happen with the next book!

 

Thanks so much for answering our questions, Kyle. And lots of luck with Gavin!

 

 

 

This week, love seems to be a theme in most of the books we see in our new arrivals. Even though they are not all romances, whether it’s familial love or relationship love most of them deal with affairs of the heart.

 

 

In the fiction books, Maame: A Novel by Jessica George is about a young British Ghanaian woman as she navigates her twenties and finds her place in the world, after being a primary caregiver for father who suffers from advanced stage Parkinson’s.

 

 

River Sing Me Home by Eleanor Shearer tells the story of a mother’s gripping journey across the Caribbean to find her stolen children in the aftermath of slavery.

 

 

Exploring motherhood, marriage, consequences, and our incredible human capacity for hope, The Snow Hare by Paula Lichtarowicz is the story of a woman who dares to love and to dream in the face of impossible odds, and of the peace we each must make with our choices, even long after the years have gone by.

 

 

Now for the actual romances: Recovery Road by Christine Feehan. A broken man finds a woman worth living for in Christine Feehan’s Torpedo Ink motorcycle club series.

 

 

Final Offer by Lauren Asher is the last in a steamy romance series about billionaires building a Disneyland-esque park for adults. It is a second chance romance featuring Callahan Kane and his mysterious ex.

 

 

Colleen Hoover’s Heart Bones: A Novel follows two young adults from completely different backgrounds embarking on a tentative romance, unaware of what the future holds.

 

 

In the case of the thriller, The House at The End of The World by Dean Koontz, there are no romantic themes. In this novel about fears known and unknown, there is an omnipresent terror that could bring about the end of the world.

 

 

In LOVE, PAMELA by Pamela Anderson, Pamela is telling her story, a story of an irrepressible free spirit coming home and discovering herself anew at every turn. With vivid prose interspersed with bursts of original poetry, Love, Pamela is a pensive, layered, and unforgettable memoir.

 

 

As always, thank you for making our shelves your destination.

 

 

 

 

 

 

FICTION:

 

 

WOMEN’S FICTION:

 

MAAME: A NOVEL by Jessica George

 

An unforgettable debut about a young British Ghanaian woman as she navigates her twenties and finds her place in the world, for readers of Queenie and The Other Black Girl.

 

 

Maame (ma-meh) has many meanings in Twi but in my case, it means woman.

 

 

It’s fair to say that Maddie’s life in London is far from rewarding. With a mother who spends most of her time in Ghana (yet still somehow manages to be overbearing), Maddie is the primary caretaker for her father, who suffers from advanced stage Parkinson’s. At work, her boss is a nightmare and Maddie is tired of always being the only Black person in every meeting.

 

 

When her mum returns from her latest trip to Ghana, Maddie leaps at the chance to get out of the family home and finally start living. A self-acknowledged late bloomer, she’s ready to experience some important “firsts”: She finds a flat share, says yes to after-work drinks, pushes for more recognition in her career, and throws herself into the bewildering world of internet dating. But it’s not long before tragedy strikes, forcing Maddie to face the true nature of her unconventional family, and the perils––and rewards––of putting her heart on the line.

 

 

Smart, funny, and deeply affecting, Maame deals with the themes of our time with humor and poignancy: from familial duty and racism, to female pleasure, the complexity of love, and the life-saving power of friendship. Most important, it explores what it feels like to be torn between two homes and cultures—and it celebrates finally being able to find where you belong.

 

 

LITERARY FICTION:

 

RIVER SING ME HOME by Eleanor Shearer

 

Rare. Moving. Powerful. This beautiful, page-turning and redemptive story of a mother’s gripping journey across the Caribbean to find her stolen children in the aftermath of slavery marks the arrival of a remarkable new talent.

 

 

Her search begins with an ending.…

 

 

The master of the Providence plantation in Barbados gathers his slaves and announces the king has decreed an end to slavery. As of the following day, the Emancipation Act of 1834 will come into effect. The cries of joy fall silent when he announces that they are no longer his slaves; they are now his apprentices. No one can leave. They must work for him for another six years. Freedom is just another name for the life they have always lived. So Rachel runs.

 

 

Away from Providence, she begins a desperate search to find her children—the five who survived birth and were sold. Are any of them still alive? Rachel has to know. The grueling, dangerous journey takes her from Barbados then, by river, deep into the forest of British Guiana and finally across the sea to Trinidad. She is driven on by the certainty that a mother cannot be truly free without knowing what has become of her children, even if the answer is more than she can bear. These are the stories of Mary Grace, Micah, Thomas Augustus, Cherry Jane and Mercy. But above all this is the story of Rachel and the extraordinary lengths to which a mother will go to find her children…and her freedom.

 

 

 

HISTORICAL FICTION-WWII:

 

SNOW HARE by Paula Lichtarowicz

 

In this “riveting, heartfelt” novel of love and consequences (Heather Morris, New York Times bestselling author of The Tattooist of Auschwitz), a woman dreams of becoming a doctor until World War II leads her instead into an astonishing love—and a fateful choice.

 

 

 

Is it possible to fall in love at the edge of life?

 

 

Lena has lived a long, quiet life on her farm in Wales, alongside her husband and child. But as her end approaches, buried memories begin to return. Of her childhood in Poland, and her passion for science. Of the early days of her marriage, reluctant wife to an army officer. Of the birth of her daughter, whose arrival changed everything.

 

 

Memories less welcome return, too. Her Polish village, transformed overnight by the Soviets, and the war that doomed her entire family to the frigid work camps of the Siberian tundra. And buried in that blinding snow, amongst the darkness of survival, the most haunting memory of all: that of an extraordinary new love.

 

 

Exploring motherhood, marriage, consequences, and our incredible human capacity for hope, The Snow Hare is the story of a woman who dares to love and to dream in the face of impossible odds, and of the peace we each must make with our choices, even long after the years have gone by.

 

 

 

ROMANCES:

 

 

PARANORMAL ROMANCE:

 

RECOVERY ROAD by Christine Feehan (Paranormal Romance)

 

A broken man finds a woman worth living for in the new novel in #1 New York Times bestselling author Christine Feehan’s Torpedo Ink motorcycle club series.

 

 

Kir “Master” Vasiliev doesn’t care whether he lives or dies. He’s a burnt-out shell with no one and nothing but his club. Whatever Torpedo Ink needs, Master will put himself in harm’s way time after time. If he doesn’t make it back, he’s certain everyone will move on just fine.

 

 

Investment banker Ambrielle Moore knows her own mind, and she’s not willing to settle for anyone. So when a second-rate gangster and his thugs try to coerce her into marriage—and giving up all of her family’s money—she’s having none of it. Until they turn to cold-blooded murder.

 

 

Grieving and enraged, Ambrie is ready to go scorched earth on her captors when Master shows up anticipating a damsel in distress. But Ambrie is nothing like he expected, and everything he never knew he desired….

 

 

FINAL OFFER by Lauren Asher

 

From TikTok sensation Lauren Asher comes the last in a steamy romance series about billionaires building a Disneyland-esque park for adults.

 

A second chance romance featuring Callahan Kane and his mysterious ex.

 

 

 

HEART BONES: A NOVEL by Colleen Hoover

 

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of It Ends with Us and It Starts with Us!

 

 

Moving, passionate, and unforgettable, Colleen Hoover’s novel follows two young adults from completely different backgrounds embarking on a tentative romance, unaware of what the future holds.

 

 

After a childhood filled with poverty and neglect, Beyah Grim finally has her hard-earned ticket out of Kentucky with a full ride to Penn State. But two months before she’s finally free to change her life for the better, an unexpected death leaves her homeless and forced to spend the remainder of her summer in Texas with a father she barely knows.

 

 

Devastated and anxious for the summer to go by quickly, Beyah has no time or patience for Samson, the wealthy, brooding guy next door. Yet, the connection between them is too intense to ignore. But with their upcoming futures sending them to opposite ends of the country, the two decide to maintain only a casual summer fling. Too bad neither has any idea that a rip current is about to drag both their hearts out to sea. 

 

 

 

THRILLERS:

 

 

THE HOUSE AT THE END OF THE WORLD by Dean Koontz

 

Soon no one on Earth will have a place to hide in this novel about fears known and unknown by #1 New York Times bestselling master of suspense Dean Koontz.

 

 

In retreat from a devastating loss and crushing injustice, Katie lives alone in a fortresslike stone house on Jacob’s Ladder island. Once a rising star in the art world, she finds refuge in her painting.

 

 

The neighboring island of Ringrock houses a secret: a government research facility. And now two agents have arrived on Jacob’s Ladder in search of someone—or something—they refuse to identify. Although an air of menace hangs over these men, an infinitely greater threat has arrived, one so strange even the island animals are in a state of high alarm.

 

 

Katie soon finds herself in an epic and terrifying battle with a mysterious enemy. But Katie’s not alone after all: a brave young girl appears out of the violent squall. As Katie and her companion struggle across a dark and eerie landscape, against them is an omnipresent terror that could bring about the end of the world.

 

 

 

NON-FICTION:

 

 

MEMOIR:

 

LOVE, PAMELA by Pamela Anderson (Movies & TV Memoir)

 

TO LIVE

 

AND DREAM

 

IS A WICKED DANCE.

 

MY DREAMS OFTEN COME TRUE—

 

A CURSE,

 

AND A BLESSING.

 

 

PAMELA ANDERSON’s blond bombshell image was ubiquitous in the 1990s. Discovered in the stands during a Canadian football game, she was quickly launched into superstardom, becoming Playboy’s favorite cover girl and an emblem of Hollywood glamour and sex appeal. Yet the Pamela Anderson we think we know was created through happenstance rather than careful cultivation. Love, Pamela brings forth her true story: that of a small-town girl getting tangled up in her own dream.

 

 

Growing up on Vancouver Island, the daughter of young, wild, and unwittingly stylish parents, Pamela lived a hardscrabble childhood but developed a deep love for nature, populating her world with misfits, apparitional friends, and injured animals. Eventually overcoming her natural shyness, Pamela’s restless imagination propelled her into a life few can dream of, from the beaches of Malibu to the coveted scene at the Playboy Mansion. As her star rose, she found herself a fixture of tabloid fodder, at the height of an era when paparazzi tactics were bent on destroying a person’s image and self-esteem.

 

 

Pamela forged ahead with grace, finding sanctuary in her love of art and literature, and emerged a devoted mother and activist. Now, having returned to the island of her childhood, after a memorable run starring as Roxie in Chicago on Broadway, Pamela is telling her story, a story of an irrepressible free spirit coming home and discovering herself anew at every turn. With vivid prose interspersed with bursts of original poetry, Love, Pamela is a pensive, layered, and unforgettable memoir.

 

 

It’s the end of January at our little store that’s bigger on the inside, and we welcome you to our Monday Updates blog!

 

 

 

 

While we wait for the Caldicott medals to be awarded today, January 30, 2023, I thought I would post some of the children’s books that I would like to make it to the winner’s list. I know that some of the favored books are:

 

Knight Owl by Christopher Denise (One of my absolute favorites), Blue by Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond, illustrated by Daniel Minter, and Action! by Meghan McCarthy (wonderful artwork!)

 

The books I also like are:

 

Pigeon & Cat by Edward Hemingway, Gib*ber*Ish by Young Vo, A History of Me by Adrea Theodore illustrated by Erin Robinson, The Circles in the Sky by Karl James Mountford, Where Butterflies Fill the Sky by Zahra Marwan and Out of a Jar by Deborah Marcero.

 

 

 

 

 


 

We have just re-opened our coffee stand after 3 years of trying to avoid COVID issues, which has basically been working pretty well. Come in and get out of the cold, have a cup of coffee on us, and peruse the store for your favorite reading material, whether it be new or old books, graphic novels, or even gift items, we have a lot of merchandise to see.

 

 

 

 


 

 

If you’d like to buy a snack to go with the coffee, we now have boxes (and boxes!) of Airheads, fruit flavored candy bars. Try it, you’ll like it!

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

Some of the special books we have just put out on our shelves are SPARE by Prince Harry, Heart Bones, the latest book by Colleen Hoover, and The Shards, a new novel by Bret Easton Ellis, the author of American Psycho. We also have To Boldly Go, How Nichelle Nichols and Star Trek Helped Advance Civil Rights by Angela Dalton and Lauren Semmer.

 

 

 

 

As always, thanks for making our shelves your destination.

 

– Patty and the staff at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester

 

 

 

 

.C. Eaton is actually the pen name for a married couple, Ann I. Goldfarb and James E. Clapp, who write Cozy Mysteries. Ann gives a wonderful explanation of cozies, as they are called, in this interview. She also talks about their books, including their Wine Trail mystery series, and the Sofie Kimball mystery series, which their latest book, RAILROADED 4 MURDER is a part of.  This video was originally published on June 21, 2021.

 

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is very happy to shine our Friday spotlight on children’s picture book author Kristy Kielbasinski. Kristy is a Boston based stand-up comedian and author. She draws inspiration from her life as a stay-at-home mom and housewife. Her children’s book “I Don’t Know” blends her comedy and love of reading. When Kristy is not making jokes, she can be found at the bus stop telling her kids to tie their shoes.

 


My first question to you Kristy is, where can people find your work? (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester–though they should totally check here first!)

 

 

You can find my work on Amazon, Tatnuck bookseller, Escape into Fiction, and on my website
wwww.kristykielbasinski.com

 

 

 

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

 

 

You can find my comedy and book on my website: http://www.kristykielbasinski.com
Facebook, Instagram, etc.

 

 

 

What was the inspiration for I Don’t Know? What were the steps you took to bring it from
initial inspiration to the finished book?

 

 

One of the greatest joys I receive as a mother is hearing my children’s laughter. This book was
inspired by all the times I would ask my own kids questions when they were very little and they
would respond with “I don’t know”. Those conversations would always lead me to create silly
tales to see if I could possibly guess the answer.

 

 

In this book you follow two penguins on the search for a little penguin’s favorite book.
Every time the adult asks ‘what’s your favorite book’ the child responds as most children do with
‘I don’t know’. During the quest to find the child’s favorite book you hear silly rhymes that first
conjure images of classic stories and then ones that are made up to make kids laugh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What was the biggest challenge in writing and putting out I Don’t Know? How did you
overcome that challenge?

 

 

I imagine with any picture book, one of the biggest challenges is working with an illustrator and
making sure that your thought as the author is accurately brought to life. Luckily for me I was
able to work with Jay Gaudette, Worcester artist and queen of drag. Jay and I had worked
together in the arts prior to the book and clicked immediately. The artwork Jay created for this
story not only met my expectations but brought the characters to life in a way I couldn’t have
even imagined.

 

 

 

What do you consider the most challenging part of the writing process? And how do you
overcome that?

 

 

As a stand-up comedian and author the hardest part about writing for me is making sure other
people find your work funny. This book is meant for young children and is intended for them to
laugh and maybe find some new books along the way.

 

 

The hardest part of writing for young children is to remember your audience. What a 4 year old
finds funny is obviously not the same as what a 20 year old or 50 year old would find funny.

 

 

I read this book numerous times throughout the process of writing to young kids to see if the
jokes hit the mark. Some jokes were changed, others eliminated if kids did not laugh when they
heard the rhyme.

 

 

 

What is/are your passions when you’re not writing? How do you make time for your non-writing
hobbies/things you love?

 

 

My favorite hobby is playing board games with my children. I enjoy the conversation that takes
place during a game that you don’t get at other times.

 

 

 

Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, Kristy, and good luck with I Don’t Know!

 

 

 

 

This week, memoirs take center stage in New Arrivals at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester with STRAIGHT SHOOTER: A MEMOIR OF SECOND CHANCES AND FIRST TAKES by Stephen A. Smith, a popular sports media figure who rose from being a poor son of Caribbean immigrants having an obsession with sports to having a role on a network TV’s flagship morning sports program.

 

BLACK FOUNDER: THE HIDDEN POWER OF BEING AN OUTSIDER by Stacy Spikes is a memoir about the Black founder of MoviePass. In this book he reveals the tools he’s used to persevere in the face of adversity, defy stereotypes, and shatter glass ceilings.

 

CALL ME ANNE by Anne Heche is the sequel to Heche’s first book, Call Me Crazy. It is a memoir consisting of personal anecdotes of her rise to fame.

 

Fiction is next on the list with THE MITFORD AFFAIR by Marie Benedict. This is a WWII historical fiction book about a woman who has to make a very tough decision – whether to choose family over country.

 

The next fiction book is REALLY GOOD, ACTUALLY by Monica Heisey, a family life fiction book that hilariously and painfully delves into the life of a 28 year old woman’s journey to find joy after a divorce.

 

The token mystery this week is CARAMEL PECAN ROLL MURDER: A DELICIOUS CULINARY COZY MYSTERY by Joanne Fluke. Cozy mysteries always have a bit of humor and lighthearted fun associated with them, and this one has exactly that, with lots of cookie recipes built into it.

 

The last genre today is the thriller/suspense genre.  In this category, we have THE DEVIL’S RANSOM: A PIKE LOGAN NOVEL by Brad Taylor. In the latest explosive thriller from New York Times bestselling author and former special forces officer Brad Taylor, Pike Logan races to stop an insidious attack orchestrated by a man who knows America’s most treasured secrets. This could be taken from today’s headlines! The last book (and the second thriller) is THE SHARDS: A NOVEL by Bret Easton Ellis. Bret Easton Ellis’s masterful new novel is a story about the end of innocence, and the perilous passage from adolescence into adulthood, set in a vibrantly fictionalized Los Angeles in 1981 as a serial killer begins targeting teenagers throughout the city.

 

As always, thank you for making our shelves your destination.

 

 

 

 

 

NON-FICTION:

 

 

MEMOIRS/BIOGRAPHIES:

 

STRAIGHT SHOOTER: A MEMOIR OF SECOND CHANCES AND FIRST TAKES by Stephen A. Smith

 

America’s most popular sports media figure tells it like it is in this surprisingly personal book, not only dishing out his signature, uninhibited opinions but also revealing the challenges he overcame in childhood as well as at ESPN, and who he really is when the cameras are off.

 

Stephen A. Smith has never been handed anything, nor was he an overnight success. Growing up poor in Queens, the son of Caribbean immigrants and the youngest of six children, he was a sports-obsessed kid who faced a number of struggles, from undiagnosed dyslexia to getting enough cereal to fill his bowl. As a basketball player at Winston-Salem State University, he got a glimmer of his true calling when he wrote a newspaper column arguing for the retirement of his own Hall of Fame coach, Clarence Gaines.

 

Smith hustled and rose up from a high school reporter at Daily News (New York) to a general sports columnist at The Philadelphia Inquirer in the 1990s, before getting his own show at ESPN in 2005. After he was unceremoniously fired from the network in 2009, he became even more determined to fight for success. He got himself rehired two years later and, with his razor-sharp intelligence and fearless debate style, found his role on the show he was destined to star in: First Take, the network’s flagship morning program.

 

In Straight Shooter, Smith writes about the greatest highs and deepest lows of his life and career. He gives his thoughts on Skip Bayless, Ray Rice, Colin Kaepernick, the New York Knicks, the Dallas Cowboys, and former President Donald Trump. But he also pulls back the curtain and talks about life beyond the set, sharing authentic stories about his negligent father, his loving mother, being a father himself, his battle with life-threatening COVID-19, and what he really thinks about politics and social issues. He does it all with the same intelligence, humor, and charm that has made him a household name.

 

Provocative, moving, and eye-opening, this book is the perfect gift for lovers of sports, television, and anyone who likes their stories delivered straight to the heart.

 

 

 

BLACK FOUNDER: THE HIDDEN POWER OF BEING AN OUTSIDER by Stacy Spikes 

 

At the intersection of power, technology, and race, Stacy Spikes, award-winning entrepreneur and founder of MoviePass, reveals the tools he’s used to persevere in the face of adversity, defy stereotypes, and shatter glass ceilings. BLACK FOUNDER is both an empowering memoir of a trailblazing business leader and an unflinching look at what it means to be Black and ambitious in the upper echelons of record labels, movie studios and tech startups – with practical steps on how to overcome prejudice and build your own success.

 

From the award-winning entrepreneur USA Today named one of the 21 most influential Blacks in technology comes an empowering, bracingly honest, entertaining blueprint for success in life and work—including the true story of what really happened to MoviePass, the nation’s groundbreaking first-ever theatrical subscription service—straight from the co-founder and former CEO himself.

 

Stacy Spikes knows what’s it like to be an outsider. He certainly knew he didn’t fit the mold of a successful future tech entrepreneur. But he marshaled his resilience and ultimately set out to shatter that mold—along with the glass ceiling that came with it. Finding his footing in the tech world was an education in the complexities of being an outsider—but as Stacy came to see, rather than a hindrance, it afforded him a unique position of power.

 

Beginning as a film studio gopher, Spikes quickly rose through the industry ranks, being named one of the Hollywood Reporter’s 30 Under 30. Still, he was an outsider looking in. So he set out to make his own dreams a reality. Defying expectations, Spikes effectively disrupted the status quo and reinvented himself from junior executive to CEO Tech Founder. What ensued was an escalating adventure with bigger stages, bigger risks, and a roller-coaster ride of exhilarating ascent—unpredictable collapse—and a story book return.

 

Now Spikes shares his challenges, pitfalls, and keys to personal and professional fulfillment. He shows how the seemingly impossible can be overcome by having faith in oneself and creating from a place of confidence. Taking readers inside the battles of the boardroom and beyond, Black Founder is a business memoir that will inspire every outsider who has a dream.

 

 

CALL ME ANNE by Anne Heche 

 

This memoir by Anne Heche is as personal as it gets, offering a peek inside the mind of the late Emmy-award winning actress, director and author of the New York Times bestseller Call Me Crazy.

 

Call Me Anne is the sequel to Heche’s first book, Call Me Crazy. It is a memoir consisting of personal anecdotes of her rise to fame: how Harrison Ford became her on-set mentor, her relationship with Ellen Degeneres, her encounter with Harvey Weinstein, her history of childhood sexual abuse, her relationship with God, her journey to love herself, and more. Part memoir and part self-acceptance workbook, Anne’s personal stories are interwoven with poems, prompts, and exercises that got Anne through tough times. Readers are encouraged to try them as they navigate their own journey to self-love, acceptance, forgiveness, and faith.

 

 

 

FICTION:

 

 

HISTORICAL FICTION:

 

THE MITFORD AFFAIR by Marie Benedict

 

From New York Times bestselling author Marie Benedict—an explosive novel of history’s most notorious sisters, one of whom will have to choose: her country or her sisters?

 

Between the World Wars, the six Mitford sisters—each more beautiful, brilliant, and eccentric than the next—dominate the English scenes. Though they’ve weathered scandals before, the family falls into disarray when Diana divorces her wealthy husband to marry a fascist leader and Unity follows her sister’s lead all the way to Munich, inciting rumors that she’s become Hitler’s mistress.

 

As the Nazis rise in power, novelist Nancy Mitford grows suspicious of her sisters’ constant visits to Germany and the high-ranking fascist company they keep. When she overhears alarming conversations and uncovers disquieting documents, Nancy must make excruciating choices as Great Britain goes to war with Germany.

 

Probing the torrid political climate in the lead-up to WWII and the ways that seemingly sensible people can be sucked into radical action, The Mitford Affair follows Nancy’s valiant efforts to stop the Nazis from taking over Great Britain, choosing between loyalty to her country and allegiance to her family, and forcing her to learn exactly how personal is the political.

 

 

FAMILY LIFE FICTION:

 

REALLY GOOD, ACTUALLY by Monica Heisey 

 

A hilarious and painfully relatable debut novel about one young woman’s messy journey to find joy in the wake of a devastating breakup, from comedian, essayist, and award-winning screenwriter Monica Heisey.

 

Maggie is fine. She’s doing really good, actually. Sure, she’s broke, her graduate thesis on something obscure is going nowhere, and her marriage only lasted 608 days (not that she’s counting) . . . but at the ripe old age of twenty-nine, Maggie is determined to embrace her new life as a Surprisingly Young Divorcée™.

 

Now she has time to take up nine hobbies, eat hamburgers at 4 am, and “get back out there” sex-wise. With the support of her tough-loving academic advisor, Merris; her newly divorced friend, Amy; and her group chat (naturally), Maggie barrels through her first year of singledom, intermittently dating, and asking tough questions along the way.

 

Laugh-out-loud funny and filled with sharp observations, Really Good, Actually is a surprisingly tender and bittersweet anti-romantic comedy that lays bare the uncertainties of modern love and friendship and that thing we like to call “happiness”—and marks the debut of an unforgettable new voice.

 

 

 

MYSTERIES:

 

CARAMEL PECAN ROLL MURDER: A DELICIOUS CULINARY COZY MYSTERY by Joanne Fluke

 

Packed with recipes and now in paperback, in this scrumptious culinary mystery from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Joanne Fluke, Minnesota’s favorite professional baker and amateur sleuth, Hannah Swensen, is tempted by a high-profile tournament that quickly turns deadly . . 

 

Embracing a sweet escape from her usual routine at The Cookie Jar, Hannah gets asked for her help in baking pastries at the local inn for a flashy fishing competition with big prizes and even bigger names. But the fun stops when she spots a runway boat on the water and, on board, the lifeless body of the event’s renowned celebrity spokesperson…

 

Famed TV show host Sonny Bowman wasn’t humble about his ability to reel in winning catches, and no one knew that better than his tragically overworked sidekick, Joey. Did Joey finally take bloody revenge on his pompous boss—or was Sonny killed by a jealous contestant?

 

With goodies to bake and a mess of fresh challenges mixed into her personal life, it’s either sink or swim as Hannah joins forces with her sister, Andrea, to catch a clever culprit before another unsuspecting victim goes belly up…

 

Features Over a Dozen Cookie and Dessert Recipes from The Cookie Jar!

 

 

THRILLERS:

 

THE DEVIL’S RANSOM: A PIKE LOGAN NOVEL by Brad Taylor

 

In the latest explosive thriller from New York Times bestselling author and former special forces officer Brad Taylor, Pike Logan races to stop an insidious attack orchestrated by a man who knows America’s most treasured secrets.

 

Conducting a routine cover development trip to Tajikistan, Pike and Jennifer learn that Afghanistan has fallen, and there’s a man on the run. One that has done more for the United States in Afghanistan than anyone else. Pulled in to extract him, Pike collides headlong into a broader mystery: His covert company, along with every other entity in the Taskforce, has been hit with a ransomware attack, and there’s some connection between the Taliban and the hack. Given the order to track down the perpetrators, he has no idea that the problem set is much, much larger and more dangerous than a simple attack on his organization. That hack was just a test-run, and the real one is coming soon, engendered by a former NSA specialist in the U.S. government.

 

A man who wants to return to the bipolar world of the Cold War, the turncoat has cloaked his attack behind hackers from Serbia and Russia, and if successful, his target will alter the balance of power on the global stage. So far, the specialist has remained one step ahead of the Taskforce, but he has just made one massive mistake: hitting Pike Logan.

 

 

THE SHARDS: A NOVEL by Bret Easton Ellis 

 

A novel of sensational literary and psychological suspense from the best-selling author of Less Than Zero and American Psycho that tracks a group of privileged high school friends in a vibrantly fictionalized 1980s Los Angeles as a serial killer strikes across the city

 

Bret Easton Ellis’s masterful new novel is a story about the end of innocence, and the perilous passage from adolescence into adulthood, set in a vibrantly fictionalized Los Angeles in 1981 as a serial killer begins targeting teenagers throughout the city.

 

Seventeen-year-old Bret is a senior at the exclusive Buckley prep school when a new student arrives with a mysterious past. Robert Mallory is bright, handsome, charismatic, and shielding a secret from Bret and his friends even as he becomes a part of their tightly knit circle. Bret’s obsession with Mallory is equaled only by his increasingly unsettling preoccupation with the Trawler, a serial killer on the loose who seems to be drawing ever closer to Bret and his friends, taunting them—and Bret in particular—with grotesque threats and horrific, sharply local acts of violence. The coincidences are uncanny, but they are also filtered through the imagination of a teenager whose gifts for constructing narrative from the filaments of his own life are about to make him one of the most explosive literary sensations of his generation. Can he trust his friends—or his own mind—to make sense of the danger they appear to be in? Thwarted by the world and by his own innate desires, buffeted by unhealthy fixations, he spirals into paranoia and isolation as the relationship between the Trawler and Robert Mallory hurtles inexorably toward a collision.

 

Set against the intensely vivid and nostalgic backdrop of pre-Less Than Zero L.A., The Shards is a mesmerizing fusing of fact and fiction, the real and the imagined, that brilliantly explores the emotional fabric of Bret’s life at seventeen—sex and jealousy, obsession and murderous rage. Gripping, sly, suspenseful, deeply haunting, and often darkly funny, The Shards is Ellis at his inimitable best.

 

 

 

 

 

Hello, everyone. It’s finally Winter! Well, it was white, at least here at the little store that’s bigger on the inside. For how long, nobody knows.

 

 

Image by Freepix

 

 

I hope everyone had a nice Lunar New Year, aka the Chinese New Year. In last week’s update I mistakenly said that it was the Year of the Rat. 2023 is actually the year of the Rabbit! I apologize to all of you Rabbits out there. Years of the Rabbit include 2023, 2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963, 1951, 1939, 1927…

 

 

Image by Freepix

 

 

Have you looked at some of our blogs recently? We have enlisted many authors to answer questions for us in our Author Spotlights. Recent authors to join our growing list of those in the spotlight include music history author Rik Forgo, speculative fiction author Joelle Presby, children’s picture book author and illustrator Alex Willan, romance author Jennifer Greene, middle grade and young adult author Shannon Messenger, local literary fiction author Laura Zigman, science fiction and fantasy author Rebecca Roanhorse, and local romance author Stella Stevenson. 

 

 

 

 

Valentine’s Day is coming soon, and Annie’s will have a number of Valentine’s Day books up on the shelves shortly. We’ll keep you posted!

 

 

As always, thanks for making our shelves your destination

 

 

 

 

 

Grace Lin is a Massachusetts children’s book author who has written for most age groups, including new board books for babies, and novels for middle grades, including a new Mulan prequel, BEFORE THE SWORD, which she talks about in this interview. This was originally published on June 18, 2021.

 

 

 

 

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is very happy to shine our Friday spotlight on debut romance author Stella Stevenson. Stella is a mom of two toddlers living in central Massachusetts. She’s been writing stories since she was 4, but recently returned to story-crafting when her oldest started preschool. She majored in psychology and creative writing in college before teaching in early education for several years. She left the classroom to stay home with her kids.

 

My first question to you Stella, is where can people find your work? (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester–though they should totally check here first!)

 

My book(s) are available in print at any online retailer. The ebook is on Amazon. I also have copies available at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester and am hoping to do some local fairs and festivals in the coming year.

 

 

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

 

I’m on social media. My biggest and most updated accounts are TikTok and Instagram. Both are under the handle @stellastevensonwrites. I have an additional TikTok account where I share book teasers, @booksbystellastevenson. I can also be found on facebook and at my website http://www.authorstellastevenson.com

 

 

For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write?  What can readers expect from The Trope?

 

I try to write real and relatable stories with happy endings. I want my books to be an escape for readers, one where they find themselves in the pages. I affectionately call my genre “spicy brain candy.” It’s meant to be consumed in a sitting or two, and leave you feeling warm and fuzzy while still talking about real issues and topics we all face in our daily lives. My debut novel features a main character with generalized anxiety and panic disorder, but the book isn’t about how she overcomes that worry. It’s just a facet of who she is as she tries to write and publish her first book. My second book has a plus-size heroine and focuses more on family relationships after the mother of her ex drives them apart.

 

 

What kind of research went into writing this book?  What is your favorite research story? What cool facts and findings didn’t make it into the book, but you loved discovering?

 

I have diagnosed anxiety so a lot of the bits and pieces of Maggie’s worry comes from my own experiences, but I’m not a blacksmith. It was so much fun researching smithing techniques and styles to write Mac. I talked to several specialists, read a lot of non-fiction books and articles, and binge-watched “Forged in Fire” to help get all the details right. For one of my works-in-progress I’ve been researching rodeos, specifically saddle-bronc riding. I never knew how much went into each 8 second ride. It isn’t just about staying on (like I always thought). I’ve spent a lot of time around horses but this piece was totally new and different for me. I love doing research, even if my search history looks a bit deranged.

 

 

What was the inspiration for The Trope? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?

 

The idea for The Trope was really brought on by joining the book community on social media. There were so many discussions around common tropes and it was clear that people love or hate them because we all know how they’re going to end. That’s part of the beauty of romance as a genre (which is incidentally great for my anxiety). There will always be a happy ending. I kept seeing lists of what people liked and didn’t like, what they wanted to see more of, and thought “what if someone tried to use these as a blue-print for their actual life?” “What if it was a writer trying to use it as a form of research?” “What if the catch was that real life isn’t a romance novel?” The story formed from there and really blossomed.

 

 

What was the biggest challenge in writing and putting out The Trope?  How did you overcome that challenge?

 

I think the biggest challenge is knowing what to do. I love the writing/editing/revising process (I know not everyone does). The beauty of self-publishing is that I can tell my story the way I want to, and I get to keep complete creative control. The downside, is that I have to do everything. Cover design, marketing, print logistics, formatting, etc. I can hire outside help, but that still means choosing someone that I trust and giving them direction. There is a wonderfully supportive indie author community, but there are no “right” answers in publishing. What works for one person might not work for everyone. It was a lot of trial and error and a lot of research.

 

 

What character did you love or hate the most while writing? And why?

 

I don’t think I hated any of my characters while writing. My stories don’t have traditional villains so everyone has strengths and weaknesses. My favorite character to write was probably Audrey. She’s Maggie’s best friend and Dean’s sister. She is fiercely protective and torn about how to keep the secrets she needs to while still supporting her loved ones in their decisions, but she has no problem telling them when they’re being idiots. If I had to pick someone that frustrated me the most, it would probably be my main character, Maggie. She had such tunnel vision on what she thought would work that she was missing all the obvious clues around her. Sometimes she frustrated even me, but it was who she was and it was important to let her character build and figure things out for herself. I think it’s easy as a reader to think we’d do things a certain way, and I wanted Maggie to be a realistic portrait of someone who really just missed the clues. Something we are all capable of.

 

 

 

 

What draws you to the particular genre or style that you write? What do you think draws readers to these kinds of books?

 

I touched on this above, but I’m drawn almost exclusively to romance novels (although I’ll read any sub genre within that). I love knowing exactly what I’m walking in to: a happy ending. For me a good romance novel is about the characters. They need to draw you in and make you feel something. I love figuring out who my own characters are. Most of my story ideas start with the people and an important scene. Then its about discovering what they can give each other, how they can grow together.

 

 

What is your favorite part of being a writer?  Of the whole writing and publishing process?  What do you think has been your greatest lesson in the journey thus far?

 

I love crafting the stories and I love hearing from readers, but honestly so far I’ve enjoyed all the pieces. Probably because it’s still new. The best lesson I’ve learned is that you need to be flexible. No matter how well you plan your publishing timeline, or plot out your draft, things can and do change in an instant. Characters take on lives of their own, shipping delays can happen to the best of us.

 

 

What piece of advice would you want to share with other writers?

 

Write the first draft. You can fix anything on the paper, but you can’t fix nothing.

 

 

What question do you wish interviewers would ask you, and what would the answer be?

 

“What is the best way to support authors” I think a lot of people know that purchasing books is helpful, obviously, but rating/reviewing/sharing the names of authors and books that you love is even more important.  

 

 

What else can we expect from you in the near future?

 

My second book releases at the end of February. Its about a plus-size woman who is hired to be a contestant on a dating show without knowing that her ex is the lead. I currently have two more books that I plan on releasing this coming year, and maybe a holiday novella.

 

 

While you’re writing, do you prefer music, silence, other? Please elaborate!

 

I don’t do well in full silence. I usually have the television on in the background while I work. Often playing shows i’ve already seen. Recently i’ve been “re-watching Schitt’s Creek” while I write. If I find myself getting too distracted then I’ll switch to music. Sometimes there’s specific genres I prefer, and other times I’ll put on the current top-hits and wait for inspiration from the music. I’d love to make a playlist for one of my novels someday. I’m not quite there yet, though.

 

 

Writers very often have furry or feathered or otherwise non-human companions to “help” them through their work.  Do you? What do you have? How do they “help” (or, “not-help”) with your writing?

 

I do have a furry companion when I write. We have a mostly black cat named Stella (you can guess the connection there). She’s about ten, and a grump with almost everyone. She definitely never signed on to have a toddler in the house, let alone two. She spends almost every writing session with me, curled up next to my legs or on my lap. Sometimes I bounce ideas off of her, but she’s not really helpful that way. She green-lights almost everything I say.

 

 

What do you consider the most challenging part of the writing process? And how do you overcome that?

 

Imposter Syndrome is the most challenging. The absolute terror that you’re a fraud and nothing you’ve written is of any value. Or that no one will like it. Every writer struggles with this, but I definitely find myself triggered and spiraling thanks to my anxiety. No sales in a few days? Spiral. Low page reads? Spiral. No reviews in a while? Spiral. It’s helpful to have a supportive community of authors to talk you down. And I don’t read reviews. Ever. My husband keeps an eye on them and reports anything I might need to know.

 

 

Are there any groups, clubs, or organizations that you would recommend to other writers that have helped you in your career?

 

I’ve found the most support in the author community on social media. Someone is always available to offer advice, commiserate, celebrate the small things. Friends are helpful, but you need people in the same trenches. Even if its to talk about the importance of QR codes. I don’t yet have a group in person, although I’m working on that. I think Covid through a lot of in-person meetings out of whack. Social Media is a good one though since someone is always available. Especially when your friends live all over the world.

 

 

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer all of these questions, Stella, and good luck with the Trope.

 

 

 

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