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RECENT RECOMMENDATIONS FROM SOUTHERN INDIES...

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.

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.

What an astonishing book! It shines a spotlight on Leitzel and Alfredo, the two most famous stars in circus history. Leitzel, tiny with golden hair, did one hundred flips on Roman rings, and Alfredo did The Triple, three somersaults while flying between trapezes. Queen of the Air recounts their hard beginnings, their star-crossed love, and their tragic ends. You'll feel like you have a seat under the Big Top!

Queen of the Air: A True Story of Love and Tragedy at the Circus  by Dean N. Jensen ($26, Crown), recommended by Helen, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

I read this my first year of college when I was still trying to decide if I wanted to write.

Chapter 3 is titled SHITTY FIRST DRAFTS.

It's full of good advice and encouragement for the beginning writer and would make a great gift. It's less an instruction book than a series of stories focused on the process. It's informal and funny and I was better for it.

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott (Anchor) Recommended by Dottie at Square Books Oxford MS 

While I'm not entirely pleased that my kittens seem to have taken this up as a manual of behavior. Seriously, I often ask them--AGAIN?!

The specificity and truthfulness of this book of poems -- ostensibly written by cats, although I'm pretty suspicious that a human helped a bit -- makes it my all-time favorite gift for cat people, and one of our best sellers in the store to boot. Whether modern or traditional, with iambs or without, these poems all manage to hit home in a way that's both humorous and wince-inducing.

I Could Pee on This: And Other Poems by Cats by Francesco Marciuliano ($12.95, Chronicle Books), recommended by Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

Inspector Harry Hole of the Oslo Crime Squad is dispatched to Sydney to observe a murder case. Harry is free to offer assistance, but he has firm instructions to stay out of trouble.

The victim is a twenty-three year old Norwegian woman who is a minor celebrity back home. Never one to sit on the sidelines, Harry befriends one of the lead detectives, and one of the witnesses, as he is drawn deeper into the case.  Together, they discover that this is only the latest in a string of unsolved murders, and the pattern points toward a psychopath working his way across the country.

The Bat: The First Inspector Harry Hole Novel by Jo Nesbø (Vintage) Recommended by Steve at Fountain Bookstore Richmond VA

On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest.

Breq is both more than she seems and less than she was. Years ago, she was the Justice of Toren--a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of corpse soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy.

An act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with only one fragile human body. And only one purpose--to revenge herself on Anaander Mianaai, many-bodied, near-immortal Lord of the Radch.

Ancillary Justice By Ann Leckie (Orbit) Recommended by Steve at Fountain Bookstore Richmond VA