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!


  • Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

    This book is full of thrilling mysteries and tension while shedding light on a little known tragedy from WWII.

    Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys ($18.99, Philomel Books), recommended by Erica, Lemuia Books, Jackson, MS.

  • The Atomic Weight of Love by Elizabeth J. Church

    I love that it combined historical fiction with a strong female character's search for self. It appealed to both the nerd and the dreamer in me.

    The Atomic Weight of Love by Elizabeth J. Church ($25.95, Algonquin Books), recommended by Nancy, Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL.

  • Not I I See You First by Eric Lindstrom

    Parker is blind and has been for years. She copes by not caring what anyone thinks of her -- as long as they follow The Rules, a set of what she considers common sense guidelines for dealing with someone who's blind. Rules she enforces even more since her best friend Scott broke her heart two and a half years ago. But when Scott shows back up, Parker starts to realize that maybe she doesn't know everything she thought she did. Lindstrom has a way of getting you into his character's head, making you see things from her perspective that you wouldn't otherwise be able to. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstom ($9.99, Poppy Books), recommended by Melissa, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

    My childhood favorite - read uncountable times.  What young girl doesn't identify with Meg?  After several years, L'Engle wrote several sequels, but Time is a standalone gem.

    A Wrinkle in Time ($6.99, Square Fish), recommended by Rosemary at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Beachhead by Jeffery Hess

    Beachhead is a suspense novel with lots of action, twists and turns.  Hess brings the 1980’s Tampa to life with a descriptive narrative that is well-written and kept me guessing.  With its interesting plot and realistic characters this is a must read for anyone wanting to learn a little bit of Florida history. Beachhead by Jeffery Hess ($16.95, Down & Out Books), recommended by the staff at Bookswap of Carrollwood, Tampa, FL.

  • The Forest of Memory by Mary Robinette Kowal

    In a near future where items are mass produced and duplicated endlessly, Katya is a traveling salesman of sorts - an expert who locates and deals in "authenticities and captures" (vintage items that carry a hefty price tag). Katya's clients are typically of the wealthy and influential sort, and Katya fancies herself a generally in-the-know person. But when she ventures into a remote area where her A.I. drops off the grid, Katya encounters a hunter in the woods that brings into question her understanding of the world. The level of world building in this short book is staggering! A ton of fun to read and will leave you pondering for days after.

    The Forest of Memory by Mary Robinette Kowal ($9.99, TOR), recommended by Lane, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC. 

  • History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund

    Lyrical yet endlessly gut-wrenching, History of Wolves soars on so many levels. It is a psychologically astute coming-of-age novel about a young girl who lives on the outskirts of a small Minnesota town, but it becomes much more once a classmate reports sexual abuse by a teacher, and a mysterious family moves into the new house—the only other house nearby—just across the lake. While the novel is wonderfully layered and emotionally deep, Fridlund also creates suspense just about as well as any crime writer in recent memory. If you’re looking for something exciting yet deeply fulfilling, pick this one up; but be warned, this is one of those books that you won’t be able to shake for a few days after you’ve finished it.

    History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund ($25, Atlantic Monthly Press), recommended by Donovan at Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL.

  • The Sparrow/A Thread of Grace by Maria Doria Russell


    Rosemary, at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, NC, places The Sparrow and A Thread of Grace, both by Maria Doria Russell, in her top ten list of books. About The Sparrow she says, "One of the best books I've ever read! Thought-provoking, fascinating, and thoroughly original, this is “science fiction” even for those who say they won't read it. Mary Doria Russell posits what can happen when very different cultures meet for the first time and, with the best of intentions, collide. Pick up the sequel, Children of God, at the same time. When you finish The Sparrow,  you'll want to leap into the next book.”

    A Thread of Grace is "epic historical fiction at its finest. Set during WWII, Italy has just surrendered. Nazi forces, Allies, Jewish refugees - all are descending on Italy, and it is hell on earth.  Told from different viewpoints, you will be constantly surprised, sometimes stunned, by what happens.  Mary visited for this book and said in researching it, so many survivors said luck was the prime factor of survival. So, with the exception of one character, she had her son flip a coin for each to determine his or her fate.”

    The Sparrow ($17, Ballantine Books) and A Thread of Grace ($17, Ballantine Books), by Mary Doria Rusell, recommended by Rosemary at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close

    Tyler loves The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close: This is the story of Beth, a woman who moves to DC when her husband Matt gets a job campaigning for Obama during the 2008 election. For Beth, the city never feels like home until she and Matt become friends with Ash and her husband Jimmy, who also works in the administration. The rest of the novel is a sometimes comedy, always careful study of these four people, and how their friendships, relationships, and professional lives entangle and constrict. The backdrop of the Obama administration and Texas politics are fascinating, and Close's dry humor and sharp observations make The Hopefuls an "open it and realize four hours have gone by" novel.

    The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close (Knopf Publishing Group, $26.95), recommended by Tyler at Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

    Irving is one of my favorite authors, and this is, what I consider, his masterpiece. A fascinating tale of one of the most unique characters I have ever read. The ultimate story of faith, redemption, love and friendship. It is funny, heart-breaking, and unforgettable.

    A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving (HarperTorch, $7.99), recommended by Margaret at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion by Alex Smith

    Instead of traveling through the woods, this Little Red travels across the African plains to bring her Auntie some medicine. The Very Hungry Lion didn’t know what he was getting in to when he decided to mess with this smart, strong girl!

    Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion by Alex Smith (Scholastic Press, $17.99), recommended by Jackie at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • Nutshell by Ian McEwan

    A modern-day reimagining of Hamlet, as told by a third-trimester fetus. No, really! From his cramped quarters in the womb, our yet-to-be-born narrator overhears his mother and  uncle plotting to murder his father. Sure, the premise is far-fetched, but you'll be amazed how McEwan pulls it off. Nutshell is an ingenious, hilarious page-turner of a novel.

    Nutshell by Ian McEwan (Nan A. Talese, $24.95), recommended by Travis at Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • Beautiful Blue World by Suzanne LaFleur

    In the fictional world of Sofarende there is war, and it is getting closer to home for 12-year-old Mathilde and her best friend Meg. Perfect for 4th or 5th graders who are ready for something more advanced but aren’t ready for YA content yet.

    Beautiful Blue World by Suzanne LaFleur (Wendy Lamb Books, $16.99), recommended by Catherine at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin

    Mercy Lavinia Warren Bump, known as Vinnie, was born with dwarfism. She grew to be two feet, eight inches tall, but she never let her size stop her from living life to the fullest. Vinnie did so well in school, she became a school teacher, but deep down she craved more. Through life’s ups and downs, she finally teamed up with P. T. Barnum. The two became close friends and he introduced her to Tom Thumb, one of his other performers.

    This fictionalized novel tells the story of Vinnie, through her perspective on life. The long chapters are broken up with intermissions that show the newspaper headlines.  Melanie Benjamin is an excellent author, providing readers with an insider’s view into the personal lives of celebrities. Written as an autobiography, this book will open readers’ eyes to the world of the lady who entranced the world. There are phrases in this book that will live in readers’ hearts forever.

    The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin, recommended by Nicole at My Sisters Books, Pawleys Island, SC.

  • A Summons to Memphis by Peter Taylor

    A man is called home to Memphis from New York by his two middle-aged sisters to deal with their elderly father who is about to re-marry. Did you know there was so much Nashville and middle-Tennessee history in this wonderful novel?

    A Summons to Memphis by Peter Taylor (Vintage Books USA, $14.95), recommended by Kathy Schultenover at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • Kids of Appetite by Dave Arnold

    David Arnold is special. Kids of Appetite somehow combines extreme quirk, mystery, and heart within a literary sensibility that's often undervalued in young adult novels. I loved Arnold's debut Mosquitoland for Mim's singular and compelling voice as she explored her internal and external world. In Kids of Appetite, Arnold once again offers unique voices that linger long after you turn the last page. Mad and Vic are narrators with their own motivations - propelled by the secrets and stories of Baz, Nzuzi, and Coco. Let yourself fall into these characters-- become a Kid of Appetite.

    Kids of Appetite by David Arnold (Viking Books for Young Readers, $18.99), recommended by Johanna at Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

    This book isn’t brand new, but I feel it didn’t get enough attention this summer. I love reading mysteries in the fall, and Walker kept me guessing. I’m VERY CHOOSY with my thrillers, and this is a smart one.

    All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker (St. Martin’s Press, $26.99), recommended by Sissy at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • The Last Wolf & Herman by Laszlo Krasznahorkai, (John Batki & George Szirtes, translators)

    The Last Wolf is one fabulous sentence that runs for 70 pages. Afterwards, you can turn the book over and read the novella Herman. This book is beautiful, difficult, and absolutely worth it.

    The Last Wolf & Herman by Laszlo Krasznahorkai, John Batki (Translator), George Szirtes (Translator) (New Directions Publishing Corporation, $15.95), recommended by Nathan at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

    The Wonder kept me guessing until the very end and stayed with me for a long time after. Emma Donoghue plays to her strengths in this marvelously crafted religious thriller set in the mid-19th century Irish countryside. As always, Donoghue has done her research in telling the story of a "fasting girl" and a Nightingale Nurse. Suspenseful historical fiction driven by excellent characters.

    The Wonder by Emma Donoghue (Little Brown and Company, $27.00), recommended by Leila at Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, TN.

  • Perfume River: A Novel by Robert Olen Butler

    Perfume River is a haunting reflection on the psychic scars inflicted by the Vietnam War on three men. There are brothers Robert, who went to Vietnam, and Jimmy who went to Canada. And there's Bob, whose father was a Vietnam vet. In economically direct prose, Butler finds his way into the souls of men and the way they deal with their thoughts and emotions, particularly in the context of the complex relationship of father and son. It took just one paragraph for me to understand why Butler is a Pulitzer winner.

    Perfume River: A Novel by Robert Olen Butler (Atlantic Monthly $25), recommended by Samantha at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • The Girl From Venice by Martin Cruz Smith

    A beautifully written, complex story of war, love, intrigue and shifting loyalties in occupied Italy towards the end of WW II. This novel pairs very nicely with All The Light We Cannot See, again showing the complexities of everyday life-- not the least of which include being young and passionate about life -- while living in occupied territory.

    The Girl from Venice by Martin Cruz Smith (Simon & Schuster, $27.00), recommended by Jamie at Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • The Trespasser by Tana French

    This was my first Tana French novel, and now I have to go back and read them all. A taut procedural with a healthy dose of paranoia, The Trespasser finds Detective Antoinette Conway navigating a hostile work environment while solving what seems to be an open-and-shut murder case. French is a master manipulator, and this novel had me thinking in an Irish accent.

    The Trespasser by Tana French (Viking, $27.00), recommended by Travis at Flyleaf Books, Chapel, NC.

  • Heroes of the Frontier by Dave Eggers

    In Heroes of the Frontier, the main character, Josie, is a dentist by trade. When a patient sues her for malpractice, Josie grabs her kids and escapes from her work troubles and her no-good husband Carl. What she can’t escape are her invisible burdens: her past―her parents were scandal-ridden nurses―and her lack of self-confidence and sense of direction. Whether she’s running 'toward' or 'away,' the reader and her endearing children―Paul, an eight-year-old with an old soul (the adult of the family most of the time!), and Ana, who is a handful―go along for the ride.

    Heroes of the Frontier by Dave Eggers (Knopf $28.95), recommended by Mamie at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Four Roads Cross by Max Gladstone

    Caleb loves Four Roads Cross by Max Gladstone: Gladstone's Craft Sequence is the most finely-crafted Urban Fantasy I've seen in years. When money is your soul and corporations are gods and all-powerful skeleton men, who looks our for the little guys? (Magical necromancer lawyers.)

    Four Roads Cross by Max Gladstone (Tor Books, $27.99), recommended by Caleb at Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang

    The story is built around a family road-trip full of comic moments, but these aren’t the Griswolds, and they’re not headed to Walley World. Every member of the Wang family is fighting to hang onto his or her own very specific American dream as they journey from California to New York after the loss of the family fortune. Jade Chang’s voice is fresh, her take on the immigrant narrative is new, but her themes are timeless. A really fun read.

    The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang (Houghton Mifflin, $26), recommended by Mary Laura at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith

    Few of us know what to do when someone has lost a loved one, and when it's a child who has lost a sibling or parent or grandparent, the task is exponentially more difficult. I was searching for a book for a child whose mother had died and discovered the exquisite gem, The Fox and the Star, with arts and crafts style drawings by award-winning illustrator, Coralie Bickford-Smith. It is the story of Fox, who is guided through life by his Star until one day Star disappears. First he hides and grieves, and then he decides to go and find his Star. In the face of grief, we are all haunted stragglers, but this book will bring solace and hope to the child in all of us.

    The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith (Penguin, $20), recommended by Mamie at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt

    At one point while reading this book, I yelled out loud: “Don’t do it!” (I can’t tell you when or why — that would spoil it.) A haunting story about a disappearance, it’s also a portrait of a family — and one of my favorite releases of this fall.

    Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt (Algonquin Books, $26.95), recommended by Mary Laura at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • The North Water by Ian McGuire

    Dark, brutal, and atmospheric, The North Water is the story of an ill-fated whaling ship, peopled with men of dark conscience or no conscience. Reminiscent of The Revenant in its stark story of survival and revenge against all odds, this book is chock full of men being men, doing manly things and occasionally murdering each other. A rip roaring tale of viscera and ice.

    The North Water by Ian McGuire (Henry Holt & Company, $27), recommended by Steve at Scuppernong Books, Greensboro, NC.

  • The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

    Part rap style poetry, part love story to a father and to basketball; good young adult fiction about 12-year-old twin boys.

    The Crossover by Kwame Alexander (HMH Books for Young Readers $16.99), reader recommendation by Martha at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

    This fascinating novel opens in 18th century Ghana, whose residents are not just victims, but sometimes willing participants, in the slave trade with the English. Two sisters from different villages never meet, but they start a family tree whose branches are chronicled into the 20th century. Gyasi presents the stories of these characters so vividly; even as the decades race by you will feel an intimate connection with each one.

    Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (Knopf Publishing Group, $26.95), recommended by Karen at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • Ashes by Laurie Halse Anderson

    We usually think of 'all men are created equal' when considering the start of our country. Ashes, which completes Anderson's Seeds of America trilogy set during the Revolutionary War, reminds us jarringly that this was not the case. Through the trilogy, we experience the hardships, hypocrisies, and always-cherished bonds of friendship from the perspective of Isabel, an escaped slave. Anderson always writes compelling, complicated characters for whom we care deeply. Ashes brings deep satisfaction to the trilogy. Ages 9+.

    Ashes by Laurie Halse Anderson (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy $16.99), recommended by Rosemary at Quail Ridge Books. Raleigh, NC.

  • The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño

    Exuberant grandiosity! A poet's belief that the world will be changed by a literary movement! You'll find people you know so well you can practically touch them despite the fact they live in Mexico City in the 1970s. I've not had more fun reading a book in ages!

    The Savage Dectives by Roberto Bolaño (Farrar Strauss Giroux, $27), recommended by Brian at Scuppernong Books, Greensboro, NC.

  • Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick

    Nanette has it all--popular friends, a top spot on her school soccer team and the promise of college scholarships to go with it--but as graduation looms, she’s realizing the life ahead is not the life she wants. As for so many of us, it’s the discovery of that one cult classic novel that thrusts her out of her mold and into the joys--and pains--of life outside the bubble. For anyone who’s ever looked around at life and wondered how the hell they got there, this novel is the perfect fun, reflective read.

    Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, $17.99), recommended by Shannon at Scuppernong Books, Greensboro, NC.

  • The Pleasure Was Mine by Tommy Hays

    There are passages in this novel that make me cry every time I read them, but not because of the great

    sadness (of losing a loved one to Alzheimers) but because of its beautiful depiction of marital and familial love.

    The Pleasure Was Mine by Tommy Hays (St. Martins Griffin) Recommended by Frank at A Cappella Books Atlanta GA

  • Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead

    In the 1970s, Joan is a professional ballerina. Her company features the Russian breakout star, Arslan Ruskov. Joan is the reason he is in the United States--she even drove the get-away car. Despite the fact that she loves Arslan, he is engaged to another woman and Joan knows she will never be a soloist, so she decides to leave the ballet world. Joan marries her high school boyfriend and they live a nice life, but when their son begins to study dance, Joan is forced back into the lifestyle. Will her secrets be exposed or will her son be able to follow his dreams?

    Astonish Me is written with a style similar to a performance. It is divided into different acts and the narration sets the scene as the events unfold. Several different topics are broached in this book, ranging from parenting styles to marriages to work ethics. This is a book that you will want to read with someone else, as the ending will leave you desperate to discuss with a friend who understands.

    Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead, recommended by Nicole at My Sisters Books, Pawleys Island, SC.

  • El Paso by Winston Groom

    The bestselling author of Forrest Gump shifts the scene to the American Southwest in this tale of border wars, Pancho Villa, family and revenge.

    El Paso by Winston Groom (Liveright Publishing Corporation, $27.95), recommended by Kathy at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • A Soldier of the Great War by Mark Helprin

    A mesmerizing story of a man's life before, during, and after WWI. Filled with beauty and horror in equal measure, it is a tale that will haunt you. Helprin's prose is poetic, and his power to leave you awestruck is fully demonstrated in this beautiful novel.

    A Soldier of the Great War by Mark Helprin (Harvest Books, $16.99), recommended by Margaret at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Damaged by Lisa Scottoline

    Mary DiNunzio is a successful attorney and a partner at the Rosato & DiNunzio firm. Her schedule has gotten complicated, due to her wedding being a few weeks away. However, when an elderly man named Edward comes in for a free consultation, Mary’s world is turned upside down. Edward’s grandson, Patrick, is being sued by a teacher’s aide for assault. Sadly, it is this shy, dyslexic boy who bears the markings of abuse. As Mary becomes more involved in finding out the truth, she becomes the only chance Patrick has at surviving and leading a healthy life. Is Mary going to lose everything she has in order to protect Patrick, or will the evidence prove Mary wrong?

    Lisa Scottoline packs a powerful punch in this novel. Despite it being the fourth in a series, the plot works well as a stand-alone story. Readers, like Mary, will be drawn in right from the moment they meet Patrick and they will be kept guessing as they try to figure out the truth through all the multiple twists and intense secondary storylines. Damaged is a book that weaves its way into readers’ hearts. The author does an excellent job at showing the current struggles children with learning disorders face on a daily basis. Filled with a large family, human emotions, and one dramatic courtroom scene, readers of literature and mysteries will devour this book.

    Damaged by Lisa Scottoline, recommended by Nicole at My Sisters Books, Pawleys Island, SC.

  • Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

    When Catrina and her family move to a seaside town in Northern California to accommodate her sister's cystic fibrosis, she is not happy. Bahia de la Luna is cold, foggy, far away from her friends, and, worst of all, reportedly home to a whole lot of ghosts. Cat's sister, Maya, is thrilled by their new town's spooky residents, but Cat wants nothing to do with them until she realizes that she must put aside her fear for both her sister's sake and her own. Graphic novel queen Telgemeier is back, and she has crafted a beautiful, entertaining, and hopeful story about the power of family, friendship, and community -- with an extra dash of ghostly magic for good measure.

    Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier (Graphix, $10.99), recommended by Rebecca at One More Page Books, Arlington, VA.

  • Echoes of Family by Barbara Claypoole-White

    This well-written story of a bi-polar woman does not over-exaggerate the disease and makes it realistic and understandable.

    Echoes of Family by Barbara Claypoole-White (Lake Union Publishing, $14.950, recommended by Suzanne at Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, NC.

  • Wrecked by Maria Padian

    Conundrum: The name of the campus house where Haley's freshman roommate claims to have been raped, and the exact position Haley is put in when she finds herself drawn into the campus investigation. At the same time, Haley is growing closer to Richard, a housemate of the accused and a boy who annoys her, excites her, makes her furious, and makes her laugh. Haley and Richard find themselves on opposite sides of somebody else's war, struggling and scrambling to discern just who is telling the truth about what really happened. Timely, poignant, and thought-provoking, Wrecked should be required reading for every high-school senior.

    Wrecked by Maria Padian, (Algonquin Young Readers, $17.95), recommended by Angie at The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

  • The Secret Horses of Briar Hill by Megan Shepherd

    One of Shepherd's gifts as a writer is the ability to transport readers to a very specific time and place and immerse them in its physical and social realities. This is done beautifully in The Secret Horses of Briar Hill, set in a children's hospital in rural England during WWII. Whether the winged horses little Emmaline sees in the mirrors at Briar Hill are real or just her imagination, the hope and solace they provide are very real. A moving and magical story not to be missed.

    The Secret Horses of Briar Hill by Megan Shepherd, (Delacorte Books for Young Readers, $16.99), recommended by Leslie at Spellbound Children’s Bookshop, Asheville, NC.

  • A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

    Revisit a classic! A hilarious comedy tinged with a bit of tragic melancholy, this Pulitzer Prize winner is defined by its protagonist, the ever deluded Ignatius J. Reilly, whose complaints about his malfunctioning pyloric valve never cease to amuse. Ignatius may dominate the novel, but he would be nothing without New Orleans, his home and the novel’s playground. Though loosely structured, Ignatius’ ridiculous narrative adventures in the Crescent City never bore. A picaresque if there ever was one.

    A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (Grove Press, $16.00), recommended by Peter at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • The Risen by Ron Rash

    A 2016 OKRA PICK
    I'd be happy to read Ron Rash's grocery lists. Rash stays centered in western North Carolina in his new novel, The Risen. But he moves from the sweeping forest vista of Serena and the moral issues of WWI (The Cove) to a more intimate setting. Two brothers have taken very different paths. When the events of a long-ago summer literally rise up, their family history and dynamics come bubbling up, too.

    The Risen by Ron Rash (Ecco $25.99), recommended by Rosemary at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Penguin Problems by Jory John, Lane Smith (Illus.)

    Some problems are serious, some are silly, and some, well, some are just penguin problems. When the water is too salty, when the sea is too dark, when you are a bird that cannot fly, and when everyone you know looks exactly the same, well, those are penguin problems. This fun picture book is sure to make even the grumpiest young reader giggle!

    Penguin Problems by Jory John, Lane Smith (Random House Books for Young Readers, $17.99), recommended by Angie at The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

  • Teacup by Rebecca Young, Matt Otley

    Teacup is a lyrical tale of a refugee's journey, evoking the loneliness, anxiety, and sadness of leaving everything you know behind to begin anew. Ottley's textured, breathtaking illustrations are both incredibly realistic and beautifully dreamlike, adding gentleness and whimsy to this subtly told story. Young's minimal text allows the reader's imagination to expand and the drama unfolds at a perfect pace. Teacup is a book to linger over, appreciating the beauty to be found in the persistence and strength it takes to make a new life in an unfamiliar place.

    Teacup by Rebecca Young, Matt Ottley (Dial Books for Young Readers, $17.99), recommended by Helen at the Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • The Lost Girls by Heather Young

    Heather Young’s debut novel, is the story of three generations of women and mainly set in a desolate part of Minnesota. In 1935, a six-year-old girl disappears without any explanation, and she's never heard of or seen again. The novel explores the effects Emily's disappearance has on her siblings and succeeding generations of women in the family. It's haunting and beautifully written.

    The Lost Girls by Heather Young (William Morrow $25.99), recommended by Mari Lu, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

    A Torch Against the Night immediately picks up with Laia and Elias' escape at the end of An Ember in the Ashes. Determined to break Laia's brother out of prison, Laia and Elias begin a breakneck journey across Serra, closely followed by Elias' former best friend, Helene, who has orders to kill them. Detailing the perspectives of Elias, Laia, and Helene, Tahir does an incredible job weaving all three stories together. A Torch Against the Night is exhilarating, thrilling, and heartbreaking, with plenty of unexpected twists and turns.

    A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir (Razorbill, $19.99), recommended by Sami at Square Books, Oxford, MS.

  • Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin

    The more things change, the more things stay the same. Or so it seems in this novel by Armistead Maupin. Set in 1970s San Francisco, we follow a dozen city dwellers chasing their version of their dream life in this bustling metropolis. While certain details are amusingly out-of-date, the main themes still ring true todayfriendship, companionship, heartbreak, loss, deciding what type of life you want to live and what type of person you want to be.

    Tales of the City (Harper $15.99) by Armistead Maupin, recommended by Ceewin, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Hystopia by David Means

    David Means’ short story collection, Assorted Fire Events, was full of dark and dystopian stories. These two adjectives would also apply to his latest novel, Hystopia (Farrar, Straus and Giroux $26). It is 1970. John F. Kennedy has lived through several assassination attempts and is still President. Veterans of the Vietnam war are dealing with their PTSD by taking the drug Tripizoid and undergoing a process called Enfolding. Some vets, like Rake, are so incorrigible that they can’t be enfolded, and therein lies the tale. It is a novel within a novel, complete with Editor’s Notes and Author’s Notes that provide a sense of truth and realism to the fictional story. This and other novels pertaining to Vietnam remind us that the psychological damage from war is heartbreaking, and often unmanageable.

    Hystopia by David Means (Farrar, Straus and Giroux $26), recommended by Mamie at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Lucy by Randy Cecil

    This new book from Cecil has all the charm and energy of an early black-and-white movie. Organized into four acts, the main actors are Lucy, a little street dog; Eleanor, the girl who feeds her scraps each morning; and Eleanor's father, Sam, who must overcome his stage fright to succeed as a juggler on the vaudeville stage. Precise repetition of actions and reactions give the story clear beats, and readers will enjoy finding tiny changes in Cecil's camera-lens illustrations. An excellent choice for fans of dogs, juggling, and dreams coming true.

    Lucy by Randy Cecil (Candlewick, $19.99), recommended by Cecilia at Hooray for Books, Arlington, VA.

  • Smoke by Dan Vyleta

    Imagine a world where it is impossible to lie.

    Imagine a world where every lustful though is immediately self evident. Then turn your mind to how a crooked ruling class, who somehow have the antidote, could exploit this. Dan Vyleta's SMOKE is not just a brilliant alternate world, it's possibly a whole new genre. Smoke Punk anyone?

    Smoke by Dan Vyleta (Doubleday) Recommended by Chris at A Cappella Books Atlanta GA.

  • Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer

    Don’t be put off by the strong sexual language at the beginning of Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer. It leads you to the skillfully told story of Jacob Bloch, his wife Julia, and their three sons. The growing tension and a destructive earthquake in the Middle East parallel the deterioration of the Blochs’ marriage. Having waited over a decade for a novel by Foer, author of two of my favorites--Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and Everything is Illuminated--I realize that Foer has only become a more eloquent and empathetic storyteller, willing to take on the difficult issues of our time.

    Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer (Farrar, Straus and Giroux $28), recommended by Mamie at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • A Song to Take the World Apart by Zan Romanoff

    A Song to Take the World Apart is immersive, engaging, and full of teenage emotion. Romanoff explores ancient folklore and the way our pasts impact our futures, all through Lorelai's imperfect teenage mind and body. This novel is about the beauty of magic and uncertainty in one girl's family and the daily struggles and singular experiences everyone faces as they come of age.

    A Song to Take the World Apart by Zan Romanoff (Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, $17.99), recommended by Johanna at Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • Pond by Claire-Louise Bennet

    Interesting, contemplative, lovely, and full of exquisite prose, Pond is hard for me to define. It's low on plot but high on character development and imagery, and I appreciated how the lead character was revealed little by little through her actions and not-necessarily-reliable brand of honesty.  Also: THAT COVER! #swoon.

    Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett (Pub, $00), recommended by Janet at the Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • The Girls by Emma Cline

    A young girl comes of age while living in a fictionalized Manson family in a dilapidated house in the woods. From the first few pages you know how the story will end, but the journey is beautifully written and told with a biting and unapologetic style. Great characters, an interesting backdrop, a wild story, an excellent book!

    The Girls by Emma Cline (Random House, $27), recommended by Colin at Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • Before Morning by Joyce Sidman and Beth Krommes

    Before Morning by Joyce Sidman and Beth Krommes (HMH Books for Young Readers $17.99). Who hasn’t wished for an overnight snowfall that transforms the next day? A minimal, pitch-perfect text is magnificently illustrated in scratchboard and watercolor. From endpaper to endpaper the entire city and surroundings gradually change shape and color as the snow falls. A little girl and her family revel in the unexpected, but welcome diversion, and there are many charming and amusing details in the art for readers to discover and follow. A quiet, but brilliant gem to share with everyone. Before Morning by Joyce Sidman and Beth Krommes (HMH Books for Young Readers $17.99), recommended by Carol at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.

  • The Storybook Knight by Helen Docherty, Thomas Docherty

    Fans of The Snatchabook will not be disappointed with this new picture book by the same author and illustrator team. The focus is again on the power of story as Leo, a gentle knight who much prefers reading to swordplay, is sent on a mission to conquer a fearsome dragon. On the way, he encounters other mythical monsters and is able to vanquish every threat by sharing his beloved books. The rhythmic, rhyming text lends itself easily to being shared aloud and the fun illustrations add even more charm to the story.

    The Storybook Knight by Helen Docherty and Thomas Docherty (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, $16.99), recommended by Melissa at Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

  • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

    This is the story of Cora and her escape northward from a plantation in Georgia. Her means is the Underground Railroad, a literal underground network of tunnels and rails. Each time she surfaces, Cora finds herself in a different cultural landscape, all strange and dangerous in their own ways. It is a narrative built on true horror, spun into a fascinating but awful dystopic alternate history. Completely brutal, ingenious, and powerful.

    The Undergound Railroad by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday $26.95), recommended by Tyler at the Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • Among the Living by Jonathan Rabb

    A FALL 2016 OKRA PICK

    What is unusual and so appealing about Jonathan Rabb’s Among the Living is that the novel takes two issues that separately we’ve heard so much about—the European Jewish experience and the Jim Crow era south—and blends them together in a way that demonstrates a fresh perspective. I found it powerful and engaging.

    Among the Living by Jonathan Rabb (Other Press, $25.95), recommended by Stephanie at Page & Palette in Fairhope, AL.

    Read the first chapter!

  • News of the World by Paulette Jiles

    Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd makes his living reading the newspapers from across the world to Texan audiences. In the winter of 1870, he accepts responsibility for returning a 10-year old girl, kidnapped by the Kiowa when she was six, to her family near San Antonio. This book has it all: stupendous writing, characters that get under your skin and burrow deep into your heart, great pacing, and an ending that makes you cry with joy and relief. I would recommend this book to a wide array of readers, including fans of westerns, historical fiction, road trip novels, and literary fiction. Also a great choice for book clubbers. Other authors that came to mind while I read were Ron Rash, Charles Portis, and Mary Doria Russell.

    News of the World by Paulette Jiles (William Morrow $22.99), recommended by Janet, Quail Ridge Books customer, Raleigh, NC.

  • Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple

    Eleanor Flood, once a rising star as an artist and cartoonist now lives in Seattle. She still writes some, but primarily lives her life as a wife and mother. In one day of inopportune revelations and odd adventures, Eleanor comes to reckon with her complicated and dissatisfying family life. From the bestselling author of Where'd You Go Bernadette? comes another disarmingly funny story executed with a conversational tone that almost belies the seriousness of the plot. I especially love the full-color interior section of Eleanor's graphic novel Flood Girls, illustrated by Eric Chase Anderson.

    Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple (Little, Brown & Co., $2799), recommended by Johanna at Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

    This well-told, poignant story will make you question yourself. I would love to give every single person alive a copy. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult (Ballantine Books, $28.99), recommended by Suzanne at Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, NC.

    ____

    Another rave from Quail Ridge BooksSmall Great Things by Jodi Picoult is a novel that absolutely compels... no, demands discussion. Not only is it an engrossing story that brought me directly into the lives of of an African-American nurse and her son, a white supremacist and a liberal, white defense attorney―and, in Picoult's excellent style kept me just a little off balance―but it also forced me to examine myself... my beliefs, how I view others. The title of the book refers to a quote from Martin Luther King Jr., "If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way." Picoult has decided to do a small great thing in furthering the conversation with the hope that we will think and learn more about others and ourselves. I would recommend that book clubs splurge on a hardback and start the discussion now. This book is worth it.

  • Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

    If you've been in the store recently it's no secret that we've fallen in love with Ann Patchett's new novel, Commonwealth. This story of two families broken and reformed, parts blended and others shattered, feels like the book she was meant to write: complicated, intimate, ambitious, and uncomfortably true. The opening scene of the novel, a christening party at the Keating house, is such a pitch perfect rendition of the suburban '60s it could be used in virtual reality games. When an altered version of the two families moves to the Virginia Commonwealth I felt like Patchett had been secretly hanging out in my own Virginia neighborhood and was in on every conversation, gathering, and childhood excursion, back when we ran free all day, as long as we were home by supper. The story of this heartbreaking and lovable family, covering five decades, is as messy and real and beautifully told as one could wish.

    Commonwealth by Ann Patchett, ($27.99, Harper), recommended by Sarah at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

    I haven't had this much fun reading a book in a long time! In A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, Count Alexander Rostov, one of the great characters in modern fiction, reads like he leaped off the pages of a Tolstoy novel and landed in 1922, where he is placed under house arrest in Moscow's grand Metropol Hotel. The Count is elegant, sophisticated, erudite without being stuffy, wickedly funny, and in love with life. Towles takes you through 32 years of Russian history with a wonderful cast of characters, and a delightfully suspenseful plot. After 480 pages you will still mourn when you reach the end. Even better than his delightful debut, Rules of Civility.

    A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (Viking $27), recommended by Sarah at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • The Last Magazine by Michael Hastings

    Michael Hastings, the kick-ass young journalist of the McCrystal affair and the first to write about Bowe Bergdahl in Rolling Stone in 2012, died last year in a car wreck.

    In his file was the manuscript for this novel, edited by his widow, Elise Jordan. Loosely based on Hastings’ experiences in the magazine world, it is a biting commentary full of guts, sex, and arrogant or off-kilter characters.

    A great read, realistically animating the intense and crazy world of political journalism.

    The Last Magazine by Michael Hastings (Plume) Recommended by Lisa at Square Books Oxford 

  • Gertie's Leap to Greatness by Kate Beasley

    Gertie is a fifth-grade force to be reckoned with! Kate Beasley packs so much into this lovely story - there is heart, gravity, and humor all wrapped up with Jillian Tamaki's amazing illustrations. Like Raymie Nightingale or Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo, Beasley somehow addresses complicated family issues and real-world problems through the lens of a quirky and authentic child. I loved meeting Gertie and her classmates and I can't wait to put this book into the hands of kids, teachers, and parents. Kate Beasley is sure to have a long and illustrious career ahead of her, starting with this stunning debut novel!

    Gertie's Leap to Greatness by Kate Beasley ($16.99, Farrar, Straus and Giroux), recommended by Johanna at Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • We Eat Our Own by Kea Wilson

    Drawing much inspiration from the mythology behind classic--and controversial--horror films like Cannibal Holocaust, Wilson has taken what could have easily been a pulpy horror novel and created a beautifully written and terrifying story populated by vivid and compelling characters. The tension builds at a satisfyingly steady pace and pushes the characters and their political, emotional, and professional allegiances to the breaking point. Like a jungle parasite, We Eat Our Own will worm its way into your psyche and terrorize you from the inside out. You won't be able to put it down.

    We Eat Our Own by Kea Wilson, ($26.00, Scribner), recommended by Johanna at Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.
  • All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage

    In a town of extreme wealth and poverty with little in between, George Clare comes home one afternoon to find his three year old daughter alone and his wife murdered, without a clue by whom. Immediately, of course, George becomes the chief suspect. Set over the course of a generation in a community where local farms are dying out and other unsolved crimes evolve, Brundage creates a community of mystery. Move over, The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl.

    All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage (Knopf) Recommended by Richard at Square Books Oxford MS

  • The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

    If stories are magic, then Kelly Barnhill must be ever so powerful, because this story is the best kind of magic.

    Witches and monsters and dragons, sorrow and hope and love, especially love, all wound together in a fairy tale so perfect I want to read it again and again and again. This is definitely on my list of favorites.

    The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill (Algonquin) Recommended by Melissa at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

  • The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff

    I can’t account for the historical accuracy of the story, but The Danish Girl is based on the true story of a young transgender woman (Lili) in the 1920s/30s.

    Born a male, Einar struggles with the secret of wanting to be a woman. His wife Greta encourages his transition and Einar becomes Lili. Lili was the first person to undergo sex reassignment surgery in the 1930s. 

    It’s a beautifully written story about love, trust and self-discovery.
     
    The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff (Penguin) Recommended by Christina at Blue Ridge Books Waynesville, NC

  • Stung by Bethany Wiggins

    Fans of The Hunger Games will love this dystopian remake of Sleeping Beauty.

    In Stung by Bethany Wiggins, Fiona wakes up from a coma to find a strange tattoo on her wrist. The world has changed while she was unconscious, her house is deserted and her family has disappeared, except for her brother, who immediately tries to kill her.

    She flees and discovers that since the honey bees’ extinction, the privileged few fight the marked humans who’ve turned into savage beasts. Hunted by both sides, Fiona fights to make sense of what has happened to her before she turns, too.

    This page turning-thriller will keep readers guessing until the very end.Ages 14 and up

    Stung by Bethany Wiggins (MacMillan) Recommended by Ellen at Hooray For Books Alexandria VA

  • Ms. Bixby's Last Day by John David Anderson

    A kids' book that the world needs to read, Ms. Bixby's Last Day is an affirmation of the immeasurable difference that the Good Ones can make in a life.

    Told in alternating chapters by Steve, Brand, and Topher, it is a story about friendship, the power of a teacher, and the challenge of facing grief with strength and hope.

    With touches of humor, each boy reveals elements of himself and Ms. Bixby's imprint, as the trio responds to her illness. A perfect choice for fans of Rob Buyea's Because of Mr. Terupt, this book will spur you to profess and practice the doing of good things and to leave your footprint on the paths of those with whom you are making the journey of life.

    For readers age 11 and up.

    Ms. Bixby's Last Day by John David Anderson (Walden Pond) Recommended by Cindy at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

    I love to be scared--big Stephen King fan for decades. In Hex, author Thomas Olde Heuvelt outcreeps the King, and I mean that in the nicest way possible.

    I'm also from the Hudson Valley area (where the American version of Hex is set). Heuvelt nails it, getting the feel of a region where you sense something very old can still exist not too far away from your modern world.

    Social media versus a centuries-old curse--it sounds as though it'll be a lark, but you'll be keeping the lights on long before you finish Hex.

    Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Tor). Recommended by Rosemary at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

    Benjamin Alire Sáenz's stories are of the knock-you-over-powerful variety.

    These seven stories-- set in the border towns of Juárez and El Paso, with many of them touching on the wave of violence that engulfed Juárez in the '90s-- all have a connection to the Kentucky Club, a venerable Juárez institution.

    Winner of the PEN/Faulkner award and a Lambda Literary award, this book deserves a wider audience.

    Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (Cinco Puntos Press) Recommended by Elese at Flyleaf Books Chapel Hill NC 

  • The Innocents by Ace Atkins

    I wasn't much of a mystery reader until I read Ace Atkins!

    Quinn Colson is a such a great character-- equal parts John Wayne, Elvis, and Clint Eastwood-- but it's the supporting cast that really brings his books to life.

    Gritty and violent, but also charming, the Quinn Colson books are must-reads for fans of the genre.

    The Innocents by Ace Atkins (G.P. Putnam's Sons) Recommended by Colin at Flyleaf Books Chapel Hill NC

  • Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

    A busy couple formerly on the brink of realizing their dreams reflects on a fortuitous gathering with their best friends and another couple in a tale that explores the role of guilt in relationships and the power of everyday moments in family life.

    Liane Moriarty's novels consistently feature spot-on observations about contemporary life, irresistible humor, and page-turning suspense. Her last two books, Big Little Lies and The Husband's Secret, were both massive #1 New York Times bestsellers.

    Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty (Flatiron Books) Recommended by Bookstore1Sarasota Sarasota FL

  • Leaving Lucy Pear by Anna Solomon

    A big, heartrending novel about the entangled lives of two women in 1920s New England, both mothers to the same unforgettable girl.

    In 1917 Beatrice Haven—the unwed teenage daughter of wealthy Jewish industrialists—sneaks out of the house in the middle of the night to abandon her newborn baby at the foot of a pear tree hoping the girl will be discovered by a poor Irish Catholic family led by headstrong Emma Murphy.

    Ten years later, Prohibition is in full swing and post–World War I America is in the grips of rampant xenophobia. Bea is inadvertently reunited with Emma Murphy and the abandoned child—now a bright, bold, cross-dressing girl named Lucy Pear—forever altering the fates of all three women.

    Leaving Lucy Pear by Anna Solomon (Viking) Recommended by Bookstore1Sarasota Sarasota FL

  • A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

    Written in 1912 the novel is considered a classic example of 20th century pulp fiction.  This was a book club pick and I wasn't sure if I'd like it; but I did, so much that I plan to read the entire series.

    Let the adventures begin, as Captain John Carter finds himself transported to the alien landscape of Mars--where the low gravity increases his speed and strength exponentially. Taken prisoner by Martian warriors, he impresses them with his remarkable fighting skills, and quickly rises to a high-ranking chieftain.

    But the heroic Carter's powers thrust him right in the middle of a deadly war raging across the planet--and a dangerous romance with a divine princess.

    A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs (Fall River) Recommended by Cynthia at Book Swap of Carrollwood Tampa FL

  • Soulless by Gail Carriger

    A light, funny read: think Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Jane Austen in this wickedly funny debut novel. Soulless kicks off Carriger's new series set in an alternate 19th-century London that not only knows about vampires and werewolves, but accepts them into the upper tiers of society. There are 5 books in this series and all are worth reading!

    Soulless by Gail Carriger (Orbit) Recommended by Cynthia at Book Swap of Carrollwood Tampa FL

  • One for the Money by Janet Evanovich

    A fun, light-hearted read with a likeable heroine (Stephanie Plum) who after losing her job seeks out her cousin Vinnie, a bail bondsman, about a filing job.

    That job has just been filled, but there's an opening for a bounty hunter, and the money's good. Stephanie blackmails her way into the job.

    Of course, Stephanie is unbelievably unqualified for this job, but a mixture of desperation, pride, and stubbornness take her a long way.

    One for the Money by Janet Evanovich (St. Martin's Press) Recommended by Cynthia at Book Swap of Carrollwood Tampa FL

  • The Enchanted Files #1: Cursed by Bruce Coville

    Reprint of the first Enchanted Files!

    Meet ANGUS and ALEX! Angus is a brownie—a MAGICAL creature that secretly loves to do chores for humans. Alex is an ORDINARY kid. Angus has a TEMPER problem. Alex has the world’s MESSIEST room.

    For better or worse (and things are going to get a whole lot worse!), the two are about to be thrown together by a centuries-old curse.

    Can they work together to find a way to break it? Featuring diary entries, newspaper clippings, police transcripts, grumpy cats, annoying older brothers, terrible poetry, daring rescues, ancient magic, the occasional fit of temper, and more, Bruce Coville brings fantasy, adventure, and humor together in this one-of-a-kind tale of family and friendship.

    The Enchanted Files #1: Cursed by Bruce Coville (Yearling Books) Recommended by Bookstore1Sarasota Sarasota FL

  • How to Set a Fire and Why by Jesse Ball

    On page one of Ball's new novel, 16-year-old Lucia Stanton gets kicked out of school for stabbing the star basketball player in the neck with a pencil.

    Lucia is a delinquent, a philosopher, a shard of glass. She's also an aspiring arsonist and an iconoclast, who is vibrant, alive, and charming in a misanthropic way.

    Ball's prose is precise and deceptively spare, his message dynamic in what he doesn't write. Enlightenment thinkers used the symbol of the flame to represent the power and transmission of knowledge. It's in this tradition that How to Set a Fire and Why becomes Ball's pyrotechnic masterpiece.

    How to Set a Fire and Why by Jesse Ball (Pantheon) Recommended by Matt at The Booksellers at Laurelwood Memphis TN

  • This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

    Taking you through an hour in Opportunity High School, during which a shooter comes in and changes everyone's lives, this book will also take you on an emotional roller coaster.

    Told from multiple points of view, you get an idea of what the shooter is like, what has happened in his life that might have brought him to this point, and how he's affected the people close to him.

    A heartbreaking novel that draws you into a small-town tragedy and somehow manages to not give up hope.

    This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp (Sourcebooks Fire) Recommended by Melissa at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

  • The Secret of Magic by Deborah Johnson

    Set in Mississippi at the close of WWII, The Secret of Magic is the story of the tragic treatment of a returning black GI, which draws in noted civil rights attorney Thurgood Marshall. But it also a story about the power of books and stories, especially those we encounter as children, to affect lives.

    I loved this book and will be recommending it to fans of The Help and Mudbound.

    The Secret of Magic by Deborah Johnson (Berkley) Recommended by Jill at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC 

  • Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones

    Children and teachers alike will fall in love with spunky Latina heroine Sophie Brown and the super powered chickens she has inherited and must keep safe from both chicken hawks and chicken thieves.

    This exceptional debut is recommended for fans of Roald Dahl and all animal lovers.

    Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones; Katie Kath (Illustrator) (Alfred A. Knopf) Recommended by Jill at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

  • Bone #1: Out from Boneville by Jeff Smith

    This hugely-successful comic/graphic novel combines humor, darkness, distinct characters, cartoonish and not-so-cartoonish artwork with a great story to make something that is both appropriate and fun for young adults but engaging and clever enough for adult readers, as well.

    Bone #1: Out from Boneville (Tribute Edition) by Jeff Smith (Graphix), recommended by Frank at Fountain Bookstore Richmond VA.

  • Red Queen

    Imagine the violence of The Hunger Games, the backstabbing and betrayal of The Game of Thrones, more superpowers than The X-Men, and a simple girl, Mare Barrow, who becomes betrothed to a prince while falling in love with his brother and at the same trying to protect her childhood friend, Kilorn.

    Red Queen is an amazing debut YA novel that will leave you waiting desperately for the next entry in the series.

    Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (HarperTeen) Recommended by Jill and Melissa at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

  • A School for Unusual Girls

    Georgiana is a disgrace to her family. 

    She does not act properly in social settings. Her physical appearance is unbecoming to those around her. And her aptitude for science and experimentation has caused more than a little ruckus among her family and neighbors.

    When one of Georgiana’s more bold experiments leads to a near fatal fire, her family decided to be rid of her in the only way available to them. They send her to the Stranje House, a school for unruly girls. When they first arrive to the school, Georgiana is horrified by the sights that she witnesses…young ladies strapped to medieval racks or suffering inside an iron maiden. Yet, her family is more than happy to leave her with the head mistress Miss Stranje.

    However, the school might not be all that it seems. Soon Georgiana will find secret passageways, long-forgotten smuggler’s coves, unusual curriculum, and unexpected allies. Georgiana will discover her real purpose at this school is to create an invisible ink that will save many lives across Europe.

    Yet, if she fails, the cost many be more than she could ever imagine.

    Danger lurks in every corner, often from Georgiana herself. Will she be able to find the perfect mixture for the invisible ink, or will her failure create a disaster that will lead to the fall of Europe. Only time will tell. A thrilling tale that will keep you on your toes, and leave you yearning for more!

    Fans of The Jane Austen Mysteries, The Agency series, and Wrapped will love A School for Unusual Girls!

    A School for Unusual Girls...A Stranje House Novel by Kathleen BaldwinGretchen (Tor Books) Recommended by Melissa at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

  • False Positive by Andrew Grant

    A seven year old child has been kidnapped and Det. Cooper Devereaux, just returned from one of his many suspensions, is given the case.

    Though Devereaux doesn’t often play well with others, and isn’t a stickler for the rules he is a great detective and his boss – one of his only supporters – knows if anyone can find this child he can.

    I really liked Devereaux even before his back story was slowly revealed. And by the end of the book he was truly a hero – flawed and vulnerable but full of the right stuff. As Devereaux dug farther and farther into things his intuition told him were connected to the kidnapping he discovered many truths about himself and others in his life -- truths about mass murderers, bloodlines, mental illness and obsession.

    This twisty, totally unpredictable page turner is the beginning, I hope, of a long line of Det. Cooper Devereaux stories.

    False Positive by Andrew Grant (Ballantine Books) Recommended by Nancy M. at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

  • When Friendship Followed Me Home by Paul Griffin

    Change has always followed Ben Coffin.

    He was a foster kid for most of his life, until his mom adopted him two years ago. That's the closest thing he's ever had to a family, to permanence. Then he finds a scruffy little dog, Flip, and feels a little bit closer to normalcy. And when he meets the librarian's daughter, Halley, on one of his many trips to the library, he makes a friend for maybe the first time in his life.

    But Ben has to learn that even the good things can't stay around forever...but they're what make life good.

    A truly touching story of family and friendship that just might help you see the magic in your own life.

    When Friendship Followed Me Home by Paul Griffin (The Dial Press) Recommended by Melissa at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

  • No One Knows by J.T. Ellison

    J.T. Ellison’s newest novel, which has been compared to Gillian Flynn, Paula Hawkins, and Liane Moriarty, releases today. While the book is a departure from Ellison’s other books (this one is a stand-alone and, rather than having a protagonist who is either in law enforcement or is closely connected to someone who is, this lead character is distrustful of the police), regular readers will recognize her suspenseful pacing and quick dialogue.

    Aubrey’s husband disappeared five years ago, when he failed to meet up with friends at the Opryland Hotel, and has now been declared legally dead. Aubrey has been through a hellacious five years. First, her husband went missing and then she had to endure a trial, as she was the prime suspect for his murder. Her mother-in-law testified against her and is now poised to start a legal battle over the life insurance money due to Aubrey. On this day of finality, the day she receives the official declaration of Josh’s death, Aubrey meets a man who reminds her of her husband. Chase’s mannerisms, his posture, and his intonation all match Josh’s…but Josh is dead, right?

    What follows is a suspenseful, page-turning story as Aubrey searches for answers, sure to suck you in until you’ve finished. Adding to the book’s appeal, readers familiar with Nashville will recognize several locations, such as Dragon Park and the Tin Angel restaurant. If you loved The Husband’s Secret, Gone Girl, or The Girl on the Train, you owe it to yourself to read No One Knows.

    No One Knows by J.T. Ellison (Gallery Books) Recommended by Laura at Reading Rock Books Dixon TN

  • Miss Jane by Brad Watson

    A subtle, yet powerful portrait of an extraordinary character, Miss Jane thrills with some of the most gorgeous prose I have ever encountered.

    Jane Chisholm is born with a genital defect that, in rural Mississippi in the early 20th century, somewhat limits her prospects for a “normal” life. Populated with lovingly wrought characters, sly humor, and keen observations of the human heart, Watson's novel is a beautiful and rare bird indeed.

    Miss Jane by Brad Watson (W. W. Norton & Company) Recommended by Tony at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • Zero K by Don DeLillo

    A new novel by one of the greatest authors of all time, need I say more? I needn’t… but I’m contractually obligated to. 

    With this new book, DeLillo packs the intellectual punch of White Noise or Mao II—big, expansive books that are seemingly about everything—yet this one reads as quick as his slimmer late novels. It’s all about cryogenic preservation of the brain/body, while still managing to be funny and absurdly entertaining.

    So read it. Death is not the end.

    Zero K by Don DeLillo (Scribner) Recommended by Donovan at Inkwood Books Tampa FL

  • Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett

    Nancy and I loved Adam Haslett's story collection, We Are Not Strangers Here. His new novel incorporates the same exquisite writing and intriguing characterization.

    He has created a beautiful story of a family haunted by mental illness. Early in the book, the father commits suicide to escape his demons, and the family is left to pick up the pieces. The oldest son suffers from the same demons, the youngest son is the peace-maker of the family, and the daughter struggles with balancing the needs of the family with a troubled but safe relationship.

    There is a Christmas scene that makes me think Haslett was eavesdropping in my living room this year! The characters are so vibrant and their situations so moving that I continue to think of them now that I've read the book to its compelling ending. Haslett has been a Pulitzer and National Book Award Finalist; I predict this will make top ten lists for 2016.

    Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett (Little Brown and Company) Recommended by Mamie at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • Another Brooklyn by Jaqueline Woodson

    Do not be fooled by the length of this book. It is short but powerful.

    It brought me right into the world of a young African-American girl and her friends in language that is both compact and lyrical. Publishers Weekly gave Another Brooklyn a well-deserved star review and said: Woodson…combines grit and beauty in a series of stunning vignettes, painting a vivid mural of what it was like to grow up African-American in Brooklyn during the 1970s…Woodson draws on all the senses to trace the milestones in a woman’s life and how her early experiences shaped her identity.

    It is a book that will stay with me for a long time.

    Another Brooklyn by Jaqueline Woodson (Amistad Press) Recommended by Rene at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • Everyone Brave Is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

    Written with surprising clarity and insight, this novel gives a heartbreaking account of life in England before the US joined in World War II.

    Mary North comes from an aristocratic family who detests her involvement teaching the children who have no way of escaping the violence in the city. Mary learns about love and trust through her time as a teacher and later as an ambulance driver helping victims of the relentless bombing of the city. Her boyfriend, Tom, and his roommate, Alistair, learn that doing your part in the war effort often becomes the greatest sacrifice.

    This novel will stay with you for a long time!

    Everyone Brave Is Forgiven by Chris Cleave (Simon & Schuster) Recommended by Linda at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

  • The Fifth Avenue Artists Society by Joy Callaway

    A realistic look at life in 1890s New York. 

    Callaway's prose will awaken all your senses to everyday life in the growing city. She tells the story of Virginia, a writer in a family full of creativity. Virginia finds that you can never forget your first love and that finding love elsewhere can also be problematic.

    The society of artists that Ginny discovers helps her find a new focus on her life. Through several tragedies, she finds purpose in her writing even while losing those who are closest to her.

    The Fifth Avenue Artists Society by Joy Callaway (Harper) Recommended by Linda at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

  • The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker

    Elizabeth has devoted her life to being a witch hunter, and she's one of the best in the land.

    Then she's accused of being a witch herself and sentenced to burn at the stake. On the run from the most powerful man in the kingdom, she makes new friends with actual witches and wizards, people she'd always thought were her enemies but who end up becoming more of a family than she's ever had.

    Fans of Graceling will love the action and romance in this medieval fantasy. 

    The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) Recommended by Melissa at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

  • Everything She Forgot by Lisa Ballantyne

    Everything She Forgot is a beautifully written story of the love between a father and a daughter. It is a compelling and heartbreaking story of repressed memories, family secrets, and things that could have been. The wonderfully developed characters evolve through the years as this masterfully written story slowly unwinds.  

    Everything She Forgot by Lisa Ballantyne (William Morrow) Recommended by Nancy at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC