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 The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne M. Valente; Annie Wu (Illustrator) Told in vignettes from the perspectives of women who loved a superhero (and lost their lives because of it), The Refrigerator Monologues, written by Catherynne M. Valente and illustrated by Annie Wu, brings to light the sexism and injustice often portrayed in comic book culture. Many of the stories are clear homages to popular characters, finally giving them a voice previously stifled by their abruptly ended story lines. The voices were all so unique and stunning, you can barely tell they're written by the same author.

The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne M. Valente; Annie Wu (Illustrator) ($19.99*, recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

Treat yourself to a riveting and real life royal war time thriller! 

Was American born and twice divorced Wallis Simpson truly in love and trying to win the heart of King Edward VIII, who was then demoted to a mere Duke as penance for loving her in return?

Author Andrew Morton provides sizzling and shocking details to provide some compelling answers to this key question, while raising many other questions along the way.

17 Carnations: The Royals, the Nazis, and the Biggest Cover-Up in History by Andrew Morton (Grand Central Publishing) Recommended by Diane at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

A vivid and compelling insight into the family life of one of the most brilliant and revered comics of the last half century.

On a purely narrative level, Kelly Carlin's book is wholly engrossing; as a companion to her father's body of work, it's indispensable.

A Carlin Home Companion: Growing Up with George by Kelly Carlin (St. Martin's Press) Recommended by Ike at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

Revisit a classic! A hilarious comedy tinged with a bit of tragic melancholy, this Pulitzer Prize winner is defined by its protagonist, the ever deluded Ignatius J. Reilly, whose complaints about his malfunctioning pyloric valve never cease to amuse. Ignatius may dominate the novel, but he would be nothing without New Orleans, his home and the novel’s playground. Though loosely structured, Ignatius’ ridiculous narrative adventures in the Crescent City never bore. A picaresque if there ever was one.

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (Grove Press, $16.00), recommended by Peter at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

A Deadly WanderingI know we're all tired of hearing phrases like that about books, but I really believe this book can change lives and save lives. Matt Richtell has written an investigative book on the use of cell phones while driving. It is as compelling as it is damning.  

A Deadly Wandering shows that there is now enough scientific evidence to support that driving while texting and talking on the phone (even speaker phone) can be as deadly or even more deadly than driving drunk. I have personally almost been hit several times while walking by a texter or phone user. You probably have too. This book proves that no one can both drive and use their phone at the same time and not be a danger to others and themselves.

We can move the needle on this one, my friends.

Please read it.

Because, really: what a stupid way to die.

A Deadly Wandering by Matt Richtel ($28.99, William Morrow & Co.), recommended by Kelly, Fountain Bookstore, Richmond VA.

I haven't had this much fun reading a book in a long time! In A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, Count Alexander Rostov, one of the great characters in modern fiction, reads like he leaped off the pages of a Tolstoy novel and landed in 1922, where he is placed under house arrest in Moscow's grand Metropol Hotel. The Count is elegant, sophisticated, erudite without being stuffy, wickedly funny, and in love with life. Towles takes you through 32 years of Russian history with a wonderful cast of characters, and a delightfully suspenseful plot. After 480 pages you will still mourn when you reach the end. Even better than his delightful debut, Rules of Civility.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (Viking $27), recommended by Sarah at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

In this companion novel to Atkinson's bestseller Life After Life she tells the story of Ursula's brother Teddy, the favorite of his mother, his sisters - and, I have to believe, most readers.

Teddy's story is no less moving than Ursula's, skipping backward and forward in time from his dotage to his childhood and times in-between. The heart of the story is WWII and Teddy's years as an RAF pilot, making forays deep into German territory, an experience that will color the rest of his long life.

A wonderful novel that totally immerses you in a different world and at the same time makes you question many things about your own world.

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson (Little, Brown and Company) Recommended by Sarah at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

A Hundred Thousand Worlds by Bob ProehlFrom the publisher: "Valerie Torrey took her son, Alex, and fled Los Angeles six years ago--leaving both her role on a cult sci-fi TV show and her costar husband after a tragedy blew their small family apart. Now Val must reunite nine-year-old Alex with his estranged father, so they set out on a road trip from New York, Val making appearances at comic book conventions along the way.

As they travel west, encountering superheroes, monsters, time travelers, and robots, Val and Alex are drawn into the orbit of the comic-con regulars. For Alex, this world is a magical place where fiction becomes reality, but as they get closer to their destination, he begins to realize that the story his mother is telling him about their journey might have a very different ending than he imagined.

A knowing and affectionate portrait of the pleasures and perils of fandom, A Hundred Thousand Worlds is also a tribute to the fierce and complicated love between a mother and son--and to the way the stories we create come to shape us.”

A Hundred Thousand Worlds by Bob Proehl ($16.00. Penguin Books), recommended by Writer’s Block Bookstore, Winter Park, FL.

In this utterly delightful debut by Swedish author Backman we meet a grumpy, opinionated curmudgeon who thinks he has nothing left to live for after the loss of his wife and his job.

His attempts to end his misery are continually thwarted by the annoying new neighbors who drag him begrudgingly back to his life and into theirs. This bittersweet tale might well make you cry, will definitely make you laugh, and may even make you want to drive a Saab for the rest of your life.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman ($26, Atria Books), recommended by Tony at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.

A Plague on All Our Houses examines the AIDS epidemic and the doctors behind the discovery of its cause and the tangled motivations of the search.  Readers delve into knowledge about how academia works, and whether the work is for ego or for helping the sick. The book also details how Hollywood and the government would not acknowledge what was happening as the crisis developed.

A Plague on All Our Houses by Bruce J. Hillman (Foreedge, $29.95), recommended by Suzanne at Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, NC.

Irving is one of my favorite authors, and this is, what I consider, his masterpiece. A fascinating tale of one of the most unique characters I have ever read. The ultimate story of faith, redemption, love and friendship. It is funny, heart-breaking, and unforgettable.

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving (HarperTorch, $7.99), recommended by Margaret at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

Written in 1912 the novel is considered a classic example of 20th century pulp fiction.  This was a book club pick and I wasn't sure if I'd like it; but I did, so much that I plan to read the entire series.

Let the adventures begin, as Captain John Carter finds himself transported to the alien landscape of Mars--where the low gravity increases his speed and strength exponentially. Taken prisoner by Martian warriors, he impresses them with his remarkable fighting skills, and quickly rises to a high-ranking chieftain.

But the heroic Carter's powers thrust him right in the middle of a deadly war raging across the planet--and a dangerous romance with a divine princess.

A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs (Fall River) Recommended by Cynthia at Book Swap of Carrollwood Tampa FL

Want a laugh-out-loud book about depression? A feel-good book about LSD? An engaging look at chemistry, history, and law? Look no further. Waldman is difficult and she knows it. She’s trying to get better. We root for her every step of the way.

A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life By Ayelet Waldman ($24.95, Knopf Publishing Group), recommended by Ann, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

Georgiana is a disgrace to her family. 

She does not act properly in social settings. Her physical appearance is unbecoming to those around her. And her aptitude for science and experimentation has caused more than a little ruckus among her family and neighbors.

When one of Georgiana’s more bold experiments leads to a near fatal fire, her family decided to be rid of her in the only way available to them. They send her to the Stranje House, a school for unruly girls. When they first arrive to the school, Georgiana is horrified by the sights that she witnesses…young ladies strapped to medieval racks or suffering inside an iron maiden. Yet, her family is more than happy to leave her with the head mistress Miss Stranje.

However, the school might not be all that it seems. Soon Georgiana will find secret passageways, long-forgotten smuggler’s coves, unusual curriculum, and unexpected allies. Georgiana will discover her real purpose at this school is to create an invisible ink that will save many lives across Europe.

Yet, if she fails, the cost many be more than she could ever imagine.

Danger lurks in every corner, often from Georgiana herself. Will she be able to find the perfect mixture for the invisible ink, or will her failure create a disaster that will lead to the fall of Europe. Only time will tell. A thrilling tale that will keep you on your toes, and leave you yearning for more!

Fans of The Jane Austen Mysteries, The Agency series, and Wrapped will love A School for Unusual Girls!

A School for Unusual Girls ...A Stranje House Novel by Kathleen BaldwinGretchen (Tor Books) Recommended by Melissa at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

When manager Sarah asked me if I wanted to read Fred Chappell's A Shadow All of Light, I asked her, "Fred Chappell the poet?" She said yes, but explained that this time he had written a fantasy novel.

Chappell has created a 17th century-ish, Italian-ish world where a country boy named Falco recounts his apprenticeship to the master shadow thief Maestro Astolfo, and there are many reasons why a person would want to steal, sell, buy, or otherwise deal in shadows.

The novel is excellent, and I particularly liked its episodic nature--the story is advanced through a series of stand alone vignettes. From now on I'll ask, -Fred Chappell the fantasy writer?-, when I hear his name ... and I'll keep a closer eye on my shadow.

A Shadow All of Light by Fred Chappell (Tor Books) Recommended by Bill at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

A mesmerizing story of a man's life before, during, and after WWI. Filled with beauty and horror in equal measure, it is a tale that will haunt you. Helprin's prose is poetic, and his power to leave you awestruck is fully demonstrated in this beautiful novel.

A Soldier of the Great War by Mark Helprin (Harvest Books, $16.99), recommended by Margaret at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.