GREAT READS HANDPICKED BY GREAT SOUTHERN BOOKSELLERS...

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  • The City We Became by N. K. Jemison

    The City We Became by N. K. JemisonThe newest from three-time Hugo Award winner N. K. Jemisin is an epic tribute to New York City that runs on pure adrenaline with a Lovecraftian back story and a hip hop backbeat. Five New Yorkers, some born to the city and others only recently arrived, find themselves the sudden manifestations of the soul of the Big Apple and the only ones standing between the city and its total destruction at the tendrils and tentacles of an eldritch city-eating horror. A big departure from The Broken Earth trilogy, but with its powerful political commentary, The City We Became is sure to please Jemisin fans, all while embracing superhero and horror fans.

    The City We Became by N. K. Jemison (List price: $28.00, Orbit), recommended by Underground Books, Carrollton, GA.

  • The Keeper by Jessica Moor

    The Keeper by Jessica MoorKatie Straw worked at a women's shelter. She was really good at her job because seemed to understand how the residents were feeling as they hide out from, and attempted to recover from their abusive situations.Then Katie is found dead, an apparent suicide, or so the police believe, until they discover that she was NOT who she claimed to be. Told in the voice of "then" and "now" Katie tells her story leading up to her death, and the lead police detective tells his as the investigation continues.This is a debut novel by Jessica Moor, she has created a difficult read at times as the varying themes of abuse are brought to light. A difficult book to read as you come to fear that Katie's killer may just get away with murder!

    The Keeper by Jessica Moor (List price: $16.00, Penguin Books), recommended by Sunrise Bookshop, High Point, NC.

  • If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane

    If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlaneLaurie has been with her partner for 18 years. He's been her first and only and she's still just as much in love with him now. So she's shocked one evening when he gets home and he tells her that he doesn't want to have kids and he feels trapped. He wants to break up. Laurie is heartbroken and since they work together, she has to see him all the time. It gets worse when he immediately starts dating someone else. And then his new girlfriend is pregnant. Laurie is destroyed, but when she gets trapped in an elevator with Jaime, the office Lothario. They soon concoct a fake romance. She makes her ex jealous and he shows he's more serious to his bosses so he can hopefully snag a promotion. This is a fun romance. Laurie and Jaime are hilarious and fun together. This my first read from this author, but I hope to read many more now!

    If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane (List price: $15.99, William Morrow & Company), recommended by Bookmiser, Roswell, GA.

  • Then the Fish Swallowed Him by Amir Ahmadi Arian

    Then the Fish Swallowed Him by Amir Ahmadi ArianThen The Fish Swallowed him is an amazing debut for Iranian author, Amir Ahmadi Arian. The novel is set in modern Tehran and follows bus-driver Yunus from a weekly book-club, to a bus-drivers’ union strike, to an unexpected arrest, and finally to solitary confinement in prison, peppered with days of brutal interrogation. Yunus replays his life in his mind while imprisoned to figure out how he ended up in this position, and even develops a mild version of Stockholm-syndrome as he ends up wanting to please his interrogator, Hajj Saeed. This book is blistering and unforgiving, but it’s also incredibly beautiful in describing the struggle of an everyday citizen in Tehran. It’s a great read to spur discussion for those looking for book-club picks.

    Then the Fish Swallowed Him by Amir Ahmadi Arian (List price: $25.99, HarperVia), recommended by .novel, Memphis, TN.

  • The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home by Joseph Fink, Jeffrey Cranor

    The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home by Joseph Fink, Jeffrey CranorNight Vale fans rejoice! Here is the latest offering from the talented offbeat minds of Jeffrey Cranor and Joseph Fink – creators of the popular podcast Welcome to Night Vale. I don’t want to give anything away because that would spoil your enjoyment of this book. However, I will say this much: If you are already listening to Welcome to Night Vale, get this book. If you aren’t already listening, you need to start listening!! While being a fan definitely helps, it is not ultimately a bar to reading and enjoying this book. It might even get you to start listening!

    The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home by Joseph Fink, Jeffrey Cranor (List price: $21.99, Harper Perennial), recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • The Everlasting by Katy Simpson Smith

    The Everlasting by Katy Simpson SmithFour stories wheelbarrowed down a potholed pathway of flawed love 'round the fecund pond in history's horribly funded public park. The cartoon-strength attitudes of the four (or five) wonderfully constructed main characters gave me the strength to accept each of their fates with que sera and a sigh.

    The Everlasting by Katy Simpson Smith (List price: $28.99, Harper), recommended by Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • Thorn by Intisar Khanani

    Thorn by Intisar KhananiPrincess Alyrra has lived her life in fear. Between her cruel family and the court games she's been forced to play, she still managed to hold onto her humanity without breaking. So when she's sent to a far away kingdom to be wed, she sees it as a new beginning. That is, until a evil sorceress and a cruel rival get together to steal her identity and her face. This retelling of the Goose Girl was fantastic. Honestly, I don't care for the Goose Girl fairy tale, it distressed me a a child, so I was excited to see a retelling that gave some justice to the princess in a more satisfactory way. I also enjoyed how the prince was smart enough to figure out she'd been replaced. I hated when something was so obvious but no one but the reader saw it.

    Thorn by Intisar Khanani (List price: $18.99, Harper Teen), recommended by Story on the Square, McDonough, GA.

  • Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel

    Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie WrobelRose Gold Watts has been plotting revenge for a long time. She's had five years to think about it--the amount of time her mother, Patty, has been in prison. For years, Patty had their entire small town fooled into thinking Rose Gold was chronically ill from birth. But it was Patty's literal poisoning of her daughter that caused Rose Gold's frailty. Now a young adult, Rose Gold has a baby, a house, and a plan to make her mother's life a living hell. And as soon as Patty gets out of prison, Rose Gold sets that plan into motion. What follows is an amazing, gripping, twisted novel. I'd tell you more, but it's best if Rose Gold does that.

    Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel (List price: $26.00, Berkley), recommended by Sunrise Bookshop, High Point, NC.

  • Pride of Eden by Taylor Brown

    Pride of Eden by Taylor BrownWhat happens when wild meets the human race?Author Taylor Brown has flawlessly executed a sweeping story of exotic animal exploitation extending from the savannas of Africa, to a war-torn Baghdad zoo, to the Southeastern United States.

    Anse Caulfield is a life-toughened Vietnam veteran and former jockey who, for reasons of his own, uses an ill-gotten windfall to establish Little Eden, a wildlife sanctuary on the coast of Georgia. Here, a collection of unforgettable mavericks, living on the periphery of society, wage an unofficial war of their own to rescue exotic animals from the hands of greed and cruelty.Brown has the rare ability to place his readers into the minds of his characters, allowing them to inhabit their skin. We can tap into their senses, passions, and motivations. Every page explodes and every line is pure poetry.

    Pride of Eden is original, sensitive, and unsparing. This novel is one more notch in the belt that is Taylor Brown's literary genius.

    Pride of Eden by Taylor Brown (List price: $26.99, St. Martin's Press), recommended by The Coutnry Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

  • Enter the Aardvark by Jessica Anthony

    Enter the Aardvark by Jessica AnthonyYoung, handsome, rich and riding high in polling, Congressman Alexander Paine (R) has everything going for him when a stuffed aardvark shows up on his doorstep. Not just any aardvark, but one taxidermied by highly respected Titus Downing in the late 19th century. The story alternates between these two men's lives and the secret they share giving readers a very entertaining ride.

    Enter the Aardvark by Jessica Anthony (List price: $26.00, Little, Brown and Company), recommended by Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • Brightstorm by Vashti Hardy

    Brightstorm by Vashti HardyBrightstorm by Vashti Hardy is an awesome journey. Hop on a sky-ship with twins, Arthur and Maudie, on an expedition headed for an arctic place yet to be explored, to find out what really happened to their explorer father. Full of excitement, intrigue and suspense, Brightstorm is an enthralling adventure not to be missed.

    Brightstorm by Vashti Hardy (List price: $18.95, Norton Young Readers), recommended by Square Books, Oxford, MS.

  • Blue Skies by Anne Bustard

    Blue Skies by Anne BustardIt’s 1949 in Gladiola, Texas. Everyone in town is excited about the Merci train full of gifts rolling through from France as a thank you for America’s help in WWII. Glory Bea is expecting a special gift to arrive on the train, her father. No one can stop her from believing in this miracle, not her mom’s new boyfriend or the grownups who thwart her railroad scouting mission. Blue Skies is perfect for fans of heartfelt middle grade with a twist of humor.

    Blue Skies by Anne Bustard (List price: $17.99, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers), recommended by Parnassus Books, Nashville, NC.

  • Beheld by TaraShea Nesbit

    Beheld by TaraShea NesbitMost stories surrounding this era, especially concerning women, come from the Salem witch trials, and largely from the male perspective. It is refreshing to have a novel about early colonial female relationships from their viewpoint. The class and religious arguments Nesbit employs to her narrative add both more intrigue and layers to these previously one dimensional women. Though their circumstances were vastly different from women of today, the love and justice that fueled them remains evident today.

    Beheld by TaraShea Nesbit (List price: 26.00, Bloomsbury Publishing), recommended by Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA.

  • A Phoenix Must Burn by Patrice Caldwell (ed)

    The Phoenix Must BurnAfrofuturism and the unique style of Octavia Butler is reborn! This collection of short stories inspired by the legendary author with a dash of Beyonce's black feminism introduces the empowering concept to new, younger readers. Each story offers enchanting, powerhouse heroines who show readers how independence is life's true magic. Fourteen years after her passing, Octavia Butler continues to amaze and inspire writers and readers everywhere with her daring characters and prose.

    A Phoemix Must Burn edited by Patrice Caldwell (List price: $18.99, Mulholland Books), recommended by Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA.

  • The Last Taxi Driver by Lee Durkee

    The Last Tax Driver

    Southern indie booksellers are buzzing about: The Last Taxi Driver by Lee Durkee
    Tin House Books | List Price: $25.95.

    A Winter 2020 Okra Pick!


    .novel, Memphis, TN

    The Last Taxi Driver is both amusing and discomforting at the same time. The frenetic pace of the novel takes Lou, one of the last drivers of a dying profession, through the darkened corners of the Mississippi Delta, in which almost every character displays some form of codependency. Between the hospital, the liquor store, the local seedy motel, and the nearby city of Memphis... every passenger seems to be going nowhere, even though they have somewhere to be. The main character compares himself to Charon in Greek mythology (and rightfully so) as he ferries meth-heads, drunk prep students, convicts, and elderly women to their destinations. Though it’s a quick read reminiscent of Bukowski, this story will also resonate with lovers of the dark comedy and tragedy so closely associated with Southern literature.


    Square Books, Oxford, MS

    Lee Durkee’s debut novel Rides of the Midway was published in 2001. This funny and affecting Bildungsroman set in Mississippi perfectly captured the 70s. Almost twenty years later, Durkee delivers his sophomore novel The Last Taxi Driver about a pre-Uber driver, Lou, in a small town. In a fever dream of events, Lou shares his philosophy, knowledge and rules for driving. By turns hilarious, angry and sweet, once again Durkee perfectly captures the mood of our time.


    Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC

    On this hilarious and harrowing tour through small-town Mississippi, criminal misfits, beleaguered addicts, and hospital escapees climb in and out of Lou’s dilapidated cab, leaving behind each time a striking stench, a thoughtful line, or, in one passenger’s case, an entire pizza. As Lou drives and drives (and drives), these encounters slowly sap him of his sanity, such that the borders between reality and imagination, between the present and memory become bleary and permeable. By the time this dizzying, darkly comic taxi ride finally comes to an end, we emerge into the Mississippi night feeling repulsed and exhausted, but also, somehow, revived and grateful.

  • Trouble Is What I Do by Walter Mosley

    Trouble is What I DoI loved this short but intense detective novel. For me, it doesn't get better than Leonid McGill for a P.I. protagonist. Morally ambiguous, wily and cunning, he is instantly likable and someone I hope to see in future Mosley books.

    Trouble Is What I Do by Walter Mosley (List price: $24.00, Mulholland Books), recommended by Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC.

  • The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson

    TITLEThe prologue of Erik Larson's long awaited new novel is where he reels you in. Citing a recent move to New York City, he envisioned how it would have felt had he been a native New Yorker during 9/11, and how the people there dealt with the panic, tragedy and a new normal. He then reflected on what London would have gone through during WWII with bombings 57 nights in a row. Mr Larson relays these graphic details with his strikingly phenomenal new novel and gives you the shocking minute details never provided in school or the news. Most history books are dry. Mr. Larson's read like a novel and the facts will astound you.

    This is a well-researched powerful story beginning on Churchill's first day as Prime Minister: the same day Hitler invaded Belgium and Holland. We follow Churchill for the next year and examine his actions under a microscope, including insight into his family life, how he needed to convince Roosevelt to enter a war the American public refused to be involved in, and how he was able to change the course of history by trying to combat a madman and his cohorts.

    Churchill was not always reasonable or even nice. In fact some of his demands, like twice daily, 98-degree baths were eccentric, but we learn who he was--warts and all. Churchill was a great leader for many reasons, especially in uniting many to defeat evil. While we go through your life it is the decisions we make that define us. We hope we make the right ones and are on the right side.

    The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson (List price: $32.00, Crown), recommended by Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, NC.

  • Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore

    Big Lies in a Small Town

    Southern indie booksellers are buzzing about: Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore
    Flatiron Books | List Price: $26.99.


    Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC

    Oona Out of Order was an incredible, heart warming surprise, one that I do not regret staying up late to finish all in one go. Oona turns 19 and ends up years in the future in her 52 year old body and life, and then the next year she jumps to another, then another. Her mind aging normally, her body differently. She's forced to realize that nothing is in her control, and just because she knows what's to come, it doesn't mean that she can change it. It's terrifying, and full of hope at the same time. Warm and funny, everything anyone could want in a book. Readers of general fiction and sci-fi alike will delight at Oona Out of Order, left to wonder how no one has considered time travel in this way before and how no one will be able to do it as wonderfully as Montimore has.


    Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC

    On her 19th birthday, Oona discovers that she will not live her adult life chronologically. At the stroke of midnight each January 1st, she time-hops in her life to different years -- from 1982 to 2015 to 1991, and back and forth, never knowing when she'll end up or how old her body will be or what will change or stay the same throughout the years. A compelling read that shows how love, connection, and family tie people together and create a life worth living, despite the intransigence of time.


    Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA

    I love love loved this story! Oona is an unwilling time traveler who wakes up in a different year of her life every January first, 12:01am. With only the notes she leaves herself to go by (plus a little help from her mom), she must navigate being tossed into the middle of situations blind and figure out how to move forward. This book explores how we change from year to year and minute to minute, and teaches us that what we want is fluid, and that's OK. I cannot recommend this enough.

  • The Truants by Kate Weinburg

    The Truants by Kate Weinburg Kate Weinberg's debut novel of suspense weaves a tale of obsession, deception, and misguided love. Jess Walker is a young woman who enters an uninspiring university in East Anglia for the sole purpose of being a student of the charismatic professor of literature, Lorna Clay, who seems to have taken the position under a cloud of suspicion from her past. Clay will be conducting studies on the life and work of Agatha Christie, with an underlying theme, "People disappear when they most want to be seen."

    Jess not only falls under her thrall, but also that of her three new friends who introduce her to a lifestyle of excess and awakenings, with tragic and life-altering consequences.This is a moody, mesmerizing, and literary read.

    The Truants by Kate Weinburg (List price: $26.00, G.P. Putnam's Sons), recommended by The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

  • A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler

    Big Lies in a Small Town

    Southern indie booksellers are buzzing about: A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler
    St. Martin's Press | List Price: $27.99.

     A Winter 2020 Okra Pick


    Copperfish Books, Punta Gorda, FL

    I could not stop reading this book, even though at one point I wanted to stop, because I knew it wasn't going to end well. A blend of Romeo and Juliet with Hatfield and McCoy, set in a "nice" contemporary American neighborhood where "these things shouldn't happen." A heart-breaking, eye-opening must-read!


    McIntyre's Fine Books, Pittsboro, NC

    ...A tragic story that so exactingly encapsulates this era of entitlement we are muscling our way through, where McMansions sprout like weeds, money talks more than reasons, and lives are changed irrevocably because of cultural distrust. Frankly, the best description I can provide for this powerful novel is: WOW!


    Story on the Square, McDonough, GA

    I can't put into words the emotions I feel after reading this book, but I what I can say is that Therese Anne Folwer has written a masterpiece. This powerful story is about the Whitmans, a white family, who have just moved next door to a black family, the Alston-Holts. Juniper Whitman and Xavier Alston-Holt are teenagers who fall in love with each other, but tension arises after Xavier's mother Valerie files a lawsuit against Juniper's stepdad Brad. Fowler's writing from the African-American perspective and experience was done beautifully and right. I want everyone to read this book!


  • Processed Cheese by Stephen Wright

    Processed CheeseProcessed Cheese is a hilarious trip into what our money driven society looks like from a third person. From adoration of guns and porn to the names of every character, Wright puts a mirror in front of all us and makes us question what we really value.

    Processed Cheese by Stephen Wright (List price: $28.00,Little, Brown and Company), recommended by Story on the Square, McDonough, GA.

  • Ashlords by Scott Reintgen

    AshlordsNyxia author Scott Reintgen does a topnotch job of world creation in Ashlords. In joining alchemy and apocalypse, he paints a portrait of a forbidding society where chemical magic may be the way to survival.

    If you loved The Hunger Games, you'll thrill to the nail-biting tension of the races in Ashlords.

    Ashlords by Scott Reintgen (List price: $17.99,Crown Books for Young Readers), recommended by Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe, Asheville, NC.

  • American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

    Big Lies in a Small Town

    Southern indie booksellers are buzzing about: American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins
    Flatiron Books | List Price: $27.99.


    The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC

    ...Propelled by fear and weighing the terror of what lies behind you against what lies ahead of you, to what lengths would you go to ensure the survival of your child? The urgent and precise prose forbids you to stop reading until the end, then lingers long afterward.


    WordsWorth Books, Little Rock, AR

    This is a gripping novel of loss, love, incredible bravery as a Mexican woman and her young son are forced to leave their home in Acapulco and, fearing for their lives, make the perilous journey north to the US...[A] literary novel with the pacing and action of a thriller.


    Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC

    Cummins has written a real tour de force with American Dirt. The story follows Lydia and her son as they run north to the US to escape the drug cartel leader who killed the rest of their family in Mexico. But it becomes something much more universal as it explores the journey that so many migrants have undertaken, whether in search of jobs or a better life or to escape certain death, and all the ways that this journey can impact lives.


    Novel, Memphis, TN

    An incredibly important novel with beautiful, real characters. A truly human story. This is indeed a story that needs to be told through as many voices as possible.


    Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, NC

    ...American Dirt is a raw exploration into the lives of people willing to sacrifice everything for a chance at happiness. You will not be able to put this book down as you become entranced in their lives...an important book demanding our attention with stories of drama and humanity. You will not want to put this down unless it is to share with a friend so you can talk about it

  • Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain

    Big Lies in a Small Town

    Southern indie booksellers are buzzing about: Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain
    St. Martin's Press | List Price: $27.99.

     A Winter 2020 Okra Pick


    Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC

    Big Lies in a Small Townis the story of the artist Anna Dale in Edenton, NC in 1940. It is also the story of the artist Morgan Christopher in Edenton, NC in 2018. Each story is a fascinating look at a small Southern town including the social mores that prevailed. Each story is a fascinating character study of women who have faced tragedy and hardship and how they overcame it. Each story is a story of love and friendship. Each story could have stood on its own but they are woven together brilliantly to produce a novel that will make you just as curious as Morgan was to find out what happened to Anna and why in the world did she paint such gory things into a mural that was supposed to be hung in the town post office as a representation of the town of Edenton. If you love great Southern fiction, if you love a mystery, if you love rich characters, and if you love history and art you will not want to miss this fabulous novel.


    Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA

    This caught my eye because it's my usual fave (twisty mystery!) and it's set in Edenton, NC--a tiny coastal town where my in-laws happen to live. I love the town so I knew I'd love a book set there and I was right. This story stands on its own even despite the family connection and I was taken by it from the start. Morgan is released from a prison sentence under the condition that she restores an old mural from the 40s that has been badly damaged. She has no background in art restoration and is surprised to find out that she was chosen by a late artist she had admired but never met, and his conditions were strict so she has no choice but to accept. Anna, the original artist on the mural, tells her half of the story in flashback alternating chapters. We learn that she was chosen to paint the mural over some local artists and she has to deal with that fallout once she arrives in town to start work. She takes on some students to assist and becomes close with one in particular. Anna's story takes us down a dark path of racism and violence in the small town and as Morgan works on the mural, Anna's secrets unfold in a twisted, sad tale. The characters in the book leap off the page and weave a tale of family, friendship, death, and despair that will keep you glued to the pages until the final secret is revealed.


    Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, NC

    Diane brings to life two strong women in different times struggling against the constraints they have imposed on themselves. Morgan Christopher takes the fall for a crime she did not commit, and is serving a three-year stint in a North Carolina prison. Desperate to leave prison she agrees to restore a mural in a small town, shrouded in secrets. What she finds under the layers of years of dirt and neglect is a painting that tells the story of madness, violence, a conspiracy and maybe clues to a 1940s disappearance of the original mural painter. Diane writes with such a keen eye to detail and this book will take you for a ride while making you understand the why of someone's mistakes.


    Sunrise Books, High Point, NC

    Switching between 1940 and 2018 in the small town of Edenton, NC, this story slowly unfolds to reveal the slow decline (into insanity?) of artist, Anna Dale, (1940). Anna was from New Jersey, and some folks felt she had no place painting a mural depicting their small Southern town; especially when they had a talented local artist! Anna bucks against the social racism of the day when she "hires" a young African-American teen to help in her work, and runs afoul of the "movers and shakers."

    Morgan Christoper, just released from prison (2018), is given the job of restoring the mural that Anna painted decades ago. Chosen for the job even though she has NO experience in art restoration, and there is a nearly impossible deadline imposed on the completion of the restorative process. Seems a set-up for failure, but failure is not an option for many reasons. Diane Chamberlain delivers another superb novel for her loyal followers!

  • Just Like a Mama by Alice Faye Duncan, Charnelle Pinkney Barlow (Illustrator)

    Just Like a MamaJust like Mama would, Mama Rose makes sure Olivia learns to ride a bike, has her hair braided just so, and that she plays outside every day. Just like Mama would, Mama Rose tells Olivia one day she will grow her own wings and fly, and Just like Mama, Mama Rose tells Olivia she is loved. Just Like a Mamais the perfect way to honor everyone who fills the gap when Mama cannot always be there.

    Just Like a Mama by Alice Faye Duncan, Charnelle Pinkney Barlow (Illustrator) (List price: $17.99, Denene Millner Books/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers), recommended by The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

     A Winter 2020 Okra Pick

  • Dark and Deepest Red by Anna Marie McLemore

    Dark and Deepest RedThis lush and lovely novel has heartbreaking prose, gorgeous imagery, and a story that connects ancestors through threads of red satin. McLemore's razor-sharp focus cuts through the inherent racism of small-town superstition; even in a town with a magical "glimmer," darker skinned people are held at arms length and watched with suspicion. This book, as all McLemore's books are, is for outsiders bereft at the close-mindedness of the status quo and provides substantial comfort that no one is alone.

    Dark and Deepest Red by Anna Marie McLemore (List price: $17.99, Feiwel & Friends), recommended by Square Books, Oxford, MS.

  • Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

    TITLEAs the sole survivor of a plane crash that kills his parents and brother, Edward Adler has a difficult path to navigate. Learning to live in a world without his parents and brother, finding a new home with his aunt and uncle, and grappling to figure out what his own future will look like, Edward's journey is a heartbreaking and hopeful story. I was immediately drawn into this book and couldn't stop reading until I finished, and I can't wait to share Dear Edwardwith readers.

    Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano (List price $27.00, The Dial Press), recommended by Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC.

  • The Night Country by Lisa Albert

    The Night Country

    Southern indie booksellers are buzzing about: The Night Country by Melissa Albert
    Flatiron Books | List Price: $18.99.


    Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC

    The Hazel Wood was merely the introduction to the dark and sinister world of fairy tales that Albert so lovingly crafted, and The Night Country is the firing of the cannon and the explosion and aftermath that follows. Alice, as you know, was left stranded, essentially, in the real world, with nothing to really anchor herself to a life worth living. So if you're like me, you wanted to know what was next, you wanted to see Alice at least have some sort of happiness to her name, no matter how dark the story is meant to be. And Albert certainly delivers on everything you could ever want as a fan of the first book. It's a perfect middle and end to this world that we've adored since 2018, and maybe will continue to enjoy! However Melissa Albert sees fit, I'm positive she'll build us a story that's worthy of our wildest childhood dreams.


    Square Books, Oxford, MS

    Albert's world of unforgiving fairy tales swells to the perfect crescendo in this sequel to The Hazel Wood. Alice, an ex-Story, is trying her best to re-assimilate to a world that no longer feels familiar, while Ellery Finch is off exploring lands unknown. Alice may have left the Hinterlands behind, but the Hinterlands isn't done with her, and as other ex-Stories are picked off one by one, Alice will have to find the end of her tale, come ice, feather, or bone. The Night Country is a star-spun world of horror and wonder you'll want to live in forever.


    Underground Books, Carrollton, GA

    From the first page to the last, Melissa Albert's debut novel The Hazel Wood had me in its thrall and I've been pressing it into the hands of every fairy tale enthusiast who walks into the bookshop since! Well, Melissa Albert must be made of magic, because The Night Country is somehow even more thrilling, delightful, creepy, and full of surprises than its predecessor. Having escaped the Hinterland with the help of Ellery Finch, Alice Proserpine is back in gritty New York City, the only problem is that so are the other denizens of that dark world—and someone's murdering them one by one. Meanwhile, Ellery's trying to find a way out of the dying Hinterland himself…and a way back to Alice too. The Night Country builds off the world of The Hazel Wood beautifully, becoming a door to a vast, wonderfully constructed universe that gleams with magic like a blade glinting in the dark.


    Books & Books, Coral Gables, FL

    If you enjoyed The Hazel Wood, don't miss following Melissa Albert into the dark and harrowing depths of The Night Country. In this new genre-bending novel, while expanding the universe we last encountered, Albert has managed to stretch the limitations of story itself. True thrills, horror, mystery, and more of the original fairytales we've come to expect await in this brilliant follow-up.


    Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, NC

    The Night Country skirts between dark fantasy and horror. It takes the rich world building of The Hazel Wood and somehow makes it thicker, more viscous, until the reader is inevitably tangled up with Alice and Emory and the less than savory denizens of the Hinterlands. I loved every minute of it.

  • The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott

    The Secrets We Kept by Lara PrescottThis is the story of a covert operation to smuggle the banned manuscript of Doctor Zhivago out of the Soviet Union and into print. It’s a story of art and power, identity and trust. Perfect for fans of The Americans or anyone who likes a page-turner.

    The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott ($26.95*, Knopf), recommended by Parnassus Books, Nashville, NC.

  • City of Beasts by Corrie Wang

    City of Beasts by Corrie WangIt can get all too easy to joke about the patriarchy and its toxic effects because the jokes help cover up the pain that goes along with a deliberate, toxic system. Somehow, the brilliant Corrie Wang has crafted a novel that actually challenges that notion while delivering a page-turning adventure filled with heart, humor, and radical empathy.

    City of Beasts brings fresh life to the post-apocalyptic YA landscape with characters who just won’t quit and that you’ll have a hard time letting go of. Glori Rhodes is a force of nature, and the cast of characters that flank her are captivating and pulsating.

    City of Beasts by Corrie Wang ($17.99*, Freeform), recommended by Itinerant Literate Books, North Charleston, SC.

  • My Jasper June by Laurel Snyder

    My Jasper June by Laurel SnyderA summer story soaked in magic, My Jasper June is a beautiful exploration of friendship, loss, and family. Feeling neglected by her parents and lost in her own sadness, Leah finds an instant kindred spirit in Jasper and for the first time, begins to see the luster in life again. Jasper also knows a thing or two about abandonment, and as the girls bond over one magical summer, they realize they can't hide from reality forever. Luckily, Snyder is the perfect writer to tackle these tough subjects and does so with astounding grace and brilliance. My Jasper June is soon to be a beloved classic of book clubs everywhere.

    My Jasper June by Laurel Snyder ($16.99*, Walden Pond Press), recommended by Square Books, Oxford, MS.

     A Summer 2019 Okra Pick

  • Who Are You, Calvin Bledsoe? by Brock Clarke

    Who Are You, Calvin Bledsoe? by Brock ClarkeInspired by Graham Greene’s Travels with my Aunt, Brock Clarke’s new novel is a delightful journey (physically and emotionally) that constantly keeps us guessing at the final destination. This can be said of the narrator, Calvin Bledsoe, as well as the reader. At his mother’s funeral, Calvin meets an aunt he never knew he had, and embarks on an odyssey of self-discovery he didn’t know he needed. A thoughtful coming-of-age story wrapped in a screwball mystery caper, Who Are You, Calvin Bledsoe? may inspire questions of your own. It may inspire you to learn about John Calvin, the pellet stove, or even small animal pornography. It will most certainly make you smile.

    Who Are You, Calvin Bledsoe? by Brock Clarke ($26.95*, Algonquin Books), recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri

    The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy LefteriLefteri has written a powerful story of a family who has suffered mightily during the Syrian war as they watched their city and country being decimated. Their journey to escape the devastation is in itself a harrowing experience. Beautifully written and heartbreaking, Nuri, a beekeeper, and his wife Afra struggle to maintain hope as forces pull them apart. It was difficult to read but so poignant and I couldn’t put it down! This story speaks to the power of love, loss and the strength of family.

    The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri ($27.00*, Ballantine Books), recommended by Page & Palette, Fairhope, AL.

  • Everything Inside by Edwidge Danticat

    Everything Inside by Edwidge DanticatEverything Inside transported me into the distant, unknown worlds of Haitian, Caribbean, and Haitian-American culture. Each story explores the tenuousness of relationships--how things can change in an instant, or how a fuzzy detail about someone we feel close to becomes clearer and more telling in retrospect. These are beautifully written and moving that will linger with me in the weeks and months to come.

    Everything Inside by Edwidge Danticat ($25.95*, Knopf), recommended by Bards Alley, Vienna, VA.

  • Dead Voices by Katherine Arden

    Dead Voices by Katherine ArdenKatherine Arden tells a great spooky story, one that remembers the personhood of her characters, no matter their age. Genuinely scary without being too scary or leaving her characters agentless against the dark and terrifying. I look forward to the next in the series!

    Dead Voices by Katherine Arden ($16.99*, G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers), recommended by Sundog Books, Santa Rosa Beach, FL.

  • The Warlow Experiment by Alix Nathan

    The Warlow Experiment by Alix NathanTerrific. Grade A-plus historical fiction. Customers who are champing at the bit for Mantel's next can be quietened for a bit with The Warlow Experiment. I love this mix of research and imagining, and I toast Nathan for taking that long-ago advertisement and fanning it out for us so well.

    The Warlow Experiment by Alix Nathan ($26.95*, Doubleday), recommended by Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • The Revolution of Birdie Randolph by Brandy Colbert

    The Revolution of Birdie Randolph by Brandy ColbertThis is a story I think many teens will relate to. There is so much pressure to achieve and succeed now for kids, and it starts so early. In addition, one in three Americans is personally affected by addiction. On top of that, every family has its own secrets and challenges. And then you think about how much harder it is to achieve when you start life as a person of color in an incredibly prejudiced and segregated society. Birdie's story is complex, but when you boil it down, it's the normal story of a present-day girl trying to grow up in America.

    The Revolution of Birdie Randolph by Brandy Colbert ($17.99*, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers), recommended by Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC.

  • The Last Widow by Karin Slaughter

    The Last Widow by Karin SlaughterWOW! I think the last few times I have read Karin's new books I think they are the best yet. This book is no exception to that pattern. The plot of an epidemic is incredibly real and the continued unfolding of Will and Sara's relationship during extreme duress is spellbinding. The focus on things, like domestic terrorism, that are sometimes swept under the rug are front and center in this book. I have a hard time imagining how much research was involved to reach the level of detail in so any complex medical and scientific situations in this book. The pace is fast and if you skip a page you will miss something important. There are perfect examples of evil hiding in plain sight, but also wonderful examples of sacrifice and heroism. Don't miss this journey with Will and Sara.

    The Last Widow by Karin Slaughter ($27.99*, William Morrow), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

  • Stolen Things by R. H. Heron

    Stolen Things by R. H. HeronA crazy thrill-ride from the first page, I was so absorbed that I read the entire book in a day. Every time I thought I had everything figured out Herron threw in another twist I was not expecting. Her detailed knowledge of 911 dispatch gave this book a layer of realism that a lot of thrillers don't have, and the mother/daughter relationship at its heart filled me to the brim with all the feels. In a crowded field, this is not a debut to miss!

    Stolen Things by R. H. Heron ($26.00*, Dutton), recommended by Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, NC.

  • Black Light by Kimberly King Parsons

    Black Light by Kimberly King ParsonsIs Friday Night Lights meets Ottessa Moshfegh a thing? Because this collection is kind of like that: unafraid of being dark or weird or gross, and set within the wandering, vacant emptiness of Texas, or anyplace far enough away for you to feel like there's no one else around. These are my favorite kinds of stories, with sharp, surprising sentences and characters full of wanting and loneliness, resourcefulness and humor.

    Black Light by Kimberly King Parsons ($15.00*, Vintage), recommended by Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk

    Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga TokarczukOdd—in the best way—and appealing, Drive Your Plow is equal parts mystery and environmental anthem. The novel’s protagonist is an older woman—bridge architect, English teacher, and translator of William Blake—whose love of animals and devotion to astrology lead her to blame the recent murders of hunters in her remote Polish village on the revenge of area wildlife. Olga Tokarczuk gives us a prickly, idiosyncratic character who resists pigeon-holing and slowly garners our sympathy and support, keeping us off balance and propelled toward the story’s resolution.

    Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk ($27.00*, Riverhead Books), recommended by Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe, Asheville, NC.

  • I'm Not Dying with You Tonight by Gilly Segal, Kimberly Jones

    I'm Not Dying with You Tonight by Gilly Segal, Kimberly JonesOne of the best YAs I've read in years! I'm Not Dying with You Tonight is the story of two strong women who are polar opposites joining together to survive a night of racially fueled chaos. It's so well written and perfectly-rounded. It sucks you in from the first page and leaves you wondering what's next when you finish. This was a joy to read.

    I'm Not Dying with You Tonight by Gilly Segal, Kimberly Jones ($17.99*, Sourcebooks Fire), recommended by Copperfish Books, Punta Gorda, FL.

  • The Year They Fell by David Kreizman

    The Year They Fell by David KreizmanThe Year They Fell recounts the lives of Josie, Jack, Archie, Harrison, and Dayana. They went through childhood together as the Sunnies, but eventually became more self-contained and broken after everybody's parents (except for Dayana's) die on the same plane crash. Life is forever changed and they all need time to heal. However, Harrison refuses to accept the validity of the plane crash, and convinces his friends to travel to the site of the crash to find how and why their parents died. Kreizman is such a powerful writer; the perspectives of the five main characters each feel so alive and authentic. So many events are packed into such a hefty plot that will surely leave you breathless in the end. I recommend this book to anyone going through a loss, or some other grief, because they are guaranteed to relate to one of the Sunnies and maybe even leave their tear stains on the pages.

    The Year They Fell by David Kreizman ($17.99*, Imprint), recommended by Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • Someone We Know by Shari Lapena

    Someone We Know by Shari LapenaI would read Shari Lapena's grocery list, y'all. She's so skilled at the twisty mystery and this new book is as good as her others. When suburban mom Olivia finds out that her teenage son has been breaking in to the homes of their neighbors, she is terrified that he'll be in serious legal trouble despite his assurances that he never steals, only snoops. When a pretty young wife - who happens to live in one of the houses he broke into - turns up dead, no one is free of suspicion. As we dive deeper into the private lives of the neighbors, we learn that everyone is hiding something, and anyone could have done it.

    Someone We Know by Shari Lapena ($27.00*, Pamela Dorman Books), recommended by Fountain Books, Richmond, VA.

  • Smokescreen by Iris Johansen

    Smokescreen by Iris JohansenIt is amazing to me that Iris Johansen can keep the Eve Duncan series current, relevances and engaging this long, but she does in a compelling fashion. This is one of my favorites in quite some time, the supporting characters are so deep, and single minded in a quest for justice, that you immediately become invested. Journalists who are bold see the worst the world has to offer, corruption at the highest level, brutality for no reason, and the accumulation of wealth at the expense of the poor. This story embodies all of the above with enough twists to keep you entertained to the end. Can easily be read as a stand alone book.

    Smokescreen by Iris Johansen ($28.00*, Grand Central Publishing), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

  • Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson

    Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn JacksonWarning: This plot just might give you whiplash. Not to say that Jackson is ever predictable, but this is a whole 'nother level of WTF. Intelligently written and delightfully witty, it begins as a top-shelf suburban thriller, but then kicks up a notch. Protagonist Amy is likable and smart, but keeping a terrible secret or three. Our anti-heroine, Roux, is a real piece of work, and you can really understand Amy's strange attraction to her. I wasn't sure whether I wanted Amy to beat her or to BE her...until the end, when it becomes crystal clear. Along the way, we are treated to some lovely writing in praise of SCUBA diving, early motherhood, a genuine friendship, a reckless neighbor, and a deep, dark secret that threatens to upend Amy's happy world. And all the trouble begins with a boozy book club. It's just delicious reading.

    Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson ($26.99*, William Morrow), recommended by Sunrise Books, High Point, NC.

     A Summer 2019 Okra Pick

  • Midnight at the Blackbird Café by Heather Webber

    Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe by Heather WebberAs a North Alabama resident, I was delighted to learn about this new novel set right here at home. Wicklow, Alabama, is a little town that has a made-up name but feels oh-so-familiar. The southern food, characters, and community all drew me right in, and I fell in love with this charming story about a young woman who comes to Wicklow to take over her Granny Zee's café upon her death. Like Anna Kate, many of the charcters in this little town are struggling with grief of one kind or another, and yet this book isn't sad. It shows the wonderful way that a close-knit community can come together to lift each other up. The novel blends magical realism with true southern storytelling, and I can't wait to share this book with readers near and far. Sit down with some blackberry tea and a piece of pie, and let this novel feed your soul.

    Midnight at the Blackbird Café by Heather Webber ($24.99*, Forge Books), recommended by The Snail on the Wall, Huntsville, AL.

  • Jade War by Fonda Lee

    Jade War by Fonda LeeJade War does absolutely everything you want from a sequel: expanding the world, raising the stakes, and further developing characters I loved from Jade City. Set largely in the fictional East-Asian inspired island of Kekon, Fonda Lee’s novel is an epic fantasy crime drama following the struggles of the Kaul family, leaders of the No Peak Clan, as they fight to maintain control of the island and it’s magical jade trade that grants users enhanced abilities.

    Just like the first book, Jade War reads like a glorious mash-up of The Godfather and classic Hong Kong crime films; full of intense action, betrayal, and an expansive cast of memorable characters. Kekon and the capital city of Janloon feel vibrantly gritty and it’s a credit to Lee’s writing and worldbuilding that the cast never feels overstuffed and I never got bogged down in the details of trying to remember who is with what clan or the mechanics of the jade "magic." A suspenseful, barn-burner of a novel and I cannot wait to see how Lee brings this to a thundering conclusion in Book Three.

    Jade War by Fonda Lee ($26.00*, Orbit), recommended by Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC.

  • The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal

    The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal I was so nervous about a sophomore slump, but hooray! — there was nothing to be worried about.The Lager Queen of Minnesota is as delightful and well-written as Stradal's debut, Kitchens of the Great Midwest, and I'm consistently impressed with his ability to make you deeply care about a place and its people. I’m a teetotaler from the South, and now I want to move to Minnesota and drink beer, so... I think it’s safe to say I loved this book. (No previous knowledge or appreciation of lager required.)

    The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal ($26.00*, Pamela Dorman Books), recommended by The Bookshelf, Thomasville, GA.

  • The Marriage Clock by Zara Raheem

    The Marriage Clock by Zara Raheem

    What a charming and utterly lovable book! I kept finding myself grinning and laughing out-loud (when I wasn't cringing at the content that was WAY too relatable). I recommend this for anyone looking for a fun romp through dating in your mid-twenties and anyone interested in learning a new perspective on Indian culture.

    Under mounting pressure to get married and "start" her life, twenty-six year old English teacher Leila makes a deal with her parents -- if she can't find her own husband in three months, her parents can arrange a marriage for her. Thus we tumble with Leila through awkward first dates, ambush dates, speed dating, online dating and more as she attempts to find her Bollywood romance before her parents can set her up with a boring (or worse! OLD!) mate. Along the way, Leila learns more about herself, her culture, and her family.

     

    The Marriage Clock by Zara Raheem ($15.99*, William Morrow Paperbacks), recommended by Story on the Square, McDonough, GA.

  • Salvation Day by Kali Wallace

    Salvation Day by Kali Wallace This fun and exciting scifi thriller is a page-turner and the perfect weekend read! What happened to the crew of the spaceship House of Wisdom? No one really knows. All of its crew members died within a 24-hour period. The government states that a lethal virus was intentionally released by a crew member. The ship is under quarantine as it’s not safe to go onboard. But someone is going to try. A small group from one of Earth’s desert cults is planning to board, clear and cleanup the ship and take it for themselves. They have even planned to kidnap the one survivor of the virus, Jas Bhattacharya, the son of the ship’s engineer, who can insure their entrance to the ship. But the government was wrong about what killed the crew.

    And the small group boarding the ship is about to find out that what killed the crew is still there on the ship, waiting for another chance.

    Salvation Day by Kali Wallace ($26.00*, Berkley), recommended by The Little Bookshop, Midlothian, VA.

  • The Substitution Order by Martin Clark

    The Substitution Order by Martin ClarkMartin Clark's newest novel is a great summer read, fast moving with interesting characters and recognizable settings for those in a particular part of southwestern Virginia. In the book attorney Kevin Moore find himself in squeezed between a shady land-deal set-up and his need to redeem himself for earlier missteps. His already lost his wife, his home, his license and everything else he'd worked for. But he's determined to get as much of that back as he can. And he's willing to use every legal (and a couple of not so legal) tricks to get there.

    Clark's characters are funny and familiar without becoming cliches. He faces his complicated legal situation while battling an irrational health insurance company and an overly enthusiastic dog. While watching is wife fade from his life, he's grabbing at budding romance.

    Readers will feel sorry for Kevin less from his every more complicated troubles than because he's determined not to feel sorry for himself. You'll laugh out loud at Kevin's problems because they could so easily be our own. And with luck ours will tied up neatly in the end too.

    The Substitution Order by Martin Clark ($27.95*, Knopf), recommended by Book No Further, Roanoke, VA.

     A Summer 2019 Okra Pick

  • The Plus One by Sarah Archer

    The Plus One by Sarah ArcherKelly is a successful robotics engineer who is unlucky in love, much to her family's chagrin. She's proud of her master's degree and her prestigious job but her parents and sister would like nothing more than for her to meet a nice man to bring to her sister's upcoming wedding. Kelly can't take the family pressure and builds Ethan, the perfect man - the only exception is that he's a robot. She grows attached to Ethan fast and as the wedding approaches, she wonders how she'll be able to say goodbye once it's over. Or does she have to?

    This is a fun, original romance really caught me up in the story. The idea is a little silly but it's so endearing I couldn't resist but rooting for the characters and hoping for a happy ending for Kelly.

    The Plus One by Sarah Archer ($16.00*, G.P. Putnam's Sons), recommended by Fountain Books, Richmond, VA.

  • Very Nice by Marcy Dermansky

    Very Nice by Marcy DermanskyCould this possibly get any crazier?!” is a feeling that lingers through every page in this book. Very Nice is the perfect summer read, if I’ve ever known one! It is literary world meets soap opera in a quick-witted and ambitious way. Marcy Dermansky is a resourceful writer with an invaluable voice. She is able to flawlessly navigate these pages with a humor that’s timely and fresh. With that being said, I applaud her triumph in bringing together the lives of these VERY intricate characters. This novel is quirky, electric, intellectual, and impossible to put down.

    Very Nice by Marcy Dermansky ($25.95*, Knopf), recommended by Books & Books, Coral Gables, FL.

  • Never Look Back by Alison Gaylin

    Never Look Back by Alison GaylinQuentin Garrison is working on a true crime podcast about a series of murders from the 1970s, committed by a teenage couple. Quentin thinks April, the female of the murderous couple, is the mother of Robin Diamond, a website columnist. At first Robin thinks this is ridiculous at first. But the more she looks into it, the more she's unsure of her conviction.

    This is one of those books where very early on, you're SURE you know what the twist is and you're disappointed. But you keep reading to confirm your suspicions. But then the book throws you a curve and you were totally wrong. Soon you have no idea who really did what and you can't wait to find out.

    Never Look Back by Alison Gaylin ($16.99*, William Morrow Paperbacks), recommended by Bookmiser, Roswell, GA.

  • Gettysburg by Kevin Morris

    Gettysburg by Kevin MorrisAn entertainment lawyer in Hollywood going through a mid-life crisis joins a reenactment of the battle of Gettysburg in Southern California and is joined by a former playmate and Miss Universe. Ever thought you'd read all that in a sentence? I didn't either! I swear this book was written just for me. But y'all will love it too. Kevin Morris takes on the entertainment industry, American history and culture in this bizarre and hilarious story while also trying to figure out what "it all means." You will do some soul searching but mostly laughing!

    Gettysburg by Kevin Morris ($26.00*, Grove Press), recommended by Fountain Books, Richmond, VA.

  • The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs by Katherine Howe

    The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs by Katherine HoweWitchcraft meets academia in this mystical novel from Katherine Howe. When Connie Goodwin's life takes an unexpected turn, so does her research into witchcraft in colonial America. As she uncovers secret after secret, Connie learns that her past may impact her future much more than expected. Highly recommended for fans of the All Souls trilogy and anything that mixes magic, research and history!

    The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs by Katherine Howe ($28.00*, Henry Holt and Co.), recommended by Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC.

  • Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

    Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda HolmesWhen Linda Holmes announced on the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast that she was writing a book I squealed with delight, made a note, and stalked pre-order and review pages until I could find a copy. Anyone who has spent time reading her work as a contributor to NPR will recognize the way in which one can almost hear her smile in her writing. The story of Evvie is compelling, and the fact that it is a romance novel feels secondary to the story of these characters and how they deal with the losses that have brought them together. I cannot wait to see what Holmes does next.

    Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes ($26.00*, Ballantine Books), recommended by Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, NC.

  • Big Sky by Kate Atkinson

    Big Sky by Kate AtkinsonKate Atkinson's beloved and often beleaguered detective, Jackson Brodie, is back in another twisty and darkly comic literary mystery. Jackson is bumming around Yorkshire with his teenage son and a dog while his former partner Julia shoots her TV show. He stumbles into the dark underbelly of the town and helps to mete out some much-needed justice. Part of the joy of reading Kate Atkinson is her ability to fit so much in few words. Brodie's reflections on the state of the world will make you laugh while breaking your heart. I absolutely loved this and cannot recommend it highly enough.

    Big Sky by Kate Atkinson ($28.00*, Little, Brown and Company), recommended by Union Ave Books, Knoxville, TN.

  • Vintage 1954 by Antoine Laurain

    Vintage 1954 by Antoine LaurainFor those who have not yet caught on to the magic that is Antoine Laurain, Vintage 1954 is a lovely introduction. His trademark uniqueness is on full display here as he weaves a tale of wine, time-travel, UFOs, and international cooperation that becomes remarkably believable the more you read. Through many celebrity cameos and subtle descriptive flourishes, the world of Paris in 1954 leaps off the page. Grab a good glass of wine and a comfy chair and immerse yourself in the quirky creativity that is Antoine Laurain.

    Vintage 1954 by Antoine Laurain ($14.95*, Gallic Books), recommended by Square Books, Oxford, MS.

  • FKA USA by Reed King

    FKA USA by Reed KingI finished this book weeks ago and am still processing the ride. I think I've finally got it. Imagine The Wizard of Oz through a filter of Anthony Burgess and Hunter S. Thompson. It's an ultraviolent road trip with characters you can empathize with fully. The future is gross and polluted: environmentally, morally, and every other way imaginable. The journey of our hero and his band of merry misfits is classic and heartwarming. This fully realized future is a marvelous adventure. I loved every footnote and sidetrack. This is a big-hearted book for the reader with a strong stomach and a passion for stories of the underdog.

    FKA USA by Reed King ($27.99*, Flatiron Books), recommended by Fountain Books, Richmond, VA.

  • Fleishman Is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner

    Fleishman Is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-AknerToby Fleishman is in trouble. Rachel Fleishman is in trouble. This is a story about that trouble: their marriage and divorce and life (and sex) after marriage, their kids and their nervous breakdowns. It’s a novel so specific and funny and playful that it at first belies just how big and ambitious it really is. Don’t be fooled. It is big and ambitious and has things to say about marriage and friendship and being a woman and a person in the world. It surprises you over and over again with how smart and insightful and empathetic it is until you are not surprised anymore, just grateful it exists and you get to read it.

    Fleishman Is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner ($27.00*, Random House), recommended by Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • The Travelers by Regina Porter

    The Travelers by Regina PorterWatching the events and lives of one family intertwined come together so beautifully in one novel is an absolute treat, and Regina Porter does not disappoint. The Travelers builds and weaves the story of family, strife, love, and frustration and encapsulates what it means to become and to remain a family. This story is absolutely gorgeous as it moves through time and experience and leaves its reader feeling like a part of the family rather than just an observer.

    The Travelers by Regina Porter ($27.00*, Hogarth), recommended by Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC.

     A Spring 2019 Okra Pick

  • Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey

    Fix Her Up by Tessa BaileyThere are all sorts of things that need to be fixed in Georgie Castle’s life: her stalled business as a birthday clown, her newly purchased but rundown house, and perhaps most important: her family’s inability to see her as anything but the baby of the family. When injured baseball player Travis Ford returns to town with a reputation and career that both need to be fixed, their attraction is immediate, which turns everything in Georgie’s life on end. A fun, sexy summer read that kicks off a new series from romance author Tessa Bailey!

    Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey ($14.99*, Avon), recommended by Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC.

  • Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

    Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret RogersonIt is a truth universally acknowledged that those of us who love books, are especially enamored with books ABOUT books and this novel is a very special one of those. Action-packed and romantic, Sorcery of Thorns is a tale of ink-tears, girls with swords, boys summoning storms and volume upon volume of living leather bound books, some of whom behave rather badly. It’s a book about majestic, revered libraries equipped with their own small armies of librarians and sword-wielding wardens. It’s a book about demonic energy and sorcery. It’s a book about brave people with vastly varied strengths and skills, all worthy in their own right, fighting the good fight. Darker, larger in scope but just as brilliantly crafted as her first novel, Margaret Rogerson has captured me once again. I love this book!

    Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson ($17.99*, Margaret K. McElderry Books), recommended by Books & Books, Coral Gables, FL.

  • Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok

    Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean KwokThe international search for a sister gone missing is the basis of Searching for Sylvie Lee, a mysterious drama by Jean Kwok. When Amy finds out her sister never returned home from a trip to visit a dying family member in the Netherlands, it sets off a chain of events that uncovers long lost secrets about her family, her parents’ immigration, and secret relationships. Amy’s quest to find Sylvie takes her across the ocean, where she meets an entire family she’s never know who played a fundamental part in her family’s life. Dark, complicated, and engrossing, this literary thriller will capture your emotions and keep you turning pages long after dark.

    Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok ($26.99*, William Morrow), recommended by Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC.

  • In West Mills by De'Shawn Charles Winslow

    In West Mills by De'Shawn Charles WinslowKnot is a strong and independent woman in a rural town in North Carolina. She likes her liquor and she will always speak her mind and regrets none of it. She is one of many members of the community of West Mills that we get to know over the course of 40 years in De'Shawn Charles Winslow's beautiful and feisty book about the love of family, friends and neighbors. Though not always perfect and with a fair share of secrets, they always try to do what they believe is best for the ones they love.

    In West Mills by De'Shawn Charles Winslow ($26.00*, Bloomsbury Publishing), recommended by Fountain Books, Richmond, VA.

    A Spring 2019 Okra Pick

  • Far from the Tree by Robin Benway

    Far from the Tree by Robin Benway16-year-old Grace has just had a baby. After going through the pregnancy and choosing adoptive parents for her daughter, she now feels unmoored from her life before and wants to find her own biological family. That's how her biological siblings, Maya and Joaquin, come into the picture. Maya, set apart from her adoptive family in looks and temperament, struggles with the fallout of her adoptive mom's secrets coming to light. And Joaquin, in foster care his whole life, struggles with the idea of being worthy of someone's love. All of them grapple with their sense of belonging, but now that they have each other, maybe that will be easier. Benway has written a touching, sometimes humorous, compulsively readable book that will resonate with anyone searching for their place in the world, showing that sometimes where you are is exactly where you belong.

    Far from the Tree by Robin Benway ($9.99*, HarperTeen), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

  • City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

    City of Girls by Elizabeth GilbertI remained unsure where Elizabeth Gilbert was taking me throughout the nearly 500 pages of City of Girls, but now that I've finished the final chapter, I'm glad I trusted her expert hand. I adored seeing the world through Vivian's eyes; her coming-of-age is, perhaps more than anything else, a love story, a tribute to the theatre and to New York City. Every one of Gilbert's characters is flawed and complicated (sometimes even downright awful), but somehow she's made every one of them likable and determined to grow, making for a compelling story I couldn't put down.

    City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert ($28.00*, Riverhead Books), recommended by The Bookshelf, Thomasville, GA.

  • Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

    Ayesha At Last by Uzma JalaluddinAyesha At Last is a completely lovely Pride and Prejudice re-telling that does not shy away from depth. Jalaluddin delves into the subjects of racism, religion, and gender with deft and care and manages to retain the sense of romance and charm all the while. I'd say this skill makes her a perfect choice for Austen retellings. I'd consider this novel a great "what next?" recommendation for fans of The Kiss Quotient or The Wedding Date.

    Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin ($16.00*, Berkley), recommended by Books & Books, Coral Gables, FL.

  • All the Greys on Greene Street by Laura Tucker

    All the Greys on Greene Street by Laura TuckerWhile Ollie sticks to graphite grey in her drawings, Tucker's debut vibrates with vivid color in its strong sense of place and well-sketched characters. It has that timeless quintessence that evokes such classic New York City adventures as Harriet the Spy and The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankenweiler, and it is sure to delight fans of Rebecca Stead and Laura Marx.

    All the Greys on Greene Street by Laura Tucker ($17.99*, Viking Books for Young Readers), recommended by Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • Give by Erica C. Witsell

    Give, a Novel by Erica C. WitsellI realize that this book is, in large part, about sisterhood. Unfortunately, I don't have a sister or a similar relationship to measure against. I loved Emma and Jessie anyway, and found them credible characters in their own right. Emma's struggle to find a nourishing relationship is deeply touching. The dynamics between the two of them and between Laurel and Jessie are written with honesty and affection.

    But what grabbed me by the heart and wouldn't let go was Witsell's descriptions of parenting and motherhood. It's unflinching in a way that I haven't read before without someone being written as a monster. Laurel isn't a monster; She's just not cut out for motherhood. She's a flawed person whose flaws are particularly incompatible with mothering. God, I sympathized with her. Early motherhood was frequently intolerable for me as well, and I found a sort of weird validation from reading someone else who wasn't very good at it. However, I also loved Sarah's character. She wasn't any more perfect than Laurel was imperfect.

    I especially applaud Witsell's commitment to Laurel's integrity. Laurel never "rises above" or adopts the proper level of selflessness. It would have been pretty but dishonest to do otherwise. Even when her intentions are good, as with baby Liza, she manages to get it all wrong.

    Everything about this book feels real, genuine, and honest. It it were written as memoir, I would believe it, but I think it somehow points to even larger truths by being written as fiction.

    Give by Erica C. Witsell ($19.95*, BQB Publishing), recommended by Sunrise Books, High Point, NC.

  • The Sentence Is Death by Anthony Horowitz

    The Sentence Is Death by Anthony HorowitzAnthony Horowitz keeps getting better and better. A continuation on the clever conceit he initiates in The Word Is Murder, Horowitz once again finds himself as a character in his own detective novel. He begrudgingly teams up with Hawthorne in order to solve not one, but three suspicious deaths.

    Horowitz has developed a unique storytelling method and I hope this is not the last one we see.

    The Sentence Is Death by Anthony Horowitz ($27.99*, Harper), recommended by Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC.

  • The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary

    The Flatshare by Beth O'LearySure, the premise of The Flatshare requires you to suspend some disbelief, but that's true of the very best romantic comedies, isn't it? Beth O'Leary has created a feel-good page turner with characters you'll actually care about. Perfect for summer reading, and begging to be translated onscreen.

    The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary ($26.99*, Flatiron Books), recommended by The Bookshelf, Thomasville, GA.

  • Last Day by Domenica Ruta

    TITLEAuthor Domenica Ruta builds a wonderful and complex narrative around the fictional holiday of Last Day, a superstitious holiday of cleansing celebrated every year on the supposed eve of the apocalypse.

    Last Day follows a collection of misguided characters as they navigate their relationships and the events leading up to the next Last Day celebration. Ruta builds dynamic characters who are always capable of surprising you, no matter how wrong they seem to be about everything.

    Last Day by Domenica Ruta ($27.00*, Spiegal & Grau), recommended by Fountain Books, Richmond, VA.

  • Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga

    Other Words for Home by Jasmine WargaThe middle-grade fiction genre is really taking off! I picked up this book to give to a friend and ended up devouring it in a few hours, so now I'm even more excited to give it to her. The poetic structure was brilliant and moving; I think this is a great introduction for kids to poetry and narrative poetry in particular. The story itself was beautiful and heartbreaking all at once, and I will admit I cried quite a few times! Getting to know Jude was such an honor and a pleasure, and Warga did a beautiful job of making her come to life.

    In our current political atmosphere, and in the wake of the terror attack on the New Zealand mosques, this story is even more important than ever. I hope it will encourage kids to learn more about their Middle Eastern and Muslim brothers and sisters, and that they will begin to foster an awareness of the world outside America. It certainly had that effect on me. I don't give tens freely, but this touching story deserves every point!

    Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga ($16.99*, Balzer + Bray), recommended by Story on the Square, McDonough, GA.

  • How Not to Die Alone by Richard Roper

    How Not to Die Alone by Richard RoperRichard Roper's debut is utterly delightful. I was spellbound from the very first page. Andrew's job is a sensitive one: when someone dies at home alone, Andrew is called to literally dig through personal effects and determine if there are any next of kin from scraps of paper or old holiday cards. Dealing daily with the dearly departed combined with Andrew's obsession with model trains, dysfunctional office mates, and an estranged sister, results in a compelling read. Funny, smart, sad, Roper's How Not to Die Alone is just wonderful.

    How Not to Die Alone by Richard Roper ($26.00*, G.P. Putnam's Sons), recommended by Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • Vessel by Lisa A. Nichols

    Vessel by LIsa A. NicholsI am not normally a sci-fi fan but I loved The Martian so decided to give Vessel a try, and boy am I glad I did. It was an amazing look at NASA and the space program including protocols and hardships, and the lives and personal struggles of astronauts. Commander Catherine Wells was on a six-year mission to a newly discovered planet that was believed to be able to support life, when things went horribly wrong. Contact was lost and eventually all were assumed dead. Nine years after the mission was launched Catherine returned home–alone and with no memory of what happened. Vessel is a fast paced very readable novel with strong characters that gives a fantastic look at what could be reality and not fiction in a not-so-distant future.

    Vessel by Lisa A. Nichols ($27.00*, Atria/Emily Bestler Books/Alloy Entertainment), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

  • Prairie Fever by Michael Parker

    Prairie Fever by Michael ParkerMichael Parker eloquently captures the desolate beauty of the Oklahoma prairie in prose that is somehow both searing and lyrical as he tells the story of two teenage sisters in the early 1900's. The pair are deeply close, although they couldn't be more different. Lorena is sensible, Elise is always lost in flights of fancy. When a series of events leads them to realize they have feelings for the same man, their young teacher, the two are driven apart by years and hundreds of miles. This not a sad story. It is a tale of abiding love infused with charm, wit, and bitingly humorous dialogue. I was enchanted, and to put it simply, I loved how this book made me feel.

    Prairie Fever by Michael Parker ($26.95*, Algonquin Books), recommended by The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

  • Let Me Hear a Rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson

    Let Me Hear a Rhyme by Tiffany D. JacksonSteph, Jarrell, and Quadir are best friends, going to high school in Brooklyn, when Steph is murdered in the street. Jarrell and Quadir, along with Jasmine, Steph's sister, are left wondering who killed Steph and why. When they discover boxes upon boxes of CDs and tapes of Steph's rap songs, they decide that they are too good to remain unheard. They also figure they can raise money and hire a detective to find out what happened to Steph since the police don't seem to care to find out.

    This story takes place in the late 90s and is told through the point of view of Jasmine, Quadir, and Jarrell with a few flashbacks from Steph. Fans of urban fiction, 90s rap, and mystery alike will all enjoy this one.

    Let Me Hear a Rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson ($17.99*, Katherine Tegen Books), recommended by Bookmiser, Roswell, GA.

  • Kingsbane by Claire Legrand

    Kingsbane by Claire LegrandFuryborn was incredible. Kingsbane is even better! The second novel has even more magic, cliffhangers, and romance. So much packed into this book I want to sit with the author and understand how she can possibly make all this come together so eloquently. Already excited for the next one in this trilogy. This is a wild ride.

    Kingsbane by Claire Legrand ($18.99*, Sourcebooks Fire), recommended by Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, NC.

  • Camp Tiger by Susan Choi, John Rocco (Illustrator)

    Camp Tiger by Susan Choi, John Rocco (Illustrator)In his last week before starting first grade, a boy and his family set out for a week long camping trip. As they begin to unpack and set up camp, a tiger steps into the clearing. Thin but beautiful, the tiger asks the boy if there is possibly a tent for him. Through the week, the boy and the tiger hike to new places, paddle the lake, fish and watch the stars. They do things neither would risk on their own. And when the week is over, the two must go their own way, both better for their time together.

    Camp Tiger by Susan Choi, John Rocco (Illustrator) ($17.99*, G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers), recommended by The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

  • Orange World and Other Stories by Karen Russell

    Orange World and Other Stories by Karen RussellKaren Russell's latest collection of short stories are as bizarre, haunted and exquisitely crafted as I hoped they would be. The collection begins with "The Prospectors," wherein two young women attempt to attend an elegant affair and end up dancing with a group of dead boys. In the titular story, a new mother nurses a devil every night and all the while Russell is dissecting the postpartum experience with grace and humor. And in what is possibly my favorite of the collection, "The Gondoliers," about a girl with the qualities of a bat who navigates a dangerous, drowned new world, Russell proves that no one can write south Florida quite like her.

    Orange World and Other Stories by Karen Russell ($25.95*, Knopf), recommended by Books & Books, Coral Gables, FL.

  • My Ex-Best Friend's Wedding by Wendy Wax

    My Ex-Best Friend's Wedding by Wendy WaxWax has delivered a fun, touching summer read that takes place in the Outer Banks of North Caroline with a smattering of scenes in our own town of Richmond (including a nice shout out to Fountain Bookstore)!

    Lauren and Brianna, former best friends who have since fallen out, are approaching their 40th birthdays several hundred miles apart. Once as close as sisters, they now no longer speak until Lauren returns home with her new fiance to try on the wedding dress that has been in her family for generations. The girls are forced to confront some difficult decisions and secrets from their past while dealing with current family stresses.

    Told in the voice of both girls plus Kendra, the mom who loves them both as her own, this story is sweet and easily devoured.

    My Ex-Best Friend's Wedding by Wendy Wax ($16.00*, Berkley), recommended by Fountain Books, Richmond, VA.

  • Light from Other Stars by Erika Swyler

    Light from Other Stars by Erika SwylerNedda Papas is eleven and space-obsessed in Easter, Florida, when Challenger explodes in the sky overhead, sending shock waves through the small NASA-adjacent town. Nedda’s father, a scientist grieving the death of his infant son, the passing of his daughter’s youth, and the degeneration of his hands, has been conducting fragile and dangerous experiments, sent over the edge and altering the fabric of time in wondrous and tragic ways after Challenger’s demise.

    Years later, Nedda has achieved her dream of spaceflight, hurtling toward a distant planet when a dire malfunction causes her to reckon with her past in order to preserve the possibility for a future. Light from Other Stars is a thrilling journey through space and time and a deeply moving exploration of the bond between parent and child.

    Light from Other Stars by Erika Swyler ($27.00*, Bloomsbury Publishing), recommended by Underground Books, Carrollton, GA.

  • Hot to the Touch by Jaci Burton

    Hot to the Touch by Jaci BurtonI have always enjoyed Jaci Burton's books but was glad to see her step into a new setting outside of sports. This romance with a firehouse setting really works. There is just enough romance and drama to keep the book interesting and the story's incorporation of juvenile homelessness and the foster care system adds depth. I was hooked until the end!

    Hot to the Touch by Jaci Burton ($16.00*, Berkley), recommended by Bookmiser, Roswell, GA.

  • Exhalation by Ted Chiang

    Exhalation by Ted ChiangI almost regret reading this, it was so good. It was so exceptional, it took a solid week for me to be ready to read anything else. I just kept picking it back up and re-reading. I finally had to give it to another bookseller on staff so I could move on.

    Chiang's stories are the reason I read. Each one is a perfectly cut gem. It's as if by the act of reading, you become light and pass through the gems and feel yourself reflected, refracted, split apart and turned into someone new. Each story makes your brain all bendy, even the ones that feel like they have existed for hundred of years. You'll find fantastic tales of time travel, meditations on the true nature of consciousness, even thoughts on parenting. Elegant without seams, I highly recommend this collection to fans new and old.

    Exhalation by Ted Chiang ($25.95*, Knopf), recommended by Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA.

  • Spy School British Invasion

    Spy School British InvasionStuart Gibbs's books fly off our shelves constantly. After kids, teachers, and librarians recommended him, I finally picked up Spy School and promptly fell in love. That's why I am so excited for this seventh installment in the series. This is James Bond for middle grade readers, with constant action and humor. They are so fun to read I am not sure kids realize they are also learning about dealing with bullies, standing up for yourself, the importance of friendship, and all the things a non-spy middle schooler learns. This is a perfect start to summer reading.

    Spy School British Invasion ($17.99*, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers), recommended by Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC.

  • Little Darlings by Melanie Golding

    Little Darlings by Melanie GoldingLauren has just given birth to twin baby boys when she's awakened in the night, alone in the hospital, by singing. In the bay next to hers is a disheveled woman with a basket who wants to trade Lauren's babies for her own. Lauren locks herself in the bathroom with her own children and calls the police. But when the police send the hospital staff to Lauren, there's no one there and nothing on CCTV to show that anyone ever was there. It's all attributed to Lauren's fragile mental state.

    This book is a blend of the currently popular domestic thriller and supernatural horror. It has just the right amount of creepiness and action and fans of either genre will enjoy it.

    Little Darlings by Melanie Golding ($26.99*, Crooked Lane Books), recommended by Bookmiser, Inc., Roswell, GA.

  • Like Lions by Brian Panowich

    Like Lions by Brian PanowichLike the writing of David Joy or Taylor Brown? Then you'll want to check out Brian Panowich. Panowich's Southern crime fiction is so very entertaining. Despite being sheriff, Clayton Burroughs is also the last living son of the Bull Mountain crime family which means everyone wants a piece of him. You'll find yourself rooting for the good guys who may actually be bad guys. Don't let Panowich's epilogue sneak up on you in this one. It's mind-blowing.

    Like Lions by Brian Panowich ($26.99*, Minotaur Books), recommended by Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

    A Spring 2019 Okra Pick

  • Extraordinary Birds by Sandy Stark-McGinnis

    Extraordinary Birds by Sandy Stark-McGinnisAn extraordinary debut novel full of heart and hope. December’s love of birds and search for her real home will stick with readers long after finish the book. Stark-McGinnis paints a beautiful tale of identity and healing, reminding us that the family we’re born into isn’t necessarily the one you need, and that to find yourself sometimes means finding the people who make you feel like you’re finally home.

    Extraordinary Birds by Sandy Stark-McGinnis ($16.99*, Bloomsbury Children's Books), recommended by Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC.

  • The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth

    The Mother-in-Law by Sally HepworthFamily relationships are often complicated and misunderstood especially between mother and daughter in laws, but do they usually end in murder? This is the question to be answered in Hepworth's masterfully plotted novel of families and expectations each has of the other. Lucy yearns for a mother figure since her mother died when she was young. Diana seems to be the total opposite of what Lucy hoped for in a mother-in-law. Lucy begins to believe that Diana doesn't even like her at all. When Diana, a prominent and very wealthy member of the community is found dead of an apparent suicide and the police begin to believe foul play we finally see the characters as they really are. Did Diana finally push Lucy too far? Perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty.

    The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth ($27.99*, St. Martin's Press), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

  • The Raven's Tale by Cat Winters

    The Raven's Tale by Cat WintersLike Poe's stories, The Raven's Tale is dripping in mood and the macabre. We first meet a 17-year-old Poe as he sits in the Allan pew at Monumental Church, a church that sits on remains of 72 Richmonders who perished in a theater fire in 1811. It's there that Poe spies his muse beginning to form out of the shadows of his imagination, and she's no longer satisfied with mere crumbs of his attention. But the young poet is a week away from leaving for college and his guardian, John Allan is threatening to withdraw financial support if Poe doesn't silence his morbid muse. Absolutely delightful, morbid, and creepy!

    The Raven's Tale by Cat Winters ($17.99*, Amulet Books), recommended by Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA.

  • Normal People by Sally Rooney

    Normal People by Sally RooneyIn Normal People, Sally Rooney has created an exquisite character study in Connell and Marianne's relationship. Like a slow-burning fuse that is destined to detonate, the dynamic between the two manages to be irresistible, infuriating, and all too relatable. Young people will find themselves in these pages, and, believe it or not, feel normal. Great for those who loved Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and Modern Lovers.

    Normal People by Sally Rooney ($26.00*, Hogarth), recommended by Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

    Miracle Creek by Angie KimWow! What a powerful story and terrific courtroom drama from a debut novelist. Kim’s background as a trial lawyer and a teen aged immigrant from Korea really brought to life the struggles the Yoo family face trying to get to America for the sake of their daughter and makes the courtroom drama so intense that you wish you were there to hear the lawyers’ interrogations in person.

    Miracle Creek is a remarkably written story about families and what sacrifices are made and what lies are told to try and protect those near and dear. But, the lies – which seemed harmless by themselves – stack up like dominoes and soon cascade to a tragic end, one that might not have happened if just one small seemingly insignificant act or one small seemingly insignificant lie had not occurred.

    Miracle Creek by Angie Kim ($27.00*, Sarah Crichton Books), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

  • The Line Tender by Kate Allen

    The Line Tender by Kate AllenWell, this was a completely captivating, emotional roller coaster that left this reader with a greater appreciation of sharks by the end. The Line Tender is a coming-of-age, middle grade novel set on the coast of Massachusetts during the 1990's.

    Twelve year-old Lucy has always depended on her best friend, Fred, for emotional support and understanding since the death of her marine biologist mom five years ago. However, their feelings are beginning to shift a bit. They both have insatiable curiosity and are working on a local field guide for an extra credit project when a dead, but massive white shark is brought to shore by a local fisherman. This sets the course for an unexpected chain of events that will rock their small community.

    This tale is haunting and unforgettable. I loved the pencil sketches throughout.

    The Line Tender by Kate Allen ($17.99*, Dutton Books for Young Readers), recommended by The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

  • The Magnetic Girl by Jessica Handler

    The Magnetic Girl by Jessica HandlerA grand, dark, mysterious historical novel filled with dark power and ambivalence, The Magnetic Girl captures a time and place, not only in the life of a teenage girl but in our country as well. Filled with the shifting longings of adolescence against a vaudeville backdrop, Handler's novel explores the dangerous journey from childhood to adulthood when our budding powers both enthrall and terrify us.

    The Magnetic Girl by Jessica Handler ($27.00*, Hub City Press), recommended by Scuppernong Books, Greensboro, NC.

     A Spring 2019 Okra Pick

  • The Editor by Steven Rowley

    The Editor by Steven Rowley

    The Editor opens with a nervous meeting between debut novelist James Smale and a potential editor who turns out to be none other than Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

    Rowley perfectly captures the charm and grace of this American icon while portraying her in the role of devoted editor completely invested in helping her author find his true story. In turn, Smale’s journey to confront his past and repair his relationship with his mother resonates on a personal level with Onassis’s most personal role as a mother.

    This is the first book in a very long time that kept me reading far past my bedtime! Rowley perfectly aligns these two characters’ stories, creating a heartwarming story perfect for readers who appreciate a powerful family story with a touch of history and intrigue.

    The Editor by Steven Rowley ($27.00*, G.P. Putnam's Sons), recommended by Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC.

  • Caterpillar Summer by Gillian McDunn

    Caterpillar Summer by Gillian McDunnCaterpillar Summer is a heartwarming novel about a brother, Chicken, who has special needs and a sister, Cat, who tries too hard to protect him. Cat's and Chicken's mom works long hours since their dad died. Although Cat is just in fifth grade, she tries to fill in as a part-time mom for Chicken. An unexpected visit with their grandparents, whom they have never met, teaches Cat a lot about being a kid and reveals a lot about her mom that she never knew before. A wonderful debut novel!

    Caterpillar Summer by Gillian McDunn ($16.99*, Bloomsbury Childen's Books), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

     A Spring 2019 Okra Pick

  • Women Talking by Miriam Toews

    Women Talking by Miriam ToewsThis novel is definitely true to its title, made up almost entirely of women talking--illiterate Mennonite women of a remote colony who have recently realized that the nighttime terrors the men of the colony have told them are dreams or demonic possessions or punishment for sins were actually these men, their relatives and neighbors, tranquilizing and then raping them.

    Inspired by real events, this novel isn’t interested in the horrors of this Handmaid’s Tale-esque story but rather how these women come together to grapple with what they will do about this injustice, in light of their values, their faith, and their own limited understanding of the world. What may not come across in the elevator pitch of this book is how full of sparks the conversation is between these women, at turns funny, philosophical, biting, and real. This book was certainly thought-provoking but it was also a joy to read. Praise be women talking.

    Women Talking by Miriam Toews ($24.00*, Bloomsbury Publishing), recommended by Underground Books, Carrollton, GA.