GREAT READS HANDPICKED BY GREAT SOUTHERN BOOKSELLERS...

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  • 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.

  • Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

    Wicked Saints by Emily A. DuncanEmily Duncan's Wicked Saints is dark, disquieting, and utterly unputdownable. Her ferocious girls and her doubtful princes and her devious gods are compelling and entirely believable, and her world of magic and blood and holy war will frighten and enchant readers, as any good fairy tale should.

    Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan ($18.99*, Wednesday Books), recommended by One More Page Books, Arlington, VA.

  • Bark in the Park!: Poems for Dog Lovers by Avery Corman, Hyewon Yum (Illustrator)

    Bark in the Park!: Poems for Dog Lovers by Avery Corman, Hyewon Yum (Illustrator)Dog lovers young and old will devour these fun canine inspired poets. Super cute illustrations of pups and owners will inspire giggles and young readers will surely ask to hear the rhyming poems again and again. Perfect for any dog lover!

    Bark in the Park!: Poems for Dog Lovers by Avery Corman, Hyewon Yum (Illustrator) ($17.99*, Orchard Books), recommended by The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

  • Sky Without Stars by Jessica Brody, Joanne Rendell

    Sky Without Stars by Jessica Brody, Joanne RendellThe top reviews kept saying "Les Mis in space!" and "if you liked The Lunar Chronicles, this is for you." Sometimes the reviews are right. If you like retellings and liked the Lunar Chronicles, you're going to love Sky without Stars!

    I certainly did. The characters are fleshed out in a way you don't get from the original. I found myself falling in love and rooting for Marcellus, Aloutte, and Chatine. They're all wonderfully flawed in their own way and I stayed up way too late reading this. I can't wait for the next part of the story. The book wrapped up some loose ends while opening new ones--the best way to keep you excited for more.

    Sky Without Stars by Jessica Brody, Joanne Rendell ($19.99*, Simon Pulse), recommended by Story on the Square, McDonough, GA.

  • Sing to It by Amy Hempel

    Sing to It by Amy HempelAmy Hempel has mastered the short story, and Sing to It is no letdown, and brimming with the kind of simple, glorious humanity one comes to expect from her writing.

    Sing to It by Amy Hempel ($25.00*, Scribner), recommended by Malaprop's Bookstore Café, Asheville, NC.

  • Fake Plastic Girl by Zara Lisbon

    Fake Plastic Girl by Zara LisbonJustine is surrounded by celebrity and wealth, her shoulders brushing, bumping against it, but never quite attaining any of it for herself.  When she meets her new neighbor, Eva Kate Kelly, a former child actress and shiny social media star, Justine's no longer just gazing at all the beautiful people on her phone, now she's among them.

    A modern take on The Great Gatsby, but with lots more Taylor Swift references (for what it's worth, I am totally in agreement with Justine on what she thinks happened between Swift and Kanye West on that infamous phone call). Fun, neurotic, and twisty!

    Fake Plastic Girl by Zara Lisbon ($17.99*, Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)), recommended by Fountain Books, Richmond, VA.

  • The Other Americans by Laila Lalami

    The Other Americans by Laila LalamiThe first word I thought as I finished this book was "beautiful." With the precision of a surgeon, Lalami crafts a terrific follow up to The Moor's Account. Told in succinct chapters from many characters perspectives, she doesn't discredit their accounts or create unreliable narrators as much as she simply delves into human nature. As a young woman returns home with the news of her father's sudden death in a hit and run, she finds much more about herself and family secrets than she intends. Each character is wonderfully crafted and important to the story so that most of all I came away with the knowledge that you can never fully know all sides of a story. I have a feeling this will hold up through the year as a favorite.

    The Other Americans by Laila Lalami ($25.95*, Pantheon), recommended by Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC.

  • Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

    Queenie by Candice Carty-WilliamsOh, Queenie, you got this! Queenie is a modern woman with all that entails: a job she should pay more attention to, a gaggle of girlfriends who have her back (mostly), an absent father, a mother she can't forgive, and most of all: romance troubles. Candice Carty-Willams's debut is brilliant, funny, modern, timely, and most importantly, entertaining.

    Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams ($26.00*, Gallery/Scout Press), recommended by Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young

    Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne YoungA fantastic feminist YA novel with shades of  Stepford Wives and Joss Whedon's Dollhouse TV series. I have been a longtime fan of Young's Program series, and this new book blew me away!  A sinister school for exceptional young ladies, a group of young women whose bond is stronger than any classroom programming, and a grasping patriarchy not prepared for the revolution. This book will have you flipping pages and sharpening sticks of your own.

    Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young ($18.99*, Simon Pulse), recommended by Fountain Books, Richmond, VA.

  • Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward

    Beautiful Bad by Annie WardBeautiful Bad opens with a police detective at the scene of a murder, but we have no idea who is murdered. More than a murder mystery it is a compelling story of the complex love between two friends and the hurt that results when their lives change. I loved reading about Maddie and Joanna’s adventures in the dangerous places they lived and played. I liked both characters (at first) and thought I understood why their friendship ended. Hidden desires, dark secrets, much manipulation, and an ultimate murder come painfully together as all lives are torn apart.  Beautiful Bad is a riveting story with a surprise ending…is this a fight for survival, or something much more sinister?

    Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward ($26.99*, Park Row), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

  • American Princess by Stephanie Marie Thornton

    American Princess by Stephanie Marie Thornton

    American Princess tells the story of Alice Roosevelt, the headstrong daughter of the indomitable Teddy Roosevelt.  This was a fast-paced piece of history that was fun to read!

    American Princess by Stephanie Marie Thornton ($16.00*, Berkley), recommended by Bookmarks, Bookmarks, NC.

  • Heroine by Mindy McGinnis

    Heroine by Mindy McGinnisMickey is a teen athlete and a star on her softball team when she and her best friend get in a car accident that changes their lives. Mickey is able to justify her use of painkillers to mask the pain of her recovering injuries but that use quickly turns to abuse as she uses the drugs for the painful shyness she also deal with. As the prescribed pills get harder to get, she turns to the fast, easy, and dangerous high of the needle. Her old friends drift away and she's surrounded with a new circle who enable her descent into addiction. This story is a powerful illustration of how easy it is to go from proper prescribed use of meds to the dangerous abuse of street drugs. This heartbreaking tale will stick with you long after the book is done.

    Heroine by Mindy McGinnis ($17.99*, Katherine Tegen Books), recommended by Fountain Books, Richmond, VA.

  • Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi

    Gingerbread by Helen OyeyemiCalling this a fairytale retelling does not do Gingerbread justice. Oyeyemi twists the story of Hansel and Gretel and the lore surrounding gingerbread in so many ways that you almost feel you have consumed the fabled treat yourself and are reawakening in the world of Druhastrana. The heart of this story is the relationships, between family, friends, and one's idea of self. It's a crazy ride and oh so delicious.

    Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi ($27.00*, Riverhead Books), recommended by Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, NC.

  • Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins

    Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor JenkinsHoly smokes, Daisy Jones! This is a 24-hour freight train of a book that I couldn't put down. It's a fictionalized documentary of the rise and fall of the band Daisy Jones and The Six. Docudrama binge reading at its best! Having the story laid out simultaneously by several narrators creates a building tension that continues to grow throughout. I loved it and cannot wait to get this on the shelves!  

    Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins ($27.00*, Ballantine Books), recommended by The Oxford Exchange, Tampa, FL.

  • The Women's War by Jenna Glass

    The Women's War by Jenna GlassThrough a great sacrifice, the women in this high fantasy epic novel have been given the unprecedented ability to control their own fertility. Suddenly these women who have been treated little better than brood mares now have the power to control their own bodies.  As you can guess, the men don't take it well.

    This is the epic high fantasy feminist story that you didn't know you were looking for...but here it is and it is glorious.

    The Women's War by Jenna Glass ($28.00*, Del Rey / Random House Inc), recommended by Bookmiser, Inc., Roswell, GA.

  • A Friend Is a Gift You Give Yourself by William Boyle

    A Friend Is a Gift You Give Yourself by William BoyleYowza, did I just maybe read a future crime fiction classic? Possibly. It has all the right elements. Great characters: two ex-porn stars, a 14-year-old girl, and a psycho with a sledgehammer; dialogue that tickles the ear; and a sense of place so vivid I thought I was reading in 3-D. And the plot! I'm not going to say anything other than $500,000 in a briefcase and a frisky octogenarian are involved. My only regret? I read the book way too fast, just couldn't stop turning the pages. Oh well...there are worse things in life.

    A Friend Is a Gift You Give Yourself by William Boyle ($25.95*, Pegasus Books), recommended by McIntyre's Fine Books, Pittsboro, NC.

     A Winter 2019 Okra Pick

  • The Wall by John Lanchester

    The Wall by John Lanchester The Wall is mesmerizing: Lanchester's plain slightly flat, sort of arch style weirdly highlights the deeply disturbing apocryphal apocalyptic and, not to put too fine a point on it, Trumpian (as if you couldn't tell from the title) plot. This is so fun, this book. I read it in one sitting. 

    The Wall by John Lanchester ($25.95*, W. W. Norton & Company), recommended by Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • We Must Be Brave by Frances Liardet

    We Must Be Brave by Frances LiardetWritten in gorgeous prose, We Must Be Brave is going to be a force this publishing season and for years to come. Many books have been written about the woes of World War II. None have tackled the love between a woman and a child quite like this one. I am always seeking just one more unique novel depicting the angst of war. This is this year's big one!

    We Must Be Brave by Frances Liardet ($27.00*, G.P. Putnam's Sons), recommended by Copperfish Books, Punta Gorda, FL.

  • The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

    The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha ShannonWhat a fantastic new adventure! I love the world that Samantha Shannon has built and think this will have appeal to adult and young adult readers who enjoy epic fantasies!

    The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon ($32.00*, Bloomsbury Publishing), recommended by Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC.

  • What We Buried by Kate A. Boorman

    What We Buried by Kate A. BoormanI cannot wait until this book is published because I need to discuss it! Loved the complex relationship of siblings Liv and Jory, and their tangled, twisted memories of growing up with less than ideal parents. Child beauty queens, Mask movie references (the Cher and Eric Stoltz movie), disappearances, family feuds, blackout rages, road trips and nightmarish landscapes help to make this one of the most unique Young Adult books I've read in a long time!

    What We Buried by Kate A. Boorman ($17.99*, Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)), recommended by Fountain Books, Richmond, VA.

  • The Huntress by Kate Quinn

    The Huntress by Kate QuinnFrom the author of The Alice Network comes a haunting post war story of a battle haunted journalist turned Nazi hunter, a female Red Army bomber pilot in exile and young American girl trying to figure out her path in life. The story shifts between past and present as they pursue Nazi killer that haunts them both. The reader will wonder who is the huntress and who the hunted. It is a story of love and loss, trust and betrayal, past and present, and revenge and redemption. Great for lovers of historical fiction, mystery and detective novels.

    The Huntress by Kate Quinn ($16.99*, William Morrow Paperbacks), recommended by Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • The Secret of Clouds by Alyson Richman

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

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

  • American Heroin by Melissa Scrivner Love

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

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

  • The Heavens by Sandra Newman

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

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

  • The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray

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

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

     A Winter 2019 Okra Pick

  • Watching You by Lisa Jewell

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

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

  • Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli

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

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

     A Winter 2019 Okra Pick

  • The Lost Man by Jane Harper

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

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

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

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

  • We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin

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

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

     A Winter 2019 Okra Pick

  • American Pop by Snowden Wright

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

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

     A Winter 2019 Okra Pick

  • The Smiling Man by Joseph Knox

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

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

  • A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

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

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

  • The Perfect Liar by Thomas Christopher Greene

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

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

  • An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen

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

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

  • The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

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

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

     A Winter 2019 Okra Pick

  • The Current by Tim Johnston

    The Current by Tim JohnstonIf you read literary suspense, this is your book.

    If you are looking for a book you can't put down, this is your book.

    If you need a story that will follow you for days, this is your book.

    New wounds open old wounds in this superb tale of unresolved loss and crime.

    Two nineteen year-old college girls are frantically driving away from a terrifying encounter on a dark, icy Iowa road when their car goes into a river. Only one survives, the daughter of a dying sheriff across the state line in Minnesota. This tragedy brings to surface the loss of another young girl ten years prior, found in a river. A case this dying sheriff was never able to solve. Both cases are filled with direct and indirect links. Tim Johnston instills both grief and grace, twists and escalating tension, and the tenacity of those left behind in this deftly written novel.

    The Current by Tim Johnston ($27.95*, Algonquin Books), recommended by The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

     A Winter 2019 Okra Pick

  • The Night Agent by Matthew Quirk

    The Night Agent by Matthew QuirkThis is literally a stay-up late, can't put it down action thriller. Peter Sutherland is an FBI agent whose career is tainted by the sins of his father, but guided by his own strong sense of right and wrong. When he receives a panic-stricken call from a young woman named Rose on a secret FBI hot line, he has no idea of the challenges he will soon be facing, or how the decisions he must make will test his moral codes. Sutherland is an approachable and honest character, not imbued by the author with superhuman strengths or abilities. The story is intricate and fast-paced, yet still feels legitimate and real. I really liked this book and expect it will be a runaway best seller!

    The Night Agent by Matthew Quirk ($26.99*, William Morrow), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

  • Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus 

    Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus Two Can Keep a Secret proves that there are still twisty, devious mystery stories to be told. No matter how many times I thought 'they're the killer!', the ending still shocked and wowed me. It'll appeal to the My Favorite Murder fan in us all- I couldn't put it down. Just don't read it at home, alone, at night. Speaking from personal experience, that would be a mistake. The final line still has me shivering.

    Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus  ($19.99*, Delacorte Press), recommended by One More Page Books, Arlington, VA.

  • You Know You Want This by Kristen Roupenian

    You Know You Want This: "Cat Person" was not a fluke. This is a collection full of interesting, dark stories about the power structures within all kinds of relationships. Some are playful and some will knock your socks off.

    You Know You Want This: "Cat Person" and Other Stories by Kristen Roupenian ($24.99*, Gallery/Scout Press), recommended by Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • The Au Pair by Emma Rous

    The Au Pair by Emma RousLaura was an au pair for the young son of the Mayes family for a year before Ruth Mayes's twins were born. The day the twins were born Ruth committed suicide by jumping off a cliff and Laura mysteriously went away and never returned to the town.

    Now, 25 years later one of the twins, Seraphine, finds a photograph while looking through her deceased father's possessions. This photograph taken on the day of her and her twin Danny’s birth presents many unanswered questions. Ruth, their mother, looks serene and happy and not like someone who would commit suicide several hours later. And she is only holding one infant. Seraphine has never quite felt like she belonged and she becomes obsessed with finding out who she really is.

    The Au Pair is brilliantly told from two perspectives as Laura and Seraphine both tell their stories. When the narratives come together, they do so with the force of two trains colliding. The lies, deception, and betrayals give an ending that I never expected.

    The Au Pair by Emma Rous ($16.00*, Berkley), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

  • The Guilt We Carry by Samuel W. Gailey

    The Guilt We Carry by Samuel W. GaileyGreat for readers of Mary Kubica and Paula Hawkins! Alice O'Farrell lives a quiet, nomadic life after an accident killed her younger brother when she was left in charge. Unable to let go of the guilt she feels, she keeps to herself and works one-off jobs that don't require much from her. Waking up in a bad situation one morning, Alice finds herself in possession of a duffel bag full of cash and hits the road, hoping to outrun her guilt (and maybe a couple of bad guys too). Drama runs high as Alice and a runaway she encounters along the way work to outwit the owners of the duffel bag. You'll be breathless as you get to the fiery conclusion.

    The Guilt We Carry by Samuel W. Gailey ($26.95*, Oceanview Publishing), recommended by Fountain Books, Richmond, VA.

  • The Perilous Adventures of the Cowboy King by Jerome Charyn

    The Perilous Adventures of the Cowboy King by Jerome CharynAn fun, interesting, and unexpected read! Teddy Roosevelt jumps to life in this historical tale.

    The Perilous Adventures of the Cowboy King by Jerome Charyn ($25.95*, Liveright Publishing Corporation), recommended by Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC.

  • The Unsung Hero of Birdsong, USA by Brenda Woods

    The Unsung Hero of Birdsong, USA by Brenda WoodsSuch a beautiful book. War heroes, life in the summer-time South, family, and friendship. So well-written and highly recommend to all.

    The Unsung Hero of Birdsong, USA by Brenda Woods ($16.99*, Nancy Paulsen Books), recommended by The Story Shop, Monroe, GA.

  • The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh

    The Water Cure by Sophie MackintoshHaunting. Mackintosh manages a new take on the unreliable narrator: at times the sisters don't know what to believe about their world and I so related to the spot-on depictions of sisterly devotion, even as the extremity of their lives what shocking and brutal.  Masterful and perfect for anyone who loved Red Clocks by Leni Zumas. 

    The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh ($25.95*, Doubleday), recommended by Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • The Wicked King by Holly Black

    The Wicked King by Holly BlackIf like me, you devoured The Cruel Prince, it's impossible to begin this new installment without a fair amount of trepidation--and Holly Black does not disappoint. In this novel, the faerie world expands significantly and Jude's brilliant scheming must face the test of time and several new players. Jude remains an impressively fierce heroine, but she may have met her match...I really don't know how I'll survive the wait for book three!

    The Wicked King by Holly Black ($19.99*, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers), recommended by Books & Books, Coral Gables, FL.

  • The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden

    The Winter of the Witch by Katherine ArdenI read this madly in 24 hours and couldn’t put it down. The Winter of the Witch sees Vasya Petrovna come fully into her power in every dimension. Each volume in the Winternight Trilogy has been even more enthralling than the first, and this is a richly satisfying conclusion on so many levels, narratively, historically, romantically, and emotionally! It makes me want to start The Bear and the Nightingale all over again!

    The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden ($28.00*, Del Rey), recommended by Underground Books, Carrollton, GA.

  • Snakes on a Train by Kathryn Dennis

    Snakes on a Train by Kathryn DennisHow do snakes travel long distances? By train of course! Up and down hills, through dark tunnels and all the way home, the snakes ride the trains. This absolutely adorable rhyming story will have young readers assssssking to read it again and again.

    Snakes on a Train by Kathryn Dennis ($17.99*, Feiwel & Friends), recommended by The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

  • The Gown by Jennifer Robson

    The Gown by Jennifer RobsonIn 1947, British Princess Elizabeth stood before her groom and the world a vision in an exquisitely embroidered wedding gown from the design house of Norman Hartnell. Seven decades later, a young Canadian journalist inherits a handful of intricate embroidery samples from her beloved Nan which sets her off in search of her grandmother's mysterious past.

    Author Jennifer Robson deftly leads the reader back and forth through time in the desolation of post-war London through the eyes of a working girl and a French Holocaust survivor.

    There were many hands involved in the creation of the royal wedding gown. Those hands belonged to people with lives and stories to tell--Robson honors these in her unforgettable novel, The Gown.

    The Gown by Jennifer Robson ($16.99*, William Morrow Paperbacks), recommended by The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

  • The Adults by Caroline Hulse

    The Adults by Caroline HulseExes Matt and Claire are spending the Christmas holiday with their daughter and their new partners--what could go wrong? This opens with the reveal of an injury caused by an unknown assailant to one of the adult partners, and the story emerges chapter by chapter.

    Friendly exes and not-so-friendly new partners struggle to keep the peace for young Scarlett, who complicates things with her imaginary bunny friend Posey. Emotions run high as the BAC raises in the adults and the Mexican standoff at the end is hilarious even during its tense moments.

    This is an honest look at how to keep parental relationships good while blending new partners into the mix, and it will make you feel great about your own dysfunctional family.

    The Adults by Caroline Hulse ($26.00*, Random House), recommended by Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA.

  • The Other Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

    The Other Miss Bridgerton by Julia QuinnPoppy Bridgerton is just finishing her second season and she has successfully avoided marriage. While she's relaxing by the sea at her friend's estate, her curiosity gets the better of her and she discovers a hidden pirate's cave, full of booty. Before she can get away, the pirates find her and she's smuggled on board where she meets their dashing captain, Andrew James. Nautical romance ahoy!

    Julia Quinn hasn't written a bad book--all are excellent and this one is no exception.

    The Other Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn ($26.99*, Avon Books), recommended by Bookmiser, Roswell, GA.

  • The Disasters by M.K. England

    The Disasters by M.K. EnglandImmensely original and unbelievably fun! The Disasters is a heart stopping space opera, where teen galactic outcasts are the stars.  Full of diversity, humor, and amazing worldbuilding, the action starts in the first chapter and only increases as Nax and his fellow space misfits run, hide and fight to uncover a vast conspiracy. One of the best debuts I've read of 2018! 

    The Disasters by M.K. England ($17.99*, HarperTeen), recommended by Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA.