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...
Maurice Carlos Ruffin's new novel, We Cast a Shadow, is an earth-shaking and eye-opening story of how a father will stop at nothing to ensure that his son will have a safe and happy life, even if it means completely erasing who his son is. A passionate story that offers controversial topics and themes, one can't help feel for all the characters involved in this tale of race and what one's place means in society. This book raises all of the right points and is absolutely a must-read.
We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin ($27.00*, (PRH) One World), recommended by Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC.
Snowden Wright has the Mississippi vernacular perfected. I've never read a book that so clearly captures the bizarre and beauty of my home state so clearly. The tale of the Forster family's rise and fall is a clever mix of historical facts and fiction. A book about a family dynasty, American Pop also explores the sense of entitlement and ridiculous propriety that was born and bred into white southerners.
American Pop by Snowden Wright ($26.99*, William Morrow), recommended by Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.
The Smiling Man is a contemporary thriller that reads like an old-fashioned noir. Joseph Knox did a brilliant job telling two parallel stories and tying them together towards the end. While I began to have an inkling of the connection, Knox kept the details sparse enough and the suspense high enough that I was never sure of what I knew and what I had missed completely. Like any noir hero, Aidan Waits is flawed and often unlikable, but he has a core of decency that you can't help but root for. I did not realize that this was the second in a series until after I completed the book. I think it stands alone nicely and I enjoyed it even without any backstory that I may have missed from Book I.
The Smiling Man by Joseph Knox ($26.00*, Crown), recommended by The Oxford Exchange, Tampa, FL.
A tale as old as time with a modern, fresh spin! I loved everything from the smart, empowered characters to the spin on the beast and the curse to the supporting cast of characters--the only problem is a cliffhanger that leaves you on the edge of your seat!
A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer ($18.99*, Bloomsbury YA), recommended by Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC.
When single mom and widow Susannah meets mysterious artist Max W at a party, they quickly connect. Having both overcome turbulent pasts, they find solace together and Max bonds with Susannah's son Freddy. Their idyllic life is threatened when Susannah finds a note on their front door that says I KNOW WHO YOU ARE. The couple worries separately about what the note means and who left it and things start to unravel when Max figures it out - or does he? This is a fast, twisty story about how your past can come back to haunt you and how you never really know your partner as well as you think.
The Perfect Liar by Thomas Christopher Greene ($26.99*, St. Martin’s Press), recommended by Fountain Books, Richmond, VA.
Who knows better how to manipulate someone for their own nefarious purpose than a psychiatrist who understands when a person is damaged and vulnerable because of past trauma. That is the premise of An Anonymous Girl, a terrific psychological thriller with a complex plot that is both sick and twisted. Jessica Farris lies her way into what she thinks is a psychological study on ethics and morality conducted by psychiatrist Dr. Shields because she needs the money. She quickly comes to greatly admire Dr. Shields (because Dr. Shields knows how to manipulate her) and doesn’t realize that she is being used to help Dr. Shields build a case against her cheating husband. You won’t want to miss this one.
An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen ($27.99*, St. Martin’s Press), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.
Roshana Chokshi's The Gilded Wolves is a delightful adventure through history as six young people, each with their own demons, chase their dreams, only to find the fate of society in the balance. Besides delving into each character's unique post and how their struggles inform their tenuous hopes for the future, the story also explores the bitterness of letting one's dream, both acknowledged and unacknowledged, go unrealized. Above all, Chokshi's cleverly built scavenger hunt encompassing history, math, science and magic makes it easy to fall in love with each word, as if were again our first time breathing.
The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi ($18.99*, Wednesday Books), recommended by Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.
Parkland Speaks is a powerful compilation of essays, poems, photographs and artwork from the survivors of the Parkland High School shooting. I read this book over the course of a week, wanting to spend time with each piece trying to absorb the emotion and experience behind each piece. As a reader, I experience such a wide range of feelings - sadness for the victims, anger that our country hasn't enacted the change to prevent shootings like this, but also a lasting sense of hope at these amazing teenagers who are dedicated to sharing their stories and creating true change for the future. Parkland Speaks is difficult but powerful read that should be required reading for everyone.
Parkland Speaks by Sarah Lerner (editor) ($17.99*, Crown Books for Young Readers), recommended by Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC.
If you are looking for a book you can't put down, this is your book.
If you need a story that will follow you for days, this is your book.
New wounds open old wounds in this superb tale of unresolved loss and crime.
Two nineteen year-old college girls are frantically driving away from a terrifying encounter on a dark, icy Iowa road when their car goes into a river. Only one survives, the daughter of a dying sheriff across the state line in Minnesota. This tragedy brings to surface the loss of another young girl ten years prior, found in a river. A case this dying sheriff was never able to solve. Both cases are filled with direct and indirect links. Tim Johnston instills both grief and grace, twists and escalating tension, and the tenacity of those left behind in this deftly written novel.
The Current by Tim Johnston ($27.95*, Algonquin Books), recommended by The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.
This is literally a stay-up late, can't put it down action thriller. Peter Sutherland is an FBI agent whose career is tainted by the sins of his father, but guided by his own strong sense of right and wrong. When he receives a panic-stricken call from a young woman named Rose on a secret FBI hot line, he has no idea of the challenges he will soon be facing, or how the decisions he must make will test his moral codes. Sutherland is an approachable and honest character, not imbued by the author with superhuman strengths or abilities. The story is intricate and fast-paced, yet still feels legitimate and real. I really liked this book and expect it will be a runaway best seller!
The Night Agent by Matthew Quirk ($26.99*, William Morrow), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.
Two Can Keep a Secret proves that there are still twisty, devious mystery stories to be told. No matter how many times I thought 'they're the killer!', the ending still shocked and wowed me. It'll appeal to the My Favorite Murder fan in us all- I couldn't put it down. Just don't read it at home, alone, at night. Speaking from personal experience, that would be a mistake. The final line still has me shivering.
Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus ($19.99*, Delacorte Press), recommended by One More Page Books, Arlington, VA.
You Know You Want This: "Cat Person" and Other Stories by Kristen Roupenian ($24.99*, Gallery/Scout Press), recommended by Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.
Honest, heart-breaking, and affirming. This is not your run-of-the-mill diet book, or just someone crowing about their weight loss. It's an in-depth spiritual investigation of why and how a person becomes and stays fat. I also enjoyed reading about Tommy's career in newspapers and sports. He's such a gifted writer and I look forward to hand-selling this one.
The Elephant in the Room by Tommy Tomlinson ($27.00*, Simon & Schuster), recommended by Sunrise Books, High Point, NC.
Laura was an au pair for the young son of the Mayes family for a year before Ruth Mayes's twins were born. The day the twins were born Ruth committed suicide by jumping off a cliff and Laura mysteriously went away and never returned to the town.
Now, 25 years later one of the twins, Seraphine, finds a photograph while looking through her deceased father's possessions. This photograph taken on the day of her and her twin Danny’s birth presents many unanswered questions. Ruth, their mother, looks serene and happy and not like someone who would commit suicide several hours later. And she is only holding one infant. Seraphine has never quite felt like she belonged and she becomes obsessed with finding out who she really is.
The Au Pair is brilliantly told from two perspectives as Laura and Seraphine both tell their stories. When the narratives come together, they do so with the force of two trains colliding. The lies, deception, and betrayals give an ending that I never expected.
The Au Pair by Emma Rous ($16.00*, Berkley), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.
Great for readers of Mary Kubica and Paula Hawkins! Alice O'Farrell lives a quiet, nomadic life after an accident killed her younger brother when she was left in charge. Unable to let go of the guilt she feels, she keeps to herself and works one-off jobs that don't require much from her. Waking up in a bad situation one morning, Alice finds herself in possession of a duffel bag full of cash and hits the road, hoping to outrun her guilt (and maybe a couple of bad guys too). Drama runs high as Alice and a runaway she encounters along the way work to outwit the owners of the duffel bag. You'll be breathless as you get to the fiery conclusion.
The Guilt We Carry by Samuel W. Gailey ($26.95*, Oceanview Publishing), recommended by Fountain Books, Richmond, VA.
The Perilous Adventures of the Cowboy King by Jerome Charyn ($25.95*, Liveright Publishing Corporation), recommended by Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC.
The Unsung Hero of Birdsong, USA by Brenda Woods ($16.99*, Nancy Paulsen Books), recommended by The Story Shop, Monroe, GA.
Haunting. Mackintosh manages a new take on the unreliable narrator: at times the sisters don't know what to believe about their world and I so related to the spot-on depictions of sisterly devotion, even as the extremity of their lives what shocking and brutal. Masterful and perfect for anyone who loved Red Clocks by Leni Zumas.
The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh ($25.95*, Doubleday), recommended by Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.
If like me, you devoured The Cruel Prince, it's impossible to begin this new installment without a fair amount of trepidation--and Holly Black does not disappoint. In this novel, the faerie world expands significantly and Jude's brilliant scheming must face the test of time and several new players. Jude remains an impressively fierce heroine, but she may have met her match...I really don't know how I'll survive the wait for book three!
The Wicked King by Holly Black ($19.99*, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers), recommended by Books & Books, Coral Gables, FL.
I read this madly in 24 hours and couldn’t put it down. The Winter of the Witch sees Vasya Petrovna come fully into her power in every dimension. Each volume in the Winternight Trilogy has been even more enthralling than the first, and this is a richly satisfying conclusion on so many levels, narratively, historically, romantically, and emotionally! It makes me want to start The Bear and the Nightingale all over again!
The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden ($28.00*, Del Rey), recommended by Underground Books, Carrollton, GA.
How do snakes travel long distances? By train of course! Up and down hills, through dark tunnels and all the way home, the snakes ride the trains. This absolutely adorable rhyming story will have young readers assssssking to read it again and again.
Snakes on a Train by Kathryn Dennis ($17.99*, Feiwel & Friends), recommended by The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.