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Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca ZappiaIf you have ever had a meaningful internet friendship or been a part of a huge fandom, this book is for you. Eliza is the anonymous author of one of the biggest webcomics ever and I loved being pulled into her many worlds. This book is pitch-perfect, romantically perfect, and perfect perfect. Did I mention I think it’s perfect?

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia ($17.99*, Greenwillow Books), recommended by Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

Epitaph: A Novel of the OK Corral by Mary Doria Russell

For two weeks while reading Epitaph, I lived in 1880s Arizona and came to know the people who lived there.

Russell is a master at putting her meticulous research into creating a vivid picture of time and place, and brilliantly bringing into life her characters. This book continues with the story started in Doc, focusing here on Wyatt Earp. There is so much more to this man than we have seen in movies. If you are a fan of westerns you will love this book and if you are a fan of books that completely absorb, Epitaph will more than reward.

Epitaph: A Novel of the O.K. Corral by Mary Doria Russell (Ecco Press) Recommended by Rene at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

TenNapel has created a very real Reptiles vs. Amphibians world in which Little Herk, the weakest of the Nnewts, is forced to flee his home when his town is invaded by the scary Lizzarks.

Confined to water due to his underdeveloped legs, Herk navigates the big wide world with an evil overlord hot on his tail. He must find the strength he possesses within himself, different from all the others -- his life depends on it!

This is a great start to a new graphic novel series for kids. Fans of Zita the Spacegirl or Amulet and Bones--here's something new for you!

Escape from the Lizzarks by Doug TenNapel (Graphix) Recommended by Amanda at Inkwood Books Tampa FL 

I like a certain amount of surprise in my life, but when it comes to getting older I've found I'd like to have fair warning about what to expect.

Donald Hall, a former Poet Laureate and National Medal of the Art winner, has written a beautiful collection of essays from the vantage point of 86 years old.

They are funnier than I imagined they would be, as well as inspiring and heartening, and the prose is pitch perfect.

Essays After Eighty by Donald Hall (Houghton Mifflin) Recommended by Amanda at Inkwood Books Tampa FL 
9780544287044

Nanette has it all--popular friends, a top spot on her school soccer team and the promise of college scholarships to go with it--but as graduation looms, she’s realizing the life ahead is not the life she wants. As for so many of us, it’s the discovery of that one cult classic novel that thrusts her out of her mold and into the joys--and pains--of life outside the bubble. For anyone who’s ever looked around at life and wondered how the hell they got there, this novel is the perfect fun, reflective read.

Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, $17.99), recommended by Shannon at Scuppernong Books, Greensboro, NC.

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuireAnother one that you won’t necessarily find in the YA section. This quick, superbly-written fantasy is perfect for anyone who’s ever felt like they don’t quite belong.

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire ($17.99, Tor), recommended by the Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

Written with surprising clarity and insight, this novel gives a heartbreaking account of life in England before the US joined in World War II.

Mary North comes from an aristocratic family who detests her involvement teaching the children who have no way of escaping the violence in the city. Mary learns about love and trust through her time as a teacher and later as an ambulance driver helping victims of the relentless bombing of the city. Her boyfriend, Tom, and his roommate, Alistair, learn that doing your part in the war effort often becomes the greatest sacrifice.

This novel will stay with you for a long time!

Everyone Brave Is Forgiven by Chris Cleave (Simon & Schuster) Recommended by Linda at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

Benjamin Alire Sáenz's stories are of the knock-you-over-powerful variety.

These seven stories-- set in the border towns of Juárez and El Paso, with many of them touching on the wave of violence that engulfed Juárez in the '90s-- all have a connection to the Kentucky Club, a venerable Juárez institution.

Winner of the PEN/Faulkner award and a Lambda Literary award, this book deserves a wider audience.

Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (Cinco Puntos Press) Recommended by Elese at Flyleaf Books Chapel Hill NC 

Everything She Forgot is a beautifully written story of the love between a father and a daughter. It is a compelling and heartbreaking story of repressed memories, family secrets, and things that could have been. The wonderfully developed characters evolve through the years as this masterfully written story slowly unwinds.  

Everything She Forgot by Lisa Ballantyne (William Morrow) Recommended by Nancy at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

Evicted by Matthew DesmondI know I’ve recommended this book before, but it’s just out in paperback, has won the Pulitzer, and is absolutely required reading. Take a look at how other people are living. Let your compassion motivate you to action. Admire Matthew Desmond’s brilliance.

Evicted by Matthew Desmond ($17.00*, Broadway Books), recommended by Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

Quail Ridge Books recommends Mohsin Hamid's latest book, Exit West, a beautiful yet unsettling love story of refugees, set in unnamed countries in an unnamed time. Mamie says: "In Exit West, Mohsin Hamid places us in an unnamed country (as he did in How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia), and in doing so makes what happens there a universal metaphor for war-torn countries in the Middle East. Saieed and Nadia are refugees from one such country, navigating not only the landscape but their developing love affair. They have had to leave much behind in their homeland, including Saieed’s beloved father. Reality and the fantastical blend together as they migrate from one place to another. Hamid once again sheds light on the plight of the refugees who inhabit our world. The book is full of discussable material for book clubs."

René says: "Exit West is one of the most devastating but hopeful books I have ever read. It could not be more relevant for our times. Mohsin Hamid brings us right into his characters’ lives and makes us see that we are much more similar than different. It is a book that everyone should read."

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid ($26, Riverhead Books), recommended by Mamie and René, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter by Tom BissellThe best book I've ever read about video games. Bissell takes games seriously as an art form worthy of thoughtful criticism while never idealizing away their flaws. Extra Lives is broken up into memoir-ish chapters focusing on the author's relationship to a single game at a time. "Grand Thefts" is a devastating high point, but they all have unique insights.

Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter by Tom Bissell ($15.95*, Vintage Books), recommended by Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

Extraordinary Adventures by Daneil WallaceIn Daniel Wallace's new novel, Extraordinary Adventures we meet dutiful, unassuming (and lonely) Edsel Bronfman, who is suddenly galvanized into action when he must find a companion in order to be eligible for an all-expenses-paid trip to the beach. Whether you see a bit of yourself in Edsel, or you know someone like him, you'll be routing for him as remarkable events and characters unfold. A funny, perfect read for the summer!

Extraordinary Adventures by Daniel Wallace ($25.99, St. Martin’s Press), recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

A Spring 2017 Okra Pick!

Many people assume that the subtitle of this book suggests something that is clearly false.

After all, if Francis Collins, the head of the Human Genome Project, is an accomplished scientist and avowed Christian, how could religion and science possibly be incompatible?  Well, here's how.

One of the greatest virtues of many religions is faith, which, by definition, is belief in something in the absence of evidence.  Far from being a virtue, faith is considered to be a great sin (irony intended) among scientists.  Science gets us closer to truth.  Religion never has.

As Coyne makes painfully clear, basing one's life in religion has serious consequences for the well-being of children, women, and society at large.  Read this book if you disagree with Coyne, but, even if you're already a member of the choir, read the book anyway.

It never hurts to read an author, especially one as gifted as Coyne, making arguments based on reason and science.

Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible by Jerry A. Coyne (Viking) Recommended by Brian at Malaprops Bookstore Asheville NC

A seven year old child has been kidnapped and Det. Cooper Devereaux, just returned from one of his many suspensions, is given the case.

Though Devereaux doesn’t often play well with others, and isn’t a stickler for the rules he is a great detective and his boss – one of his only supporters – knows if anyone can find this child he can.

I really liked Devereaux even before his back story was slowly revealed. And by the end of the book he was truly a hero – flawed and vulnerable but full of the right stuff. As Devereaux dug farther and farther into things his intuition told him were connected to the kidnapping he discovered many truths about himself and others in his life -- truths about mass murderers, bloodlines, mental illness and obsession.

This twisty, totally unpredictable page turner is the beginning, I hope, of a long line of Det. Cooper Devereaux stories.

False Positive by Andrew Grant (Ballantine Books) Recommended by Nancy M. at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

I expected dark and perhaps brutal – it was after all taking place in a maximum security prison for serious offenders – but I wasn’t expecting the supernatural element.

Normally, that would have immediately turned me off but it was so well done and so almost believable that I continued reading. Besides, by that time I was already hooked by Jess.

Fellside is a powerfully written story about drugs, love and hate, and power and corruption. It is an interesting look at the workings inside a prison and an equally interesting study of the human soul.

Fellside by M.R. Carey (Orbit) Recommended by Nancy M. at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC