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RECENT RECOMMENDATIONS FROM SOUTHERN INDIES...
The Year They Fell recounts the lives of Josie, Jack, Archie, Harrison, and Dayana. They went through childhood together as the Sunnies, but eventually became more self-contained and broken after everybody's parents (except for Dayana's) die on the same plane crash. Life is forever changed and they all need time to heal. However, Harrison refuses to accept the validity of the plane crash, and convinces his friends to travel to the site of the crash to find how and why their parents died. Kreizman is such a powerful writer; the perspectives of the five main characters each feel so alive and authentic. So many events are packed into such a hefty plot that will surely leave you breathless in the end. I recommend this book to anyone going through a loss, or some other grief, because they are guaranteed to relate to one of the Sunnies and maybe even leave their tear stains on the pages.
The Year They Fell by David Kreizman ($17.99*, Imprint), recommended by Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.
I would read Shari Lapena's grocery list, y'all. She's so skilled at the twisty mystery and this new book is as good as her others. When suburban mom Olivia finds out that her teenage son has been breaking in to the homes of their neighbors, she is terrified that he'll be in serious legal trouble despite his assurances that he never steals, only snoops. When a pretty young wife - who happens to live in one of the houses he broke into - turns up dead, no one is free of suspicion. As we dive deeper into the private lives of the neighbors, we learn that everyone is hiding something, and anyone could have done it.
Someone We Know by Shari Lapena ($27.00*, Pamela Dorman Books), recommended by Fountain Books, Richmond, VA.
It is amazing to me that Iris Johansen can keep the Eve Duncan series current, relevances and engaging this long, but she does in a compelling fashion. This is one of my favorites in quite some time, the supporting characters are so deep, and single minded in a quest for justice, that you immediately become invested. Journalists who are bold see the worst the world has to offer, corruption at the highest level, brutality for no reason, and the accumulation of wealth at the expense of the poor. This story embodies all of the above with enough twists to keep you entertained to the end. Can easily be read as a stand alone book.
Smokescreen by Iris Johansen ($28.00*, Grand Central Publishing), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.
An interesting take and an in depth look at the punctuation mark that haunts the literary and English speaking world alike. Cecilia Watson has brought us a book designated to those of us who just can't quite figure out how we feel about the semicolon.
Semicolon by Cecilia Watson ($19.99*, Ecco), recommended by Bookmarks, Bookmarks, NC.
Warning: This plot just might give you whiplash. Not to say that Jackson is ever predictable, but this is a whole 'nother level of WTF. Intelligently written and delightfully witty, it begins as a top-shelf suburban thriller, but then kicks up a notch. Protagonist Amy is likable and smart, but keeping a terrible secret or three. Our anti-heroine, Roux, is a real piece of work, and you can really understand Amy's strange attraction to her. I wasn't sure whether I wanted Amy to beat her or to BE her...until the end, when it becomes crystal clear. Along the way, we are treated to some lovely writing in praise of SCUBA diving, early motherhood, a genuine friendship, a reckless neighbor, and a deep, dark secret that threatens to upend Amy's happy world. And all the trouble begins with a boozy book club. It's just delicious reading.
Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson ($26.99*, William Morrow), recommended by Sunrise Books, High Point, NC.
As a North Alabama resident, I was delighted to learn about this new novel set right here at home. Wicklow, Alabama, is a little town that has a made-up name but feels oh-so-familiar. The southern food, characters, and community all drew me right in, and I fell in love with this charming story about a young woman who comes to Wicklow to take over her Granny Zee's café upon her death. Like Anna Kate, many of the charcters in this little town are struggling with grief of one kind or another, and yet this book isn't sad. It shows the wonderful way that a close-knit community can come together to lift each other up. The novel blends magical realism with true southern storytelling, and I can't wait to share this book with readers near and far. Sit down with some blackberry tea and a piece of pie, and let this novel feed your soul.
Midnight at the Blackbird Café by Heather Webber ($24.99*, Forge Books), recommended by The Snail on the Wall, Huntsville, AL.
Jade War does absolutely everything you want from a sequel: expanding the world, raising the stakes, and further developing characters I loved from Jade City. Set largely in the fictional East-Asian inspired island of Kekon, Fonda Lee’s novel is an epic fantasy crime drama following the struggles of the Kaul family, leaders of the No Peak Clan, as they fight to maintain control of the island and it’s magical jade trade that grants users enhanced abilities.
Just like the first book, Jade War reads like a glorious mash-up of The Godfather and classic Hong Kong crime films; full of intense action, betrayal, and an expansive cast of memorable characters. Kekon and the capital city of Janloon feel vibrantly gritty and it’s a credit to Lee’s writing and worldbuilding that the cast never feels overstuffed and I never got bogged down in the details of trying to remember who is with what clan or the mechanics of the jade "magic." A suspenseful, barn-burner of a novel and I cannot wait to see how Lee brings this to a thundering conclusion in Book Three.
Jade War by Fonda Lee ($26.00*, Orbit), recommended by Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC.