Recommended Reading from Southern Indie Booksellers, culled from their websites, newsletters, emails, facebook and twitter posts, and from the moments when they stop us in the street to push a book in our hands saying, "You've got to read this!"

American Gods

America is a bad land for gods.

This is a fantastic novel about the nature of worship and belief, and what that means for the ideas people leave behind on their way to the next thing.


American Gods by Neil Gaiman (HarperTorch) Recommended by Melanie at Octavia Books New Orleans LA

The War That Saved My Life

The Second World War is about to begin.

Hitler is rallying his forces and preparing to conquer the world. Yet, for Ada Smith, a different war is about to begin.

Ada was born with a clubfoot. She cannot walk, and she is forced to stay in her families one-room apartment at all times. Ada doesn’t know
what the world looks like outside of her little apartment. Life for Ada seems very bleak, until the mandatory evacuation of all London’s children is announced.

Suddenly, Ada and her little brother Jamie are sent to the country with thousands of other Londoner children. When they arrive in Kent, Ada expects life to remain as it has always been, but instead Ada will discover a world she never knew existed.

Ada will discover that she is not as broken as she seems, and with time and a lot of love she might be able to change the way the world sees her. A poignant tale set in war-time England of a little girl’s triumph over her disability and the life that she has always known.

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (Dial Books for Younger Readers) Recommended by Gretchen at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC


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


Louisa: The Extraordinary Life of Mrs. Adams

What an adventurous life it was! Louisa married John Quincy Adams when she was 21, and followed him to diplomatic posts in Germany, Prussia, St. Petersburg and eventually the United States. 

You share her struggles through multiple miscarriages, the deaths of two babies and years of separation from her children. You're there at the high points, such as her presentation to the court of the tzar. In Washington her parties and balls became legendary. 

Full of first person accounts, from Louisa's memoirs to John Quincy's diary...Louisa makes you feel as if you know this woman. Fabulous history!

Louisa: The Extraordinary Life of Mrs. Adams by Louisa Thomas (Penguin Press) Recommended by Helen at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

Rebel of the Sands

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

Miller's Valley

A coming of age novel reminiscent of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

Mimi is a precocious young girl who struggles to survive under emotionally difficult family circumstances. Mimi wonders if she will ever achieve her dream of leaving Miller's Valley and making something of her life.

Beautifully written!

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

The Advocate's Daughter

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 is a powerful story of loss and revenge set against the background of the Supreme Court.

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

Fellside

I expected dark and perhaps brutal – it was after all taking place in a maximum security prison for serious
offenders – but I wasn’t expecting the supernatural element.

Normally, that would have immediately turned me off but it was so well done and so almost believable that I continued reading. Besides, by that time I was already hooked by Jess.

Fellside is a powerfully written story about drugs, love and hate, and power and corruption. It is an interesting look at the workings inside a prison and an equally interesting study of the human soul.

Fellside by M.R. Carey (Orbit) Recommended by Nancy M. at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

The Travelers

The Travelers is a stunningly complex novel of espionage and counter espionage; a definite page-turner with a story that unfolds at breakneck speed as you travel internationally with a top rated traveler’s magazine.

Who can you trust in this world of modern-day espionage? Twists and turns culminate in a huge surprise ending… Pavone’s best yet!

The Travelers by Chris Pavon (Crown) Recommended by Nancy M. at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

The Mathews Men: Seven Brothers and the War Against Hitler's U-Boats

In Sea Fever, John Masefield's sailors go down to the sea and ask in part for quiet sleep and a sweet dream.

The sailing men of Mathews, of whom there were many, had no illusions about what they were getting into when they flooded the Navy and Merchant Marine during WWII.

The Mathews Men is the story, long too-quiet, about usually poor men who stepped up for the sake of their country and their families – and who also had an almost uncanny affinity for seamanship.

If you loved The Boys in the Boat, you'll also fall for these men on ships.

The Mathews Men: Seven Brothers and the War Against Hitler's U-Boats by William Geroux (Viking) Recommended by Rosemary at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC.

A Shadow All of Light

When manager Sarah asked me if I wanted to read Fred Chappell's A Shadow All of Light, I asked her, "Fred Chappell the poet?" She said yes, but explained that this time he had written a fantasy novel.

Chappell has created a 17th century-ish, Italian-ish world where a country boy named Falco recounts his apprenticeship to the master shadow thief Maestro Astolfo, and there are many reasons why a person would want to steal, sell, buy, or otherwise deal in shadows.

The novel is excellent, and I particularly liked its episodic nature--the story is advanced through a series of stand alone vignettes. From now on I'll ask, -Fred Chappell the fantasy writer?-, when I hear his name ... and I'll keep a closer eye on my shadow.

A Shadow All of Light by Fred Chappell (Tor Books) Recommended by Bill at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

My Sunshine Away

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

The Secret Wisdom of the Earth

This fabulous Southern debut novel is set in Kentucky during the 1980s, at the height of the coal mountaintop removal mining; it is a beautifully moving coming-of-age story with a touching grandfather-grandson relationship.

The Secret Wisdom of the Earth  By Christopher Scotton (Grand Central Publishing) Recommended by Jill and Nancy at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

Ida, Always

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

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

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

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

Ida, Always by (Atheneum) Recommended by Melissa at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC Recommended by Melissa at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC


 

Water Is Water

This nonfiction picture book will make it fun to learn about the water cycle, from water to steam and from clouds to rain and back again.

Younger kids will like the poetic, rhyming text, and older kids will learn something new with all the water cycle facts.

And the beautiful illustrations add something even more.

Water Is Water: A Book About the Water Cycle by Miranda Paul (Roaring Brook Press) Recommended by Melissa at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

Disclaimer

Catherine is a happily married successful TV documentary maker with a 25 year old son. Stephen is a washed up, disgraced teacher who is still grieving the recent death of his wife and that of his son 20 years earlier.

They have never met each other and neither realizes that the same event in the past will soon have serious repercussions on both of their lives. Catherine thought she was protecting herself and her family when she chose to keep secret the events of 20 years ago. Stephen thinks he is doing what his wife would want and is seeking revenge for what he thinks happened 20 years ago.

They are both wrong as will be seen in this unique and unusual psychological thriller.

Disclaimer by Renee Knight (HarperCollins) Recommended by Nancy at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

 

Flood Girls

If you are looking for a somewhat irreverent novel, don't mind some raunchy humor and language, but love a good story despite all this, you will love this novel.

A cast of misfits comes together to form a wacky softball team and in the process learns about forgiveness and starting over. The novel centers around Jake, a 12-year-old whose love of vintage clothing and romance novels irritates his mom's live-in boyfriend. A neighbor befriends Jake and provides the things he needs to be himself.
Jake soon becomes an asset that The Flood Girls, the softball team, can't afford to lose.

Flood Girls by Richard Fifield (Gallery Books ) Recommended by Linda H. at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

Be Frank With Me

When Alice is sent from her desk job at a New York publishing house to the Bel Air mansion of M.M. Banning, a reclusive one-hit wonder in the literary world, she relishes the idea of doing something new and helping Mimi write her next great novel.


But it turns out, she's mostly wanted to take care of Frank, Mimi's 9-year-old son, a precocious genius who loves old Hollywood movies and dresses better than anyone you've ever met, but who can't seem to bring himself to socialize with other kids.

As Alice is charmed by Frank, she starts to wonder about the life Mimi has built for the two of them and whether she actually has a place in it, however temporary. Fans of Graeme Simsion's The Rosie Project will be drawn to Frank and his social awkwardness that somehow manages to also be endearing.
 
Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson (William Morrow) Recommended by Melissa at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC


Among Thieves

James Beck wasn’t a criminal when he was sentenced to prison on a falsified charge of killing a policeman, but he was very, very smart and he did what he had to in order to survive.

Eight years later when his conviction was overturned he left prison with a group of ex-cons who would do anything for him. They were family, so when a distant cousin of one of the ex-cons needed help James Beck stepped in. Little did he know they would soon be fighting a Russian arms dealer, Bosnian war criminals and the NYPD.

Among Thieves is an amazingly intelligent, fast paced, well written story about how to get even, steal 116 million dollars and not end up back in jail.

Among Thieves by John Clarkson (Minotaur) Recommended by Nancy at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

The Water and the Wild

The Water and The Wild is a debut children's fantasy that feels akin to the British childhood favorites I grew up reading--The Chronicles of Narnia, The Dark Is Rising, and Alice in Wonderland.

So introduce your child to a modern classic in the making or read it yourself in nostalgic remembrance.

The Water and the Wild by Katie Elise Ormsbee; K. E. Ormsbee; Elsa Mora (Illustrator) (Chronicle Books) Recommended by Jill at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

The Cantaloupe Thief

Journalist Branigan Powers begins looking into the ten-year-old unsolved murder of a wealthy resident of Grambling, GA for an article planned to coincide with the anniversary of the murder.

The clients of a homeless mission run by her childhood friend Liam become an important source of information but when two homeless are killed weeks apart in hit-and-run accidents Brannigan begins to fear that she has awakened a murderer.

The Cantalope Thief is an insightful look into the life of the homeless and how others see them. It is a story of love and family and the horrible efects of drug addiction as well as an intriguing mystery with a cast of characters that I hope to encounter in future books.

The Cantaloupe Thief by Deb Richardson-Moore (Lion Publishing)Recommended by Nancy at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

Blackbird Fly

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

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

Reign of Shadows

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

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer

 

Children and teachers alike will fall in love with spunky Latina heroine Sophie Brown and the super powered chickens she has inherited and must keep safe from both chicken hawks and chicken thieves. This exceptional debut is recommended for fans of Roald Dahl and all animal lovers.

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones; Katie Kath (Illustrator) (Yearling Books) Recommended by Jill at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

 

The Photographer's Wife

 

 

A sweeping novel about a young girl who lives with her Father in Jerusalem prior to the war. She is eleven and has an absurd amount of freedom, and with that comes the potential for disaster.

We follow Prue through her marriage and birth of her child. The focus of the book is the incredible way tragedies in childhood can impact your entire life. Parts of the novel are hard to read, but the brutality that exists in the world is brought to life by the authors words.

A strong historical aspect but the main story is that of Prue's life. For any fan of historical fiction based in war time.

The Photographer's Wife By Suzanne Joinson (Bloomsbury USA) Recommended by Jackie at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

 

The Queen of the Tearling

A beautiful, violent epic fantasy about a teenaged princess who must survive to take over her mother's throne, reverse years of greedy governance, and wrest her kingdom out from under neighboring Mortmesne's control. Recommended for fans of George R.R. Martin.

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen (Harper Paperbacks)  Recommended by Jill at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

 

Orphan X

 

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

Keep Calm

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

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

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

A Touch of Stardust

I have read Kate Alcott's previous books, so I had high expectations for this novel.

I believe this is my favorite of all the books. The view of Old Hollywood portrayed through the making of the film Gone With The Wind is captivating. Adding in the rise of the Nazi party and war in Europe gives a rare glimpse into two very separate places and how one impacts the other.

Kate's female characters never disappoint and Julie is no exception. When you reflect on how truly unusual her path was for a Smith educated heiress she becomes even more engaging. Historical fiction fans, movie fans and readers who want to disappear into a book must read this book.

A Touch of Stardust by Kate Alcott (Doubleday) Recommended by Jackie at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

World Gone By

Dennis Lehane has given us another fascinating, and historical look into the rise of the mob. World Gone By takes place in Tampa and Cuba during WWII, and is a mesmerizing look at the honor and loyalty, revenge and retribution, that is an integral part of a mobster's way of life.

Once again Lehane develops characters so rich and so complex that he has us liking and rooting for gangsters.

World Gone By by Dennis Lehane (William Morrow & Company) Recommended by Nancy at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

The Exile: Book One of the Fae

Start of a fun urban fantasy series about Brianna Hai, the half-human daughter of the King of the Fae.

Like Hamilton's Meredith Gentry, Brianna is not sure she can survive deadly Fae politics and is living in the human world, running an occult shop. When her father's enemies attack, however, Brianna can no longer ignore her heritage.

The Exile:  Book One of the Fae by C. T. Adams (Tor) Recommended by Jill at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

Wolf

 

Mo Hayder has written the ultimate story of psychological terror and horror. It is a riveting, bone-chilling tale about a family held hostage in their English country manor. This story of such evil doings will haunt you for long after you’ve finished and you will never suspect the shocking ending… it will leaving you breathless!

Wolf by Mo Hayder (Atlantic Monthly Press) Recommended by Nancy at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century

Steven Pinker has been a favorite of mine for a long time.

How the Mind Works, The Blank Slate, The Better Angels of Our Nature have hugely influenced my thinking about consciousness, human behavior, and ethical issues.  One of his greatest strengths as a writer is his ability to untangle difficult topics and clearly present them to the reader.

Here, he offers common sense advice to writers who want to improve their writing.  

The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century by Steven Pinker (Penguin Books) Recommended by Brian at Malaprops Bookstore Asheville NC

Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won't Go Away

Goldstein is a highly regarded philosopher who also happens to be a distinguished novelist, and her manifold talents are on display in this entertaining and thought-provoking book about the relevance of philosophy in the 21st century.

Through Plato's dialogues with a diverse cast of modern-day characters, we learn that the value of philosophy isn't necessarily in the answers that it provides but the questions that it poses.  

Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won't Go Away by Rebecca Goldstein (Vintage) Recommended by Brian at Malaprops Bookstore Asheville NC

Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible

Many people assume that the subtitle of this book suggests something that is clearly false. 

After all, if Francis Collins, the head of the Human Genome Project, is an accomplished scientist and avowed Christian, how could religion and science possibly be incompatible?  Well, here's how. 

One of the greatest virtues of many religions is faith, which, by definition, is belief in something in the absence of evidence.  Far from being a virtue, faith is considered to be a great sin (irony intended) among scientists.  Science gets us closer to truth.  Religion never has.   

As Coyne makes painfully clear, basing one's life in religion has serious consequences for the well-being of children, women, and society at large.  Read this book if you disagree with Coyne, but, even if you're already a member of the choir, read the book anyway.

It never hurts to read an author, especially one as gifted as Coyne, making arguments based on reason and science.

Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible by Jerry A. Coyne (Viking) Recommended by Brian at Malaprops Bookstore Asheville NC

The Opposite of Everyone

Okay, y’all. This is the most addictive, unflinching, smart book I’ve read so far this year.

And, believe me, I could go on with the adjectives. Instead, I’ll let Joshilyn herself tell you what kind of books she writes: -Weirdo Fiction with a Shot of Southern Gothic Influence for Smart People Who Can Catch the Nuances but Who Like Narrative Drive, and Who Have a Sense of Humor but Who Are Willing to Go Down to Dark Places.-

The Opposite of Everyone’s Paula Vauss joins Arlene Fleet, Ro Grandee, and Shandi Pierce in Joshilyn’s pantheon of incredible female protagonists. Do yourself a favor. Get to know all of them. Start with Paula.


The Opposite of Everyone by Joshilyn Jackson (William Morrow & Company) Recommended by Cindy at Malaprops Bookstore Asheville NC
 

Interstellar Cinderella by Deborah Underwood, illus. Meg Hunt

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

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

The Hunt for Vulcan: . . . and How Albert Einstein Destroyed a Planet, Discovered Relativity, and Deciphered the Universe

It seems that a key driver to inventing higher mathematics over the centuries has been the desire to predict where planets go.

Isaac Newton's theory of gravity enabled astronomers to reliably chart their orbits, and later to discover Neptune right where it was predicted to be, based on the way it perturbed the orbit of Uranus. However, when Mercury's path was observed to be a smidge askew of the equations, the new planet posited to explain this, Vulcan, proved quite elusive. Thus, Albert Einstein was inspired to develop his theory of relativity to explain why Newton's math failed in that case.

I love books like this that remind us how math and science continually empower our desire to describe the universe.

The Hunt for Vulcan: . . . and How Albert Einstein Destroyed a Planet, Discovered Relativity, and Deciphered the Universe by Thomas Levenson (Random House) Recommended by Kent at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh 

The Glass PalaceTo read a novel by the masterful Amitav Ghosh is to be swept along in a sea of facts, linguistic oddities, and almost fantastical characters on a grand scale. Elephants with anthrax! Exiled royalty! The teak forests of Burma, the rubber plantations of Malaysia, WWII, photography, love, trade, nationalism, family. A page-turning epic.

The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh (Random House). Recommended by Elese at Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

 

 

 

Free Men

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

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