Read This Now
What if there were an army of indie booksellers enthusiastically reading and reviewing practically every new book coming out in the next year, and what if the books they were the most excited about, the books they couldn't wait to push into their customers' hands with a breathless "You've GOT to read this!" (virtually or otherwise), the ones with all the nine- and ten-star ratings were carefully curated and collected in a handy list? Well, all we can say is...KEEP READING!
RECENT RECOMMENDATIONS FROM SOUTHERN INDIES...
American Princess tells the story of Alice Roosevelt, the headstrong daughter of the indomitable Teddy Roosevelt. This was a fast-paced piece of history that was fun to read!
American Princess by Stephanie Marie Thornton ($16.00*, Berkley), recommended by Bookmarks, Bookmarks, NC.
Taylor, a Christian professor emeritus at Piedmont College, discusses how she brought the world's religions to the doorstep of her classroom in a small Georgia college town. Most students had only been exposed to Christianity, and the field trips to mosques and synagogues as well as speakers from various traditions broadened many minds. Brown's explanation of why we should be open to other religions instead of protective of our own should resonate well with the reader.
Holy Envy by Barbara Brown Taylor ($25.99*, HarperOne), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.
Mickey is a teen athlete and a star on her softball team when she and her best friend get in a car accident that changes their lives. Mickey is able to justify her use of painkillers to mask the pain of her recovering injuries but that use quickly turns to abuse as she uses the drugs for the painful shyness she also deal with. As the prescribed pills get harder to get, she turns to the fast, easy, and dangerous high of the needle. Her old friends drift away and she's surrounded with a new circle who enable her descent into addiction. This story is a powerful illustration of how easy it is to go from proper prescribed use of meds to the dangerous abuse of street drugs. This heartbreaking tale will stick with you long after the book is done.
Heroine by Mindy McGinnis ($17.99*, Katherine Tegen Books), recommended by Fountain Books, Richmond, VA.
This is not your typical guide book to Italy. Yes, it points you to wonderful, often overlooked gems throughout Italy. But it is the writing itself that makes it unique. It is personal and clearly written with love. It brings you into the feel of the country, not just it's sights which makes it a wonderful read whether you're in Italy or at home.
See You in the Piazza by Frances Mayes ($27.00*, Crown), recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.
Calling this a fairytale retelling does not do Gingerbread justice. Oyeyemi twists the story of Hansel and Gretel and the lore surrounding gingerbread in so many ways that you almost feel you have consumed the fabled treat yourself and are reawakening in the world of Druhastrana. The heart of this story is the relationships, between family, friends, and one's idea of self. It's a crazy ride and oh so delicious.
Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi ($27.00*, Riverhead Books), recommended by Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, NC.
Holy smokes, Daisy Jones! This is a 24-hour freight train of a book that I couldn't put down. It's a fictionalized documentary of the rise and fall of the band Daisy Jones and The Six. Docudrama binge reading at its best! Having the story laid out simultaneously by several narrators creates a building tension that continues to grow throughout. I loved it and cannot wait to get this on the shelves!
Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins ($27.00*, Ballantine Books), recommended by The Oxford Exchange, Tampa, FL.
Through a great sacrifice, the women in this high fantasy epic novel have been given the unprecedented ability to control their own fertility. Suddenly these women who have been treated little better than brood mares now have the power to control their own bodies. As you can guess, the men don't take it well.
This is the epic high fantasy feminist story that you didn't know you were looking for...but here it is and it is glorious.
The Women's War by Jenna Glass ($28.00*, Del Rey / Random House Inc), recommended by Bookmiser, Inc., Roswell, GA.
Yowza, did I just maybe read a future crime fiction classic? Possibly. It has all the right elements. Great characters: two ex-porn stars, a 14-year-old girl, and a psycho with a sledgehammer; dialogue that tickles the ear; and a sense of place so vivid I thought I was reading in 3-D. And the plot! I'm not going to say anything other than $500,000 in a briefcase and a frisky octogenarian are involved. My only regret? I read the book way too fast, just couldn't stop turning the pages. Oh well...there are worse things in life.
A Friend Is a Gift You Give Yourself by William Boyle ($25.95*, Pegasus Books), recommended by McIntyre's Fine Books, Pittsboro, NC.
The Wall is mesmerizing: Lanchester's plain slightly flat, sort of arch style weirdly highlights the deeply disturbing apocryphal apocalyptic and, not to put too fine a point on it, Trumpian (as if you couldn't tell from the title) plot. This is so fun, this book. I read it in one sitting.
The Wall by John Lanchester ($25.95*, W. W. Norton & Company), recommended by Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.
Written in gorgeous prose, We Must Be Brave is going to be a force this publishing season and for years to come. Many books have been written about the woes of World War II. None have tackled the love between a woman and a child quite like this one. I am always seeking just one more unique novel depicting the angst of war. This is this year's big one!
We Must Be Brave by Frances Liardet ($27.00*, G.P. Putnam's Sons), recommended by Copperfish Books, Punta Gorda, FL.
The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon ($32.00*, Bloomsbury Publishing), recommended by Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC.
I cannot wait until this book is published because I need to discuss it! Loved the complex relationship of siblings Liv and Jory, and their tangled, twisted memories of growing up with less than ideal parents. Child beauty queens, Mask movie references (the Cher and Eric Stoltz movie), disappearances, family feuds, blackout rages, road trips and nightmarish landscapes help to make this one of the most unique Young Adult books I've read in a long time!
What We Buried by Kate A. Boorman ($17.99*, Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)), recommended by Fountain Books, Richmond, VA.
From the author of The Alice Network comes a haunting post war story of a battle haunted journalist turned Nazi hunter, a female Red Army bomber pilot in exile and young American girl trying to figure out her path in life. The story shifts between past and present as they pursue Nazi killer that haunts them both. The reader will wonder who is the huntress and who the hunted. It is a story of love and loss, trust and betrayal, past and present, and revenge and redemption. Great for lovers of historical fiction, mystery and detective novels.
The Huntress by Kate Quinn ($16.99*, William Morrow Paperbacks), recommended by Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.
What an impact a loving and caring teacher can make on the life of a child. This is definitely a love letter to all the amazing teachers who go above and beyond each and every day to teacher our precious children. Teachers have that special something that digs deep to bring out the best in each child. Alyson Richman does it again. A sure winner.
The Secret of Clouds by Alyson Richman ($16.00*, Berkley), recommended by Copperfish Books, Punta Gorda, FL.
Wow, this starts with a bang and doesn't let up as Lola consolidates her power on the L.A. drug trade that she first grasped in the previous book in the series (Lola). With a cold blooded detachment she does whatever needs to be done to protect her family, neighborhood, and soldiers. Written in a tough, gritty, style that brings to life the streets of L.A. in ways that reminded me of James Ellroy and Michael Connelly, Scrivner Love has crafted a winner that I'm sure will be nominated next year for McIntyre's mystery award, The Beltie Prize.
American Heroin by Melissa Scrivner Love ($27.00*, Crown), recommended by McIntyre's Fine Books, Pittsboro, NC.
Ben and Kate meet at a party in a progressive NYC in the year 2000. They begin to fall in love but Kate has had these dreams since childhood that take her back to Elizabethan England where her actions change the reality she wakes up in each time. As her current world gets worse and her friends get more skeptical of her sanity, Kate tries to figure out what paths to choose in her dreams to save the future. A very intimate, emotional and at some moments downright heartbreaking look at perception, morality, and humanity, this book shook me and will be one of the best of 2019.
The Heavens by Sandra Newman ($26.00*, Grove Press), recommended by Fountain Books, Richmond, VA.
I had the worst, most amazing book hangover after finishing this one. The Butler women crawled into my heart and made it impossible for me to leave. Gray's writing made each character distinct and so real for me that in the middle I had to put it down and take a breather. This book will have you calling your mom, your sister, your aunt just to tell them you love them.
The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray ($26.00*, Berkley), recommended by Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, NC.
In Crescendo, Quintavalle and Sanna tap into the improbable magic of growing a child--impending motherhood calls for so much wonder and mystery at the little one you have yet to meet, and this joyful, colorful ode hits all the right notes. A perfect gift for any mother, new, old, or yet-to-be!
Crescendo by Paola Quintavalle, Alessandro Sanna (Artist) ($19.95*, Enchanted Lion Books), recommended by Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.
The picturesque painted houses at the top the of the street hide a delicate web of past and present intrigue. Complicated relationships abound: sisters and brothers, teacher and student, innocent love and the timeless theme of marital infidelity, and of course, a murder. Jewell's understating of human psyche and its idiosyncrasies makes for a deliciously hard to put down whodunnit that feels all too close to home. She is a story-weaver like no other and she had me guessing the whole way through.
Watching You by Lisa Jewell ($26.00*, Atria Books), recommended by The Oxford Exchange, Tampa, FL.
A heady yet accessible exploration of family and America's collective past that reaches into a variety of texts and art forms for inspiration. But it's the ambition of Luiselli's writing and its overall impact that makes this novel such a monument.
Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli ($27.95*, Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli), recommended by Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe, Asheville, NC.
Jane Harper has created yet another masterpiece, this one a standalone set in the outback region of Queensland Australia. It is a beautifully written character driven novel where the extreme hardship of living and surviving in the outback is one of the major characters.
It is the story of the Bright brothers told from the perspective of Nathan--the oldest of the three--as he tries to make sense of how his middle brother, Cameron, ended up alone in the middle of the desert dead of dehydration when he had a well-stocked and working car not far away. Was it something sinister or was it suicide as the authorities seem to believe. If suicide, what might have driven this charismatic well liked young man with a wife and two young daughters to take his life. The Lost Man is a story of family dynamics, of abuse and of lots of what if's.
The descriptions of the scenery and life in the outback would be enough alone to keep up your interest, but added to that is a cast of characters who you feel like you know intimately by the end of the book. A cast of characters who all have secrets and who make you wonder did Cameron kill himself or did one of them do the unspeakable?
The Lost Man by Jane Harper ($27.99*, Flatiron Books), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.