GREAT READS HANDPICKED BY GREAT SOUTHERN BOOKSELLERS...

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  • The Travelers by Regina Porter

    The Travelers by Regina PorterWatching the events and lives of one family intertwined come together so beautifully in one novel is an absolute treat, and Regina Porter does not disappoint. The Travelers builds and weaves the story of family, strife, love, and frustration and encapsulates what it means to become and to remain a family. This story is absolutely gorgeous as it moves through time and experience and leaves its reader feeling like a part of the family rather than just an observer.

    The Travelers by Regina Porter ($27.00*, Hogarth), recommended by Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC.

     A Spring 2019 Okra Pick

  • Give by Erica C. Witsell

    Give, a Novel by Erica C. WitsellI realize that this book is, in large part, about sisterhood. Unfortunately, I don't have a sister or a similar relationship to measure against. I loved Emma and Jessie anyway, and found them credible characters in their own right. Emma's struggle to find a nourishing relationship is deeply touching. The dynamics between the two of them and between Laurel and Jessie are written with honesty and affection.

    But what grabbed me by the heart and wouldn't let go was Witsell's descriptions of parenting and motherhood. It's unflinching in a way that I haven't read before without someone being written as a monster. Laurel isn't a monster; She's just not cut out for motherhood. She's a flawed person whose flaws are particularly incompatible with mothering. God, I sympathized with her. Early motherhood was frequently intolerable for me as well, and I found a sort of weird validation from reading someone else who wasn't very good at it. However, I also loved Sarah's character. She wasn't any more perfect than Laurel was imperfect.

    I especially applaud Witsell's commitment to Laurel's integrity. Laurel never "rises above" or adopts the proper level of selflessness. It would have been pretty but dishonest to do otherwise. Even when her intentions are good, as with baby Liza, she manages to get it all wrong.

    Everything about this book feels real, genuine, and honest. It it were written as memoir, I would believe it, but I think it somehow points to even larger truths by being written as fiction.

    Give by Erica C. Witsell ($19.95*, BQB Publishing), recommended by Sunrise Books, High Point, NC.

  • What If It's Us by Becky Albertalli, Adam Silvera 

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

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

  • The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay

    The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay Wen and her dads are taking a break from everything by visiting a remote cabin for vacation. Wen is studying grasshoppers in their yard when a man comes up and makes friends with her. He warns her that she and her dads are going to have to make a decision.  And that's about all I can tell you without spoiling you.

    This book was SO creepy in a very good way. I'd classify this as horror, but in a very real way.

    The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay ($26.99*, St. Martin's Press), recommended by Bookmiser, Inc., Roswell, GA.

  • Disoriental by Négar Djavadi

    Disoriental by Negar DjavadiI devoured this book. Kimia's family history, and consequently the history of Iran, is given in tantalizing bits and pieces. It was fascinating, informative, and exceptionally well-written. I highly, highly recommend it!

    Disoriental by Négar Djavadi ($18.00*, Europa Editions), recommended by Union Ave Books, Knoxville, TN.

  • The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater

    The 57 Bus by Dashka SlaterFrom Page 158 Books: It was fascinating to step into the life of a gender non-binary individual. I really enjoyed that perspective.

    From the publisher: If it weren't for the 57 bus, Sasha and Richard never would have met. Both were high school students from Oakland, California, one of the most diverse cities in the country, but they inhabited different worlds. Sasha, a white teen, lived in the middle-class foothills and attended a small private school. Richard, a black teen, lived in the crime-plagued flatlands and attended a large public one. Each day, their paths overlapped for a mere eight minutes. But one afternoon on the bus ride home from school, a single reckless act left Sasha severely burned, and Richard charged with two hate crimes and facing life imprisonment. The case garnered international attention, thrusting both teenagers into the spotlight.

    The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives by Dashka Slater ($17.99*, Farrar Straus Giroux), recommended by Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, NC.

  • Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert

    Little & Lion by Brandy ColbertAfter Pointe (um, hello, go read that if you haven’t), I waited and waited and waited for Brandy Colbert’s next novel. I was not disappointed. Tackling the always timely topics of sexuality, mental health, and the beautifully, murky path that we walk when we love someone. Perfect for fans of Julie Murphy and Nina LaCour.

    Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert ($17.99*, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers), recommended by Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

    Fingersmith by Sarah WatersForget Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train. Move over Big Little Lies and The Woman in Cabin 10. Because Fingersmith has one of the best jaw dropping, plot twisting, Oh-My-God-Did-That-Just-Happen moments that I've ever read.

    Fingersmith by Sarah Waters ($17.99, Riverhead Books), recommended by Katie, Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA.

  • I’ll Tell You in Person by Chloe Caldwell

    Chloe Caldwell is the kind of friend who calls you once in a while with some crazy story that never disappoints and is always worth the wait. Taking an almost memoir-istic structure, her essays show her personal growth through coping with addiction, internet/celebrity infatuation, acne, being broke, and feeling lost. Striking, funny, sometimes absurd, and always tender, Caldwell writes herself into she has always loved and needed—a friend.

    I’ll Tell You in Person by Chloe Caldwell (16.95, Coffee House), recommended by Amanda, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • Lust & Wonder by Augusten Burroughs

    Augusten Burroughs ALWAYS delivers.

    I love his madness, his romanticism, his hopeless inability to correct himself mid-stream and his hapless drive to overcompensate long after he's crossed the stream, and I love the way he writes about all of it.

    This was an Augusten Burroughs memoir with a happy ending.

    Lust & Wonder by Augusten Burroughs (St. Martin's Press) Recommended by Clara at A Cappella Books Atlanta GA

  • Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin

    The more things change, the more things stay the same. Or so it seems in this novel by Armistead Maupin. Set in 1970s San Francisco, we follow a dozen city dwellers chasing their version of their dream life in this bustling metropolis. While certain details are amusingly out-of-date, the main themes still ring true todayfriendship, companionship, heartbreak, loss, deciding what type of life you want to live and what type of person you want to be.

    Tales of the City (Harper $15.99) by Armistead Maupin, recommended by Ceewin, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff

    I can’t account for the historical accuracy of the story, but The Danish Girl is based on the true story of a young transgender woman (Lili) in the 1920s/30s.

    Born a male, Einar struggles with the secret of wanting to be a woman. His wife Greta encourages his transition and Einar becomes Lili. Lili was the first person to undergo sex reassignment surgery in the 1930s. 

    It’s a beautifully written story about love, trust and self-discovery.
     
    The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff (Penguin) Recommended by Christina at Blue Ridge Books Waynesville, NC

  • Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

    Benjamin Alire Sáenz's stories are of the knock-you-over-powerful variety.

    These seven stories-- set in the border towns of Juárez and El Paso, with many of them touching on the wave of violence that engulfed Juárez in the '90s-- all have a connection to the Kentucky Club, a venerable Juárez institution.

    Winner of the PEN/Faulkner award and a Lambda Literary award, this book deserves a wider audience.

    Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (Cinco Puntos Press) Recommended by Elese at Flyleaf Books Chapel Hill NC 

  • The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

    Fairfold is special.

    Humans and fae live side by side in this magical town, but not always peacefully. Hazel and Ben have lived in Fairfold their whole lives. Jack, though fae, has lived among the human population just as long.

    And longer than any of them, the horned boy sleeping in the coffin in the woods, a boy who fueled Hazel and Ben's childhood and adolescent fantasies. When he wakes, it could ignite a war between humans and fae that has been long coming.

    With wonderful world building, Holly Black delivers and dark, fantastical story that will keep readers enthralled from the first page to the last.

    The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) Recommended by Melissa at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

    16-year-old Simon is gay, but he hasn't told anyone yet.

    Except for his secret penpal Blue, who's in the same boat, and who Simon has a major crush on. Then someone from school sees Simon's email, and uses it to blackmail Simon. Now Simon has to set up one of his best friends with his blackmailer or risk outing Blue. A romance more than a coming-of-age story, and one that I wanted to read again immediately just to have more of the warm fuzzies it gave me.

    Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (Balzer & Bray/Harperteen) Recommended by Meliissa at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

  • I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

    How to do justice to a novel that allows you to know each character so intimately that their pain and triumphs are your own?

    I fell head-over-heels for twins Noah and Jude. I couldn’t resist Noah, who has a penchant for contextualizing his life into paintings, or Jude, who takes to keeping onions in her pockets to avoid serious illness. The two share an almost other-worldly bond, but as life rapidly spins beyond their control and they retreat into their own internalized worlds, they lose touch with the others’ heart.

    Their journey back to one another is absolutely stunning.

    Peppered with beautiful imagery and quirky excerpts from Grandma Sweetwine’s folksy bible, I’ll Give You the Sun is a book you’ll wanna hold close to your heart. Or maybe I should just say, I want to give this book to everyone I have ever or will ever meet.

    I'll Give You the Sun By Jandy Nelson ($17.99, Dial Books for Young Readers), recommended by Amanda, Foxtale Bookshoppe, Woodstock GA.