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RECENT RECOMMENDATIONS FROM SOUTHERN INDIES...

Judith Finch was held captive for two years before being returned to her hometown, maimed and mute for fear of what she might reveal. To the people of Roswell Station, including her own mother, she's been cursed. The one bright spot in her life is Lucas, the boy she's loved since she was a girl but who doesn't give her a second glance. After Roswell Station is attacked, Judith has to make a decision -- stay silent and let people make their own conclusions, or reveal all the truth that's in her. Berry's poetic language makes this mystery and love story a captivating read that you won't want to put down until you know everything that Judith has to say.

All the Truth That's In Me by Julie Berry ($17.99, Viking Juvenile), recommended by Melissa, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

This debut novel is a thriller, a love story, a story of courage and the many unknown heroes who made life and death decisions in the face of the horror that was Berlin in 1943.

Gillham's language is stunning and his characters are real, with all their flaws and all their bravery. This is a book that will stay with me for a long, long time.

City of Women By David R. Gillham ($16, Berkley Trade), recommended by Rene, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

Part historical novel and part fantasy, Boxers & Saints are companion graphic novels re-imagining the Boxer Rebellion. Yang's art style is cartoonishly simple and colorful, in deliberate contrast to the messy, multifaceted events he recounts. Recommended for teen readers and up.

Boxers & Saints Boxed Set By Gene Luen Yang ($34.99, First Second), recommended by Rachel, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

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

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

What an astonishing book! It shines a spotlight on Leitzel and Alfredo, the two most famous stars in circus history. Leitzel, tiny with golden hair, did one hundred flips on Roman rings, and Alfredo did The Triple, three somersaults while flying between trapezes. Queen of the Air recounts their hard beginnings, their star-crossed love, and their tragic ends. You'll feel like you have a seat under the Big Top!

Queen of the Air: A True Story of Love and Tragedy at the Circus  by Dean N. Jensen ($26, Crown), recommended by Helen, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

I read this my first year of college when I was still trying to decide if I wanted to write.

Chapter 3 is titled SHITTY FIRST DRAFTS.

It's full of good advice and encouragement for the beginning writer and would make a great gift. It's less an instruction book than a series of stories focused on the process. It's informal and funny and I was better for it.

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott (Anchor) Recommended by Dottie at Square Books Oxford MS 

While I'm not entirely pleased that my kittens seem to have taken this up as a manual of behavior. Seriously, I often ask them--AGAIN?!

The specificity and truthfulness of this book of poems -- ostensibly written by cats, although I'm pretty suspicious that a human helped a bit -- makes it my all-time favorite gift for cat people, and one of our best sellers in the store to boot. Whether modern or traditional, with iambs or without, these poems all manage to hit home in a way that's both humorous and wince-inducing.

I Could Pee on This: And Other Poems by Cats by Francesco Marciuliano ($12.95, Chronicle Books), recommended by Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.