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RECENT RECOMMENDATIONS FROM SOUTHERN INDIES...
In The Hidden Light of Northern Fires, a town on the Underground Railroad secedes from the Union after it becomes fractured by the politics of the American Civil War. As a huge geek on the subject, I’m often skeptical of historical fiction relating to it. While Wang’s tale benefits from being based on truth, that is a moot point. His well-developed, very real characters and masterful writing are all that’s needed for an incredible debut. Though a novel of the home front, it is nonetheless a war novel focusing on how conflict brings out the best and worst in people. It is one of the best works of historical fiction on the Civil War that I’ve ever read, and perhaps even that exists.
The Hidden Light of Northern Fires by Daren Wang ($26.99*, Thomas Dunne Books), recommended by Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA.
Set in the distant future amidst a feudal interstellar society in which noble houses, in control of individual planets, owe allegiance to the Padishah Emperor, Dune tells the story of young Paul Atreides, whose noble family accepts the stewardship of the desert planet Arrakis. As this planet is the only source of the “spice” melange, the most important and valuable substance in the universe, control of Arrakis is a coveted--and dangerous--undertaking. The story explores the multi-layered interactions of politics, religion, ecology, technology, and human emotion, as the forces of the empire confront each other in a struggle for the control of Arrakis and its “spice.”
Dune by Frank Herbert ($10.99, Ace Books), recommended by Hills & Hamlets Bookshop, Chattahoochee Hills, GA.
Olivia's life is complicated. Her father has left and her mother is struggling to support their family. So Olivia steps up by taking care of herself and little sister Berkley. They rely on their neighbors in Sunny Pines Trailer Park and create their own adventures with Olivia's whimsical imagination, which may or may not get them into trouble sometimes...Ann Dee Ellis hits a perfect tween sweet spot. She so easily places a reader directly into the twelve-year-old brain. All of Olivia's hopes, fears, and silly flights of fancy are perfectly narrated - realistic and completely endearing at the same time.
You May Already Be a Winner by Ann Dee Ellis ($16.99*, Dial Books), recommended by Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.
Part memoir, part urban history, Hannah Palmer's Flight Path is entirely fascinating, witty, and tender. Years after leaving the South for Brooklyn, Palmer returns to Atlanta ready to start a family and searching for her roots. While her husband doubles down on home improvements, a pregnant Palmer hits the pavement, intent on finding out what happened to her childhood homes, which have disappeared along with entire neighborhoods and cities beneath the sprawling complex of the busiest airport in the world. In gorgeous prose at turns poetic and wry, Palmer investigates not only how Hartsfield-Jackson has shaped the city that gave birth to it, but how a city shapes a person, the human relationship to place, and how much anyone can really know "home." Palmer's journey is enthralling, and I found myself questioning, mourning, and hoping along with her. I'll never look at Atlanta the same way again, or any city for that matter.
Flight Path by Hannah Palmer ($16.95*, Hub City Press), recommended by Hills & Hamlets Bookshop, Chattahoochee Hills, GA.
In the hands of an average author, a novel like All Grown Up, could be summarized in its first chapter. But Jami Attenberg is no average author. In this story about a 39-year-old single, childfree woman who defies convention, she utilizes each chapter to flesh out our characters from one-dimensional stereotypes into fully realized characters, emphasizing depth and richness that makes them feel so real. Perfect testament to the idea that one cannot truly know everything about anybody in one chapter.
All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg ($25.00*, Houghton Mifflin), recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.
Margaret Dardess skillfully brings to life one of the most terrifying realities of our time while blending it inside a fantastic thriller. The characters were drawn expertly by being relatable, flawed, and and unexpectedly evil. Our main character is a a strong intelligent woman who was kidnapped while on vacation in Mexico and forced in a life of sex trafficking. She is deftly able to escape, returning home to her country club upbringing and job leading a clinic. This experience changes her dramatically and she puts up a valiant fight when she becomes a target.
The pace of the book made it a highly recommended page turner. I love learning about different topics while being led through a fast-paced mystery and this doesn't disappoint.
Brutal Silence by Margaret Dardess ($13.95*), recommended by Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, NC.
In 1973, Peter Matthiessen travels to the Himalayas in search of the elusive Snow Leopard. What follows is a spiritual journey and a travelogue unlike any I’ve read before. A masterpiece of nature writing.
The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen ($18.00*, Penguin Books), recommended by Books & Books, Coral Gables, FL.