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RECENT RECOMMENDATIONS FROM SOUTHERN INDIES...

This is a fine collection of short fiction by Muir.

Her main character, Sophia, is the heir to the gift of the family's ability to see invisible beasts. The descriptions of the beasts make you long for these to be real. Some of my favorites are the Truth Bats, the Hypnogator, and the Fine-Print Rotifers.

The Truth Bats hang in your hair near your ears and help you make your way through the world. They will leave you in a flash if you tell a lie or even a small fib.  Sophia loses hers and makes a desperate attempt to get them back.  She has to tell her sister the truth about the invisible. The Hypnogater is an invisible alligator that has vision problems and that gives him the ability to hypnotize his victims. This invisible has a friend called the Poltergeist Possum, who takes human things. The Fine-Print Rotifers eat the fine print in documents that you have to sign.  It's not that you can't see them, it's that they are being eaten.

This fine book full of humor and love of animals real or imagined would be a great read for any explorer.

Invisible Beasts by Sharon Muir (Bellevue Literary Press) Recommended by Molly at The Fountainhead Bookstore, Hendersonville NC.

The incredible journey of one man who sets out to circumnavigate the globe on a vintage motorbike fueled by kindness.

Follow the inspirational journey of a former stockbroker who leaves his unfulfilling desk job in search of a meaningful life. He sets out from Los Angeles on a vintage motorbike, determined to circumnavigate the globe surviving only on the kindness of strangers. Incredibly, he makes his way across the U.S., through Europe, India, Cambodia, and Vietnam, and finally to Canada and back to the Hollywood sign, by asking strangers for shelter, food, and gas. Again and again, he's won over by the generosity of humanity, from the homeless man who shares his blanket to the poor farmer who helps him with his broken down bike, and the HIV-positive mother who takes him in and feeds him.

At each stop, he finds a way to give back to these unsuspecting Good Samaritans in life-changing ways, by rebuilding their homes, paying for their schooling, and leaving behind gifts big and small. The Kindness Diaries will introduce you to a world of adventure, renew your faith in the bonds that connect people, and inspire you to accept and generate kindness in your own life.

The Kindness Diaries: One Man's Quest to Ignite Goodwill and Transform Lives Around the World by Leon Logothesis (Reader's Digest) Recommended by Jamie at Ducks Cottage Manteo NC

This wicked little satire features a Danish cartoonist who draws a cartoon about the Muslim reaction to the original Danish cartoon depicting the prophet Muhammad.

What could possibly go wrong? A comedy of errors ensues when after his house is burned down the cartoonist goes into hiding in the most dysfunctional small town imaginable in upstate New York.

The Happiest People in the World by Brock Clarke (Algonquin) Recommended by Elizabeth at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

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

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

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

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

Reading Jonathan Carroll can seem like waking from a particularly strange dream. Random details that seemed so vital at the time can prove challenging to explain afterwards.

While cloaked in the guise of a fairly straightforward science fiction tale of alien "mechanics" battling chaos, Bathing the Lion is also a meditation on life and death, on memory and illusion, and yes, on dreams. It is a small window on the genius of Jonathan Carroll.

Bathing the Lion by Jonathan Carroll (St. Martin's Press) Recommended by Tony at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

A hearty thank you to the Booker Prize committee for bringing this remarkable novel by an unknown author and independent Scottish publisher into the literary limelight!

Harris opens with a wedding between a terrified bride and groom, practically strangers, and immediately captivates her audience with this restrictive orthodox Jewish community and characters that leap off the page with a vitality that will squeeze your heart while making you laugh out loud.

The Marrying of Chani Kaufman by Eve Harris ($16.99, Grove Press), recommended by Vicki at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC 

Meghan Mayhew Bergman has done it again. 

I loved her story collection, Birds of a Lesser Paradise, and am equally impressed with her brilliant new collection, Almost Famous Women.  Bergman takes obscure women from the past and creates a fictional world within the context of their real histories.

Siamese twins, Lord Byron’s illegitimate daughter, and Oscar Wilde’s niece Dolly are among her chosen subjects. Bergman is a young writer on the rise, and this book, due out in January, will set the new year's bar high for people who love short stories as I do.

Almost Famous Women: Stories by Megan Mayhew Bergman ($25, Scribner), recommended by Mamie at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC