Book Buzz

Spotlight on: The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina by Zoraida Córdova

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Zoraida Córdova

"Every book I write is for myself. My YA is for my teen self, who hungered for magical stories. My middle grade is for the painfully shy kid I once was, one who wanted adventure. My adult romance is for the version of myself that denies being a romantic (though I am). The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina is for the person I am now. . I wanted to pose the question, ‘What price would you pay for survival?’” –Zoraida Córdova via Bookpage

 

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The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina

What booksellers are saying about The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina

  • Cordova’s writing echoes the great Gabriel Garcia Marquez in this epic family tale that sweeps across countries and time. I loved the atmospheric quality of the book and the incredible beauty of her writing. ― Jamie Southern from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC
    Buy from Bookmarks

  • If you thought your family tree was complicated, wait till you meet the Montoyas. When their grandmother Orquídea summons them to collect their inheritance, they don’t realize they’re about to dive into a family history of magic, loss, and resilience. ―Abby Rice from Foggy Pine Books in Boone, NC
    Buy from Foggy Pine Books

  • I absolutely loved this book from start to finish. I was so intrigued with Orquidea Devina and the magical force surrounding her that I hardly wanted to put this book down, because I needed to hurriedly piece together all of the interconnected pieces. Blending a bit of mystery and fantasy, Zoraida Cordova does an excellent job developing this story with complex multi-generational characters connected by magical roots that make them stronger together than they ever are apart!   ―Nicole Granville, The Snail on the Wall in Huntsville, AL
    Buy from Snail on the Wall

  • A playfully mesmerizing, meaningful story about family! The matriarch, Orquidea Divina, summons her relatives from far and wide to attend her funeral and to receive their inheritance. But the inheritance is not what everyone expected, nor is the funeral anything ordinary. Over the next several years, secrets are revealed and special gifts are given, and each one must figure out how they want to live their lives individually and as a family. Magical, fun and heart-warming! ―Cathy Graham from Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda, FL
    Buy from Copperfish Books

  • The cosmic battle between good and evil plays out, not on the grand scale, but within a family where love, longing and belonging have consequences beyond the ordinary. This enchanting tale of magical realism grabs the reader from the first page and doesn’t let go. With unforgettable characters and surprises twisting like stems and roots throughout the story, this book is almost impossible to put down. (OK, I got so involved, I totally forgot my husband and I were going out, until he came to get me.) For fans of Isabel Allende and Erin Morgenstern. ―Lia Lent from Wordsworth Books in Little Rock, AR
    Buy from Wordsworth Books

About Zoraida Córdova

Zoraida Córdova is the acclaimed author of more than a dozen novels and short stories, including the Brooklyn Brujas series, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge: A Crash of Fate, and The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina. In addition to writing novels, she serves on the board of We Need Diverse Books, is the coeditor of the bestselling anthology Vampires Never Get Old, and is the cohost of the writing podcast Deadline City. She writes romance novels as Zoey Castile. Zoraida was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and calls New York City home. When she’s not working, she’s roaming the world in search of magical stories. For more information, visit her at ZoraidaCordova.com.

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Spotlight on The Last House on the Street by Diane Chamberlain

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Diane Chamberlain

“When I think about writing a book I think about the situation first and then I try to think of a character who is going to have the most difficult time doing what I want her to do.” –Diane Chamberlain

At a launch event with Friends & Fiction for the paperback release of her last book, Big Lies in a Small Town, Diane Chamberlain was asked about how she created such psychologically complicated characters. She answered that she starts with a situation, something she wants them to do such as paint a mural, or start their life over in a new house, and then she throws obstacles at them:

“it’s not that I set out to create these screwed up characters. As I’m writing I’m just trying to figure out how more difficult for them so that they have to really work harder to succeed.”

Trouble and difficulties is just what Kayla Carter has in The Last House on the Street. She has just lost her husband in an accident building their dream home and now must raise her four year old daughter in the house that cost him his life. But the house is built in a new development that sits on top of some very old and tragic history that is still festering and won’t let itself be buried in the past.


The Last House on the Street

What booksellers are saying about The Last House on the Street

  • To read a Diane Chamberlain novel is to be on a rollercoaster of emotions and feelings. This one lives up to expectations and the story line is a hot topic right now. Dealing with voting rights back during Jim Crow in North Carolina, this book has you see both sides and deftly makes you sway to each side. This is one for everyone who wants a book to take you away with a bit of romance, mystery, and love of the characters. Great book club book! ― Suzanne Lucey from Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, NC
    Buy from Page 158 Books

  • The Last House on the Street begins with Kayla, a recently widowed single mother, in the present day, when strange and eerie things begin happening at her new home. There is also Ellie who becomes a Civil Rights activist in 1965 and falls in love with a fellow worker, bringing danger to them both. I loved how the story bounced between Kayla and Ellie’s perspectives and how Chamberlain weaved the story into one narrative. Overall, great storytelling and a wonderful read! Perfect for readers who like mystery or history. ―Katie from The Snail on the Wall in Huntsville, AL
    Buy from The Snail on the Wall

  • Diane Chamberlain’s newest novel couldn’t be more relevant for our current times. It is hard to believe that we are still fighting the battles for the right to vote that were being fought in 1965. Told from two story lines – one in 1965 North Carolina right before the signing of the Right to Vote act and one in 2010 – the separate stories of Ellie and Kayla and what they have endured merge together when Ellie comes home for the first time in 45 years and Kayla prepares to move into the house at the end of the street. A definite must read for fans of Big Lies in a Small Town.   ―Nancy McFarlane from Fiction Addiction in Greenville, SC
    Buy from Fiction Addiction

  • I thoroughly enjoyed this novel! The dual timelines were a perfect fit for this suspenseful journey. The novel follows the life of Ellie in the summer of 1965 when she becomes part of the SCOPE program to encourage the black community to register to vote. She is a full supporter of the civil rights movement which alienates her from her family. The 2010 timeline follows Kayla, who has just lost her husband in a freak accident while building their dream home. When Kayla and her three-year old daughter move into the house, very frightening and strange things begin to happen. Chamberlain masterfully spins the timelines to keep readers hooked to the very end. ―Sharon Davis from Book Bound Bookstore in Blairsville, GA
    Buy from Book Bound Bookstore

About Diane Chamberlain

DIANE CHAMBERLAIN is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty-eight novels published in over fifteen languages. Her books include Big Lies in a Small Town, The Stolen Marriage and The Dream Daughter. She lives in North Carolina with her partner, photographer John Pagliuca, and her sheltie, Cole.

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Spotlight on Mouth to Mouth by Antoine Wilson

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Antoine Wilson

“Recently, while moving several piles of books (31 titles) from the floor to another place on the floor to make space for my office chair, I experienced a moment of clarity,” writes Antoine Wilson in an essay on Lit Hub which ran over the summer, “I felt like I had arrived at the end of a manic episode and was confronting the aftermath.”

Wilson had discovered tsundoku — the Japanese word for the habit of buying books and letting them pile up unread. The “piling up” is key — as every book lover with a teetering TBR stack knows. Tsundoku is a description, a philosophy, a lifestyle. Or, as Wilson regards it, “a get-out-of-jail-free card.”

Right now, booksellers are adding Wilson’s new novel to their own book piles. But Mouth to Mouth does not seem destined to tsundoku-existence in piles of unread books. “A compact tour-de-force,” “you won’t be able to put it down,” “absolutely deserves to be read in one sitting” — the story has been inviting comparisons to Patricia Highsmith at her most unsettling. Picking up the book is easy. Putting it back down may be much much harder. Leaving it unfinished once you start? All but impossible.


Mouth to Mouth

What booksellers are saying about Mouth to Mouth

  • Warning: once starting the first page of this gripping novel, you won’t be able to put it down. Breathlessly, you will want to find answers even while you secretly wish this tale will never end. ― Nancy Pierce from Bookmiser, Inc. in Marietta, GA
    Buy from Bookmiser

  • A beach, an art gallery, a ski slope, a first class lounge and a wild ride of an ending combine to make a damn good story that absolutely deserves to be read in one sitting. I absolutely devoured this tale that really puts the novel back in novels. ―Angie Tally from The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, NC
    Buy from The Country Bookshop

  • As a Patricia Highsmith superfan, I’m always drawn to a sleek novel about the harrowing secrets and misdeeds of the upper class–I’m pleased to say that Antoine Wilson delivers. His latest, Mouth To Mouth , is a compact tour-de-force featuring an intoxicating antagonist with a level of self-delusion that would make Highsmith proud.   ―Lindsay Lynch from Parnassus Books in Nashville, TN
    Buy from Parnassus Books

  • Mouth To Mouth is the kind of book you should read in one sitting. When our narrator meets a former college classmate in an airport, he finds himself listening to the tale of how his classmate came to be a prominent and wealthy art dealer — a tale that soon begins to sound more like a confession. This book is unassumingly clever, with an unsettling ending that will stick with you for a while. ―Kate Storhoff from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC
    Buy from Bookmarks

About Antoine Wilson

Antoine Wilson is the author of the novels Panorama City and The Interloper. His work has appeared in The Paris Review, StoryQuarterly, Best New American Voices, and The Los Angeles Times, among other publications, and he is a contributing editor of A Public Space. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and recipient of a Carol Houck Smith Fiction Fellowship from the University of Wisconsin, he lives in Los Angeles.

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Spotlight on Comfort Me with Apples by Catherynne M. Valente

Catherynne M. Valente

“Unlike most of my work, Apples turned up in my head whole one day a few years back. I knew exactly where it was headed, how I’d get there, and how I’d wreck the neighborhood on the way there before I ever touched one letter on my keyboard.”–Cathrynne M. Valente (My Favorite Bit)

The newest book by the prolific and much-beloved Catherynne Valente is described as a thriller, a horror story, and a fairy tale. But more detailed descriptions are delibertately lacking. That was intentional: “It has such a massive twist that we’ve worked so hard not to spoil in the lead-up to its release (and reviewers have kindly helped out!)”

The story centers around Sophia, who is a happy housewife with the perfect husband living in a gated community she loves. Until one day she discovers what looks like the tip of a human finger when she is cleaning her house. Suddenly, Sophia’s perfect life seems not quite so perfect.

The conspiracy of silence around the plot and its twists has not prevented a rising chorus of surprised delight from Valente’s readers. Valente has written across multiple genres and formats, including the recently released speculative climate-change graphic novel The Past is Red, which was a recent Read This Next! selection by Southern booksellers. Her work, as an interviewer for Gridmark Magazine notes, includes stories of myth and superheroes, science fiction and fantasy, comedy and horror, and both middle-grade and adult.

“It’s very important to me to always be trying something new,” says Valente, “pushing the edges of my skill level”

Comfort Me With Apples

What booksellers are saying about Comfort Me With Apples

  • As crisp and delicious as its namesake, with an equally rotten core. Catherynne M. Valente continues to be one of the most creative, diabolical, and insightful writers of our time.  ― Jenny Luper from Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, NC
    Buy from Bookmarks

  • Small and delicious, more thrilling than thriller. Valente’s prose is gorgeous and strange. I caught the mystery halfway through the narrative, which didn’t lessen any of this little novel’s power. For that witch in your life, or for a woman you know that needs to be reminded of her own ancient worth. ― Aimee Keeble from Main Street Books in Davidson, NC
    Buy from Main Street Books

  • What a creepy delight this short book was! Valente’s masterful prose creates a sense of suspense and unease that permeates the whole book– we know something is amiss, however, it isn’t until the very end that we understand who and what the threat really is. Comfort Me With Apples is like if The Yellow Wallpaper and The Bible combined and made one twisted new story.  ― Jessica Baker from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC
    Buy from Bookmarks

  • Yowza, this book! I don’t really know how to classify it – sort of horror, sort of sci-fi, sort of a class of its own. A retelling of Adam and Eve, but with a cast of Stepford-like characters, this packs a lot of wildness in just over 100 pages. Apples truly is difficult to describe without giving anything away so trust me – just read it. ― Andrea Richardson from Fountain Books in Richmond, VA
    Buy from Fountain Bookstore

About Catherynne M. Valente

Catherynne M. Valente is the New York Times bestselling author of over two dozen works of fiction and poetry, including Palimpsest, the Orphan’s Tales series, Deathless, Radiance, and the crowdfunded phenomenon The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (and the four books that followed it). She is the winner of the Andre Norton, Tiptree, Sturgeon, Eugie Foster Memorial, Mythopoeic, Rhysling, Lambda, Locus, and Hugo awards, as well as the Prix Imaginales. Valente has also been a finalist for the Nebula and World Fantasy Awards. She lives on an island off the coast of Maine with a small but growing menagerie of beasts, some of which are human.

Spotlight on I Hope This Finds You Well by Kate Baer

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Kate Baer

Kate Baer’s debut book book of poetry about some of the decidedly un-romantic sides of motherhood, What Kind of Woman, rocketed onto the New York Times bestseller list after she posted a couple of poems to Instagram. Her honesty about her raw and even conflicted feelings, expressed in simple yet beautiful and accessible language, touched a chord with readers. “She puts into words what a lot of women won’t say out loud” noted one reviewer.

It also touched a chord with a different note among internet trolls, so it was only a matter of moments before Baer’s Instagram inbox started filling up with rants and hate mail. It was as an early response to these that Baer wrote her first “erasure poem.”

“As a writer and a woman on the internet for the last 10 years, I’ve gotten pretty used to deleting or blocking or muting when people send unkind messages. But this one caught my eye.” she wrote. Instead of deleting the angry message, she pulled out the interesting words and rearranged them (she was sitting in her minivan). Then she posted the result. Baer said it was just a whim, a way to deal with the hostility directed at her. But once again, her voice resonated with readers. She found complexity and nuance underneath the hostility and bullying. Baer’s new book, I Hope This Finds You Well, reclaims the viciousness directed at turns it into something empowering.

“This new volume speaks to current events, moms, women, and anyone who is just tired of all the negativity in the world.” says one bookseller below, “It’s cathartic and inspirational and beautiful.”

I Hope This Finds You Well

What booksellers are saying about I Hope This Finds You Well

  • Provocative and of the moment, this collection of erasure poems was a punch in the heart. I loved how Kate Baer took words meant for harm, derision and disrespect and turned them into something powerful and beautiful. I think this set of poetry is an Insightful examination of today’s culture of drive by comments and take downs on social media. Kate Baer’s words push back in the most inspiring way. This book makes the perfect gift to a loved one (or yourself!). ― Jessica Nock from Main Street Books in Davidson, NC
    Buy from Main Street Books

  • Poignant, beautiful, and incredibly empowering: Kate Baer’s newest collection of poems is absolutely fantastic. An unforgettable reclamation of power and words through erasure poetry- Baer’s words teach that one can find beauty and purpose in the ugliest and most vitriolic of words and intentions.  ― Mary Louise Callaghan from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC
    Buy from Bookmarks

  • Baer’s follow up to the wildly successful What Kind of Woman is even better than the first collection! She has taken comments, emails, feedback, and texts from various spoken interviews and testimonies and turned them inspiring blackout poetry that turns the initial correspondence on its head. This new volume speaks to current events, moms, women, and anyone who is just tired of all the negativity in the world. It’s cathartic and inspirational and beautiful. ― Andrea Richardson from Fountain Books in Richmond, VA
    Buy from Fountain Bookstore

About Kate Baer

Kate Baer is a writer and poet based on the East Coast. Her work has regularly been featured on Joanna Goddard’s Cup of Jo, Romper, and Huffington Post. Her debut book, What Kind of Woman, was a #1 New York Times bestseller.

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Spotlight on People from the Neighborhood by Hiromi Kawakami

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Hiromi Kawakami

"I have been asked why I rendered the ‘kono atari” in the title as “neighborhood.” I think it’s because, for many of us at least, there is something familiar about its cast of characters. There was a lot of crazy stuff going on, but at the same time it felt like a real neighborhood, I guess, so that’s the word I chose." — Ted Goossen, translator of People from My Neighborhood

 

The 36 interconnected micro-stories contained in People from My Neighborhood create a world that Kawakami has been constructing, piece by piece, story by story, for over ten years. It is a world, as one reviewer puts it, " filled with equal parts fable and the everyday." Absurd, funny, strange, scary, and beautifully heartfelt, Kawakami deftly threads the wonderful and the mundane into a whole cloth of bright threads.

People from My Neighborhood

What booksellers are saying about People from My Neighborhood

  • The experience of reading the stories in People From My Neighborhood feels just like visiting a friend as they guide you through a stroll through their neighborhood where every corner has a surprise and every home has fantastical tales to tell. Totally charming and refreshing, with plenty of imaginative oddities that kept me walking at a brisk pace. ― Luis Correa from Avid Bookshop in Athens, GA
    Buy from Avid Bookshop

  • Hiromi Kawakami returns with an endlessly charming, quirky collection of interconnected micro-stories about the strange denizens of a Japanese neighborhood. Each story lasts a few pages at most but all pack a delightful little punch with every tale painting a small portrait of a resident – the chicken farmer, a strange diplomat, the woman who owns the shop that no one ever goes into, and many more. People From My Neighborhood is more about the stories we make up about our neighbors – the lives we construct for them with the brief glimpses we catch – and I absolutely adored every page of it. ― Caleb Masters from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC
    Buy from Bookmarks

  • Somewhere between flash fiction and vignettes, this collection creates a neighborhood where the surreal is treated as though it is reality, as though there is nothing strange about people hatching from eggs, a school made of sweets, or squishy doll brains kept in a drawer. Kawakami’s turns are as quick as the prose and the endings are tenuous at best until the larger picture begins to form across characters. These stories require the reader to embrace the weird and enjoy the uncanny, many of the stories floating in the space between nightmare and dream-state. ― Miranda Sanchez from Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews in Chapel Hill, NC
    Buy from Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews

About Hiromi Kawakami

Hiromi Kawakami was born in Tokyo in 1958. Her first novel, Kamisama (God), was published in 1994. In 1996, she was awarded the Akutagawa Prize for Hebi o Fumu (Tread on a Snake) and in 2001 she won the Tanizaki Prize for her novel Sensei no Kaban (Strange Weather in Tokyo), which became an international bestseller. Strange Weather in Tokyo was shortlisted for the 2013 Man Asian Literary Prize and the 2014 International Foreign Fiction Prize. Kawakami has contributed to editions of Granta in both the UK and Japan and is one of Japan’s most popular contemporary novelists.

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Spotlight on Once Upon a Wardrobe by Patti Callahan

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Patti Callahan

Where do you get your ideas? Where do ideas come from?

When Patti Callahan was asked to describe her new novel Once Upon a Wardrobe in a sentence she answered "Where did Narnia come from?"

"Where do get your ideas" is, as she readily admits, the most common question any writer has ever received about the book they have written.

"it’s an unanswerable question," Callahan admits, "It’s mysterious. A little bit numinous. A little bit out of my control. We come up with answers…but you can’t ever fully say."

It was, nevertheless, a question that came up for Callahan herself when she was researching her novel on C.S, Lewis’s wife, Becoming Mrs. Lewis. She saw clues, "breadcrumbs" of things in Lewis’s life that hinted at what would become Narna. "Where did Narnia come from?" became a question she was always asking at the back of her mind. Rather than come up with a list of reasons, "I thought," she said, "it would be more interesting to answer that question as a story."

Once Upon a Wardrobe

What booksellers are saying about Once Upon a Wardrobe

  • I have eagerly been awaiting for this story as I am a fan of all things C.S. Lewis related! Callahan does not disappoint. She has chosen a unique perspective on the life of Lewis by weaving the yearnings of a small boy, George, who desperately wanted to know where Narnia came from into a deep connection that he comes to have with Lewis through his sister, Megs. Wonderfully charming and insightful! ― Stephanie Crowe from Page & Palette in Fairhope, AL
    Buy from Page & Palette

  • “The way stories change us can’t be explained. It can only be felt like love.” Parti Callahan in Once Upon a Wardrobe has written a story that has so many quotes that I wanted to keep forever with me. This book is a treasure that you can keep in your life forever. ― Nancy Pierce from Bookmiser, Inc. in Marietta, GA
    Buy from Bookmiser

  • This unfolding tale of how C.S. Lewis penned one of his best known works is spellbinding. I cannot remember the last time a book made me cry, but Patty Callahan created Megs and George who reached in and melted my heart.  ― Jackie Willey from Fiction Addiction in Greenville, SC
    Buy from Fiction Addiction

  • Patti is a wonder, and her enduring relationship with the life and loves of CS Lewis delves deep into the heart of what it means to be a passionate reader. This is a novel about a practical young woman bound to find the story behind the story of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe to fulfill her dying brother’s last wish. What a beautiful book!  ― Ashley Warlick from M Judson, Booksellers in Greenville, SC
    Buy from M. Judson

About Patti Callahan

Patti Callahan is the New York Times, USA TODAY, and Globe and Mail bestselling novelist of fifteen novels, including Becoming Mrs. Lewis and Surviving Savannah, out now, and Once Upon a Wardrobe, out October 19, 2021. A recipient of the Harper Lee Distinguished Writer of the Year, the Christy Book of the Year, and the Alabama Library Association Book of the Year, Patti is the cofounder and cohost of the popular web series and podcast Friends & Fiction. Follow her at www.patticallahanhenry.com.

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Spotlight on An Elderly Lady Must Not Be Crossed by Helene Tursten

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Helene Tursten

There are many reasons a crime writer with a successful series might leave their main character behind and launch themselves into something new. The Swedish author Helene Tursten had a long series of successful books behind her featuring her well-liked, married-with-two-kids detective Irene Huss when she decided to write about a completely different character, the absolutely not-married-and-no-plans-to-be Embla Nyström. “After 10 books about Irene, I strongly felt that I had to recharge my batteries,” she said in an interview.

Readers may well wonder what else Tursten might have been trying to work out when she came up with her other literary character, Maud.

Maude is not a detective, not a young woman, and certainly not interested in “justice.” Although she’s not shy about dealing out just desserts. An octogenarian who makes full use of people’s tendency to underestimate little old ladies, Maud is rather like a slightly evil Miss Marple. The result is both oddly charming and oddly unsettling. Even sort of scary. An Elderly Lady Must Not Be Crossed is Tursten’s second book of Maud stories. It includes everything you might expect from one of Sweden’s best noir writers: Dead bodies. Ruthless criminals. Desperate victims. Cookie recipes.

An Elderly Lady Must Not Be Crossed

What booksellers are saying about An Elderly Lady Must Not Be Crossed

  • You definitely wouldn’t want to meet the heroine of An Elderly Lady Must Not Be Crossed in a dark alley late at night. Maud may be pushing ninety, but she is a force and has spent her life exacting her own brand of justice that may or may not have resulted in more than a few murders. Translated from Swedish, this was charming.. ― Rachel Watkins from Avid Bookshop in Athens, GA
    Buy from Avid Bookshop

  • I met my favorite octogenarian killer in An Elderly Lady Must Not Be Crossed! This cozy and elegant murder mystery makes the perfect gift for the mystery-loving people in your life (fits perfectly in a stocking!). ― Jessica Nock from Main Street Books in Davidson, NC
    Buy from Main Street Books

  • Hilarious and darkly sinister, this book is satisfying and entertaining. Maud is not someone you want to cross seeing as those who do don’t survive. ― Jamie Southern from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC
    Buy from Bookmarks

  • Maud is back and better than ever in this second tale of murder and revenge! This collection of stories takes us back to her youth and how she became who she is – and what happened to those left in her wake! Picking up where we left off in her previous collection, Maud is trying to evade the authorities that won’t leave her alone. This pocket-sized book is perfect for the mystery lovers in your life!   ― Andrea Richardson from Fountain Books in Richmond, VA
    Buy from Fountain Bookstore

About Helene Tursten

Helene Tursten was a nurse and a dentist before she turned to writing. She is the author of the Irene Huss series, including Detective Inspector Huss, Night Rounds, Who Watcheth, and Protected by the Shadows; the Embla Nyström series; and the short story collection An Elderly Lady Is Up to No Good, which also features Maud. Her books have been translated into 25 languages and made into a television series. She was born in Gothenburg, Sweden, where she now lives with her husband.

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Spotlight on All of Us Villains by Amanda Foody & Christine Lynn Herman

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Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman

Some ideas start small — a feeling, a scene, a whisper that grows into a roar inside an author’s mind. But the idea for All of Us Villains felt capital-B Big from the beginning. ―Amanda Foody & Christine Lynn Herman, (via Whatever)

Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman were already established YA writers and best friends when they had "the big idea" ― to write the novel together they were each afraid to write on their own. "We had a favorite trope in common, the death tournament," they note in a recent column on John Scalzi’s website, Whatever. "but neither of us were brave enough to tackle a trope so famous and dramatic alone."

As it turned out, collaborating on a novel was as challenging for the two writers as its plot was for their characters. It’s one thing to share a manuscript but quite another to share a creative process. Disagreements threatened to not only scuttle the book, but damage the friendship.

Instead, Foody and Herman turned the project into something that deepened and strengthened both. "Our differing opinions didn’t mean someone was right and someone was wrong–it meant each of us had something important to say. So instead of pushing back…we listened to each other."

And they credit the enthusiastic reception All Us Villains has received to the lessons they learned in writing it together: "The final version of All of Us Villains exists on a knife’s edge of such contradictions: heroism and villainy, blame and responsibility, fun and fright, a fantasy story that sometimes feels brutally real. "

All of Us Villains

What booksellers are saying about All of Us Villains

  • Fans of magic, ambition, and dark fairy tales, All of Us Villains is for all of us. These villains will rip your heart out (and make you want to hug this book). I highly recommend this gruesome, dark, and twisty series-starter for fans of The Hunger Games, A Deadly Education, and The Hazel Wood. ― Megan Bell from Underground Books in Carrollton, GA
    Buy from Underground Books

  • A blurb that claims "a magical Hunger Games" is a lot to live up, but All of Us Villains exceeds all expectations. Devastating and deliciously dark, from the magic system to the characters, every single word is precise in gutting the reader. I was drawn in by every character and devastated by every blow! I have no doubt that this will be a runaway hit when it releases. I went without food and sleep to finish this harrowing tale. ― Katlin Kerrison from Story on the Square in McDonough, GA
    Buy from Story on the Square

  • This Hunger Games-esque has one of the most unique magic systems I’ve read! The twists and turns (reluctant romance! Brooding Byronic characters!) will have you flipping pages faster than a class ten curse. ― Candice Conner from The Haunted Book Shop in Mobile, AL
    Buy from The Haunted Book Shop

  • What a beautiful dark fairy tale of a book! This was an incredible thing to read, full of questionable characters, romance, and full of back-stabbing intrigue. I loved the protagonists and the storyline. This book truly is written in blood.   ― Hallie Smith from Main Street Books in Davidson, NC
    Buy from Main Street Books

About Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman

AMANDA FOODY is the YA and middle grade author of The Shadow Game series, the Wilderlore series, and more. Formerly a tax accountant, Amanda lives in Boston, and you can find her on Twitter and Instagram at @amandafoody

CHRISTINE LYNN HERMAN is the author of YA novels about magic, monsters, and growing up, including The Devouring Gray duology and The Drowning Summer. Writing updates (and cat pictures) can be found on Instagram at @christineexists or at christinelynnherman.com

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Spotlight on Squad by Maggie Tokuda-Hall and Lisa Sterle

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Maggie Tokuda-Hall and Lisa Sterle

Maggie Tokuda-Hall finds inspiration for her books all around her and from her own life. Her last novel, The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea was inspired by a nine-year-old girl who used to come into the children’s bookshop where she worked.

Her new book, Squad, comes out of her own experiences in high school, where rape culture was normal, even rampant. What if, she wondered, there was a squad of teenage girls who turned into werewolves once a month and went after all the really bad boys — the sexually aggressive ones, the ones who don’t think "no" counts if you are at a party and everyone is drinking.

"When I was [in high school] it was extremely white." she remembers. "It’s very rich — that’s still true. It’s really privileged. Rape culture was really rampant, and I was really mad about it. Some of the things that I saw or the things that happened to me were kind of traumatizing, but I don’t feel like a traumatized person. I don’t feel like a victim, and I wanted to write a story that reflected that as well."

What follows is more than a revenge fantasy and more than a horror story. Tokuda-Hall turns a critical, yet compassionate eye on the issue of rape culture, patriarchy, and the meaning of consent.

"In my books," she says, "love is salvation. And I believe very fully in my heart that when we allow ourselves to love outside of what patriarchy has dictated for us, this entire other world of being, where all of these other systems of oppression are no longer relevant, can start to take shape."

Squad

What booksellers are saying about Squad

  • Sharp and smart, this dark graphic novel is all about the relentless hunger of teenage girls, partying, revenge, and doing whatever it takes to run with the coolest pack at school. Best enjoyed in one satisfying gulp. ― Julie Jarema from Avid Bookshop in Athens, GA
    Buy from Avid Bookshop

  • Mean Girls mixed with Teen Wolf? Squad is beyond words, but if I had to use some, these would be it. After Becca transfers to a new school, she worries about fitting in until she meets Marley, Arianna, and Mandy. At first she thinks they’re unnervingly perfect, but turns out their secret is even more intriguing than they are. I am absolutely blown away by Squad, I was thinking teen slasher flick from the cover, but it was so much more. It was a bloody coming of age with a dark twist of how things can go wrong when power gets out of control. The art work is gory and beautiful, this is going to be a breakaway hit. ― Katlin Kerrison from Story on the Square in McDonough, GA
    Buy from Story on the Square

  • Move over, Plastics, there’s a new girl squad in town. Squad is a high school tale about transformational friendship, belonging, and what we’ll do to fit in. It will absolutely sink its claws into you from the very first page. (Puns ALL intended.)   ― Abby Rice from Foggy Pine Books in Boone, NC
    Buy from Foggy Pine Books

About Maggie Tokuda-Hall and Lisa Sterle

Maggie Tokuda-Hall is the author of the Parent’s Choice Gold Medal–winning Also an Octopus and the young adult novel The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea. She received her BA in studio art from Scripps College and an MFA in writing from the University of San Francisco, and has worked both for independent bookstores and for Apple Books. She is the host of several popular podcasts and lives in San Francisco with her husband, son, and objectively perfect dog. 

Lisa Sterle is an artist with work spanning from comic books to concept designs to pop-culture-fueled illustration. She is the co-creator of the monthly comics Long Lost and Submerged, as well as the creator of The Modern Witch Tarot Deck. She received her BFA from Columbus College of Art & Design and currently resides in Columbus, Ohio.

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Spotlight on Heaven by Mieko Kawakami

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Mieko Kawakami

Last year, the English translation of Mieko Kawakami’s novel Breasts and Eggs received so much indie bookseller excitement and praise that the “buzz” was more like a swarm. But her work has been highly acclaimed in Japan for decades. Haruki Murakami has called her his favorite young novelist — and it was Kawakami who did a series of interviews with him over two years where she pointedly grilled him on on the misogyny in his novels.

The receiption for Heaven, Kawakami’s latest novel to be translated into English, has been just as enthusiastic. Heaven explores the meaning and experience of violence and the consolations of friendship. Bullied because of his lazy eye, Kawakami’s protagonist suffers in silence. His only respite comes thanks to his friendship with a girl who is also the victim of relentless teasing. But what is the nature of a friendship if your shared bond is terror?

“I try to write from the child’s perspective—how they see the world.” says the author, “Coming to the realization you’re alive is such a shock. One day, we’re thrown into life without warning.”

Heaven

What booksellers are saying about Heaven

  • From the bestselling author of Breasts and Eggs comes this new novel that is once again storytelling at its best. Real, raw and revelatory, Heaven shares the story of two young people who are joined at a broken place and investigates the power of human kindness and friendship to help them move forward. — Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC
    Buy from The Country Bookshop
  • If you thought Breasts and Eggs was good (and I did), Heaven will be a fierce competitor. It’s a fascinating mental examination into how one is to survive under terrible circumstances and how far one would go to break free from it. — Easty Lambert-Brown, Ernest & Hadley Booksellers, Tuscaloosa, AL
    Buy from Ernest & Hadley Books.
  • What I appreciate so much about Kawakami is the strength of her voice, and her ability to convey the most basic aspects of human nature in a complex and thoughtful way. Pick up this book and then share it with everyone! -Kelsey Jagneaux, Tombolo Books, St. Petersburg, FL
    Buy from Tombolo Books
  • Heaven by Mieko Kawakami offers a blend of devastation and hope, exploring both the desolation of lonely adolescence and the beauty of friendship. — Alex Brown, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC
    Buy from Quail Ridge Books

About Mieko Kawakami

Mieko Kawakami is the author of the internationally best-selling novel, Breasts and Eggs, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and one of TIME’s Best 10 Books of 2020. Born in Osaka, Kawakami made her literary debut as a poet in 2006, and published her first novella, My Ego, My Teeth, and the World, in 2007. Her writing is known for its poetic qualities and its insights into the female body, ethical questions, and the dilemmas of modern society. She has received numerous prestigious literary awards in Japan, including the Akutagawa Prize, the Tanizaki Prize, and the Murasaki Shikibu Prize. Kawakami lives in Tokyo, Japan.

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Spotlight on Bryan Washington’s Memorial

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Bryan Washington

Every season one or two books seem to come out of nowhere to become the books that everyone is talking about. Except, they don’t really come out of nowhere. In the weeks and months before a book is published, reviewers and booksellers with an early peak start posting their opinions and reviews. That early swell of chatter and excitement is an indication of good things to come for a book.

Among Southern booksellers, the early chatter about Bryan Washington’s new novel, Memorial, was enthusiastic — marking it as one of the books not to be missed this Fall.

Memorial

What booksellers are saying about Memorial

  • Washington has achieved something beautiful: a chill novel you want to hang out with. Like a good friend, this novel invites you in, cooks up a great meal, and opens up its heart. –Luis Correa, Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA
  • Washington’s exploration of the bonds between family and lovers (and between one’s lover’s family) is incredible — super relatable, often hilarious, and deeply touching. I wanted this book to last forever. –Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC
  • With razor-sharp humor, heartbreaking truths, and multi-dimensional characters that fly off the page, Bryan Washington’s novel is a virtuosic triumph. As I cried through the last pages, I only wished I could live within his story for as long as possible. — Greg Tarlton, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC
  • I couldn’t put this book down. This world that Bryan Washington created felt so deeply personal that I felt like I was the one living with my boyfriend’s mother without said boyfriend being around. –Aimee Rankin, Lemuria Books, Jackson, MS

About Bryan Washington

Bryan Washington is a National Book Award 5 Under 35 honoree, and winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize and the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. His first book, the story collection Lot, was a finalist for the NBCC’s John Leonard Prize, the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize, the Aspen Words Literary Prize, and the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award. Lot was a New York Times Notable Book, one of Dwight Garner’s top ten books of the year, and on best-of-the-year lists from Time, NPR, Vanity FairBuzzFeed, and many more. He has written for The New YorkerThe New York TimesThe New York Times MagazineBuzzFeedVultureThe Paris ReviewMcSweeney’s QuarterlyTin HouseOne StoryBon AppétitGQThe Awl, and Catapult. He lives in Houston.

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