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It's been in the news for years, but Jay Smith & Mary Willingham's Cheated lays out the UNC academic/sports deception and prime players in all its breathtaking scope.

Follow the timeline and see how the dots are connected. While I'd read about the scandal, Cheated was full of revelations. Even more than for UNC, the authors make clear how this fits into a history of multi-institutional disgrace.

What happens next is urgent for the landscape of collegiate money-making sports and its players.

Cheated: The UNC Scandal, the Education of Athletes, and the Future of Big-Time College Sports by By Jay M. Smith, Mary Willingham (Potomac Books) Recommended by Rosemary at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

Paula McLain does an exceptional job of capturing Beryl Markham and her singular life, as well as painting a vivid portrait of Kenya and a host of other noteworthy characters, including Karen Blixen, Dennys Finch-Hatton and the two British princes, Harry and David.

I've been a fan of Beryl Markham's since reading her memoir, West With the Night, in the '80s, and have also read whatever I could about her. This is a beautifully written, authentic novel of the acclaimed horse trainer, pioneer aviator, and gifted writer, about whom Hemingway famously wrote -She can write rings around all of us who consider ourselves as writers...it is really a bloody wonderful book.

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain (Ballantine) Recommended by Sarah at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

This debut novel is a thriller, a love story, a story of courage and the many unknown heroes who made life and death decisions in the face of the horror that was Berlin in 1943.

Gillham's language is stunning and his characters are real, with all their flaws and all their bravery. This is a book that will stay with me for a long, long time.

City of Women By David R. Gillham ($16, Berkley Trade), recommended by Rene, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

Clementine and Winston Churchill, both from aristocratic families, had the wedding of the year. 

Photos in the papers, people lining the route to the church, and reports of a six hour wedding dress alteration session.  Because Clementine and Winston exchanged over 1,700 letters, we get a fascinating, up close look at their relationship through the years. 

Winston was impulsive, defensive and rash.  Clementine was thoughtful, strong and strategic.  During World War I, she organized canteens for munition workers.  During World War II, she volunteered as a fire watcher, sitting on rooftops and calling in fires during air raids.  She and Winston went out in the dark after the bombing stopped and toured the bomb sites with flashlights. 

Clementine is an extraordinary love story against the backdrop of tumultuous history.  I loved it!

Clementine: The Life of Mrs. Winston Churchill by Sonia Purnell (Viking) Recommended by Helen at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

Colette's Lost Pet by Isabelle ArsenaultHas your wishful thinking or powerful imagination ever turned into a not-so-small fib? That's what happens to Colette as she ventures into her new neighborhood to make friends. Luckily almost everyone loves a good story, and this one uses an inventive color style not often seen in picture books.

Colette's Lost Pet by Isabelle Arsenault ($17.99*, Random House Books for Young Readers), recommended by Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

Wedding bells ring in Jan Karon’s next Mitford installment!

Little Dooley Kavanagh is all grown up and intending to marry the love of his life, Lace Harper. Short on money, they’ve decided to keep their ceremony sweet and uncomplicated.

Elegant, even, in its simplicity. The whole family’s invited. If you’re at all familiar with the people of this quaint town, then you know that at best, this day will be sweet, but it will not be simple. Determined to have the beautiful day they deserve, Dooley and Lace do their best to roll with the punches all the way down the aisle.

A pleasant update on Karon’s lovable and unpredictable characters.

Come Rain Or Come Shine by Jan Karon (G.P. Putnam's Sons) Recommended by MM at Square Books Oxford MS

If you've been in the store recently it's no secret that we've fallen in love with Ann Patchett's new novel, Commonwealth. This story of two families broken and reformed, parts blended and others shattered, feels like the book she was meant to write: complicated, intimate, ambitious, and uncomfortably true. The opening scene of the novel, a christening party at the Keating house, is such a pitch perfect rendition of the suburban '60s it could be used in virtual reality games. When an altered version of the two families moves to the Virginia Commonwealth I felt like Patchett had been secretly hanging out in my own Virginia neighborhood and was in on every conversation, gathering, and childhood excursion, back when we ran free all day, as long as we were home by supper. The story of this heartbreaking and lovable family, covering five decades, is as messy and real and beautifully told as one could wish.

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett, ($27.99, Harper), recommended by Sarah at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

Weisman wrote the wildly popular book The World Without Us, making the point that if we humans were to disappear, the world would do exuberantly well without us.

He wrote this book, Countdown, to ask if there's a way that the world could do exuberantly well with us. The book grew on me. After each story, I'd say, just one more...just one more. Now that I've finished the whole book, to my surprise I realize that I'm well-educated and hopeful about something I'd pretty much given up on. What a writer! I highly recommend this book.

Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth? by Alan Weisman (Little, Brown and Company), recommended by Sue at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.

Scott McClanahan's minimalist pseudo-memoir is a funny, clever, touching and honest book about growing up in rural West Virgina. A book about being proud of and finding beauty in where you come from, even when there's no glamour in it.

Crapalachia: A Biography of Place by Scott McClanahan ($16, Two Dollar Radio), recommended by Justin, Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe, Asheville, NC.

At one point while reading this book, I yelled out loud: “Don’t do it!” (I can’t tell you when or why — that would spoil it.) A haunting story about a disappearance, it’s also a portrait of a family — and one of my favorite releases of this fall.

Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt (Algonquin Books, $26.95), recommended by Mary Laura at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

Mary DiNunzio is a successful attorney and a partner at the Rosato & DiNunzio firm. Her schedule has gotten complicated, due to her wedding being a few weeks away. However, when an elderly man named Edward comes in for a free consultation, Mary’s world is turned upside down. Edward’s grandson, Patrick, is being sued by a teacher’s aide for assault. Sadly, it is this shy, dyslexic boy who bears the markings of abuse. As Mary becomes more involved in finding out the truth, she becomes the only chance Patrick has at surviving and leading a healthy life. Is Mary going to lose everything she has in order to protect Patrick, or will the evidence prove Mary wrong?

Lisa Scottoline packs a powerful punch in this novel. Despite it being the fourth in a series, the plot works well as a stand-alone story. Readers, like Mary, will be drawn in right from the moment they meet Patrick and they will be kept guessing as they try to figure out the truth through all the multiple twists and intense secondary storylines. Damaged is a book that weaves its way into readers’ hearts. The author does an excellent job at showing the current struggles children with learning disorders face on a daily basis. Filled with a large family, human emotions, and one dramatic courtroom scene, readers of literature and mysteries will devour this book.

Damaged by Lisa Scottoline, recommended by Nicole at My Sisters Books, Pawleys Island, SC.

The world is a beautiful place, don't you think? Not because it is, but because I see it that way.

The title is the first thing I noticed about this book, but it definitely wasn't what kept me reading it--the writing itself took care of that.

This entire novel is ONE sentence. This is a book meant to be devoured in one sitting--you may not stop to catch your breath. Hrabal is a master and he does something really special here. 

Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age By Bohumil Hrabal ($14, NYRB Classics) Recommended by O.B. at Scuppernong Books Greensboro NC

The eye of this whirlwind of narcos, chance, mezcal, fate and the opposing wills of la Virgen Guadalupe and Santa Muerte takes place in Oaxaca, Mexico. In a wild chase for Montezuma's funerary mask, these characters forge and recombine alliances as easily and often as a kaleidoscope. The world of posh art collectors clashes with the underbelly they rely on to supply their expensive tastes. Sultry and serrated as a desert landscape, punctuated with humor and polished one-liners. All business, all personal.

Dancing with the Tiger by Lili Wright (Marian Wood Books/Putnam, $26), recommended by Amanda at Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

Eden, a world where no sunlight reaches the surface, illuminated only by the lantern flowers hanging from the trees above, is home to descendents of the two survivors of a crash-landed ship, generations removed from Earth.

Beckett masterfully brings this strange and alien world to life as a small group pushes out from their small valley of light. Highly recommended for fans of well-written science-fiction.

Dark Eden by Chris Beckett ($15, Broadway Books), recommended by Ted, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

Day In, Day Out by Hector Aguilar CaminA fast-paced little noir that constantly circles around the conventions of its genre (sex, drugs, murder), and instead manages to become more of a meditation on hopeless desire than a pure, simple crime novel.

Day In, Day Out by Hector Aguilar Camin ($14.95*, Schaffner Press), recommended by Malaprop's Bookstore/Café, Asheville, NC.

It turns out that Vivian Howard, in addition to being an award-winning chef, restaurateur, and star of the PBS show A Chef's Life, is also a talented writer. She tells the story of her life and community through each chapter devoted to a different vegetable. While our event with Vivian later this month has sold out, we do have plenty of signed copies of this big, beautiful and delicious tribute to the food, farmers and cooks of eastern North Carolina.

Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South by Vivian Howard ($40, Little Brown), recommended by Mamie at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.