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!


  • Look for Her by Emily Winslow

    Look for Her by Emily WinslowA beautiful young girl disappears on her way to school. Years later her body is found but the murderer is never caught. Morris Kaufmann is now a cold case inspector and when DNA is finally recovered from the clothes of the young girl he thinks he is well on his way to making a huge name for himself, as the abduction and murder of Annalise Wood received much notoriety at the time of the abduction and years later when the body was found. He seeks help from his old partner, Chloe, and they soon discover that the one thing they thought they knew – that the body was that of Annalise - is now in question. Look For Her is a terrific psychological thriller with many twists and turns. The sensationalization of the abduction and murder affected many people as did the lies told by those close to Annaliese. It is up to Morris and Chloe to figure out who was buried in Annalise’s clothes and who murdered her, and how two unrelated patients of a local psychiatrist, both of whom were obsessed with Annalise, might be involved in the case.

    Look for Her by Emily Winslow ($15.99*, William Morrow & Company), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

  • The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin

    The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery MartinThis book is perfect for fans of medical dramas, romance, and intrigue. Gray’s Anatomy fans, get ready!

    The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin ($26.00*, Berkley Books), recommended by Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC.

  • Sadness Is a White Bird by Moriel Rothman-Zecher

    Sadness Is a White Bird by Moriel Rothman-ZecherThis devastating, beautifully wrought story reminds us that the mentality of Us vs Them can only end badly for both. Make any effort to get to know Them, and We realize that They are just like Us. They are Us with different clothes, accents, hair, skin. I am also reminded that a love story isn’t any good unless it breaks your heart.

    Sadness Is a White Bird by Moriel Rothman-Zecher ($26.00*, Atria Books), recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

    The Woman in White by Wilkie CollinsAnother classic I'd never read! Although The Woman in White received mixed reviews when it was published in the mid-19th century, it was an immediate hit with the reading public. I can see why. For one thing, Wilkie Collins is a master of the cliffhanger: I lost count of how many there were throughout the book, and each was put to excellent use. For another, he draws wonderful characters, making them beautifully (and horribly) specific, and thus, hard to forget. I admit that I had little patience with Laura Fairlee, the book's angelic ingenue, who seems always on the verge of fainting, but I recognize that she is a contrivance of the age in which the novel was written, and the other characters are all so deliciously wrought that it seems unfair to quibble over Laura's "girly" characteristics.

    The Woman in White is not only a mystery but a true thriller, and it was said at the time that Collins had written "something completely new." It's not often that I am moved as I was when reading this novel: in fear, anticipation, sadness, and excitement. Ultimately, Collins is simply a marvelous storyteller. Aspiring writers can learn much about how to engage readers' interests and emotions effectively; readers will find a novel that they can completely and gladly lose themselves in. And isn't that something we all want and need from time to time?

    The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins ($12.99*, MacMillan Collector's Library), recommended by Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe, Asheville, NC.

  • The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani

    The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani A huge best-seller in France, The Perfect Nanny packs a punch that its brief length belies. It addresses issues both topical and enduring through the lens of the relationship of a young professional Parisian couple and the caregiver they hire for their two young children when the mother has a chance to return to work.

    The shock of the novel's chilling first sentence, "The baby is dead," is elegantly balanced by the complex issues Slimani addresses: our expectations of mothers' responsibilities, our connection to the people we employ, our view of immigrants, and the ways in which how see ourselves differs from the realities of who we really are.

    This is a striking, powerful novel that, rightly, leaves us with more questions than answers. It's a book that doesn't let go easily, and as a reader, I was the better for that.

    The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani ($16.00*, Penguin Books), recommended by Malaprop's Bookstore/Café, Asheville, NC.

  • Marabel and the Book of Fate by Tracy Barrett

    Marabel and the Book of Fate by Tracy BarrettMarabel's twin brother, Marco, is the Chosen One, prophesied by the Book of Fate to save the kingdom of Magikos. For Marabel, that means always being in Marco's shadow. But when an evil queen kidnaps Marco on their very important 13th birthday, Marabel knows that she has to rescue her brother if no one else will. With help from her best friend and a talking unicorn, Marabel treks across kingdoms to find her brother, a journey that teaches her about friendship and fate, good and evil, and that sometimes a different perspective can help you save the day. For fans of humorous fairy tale classics like Ella Enchanted, and for anyone who is tired of waiting around for their day in the sun.

    Marabel and the Book of Fate by Tracy Barrett ($16.99*, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

     

     A Winter 2018 Okra Pick

  • Dreaming in Chocolate by Susan Bishop Crispell

    Dreaming in Chocolate Susan Bishop CrispellCharming and hopeful. Once again Susan Bishop Crispell combines culinary wonder and a touch of magic for a delightful book perfect for cozy winter reading!

    Dreaming in Chocolate by Susan Bishop Crispell ($15.99*, St. Martin's Griffin), recommended by Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC.

     A Winter 2018 Okra Pick

  • An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

    An American Marriage by Tayari JonesI fell in love with Tayari Jones's writing when I read Silver Sparrow in 2011, and I've been waiting somewhat impatiently for Tayari's next book, An American Marriage, to be published. It was well worth the wait. An American Marriage is a beautifully crafted story of love, loyalty, and loss in the midst of an undeserved but all too common tragedy. What does it mean to truly love someone? How can marriage vows be kept when something so unexpected comes between spouses? Just read this. Do not read the jacket copy. Do not read a synopsis. Just trust me.

    An American Marriage by Tayari Jones ($26.95*, Algonquin Books), recommended by Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

     A Winter 2018 Okra Pick

  • The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

    The Great Alone by Kristin HannahIn The Great Alone, Kristen Hannah captures both the breathtaking beauty and brutal harshness of Alaska. The Allbright family escapes to the state to hopefully banish inner demons and get a fresh start. They are totally unprepared for the starkness, danger and isolation of their new home. Daughter Leni comes of age in this environment and comes to fall in love with the Alaskan wilderness. This book is another sure winner for Hannah!

    The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah ($28.99*, St. Martin's Press), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

  • Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

    Behind Her Eyes by Sarah PinboroughThis was a big staff favorite last year. Nearly the whole staff read it! Great to be able to sell it in paperback this season. David and Adele seem like a perfect couple but when Louise, David's secretary, starts looking at their relationship harder, secrets begin to emerge. Everything you want in a thriller with a twist at the end. You'll get the hashtag associated with the release #WTFThatEnding! Oh. And it doesn't have "Girl" in the title. Bonus!

    Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough ($15.99*, Flatiron Books), recommended by Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA.

  • Blood and Sand by C. V. Wyk

    Blood and Sand by C. V. Wyk Attia is the last of her warrior people after the Romans conquered her land. Now she's a slave, given to Xanthus, a champion gladiator, as a reward for his victories in the arena. Attia has vowed to fight the Romans until she gains her freedom or dies trying, but she doesn't count on Xanthus, a fellow slave, treating her with such care and gentleness. As the two form a relationship that goes beyond their shared bonds, Attia finds herself fighting for Xanthus as much as herself. This book will appeal to fans of strong, fierce female characters, and though there's no magic, fantasy fans will have much to love in the world of the ancient Romans.

    Blood and Sand by C. V. Wyk ($17.99*, Tor Teen), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

  • Penguins Don't Wear Sweaters! by Marikka Tamura, Daniel Rieley

    Penguins Don't Wear Sweaters! by Marikka Tamura, Daniel RieleyAs adorable as it is a poignant signpost for kids and adults that the taking care of the planet and its inhabitants seems sometimes far-fetched and near impossible, but worthwhile because of imagination and effort.

    Penguins Don't Wear Sweaters! by Marikka Tamura, Daniel Rieley ($16.99*, Nancy Paulsen Books), recommended by Square Books, Oxford, MS.

  • The Power by Naomi Alderman

    The Power by Naomi AldermanMy mind is all kinds of messed up from this book, a very disturbing, thrilling, and thought-provoking meditation on power, gender, religion, and history, plus super morally ambiguous and compelling characters. This one is for all Margaret Atwood fans and anyone who loves a speculative or science fiction story that pushes their buttons and makes them think!

    The Power by Naomi Alderman ($26.00*, Little, Brown and Company), recommended by Hills & Hamlet Bookshop, Chattahoochee Hills, GA.

  • Need to Know by Karen Cleveland

    Need to Know by Karen ClevelandClear your calendar because you won't want to do anything until you finish this book! This was intense without being over the top - fans of espionage thrillers are going to love it!

    Need to Know by Karen Cleveland ($26.00*, Ballantine Books), recommended by Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC.

  • About That Kiss by Jill Shalvis

    About That Kiss by Jill ShalvisThere's definitely something About That Kiss! With her usual flair for romance and laughter, Jill Shalvis serves up a great addition to her Heartbreaker Bay series. Kylie might be more comfortable crafting furniture than kissing sexy ladie's man Joe, but the sparks fly between them when she needs his help on a personal level. Favorite couples from the previous books add levels of warmth and wit, but there's no wrong way to read this series--start at the beginning or dive right into book four--either way you won't regret!

    About That Kiss by Jill Shalvis ($7.99*, Avon Books), recommended by Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA.

  • The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

    The Immortalists by Chloe BenjaminFrom Lemuria Books blog:
    "The year is 1969 in New York City’s Lower East Side and the Gold siblings have heard rumors of a mystical psychic living in their area. This rumored gypsy-lady claims to be able to tell anyone the exact date that they will die. The siblings, all under the age of thirteen, decide to visit the woman together and then–one at a time–learn the exact date of their death. Such is the setup for Chloe Benjamin’s new novel, The Immortalists [...]Each story holds your attention, even though you know the outcome. It’s almost impossible to not become emotionally invested in each sibling. Benjamin has written a rich and thought provoking novel on the nature of believing. How does learning when you will die, even if it could be untrue, determine how you live your life in the present? Is our time of death predetermined, or can we play a part in changing our destiny? This fascinating read leaves you dreaming for long afterward."

    The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin ($26.00*, G.P. Putnam's Sons), recommended by Lemuria Books, Jackson, MS.

  • Three Daughters of Eve by Elif Shafak

    Three Daughters of Eve by Elif ShafakShafak crafts a novel that is highly philosophical and entertaining. There are themes that speak to world politics and feel so right in their timing as well as timeless questions about God and love. A propulsive read that will leave you wanting more of Shafak's skill with language.

    Three Daughters of Eve by Elif Shafak ($27.00*, Bloomsbury USA), recommended by Malaprop's Bookstore/Café, Asheville, NC.

  • Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

    Thunderhead by Neal ShustermanThunderhead is a rare sequel that is even better than its predecessor. Shusterman has an incredible ability to subvert all expectations, and even when I thought I knew what would happen, a new twist would turn my perception on its head! Rowan and Citra both stayed true to their characters, which is difficult to do in a dystopian world. I loved every minute and will be putting this duology into every hand I can!

    Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman ($18.99*, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers), recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Edie Is Ever So Helpful by Sophy Henn

    Edie Is Ever So Helpful by Sophy HennBritish author and illustrator Sophy Henn's charming story of Edie's verve may touch a chord in your household. EDIE is VERY helpful decorating the walls, the dog, and even her sleeping grandpa? Sometimes even Edie knows she needs reining in a bit. This is the perfect book for those "Betty Bunny" and "Fancy Nancy" devotees.

    Edie Is Ever So Helpful by Sophy Henn ($16.99*, Philomel Books), recommended by Square Books, Oxford, MS.

  • Gnomon by Nick Harkaway

    Gnomon by Nick HarkawayThis extreme mind-bender is going to appeal hugely to those that love David Mitchell's puzzle box structure in Cloud Atlas, the paranoid/philosophical reality shifts of Philip K. Dick, the encyclopedic adventurousness of Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon and Baroque Cycle, William Gibson's razor-edged futuristic social dread, and perhaps even more so the epic literary tapestries of Thomas Pynchon, Wallace's Infinite Jest, and DeLillo's Underworld. Harkaway paints a cautionary future, an uncertain present, and a bloody past, all together in one hallucinatory mindscape of incredible storytelling bravura!

    Gnomon by Nick Harkaway ($28.95*, Knopf Publishing Group), recommended by Carmichael's Bookstore, Louisville, KY.

  • The Girls in the Picture by Melanie Benjamin

    The Girls in the Picture by Melanie Benjamin

    Although I'm not a big fan of Hollywood, this story about Mary Pickford and her best friend Frances Marian quickly drew me in and kept me turning the pages. 

    Benjamin knows how to flesh out her characters.  I kept wanting to know more about Mary and Frances. And even Douglas Fairbanks.  Such interesting people. I knew nothing about the events that came crashing down on these silent film stars when the movies went to "talkies." Just never gave it a thought. But how devastating. Such a long fall from grace. 

    How timely this powerful novel is with all the horrific news of the casting couch in this decade. And look how long it's been going on. 

    Written with a loving hand and a knowing mind, Benjamin has once again knocked it out of the park with The Girls in the Picture.

    The Girls in the Picture by Melanie Benjamin ($28.00*, Delacorte Press), recommended by Copperfish Books, Punta Gorda, FL.

  • Mrs. Caliban by Rachel Ingalls

    Mrs. Caliban by Rachel IngallsA reissue, first published in 1983, this is the surprisingly moving story of an unhappy suburban housewife who harbors, and loves, a six-foot-seven frog-faced creature who has just escaped from a research lab.

    None other than John Updike had this to say about the novel: “So deft and austere in its prose, so drolly casual in its fantasy, but opening up into a deep female sadness that makes us stare. An impeccable parable, beautifully written from first paragraph to last."

    Mrs. Caliban by Rachel Ingalls ($13.95*, New Directions Publishing Corporation), recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Fire Sermon by Jamie Quatro

    TITLEI'm presently gobsmacked by and head-over-heels in love with Jamie Quatro's Fire Sermon, a gorgeous, searing first novel that takes on themes of grace, God, desire, truth, and family. Told in an array of tenses and forms that range from poetry to email (and everything in between), Fire Sermon takes great risks stylistically, as well as topically, and leaves nothing stable in its wake. It is unsparing and uncompromising; it is singular; it is innervating and strong; and it is a deeply, wonderfully stirring work of art.

    Fire Sermon is a force. With the power of a sacred text, and the intimacy of a confession, Jamie Quatro lays bare marriage, sex, art, parenthood, everything. I am in awe of this book.

    Fire Sermon by Jamie Quatro ($24.00*, Grove Press), recommended by Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

     A Winter 2018 Okra Pick

  • The Afterlives by Thomas Pierce

    The Afterlives by Thomas PierceJim Byrd is not really obsessed with death, mortality, and ghosts, but after a peculiar health scare, he can't avoid them. From cryonics to psychic mediums, he seems haplessly fated to encounter the full range of mortality cures. Central among them--and deservedly central in this book--is a staircase at the back of an old house where supernatural physics seem to be in control. As a mini-prologue to each chapter, Pierce lays out a montage of events in the life of previous residents and their families. At first these vignettes seem to support a little ghost story. But by the end, they resolve brilliantly into a poignant comment on Jim's misadventures, and what at first was a story concentrated on death and the hereafter satisfyingly becomes a novel about the ephemeral fragility of life itself.

    The Afterlives by Thomas Pierce ($27.00*, Riverhead Books), recommended by Turnrow Books, Greenwood, MS.

     A Winter 2018 Okra Pick

  • Spy of the First Person by Sam Shepard

    Spy of the First Person by Sam ShepardA beautiful, haunting and poetic little book, at times playful and innately tragic. The perfect coda to Shepherd's career.

    Spy of the First Person by Sam Shepard ($18.00*, Knopf Publishing Group), recommended by Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe, Asheville, NC.

  • Alone by Cyn Balog

    Alone by Cyn BalogDespite its title, you should most definitely not read this book while you're alone. Isolated in a rundown, sprawling mansion that was once an elaborate murder mystery retreat, Seda and her family are mostly immune to their temporary home's creepy and eccentric history. But when a group of teenagers come seeking refuge, a scavenger hunt meant to entertain ends up entangling everyone into one horrific night of terror. Is it the house, or something else that is haunting Seda as she tries her best to protect her family and the unwelcome guests from harm? Balog interjects the house's past throughout the novel, and I've never wanted to visit a fictional place more. The perfect book for thrills and chills, with a devious and delightful ending!

    Alone by Cyn Balog ($17.99*, Source Fire), recommended by Fountain Bookshop, Richmond, VA.

  • Everless by Sara Holland

    Everless by Sara HollandFirst in a new series! People pay for everything with their time (days, months, years) which is extracted from their blood and transformed to coins. The royalty lives for centuries while the common folk are taxed and punished with their lifeblood.

    Everless by Sara Holland ($17.99*, Harper Teen), recommended by Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, NC.

  • Robicheaux by James Lee Burke

    Robicheaux by James Lee Burke James Lee Burke for the Nobel Prize! Why not? The award goes to a writer for a body of work that is singular to the psyche and culture of that author's nation. As the U.S. is, arguably, the most violent nation on earth with more guns per capita than the majority of the world combined why not a nod to the man who explores our violent nature better then anyone else? Robicheaux is a perfect example of his skill and grace relating a difficult and often sordid subject. The man can flat out write.

    Robicheaux by James Lee Burke ($27.99*, Simon & Schuster), recommended by McIntyre's Fine Books, Pittsboro, NC.

  • The Pink Hat by Andrew Joyner

    The Pink Hat by Andrew JoynerThe story of a hat that is just a hat until it becomes a symbol of unity across the world.

    The Pink Hat by Andrew Joyner ($17.99*, Schwartz & Wade Books), recommended by Octavia Books, New Orleans, LA.

  • The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed

    The Nowhere Girls by Amy ReedI loved this book!! So important. Please read it and share it with girl and boy teens and the people who care about them. I wish we had heard more from Amber. Maybe in a future book? There aren't many books out there about teens trying to change the culture of their schools and their communities through peaceful activism. The Nowhere Girls tells it like it is. Some of it is clumsy. Sometimes it doesn't work or takes a while to get off the ground. But it is always worth trying. I really did love this book.

    The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed ($17.99*, Simon Pulse), recommended by Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA.

  • The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine by Mark Twain and Philip Stead

    The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine by Mark Twain and Philip SteadWhy is The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine my favorite fiction book this year? In publishing, it is not too rare for a well-known author’s work to be found and published posthumously. However, in the case of this book, Phil and Erin Stead managed to take sixteen pages of notes from a bedtime story that Mark Twain told his daughters, and turn it into a true literary masterpiece over a century later. Phil holds a conversation with the ghost of Mark Twain (which is hilarious) and Erin’s illustrations are airy and lovely, as always. They truly breathe life into the story. So what’s the right age for this book? I’d say somewhere from 6 to 96. There are a handful of times where I walk out of the store, a book under my arm, and race home to read it. Not only did I do that, but I felt somehow as if I was reading a lost masterpiece of children’s literature. There’s only one time I’ve had that experience, and it was with The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine.

    The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine by Mark Twain and Philip Stead ($24.99*, Doubleday Books for Young Readers), recommended by Lemuria Books, Jackson, MS.

  • Rich and Pretty by Rumaan Alam

    Rich and Pretty by Rumaan AlamRich and Pretty reads like a romance between two friends, exploring the ups and downs that occur in any long friendship. Since they were eleven, Lauren and Sarah have been best friends, and now in their thirties, Sarah is getting married and their relationship will evolve once again. Alam gets the little things right, building and surveying their relationship perfect detail by perfect detail, including their lives and secrets separate from one another. By the end, we know these two women as individuals, as a unit, and feel lucky to have seen their friendship in all its iterations and, truly, its beauty.

    Rich and Pretty by Rumaan Alam ($25.99, Ecco Press), recommended by Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas

    The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise WolasThis is the kind of book that changes the reader alongside the change of the characters. I felt the coin drop just as the characters did and marveled at the skill displayed on each page by Wolas. This is a feminist novel through and through--one that fits the time we are in now--but this is all subtext. The story and the characters are why I couldn't bear to put this down until I followed it through to the end.

    The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas ($27.99*, Flatiron Books), recommended by Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe, Asheville, NC.

  • Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

    Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica TownsendSuch a wonderful book. For a few days after I finished it, I actually missed reading it - where's my daily dose of Morrigan Crow? I hear that the author has a 9 book cycle planned, and my most fervent wish is that by the time it's over, it would be just as famous as Harry potter.

    Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend ($17.99*, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers), recommended by Bookmiser, Roswell, GA.

  • Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills

    Foolish Hearts by Emma MillsClaudia tends to keep to herself at school, only coming out of her shell at home with her best -- pretty much only -- friend. When a series of events conspire to throw Claudia together with the resident mean girl, Iris, they end up having to participate in the school's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. It's not all bad, though, as Claudia and Iris start to become friends, and a cute boy shows interest in Claudia. But Claudia has to learn to navigate her relationships -- new and old, with siblings, friends, and romantic interests -- which is not as easy as it seems like it should be. Claudia's extreme snark had me laughing out loud, and the poignancy of her friendships had me wiping away a stray tear or two. Emma Mills remains one of my favorite contemporary authors.

    Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills ($17.99*, Henry Holt & Company), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

  • The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill

    The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’NeillTwo orphans with artistic souls survive poverty in Montreal during the Great Depression. Separated as teenagers, they spiral into a dark underworld but are eventually reunited to revisit a shared childhood dream. I was enchanted by this novel from the moment I started it. O’Neill’s writing is whimsical and haunting — the most cinematic reading experience I’ve had in a long while.

    The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill ($27.00*, Riverhead Books), recommended by Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • The Twenty Days of Turin by Giorgio De Maria

    The Twenty Days of Turin by Giorgio De MariaThis haunting and surreal novel, though a cult favorite in its native Italy, has been generally unknown to American readers since its publication in 1977. Written at a time of rampant right- and left-wing terrorism, the story follows an investigator as he tries to reconstruct a twenty-day period of mass insomnia in which the inflicted are attacked and murdered by giant, unseen entities. Far too much satire and subtext to mention here. Presented in English for the first time by translator Roman Glazov.

    The Twenty Days of Turin by Giorgio De Maria ($24.95*, Liveright Publishing Corporation), recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Chasing Christmas Eve by Jill Shalvis

    Chasing Christmas Eve: A Heartbreaker Bay Novel by Jill ShalvisIt's never too soon for a Christmas romance, and Shalvis is my favorite author for sexy romance and holiday magic. I love the characters of Heartbreaker Bay, and YA author Colbie was a perfect fit for the sexy and nerdy Spence. From their first meet cute to their first...well, you know, I was entranced with their story. Throw in a sassy cat, meddling friends, and crazy family members, and you have a book that's better than any Hallmark Christmas movie ever!

    Chasing Christmas Eve: A Heartbreaker Bay Novel by Jill Shalvis ($7.99*, Avon Books), recommended by Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA.

  • Fresh Complaint: Stories by Jeffrey Eugenides

    Fresh Complaint: Stories by Jeffrey EugenidesAn excerpt from Lemuria Books' blog: I recently told someone that Fresh Complaint, Jeffery Eugenides’ new collection of short stories, is so well-written I could cry. I lied.

    I had already cried, specifically while sitting by my apartment’s swimming pool and reading the story “Early Music.” I don’t think anyone saw, but if they had, I would have told them the truth–that one of my favorite authors has reminded me how much I love books, and that I am not sure I will ever be so passionate about anything else.

    [...] If you crave intimacy with a character the way I do, you will not get enough of his Eugenides’ writing. On the other hand, the amount of detail is intimidating. People shy away from his novels because they think they are too long, or too detailed, or too boring (none of which are true). I was a bit apprehensive that his short stories wouldn’t incorporate the trademark detail and introspection. But this is exactly why his short stories work so well. In just a few pages, Eugenides is able to capture a person, their entire life, and boil it down to the important scenarios. If you have been intimidated by the sheer length of Middlesex, or bored by the idea of The Marriage Plot, or put-off by the subject of The Virgin Suicides, this is the collection for you. It’s time to stop being afraid and pick up Fresh Complaint.

    Fresh Complaint: Stories by Jeffrey Eugenides ($27.00*, Farrar Straus Giroux), recommended by Lemuria Books, Jacksonville, MS.

  • Day In, Day Out by Hector Aguilar Camin

    Day In, Day Out by Hector Aguilar CaminA fast-paced little noir that constantly circles around the conventions of its genre (sex, drugs, murder), and instead manages to become more of a meditation on hopeless desire than a pure, simple crime novel.

    Day In, Day Out by Hector Aguilar Camin ($14.95*, Schaffner Press), recommended by Malaprop's Bookstore/Café, Asheville, NC.

  • Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich

    Future Home of the Living God by Louise ErdrichA young, unmarried pregnant woman. Sound familiar? I started the year reading about one in Kevin Wilson's Perfect Little World. But the main character in Louise Erdrich's new dystopian novel Future Home of the Living God, Cedar Hawk Songwriter, faces completely different obstacles for her and her unborn child. A descendant of Ojibwe Indians and adopted by a liberal white couple, Songwriter's world is one where evolution has stopped and the days are full of uncertainty and strange, threatening people and creatures. As she wrestles with what the future holds, she juggles relationships with the father of her child, her birth family and her adoptive family. Food for thought about what the world might look like in the not-too-distant future.

    Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich ($28.99*, Harper), recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe

    The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio IturbeFrom a young reader at Page 158 Books: "It is one of the best books I have read for some time. This book spoke to me in so many different ways: my emotions, my knowledge of history, my passion for books, and my heart."

    The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe, Lilit Thwaites (Translator), ($19.99*, Henroy Holt & Company), recommended by Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, NC.

  • The Ultimatum by Karen Robards

    The Ultimatum by Karen RobardsBook one in The Guardian series by Karen Robards, The Ultimatum (MIRA $26.99), kept me on the edge of my seat. It was funny and witty, which aren't always the same thing. It was badass while leaving room for emotions, was detailed without boring me, and Bianca St. Ives was fierce, sexy, smart, and alluring. It has the richest of backstories which is developed slowly over the course of this fast-paced thriller, including a shocking reveal at the end, of course, meaning I am counting down the days until book two. This is the first Karen Robards I've ever read and I am proud to admit I am a new KR/Bianca St. Ives convert.

    The Ultimatum by Karen Robards ($26.99*, Mira Books), recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

    The End We Start From by Megan HunterThe great flood has come to London. Through short, poetic paragraphs we see flashes of the chaotic conditions and the different shades of insanity it breeds, but the world-building of the apocalyptic flood and its aftermath is not the point. Instead it is the narrator's relationship with her newly born son - the primal centrality of motherhood and the demands it makes on survival - even as the fallout from the disaster surrounds them. This is a book you will read in a sitting but will stay on your mind for days afterward.

    The End We Start From by Megan Hunter ($22.00*, Grove Press), recommended by Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • Gertie Milk and the Keeper of Lost Things by Simon Van Booy

    Gertie Milk and the Keeper of Lost Things by Simon Ban VooyStarts off fast and never losses pace! Really funny, action-packed, and educational! Really cool cover-- great representation of the book.

    Gertie Milk and the Keeper of Lost Things by Simon Van Booy ($16.99*, Razorbill), recommended by Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, NC.

  • Waylon! Even More Awesome by Sara Pennypacker, Marla Frazee

    Waylon! Even More Awesome by Sara Pennypacker, Marla Frazee "I love that it has dogs!," says a Page 158 customer. "A heart-warming dog story that teaches a gentle lesson about friendship and the meaning of cooperation," says Page 158 staff.

    Waylon! Even More Awesome by Sara Pennypacker, Marla Frazee ($15.99*, Disney-Hyperion), recommended by Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, NC.

  • Glass Houses by Louise Penny

    Glass House by Louise PennyThis is the thirteenth Chief Inspector Gamache mystery, but it’s the first one I’ve read—proving that you can start anywhere in this series and throughly enjoy it. There’s a reason this series, set in Montreal and the tiny village of Three Pines, continues to grow in popularity with each book.

    Glass Houses by Louise Penny ($28.99*, recommended by Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • All The Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

    All The Crooked Saints by Maggie StiefvaterBizarre, original, and entertaining! As per usual with Stiefvater's books, it was magical and full of complex characters.

    All The Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater ($18.99*, Scholastic Press), recommended by Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, NC.

  • The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

    The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman You don't have to have read Practical Magic to enjoy Hoffman's prequel, although I imagine it would add to the experience. I am not a fan of magical realism or fantasy. But, I decided to read this timely novel this week; Halloween week. And it worked for me. What's more Halloween-like than a story about a family of witches? Well, nothing. Three siblings live in NYC and are visited by their cousin who is also a witch. There's a curse on the Owen's family. Any man who falls in love with them is doomed. And they know this. But they decide to test the waters... So to speak.

    The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman ($27.00*, Simon & Schuster), recommended by Copperfish Books, Punta Gorda, FL.

  • The Doll's Alphabet by Camilla Grudova

    The Doll's Alphabet by Camilla GrudovaAt once illuminating and completely unsettling, The Doll's Alphabet is an incredible collection featuring stories that almost feel as if they exist in a shared world in the not-too-distant future. These are stories about obsessions and perceptions, imbalances of privilege, the absorbing and painful nature of motherhood, and spooky mundanities like tinned meats, costumes, and sewing machines. Full of memorable moments, fascinating vivid details, and grotesque facts of the body, The Doll's Alphabet is an intelligent exploration of identity, femininity, and attraction.

    The Doll's Alphabet by Camilla Grudova ($15.95*, Coffee House Press), recommended by Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • I Am Bat by Morag Hood

    I Am Bat by Morag HoodJust in time for the spookiest season, this book is hilarious, snarky, and very cute! I might be a little biased since I have this tremendous love of bats, but I dare you to read it without cracking up. Seriously, you won't be able to resist. I showed it to my boss at the end of a very difficult day and I watched the weight lift off her shoulders in front of me. You will be a hit at story time. The kids will call for this one again and again (or at least I will!).

    I Am Bat by Morag Hood ($17.99*, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky), recommended by Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA.

  • Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke

    Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica LockeHooray! I can whole-heartedly recommend this mystery/thriller about a black Texas Ranger working a suspicious case in East Texas. The book takes on many big American problems, so it is both timely and wildly entertaining.

    Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke ($26.00, Mulholland Books), recommended by Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

    Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste NgFrom Lemuria Books’ blog: "The strength of Ng’s work is her ability to compose a kind of literary music out of the most ordinary things in ordinary life, from Mrs. Richardson’s first encounter with Mia and Pearl to the opening paragraph with Richardson home set ablaze. These aren’t just mere occurrences but intricately woven commentaries on the romanticization of motherhood and the false permanence of the American Dream. Ng presents all this with balanced weight of lyricism, wit, and a dash of melancholy, making for a recipe that is just right. While the differing perspectives were sometimes overcrowded, this gem is a compelling examination of mothers’ relationships with their children, their relationships with other mothers, and their vast cultural and class experiences.” Read more...

    Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng ($27.00*, Penguin Press), recommended by Lemuria Books, Jackson, MS.

  • The Last Ballad by Wiley Cash

    The Last Ballad by Wiley CashIn Wiley Cash's new novel, The Last Ballad, it is 1929 and the labor movement is trying to organize in North Carolina. Somehow Ella May finds the courage and resolve to fight to make things better for her children and the people who share her life of poverty and powerlessness. Cash captures the sounds and draws the pictures so beautifully that these people and their stories become real. It is heartbreaking to read what will push men and women to risk their lives for a common good but it is inspiring and gives us hope.

    The Last Ballad by Wiley Cash ($26.99*, William Morrow), recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

     A Fall 2017 Okra Pick

  • Her Body and Other Parties: Stories by Carmen Maria Machado

    Her Body and Other Parties: Stories by Carmen Maria MachadoIt's difficult to put into just a few sentences everything that Her Body and Other Parties is. Rhythmic and hypnotic, yet unexpected and treacherous. These fearless, smart, reality-warping, and creepy as hell stories will suck you in and not let go until you have to force yourself to come up for air. Highly recommend!

    Her Body and Other Parties: Stories by Carmen Maria Machado ($16.00*, Graywolf), recommended by Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • Bull Mountain by Brian Panowich

    Bull Mountain by Brian PanowichThis reads like The Godfather if it took place in the mountains of Northern Georgia. An ATF agent with a chip on his shoulder tries to take down a crime family that has been operating for generations. Moonshiners, gun fights and a sheriff who has to decide between family or the law. Goes well with a Waylon Jennings record and a glass of bourbon.

    Bull Mountain by Brian Panowich ($16.00*, G.P. Putnam's Sons), recommended by Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA.

     A 2016 Southern Book Prize Winner

  • Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert

    Little & Lion by Brandy ColbertAfter Pointe (um, hello, go read that if you haven’t), I waited and waited and waited for Brandy Colbert’s next novel. I was not disappointed. Tackling the always timely topics of sexuality, mental health, and the beautifully, murky path that we walk when we love someone. Perfect for fans of Julie Murphy and Nina LaCour.

    Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert ($17.99*, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers), recommended by Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel

    They All Saw a Cat by Brendan WenzelA beautifully illustrated, funny, and imaginative picture book, They All Saw A Cat shares visions of a cat from a diversity of perspectives, each of which sees it slightly differently. This book creates a natural starting point to consider with your child why such a variety of beliefs and opinions exist among people – which makes it a timely book, too.

    They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel ($16.99*, Chronicle Books), recommended by Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • Genuine Fraud by E. Lockheart

    Genuine Fraud by E. LockheartFrom Lemuria Books' blog: "Lockhart introduces a new and captivating suspense and psychological horror novel with Genuine Fraud. The book starts off with chapter 18, in June 2017. Hint: you should pay attention to the dates. The story is mainly told in flashbacks over the course of the past few years. The story is about Imogen and Jule and their friendship and time together. It’s a story of those who lack morals. It is a story about those that lack ambition and others who will do whatever it takes to get what they want. It’s a story about liars and cheaters (in more ways than one). It’s about accidents and premeditation and telling more would give too much away.”

    Genuine Fraud by E. Lockheart ($18.99*, Delacorte), recommended by Lemuria Books, Jackson, MS.

  • See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

    See What I Have Done by Sarah SchmidtLizzie Borden took an axe... or did she? Sarah Schmidt takes us inside the Borden household before and after the murders of Andrew and Abby Borden. Schmidt's writing is so good that you can feel the pressure building in the house, taste the sweetness of the pears and sharpness of tainted mutton on the tips of tongues, imagine the smell as the hot summer days weighs heavily, suffocatingly on the inhabitants of the Borden home. Did Lizzie simply snap, did Bridget the maid hack her way to new employment, did Lizzie's uncle intervene to protect his nieces, or was it a stranger? Prepare for sharp-edged read!

    See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt ($26.00*, Atlantic Monthly Press), recommended by Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA.

  • An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine

    An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih AlameddineOn the first page, a 72-year-old woman in Beirut starts to tell us how she accidentally shampooed her hair blue. I fell in love with her and the book soon after. Aaliya tells us about her family, her city, and her beloved books in one of the most irresistible voices in modern literature.

    An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine ($16.00, Grove Press), recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

    Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca ZappiaIf you have ever had a meaningful internet friendship or been a part of a huge fandom, this book is for you. Eliza is the anonymous author of one of the biggest webcomics ever and I loved being pulled into her many worlds. This book is pitch-perfect, romantically perfect, and perfect perfect. Did I mention I think it’s perfect?

    Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia ($17.99*, Greenwillow Books), recommended by Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • Forest Dark by Nicole Krauss

    Forest Dark by Nicole KraussRemarkable. I remember reading W.G. Sebald for the first time and feeling that I was in the headspace, for a moment, of some type of uber-thinker. What an amazing montage she's created here: of theology and politics and the ancient and the ever-present. And what's more, it gets you right where you live. We've all yearned; we all yearn--right up until the end. That's what she's written: that story. I'd like to congratulate her but I'm a little scared of her--what a mind to have inside one's head.

    Forest Dark by Nicole Krauss ($27.99, Harper), recommended by Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • The Western Star by Craig Johnson

    The Western Star by Craig JohnsonMy weak spots are trains, westerns and mysteries, so I was compelled to pick up the new Longmire mystery by Craig Johnson. I flipped through the first few pages and tried to feign disinterest--as a brooding Western lawman would do--but I failed spectacularly and found myself riding alongside Sheriff Walt Longmire, back to his early days as a Wyoming deputy. His efforts to stay alive then serve as the backdrop for his current challenge to confront his darkest enemy. The gun- and book-toting Longmire, and the cast of unique characters on the Western Star kept me guessing as I rode the rails with them for miles through the Wyoming wilderness.

    The Western Star by Craig Johnson ($28.00*, Viking), recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • If the Creek Don’t Rise by Leah Weiss

    If the Creek Don’t Rise by Leah WeissI was hooked at the line, “He’s gonna be sorry he ever messed with me and Loretta Lynn.” Leah Weiss’s debut goes right for the heartstrings with a brutal portrayal of the difficult life in small town Appalachia. Protagonist Sadie Blue is pregnant, and two weeks into her marriage to Roy Tupkin, realizes it was all a mistake. Armed with Loretta Lynn and a new friend in town, she begins to fight for a way out. Told from the perspective of a number of townsfolk, the reader develops a more thorough understanding of all the forces and characters at play in the community. Plus, it has a killer ending!

    If the Creek Don’t Rise by Leah Weiss ($15.99*, Sourcebooks Landmark), recommended by Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA.

    A Summer 2017 Okra Pick!

  • My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent

    My Absolute Darling by Gabriel TallentMy Absolute Darling is a brand new debut novel that you will be hearing a lot about. Abbe and I found it remarkable and compelling, as have a host of other readers, while some have been repulsed by it. A disturbing, authentic, and suspenseful account of the worst and best that can coincide in the world, My Absolute Darling contains gorgeous descriptions of the natural world of the California coast, original and complex characters, and encounters with intimate, inescapable evil. Fourteen-year-old Turtle Alveston is the hero and she and her father are individuals you will not be able to get out of your mind.

    My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent ($27.00*, Riverhead Books), recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • The Salt Line by Holly Goddard Jones

    The Salt Line by Holly GoddardI was not planning on getting addicted to a novel, but after reading the first scene of The Salt Line I was hopelessly riveted. Let me say that Holly Goddard Jones' take on post-apocalyptic fiction involves an America ravaged by a particularly vicious species of tick, so this book might get you feeling phantom itches. I loved The Salt Line for its combination of suspense, social commentary, and a well-drawn cast of characters that had me constantly questioning my loyalties. Pick up this top-notch literary thriller and pack the bug spray-- not that it will save you.

    The Salt Line by Holly Goddard, ($2600*, GP Putnam's Sons), recommended by Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

    A Summer 2017 Okra Pick!

  • American Girls by Alison Umminger

    American Girls by Alison UmmingerWhen fifteen-year-old Anna can’t stand her home life, she steals her stepmother’s credit card and runs away to Los Angeles to stay with her aspiring actress half-sister and ends up getting hired to research the Manson girls, a real group of murderous young women in the 1960s, for an indie film. What Anna ends up finding isn’t quite refuge; instead, it’s a clear look at herself and a realization about the dark heart of American girldom (as well as a little romance).

    American Girls by Alison Umminger ($9.99*, Flatiron Books), recommended by Hills & Hamlets Bookshop, Chattahoochee Hills, GA.

  • The Gentleman by Forrest Leo

    The Gentleman by Forrest LeoSo our main character accidentally sells his wife to the Devil. Like ya do. Originally, he believed he hated his newlywed. But now that she is gone, he is bereft beyond all reckoning and assembles a band of misfits as incompetent as himself to journey to the Underworld to get her back. A refreshing romp at once familiar and strange. Readers will love the bumbling main character and his histrionics.

    Recommended for readers of Christopher Moore's historical novels and lovers of Monty Python.

    The Gentleman by Forrest Leo ($16.00*, Penguin Books), recommended by Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA.

  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

    Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail HoneymanAs I began Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, a novel by Gail Honeyman, I thought I'd encountered a cute little story about a quirky young woman whose unfiltered observations of, and responses to, people in her world were laugh-out-loud funny. But my illusions faded quickly. I learned that Eleanor's social ineptness, and a physical deformity, led to her isolation and profound loneliness. And behind the physical scar were the emotional scars inflicted by an abusive mother. This is a sober book but it's not depressing. Eleanor copes with her situation with the help of another quirky soul and professional counseling. Honeyman does a masterful job of using wit and first person narrative to create a powerful story of innocence, in spite of pain, and the possibility of recovery.

    Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman ($26.00*, Pamela Dorman Books), recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Olivia the Spy by Ian Falconer

    Olivia the Spy by Ian FalconerIan Falconer brings Olivia alive once again in this hilarious new book. Lovers of the classic Olivia books or those who have not even met Olivia yet will thoroughly enjoy Olivia the Spy. Falconer’s comical illustrations are very funny, a combination of drawings, painting and photos that bring even more life to his stories. They are quirky and will brighten anyone’s day. Read more at Lemuria Books blog.

    Olivia the Spy by Ian Falconer ($17.99, Atheneum Books), recommended by Lemuria Books, Jackson, MS.

  • Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

    Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn WardIn Parnassus Books’ blog Musing: a laid-back lit journal, several popular authors wrote about the books they recommend for fall. Novelist Caroline Leavitt (Cruel Beautiful World) recommends Summer 2017 Okra Pick Sing, Unburied, Sing by National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward (publishing September).

    Leavitt writes: "This is Ward’s first novel since Salvage the Bones, which I reread so many times, I can practically recite it. I knew I would love this novel about an African-American boy, his younger sister, and his drug addicted mom, who go on a perilous road trip to meet the kids’ white father as he’s released from prison. This one promises to be a punch to the heart, a sensation I like in my books.” Discover more great reads for fall.

    Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward ($26.00*, Scribner Book Company), recommended by Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

    A Summer 2017 Okra Pick!

  • Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore

    Reincarnation Blues by Michael PooreA romp through space, time, love and ten thousand lives with lost soul Milo and his girlfriend Suzie (aka Death). Reminiscent of Tom Robbins' Jitterbug Perfume, as well as Christopher Moore's work with a touch of Douglas Adams. Enjoyable and thoughtful.

    Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore ($27.00*, Del Rey Books), recommended by Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne M. Valente; Annie Wu (Illustrator)

     The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne M. Valente; Annie Wu (Illustrator) Told in vignettes from the perspectives of women who loved a superhero (and lost their lives because of it), The Refrigerator Monologues, written by Catherynne M. Valente and illustrated by Annie Wu, brings to light the sexism and injustice often portrayed in comic book culture. Many of the stories are clear homages to popular characters, finally giving them a voice previously stifled by their abruptly ended story lines. The voices were all so unique and stunning, you can barely tell they're written by the same author.

    The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne M. Valente; Annie Wu (Illustrator) ($19.99*, recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin

    Young Jane Young by Gabrielle ZevinLike many other readers, I quickly got swept up in Gabrielle Zevin's The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry, and I was similarly helpless against Young Jane Young's charms. Zevin's talent is to take characters we think we know--the smitten intern, the wife who stays with her cheating husband--and to give them wholly original life. This book will have you marveling at Zevin's ingenuity and sharp ear as you compulsively turn the pages.

    Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin ($26.95*, Algonquin Books), recommended by Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

    A Summer 2017 Okra Pick!

  • Disappearance at Devil's Rock by Paul Tremblay

    Disappearance at Devil's Rock by Paul Tremblay A teenager disappears into the woods one night under mysterious-- and spooky-- circumstances, but his mother believes there's something more sinister going on. Revolving around an old legend and a fantastic set piece-- a giant split rock in the woods known as Devil's Rock-- Paul Tremblay's latest novel does an excellent job building the mystery before it hits you with the true horror of what happened that night. Also recommended: A Head Full of Ghosts, Tremblay's previous scary novel!

    Disappearance at Devil's Rock by Paul Tremblay ($14.99*, William Morrow & Company), recommended by Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • American Housewife: Stories by Helen Ellis

    American Housewife: Stories by Helen EllisSmart, concise, honest, and a bit creepy, this is definitely the most entertaining collection of short stories I have ever read. Each story appears to be about normal, stay-at-home women. They are perfectly polite and rather lovely. But as the story progresses, the strange details and heightened emotions escalate until you suddenly find yourself somewhere you never imagined the story could go. American Housewife is hilarious and satirical.

    It’s more than a little unsettling, and always surprising. And yet beneath the manicured nails, cherry-red lipstick, and unshakable poise, there is a wealth of honest emotion. These women go extreme lengths to protect themselves and the things they value. They choose people to love, and care for them without question. They know exactly who they are and how they want their lives to be. It is rare to find a collection of stories that celebrates strong, feminine characters while embracing the ridiculousness that is being an American woman.
    Read more at Lemuria Books' blog...

    American Housewife: Stories by Helen Ellis ($24.00*, Doubleday Books), recommended by Lemuria Books, Jackson, MS.

  • My Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Emil Ferris

    My Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Emil FerrisI've picked up a few graphic novels before, but never been hooked. I thought my brain just wasn't wired for the format. My Favorite Thing Is Monsters blew my mind. I'm usually a slow reader, but I could not put this book down, burned through its gorgeous, dark, unruly pages, and was crushed when it was over. Can't wait for part two. The profound emotional sophistication combined with the eccentric pulp horror art creates a unique and deeply satisfying reading experience.

    My Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Emil Ferris ($39.99*, Fantagraphics Books), recommended by Hills & Hamlets Bookshop, Chattahoochee Hills, GA .

  • Colette's Lost Pet by Isabelle Arsenault

    Colette's Lost Pet by Isabelle ArsenaultHas your wishful thinking or powerful imagination ever turned into a not-so-small fib? That's what happens to Colette as she ventures into her new neighborhood to make friends. Luckily almost everyone loves a good story, and this one uses an inventive color style not often seen in picture books.

    Colette's Lost Pet by Isabelle Arsenault ($17.99*, Random House Books for Young Readers), recommended by Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

    The Martian Chronicles by Ray BradburyEveryone’s read Fahrenheit 451, but really everyone should read The Martian Chronicles. It is quite frankly one of the most apt and lovely examples of science fiction acting as an observation of timeless issues within the human condition. There are three sections (past, present, and future) to this collection, which you can read as a progressive novel or as short stories, and Bradbury’s tone changes throughout so you get to experience all of the different languaging that he is famous for.

    The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury ($7.99, Spectra), recommended by Hills & Hamlets Bookshop, Chattahoochee Hills, GA .

  • The Hidden Light of Northern Fires by Daren Wang

    The Hidden Light of Northern Fires by Daren WangIn The Hidden Light of Northern Fires, a town on the Underground Railroad secedes from the Union after it becomes fractured by the politics of the American Civil War. As a huge geek on the subject, I’m often skeptical of historical fiction relating to it. While Wang’s tale benefits from being based on truth, that is a moot point. His well-developed, very real characters and masterful writing are all that’s needed for an incredible debut. Though a novel of the home front, it is nonetheless a war novel focusing on how conflict brings out the best and worst in people. It is one of the best works of historical fiction on the Civil War that I’ve ever read, and perhaps even that exists.

    The Hidden Light of Northern Fires by Daren Wang ($26.99*, Thomas Dunne Books), recommended by Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA.

    A Summer 2017 Okra Pick | A September IndieNext Pick

  • Dune by Frank Herbert

    Dune by Frank HerbertSet in the distant future amidst a feudal interstellar society in which noble houses, in control of individual planets, owe allegiance to the Padishah Emperor, Dune tells the story of young Paul Atreides, whose noble family accepts the stewardship of the desert planet Arrakis. As this planet is the only source of the “spice” melange, the most important and valuable substance in the universe, control of Arrakis is a coveted--and dangerous--undertaking. The story explores the multi-layered interactions of politics, religion, ecology, technology, and human emotion, as the forces of the empire confront each other in a struggle for the control of Arrakis and its “spice.”

    Dune by Frank Herbert ($10.99, Ace Books), recommended by Hills & Hamlets Bookshop, Chattahoochee Hills, GA.

  • You May Already Be a Winner by Ann Dee Ellis

    You May Already Be a Winner by Ann Dee EllisOlivia's life is complicated. Her father has left and her mother is struggling to support their family. So Olivia steps up by taking care of herself and little sister Berkley. They rely on their neighbors in Sunny Pines Trailer Park and create their own adventures with Olivia's whimsical imagination, which may or may not get them into trouble sometimes...Ann Dee Ellis hits a perfect tween sweet spot. She so easily places a reader directly into the twelve-year-old brain. All of Olivia's hopes, fears, and silly flights of fancy are perfectly narrated - realistic and completely endearing at the same time.

    You May Already Be a Winner by Ann Dee Ellis ($16.99*, Dial Books), recommended by Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg

    All Grown Up by Jami AttenbergIn the hands of an average author, a novel like All Grown Up, could be summarized in its first chapter. But Jami Attenberg is no average author. In this story about a 39-year-old single, childfree woman who defies convention, she utilizes each chapter to flesh out our characters from one-dimensional stereotypes into fully realized characters, emphasizing depth and richness that makes them feel so real. Perfect testament to the idea that one cannot truly know everything about anybody in one chapter.

    All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg ($25.00*, Houghton Mifflin), recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Brutal Silence by Margaret Dardess

    Brutal Silence by Margaret DardessMargaret Dardess skillfully brings to life one of the most terrifying realities of our time while blending it inside a fantastic thriller. The characters were drawn expertly by being relatable, flawed, and and unexpectedly evil. Our main character is a a strong intelligent woman who was kidnapped while on vacation in Mexico and forced in a life of sex trafficking. She is deftly able to escape, returning home to her country club upbringing and job leading a clinic. This experience changes her dramatically and she puts up a valiant fight when she becomes a target.

    The pace of the book made it a highly recommended page turner. I love learning about different topics while being led through a fast-paced mystery and this doesn't disappoint.

    Brutal Silence by Margaret Dardess ($13.95*), recommended by Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, NC.

  • Over the Plain Houses by Julia Franks

    Over the Plain Houses by Julia FranksI loved Irenie from the moment I met her. The raw honesty of Irenie’s need to own her own body and soul nearly broke me at times. It’s a story of need and courage. Tradition and prejudices. Fear and power and the drive to overcome.

    Julia’s language and descriptions are vivid and beyond compare. At the first reading, I turned pages through from beginning to end without stopping. On the second, I began to underline the language, the poetry on every page.

    From 1939 to present we have “come along way, baby.” Yet, until every woman has the opportunity to be herself without man or government having control over her, we haven’t come far enough. Irenie’s soul demanded to be born. We would do well to listen to ourselves.

    I can’t say enough about Julia Frank’s writing style and use of prose. It’s everything fiction should be. Every word a sword, a sunburst, a cool mountain cave. And as a storyteller? She’s a moonspinner.

    Over the Plain Houses by Julia Franks ($26.00*, Hub City Press), recommended by FoxTale Book Shoppe, Atlanta, GA.

     Winner of the 2017 Southern Book Prize: Fiction, Literary

  • You Should Have Left. by Daniel Kehlman

    You Should Have Left by Daniel KehlmanDaniel Kehlmann's novella sent shivers down my spine and kept me asking, "Just what is happening here?" A screenwriter tries to break through writer's block during a vacation with his family at a mountain house in Germany, but soon finds himself confronting sinister and physics-defying phenomena. I picked this up looking for a quick and entertaining read, but the story grabbed my wits and tossed them into its skewed events--and compelled me to read it again. A deliciously frightening tale.

    You Should Have Left. by Daniel Kehlman ($18.00*, Pantheon Books), recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Less by Andrew Sean Greer

    Less by Andrew Sean GreerIn Andrew Sean Greer's new novel, Less, novelist Arthur Less, on the brink of turning 50, runs away from an ex-boyfriend's wedding to go on a world tour. "Despite all his mishaps, missteps, misunderstandings, and mistakes, Less is, above all, a love story." The voice is charming, the characters are hilarious and delightful, and you cheer for Less through this entire anxiety-ridden trek across the globe to find himself and what will make him truly happy. A perfect feel-good literary beach read for 2017!

    Less by Andrew Sean Greer ($26.00*, Lee Boudreaux Books), recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy

    The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati RoyRecently I sat in an Adirondack chair in the North Carolina mountains, and was transported to a graveyard in India through Arundhati Roy's haunting new novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness . Each of the main characters―Anjum, a transgender woman; Tilottama, a woman involved with many men but in love with only one; and Musa, the man with whom she is obsessed―were complex and fascinating people. It has been many years since the publication of Roy's last novel, The God of Small Things. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness will sustain us while we wait for more of her engaging characters and beautiful writing.

    The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy ($28.95, Knopf), recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

    The Light We Lost by Jill SantopoloIf you loved Me Before You, you will devour this well crafted story with a clever twist.

    The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo ($25.00*, G.P. Putnam’s Sons), recommended by The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

  • Kiss Carlo by Adriana Trigiani

    Kiss Carlo by Adriana TrigianiReading Kiss Carlo is like enjoying a big Italian dinner with your extended family. You will come to love Nicky Castone,, a cab driver who is not sure if he is really pursuing his life's passion. Calla Borelli works in her father's theater but is worried that she will not be able to hold on to what will be his greatest legacy. Mix into this an Italian ambassador's visit to the US and a family's secrets and you have the ingredients for a novel that is hard to put down. When it is over, you will be begging the author for more about this wonderful and lovable family.

    Kiss Carlo by Adriana Trigiani ($27.99, Harper), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

  • The Force by Don Winslow

    The Force by Don Winslow

    A truly explosive novel, boldly written, raw at time, of epic proportion. A wild roller-coaster ride, highs and lows, ups and downs, dizzying at times. You will love this character, you’ll pull for him to succeed. You’ll laugh with him, and you’ll cry with him. And hope the book never ends...

    The Force by Don Winslow ($27.99, William Morrow), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

  • The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

    The Essex Serpent by Sarah PerryAlready a beloved book in the UK, The Essex Serpent is as gorgeous and complex as its cover. The narrative subtly blends together a rich cast of characters and manages to feel familiar even as it travels down unexpected paths.

    The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry ($26.99, Custom House), recommended by Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

    Magpie Murders by Anthony HorowitzWhat's better than a murder mystery by the man who created "Foyle's War"? Two murder mysteries, combined into one devilishly delightful package. We're presented with an Agatha Christie-like period mystery--whose ending is missing and whose loathed author has died. Or was he killed? His editor is hot on the case in modern day, not sure of much except she needs those missing pages.

    Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz ($27.99, Harper), recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse

    Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica HesseFrom the publisher: "Amsterdam, 1943. Hanneke spends her days procuring and delivering sought-after black market goods to paying customers, her nights hiding the true nature of her work from her concerned parents, and every waking moment mourning her boyfriend, who was killed on the Dutch front lines when the Germans invaded. She likes to think of her illegal work as a small act of rebellion. Beautifully written, intricately plotted, and meticulously researched, Girl in the Blue Coat is an extraordinary, gripping novel about bravery, grief, and love in impossible times." The national bestseller and winner of the Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Mystery

    Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse ($9.99, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers), recommended by Writer's Block Bookstore, Winter Park, FL.

  • He Mele A Hilo (A Hilo Song) by Ryka Aoki

    He Mele A Hilo (A Hilo Song) by Ryka AokiIf summer 2017 won’t actually take you to Hawaii, travel via the written word! Aoki’s novel is filled with love and food and dancing and family drama. This book is perfect for: anyone who wants to sink into a character-driven read suffused with Hawaiian culture.

    He Mele A Hilo (A Hilo Song) by Ryka Aoki ($18.95, Topside Signature), recommended by Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy

    Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile MeloyFrom Parnassus Books’ blog: "I’m pretty sure that what Maile has written is a blockbuster, a bestseller, the hot book of summer. Do Not Become Alarmed is too well-written to be written off as a mere thriller, and yet it’s undeniably thrilling. It’s the story of two families, old friends, who decide to take a cruise and wind up losing their children. That’s big, and still the book is bigger than that: it’s a novel about race and class, poverty and privilege, marriage and desire, and the quest to be a perfect parent while still being yourself. It’s a book filled with rage and guilt in which the most casual actions have lasting consequences. Maile knows how to get the reader’s adrenaline pumping, but she also assumes the reader is as smart and complicated and curious as she is.” Keep reading...

    Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy ($27.00, Riverhead Books), recommended by Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • Modern Lovers by Emma Straub

    Modern Lovers by Emma StraubFrom the publisher: "From the author of the New York Times bestseller The Vacationers, a smart, highly entertaining novel about a tight-knit group of friends from college-- and what it means to finally grow up, well after adulthood has set in. Straub packs wisdom and insight and humor together in a satisfying book about neighbors and nosiness, ambition and pleasure, the excitement of youth, the shock of middle age, and the fact that our passions--be they food, or friendship, or music--never go away, they just evolve and grow along with us."

    Modern Lovers by Emma Straub ($16.00, Riverhead Books), recommended by Writer’s Block Bookstore, Winter Park, FL.

  • The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

    The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi LeeAn adventurous, charming, fast-paced, and utterly lovable. High drama, high romance, history, intrigue, humor - it is EVERYTHING! No 500-page book has ever been this light-hearted and easy to read. It is a gem of a book constructed with care by Mackenzi Lee - an historian and an artist. It's pure fun with fantastic, hilarious characters that seem to breathe on the page. It took only a few pages for me to be fully invested in Monty, Percy, and Felicity and the intricacies of their lives. This book made me yearn for a Grand Tour of my own--although I could maybe do without the theft, highwaymen, and terrifying pursuit of alchemical cures...

    The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee ($18.99, Katherine Tegen Books), recommended by Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • Flight Patterns by Karen White

    Flight Patterns by Karen WhiteGeorgia Chambers is one of the top china experts in the United States, but when a client brings her a piece that connects to her past, she is forced to go back home. Reunited with the comforts of salt air, and her grandfather, will Georgia Chambers be able to face the rest of her family? Will there be time to heal past relationships or has too much time passed?

    Karen White is known for her whimsical Tradd Street series, but in several of her latest novels, she broaches tougher topics that trouble modern day families. Infused with the southern coast and the ocean, this book makes for a great beach read, as well as a reading group selection.

    Flight Patterns by Karen White ($15.00, Berkley Books), recommended by My Sisters Books, Pawleys Island, SC.