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In the fictional world of Sofarende there is war, and it is getting closer to home for 12-year-old Mathilde and her best friend Meg. Perfect for 4th or 5th graders who are ready for something more advanced but aren’t ready for YA content yet.

Beautiful Blue World by Suzanne LaFleur (Wendy Lamb Books, $16.99), recommended by Catherine at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

Amidst all the noise and anger in society, Krista Tippett offers a refuge, an oasis where we can learn the value of listening, and learn to respect and appreciate people and the world around us. In her latest book, she offers a message of hope. The Peabody Award-winning radio host of On Being, Krista is a master of what she terms "generous listening," with a strong curiosity, and a "willingness to be surprised, to let go of assumptions and take in ambiguity." What better model could we ask for? 

Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living (Penguin $28), recommended by René at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

Quail Ridge Books is hosting Krista Tippett at the UU Fellowship of Raleigh for the paperback release of the book on Friday, March 3.

Before Morning by Joyce Sidman and Beth Krommes (HMH Books for Young Readers $17.99). Who hasn’t wished for an overnight snowfall that transforms the next day? A minimal, pitch-perfect text is magnificently illustrated in scratchboard and watercolor. From endpaper to endpaper the entire city and surroundings gradually change shape and color as the snow falls. A little girl and her family revel in the unexpected, but welcome diversion, and there are many charming and amusing details in the art for readers to discover and follow. A quiet, but brilliant gem to share with everyone. Before Morning by Joyce Sidman and Beth Krommes (HMH Books for Young Readers $17.99), recommended by Carol at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.

Before We Were Yours by Lisa WingateLisa Wingate is a master storyteller, and I am particularly attached to her historical fiction. Each time I read one of the books, I learn of a part of our southern past that is mostly forgotten, or in the case of the Tennessee Children's Home, swept under the rug. Rill is an amazing child faced with horrors most of us will be unable to imagine. We have Lisa Wingate to bring them to life and paint a picture of horrible corruption and poverty, but also show the amazing determination that can survive anything. The book is an expository and deeply moving family history. Any fan of southern history, especially South Carolina and Tennessee, will enjoy this book.

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate ($26.00, Ballantine Books), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

A Spring 2017 Okra Pick!

Behind Her Eyes took me totally by surprise. From the beginning I knew it was the story of a very disturbed person, but which one was the sick one? I knew something happened in the past that was driving two of the main characters, and I thought I was discovering the truth about the past - but, boy, was I wrong. A very dark and eerie psychological thriller of love and obsession that you will not be able to put down until you discover the truth.

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough ($25.99, Flatiron Books), recommended by Nancy, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah PinboroughThis was a big staff favorite last year. Nearly the whole staff read it! Great to be able to sell it in paperback this season. David and Adele seem like a perfect couple but when Louise, David's secretary, starts looking at their relationship harder, secrets begin to emerge. Everything you want in a thriller with a twist at the end. You'll get the hashtag associated with the release #WTFThatEnding! Oh. And it doesn't have "Girl" in the title. Bonus!

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough ($15.99*, Flatiron Books), recommended by Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA.

Author, illustrator, and cultural commentator extraordinaire Kalman gives us a book about dogs that is, of course, about so much more. To her, dogs are constant reminders that life reveals the best of itself when we live fully in the moment and extend our unconditional love. And it is very true, that the most tender, uncomplicated, most generous part of our being blossoms, without any effort, when it comes to the love of a dog.

Beloved Dog by Maira Kalman (Penguin Press) Recommended by Tony at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC.

Sometimes when the going gets tough I like to set aside that serious literary novel that’s collecting dust on my nightstand and hole up with a fun, breezy whodunit that’s just plain brain candy. This funny thriller did the trick for me, so I’m looking forward to tuning into HBO on February 19 for the much buzzed-about six-episode miniseries adaptation starring Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty ($16, Berkley Books), recommended by Katherine, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

I read this my first year of college when I was still trying to decide if I wanted to write.

Chapter 3 is titled SHITTY FIRST DRAFTS.

It's full of good advice and encouragement for the beginning writer and would make a great gift. It's less an instruction book than a series of stories focused on the process. It's informal and funny and I was better for it.

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott (Anchor) Recommended by Dottie at Square Books Oxford MS 

Damon Tweedy brings us a very personal view of the role race has played for him as a student, a doctor, and even as a patient.

He starts with his time as one of only a handful of black students attending Duke University Medical School, where one of his professors asks if he is there to fix the lights.

Through his internship and on to psychiatric training and practice, he sheds a light on how easy it is for us to see each other through the lens of race instead of as individuals, and how that leads to bad outcomes for everyone, but especially for black patients.

Tweedy has written a thoughtful, provocative, and very readable account, full of engaging stories of real people whose well-being, and even survival, are affected by racial perceptions.

Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor's Reflections on Race and Medicine by Damon Tweedy (Picador) Recommended by Sarah at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

This lost classic of noir is maybe the best work of crime fiction you’ve never heard of. Long hard to find, it ranks right up there with the best of Chandler, Hammett, and other masters. Hopefully, now Chaze (who spent most of his career as a journalist in Hattiesburg, MS) will finally get the recognition that he deserves.

Black Wings Has My Angel by Elliot Chaze ($12.95, New York Review of Books), recommended by Cody, Square Books, Oxford, MS.

For all the geeks, outcasts, and kids who walk to the beat of a different drummer, Blackbird Fly holds out a hand of friendship and invites you to join Filippino immigrant Analyn (known as Apple) as she recovers from her best friend's betrayal and subsequent bullying and finds that music can save one's soul, that you don't have to believe others' opinions of you, and that moms can surprise you.

Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly; Betsy Peterschmidt (Illustrator)(Greenwillow Books) Recommended by Jill at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

Blood and Sand by C. V. Wyk Attia is the last of her warrior people after the Romans conquered her land. Now she's a slave, given to Xanthus, a champion gladiator, as a reward for his victories in the arena. Attia has vowed to fight the Romans until she gains her freedom or dies trying, but she doesn't count on Xanthus, a fellow slave, treating her with such care and gentleness. As the two form a relationship that goes beyond their shared bonds, Attia finds herself fighting for Xanthus as much as herself. This book will appeal to fans of strong, fierce female characters, and though there's no magic, fantasy fans will have much to love in the world of the ancient Romans.

Blood and Sand by C. V. Wyk ($17.99*, Tor Teen), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

Blood Sisters by Jane CorryBlood Sisters opens with a radio announcement that a murder has occurred at a men’s prison, with details to come. Allison is leading a lonely single life barely making ends meet teaching art lessons when she sees an advertisement for a job teaching art in a men’s prison takes the job. She is guilt ridden and unhappy and we slowly discover why as the story of Allison and her younger half-sister Kitty is told in flashbacks from two points of view.

Blood Sisters is a sad story of sibling rivalry, parents who don’t always do the right thing, teen violence, and a childish prank all of which probably contributed to the tragedy which occurred when Kitty was 11 and Allison was a senior in high school, and which kept Allison so filled with guilt. We think we know what happened 15 years ago, and we think we know what just happened at the prison. But, as the story is slowly revealed we find that truths and lies become totally intertwined and what really happened both at the time of the accident and in the present at the prison is a total surprise.

Blood Sisters by Jane Corry ($26.00*, Pamela Dorman Books), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

Blue Mind

Marine biologist Nichols reveals groundbreaking neuroscience that proves what we intuitively know: We are emotionally, physically and spiritually healthier when we are near or in the water.

He  presents the evidence in terms easily accessible to non-scientists and reminds us that it is imperative that we humans protect the waters of our planet for the good of all of the beings who inhabit it.

Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, & Better at What You Do by Wallace J. Nichols (Little, Brown and Co.) Recommended by Samantha at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica LockeHooray! I can whole-heartedly recommend this mystery/thriller about a black Texas Ranger working a suspicious case in East Texas. The book takes on many big American problems, so it is both timely and wildly entertaining.

Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke ($26.00, Mulholland Books), recommended by Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.