GREAT READS HANDPICKED BY GREAT SOUTHERN BOOKSELLERS...

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2017 Southern Book Prize

The votes are in! Southern indie booksellers have chosen the finalists for Southern Book Prize. Formerly known as the SIBA Book Award, the Southern Book Prize features an expanded list of categories – including seven different fiction and three nonfiction categories. Finalists were chosen by Southern independent booksellers from the long list ballot. The finalist titles will be sent to juried panels of booksellers, who will then decide on the winners in each category. Winners will be announced on July 4, “Independents Day.”

Searching for a particular 2017 Southern Book Prize finalist? Type in any part of the book title or author's name in the box below and hit enter:

  • A Lowcountry Christmas by Mary Alice Monroe

    A wounded warrior and his younger brother discover the true meaning of Christmas in this timeless story of family bonds.

    As far as ten-year-old Miller McClellan is concerned, it's the worst Christmas ever. His father's shrimp boat is docked, his mother is working two jobs, and with finances strained, Miller is told they can't afford the dog he desperately wants. "Your brother's return from war is our family's gift," his parents tell him. But when Taylor returns with PTSD, family strains darken the holidays. 

    Then Taylor's service dog arrives--a large black Labrador/Great Dane named Thor. His brother even got the dog When Miller goes out on Christmas Eve with his father's axe, determined to get his family the tree they can't afford, he takes the dog for company--but accidentally winds up lost in the wild forest. The splintered family must come together to rediscover their strengths, family bond, and the true meaning of Christmas.

    FICTION: Family Life | A Lowcountry Christmas by Mary Alice Monroe (Gallery Books, 9781501125539) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • A Lowcountry Heart by Pat Conroy

    Final words and heartfelt remembrances from bestselling author Pat Conroy take center stage in this winning nonfiction collection, supplemented by touching pieces from Conroy’s many friends.

    This new volume of Pat Conroy’s nonfiction brings together some of the most charming interviews, magazine articles, speeches, and letters from his long literary career, many of them addressed directly to his readers with his habitual greeting, “Hey, out there.” Ranging across diverse subjects, such as favorite recent reads, the challenge of staying motivated to exercise, and processing the loss of dear friends, Conroy’s eminently memorable pieces offer a unique window into the life of a true titan of Southern writing.

    With a beautiful introduction from his widow, novelist Cassandra King, A Lowcountry Heart also honors Conroy’s legacy and the innumerable lives he touched. Finally, the collection turns to remembrances of “The Great Conroy,” as he is lovingly titled by friends, and concludes with a eulogy. The inarguable power of Conroy’s work resonates throughout A Lowcountry Heart, and his influence promises to endure.

    This moving tribute is sure to be a cherished keepsake for any true Conroy fan and remain a lasting monument to one of the best-loved masters of contemporary American letters.

    NONFICTION: Creative Nonfiction | A Lowcountry Heart: Reflections on a Writing Life by Pat Conroy (Nan A. Talese, 9780385530866) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • A Lowcountry Wedding by Mary Alice Monroe

    Wedding season has arrived in New York Times bestselling author Mary Alice Monroe's next novel in the "distinct, complex, and endearing"(Charleston Magazine) Lowcountry Summer series, set against the romantic, charming Charleston Lowcountry. 

    Nothing could be more enchanting than a summer wedding--or two--in Charleston's fabled lowcountry. A centuries-old plantation, an avenue of ancient oaks dripping moss, a storied ballroom, a sand dune at sunset... 

    Yet when a stranger arrives, a long held family secret could silence the bells ringing for the Muir sisters. Scandals surface, family bonds are questioned, and promises are broken and renewed. In A Lowcountry Wedding Monroe delves into the heart of marriage, commitment, and family ties.

    Huffington Post calls the Lowcountry Summer series "the perfect beach read and a whole lot more."

    FICTION: Southern Stories & Stories by Southerners | A Lowcountry Wedding by Mary Alice Monroe (Gallery Books, 9781501125430 | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • Chasing the North Star by Robert Morgan

    "Before he went to sleep in the clean bed in the room downstairs, Jonah asked himself whether he should continue running . . . It was impossible to know how safe he was. But Jonah was worn out from running, and he didn’t want to go on . . . He’d stop here for a few days or weeks and see what happened. If he was caught, he would be caught. He just didn’t feel like running any more."

    In his latest historical novel, bestselling author Robert Morgan brings to full and vivid life the story of Jonah Williams, who, in 1850, on his eighteenth birthday, flees the South Carolina plantation on which he was born a slave. He takes with him only a few stolen coins, a knife, and the clothes on his back—no shoes, no map, no clear idea of where to head, except north, following a star that he prays will be his guide.

    Hiding during the day and running through the night, Jonah must elude the men sent to capture him and the bounty hunters out to claim the reward on his head. There is one person, however, who, once on his trail, never lets him fully out of sight: Angel, herself a slave, yet with a remarkably free spirit.

    In Jonah, she sees her own way to freedom, and so sets out to follow him.

    Bristling with breathtaking adventure, Chasing the North Star is deftly grounded in historical fact yet always gripping and poignant as the story follows Jonah and Angel through the close calls and narrow escapes of a fearsome world. It is a celebration of the power of the human spirit to persevere in the face of great adversity. And it is Robert Morgan at his considerable best.

    FICTION: Historical | Chasing the North Star by Robert Morgan (Algonquin Books, 9781565126275) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

    The acclaimed, bestselling author--winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize--tells the enthralling story of how an unexpected romantic encounter irrevocably changes two families' lives.

    One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating's christening party uninvited. Before evening falls, he has kissed Franny's mother, Beverly--thus setting in motion the dissolution of their marriages and the joining of two families. 

    Spanning five decades, Commonwealth explores how this chance encounter reverberates through the lives of the four parents and six children involved. Spending summers together in Virginia, the Keating and Cousins children forge a lasting bond that is based on a shared disillusionment with their parents and the strange and genuine affection that grows up between them.

    When, in her twenties, Franny begins an affair with the legendary author Leon Posen and tells him about her family, the story of her siblings is no longer hers to control. Their childhood becomes the basis for his wildly successful book, ultimately forcing them to come to terms with their losses, their guilt, and the deeply loyal connection they feel for one another.

    Told with equal measures of humor and heartbreak, Commonwealth is a meditation on inspiration, interpretation, and the ownership of stories. It is a brilliant and tender tale of the far-reaching ties of love and responsibility that bind us together.

    FICTION: Coming of AgeCommonwealth by Ann Patchett (Harper, 9780062491794) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • Darktown by Thomas Mullen

    The award-winning author of The Last Town on Earth delivers a riveting and elegant police procedural set in 1948 Atlanta, exploring a murder, corrupt police, and strained race relations that feels ripped from today's headlines.

    Responding to orders from on high, the Atlanta Police Department is forced to hire its first black officers, including war veterans Lucius Boggs and Tommy Smith. The newly minted policemen are met with deep hostility by their white peers; they aren’t allowed to arrest white suspects, drive squad cars, or set foot in the police headquarters.

    When a black woman who was last seen in a car driven by a white man turns up dead, Boggs and Smith suspect white cops are behind it. Their investigation sets them up against a brutal cop, Dunlow, who has long run the neighborhood as his own, and his partner, Rakestraw, a young progressive who may or may not be willing to make allies across color lines. Among shady moonshiners, duplicitous madams, crooked lawmen, and the constant restrictions of Jim Crow, Boggs and Smith will risk their new jobs, and their lives, while navigating a dangerous world—a world on the cusp of great change.

    Set in the postwar, pre-civil rights South, and evoking the socially resonant and morally complex crime novels of Dennis Lehane and Walter Mosley, Darktown is a vivid, smart, intricately plotted crime saga that explores the timely issues of race, law enforcement, and the uneven scales of justice.

    FICTION: Thriller | Darktown by Thomas Mullen (Atria Books, 9781501133862) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South by Vivian Howard

    Vivian Howard, star of PBS's A CHEF'S LIFE, celebrates the flavors of North Carolina's coastal plain in more than 200 recipes and stories.

    This new classic of American country cooking proves that the food of Deep Run, North Carolina--Vivian's home--is as rich as any culinary tradition in the world.

    Organized by ingredient with dishes suited to every skill level--from beginners to confident cooks--DEEP RUN ROOTS features time-honored simple preparations alongside extraordinary meals from her acclaimed restaurant Chef and the Farmer. Home cooks will find photographs for every single recipe.

    As much a storybook as it is a cookbook, Deep Run Roots imparts the true tale of Southern food: rooted in family and tradition, yet calling out to the rest of the world.

    Ten years ago, Vivian opened Chef and the Farmer and put the nearby town of Kinston on the culinary map. But in a town paralyzed by recession, she couldn't hop on every new culinary trend. Instead, she focused on rural development: If you grew it, she'd buy it. Inundated by local sweet potatoes, blueberries, shrimp, pork, and beans, Vivian learned to cook the way generations of Southerners before her had, relying on resourcefulness, creativity, and the traditional ways of preserving food.

    Deep Run Roots is the result of years of effort to discover the riches of Eastern North Carolina. Like The Fannie Farmer CookbookThe Art of Simple Food, and The Taste of Country Cookingbefore it, this is landmark work of American food writing.

    NONFICTION: Cooking | Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South by Vivian Howard (Little Brown and Company, 9780316381109) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • Dimestore: A Writer's Life by Lee Smith

    In her first work of nonfiction, Lee Smith deploys the wit, wisdom, and graceful prose for which she is beloved to conjure her early days in the small coal town of Grundy, Virginia and beyond. For the inimitable Lee Smith, place is paramount. For forty-five years, her fiction has lived and breathed with the rhythms and people of the Appalachian South. But never before has she written her own story. Set deep in the rugged Appalachian Mountains, the Grundy of Lee Smith's youth was a place of coal miners, mountain music, and her daddy's dimestore. It was in that dimestore--listening to customers and inventing life histories for the store's dolls--that she began to learn the craft of storytelling. Even though she adored Grundy, Smith's formal education and travels took her far from Virginia, though her Appalachian upbringing never left her.

    "Dimestore's fifteen essays are crushingly honest, always wise, and superbly entertaining. Smith has created both a moving, personal portrait and a broader meditation on embracing one's heritage. Hers is an inspiring story of the birth of a writer and a poignant look at a way of life that has all but vanished. You know how in Lee Smith's fiction there's always something so fresh, crazy, and loving? InDimestore is the essence of Lee.--Roy Blount Jr., author ofAlphabetter Juice: or, The Joy of Text

    NONFICTION: Biography, Autobiography, & Memoir | Dimestore: A Writer's Life by Lee Smith (Algonquin Books, 9781616205027) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • Fallen Land by Taylor Brown

    A modern-day civil rights champion tells the stirring story of how he helped start a movement to bridge America's racial divide.

    Fallen Land is Taylor Brown's debut novel set in the final year of the Civil War, as a young couple on horseback flees a dangerous band of marauders who seek a bounty reward. Callum, a seasoned horse thief at fifteen years old, came to America from his native Ireland as an orphan. Ava, her father and brother lost to the war, hides in her crumbling home until Callum determines to rescue her from the bands of hungry soldiers pillaging the land, leaving destruction in their wake. Ava and Callum have only each other in the world and their remarkable horse, Reiver, who carries them through the destruction that is the South. Pursued relentlessly by a murderous slave hunter, tracking dogs, and ruthless ex-partisan rangers, the couple race through a beautiful but ruined land, surviving on food they glean from abandoned farms and the occasional kindness of strangers.

    In the end, as they intersect with the scorching destruction of Sherman's March, the couple seek a safe haven where they can make a home and begin to rebuild their lives. Dramatic and thrillingly written with an uncanny eye for glimpses of beauty in a ravaged landscape, "Fallen Land" is a love story at its core, and an unusually assured first novel by award-winning young author Taylor Brown.

    FICTION: Literary | Fallen Land by Taylor Brown (St. Martin's Press, 9781250077974) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • Flight Patterns by Karen White

    The New York Times bestselling author of the Tradd Street novels tells the story of a woman coming home to the family she left behind--and to the woman she always wanted to be...

    Georgia Chambers has spent her life sifting through other people's pasts while trying to forget her own. But then her work as an expert on fine china--especially Limoges--requires her to return to the one place she swore she'd never revisit.... 
    It has been ten years since Georgia left her family home on the coast of Florida, and nothing much has changed except that there are fewer oysters and more tourists. She finds solace in seeing her grandfather still toiling away in the apiary where she spent much of her childhood, but encountering her estranged mother and sister leaves her rattled. 

    Seeing them after all this time makes Georgia realize that something has been missing--and unless she finds a way to heal these rifts, she will forever be living vicariously through other people's remnants. To embrace her own life--mistakes and all--she will have to find the courage to confront the ghosts of her past and the secrets she was forced to keep. 

    FICTION: Family Life | Flight Patterns by Karen White (Berkley Books, 9780451470911) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • Forsaken by Ross Howell

    Forsaken is a gripping, beautifully realized work of historical fiction by Ross Howell Jr. It tells the story of the sensational crime committed by Virginia Christian, a young black girl who, in 1912 Virginia, was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in the electric chair. Charlie Mears, a white man, covered the case as a rookie reporter. The book chronicles the story of the trial and its aftermath as seen through Mears’s eyes. The novel’s premise is ambitious, its events striking and tragic, and fiction and non-fiction are deftly blended in this powerful read on the themes of injustice, corruption, and racial conflict set in the poisonous epoch known as Jim Crow.

    FICTION: Historical | Forsaken by Ross Howell Jr (NewSouth Books, 9781588383174) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • Gertie's Leap to Greatness by Kate Beasley; Jillian Tamaki

    "Meet the new Ramona Quimby!" -- Entertainment Weekly

    Gertie Reece Foy is 100% Not-From-Concentrate awesome. She has a daddy who works on an oil rig, a great-aunt who always finds the lowest prices at the Piggly Wiggly, and two loyal best friends. So when her absent mother decides to move away from their small town, Gertie sets out on her greatest mission yet: becoming the best fifth grader in the universe to show her mother exactly what she'll be leaving behind. There's just one problem: Seat-stealing new girl Mary Sue Spivey wants to be the best fifth grader, too. And there is simply not enough room at the top for the two of them.

    From debut author Kate Beasley, and with illustrations by Caldecott Honor artist Jillian Tamaki, comes a classic tale of hope and homecoming that will empty your heart, then fill it back up again--one laugh at a time.

    JUVENILE | Gertie's Leap to Greatness by Kate Beasley; Jillian Tamaki (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 9780374302610) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • Glory Over Everything: Beyond the Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

    From the author of the New York Times bestseller and beloved book club favorite The Kitchen House, a novel of family and long-buried secrets along the treacherous Underground Railroad.

    Jamie Pyke, son of both a slave and master of Tall Oakes, has a deadly secret that compels him to take a treacherous journey through the Underground Railroad. 

    Published in 2010, The Kitchen House became a grassroots bestseller. Fans connected so deeply to the book's characters that the author, Kathleen Grissom, found herself being asked over and over "what happens next?" The wait is finally over. 
    This new, stand-alone novel opens in 1830, and Jamie, who fled from the Virginian plantation he once called home, is passing in Philadelphia society as a wealthy white silversmith. After many years of striving, Jamie has achieved acclaim and security, only to discover that his aristocratic lover Caroline is pregnant. Before he can reveal his real identity to her, he learns that his beloved servant Pan has been captured and sold into slavery in the South. Pan's father, to whom Jamie owes a great debt, pleads for Jamie's help, and Jamie agrees, knowing the journey will take him perilously close to Tall Oakes and the ruthless slave hunter who is still searching for him. Meanwhile, Caroline's father learns and exposes Jamie's secret, and Jamie loses his home, his business, and finally Caroline. 

    Heartbroken and with nothing to lose, Jamie embarks on a trip to a North Carolina plantation where Pan is being held with a former Tall Oakes slave named Sukey, who is intent on getting Pan to the Underground Railroad. Soon the three of them are running through the Great Dismal Swamp, the notoriously deadly hiding place for escaped slaves. Though they have help from those in the Underground Railroad, not all of them will make it out alive.

    FICTION: Historical | Glory Over Everything: Beyond the Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom (Simon & Schuster, 9781476748443) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance

    From a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, a powerful account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America's white working class

    Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis--that of white working-class Americans. The decline of this group, a demographic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over forty years, has been reported on with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J.D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck.

    The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.'s grandparents were "dirt poor and in love," and moved north from Kentucky's Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually their grandchild (the author) would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of their success in achieving generational upward mobility.

    But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that this is only the short, superficial version. Vance's grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother, struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, and were never able to fully escape the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. Vance piercingly shows how he himself still carries around the demons of their chaotic family history.

    A deeply moving memoir with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.

    NONFICTION: Creative Nonfiction | Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance (Harper, 9780062300546) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • Hungry Is a Mighty Fine Sauce: Recipes and Ramblings from the Belle of All Things Southern by Shellie Rushing Tomlinson

    Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, the Belle of All Things Southern, is serving up down-home southern dishes with a healthy side of laugh-out-loud entertainment in Hungry Is a Mighty Fine Sauce.

    Featuring dozens of tried-and-true recipes complemented by entertaining stories, your hunger--and your craving for humor--are sure to be satisfied! Uncomplicated, delicious recipes including Bodacious Black Bean Salad and Spicy Sausage and Crawfish Spread (125 recipes, to be exact!) fall into categories including Feeding the Funny Farm, Carnivores Are Us, Holidays in Dixie, and Watching the Curves. Eye-catching photos, guaranteed to make your mouth water, are included throughout...sure to be a much-appreciated gift or centerpiece on your very own kitchen countertop.

    NONFICTION: Cooking | Hungry Is a Mighty Fine Sauce Cookbook: Recipes and Ramblings from the Belle of All Things Southern by Shellie Rushing Tomlinson (Shiloh Run Press, 9781634097826) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • Lies and Other Acts of Love by Kristy Woodson Harvey

    Dear Carolina author Kristy Woodson Harvey presents a new novel about what it really means to tell the truth...

    After sixty years of marriage and five daughters, Lynn "Lovey" White knows that all of us, from time to time, need to use our little white lies. Her granddaughter, Annabelle, on the other hand, is as truthful as they come. She always does the right thing—that is, until she dumps her hedge fund manager fiancé and marries a musician she has known for three days. After all, her grandparents, who fell in love at first sight, have shared a lifetime of happiness, even through her grandfather’s declining health.

    But when Annabelle’s world starts to collapse around her, she discovers that nothing about her picture-perfect family is as it seems. And Lovey has to decide whether one more lie will make or break the ones she loves...

    FICTION: Coming of Age | Lies and Other Acts of Love by Kristy Woodson Harvey (Berkley Books, 9781101987063) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart

    Award-winning author Donna Gephart crafts a compelling dual narrative about two remarkable young people: Lily, a transgender girl, and Dunkin, a boy dealing with bipolar disorder. Their powerful story will shred your heart, then stitch it back together with kindness, humor, bravery, and love.

    "Lily and Dunkin is a delight. Here’s a book for anyone who’s ever struggled with being different--or anyone who’s ever loved someone who bears the burden of difference. Donna Gephart’s book is about trans children, and bipolar children, and their parents, of course, but what it’s really about is friendship, and the redeeming power of love. Crucial, heart-breaking, and inspiring.” —Jennifer Finney Boylan, author ofShe’s Not There, andStuck in the Middle with You

    Lily Jo McGrother, born Timothy McGrother, is a girl. But being a girl is not so easy when you look like a boy. Especially when you’re in the eighth grade. 

    Dunkin Dorfman, birth name Norbert Dorfman, is dealing with bipolar disorder and has just moved from the New Jersey town he’s called home for the past thirteen years. This would be hard enough, but the fact that he is also hiding from a painful secret makes it even worse. 

     One summer morning, Lily Jo McGrother meets Dunkin Dorfman, and their lives forever change. 

    JUVENILE | Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart (Delacorte Press, 9780553536744) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • Long Way Gone by Charles Martin

    "No matter where you go, no matter whether you succeed or fail, stand or fall, no gone is too far gone. You can always come home."

    At the age of eighteen, musician and songwriter Cooper O'Connor took everything his father held dear and drove 1,200 miles from home to Nashville, his life riding on a six-string guitar and the bold wager that he had talent. But his wager soon proved foolish.

    Five years after losing everything, he falls in love with Daley Cross, an angelic voice in need of a song. But just as he realizes his love for Daley, Cooper faces a tragedy that threatens his life as well as his career. With nowhere else to go, he returns home to the remote Colorado mountains, searching for answers about his father and his faith.

    When Daley shows up on his street corner twenty years later, he wonders if it's too late to tell her the truth about his past--and if he is ready to face it himself.

    A radical retelling of the prodigal son story, Long Way Gone takes us from tent revivals to the Ryman Auditorium to the tender relationship between a broken man and the father who never stopped calling him home.

    FICTION: Coming of Age | Long Way Gone by Charles Martin (Thomas Nelson, 9780718084714)  | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • Lowcountry Book Club by Susan M. Boyer

    “Boyer delivers a beach read filled with quirky, endearing characters and a masterfully layered mystery, all set in the lush lowcountry. Don’t miss this one!” – Mary Alice Monroe,New York Times Bestselling Author of A Lowcountry Wedding.

    “Boyer writes with humor, grace, and Southern grit in this charmer of a Carolina tale.” – Gretchen Archer,USA Today Bestselling Author of Double Knot.

    “The authentically Southern Boyer writes with heart, insight, and a deep understanding of human nature.” – Hank Phillippi Ryan, Agatha Award-Winning Author of What You See.

    “Boyer deftly shapes characters with just enough idiosyncrasies without succumbing to clichés while infusing her lighthearted plot with an insightful look at families.” – Oline Cogdill, South Florida Sun Sentinel.

    Somebody pushed Shelby Poinsett out her second-floor library window and it wasn’t her husband. At least that’s what Charleston’s most prestigious law firm wants Liz Talbot to prove. Liz must run the spectrum of Southern society, from the local homeless shelter where Shelby volunteered to the one-hundred-year-old book club where Charleston’s genteel ladies are dying to join, to bring a killer to justice.

    FICTION: Mystery & Detective | Lowcountry Book Club by Susan M Boyer (HeneryPress, 9781635110456) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • Miss Jane by Brad Watson

    Since his award-winning debut collection of stories, Last Days of the Dog-Men, Brad Watson has been expanding the literary traditions of the South, in work as melancholy, witty, strange, and lovely as any in America.

    Now, drawing on the story of his own great-aunt, Watson explores the life of Miss Jane Chisolm, born in rural, early-twentieth-century Mississippi with a genital birth defect that would stand in the way of the central "uses" for a woman in that time and place: sex and marriage. From the highly erotic world of nature around her to the hard tactile labor of farm life, from the country doctor who befriends her to the boy who loved but was forced to leave her, Miss Jane Chisolm and her world are anything but barren.

    The potency and implacable cruelty of nature, as well as its beauty, is a trademark of Watson's fiction. In Miss Jane, the author brings to life a hard, unromantic past that is tinged with the sadness of unattainable loves, yet shot through with a transcendent beauty. Jane Chisolm's irrepressible vitality and generous spirit give her the strength to live her life as she pleases in spite of the limitations that others, and her own body, would place on her. Free to satisfy only herself, she mesmerizes those around her, exerting an unearthly fascination that lives beyond her still.

    FICTION: Literary | Miss Jane by Brad Watson (W. W. Norton & Company, 9780393241730) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • Miss Julia Inherits a Mess by Ann B. Ross

    In the this entry in Ann B. Ross's New York Times bestselling series, Miss Julia finds herself an executrix on a desperate hunt for a valuable antique so she can honor her friend's last wishes.

    When Miss Julia hears that Miss Mattie Freeman has taken a fall and is in the hospital, she wishes she'd spent more time getting to know the woman--and not just because she's last to hear about the accident So when the tumble proves fatal, the last thing Miss Julia expects is a phone call from Ernest Sitton, Attorney at Law. Suddenly Miss Julia finds herself the executrix of Miss Mattie's estate, and from what Ernest has to say, Miss Mattie's coffers weren't exactly full. 

    Determined to find something of value for Miss Mattie's beneficiaries, Miss Julia is faced with a room full of clutter that's now hers to disperse. With the lovelorn caretaker Etta Mae Wiggins working overtime, her good friend Mildred Allen on bed rest, and Helen Stroud cataloging Miss Mattie's furniture, Miss Julia soon realizes she's got a blue-million things to do to honor her friend's last wishes. Thank goodness for Miss Mattie's handsome young neighbor, Nate Wheeler, who's ever ready to help out, and of course for Sam, who's always willing to lend an ear. 

    But when a young man claiming to be Miss Mattie's great-nephew turns up, demanding to live in her apartment while he writes a family history, Miss Julia will find herself closer to Mattie Freeman and her mysterious family than ever before. In this seventeenth installment in the Miss Julia series, Ann B. Ross delivers another hilarious and big-hearted novel celebrating the South's favorite steel magnolia and the unforgettable residents of Abottsville.

    FICTION: Mystery & Detective | Miss Julia Inherits a Mess by Ann B Ross (Viking, 9780525427124) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • Monsters in Appalachia: Stories by Sheryl Monks

    The characters within these fifteen stories are in one way or another staring into the abyss. While some are awaiting redemption, others are fully complicit in their own undoing.

    We come upon them in the mountains of West Virginia, in the backyards of rural North Carolina, and at tourist traps along Route 66, where they smolder with hidden desires and struggle to resist the temptations that plague them.

    A Melungeon woman has killed her abusive husband and drives by the home of her son’s new foster family, hoping to lure the boy back. An elderly couple witnesses the end-times and is forced to hunt monsters if they hope to survive. A young girl “tanning and manning” with her mother and aunt resists being indoctrinated by their ideas about men. A preacher’s daughter follows in the footsteps of her backsliding mother as she seduces a man who looks a lot like the devil.

    A master of Appalachian dialect and colloquial speech, Monks writes prose that is dark, taut, and muscular, but also beguiling and playful. Monsters in Appalachia is a powerful work of fiction.

    FICTION: Southern Stories & Stories by Southerners | Monsters in Appalachia: Stories by Sheryl Monks (West Virginia University Press, 9781943665396) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • My Father, the Pornographer: A Memoir by Chris Offutt

    "Clearing Dad's office felt like prospecting within his brain. As I sorted, like an archaeologist, backward through time, I saw a remarkable mind at work, a life lived on its own terms."

    After inheriting 400 novels of pornography written by his father in the 1970s and 80s, critically acclaimed author Chris Offutt sets out to make sense of a complicated father-son relationship in this carefully observed, beautifully written memoir.

    When Andrew Offutt died, his son, Chris, inherited a desk, a rifle, and 1800 pounds of porn. Andrew had been considered the king of twentieth century smut, a career that began as a strategy to pay for his son's orthodontic needs and soon took on a life of its own, peaking during the 70s when the commercial popularity of the erotic novel was at its height.

    With his dutiful wife serving as typist, Andrew wrote from their home in the Kentucky hills, locked away in an office no one dared intrude upon. In this fashion he wrote 400 novels, ranging from pirate porn and ghost porn, to historical porn and time travel porn, to secret agent porn and zombie porn. The more he wrote, the more intense his ambition became, and the more difficult it was for his children to penetrate his world. Over one long summer in his hometown, helping his mother move out of the house, Chris began to examine his deceased father's possessions and realized he finally had an opportunity to come to grips with the mercurial man he always feared but never understood.

    Offutt takes us on the journey with him, showing us how only in his father's absence could he truly make sense of the man and his legacy. This riveting, evocatively told memoir of a deeply complex father-son relationship proves again why the New York Times Book Review said, Offutt's obvious kin are Richard Ford, Tobias Wolff, and Ernest Hemingway.

    NONFICTION: Biography, Autobiography, & Memoir | My Father, the Pornographer: A Memoir by Chris Offutt (Atria Books, 9781501112461) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • Ninety-Nine Stories of God by Joy Williams

    New York Times Notable Book and a Best Book of the Year at Esquire, Seattle TimesMinnesota Star TribuneHuffington Post, and Publishers Weekly.

    From “quite possibly America’s best living writer of short stories” (NPR), Ninety-Nine Stories of God finds Joy Williams reeling between the sublime and the surreal, knocking down the barriers between the workaday and the divine.

    Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist Joy Williams has a one-of-a-kind gift for capturing both the absurdity and the darkness of everyday life. In Ninety-Nine Stories of God, she takes on one of mankind’s most confounding preoccupations: the Supreme Being.

    This series of short, fictional vignettes explores our day-to-day interactions with an ever-elusive and arbitrary God. It’s the Book of Common Prayer as seen through a looking glass—a powerfully vivid collection of seemingly random life moments. The figures that haunt these stories range from Kafka (talking to a fish) to the Aztecs, Tolstoy to Abraham and Sarah, O. J. Simpson to a pack of wolves. Most of Williams’s characters, however, are like the rest of us: anonymous strivers and bumblers who brush up against God in the least expected places or go searching for Him when He’s standing right there. The Lord shows up at a hot-dog-eating contest, a demolition derby, a formal gala, and a drugstore, where he’s in line to get a shingles vaccination. At turns comic and yearning, lyric and aphoristic, Ninety-Nine Stories of God serves as a pure distillation of one of our great artists.

    FICTION: Southern Stories & Stories by Southerners | Ninety-Nine Stories of God by Joy Williams (Tin House Books, 9781941040355) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • Over the Plain Houses by Julia Franks

    It’s 1939, and the federal government has sent USDA agent Virginia Furman into the North Carolina mountains to instruct families on modernizing their homes and farms. There she meets farm wife Irenie Lambey, who is immediately drawn to the lady agent’s self-possession. Already, cracks are emerging in Irenie’s fragile marriage to Brodis, an ex-logger turned fundamentalist preacher: She has taken to night ramblings through the woods to escape her husband’s bed, storing strange keepsakes in a mountain cavern. To Brodis, these are all the signs that Irenie—tiptoeing through the dark in her billowing white nightshirt—is practicing black magic.

    When Irenie slips back into bed with a kind of supernatural stealth, Brodis senses that a certain evil has entered his life, linked to the lady agent, or perhaps to other, more sinister forces.

    Working in the stylistic terrain of Amy Greene and Bonnie Jo Campbell, this mesmerizing debut by Julia Franks is the story of a woman intrigued by the possibility of change, escape, and reproductive choice—stalked by a Bible-haunted man who fears his government and stakes his integrity upon an older way of life. As Brodis chases his demons, he brings about a final act of violence that shakes the entire valley. In this spellbinding Southern story, Franks bares the myths and mysteries that modernity can’t quite dispel.

    FICTION: Literary | Over the Plain Houses by Julia Franks (Hub City Press, 9781938235214) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • Perfume River by Robert Olen Butler

    From one of America’s most important writers, Perfume River is an exquisite novel that examines family ties and the legacy of the Vietnam War through the portrait of a single North Florida family.

    Robert Quinlan is a seventy-year-old historian, teaching at Florida State University, where his wife Darla is also tenured. Their marriage, forged in the fervor of anti-Vietnam-war protests, now bears the fractures of time, both personal and historical, with the couple trapped in an existence of morning coffee and solitary jogging and separate offices. For Robert and Darla, the cracks remain under the surface, whereas the divisions in Robert’s own family are more apparent: he has almost no relationship with his brother Jimmy, who became estranged from the family as the Vietnam War intensified. Robert and Jimmy’s father, a veteran of WWII, is coming to the end of his life, and aftershocks of war ripple across their lives once again, when Jimmy refuses to appear at his father’s bedside. And an unstable homeless man whom Robert at first takes to be a fellow Vietnam veteran turns out to have a deep impact not just on Robert, but on his entire family.

    FICTION: Literary | Perfume River by Robert Olen Butler (Atlantic Monthly Press, 9780802125750) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • Poems: New and Selected by Ron Rash

    A collection of haunting lyricism that evokes the beauty and hardship of the rural South, by a revered American master of letters the award-winning, bestselling author of the novels Serena, Something Rich and Strange, and Above the Waterfall.

    In this incandescent, profound, and accessible collection, beloved and award-winning poet, novelist, and short-story writer Ron Rash vividly channels the rhythms of life in Appalachia, deftly capturing the panoply of individuals who are its heart and soul men and women inured to misfortune and hard times yet defined by tremendous fortitude, resilience, and a fierce sense of community.

    In precise, supple language that swerves from the stark to the luminous, Rash richly describes the splendor of the natural landscape and poignantly renders the lives of those dependent on its bounty in cotton mills and tobacco fields, farmlands and forests. The haunting memories and shared histories of these people their rituals and traditions animate this land, and are celebrated in Rash's crystalline, intensely imagined verse.

    With an eye for the surprising and vivid detail, Ron Rash powerfully captures the sorrows and exaltations of this wondrous world he knows intimately. Illuminating and indelible, Poems demonstrates his rich talents and confirms his legacy as a standard-bearer for the literature of the American South.

    NONFICTION: Creative Nonfiction | Long Way Gone by Charles Martin (Thomas Nelson, 9780718084714) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • Prayers the Devil Answers by Sharyn McCrumb

    Sharyn McCrumb, New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed Ballad series set in Appalachia, explores the ties between a reluctant female sheriff and a condemned man in this stunning and powerfully written Depression-era novel. 

    Years later, after the tragedy, someone remembered the Dumb Supper and what had happened there. That was the cause of it, they said, because the ritual wasn't a game after all. It really was magic, but magic has rules, and she broke them. 

    Suddenly thrust into the role of primary caretaker for her family following the tragic death of her husband, Ellie Robbins is appointed to serve out his term as sheriff of their rural Tennessee mountain town. The year is 1936, and her role is largely symbolic, except for the one task that only a sheriff can do: execute a convicted prisoner. 

    Ellie has long proven she can handle herself. But becoming sheriff is altogether different, and the demands of the role are even more challenging when she is forced to combat society's expectations for a woman. Soon enough, dark secrets come to light, and Ellie must grapple with small town superstitions and the tenuous ties she shares with a condemned killer as she carves out a place for herself in an uncertain future. 

    "There is no one quite like Sharyn McCrumb. No one better either" (San Diego Union-Tribune), and her luscious narrative brings her unforgettable characters to life with the "pure poetry" (The New York Times Book Review) that defines her astounding novels. Prayers the Devil Answers combines masterful historical research and captivating folklore to make an atmospheric and suspenseful tour de force.

    FICTION: Mystery & Detective | Prayers the Devil Answers by Sharyn McCrumb (Atria Books, 9781476772813 | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo

    Raymie Clarke has come to realize that everything, absolutely everything, depends on her. And she has a plan. If Raymie can win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, then her father, who left town two days ago with a dental hygienist, will see Raymie's picture in the paper and (maybe) come home. To win, not only does Raymie have to do good deeds and learn how to twirl a baton; she also has to contend with the wispy, frequently fainting Louisiana Elefante, who has a show-business background, and the fiery, stubborn Beverly Tapinski, who’s determined to sabotage the contest. But as the competition approaches, loneliness, loss, and unanswerable questions draw the three girls into an unlikely friendship — and challenge each of them to come to the rescue in unexpected ways.

    Two-time Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo returns to her roots with a moving, masterful story of an unforgettable summer friendship.

    JUVENILE | Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick, 9780763681173) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • Redemption Road by John Hart

    Since his debut bestseller, The King of Lies, reviewers across the country have heaped praise on John Hart, comparing his writing to that of Pat Conroy, Cormac McCarthy and Scott Turow. Each novel has taken Hart higher on the New York Times Bestseller list as his masterful writing and assured evocation of place have won readers around the world and earned history's only consecutive Edgar Awards for Best Novel with Down River and The Last Child. Now, Hart delivers his most powerful story yet. 

    Imagine:

    A boy with a gun waits for the man who killed his mother.

    A troubled detective confronts her past in the aftermath of a brutal shooting.

    After thirteen years in prison, a good cop walks free as deep in the forest, on the altar of an abandoned church, a body cools in pale linen…

    This is a town on the brink.

    This is Redemption Road.

    Brimming with tension, secrets, and betrayal, Redemption Road proves again that John Hart is a master of the literary thriller.

    FICTION: Thriller | Redemption Road by John Hart (Thomas Dunne Books, 9780312380366) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • Serafina and the Twisted Staff by Robert Beatty

    Serafina's defeat of the Man in the Black Cloak has brought her out of the shadows and into the daylight realm of her home, Biltmore Estate. Every night she visits her mother in the forest, eager to learn the ways of the catamount. But Serafina finds herself caught between her two worlds: she's too wild for Biltmore's beautifully dressed ladies and formal customs, and too human to fully join her kin.

    When a mysterious series of attacks test Serafina's role as Biltmore's protector, she finds herself torn from the side of her best friend and only ally, Braeden Vanderbilt. Heartbroken, she flees. Deep in the forest, Serafina comes face-to-face with the evil infecting Biltmore and discovers its reach is far greater than she'd ever imagined. All the humans and creatures of the Blue Ridge Mountains are in terrible danger. For Serafina to defeat this new evil before it engulfs her beloved home, she must search deep inside herself and embrace the destiny that has always awaited her.

    JUVENILE | Serafina and the Twisted Staff by Robert Beatty (Disney-Hyperion, 9781484775035) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • The Feathered Bone by Julie Cantrell

    Feathers no matter what size or shape or color are all the same, if you think about them. They're soft. Delicate. But the secret thing about feathers is...they are very strong.

    In the pre-Katrina glow of New Orleans, Amanda Salassi is anxious about chaperoning her daughter's sixth grade field trip to the Big Easy during Halloween. And then her worst fears come true. Her daughter's best friend, Sarah, disappears amid the magic and revelry gone, without a trace.

    Unable to cope with her guilt, Amanda's daughter sinks in depression. And Amanda's husband turns destructive as he watches his family succumb to grief. Before long, Amanda's whole world has collapsed.

    Amanda knows she has to save herself before it's too late. As she continues to search for Sarah, she embarks on a personal journey, seeking hope and purpose in the wake of so much tragedy and loss.

    Set amidst the murky parishes of rural Louisiana and told through the eyes of two women who confront the darkest corners of humanity with quiet and unbreakable faith, The Feathered Bone is Julie Cantrell's master portrait of love in a fallen world.

    FICTION: Southern Stories & Stories by Southerners | The Feathered Bone by Julie Cantrell (Thomas Nelson, 9780718037628 | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race by Jesmyn Ward

    National Book Award–winner Jesmyn Ward takes James Baldwin’s 1963 examination of race in America, The Fire Next Time, as a jumping off point for this groundbreaking collection of essays and poems about race from the most important voices of her generation and our time.

    In light of recent tragedies and widespread protests across the nation, The Progressive magazine republished one of its most famous pieces: James Baldwin’s 1962 “Letter to My Nephew,” which was later published in his landmark book, The Fire Next Time. Addressing his fifteen-year-old namesake on the one hundredth anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, Baldwin wrote: “You know and I know, that the country is celebrating one hundred years of freedom one hundred years too soon.”

    Award-winning author Jesmyn Ward knows that Baldwin’s words ring as true as ever today. In response, she has gathered short essays, memoir, and a few essential poems to engage the question of race in the United States. And she has turned to some of her generation’s most original thinkers and writers to give voice to their concerns.

    The Fire This Time is divided into three parts that shine a light on the darkest corners of our history, wrestle with our current predicament, and envision a better future. Of the eighteen pieces, ten were written specifically for this volume.

    In the fifty-odd years since Baldwin’s essay was published, entire generations have dared everything and made significant progress. But the idea that we are living in the post-Civil Rights era, that we are a “post-racial” society is an inaccurate and harmful reflection of a truth the country must confront. Baldwin’s “fire next time” is now upon us, and it needs to be talked about.

    Contributors include Carol Anderson, Jericho Brown, Garnette Cadogan, Edwidge Danticat, Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, Mitchell S. Jackson, Honoree Jeffers, Kima Jones, Kiese Laymon, Daniel Jose Older, Emily Raboteau, Claudia Rankine, Clint Smith, Natasha Trethewey, Wendy S. Walters, Isabel Wilkerson, and Kevin Young.

    NONFICTION: Creative Nonfiction | The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race by Jesmyn Ward (Scribner Book Company, 9781501126345) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • The Gatekeeper: Missy Lehand, FDR, and the Untold Story of the Partnership That Defined a Presidency by Kathryn Smith

    The first biography of arguably the most influential member of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's administration, Marguerite "Missy" LeHand, FDR's de facto chief of staff, who has been misrepresented, mischaracterized, and overlooked throughout history...until now.

    Widely considered the first female presidential chief of staff, Marguerite "Missy" LeHand was the right-hand woman to Franklin Delano Roosevelt--both personally and professionally--for more than twenty years. Although her official title as personal secretary was relatively humble, her power and influence were unparalleled. Everyone in the White House knew one truth: If you wanted access to Franklin, you had to get through Missy. She was one of his most trusted advisors, affording her a unique perspective on the president that no one else could claim, and she was deeply admired and respected by Eleanor and the Roosevelt children.

    With unprecedented access to Missy's family and original source materials, journalist Kathryn Smith tells the captivating and forgotten story of the intelligent, loyal, and clever woman who had a front-row seat to history in the making. The Gatekeeper is a thoughtful, revealing unsung-hero story about a woman ahead of her time, the true weight of her responsibility, and the tumultuous era in which she lived--and a long overdue tribute to one of the most important female figures in American history.

    NONFICTION: Biography, Autobiography, & Memoir | The Gatekeeper: Missy Lehand, FDR, and the Untold Story of the Partnership That Defined a Presidency by Kathryn Smith (Touchstone, 9781501114960) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man's Love Affair with Nature by J. Drew Lanham

    “In me, there is the red of miry clay, the brown of spring floods, the gold of ripening tobacco. All of these hues are me; I am, in the deepest sense, colored.”

    From these fertile soils of love, land, identity, family, and race emerges The Home Place, a big-hearted, unforgettable memoir by ornithologist and professor of ecology J. Drew Lanham.

    Dating back to slavery, Edgefield County, South Carolina—a place “easy to pass by on the way somewhere else”—has been home to generations of Lanhams. In The Home Place, readers meet these extraordinary people, including Drew himself, who over the course of the 1970s falls in love with the natural world around him. As his passion takes flight, however, he begins to ask what it means to be “the rare bird, the oddity.”

    By turns angry, funny, elegiac, and heartbreaking, The Home Place is a remarkable meditation on nature and belonging, at once a deeply moving memoir and riveting exploration of the contradictions of black identity in the rural South—and in America today.

    NONFICTION: Biography, Autobiography, & Memoir | The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man's Love Affair with Nature by J. Drew Lanham (Milkweed, 9781571313157) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • The Kept Woman by Karin Slaughter

     

    The author of Pretty Girls returns with an electrifying, emotionally complex thriller that plunges its fascinating protagonist into the darkest depths of a mystery that just might destroy him. 

    With the discovery of a murder at an abandoned construction site, Will Trent of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is brought in on a case that becomes much more dangerous when the dead man is identified as an ex-cop. 

    Studying the body, Sara Linton--the GBI's newest medical examiner and Will's lover--realizes that the extensive blood loss didn't belong to the corpse. Sure enough, bloody footprints leading away from the scene indicate there is another victim--a woman--who has vanished...and who will die soon if she isn't found. 

    Will is already compromised, because the site belongs to the city's most popular citizen: a wealthy, powerful, and politically connected athlete protected by the world's most expensive lawyers--a man who's already gotten away with rape, despite Will's exhaustive efforts to put him away. 

    But the worst is yet to come. Evidence soon links Will's troubled past to the case...and the consequences will tear through his life with the force of a tornado, wreaking havoc for Will and everyone around him, including his colleagues, family, friends--and even the suspects he pursues. 

    Relentlessly suspenseful and furiously paced, peopled with conflicted, fallible characters who leap from the page, The Kept Woman is a seamless blend of twisty police procedural and ingenious psychological thriller--a searing, unforgettable novel of love, loss, and redemption.

    FICTION: Mystery & Detective | The Kept Woman by Karin Slaughter (William Morrow & Company, 9780062430212) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • The Risen by Ron Rash

    New York Times bestselling author Ron Rash demonstrates his superb narrative skills in this suspenseful and evocative tale of two brothers whose lives are altered irrevocably by the events of one long-ago summer—and one bewitching young woman—and the secrets that could destroy their lives.

    While swimming in a secluded creek on a hot Sunday in 1969, sixteen-year-old Eugene and his older brother, Bill, meet the entrancing Ligeia. A sexy, free-spirited redhead from Daytona Beach banished to their small North Carolina town until the fall, Ligeia will not only bewitch the two brothers, but lure them into a struggle that reveals the hidden differences in their natures.

    Drawn in by her raw sensuality and rebellious attitude, Eugene falls deeper under her spell. Ligeia introduces him to the thrills and pleasures of the counterculture movement, then in its headiest moment. But just as the movement’s youthful optimism turns dark elsewhere in the country that summer, so does Eugene and Ligeia’s brief romance. Eugene moves farther and farther away from his brother, the cautious and dutiful Bill, and when Ligeia vanishes as suddenly as she appeared, the growing rift between the two brothers becomes immutable.

    Decades later, their relationship is still turbulent, and the once close brothers now lead completely different lives. Bill is a gifted and successful surgeon, a paragon of the community, while Eugene, the town reprobate, is a failed writer and determined alcoholic.

    When a shocking reminder of the past unexpectedly surfaces, Eugene is plunged back into that fateful summer, and the girl he cannot forget. The deeper he delves into his memories, the closer he comes to finding the truth. But can Eugene’s recollections be trusted? And will the truth set him free and...or destroy his damaged life and everyone he loves?

    FICTION: Family Life | The Risen by Ron Rash (Ecco, 9780062436313)  | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart; Diana Sudyka

    This heart-pounding mystery adventure, by the author of the New York Times bestselling series The Mysterious Benedict Society, is laced with magic and humor

    A magical watch.

    A string of secretsA race against time.

    When Reuben discovers an extraordinary antique watch, he soon learns it has a secret power and his life takes an intriguing turn. At first he is thrilled with his new treasure, but as one secret leads to another, Reuben finds himself torn between his innately honest nature and the lure to be a hero.

    Now he is on a dangerous adventure--full of curious characters, treacherous traps, and hairsbreadth escapes--as he races to solve the mystery before it is too late. Even with fearless Penny, mighty Jack, and the wise Mrs. Genevieve on his side, can Reuben outwit and outmaneuver the sly villain called The Smoke and his devious defenders the Directions and save the city from a terrible fate?

    In this ingeniously crafted novel, acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Trenton Lee Stewart invites readers to join the adventure, decipher the clues, and ask themselves the question: Is knowing a secret a gift or a curse?

    JUVENILE | The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart; Diana Sudyka (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780316389556) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

    Named to ten BEST OF THE YEAR lists and selected as a William C. Morris Award Winner, The Serpent King is the critically acclaimed, much-beloved story of three teens who find themselves--and each other--while on the cusp of graduating from high school with hopes of leaving their small-town behind.

    Dill isn't the most popular kid at his rural Tennessee high school. After his father fell from grace in a public scandal that reverberated throughout their small town, Dill became a target. Fortunately, his two fellow misfits and best friends, Travis and Lydia, have his back.

    But as they begin their senior year, Dill feels the coils of his future tightening around him. His only escapes are music and his secret feelings for Lydia--neither of which he is brave enough to share. Graduation feels more like an ending to Dill than a beginning. But even before then, he must cope with another ending--one that will rock his life to the core. 
    Debut novelist Jeff Zentner provides an unblinking and at times comic view of the hard realities of growing up in the Bible belt, and an intimate look at the struggles to find one's true self in the wreckage of the past.

    FICTION: Coming of Age | The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner (Crown Books for Young Readers, 9780553524024)  | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • The Weekenders by Mary Kay Andrews

    Some people stay all summer long on the idyllic island of Belle Isle, North Carolina. Others come only for the weekends-and the mix between the regulars and the weekenders can sometimes make the sparks fly. Riley Griggs has a season of good times with friends and family ahead of her on Belle Isle when things take an unexpected turn. While waiting for her husband to arrive on the ferry one Friday afternoon, Riley is confronted by a process server who thrusts papers into her hand. And her husband is nowhere to be found.

    So she turns to her island friends for help and support, but it turns out that each of them has their own secrets, and the clock is ticking as the mystery deepens...in a murderous way. Cocktail parties aside, Riley must find a way to investigate the secrets of Belle Island, the husband she might not really know, and the summer that could change everything.

    Told with Mary Kay Andrews trademark blend of humor and warmth, and with characters and a setting that you can t help but fall for, The Weekenders is the perfect summer escape.

    FICTION: Southern Stories & Stories by Southerners | Long Way Gone by Charles Martin (Thomas Nelson, 9780718084714) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • The Whistler by John Grisham

    We expect our judges to be honest and wise. Their integrity and impartiality are the bedrock of the entire judicial system.

    We trust them to ensure fair trials, to protect the rights of all litigants, to punish those who do wrong, and to oversee the orderly and efficient flow of justice.

    But what happens when a judge bends the law or takes a bribe? It's rare, but it happens.

    Lacy Stoltz is an investigator for the Florida Board on Judicial Conduct. She is a lawyer, not a cop, and it is her job to respond to complaints dealing with judicial misconduct. After nine years with the Board, she knows that most problems are caused by incompetence, not corruption.

    But a corruption case eventually crosses her desk. A previously disbarred lawyer is back in business with a new identity. He now goes by the name Greg Myers, and he claims to know of a Florida judge who has stolen more money than all other crooked judges combined. And not just crooked judges in Florida. All judges, from all states, and throughout U.S. history.
    What's the source of the ill-gotten gains? It seems the judge was secretly involved with the construction of a large casino on Native American land. The Coast Mafia financed the casino and is now helping itself to a sizable skim of each month's cash. The judge is getting a cut and looking the other way. It's a sweet deal: Everyone is making money.

    But now Greg wants to put a stop to it. His only client is a person who knows the truth and wants to blow the whistle and collect millions under Florida law. Greg files a complaint with the Board on Judicial Conduct, and the case is assigned to Lacy Stoltz, who immediately suspects that this one could be dangerous.

    Dangerous is one thing. Deadly is something else.

    FICTION: Thriller | The Whistler by John Grisham (Doubleday Books, 9780385541190) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • The Whole Town's Talking by Fannie Flagg

    NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - The bestselling author of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café is at her superb best in this fun-loving, moving novel about what it means to be truly alive.

    Elmwood Springs, Missouri, is a small town like any other, but something strange is happening at the cemetery. Still Meadows, as it's called, is anything but still. Original, profound, The Whole Town's Talking, a novel in the tradition of Thornton Wilder's Our Town and Flagg's own Can't Wait to Get to Heaven, tells the story of Lordor Nordstrom, his Swedish mail-order bride, Katrina, and their neighbors and descendants as they live, love, die, and carry on in mysterious and surprising ways. 

    Lordor Nordstrom created, in his wisdom, not only a lively town and a prosperous legacy for himself but also a beautiful final resting place for his family, friends, and neighbors yet to come. -Resting place- turns out to be a bit of a misnomer, however. Odd things begin to happen, and it starts the whole town talking.

    With her wild imagination, great storytelling, and deep understanding of folly and the human heart, the beloved Fannie Flagg tells an unforgettable story of life, afterlife, and the remarkable goings-on of ordinary people. In The Whole Town's Talking, she reminds us that community is vital, life is a gift, and love never dies. 

    FICTION: Southern Stories & Stories by Southerners | The Whole Town's Talking by Fannie Flagg (Random House, 9781400065950) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • Truevine: Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother's Quest: A True Story of the Jim Crow South by Beth Macy

    The true story of two African-American brothers who were kidnapped and displayed as circus freaks, and whose mother endured a 28-year struggle to get them back. 

    The year was 1899 and the place a sweltering tobacco farm in the Jim Crow South town of Truevine, Virginia. George and Willie Muse were two little boys born to a sharecropper family. One day a white man offered them a piece of candy, setting off events that would take them around the world and change their lives forever. Captured into the circus, the Muse brothers performed for royalty at Buckingham Palace and headlined over a dozen sold-out shows at New York's Madison Square Garden. They were global superstars in a pre-broadcast era. But the very root of their success was in the color of their skin and in the outrageous caricatures they were forced to assume: supposed cannibals, sheep-headed freaks, even "Ambassadors from Mars." Back home, their mother never accepted that they were "gone" and spent 28 years trying to get them back. 

    Through hundreds of interviews and decades of research, Beth Macy expertly explores a central and difficult question: Where were the brothers better off? On the world stage as stars or in poverty at home? TRUEVINE is a compelling narrative rich in historical detail and rife with implications to race relations today.

    NONFICTION: Creative Nonfiction | Truevine: Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother's Quest: A True Story of the Jim Crow Southby Beth Macy (Little Brown and Company, 9780316337540) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters

    It is the present-day, and the world is as we know it: smartphones, social networking and Happy Meals. Save for one thing: the Civil War never occurred.

    A gifted young black man calling himself Victor has struck a bargain with federal law enforcement, working as a bounty hunter for the US Marshall Service. He's got plenty of work. In this version of America, slavery continues in four states called "the Hard Four." On the trail of a runaway known as Jackdaw, Victor arrives in Indianapolis knowing that something isn't right--with the case file, with his work, and with the country itself. 

    A mystery to himself, Victor suppresses his memories of his childhood on a plantation, and works to infiltrate the local cell of a abolitionist movement called the Underground Airlines. Tracking Jackdaw through the back rooms of churches, empty parking garages, hotels, and medical offices, Victor believes he's hot on the trail. But his strange, increasingly uncanny pursuit is complicated by a boss who won't reveal the extraordinary stakes of Jackdaw's case, as well as by a heartbreaking young woman and her child who may be Victor's salvation. Victor himself may be the biggest obstacle of all--though his true self remains buried, it threatens to surface.

    Victor believes himself to be a good man doing bad work, unwilling to give up the freedom he has worked so hard to earn. But in pursuing Jackdaw, Victor discovers secrets at the core of the country's arrangement with the Hard Four, secrets the government will preserve at any cost.

    Underground Airlines is a ground-breaking novel, a wickedly imaginative thriller, and a story of an America that is more like our own than we'd like to believe. 

    FICTION: Thriller | Underground Airlines by Ben H Winters (Mulholland Books, 9780316261241) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • Victuals: An Appalachian Journey, with Recipes by Ronni Lundy; Johnny Autry

    Victuals is an exploration of the foodways, people, and places of Appalachia. Written by Ronni Lundy, regarded as the most engaging authority on the region, the book guides us through the surprisingly diverse history--and vibrant present--of food in the Mountain South.

    Victuals explores the diverse and complex food scene of the Mountain South through recipes, stories, traditions, and innovations. Each chapter explores a specific defining food or tradition of the region--such as salt, beans, corn (and corn liquor). The essays introduce readers to their rich histories and the farmers, curers, hunters, and chefs who define the region's contemporary landscape. Sitting at a diverse intersection of cuisines, Appalachia offers a wide range of ingredients and products that can be transformed using traditional methods and contemporary applications. Through 80 recipes and stories gathered on her travels in the region, Lundy shares dishes that distill the story and flavors of the Mountain South.

    NONFICTION: Cooking | Victuals: An Appalachian Journey, with Recipes by Ronni Lundy; Johnny Autry (Clarkson Potter Publishers, 9780804186742) | BUY FROM AN INDIE