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!


  • 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.

  • Universal Harvester by John Darnielle

    Universal Harvester/John DarnielleA customer returns a copy of She's All That to a late-90s video store complaining about footage from a bizarre home movie spliced in. The mysterious scene shows hooded figures and vague, quietly horrifying movement.

    Universal Harvester will keep you up an night. It sneaks up on you and scares you when you least expect it. Quick and beautifully written-- highly recommend!

    Universal Harvester by John Darnielle ($25.00, Farrar, Straus and Giroux), recommended by Colin, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

    A young Spaniard reads a novel from a rare book library only to discover that someone is trying to destroy the author's other works. A gothic adventure for book lovers.

    The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón ($17, Penguin Books), recommended by Julia, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

  • Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran

    A heartbreaking, soul-wrenching, lovely and poetic book. Sekaran's two protagonists, Soli and Kavya, play tug of war with your heart and it's impossible to divide their stories into black and white. A politically important novel, because of its portrayal of immigration issues and the people affected by our failing policies, but Sekaran's story is much more than that; it's about love, and the storms we weather to protect it.

    Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran ($27, G.P. Putnam's Sons), recommended by Rachel, Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • The One-Eyed Man by Ron Currie

    The novel could be the black comedy I've been waiting for all my life! While employing unique strategies to cope with the recent death of his wife, K. becomes quite literal-minded and loses his bull filter. Through a series of absurd events he becomes the host of a reality TV show in which he confronts people with the truth, with disastrous and hilarious results. Currie walks a tightrope of comedy over a gaping chasm of heartbreak. This is a perfect satire of modern American culture.

    The One-Eyed Man by Ron Currie ($26, Viking), recommended by Tony, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

    This book has the feel of a classic World War II story while being unlike any other book I’ve read. The Women In The Castle are widows of the resistance after their husbands’ failed plot to assassinate Hitler. Jessica Shattuck’s magnificent storytelling transports the reader to another time and place and kept me awake at night thinking about these women and their stories.

    The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck ($26.99, William Morrow & Company), recommended by Rae Ann, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

    Lazlo Strange is a war orphan, raised by monks, who became a librarian. Stories are his life, and dreams are his future -- specifically, his dream of the lost city of Weep, which has been unseen and mostly forgotten for 200 years. When a hero of Weep unexpectedly shows up looking for outsiders to bring back to help with the city's unexplained problem, Lazlo jumps at the chance, willing to do whatever it takes to get there and see the mystery for himself. When he gets there, it's nothing like he expected, and each answer he finds raises more questions. This magical, lyrical book is beautiful and heartbreaking, and you won't want to leave the mythical world of Weep and the characters who power its story. Fans of Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy will not be disappointed. I am eagerly awaiting more from her about Weep and Lazlo.

    Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor ($18.99, Little, Brown and Company), recommended by Melissa, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

  • The Cruelty by Scott Bergstrom

    Seventeen year old Gwen's father has disappeared. She refuses to accept that he just abandoned her while on a diplomatic assignment. She uses a "certain set of skills" gained by her father's resources to track him to the underbelly of Europe. Think Taken, except the bad-ass daughter has to save her father. Full of action and excitement.

    The Cruelty by Scott Bergstrom ($18.99, Feiwel & Friends), recommended by Mary, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

  • The Moon and the Other by John Kessel

    In his new novel, The Moon and the Other, set in the near future on the moon, John Kessel again demonstrates his visionary and compassionate eye. Through a lens of gender roles as they play out in the political clash of a matriarchy--The Society of Cousins--and a patriarchy--Persepolis--and in the lives of several of their citizens, Kessel explores human desire, expectation, emotion and alienation. Pointedly, too, he gives keen insights into how technology and coercion, in one form or another, affect our existence.

    The Moon and the Other ($27.99. Saga), recommended by Ken, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes by Dubose Heyward; Marjorie Flack

    Erica at Lemuria Books encourages readers to redeiscover DuBose Heyward's (author of Porgy, the inspiration of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess) iconic children's book The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes. First published in 1939, and filled with Marjorie Flack's charming illustrations, this Easter classic is worth visiting all year long. "I’ve recently gone back and reread it and I was shocked by its deeper meaning, and how wonderfully it is crafted for both children and parents," writes Erica. Read more on Lemuria's blog.

    The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes by DuBose Heyward and Marjorie Flack ($7.99, Houghton Mifflin), recommended by Erica, Lemuria Books, Jackson, MS.

  • Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag

    So, the title. "Ghachar ghochar" is an untranslatable phrase uttered when things become hopelessly tangled. Like the knot on the cover. Like the lives of Vincent's family after a sudden, collective change in financial status. Like their relationship with the relentlessly imperturbable ants that have invaded the family's living quarters. Translated from Kannada (a southern Indian language), this novella-length book will grab you from the first pages and hold you until the end. A compelling, engrossing family drama that I would call delightful, but for the ending …

    Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag ($15, Penguin Books), recommended by Elese, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • Tony and Susan by Austin Wright

    From the publisher: Fifteen years ago, Susan Morrow left her first husband, Edward Sheffield, an unpublished writer. Now, she's enduring middle class suburbia as a doctor's wife, when out of the blue she receives a package containing the manuscript of her ex-husband's first novel. He writes asking her to read the book; she was always his best critic, he says. As Susan reads, she is drawn into the fictional life of Tony Hastings, a math professor driving his family to their summer house in Maine. And as we read with her, we too become lost in Sheffield's thriller. As the Hastings' ordinary, civilized lives are disastrously, violently sent off course, Susan is plunged back into the past, forced to confront the darkness that inhabits her, and driven to name the fear that gnaws at her future and will change her life.

    Mary at The Country Bookshop says Tony and Susan is a "truly creepy novel that will have you checking over your shoulder."

    Tony and Susan: The Riveting Novel That Inspired the New Movie Nocturnal Animals by Austin Wright ($14.99, Grand Central Publishing), recommended by Mary, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

  • The Bed Moved by Rebecca Schiff

    These stories are often brief, but hard-hitting. Crystalline prose and a deep sense of empathy make this collection special. It is so smart and hold no punches. As one character says, "In fiction, it's never benign."

    The Bed Moved by Rebecca Schiff ($24.95, Knopf Publishing Group), recommended by Tyler, Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • Rabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett

    In the Babbitt house bustling like a rabbit hutch, you'll find a cast of characters you simply will not forget: a sleep-eating sister and sleep-swimming mother, a father exploring femininity, a parental parrot, and a daughter named after Elvis Presley. By attempting to understand herself, Elvis frames her life in beautiful juxtapositions, her then-life with mom and now-life without running deep and parallel. Honest with youth and grief, Elvis looks hard at what makes us human, perfectly mixing whimsy and absurdity. She exists at the intersection of science and wonder, willing to live in the face of death. Rabbit Cake is cause for celebration.

    Rabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett ($15.95, Tin House Books), recommended by Amanda, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • Pig the Pug by Aaron Blabey

    From the publisher: Pig is a greedy and selfish pug. He has all the bouncy balls, bones, and chew toys a dog could ever want yet he refuses to share with his poor friend, Trevor. Little does he know, however, that being greedy has its consquences. Join Pig as he learns to share--the hard way! Young readers will love the irresistibly quirky and funny illustrations that are paired with a relatable lesson of learning to share with others.

    Kathryn at The Country Bookshop says, "My favorite storybook right now!"

    Pig the Pug by Aaron Blabey ($11.99, Scholastic Press), recommended by Kathryn, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

  • Outline by Rachel Cusk

    From the publisher: Outline is a novel in ten conversations. Spare and lucid, it follows a novelist teaching a course in creative writing over an oppressively hot summer in Athens. She leads her students in storytelling exercises. She meets other visiting writers for dinner. She goes swimming in the Ionian Sea with her neighbor from the plane. The people she encounters speak volubly about themselves: their fantasies, anxieties, pet theories, regrets, and longings. And through these disclosures, a portrait of the narrator is drawn by contrast, a portrait of a woman learning to face a great loss.

    Outline by Rachel Cusk ($16.00, Picador USA), recommended by Angie, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

  • Monsters in Appalachia: Stories by Sheryl Monks

    From the publisher: The characters within these fifteen stories are in one way or another staring into the abyss. While some are awaiting redemption, others are fully complicit in their own undoing. We come upon them in the mountains of West Virginia, in the backyards of rural North Carolina, and at tourist traps along Route 66, where they smolder with hidden desires and struggle to resist the temptations that plague them. A Melungeon woman has killed her abusive husband and drives by the home of her son’s new foster family, hoping to lure the boy back. An elderly couple witnesses the end-times and is forced to hunt monsters if they hope to survive. A young girl “tanning and manning” with her mother and aunt resists being indoctrinated by their ideas about men. A preacher’s daughter follows in the footsteps of her backsliding mother as she seduces a man who looks a lot like the devil. A master of Appalachian dialect and colloquial speech, Monks writes prose that is dark, taut, and muscular, but also beguiling and playful. Monsters in Appalachia is a powerful work of fiction.

    Damita at The Country Bookshop says, "I loved this collection. If you like Hillbilly Elegy, you will enjoy this."

    Monsters in Appalachia by Sheryl Monks ($16.99, Vandalia Press), recommended by Damita, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

  • Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

    George Saunders is too good for this world. His first novel spans just one night, and is one of the best explorations of love and death I have ever read. In a graveyard, the night Willie Lincoln is interred, we enter the bardo: a world between life and afterlife. As Lincoln mourns the death of his son, a chorus of voices share their own lives, deaths, griefs, and hopes. Like Lincoln, the novel is tender and humane, and delivers a message we all need to hear over and over again: to be as good as we can to each other.

    Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders ($28, Random House), recommended by Tyler, Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson

    From the publisher: The author of the wildly popular The Kind Worth Killing returns with an electrifying psychological thriller--as tantalizing as the cinema classics Rear Window and Wait Until Dark--involving a young woman caught in a vise of voyeurism, betrayal, manipulation, and murder. Told from multiple points of view, Her Every Fear is a scintillating, edgy novel rich with Peter Swanson's chilling insight into the darkest corners of the human psyche and virtuosic skill for plotting that has propelled him to the highest ranks of suspense, in the tradition of such greats as Gillian Flynn, Paula Hawkins, Patricia Highsmith, and James M. Cain. Julia at The Country Bookshop says, "A true Hitchcockian thriller, à la Rear Window."

    Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson ($26.99, William Morrow & Company), recommended by Jamie, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

  • Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

    Quail Ridge Books recommends Mohsin Hamid's latest book, Exit West, a beautiful yet unsettling love story of refugees, set in unnamed countries in an unnamed time. Mamie says: "In Exit West, Mohsin Hamid places us in an unnamed country (as he did in How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia), and in doing so makes what happens there a universal metaphor for war-torn countries in the Middle East. Saieed and Nadia are refugees from one such country, navigating not only the landscape but their developing love affair. They have had to leave much behind in their homeland, including Saieed’s beloved father. Reality and the fantastical blend together as they migrate from one place to another. Hamid once again sheds light on the plight of the refugees who inhabit our world. The book is full of discussable material for book clubs."

    René says: "Exit West is one of the most devastating but hopeful books I have ever read. It could not be more relevant for our times. Mohsin Hamid brings us right into his characters’ lives and makes us see that we are much more similar than different. It is a book that everyone should read."

    Exit West by Mohsin Hamid ($26, Riverhead Books), recommended by Mamie and René, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Caraval by Stephanie Garber

    From the publisher: Welcome, welcome to Caraval, Stephanie Garber's sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game. Mary from The Country Bookshop says, "A magnificent mix of mystery, romance, and magic. It had my emotions all over the place."

    Caraval by Stephanie Garber ($18.99, Flatiron Books), recommended by Mary, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

  • Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

    Behind Her Eyes took me totally by surprise. From the beginning I knew it was the story of a very disturbed person, but which one was the sick one? I knew something happened in the past that was driving two of the main characters, and I thought I was discovering the truth about the past - but, boy, was I wrong. A very dark and eerie psychological thriller of love and obsession that you will not be able to put down until you discover the truth.

    Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough ($25.99, Flatiron Books), recommended by Nancy, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

  • Mississippi Blood by Greg Iles

    Andrew at Lemuria Books reviews Mississippi Blood, the final, riveting chapter in Greg Iles's Natchez Burning trilogy. (The second volume, The Bone Tree, was a 2016 Southern Book Prize winner). The whole trilogy is set in the Natchez, Mississippi, and centers on long-running Iles protagonist Penn Cage, who also appeared in The Quiet Game in 1999. The trilogy also features appearances from characters in the previously stand-alone and unrelated thriller Dead Sleep from 2001.

    "I personally first encountered the character of Penn Cage about four years ago on the pages of his second novel, Turning Angel. Penn became the latest in my personal parade of literary types that I treasure: the non-professional private eye," writes Andrew, about characters intertwined inseparably from their setting: "And that’s the thing about these characters: they inevitably become inseparable from their settings. Penn lives and breathes Natchez like its sins and successes are wholly his burden to bear."

    Read more about Mississippi Blood at Lemuria Book's blog.

    Mississippi Blood by Greg Iles ($28.99, William Morrow & Company), recommended by Andrew, Lemuria Books, Jackson, MS.

  • Perfect Little World by Kevin Wilson

    From the publisher: When Isabelle Poole meets Dr. Preston Grind, she's fresh out of high school, pregnant with her art teacher's baby, and totally on her own. Izzy knows she can be a good mother but without any money or relatives to help, she's left searching. Dr. Grind, an awkwardly charming child psychologist, has spent his life studying family, even after tragedy struck his own. Now, with the help of an eccentric billionaire, he has the chance to create a "perfect little world" called The Infinite Family Project--to study what would happen when ten children are raised collectively, without knowing who their biological parents are. Damita at The Country Bookshop says, "In the Infinite Family Project, ten babies are raised collectively with shared parents --doomed from the start! This is a compelling book with so much food for thought."

    Perfect Little World by Kevin Wilson, ($26.99, Ecco Press), recommended by Damita, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

  • The Scribe by Matthew Guinn

    An assured second effort from Guinn, a former Ole Miss professor. Set in Reconstruction Atlanta, a group of prominent businessmen known as “the Ring” has staked much on the city's Cotton Expo, but a rash of brutal murders jeopardizes their plan and the populace. Canby is a disgraced lawman brought back to the city as the lead investigator but quickly realizes how much is stacked against him. The cast of characters, taut plotting, and depiction of the period make for a great read.

    The Scribe by Matthew Guinn ($5.95, W.W. Norton & Comapny), recommended by Cody, Square Books, Oxford, MS.

  • The Midnight Cool by Lydia Peelle

    Nashvillian Lydia Peelle won the Whiting Award for her story collection, Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing. Now we have her first novel, set in Tennessee during WWI and following the story of two charming Irishmen, a rebellious heiress, and a tempestuous black mare named the Midnight Cool. Peelle is an excellent storyteller. You will be turning pages long into the night.

    The Midnight Cool by Lydia Peelle ($26.99, Harper), recommended by Karen, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • Burmese Days: A Novel by George Orwell

    Orwell draws on his years of experience in India to tell this story of the waning days of British imperialism. A handful of Englishmen living in a settlement in Burma congregate in the European Club, drink whiskey, and argue over an impending order to admit a token Asian. Definitely my favorite work of fiction! Great historical context, wonderful writing and the best ending to any book ever!

    Burmese Days: A Novel by George Orwell ($14.95, Harvest Books), recommended by John, Cavalier House Books, Denham Springs, LA.

  • I Just Want to Say Good Night by Rachel Isadora

    Caldecott Honor-winning author and illustrator Rachel Isadora returns with I Just Want to Say Good Night, a new spin on the classic Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd, set on the African plains.

    I Just Want to Say Good Night follows Lala as she puts off going to bed by saying goodnight to her family's cat, goat, chickens and more one at a time. "Isadora perfectly captures the universal ritual of a child saying goodnight to everything as a way to stall going to bed," said Erin Barker, buyer and manager at Hooray for Books! in Alexandria, Va. "The book is humorous and gentle, and the main character is adorable.”

    I Just Want to Say Good Night by Rachel Isadora ($17.99, Nancy Paulsen Books), recommended by Erin, Hooray for Books, Alexandria VA.

  • The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis by Lydia Davis

    This collection of four books contains nearly 200 short stories. Some might be a casual three or four pages long, some might be one or two sentences, but they're all amazing. Lydia Davis writes like no one else: her stories are weird, funny, deep, and beautiful, starting and ending in the span of a couple minutes.

    The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis ($23, Picador USA), recommended by Jacob, Malaprops Books, Asheville, NC.

  • Long Way Gone by Charles Martin

    Charles Martin has done it again with his latest novel. A retelling of the parable of the prodigal son I highly recommend.

    Long Way Gone by Charles Martin ($25.99, Thomas Nelson), recommended by Kitty, Litchfield Books, Pawleys Island, SC.

  • Marshlands by Matthew Olshan

    In the tradition of Wilfred Thesiger's The Marsh Arabs and J. M. Coetzee's Waiting for the Barbarians, Marshlands explores a culture virtually snuffed out under Saddam Hussein, and how we cement our identities by pointing at someone to call "other." Elegant, brief, and searing, the book shivers with the life of a fragile, lost world.

    Marshlands will live on my favorite shelf, for sure. It is a surprising and well-written novel by Matthew Olshan, who also has a fun children’s book titled A Voyage in the Clouds: The (Mostly) True Story of the First International Flight by Balloon in 1785.

    Marshlands by Matthew Olshan ($14, Farrar, Straus and Giroux), recommended by Emöke, Malaprops Books, Asheville, NC.

  • Desperation Road by Michael Farris Smith

    There is a tension and stark beauty that pervades all pages of Smith’s novel. It delivers blunt, realistic dialogue and long, beautiful run-on sentences that never manage to trip over themselves. Smith is unquestionably a craftsman of the highest order. He managed to surprise me several times, only to have that surprise seem inevitable in retrospect. This is the first ‘grit lit’ novel I’ve picked up and been enchanted by, so I don’t have any ready comparisons to Ron Rash or Tom Franklin for you, although they seem equally impressed by Smith to go by their blurbs on the cover of the book. I will say that this is sharp Southern fiction at its finest, and I encourage you not to miss it.

    Desperation Road by Michael Farris Smith ($26, Lee Boudreaux Books), recommended by Andrew, Lemuria Books, Jackson, MS.

  • The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

    This is one of my favorite books coming out this year and one of the best young adult fantasies I've read in a long time. Chupeco's world building is done carefully and precisely, revealing the pertinent information a little bit at a time. The characters are almost all female and all are strong, brave, courageous, and intelligent in their own right. The plot is complex but well thought out and the writing is cinematic. If this doesn't get optioned for a movie, I'll be surprised. highly recommend this books for those that love The Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld or Daughter of Smoke and Bone. This could also easily be an adult crossover for those that enjoy Game of Thrones, Wheel of Time, or Memoirs of a Geisha.

    The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco ($17.99. Sourcebooks Fire) recommended by Foggy Pine Books, Boone, NC.

  • Virgin and Other Stories by April Lawson

    These stories take place in the South, but their true terrain is the landscape of attraction, jealousy, and aggression—the easily-suppressed emotions that end up shaping so much of how we act. You might not realize it, but you think the way Lawson's characters think. Read this once to get caught up in their psychology, then again to appreciate how finely crafted the sentences are.

    Virgin and Other Stories by April Lawson ($23, Farrar Straus and Giroux), recommended by Travis, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

     A Fall 2016 Okra Pick

  • The Eyes Have It by Julie Allan

    Elizabeth “Lizzie” Long has recently been informed by her husband that he is moving on, and she also learned the news about her beloved Uncle’s passing. Lizzie packs up her dogs and moves back home to McClellanville, South Carolina, to soak up the healing vibes of the low country. With the help of her Aunt, and old friends, Lizzie realizes all that she has been missing in life and what she truly wants for her future. As Lizzie makes peace with her present, will she allow her past pain to control her chance at happiness? Julie Allan delivers a quaint, low country romance story that provides a delightful set-up to a series. Fans of wholesome, second chance romances, will appreciate this debut novel. The beautiful South Carolina coastline sets the scene for this book. Readers will chuckle at Lizzie’s predicaments and they will be anxious to find out how her life plays out in the end.

    The Eyes Have It by Julie Allan ($12.99, Bublish, Inc.), recommended by Nicole, My Sisters Books, Pawleys Island, SC.

  • The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

    A magical debut novel: part fairy tale and part historical fiction set in medieval Russia.

    The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden ($27, Del Rey Books), recommended by Amy, Litchfield Books, Pawleys Island, SC.

  • The Dry by Jane Harper

    An atmospheric debut mystery that takes place under the blistering Australian sun. A federal agent returns to his hometown to find a decades old crime influencing his investigation of a horrific new one. Tightly paced and hard to put down.

    The Dry by Jane Harper ($25.99, Flatiron Books), recommended by Bonnie, Litchfield Books, Pawleys Island, SC.

  • The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict

    This is great historical fiction about the first wife of Albert Einstein, Mitza Maric, who was a brilliant physicist in her own right. Her relationship with Albert and their marriage reveal the difficulty for women during the early 20th century to have a career. Her own contributions to the field of developing science helped promote Albert’s career but as his career began to rise, she was diminished and her scientific endeavors stifled. Benedict reveals Mitza’s struggles and disappointments with sensitivity and insight. A must read about a fascinating woman.

    The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict ($25.99, Sourcebooks Landmark(, recommended by Stephanie, Page & Palette, Fairhope, AL.

  • And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer (A Novella) by Fredrik Backman

    Fredrik Backman’s latest book is small yet carries a lot of weight. The story of a grandson and son dealing with a grandfather’s dementia. Every word cuts right to the heart. Sincerely moving and endearing. A book all should read!

    And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer (A Novella) by Fredrik Backman ($18, Atria Books), recommended by Melanie, Litchfield Books, Pawleys Island, SC.

  • Young Man with a Horn by Dorothy Baker

    A fascinating novel of passion and obsession with a TON of swinging music. Considered the first jazz novel, Dorthy Baker's 1938 debut puts you right up on the bandstand--smack dab in the middle of jazz's first golden age. DIG IT!

    Young Man with a Horn by Dorothy Baker ($14.95, New York Review of Books), recommended by Slade, Square Books, Oxford, MS.

  • So Much for That Winter by Dorthe Nors

    The two novellas in So Much for That Winter have certain things in common with each other and relatively little in common with anything else I’ve ever read. They are unique in form. “Minna Needs Rehearsal Space” is told in declarative sentences, one after another, one line at a time, never grouped as paragraphs. “Days” is a story in numbered bullet points. While, admittedly, it takes a page or two to get used to storytelling in these formats, once you are used to it (if you’re like me anyway), you forget that it’s different. Instead, it works with the story. Both novellas’ main characters are women recovering from break-ups. The story-in-headlines of Minna conveys how our very thinking is altered in the aftermath of a dissolved relationship: everything feels drastic, nothing flows naturally, and every action completed without the support or presence of a former partner feels like an accomplishment. Similarly, in “Days,” the lists feel like journal entries, all seemingly saying, “I survived this day. I will keep on surviving.” Altogether, the book is around 160 pages of anxiety and revelation. It took me hardly any time to read it, but processing it was a long and enjoyable experience.

    So Much for That Winter by Dorthe Nors ($15, Graywolf Press/Farrar Straus Giroux), recommended by Laura, Reading Rock Books, Dickson, TN.

  • Black Wings Has My Angel by Elliot Chaze

    This lost classic of noir is maybe the best work of crime fiction you’ve never heard of. Long hard to find, it ranks right up there with the best of Chandler, Hammett, and other masters. Hopefully, now Chaze (who spent most of his career as a journalist in Hattiesburg, MS) will finally get the recognition that he deserves.

    Black Wings Has My Angel by Elliot Chaze ($12.95, New York Review of Books), recommended by Cody, Square Books, Oxford, MS.

  • Swing Time by Zadie Smith

    Two little girls meet in dance class and become fast friends, until one proves to be a much better dancer and a much less stable person and the whole thing falls apart. Zadie Smith proves that great literature can also be a great read. This book is a joy.

    Swing Time by Zadie Smith ($27, Penguin PRess), recommended by Ann, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • The Golden Age by Joan London

    The Golden Age, by Australian novelist and bookseller Joan London, takes place in a hospital for children recovering from polio in Perth in the 1950’s. That may not sound like a particularly cheerful subject and, in many ways, it isn’t. The novel covers not only the ravages of polio, but also, because it centers around a Jewish immigrant family, it discusses the ravages of war. London’s writing, however, is transcendent. What could be a bleak, mournful tale is instead a beautiful story about finding poetry in the halls of a hospital and hope in the face of despair. This is a book I read all in one sitting because I just didn’t want to stop.

    The Golden Age by Joan London ($17, Europa Editions), recommended by Laura, Reading Rock Books, Dickson, TN.

  • Always Happy Hour: Stories by Mary Miller

    Miller's writing is stripped down and carefully refined, packing a whole vision of the world into as few eye-widening details as possible. The stories in this collection explore the realities of women living between two worlds, with one foot in the future their meant to be striving toward and the other firmly rooted in their usually grim and booze-filled present. Though the stories can verge on the harsh, they always evoke a world that is immediately recognizable and palpably real. A great new collection by a writer who never seems to disappoint.

    Always Happy Hour ($24.95, Liveright Publishing Corporation), recommended by Donovan, Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL.

  • Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

    Sometimes when the going gets tough I like to set aside that serious literary novel that’s collecting dust on my nightstand and hole up with a fun, breezy whodunit that’s just plain brain candy. This funny thriller did the trick for me, so I’m looking forward to tuning into HBO on February 19 for the much buzzed-about six-episode miniseries adaptation starring Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman.

    Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty ($16, Berkley Books), recommended by Katherine, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • Huck: Book 1 by Mark Millar

    Mark Millar, a Marvel Comics veteran, has since said that his inspiration when writing Huck was the film Man of Steel, which he felt portrayed a very depressing, serious version of the superhero-archetype. The eponymous character of Huck is his response; a simple small-town handyman with Superman-esque powers, an optimistic attitude, and a desire to help people. The result is a heartwarming adventure drawn by Eisner-nominated artist Rafael Albuquerque that is most certainly one of my absolute favorites of the last few years.

    Huck: Book I by Mark Millar ($14.99, Image Comics), recommended by Hunter, Lemuria Books, Jackson, MS.

  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

    For a teenager living in the ugly world of 2044, his escape from reality, and then his survival, depends on a worldwide video game. Pop-culture references from the 70s and 80s make this an entertaining read for those of a certain age; the adventure makes it enjoyable for all.

    Ready Player One by Ernest Cline ($16, Broadway), recommended by Bill, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers

    This is an amazing book, I simply loved everything about it. Any fan of historical fiction, novels about human failings and dialog that is almost poetic should read this book. The depiction of the civil war on a very personal level to one woman is stirring and hard to take in. The book is a series of letters to and from various family members and by then end of the first 30 pages you feel invested in every member involved. In some ways it is a revisit to the time when letters were the form of communication that existed and what a picture they could paint. It is hard to believe this is a debut novel, the writing is wonderful.

    The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers, ($25.95, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill), recommended by Jackie and Melissa, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

     A Winter 2017 Okra Pick

    Meet Susan Rivers at Fiction Addiction 2/16/2017Read Susan Rivers' essay about how she discovered her novel's characters and their story.

  • Pawleys Island by Dorothea Benton Frank

    Artist Rebecca Simms turns to Pawleys Island as a sanctuary from her tumultuous past. In this quaint town, she finds a cast of characters who are desperate to know her past and help her have a better future. Abigail Thurmond left the drama of the courtroom behind, when she retired to Pawleys Island to begin a new career as an author. However, when she meets Rebecca, Abigail knows she must dive back into her old career, to fight for Rebecca. Dorothea Benton Frank’s writing is a bit predictable, but light-hearted, which makes for a good beach read. Though this is the fifth book in the series, it works well as a standalone. The setting of Pawleys Island makes this a great vacation for one’s mind.

    Pawleys Island by Dorothea Benton Frank ($7.99, Berkley Publishing Group), recommended by Nicole, My Sisters Books, Pawleys Island, SC.

  • When Watched by Leopoldine Core

    Elizabeth loves When Watched by Leopoldine Core: Core delves into the wonderful strangeness that is the human mind. These characters--and the relationships they form--can be funny, unsettling, irritating, and are always entirely captivating. If you want to read about the complexities of love and sex, read this. If you want to read a book you can't put down, read this.

    When Watched by Leopoldine Core (Penguin Books, $16.00), recommended by Elizabeth at Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan & Cliff Chiang

    If you're craving more episodes of Stranger Things but can't wait for the season two release, you need Paper Girls. From Saga creator Brian K. Vaughn and Wonder Woman artist Cliff Chiang comes this spooky and amazing story of four newspaper delivery girls out in the wee hours after Halloween night. Paper Girls is thrilling and funny, peppered with excellent late 80's phrases in an incredibly unique voice.

    Paper Girls by Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan & Cliff Chiang ($9.99, Image Comics), recommended by Johanna, Flyeaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • Barsk: The Elephants' Graveyard by Lawrence M. Schoen

    This is one of those books that sounds utterly ridiculous when you try to describe it: talking elephants in space! But the author creates such wonderful characters and builds such a unique, dynamic universe, that I totally fell under the spell of Barsk. This beautifully written adventure is full of heart and wonder as well as complex concepts of morality, science and spirituality. Talking elephants in space: yes!

    Barsk: The Elephants' Graveyard by Lawrence M. Schoen ($16.99, Tor ), recommended by Tony at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Kristin Lavransdatter, I: The Wreath by Sigrid Undset

    Written by Nobel Prize-winning author Sigrid Undset, this trilogy is a masterpiece, with each book in the series better than the last. Set in the 14th-century and reveling in the everyday details of medieval life in Norway, the saga follows one woman through childhood, young love, married life, motherhood and into old age. The Wreath is Kristin's coming-of-age story: she recklessly enters a relationship with an older man that puts her at odds with her father and the Christian church she was raised in. Persevere past the unfamiliar names and places and you will be rewarded with a richly immersive literary experience.

    Kristin Lavransdatter, I: The Wreath by Sigrid Undset ($16, Penguin), recommended by Elese, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill NC.

  • Stick a Fork in Me by Dan Jenkins

    Fans of Dan Jenkins will be very happy with his latest novel. Jenkins is well-known among sports fans for his satirical, funny tomes set in the world of sports. What he did for football with Semi-Tough and golf with Dead Solid Perfect, he now does for big-time college sports. Good ol' boy Pete Wallace has finally reached the top of the college sports world by becoming the athletic director at Western Ohio University. The story of how Pete handles politically correct campus culture, fragile egos, and colorful characters is laugh out loud funny.

    Stick a Fork in Me by Dan Jenkins (Tyrus $16.99), recommended by Bill, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Moshi-Moshi by Banana Yoshimoto

    Renowned for her novella Kitchen, Yoshimoto is back with the story of a love murder-suicide's aftermath. An ode to life after death-part jagged family portrait and part mystery with tugs of the surreal. As always, Yoshimoto delves into the psychology of her characters with tender attention, exploring grief and its warped passage. Murakami fans with enjoy Yoshimoto's trademark style, her prose as cleansing as steam water slipping off a mirror.

    Moshi-Moshi by Banana Yoshimoto ($25, Counterpoint Press), recommended by Elese, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • Joe Gould’s Teeth by Jill Lepore

    An intimate portayal of the enigmatic and troubled character at its core, Joe Gould's Teeth is both startlingly perceptive and seductively plotted. While providing a thorough study into the life of Joe Gould and his infamous manuscript, Lepore also transports you back into the NYC literary scene of the 1930s-40s. Don't let the size fool you, this is a great quick read with graceful, fast-paced prose and some serious emotional heft.

    Joe Gould’s Teeth by Jill Lepore ($24.95, Knopf), recommended by Donovan at Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL.

  • The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

    Natasha knows from experience that dreams will get you nowhere, so she keeps herself well-grounded. Even when she's hours away from being deported with her family back to Jamaica. Daniel is a poet at heart, a romantic who believes in fate and destiny, so when he sees a girl standing out from the crowd, he doesn't think twice about ditching his parent-sanctioned college interview to go after her. A series of coincidences have them meeting several times, but is it enough to convince Natasha to believe in the meant-to-be future that Daniel sees? I loved Yoon's gorgeous writing and couldn't help falling in love with the characters myself.

    The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon ($18.99, Delacorte Press), recommended by Melissa, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

  • Burning Glass by Kathryn Purdie

    Burning Glass will take you to a world that feels like old Russia. It is full of political tension, especially between two brothers, but it’s Sonya’s job to navigate these tense situations and find a way to protect herself and her country.

    Burning Glass by Kathryn Purdie ($17.99, Katherine Tegen Books), recommended by Erica, Lemuria Books, Jackson, MS.

  • The Immortals by Jordanna Max Brodsky

    Think of The Immortals as like American Gods with considerably less work. Reimagining the Greek gods in modern day New York City, this will appeal to fans of Percy Jackson who are now all grown up as well as those who liked The Magicians. Action packed and a great escape read.

    The Immortals by Jordanna Max Brodsky ($15.99, Orbit), recommended by Kelly at Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA.

  • Replica by Lauren Oliver

    Replica tells the dual stories of two girls affected by scientific revolutions in an ambiguous tale that can be read in any order.

    Replica by Lauren Oliver ($19.99, HarperCollins), recommended by Erica, Lemuria Books, Jackson, MS.

  • School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex, Christian Robinson

    This is my favorite picture book of the year. I really love when authors take a well-known theme and put a spin on it! This charming story is a unique take on the back-to-school theme and just made me feel so much joy while I was reading it. A brand-new school building -- aptly named School -- has to adjust to first day jitters of his own, including lots of children who aren't exactly quiet, neat, or tidy. A few of the children don't even like School! As the children slowly get over their first day fears, the school also learns to enjoy the chaos, with a little help from a compassionate custodian. School is a fully drawn character, both silly and sentimental, that you can enjoy all year round. Amazing illustrations by Christian Robinson wrap up this beautiful package. Readers young and old will have fun reading this sweet story.

    School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex, Christian Robinson (illus.) ($17.99, Roaring Brook Press), recommended by Amanda, Hooray for Books, Alexandria, VA.

  • The Alienist by Caleb Carr

    I lived in NY's Hudson Valley when this came out, and know how well Carr (also a Hudson Valley resident) describes it all. I love historical fiction that mixes true and fictional characters. NY police commissioner Teddy Roosevelt sets up an unofficial team to investigate a serial killer, in an era in which such a concept is unknown.

    The Alienist by Caleb Carr, ($17, Random House Trade), recommended by Rosemary at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.