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RECENT RECOMMENDATIONS FROM SOUTHERN INDIES...
Jade War does absolutely everything you want from a sequel: expanding the world, raising the stakes, and further developing characters I loved from Jade City. Set largely in the fictional East-Asian inspired island of Kekon, Fonda Lee’s novel is an epic fantasy crime drama following the struggles of the Kaul family, leaders of the No Peak Clan, as they fight to maintain control of the island and it’s magical jade trade that grants users enhanced abilities.
Just like the first book, Jade War reads like a glorious mash-up of The Godfather and classic Hong Kong crime films; full of intense action, betrayal, and an expansive cast of memorable characters. Kekon and the capital city of Janloon feel vibrantly gritty and it’s a credit to Lee’s writing and worldbuilding that the cast never feels overstuffed and I never got bogged down in the details of trying to remember who is with what clan or the mechanics of the jade "magic." A suspenseful, barn-burner of a novel and I cannot wait to see how Lee brings this to a thundering conclusion in Book Three.
Jade War by Fonda Lee ($26.00*, Orbit), recommended by Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC.
I was so nervous about a sophomore slump, but hooray! — there was nothing to be worried about.The Lager Queen of Minnesota is as delightful and well-written as Stradal's debut, Kitchens of the Great Midwest, and I'm consistently impressed with his ability to make you deeply care about a place and its people. I’m a teetotaler from the South, and now I want to move to Minnesota and drink beer, so... I think it’s safe to say I loved this book. (No previous knowledge or appreciation of lager required.)
The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal ($26.00*, Pamela Dorman Books), recommended by The Bookshelf, Thomasville, GA.
What a charming and utterly lovable book! I kept finding myself grinning and laughing out-loud (when I wasn't cringing at the content that was WAY too relatable). I recommend this for anyone looking for a fun romp through dating in your mid-twenties and anyone interested in learning a new perspective on Indian culture.
Under mounting pressure to get married and "start" her life, twenty-six year old English teacher Leila makes a deal with her parents -- if she can't find her own husband in three months, her parents can arrange a marriage for her. Thus we tumble with Leila through awkward first dates, ambush dates, speed dating, online dating and more as she attempts to find her Bollywood romance before her parents can set her up with a boring (or worse! OLD!) mate. Along the way, Leila learns more about herself, her culture, and her family.
The Marriage Clock by Zara Raheem ($15.99*, William Morrow Paperbacks), recommended by Story on the Square, McDonough, GA.
This fun and exciting scifi thriller is a page-turner and the perfect weekend read! What happened to the crew of the spaceship House of Wisdom? No one really knows. All of its crew members died within a 24-hour period. The government states that a lethal virus was intentionally released by a crew member. The ship is under quarantine as it’s not safe to go onboard. But someone is going to try. A small group from one of Earth’s desert cults is planning to board, clear and cleanup the ship and take it for themselves. They have even planned to kidnap the one survivor of the virus, Jas Bhattacharya, the son of the ship’s engineer, who can insure their entrance to the ship. But the government was wrong about what killed the crew.
And the small group boarding the ship is about to find out that what killed the crew is still there on the ship, waiting for another chance.
Salvation Day by Kali Wallace ($26.00*, Berkley), recommended by The Little Bookshop, Midlothian, VA.
Late Migrations is a gorgeous, somber treasure of a book. Death and its many forms permeate Margaret Renkl’s meditative work; from the death of her father to the death of a small bird in the road, grief is a constant companion throughout these pages. But the sorrow never becomes overwhelming; in fact, each passage takes on a unique, bittersweet wisdom that can only be gained by experiencing loss. Renkl’s part memoir, part nature writing, and part essay collection is a such a unique reading experience, and one I will remember and recommend for many years to come.
Late Migrations by Margaret Renkl ($24.00*, Milkweed Editions), recommended by Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC.
Martin Clark's newest novel is a great summer read, fast moving with interesting characters and recognizable settings for those in a particular part of southwestern Virginia. In the book attorney Kevin Moore find himself in squeezed between a shady land-deal set-up and his need to redeem himself for earlier missteps. His already lost his wife, his home, his license and everything else he'd worked for. But he's determined to get as much of that back as he can. And he's willing to use every legal (and a couple of not so legal) tricks to get there.
Clark's characters are funny and familiar without becoming cliches. He faces his complicated legal situation while battling an irrational health insurance company and an overly enthusiastic dog. While watching is wife fade from his life, he's grabbing at budding romance.
Readers will feel sorry for Kevin less from his every more complicated troubles than because he's determined not to feel sorry for himself. You'll laugh out loud at Kevin's problems because they could so easily be our own. And with luck ours will tied up neatly in the end too.
The Substitution Order by Martin Clark ($27.95*, Knopf), recommended by Book No Further, Roanoke, VA.
Kelly is a successful robotics engineer who is unlucky in love, much to her family's chagrin. She's proud of her master's degree and her prestigious job but her parents and sister would like nothing more than for her to meet a nice man to bring to her sister's upcoming wedding. Kelly can't take the family pressure and builds Ethan, the perfect man - the only exception is that he's a robot. She grows attached to Ethan fast and as the wedding approaches, she wonders how she'll be able to say goodbye once it's over. Or does she have to?
This is a fun, original romance really caught me up in the story. The idea is a little silly but it's so endearing I couldn't resist but rooting for the characters and hoping for a happy ending for Kelly.
The Plus One by Sarah Archer ($16.00*, G.P. Putnam's Sons), recommended by Fountain Books, Richmond, VA.