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RECENT RECOMMENDATIONS FROM SOUTHERN INDIES (PDF)


RECENT RECOMMENDATIONS FROM SOUTHERN INDIES...

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.

The Sentence Is Death by Anthony HorowitzAnthony Horowitz keeps getting better and better. A continuation on the clever conceit he initiates in The Word Is Murder, Horowitz once again finds himself as a character in his own detective novel. He begrudgingly teams up with Hawthorne in order to solve not one, but three suspicious deaths.

Horowitz has developed a unique storytelling method and I hope this is not the last one we see.

The Sentence Is Death by Anthony Horowitz ($27.99*, Harper), recommended by Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC.

The Flatshare by Beth O'LearySure, the premise of The Flatshare requires you to suspend some disbelief, but that's true of the very best romantic comedies, isn't it? Beth O'Leary has created a feel-good page turner with characters you'll actually care about. Perfect for summer reading, and begging to be translated onscreen.

The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary ($26.99*, Flatiron Books), recommended by The Bookshelf, Thomasville, GA.

Stay Sexy & Don't Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff, Georgia HardstarkLook. Listen. This is the best book about people talking about their obsession with true crime and pets. Also, their anxiety, therapy, cults, addictions, feminism, and how an overheard story about murder at a party led to a long, coffee-drenched lunch that then led to the My Favorite Murder Podcast and the Murderino Empire (it's an empire if I say it's an empire). It's not a cult, so no need to call your dad...unless he's interested in true crime. Everything you love about the podcast, although Kilgariff and Hardstark dive deeper and share more than ever.

Warning: May result in screaming "Stay Sexy and Don't Get Murdered!" to friends, family, and the occasional stranger. But seriously, SSGDM, readers!

Stay Sexy & Don't Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff, Georgia Hardstark ($24.99*, Forge Books), recommended by Fountain Books, Richmond, VA.

TITLEAuthor Domenica Ruta builds a wonderful and complex narrative around the fictional holiday of Last Day, a superstitious holiday of cleansing celebrated every year on the supposed eve of the apocalypse.

Last Day follows a collection of misguided characters as they navigate their relationships and the events leading up to the next Last Day celebration. Ruta builds dynamic characters who are always capable of surprising you, no matter how wrong they seem to be about everything.

Last Day by Domenica Ruta ($27.00*, Spiegal & Grau), recommended by Fountain Books, Richmond, VA.

Other Words for Home by Jasmine WargaThe middle-grade fiction genre is really taking off! I picked up this book to give to a friend and ended up devouring it in a few hours, so now I'm even more excited to give it to her. The poetic structure was brilliant and moving; I think this is a great introduction for kids to poetry and narrative poetry in particular. The story itself was beautiful and heartbreaking all at once, and I will admit I cried quite a few times! Getting to know Jude was such an honor and a pleasure, and Warga did a beautiful job of making her come to life.

In our current political atmosphere, and in the wake of the terror attack on the New Zealand mosques, this story is even more important than ever. I hope it will encourage kids to learn more about their Middle Eastern and Muslim brothers and sisters, and that they will begin to foster an awareness of the world outside America. It certainly had that effect on me. I don't give tens freely, but this touching story deserves every point!

Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga ($16.99*, Balzer + Bray), recommended by Story on the Square, McDonough, GA.

How Not to Die Alone by Richard RoperRichard Roper's debut is utterly delightful. I was spellbound from the very first page. Andrew's job is a sensitive one: when someone dies at home alone, Andrew is called to literally dig through personal effects and determine if there are any next of kin from scraps of paper or old holiday cards. Dealing daily with the dearly departed combined with Andrew's obsession with model trains, dysfunctional office mates, and an estranged sister, results in a compelling read. Funny, smart, sad, Roper's How Not to Die Alone is just wonderful.

How Not to Die Alone by Richard Roper ($26.00*, G.P. Putnam's Sons), recommended by Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.