Lady Banks Bookshelf

Lady Banks Pick of the Week


Read This Now: The Index

What if there were an army of indie booksellers enthusiastically reading and reviewing practically every new book coming out in the next year, and what if the books they were the most excited about, the books they couldn't wait to push into their customers' hands with a breathless "You've GOT to read this!" (virtually or otherwise), the ones with all the nine- and ten-star ratings were carefully curated and collected in a handy list? Well, all we can say is...KEEP READING!

Browse the whole list!


What if there were an army of indie booksellers enthusiastically reading and reviewing practically every new book coming out in the next year, and what if the books they were the most excited about, the books they couldn't wait to push into their customers' hands with a breathless "You've GOT to read this!" (virtually or otherwise), the ones with all the nine- and ten-star ratings were carefully curated and collected in a handy list? Well, all we can say is...KEEP READING!

Browse the Read This Now Index!


RECENT RECOMMENDATIONS FROM SOUTHERN INDIES...

The Secret of Clouds by Alyson RichmanWhat an impact a loving and caring teacher can make on the life of a child. This is definitely a love letter to all the amazing teachers who go above and beyond each and every day to teacher our precious children.  Teachers have that special something that digs deep to bring out the best in each child. Alyson Richman does it again. A sure winner.

The Secret of Clouds by Alyson Richman ($16.00*, Berkley), recommended by Copperfish Books, Punta Gorda, FL.

American Heroin by Melissa Scrivner LoveWow, this starts with a bang and doesn't let up as Lola consolidates her power on the L.A. drug trade that she first grasped in the previous book in the series (Lola). With a cold blooded detachment she does whatever needs to be done to protect her family, neighborhood, and soldiers. Written in a tough, gritty, style that brings to life the streets of L.A. in ways that reminded me of James Ellroy and Michael Connelly, Scrivner Love has crafted a winner that I'm sure will be nominated next year for McIntyre's mystery award, The Beltie Prize. 

American Heroin by Melissa Scrivner Love ($27.00*, Crown), recommended by McIntyre's Fine Books, Pittsboro, NC.

The Heavens by Sandra NewmanBen and Kate meet at a party in a progressive NYC in the year 2000. They begin to fall in love but Kate has had these dreams since childhood that take her back to Elizabethan England where her actions change the reality she wakes up in each time. As her current world gets worse and her friends get more skeptical of her sanity, Kate tries to figure out what paths to choose in her dreams to save the future. A very intimate, emotional and at some moments downright heartbreaking look at perception, morality, and humanity, this book shook me and will be one of the best of 2019. 

The Heavens by Sandra Newman ($26.00*, Grove Press), recommended by Fountain Books, Richmond, VA.

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa GrayI had the worst, most amazing book hangover after finishing this one. The Butler women crawled into my heart and made it impossible for me to leave. Gray's writing made each character distinct and so real for me that in the middle I had to put it down and take a breather. This book will have you calling your mom, your sister, your aunt just to tell them you love them.

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray ($26.00*, Berkley), recommended by Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, NC.

 A Winter 2019 Okra Pick

Crescendo by Paola Quintavalle, Alessandro Sanna (Artist)In Crescendo, Quintavalle and Sanna tap into the improbable magic of growing a child--impending motherhood calls for so much wonder and mystery at the little one you have yet to meet, and this joyful, colorful ode hits all the right notes. A perfect gift for any mother, new, old, or yet-to-be!

Crescendo by Paola Quintavalle, Alessandro Sanna (Artist) ($19.95*, Enchanted Lion Books), recommended by Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

Watching You by Lisa JewellThe picturesque painted houses at the top the of the street hide a delicate web of past and present intrigue. Complicated relationships abound: sisters and brothers, teacher and student, innocent love and the timeless theme of marital infidelity, and of course, a murder. Jewell's understating of human psyche and its idiosyncrasies makes for a deliciously hard to put down whodunnit that feels all too close to home. She is a story-weaver like no other and she had me guessing the whole way through.

Watching You by Lisa Jewell ($26.00*, Atria Books), recommended by The Oxford Exchange, Tampa, FL.

Lost Children Archive by Valeria LuiselliA heady yet accessible exploration of family and America's collective past that reaches into a variety of texts and art forms for inspiration. But it's the ambition of Luiselli's writing and its overall impact that makes this novel such a monument.

Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli ($27.95*, Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli), recommended by Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe, Asheville, NC.

 A Winter 2019 Okra Pick

The Lost Man by Jane HarperJane Harper has created yet another masterpiece, this one a standalone set in the outback region of Queensland Australia. It is a beautifully written character driven novel where the extreme hardship of living and surviving in the outback is one of the major characters.

It is the story of the Bright brothers told from the perspective of Nathan--the oldest of the three--as he tries to make sense of how his middle brother, Cameron, ended up alone in the middle of the desert dead of dehydration when he had a well-stocked and working car not far away. Was it something sinister or was it suicide as the authorities seem to believe. If suicide, what might have driven this charismatic well liked young man with a wife and two young daughters to take his life. The Lost Man is a story of family dynamics, of abuse and of lots of what if's.

The descriptions of the scenery and life in the outback would be enough alone to keep up your interest, but added to that is a cast of characters who you feel like you know intimately by the end of the book. A cast of characters who all have secrets and who make you wonder did Cameron kill himself or did one of them do the unspeakable?

The Lost Man by Jane Harper ($27.99*, Flatiron Books), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos RuffinMaurice Carlos Ruffin's new novel, We Cast a Shadow, is an earth-shaking and eye-opening story of how a father will stop at nothing to ensure that his son will have a safe and happy life, even if it means completely erasing who his son is. A passionate story that offers controversial topics and themes, one can't help feel for all the characters involved in this tale of race and what one's place means in society. This book raises all of the right points and is absolutely a must-read.

We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin ($27.00*, (PRH) One World), recommended by Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC.

 A Winter 2019 Okra Pick

American Pop by Snowden WrightSnowden Wright has the Mississippi vernacular perfected. I've never read a book that so clearly captures the bizarre and beauty of my home state so clearly. The tale of the Forster family's rise and fall is a clever mix of historical facts and fiction. A book about a family dynasty, American Pop also explores the sense of entitlement and ridiculous propriety that was born and bred into white southerners.

American Pop by Snowden Wright ($26.99*, William Morrow), recommended by Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

 A Winter 2019 Okra Pick

The Smiling Man by Joseph KnoxThe Smiling Man is a contemporary thriller that reads like an old-fashioned noir. Joseph Knox did a brilliant job telling two parallel stories and tying them together towards the end. While I began to have an inkling of the connection, Knox kept the details sparse enough and the suspense high enough that I was never sure of what I knew and what I had missed completely. Like any noir hero, Aidan Waits is flawed and often unlikable, but he has a core of decency that you can't help but root for. I did not realize that this was the second in a series until after I completed the book. I think it stands alone nicely and I enjoyed it even without any backstory that I may have missed from Book I.

The Smiling Man by Joseph Knox ($26.00*, Crown), recommended by The Oxford Exchange, Tampa, FL.

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid KemmererA tale as old as time with a modern, fresh spin! I loved everything from the smart, empowered characters to the spin on the beast and the curse to the supporting cast of characters--the only problem is a cliffhanger that leaves you on the edge of your seat! 

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer ($18.99*, Bloomsbury YA), recommended by Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC.

The Perfect Liar by Thomas Christopher GreeneWhen single mom and widow Susannah meets mysterious artist Max W at a party, they quickly connect. Having both overcome turbulent pasts, they find solace together and Max bonds with Susannah's son Freddy. Their idyllic life is threatened when Susannah finds a note on their front door that says I KNOW WHO YOU ARE. The couple worries separately about what the note means and who left it and things start to unravel when Max figures it out - or does he? This is a fast, twisty story about how your past can come back to haunt you and how you never really know your partner as well as you think. 

The Perfect Liar by Thomas Christopher Greene ($26.99*, St. Martin’s Press), recommended by Fountain Books, Richmond, VA.

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks, Sarah PekkanenWho knows better how to manipulate someone for their own nefarious purpose than a psychiatrist who understands when a person is damaged and vulnerable because of past trauma. That  is the premise of An Anonymous Girl, a terrific psychological thriller with a complex plot that is both sick and twisted. Jessica Farris lies her way into what she thinks is a psychological study on ethics and morality conducted by psychiatrist Dr. Shields because she needs the money. She quickly comes to greatly admire Dr. Shields (because Dr. Shields knows how to manipulate her) and doesn’t realize that she is being used to help Dr. Shields build a case against her cheating husband. You won’t want to miss this one.

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen ($27.99*, St. Martin’s Press), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani ChokshiRoshana Chokshi's The Gilded Wolves is a delightful adventure through history as six young people, each with their own demons, chase their dreams, only to find the fate of society in the balance. Besides delving into each character's unique post and how their struggles inform their tenuous hopes for the future, the story also explores the bitterness of letting one's dream, both acknowledged and unacknowledged, go unrealized. Above all, Chokshi's cleverly built scavenger hunt encompassing history, math, science and magic makes it easy to fall in love with each word, as if were again our first time breathing.

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi ($18.99*, Wednesday Books), recommended by Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

 A Winter 2019 Okra Pick

Parkland Speaks by Sarah Lerner (editor)Parkland Speaks is a powerful compilation of essays, poems, photographs and artwork from the survivors of the Parkland High School shooting. I read this book over the course of a week, wanting to spend time with each piece trying to absorb the emotion and experience behind each piece. As a reader, I experience such a  wide range of feelings - sadness for the victims, anger that our country hasn't enacted the change to prevent shootings  like this, but also a lasting sense of hope at these amazing teenagers who are dedicated to sharing their stories and creating true change for the future. Parkland Speaks is  difficult but powerful read that should be required reading for everyone.

Parkland Speaks by Sarah Lerner (editor) ($17.99*, Crown Books for Young Readers), recommended by Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC.

 A Winter 2019 Okra Pick