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...

I read all kinds of fantasy novels and it takes new ideas to capture me like California Bones did.

I have never come up against the idea of Osteomancy being the bringer of magic.  Osteomancy is the use of bones in magic.  That is a simple explanation, but it means that the magic comes from consuming the bones of magical creatures in a kind of soup.

This book takes place in California, a California that has seceded from the United States.  The places that we know as Amusement Parks, Disneyland and others are, real places of magic.  There is so much magic in this book that you can almost smell it, like the characters can in the story.

I recommend you read California Bones by Greg Van Eekhout if you want to go on a magic carpet ride.

California Bones by Greg Van Eekhout (Tor Books) Recommended by Molly at The Fountainhead Bookstore Hendersonville NC

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

This surprising new Russian novel by an Irish theater director knocked my socks off!

With a maturity beyond his years, McKeon exposes the Chernobyl disaster through a luminous cast of characters – the teenage farm boy living 10 km from the reactor, the brilliant and conscientious young surgeon recruited to the scene, and the estranged wife and former journalist suppressed into an assembly line factory job – in this rare glimpse at a waning empire behind the Iron Curtain.

All That Is Solid Melts Into Air By Darragh McKeon ($14.99, Harper Perennial), recommended by Vicki at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.

From the acclaimed New Yorker music critic comes a collection of essays covering both early classical and popular music and a worthy follow-up to his successful THE REST IS NOISE.

As a youth, Mr. Ross was a dedicated classical music lover but at the late age of 20, after purchasing his first pop album, became intrigued by the sound, noise and power of popular music and found his perspective of classical music changed forever.

The essays are powerful and passionate and a wonderful read for those willing to expand their listening boundaries.

Listen to This By Alex Ross ($20, Picador USA) Recommended by Tim at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

 

Astrophysicist Tyson, through a collection of previously written essays, passionately reminds us of our need for space exploration, and rejuvenates the joys of discovery we experienced during the accomplishments of NASA in the 60's and 70's.

We were at our best in science and science education at the peak of the space program, but with the end of the shuttle missions, the interest has waned and important discoveries, in space exploration and technology, are few and far between.

Tyson offers a persuasive argument for the need to further fund a program: that the benefits far outweigh the costs. Well written, informative and accessible.


Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier by Neil DeGrasse Tyson ($16.95, WW Norton & Co.), recommended by Tim at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

Once in a rare while, you hit on a true story so good you wonder that someone hasn't written a book about it. Robin Hutton struck gold with the life and times of Sgt. Reckless.

Race horse, combat soldier, war hero, mom – this petite filly did it all. No one told HER females didn't belong in combat. So sit back with a beer (Reckless enjoyed the occasional brew) and just absorb what this equine Marine accomplished.

Sgt. Reckless: America's War Horse by Robin Hutton ($27.99, Regnery History), recommended by Rosemary at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC.

Without a single word, these beautifully detailed and nuanced drawings tell a story of an immigrant trying to establish a better life for his family in a distant country.

The visual tone of the book implies a past we may think we recognize, but with symbols and customs unknown to any specific time or place, Tan constructs a land where any of us may imagine the incredible endeavor of being alone in a completely foreign landscape. Well-crafted and keenly empathetic.

The Arrival By Shaun Tan ($21.99, Arthur A. Levine) Recommended by Rachel at Scuppernong Books, Greensboro NC.

We all know about the US Coast Guard and many of us know about the predecessor, the United States Lifesaving Service. But how many of us have thought about how those rescue men became organized?

Marshall does a wonderful job illuminating the past of the heroes of the coast. Cape Hatteras historical fiction based on fact and full of high adventure.

Surfmen By Charles Marshall ($19, Fireship Press), recommended by Buxton Village Books Buxton NC

How to do justice to a novel that allows you to know each character so intimately that their pain and triumphs are your own?

I fell head-over-heels for twins Noah and Jude. I couldn’t resist Noah, who has a penchant for contextualizing his life into paintings, or Jude, who takes to keeping onions in her pockets to avoid serious illness. The two share an almost other-worldly bond, but as life rapidly spins beyond their control and they retreat into their own internalized worlds, they lose touch with the others’ heart.

Their journey back to one another is absolutely stunning.

Peppered with beautiful imagery and quirky excerpts from Grandma Sweetwine’s folksy bible, I’ll Give You the Sun is a book you’ll wanna hold close to your heart. Or maybe I should just say, I want to give this book to everyone I have ever or will ever meet.

I'll Give You the Sun By Jandy Nelson ($17.99, Dial Books for Young Readers), recommended by Amanda, Foxtale Bookshoppe, Woodstock GA.

In Scott Westerfeld's new book Afterworlds the readers are treated to two stories in one!

Afterworlds is set up with alternating chapters where the reader is first introduced to Darcy Patel, a writer, who has put college and everything else on hold to publish her teen novel aptly titled - Afterworlds. Next the reader is immersed in the world of her novel and gets to follow her character Lizzie along on a suspenseful and thrilling ride.

If you are looking for a fantastic new read then this book is a must!

Afterworlds By Scott Westerfeld ($19.99, Simon Pulse), recommended by Erin at Foxtale Bookshoppe, Woodstock GA.