GREAT READS HANDPICKED BY GREAT SOUTHERN BOOKSELLERS...

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  • 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.

  • York: The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby, Dave Stevenson (Illustrator)

    York: The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby, Dave Stevenson (Illustrator) Nothing screams summer like an un-put-downable page-turner of a mystery. This new series from Laura Ruby is full of alternative history, ciphers, and friendship.

    York: The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby, Dave Stevenson ($17.99, Walden Pond Press), recommended by Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • A Hundred Thousand Worlds by Bob Proehl

    A Hundred Thousand Worlds by Bob ProehlFrom the publisher: "Valerie Torrey took her son, Alex, and fled Los Angeles six years ago--leaving both her role on a cult sci-fi TV show and her costar husband after a tragedy blew their small family apart. Now Val must reunite nine-year-old Alex with his estranged father, so they set out on a road trip from New York, Val making appearances at comic book conventions along the way.

    As they travel west, encountering superheroes, monsters, time travelers, and robots, Val and Alex are drawn into the orbit of the comic-con regulars. For Alex, this world is a magical place where fiction becomes reality, but as they get closer to their destination, he begins to realize that the story his mother is telling him about their journey might have a very different ending than he imagined.

    A knowing and affectionate portrait of the pleasures and perils of fandom, A Hundred Thousand Worlds is also a tribute to the fierce and complicated love between a mother and son--and to the way the stories we create come to shape us.”

    A Hundred Thousand Worlds by Bob Proehl ($16.00. Penguin Books), recommended by Writer’s Block Bookstore, Winter Park, FL.

  • The Veins of the Ocean by Patricia Engel

    The Veins of the Ocean by Patricia Engel"Everyone's life is a disaster." The thing that Patricia Engel does in The Veins of the Ocean is explain with her brutal honesty and beautifully flawed characters is how we all survive. Buy this for yourself or someone you love or even someone you don't. We all have regrets, buying this book won't be one of them. One of my top 5 books of the summer.

    The Veins of the Ocean by Patricia Engel ($17.00, Grove Press), recommended by Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL.

  • Extraordinary Adventures by Daniel Wallace

    Extraordinary Adventures by Daneil WallaceIn Daniel Wallace's new novel, Extraordinary Adventures we meet dutiful, unassuming (and lonely) Edsel Bronfman, who is suddenly galvanized into action when he must find a companion in order to be eligible for an all-expenses-paid trip to the beach. Whether you see a bit of yourself in Edsel, or you know someone like him, you'll be routing for him as remarkable events and characters unfold. A funny, perfect read for the summer!

    Extraordinary Adventures by Daniel Wallace ($25.99, St. Martin’s Press), recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

    A Spring 2017 Okra Pick!

  • Shadow Man by Alan Drew

    Shadow Man by Alan DrewShadow Man is supposed to be the story of a serial killer who was horribly abused as a child and the efforts of the police to track him down and keep him from killing others. However, the book is really about Ben Wade, one of the detectives on the case. While the victims affect him greatly and he gives his all to catch the killer, it is the apparent suicide of a young teenager that really shakes up his world. Shadow Man is about others living in the shadows of what happened in the past. Set in the 1980s in a small one-time ranching community near LA, the beautifully described scenery and small town feeling make the setting a character on its own. Shadow Man could be called a thriller, but it is really much more than that, with characters that are so real you can feel their pain.

    Shadow Man by Alan Drew ($27.00, Random House), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

  • Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

    Before We Were Yours by Lisa WingateLisa Wingate is a master storyteller, and I am particularly attached to her historical fiction. Each time I read one of the books, I learn of a part of our southern past that is mostly forgotten, or in the case of the Tennessee Children's Home, swept under the rug. Rill is an amazing child faced with horrors most of us will be unable to imagine. We have Lisa Wingate to bring them to life and paint a picture of horrible corruption and poverty, but also show the amazing determination that can survive anything. The book is an expository and deeply moving family history. Any fan of southern history, especially South Carolina and Tennessee, will enjoy this book.

    Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate ($26.00, Ballantine Books), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

    A Spring 2017 Okra Pick!

  • Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

    Words in Deep Blue by Cath CrowleyIt's hard to find a book that skillfully combines emotional honesty with a truly delightful tone--but Cath Crowley does just that with Words in Deep Blue. Rachel's wounded and grieving heart comes through beautifully. Her connections with Henry and her family, and her emotional growth and change feel authentic, meaningful, and memorable. As a book lover, of course I fell hard for Henry, his family, and Howling Books. I was enchanted by the idea of the Letter Library and wished so badly for a place I could communicate with other readers in the same way. I loved growing closer to Rachel, Henry, George, Martin, Cal, and the Howling Books book club through Cath Crowley's words.

    Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley ($17.99, Knopf Books for Young Readers), recommended by Johanna, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • Grief Cottage by Gail Godwin

    Grief Cottage by Gail GodwinFrom Sarah: Gail Godwin takes on the voice of a bereaved 11 year old boy in this, a gentle ghost story with understated humor and appealingly unorthodox characters, set on a South Carolina barrier island. The precocious Marcus has recently lost his mother and has his hands full with his artist great aunt who relies on a steady diet of red wine to cope with her own ghosts. Godwin does a beautiful job of exploring the unlikely pairing, the natural elements of the coast, and Marcus's growing obsession with the run down "grief cottage" and the boy who disappeared there in a hurricane 50 years earlier.

    From Belinda: The analytical Marcus, a fascinating boy with insights and poise that few adults possess, becomes convinced that he feels, and even sees, the boy who went missing from a crumbling beach house dubbed Grief Cottage. I will not soon forget Marcus; his struggle to define his sense of self and belonging leads to a crisis with profound effects to himself and those in his present, and past, life.

    Grief Cottage by Gail Godwin ($27.00, Bloomsbury USA), recommended by Sarah and Belinda, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

    A Spring 2017 Okra Pick!

  • Roar by Cora Cormack

    Roar by Cora CormackI just devoured the young adult fantasy debut Roar by Cora Carmack. Those who loved Truthwitch, The Red Queen, and Graceling will have a favorite new author to obsess over. Even the cliffhanger ending (it is the first book in a YA trilogy after all) could not dim my delight in this discovery.

    Roar by Cora Cormack ($17.99, Tor Teen), recommended by Jill at Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

  • The Man Who Shot Out My Eye Is Dead: Stories by Chanelle Benz

    The Man Who Shot Out My Eye Is Dead: Stories by Chanelle BenzChanelle Benz is a shapeshifter, a time traveller, an heir to Flannery O'Connor, a sculptor of language, and a writer to watch. Her debut collection of short stories is wildly imaginative and varied, with contemporary stories, a western, "Adela," a purported found tale from 1829 with scholarly footnotes, and another told by a bookseller and former monk in the sixteenth century. All, like "The Mourners," from which the title comes, are dark but still manage to zap the reader with little electrical jolts of surprise. There are no happy endings and none are truly innocent, but the stories are a sign that the future of American literature is bright.

    The Man Who Shot Out My Eye Is Dead: Stories by Chanelle Benz ($24.99, Ecco Press), recommended by Lyn, Square Books, Oxford, MS.

  • Broken River by J. Robert Lennon

    Broken River by J. Robert LennonFrom the onset, it is clear that Broken River is a novel that will have you dreading what lies on the next page but leave you no choice other than to keep reading. A family of three, seeking a fresh start after the father's infidelity, has just moved from the city to a house in upstate New York that's been left dormant for years after its previous tenants were murdered in an unsolved crime. At the expense of their own familial bonds, each member of the family finds their own way of coping with the change in scenery, and both mother and daughter find themselves drawn to the unsolved crime that took the lives of the home's previous occupants. Meanwhile, other individuals who may be linked to the murders are doing some sleuthing of their own. Lennon's characters are among the most believable and terrifying that I've encountered, and an always tangible and at times bordering-on-the-supernatural sense of foreboding casts its shadow over the character's choices and pushes them towards their inevitable convergence.

    Broken River by J. Robert Lennon ($16.00, Graywolf Press), recommended by Lane, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

    Fingersmith by Sarah WatersForget Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train. Move over Big Little Lies and The Woman in Cabin 10. Because Fingersmith has one of the best jaw dropping, plot twisting, Oh-My-God-Did-That-Just-Happen moments that I've ever read.

    Fingersmith by Sarah Waters ($17.99, Riverhead Books), recommended by Katie, Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA.

  • Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

    Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuireAnother one that you won’t necessarily find in the YA section. This quick, superbly-written fantasy is perfect for anyone who’s ever felt like they don’t quite belong.

    Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire ($17.99, Tor), recommended by the Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • American Gods by Neil Gaiman

    American Gods by Neil Gaiman

    American Gods is an entertaining story that hooks readers from the beginning and does not let go of them until the tale is done. It is the 'Twilight of the Gods' as a new order rises to challenge the old. America is the battleground and the future of the world hangs in the balance. The enigmatic Mr. Wednesday seeks to control the flow of events, and he has hired a most unique individual, Shadow, to assist him. For anyone who has ever wondered whatever became of the old gods of myths and legends, the answer is as deceptively simple as it is complicated: They came to America.

    American Gods by Neil Gaiman ($19.99, William Morrow), recommended by Bud, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle

    The Marriage Lie by Kimberly BelleCould it happen to you? The divergence between what Iris thinks she knows about her partner of more than seven years and what she learns about him through digging into his past, after an unforeseen event, tugs emotionally and rationally. Throughout the story, Iris finds many reasons to question every decision she is faced with. Hold on, this one has plenty of twists right up to the last page.

    The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle ($15.99, Mira Books), recommended by Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, NC.

  • Grendel's Guide to Love and War by A. E. Kaplan

    Grendel's Guide to Love and War by A. E. KaplanA.E. Kaplan has distilled a Virginia summer directly into Grendel's Guide to Love and War. Tom's desire to simply be a good son somehow leads him into a dangerous (but hilarious) prank war with his unsupervised neighbors. Amidst the crazy plans concocted by his older sister and best friend Ed, Tom continues working his summer job mowing lawns and his less than typical hobby: interviewing his elderly neighbors. More than the pranks or the quirky but entirely authentic characters, Grendel's Guide to Love and War is about Tom coming to terms with the realities of life and relationships. The humorous dialogue, emotional content, and incredible supporting cast make this is a unique but relatable book for fans of Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda or John Green's early novels.

    Grendel's Guide to Love and War by A. E. Kaplan ($17.99, Knopf Books for Young Readers), recommended by Johanna, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

    All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane AndersA perfect blend of science fiction and fantasy. Wizard meets science genius, or versus, or romantically entangled, or childhood friends now at odds with their world views, but are still attracted to each other. Great first book from Charlie Jane Anders, one of my favorite IO9 editors.

    All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders ($15.99, Tor Books), recommended by Adam, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

  • Inheritance from Mother by Minae Mizumura

    Inheritance from Mother by Minae MizumuraI just finished reading an amazing new novel in translation: Inheritance from Mother by Minae Mizumura (translated by Juliet Winters Carpenter). It’s a long novel that was published over a two-year period in a Japanese magazine, as a homage to earlier Japanese serial novels. It follows a middle-aged woman named Mitsuki and her attempts to rearrange her life upon her realization that her husband is cheating on her, that her mother will soon be dying and leaving she and her sister a sizable inheritance, and her constant ruminations on money and the ways she will fill her time and economize her savings until she, too, dies. If that all sounds morbid and dark, it is, but there is also a subtle humor at work during the novel, with both sisters talking about how they’ll celebrate when their mother finally dies--their relationship to her is fraught, to say the least--and the many flashbacks into the past add a lot of depth to the characters and the family history overall, leaving me with the feeling of really knowing these characters and of feeling sad to have to leave them by the end of the novel. Luckily, it’s relatively long, and Mizumura’s writing style is simple but elegant, not forcing you to get too bogged down in deciphering the beauty of each sentence, and really letting you enjoy the characters and the plot.

    Inheritance from Mother by Minae Mizumura, translated by Julia Winters Carpenter ($27.95, Other Press), recommended by Jacob, Malaprops Bookstore/Café, Asheville, NC.

  • My Italian Bulldozer by Andrew McCall Smith

    My Italian Bulldozer by Andrew McCall SmithWhen writer Paul Stewart heads to the idyllic Italian town of Montalcino to finish his already late book, it seems like the perfect escape from stressful city life. Upon landing, however, things quickly take a turn for the worse when he discovers his hired car is nowhere to be found. With no record of any reservation and no other cars available it looks like Paul is stuck at the airport. That is, until an enterprising stranger offers him an unexpected alternative. While there may be no cars available there is something else on offer: a bulldozer. With little choice in the matter, Paul accepts and so begins a series of laugh out loud adventures through the Italian countryside, following in the wake of Paul and his Italian Bulldozer. A story of unexpected circumstance and lesson in making the best of what you have, My Italian Bulldozer is a warm holiday read guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

    My Italian Bulldozer by AndrewMcCall Smith ($25.95, Pantheon Books), recommended by Page & Palette, Fairhope, AL.

  • No One is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts

    No One is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie Powell WattsNo One is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts is a brilliant recasting of The Great Gatsby among African-Americans in a small town in North Carolina. But I am here to tell you that you don't have to know anything about Gatsby to be completely entranced with this great new novel. Stephanie Powell Watts can flat out write.

    No One is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts ($26.99, Ecco Press), recommended by The Regulator Bookshop, Durham, NC.

    A Spring 2017 Okra Pick!

  • Alleghany Front by Matthew Neill Null

    Alleghany Front by Matthew Neill Null“He is alive, but he cannot go home to face his mother and father, where they mattock small graves from a hillside, and that is a kind of death. He has a sliver of ice. Home is not for him. He lies breathing. He is rushing on.”

    This is a collection for anyone who loves a really kickass short story. Set in a West Virginia spanning the Civil War era all the way through the present day, these stories are surprising and brutal and thoroughly unsentimental. Despite being steeped in history, these stories are both poetic and experimental.

    Alleghany Front by Matthew Neill Null ($15.95, Sarabande Books), recommended by Brian, Scuppernong Books, Greensboro, NC.

  • American War by Omar El Akkad

    American War by Omar El AkkadThis debut novel by a Canadian journalist who has reported on war from Afghanistan to the Black Lives Matter movement imagines a Second Civil War in the US in the years 2074-2093 and its aftermath. Not surprisingly, the states of Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia ("the MAG") secede over oil issues from a Union that has quite literally, mostly due to climate change, deteriorated into a smaller country whose capital is Columbus, Ohio. Mexico has reclaimed its old territories, a president has been assassinated, the Mississippi River is now the Mississippi Sea... Well-drawn southerners struggle to keep body and soul together and to undermine the northern aggressors One woman in particular, Sarat, emerges as a hero but....no spoilers! Compelling and scary.

    American War by Omar El Akkad ($26.95, Knopf Publishing Group), recommended by Lisa, Square Books, Oxford, MS.

  • Detective Gordon: The First Case by Ulf Nilsson

    Detective Gordon: The First Case by Ulf Nilsson A team of two opposites (a sleepy, slumpy toad and a quick-witted, high-energy mouse) find common ground in a love of cake and solving mysteries. A Swedish import that is as gentle as it is engrossing. One of my absolute favorite series!

    Detective Gordon: The First Case by Ulf Nilsson ($16.99, Gecko Press), recommended by the Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • There Your Heart Lies by Mary Gordon

    There Your Heart Lies by Mary GordonAward-winning author Mary Gordon's new novel, There Your Heart Lies, follows Marian as she leaves her wealthy family behind after her brother's death and volunteers to serve during the Spanish Civil War. As things become more and more volatile under Franco's regime, Marian's relationships do also. The story takes us back and forth between her time in Spain and her present life, where she is a ninety-something widow, dying of cancer. She shares her past with her granddaughter, whose observations of Marian deepened my feelings of empathy for all that had transpired over the course of her full and eventful life.

    There Your Heart Lies by Mary Gordon ($26.95, Pantheon Books), recommended by Mamie, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Ruthless by Carolyn Lee Adams

    Ruthless by Carolyn Lee Adams

    A harrowing survival thriller set in the Blue Ridge Mountains about a teenage equestrienne kidnapped by a serial killer who must dig down deep to find the will to first survive then triumph. You won't be able to put this one down!

    Ruthless by Carolyn Lee Adams ($10.99, Simon Pulse), recommended by Jill, Fiction Addition, Greenville SC.

  • The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi

    The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi

    Do you love great sci-fi? Do you think you might love great sci-fi? Do you love gorgeous, hysterical, thought-provoking writing? BOOM. Here is your next amazing read.

    The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi ($25.99, Tor Books), recommended by Grace, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • Memoirs of a Polar Bear By Yoko Tawada; Susan Bernofsky (Translator)

    Memoirs of a Polar Bear By Yoko Tawada; Susan Bernofsky (Translator)

    Dreamy and philosophical and bittersweet, this book makes me wish I could get my paw-hands on more memoirs written by polar bears.

    "After the death of all living creatures, all our unfulfilled wishes and unspoken words will go on drifting in the stratosphere, they will combine with one another and linger upon the earth like a fog. What will this fog look like in the eyes of the living? Will they fail to remember the dead and instead indulge in banal meteorological conversations like: 'It's foggy today, don't you think?'"

    Memoirs of a Polar Bear By Yoko Tawada; Susan Bernofsky (translator) ($16.95, New Directions Publishing Corporation), recommended by Elizabeth, Avid Bookstore, Athens, GA.

  • Difficult Women by Roxane Gay

    Difficult Women by Roxane Gay

    Let me be clear: I love short story collections. When done well, short stories can hold great literary (and personal) value to me. Most collections have a few stories that aren't on par with the rest and one or two stellar stories. Difficult Women is not like this. Each story feels real, often magical, but always tangible. Some are allegories, some are simply insightful, while others are brimming with emotion--and they are all excellent. Read more at Foggy Pine Books’ blog…

    Difficult Women by Roxane Gay ($25.00, Grove Press), recommended by Mary, Foggy Pine Books, Boone, NC.

  • Walkaway by Cory Doctorow

    Walkaway by Cory Doctorow

    Cory Doctorow's Walkaway is a return to the deep-thinking, insightful, and yet very amusing science fiction of yore. We follow a group of Walkaways (individuals who have left typical society) as they experience and immerse themselves in a counter-culture that should be easy to maintain in a world of surplus. It isn't, of course--especially with differing opinions on what this counter-culture should do and what they could represent. Prepare to laugh and think with a story that is just on the other side of tomorrow.

    Walkaway by Cory Doctorow ($26.99, Tor Books), recommended by Banshion, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • Borne by Jeff VanderMeer

    Borne by Jeff VanderMeer

    Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy led us on a gradual descent into creeping sci-fi horror. His new standalone novel Borne plunges you straight-off into a post-apocalyptic cityscape picked over by scavengers, failed biotech, and a Godzilla-sized flying bear called Mord. The world VanderMeer describes is terrifying and ingeniously conceived, but it's the relationship between a scavenger, Rachel, and the squid-like biotech creature she names Borne that is the book's most remarkable feat. He was born, but I had borne him.

    Borne by Jeff VanderMeer ($26.00, MCD), recommended by Travis, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda

    The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda

    Unputdownable! Full of secrets and revenge and temptation, this is a book that has layers of dark, murky mystery. Literally everyone's a suspect, even main character Leah Stevens, who's keeping plenty of secrets or her own. I came for the twisty thriller, but stayed for the small town intrigue, the heated romance, and the haunted pasts. Watch out for papercuts, because this is a page turner!

    The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda ($25.00, Simon & Schuster), recommended by Kelly, Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA.

  • The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan

    The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan

    It is so easy to see people who commit acts of terrorism as nameless, soulless people, and that is why this novel is so important. I came to see intimately the lives of three young boys and their families who were deeply affected when one of the boys sets off a bomb in a crowded Delhi market. The tragedy is not to be dismissed, and Mahajan forces us to starkly examine that also. An important book, timely and necessary if we are ever to look terrorism in the face and put an end to it.

    The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan ($16.00, Penguin), recommended by Mamie, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

    The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

    Molly is a serial crusher. Even though she's had 26 crushes in her 17 years, she's never been kissed, much less had a boyfriend. And now that her twin sister Cassie has her first real girlfriend, Molly can't help but feel like the experience is making them grow apart. Luckily, Cassie's girlfriend has a single best friend, a cute hipster guy, who just might be perfect crush material. Except Molly kind-of likes her awkward, geeky co-worker Reid, too. Molly's struggles with self-acceptance and relationships, both romantic and familial, will strike a chord with YA readers, who will fall in love with Molly as easily as they fell in love with Simon.

    The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli ($17.99, Balzer & Bray), recommended by Melissa, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

  • The Waitress Was New by Dominique Fabre; Jordan Stump (Translator)

    The Waitress Was New By Dominique Fabre; Jordan Stump (Translator)

    Observational and mundane, this is a novel that inhabits the mind of an ordinary man for three days as his life abruptly changes. For all those who need a dose of Parisian café in their lives.

    "Let the world turn around us, beyond our spotless bars, in the end every day will be carefully wiped away to make room for the next."

    The Waitress Was New by Dominique Fabre; Jordan Stump (Translator) ($16, Archipelago Books), recommended by Elizabeth, Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai

    All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai

    This spectacular (and spectacularly weird) debut imagines 2016 as an alternate universe full of technological advances--including time travel--that we can only dream of in our 2016. But thanks to Tom making a series of small-to-catastrophic mistakes, we’ve all gotten stuck in the wrong universe. As delightful a novel as I’ve read in ages.

    All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai ($26.00, Dutton Books), recommended by Niki, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

    The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa SeeLisa See is finally back with a wonderful new novel about the healing powers of tea, on the body, heart, and spirit.

    In The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane (Scribner $27), explore a minority culture within China, the Akha people, and learn about the tea they grow. It tells the tale of a woman and her daughter separated after birth, and their mutual yearning to find each other again. They search for and find answers in the tea that has shaped their lives.

    The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See ($27.00, Scribner Book Company), recommended by Amber, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Twain’s End by Lynn Cullen

    Twain’s End by Lynn CullenMark Twain: funny, witty, beloved author. Also Mark Twain: moody, selfish, cruel philanderer. His secretary, Isabel Lyon, knew both sides of the man very intimately. This novel tells her story. So compelling!

    Twain's End by Lynn Cullen ($16.00, Gallery Books), recommended by Kathy, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • White Tears by Hari Kunzru

    White Tears/Hari KunzruIn a guest post on Lemuria Books' blog, writer Jim Ewing recommends White Tearsby Hari Kunzru.

    "What if there's a subtle, hidden sound, a tone, or chord, a riff that can transcend time and space, communicating through music a key or gate to hidden truths? This is the essential question that leads a New York acoustic engineer named Seth on the path toward solving a mystery in Hari Kunzru's novel White Tears...It's a saga that leads to madness, blood, and shame. Readers will be left reeling, wondering how many more mournful, deadly vibrations still reverberate all around us, just beneath the surface of our world." Continue reading...

    White Tears by Hari Kunzru ($26.95, Knopf Publishing Group), recommended by Jim, Lemuria Books, Jackson, MS.