Lady Banks Bookshelf

Lady Banks Pick of the Week

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 Read This Now Index!


The Gown by Jennifer RobsonIn 1947, British Princess Elizabeth stood before her groom and the world a vision in an exquisitely embroidered wedding gown from the design house of Norman Hartnell. Seven decades later, a young Canadian journalist inherits a handful of intricate embroidery samples from her beloved Nan which sets her off in search of her grandmother's mysterious past.

Author Jennifer Robson deftly leads the reader back and forth through time in the desolation of post-war London through the eyes of a working girl and a French Holocaust survivor.

There were many hands involved in the creation of the royal wedding gown. Those hands belonged to people with lives and stories to tell--Robson honors these in her unforgettable novel, The Gown.

The Gown by Jennifer Robson ($16.99*, William Morrow Paperbacks), recommended by The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

Love Makes a Family by Sophie BeerLove this book and all the ways it celebrates love! Showing children all the different ways that families show love--and all the different kinds of families there are--with such a fun, vibrant illustrations makes this really special!

Love Makes a Family by Sophie Beer ($11.99*, Dial Books), recommended by Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC.

#Chill by Bryan E. RobinsonRobinson's approach to workaholism comes from his own experience, so it is a compassionate and knowing approach to a subject that could otherwise get thorny. Still, you'll want to give it to your boss and your boss's boss, and anyone else whose own workaholism keeps you at your desk after hours. 

#Chill by Bryan E. Robinson ($22.99*, William Morrow), recommended by Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe, Asheville, NC.

The Adults by Caroline HulseExes Matt and Claire are spending the Christmas holiday with their daughter and their new partners--what could go wrong? This opens with the reveal of an injury caused by an unknown assailant to one of the adult partners, and the story emerges chapter by chapter.

Friendly exes and not-so-friendly new partners struggle to keep the peace for young Scarlett, who complicates things with her imaginary bunny friend Posey. Emotions run high as the BAC raises in the adults and the Mexican standoff at the end is hilarious even during its tense moments.

This is an honest look at how to keep parental relationships good while blending new partners into the mix, and it will make you feel great about your own dysfunctional family.

The Adults by Caroline Hulse ($26.00*, Random House), recommended by Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA.

The Other Miss Bridgerton by Julia QuinnPoppy Bridgerton is just finishing her second season and she has successfully avoided marriage. While she's relaxing by the sea at her friend's estate, her curiosity gets the better of her and she discovers a hidden pirate's cave, full of booty. Before she can get away, the pirates find her and she's smuggled on board where she meets their dashing captain, Andrew James. Nautical romance ahoy!

Julia Quinn hasn't written a bad book--all are excellent and this one is no exception.

The Other Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn ($26.99*, Avon Books), recommended by Bookmiser, Roswell, GA.

The Disasters by M.K. EnglandImmensely original and unbelievably fun! The Disasters is a heart stopping space opera, where teen galactic outcasts are the stars.  Full of diversity, humor, and amazing worldbuilding, the action starts in the first chapter and only increases as Nax and his fellow space misfits run, hide and fight to uncover a vast conspiracy. One of the best debuts I've read of 2018! 

The Disasters by M.K. England ($17.99*, HarperTeen), recommended by Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA.

Love, Z by Jessie SimaThis book is so adorable and sweet! It will make adults and kids laugh and get teary-eyed: the perfect picture-book combo. 

Love, Z by Jessie Sima ($17.99*, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers), recommended by Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

I'll Love You Till the Cows Come Home by Kathryn Cristaldi, Kristyna Litten (Illustrator)Oh my goodness, this is the sweetest thing I have read in quite a while. It just makes me want to gather my three-year-old to sit in my lap and read, "I will love you til the cows come home, from a trip to mars through skies unknown, in a rocket ship made of glass and stone... I will love you til the cows come home."

I'll Love You Till the Cows Come Home by Kathryn Cristaldi, Kristyna Litten (Illustrator) ($17.99*, HarperCollins), recommended by The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

Tell Them of Battles, Kings, and Elephants by Mathias EnardAn elegantly written piece of historical fiction that depicts Michelangelo as a conflicted, unsure genius. At times mysterious and poetic, Énard has a knack for storytelling, turning this short character study into a piece of political intrigue.

Tell Them of Battles, Kings, and Elephants by Mathias Énard ($19.95*, New Directions Publishing Corporation), recommended by Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe, Asheville, NC.

Unclay by T.F. PowysSay Jonathan Strange, Mr. Norrell, and Lolita had a ménage à trois in a quaint English village inhabited by the likes of Jack the Ripper and Little Dorrit. Wonderful, readable, oddly moving and also...odd. First published in 1931--or wait, maybe that was 1731? Or maybe 2431? One of them. 

Unclay by T.F. Powys ($16.95*, New Directions Publishing Corporation), recommended by Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

The Museum of Modern Love by Heather RoseIt's pretty rare for a book to make me cry anymore, but I found my eyes welling up with tears of heartbreak and joy and the end of The Museum of Modern Love. This book is a fictionalized account of the life of the performance artist Marina Abromovic, a study of her most famous work and the effect it had on the individuals who witnessed it. Rose captures the complexity of Abromovic's work and the woman herself.

The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose ($15.95*, Algonquin Books), recommended by Fountain Books, Richmond, VA.

This Lie Will Kill You by Chelsea PitcherFive teens are invited to a locked-room, murder mystery night and the one who solves the mystery will will a $50,000 scholarship. But when they arrive and find out who their competition is for this scholarship, they realize that they have an actual death (murder?) in common.  They quickly realize that the scholarship was a ruse and they're really there to figure out/confess to what happened a year about when another boy died.

This is a fast paced thriller, very much in the vein of I Know What You Did Last Summer, very much Clue meets Pretty Little Liars.

This Lie Will Kill You by Chelsea Pitcher ($17.99*, Margaret K. McElderry Books), recommended by Bookmiser, Inc., Roswell, GA.

Hearts of the Missing by Carol PotenzaAfter being forced to move and give up law school Nicky Matthews is finally doing something she really loves. She is a police sergeant with the Pueblo, New Mexico police force and she is the liaison with the Fire-Skye Indian reservation. Nicky has made many friends on the res and she is respected by the residents, but she is not liked at all by her boss who can’t wait to catch her doing something wrong. When a suicide seems to be linked to other missing Fire-Skye people, Nicky defies her boss and investigates. Ancient beliefs and culture, greed, revenge, and modern day genetics all mix together in this beautifully written police procedural.   

Hearts of the Missing by Carol Potenza ($26.99*, Minotaur Books), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

Once Upon a River by Diane SetterfiledI loved The Thirteenth Tale, so I was excited to see that Diane Setterfield has a new novel for us. I enjoyed the atmospheric writing, the depth and range of the characters, and the beautiful setting. The river is a major player in the story, and Setterfield describes it with great affection and respect. This book isn't exactly fantasy but it isn't exactly straight realism, either. The mixture worked for me. I also liked the pacing, much like a river...sometimes turbulent, sometimes peaceful, always moving forward. This will be a great book for lovers of historical fiction willing to try something different.

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfiled ($28.00*, Atria/Emily Bestler Books), recommended by Sunrise Books, High Point, NC.

Radiant Shimmering Light by Sarah SeleckyThis book is so much fun! Artist Lilian Quick's world begins to change when a long lost cousin visits her town on a speaking tour. Her cousin, now known only as Eleven, is the face of a very successful health, spiritual and lifestyle online community with high priced and lucrative courses in real life. Lilian becomes engaged with the community and readers fall in love with her! A beach read for the winter time, this is a fun book. 

Radiant Shimmering Light by Sarah Selecky ($27.00*, Bloomsbury Publishing), recommended by The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

The Winters by Lisa GabrieleRaised in the Caymans, the nameless female character is working off a big debt alone and lonely for a boating company when she meets Max Winter, a state senator who has recently been widowed.  A short month after they meet, he proposes and pays off her debt, taking her back to his island estate in New York where she has to contend with her future step daughter, Dani. Dani is difficult, to say the least.

I'm a big fan of the gothic novel, so a modern retelling of du Maurier's Rebecca is RIGHT up my alley.  I very much enjoyed this story and it kept me turning pages long after I should have gone to sleep!

The Winters by Lisa Gabriele ($26.00*, Viking), recommended by Bookmiser, Roswell, GA.

One Day in December by Josie SilverI love a good love story, and this one checks all the boxes: love triangle, star-crossed lovers, tests of friendship, and heartbreak all mixed in.

Laurie and Jack lock eyes through a bus window one cold day in December, and she is instantly in love. She and her BFF Sarah search for the gorgeous Bus Boy with no success. Laurie has just about come to terms with the idea that it was just not meant to be when Sarah introduces Laurie to her new boyfriend, with whom she is madly in love. You guessed it, it's Bus Boy. Neither Jack nor Laurie fesses up, and the three end up finding comfort and a friendship that lasts years. Laurie marries another man and everyone moves on with life, but it's impossible for her to escape that years-old daydream.

You'll root for every character in this book and wait with bated breath to see who ends up happy and who ends up together. A great read for fans of Emily Griffith or Sophie Kinsella. 

One Day in December by Josie Silver ($16.00*, Broadway Books), recommended by Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA.

Melmoth by Sarah PerryWith its echoes of Mary Shelley and menacing creature in Frankenstein, Melmoth reads deliciously like an 18th-century Gothic novel. Mysterious pages describe a legendary shrouded figure--Melmoth the Wanderer--who watches those who have sins and secrets to hide.

Propulsive, eerie, heartrending, and hopeful, Sarah Perry's worthy successor to The Essex Serpent bring a chill of recognition to each of us who has acted badly and peered over our shoulder to see if someone was watching.

Melmoth by Sarah Perry ($27.99*, Custom House), recommended by Malaprop's Books and Cafe, Asheville, NC.


Grenade by Alan GratzThe harsh reality of war is presented here with an abundance of raw details. Told in contrasting view points this book opens up the horrors of both sides of a war and the real casualties witnessed on the front. Ray left home against his father's wishes to join in the fight. He was sent to fight the Japanese army. He was told how horrible the opposition was and needed not only to survive but protect his fellow Marines.

Hideki is Ray's enemy living with his family on Okinawa. He is thrown into the fray after being taken out of school. Americans are his enemy and he must protect his family and country from these evil people. When Ray's and Hideki's worlds collide, their lives change forever.

Fans of Alan Gratz will be gratzified to know his next book is historical fiction at its finest.

Grenade by Alan Gratz ($17.99*, Scholastic Press), recommended by Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, Wake Forest.

The Witch Elm by Tana FrenchReading Tana French means disappearing into another life for a while. Her stories aren't meant to be slick or flashy, but deliberate, intricate studies of characters and their motivations. The Witch Elm is no different, as it follows the unraveling of Toby starting the night he surprises two burglars in his apartment. As you learn the secrets and weaknesses of Toby and his family, you begin to realize that while finding out what happened is enjoyable and surprising, finding out the how and the why is even better.

The Witch Elm by Tana French ($28.00*, Viking), recommended by Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

What If It's Us by Becky Albertalli, Adam Silvera When Arthur goes to New York for the summer, he expects it to be a lot like the Broadway plays he adores. But it's not. Ben, on the other hand, is much more pragmatic, in that native New Yorker way. When they meet, Arthur falls head over heels almost immediately, and his enthusiasm may rub off a bit on Ben...but things don't exactly work out in real life the way they do on stage. With alternating chapters from Arthur's and Ben's points of view, this is another wonderful read from Albertalli and Silvera, and fans of both authors won't be disappointed (and fans of musical theater will love it even more).

What If It's Us by Becky Albertalli, Adam Silvera  ($18.99*, HarperTeen), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.