GREAT READS HANDPICKED BY GREAT SOUTHERN BOOKSELLERS...

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  • Paper Wishes by Lois Sepahban

    Ten-year-old Manami’s family is forced to relocate to a camp for Japanese Americans during WWII.

    She tries to sneak her dog, Yujin, into the camp, but is caught by the soldiers. Manami doesn’t speak in the prison village. She writes paper wishes that she hopes will sail through the air to her dog.

    This is a beautifully written story about family and survival, perfect for young readers interested in WWII history.

    Paper Wishes by Lois Sepahban (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) Recommended by Rae Ann Parker at Parnassus Books Nashville TN

  • My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

    Everyone else can stop writing sentences and paragraphs and even books now, because it’s impossible to beat these. Compared to this perfectly distilled little novel, bigger books seem waterlogged. If you’re a human with a family, read it. 

    My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout (Random House) Recommended by Mary Laura Philpott at Parnassus Books Nashville TN

  • The Cherry Harvest by Lucy Sanna

    A debut novel that takes place in 1944 Wisconsin. Money is short, food is rationed, and the cherry crop is due to be picked. Nearby is a camp for German POW’s. Charlotte persuades the local authorities to allow the prisoners to help with the harvest. A quick, enjoyable read.

    The Cherry Harvest by Lucy Sanna (William Morrow & Company) Recommended by Kitty at Litchfield Books Pawley's Island SC

  • How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid

    As in The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Hamid ingenuously uses the 2nd person to bring you straight into the characters' lives.

    This is the story of a boy, born poor, who wants more.

    His road to wealth and love is messy, morally ambiguous and long. This is a carefully, intelligently, appealingly written story of universal truths. Do seek out interviews with Hamid, he is fascinating and learning his thought processes made me appreciate his writing even more.

    How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid (Riverhead) Recommended by Rene at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian

    If you enjoy a book with unexpected twists and turns, Chris Bohjalian is an author you will want to read.

    His latest book is about the consequences of a good family man's decision to host a bachelor party for his wilder, younger brother. The story keeps us guessing but also leads us to think about important issues.

    The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian (Doubleday) Recommended by Rene at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey

    Echo lives with the Avicen, a magical people with feathers for hair.

    They are more her people than the human family she ran away from as a child. Sent on a quest to find the Firebird, a mythical object said to posses the power to end an ancient war, Echo meets the Dragon Prince, leader of the Drakharin, mortal enemies to the Avicen.

    With her ragtag group of Avicen and Drakharin, Echo follows the trail to the Firebird, intent on doing what she can to earn her place. But first she has to figure out where it is she belongs.

    Awesome world-building and character development make this a great choice for fans of Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

    I can't wait for the sequel!

    The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey (Delacorte Press) Recommended by Melissa at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

  • The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

    Fairfold is special.

    Humans and fae live side by side in this magical town, but not always peacefully. Hazel and Ben have lived in Fairfold their whole lives. Jack, though fae, has lived among the human population just as long.

    And longer than any of them, the horned boy sleeping in the coffin in the woods, a boy who fueled Hazel and Ben's childhood and adolescent fantasies. When he wakes, it could ignite a war between humans and fae that has been long coming.

    With wonderful world building, Holly Black delivers and dark, fantastical story that will keep readers enthralled from the first page to the last.

    The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) Recommended by Melissa at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

  • The Truth According To Us by Annie Barrows

    A coming-of-age novel about 12-year-old Willa Romeyn, who learns some hard truths about her dad and the rest of her family during one hot summer in West Virginia.

    Set in the 1930s, the novel features an impressive cast of strong women who will learn how to fight for what they want despite the social mores of the times.

    This entertaining and often humorous novel will stay with you for a long time.

    The Truth According To Us by Annie Barrows (Dial Press) Recommended by Linda at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

  • The Witch's Boy by Kelly Barnhill

    Since Ned and his brother fell into the river as children and only Ned survived, the people of his village have been convinced that the wrong boy lived.

    Then bandits show up from the enchanted forest that borders the village, and the Bandit King wants nothing so much as he wants the magic Ned's mother, Sister Witch, has contained and protected for her whole life. When Ned meets Aine, the Bandit King's daughter, the two must learn to trust each other in order to get rid of the magic causing so many problems.

    An extraordinary middle-grade novel about magic and friendship that will enchant readers of all ages. The lyrical storytelling reminds me of Lauren Oliver, with fantasy and adventure that will pull you in and make you stay until you're done. An amazing book.

    The Witch's Boy by Kelly Barnhill (Algonquin) Recommended by Melissa at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

  • The Six by Mark Alpert

    For the last 6 years, Adam has been confined to a wheelchair.

    With the help of virtual reality technology that Adam's father has developed, Adam gets to be the hero. Adam's father has also been working of AI technology and after a very dangerous AI escapes into the internet, Adam has a very difficult decision to make.

    Adam only has a little while left to live, but a new technology will allow Adam to have his entire consciousness converted into a computer program. Will Adam go through with the procedure and get to be the hero for real?

    The Six by Mark Alpert (Sourcebooks Inc) Recommended by Jordan at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

  • The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende

    A beautiful novel of a special relationship between a Jewish woman and Japanese man that continues for years.

    Allende's brilliant prose brings the novel to life and expertly describes a relationship that is at times scandalous and forbidden but always enduring.

    The surprises at the end help make it a novel well-worth reading.

    The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende (Atria Books) Recommended by Linda at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

    16-year-old Simon is gay, but he hasn't told anyone yet.

    Except for his secret penpal Blue, who's in the same boat, and who Simon has a major crush on. Then someone from school sees Simon's email, and uses it to blackmail Simon. Now Simon has to set up one of his best friends with his blackmailer or risk outing Blue. A romance more than a coming-of-age story, and one that I wanted to read again immediately just to have more of the warm fuzzies it gave me.

    Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (Balzer & Bray/Harperteen) Recommended by Meliissa at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

  • Bream Gives Me Hiccups by Jesse Eisenberg

    Taking its title from a group of stories that begin the book, this collection moves from contemporary L.A. to the dorm rooms of an American college to ancient Pompeii, throwing the reader into a universe of social misfits, re-imagined scenes from history, and ridiculous overreactions.

    Existential food critics. Awkward romances. These and more await in the debut novel by actor Jesse Eisenberg, who manages to create a brilliant snapshot of life in the digital age in this collection of short stories.

    Witty and amusingly gloomy, Eisenberg introduces the reader to an eclectic variety of characters and situations you won’t soon forget, especially the chapter on postmodern dating.

    Bream Gives Me Hiccups by Jesse Eisenberg (Grove Press) Recommended by Andrew at Square Books Oxford MS

     

  • More of This World or Maybe Another by Barb Johnson

    Alternately funny and heartbreaking, this book of inter-connected short stories depicts a South populated with characters I know and love.

    This is a book made to be read aloud or dog-eared and underlined to celebrate its beauty.

    More of This World or Maybe Another by Barb Johnson (Harper Perennial) Recommended by Elizabeth at Charis Books Decatur GA

  • God's Kingdom by Howard Frank Mosher

    When I started reading God's Kingdom by Howard Frank Mosher I fell into a kind of reverie, induced by his mesmerizing descriptions of the northeast corner of Vermont, the beauty and simplicity of the language he uses, and the compelling story he tells.

    Told from the viewpoint of 14 year-old Jim Kennison in the 1950's, it's a coming-of-age story, a morality play, and an adventure story, full of events and people that are horrible and wonderful and sometimes very funny.

    God's Kingdom is one of those rare books, like To Kill a Mockingbird, that should become an American classic for all ages for many years to come.

    God's Kingdom by Howard Frank Mosher (St. Martin's Press) Recommended by Sarah at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • Let Me Explain You by Annie Liontas

    There's something so perfectly universal about a novel about family, and Let Me Explain You is no different.

    Stavros Stavros Mavrakis--Greek immigrant, father of three, proprietor of the Gala Diner--believes that he will be dead in ten days. With this in mind, he writes an e-mail to his estranged ex-wife and three grown daughters, telling them exactly how they should "fix" their lives. His family writes off the email as a cry for attention, but when Stavros goes missing they begin to reevaluate their own lives and his place in them.

    This is a hilarious and tender novel about fathers and daughters, love, loss, and the impact our decisions have on those we love. You'll laugh, you'll cry--it's a veritable Greek tragicomedy!

    Let Me Explain You by Annie Liontas (Scribner) Recommended by Amanda at Inkwood Books Tampa FL
     

  • The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley

    It takes a special talent to have a reader truly suspend disbelief, but Pulley succeeds spectacularly well in this debut.

    In 1880s London, Thaniel Steepleton is a telegraphist whose life is saved by a very timely pocket watch. When he meets its maker, Keita Mori, his entire life is upended and made more beautiful -- and dangerous.

    The clock is ticking on this new friendship, and Thaniel must use his ingenuity and previously untapped bravery to save Keita's life and his own future. Fans of David Mitchell and Erin Morgenstern will be intrigued, and I think it's safe to say that we can expect great things from Pulley.

    The Watchmaker of Filigree Streetby Natasha Pulley (Bloomsbury USA ) Recommended by Amanda at Inkwood Books Tampa FL

  • Where Women Are Kings by Christie Watson

    This stunning novel falls into the category of so tragically sad but so true and beautiful that everyone ought to read it, kind of like Little Bee or What is the What.

    It's story of seven-year-old Elijah who, after being taken from his Nigerian immigrant mother, bounces around London from foster home to foster home. When he lands with Nikki and Obi, a couple deeply committed to being Elijah's forever family, things seem hopeful. But as they delve further into Elijah's troubled past, and into the deeply rooted beliefs his mother has left him with, the success of the match and the safety of the family falls into question.

    Watson gracefully walks the line between storytelling and tackling the difficult issues, and while she never comes off as preachy you walk away from this book with a deeper understanding of culture, race, and their possible implications on adoption.

    Where Women Are Kings by Christie Watson (Other Press), recommended by Amanda at Inkwood Books Tampa FL.

  • Fishbowl by Bradley Somer

    Ian the Goldfish - narrator of this unique novel - is about to take a plunge from his watery prison on the 27th floor balcony of an apartment complex.

    The Seville on Roxy houses a cross section of humanity that includes a pregnant lady on bed rest fantasizing about ice cream sandwiches, a home-schooled boy who thinks he’s a time traveler and a shut in with a penchant for quiche and dirty talk.

    If you loved Garth Stein's Art of Racing in the Rain you will fall in love with Ian. He's able to move unobtrusively through his neighbor’s apartments telling their stories and ultimately helping them take risks beyond their wildest dreams.

    Do not be fooled by the cover (looks a little like a kids' book) or my inability to express how a goldfish can tell a GREAT story. TWO FINS WAY UP!

    Fishbowl by Bradley Somer (St. Martin's Press) Recommended by Stefani at Inkwood Books Tampa FL

  • New American Stories by BenMarcus (ed.)

    Quite simply, this collection reminds you just how jaw-droppingly awesome the short story form can be.

    From realism to hyper-realism to post-modernism to post-post-modernism to so-far-after-modernism-that-we-don’t-even-know-what-to-call-it-anymore-modernism.

    Everything in this anthology is pulsing and alive, and there’s not a story in here that won’t stick with you in the days to follow despite your best attempts to shake it off. Marcus does a phenomenal job finding the very best and stylistically diverse writers working today, and if you’re at all interested in where fiction’s going and just what amazing, weird, crazy awesome things it’s doing right now, then you have to read this book.

    New American Stories by Ben Marcus (Vintage) Recommended by Donovan at Inkwood Books Tampa FL

  • Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal

    Rarely do we get a triple recommendation so quickly. There must be something to this!

    Donovan: This novel is sometimes spicy and sometimes sweet, but always well-done. Requisite food pun aside, Stradal crafts an array of characters that are vividly real and human and petty and just flat-out fun to read more and more about as the pages blow by...This is one of the most natural and fluid and evocative narratives I’ve read in a long time, and it far surpasses any simple plot summarization. This book is for anyone that enjoys the power of good writing and great story-telling...

    Amanda: Stradal’s debut shines like a beacon of warm-hearted hope. Kitchens is the tale of Eva Thorvald, a young woman with a prodigious talent and otherwordly palate. We watch Eva grow from a girl who cultivates chocolate habanero peppers in her closet to the architect of the most exclusive pop-up dining experience in the world. A different character and a different dish narrate each chapter, and we are left with a beautiful image of food, culture, and family. Kitchens of the Great Midwest is the book I’ve been looking for.

    Stefani: What Donavan and Amanda said. I just make the peanut butter bars…..and they are FREAKIN’ AWESOME!!!

    Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal (Pamela Dorman Books) Recommended by Donovan, Amanda, and Stefani at Inkwood Books Tampa FL

  • Villa America by Liza Klaussman

    Villa America is a beautifully crafted, thoroughly entertaining work of historical fiction about Sara and Gerald Murphy, part of the so-called Lost Generation of the 1920s.

    As ex-pats living in the south of France, the Murphys strove to create an idyllic world for themselves and their circle of friends that included Hemingway, Picasso and Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. This carefully researched book tells a story of the charmed, extravagant lives of these people who, despite their efforts to escape, found themselves vulnerable to the realities of misfortune and tragedy.

    Klaussmann is a gifted writer with the ability to give voice to the most fundamental truths of humanity. There were passages I read again and again, marveling at their beauty and insight.

    Villa America by Liza Klaussmann (Little Brown and Company) Recommended by Samantha at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • Mothers, Tell Your Daughters by Bonnie Jo Campbell

    In her latest collection, Bonnie Jo Campbell taps into the lives of working class women to reveal truths that are raw and inspiring.

    The women in these stories are victims, survivors, fighters, dreamers, providers and drifters. All of them vulnerable but incredibly tough, they navigate the complex and often baffling territory of relationships with men and with one another.

    Touching but never sentimental, these stories are Campbell at her best.

    Mothers, Tell Your Daughters by Bonnie Jo Campbell (W. W. Norton & Company) Recommended by CF at Square Books Oxford MS

  • Come Rain Or Come Shine by Jan Karon

    Wedding bells ring in Jan Karon’s next Mitford installment!

    Little Dooley Kavanagh is all grown up and intending to marry the love of his life, Lace Harper. Short on money, they’ve decided to keep their ceremony sweet and uncomplicated.

    Elegant, even, in its simplicity. The whole family’s invited. If you’re at all familiar with the people of this quaint town, then you know that at best, this day will be sweet, but it will not be simple. Determined to have the beautiful day they deserve, Dooley and Lace do their best to roll with the punches all the way down the aisle.

    A pleasant update on Karon’s lovable and unpredictable characters.

    Come Rain Or Come Shine by Jan Karon (G.P. Putnam's Sons) Recommended by MM at Square Books Oxford MS

  • The Blue Guitar by John Banville

    From the Booker Prize-winning author of The Sea and Ancient Light, a new novel about the intricacies of artistic creation and theft, and about the ways in which we learn to possess one another, and to hold on to ourselves.

    Equally self-aggrandizing and self-deprecating, our narrator, Oliver Otway Orme, is a painter of some renown, and a petty thief who does not steal for profit. But he’s pushing fifty, feels like a hundred, and things have not been going so well lately.

    Few contemporary English-speaking writers can match Banville’s style and brilliance. The way that complex emotions are revealed by such fluid, easy-going language is uncanny.

    The Blue Guitar by John Banville (Knopf) Recommended by Square BooksOxford MS

     

  • The Visiting Privilege by Joy Williams

    Joy Williams has been writing the very finest stories for 42 years.

    Carver called her simply "a wonder." Brodkey said she is "the most gifted writer of her generation." Bret Easton Ellis says she is "The rightful heir to the mastery, genius, and poetry of Flannery O’Connor," and Jim Harrison calls her stories, "chillingly astute."

    I can’t add more to that, except to say that the publication of this collection is a major American literary event. Gathered here are 33 of her earlier stories, and 13 kick-ass new ones. They are all stunning, and because she deals with the most fundamental human themes--the old verities--as they are wrangled by seemingly ordinary characters, her work never seems dated, holding up powerfully against any writer on the scene now.

    Don’t miss this one--as they say, destined to become a classic.

    The Visiting Privilege: New and Collected Stories by Joy Williams (Knopf) Recommended by LH at Square Books Oxford MS

  • Purity by Jonathan Franzen

    Purity is a big novel that will support the existing view that one of our finest novelists is Jonathan Franzen.

    The title character, Purity (Pip) Tyler, is a young woman of our time, a recent college graduate with no serious job prospects and a heap of debt. She becomes increasingly disturbed by not knowing who her father is, and signs up for an internship with The Sunlight Project, an internet outfit whose mission is to expose all sorts of secrets, because she thinks that TSP also might help locate her father.

    The group is run by Andreas Wolf, who was born in Cold War East Germany, and his family relationships might seem to make Pip’s look like the Cleavers, but hers are not at all simple, either.

    Psychological, political, and sexual constructs are formed by both state and personal dramas, and how they unravel forms a story with the sort of meaning one hopes for but does not often find in the modern novel.

    Purity by Jonathan Franzen (Farrar Straus Giroux) Recommended by RH at Square Books Oxford MS

  • Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore

    Let's be clear, Christopher Moore is not for the faint of heart.

    But if you love wild imagination, hysterically funny and profane dialogue, multiple plot lines that weave together but allow lots of humorous and (did I mention) profane tangents – he's your guy.

    Secondhand Souls is a sequel to A Dirty Job. I read the former without having read A Dirty Job with no confusion, but it does give a few necessary spoilers from the earlier book. So if you have the leisure, do them in order.

    Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore (William Morrow & Company) Recommended by Rosemary at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy

    In an age when the once romantic American Southwest is beginning to fall victim to the same capitalization as the rest of the country, young and starry-eyed Billy Boyd embarks on a quest of Greek proportions across the unclaimed landscape.

    The Crossing is the second book in McCarthy's Border Trilogy stands on its own beautifully, but rises to an entirely more transcendent level
    when read with the other two books (All the Pretty Horses and Cities of the Plain).

    With his beautiful imagery, deeply sympathetic characters, and haunting social commentary, Cormac McCarthy shines as one of the greatest writers of all time.

    But this book is not for the faint of heart—it will literally change your life.

    The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy (Vintage) Recommended by Kate at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • The Book of Strange New Things by Michael Faber

    I found Michel Faber's The Book of Strange New Things both strange and compulsively readable.

    Michel Faber turns the science fiction premise of planetary colonization on its head. Peter, a Christian evangelist, leaves his wife Bea, and beloved cat, Joshua, at home in England while he serves as replacement missionary to an alien race on the planet Oasis. As Peter and Bea correspond (not easy!) it becomes apparent that Bea is the one having the harder time as life in England deteriorates, while Peter finds his new flock peculiar and exotic, but surprisingly devoted to their faith and the Bible, which they call The Book of Strange New Things.

    Faber, best known for his Victorian novel The Crimson Petal and the White, weaves a compelling story of love, faith, corporate culture, damaged lives, and resilience.

    The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber (Hogarth) Recommended by Sarah at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • When the Doves Disappeared by Sofi Oksanen

    Edgar, aka Eggert Furst, aka Comrade Parts, is one of the most intriguing and pathetic villains I've come across.

    Okasanen's latest novel, like her international best-seller Purge, delves into the political tumult of little-known Estonia, where the overly ambitious Edgar adopts a new identity, while selling out his friends and colleagues, with each regime swing between the Red Army and the Nazis.

    His total lack of conscience and increasing paranoia of exposure by the two people who know him – his alcoholic estranged wife and his freedom-fighting cousin Roland – add just the right hint of dark comedy.

    When the Doves Disappeared by Sofi Oksanen (Knopf Publishing Group) Recommended by Vicki at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • The Last Flight of Poxl West by Daniel Torday

    This utterly compelling, often heartbreaking story of war and lost love is told through a fascinating dual viewpoint.

    We see Poxl West through the eyes of his fifteen-year-old nephew, Eli Goldstein, in 1986, and through Poxl's own memoir of World War II. Eli is in thrall to the romantic war hero that comes alive in his uncle's pages, but soon finds that the complexities of one person's life may hold more than one truth. Torday has crafted a remarkable tale that shines a light on nothing less than storytelling itself.

    The Last Flight of Poxl West by Daniel Torday (St. Martin's Press) Recommended by Tony at Quail Ridge BooksRaleigh NC

  • The Bright Forever by Lee Martin

    The Bright Forever by Lee Martin has all the makings of a good beach read—suspense, compelling characters, and fast-paced action.

    All of this and it contains gorgeous writing! Nine-year-old Katie Mackie disappears when she rides her bike to the library to return some books. Katie's math tutor, Mr. Dees, and a drug-addled newcomer, Raymond R., become the focus of the investigation.

    Each of them has a motive. The final chapter of the book was stunning in what it revealed about one of the characters. I would say that I couldn’t put it down, but several times I had to take a break from the tension! The book was a 2006 Pulitzer Prize finalist and would make a good book club discussion book. The paperback includes a discussion guide.

    The Bright Forever by Lee Martin (Three Rivers Press) Recommended by Mamie at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • Inspector of the Dead by David Morrell

    Inspector of the Dead is an absolutely riveting historical thriller.

    I'd not read one of David Morrell's mysteries before, and now I want to devour them all. I'm even going to check out the original Opium-Eater to learn more about his fascinating protagonist, Thomas De Quincey.

    Inspector of the Dead by David Morrell (Mulholland Books) Recommended by Rosemary at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

    The story is based in China, in a place called Hak Nam.

    Hak Nam is run by drug lords and is filled with brothels. Jin is trying to find her sister, while pretending to be a boy to stay safe and fly under the radar. Dai is trying to find a way out of Hak Nam and he needs Jins help. In return, he agrees to help Jin find her sister. Mei Yee is trapped in a brothel, forced into prostitution with no way out. Dai, Jin and Mei Yee narrate the story, each chapter is told through one of them.

    The Walled City by Ryan Graudin (Little, Brown) Recommended by Christina at Blue Ridge Books Waynesville NC

  • I Stink! by Kate McCullan

    I Stink is a book I read to my seven year old son a few months ago.

    He really enjoyed following the garbage truck through the book to see what he does on his daily route. One thing I liked was, everything the garbage truck ate, he ate alphabetically. This is a great kids book and everyone will love this smelly, sassy garbage truck.

    I Stink! by Kate McCullan (HarperTrophy) Recommended by Christina at Blue Ridge Books Waynesville NC

  • Whispering Shadows by Jan-Philipp Sendker

    Sendker’s new novel, Whispering Shadows, is sure to be as big a hit as The Art of Heart of Hearing Heartbeats.

    Sendker focuses again on what he does best, the human condition; love, trust and friendship are exquisitely woven  into a beautiful narrative that draws the reader into a another world. Paul Leibovitz has made his home in Hong Kong and has had a very successful life. A personal tragedy involving his son leaves him bereft and isolated. As he struggles to navigate the losses in his life, he is drawn into a mystery involving a missing American businessman.

    Paul and his Chinese friend, Zhang, attempt to discover the truth and are caught in a web of distrust and lies. Chinese culture and its past political history  play a significant role in resolving the crime. Sendker offers significant insight into the Chinese psyche as he explores the important issues of love, trust and friendship in this poignant novel.

    A fascinating story that captured my imagination in the first paragraph and didn’t let me go until the end! Loved it!

    Whispering Shadows by Jan-Philipp Sendker (Atria), recommended by Stephanie at Page & Palette Fairhope AL.

  • Lost & Found by Brooke Davis

    Seven year old Millie Bird meets Karl, Agatha and Manny as she goes on a journey to find her mom.

    After Millie’s father passes away, her mom leaves her in the ladies underwear department of a department store; that’s how she meets Karl (87) and Manny (misunderstood). Agatha (82) lives across the street from Millie and once she realizes that Millie’s mom has left her, she decides to join the three of them in the search to find her.

    The four of them get into trouble along the way, making for a humorous and sometimes disappointing journey.

    Lost & Found by Brooke Davis (Dutton) Recommended by Christina at Blue Ridge Books Waynesville NC

  • Love and Ghost Letters by Chantel Acevedo

    This is the first novel by Chantel and it is as good as her other two.

    Josephina is the daughter of a Cuban police sergeant in pre-Castro Cuba. She leads a wonderful life until she falls for a poor man.

    She becomes estranged from her father and at one point thinks her father is dead. But he is not and the letters he writes to her (she thinks she is getting letters from a ghost) reveals his family relationship and his love for her.

    A wonderful story of family with a pervasive Cuban flavor. I loved it! This book won the 2006 International Latino Book Award.

    Love and Ghost Letters by Chantel Acevedo (St. Martin's Griffin) Recommended by Stephanie at Page & Palette Fairhope AL

  • In The Garden of Burning Sand by Corban Addison

    In The Garden of Burning Sand, Corban Addison weaves a wonderful tale of a power struggle in an African city.

    Centered on a case of child molestation, Addison  introduces characters from all walks of life to give you the perspective of what child molestation does to everyone.  The child in this story has Downs Syndrome and she finds people to help her in the court system.  They are limited in what they can legally do, but they still work to bring justice to the child.

    Addison wants to show how we as Americans have to be willing to help these children by bringing DNA labs to African courts  This is definitely a novel with a message , but with skill he gives us an excellent story to surround the issues that he wants us to be aware of.  If this book had been tackled by a less skilled author, it would have been a book that you thought you should read and you would struggle through.  Corbin was able to weave a beautiful story through the difficult issues that he brings to the front in this excellent novel.  I encourage you to read it.

    In The Garden of Burning Sand by Corban Addison (Quercus) Recommended by Molly at Fountainhead Bookstore Hendersonville NC

  • Street of Thieves by Mathias Enard

    In this haunting coming of age story, we meet a young Moroccan named Lakhdar who spends his days in Tangier watching girls, reading French detective novels, and gazing across the water at the elusive lights of Spain.

    When he is kicked out of his house for an improper relationship with his cousin, he begins a journey that takes him from the streets of Tangier to the Straits of Gibraltar, and finally to Barcelona, where he finally finds some semblance of a home despite the squalor and chaos of his surroundings. 

    Set against the backdrop of the Arab Spring and the collapse of the European economy, Street of Thieves is a dark and beautiful portrait of a boy's fateful path to manhood.

    Street of Thieves by Mathias Enard (Open Letter Books) Recommended by Tony at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • Circling the Sun by Paula McLain

    Paula McLain does an exceptional job of capturing Beryl Markham and her singular life, as well as painting a vivid portrait of Kenya and a host of other noteworthy characters, including Karen Blixen, Dennys Finch-Hatton and the two British princes, Harry and David.

    I've been a fan of Beryl Markham's since reading her memoir, West With the Night, in the '80s, and have also read whatever I could about her. This is a beautifully written, authentic novel of the acclaimed horse trainer, pioneer aviator, and gifted writer, about whom Hemingway famously wrote -She can write rings around all of us who consider ourselves as writers...it is really a bloody wonderful book.

    Circling the Sun by Paula McLain (Ballantine) Recommended by Sarah at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

    In this companion novel to Atkinson's bestseller Life After Life she tells the story of Ursula's brother Teddy, the favorite of his mother, his sisters - and, I have to believe, most readers.

    Teddy's story is no less moving than Ursula's, skipping backward and forward in time from his dotage to his childhood and times in-between. The heart of the story is WWII and Teddy's years as an RAF pilot, making forays deep into German territory, an experience that will color the rest of his long life.

    A wonderful novel that totally immerses you in a different world and at the same time makes you question many things about your own world.

    A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson (Little, Brown and Company) Recommended by Sarah at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • Neverhome by Laird Hunt

    Understanding that her more delicate husband would never survive the Civil War, Constance Thompson takes up the moniker Ash, disquises herself as a man and joins the Union army in his stead.

    Inspired by true stories of women who wore blue and gray, readers should not dismiss Neverhome as one novel among many.

    Neverhome by Laird Hunt (Little, Brown and Company) Recommended by Lyn at Square Books Oxford MS

  • A Sport and a Pastime by James Salter

    Salter writes sex sans sentimentality and his breakthrough novel will make you blush and book a flight to France. Following an affair between a Yale dropout and young French woman, Sport avoids the sappy story trap through sparse, seductive prose.

    Buy this book and read it when no one is watching. Literature has rarely been this lusty.

    A Sport and a Pastime by James Salter (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) Recommended by Everett at Square Books Oxford MS

  • I Am Radar By Reif Larsen

    A strange, beautiful book about science, art, identity, war, and storytelling itself, I am Radar stretches its tendrils across continents and generations, and into some pretty ambitious narrative territory.

    When Radar is born with black skin to his pale white parents, a chain of events begins that entangles the particles of the universe from New Jersey to Norway, from Cambodia to the Congo. What happens when a radical Norwegian puppet collective meets the Colonel Kurtz of library books? Mr. Larsen's wild ride of a novel is mind expanding indeed.

    I Am Radar By Reif Larsen (Penguin Press) Recommended by Tony at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia

    Fans of magical realism and international literature will love Cristina Garcia's Dreaming In Cuban.

    Following the lives of three generations of women, her story shows how culture, family, and spirituality shape who we are and the place we choose to call home. Garcia pulls from Santeria, using the religion's relationship with color to create vivid imagery that mirrors the characters' lives. This book is truly entertaining and readers of all ages are sure to find a heroine.

    Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia (Ballantine Books) Recommended by Emily Catherine at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • Epitaph: A Novel of the O.K. Corral by Mary Doria Russell

    Epitaph: A Novel of the OK Corral by Mary Doria Russell

    For two weeks while reading Epitaph, I lived in 1880s Arizona and came to know the people who lived there.

    Russell is a master at putting her meticulous research into creating a vivid picture of time and place, and brilliantly bringing into life her characters. This book continues with the story started in Doc, focusing here on Wyatt Earp. There is so much more to this man than we have seen in movies. If you are a fan of westerns you will love this book and if you are a fan of books that completely absorb, Epitaph will more than reward.

    Epitaph: A Novel of the O.K. Corral by Mary Doria Russell (Ecco Press) Recommended by Rene at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré

    Very short (flash) fiction in graphic novel format.

    Carre has really done something special here, creating intricate stories that last only a few frames. The artwork is lovely, the tales melancholic and slightly gothic.

    It goes by quickly, but you'll want to keep revisiting the individual stories to pick out each and every nuance.

    Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré (Fantagraphics Books) Recommended by Amanda at Inkwood Books Tampa FL 

  • Escape from the Lizzarks by Doug TenNape

    TenNapel has created a very real Reptiles vs. Amphibians world in which Little Herk, the weakest of the Nnewts, is forced to flee his home when his town is invaded by the scary Lizzarks.

    Confined to water due to his underdeveloped legs, Herk navigates the big wide world with an evil overlord hot on his tail. He must find the strength he possesses within himself, different from all the others -- his life depends on it!

    This is a great start to a new graphic novel series for kids. Fans of Zita the Spacegirl or Amulet and Bones--here's something new for you!

    Escape from the Lizzarks by Doug TenNapel (Graphix) Recommended by Amanda at Inkwood Books Tampa FL 

  • The Heart Does Not Grow Back by Fred Venturini

    If you possessed the power of human regeneration, what would you do with it?

    In the case of Dale Sampson, debut novelist Venturini's antihero, you use your "gift" for the ultimate good: reality television. After a horrific incident in high school, Dale realizes he has the ability to spontaneously regenerate his organs and limbs. Following years of depression, he decides -- with the help of his longtime best friend and spurred on by the disastrously romantic idea of saving a high school sweetheart -- to give himself up to the reality show moguls in Hollywood.

    As outlandish as the plot may sound, this novel is thought-provoking and inspirational, with more than a few laughs along the way.

    The Heart Does Not Grow Back by Fred Venturini (Picador) Recommended by Amanda at Inkwood Books Tampa FL

  • Descent by Tim Johnston

    A family vacation in the Rocky Mountains turns tragic when a young girl goes missing.

    Her younger brother is the only one who remembers what happened and is overcome by guilt and denial. The parent’s relationship disintegrates while their young daughter’s whereabouts remain a mystery.

    You will not be able to put this one down.

    Every character is significant to the plot development. There is nothing rushed or gimmicky about this literary thriller. It is a page turner, but only because you want to see how each character is living despite a set of terrible circumstances.

    Easily the best book I’ve read in 5 years. Descent by Tim Johnston (Algonquin) Recommended by Stefani at Inkwood Books Tampa FL

  • The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2014 by Daniel Handler, Lemony Snicket

    With over thirty different pieces this collection has it all... 

    Short stories, non-fiction pieces, poems, excerpts from comics/graphic novels, articles from literary magazines, excerpts from chapbooks and even a transcript from a Night Vale Podcast.

    What also makes this collection so much fun to read is that it was curated by fourteen highschool students.
    Then last, but most certainly not least, there is the added bonus that the editor is Daniel Handler, who also wrote an introduction from Lemony Snicket.

    The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2014 by Daniel Handler, Lemony Snicket (Mariner) Recommended by Erin at Inkwood Books Tampa FL

  • There's Something I Want You to Do: Stories by Charles Baxter

    Often anthologized and quoted writer Charles Baxter has a new collection of stories, There’s Something I Want You to Do.

    The stories are broken down into two sections, Virtues and Vices, each containing five stories. Characters come and go through the ten stories, set mostly in Minneapolis.  That Baxter understands the failings and strengths of humans is evident, and we see once again why he is considered such an authority on the short story form.

    A great choice for book clubs as members can explore Baxter’s interpretation of each of the virtues and vices.

    There's Something I Want You to Do: Stories by Charles Baxter (Pantheon) Recommended by Quail Ridge BooksRaleigh NC

  • The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins

    Rachel's daily train commute takes her past the back yards of a residential street.

    She loves to fantasize about the people who live there. At one house she often sees an attractive young couple on the patio. They seem so happy, so perfect. A few doors down is another house she dreads seeing, yet she cannot avert her eyes. It was her's. Now her ex lives there with his new wife -and child.

    This brilliantly crafted thriller draws you in as it reveals the complex interconnection of these characters' lives. The story is narrated in turns by three characters. Even though they are all females of roughly the same age, Hawkins has created such distinct voices that I always knew who was speaking and totally accepted each of them.

    This is riveting,  intelligent writing. 

    The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (Riverhead) Recommended by Samantha at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC
     

  • Sweetland by Michael Crummey

    Michael Crummey takes you into the heart of the insular fishing community of Chance Cove, Sweetland Island, Newfoundland.

    68-year-old Moses Sweetland's family goes back to the founding of the island. He is the only holdout when the government offers the residents a generous cash settlement to relocate, but only if everyone signs on. Told in sparse, beautiful prose, with generous helpings of the local dialect, the characters and story are reminiscent of Annie Proulx's The Shipping News, where conversations give hints of the tangled history and relationships of family and friends who have known each other for generations.

    Sweetland is a requiem for the intimate knowledge of place that a transient society can just barely remember.

    Sweetland By Michael Crummey (Liveright Publishing) Recommended by Sarah at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • California Bones

    I read all kinds of fantasy novels and it takes new ideas to capture me like California Bones did.

    I have never come up against the idea of Osteomancy being the bringer of magic.  Osteomancy is the use of bones in magic.  That is a simple explanation, but it means that the magic comes from consuming the bones of magical creatures in a kind of soup.

    This book takes place in California, a California that has seceded from the United States.  The places that we know as Amusement Parks, Disneyland and others are, real places of magic.  There is so much magic in this book that you can almost smell it, like the characters can in the story.

    I recommend you read California Bones by Greg Van Eekhout if you want to go on a magic carpet ride.

    California Bones by Greg Van Eekhout (Tor Books) Recommended by Molly at The Fountainhead Bookstore Hendersonville NC

  • Invisible Beasts by Sharona Muir

    This is a fine collection of short fiction by Muir.

    Her main character, Sophia, is the heir to the gift of the family's ability to see invisible beasts. The descriptions of the beasts make you long for these to be real. Some of my favorites are the Truth Bats, the Hypnogator, and the Fine-Print Rotifers.

    The Truth Bats hang in your hair near your ears and help you make your way through the world. They will leave you in a flash if you tell a lie or even a small fib.  Sophia loses hers and makes a desperate attempt to get them back.  She has to tell her sister the truth about the invisible. The Hypnogater is an invisible alligator that has vision problems and that gives him the ability to hypnotize his victims. This invisible has a friend called the Poltergeist Possum, who takes human things. The Fine-Print Rotifers eat the fine print in documents that you have to sign.  It's not that you can't see them, it's that they are being eaten.

    This fine book full of humor and love of animals real or imagined would be a great read for any explorer.

    Invisible Beasts by Sharon Muir (Bellevue Literary Press) Recommended by Molly at The Fountainhead Bookstore, Hendersonville NC.

  • The Happiest People in the World by Brock Clarke

    This wicked little satire features a Danish cartoonist who draws a cartoon about the Muslim reaction to the original Danish cartoon depicting the prophet Muhammad.

    What could possibly go wrong? A comedy of errors ensues when after his house is burned down the cartoonist goes into hiding in the most dysfunctional small town imaginable in upstate New York.

    The Happiest People in the World by Brock Clarke (Algonquin) Recommended by Elizabeth at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • The Bees by Laline Paull

    The Bees is like Watership Down for bees, wasps, and spiders.

    In this political thriller set entirely in a beehive and surrounding fields, a lowly worker bee navigates her way through the different jobs bees do and overthrows a corrupt oligarchy. Since it's a novel, liberties are taken with the science but the basics are covered.

     A great story for anyone who is fascinated by the beehive at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.

    The Bees By Laline Paull ($25.99, Ecco), recommended by Elizabeth at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC.

  • Bathing the Lion by Jonathan Carroll

    Reading Jonathan Carroll can seem like waking from a particularly strange dream. Random details that seemed so vital at the time can prove challenging to explain afterwards.

    While cloaked in the guise of a fairly straightforward science fiction tale of alien "mechanics" battling chaos, Bathing the Lion is also a meditation on life and death, on memory and illusion, and yes, on dreams. It is a small window on the genius of Jonathan Carroll.

    Bathing the Lion by Jonathan Carroll (St. Martin's Press) Recommended by Tony at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • The Marrying of Chani Kaufman by Eve Harris

    A hearty thank you to the Booker Prize committee for bringing this remarkable novel by an unknown author and independent Scottish publisher into the literary limelight!

    Harris opens with a wedding between a terrified bride and groom, practically strangers, and immediately captivates her audience with this restrictive orthodox Jewish community and characters that leap off the page with a vitality that will squeeze your heart while making you laugh out loud.

    The Marrying of Chani Kaufman by Eve Harris ($16.99, Grove Press), recommended by Vicki at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC 

  • Almost Famous Women: Stories by Meghan Mayhew Bergman

    Meghan Mayhew Bergman has done it again. 

    I loved her story collection, Birds of a Lesser Paradise, and am equally impressed with her brilliant new collection, Almost Famous Women.  Bergman takes obscure women from the past and creates a fictional world within the context of their real histories.

    Siamese twins, Lord Byron’s illegitimate daughter, and Oscar Wilde’s niece Dolly are among her chosen subjects. Bergman is a young writer on the rise, and this book, due out in January, will set the new year's bar high for people who love short stories as I do.

    Almost Famous Women: Stories by Megan Mayhew Bergman ($25, Scribner), recommended by Mamie at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • All That Is Solid Melts Into Air by Darragh McKeon

    This surprising new Russian novel by an Irish theater director knocked my socks off!

    With a maturity beyond his years, McKeon exposes the Chernobyl disaster through a luminous cast of characters – the teenage farm boy living 10 km from the reactor, the brilliant and conscientious young surgeon recruited to the scene, and the estranged wife and former journalist suppressed into an assembly line factory job – in this rare glimpse at a waning empire behind the Iron Curtain.

    All That Is Solid Melts Into Air By Darragh McKeon ($14.99, Harper Perennial), recommended by Vicki at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.

  • The Arrival by Shaun Tan

    Without a single word, these beautifully detailed and nuanced drawings tell a story of an immigrant trying to establish a better life for his family in a distant country.

    The visual tone of the book implies a past we may think we recognize, but with symbols and customs unknown to any specific time or place, Tan constructs a land where any of us may imagine the incredible endeavor of being alone in a completely foreign landscape. Well-crafted and keenly empathetic.

    The Arrival By Shaun Tan ($21.99, Arthur A. Levine) Recommended by Rachel at Scuppernong Books, Greensboro NC.

  • Surfmen by Charles Marshall

    We all know about the US Coast Guard and many of us know about the predecessor, the United States Lifesaving Service. But how many of us have thought about how those rescue men became organized?

    Marshall does a wonderful job illuminating the past of the heroes of the coast. Cape Hatteras historical fiction based on fact and full of high adventure.

    Surfmen By Charles Marshall ($19, Fireship Press), recommended by Buxton Village Books Buxton NC

  • I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

    How to do justice to a novel that allows you to know each character so intimately that their pain and triumphs are your own?

    I fell head-over-heels for twins Noah and Jude. I couldn’t resist Noah, who has a penchant for contextualizing his life into paintings, or Jude, who takes to keeping onions in her pockets to avoid serious illness. The two share an almost other-worldly bond, but as life rapidly spins beyond their control and they retreat into their own internalized worlds, they lose touch with the others’ heart.

    Their journey back to one another is absolutely stunning.

    Peppered with beautiful imagery and quirky excerpts from Grandma Sweetwine’s folksy bible, I’ll Give You the Sun is a book you’ll wanna hold close to your heart. Or maybe I should just say, I want to give this book to everyone I have ever or will ever meet.

    I'll Give You the Sun By Jandy Nelson ($17.99, Dial Books for Young Readers), recommended by Amanda, Foxtale Bookshoppe, Woodstock GA.

  • Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

    In Scott Westerfeld's new book Afterworlds the readers are treated to two stories in one!

    Afterworlds is set up with alternating chapters where the reader is first introduced to Darcy Patel, a writer, who has put college and everything else on hold to publish her teen novel aptly titled - Afterworlds. Next the reader is immersed in the world of her novel and gets to follow her character Lizzie along on a suspenseful and thrilling ride.

    If you are looking for a fantastic new read then this book is a must!

    Afterworlds By Scott Westerfeld ($19.99, Simon Pulse), recommended by Erin at Foxtale Bookshoppe, Woodstock GA.

  • Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age by Bohumil Hrabal

    The world is a beautiful place, don't you think? Not because it is, but because I see it that way.

    The title is the first thing I noticed about this book, but it definitely wasn't what kept me reading it--the writing itself took care of that.

    This entire novel is ONE sentence. This is a book meant to be devoured in one sitting--you may not stop to catch your breath. Hrabal is a master and he does something really special here. 

    Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age By Bohumil Hrabal ($14, NYRB Classics) Recommended by O.B. at Scuppernong Books Greensboro NC

  • Zbinden's Progress by Christoph Simon

    This charming novel is a character study of an elderly Swiss man who loves life, loves people—his wife especially—loves to walk, and loves to talk, but struggles to make a connection with his son.

    This is just the book to read on a rainy day, perhaps in front of a fire with a cup of cocoa. Or if you want to slow yourself down to enjoy more of your life.

    Zbinden's Progress by Christoph Simon ($15.95, And Other Stories), recommended by Sue at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • The Mathematician's Shiva by Stuart Rojstaczer

    After a famous mathematician’s death, her colleagues and rivals from all over the world gather along with the family to sit shiva and honor her memory.

    Certain that the late Rachela Karnokovitch has solved the Navier-Stokes problem and taken the solution to her grave, the group looks for clues under floorboards, interrogates her pet parrot, and searches the house.

    Readers, whether they have an appreciation of mathematics or not, will appreciate the love, family, and beauty of this novel.

    The Mathematician's Shiva by Stuart Rojstaczer ($16, Penguin), recommended by Lyn at Square Books Oxford MI.
     

  • Lila by Marilynne Robinson

    Lila is a good reminder of why I love Marilynne Robinson's rich writing.

    The main character, Lila, becomes the wife of the Reverend Ames (a wonderfully gentle and sympathetic man who appears in Robinson's other two books set in Gilead). When we first meet Lila, she is an untamed creature, but through the love of her rescuer, Doll, and Ames, she matures and finds a sense of security.

    Lila By Marilynne Robinson ($26, Farrar, Straus and Giroux), recommended by Mamie at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC.

  • The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero

    When A. inherits a large estate after the sudden suicide of his cousin, he is thrust into the middle of a mystery with deadly consequences.

    Ghosts, cultists, and dreams of unspeakable acts are only the beginning for A. as he tries to uncover the secrets of Acton House.

    A mystery in the tradition of Lovecraft, King, Henry James, and Edith Wharton (who lends this book its title), this book will leave you wanting more because once Cantero has you hooked you won't want to put it down.

    The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero ($26.95, Doubleday) Recommended by Andrew at Square Books Oxford MI

  • Tape by Steven Camden

    Tape is an outstanding debut. Told with crackling prose, shimmering with humor and deeply moving, it will haunt anyone who reads it.

    Record a voice and it lasts forever. In 1993, Ryan records a diary on an old tape. He talks about his mother's death, about his dreams, about his love for a new girl at school who doesn't even know he exists.

    In 2013, Ameliah moves in with her grandmother after her parents die. There, she finds a tape in the spare room. A tape with a boy's voice on it a voice she can't quite hear, but which seems to be speaking to her.

    Ryan and Ameliah are connected by more than just a tape. This is their story.

    Tape by Steven Camden (HarperCollins), recommended by Victoria, Cavalier House Books, Denham Springs LA.

  • Small Blessings by Martha Woodroof

    Set on the idyllic campus of a women's college in the mountains of Virginia, Small Blessings is a charming first novel with characters who are both sympathetic but also deeply wounded by life's arbitrary injustices. Woodroof has written a poignant story about the lives of lovely, imperfect people and their difficult choices.

    Small Blessings by Martha Woodroof ($25.99, St. Martin's Press), recommended by Sarah, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.

  • A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

    In this utterly delightful debut by Swedish author Backman we meet a grumpy, opinionated curmudgeon who thinks he has nothing left to live for after the loss of his wife and his job.

    His attempts to end his misery are continually thwarted by the annoying new neighbors who drag him begrudgingly back to his life and into theirs. This bittersweet tale might well make you cry, will definitely make you laugh, and may even make you want to drive a Saab for the rest of your life.

    A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman ($26, Atria Books), recommended by Tony at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.

  • The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness

    Looking to dive into a world of witches, vampires, and demons?

    Deborah Harkness' All Souls trilogy, which concludes with The Book of Life, is the richest portrayal of that universe since Dark Shadows (and I say that with pleasure and affection). I don't want to leak any spoilers here – you have to read the trilogy in sequence – but Harkness has invented a fascinating history for her creatures.

    This is literary adult fantasy that stays deeply attached to the real world. And if you've read A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night, you'll be very satisfied with the passion, terror, and (yes) humor Harkness uses to bring the saga of the Bishops and Clairmonts to a conclusion.

    The Book of Life By Deborah Harkness ($28.95, Viking Adult), recommended by Rosemary, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.

  • Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

    Jodi Picoult's Leaving Time was everything a Picoult fan could want and more. Told from four different points of view, it is a story of a young girl searching for her mother, a missing elephant researcher, and the two people she has enlisted to help her: a once famous psychic who has lost her ability to communicate with the dead, and a down on his luck private investigator.

    Picoult employs the use of the elephants, as she has done with many different subjects throughout her novels, to further the story while teaching the reader countless new facts about the majestic creatures, mainly how they grieve. Time has the familiar Picoult tone but is vastly different from her previous novels. Picoult's uncanny ability to get inside the head of each character, man or woman, child or adult, keeps us connected to each character, hanging on every word to find out what each individual fate will be.

    Even Picoult's biggest fans, who have come to expect shocks, won't see the twist ending coming and that is perhaps the most impressive thing about the consistently unpredictable Jodi Picoult.

    Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult ($28, Ballantine), recommended by Chelsea, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.

  • The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher: Stories by Hilary Mantel

    Two-time Man Booker Prize Winner Hilary Mantel amazed me with her new collection of stories, The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher. She sees with literary vision that doesn't miss a single detail; her writing makes me laugh, cringe,
    and ache. I believe Mantel is one of our finest 21st century writers.

    The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher: Stories by Hilary Mantel ($37, Henry Holt & Company), recommended by Mamie, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.

  • The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

    In the first Strike Mystery, The Cuckoo's Calling, Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling) creates an intriguing P.I.,
    Cormoran Strike, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan who lost a leg to an IED.

    This second in the series has a universally disliked novelist murdered after writing a libelous book maliciously satirizing many people in the publishing world. Galbraith is a masterful storyteller and this book doesn't disappoint; I read it every spare minute I could get.

    The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith ($28 Mulholland Books), recommended by Trish, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.

  • The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain

    When Riley MacPherson takes on the task of executor of her father's estate, she finds evidence that causes her to doubt virtually everything she'd believed about her family. What ensues is a fast paced, engrossing story of her determination to learn the truth - no matter what that might be. There are so many twists and turns in this plot, I was up half the night to find out how it would end. I never saw it coming!

    The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain ($27.99, St. Martin's Press), recommended by Samantha, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.

  • Killed at the Whim of a Hat: A Jimm Juree Mystery by Colin Cotterill

    Jimm Juree, first-person narrator of this excellent mystery, is a crime reporter out of work. Her mother, with early dementia, sold the family home and business and relocated to southern, rural Thailand. Jimm's grandfather, a retired cop, rarely talks and her younger brother who wants to be a world-class body builder moved with the family; her older brother, a transgendered former beauty queen now computer hacker stayed in the city.

    Suddenly, things begin to happen in their new village: A Volkswagon van, complete with two skeletons, is discovered by a well-digger then a visiting Buddist abbott is violently murdered shortly after Jimm meets a nun and a monk who become suspects in the case. As Jimm works the case hoping to break back into news, she finds allies in unexpected places.

    The charm of Whim isn't the crime story. It's the characters, the whimsey, and the humor woven subtly through the novel that make it a cut above the rest. Of course, the chapter headings, quotes from President Malaprop, are well worth the read. Don't miss the beginning of this excellent new series!

    NOTE: Many readers will remember Cotterill's wonderful series about Dr. Siri, a 70-something Laotian county coroner.
    I predict even more fans for Jimm!

    Killed at the Whim of a Hat: A Jimm Juree Mystery by Colin Cotterill ($18.99, Minotaur), recommended by Molly, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.

  • The Blackhouse by Peter May

    This is the first in a series featuring a policeman who is sent to his childhood home of Lewis Island in Scotland's Outer Hebrides, -a formidable and forbidding world where tradition rules and people adhere to ancient ways of life- to investigate a grisly murder involving islanders he's known all his life.

    It's riveting and beautifully written.

    The Blackhouse By Peter May ($14.99, Quercus Books) Recommended by Nancy, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.

  • The Ballad of the Sad Café by Carson McCullers

    I came across this brilliant little gem of a novella in a used bookstore while traveling, and it immediately became one of my favorite Southern folk tales.

    Though perhaps diamond in the rough would be a more fitting epithet, as its climactic battle is fought not by the noble knights or graceful gods of traditional epics, but rather by the comically gothic – almost grotesque – celebrities of an isolated Southern town. McCullers writes with such a vivid intensity of detail that the history of this short-lived cafe (like many of her short stories, especially Wunderkind) dwells in my memory more like a film than a story in a book.

    The Ballad of the Sad Cafe: Carson McCullers' Novella Adapted for the Stage by Edward Albee, Carson McCullers ($12.95, Scribner), recommended by Vicki, Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC.

  • How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky by Lydia Netzer

    Two best friends raise their children to be perfect mates. Until the kids are three, they are constant companions. Then they are separated. The plan is that they will meet someday, and since they have so much in common, they will fall in love and be happy. This is wild, edgy, creative fiction!

    How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky by Lydia Netzer ($25.99, St. Martin's Press), recommended by Helen at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.

  • Save The Date by Mary Kay Andrews

    Beach trip checklist:
    - sunscreen
    - sunglasses
    - lounge chair
    - great summer

    A talented young florist tries to make a go of her business in Savannah and finds more than her share of challenges along the way. This latest from Mary Kay has everything you could want: Romance; break ups; drama; intrigue. Oh, did I mention Goldendoodles? A total escape! I had so much fun reading this book!

    Save The Date by Mary Kay Andrews ($26.99, St. Martin's Press), recommended by Samantha, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • The Possibility of an Island by Michel Houellebecq

    A legitimate masterpiece, mixing antiseptic, dystopian sci-fi with reflections on aging, love and lonlieness.

    Hoeullebecq's genius is on full display, switching between philosophical musings and caustic misanthropy while somehow retaining a lowkey humanity. A singular bit of fiction.

    The Possibility of an Island by Michel Houellebecq, Gavin Bowd ($16, Vintage Books USA), recommended by Justin, Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe, Asheville, NC.

  • Happy Death by Albert Camus

    His first book and my favorite.

    I admit, although I don't like how he portrays most women in this book, I appreciate his descriptions, his words, how real and raw many parts are, how I can feel a moment described.

    I pick up this book every year at different seasons because it feels changed to me depending on the time of the year, my age in life. It's hard to describe a book I always go back to, to attempt an explanation on why I love it, I just do.

    Happy Death By Albert Camus ($15, Vintage), recommended by Erin, Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe, Asheville, NC.

  • Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

    In 1953, Boy Novak runs away from her home on the Lower East Side of New York and ends up in a small town in Massachusetts.

    She marries Arturo Whitman, a widower with an adored daughter named Snow, and the three live happily until the birth of Bird, whose dark skin exposes the Whitmans as African-Americans passing for white.

    Oyeyemi is a stunning talent who examines the disparity in how we perceive ourselves and how we allow others to perceive us. Boy, Snow, Bird is a bewitching and beguiling tale with unforgettable characters.

    Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi ($27.95, Riverhead Books), recommended by Amanda, Inkwood Books Tampa, FL.

  • Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

    A beautifully told coming of age story that takes an amazing turn you won't see coming. Andrew Smith is a genius and you won't believe how much you love this book. Oh...and then there are the six foot tall praying mantises!

    Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith ($18.99, Dutton Juvenile), recommended by Christine, Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe, Asheville NC.

  • Dark Eden by Chris Beckett

    Eden, a world where no sunlight reaches the surface, illuminated only by the lantern flowers hanging from the trees above, is home to descendents of the two survivors of a crash-landed ship, generations removed from Earth.

    Beckett masterfully brings this strange and alien world to life as a small group pushes out from their small valley of light. Highly recommended for fans of well-written science-fiction.

    Dark Eden by Chris Beckett ($15, Broadway Books), recommended by Ted, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick

    The year is 2073 when a visitor comes to a very remote island. 

    In seven stories going back, way back, in time we see a painter, vampire, Viking, and others that are connected to this island and bound in some way by an agonizing love. The writing is breathtaking and powerful art. You won't be able to put this book down or stop thinking of it. Ages 14+

    Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick ($17.99, Roaring Brook Press), recommended by Carol, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Redeployment by Phil Klay

    Redeployment is a powerful debut by an exciting new voice.

    With their realistic and sometimes brutal details, these stories by a former Marine captain and Iraq war veteran are not always easy to read. But ultimately they proved to be harder to stop reading.  Klay gives voice to a variety of viewpoints through nuanced characters and prose that strikes a balance between bitter irony and real emotional depth.

    Redeployment By Phil Klay ($26.95, Penguin), recommended by Tony, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg

    I love the quirky, eccentric characters in Fannie Flagg’s books, and this one is full of them. At 59 (or is she 60?), Sookie finds she is not who she thought she was and her subsequent search for answers takes her away from small-town Alabama life to Poland, Wisconsin, Texas and California and back in time to the World War II era and a little known group of independent and brave women who gave their all to the war effort as pilots. Comical situations as well as zany, off-beat personalities give heart and warmth to Sookie’s emotional conundrum. It is a tribute to family, friendship and the strength of the human spirit. A heart-warming feel-good read.

    The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion By Fannie Flagg ($27, Random House), recommended by Pat, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

    Fall under the spell of the magical Sarah Addison Allen as she weaves a Southern fairytale of a lost lake, a boy who turned himself into an alligator, and a series of second chances for newly-widowed Kate, her daughter Devin, and her eccentric great-aunt Eby.

    Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen ($9.99, St. Martin's Press), recommended by Jill, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

     

  • Hollow Earth by John Barrowman & Carole E. Barrowman

    Twins Matt and Em are special -- they're Animare, people who can animate their drawings into physical manifestations.

    When their powers become unexpectedly strong for such young children, their mom is forced to move them to the protection of their paternal grandfather's estate. Unfortunately, the people who want control of Matt and Em won't be put off so easily, and the twins must find their family secrets in order to be able to protect themselves.

    Fans of Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series will be thrilled to discover this action-packed and magical adventure.

    Hollow Earth by John Barrowman (Aladdin) Recommended by Melissa at Fiction Addiction, Greenville SC

  • All the Truth That's In Me by Julie Berry

    Judith Finch was held captive for two years before being returned to her hometown,maimed and mute for fear of what she mightreveal.To the people of Roswell Station,including her own mother, she's been cursed. Theone bright spot in her life is Lucas, the boyshe's loved since she was a girl but who doesn'tgive her a second glance.After Roswell Stationis attacked, Judith has to make a decision --stay silent and let people make their ownconclusions, or reveal all the truth that's inher.Berry's poetic language makes this mysteryand love story a captivating read that you won'twant to put down until you know everything thatJudith has to say.

    All the Truth That's In Me by Julie Berry($17.99, Viking Juvenile), recommended by Melissa, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

  • City of Women by David Gillham

    This debut novel is a thriller, a love story, a story of courage and the many unknown heroes who made life and death decisions in the face of the horror that was Berlin in 1943.

    Gillham's language is stunning and his characters are real, with all their flaws and all their bravery. This is a book that will stay with me for a long, long time.

    City of Women By David R. Gillham ($16, Berkley Trade), recommended by Rene, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yak; Lark Pien

    Part historical novel and part fantasy, Boxers & Saints are companion graphic novels re-imagining the Boxer Rebellion. Yang's art style is cartoonishly simple and colorful, in deliberate contrast to the messy, multifaceted events he recounts. Recommended for teen readers and up.

    Boxers & Saints Boxed Set By Gene Luen Yang ($34.99, First Second), recommended by Rachel, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Radiance of Tomorrow by Ishmael Beah

    In Radiance of Tomorrow, Beah turns to fiction to tell the  story of a group of villagers who return home at the end of war to reclaim their lives and culture. This is a book of hope, longing, large corruption and small mercies, from a master storyteller.

    Radiance of Tomorrow By Ishmael Beah ($14, Sarah Crichton Books), recommended by Sarah, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.