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  • 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

  • Mrs. Caliban by Rachel Ingalls

    Mrs. Caliban by Rachel IngallsA reissue, first published in 1983, this is the surprisingly moving story of an unhappy suburban housewife who harbors, and loves, a six-foot-seven frog-faced creature who has just escaped from a research lab.

    None other than John Updike had this to say about the novel: “So deft and austere in its prose, so drolly casual in its fantasy, but opening up into a deep female sadness that makes us stare. An impeccable parable, beautifully written from first paragraph to last."

    Mrs. Caliban by Rachel Ingalls ($13.95*, New Directions Publishing Corporation), recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • 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

  • Need to Know by Karen Cleveland

    Need to Know by Karen ClevelandClear your calendar because you won't want to do anything until you finish this book! This was intense without being over the top - fans of espionage thrillers are going to love it!

    Need to Know by Karen Cleveland ($26.00*, Ballantine Books), recommended by Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC.

  • 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!

  • No One Knows by J.T. Ellison

    J.T. Ellison’s newest novel, which has been compared to Gillian Flynn, Paula Hawkins, and Liane Moriarty, releases today. While the book is a departure from Ellison’s other books (this one is a stand-alone and, rather than having a protagonist who is either in law enforcement or is closely connected to someone who is, this lead character is distrustful of the police), regular readers will recognize her suspenseful pacing and quick dialogue.

    Aubrey’s husband disappeared five years ago, when he failed to meet up with friends at the Opryland Hotel, and has now been declared legally dead. Aubrey has been through a hellacious five years. First, her husband went missing and then she had to endure a trial, as she was the prime suspect for his murder. Her mother-in-law testified against her and is now poised to start a legal battle over the life insurance money due to Aubrey. On this day of finality, the day she receives the official declaration of Josh’s death, Aubrey meets a man who reminds her of her husband. Chase’s mannerisms, his posture, and his intonation all match Josh’s…but Josh is dead, right?

    What follows is a suspenseful, page-turning story as Aubrey searches for answers, sure to suck you in until you’ve finished. Adding to the book’s appeal, readers familiar with Nashville will recognize several locations, such as Dragon Park and the Tin Angel restaurant. If you loved The Husband’s Secret, Gone Girl, or The Girl on the Train, you owe it to yourself to read No One Knows.

    No One Knows by J.T. Ellison (Gallery Books) Recommended by Laura at Reading Rock Books Dixon TN

  • Not I I See You First by Eric Lindstrom

    Parker is blind and has been for years. She copes by not caring what anyone thinks of her -- as long as they follow The Rules, a set of what she considers common sense guidelines for dealing with someone who's blind. Rules she enforces even more since her best friend Scott broke her heart two and a half years ago. But when Scott shows back up, Parker starts to realize that maybe she doesn't know everything she thought she did. Lindstrom has a way of getting you into his character's head, making you see things from her perspective that you wouldn't otherwise be able to. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstom ($9.99, Poppy Books), recommended by Melissa, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

  • Nutshell by Ian McEwan

    A modern-day reimagining of Hamlet, as told by a third-trimester fetus. No, really! From his cramped quarters in the womb, our yet-to-be-born narrator overhears his mother and  uncle plotting to murder his father. Sure, the premise is far-fetched, but you'll be amazed how McEwan pulls it off. Nutshell is an ingenious, hilarious page-turner of a novel.

    Nutshell by Ian McEwan (Nan A. Talese, $24.95), recommended by Travis at Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • Olivia the Spy by Ian Falconer

    Olivia the Spy by Ian FalconerIan Falconer brings Olivia alive once again in this hilarious new book. Lovers of the classic Olivia books or those who have not even met Olivia yet will thoroughly enjoy Olivia the Spy. Falconer’s comical illustrations are very funny, a combination of drawings, painting and photos that bring even more life to his stories. They are quirky and will brighten anyone’s day. Read more at Lemuria Books blog.

    Olivia the Spy by Ian Falconer ($17.99, Atheneum Books), recommended by Lemuria Books, Jackson, MS.

  • One for the Money by Janet Evanovich

    A fun, light-hearted read with a likeable heroine (Stephanie Plum) who after losing her job seeks out her cousin Vinnie, a bail bondsman, about a filing job.

    That job has just been filled, but there's an opening for a bounty hunter, and the money's good. Stephanie blackmails her way into the job.

    Of course, Stephanie is unbelievably unqualified for this job, but a mixture of desperation, pride, and stubbornness take her a long way.

    One for the Money by Janet Evanovich (St. Martin's Press) Recommended by Cynthia at Book Swap of Carrollwood Tampa FL

  • Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz

    What a fun book!! This page turner is exciting, thrilling, and heart stopping.

    The US government secretly trained a group of orphaned children to be lethal assassins when they grew up. Evan is one of these children. Now a grown man, he has left the program and disappeared. He only resurfaces to help those in desperate need.

    It is through this work that one of his enemies has found him. But, which enemy – the government, one of his fellow orphans or a relative of one of the many bad guys he has gotten rid of? Filled with lots of neat techno gadgets, lots of twists and turns, this book actually does take you on a roller coaster ride, one that will leave you breathless and waiting for the next installment of the Nowhere Man.

    Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz (Minotaur) Recommended by Nancy at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

  • Outline by Rachel Cusk

    From the publisher: Outline is a novel in ten conversations. Spare and lucid, it follows a novelist teaching a course in creative writing over an oppressively hot summer in Athens. She leads her students in storytelling exercises. She meets other visiting writers for dinner. She goes swimming in the Ionian Sea with her neighbor from the plane. The people she encounters speak volubly about themselves: their fantasies, anxieties, pet theories, regrets, and longings. And through these disclosures, a portrait of the narrator is drawn by contrast, a portrait of a woman learning to face a great loss.

    Outline by Rachel Cusk ($16.00, Picador USA), recommended by Angie, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

  • Over the Plain Houses by Julia Franks

    Over the Plain Houses by Julia FranksI loved Irenie from the moment I met her. The raw honesty of Irenie’s need to own her own body and soul nearly broke me at times. It’s a story of need and courage. Tradition and prejudices. Fear and power and the drive to overcome.

    Julia’s language and descriptions are vivid and beyond compare. At the first reading, I turned pages through from beginning to end without stopping. On the second, I began to underline the language, the poetry on every page.

    From 1939 to present we have “come along way, baby.” Yet, until every woman has the opportunity to be herself without man or government having control over her, we haven’t come far enough. Irenie’s soul demanded to be born. We would do well to listen to ourselves.

    I can’t say enough about Julia Frank’s writing style and use of prose. It’s everything fiction should be. Every word a sword, a sunburst, a cool mountain cave. And as a storyteller? She’s a moonspinner.

    Over the Plain Houses by Julia Franks ($26.00*, Hub City Press), recommended by FoxTale Book Shoppe, Atlanta, GA.

     Winner of the 2017 Southern Book Prize: Fiction, Literary

  • Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan & Cliff Chiang

    If you're craving more episodes of Stranger Things but can't wait for the season two release, you need Paper Girls. From Saga creator Brian K. Vaughn and Wonder Woman artist Cliff Chiang comes this spooky and amazing story of four newspaper delivery girls out in the wee hours after Halloween night. Paper Girls is thrilling and funny, peppered with excellent late 80's phrases in an incredibly unique voice.

    Paper Girls by Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan & Cliff Chiang ($9.99, Image Comics), recommended by Johanna, Flyeaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • Paper Wishes by Lois Sepahban

    Ten-year-old Manami’s family is forced to relocate to a camp for Japanese Americans during WWII.

    She tries to sneak her dog, Yujin, into the camp, but is caught by the soldiers. Manami doesn’t speak in the prison village. She writes paper wishes that she hopes will sail through the air to her dog.

    This is a beautifully written story about family and survival, perfect for young readers interested in WWII history.

    Paper Wishes by Lois Sepahban (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) Recommended by Rae Ann Parker at Parnassus Books Nashville TN

  • Pawleys Island by Dorothea Benton Frank

    Artist Rebecca Simms turns to Pawleys Island as a sanctuary from her tumultuous past. In this quaint town, she finds a cast of characters who are desperate to know her past and help her have a better future. Abigail Thurmond left the drama of the courtroom behind, when she retired to Pawleys Island to begin a new career as an author. However, when she meets Rebecca, Abigail knows she must dive back into her old career, to fight for Rebecca. Dorothea Benton Frank’s writing is a bit predictable, but light-hearted, which makes for a good beach read. Though this is the fifth book in the series, it works well as a standalone. The setting of Pawleys Island makes this a great vacation for one’s mind.

    Pawleys Island by Dorothea Benton Frank ($7.99, Berkley Publishing Group), recommended by Nicole, My Sisters Books, Pawleys Island, SC.

  • Penguin Problems by Jory John, Lane Smith (Illus.)

    Some problems are serious, some are silly, and some, well, some are just penguin problems. When the water is too salty, when the sea is too dark, when you are a bird that cannot fly, and when everyone you know looks exactly the same, well, those are penguin problems. This fun picture book is sure to make even the grumpiest young reader giggle!

    Penguin Problems by Jory John, Lane Smith (Random House Books for Young Readers, $17.99), recommended by Angie at The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

  • Penguins Don't Wear Sweaters! by Marikka Tamura, Daniel Rieley

    Penguins Don't Wear Sweaters! by Marikka Tamura, Daniel RieleyAs adorable as it is a poignant signpost for kids and adults that the taking care of the planet and its inhabitants seems sometimes far-fetched and near impossible, but worthwhile because of imagination and effort.

    Penguins Don't Wear Sweaters! by Marikka Tamura, Daniel Rieley ($16.99*, Nancy Paulsen Books), recommended by Square Books, Oxford, MS.

  • People Like Us by Dana Mele

    People Like Us by Dana MeleFrom page one, this book draws the reader. Prep schools, a dead body, main characters with secrets, grumpy detectives, unrequited love and emailed blackmail from the aforementioned dead body- and that's all just in the first few chapters. Kay might be a scholarship student, but she's also a queen bee, desperate for a soccer scholarship and even more desperate to keep her secrets. As she uncovers the mysteries of a dead girl, she also unveils secrets of the people she thought she knew best, people just like us. A thrilling page turner!

    People Like Us by Dana Mele ($17.99*, G.P. Putnam's Sons for Young Readers), recommended by Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA.

  • Perfect Little World by Kevin Wilson

    From the publisher: When Isabelle Poole meets Dr. Preston Grind, she's fresh out of high school, pregnant with her art teacher's baby, and totally on her own. Izzy knows she can be a good mother but without any money or relatives to help, she's left searching. Dr. Grind, an awkwardly charming child psychologist, has spent his life studying family, even after tragedy struck his own. Now, with the help of an eccentric billionaire, he has the chance to create a "perfect little world" called The Infinite Family Project--to study what would happen when ten children are raised collectively, without knowing who their biological parents are. Damita at The Country Bookshop says, "In the Infinite Family Project, ten babies are raised collectively with shared parents --doomed from the start! This is a compelling book with so much food for thought."

    Perfect Little World by Kevin Wilson, ($26.99, Ecco Press), recommended by Damita, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

  • Perfume River: A Novel by Robert Olen Butler

    Perfume River is a haunting reflection on the psychic scars inflicted by the Vietnam War on three men. There are brothers Robert, who went to Vietnam, and Jimmy who went to Canada. And there's Bob, whose father was a Vietnam vet. In economically direct prose, Butler finds his way into the souls of men and the way they deal with their thoughts and emotions, particularly in the context of the complex relationship of father and son. It took just one paragraph for me to understand why Butler is a Pulitzer winner.

    Perfume River: A Novel by Robert Olen Butler (Atlantic Monthly $25), recommended by Samantha at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Pickett's Charge by Charles McNair

    McNair’s prose begins thin and lapping, then gradually builds like a hurricane crescendo that carries the reader on a whitewater crest toward a conclusion that is as unexpected as it is dreadful.

    From the top of that mountainous wave of skillfully drawn landscapes, familiarly detailed characters, and painfully wrought human interactions, we get a glimpse, through Threadgill’s last steps on earth, of what might have been, had Threadgill--had all the Billy Yanks and Johnny Rebs of the world--chosen to throw a barbecue instead of launch a Civil War.

    Pickett's Charge by Charles McNair ($18.95, Livingston Press), recommended by Connie, Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC.

  • Pig the Pug by Aaron Blabey

    From the publisher: Pig is a greedy and selfish pug. He has all the bouncy balls, bones, and chew toys a dog could ever want yet he refuses to share with his poor friend, Trevor. Little does he know, however, that being greedy has its consquences. Join Pig as he learns to share--the hard way! Young readers will love the irresistibly quirky and funny illustrations that are paired with a relatable lesson of learning to share with others.

    Kathryn at The Country Bookshop says, "My favorite storybook right now!"

    Pig the Pug by Aaron Blabey ($11.99, Scholastic Press), recommended by Kathryn, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

  • Pond by Claire-Louise Bennet

    Interesting, contemplative, lovely, and full of exquisite prose, Pond is hard for me to define. It's low on plot but high on character development and imagery, and I appreciated how the lead character was revealed little by little through her actions and not-necessarily-reliable brand of honesty.  Also: THAT COVER! #swoon.

    Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett (Pub, $00), recommended by Janet at the Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • Promise by Minrose Gwin

    Promise by Minrose GwinWhen a tornado of epic proportions ruins the town of Tupelo, Mississippi in 1936, the death toll was steep. But when we discover that the deaths in the black community were NEVER counted, well, that takes this novel based on a true story, totally to a much higher level. This book is bound to be a book club favorite. It's got everything a club needs for discussion. And, the fact that this actually happened, is incredibly noteworthy as well as tragic. With characters that jump and leap from the page, PROMISE promises to keep you reading far into the night. I loved this story.

    I could not put this book down. I felt like I was trapped in the tornado, wandering through the devastated streets and blown apart buildings, feeling the chaos and brokenness. In the midst of it all, I could also feel the strength and determination of in the midst of Dovey and Jo, and experience their humanity, honesty, obstinance and kindness. With all the fires, hurricanes and floods we’ve had around the country recently, along with racial tensions, this story, though set in 1936, speaks loudly to us today.

    Promise by Minrose Gwin ($25.99, William Morrow), recommended by Copperfish Books, Punta Gorda, FL.

     A Winter 2018 Okra Pick

  • Purity by Jonathan Franzen

    Purity is a big novel that will support the existing view that one of our finest novelists is Jonathan Franzen.

    The title character, Purity (Pip) Tyler, is a young woman of our time, a recent college graduate with no serious job prospects and a heap of debt. She becomes increasingly disturbed by not knowing who her father is, and signs up for an internship with The Sunlight Project, an internet outfit whose mission is to expose all sorts of secrets, because she thinks that TSP also might help locate her father.

    The group is run by Andreas Wolf, who was born in Cold War East Germany, and his family relationships might seem to make Pip’s look like the Cleavers, but hers are not at all simple, either.

    Psychological, political, and sexual constructs are formed by both state and personal dramas, and how they unravel forms a story with the sort of meaning one hopes for but does not often find in the modern novel.

    Purity by Jonathan Franzen (Farrar Straus Giroux) Recommended by RH at Square Books Oxford MS

  • Quiet Dell by Jayne Anne Phillips

    Quiet DellAward-winning author Phillips has been haunted by this story for 40 years. Her novel is based on the murder of the Chicago widow Asta Eicher and her three children in 1931. Lonely and out of money, Asta corresponds with a seemingly moneyed and well-mannered stranger named Harry Powers. She is lured to West Virginia, where, within a few days, the family is brutally murdered. Emily Thornhill is the Chicago journalist who becomes deeply involved in solving the sensational case, during which she falls into a passionate but problematic love affair. Phillips portrays the Eicher family so charmingly, especially the youngest child, Annabelle, that our horror and outrage are tenfold. This earns a place on the shelf with such classics as Night of the Hunter and In Cold Blood.

    Quiet Dell by Jayne Anne Phillips ($28, Scribner) recommended by Lisa, Square Books, Oxford, MS.

  • Rabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett

    In the Babbitt house bustling like a rabbit hutch, you'll find a cast of characters you simply will not forget: a sleep-eating sister and sleep-swimming mother, a father exploring femininity, a parental parrot, and a daughter named after Elvis Presley. By attempting to understand herself, Elvis frames her life in beautiful juxtapositions, her then-life with mom and now-life without running deep and parallel. Honest with youth and grief, Elvis looks hard at what makes us human, perfectly mixing whimsy and absurdity. She exists at the intersection of science and wonder, willing to live in the face of death. Rabbit Cake is cause for celebration.

    Rabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett ($15.95, Tin House Books), recommended by Amanda, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • Radiance of Tomorrow by Ishmael Beah

    In Radiance of Tomorrow, Beah turns to fiction to tell the  story of a group of villagers who return home at the end of war to reclaim their lives and culture. This is a book of hope, longing, large corruption and small mercies, from a master storyteller.

    Radiance of Tomorrow By Ishmael Beah ($14, Sarah Crichton Books), recommended by Sarah, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

    For a teenager living in the ugly world of 2044, his escape from reality, and then his survival, depends on a worldwide video game. Pop-culture references from the 70s and 80s make this an entertaining read for those of a certain age; the adventure makes it enjoyable for all.

    Ready Player One by Ernest Cline ($16, Broadway), recommended by Bill, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Rebel of the Sands by Arwyn Hamilton

    Amani is a desert girl who doesn't feel comfortable unless she has a gun in her hand, and who wants nothing more than to leave her dead-end life in a family and town that have no use for her.

    When she meets Jin, a fellow fighter, it seems like she might have met her salvation. If she can convince him to take her with him when he leaves. And if they can manage to escape capture alive. And if Jin's secrets don't tear them apart.

    A fantastically imagined story that will keep you turning the pages until the end. I hope there's more coming.

    Rebel of the Sands by Arwyn Hamilton (Viking) Recommended by Melissa O. at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

  • Red Queen

    Imagine the violence of The Hunger Games, the backstabbing and betrayal of The Game of Thrones, more superpowers than The X-Men, and a simple girl, Mare Barrow, who becomes betrothed to a prince while falling in love with his brother and at the same trying to protect her childhood friend, Kilorn.

    Red Queen is an amazing debut YA novel that will leave you waiting desperately for the next entry in the series.

    Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (HarperTeen) Recommended by Jill and Melissa at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

  • Redemption Road

    John Hart’s newest novel, Redemption Road, is a thriller.

    Innocents are dying, people are being chased and tortured and the good guys are hard to tell from all of the bad.

    It is about Elizabeth Black, a decorated hero cop with a deep dark secret. But, in addition to being a thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout it is a compelling and very emotional story of love – love that is sick and twisted, love that is so blind it allows horrible things to be done in its name, love so hidden by guilt it is hard to see, love born out of despair and a love that is so pure and good it allows hope to shine through.

    It is obvious that John Hart has poured all of his heart and soul into this beautifully written story of sadness, despair, love and hope.

    Redemption Road by John Hart (Thomas Dunne Books) Recommended by Nancy, Jill, and Melissa at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

  • Redeployment by Phil Klay

    Redeployment is a powerful debut by an exciting new voice.

    With their realistic and sometimes brutal details, these stories by a former Marine captain and Iraq war veteran are not always easy to read. But ultimately they proved to be harder to stop reading.  Klay gives voice to a variety of viewpoints through nuanced characters and prose that strikes a balance between bitter irony and real emotional depth.

    Redeployment By Phil Klay ($26.95, Penguin), recommended by Tony, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan

    Luna has lived her life in darkness. When she was born, a perpetual eclipse started.

    In the ensuing chaos, Luna's parents, the king and queen of Relhok, were murdered, and Luna was secreted away to a hidden tower, allowing everyone to believe her dead. But now Luna wants more than life in her tower, and her chance comes when Fowler shows up just before an attack on the tower. Now Luna and Fowler are on the run together and must learn to rely on each other in ways neither of them has needed or wanted to before, fighting the monsters born of the darkness and the humans who would tear them apart.

    But they both have secrets that could tear their blossoming love apart.

    The start of a new YA fantasy series with plenty of romance and surprises to keep you turning the pages.

    Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan (Harper Teen)  Recommended by Melissa at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

  • Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore

    Reincarnation Blues by Michael PooreA romp through space, time, love and ten thousand lives with lost soul Milo and his girlfriend Suzie (aka Death). Reminiscent of Tom Robbins' Jitterbug Perfume, as well as Christopher Moore's work with a touch of Douglas Adams. Enjoyable and thoughtful.

    Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore ($27.00*, Del Rey Books), recommended by Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • Replica by Lauren Oliver

    Replica tells the dual stories of two girls affected by scientific revolutions in an ambiguous tale that can be read in any order.

    Replica by Lauren Oliver ($19.99, HarperCollins), recommended by Erica, Lemuria Books, Jackson, MS.

  • Rich and Pretty by Rumaan Alam

    Rich and Pretty by Rumaan AlamRich and Pretty reads like a romance between two friends, exploring the ups and downs that occur in any long friendship. Since they were eleven, Lauren and Sarah have been best friends, and now in their thirties, Sarah is getting married and their relationship will evolve once again. Alam gets the little things right, building and surveying their relationship perfect detail by perfect detail, including their lives and secrets separate from one another. By the end, we know these two women as individuals, as a unit, and feel lucky to have seen their friendship in all its iterations and, truly, its beauty.

    Rich and Pretty by Rumaan Alam ($25.99, Ecco Press), recommended by Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • Roar by Cora Cormack

    Roar by Cora CormackI just devoured the young adult fantasy debut Roar by Cora Carmack. Those who loved Truthwitch, The Red Queen, and Graceling will have a favorite new author to obsess over. Even the cliffhanger ending (it is the first book in a YA trilogy after all) could not dim my delight in this discovery.

    Roar by Cora Cormack ($17.99, Tor Teen), recommended by Jill at Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

  • Robicheaux by James Lee Burke

    Robicheaux by James Lee Burke James Lee Burke for the Nobel Prize! Why not? The award goes to a writer for a body of work that is singular to the psyche and culture of that author's nation. As the U.S. is, arguably, the most violent nation on earth with more guns per capita than the majority of the world combined why not a nod to the man who explores our violent nature better then anyone else? Robicheaux is a perfect example of his skill and grace relating a difficult and often sordid subject. The man can flat out write.

    Robicheaux by James Lee Burke ($27.99*, Simon & Schuster), recommended by McIntyre's Fine Books, Pittsboro, NC.

  • Ruthless by Carolyn Lee Adams

    Ruthless by Carolyn Lee Adams

    A harrowing survival thriller set in the Blue Ridge Mountains about a teenage equestrienne kidnapped by a serial killer who must dig down deep to find the will to first survive then triumph. You won't be able to put this one down!

    Ruthless by Carolyn Lee Adams ($10.99, Simon Pulse), recommended by Jill, Fiction Addition, Greenville SC.

  • Sadness Is a White Bird by Moriel Rothman-Zecher

    Sadness Is a White Bird by Moriel Rothman-ZecherThis devastating, beautifully wrought story reminds us that the mentality of Us vs Them can only end badly for both. Make any effort to get to know Them, and We realize that They are just like Us. They are Us with different clothes, accents, hair, skin. I am also reminded that a love story isn’t any good unless it breaks your heart.

    Sadness Is a White Bird by Moriel Rothman-Zecher ($26.00*, Atria Books), recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

    This book is full of thrilling mysteries and tension while shedding light on a little known tragedy from WWII.

    Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys ($18.99, Philomel Books), recommended by Erica, Lemuia Books, Jackson, MS.

  • Samantha Spinner and the Super-Secret Plans by Russell Ginns, Barbara Fisinger (Illustrator)

    Samantha Spinner and the Super-Secret Plans Russell Ginns, Barbara Fisinger (Illustrator)Samantha Spinner feels slightly slighted when from her (now missing) uncle, her sister receives $2,400,000,000; her brother is given the New York Yankees; and all Samantha gets is a ratty, rusty, red umbrella. But when the umbrella is revealed to contain a map with secret passageways throughout the entire world, Samantha feels very, very lucky indeed.

    Clever, smart and sometimes even a bit silly, this fun mystery from game designer Russell Ginns also includes a few extra secrets for the especially inquisitive mind.

    Samantha Spinner and the Super-Secret Plans by Russell Ginns, Barbara Fisinger (Illustrator) ($16.99*, Delacorte Press), recommended by The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

  • Save The Date by Mary Kay Andrews

    Beach trip checklist:
    - sunscreen
    - sunglasses
    - lounge chair
    - great summer

    A talented young florist tries to make a go of her business in Savannah and finds more than her share of challenges along the way. This latest from Mary Kay has everything you could want: Romance; break ups; drama; intrigue. Oh, did I mention Goldendoodles? A total escape! I had so much fun reading this book!

    Save The Date by Mary Kay Andrews ($26.99, St. Martin's Press), recommended by Samantha, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex, Christian Robinson

    This is my favorite picture book of the year. I really love when authors take a well-known theme and put a spin on it! This charming story is a unique take on the back-to-school theme and just made me feel so much joy while I was reading it. A brand-new school building -- aptly named School -- has to adjust to first day jitters of his own, including lots of children who aren't exactly quiet, neat, or tidy. A few of the children don't even like School! As the children slowly get over their first day fears, the school also learns to enjoy the chaos, with a little help from a compassionate custodian. School is a fully drawn character, both silly and sentimental, that you can enjoy all year round. Amazing illustrations by Christian Robinson wrap up this beautiful package. Readers young and old will have fun reading this sweet story.

    School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex, Christian Robinson (illus.) ($17.99, Roaring Brook Press), recommended by Amanda, Hooray for Books, Alexandria, VA.

  • Season of Fear by Brian Freeman

    Brian Freeman’s first Cab Bolton thriller was supposed to be a stand alone.

    I am sure glad he changed his mind so we could read more about Cab Bolton. A Season of Fear brings Cab back to Florida and finds him involved, thanks to his always interfering mother, with the players in the upcoming FL gubernatorial race.

    A powerful tropical storm collides with the culmination of a 10 year-old murder investigation that has lain inactive for many years, resulting in a shocking ending. It is a masterfully written, carefully plotted political thriller… fast paced and suspenseful.

    Season of Fear by Brian Freeman (Quercus) Recommended by Nancy at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

  • Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore

    Let's be clear, Christopher Moore is not for the faint of heart.

    But if you love wild imagination, hysterically funny and profane dialogue, multiple plot lines that weave together but allow lots of humorous and (did I mention) profane tangents – he's your guy.

    Secondhand Souls is a sequel to A Dirty Job. I read the former without having read A Dirty Job with no confusion, but it does give a few necessary spoilers from the earlier book. So if you have the leisure, do them in order.

    Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore (William Morrow & Company) Recommended by Rosemary at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

    See What I Have Done by Sarah SchmidtLizzie Borden took an axe... or did she? Sarah Schmidt takes us inside the Borden household before and after the murders of Andrew and Abby Borden. Schmidt's writing is so good that you can feel the pressure building in the house, taste the sweetness of the pears and sharpness of tainted mutton on the tips of tongues, imagine the smell as the hot summer days weighs heavily, suffocatingly on the inhabitants of the Borden home. Did Lizzie simply snap, did Bridget the maid hack her way to new employment, did Lizzie's uncle intervene to protect his nieces, or was it a stranger? Prepare for sharp-edged read!

    See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt ($26.00*, Atlantic Monthly Press), recommended by Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA.

  • Shadow Man by Alan Drew

    Shadow Man by Alan DrewShadow Man is supposed to be the story of a serial killer who was horribly abused as a child and the efforts of the police to track him down and keep him from killing others. However, the book is really about Ben Wade, one of the detectives on the case. While the victims affect him greatly and he gives his all to catch the killer, it is the apparent suicide of a young teenager that really shakes up his world. Shadow Man is about others living in the shadows of what happened in the past. Set in the 1980s in a small one-time ranching community near LA, the beautifully described scenery and small town feeling make the setting a character on its own. Shadow Man could be called a thriller, but it is really much more than that, with characters that are so real you can feel their pain.

    Shadow Man by Alan Drew ($27.00, Random House), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

    16-year-old Simon is gay, but he hasn't told anyone yet.

    Except for his secret penpal Blue, who's in the same boat, and who Simon has a major crush on. Then someone from school sees Simon's email, and uses it to blackmail Simon. Now Simon has to set up one of his best friends with his blackmailer or risk outing Blue. A romance more than a coming-of-age story, and one that I wanted to read again immediately just to have more of the warm fuzzies it gave me.

    Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (Balzer & Bray/Harperteen) Recommended by Meliissa at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

  • Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

    Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn WardIn Parnassus Books’ blog Musing: a laid-back lit journal, several popular authors wrote about the books they recommend for fall. Novelist Caroline Leavitt (Cruel Beautiful World) recommends Summer 2017 Okra Pick Sing, Unburied, Sing by National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward (publishing September).

    Leavitt writes: "This is Ward’s first novel since Salvage the Bones, which I reread so many times, I can practically recite it. I knew I would love this novel about an African-American boy, his younger sister, and his drug addicted mom, who go on a perilous road trip to meet the kids’ white father as he’s released from prison. This one promises to be a punch to the heart, a sensation I like in my books.” Discover more great reads for fall.

    Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward ($26.00*, Scribner Book Company), recommended by Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

    A Summer 2017 Okra Pick!

  • Small Blessings by Martha Woodroof

    Set on the idyllic campus of a women's college in the mountains of Virginia, Small Blessings is a charming first novel with characters who are both sympathetic but also deeply wounded by life's arbitrary injustices. Woodroof has written a poignant story about the lives of lovely, imperfect people and their difficult choices.

    Small Blessings by Martha Woodroof ($25.99, St. Martin's Press), recommended by Sarah, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.

  • Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

    This well-told, poignant story will make you question yourself. I would love to give every single person alive a copy. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult (Ballantine Books, $28.99), recommended by Suzanne at Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, NC.


    Another rave from Quail Ridge BooksSmall Great Things by Jodi Picoult is a novel that absolutely compels... no, demands discussion. Not only is it an engrossing story that brought me directly into the lives of of an African-American nurse and her son, a white supremacist and a liberal, white defense attorney―and, in Picoult's excellent style kept me just a little off balance―but it also forced me to examine myself... my beliefs, how I view others. The title of the book refers to a quote from Martin Luther King Jr., "If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way." Picoult has decided to do a small great thing in furthering the conversation with the hope that we will think and learn more about others and ourselves. I would recommend that book clubs splurge on a hardback and start the discussion now. This book is worth it.

  • Smoke by Dan Vyleta

    Imagine a world where it is impossible to lie.

    Imagine a world where every lustful though is immediately self evident. Then turn your mind to how a crooked ruling class, who somehow have the antidote, could exploit this. Dan Vyleta's SMOKE is not just a brilliant alternate world, it's possibly a whole new genre. Smoke Punk anyone?

    Smoke by Dan Vyleta (Doubleday) Recommended by Chris at A Cappella Books Atlanta GA.

  • So Much for That Winter by Dorthe Nors

    The two novellas in So Much for That Winter have certain things in common with each other and relatively little in common with anything else I’ve ever read. They are unique in form. “Minna Needs Rehearsal Space” is told in declarative sentences, one after another, one line at a time, never grouped as paragraphs. “Days” is a story in numbered bullet points. While, admittedly, it takes a page or two to get used to storytelling in these formats, once you are used to it (if you’re like me anyway), you forget that it’s different. Instead, it works with the story. Both novellas’ main characters are women recovering from break-ups. The story-in-headlines of Minna conveys how our very thinking is altered in the aftermath of a dissolved relationship: everything feels drastic, nothing flows naturally, and every action completed without the support or presence of a former partner feels like an accomplishment. Similarly, in “Days,” the lists feel like journal entries, all seemingly saying, “I survived this day. I will keep on surviving.” Altogether, the book is around 160 pages of anxiety and revelation. It took me hardly any time to read it, but processing it was a long and enjoyable experience.

    So Much for That Winter by Dorthe Nors ($15, Graywolf Press/Farrar Straus Giroux), recommended by Laura, Reading Rock Books, Dickson, TN.

  • Soulless by Gail Carriger

    A light, funny read: think Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Jane Austen in this wickedly funny debut novel. Soulless kicks off Carriger's new series set in an alternate 19th-century London that not only knows about vampires and werewolves, but accepts them into the upper tiers of society. There are 5 books in this series and all are worth reading!

    Soulless by Gail Carriger (Orbit) Recommended by Cynthia at Book Swap of Carrollwood Tampa FL

  • Spy of the First Person by Sam Shepard

    Spy of the First Person by Sam ShepardA beautiful, haunting and poetic little book, at times playful and innately tragic. The perfect coda to Shepherd's career.

    Spy of the First Person by Sam Shepard ($18.00*, Knopf Publishing Group), recommended by Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe, Asheville, NC.

  • Stick a Fork in Me by Dan Jenkins

    Fans of Dan Jenkins will be very happy with his latest novel. Jenkins is well-known among sports fans for his satirical, funny tomes set in the world of sports. What he did for football with Semi-Tough and golf with Dead Solid Perfect, he now does for big-time college sports. Good ol' boy Pete Wallace has finally reached the top of the college sports world by becoming the athletic director at Western Ohio University. The story of how Pete handles politically correct campus culture, fragile egos, and colorful characters is laugh out loud funny.

    Stick a Fork in Me by Dan Jenkins (Tyrus $16.99), recommended by Bill, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

    Lazlo Strange is a war orphan, raised by monks, who became a librarian. Stories are his life, and dreams are his future -- specifically, his dream of the lost city of Weep, which has been unseen and mostly forgotten for 200 years. When a hero of Weep unexpectedly shows up looking for outsiders to bring back to help with the city's unexplained problem, Lazlo jumps at the chance, willing to do whatever it takes to get there and see the mystery for himself. When he gets there, it's nothing like he expected, and each answer he finds raises more questions. This magical, lyrical book is beautiful and heartbreaking, and you won't want to leave the mythical world of Weep and the characters who power its story. Fans of Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy will not be disappointed. I am eagerly awaiting more from her about Weep and Lazlo.

    Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor ($18.99, Little, Brown and Company), recommended by Melissa, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

  • Street of Thieves by Mathias Enard

    In this haunting coming of age story, we meet a young Moroccan named Lakhdar who spends his days in Tangier watching girls, reading French detective novels, and gazing across the water at the elusive lights of Spain.

    When he is kicked out of his house for an improper relationship with his cousin, he begins a journey that takes him from the streets of Tangier to the Straits of Gibraltar, and finally to Barcelona, where he finally finds some semblance of a home despite the squalor and chaos of his surroundings. 

    Set against the backdrop of the Arab Spring and the collapse of the European economy, Street of Thieves is a dark and beautiful portrait of a boy's fateful path to manhood.

    Street of Thieves by Mathias Enard (Open Letter Books) Recommended by Tony at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • Stung by Bethany Wiggins

    Fans of The Hunger Games will love this dystopian remake of Sleeping Beauty.

    In Stung by Bethany Wiggins, Fiona wakes up from a coma to find a strange tattoo on her wrist. The world has changed while she was unconscious, her house is deserted and her family has disappeared, except for her brother, who immediately tries to kill her.

    She flees and discovers that since the honey bees’ extinction, the privileged few fight the marked humans who’ve turned into savage beasts. Hunted by both sides, Fiona fights to make sense of what has happened to her before she turns, too.

    This page turning-thriller will keep readers guessing until the very end.Ages 14 and up

    Stung by Bethany Wiggins (MacMillan) Recommended by Ellen at Hooray For Books Alexandria VA

  • Surfmen by Charles Marshall

    We all know about the US Coast Guard and many of us know about the predecessor, the United States Lifesaving Service. But how many of us have thought about how those rescue men became organized?

    Marshall does a wonderful job illuminating the past of the heroes of the coast. Cape Hatteras historical fiction based on fact and full of high adventure.

    Surfmen By Charles Marshall ($19, Fireship Press), recommended by Buxton Village Books Buxton NC

  • Sweetland by Michael Crummey

    Michael Crummey takes you into the heart of the insular fishing community of Chance Cove, Sweetland Island, Newfoundland.

    68-year-old Moses Sweetland's family goes back to the founding of the island. He is the only holdout when the government offers the residents a generous cash settlement to relocate, but only if everyone signs on. Told in sparse, beautiful prose, with generous helpings of the local dialect, the characters and story are reminiscent of Annie Proulx's The Shipping News, where conversations give hints of the tangled history and relationships of family and friends who have known each other for generations.

    Sweetland is a requiem for the intimate knowledge of place that a transient society can just barely remember.

    Sweetland By Michael Crummey (Liveright Publishing) Recommended by Sarah at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • Swing Time by Zadie Smith

    Two little girls meet in dance class and become fast friends, until one proves to be a much better dancer and a much less stable person and the whole thing falls apart. Zadie Smith proves that great literature can also be a great read. This book is a joy.

    Swing Time by Zadie Smith ($27, Penguin PRess), recommended by Ann, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin

    The more things change, the more things stay the same. Or so it seems in this novel by Armistead Maupin. Set in 1970s San Francisco, we follow a dozen city dwellers chasing their version of their dream life in this bustling metropolis. While certain details are amusingly out-of-date, the main themes still ring true todayfriendship, companionship, heartbreak, loss, deciding what type of life you want to live and what type of person you want to be.

    Tales of the City (Harper $15.99) by Armistead Maupin, recommended by Ceewin, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Tape by Steven Camden

    Tape is an outstanding debut. Told with crackling prose, shimmering with humor and deeply moving, it will haunt anyone who reads it.

    Record a voice and it lasts forever. In 1993, Ryan records a diary on an old tape. He talks about his mother's death, about his dreams, about his love for a new girl at school who doesn't even know he exists.

    In 2013, Ameliah moves in with her grandmother after her parents die. There, she finds a tape in the spare room. A tape with a boy's voice on it a voice she can't quite hear, but which seems to be speaking to her.

    Ryan and Ameliah are connected by more than just a tape. This is their story.

    Tape by Steven Camden (HarperCollins), recommended by Victoria, Cavalier House Books, Denham Springs LA.

  • Teacup by Rebecca Young, Matt Otley

    Teacup is a lyrical tale of a refugee's journey, evoking the loneliness, anxiety, and sadness of leaving everything you know behind to begin anew. Ottley's textured, breathtaking illustrations are both incredibly realistic and beautifully dreamlike, adding gentleness and whimsy to this subtly told story. Young's minimal text allows the reader's imagination to expand and the drama unfolds at a perfect pace. Teacup is a book to linger over, appreciating the beauty to be found in the persistence and strength it takes to make a new life in an unfamiliar place.

    Teacup by Rebecca Young, Matt Ottley (Dial Books for Young Readers, $17.99), recommended by Helen at the Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • The Advocate's Daughter by Anthony Franze

    The Advocate's Daughter is a powerful story of loss and revenge set against the background of the Supreme Court.

    Sean Serrat thinks the horrible event that occurred when he was only 14 is buried so deeply that it will never see the light of day. But, just as Sean, a prominent Supreme Court lawyer, learns he is on the short list for nomination to the highest court in the land, his life becomes a living nightmare and his past comes back to haunt him.

    His daughter, a talented law student, is found murdered and Sean begins to suspect the police have arrested the wrong person for her murder. As he tries to find out the truth others will do anything to prevent the truth from ever being known.

    The Advocate's Daughter by Anthony Franze (Minotaur) Recommended by Nancy M. at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

  • The Afterlives by Thomas Pierce

    The Afterlives by Thomas PierceJim Byrd is not really obsessed with death, mortality, and ghosts, but after a peculiar health scare, he can't avoid them. From cryonics to psychic mediums, he seems haplessly fated to encounter the full range of mortality cures. Central among them--and deservedly central in this book--is a staircase at the back of an old house where supernatural physics seem to be in control. As a mini-prologue to each chapter, Pierce lays out a montage of events in the life of previous residents and their families. At first these vignettes seem to support a little ghost story. But by the end, they resolve brilliantly into a poignant comment on Jim's misadventures, and what at first was a story concentrated on death and the hereafter satisfyingly becomes a novel about the ephemeral fragility of life itself.

    The Afterlives by Thomas Pierce ($27.00*, Riverhead Books), recommended by Turnrow Books, Greenwood, MS.

     A Winter 2018 Okra Pick

  • The Alienist by Caleb Carr

    I lived in NY's Hudson Valley when this came out, and know how well Carr (also a Hudson Valley resident) describes it all. I love historical fiction that mixes true and fictional characters. NY police commissioner Teddy Roosevelt sets up an unofficial team to investigate a serial killer, in an era in which such a concept is unknown.

    The Alienist by Caleb Carr, ($17, Random House Trade), recommended by Rosemary at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC. 

  • The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg

    I love the quirky, eccentric characters in Fannie Flagg’s books, and this one is full of them. At 59 (or is she 60?), Sookie finds she is not who she thought she was and her subsequent search for answers takes her away from small-town Alabama life to Poland, Wisconsin, Texas and California and back in time to the World War II era and a little known group of independent and brave women who gave their all to the war effort as pilots. Comical situations as well as zany, off-beat personalities give heart and warmth to Sookie’s emotional conundrum. It is a tribute to family, friendship and the strength of the human spirit. A heart-warming feel-good read.

    The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion By Fannie Flagg ($27, Random House), recommended by Pat, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • The Arrival by Shaun Tan

    Without a single word, these beautifully detailed and nuanced drawings tell a story of an immigrant trying to establish a better life for his family in a distant country.

    The visual tone of the book implies a past we may think we recognize, but with symbols and customs unknown to any specific time or place, Tan constructs a land where any of us may imagine the incredible endeavor of being alone in a completely foreign landscape. Well-crafted and keenly empathetic.

    The Arrival By Shaun Tan ($21.99, Arthur A. Levine) Recommended by Rachel at Scuppernong Books, Greensboro NC.

  • The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher: Stories by Hilary Mantel

    Two-time Man Booker Prize Winner Hilary Mantel amazed me with her new collection of stories, The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher. She sees with literary vision that doesn't miss a single detail; her writing makes me laugh, cringe,
    and ache. I believe Mantel is one of our finest 21st century writers.

    The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher: Stories by Hilary Mantel ($37, Henry Holt & Company), recommended by Mamie, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.

  • The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan

    The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan

    It is so easy to see people who commit acts of terrorism as nameless, soulless people, and that is why this novel is so important. I came to see intimately the lives of three young boys and their families who were deeply affected when one of the boys sets off a bomb in a crowded Delhi market. The tragedy is not to be dismissed, and Mahajan forces us to starkly examine that also. An important book, timely and necessary if we are ever to look terrorism in the face and put an end to it.

    The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan ($16.00, Penguin), recommended by Mamie, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • The Atomic Weight of Love by Elizabeth J. Church

    I love that it combined historical fiction with a strong female character's search for self. It appealed to both the nerd and the dreamer in me.

    The Atomic Weight of Love by Elizabeth J. Church ($25.95, Algonquin Books), recommended by Nancy, Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL.

  • The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin

    Mercy Lavinia Warren Bump, known as Vinnie, was born with dwarfism. She grew to be two feet, eight inches tall, but she never let her size stop her from living life to the fullest. Vinnie did so well in school, she became a school teacher, but deep down she craved more. Through life’s ups and downs, she finally teamed up with P. T. Barnum. The two became close friends and he introduced her to Tom Thumb, one of his other performers.

    This fictionalized novel tells the story of Vinnie, through her perspective on life. The long chapters are broken up with intermissions that show the newspaper headlines.  Melanie Benjamin is an excellent author, providing readers with an insider’s view into the personal lives of celebrities. Written as an autobiography, this book will open readers’ eyes to the world of the lady who entranced the world. There are phrases in this book that will live in readers’ hearts forever.

    The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin, recommended by Nicole at My Sisters Books, Pawleys Island, SC.

  • The Ballad of the Sad Café by Carson McCullers

    I came across this brilliant little gem of a novella in a used bookstore while traveling, and it immediately became one of my favorite Southern folk tales.

    Though perhaps diamond in the rough would be a more fitting epithet, as its climactic battle is fought not by the noble knights or graceful gods of traditional epics, but rather by the comically gothic – almost grotesque – celebrities of an isolated Southern town. McCullers writes with such a vivid intensity of detail that the history of this short-lived cafe (like many of her short stories, especially Wunderkind) dwells in my memory more like a film than a story in a book.

    The Ballad of the Sad Cafe: Carson McCullers' Novella Adapted for the Stage by Edward Albee, Carson McCullers ($12.95, Scribner), recommended by Vicki, Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC.

  • The Bat by Jo Nesbø

    Inspector Harry Hole of the Oslo Crime Squad is dispatched to Sydney to observe a murder case. Harry is free to offer assistance, but he has firm instructions to stay out of trouble.

    The victim is a twenty-three year old Norwegian woman who is a minor celebrity back home. Never one to sit on the sidelines, Harry befriends one of the lead detectives, and one of the witnesses, as he is drawn deeper into the case.  Together, they discover that this is only the latest in a string of unsolved murders, and the pattern points toward a psychopath working his way across the country.

    The Bat: The First Inspector Harry Hole Novel by Jo Nesbø (Vintage) Recommended by Steve at Fountain BookstoreRichmond VA

  • The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

    A magical debut novel: part fairy tale and part historical fiction set in medieval Russia.

    The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden ($27, Del Rey Books), recommended by Amy, Litchfield Books, Pawleys Island, SC.

  • The Bed Moved by Rebecca Schiff

    These stories are often brief, but hard-hitting. Crystalline prose and a deep sense of empathy make this collection special. It is so smart and hold no punches. As one character says, "In fiction, it's never benign."

    The Bed Moved by Rebecca Schiff ($24.95, Knopf Publishing Group), recommended by Tyler, Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • The Bees by Laline Paull

    The Bees is like Watership Down for bees, wasps, and spiders.

    In this political thriller set entirely in a beehive and surrounding fields, a lowly worker bee navigates her way through the different jobs bees do and overthrows a corrupt oligarchy. Since it's a novel, liberties are taken with the science but the basics are covered.

     A great story for anyone who is fascinated by the beehive at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.

    The Bees By Laline Paull ($25.99, Ecco), recommended by Elizabeth at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC.

  • The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2014 by Daniel Handler, Lemony Snicket

    With over thirty different pieces this collection has it all... 

    Short stories, non-fiction pieces, poems, excerpts from comics/graphic novels, articles from literary magazines, excerpts from chapbooks and even a transcript from a Night Vale Podcast.

    What also makes this collection so much fun to read is that it was curated by fourteen highschool students.
    Then last, but most certainly not least, there is the added bonus that the editor is Daniel Handler, who also wrote an introduction from Lemony Snicket.

    The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2014 by Daniel Handler, Lemony Snicket (Mariner) Recommended by Erin at Inkwood Books Tampa FL

  • The Blackhouse by Peter May

    This is the first in a series featuring a policeman who is sent to his childhood home of Lewis Island in Scotland's Outer Hebrides, -a formidable and forbidding world where tradition rules and people adhere to ancient ways of life- to investigate a grisly murder involving islanders he's known all his life.

    It's riveting and beautifully written.

    The Blackhouse By Peter May ($14.99, Quercus Books) Recommended by Nancy, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.

  • The Blue Guitar by John Banville

    From the Booker Prize-winning author of The Sea and Ancient Light, a new novel about the intricacies of artistic creation and theft, and about the ways in which we learn to possess one another, and to hold on to ourselves.

    Equally self-aggrandizing and self-deprecating, our narrator, Oliver Otway Orme, is a painter of some renown, and a petty thief who does not steal for profit. But he’s pushing fifty, feels like a hundred, and things have not been going so well lately.

    Few contemporary English-speaking writers can match Banville’s style and brilliance. The way that complex emotions are revealed by such fluid, easy-going language is uncanny.

    The Blue Guitar by John Banville (Knopf) Recommended by Square BooksOxford MS


  • The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

    This is one of my favorite books coming out this year and one of the best young adult fantasies I've read in a long time. Chupeco's world building is done carefully and precisely, revealing the pertinent information a little bit at a time. The characters are almost all female and all are strong, brave, courageous, and intelligent in their own right. The plot is complex but well thought out and the writing is cinematic. If this doesn't get optioned for a movie, I'll be surprised. highly recommend this books for those that love The Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld or Daughter of Smoke and Bone. This could also easily be an adult crossover for those that enjoy Game of Thrones, Wheel of Time, or Memoirs of a Geisha.

    The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco ($17.99. Sourcebooks Fire) recommended by Foggy Pine Books, Boone, NC.

  • The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness

    Looking to dive into a world of witches, vampires, and demons?

    Deborah Harkness' All Souls trilogy, which concludes with The Book of Life, is the richest portrayal of that universe since Dark Shadows (and I say that with pleasure and affection). I don't want to leak any spoilers here – you have to read the trilogy in sequence – but Harkness has invented a fascinating history for her creatures.

    This is literary adult fantasy that stays deeply attached to the real world. And if you've read A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night, you'll be very satisfied with the passion, terror, and (yes) humor Harkness uses to bring the saga of the Bishops and Clairmonts to a conclusion.

    The Book of Life By Deborah Harkness ($28.95, Viking Adult), recommended by Rosemary, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.

  • The Book of Strange New Things by Michael Faber

    I found Michel Faber's The Book of Strange New Things both strange and compulsively readable.

    Michel Faber turns the science fiction premise of planetary colonization on its head. Peter, a Christian evangelist, leaves his wife Bea, and beloved cat, Joshua, at home in England while he serves as replacement missionary to an alien race on the planet Oasis. As Peter and Bea correspond (not easy!) it becomes apparent that Bea is the one having the harder time as life in England deteriorates, while Peter finds his new flock peculiar and exotic, but surprisingly devoted to their faith and the Bible, which they call The Book of Strange New Things.

    Faber, best known for his Victorian novel The Crimson Petal and the White, weaves a compelling story of love, faith, corporate culture, damaged lives, and resilience.

    The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber (Hogarth) Recommended by Sarah at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • The Bright Forever by Lee Martin

    The Bright Forever by Lee Martin has all the makings of a good beach read—suspense, compelling characters, and fast-paced action.

    All of this and it contains gorgeous writing! Nine-year-old Katie Mackie disappears when she rides her bike to the library to return some books. Katie's math tutor, Mr. Dees, and a drug-addled newcomer, Raymond R., become the focus of the investigation.

    Each of them has a motive. The final chapter of the book was stunning in what it revealed about one of the characters. I would say that I couldn’t put it down, but several times I had to take a break from the tension! The book was a 2006 Pulitzer Prize finalist and would make a good book club discussion book. The paperback includes a discussion guide.

    The Bright Forever by Lee Martin (Three Rivers Press) Recommended by Mamie at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC