Lady Banks Bookshelf

Lady Banks Pick of the Week


Okra Picks are a dozen fresh titles chosen each season that SIBA Indie Bookstores want to handsell. These books should be southern in nature but can cover any genre, not just fiction. Southern readers love their writers, and we want to be at the forefront of bringing them a strong selection of Southern titles not to be missed each season.


DISCOVER ALL THE OKRA PICKS...

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  • My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh

    My Sunshine AwayThe debut novel everyone is talking about...   “The last page is as satisfying as the first.” —Kathryn Stockett  “I really loved this book... I can't praise it enough.”—Anne Rice   “It's a book to read and reread, one that will only get better with time.”—Tom Franklin   

    It was the summer everything changed.…   

    My Sunshine Away unfolds in a Baton Rouge neighborhood best known for cookouts on sweltering summer afternoons, cauldrons of spicy crawfish, and passionate football fandom. But in the summer of 1989, when fifteen-year-old Lindy Simpson—free spirit, track star, and belle of the block—experiences a horrible crime late one evening near her home, it becomes apparent that this idyllic stretch of Southern suburbia has a dark side, too.

    In My Sunshine Away, M.O. Walsh brilliantly juxtaposes the enchantment of a charmed childhood with the gripping story of a violent crime, unraveling families, and consuming adolescent love. Acutely wise and deeply honest, it is an astonishing and page-turning debut about the meaning of family, the power of memory, and our ability to forgive. 

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  • Welcome to Braggsville by T. Geronimo Johnson

    Welcome to BraggsvilleFrom the PEN/Faulkner finalist and critically acclaimed author of Hold It 'Til It Hurts comes a dark and socially provocative Southern-fried comedy about four UC Berkeley students who stage a dramatic protest during a Civil War reenactment--a fierce, funny, tragic work from a bold new writer

    Welcome to Braggsville. The City That Love Built in the Heart of Georgia. Population 712.

    Born and raised in the heart of old Dixie, D'aron Davenport finds himself in unfamiliar territory his freshman year at UC Berkeley. Two thousand miles and a world away from his childhood, he is a small-town fish floundering in the depths of a large hyperliberal pond. Caught between the prosaic values of his rural hometown and the intellectualized multicultural cosmopolitanism of "Berzerkeley," the nineteen-year-old white kid is uncertain about his place, until one disastrous party brings him three idiosyncratic best friends: Louis, a "kung fu comedian" from California; Candice, an earnest do-gooder from Iowa claiming Native roots; and Charlie, an introspective inner-city black teen from Chicago. They dub themselves the "4 Little Indians."

    But everything changes in the group's alternative history class, when D'aron lets slip that his hometown hosts an annual Civil War reenactment, recently rebranded "Patriot Days." His announcement is met with righteous indignation and inspires Candice to suggest a "performative intervention" to protest the reenactment. Armed with youthful self-importance, makeshift slave costumes, righteous zeal, and their own misguided ideas about the South, the 4 Little Indians descend on Braggsville. Their journey through backwoods churches, backroom politics, Waffle Houses, and drunken family barbecues is uproarious at first but has devastating consequences.

    With the keen wit of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk and the deft argot of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, T. Geronimo Johnson has written an astonishing, razor-sharp satire. Using a panoply of styles and tones, from tragicomic to Southern Gothic, he skewers issues of class, race, intellectual and political chauvinism, Obamaism, social media, and much more.

    A literary coming-of-age novel for a new generation, written with tremendous social insight and a unique, generous heart, Welcome to Braggsville reminds us of the promise and perils of youthful exuberance, while painting an indelible portrait of contemporary America.

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  • Soil by Jamie Kornegay

    Soil

    A darkly comic debut novel by an independent bookseller about an idealistic young farmer who moves his family to a Mississippi flood basin, suffers financial ruin--and becomes increasingly paranoid he's being framed for murder. 

    It all began with a simple dream. An ambitious young environmental scientist hoped to establish a sustainable farm on a small patch of river-bottom land nestled among the Mississippi hills. Jay Mize convinced his wife Sandy to move their six-year-old son away from town and to a rich and lush parcel where Jacob could run free and Jay could pursue the dream of a new and progressive agriculture for the twenty-first century. He did not know that within a year he'd be ruined, that flood and pestilence would invade his fledgling farm or that his wife and son would leave him to pick up the pieces by himself. 

    When Jay Mize discovers a corpse on his property, he is sure his bad luck has come to a head and he is being framed. Were Jay in his right mind, he might have reported the body to the police at the very same moment they were searching for a missing tourist from Ohio. He might have not dragged the body back to his farm under the cover of night and spent hours disposing of it. But Jay Mize is not in his right mind. His mounting paranoia is accelerated by a hot-rod local deputy, nosing around with questions about the missing tourist and making dark comments about Jay's estranged wife Sandy. It's enough to make an honest man a maniac... 

    Drawing on elements of classic Southern noir, dark comedy, and modern dysfunction, Jamie Kornegay's novel is about the gravitational pull of one man's apocalypse and the hope that maybe, just maybe, he can be reeled in from the brink. Readers will "applaud the arrival of an exquisitely deranged new voice to American fiction" (Jonathan Miles, award-winning author of "Want Not" and "Dear American Airlines").

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  • Each Shining Hour: A Novel of Watervalley by Jeff High

    Each Shining HourWelcome to the timeless charms of small-town Watervalley, Tennessee—where young Dr. Luke Bradford is beginning to feel at home… 

    When he comes to the aid of a woman at the grocery store, Luke is fascinated to learn she is Estelle Pillow, the cheery sister to his prickly housekeeper, Connie. Estelle wants to open a bakery in town—and Connie’s disapproval of the venture stirs up a whirlwind of emotions between the siblings. But Luke’s attention is soon diverted when he learns about a long-ago double murder. . .

    During World War II, an unknown traveler arrived in town, and before the day was over, he and the local baker lay dead near the bandstand at the local lake. The incident has since been exaggerated into Watervalley lore—with the newcomer rumored to have been a German spy. As Luke pieces together exactly what happened, he realizes that the consequences of this event have rippled painfully into the lives of townsfolk he has come to know.

    As winter gives way to spring, Luke keeps busy at the medical clinic and enters a tentative, exhilarating romance. And when his support of Estelle’s bakery collides with new revelations about the old murder, Luke witnesses the true power of reconciliation working in the hearts of those he holds dear—a revelation that will change his life.

    Buy from an indie | Read the first chapter!

  • The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain

    The Silent SisterIn The Silent Sister, Riley MacPherson has spent her entire life believing that her older sister Lisa committed suicide as a teenager.  Now, over twenty years later, her father has passed away and she's in New Bern, North Carolina cleaning out his house when she finds evidence to the contrary.  Lisa is alive.  Alive and living under a new identity.  But why exactly was she on the run all those years ago, and what secrets are being kept now?  As Riley works to uncover the truth, her discoveries will put into question everything she thought she knew about her family.  Riley must decide what the past means for her present, and what she will do with her newfound reality, in this engrossing mystery from international bestselling author Diane Chamberlain. .

    Buy from an indie | Read the first chapter!

  • Sister Golden Hair by Darcey Steinke

    Sister Golden HairWhen Jesse's family moves to Roanoke, Virginia, in the summer of 1972, she's 12 years old and already mindful of the schism between innocence and femininity, the gap between childhood and the adult world. Her father, a former pastor, cycles through spiritual disciplines as quickly as he cycles through jobs. Her mother is dissatisfied, glumly fetishizing the Kennedys and anyone else that symbolizes status and wealth. The residents of the Bent Tree housing development may not hold what Jesse is looking for, but they're all she's got. Her neighbor speaks of her married lover; her classmate playacts being a Bunny at Hugh Hefner's Playboy Club; the boy she's interested in fantasizes about moving to Hollywood and befriending David Soul. In the midst of it all, Jesse finds space to set up her room with her secret treasures: busts of Emily Dickinson and Shakespeare, a Venus flytrap, her Cher 45s, and "The Big Book of Burial Rites," which she reads obsessively. But outside awaits all the misleading sexual mores, muddled social customs, and confused spirituality. Girlhood has never been more fraught than in Jesse's telling, its expectations threatening to turn at any point into delicious risk, or real danger.

    Buy from an indie | Read the first chapter!

  • Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story by Rick Bragg

    Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own StoryFor nearly sixty years, Jerry Lee Lewis has been a monumental figure in American life. The wildest and most dangerous of the early rock and rollers, he electrified the world with hit records such as "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On," "Great Balls of Fire," and "Breathless." His music was raucous, exuberant, slyly sexual; his wailing vocals were grounded by the locomotive force of his pumping piano. But his persona and performing style were what changed the world: whipping his long hair back, he would pound the keyboard like a coal-fired steam engine, then kick back the bench, climb atop the piano, and work the audience like the Pentecostal preacher he almost became. Poised to steal the crown from Elvis Presley, he seemed unstoppable--until news of his marriage to his thirteen-year-old cousin broke during his first British tour, nearly ending his career.

    Now, for the first time, Lewis's story is told in full, as he shared it over two years with Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Rick Bragg. In a narrative rich with atmosphere and anecdote, we watch Jerry Lee emerge from the fields and levees of Depression-era Louisiana, blazing a path across Bible colleges and nightclubs en route to international fame. He shared bills with Johnny Cash and Chuck Berry, toured Australia with Buddy Holly and Paul Anka, and went Cadillac for Cadillac with Elvis on the streets of Memphis--even as both of them struggled with the conflict between their faith and their music. After a decade in the wilderness, he returned as the biggest star in country music, but his victory lap became a marathon of excess, a time of guns and pills and Calvert Extra. He crashed Rolls-Royces and Lincolns, including one he drove into the gates of Graceland; suffered the deaths of wives and loved ones; and nearly met his maker twice himself. Yet after six marriages, a long spell without a recording contract, and a bruising battle with the IRS, he overcame a crippling addiction, remarried, and scored his biggest hit records since the 1970s. Today, as he approaches his eightieth year, he continues to electrify audiences around the world.

    The story of Jerry Lee Lewis has inspired songs and articles, books and films, but in these pages Rick Bragg restores a human complexity missing from other accounts. The result is a story of fire and faith and resilience, informed by Rick Bragg's deep understanding of the American spirit, and rich with Jerry Lee's own unforgettable voice.

    Buy from an indie | Read the first chapter!

  • In the Heart of the Dark Wood by Billy Coffey

    In the Heart of the Dark WoodA motherless girl hungry for hope . . . and the dream that could be leading her astray.

    Almost two years have passed since twelve year-old Allie Granderson's beloved mother Mary disappeared into the wild tornado winds. Her body has never been found. God may have spilled out his vengeance on all of Mattingly that day--but it was Allie's momma who got swept away.

    Allie clings to memories of her mother, just as she clings to the broken compass she left behind, the makeshift Nativity scene assembled in Allie's front yard, and to her best friend, Zach. But even with Zach at her side, the compass tied to her wrist, and the Nativity characters just a glimpse out the window, Allie cannot help but feel lost in all the growing up that must get done.

    When the Holy Mother disappears from the yard one morning, Allie's bewilderment is checked only by the sudden movement of her mother's compass. Yet the compass isn't pointing north but east . . . into the inky forest on the outskirts of Mattingly.

    Following the needle, Allie and Zach leave the city pavement behind and push into the line of trees edging on the Virginia hill country. For Allie, the journey is more than a ghost hunt: she is rejoining the mother she lost--and finding herself with each step deeper into the heart of the darkest woods she's ever seen.

    Brimming with lyrical prose and unexpected discoveries, "In the Heart of the Dark Wood" illustrates the steep transition we all must undergo--the moment we shed our child-like selves and step into the strange territory of adulthood.

    Buy from an indie | Read the first chapter!

  • Heritage by Sean Brock

    HeritageSean Brock is the chef behind the game-changing restaurants Husk and McCrady s, and his first book offers all of his inspired recipes. With a drive to preserve the heritage foods of the South, Brock cooks dishes that are ingredient-driven and reinterpret the flavors of his youth in Appalachia and his adopted hometown of Charleston. The recipes include all the comfort food (think food to eat at home) and high-end restaurant food (fancier dishes when there s more time to cook) for which he has become so well-known. Brock s interpretation of Southern favorites like Pickled Shrimp, Hoppin John, and Chocolate Alabama Stack Cake sit alongside recipes for Crispy Pig Ear Lettuce Wraps, Slow-Cooked Pork Shoulder with Tomato Gravy, and Baked Sea Island Red Peas. This is a very personal book, with headnotes that explain Brock s background and give context to his food and essays in which he shares his admiration for the purveyors and ingredients he cherishes.

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  • Citizens Creek by Lalita Tademy

    Citizens Creek by Lalita TademyThe "New York Times "bestselling author of the Oprah Book Club Pick "Cane River" brings us the evocative story of a once-enslaved man who buys his freedom after serving as a translator during the American Indian Wars, and his granddaughter, who sustains his legacy of courage. 

    Cow Tom, born into slavery in Alabama in 1810 and sold to a Creek Indian chief before his tenth birthday, possessed an extraordinary gift: the ability to master languages. As the new country developed westward, and Indians, settlers, and blacks came into constant contact, Cow Tom became a key translator for his Creek master and was hired out to US military generals. His talent earned him money--but would it also grant him freedom? And what would become of him and his family in the aftermath of the Civil War and the Indian Removal westward? 

    Cow Tom's legacy lives on--especially in the courageous spirit of his granddaughter Rose. She rises to leadership of the family as they struggle against political and societal hostility intent on keeping blacks and Indians oppressed. But through it all, her grandfather's indelible mark of courage inspires her--in mind, in spirit, and in a family legacy that never dies. 
    Written in two parts portraying the parallel lives of Cow Tom and Rose, "Citizens Creek" is a beautifully rendered novel that takes the reader deep into a little known chapter of American history. It is a breathtaking tale of identity, community, family--and above all, the power of an individual's will to make a difference.

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  • Compulsion by Martina Boone

    Compulsion by Martina BooneThe first in a spellbinding new trilogy. After the death of her mother, Barrie Watson moves to her aunt's South Carolina plantation and learns that an ancient spirit had cursed one of the three founding families of Watson Island and gave the others magical gifts that became compulsions. Barrie must find a way to break free of the family legacy.

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  • The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

    The Walled City by Ryan Graudin 730. That's how many days I've been trapped.18. That's how many days I have left to find a way out.

    DAI, trying to escape a haunting past, traffics drugs for the most ruthless kingpin in the Walled City. But in order to find the key to his freedom, he needs help from someone with the power to be invisible....

    JIN hides under the radar, afraid the wild street gangs will discover her biggest secret: Jin passes as a boy to stay safe. Still, every chance she gets, she searches for her lost sister....
    MEI YEE has been trapped in a brothel for the past two years, dreaming of getting out while watching the girls who try fail one by one. She's about to give up, when one day she sees an unexpected face at her window.....

    In this innovative and adrenaline-fueled novel, they all come together in a desperate attempt to escape a lawless labyrinth before the clock runs out.

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  • Wink of an Eye: A Mystery by Lynn Chandler

    Wink of an Eye: A Mystery by Lynn Chandler WillisOn the run from a double-cross, Las Vegas private investigator Gypsy Moran shows up unexpectedly at his sister Rhonda's house in Wink, Texas. She introduces Gypsy to one of her former students, 12-year-old Tatum McCallen, who is in need of Gypsy's services. Tatum wants to hire Gypsy to investigate his father Ryce's alleged suicide. His dad was a deputy with the Sheriff's department and was found hanged in their backyard. Tatum believes his father was murdered after he went inquiring after the disappearance of  several teenage girls, all undocumented immigrants. Against his better judgment, Gypsy agrees to snoop around to see what he can find. Between dealing with his now married high school sweetheart, a sexy reporter, and hostile police officers, Gypsy has his work cut out for him.

    Lynn Chandler Willis' Wink of an Eye is a strong addition to a long list of The Private Eye Writers of America (PWA) Competition winners that includes Steve Hamilton and Michael Koryta.

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  • Risky Undertaking: A Buryin' Barry Mystery by Mark de Castrique

    Risky Undertaking: A Buryin' Barry Mystery by Mark de CastriqueWhen Cherokee burial remains are unearthed on the site expanding a local cemetery, the dual occupations of Barry Clayton, part-time deputy and full-time undertaker, collide. Then, during the interment of the wife of one of Gainesboro, North Carolina s most prominent citizens, Cherokee activist Jimmy Panther leads a protest. Words and - fists fly. When Panther turns up executed on the grave of the deceased woman, Barry is forced to confront her family as the chief suspects. But the case lurches in a new direction with the arrival of Sheriff Tommy Lee Wadkin s Army pal, Boston cop Kevin Malone. He s on the trail of a Boston hit man who arrived at the Cherokee reservation only days before the murder. Malone is convinced his quarry is the triggerman. But who paid him? And why? The accelerating investigation draws Barry onto the reservation where Panther s efforts to preserve Cherokee traditions threatened the development of a new casino, a casino bringing millions of dollars of construction plus huge yearly payouts to every member of the tribe. Leading an unlikely team his childhood nemesis Archie Donovan and his elderly fellow undertaker Uncle Wayne Barry goes undercover. But the stakes are higher than he realized in this risky undertaking. And the life of a Cherokee boy becomes the wager. Barry must play his cards very carefully

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