GREAT READS HANDPICKED BY GREAT SOUTHERN BOOKSELLERS...

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  • False Positive by Andrew Grant

    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

  • Fellside by M.R. Carey

    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

  • Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

    Fingersmith by Sarah WatersForget Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train. Move over Big Little Lies and The Woman in Cabin 10. Because Fingersmith has one of the best jaw dropping, plot twisting, Oh-My-God-Did-That-Just-Happen moments that I've ever read.

    Fingersmith by Sarah Waters ($17.99, Riverhead Books), recommended by Katie, Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA.

  • Fishbowl by Bradley Somer

    Ian the Goldfish - narrator of this unique novel - is about to take a plunge from his watery prison on the 27th floor balcony of an apartment complex.

    The Seville on Roxy houses a cross section of humanity that includes a pregnant lady on bed rest fantasizing about ice cream sandwiches, a home-schooled boy who thinks he’s a time traveler and a shut in with a penchant for quiche and dirty talk.

    If you loved Garth Stein's Art of Racing in the Rain you will fall in love with Ian. He's able to move unobtrusively through his neighbor’s apartments telling their stories and ultimately helping them take risks beyond their wildest dreams.

    Do not be fooled by the cover (looks a little like a kids' book) or my inability to express how a goldfish can tell a GREAT story. TWO FINS WAY UP!

    Fishbowl by Bradley Somer (St. Martin's Press) Recommended by Stefani at Inkwood Books Tampa FL

  • Five by Ursula Archer

    Geo-caching, clues tattooed on a dead body, complex riddles and clues ultimately leading to the end of the hunt.

    A puzzle that only Detective Beatrice Kaspary can solve in order to catch a most unusual serial killer. A complex storyline and a psychological thriller written by a talented new author. 

    A must read!

    Five by Ursula Archer (Minotaur) Recommended by Nancy at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

  • Flight Patterns by Karen White

    Flight Patterns by Karen WhiteGeorgia Chambers is one of the top china experts in the United States, but when a client brings her a piece that connects to her past, she is forced to go back home. Reunited with the comforts of salt air, and her grandfather, will Georgia Chambers be able to face the rest of her family? Will there be time to heal past relationships or has too much time passed?

    Karen White is known for her whimsical Tradd Street series, but in several of her latest novels, she broaches tougher topics that trouble modern day families. Infused with the southern coast and the ocean, this book makes for a great beach read, as well as a reading group selection.

    Flight Patterns by Karen White ($15.00, Berkley Books), recommended by My Sisters Books, Pawleys Island, SC.

  • Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills

    Foolish Hearts by Emma MillsClaudia tends to keep to herself at school, only coming out of her shell at home with her best -- pretty much only -- friend. When a series of events conspire to throw Claudia together with the resident mean girl, Iris, they end up having to participate in the school's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. It's not all bad, though, as Claudia and Iris start to become friends, and a cute boy shows interest in Claudia. But Claudia has to learn to navigate her relationships -- new and old, with siblings, friends, and romantic interests -- which is not as easy as it seems like it should be. Claudia's extreme snark had me laughing out loud, and the poignancy of her friendships had me wiping away a stray tear or two. Emma Mills remains one of my favorite contemporary authors.

    Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills ($17.99*, Henry Holt & Company), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

  • Forest Dark by Nicole Krauss

    Forest Dark by Nicole KraussRemarkable. I remember reading W.G. Sebald for the first time and feeling that I was in the headspace, for a moment, of some type of uber-thinker. What an amazing montage she's created here: of theology and politics and the ancient and the ever-present. And what's more, it gets you right where you live. We've all yearned; we all yearn--right up until the end. That's what she's written: that story. I'd like to congratulate her but I'm a little scared of her--what a mind to have inside one's head.

    Forest Dark by Nicole Krauss ($27.99, Harper), recommended by Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • Four Roads Cross by Max Gladstone

    Caleb loves Four Roads Cross by Max Gladstone: Gladstone's Craft Sequence is the most finely-crafted Urban Fantasy I've seen in years. When money is your soul and corporations are gods and all-powerful skeleton men, who looks our for the little guys? (Magical necromancer lawyers.)

    Four Roads Cross by Max Gladstone (Tor Books, $27.99), recommended by Caleb at Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • Free Men by Katy Simpson Smith

    I loved Katy Simpson Smith's Free Men (Harper $26.99), a novel set in 1788, in what will become Alabama, and based on the true story of an escaped slave, a white orphan, and a Creek Indian who are on the run together after committing a serious crime. As in Smith's first novel, The Story of Land and Sea (Harper $15.99), set on the NC coast during the Revolution, and which I also loved, she demonstrates a remarkable ability to fully immerse the reader in a bygone era. Free Men is part crime thriller and part meditation on freedom and the personal cost of clashing societies in a new world. Joseph Ellis has called Smith "the most sophisticated historical novelist of her generation."

    Free Men by Katy Simpson Smith (Harper), recommended by Sarah at Quail Ridge Books | Raleigh, NC.

  • Fresh Complaint: Stories by Jeffrey Eugenides

    Fresh Complaint: Stories by Jeffrey EugenidesAn excerpt from Lemuria Books' blog: I recently told someone that Fresh Complaint, Jeffery Eugenides’ new collection of short stories, is so well-written I could cry. I lied.

    I had already cried, specifically while sitting by my apartment’s swimming pool and reading the story “Early Music.” I don’t think anyone saw, but if they had, I would have told them the truth–that one of my favorite authors has reminded me how much I love books, and that I am not sure I will ever be so passionate about anything else.

    [...] If you crave intimacy with a character the way I do, you will not get enough of his Eugenides’ writing. On the other hand, the amount of detail is intimidating. People shy away from his novels because they think they are too long, or too detailed, or too boring (none of which are true). I was a bit apprehensive that his short stories wouldn’t incorporate the trademark detail and introspection. But this is exactly why his short stories work so well. In just a few pages, Eugenides is able to capture a person, their entire life, and boil it down to the important scenarios. If you have been intimidated by the sheer length of Middlesex, or bored by the idea of The Marriage Plot, or put-off by the subject of The Virgin Suicides, this is the collection for you. It’s time to stop being afraid and pick up Fresh Complaint.

    Fresh Complaint: Stories by Jeffrey Eugenides ($27.00*, Farrar Straus Giroux), recommended by Lemuria Books, Jacksonville, MS.

  • Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich

    Future Home of the Living God by Louise ErdrichA young, unmarried pregnant woman. Sound familiar? I started the year reading about one in Kevin Wilson's Perfect Little World. But the main character in Louise Erdrich's new dystopian novel Future Home of the Living God, Cedar Hawk Songwriter, faces completely different obstacles for her and her unborn child. A descendant of Ojibwe Indians and adopted by a liberal white couple, Songwriter's world is one where evolution has stopped and the days are full of uncertainty and strange, threatening people and creatures. As she wrestles with what the future holds, she juggles relationships with the father of her child, her birth family and her adoptive family. Food for thought about what the world might look like in the not-too-distant future.

    Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich ($28.99*, Harper), recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Genuine Fraud by E. Lockheart

    Genuine Fraud by E. LockheartFrom Lemuria Books' blog: "Lockhart introduces a new and captivating suspense and psychological horror novel with Genuine Fraud. The book starts off with chapter 18, in June 2017. Hint: you should pay attention to the dates. The story is mainly told in flashbacks over the course of the past few years. The story is about Imogen and Jule and their friendship and time together. It’s a story of those who lack morals. It is a story about those that lack ambition and others who will do whatever it takes to get what they want. It’s a story about liars and cheaters (in more ways than one). It’s about accidents and premeditation and telling more would give too much away.”

    Genuine Fraud by E. Lockheart ($18.99*, Delacorte), recommended by Lemuria Books, Jackson, MS.

  • Gertie Milk and the Keeper of Lost Things by Simon Van Booy

    Gertie Milk and the Keeper of Lost Things by Simon Ban VooyStarts off fast and never losses pace! Really funny, action-packed, and educational! Really cool cover-- great representation of the book.

    Gertie Milk and the Keeper of Lost Things by Simon Van Booy ($16.99*, Razorbill), recommended by Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, NC.

  • Gertie's Leap to Greatness by Kate Beasley

    Gertie is a fifth-grade force to be reckoned with! Kate Beasley packs so much into this lovely story - there is heart, gravity, and humor all wrapped up with Jillian Tamaki's amazing illustrations. Like Raymie Nightingale or Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo, Beasley somehow addresses complicated family issues and real-world problems through the lens of a quirky and authentic child. I loved meeting Gertie and her classmates and I can't wait to put this book into the hands of kids, teachers, and parents. Kate Beasley is sure to have a long and illustrious career ahead of her, starting with this stunning debut novel!

    Gertie's Leap to Greatness by Kate Beasley ($16.99, Farrar, Straus and Giroux), recommended by Johanna at Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag

    So, the title. "Ghachar ghochar" is an untranslatable phrase uttered when things become hopelessly tangled. Like the knot on the cover. Like the lives of Vincent's family after a sudden, collective change in financial status. Like their relationship with the relentlessly imperturbable ants that have invaded the family's living quarters. Translated from Kannada (a southern Indian language), this novella-length book will grab you from the first pages and hold you until the end. A compelling, engrossing family drama that I would call delightful, but for the ending …

    Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag ($15, Penguin Books), recommended by Elese, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

    When Catrina and her family move to a seaside town in Northern California to accommodate her sister's cystic fibrosis, she is not happy. Bahia de la Luna is cold, foggy, far away from her friends, and, worst of all, reportedly home to a whole lot of ghosts. Cat's sister, Maya, is thrilled by their new town's spooky residents, but Cat wants nothing to do with them until she realizes that she must put aside her fear for both her sister's sake and her own. Graphic novel queen Telgemeier is back, and she has crafted a beautiful, entertaining, and hopeful story about the power of family, friendship, and community -- with an extra dash of ghostly magic for good measure.

    Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier (Graphix, $10.99), recommended by Rebecca at One More Page Books, Arlington, VA.

  • Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse

    Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica HesseFrom the publisher: "Amsterdam, 1943. Hanneke spends her days procuring and delivering sought-after black market goods to paying customers, her nights hiding the true nature of her work from her concerned parents, and every waking moment mourning her boyfriend, who was killed on the Dutch front lines when the Germans invaded. She likes to think of her illegal work as a small act of rebellion. Beautifully written, intricately plotted, and meticulously researched, Girl in the Blue Coat is an extraordinary, gripping novel about bravery, grief, and love in impossible times." The national bestseller and winner of the Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Mystery

    Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse ($9.99, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers), recommended by Writer's Block Bookstore, Winter Park, FL.

  • Glass Houses by Louise Penny

    Glass House by Louise PennyThis is the thirteenth Chief Inspector Gamache mystery, but it’s the first one I’ve read—proving that you can start anywhere in this series and throughly enjoy it. There’s a reason this series, set in Montreal and the tiny village of Three Pines, continues to grow in popularity with each book.

    Glass Houses by Louise Penny ($28.99*, recommended by Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • God's Kingdom by Howard Frank Mosher

    When I started reading God's Kingdom by Howard Frank Mosher I fell into a kind of reverie, induced by his mesmerizing descriptions of the northeast corner of Vermont, the beauty and simplicity of the language he uses, and the compelling story he tells.

    Told from the viewpoint of 14 year-old Jim Kennison in the 1950's, it's a coming-of-age story, a morality play, and an adventure story, full of events and people that are horrible and wonderful and sometimes very funny.

    God's Kingdom is one of those rare books, like To Kill a Mockingbird, that should become an American classic for all ages for many years to come.

    God's Kingdom by Howard Frank Mosher (St. Martin's Press) Recommended by Sarah at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

    A beautifully told coming of age story that takes an amazing turn you won't see coming. Andrew Smith is a genius and you won't believe how much you love this book. Oh...and then there are the six foot tall praying mantises!

    Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith ($18.99, Dutton Juvenile), recommended by Christine, Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe, Asheville NC.

  • Grendel's Guide to Love and War by A. E. Kaplan

    Grendel's Guide to Love and War by A. E. KaplanA.E. Kaplan has distilled a Virginia summer directly into Grendel's Guide to Love and War. Tom's desire to simply be a good son somehow leads him into a dangerous (but hilarious) prank war with his unsupervised neighbors. Amidst the crazy plans concocted by his older sister and best friend Ed, Tom continues working his summer job mowing lawns and his less than typical hobby: interviewing his elderly neighbors. More than the pranks or the quirky but entirely authentic characters, Grendel's Guide to Love and War is about Tom coming to terms with the realities of life and relationships. The humorous dialogue, emotional content, and incredible supporting cast make this is a unique but relatable book for fans of Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda or John Green's early novels.

    Grendel's Guide to Love and War by A. E. Kaplan ($17.99, Knopf Books for Young Readers), recommended by Johanna, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • Grief Cottage by Gail Godwin

    Grief Cottage by Gail GodwinFrom Sarah: Gail Godwin takes on the voice of a bereaved 11 year old boy in this, a gentle ghost story with understated humor and appealingly unorthodox characters, set on a South Carolina barrier island. The precocious Marcus has recently lost his mother and has his hands full with his artist great aunt who relies on a steady diet of red wine to cope with her own ghosts. Godwin does a beautiful job of exploring the unlikely pairing, the natural elements of the coast, and Marcus's growing obsession with the run down "grief cottage" and the boy who disappeared there in a hurricane 50 years earlier.

    From Belinda: The analytical Marcus, a fascinating boy with insights and poise that few adults possess, becomes convinced that he feels, and even sees, the boy who went missing from a crumbling beach house dubbed Grief Cottage. I will not soon forget Marcus; his struggle to define his sense of self and belonging leads to a crisis with profound effects to himself and those in his present, and past, life.

    Grief Cottage by Gail Godwin ($27.00, Bloomsbury USA), recommended by Sarah and Belinda, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

    A Spring 2017 Okra Pick!

  • Guests On Earth by Lee Smith


    Do not let anyone tell you that this is another book about Zelda Fitzgerald.

    This book is deeper and better.

    Yes, Zelda makes an appearance, several in fact, but she is a peripheral character. This book is really about Evalina, a young woman born to curious circumstances in New Orleans, and sent to a progressive mental institution in Asheville, North Carolina. This book is about the inhabitants of Evalina's life and about the music that connects us all.

    Guests on Earth by Lee Smith (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill), recommended by The Country Bookshop Southern Pines NC.

  • Happy Death by Albert Camus

    His first book and my favorite.

    I admit, although I don't like how he portrays most women in this book, I appreciate his descriptions, his words, how real and raw many parts are, how I can feel a moment described.

    I pick up this book every year at different seasons because it feels changed to me depending on the time of the year, my age in life. It's hard to describe a book I always go back to, to attempt an explanation on why I love it, I just do.

    Happy Death By Albert Camus ($15, Vintage), recommended by Erin, Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe, Asheville, NC.

  • He Mele A Hilo (A Hilo Song) by Ryka Aoki

    He Mele A Hilo (A Hilo Song) by Ryka AokiIf summer 2017 won’t actually take you to Hawaii, travel via the written word! Aoki’s novel is filled with love and food and dancing and family drama. This book is perfect for: anyone who wants to sink into a character-driven read suffused with Hawaiian culture.

    He Mele A Hilo (A Hilo Song) by Ryka Aoki ($18.95, Topside Signature), recommended by Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré

    Very short (flash) fiction in graphic novel format.

    Carre has really done something special here, creating intricate stories that last only a few frames. The artwork is lovely, the tales melancholic and slightly gothic.

    It goes by quickly, but you'll want to keep revisiting the individual stories to pick out each and every nuance.

    Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré (Fantagraphics Books) Recommended by Amanda at Inkwood Books Tampa FL 

  • Hedgehugs by Steve Wilson, Lucy Tapper

    Hedgehogs are all the rage in 2016. Even in picture books!

    In this adorable story, hedgehogs Horace and Hattie are BFFs. But they can’t hug because they’re too spiky.

    Will they find a way to overcome their spikiness?

    Hedgehugs by Steve Wilson, Lucy Tapper (Henry Holt & Company) Recommended by Rae Ann Parker at Parnassus Books Nashville TN

  • Her Body and Other Parties: Stories by Carmen Maria Machado

    Her Body and Other Parties: Stories by Carmen Maria MachadoIt's difficult to put into just a few sentences everything that Her Body and Other Parties is. Rhythmic and hypnotic, yet unexpected and treacherous. These fearless, smart, reality-warping, and creepy as hell stories will suck you in and not let go until you have to force yourself to come up for air. Highly recommend!

    Her Body and Other Parties: Stories by Carmen Maria Machado ($16.00*, Graywolf), recommended by Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson

    From the publisher: The author of the wildly popular The Kind Worth Killing returns with an electrifying psychological thriller--as tantalizing as the cinema classics Rear Window and Wait Until Dark--involving a young woman caught in a vise of voyeurism, betrayal, manipulation, and murder. Told from multiple points of view, Her Every Fear is a scintillating, edgy novel rich with Peter Swanson's chilling insight into the darkest corners of the human psyche and virtuosic skill for plotting that has propelled him to the highest ranks of suspense, in the tradition of such greats as Gillian Flynn, Paula Hawkins, Patricia Highsmith, and James M. Cain. Julia at The Country Bookshop says, "A true Hitchcockian thriller, à la Rear Window."

    Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson ($26.99, William Morrow & Company), recommended by Jamie, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

  • Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer

    Don’t be put off by the strong sexual language at the beginning of Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer. It leads you to the skillfully told story of Jacob Bloch, his wife Julia, and their three sons. The growing tension and a destructive earthquake in the Middle East parallel the deterioration of the Blochs’ marriage. Having waited over a decade for a novel by Foer, author of two of my favorites--Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and Everything is Illuminated--I realize that Foer has only become a more eloquent and empathetic storyteller, willing to take on the difficult issues of our time.

    Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer (Farrar, Straus and Giroux $28), recommended by Mamie at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Heroes of the Frontier by Dave Eggers

    In Heroes of the Frontier, the main character, Josie, is a dentist by trade. When a patient sues her for malpractice, Josie grabs her kids and escapes from her work troubles and her no-good husband Carl. What she can’t escape are her invisible burdens: her past―her parents were scandal-ridden nurses―and her lack of self-confidence and sense of direction. Whether she’s running 'toward' or 'away,' the reader and her endearing children―Paul, an eight-year-old with an old soul (the adult of the family most of the time!), and Ana, who is a handful―go along for the ride.

    Heroes of the Frontier by Dave Eggers (Knopf $28.95), recommended by Mamie at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

    I love to be scared--big Stephen King fan for decades. In Hex, author Thomas Olde Heuvelt outcreeps the King, and I mean that in the nicest way possible.

    I'm also from the Hudson Valley area (where the American version of Hex is set). Heuvelt nails it, getting the feel of a region where you sense something very old can still exist not too far away from your modern world.

    Social media versus a centuries-old curse--it sounds as though it'll be a lark, but you'll be keeping the lights on long before you finish Hex.

    Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Tor). Recommended by Rosemary at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund

    Lyrical yet endlessly gut-wrenching, History of Wolves soars on so many levels. It is a psychologically astute coming-of-age novel about a young girl who lives on the outskirts of a small Minnesota town, but it becomes much more once a classmate reports sexual abuse by a teacher, and a mysterious family moves into the new house—the only other house nearby—just across the lake. While the novel is wonderfully layered and emotionally deep, Fridlund also creates suspense just about as well as any crime writer in recent memory. If you’re looking for something exciting yet deeply fulfilling, pick this one up; but be warned, this is one of those books that you won’t be able to shake for a few days after you’ve finished it.

    History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund ($25, Atlantic Monthly Press), recommended by Donovan at Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL.

  • Hollow Earth by John Barrowman & Carole E. Barrowman

    Twins Matt and Em are special -- they're Animare, people who can animate their drawings into physical manifestations.

    When their powers become unexpectedly strong for such young children, their mom is forced to move them to the protection of their paternal grandfather's estate. Unfortunately, the people who want control of Matt and Em won't be put off so easily, and the twins must find their family secrets in order to be able to protect themselves.

    Fans of Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series will be thrilled to discover this action-packed and magical adventure.

    Hollow Earth by John Barrowman (Aladdin) Recommended by Melissa at Fiction Addiction, Greenville SC

  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

    This fascinating novel opens in 18th century Ghana, whose residents are not just victims, but sometimes willing participants, in the slave trade with the English. Two sisters from different villages never meet, but they start a family tree whose branches are chronicled into the 20th century. Gyasi presents the stories of these characters so vividly; even as the decades race by you will feel an intimate connection with each one.

    Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (Knopf Publishing Group, $26.95), recommended by Karen at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid

    As in The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Hamid ingenuously uses the 2nd person to bring you straight into the characters' lives.

    This is the story of a boy, born poor, who wants more.

    His road to wealth and love is messy, morally ambiguous and long. This is a carefully, intelligently, appealingly written story of universal truths. Do seek out interviews with Hamid, he is fascinating and learning his thought processes made me appreciate his writing even more.

    How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid (Riverhead) Recommended by Rene at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • How to Set a Fire and Why by Jesse Ball

    On page one of Ball's new novel, 16-year-old Lucia Stanton gets kicked out of school for stabbing the star basketball player in the neck with a pencil.

    Lucia is a delinquent, a philosopher, a shard of glass. She's also an aspiring arsonist and an iconoclast, who is vibrant, alive, and charming in a misanthropic way.

    Ball's prose is precise and deceptively spare, his message dynamic in what he doesn't write. Enlightenment thinkers used the symbol of the flame to represent the power and transmission of knowledge. It's in this tradition that How to Set a Fire and Why becomes Ball's pyrotechnic masterpiece.

    How to Set a Fire and Why by Jesse Ball (Pantheon) Recommended by Matt at The Booksellers at Laurelwood Memphis TN

  • How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky by Lydia Netzer

    Two best friends raise their children to be perfect mates. Until the kids are three, they are constant companions. Then they are separated. The plan is that they will meet someday, and since they have so much in common, they will fall in love and be happy. This is wild, edgy, creative fiction!

    How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky by Lydia Netzer ($25.99, St. Martin's Press), recommended by Helen at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.

  • Huck: Book 1 by Mark Millar

    Mark Millar, a Marvel Comics veteran, has since said that his inspiration when writing Huck was the film Man of Steel, which he felt portrayed a very depressing, serious version of the superhero-archetype. The eponymous character of Huck is his response; a simple small-town handyman with Superman-esque powers, an optimistic attitude, and a desire to help people. The result is a heartwarming adventure drawn by Eisner-nominated artist Rafael Albuquerque that is most certainly one of my absolute favorites of the last few years.

    Huck: Book I by Mark Millar ($14.99, Image Comics), recommended by Hunter, Lemuria Books, Jackson, MS.

  • Hystopia by David Means

    David Means’ short story collection, Assorted Fire Events, was full of dark and dystopian stories. These two adjectives would also apply to his latest novel, Hystopia (Farrar, Straus and Giroux $26). It is 1970. John F. Kennedy has lived through several assassination attempts and is still President. Veterans of the Vietnam war are dealing with their PTSD by taking the drug Tripizoid and undergoing a process called Enfolding. Some vets, like Rake, are so incorrigible that they can’t be enfolded, and therein lies the tale. It is a novel within a novel, complete with Editor’s Notes and Author’s Notes that provide a sense of truth and realism to the fictional story. This and other novels pertaining to Vietnam remind us that the psychological damage from war is heartbreaking, and often unmanageable.

    Hystopia by David Means (Farrar, Straus and Giroux $26), recommended by Mamie at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • I Am Bat by Morag Hood

    I Am Bat by Morag HoodJust in time for the spookiest season, this book is hilarious, snarky, and very cute! I might be a little biased since I have this tremendous love of bats, but I dare you to read it without cracking up. Seriously, you won't be able to resist. I showed it to my boss at the end of a very difficult day and I watched the weight lift off her shoulders in front of me. You will be a hit at story time. The kids will call for this one again and again (or at least I will!).

    I Am Bat by Morag Hood ($17.99*, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky), recommended by Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA.

  • I Am Radar By Reif Larsen

    A strange, beautiful book about science, art, identity, war, and storytelling itself, I am Radar stretches its tendrils across continents and generations, and into some pretty ambitious narrative territory.

    When Radar is born with black skin to his pale white parents, a chain of events begins that entangles the particles of the universe from New Jersey to Norway, from Cambodia to the Congo. What happens when a radical Norwegian puppet collective meets the Colonel Kurtz of library books? Mr. Larsen's wild ride of a novel is mind expanding indeed.

    I Am Radar By Reif Larsen (Penguin Press) Recommended by Tony at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • I Just Want to Say Good Night by Rachel Isadora

    Caldecott Honor-winning author and illustrator Rachel Isadora returns with I Just Want to Say Good Night, a new spin on the classic Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd, set on the African plains.

    I Just Want to Say Good Night follows Lala as she puts off going to bed by saying goodnight to her family's cat, goat, chickens and more one at a time. "Isadora perfectly captures the universal ritual of a child saying goodnight to everything as a way to stall going to bed," said Erin Barker, buyer and manager at Hooray for Books! in Alexandria, Va. "The book is humorous and gentle, and the main character is adorable.”

    I Just Want to Say Good Night by Rachel Isadora ($17.99, Nancy Paulsen Books), recommended by Erin, Hooray for Books, Alexandria VA.

  • I Stink! by Kate McCullan

    I Stink is a book I read to my seven year old son a few months ago.

    He really enjoyed following the garbage truck through the book to see what he does on his daily route. One thing I liked was, everything the garbage truck ate, he ate alphabetically. This is a great kids book and everyone will love this smelly, sassy garbage truck.

    I Stink! by Kate McCullan (HarperTrophy) Recommended by Christina at Blue Ridge Books Waynesville NC

  • I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

    How to do justice to a novel that allows you to know each character so intimately that their pain and triumphs are your own?

    I fell head-over-heels for twins Noah and Jude. I couldn’t resist Noah, who has a penchant for contextualizing his life into paintings, or Jude, who takes to keeping onions in her pockets to avoid serious illness. The two share an almost other-worldly bond, but as life rapidly spins beyond their control and they retreat into their own internalized worlds, they lose touch with the others’ heart.

    Their journey back to one another is absolutely stunning.

    Peppered with beautiful imagery and quirky excerpts from Grandma Sweetwine’s folksy bible, I’ll Give You the Sun is a book you’ll wanna hold close to your heart. Or maybe I should just say, I want to give this book to everyone I have ever or will ever meet.

    I'll Give You the Sun By Jandy Nelson ($17.99, Dial Books for Young Readers), recommended by Amanda, Foxtale Bookshoppe, Woodstock GA.

  • Ida, Always by Caron Levis, Charlie Santoso

    Gus and Ida are polar bears at the Central Park Zoo, and they are the best of friends, doing everything together. Then one day, Ida gets sick, and Gus has to deal with feelings he's never had before, and he has to do it without his friend.

    My 6-year-old, who does not like to cry, sobbed while reading this book, but she wanted to read it again and again, and event wanted to share it with her class. This book is special. It speaks to people, kids and grown-ups, even if they haven't been through something like Gus has.

    I love that Gus (and Ida) roars his anger at losing his friend, that he doesn't want to do anything without his friend, that it's not just left at "he was sad and cried a lot, but then he felt better."

    There is so much more to grief than tears, and this book has captured that so well. It is a gift.

    Ida, Always by Caron Levis, Charlie Santoso (Atheneum) Recommended by Melissa at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC Recommended by Melissa at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

  • If the Creek Don’t Rise by Leah Weiss

    If the Creek Don’t Rise by Leah WeissI was hooked at the line, “He’s gonna be sorry he ever messed with me and Loretta Lynn.” Leah Weiss’s debut goes right for the heartstrings with a brutal portrayal of the difficult life in small town Appalachia. Protagonist Sadie Blue is pregnant, and two weeks into her marriage to Roy Tupkin, realizes it was all a mistake. Armed with Loretta Lynn and a new friend in town, she begins to fight for a way out. Told from the perspective of a number of townsfolk, the reader develops a more thorough understanding of all the forces and characters at play in the community. Plus, it has a killer ending!

    If the Creek Don’t Rise by Leah Weiss ($15.99*, Sourcebooks Landmark), recommended by Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA.

    A Summer 2017 Okra Pick!

  • Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett

    Nancy and I loved Adam Haslett's story collection, We Are Not Strangers Here. His new novel incorporates the same exquisite writing and intriguing characterization.

    He has created a beautiful story of a family haunted by mental illness. Early in the book, the father commits suicide to escape his demons, and the family is left to pick up the pieces. The oldest son suffers from the same demons, the youngest son is the peace-maker of the family, and the daughter struggles with balancing the needs of the family with a troubled but safe relationship.

    There is a Christmas scene that makes me think Haslett was eavesdropping in my living room this year! The characters are so vibrant and their situations so moving that I continue to think of them now that I've read the book to its compelling ending. Haslett has been a Pulitzer and National Book Award Finalist; I predict this will make top ten lists for 2016.

    Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett (Little Brown and Company) Recommended by Mamie at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • In The Garden of Burning Sand by Corban Addison

    In The Garden of Burning Sand, Corban Addison weaves a wonderful tale of a power struggle in an African city.

    Centered on a case of child molestation, Addison  introduces characters from all walks of life to give you the perspective of what child molestation does to everyone.  The child in this story has Downs Syndrome and she finds people to help her in the court system.  They are limited in what they can legally do, but they still work to bring justice to the child.

    Addison wants to show how we as Americans have to be willing to help these children by bringing DNA labs to African courts  This is definitely a novel with a message , but with skill he gives us an excellent story to surround the issues that he wants us to be aware of.  If this book had been tackled by a less skilled author, it would have been a book that you thought you should read and you would struggle through.  Corbin was able to weave a beautiful story through the difficult issues that he brings to the front in this excellent novel.  I encourage you to read it.

    In The Garden of Burning Sand by Corban Addison (Quercus) Recommended by Molly at Fountainhead Bookstore Hendersonville NC

  • Inheritance from Mother by Minae Mizumura

    Inheritance from Mother by Minae MizumuraI just finished reading an amazing new novel in translation: Inheritance from Mother by Minae Mizumura (translated by Juliet Winters Carpenter). It’s a long novel that was published over a two-year period in a Japanese magazine, as a homage to earlier Japanese serial novels. It follows a middle-aged woman named Mitsuki and her attempts to rearrange her life upon her realization that her husband is cheating on her, that her mother will soon be dying and leaving she and her sister a sizable inheritance, and her constant ruminations on money and the ways she will fill her time and economize her savings until she, too, dies. If that all sounds morbid and dark, it is, but there is also a subtle humor at work during the novel, with both sisters talking about how they’ll celebrate when their mother finally dies--their relationship to her is fraught, to say the least--and the many flashbacks into the past add a lot of depth to the characters and the family history overall, leaving me with the feeling of really knowing these characters and of feeling sad to have to leave them by the end of the novel. Luckily, it’s relatively long, and Mizumura’s writing style is simple but elegant, not forcing you to get too bogged down in deciphering the beauty of each sentence, and really letting you enjoy the characters and the plot.

    Inheritance from Mother by Minae Mizumura, translated by Julia Winters Carpenter ($27.95, Other Press), recommended by Jacob, Malaprops Bookstore/Café, Asheville, NC.

  • Inspector of the Dead by David Morrell

    Inspector of the Dead is an absolutely riveting historical thriller.

    I'd not read one of David Morrell's mysteries before, and now I want to devour them all. I'm even going to check out the original Opium-Eater to learn more about his fascinating protagonist, Thomas De Quincey.

    Inspector of the Dead by David Morrell (Mulholland Books) Recommended by Rosemary at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • Interstellar Cinderella by Deborah Underwood, illus. Meg Hunt

    Interstllar CinderellaFantastical space-age illustrations, inventive rhyming text, and a playful spin on the classic Cinderella story make this fairy tale retelling a worthwhile addition to any bookshelf!  This Cinderella is a whiz at rocket repair and dreams of working on the fastest starships.  The prince notices her not for her appearance, but because of her quick handiwork with a socket wrench.  This would make a great gift for any fairy tale enthusiast or gear-head of any age (or any gender)!

    Interstellar Cinderella by Deborah Underwood, illus. Meg Hunt (Chronicle Books). Recommended by Johanna at Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • Invisible Beasts by Sharona Muir

    This is a fine collection of short fiction by Muir.

    Her main character, Sophia, is the heir to the gift of the family's ability to see invisible beasts. The descriptions of the beasts make you long for these to be real. Some of my favorites are the Truth Bats, the Hypnogator, and the Fine-Print Rotifers.

    The Truth Bats hang in your hair near your ears and help you make your way through the world. They will leave you in a flash if you tell a lie or even a small fib.  Sophia loses hers and makes a desperate attempt to get them back.  She has to tell her sister the truth about the invisible. The Hypnogater is an invisible alligator that has vision problems and that gives him the ability to hypnotize his victims. This invisible has a friend called the Poltergeist Possum, who takes human things. The Fine-Print Rotifers eat the fine print in documents that you have to sign.  It's not that you can't see them, it's that they are being eaten.

    This fine book full of humor and love of animals real or imagined would be a great read for any explorer.

    Invisible Beasts by Sharon Muir (Bellevue Literary Press) Recommended by Molly at The Fountainhead Bookstore, Hendersonville NC.

  • Joe Gould’s Teeth by Jill Lepore

    An intimate portayal of the enigmatic and troubled character at its core, Joe Gould's Teeth is both startlingly perceptive and seductively plotted. While providing a thorough study into the life of Joe Gould and his infamous manuscript, Lepore also transports you back into the NYC literary scene of the 1930s-40s. Don't let the size fool you, this is a great quick read with graceful, fast-paced prose and some serious emotional heft.

    Joe Gould’s Teeth by Jill Lepore ($24.95, Knopf), recommended by Donovan at Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL.

  • Keep Calm by Mike Binder

    Adam Tatum is a disgraced American ex-cop when his British father in law gets him a job with a powerful investment banker. Adam and his young family travel to London and he ends up in a high power conference at 10 Downing St. Soon after his meeting a bomb goes off and he becomes a suspect.

    Keep Calm is a powerfully written political conspiracy where one innocent man is caught in the expanding web of lies and deceit, and must protect his family from the crossfire while he attempts to stay alive and prove his innocence. Action packed and full of suspense, this debut author has written a winner.

    Keep Calm by Mike Binder (Henry Holt & Company) Recommended by Nancy at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

  • Kids of Appetite by Dave Arnold

    David Arnold is special. Kids of Appetite somehow combines extreme quirk, mystery, and heart within a literary sensibility that's often undervalued in young adult novels. I loved Arnold's debut Mosquitoland for Mim's singular and compelling voice as she explored her internal and external world. In Kids of Appetite, Arnold once again offers unique voices that linger long after you turn the last page. Mad and Vic are narrators with their own motivations - propelled by the secrets and stories of Baz, Nzuzi, and Coco. Let yourself fall into these characters-- become a Kid of Appetite.

    Kids of Appetite by David Arnold (Viking Books for Young Readers, $18.99), recommended by Johanna at Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • Killed at the Whim of a Hat: A Jimm Juree Mystery by Colin Cotterill

    Jimm Juree, first-person narrator of this excellent mystery, is a crime reporter out of work. Her mother, with early dementia, sold the family home and business and relocated to southern, rural Thailand. Jimm's grandfather, a retired cop, rarely talks and her younger brother who wants to be a world-class body builder moved with the family; her older brother, a transgendered former beauty queen now computer hacker stayed in the city.

    Suddenly, things begin to happen in their new village: A Volkswagon van, complete with two skeletons, is discovered by a well-digger then a visiting Buddist abbott is violently murdered shortly after Jimm meets a nun and a monk who become suspects in the case. As Jimm works the case hoping to break back into news, she finds allies in unexpected places.

    The charm of Whim isn't the crime story. It's the characters, the whimsey, and the humor woven subtly through the novel that make it a cut above the rest. Of course, the chapter headings, quotes from President Malaprop, are well worth the read. Don't miss the beginning of this excellent new series!

    NOTE: Many readers will remember Cotterill's wonderful series about Dr. Siri, a 70-something Laotian county coroner.
    I predict even more fans for Jimm!

    Killed at the Whim of a Hat: A Jimm Juree Mystery by Colin Cotterill ($18.99, Minotaur), recommended by Molly, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.

  • Kiss Carlo by Adriana Trigiani

    Kiss Carlo by Adriana TrigianiReading Kiss Carlo is like enjoying a big Italian dinner with your extended family. You will come to love Nicky Castone,, a cab driver who is not sure if he is really pursuing his life's passion. Calla Borelli works in her father's theater but is worried that she will not be able to hold on to what will be his greatest legacy. Mix into this an Italian ambassador's visit to the US and a family's secrets and you have the ingredients for a novel that is hard to put down. When it is over, you will be begging the author for more about this wonderful and lovable family.

    Kiss Carlo by Adriana Trigiani ($27.99, Harper), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

  • Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal

    Rarely do we get a triple recommendation so quickly. There must be something to this!

    Donovan: This novel is sometimes spicy and sometimes sweet, but always well-done. Requisite food pun aside, Stradal crafts an array of characters that are vividly real and human and petty and just flat-out fun to read more and more about as the pages blow by...This is one of the most natural and fluid and evocative narratives I’ve read in a long time, and it far surpasses any simple plot summarization. This book is for anyone that enjoys the power of good writing and great story-telling...

    Amanda: Stradal’s debut shines like a beacon of warm-hearted hope. Kitchens is the tale of Eva Thorvald, a young woman with a prodigious talent and otherwordly palate. We watch Eva grow from a girl who cultivates chocolate habanero peppers in her closet to the architect of the most exclusive pop-up dining experience in the world. A different character and a different dish narrate each chapter, and we are left with a beautiful image of food, culture, and family. Kitchens of the Great Midwest is the book I’ve been looking for.

    Stefani: What Donavan and Amanda said. I just make the peanut butter bars…..and they are FREAKIN’ AWESOME!!!

    Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal (Pamela Dorman Books) Recommended by Donovan, Amanda, and Stefani at Inkwood Books Tampa FL

  • Kristin Lavransdatter, I: The Wreath by Sigrid Undset

    Written by Nobel Prize-winning author Sigrid Undset, this trilogy is a masterpiece, with each book in the series better than the last. Set in the 14th-century and reveling in the everyday details of medieval life in Norway, the saga follows one woman through childhood, young love, married life, motherhood and into old age. The Wreath is Kristin's coming-of-age story: she recklessly enters a relationship with an older man that puts her at odds with her father and the Christian church she was raised in. Persevere past the unfamiliar names and places and you will be rewarded with a richly immersive literary experience.

    Kristin Lavransdatter, I: The Wreath by Sigrid Undset ($16, Penguin), recommended by Elese, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill NC.

  • Leaving Lucy Pear by Anna Solomon

    A big, heartrending novel about the entangled lives of two women in 1920s New England, both mothers to the same unforgettable girl.

    In 1917 Beatrice Haven—the unwed teenage daughter of wealthy Jewish industrialists—sneaks out of the house in the middle of the night to abandon her newborn baby at the foot of a pear tree hoping the girl will be discovered by a poor Irish Catholic family led by headstrong Emma Murphy.

    Ten years later, Prohibition is in full swing and post–World War I America is in the grips of rampant xenophobia. Bea is inadvertently reunited with Emma Murphy and the abandoned child—now a bright, bold, cross-dressing girl named Lucy Pear—forever altering the fates of all three women.

    Leaving Lucy Pear by Anna Solomon (Viking) Recommended by Bookstore1Sarasota Sarasota FL

  • Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

    Jodi Picoult's Leaving Time was everything a Picoult fan could want and more. Told from four different points of view, it is a story of a young girl searching for her mother, a missing elephant researcher, and the two people she has enlisted to help her: a once famous psychic who has lost her ability to communicate with the dead, and a down on his luck private investigator.

    Picoult employs the use of the elephants, as she has done with many different subjects throughout her novels, to further the story while teaching the reader countless new facts about the majestic creatures, mainly how they grieve. Time has the familiar Picoult tone but is vastly different from her previous novels. Picoult's uncanny ability to get inside the head of each character, man or woman, child or adult, keeps us connected to each character, hanging on every word to find out what each individual fate will be.

    Even Picoult's biggest fans, who have come to expect shocks, won't see the twist ending coming and that is perhaps the most impressive thing about the consistently unpredictable Jodi Picoult.

    Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult ($28, Ballantine), recommended by Chelsea, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.

  • Less by Andrew Sean Greer

    Less by Andrew Sean GreerIn Andrew Sean Greer's new novel, Less, novelist Arthur Less, on the brink of turning 50, runs away from an ex-boyfriend's wedding to go on a world tour. "Despite all his mishaps, missteps, misunderstandings, and mistakes, Less is, above all, a love story." The voice is charming, the characters are hilarious and delightful, and you cheer for Less through this entire anxiety-ridden trek across the globe to find himself and what will make him truly happy. A perfect feel-good literary beach read for 2017!

    Less by Andrew Sean Greer ($26.00*, Lee Boudreaux Books), recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Let Me Explain You by Annie Liontas

    There's something so perfectly universal about a novel about family, and Let Me Explain You is no different.

    Stavros Stavros Mavrakis--Greek immigrant, father of three, proprietor of the Gala Diner--believes that he will be dead in ten days. With this in mind, he writes an e-mail to his estranged ex-wife and three grown daughters, telling them exactly how they should "fix" their lives. His family writes off the email as a cry for attention, but when Stavros goes missing they begin to reevaluate their own lives and his place in them.

    This is a hilarious and tender novel about fathers and daughters, love, loss, and the impact our decisions have on those we love. You'll laugh, you'll cry--it's a veritable Greek tragicomedy!

    Let Me Explain You by Annie Liontas (Scribner) Recommended by Amanda at Inkwood Books Tampa FL
     

  • Lila by Marilynne Robinson

    Lila is a good reminder of why I love Marilynne Robinson's rich writing.

    The main character, Lila, becomes the wife of the Reverend Ames (a wonderfully gentle and sympathetic man who appears in Robinson's other two books set in Gilead). When we first meet Lila, she is an untamed creature, but through the love of her rescuer, Doll, and Ames, she matures and finds a sense of security.

    Lila By Marilynne Robinson ($26, Farrar, Straus and Giroux), recommended by Mamie at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC.

  • Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

    George Saunders is too good for this world. His first novel spans just one night, and is one of the best explorations of love and death I have ever read. In a graveyard, the night Willie Lincoln is interred, we enter the bardo: a world between life and afterlife. As Lincoln mourns the death of his son, a chorus of voices share their own lives, deaths, griefs, and hopes. Like Lincoln, the novel is tender and humane, and delivers a message we all need to hear over and over again: to be as good as we can to each other.

    Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders ($28, Random House), recommended by Tyler, Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert

    Little & Lion by Brandy ColbertAfter Pointe (um, hello, go read that if you haven’t), I waited and waited and waited for Brandy Colbert’s next novel. I was not disappointed. Tackling the always timely topics of sexuality, mental health, and the beautifully, murky path that we walk when we love someone. Perfect for fans of Julie Murphy and Nina LaCour.

    Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert ($17.99*, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers), recommended by Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

    Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste NgFrom Lemuria Books’ blog: "The strength of Ng’s work is her ability to compose a kind of literary music out of the most ordinary things in ordinary life, from Mrs. Richardson’s first encounter with Mia and Pearl to the opening paragraph with Richardson home set ablaze. These aren’t just mere occurrences but intricately woven commentaries on the romanticization of motherhood and the false permanence of the American Dream. Ng presents all this with balanced weight of lyricism, wit, and a dash of melancholy, making for a recipe that is just right. While the differing perspectives were sometimes overcrowded, this gem is a compelling examination of mothers’ relationships with their children, their relationships with other mothers, and their vast cultural and class experiences.” Read more...

    Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng ($27.00*, Penguin Press), recommended by Lemuria Books, Jackson, MS.

  • Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion by Alex Smith

    Instead of traveling through the woods, this Little Red travels across the African plains to bring her Auntie some medicine. The Very Hungry Lion didn’t know what he was getting in to when he decided to mess with this smart, strong girl!

    Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion by Alex Smith (Scholastic Press, $17.99), recommended by Jackie at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • Long Way Gone by Charles Martin

    Charles Martin has done it again with his latest novel. A retelling of the parable of the prodigal son I highly recommend.

    Long Way Gone by Charles Martin ($25.99, Thomas Nelson), recommended by Kitty, Litchfield Books, Pawleys Island, SC.

  • Lost & Found by Brooke Davis

    Seven year old Millie Bird meets Karl, Agatha and Manny as she goes on a journey to find her mom.

    After Millie’s father passes away, her mom leaves her in the ladies underwear department of a department store; that’s how she meets Karl (87) and Manny (misunderstood). Agatha (82) lives across the street from Millie and once she realizes that Millie’s mom has left her, she decides to join the three of them in the search to find her.

    The four of them get into trouble along the way, making for a humorous and sometimes disappointing journey.

    Lost & Found by Brooke Davis (Dutton) Recommended by Christina at Blue Ridge Books Waynesville NC

  • Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

    Fall under the spell of the magical Sarah Addison Allen as she weaves a Southern fairytale of a lost lake, a boy who turned himself into an alligator, and a series of second chances for newly-widowed Kate, her daughter Devin, and her eccentric great-aunt Eby.

    Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen ($9.99, St. Martin's Press), recommended by Jill, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

     

  • Love and Ghost Letters by Chantel Acevedo

    This is the first novel by Chantel and it is as good as her other two.

    Josephina is the daughter of a Cuban police sergeant in pre-Castro Cuba. She leads a wonderful life until she falls for a poor man.

    She becomes estranged from her father and at one point thinks her father is dead. But he is not and the letters he writes to her (she thinks she is getting letters from a ghost) reveals his family relationship and his love for her.

    A wonderful story of family with a pervasive Cuban flavor. I loved it! This book won the 2006 International Latino Book Award.

    Love and Ghost Letters by Chantel Acevedo (St. Martin's Griffin) Recommended by Stephanie at Page & Palette Fairhope AL

  • Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran

    A heartbreaking, soul-wrenching, lovely and poetic book. Sekaran's two protagonists, Soli and Kavya, play tug of war with your heart and it's impossible to divide their stories into black and white. A politically important novel, because of its portrayal of immigration issues and the people affected by our failing policies, but Sekaran's story is much more than that; it's about love, and the storms we weather to protect it.

    Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran ($27, G.P. Putnam's Sons), recommended by Rachel, Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • Lucy by Randy Cecil

    This new book from Cecil has all the charm and energy of an early black-and-white movie. Organized into four acts, the main actors are Lucy, a little street dog; Eleanor, the girl who feeds her scraps each morning; and Eleanor's father, Sam, who must overcome his stage fright to succeed as a juggler on the vaudeville stage. Precise repetition of actions and reactions give the story clear beats, and readers will enjoy finding tiny changes in Cecil's camera-lens illustrations. An excellent choice for fans of dogs, juggling, and dreams coming true.

    Lucy by Randy Cecil (Candlewick, $19.99), recommended by Cecilia at Hooray for Books, Arlington, VA.

  • Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

    Magpie Murders by Anthony HorowitzWhat's better than a murder mystery by the man who created "Foyle's War"? Two murder mysteries, combined into one devilishly delightful package. We're presented with an Agatha Christie-like period mystery--whose ending is missing and whose loathed author has died. Or was he killed? His editor is hot on the case in modern day, not sure of much except she needs those missing pages.

    Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz ($27.99, Harper), recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Marshlands by Matthew Olshan

    In the tradition of Wilfred Thesiger's The Marsh Arabs and J. M. Coetzee's Waiting for the Barbarians, Marshlands explores a culture virtually snuffed out under Saddam Hussein, and how we cement our identities by pointing at someone to call "other." Elegant, brief, and searing, the book shivers with the life of a fragile, lost world.

    Marshlands will live on my favorite shelf, for sure. It is a surprising and well-written novel by Matthew Olshan, who also has a fun children’s book titled A Voyage in the Clouds: The (Mostly) True Story of the First International Flight by Balloon in 1785.

    Marshlands by Matthew Olshan ($14, Farrar, Straus and Giroux), recommended by Emöke, Malaprops Books, Asheville, NC.

  • Memoirs of a Polar Bear By Yoko Tawada; Susan Bernofsky (Translator)

    Memoirs of a Polar Bear By Yoko Tawada; Susan Bernofsky (Translator)

    Dreamy and philosophical and bittersweet, this book makes me wish I could get my paw-hands on more memoirs written by polar bears.

    "After the death of all living creatures, all our unfulfilled wishes and unspoken words will go on drifting in the stratosphere, they will combine with one another and linger upon the earth like a fog. What will this fog look like in the eyes of the living? Will they fail to remember the dead and instead indulge in banal meteorological conversations like: 'It's foggy today, don't you think?'"

    Memoirs of a Polar Bear By Yoko Tawada; Susan Bernofsky (translator) ($16.95, New Directions Publishing Corporation), recommended by Elizabeth, Avid Bookstore, Athens, GA.

  • Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick

    The year is 2073 when a visitor comes to a very remote island. 

    In seven stories going back, way back, in time we see a painter, vampire, Viking, and others that are connected to this island and bound in some way by an agonizing love. The writing is breathtaking and powerful art. You won't be able to put this book down or stop thinking of it. Ages 14+

    Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick ($17.99, Roaring Brook Press), recommended by Carol, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Miller's Valley by Anna Quindlen

    A coming of age novel reminiscent of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Mimi is a precocious young girl who struggles to survive under emotionally difficult family circumstances. Mimi wonders if she will ever achieve her dream of leaving Miller's Valley and making something of her life.

    Beautifully written!

    Miller's Valley by Anna Quindlen (Random House) Recommended by Linda at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

  • Miss Jane by Brad Watson

    A subtle, yet powerful portrait of an extraordinary character, Miss Jane thrills with some of the most gorgeous prose I have ever encountered.

    Jane Chisholm is born with a genital defect that, in rural Mississippi in the early 20th century, somewhat limits her prospects for a “normal” life. Populated with lovingly wrought characters, sly humor, and keen observations of the human heart, Watson's novel is a beautiful and rare bird indeed.

    Miss Jane by Brad Watson (W. W. Norton & Company) Recommended by Tony at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • Mississippi Blood by Greg Iles

    Andrew at Lemuria Books reviews Mississippi Blood, the final, riveting chapter in Greg Iles's Natchez Burning trilogy. (The second volume, The Bone Tree, was a 2016 Southern Book Prize winner). The whole trilogy is set in the Natchez, Mississippi, and centers on long-running Iles protagonist Penn Cage, who also appeared in The Quiet Game in 1999. The trilogy also features appearances from characters in the previously stand-alone and unrelated thriller Dead Sleep from 2001.

    "I personally first encountered the character of Penn Cage about four years ago on the pages of his second novel, Turning Angel. Penn became the latest in my personal parade of literary types that I treasure: the non-professional private eye," writes Andrew, about characters intertwined inseparably from their setting: "And that’s the thing about these characters: they inevitably become inseparable from their settings. Penn lives and breathes Natchez like its sins and successes are wholly his burden to bear."

    Read more about Mississippi Blood at Lemuria Book's blog.

    Mississippi Blood by Greg Iles ($28.99, William Morrow & Company), recommended by Andrew, Lemuria Books, Jackson, MS.

  • Modern Lovers by Emma Straub

    Modern Lovers by Emma StraubFrom the publisher: "From the author of the New York Times bestseller The Vacationers, a smart, highly entertaining novel about a tight-knit group of friends from college-- and what it means to finally grow up, well after adulthood has set in. Straub packs wisdom and insight and humor together in a satisfying book about neighbors and nosiness, ambition and pleasure, the excitement of youth, the shock of middle age, and the fact that our passions--be they food, or friendship, or music--never go away, they just evolve and grow along with us."

    Modern Lovers by Emma Straub ($16.00, Riverhead Books), recommended by Writer’s Block Bookstore, Winter Park, FL.

  • Monsters in Appalachia: Stories by Sheryl Monks

    From the publisher: The characters within these fifteen stories are in one way or another staring into the abyss. While some are awaiting redemption, others are fully complicit in their own undoing. We come upon them in the mountains of West Virginia, in the backyards of rural North Carolina, and at tourist traps along Route 66, where they smolder with hidden desires and struggle to resist the temptations that plague them. A Melungeon woman has killed her abusive husband and drives by the home of her son’s new foster family, hoping to lure the boy back. An elderly couple witnesses the end-times and is forced to hunt monsters if they hope to survive. A young girl “tanning and manning” with her mother and aunt resists being indoctrinated by their ideas about men. A preacher’s daughter follows in the footsteps of her backsliding mother as she seduces a man who looks a lot like the devil. A master of Appalachian dialect and colloquial speech, Monks writes prose that is dark, taut, and muscular, but also beguiling and playful. Monsters in Appalachia is a powerful work of fiction.

    Damita at The Country Bookshop says, "I loved this collection. If you like Hillbilly Elegy, you will enjoy this."

    Monsters in Appalachia by Sheryl Monks ($16.99, Vandalia Press), recommended by Damita, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

  • More of This World or Maybe Another by Barb Johnson

    Alternately funny and heartbreaking, this book of inter-connected short stories depicts a South populated with characters I know and love.

    This is a book made to be read aloud or dog-eared and underlined to celebrate its beauty.

    More of This World or Maybe Another by Barb Johnson (Harper Perennial) Recommended by Elizabeth at Charis Books Decatur GA

  • Moshi-Moshi by Banana Yoshimoto

    Renowned for her novella Kitchen, Yoshimoto is back with the story of a love murder-suicide's aftermath. An ode to life after death-part jagged family portrait and part mystery with tugs of the surreal. As always, Yoshimoto delves into the psychology of her characters with tender attention, exploring grief and its warped passage. Murakami fans with enjoy Yoshimoto's trademark style, her prose as cleansing as steam water slipping off a mirror.

    Moshi-Moshi by Banana Yoshimoto ($25, Counterpoint Press), recommended by Elese, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • Mosquitoland

    On a Greyhound bus headed from Jackson, MS (aka Mosquitoland) back to Cleveland, Ohio, 16-year-old Mim knows that if she can get to her sick mother by Labor Day, then all the confusion of the divorce, her new stepmom, and the recent move will no longer matter.

    Mim's voice in this amazing amalgam of a love story, a road trip novel, and a coming-of-age story, will stay with you long after you finish Mosquitoland.
     
    Mosquitoland by David Arnold (Viking) Recommended by Jill at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

  • Mothers, Tell Your Daughters by Bonnie Jo Campbell

    In her latest collection, Bonnie Jo Campbell taps into the lives of working class women to reveal truths that are raw and inspiring.

    The women in these stories are victims, survivors, fighters, dreamers, providers and drifters. All of them vulnerable but incredibly tough, they navigate the complex and often baffling territory of relationships with men and with one another.

    Touching but never sentimental, these stories are Campbell at her best.

    Mothers, Tell Your Daughters by Bonnie Jo Campbell (W. W. Norton & Company) Recommended by CF at Square Books Oxford MS

  • Ms. Bixby's Last Day by John David Anderson

    A kids' book that the world needs to read, Ms. Bixby's Last Day is an affirmation of the immeasurable difference that the Good Ones can make in a life.

    Told in alternating chapters by Steve, Brand, and Topher, it is a story about friendship, the power of a teacher, and the challenge of facing grief with strength and hope.

    With touches of humor, each boy reveals elements of himself and Ms. Bixby's imprint, as the trio responds to her illness. A perfect choice for fans of Rob Buyea's Because of Mr. Terupt, this book will spur you to profess and practice the doing of good things and to leave your footprint on the paths of those with whom you are making the journey of life.

    For readers age 11 and up.

    Ms. Bixby's Last Day by John David Anderson (Walden Pond) Recommended by Cindy at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent

    My Absolute Darling by Gabriel TallentMy Absolute Darling is a brand new debut novel that you will be hearing a lot about. Abbe and I found it remarkable and compelling, as have a host of other readers, while some have been repulsed by it. A disturbing, authentic, and suspenseful account of the worst and best that can coincide in the world, My Absolute Darling contains gorgeous descriptions of the natural world of the California coast, original and complex characters, and encounters with intimate, inescapable evil. Fourteen-year-old Turtle Alveston is the hero and she and her father are individuals you will not be able to get out of your mind.

    My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent ($27.00*, Riverhead Books), recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • My Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Emil Ferris

    My Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Emil FerrisI've picked up a few graphic novels before, but never been hooked. I thought my brain just wasn't wired for the format. My Favorite Thing Is Monsters blew my mind. I'm usually a slow reader, but I could not put this book down, burned through its gorgeous, dark, unruly pages, and was crushed when it was over. Can't wait for part two. The profound emotional sophistication combined with the eccentric pulp horror art creates a unique and deeply satisfying reading experience.

    My Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Emil Ferris ($39.99*, Fantagraphics Books), recommended by Hills & Hamlets Bookshop, Chattahoochee Hills, GA .

  • My Italian Bulldozer by Andrew McCall Smith

    My Italian Bulldozer by Andrew McCall SmithWhen writer Paul Stewart heads to the idyllic Italian town of Montalcino to finish his already late book, it seems like the perfect escape from stressful city life. Upon landing, however, things quickly take a turn for the worse when he discovers his hired car is nowhere to be found. With no record of any reservation and no other cars available it looks like Paul is stuck at the airport. That is, until an enterprising stranger offers him an unexpected alternative. While there may be no cars available there is something else on offer: a bulldozer. With little choice in the matter, Paul accepts and so begins a series of laugh out loud adventures through the Italian countryside, following in the wake of Paul and his Italian Bulldozer. A story of unexpected circumstance and lesson in making the best of what you have, My Italian Bulldozer is a warm holiday read guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

    My Italian Bulldozer by AndrewMcCall Smith ($25.95, Pantheon Books), recommended by Page & Palette, Fairhope, AL.

  • My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

    Everyone else can stop writing sentences and paragraphs and even books now, because it’s impossible to beat these. Compared to this perfectly distilled little novel, bigger books seem waterlogged. If you’re a human with a family, read it. 

    My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout (Random House) Recommended by Mary Laura Philpott at Parnassus Books Nashville TN

  • My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh

    A wonderfully written story about a boy coming of age in the late 80s in Baton Rouge, LA. It is narrated by a 14-year-old boy who, along with all of the other young boys in the neighborhood, is infatuated with 15-year-old Lindy Simpson.

    Everything changes the summer Lindy is brutally raped, and no one is ever charged with the crime. Told with humor, some sadness, and at times wisdom beyond his 14 years, the story focuses on all of the suspects and shows how suspicion and violence can change lives forever.

    This debut author spins a tale that will grab you from the first page and keep you turning pages until the last.

    My Sunshine Awayby M.O. Walsh (G.P. Putnam's Sons) Recommended by Nancy at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC.

    A 2016 Southern Book Prize Winner

  • Neverhome by Laird Hunt

    Understanding that her more delicate husband would never survive the Civil War, Constance Thompson takes up the moniker Ash, disquises herself as a man and joins the Union army in his stead.

    Inspired by true stories of women who wore blue and gray, readers should not dismiss Neverhome as one novel among many.

    Neverhome by Laird Hunt (Little, Brown and Company) Recommended by Lyn at Square Books Oxford MS

  • Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

    Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica TownsendSuch a wonderful book. For a few days after I finished it, I actually missed reading it - where's my daily dose of Morrigan Crow? I hear that the author has a 9 book cycle planned, and my most fervent wish is that by the time it's over, it would be just as famous as Harry potter.

    Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend ($17.99*, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers), recommended by Bookmiser, Roswell, GA.

  • New American Stories by BenMarcus (ed.)

    Quite simply, this collection reminds you just how jaw-droppingly awesome the short story form can be.

    From realism to hyper-realism to post-modernism to post-post-modernism to so-far-after-modernism-that-we-don’t-even-know-what-to-call-it-anymore-modernism.

    Everything in this anthology is pulsing and alive, and there’s not a story in here that won’t stick with you in the days to follow despite your best attempts to shake it off. Marcus does a phenomenal job finding the very best and stylistically diverse writers working today, and if you’re at all interested in where fiction’s going and just what amazing, weird, crazy awesome things it’s doing right now, then you have to read this book.

    New American Stories by Ben Marcus (Vintage) Recommended by Donovan at Inkwood Books Tampa FL

  • News of the World by Paulette Jiles

    Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd makes his living reading the newspapers from across the world to Texan audiences. In the winter of 1870, he accepts responsibility for returning a 10-year old girl, kidnapped by the Kiowa when she was six, to her family near San Antonio. This book has it all: stupendous writing, characters that get under your skin and burrow deep into your heart, great pacing, and an ending that makes you cry with joy and relief. I would recommend this book to a wide array of readers, including fans of westerns, historical fiction, road trip novels, and literary fiction. Also a great choice for book clubbers. Other authors that came to mind while I read were Ron Rash, Charles Portis, and Mary Doria Russell.

    News of the World by Paulette Jiles (William Morrow $22.99), recommended by Janet, Quail Ridge Books customer, Raleigh, NC.

  • No One is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts

    No One is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie Powell WattsNo One is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts is a brilliant recasting of The Great Gatsby among African-Americans in a small town in North Carolina. But I am here to tell you that you don't have to know anything about Gatsby to be completely entranced with this great new novel. Stephanie Powell Watts can flat out write.

    No One is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts ($26.99, Ecco Press), recommended by The Regulator Bookshop, Durham, NC.

    A Spring 2017 Okra Pick!