Lady Banks Bookshelf

Lady Banks Pick of the Week


Read This Now: The Index

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

Browse the whole list!


  • 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.

  • Love, Z by Jessie Sima

    Love, Z by Jessie SimaThis book is so adorable and sweet! It will make adults and kids laugh and get teary-eyed: the perfect picture-book combo. 

    Love, Z by Jessie Sima ($17.99*, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers), recommended by Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • I'll Love You Till the Cows Come Home by Kathryn Cristaldi, Kristyna Litten (Illustrator)

    I'll Love You Till the Cows Come Home by Kathryn Cristaldi, Kristyna Litten (Illustrator)Oh my goodness, this is the sweetest thing I have read in quite a while. It just makes me want to gather my three-year-old to sit in my lap and read, "I will love you til the cows come home, from a trip to mars through skies unknown, in a rocket ship made of glass and stone... I will love you til the cows come home."

    I'll Love You Till the Cows Come Home by Kathryn Cristaldi, Kristyna Litten (Illustrator) ($17.99*, HarperCollins), recommended by The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

  • Tell Them of Battles, Kings, and Elephants by Mathias Énard

    Tell Them of Battles, Kings, and Elephants by Mathias EnardAn elegantly written piece of historical fiction that depicts Michelangelo as a conflicted, unsure genius. At times mysterious and poetic, Énard has a knack for storytelling, turning this short character study into a piece of political intrigue.

    Tell Them of Battles, Kings, and Elephants by Mathias Énard ($19.95*, New Directions Publishing Corporation), recommended by Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe, Asheville, NC.

  • Unclay by T.F. Powys

    Unclay by T.F. PowysSay Jonathan Strange, Mr. Norrell, and Lolita had a ménage à trois in a quaint English village inhabited by the likes of Jack the Ripper and Little Dorrit. Wonderful, readable, oddly moving and also...odd. First published in 1931--or wait, maybe that was 1731? Or maybe 2431? One of them. 

    Unclay by T.F. Powys ($16.95*, New Directions Publishing Corporation), recommended by Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose

    The Museum of Modern Love by Heather RoseIt's pretty rare for a book to make me cry anymore, but I found my eyes welling up with tears of heartbreak and joy and the end of The Museum of Modern Love. This book is a fictionalized account of the life of the performance artist Marina Abromovic, a study of her most famous work and the effect it had on the individuals who witnessed it. Rose captures the complexity of Abromovic's work and the woman herself.

    The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose ($15.95*, Algonquin Books), recommended by Fountain Books, Richmond, VA.

  • This Lie Will Kill You by Chelsea Pitcher

    This Lie Will Kill You by Chelsea PitcherFive teens are invited to a locked-room, murder mystery night and the one who solves the mystery will will a $50,000 scholarship. But when they arrive and find out who their competition is for this scholarship, they realize that they have an actual death (murder?) in common.  They quickly realize that the scholarship was a ruse and they're really there to figure out/confess to what happened a year about when another boy died.

    This is a fast paced thriller, very much in the vein of I Know What You Did Last Summer,very much Clue meets Pretty Little Liars.

    This Lie Will Kill You by Chelsea Pitcher ($17.99*, Margaret K. McElderry Books), recommended by Bookmiser, Inc., Roswell, GA.

  • Hearts of the Missing by Carol Potenza

    Hearts of the Missing by Carol PotenzaAfter being forced to move and give up law school Nicky Matthews is finally doing something she really loves. She is a police sergeant with the Pueblo, New Mexico police force and she is the liaison with the Fire-Skye Indian reservation. Nicky has made many friends on the res and she is respected by the residents, but she is not liked at all by her boss who can’t wait to catch her doing something wrong. When a suicide seems to be linked to other missing Fire-Skye people, Nicky defies her boss and investigates. Ancient beliefs and culture, greed, revenge, and modern day genetics all mix together in this beautifully written police procedural.   

    Hearts of the Missing by Carol Potenza ($26.99*, Minotaur Books), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

  • Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfiled

    Once Upon a River by Diane SetterfiledI loved The Thirteenth Tale, so I was excited to see that Diane Setterfield has a new novel for us. I enjoyed the atmospheric writing, the depth and range of the characters, and the beautiful setting. The river is a major player in the story, and Setterfield describes it with great affection and respect. This book isn't exactly fantasy but it isn't exactly straight realism, either. The mixture worked for me. I also liked the pacing, much like a river...sometimes turbulent, sometimes peaceful, always moving forward. This will be a great book for lovers of historical fiction willing to try something different.

    Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfiled ($28.00*, Atria/Emily Bestler Books), recommended by Sunrise Books, High Point, NC.

  • Radiant Shimmering Light by Sarah Selecky

    Radiant Shimmering Light by Sarah SeleckyThis book is so much fun! Artist Lilian Quick's world begins to change when a long lost cousin visits her town on a speaking tour. Her cousin, now known only as Eleven, is the face of a very successful health, spiritual and lifestyle online community with high priced and lucrative courses in real life. Lilian becomes engaged with the community and readers fall in love with her! A beach read for the winter time, this is a fun book. 

    Radiant Shimmering Light by Sarah Selecky ($27.00*, Bloomsbury Publishing), recommended by The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

  • The Winters by Lisa Gabriele

    The Winters by Lisa GabrieleRaised in the Caymans, the nameless female character is working off a big debt alone and lonely for a boating company when she meets Max Winter, a state senator who has recently been widowed.  A short month after they meet, he proposes and pays off her debt, taking her back to his island estate in New York where she has to contend with her future step daughter, Dani. Dani is difficult, to say the least.

    I'm a big fan of the gothic novel, so a modern retelling of du Maurier's Rebecca is RIGHT up my alley.  I very much enjoyed this story and it kept me turning pages long after I should have gone to sleep!

    The Winters by Lisa Gabriele ($26.00*, Viking), recommended by Bookmiser, Roswell, GA.

  • One Day in December by Josie Silver

    One Day in December by Josie SilverI love a good love story, and this one checks all the boxes: love triangle, star-crossed lovers, tests of friendship, and heartbreak all mixed in.

    Laurie and Jack lock eyes through a bus window one cold day in December, and she is instantly in love. She and her BFF Sarah search for the gorgeous Bus Boy with no success. Laurie has just about come to terms with the idea that it was just not meant to be when Sarah introduces Laurie to her new boyfriend, with whom she is madly in love. You guessed it, it's Bus Boy. Neither Jack nor Laurie fesses up, and the three end up finding comfort and a friendship that lasts years. Laurie marries another man and everyone moves on with life, but it's impossible for her to escape that years-old daydream.

    You'll root for every character in this book and wait with bated breath to see who ends up happy and who ends up together. A great read for fans of Emily Griffith or Sophie Kinsella. 

    One Day in December by Josie Silver ($16.00*, Broadway Books), recommended by Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA.

  • Melmoth by Sarah Perry

    Melmoth by Sarah PerryWith its echoes of Mary Shelley and menacing creature in Frankenstein, Melmoth reads deliciously like an 18th-century Gothic novel. Mysterious pages describe a legendary shrouded figure--Melmoth the Wanderer--who watches those who have sins and secrets to hide.

    Propulsive, eerie, heartrending, and hopeful, Sarah Perry's worthy successor to The Essex Serpent bring a chill of recognition to each of us who has acted badly and peered over our shoulder to see if someone was watching.

    Melmoth by Sarah Perry ($27.99*, Custom House), recommended by Malaprop's Books and Cafe, Asheville, NC.

     

  • Grenade by Alan Gratz

    Grenade by Alan GratzThe harsh reality of war is presented here with an abundance of raw details. Told in contrasting view points this book opens up the horrors of both sides of a war and the real casualties witnessed on the front. Ray left home against his father's wishes to join in the fight. He was sent to fight the Japanese army. He was told how horrible the opposition was and needed not only to survive but protect his fellow Marines.

    Hideki is Ray's enemy living with his family on Okinawa. He is thrown into the fray after being taken out of school. Americans are his enemy and he must protect his family and country from these evil people. When Ray's and Hideki's worlds collide, their lives change forever.

    Fans of Alan Gratz will be gratzified to know his next book is historical fiction at its finest.

    Grenade by Alan Gratz ($17.99*, Scholastic Press), recommended by Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, Wake Forest.

  • The Witch Elm by Tana French

    The Witch Elm by Tana FrenchReading Tana French means disappearing into another life for a while. Her stories aren't meant to be slick or flashy, but deliberate, intricate studies of characters and their motivations. The Witch Elm is no different, as it follows the unraveling of Toby starting the night he surprises two burglars in his apartment. As you learn the secrets and weaknesses of Toby and his family, you begin to realize that while finding out what happened is enjoyable and surprising, finding out the how and the why is even better.

    The Witch Elm by Tana French ($28.00*, Viking), recommended by Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • What If It's Us by Becky Albertalli, Adam Silvera 

    What If It's Us by Becky Albertalli, Adam Silvera When Arthur goes to New York for the summer, he expects it to be a lot like the Broadway plays he adores. But it's not. Ben, on the other hand, is much more pragmatic, in that native New Yorker way. When they meet, Arthur falls head over heels almost immediately, and his enthusiasm may rub off a bit on Ben...but things don't exactly work out in real life the way they do on stage. With alternating chapters from Arthur's and Ben's points of view, this is another wonderful read from Albertalli and Silvera, and fans of both authors won't be disappointed (and fans of musical theater will love it even more).

    What If It's Us by Becky Albertalli, Adam Silvera  ($18.99*, HarperTeen), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

  • The Next Person You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

    The Next Person You Meet in Heaven by Mitch AlbomA sweet read, The Next Person You Meet in Heaven, is Mitch Albom's most recent book to give us a second glance into his heart-touching version of the afterlife. The first glance was in his book The Five People You Meet in Heaven. We met Annie briefly in that first book, as Eddie (the maintenance man) died saving her life. This second book picks up Annie's life many years later as it's now her turn to meet five people in heaven.  Annie thinks her life has consisted of making one mistake after another. It's up to her five people in Heaven to let her know that her life mattered and she was good.

    Mitch Albom's books bring such peaceful feelings while reading.  I found myself being more appreciative, caring, and loving towards others. I am now reading or re-reading his other books just so I can maintain those feelings for a bit longer.

    The Next Person You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom (23.99*, Harper), recommended by Bookmiser, Roswell, GA.

  • Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller

    Bitter Orange by Claire FullerA tense, psychological novel that fully immerses you in the mind of our narrator Franny. I couldn't get enough of the slowly revealed, atmospheric story or the constant feeling of bated breath. 

    Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller ($25.95*, Tin House Books), recommended by Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • Wrecked by Joe Ide

    Wrecked by Joe IdeJoe Ide is back with the third installment of the IQ series, and this may be Isaiah's diciest situation yet! Isaiah has a crush on Grace, and when she asks him to help her find her mom, who's been missing for ten years, he sees it as a way to her heart. But he finds himself getting crossed up with members of a security firm who are all ex-military and spent time at Abu Ghraib, and they have something to hide. All our favorite characters are back, and Ide's combination of comedy and action packed, Hood detective vibes make for a great time (well, for us, maybe not for him)!

    Wrecked by Joe Ide ($27.00*, Mulholland Books), recommended by Fountain Books, Richmond, VA.

  • Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak

    Bridge of Clay by Markus ZusakA sweeping epic family story that will continue to echo long past the final page, Bridge of Clay will most certainly be the MOST talked about book of the Fall on both the kids and adult lists. No one, once introduced to the achingly sweet, tragic, rough and tumble Dunbar Boys could ever forget them even for a moment. Bridge of Clay is an absolute must-read for those long rainy or snowy autumn weekends.

    Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak ($26.00*, Knopf Books for Young Readers), recommended by The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

  • The Fallen Architect by Charles Belfoure

    TITLEBelfoure has woven another wonderful tale involving an architect, Douglas Layton. And England during the early 20th century is always a fascinating landscape. Douglas is very good at his profession but a horrible accident involving the collapse of a theater that he designed destroys his career and puts him in jail. Upon release he struggles to clear his name. Belfloure introduces a varied cast of characters that are sure to delight. I was captivated by all of the unique personalities that were found in the vaudeville theater of the time and totally supported the efforts of Douglas as he gets involved in solving the mystery of the theater collapse. I look forward to the next architectural tale by this marvelous storyteller. Great story!

    The Fallen Architect by Charles Belfoure ($25.99*, Sourcebooks Landmark), recommended by Page & Palette, Fairhope, AL.

  • The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

    The Dream Daughter by Diane ChamberlainA MUST READ! I stayed up until 2 a.m. 2 nights in a row to finish this. Great characters, very absorbing and unique plot. A woman's quest to give her daughter the world.

    The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain ($27.99*, St. Martin’s Press), recommended by Sunrise Books, High Point, NC.

     A Fall 2018 Okra Pick

  • Lorraine by Ketch Secor, Higgins Bond (Illustrator)

    Lorraine by Ketch Secor, Higgins Bond (Illustrator)This lyrical tale written by Ketch Secor along with the photo-realistic illustrations of Higgins Bond not only entertains young readers, but also encourages them to find their inner strength.

    When a mischievous crow hides all the shiny things in her life (including her pennywhistle), Lorraine is forced to find her inner voice and create music to chase her worries away.

    Higgins Bond's illustrations are the perfect accompaniment for the lyrical tale that is sure to become a favored family read aloud.

    Lorraine by Ketch Secor, Higgins Bond (Illustrator) ($17.99*, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky), recommended by The Reading Rock, Dickson, TN.

     A Fall 2018 Okra Pick

  • The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee

    The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi LeeFelicity wants to be a doctor. Unfortunately it's the 1700s and that kind of thing is JUST not done. Living in Scotland, working at a bakery, she can't get anyone to hear her petition to study. She travels to London to see if she can make any headway there and is met with similar disappointment. However, the opportunity to present herself to a doctor that she idolizes presents itself and she travels to Germany to do just that. What happens next is an adventure that Felicity didn't know she was looking for.

    The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee ($18.99*, Katherine Tegen Books / Harpercollins Children’s Books), recommended by Bookmiser, Inc., Roswell, GA.

  • Virgil Wander by Leif Enger

    Virgil Wander by Leif EngerI absolutely fell in love with Virgil and his community. This is such a delightful book that feels comforting with out any saccharine sweetness and with just the right amount of dry wit.

    Virgil Wander by Leif Enger ($27.00*, Grove Press), recommended by Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd

    Grim Lovelies by Megan ShepherdMegan Shepherd has done it again with Grim Lovelies: a book so perfectly formed one can't imagine that it hasn't been around forever. It's simply a classic. Anouk was enchanted from animal to human by a Witch who holds her captive as a household slave. She and the other "Beasties" will do anything to preserve their humanity. She wishes to be like the "Pretties" (humans) with their fast cars and high fashion she can see from the small window in her Parisian townhouse/prison. But there is SO much more!! Anouk and her other Beastie friends discover that they have more power than they have been led to believe if they can only beat the clock and keep the spell safe forever. This is not a sufficient description for this book. Great diversity of characters! There are also Goblins!!!! Really cool Goblins!!!

    Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd (PRICE*, PUBLISHER), recommended by Fountain Books, Richmond, VA.

  • Hansel & Gretel by Bethan Woollvin

    Hansel & Gretel by Bethan WoollvinLooove this book! After a week like this one, Hansel & Gretel is the cathartic retelling of a classic fairytale I needed. Stylistically rendered in a limited palette, this picture book explores crossed boundaries and women's anger. Illustrator Bethan Woollvin, doesn't tell the story of a bad witch, but a caring and generous witch. A witch whose actions are made understandable by the history of unappreciated labor and abuse left out of other recountings. Reading this book I couldn't help but think that Bethan has slyly done a service to the next generation of Hansels, Gretels, and witches.

    Hansel & Gretel by Bethan Woollvin ($16.95*, Peachtree Publishers), recommended by Firestorm Books & Coffee, Asheville, NC.

  • November Road by Lou Berney

    November Road by Lou Berney Don't make the mistake of considering this a work of historical fiction (it is, set against and intertwined with the assassination of JFK). Don't consider it a suspense novel (it is, with Frank Guidry on the run for his life from a ruthless assassin and an organized crime boss with contacts everywhere, who are pursuing Frank for what he might know or have done in relation to the killing of JFK), and by no means consider it a love story (although, implausibly it becomes one when Frank falls for a young woman traveling with her two small children, and on the run for reasons of her own). This book is most simply a story, and one that is exceptionally well told. Lou Berney has crafted a very compelling tale with very human and relatable characters, each with their own flaws, secrets, dreams and desires. There are ups and downs, twists and turns, but mostly it's the story that grabs hold of you and keeps you turning the pages to the very end. This book was a joy to read.

    November Road by Lou Berney ($26.99*, William Morrow), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

     A Fall 2018 Okra Pick

  • Scribe by Alyson Hagy

    Scribe by Alyson HagyIn a future Appalachia ruined by civil war and contagion, a woman ekes our her living by writing letters for the migrants who pass by her homestead. This haunting fable about the redeeming power of story, of owning one’s story, and of taking the time to tell another’s story with bold-faced honesty and empathy will get under your skin. This is not a pleasant tale, but an important one in the time of "fake news" and "would" and "wouldn’t."

    Scribe by Alyson Hagy ($16.00*, Graywolf Press), recommended by Underground Books, Carrollton, GA.

     A Fall 2018 Okra Pick

  • A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult

    A Spark of Light by Jodi PicoultWhen this ARC came in, I squealed out loud and claimed it for my own before I'd even finished opening the package. Taking place during an active shooter situation in a women's clinic, each chapter is told from a different character's point of view. Every viewpoint is represented so no matter where you stand on women's health care issues, you'll find a connection. Hugh McElroy is the police negotiator that's trying to talk the shooter out of the building and his fear is amplified when he discovers his daughter Wren is one of the hostages.

    Picoult never fails to keep me on the edge of my seat and this might be her best book yet. I had a book hangover for days after I finished this and I'm probably going to read it again immediately. There are some detailed descriptions of medical procedures towards the end but they're fitting with the topics and more educational than graphic. I truly can't recommend this book enough. 

    A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult ($28.99*, Ballantine Books), recommended by Fountain Books, Richmond, VA.

  • Louisiana's Way Home by Kate DiCamillo

    Louisiana's Way Home by Kate DiCamilloThink of Raymie Nightingale and remember the charming ranchero and partner in baton twirling, Louisiana Elefante. Here she is telling the story of her and her grandmother's wild ride from Florida to Georgia as Granny says, to confront the curse. What she ends up confronting is a car out of gas, a granny in need of dental surgery, and hard-hearted Bernice of the Good Night, Sleep Tight motel. In a welcome reprieve from the uncertainty of her plight, Louisiana gives us all we need to know about her new friend Burke Ellis when she observes, "He was the kind of person who, if you asked him for one of something, gave you two instead." A sad story, Louisiana warns us, but she is resourceful and is, in the end, forgiving in a world where she is lucky enough to meet Burke Allen and his loving family and know the rancheros are a state line away.

    Louisiana's Way Home by Kate DiCamillo ($16.99*, Candlewick), recommended by Square Books, Oxford, MS.

     A Fall 2018 Okra Pick

  • White Dancing Elephants by Chaya Bhuvaneswar

    White Dancing Elephants by Chaya BhuvaneswarBhuvaneswar's short stories beautifully share the lives of sixteen different women. White Dancing Elephants explores issues of immigration, religion, and feminism, but what it does best it let you peer inside each woman's soul. This is a brilliant debut. 

    White Dancing Elephants by Chaya Bhuvaneswar (16.95*, Dzanc Books), recommended by Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge by M.T. Anderson, Eugene Yelchin, Eugene Yelchin (Illustrator)

    The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge by M.T. Anderson, Eugene Yelchin, Eugene Yelchin (Illustrator)The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge is a most fantastical Elf and Goblin tale. Both historians in their own right, but the Elf is sent unknowingly to spy on and destroy the Goblin Ruler while the Goblin acts as the host. And neither is aware of what is about to happen. M.T Anderson has done it again!!

    The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge by M.T. Anderson, Eugene Yelchin, Eugene Yelchin (Illustrator) ($24.99*, Candlewick), recommended by Octavia Books, New Orleans, LA.

  • Boomer1 by Daniel Torday

    Boomer1 by Daniel TordayBoomer 1 is an intensely written examination of the lives of millennials vs. baby boomers told in three points of view. Mark Brumfield, a millennial, finds himself unemployed, lonely, and with rising debt in NYC. He, like many others, moves back home. From his parent's basement in suburban Baltimore, he begins a series of videos on the Dark Web as Boomer1, ranting against baby boomers who continue to maintain a hold on the job market, as well as  comfortable success. This incites a movement of acts, ultimately violent, on baby boomers and their institutions. Another perspective is that of Cassie Black. Cassie and Mark were band mates and lovers. She would not marry him and they parted ways. Cassie keeps in touch with him, yet she rises to a highly successful career in media and video. She provides a sense of balance and stability in this story. Julia is Mark's mother. The reader is given interesting insight to her youth as a gifted and hip musician in the 1960's music scene. She now lives, ironically, as a reclusive housewife suffering from major hearing loss in a comfortable lifestyle. She is oblivious to Mark's growing involvement in the movement within the confines of her own home. This novel provides so many thought-provoking angles. Torday's writing is driven by his characters. It is wry, humorous, ironic, and, at the same time, empathetic.

    Boomer1 by Daniel Torday ($27.99*, St. Martin's Press), recommended by The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

  • The Labyrinth of the Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

    The Labyrinth of the Spirits by Carlos Ruiz ZafónZafón is one of my favorite authors of all times. I found his first book, Shadow of the Wind, years ago at an airport and was hooked forever. Although the series, Cemetery of Forgotten Books, is connected by its wonderful characters, each book can be read alone. I have been entranced by the adventures of Daniel Sempere and Fermin and many others that I came to care about. The horrors of the Spanish Civil War loom large over Daniel’s family and those he loves. And Alicia Gris, what a story she has to tell.

    In the midst of this violent time in Spanish history the love that the characters have for each other shines bright. And through it all Zafon shares magnificent tales about books, booksellers and authors and life. He also has such imagination and is a masterful weaver of tales you can’t imagine. This is a must read! Love it, love it!!

    The Labyrinth of the Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafón ($37.50*, Harper), recommended by Page & Palette, Fairhope, AL.

  • I Know You Know by Gilly MacMillan

    I Know You Know by Gilly MacMillanI Know You Know is framed through a series of true crime podcasts produced by Cody Swift, whose two best friends were murdered 20 years earlier, when they were just 10 years old. Cody is convinced the man who was convicted of their murders was not guilty and hopes that time will uncover facts that weren’t discovered then. Coincidentally, as the podcast starts the bones of a long missing man are discovered near the spot that the boys’ murder took place. Detective Fletcher, one of the two detectives who discovered the murdered boys 20 years earlier is given the new case.

    The story switches back and forth from 20 years ago to present and is told mainly from the view point of Cody, Detective Fletcher, and Jessica Paige, the mother of one of the murdered boys. Cody is vigilant in trying to find the truth, even when being threatened and told to stop. Or, does he have an ulterior motive? Jess, who has a new life with a husband and 16 yo daughter, has not told her daughter about the son she had when only 16. She has vowed to be a real mother to Erica and is riddled with guilt because of how neglectful she was as a very young mother. Or, is she riddled with guilt because she actually had something to do with harming her son? Fletcher has always been overly ambitions and has ignored procedure to accomplish what he thought was justice. But, was he a good guy who just wanted to catch the bad guy or was he corrupt?

    Gilly MacMillan gives us a thrilling saga that spans 20 years, a saga you are immediately pulled into. Switching back and forth from the past to the present lets you really get to know the characters and why they developed as they did. You will go from loving them to hating them and back again until you finally find out their true character and what really happened 20 years ago.

    I Know You Know by Gilly MacMillan ($16.99*, William Morrow Paperbacks), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

  • The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar

    The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes GowarThis book was a pure delight from beginning to end. High class escorts, nouveau riche merchants, madams, backstabbings, broken hearts, mended hearts, parties, an angry mob, pining, memaids. What more could you ask from a historical novel taking place in the late 18th century? The characters are so well-rounded I found myself cringing for them in their embarassment and cheering for them in their triumph. The writing is so atmospheric it feels absolutely authentic. I can't remember the last time I enjoyed reading a book as much I enjoyed reading this one. The only way to describe this book is as an absolute romp. 

    The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar ($28.99*, Harper), recommended by Union Ave Books, Knoxville, TN.

  • The Forbidden Door by Dean Koontz

    The Forbidden Door by Dean KoontzDean Koontz rarely disappoints and such is the case in this fourth installment of the Jane Hawk series. In a conspiracy theorists delight, a secret organization has infiltrated all levels of government and is intent on instilling their radical philosophies to control society. Jane Hawk is standing in their way with the proof that could bring them down, but before she can, Jane first needs to find and save her young son before her enemies do. From the first few pages this book is a headlong rush of action and suspense as Jane marshals all of her wits and resources to find her son before they do. Be prepared to lose some sleep on this one, as once the action starts, it never stops, making this book very difficult to put down. This is a great action thriller and will leave you yearning for the next installment of Jane's quest to bring justice to those who would do us wrong.

    The Forbidden Door by Dean Koontz ($28.00*, Bantam), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

  • The Law of Finders Keepers by Sheila Turnage

    The Law of Finders Keepers by Sheila TurnageThe wait is over. Grab this fourth and final book in the Three Times Lucky group (series?) and put it in the hands of every young reader. Desperado Detectives Mo, Dale and Harm race a scheming out-of-towner to locate Blackbeard's buried treasure, but for Mo the real find may be clues to her Upstream Mother. In this novel that celebrates friends, family and home, it is the lovable characters who will live in our hearts for a long time. True treasure.

    The Law of Finders Keepers by Sheila Turnage ($16.99*, Kathy Dawson Books), recommended by Quail Ridge Books , Raleigh, NC.

     A Summer 2018 Okra Pick

  • She Would Be King by Wayétu Moore

    She Would Be King by Wayétu MooreWhat a beautifully written debut novel. Part fairytale, part history, this novel follows three magical characters from disparate parts of the world that converge to fight for the creation of Liberia. The prose is luscious, the characters are fully formed, and the setting is fascinating. 

    She Would Be King by Wayétu Moore ($26.00*, Graywolf Press), recommended by union ave books, knoxville, TN.

  • Crudo by Olivia Laing

    Crudo by Olivia LaingWith any luck, Crudo will be one of most talked about books this year. I sure hope so. Crudo asks questions about narrative proximity and perspective, as it emerges from recent events (Brexit, the 2016 presidential election, the solar eclipse) to articulate what we've felt, what we're feeling. Plus, it's a story. It's a fictionalized memoir by Kathy Acker, not written by Kathy Acker. I found comfort in this book, which is brave to trouble waters of form and subjectivity, and to ask about empathy. 

    Crudo by Olivia Laing ($21.00*, W.W. Norton & Company), recommended by Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • Die Me a River by Denise Swanson

    Die Me a River by Denise SwansonSkye and Wally are back and struggling with being new parents to twins while living out of an RV because of the recent tornado.  Their living situation is cramped and being a mom to twin babies is exhausting for Skye. Things are finally starting to settle down a bit when they meet with their priest about the babies' christening when there's a loud explosion at the nearby bowling alley. Though it was closed at the time, you guessed it: there's a body inside!  This is exactly what Skye needs while on maternity leave and living out of a glorified box.

    There are SO many cozy mysteries out there, but it's rare that I find a series that I really like and want to stick with for 20 books, but this is definitely one of the few. I enjoy this crazy little town and its funny cast of characters. This title is no exception and I look forward to more.

    Die Me a River by Denise Swanson ($7.99*, Sourcebooks Landmark), recommended by Bookmiser, Inc., Roswell, GA.