TIRED OF AN  ALGORITHM  TELLING YOU WHAT TO  READ ?

Find hundreds of great books--from the hottest new releases and bestsellers to tried and true classics to rare gems--each hand-picked and hand-curated from Southern indie booksellers' websites, newsletters, emails, facebook and twitter posts and from the moments when they stop us in the street, push a book in our hands and say..."YOU'VE GOT TO READ THIS!"


THE LATEST RECOMMENDATIONS FROM GREAT SOUTHERN INDIES...

  • 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.

  • Black Wings Has My Angel by Elliot Chaze

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

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

  • The Golden Age by Joan London

    The Golden Age, by Australian novelist and bookseller Joan London, takes place in a hospital for children recovering from polio in Perth in the 1950’s. That may not sound like a particularly cheerful subject and, in many ways, it isn’t. The novel covers not only the ravages of polio, but also, because it centers around a Jewish immigrant family, it discusses the ravages of war. London’s writing, however, is transcendent. What could be a bleak, mournful tale is instead a beautiful story about finding poetry in the halls of a hospital and hope in the face of despair. This is a book I read all in one sitting because I just didn’t want to stop.

    The Golden Age by Joan London ($17, Europa Editions), recommended by Laura, Reading Rock Books, Dickson, TN.

  • Always Happy Hour: Stories by Mary Miller

    Miller's writing is stripped down and carefully refined, packing a whole vision of the world into as few eye-widening details as possible. The stories in this collection explore the realities of women living between two worlds, with one foot in the future their meant to be striving toward and the other firmly rooted in their usually grim and booze-filled present. Though the stories can verge on the harsh, they always evoke a world that is immediately recognizable and palpably real. A great new collection by a writer who never seems to disappoint.

    Always Happy Hour ($24.95, Liveright Publishing Corporation), recommended by Donovan, Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL.

  • Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

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

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

  • 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.

  • The Blood of Emmett Till by Tim Tyson

    It's been almost 13 years since Tim Tyson's Blood Done Sign My Name, his personal and gut-wrenching story of violent racism in North Carolina. His masterful new book, The Blood of Emmett Till, is already garnering praise from around the country and from the staff at Quail Ridge Books.

    Helen says, "The horrific scenes in this book will be seared in your memory. Tyson takes you back to 1955 and puts you in the middle of the teenager's murder. Relying on extensive research and the only interview the woman involved has ever given, Tyson recounts the crime, the aftermath and the trial. The saving graces of this story are Till's mother, his uncle, one witness, the judge and the prosecutors. They emerge as heroic. Tyson writes a powerful, unrelenting closing where he blames everyone responsible from President Eisenhower on down. All the way through this book, the image of young Emmett Till—fun loving and helpful to his single mother—hovers over the shocking story."

    Rosemary says, "The story of Emmett Till is finally told, with the belated admissions of one of the key participants. What stood out strongest to me, even midst the horrors of Emmett's murder, was the bravery of Mamie Till. Imagine losing your child in such unspeakable circumstances, then putting your pain aside to do all you could to make sure his death wasn't in vain. You won't forget this book, nor should you."

    The Blood of Emmett Till by Tim Tyson (Simon & Schuster $27), recommended by the staff at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

    Tim Tyson will visit Quail Ridge Books to discuss the book on Friday, February 17 at 7:00 p.m.

  • The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

    A national bestseller when it first appeared in 1963, The Fire Next Time galvanized the nation and gave passionate voice to the emerging civil rights movement. At once a powerful evocation of James Baldwin's early life in Harlem and a disturbing examination of the consequences of racial injustice, the book is an intensely personal and provocative document.

    The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin ($13.95, Vintage), recommended by Elizabeth, Charis Books, Atlanta, GA.

  • 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.

  • The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers

    This is an amazing book, I simply loved everything about it. Any fan of historical fiction, novels about human failings and dialog that is almost poetic should read this book. The depiction of the civil war on a very personal level to one woman is stirring and hard to take in. The book is a series of letters to and from various family members and by then end of the first 30 pages you feel invested in every member involved. In some ways it is a revisit to the time when letters were the form of communication that existed and what a picture they could paint. It is hard to believe this is a debut novel, the writing is wonderful.

    The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers, ($25.95, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill), recommended by Jackie and Melissa, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

     A Winter 2017 Okra Pick

    Meet Susan Rivers at Fiction Addiction 2/16/2017Read Susan Rivers' essay about how she discovered her novel's characters and their story.

  • 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.

  • The Third Reconstruction by Rev. William J. Barber

    Over the summer of 2013, Rev. William Barber led more than a hundred thousand people at rallies across North Carolina to protest cuts to voting rights and the social safety net, which the state's conservative legislature had implemented. These protests, which came to be known as Moral Mondays, have blossomed into the largest social movement the South has seen since the civil rights era and, since then, it has spread to states as diverse as Florida, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and Ohio. In The Third Reconstruction, Rev. Barber tells the story of how he helped lay the groundwork for the Moral Mondays movement and explores the unfulfilled promises of America's multiethnic democracy. He draws on the lessons of history to offer a vision of a new Reconstruction, one in which a diverse coalition of citizens black and white, religious and secular, Northern and Southern fight side-by-side for racial and economic justice for all Americans. The Third Reconstruction is both a blueprint for activism at the state level and an inspiring call to action from the twenty-first century's most effective grassroots organizer.

    The Third Reconstruction by the Rev. William J. Barber ($16, Beacon Press), a  Winter 2016 Okra Pick.

  • When Watched by Leopoldine Core

    Elizabeth loves When Watched by Leopoldine Core: Core delves into the wonderful strangeness that is the human mind. These characters--and the relationships they form--can be funny, unsettling, irritating, and are always entirely captivating. If you want to read about the complexities of love and sex, read this. If you want to read a book you can't put down, read this.

    When Watched by Leopoldine Core (Penguin Books, $16.00), recommended by Elizabeth at Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • Upstairs at the Strand: Writers in Conversation at the Legendary Bookstore by Jessica Strand

    “The Strand is a monument to the immortality of the written word and hence beloved writers.” -Fran Lebowitz

    The Strand is my Mecca, and I can think of no better setting for this series of interview-conversations with some of our most treasured authors. Discussions range from craft and process to which authors they’re reading now and whatever else might come up. There’s something here for every bibliophile. (Plus, how great is it that they made this a book instead of YouTube videos or something?)

    Upstairs at the Strand: Writers in Conversation at the Legenday Bookstore by Jessica Strand (W.W. Norton & Company, $15.95), recommended by Shannon at Scuppernong Books, Greensboro, NC.

  • 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.

  • Hillbilly Elegy (audiobook) by J.D. Vance

    Hillbilly Elegy doesn't make any grand political statements or try to swing its reader's views one way or the other as much as it offers a glimpse into the lives and realities of this distinct segment of American society. The author himself, J.D. Vance, narrates this audiobook and adds an extra level of intimacy to this already extremely personal history of growing up as part of a culture that may be on its way out, but is still very much a way of life for a large portion of Americans. A timely and important listen!

    Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance ($14.99, HarperCollins, Audiobook: available from Libro.fm), recommended by Lane, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • Barsk: The Elephants' Graveyard by Lawrence M. Schoen

    This is one of those books that sounds utterly ridiculous when you try to describe it: talking elephants in space! But the author creates such wonderful characters and builds such a unique, dynamic universe, that I totally fell under the spell of Barsk. This beautifully written adventure is full of heart and wonder as well as complex concepts of morality, science and spirituality. Talking elephants in space: yes!

    Barsk: The Elephants' Graveyard by Lawrence M. Schoen ($16.99, Tor ), recommended by Tony at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain

    In Medium Raw, Anthony Bourdain is much less cranky than he was in Kitchen Confidential, but is somehow angrier. Targets include Ruth Reichl, most professional restaurant critics, and the Food Network. Foodie or not, Medium Raw will entertain and enlighten.

    Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain ($15.99, Echo Books), recpmmended by Colin, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, 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.

  • The General vs. the President: MacArthur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War by H.W. Brands

    MacArthur is brilliant, bold and arrogant. Truman is plain-spoken, patient, and determined. Relying on meeting notes, diary entries, letters, and transcripts of Congressional hearings, this book chronicles the Korean conflict by telling the stories of two very powerful personalities. You read spellbound as the drama plays out. Fascinating behind the scenes history!

    The General vs. the President: MacArthur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War by H.W. Brands ($30, Doubleday), recommended by Helen at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

    Natasha knows from experience that dreams will get you nowhere, so she keeps herself well-grounded. Even when she's hours away from being deported with her family back to Jamaica. Daniel is a poet at heart, a romantic who believes in fate and destiny, so when he sees a girl standing out from the crowd, he doesn't think twice about ditching his parent-sanctioned college interview to go after her. A series of coincidences have them meeting several times, but is it enough to convince Natasha to believe in the meant-to-be future that Daniel sees? I loved Yoon's gorgeous writing and couldn't help falling in love with the characters myself.

    The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon ($18.99, Delacorte Press), recommended by Melissa, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

  • Burning Glass by Kathryn Purdie

    Burning Glass will take you to a world that feels like old Russia. It is full of political tension, especially between two brothers, but it’s Sonya’s job to navigate these tense situations and find a way to protect herself and her country.

    Burning Glass by Kathryn Purdie ($17.99, Katherine Tegen Books), recommended by Erica, Lemuria Books, Jackson, MS.

  • The Immortals by Jordanna Max Brodsky

    Think of The Immortals as like American Gods with considerably less work. Reimagining the Greek gods in modern day New York City, this will appeal to fans of Percy Jackson who are now all grown up as well as those who liked The Magicians. Action packed and a great escape read.

    The Immortals by Jordanna Max Brodsky ($15.99, Orbit), recommended by Kelly at Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA.

  • When Green Becomes Tomatoes by Julie Fogliano

    This poetry collection is just a delight! The poems appear simple upon a first read, but are surprisingly complex. The illustrations are simply gorgeous. The "September 10" page spread is my favorite, though "January 30" is a close second. Covering all four seasons, this makes a lovely gift book for the whole family to snuggle up on the couch and share together. It's another that I want to give to everyone I know.

    When Green Becomes Tomatoes by Julie Fogliano ($18.99, Roaring Brook Press), recommended by Amanda, Hooray for Books, Alexandria, VA.

  • Don't Suck, Don't Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt by Kristin Hersh

    You don't need to be familiar with Chesnutt's or Hersh's work to appreciate this phenomenal book, but you will undoubtedly want to be once you've finished it. Hersh is a writer of intense and subtle beauty, and she will make you cry and feel a hundred other things with the power of her style alone. Through the tragic story of her close friend and tourmate, Chesnutt, Hersh evokes the torture of all that artistic genius encapsulates and makes that pain sing in a voice both opaque and elegant, grimy and pristine. Ultimately, this is a deeply affecting meditation on one's thrust toward 'important art' and on how music is a necessary expression of sadness and loneliness but also one of intense and inimitable beauty.

    Don’t Suck, Don’t Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt by Kristin Hersh ($14.95, University of Texas Press), recommended by Donovan, Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL.

    A 2016 Southern Book Award Finalist
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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. 

  • 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.

  • My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life by Ruth Reichl

    Books and food are two of my favorite things, so when an author flawlessly combines the two, I'm sold. I've found myself perusing the pages of this book multiple times and have recommended it to dozens of shoppers here at the bookstore. It's truly a crowd pleaser! Reichl seamlessly blends cookbook and memoir, resulting in a beautiful writing, gorgeous photography, and delicious recipes. With a focus on working through difficult life changes and making it through to the other side, we can all use a little of this book at this time of the year! If you're shopping for someone who loves a great cookbook, enjoys diving into a memoir, or can't help flipping through books on photography, this book is a winner. You'll definitely want to try her simple recipe for Congee - trust me, it's amazing!

    My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life by Ruth Reichl ($35, Random House), recommended by Amanda, Hooray for Books, Alexandria, VA.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

    My childhood favorite - read uncountable times.  What young girl doesn't identify with Meg?  After several years, L'Engle wrote several sequels, but Time is a standalone gem.

    A Wrinkle in Time ($6.99, Square Fish), recommended by Rosemary at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Beachhead by Jeffery Hess

    Beachhead is a suspense novel with lots of action, twists and turns.  Hess brings the 1980’s Tampa to life with a descriptive narrative that is well-written and kept me guessing.  With its interesting plot and realistic characters this is a must read for anyone wanting to learn a little bit of Florida history. Beachhead by Jeffery Hess ($16.95, Down & Out Books), recommended by the staff at Bookswap of Carrollwood, Tampa, FL.

  • The Forest of Memory by Mary Robinette Kowal

    In a near future where items are mass produced and duplicated endlessly, Katya is a traveling salesman of sorts - an expert who locates and deals in "authenticities and captures" (vintage items that carry a hefty price tag). Katya's clients are typically of the wealthy and influential sort, and Katya fancies herself a generally in-the-know person. But when she ventures into a remote area where her A.I. drops off the grid, Katya encounters a hunter in the woods that brings into question her understanding of the world. The level of world building in this short book is staggering! A ton of fun to read and will leave you pondering for days after.

    The Forest of Memory by Mary Robinette Kowal ($9.99, TOR), recommended by Lane, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC. 

  • Where Do They Go? by Julia Alvarez, Sabra Field

    This is a stunningly beautiful all-ages book about grieving that can accommodate varied belief systems. It ultimately provides the comforting message that we carry the people we love in our heart and that they are always with us in some way. There really aren’t any books that address loss like this one. I find it very comforting.

    Where Do They Go? by Julia Alvarez, Sabra Field (illus) ($16.95. Triangle Square Books for Young Readers), recommended by Kelly at Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA.

  • 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.

  • The Sparrow/A Thread of Grace by Maria Doria Russell


    Rosemary, at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, NC, places The Sparrow and A Thread of Grace, both by Maria Doria Russell, in her top ten list of books. About The Sparrow she says, "One of the best books I've ever read! Thought-provoking, fascinating, and thoroughly original, this is “science fiction” even for those who say they won't read it. Mary Doria Russell posits what can happen when very different cultures meet for the first time and, with the best of intentions, collide. Pick up the sequel, Children of God, at the same time. When you finish The Sparrow,  you'll want to leap into the next book.”

    A Thread of Grace is "epic historical fiction at its finest. Set during WWII, Italy has just surrendered. Nazi forces, Allies, Jewish refugees - all are descending on Italy, and it is hell on earth.  Told from different viewpoints, you will be constantly surprised, sometimes stunned, by what happens.  Mary visited for this book and said in researching it, so many survivors said luck was the prime factor of survival. So, with the exception of one character, she had her son flip a coin for each to determine his or her fate.”

    The Sparrow ($17, Ballantine Books) and A Thread of Grace ($17, Ballantine Books), by Mary Doria Rusell, recommended by Rosemary at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close

    Tyler loves The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close: This is the story of Beth, a woman who moves to DC when her husband Matt gets a job campaigning for Obama during the 2008 election. For Beth, the city never feels like home until she and Matt become friends with Ash and her husband Jimmy, who also works in the administration. The rest of the novel is a sometimes comedy, always careful study of these four people, and how their friendships, relationships, and professional lives entangle and constrict. The backdrop of the Obama administration and Texas politics are fascinating, and Close's dry humor and sharp observations make The Hopefuls an "open it and realize four hours have gone by" novel.

    The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close (Knopf Publishing Group, $26.95), recommended by Tyler at Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

    Irving is one of my favorite authors, and this is, what I consider, his masterpiece. A fascinating tale of one of the most unique characters I have ever read. The ultimate story of faith, redemption, love and friendship. It is funny, heart-breaking, and unforgettable.

    A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving (HarperTorch, $7.99), recommended by Margaret at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Beautiful Blue World by Suzanne LaFleur

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

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

  • 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.

  • A Summons to Memphis by Peter Taylor

    A man is called home to Memphis from New York by his two middle-aged sisters to deal with their elderly father who is about to re-marry. Did you know there was so much Nashville and middle-Tennessee history in this wonderful novel?

    A Summons to Memphis by Peter Taylor (Vintage Books USA, $14.95), recommended by Kathy Schultenover at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • Over the Plain Houses by Julia Franks

    This is a haunting look at a woman’s life in rural North Carolina during the early 1900s that fans of Bloodroot and Oral History will love.

    Over the Plain Houses by Julia Franks (Hub City Press, $26.00), recommended by Sissy at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

    A Summer 2016 Okra Pick

  • 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.

  • All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

    This book isn’t brand new, but I feel it didn’t get enough attention this summer. I love reading mysteries in the fall, and Walker kept me guessing. I’m VERY CHOOSY with my thrillers, and this is a smart one.

    All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker (St. Martin’s Press, $26.99), recommended by Sissy at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • Poole's: Recipes and Stories from a Modern Diner by Ashley Christensen

    Ashley Christensen has just come out with her long-awaited cookbook, Poole's: Recipes and Stories from a Modern Diner (Ten Speed Press $35), and it was worth the wait. The book is more than a beautifully designed cookbook with all the signature dishes that have given Poole's its well-deserved reputation and earned Ashley the James Beard Award for Best Chef Southeast. It's a joyful show and tell of Ashley's (and Raleigh's) personal history and the renaissance of Southern food told through each beloved recipe (and yes, the Macaroni au Gratin recipe is in there).

    Poole's: Recipes and Stories from a Modern Diner (Ten Speed Press $35), recommended by Sarah at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • The Last Wolf & Herman by Laszlo Krasznahorkai, (John Batki & George Szirtes, translators)

    The Last Wolf is one fabulous sentence that runs for 70 pages. Afterwards, you can turn the book over and read the novella Herman. This book is beautiful, difficult, and absolutely worth it.

    The Last Wolf & Herman by Laszlo Krasznahorkai, John Batki (Translator), George Szirtes (Translator) (New Directions Publishing Corporation, $15.95), recommended by Nathan at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

    The Wonder kept me guessing until the very end and stayed with me for a long time after. Emma Donoghue plays to her strengths in this marvelously crafted religious thriller set in the mid-19th century Irish countryside. As always, Donoghue has done her research in telling the story of a "fasting girl" and a Nightingale Nurse. Suspenseful historical fiction driven by excellent characters.

    The Wonder by Emma Donoghue (Little Brown and Company, $27.00), recommended by Leila at Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, TN.

  • When in French: Love in a Second Language by Lauren Collins

    Lauren Collins blew me away with her hilarious and eloquent account of learning French abroad. Armchair linguists and anyone fascinated by words and how they get lost in translation will not be able to put this down.

    When in French: Love in a Second Language by Lauren Collins (Penguin Press, $27.00), recommended by Katherine at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • 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.

  • The Girl From Venice by Martin Cruz Smith

    A beautifully written, complex story of war, love, intrigue and shifting loyalties in occupied Italy towards the end of WW II. This novel pairs very nicely with All The Light We Cannot See, again showing the complexities of everyday life-- not the least of which include being young and passionate about life -- while living in occupied territory.

    The Girl from Venice by Martin Cruz Smith (Simon & Schuster, $27.00), recommended by Jamie at Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • Real Food Fake Food: Why You Don’t Know What You’re Eating and What You Can Do about It by Larry Olmsted

    I don’t know about you, but I like to know what I am eating. This book gets into practical solutions ranging from making sure you are buying the fish you think you are, to what makes good olive oil (looking at you, Ina Garten), and the various ways in which we can and should be conscious about what we buy.

    Real Food Fake Food: Why You Don’t Know What You’re Eating and What You Can Do about It by Larry Olmsted (Algonquin Books, $27.95), recommended by Catherine at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • The Trespasser by Tana French

    This was my first Tana French novel, and now I have to go back and read them all. A taut procedural with a healthy dose of paranoia, The Trespasser finds Detective Antoinette Conway navigating a hostile work environment while solving what seems to be an open-and-shut murder case. French is a master manipulator, and this novel had me thinking in an Irish accent.

    The Trespasser by Tana French (Viking, $27.00), recommended by Travis at Flyleaf Books, Chapel, NC.

  • Look by Solmaz Sharif

    Will loves Look by Solmaz Sharif: "Until now, now that I've reached my thirties; / All my Muse's poetry has been harmless." This line, from the poem "Desired Appreciation," speaks to the shock that aging into "a brain born into war" can bring; it's this shock, this coming-through-the-numbness, that drives Solmaz Sharif's masterful Look. These poems do not offer narratives of aging beyond trauma. Instead, they are prayers of the most desperate and urgent order. Look is made to break us. It drowns us in the language of war and devastates. It will also, likely, be the boldest, most masterful collection to be released in 2016. Do NOT turn a blind eye to it.”

    Look by Solmaz Sharif (Graywolf Press, $16.00), recommended by Will at Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • 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.

  • Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras, Ella Morton

    This isn’t a $35 travel book so much as the best, cheapest coffee table book you could ever buy. A gorgeous encyclopedia of the coolest sights on the planet. It is so large, and so thorough, that there literally is something in it for everyone. Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras, Ella Morton (Workman Publishing, $35.00), recommended by Tristan at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • 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.

  • The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang

    The story is built around a family road-trip full of comic moments, but these aren’t the Griswolds, and they’re not headed to Walley World. Every member of the Wang family is fighting to hang onto his or her own very specific American dream as they journey from California to New York after the loss of the family fortune. Jade Chang’s voice is fresh, her take on the immigrant narrative is new, but her themes are timeless. A really fun read.

    The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang (Houghton Mifflin, $26), recommended by Mary Laura at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith

    Few of us know what to do when someone has lost a loved one, and when it's a child who has lost a sibling or parent or grandparent, the task is exponentially more difficult. I was searching for a book for a child whose mother had died and discovered the exquisite gem, The Fox and the Star, with arts and crafts style drawings by award-winning illustrator, Coralie Bickford-Smith. It is the story of Fox, who is guided through life by his Star until one day Star disappears. First he hides and grieves, and then he decides to go and find his Star. In the face of grief, we are all haunted stragglers, but this book will bring solace and hope to the child in all of us.

    The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith (Penguin, $20), recommended by Mamie at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt

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

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

  • The North Water by Ian McGuire

    Dark, brutal, and atmospheric, The North Water is the story of an ill-fated whaling ship, peopled with men of dark conscience or no conscience. Reminiscent of The Revenant in its stark story of survival and revenge against all odds, this book is chock full of men being men, doing manly things and occasionally murdering each other. A rip roaring tale of viscera and ice.

    The North Water by Ian McGuire (Henry Holt & Company, $27), recommended by Steve at Scuppernong Books, Greensboro, NC.

  • The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

    Part rap style poetry, part love story to a father and to basketball; good young adult fiction about 12-year-old twin boys.

    The Crossover by Kwame Alexander (HMH Books for Young Readers $16.99), reader recommendation by Martha at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Who Killed These Girls?: Cold Case: The Yogurt Shop Murders by Beverly Lowery

    Beverly Lowry looks deep into the horrors of four unsolved killings in Austin in the early 1980’s with a detective’s mind and a novelist’s heart. The result is a book that is gripping, moving, and as good as any depiction of a murder case that’s been published since In Cold Blood. Is true crime not your thing? It isn’t my thing either, but this transcends the genre. Brilliant.

    Who Killed These Girls?: Cold Case: The Yogurt Shop Murders by Beverly Lowery (Knopf Publishing Group, $27.95), recommended by Ann Patchett at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • I Will Find You: A Reporter Investigates the Life of the Man Who Raped Her by Joanna Connors

    I Will Find You is not light reading, but it is necessary reading for a culture that seems unable to talk reasonably and openly about sexual violence. This nonfiction account of her own rape is filled with unrelenting honesty about sexual violence, race in America, and the realities of incarceration and poverty.

    I Will Find You: A Reporter Investigates the Life of the Man Who Raped Her by Joanna Connors (Atlantic Monthly Press, $25), recommended by Brian at Scuppernong Books, Greensboro, NC.

  • 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.

  • Ashes by Laurie Halse Anderson

    We usually think of 'all men are created equal' when considering the start of our country. Ashes, which completes Anderson's Seeds of America trilogy set during the Revolutionary War, reminds us jarringly that this was not the case. Through the trilogy, we experience the hardships, hypocrisies, and always-cherished bonds of friendship from the perspective of Isabel, an escaped slave. Anderson always writes compelling, complicated characters for whom we care deeply. Ashes brings deep satisfaction to the trilogy. Ages 9+.

    Ashes by Laurie Halse Anderson (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy $16.99), recommended by Rosemary at Quail Ridge Books. Raleigh, NC.

  • I Am Brian Wilson: A Memoir by Brian Wilson, with Ben Greenman

    Brian Wilson has made some of the most groundbreaking and timeless music ever recorded. From singing along to Rosemary Clooney’s “Tenderly" at age 10 to becoming a Kennedy Center honoree in 2007, Wilson recounts the ups and downs of a Beach Boy’s life.

    I Am Brian Wilson by Brian Wilson, with Ben Greenman (Da Capo Press, $26.99), recommended by Andy at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño

    Exuberant grandiosity! A poet's belief that the world will be changed by a literary movement! You'll find people you know so well you can practically touch them despite the fact they live in Mexico City in the 1970s. I've not had more fun reading a book in ages!

    The Savage Dectives by Roberto Bolaño (Farrar Strauss Giroux, $27), recommended by Brian at Scuppernong Books, Greensboro, NC.

  • Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick

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

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

  • The Pleasure Was Mine by Tommy Hays

    There are passages in this novel that make me cry every time I read them, but not because of the great

    sadness (of losing a loved one to Alzheimers) but because of its beautiful depiction of marital and familial love.

    The Pleasure Was Mine by Tommy Hays (St. Martins Griffin) Recommended by Frank at A Cappella Books Atlanta GA

  • Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White by Melissa Sweet

    Adults, don’t let the packaging fool you into thinking this is just a book for kids. This delightful and moving biography of E.B. White is for all ages. If Charlotte’s Web still holds a special place in your heart, this is a must read.

    Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White(HMH Books for Young Readers, $18.99), recommended by Karen at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • In the Shadow of Liberty by Kenneth C. Davis

    Like paintings with shadowy figures in darkened corners, the lives of four of our nation's first presidents cannot be fully understood without opening the pages of Kenneth Davis' In the Shadow of Liberty . George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Andrew Jackson were founding fathers who risked their lives for the principles of freedom and liberty, while denying these rights to the slaves they owned, bought, and sold their entire lives.

    Davis' exhaustive research and objective narrative reveal men whose lofty ideals were easier to legislate than to apply to their personal lives. The stories of five black slaves whose lives were entwined with these men and their families on a very intimate level are revealed in the context of a society in which the economic value of each could not be denied. Davis highlights the ironic juxtaposition of these bastions of liberty and their enslaved companions with a clarity that made me consider how very difficult it can be to truly live out the values we claim to cherish. A key title in understanding the humanity of these famous Americans for ages 10+.

    In the Shadow of Liberty, (Henry Holt $17.99), recommended by Cindy at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead

    In the 1970s, Joan is a professional ballerina. Her company features the Russian breakout star, Arslan Ruskov. Joan is the reason he is in the United States--she even drove the get-away car. Despite the fact that she loves Arslan, he is engaged to another woman and Joan knows she will never be a soloist, so she decides to leave the ballet world. Joan marries her high school boyfriend and they live a nice life, but when their son begins to study dance, Joan is forced back into the lifestyle. Will her secrets be exposed or will her son be able to follow his dreams?

    Astonish Me is written with a style similar to a performance. It is divided into different acts and the narration sets the scene as the events unfold. Several different topics are broached in this book, ranging from parenting styles to marriages to work ethics. This is a book that you will want to read with someone else, as the ending will leave you desperate to discuss with a friend who understands.

    Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead, recommended by Nicole at My Sisters Books, Pawleys Island, SC.

  • El Paso by Winston Groom

    The bestselling author of Forrest Gump shifts the scene to the American Southwest in this tale of border wars, Pancho Villa, family and revenge.

    El Paso by Winston Groom (Liveright Publishing Corporation, $27.95), recommended by Kathy at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear...and Why by Sady Doyle

    At its best, pop culture criticism forces us to reconsider a familiar product by placing it in a new context and, in doing so, imbuing it with new meaning. Trainwreck is just that. Doyle effectively and entertainingly litigates her case: that Western culture's fascination with 'fallen' female starlets—AKA trainwrecks--is simply a modern form of the patriarchal silencing and marginalization of women that has been going for centuries. With sly humor and lively prose, Doyle systematically punches through all the familiar straw-man arguments and convincingly illustrates that the 'harmless fun' of Internet clickbait and TMZ gossip are merely modern forms of public shaming. A must-read.

    Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear... and Why by Sady Doyle (Melville House, $25.99), recommended by Matt at The Booksellers at Laurelwood, Memphis, TN.

  • A Soldier of the Great War by Mark Helprin

    A mesmerizing story of a man's life before, during, and after WWI. Filled with beauty and horror in equal measure, it is a tale that will haunt you. Helprin's prose is poetic, and his power to leave you awestruck is fully demonstrated in this beautiful novel.

    A Soldier of the Great War by Mark Helprin (Harvest Books, $16.99), recommended by Margaret at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Kill 'Em and Leave: Searching for James Brown and the American Soul by James McBride

    In the hands of such a great writer (and fellow musician) the story of The Godfather of Soul becomes not just a portrayal of one of the most important figures in musical history but in American history.

    A book that will make you crave that unmistakable James Brown sound.

    Kill 'Em and Leave: Searching for James Brown and the American Soul by James McBride (Spiegel & Grau) Recommended by Frank at A Cappella Books Atlanta GA

  • Damaged by Lisa Scottoline

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

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

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

  • Lust & Wonder by Augusten Burroughs

    Augusten Burroughs ALWAYS delivers.

    I love his madness, his romanticism, his hopeless inability to correct himself mid-stream and his hapless drive to overcompensate long after he's crossed the stream, and I love the way he writes about all of it.

    This was an Augusten Burroughs memoir with a happy ending.

    Lust & Wonder by Augusten Burroughs (St. Martin's Press) Recommended by Clara at A Cappella Books Atlanta GA

  • 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.

  • The Gatekeeper: Missy LeHand, FDR, and the Untold Story of the Partnership That Defined a Presidency by Kathryn Smith

    From Cindy: An essential thread in the tapestry of FDR and his legacy, Missy LeHand was intuitive, pragmatic and totally devoted to this controversial president. Kathryn Smith's impeccable research and reader-friendly narrative give us an intimate look at this extraordinary woman and an historical perspective on the pivotal role she played in American politics. The facts, the feelings, and the frictions of the years Missy was a primary player in Roosevelt's inner circle are woven together in this biographical gem.

    From Rosemary: I lived for many years in Hyde Park, so an almost yearly expedition to the FDR Presidential Library down the street was in order. The 'extended family' that he invited into the White House was essentially on a 24/7 on-call status for years, and this eclectic mix of staff, family, and friends (some belonging to multiple categories) always fascinated me. I am delighted to finally find material on Missy LeHand, a woman ahead of her time. Her story also reveals inner circle anecdotes about FDR's band, and indeed, on FDR himself. The pre-presidential accounts of his battle with polio, and Missy's efforts toward his recovery are new to me, and worth the book alone.

    The Gatekeeper: Missy LeHand, FDR, and the Untold Story of the Partnership That Defined a Presidency by Kathryn Smith, ($28, Touchstone), recommended by Cindy and Rosemary, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Echoes of Family by Barbara Claypoole-White

    This well-written story of a bi-polar woman does not over-exaggerate the disease and makes it realistic and understandable.

    Echoes of Family by Barbara Claypoole-White (Lake Union Publishing, $14.950, recommended by Suzanne at Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, NC.

  • The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo

    “The question of what you want to own is actually a question of how you want to live your life!” Kondo exclaims. While I am still working my way at decluttering my space, following the advice of this book has been fairly straight forward. The concept is pretty simple: get rid of physical baggage so you can focus on living your life (and maybe cutting some other types of baggage too). It’s empowering, it’s not being beholden to material possessions, it’s learning how to make your space serve you, and it’s deciding what you want for your life as the person you are today. Now that is life-changing.

    The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo (Ten Speed $16.99), recommended by Ceewin, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • A Plague on All Our Houses: Medical Intrigue, Hollywood, and the Discovery of AIDS by Bruce J. Hillman

    A Plague on All Our Houses examines the AIDS epidemic and the doctors behind the discovery of its cause and the tangled motivations of the search.  Readers delve into knowledge about how academia works, and whether the work is for ego or for helping the sick. The book also details how Hollywood and the government would not acknowledge what was happening as the crisis developed.

    A Plague on All Our Houses by Bruce J. Hillman (Foreedge, $29.95), recommended by Suzanne at Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, NC.

  • Wrecked by Maria Padian

    Conundrum: The name of the campus house where Haley's freshman roommate claims to have been raped, and the exact position Haley is put in when she finds herself drawn into the campus investigation. At the same time, Haley is growing closer to Richard, a housemate of the accused and a boy who annoys her, excites her, makes her furious, and makes her laugh. Haley and Richard find themselves on opposite sides of somebody else's war, struggling and scrambling to discern just who is telling the truth about what really happened. Timely, poignant, and thought-provoking, Wrecked should be required reading for every high-school senior.

    Wrecked by Maria Padian, (Algonquin Young Readers, $17.95), recommended by Angie at The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

  • The Secret Horses of Briar Hill by Megan Shepherd

    One of Shepherd's gifts as a writer is the ability to transport readers to a very specific time and place and immerse them in its physical and social realities. This is done beautifully in The Secret Horses of Briar Hill, set in a children's hospital in rural England during WWII. Whether the winged horses little Emmaline sees in the mirrors at Briar Hill are real or just her imagination, the hope and solace they provide are very real. A moving and magical story not to be missed.

    The Secret Horses of Briar Hill by Megan Shepherd, (Delacorte Books for Young Readers, $16.99), recommended by Leslie at Spellbound Children’s Bookshop, Asheville, NC.

  • Desperation Dinners by Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross

    Desperation Dinners has been one of the most influential and necessary tools in my kitchen for many years. This book may persuade you to believe you've found another 30 to 60 minutes during the dinner hour. It provides authentic and realistic tips, instructions and recipes to help even the most harried cook create tasty, nutritious and satisfying dishes in 20 minutes or less. Really--20 minutes or less. Mom's Mini Meat Loaves defy belief by tasting every bit as good as traditional meat loaf with 2/3 less prep/cook time, and the So-Simple Salsa is so good and so fast to prepare, that you will never let let another chip go without it. You owe it to yourself, and your overworked day planner app, to welcome this book into your kitchen.

    Desperation Dinners by Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross (Workman $13.95) by Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross, recommended by Belinda at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

    Revisit a classic! A hilarious comedy tinged with a bit of tragic melancholy, this Pulitzer Prize winner is defined by its protagonist, the ever deluded Ignatius J. Reilly, whose complaints about his malfunctioning pyloric valve never cease to amuse. Ignatius may dominate the novel, but he would be nothing without New Orleans, his home and the novel’s playground. Though loosely structured, Ignatius’ ridiculous narrative adventures in the Crescent City never bore. A picaresque if there ever was one.

    A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (Grove Press, $16.00), recommended by Peter at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • Whistlestop: My Favorite Stories from Presidential Campaign History by John Dickerson

    I obsessively checked out campaign coverage this election season, and it was a relief to examine turning points in past presidential campaigns and already know how everything turned out.

    Whistlestop: My Favorite Stories from Presidential Campaign History by John Dickerson, (Twelve, $30.00), recommended by Niki at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • The Risen by Ron Rash

    A 2016 OKRA PICK
    I'd be happy to read Ron Rash's grocery lists. Rash stays centered in western North Carolina in his new novel, The Risen. But he moves from the sweeping forest vista of Serena and the moral issues of WWI (The Cove) to a more intimate setting. Two brothers have taken very different paths. When the events of a long-ago summer literally rise up, their family history and dynamics come bubbling up, too.

    The Risen by Ron Rash (Ecco $25.99), recommended by Rosemary at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • 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.

  • 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 Lost Girls by Heather Young

    Heather Young’s debut novel, is the story of three generations of women and mainly set in a desolate part of Minnesota. In 1935, a six-year-old girl disappears without any explanation, and she's never heard of or seen again. The novel explores the effects Emily's disappearance has on her siblings and succeeding generations of women in the family. It's haunting and beautifully written.

    The Lost Girls by Heather Young (William Morrow $25.99), recommended by Mari Lu, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

    A Torch Against the Night immediately picks up with Laia and Elias' escape at the end of An Ember in the Ashes. Determined to break Laia's brother out of prison, Laia and Elias begin a breakneck journey across Serra, closely followed by Elias' former best friend, Helene, who has orders to kill them. Detailing the perspectives of Elias, Laia, and Helene, Tahir does an incredible job weaving all three stories together. A Torch Against the Night is exhilarating, thrilling, and heartbreaking, with plenty of unexpected twists and turns.

    A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir (Razorbill, $19.99), recommended by Sami at Square Books, Oxford, MS.