The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

Adult Fiction

Spotlight on: Weather Girl by Rachel Lynn Solomon

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Rachel Lynn Solomon

"I really enjoy writing girls that aren’t nice. I don’t know what it says about me that they’re easy to write! I just think that girls don’t get as much permission or as much forgiveness to be this range of different things."Rachel Lynn Solomon (via Kirkus)

Weather Girl

What booksellers are saying about Weather Girl

  • Weather Girl has become an automatic cozy romance favorite for me, much like The Ex Talk. Ari and Russell are so lovable, and this story is full of all the heart, nuance, swoons and steam I’ve come to expect from Rachel Lynn Solomon.. ― Cristina Russell from Books & Books in Coral Gables, FL
    Buy from Books & Books

  • Is it too early to say that this will be one of the best romances of 2022? Rachel Lynn Solomon blew me away with this thoughtful romance. I loved the frank yet careful way Solomon dealt with so many real-world hurdles to finding love in adulthood: everything from depression to religion (both characters are Jewish) to single parenthood to having sex with a new person for the first time in a long while. Solomon is quickly becoming one of my favorite romance novelists, and I know Weather Girl is a book I’ll return to again and again. ―Kate Storhoff from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC
    Buy from Bookmarks

  • This sweet romance does a great job of highlighting some areas that you don’t see a lot of in romcoms: Judaism, depression, and a larger man with a smaller woman. Each item doesn’t feel heavy-handed or preachy, but is handled so well, making this a great read!   ―Jennifer Jones from Bookmiser, Inc. in Marietta, GA
    Buy from Bookmiser

About Rachel Lynn Solomon

Rachel Lynn Solomon writes, tap dances, and collects lipstick in Seattle, Washington. She is the author of the YA novels You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone, Our Year of Maybe, and the forthcoming Today Tonight Tomorrow (June 2020). Her debut adult romantic comedy, The Ex Talk, was published in spring 2021

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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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Never Tell by Stacey Abrams

When Erin, a local professor and criminal psychologist, gets drawn into a serial murder case, she wants nothing more than to run the other way. When the clues start leading to her own past; however, she’s got no choice than to fully immerse herself into the investigation – with the help of the charming local newspaper owner desperate for a story that will save his paper. Never Tell is a must-read for anyone who likes romance, mysteries, or a well-drawn out game of cat and mouse. Stacey Abrams’ While Justice Sleeps was one of my favorite books of 2021, so I’m excited to read through her suspense novels, written under the name Selena Montgomery.

Never Tell by Stacey Abrams, (List Price: $16.99, 9781250805829, January 2022)

Reviewed by Beth Seufer Buss, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

The Magnolia Palace by Fiona Davis

The Frick Museum is housed in a building built as the home for the Henry Clay Frick family, full of spectacular art. Two storylines tell the tale of the home and the family who lived there in the early 20th century, and then another storyline set in the 1960’s at the museum. With secrets and betrayals, life was not placid in either era.

The Magnolia Palace by Fiona Davis, (List Price: $27.00, Dutton, 9780593184011, January 2022)

Reviewed by Beth Carpenter, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina

Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson

Charmaine Wilkerson’s debut novel Black Cake shares the story of a woman who survives a negligent father, an absent mother, racism, trauma, and exile from her home. It’s only after Eleanor’s death that her children Byron and Benne learn just how much they don’t know about their Ma. Full of twists, Black Cake is the story of a mother’s love and the sacrifices she makes to keep safe.

Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson, (List Price: $28.00, Ballantine Books, 9780593358337, February 2022)

Reviewed by Rachel Watkins, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb

The Violin Conspiracy is listed as a mystery and while the theft of a ten-million-dollar violin is at the heart of the book, the story is so much more than the theft and who stole it. It is about music and how someone who is a true musician can forget the terrible things around him and just live for the music. It is a story about the violin itself and what it meant to an enslaved boy who was subjected to horrors we can’t imagine. And most of all it is the story of Ray and how his grandmother, his violin, his mentor, and those few who believed a young Black boy could become a famous classical violinist helped him to become the man and the musician he came to be. I know absolutely nothing about classical music, and there was a lot that went over my head, but this was written in such a way I was moved by Ray’s dedication and how much music meant to him. This should be read by every aspiring musician, especially those who have experienced prejudice as Ray did. It is a lesson in how to transcend slights and injustice and become the best person you can be.

The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb, (List Price: $28.00, 9780593315415, February 2022)

Reviewed by Nancy McFarlane, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

Pride, Prejudice, and Peril by Katie Oliver

Phaedra works as an English professor at the local college, lecturing her students about Jane Austen, while wearing garb from the time period. When a reality show starts filming in town called Who Wants to Marry Mr. Darcy?, she’s hired to consult. But when her best friend’s new husband is murdered (they own the estate where the reality show is being filmed), Phaedra has to solve the mystery before her friend is charged with murder. The first in the new Jane Austen Tea Society Mystery series, Austenites will see plenty of similarities to their favorite author’s stories.

Pride, Prejudice, and Peril by Katie Oliver, (List Price: $8.99, Berkley, 9780593337615, December 2021)

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia

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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Greenwich Park by Katherine Faulkner

Greenwich Park is a fabulous debut novel. The book starts off with a letter to Helen from someone in prison wanting her to know the truth. So, you know from the beginning that something bad is going to happen, but you don’t know who wrote the letter. Told from three points of view–Helen’s, who hopes to finally be bringing a baby to term after many miscarriages; Serena’s, who is Helen’s college friend and now married to her brother Rory; and Kate’s, Helen’s child hood friend who is her brother Charlie’s on again and off again girlfriend–the story takes time to develop but once it starts going it seems to go in lots of different directions at once. The ending will surprise you, and then the rest of the ending will surprise you even more – and then the last sentence on the last page happens.

Greenwich Park by Katherine Faulkner, (List Price: $27.00, Gallery Books, 9781982150310, January 2022)

Reviewed by Nancy McFarlane, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

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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Mouth to Mouth by Antoine Wilson

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.

Mouth to Mouth by Antoine Wilson, (List Price: 26, Avid Reader Press, Simon & Schuster, 9781982181802, January 2022)

Reviewed by Lindsay Lynch, Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee

A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham

“I was twelve years old when those shadows started to form a shape, a face. Started to become less of an apparition and more concrete. More real. When I began to realize that maybe the monsters lived among us.”In the deep South, Chloe Davis is a therapist with a secret. Her father is in jail for the murder of multiple young girls who disappeared from her rural town when she was only a child. But now it is happening again and this time it seems the girls have connections to Chloe herself. But can Chloe find the truth and stop the killer, even if they are someone close to her?Stacy Willingham’s A Flicker in the Dark is a solid debut thriller, full of the thick humidity of Southern summers spent running through the woods. Readers will race to the end to find who is at fault and may discover that no one can be trusted.

A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham, (List Price: $27.99, Minotaur Books, 9781250803825, January 2022)

Reviewed by Faith Parke-Dodge, Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, North Carolina


How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu

When I started reading Sequoia Nagamatsu’s How High We Go in the Dark, I would have hesitated to call it hopeful, but now I think that’s a perfect description. This novel reads like a series of connected short stories, and part of the joy of this book is finding the threads that connect these characters. Each chapter centers on people struggling through their own slice of a world steeped in death and damaged by plague and floods. But by the time I got to the end of this novel, I felt hope that we can get through calamity; there are possibilities, and there is hope.

How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu, (List Price: $27.99, William Morrow, 9780063072640, January 2022)

Elizabeth Hardin, The Snail on the Wall in Huntsville, Alabama


How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu

When a scientific team discover a mummified body of a prehistoric girl buried in the ice of the Arctic, they accidentally release a pathogen that will cause a pandemic that will last for generations, and change the face of humanity forever. As decades go by, people are faced with unbelievable choices when dealing with a searingly unending pandemic. What should they do to preserve humanity? Should they end the suffering of those who are ill? Could they assist the grieving by giving them one more day with their loved ones? What is it like for those infected with the virus? Where did this alien pathogen actually come from? If there is no cure, should they reach for the stars?Each story and character is vaguely interwoven with each other as choices are made on how to help those afflicted with this plague. What is the best answer? Each generation must choose for themselves. How High We Go in the Dark is a thought provoking novel that will show the depths of humanity over generations as they face an unending pandemic.

How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu, (List Price: 27.99, William Morrow, 9780063072640, January 2022)

Reviewed by Gretchen Shuler, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina


Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

A Fall Read This Next! Selection

It’s a cold winter Irish winter in 1985 when local coal merchant Bill Furlong enters his busy season before Christmas. Claire Keegan’s novel Small Things Like These tells the story of Bill Furlong who has lived in a small, quiet village his entire life. When Bill discovers an injustice, his decision to help brings up his lifelong question of who was his father. This is a quietly beautiful book.

Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan, (List Price: $20.00, Grove Press, 9780802158741, November 2021)

Reviewed by Rachel Watkins, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

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.

The Last House on the Street by Diane Chamberlain

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 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. Despite the personal tragedy and other strange things that have been happening including a warning to not move in that included a death threat, Kayla is determined to make the house a wonderful home for herself and her young daughter. A definite must read for fans of Big Lies in a Small Town.

The Last House on the Street by Diane Chamberlain, (List Price: $27.99, St. Martin’s Press, 9781250267962, January 2022)

Reviewed by Nancy McFarlane, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

The Paris Bookseller by Kerri Maher

I enjoyed the novel of Sylvia Beach, who founded Shakespeare and Company book store in 1919 Paris and published James Joyce’s initial edition of Ulysses. It is full of the details of Sylvia’s life with Adrienne Monnier, who owns a French bookstore across the street, and the many trials Beach endures dealing with Joyce until she finally lets her interest in the book go.

The Paris Bookseller by Kerri Maher, (List Price: $26.oo, Berkley, 9780593102183, January 2022)

Reviewed by Beth Carpenter, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina

The Love Con by Seressia Glass

From friends-to-lovers, mutual pining, and fake dating, The Love Con has all the makings of a superb romance. Kenya and Cam’s sizzling chemistry and wonderful communication elevate this romance novel to the next level. Along with Seressia Glass’s spot-on humor and wit, The Love Con is a near-perfect romance novel.

The Love Con by Seressia Glass, (List Price: $16.00, Berkley, 9780593199053, December 2021)

Reviewed by Gennifer Eccles, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Honor by Thrity Umrigar

Honor is the kind of book that makes me want to sit for hours and read. Thrity Umrigar transports the reader to India through both the eyes of an Indian American journalist and the subject of her article, a Hindu woman who was the victim of a horrible attack at the hands of her own family. The result is powerful and poignant.

Honor by Thrity Umrigar, (List Price: $26.95, Algonquin Books, 9781616209957, January 2022)

Reviewed by Beth Seufer Buss, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

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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Murder Under Her Skin by Stephen Spotswood

What a fun read! A traditional mystery set in 1946 with two female private investigators who are called to a traveling circus to help find the murderer of the tattooed lady from the side show. This case is of particular interest to Willowjean (Will) Parker who has been working for the brilliant and world-famous detective Ms. Pentecost for the past few years) because she lived and worked at the circus for five years and considered it home and the employees her family. I can’t wait to read about more cases that this interesting and witty duo are able to solve.

Murder Under Her Skin by Stephen Spotswood, (List Price: $27.00, Doubleday, 9780385547123, December 2021)

Reviewed by Nancy McFarlane, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

Beautiful Little Fools by Jillian Cantor

What a fun read! This book and the fictional tales of the women surrounding Gatsby actually makes me want to re-read The Great Gatsby with these imagined back stories in mind. Cantor’s writing is both creative and compelling. Her insights about the lives and struggles of women were woven perfectly into this fictional expansion and made me appreciate the characters of Daisy, Myrtle, Catherine and Jordan way more than before. If you are a fan of The Great Gatsby I think you’ll love this book and its ability to help you revisit the world of West Egg. If you’re not a fan of The Great Gatsby, I still think you’ll enjoy this story of three women and what could have led to the murder of Jay Gatsby. Either way, it’s a creative, fun read for both those who have an appreciation for the old classic and those who just enjoy a good period piece of fiction!

Beautiful Little Fools by Jillian Cantor, (List Price: $16.99, Harper Perennial, 9780063051263, January 2022)

Reviewed by Lynne Phillips, Wordsworth Books in Little Rock, Arkansas

Bibliolepsy by Gina Apostol

Apostol softly launches you into a landscape of memories and gently reminds book lovers of what it first felt like to envision possibility thanks to literature. Apostol’s reflections on their time during the EDSA rebellion of 1986 teach us just how nuanced and expansive human connections can form if we let them.

Bibliolepsy by Gina Apostol, (List Price: $26.00, Soho Press, 9781641292511, January 2022)

Reviewed by Eden Hakimzadeh, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez

Written with sharp humor and a keen eye, Olga Dies Dreaming is one the most exciting debuts I’ve read in a long time. Xochitl Gonzalez has given us an unforgettable cast of characters—I loved unraveling the Acevedo family history in all of its messiness and tenderness. Don’t miss this one!

Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez, (List Price: $27.99, Flatiron Books, 9781250786173, January 2022)

Reviewed by Lindsay Lynch, Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee

Silent Parade by Keigo Higashino

Detective Galileo is back in another compelling puzzle-box mystery from the great Keigo Higashino. Whether you are a big fan of the series or a newcomer, Silent Parade is a excellent entry point into these engrossing mysteries. Set in Tokyo, a murder suspect has been able to avoid conviction twice because of lack on concrete evidence. Now the murder suspect has turned up dead during the community’s annual parade and Galileo is on the case to finally uncover the truth. Methodical, full of wonderful characters and an excellent sense of place, Silent Parade is a winning mystery experience.

Silent Parade by Keigo Higashino, (List Price: $27.99, Minotaur Books, 9781250624819, December 2021)

Reviewed by Caleb Masters, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

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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Absence of Mallets by Kate Carlisle

The ninth in the Fixer Upper series has Shannon and her crew plugging away on the tiny home village for veterans. Shannon is starting up a new class for women to learn construction and Mac has a new group of writers coming in for a retreat. But this new group is…something else. They’re nothing but trouble from the start. Fans of this series will love to read more about this crazy cast of characters.

Absence of Mallets by Kate Carlisle, (List Price: $8.99, Berkley, 9780593201336, December 2021)

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia

The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan

Frida Liu is a single mother who, exhausted and alone, has a lapse in judgment one day parenting her child. That decision leads to a child welfare trial, where the state sentences her to a year at school for mothers, where government educators will retrain Frida and other mothers they deem unworthy how to be good mothers in the eyes of the state. Best described to me as “1984 for mothers,” The School for Good Mothers is a terrifying look at an overreaching government that feels all too real today and the lengths that parents will go to in order to be with their children. It will both disturb you and make you think!

The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan, (List Price: $27.00, Simon & Schuster, 9781982156121, January 2022)

Reviewed by Beth Seufer Buss, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

All I Want by Darcey Bell

I thought I had this all figured out until the very last page, (that I had to reread several times, mind you), which then made me rethink the entire novel! Now, that’s the sign of a good book. I am still thinking about Emma and Ben and their country mansion…and whose truth I should believe. A compulsive read!

All I Want by Darcey Bell, (List Price: $17.00, Atria/Emily Bestler Books, 9781982177270, January 2022)

Reviewed by Jill Naylor, .novel in Memphis, Tennessee

Where the Drowned Girls Go by Seanan McGuire

In this seventh volume in the Wayward Children series, Cora, the resident mermaid of Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children, flees the reach of the Drowned Gods of the Moors by transferring to the anti-magical Whitethorn Institute. Seanan McGuire and her Wayward Children can literally take me anywhere; I will gladly open the door and step through every time! I loved learning more about Cora, was as intrigued as always with the new characters introduced and their doors, and I literally gasped at the return of a character. What more can you ask for?

Where the Drowned Girls Go by Seanan McGuire, (List Price: $19.99, Tordotcom, 9781250213624, January 2022)

Reviewed by Megan Bell, Underground Books in Carrollton, Georgia

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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The Maid by Nita Prose

The Maid is a cozy mystery the way cozies should be written. It is beautifully written, extremely entertaining, has a great mystery, twists you don’t see coming and most of all one of the most endearing and interesting characters you will ever meet. Molly Gray is on the autism spectrum. She does not react to people and circumstances like normal people do because she doesn’t understand their facial expressions and their emotions. But her Gran has taught her over the years to be honest, to be a hard worker and to be very, very polite. Molly is a maid in a luxury hotel. A job she loves and is very, very good at because she loves order, and neatness, and routine. When she finds a dead body in one of her rooms it is not surprising that the police keep thinking that she is hiding something because, while always answering truthfully, she takes things very literally. It is also not surprising when she is eventually arrested for the murder. What is surprising is everything else that happens. I normally like more thriller type books but this was one of the most delightful books I have read in ages and the mystery was top notch.

The Maid by Nita Prose, (List Price: $27.00, Ballantine Books, 9780593356159, January 2022)

Reviewed by Nancy McFarlane, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan

Definitely one of the most lyrical stories I’ve read in a while. The base of Chinese mythology provides a rich world full of color and hidden gems of dragons, demons, and powerful immortals, and the author uses all of them with so much fun and grace. I’m surprised to see this is a debut novel with just how much is here, and with how well developed the protagonist–Xingyin–is. Her journey is handled with care and her growth feels natural and genuine, and I appreciate the fact that she never puts down others to make herself feel better, even when it comes to her romantic interest. I’m absolutely hooked on this story and world, and I’m thrilled to see this is the first book in a duology. I’m definitely keeping my eyes open for the sequel!

Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan, (List Price: $27.99, Harper Voyager, 9780063031302, January 2022)

Reviewed by Lia Moore, E. Shaver bookseller in Savannah, Georgia

Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult

Diana is going to the Galapagos with her doctor boyfriend when the pandemic hits and he tells her to go on without him. Stuck on the island, her life takes a different turn, and then…she wakes up with Covid in a NYC hospital. Both experiences, one real, one not, change her. And she discovers it doesn’t really matter what happened to you in the past, it’s what you do with the rest of your life. This book brings the pandemic up close and personal and yet gives a great perspective to it. I loved it!

Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult, (List Price: $28.99, Ballantine Books, 9781984818416, November 2021)

Reviewed by Beth Carpenter, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina


King of Battle and Blood by Scarlett St. Clair

This book is exactly everything I’ve been craving from a vampire book. Been starving for, even, because I’ve been digging for at least a year now for a vampire book that scratches every itch the vampire academy series gave me many years ago as a young teen, but one that I can really appreciate as an adult. Isolde and Adrian are the most perfect, incredibly vicious pairing of human and vampire, and those twists and turns of the plot just set them up so well. I love that Isolde is heavyset and muscular and confident in her body and sexuality, while Adrian is just so very aware of the monstrosity of his nature, and does not care that people are scared of him. And the fact that Scarlett does queernorm society so well is just, chefs kiss. I felt so utterly comfortable while reading this book. It might sound strange, but reading King of Battle and Blood felt like coming home. A very bloody, very sexy home, but a home nonetheless.

King of Battle and Blood by Scarlett St. Clair, (List Price: $16.99, Bloom Books, 9781728258416, November 2021)

Reviewed by Caitlyn Vanorder, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina


The Tempered Steel of Antiquity Grey by Shawn Speakman

Antiquity Grey is born into the life of an outcast. “Grey-shamed” by the rulers of her city, and bullied by other members of her community, she is determined to prove her worth. With the help of friends and former enemies, she takes on the greatest threat of all; The Imperium. This was a fast-paced thrill ride through a climate-changed world filled with giant robots and bad guys with swords and laser guns. Myth and tech collide, creating the perfect recipe for a science fantasy adventure.

The Tempered Steel of Antiquity Grey by Shawn Speakman, (List Price: $28, Grim Oak Press, 9781944145699, November 2021)

Reviewed by Sophie Giroir, Cavalier House Books in Denham Springs, Louisiana


Chasing Homer by László Krasznahorkai

Chasing Homer is Laszlo Krasznahorkai’s latest novella, and it is a new turn for the author’s work, and for literature entirely. An unnamed narrator is (possibly) being chased across Europe by people never seen. Every chapter starts off with a QR code for drum music that literally sets the tempo for the barrage of perspective, and pages are often broken up by illustrations of creepy, abstract humanoids. This is a multi-media piece that works like a hand-cranked movie; as always, Krasznahorkai’s writing is innovative and powerful. A must read.

Chasing Homer by László Krasznahorkai, (List Price: $19.95, New Directions, 9780811227971, November 2021)

Reviewed by Conor Hultman, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi


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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Jack Ruby and the Origins of the Avant-Garde in Dallas by Robert Trammell

Holy cow, I love this ‘un! I saw in Ben Fountain’s preface that the author discovered Donald Barthelme during a stint in a Texas prison (marijuana, meh.). Well, I discovered DB while dumpster diving, broke and living in an attic in Tallahassee, so dingdingding I checked it out! The title story reads like a great conspiracy zine from the 70s, about JFK’s assassination (including Jack Ruby’s shooting of Oswald) all being one elaborate work of performance art created by Ruby to introduce internationally acclaimed avant-garde art to stingy Dallas. But that’s just a preview for the main attraction. The bulk of the book is around 20 short stories that all revolve, in some way, around a beer bar (you want liquor, you gotta bring it yourself). The bar is a safe-ish haven in the belly of the beast (1960s Dallas) that lives in the mouth of the king of beasts (anytime Texas). Every style of story lives inside this collection. I’d say it’s equal parts Donald Barthelme, Terry Allen and W.G. Sebald. It comes out in November and I will be talking this one up a ship ton! That’s right: tonnage is different on ships. A ship ton different!

Jack Ruby and the Origins of the Avant-Garde in Dallas by Robert Trammell, (List Price: $16.95, Deep Vellum Publishing, 9781646050499, December 2021)

Reviewed by Ian McCord, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

My Monticello by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson

A black professor uses his own son in a study comparing him to ACMs (American Caucasian Males) in “Control Negro.” A single mother lists what to do when “Buying a House Ahead of the Apocalypse.” A young woman changes herself in an attempt to leave behind her past. An immigrant widowed father finds himself distanced from his children. And, a group of Charlottesville neighbors flee white suprematists seeking refuge in Jefferson’s historic plantation home. Each story examines what happens when “home” is not very hospitable. This collection—the characters and the writing will stay with me. An emotional and brilliant must read.

My Monticello by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson, (List Price: $26.99, Henry Holt and Co., 9781250807151, October 2021)

Reviewed by Kelley Barnes, Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, North Carolina

Cremation by Rafael Chirbes

Cremation is a stream-of-monologue masterpiece that harkens to Beckett and Faulkner. When Matias, the patriarch of a rich Spanish family, dies, it sets off psychological battles among the surviving members. These spats take the form of unbroken pages-long conversations and thoughts, going beyond the closet-drama scope to encompass architecture, economics, corruption, art, and the consequences of 20th century European history. Towards the end, the fictional town of Misent turns into a character, much after the fashion of Durrell’s Alexandria, but more bitter and disillusioned. By the end of a reading, these incredible speeches come through like blasts of hot air over rivers of concrete.

Cremation by Rafael Chirbes, (List Price: $20.95, New Directions, 9780811224307, November 2021)

Reviewed by Conor Hultman, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi


I Walk With Monsters by Paul Cornell

Beautifully horrific visuals and genuinely compelling characters, it was a thrilling story that, for better or worse, doesn’t spoon-feed you any extra information and keeps you as in the dark as possible. While this aides the overall foreboding aura the story emits, it also almost tantalizingly keeps it’s secrets just out of our reach. I truly hope to see more in the future, because this collection went by in a flash.

I Walk With Monsters by Paul Cornell, (List Price: $15.99, Vault Comics, 9781638490067, October 2021)

Reviewed by Deion Cooper, Foggy Pine Books in Boone, North Carolina


Five Decembers by James Kestrel

What a great cinematic story, starting with a double murder in Honolulu just before Thanksgiving 1941 which eventually took the investigating Detective to Hong Kong where he arrived on December 8th, December 7th in Hawaii, before ending Five Decembers later. Utterly enthralling.

Five Decembers by James Kestrel, (List Price: 22.99, Hard Case Crime, 9781789096118, October 2021)

Reviewed by Pete Mock, McIntyre’s Fine Books in Pittsboro, North Carolina


American Christmas Stories by Connie Willis

So grateful for this collection of 70 diverse and extraordinary stories from our friends at Library of America and editor Connie Willis. This collection features voices from across the American experience an centuries and contains stories of mystery, horror, western, inspirational, fantasy, humor, and more! This would make a great gift and is long overdue. Shirley Jackson and Jack London, Amy Tan and Ray Bradbury, Mark Twain and Nalo Hopkinson. Very excited to put this into the hands of those who celebrate.

American Christmas Stories by Connie Willis, (List Price: 29.95, Library of America, 9781598537062, October 2021)

Reviewed by Kelly Justice, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia


Do I Know You? by Sarah Strohmeyer

After the puzzling disappearance of her sister when they were teenagers, Jane Ellison’s mission in life is to get answers…at any cost. After being fired from her FBI job as a “super recognizer,” Jane returns to her hometown to retrace the events of the night Kit disappeared and, in the process, begins to question her own sanity and abilities. I enjoyed Strohmeyer’s effortless approach at suspense, by offering pieces to the puzzle slowly and strategically while not becoming cheesy. The multiple POVs were just enough as to not confuse the reader but offer valuable insight into the connected characters. I would recommend this to my “thriller friends” who desire suspense without the violence or darkness that most tend to lean on. I would read another from this author.

Do I Know You? by Sarah Strohmeyer, (List Price: $16.99, Harper Paperbacks, 9780063091290, November 2021)

Reviewed by Lynne Phillips, Wordsworth Books in Little Rock, Arkansas

An Elderly Lady Must Not Be Crossed by Helene Tursten

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!

An Elderly Lady Must Not Be Crossed by Helene Tursten, (List Price: $14.99, Soho Crime, 9781641291675, October 2021)

Reviewed by Andrea Richardson, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Bombshell by Sarah MacLean

Bombshell picks up a new series where MacLean’s Scandals & Scoundrels series left off. Here, we have Secily, the most scandalous of her five sisters and the only one left un-wed. She’s been pining after Caleb, the business partner of one of her sisters for years. But right now, along with three other amazing woman, she’s taking down the men of the ton, one at a time. But when Caleb comes back from America and finds Secily at work, she isn’t sure what her next move should be. Bombshell has a kick-ass feminist heroine who does what she wants and helps others along the way. We should all be so amazing.

Bombshell by Sarah MacLean, (List Price: $8.99, Avon, 9780063056152, August 2021)

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia

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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All Fires the Fire by Julio Cortázar

I just spent a guilt-free rainy day with these high calorific, double-stuffed short stories. Located within: A traffic jam turned tribal via survival, some playful narrator juggling, an escapist daydream that turns O. Henry into an R. Serling nightmare, and fiery relationships that literally burn to literal litter. Looking forward to more rain.

All Fires the Fire by Julio Cortázar, (List Price: 15.95, New Directions, 9780811229456, April 2020)

Reviewed by Ian McCord, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Beauty Salon by Mario Bellatin

A strange and elegiac little novel, steeped in sadness and decay. A book that’s obtusely about disease and isolation that ties accidentally and snugly into our current world.

Beauty Salon by Mario Bellatin, (List Price: $14.95, Deep Vellum Publishing, 9781646050734, September 2021)

Reviewed by Justin Souther, Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe in Asheville, North Carolina

O Beautiful by Jung Yun

This beautiful character-driven book set in the American Midwest covers many contemporary topics like racism, fracking, sexual harassment, and the immigrant experience. I loved the messy protagonist Elinor Hanson, a Korean American who grew up in South Dakota. A former model with a new career later in life as a journalist, Elinor has baggage that needs unpacking so badly her clothes are spilling out of her metaphorical suitcase at a rapid pace. Korean American author Jung Yun has written a fantastic novel in O Beautiful that surprised me over and over, especially by book’s end.

O Beautiful by Jung Yun, (List Price: 27.99, St. Martin’s Press, 9781250274328, November 2021)

Reviewed by Rachel Watkins, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia


Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen

LOVE! It’s no small feat to write a 60- page book so immersive that you can read it in a weekend and still feel extremely depressed when you come to the end, like, “That’s all?” C’mon, book two!!

Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen, (List Price: $30.00, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 9780374181178, October 2021)

Reviewed by Kat Leache, novel. in Memphis, Tennessee

Heard It in a Love Song by Tracey Garvis Graves

I really enjoyed The Girl He Used To Know, so reading this book was an easy decision. Layla and Josh are both adjusting to life as singles rather than couples. They ended up single due to very different circumstances, it’s hard not to understand growing apart when you married as a teen. Layla does not have that situation and is torn over her divorce, but more anguished about her marriage and how she was diminished. Josh has no idea how to be single and the online dating scene is portrayed in frightening detail. As they emerge from the turmoil of separation the evolution as individuals and a couple is charming, poignant and entertaining.

Heard It in a Love Song by Tracey Garvis Graves, (List Price: 27.99, St. Martin’s Press, 9781250235688, November 2021)

Reviewed by Jackie Willey, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

Olga by Bernhard Schlink

Olga is a brilliant meditation on living through the great moments of history. We now know what it is to live through a moment in history having (hopefully) rounded the corner with this global pandemic. Olga is one of the few characters in WWII fiction that is aware of the moment as she lives it. But she is also caught in the reality of living day-to-day life in that moment of history. I fell into this book on a rainy day with a warm cup of tea and that’s exactly how this beautifully melancholy book should be enjoyed.

Olga by Bernhard Schlink, (List Price: 27.99, HarperVia, 9780063112926, September, 2021)

Reviewed by Annie Childress, E. Shaver bookseller in Savannah, Georgia

The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix

It seems like an oxymoron, but The Final Girl Support group is a delightfully dark and very suspenseful thriller, both funny and really scary. It tells the story of six vastly different women–survivors from horrors we can only imagine–who as final girls have been in a support group for 16 years. And, then they start dying! The book pays homage to the slasher films of the 80s and 90s and even if you weren’t a fan of them, if you like Mission Impossible type escapes, and thrillers which go in totally unforeseeable directions (several times) then you will love this book.

The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix, (List Price: $26.00, Berkley, 9780593201237, July 2021)

Reviewed by Nancy McFarlane, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

All the Little Hopes by Leah Weiss

Everyone should have a little magic in their lives. This is a story of friendship between Bert and Lucy (and Lucy’s hero from her favorite book Nancy Drew). There’s a OUIJA board (the “spirit” board), a woman who sees into the future, and a missing body, all contributing to the lively imagination of these two best friends. Times are hard in 1943 North Carolina, but Bert and Lucy only see an opportunity to solve a great mystery. You will not want to stop reading once you begin this beautifully written story.

All the Little Hopes by Leah Weiss, (List Price: $16.99, Sourcebooks Landmark, 9781728232744, 2021-07-27)

Reviewed by Karen Solar, Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda, Florida.

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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The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak

The Island of Missing Trees is a beautiful, sweeping tale of enduring love, grief, and the ways in which we move forward from intergenerational traumas. Split between a cold London winter and the midst of the Cypriot civil war of 1974 and narrated by a fig tree, the story aches with a love for the natural world, giving voice to the voiceless. Its quiet profundity opens a world beyond borders and human conflicts, a world where truths are uncovered and healing is possible.

The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak, (List Price: $27.00, Bloomsbury Publishing, 9781635578591, October 2021)

Reviewed by Hannah DeCamp, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers

The robot Mosscap is the first to return from from the wilds to ask the question, “What do humans want?” The tea monk, despite their vocation of helping others by listening to problems while serving tea, feels unqualified to answer – and unmoored in their own life. This novella is an inspiring meditation on purpose and meaning set in an interesting world with a great first-contact frame.

A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers, (List Price: 20.99, Tordotcom, 9781250236210, 2021-07-13)

Reviewed by Ginger Kautz, Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, North Carolina

Still Life by Sarah Winman

Sarah Winman’s Still Life is the balm needed to medicate against the last year and a half of the global pandemic. Set in post-WWII London and Florence, Winman creates a lush world full of tangible characters who break your heart in all the best ways. It begins with a chance encounter on a small country road in war-torn Tuscany. There, Ulysses Temper, an idealistic twenty-something English soldier, and Evelyn Skinner, a sextagenarian art historian meet and share an adventurous evening celebrating wine, art, and newfound friendships. The two diverge and set course upon two parallel paths that spiral inward and outward along a trajectory that is never truly separate. During the course of forty years, Winman manages to enliven both post-war London and Florence and captures their resilience and specific beauties with rapturous prose. Within each city, there is suffering, there is collapse, there is pain, there is poverty. But, life goes on, and so do the powerful humans who occupy these spaces. The people are real, you know them and you feel their pain and suffering, joy, and happiness. You root for them and you cry with them. This is a book about chance encounters, magical evenings around Italian tablesides, changing societies, found family, chances taken and missed, grief, forgiveness, and the profoundly sacred space of human connection. Still Life reminds us that, after a year of isolation, we both owe it to ourselves to allow others in from time to time.


Still Life by Sarah Winman, (List Price: $27, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 9780593330753, November 2021)

Joce Mallin, M. Judson Booksellers and Storytellers in Greenville, South Carolina


His Name was Death by Rafael Bernal

How do mosquitoes communicate? What does their society look like– and how would they view ours? “Wise Owl,” thus dubbed by the indigenous tribe he lives with in the Mexican jungle, is a misanthrope disgusted with society at large. When he figures out the language of the mosquitoes, Mosquil, Wise Owl hatches a plan to take ultimate revenge on human civilization. Heavy themes of faith, modernity, free will, and meaning are filtered through an ecological sci-fi sieve. Vonnegut’s Galapagos meets the Island of Dr. Moreau, with even more merited cynicism.


His Name was Death by Rafael Bernal, (List Price: $15.95, New Directions, 9780811230834, November 2021)

Conor Hultman, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi


The Stranger in the Lifeboat by Mitch Albom

Wow. I loved this book. This is my first time reading something by Mitch Albom, though I’ve shelved him more times than I can count over the years. I initially picked up this because I loved the size. But within three sentences I was fully hooked. What was intended to be a 2 hour beach visit turned into a 5 hour beach stay and I didn’t pack enough sun screen so I got a little burnt. Thanks Mitch. This book is an interesting mixture of lite religious philosophy and thriller novel? Thriller is the wrong word but you cannot put the book down because you have to understand. For anyone who grew up religious and has moved away this will be a compelling book that speaks to longing that many humans have for a god. It will also leave you thinking about the nature of that god for many many weeks after you read it… Ugh. What a great book. I can’t wait to make people read it!


The Stranger in the Lifeboat by Mitch Albom, (List Price: 23.99, Harper, 9780062888341, November 2021)

Reviewed by Annie Childress, E. Shaver bookseller in Savannah, Georgia


The Searcher by Tana French

The Searcher is not a typical Tana French novel. It is a beautifully written literary look at rural Ireland and its people from the eyes of a newly divorced and newly retired and burned-out Chicago police officer. Cal Hooper is the star of this novel as is Ireland itself. Cal really doesn’t want anything more to do with police work but when a young boy asks his help in finding his missing brother Cal can’t refuse. Cal soon finds that small villages often have secrets they want to stay secret and most of all they don’t want any interference in their lives – especially outside interference. This is not a thriller; it isn’t even what I consider a true mystery, but it is a wonderful story about relationships and friendship and the life of villagers in rural Ireland.



The Searcher by Tana French, (List Price: 18, Penguin Books, 9780735224674, November 2021)


Reviewed by Nancy McFarlane, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina


The Interim by Wolfgang Hilbig

Our “hero” takes us on many liquor-fueled Mobius Teacup Rides between East and West Germany, keeping the limbo bench warm on the sidelines of love and lust, looking for someone, something, or some country to blame for his writer’s block, impotence, and irresponsibility. Told in such a comedic, controlled scatter to keep the reader comfortably teetered on a seat’s edge, if sitting’s a thing said reader’s into.

The Interim by Wolfgang Hilbig, (List Price: 22.95, Two Lines Press, 9781949641233, November 2021)


Reviewed by Ian McCord, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia


Trust by Domenico Starnone

This beautifully translated book, written by Domenico Starnon, picks up after a tumultuous love affair between Teresa and Pietro comes to an abrupt end. Just before their breakup, Teresa gets the idea for them to share their deepest secret, something that could ruin their life if exposed. Their love peacefully ends a few days later. Pietro quickly finds a wife whom he finds extremely different from his past flame. As he gains success as a writer, teacher, and politician, he also has to live with the conflicting fear that at any moment, his life could end if Teresa shared his secret. Pietro will forever and privately be attached to both the person he was with Teresa and Teresa herself. It’s a poignant novel about love and the lengths someone will go to uphold a public persona that contradicts views of one’s own self. I love it, and I think lovers of trauma-bond romance novels should run to order this!


Trust by Domenico Starnone, (List Price: $17, Europa Editions, 9781609457037, October 2021)

Viana Martinez, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia


The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys: California (Deluxe Edition) by Gerard Way

Already being a fan of Way’s work, I very much appreciated his post-apocalyptic masterpiece being compiled into one definitive collection. With afterwords by the creators and a whole lot of concept art included, the deluxe edition is perfect for those who would like to find a deeper connection to this fast-paced story.


The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys: California (Deluxe Edition) by Gerard Way, (List Price: $79.99, Dark Horse Books, 9781506725994, October 2021)

Deion Cooper, Foggy Pine Books in Boone, North Carolina


The Hush by Sara Foster

A horrible tragedy is affecting pregnant women. . perfectly healthy babies are being born but never take a breath. The people of England are finally returning to normal after years of dealing with Covid so when the government starts issuing more and more laws restricting people’s movements in the name of safety most are so used to it from covid that they just blindly obey. And then pregnant teenagers start disappearing. Three generations of strong women and their friends are the driving force behind this amazing work of futuristic fiction which is made infinitely scarier by the realization that everything in the book could already be happening.

The Hush by Sara Foster, (List Price: 26.99, Blackstone, 9781665106856, November 2021)

Reviewed by Nancy McFarlane, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina


Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

Whether you come to this book for the author, the cover, or the reviews, you will stay for the beautiful storytelling as Anthony Doerr weaves together the stories of three very different time periods and characters. Konstance (on an interstellar futuristic ship), Anna and Omeir (in 1453 Constantinople), and Seymour (in present-day Idaho) are very different, but they are all connected by one ancient story. In his usual gorgeous wording, Doerr makes you fall in love with the characters, and you will not want to put this book down. The character development is nothing short of genius, and the story is full of history, heart, and heroism!

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr, (List Price: $30, Scribner, 9781982168438, September 2021)

Reviewed by Mary Patterson, The Little Bookshop in Midlothian, Virginia


The Perishing by Natashia Deón

From the first page, Natasha Deón is successful in hooking her audience to the strange and unique journey of Lou. Upon waking up naked in an alley, Lou is confused but feels as if this is not the first time this has happened. With no memory, Lou is placed into a foster home where she flourishes and eventually goes on to grow on her own as an adult. From start to finish, this book has readers on the edge of their seat trying to piece together the information they are receiving from both narrators – Lou and Sarah. Extremely compelling, thought-provoking , and deep, Deón has created a masterpiece of a story.

The Perishing by Natashia Deón, (List Price: $26, Counterpoint, 9781640093027, November 2021)

Reviewed by Stephanie Carrion, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida


Last Girl Ghosted by Lisa Unger

WOWZA! Was not expecting this! This fast paced thriller will leave you stunned. When Wren falls hard for a man she met through a dating site she is heartbroken when he ghosts her. Was it because she showed her soul? Never read a story quite like this. Can see as a movie. Don’t read alone.

Last Girl Ghosted by Lisa Unger, (List Price: $27.99, Park Row, 9780778311041, October 2021)

Reviewed by Suzanne Lucey, Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, North Carolina


Strange Folk You’ll Never Meet by A.A. Balaskovits

Strange folk populate these dark tales, fevered nightmares, and twisted fairytales. Readers beware, things most definitely go bump in the night here, and sometimes they bite. Lots of body horror and lots of gore, but if you like your stories fairly bloody, this book is for you!

Strange Folk You’ll Never Meet by A.A. Balaskovits, (List Price: $14.95, Santa Fe Writer’s Project, October 9781951631130)

Reviewed by Kate Towery, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia


Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

A Fall Read This Next! Selection

This tiny gem is destined to be a Christmas classic. Think in terms O’Henry’s The Gift of the Magi. Alice Munro and Raymond Carver also come to mind. Based on actual events in Irish history only recently brought to light, the story follows Bill Furlong, a coal merchant, husband, and father to five daughters, and his discovery of a coverup by the church. The town is largely controlled by the church in this 1985 setting, but he still risks his livelihood, reputation, and marriage to right a wrong. Readers who enjoy stories of characters confronting their pasts, embracing hope, and being quiet heroes will find much to love here. When I first read it I thought: “good story”. But I have picked it up over and over again, read and reread it, marveling at its depth charge emotional impact.

Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan, (List Price: $20, Grove Press, 9780802158741, November 2021)

Reviewed by Kelly Justice from Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, VA


Five Tuesdays in Winter by Lily King

A Fall Read This Next! Selection

I enjoyed every word in these brilliantly-written stories. Each story offered warm and immersive portraits of real, layered characters. Original, literary, human, and peppered with heart wrenching, high-stakes moments that jolt the reader’s emotions in the best way possible. A wonderful collection.

Five Tuesdays in Winter by Lily King, (List Price: 27, Grove Press, 9780802158765, November 2021)

Reviewed by Melissa Summers from Main Street Books in Davidson, NC


Twenty Years Later by Charlie Donlea

A Fall Read This Next! Selection

A great plot that incorporates family, lifelong friendship, betrayal, and the specter of 9/11. Avery seems like an all-American girl who has achieved her dream job. She is the new anchor for a well-received news/life show. It appears she has an amazing life. And she does, unfortunately much of it is in a deeply buried past. Walt is an unwilling retired FBI agent who has hidden away from life in the remote area of Jamaica. Their lives collide when Walt’s early career intersects with Avery’s current career. The plot is deep with several sub-plots that keep you guessing about how it will all come together. The ending is very unexpected on several fronts. Any good crime and mystery fan will enjoy this book.


Twenty Years Later by Charlie Donlea, (List Price: $27, Kensington, 9781496727169, December 2021)

Reviewed by Jackie Willey, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

 

Murder Under Her Skin by Stephen Spotswood

A Fall Read This Next! Selection I was already a fan of the series at the first book but this second really sold me on it. Great character development and originality make for a fun read. Murder Under Her Skin by Stephen Spotswood, (List Price: $27, Doubleday, 9780385547123, December 2021) Reviewed by Jamie Fiocco, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

All Her Little Secrets by Wanda M. Morris

A Fall Read This Next! Selection

Ellice Littlejohn is a Black corporate attorney who is promoted after her white boss and lover dies violently, by his own hand or someone else’s? She has secrets, but so do her coworkers. This fast-paced legal thriller hooked me from page one. I so enjoyed having a kick-ass protagonist in a legal thriller which also touches on the challenges of Black women in the male dominated corporate law firm environment. Definitely a book for fans of Stacey Abrams and Laura Lippman.

All Her Little Secrets by Wanda M. Morris, (List Price: $16.99, William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780063082465, November 2021)

Reviewed by Lia Lent, Wordsworth Books in Little Rock, Arkansas


The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven by Nathaniel Ian Miller

A Fall Read This Next! Selection

I don’t know that I’ve ever come across a book more satisfying to my inner-misanthrope than The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven. Anyone who constantly longs for quiet, feels prickly in an overcrowded space, loves the idea of unfettered alone time: this book is for you. Set in the early twentieth century, The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven follows a man who literally goes to the edge of the earth and settles in the Arctic with a loyal dog as his only companion. Nathaniel Ian Miller has written a novel that, in showing us extreme isolation, reminds us how vital our bonds to this world are. I adored it.

The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven by Nathaniel Ian Miller, (List Price: 28, Little, Brown and Company, 9780316592550, October 2021)

Reviewed by Lindsay Lynch, Parnassus Books in Nashville, North Carolina


Sankofa by Chibundu Onuzo

A Fall Read This Next! Selection

Chibundu Onuzo’s Sankofa is the story of Anna, an African British woman who never knew her father. Anna discovers clues to her African father’s identity only after her mother dies. This is fortuitous. What follows as Anna acknowledges and accepts her father, a man with a vast reputation and many secrets, is the healing and melding of Anna’s two identities and a new beginning. A master storyteller, Onuzo’s third novel is an epic story of belonging and identity.

Sankofa by Chibundu Onuzo, (List Price: $26, Catapult, 9781646220830, October 2021)

Reviewed by Rachel Watkins, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow

A Fall Read This Next! Selection

If you like a fast-paced, unapologetically feminist, unabashedly nerdy, deliciously inventive read that sucks you into a fever dream of fun, then you must pick up this book. Author Alix E. Harrow has not only turned the dying girl trope on its head, but also answered the question “What if you Spiderverse’d Grimm’s Fairy Tales?” And the answer is: lot’s of fun, a good dose of mind-being physics, and a dash of fairy tale logic. Taking probably one of the most overlooked fairytales, Sleeping Beauty, and ripping it inside out, tossing it upside down, and creating all new rules in a world that is both high stakes and beautiful, Harrow has created a spell-binding world that you’ll anxiously avoid leaving as you rush towards this perfect novella’s end.

A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow, (List Price: $17.99, Tordotcom, 9781250765352, October 2021)

Reviewed by Christen Thompson, Itinerant Literate Books in North Charleston, South Carolina

A Holly Jolly Diwali by Sonya Lalli

When she was unexpectedly laid off from her job, the last thing Niki expected was to take a last-minute trip to India for her best friend’s wedding. She finds herself exploring life without obligations for the first time in her life, which works perfectly until she realizes she’s fallen for Sam, a London musician also in town for the same wedding. But as the trip comes to a close, Nikki finds herself realizing Sam may not want the same thing. I love a holiday romance and really like that Lalli shared Nikki’s Diwali journey with us!

A Holly Jolly Diwali by Sonya Lalli, (List Price: $17, Berkley, 9780593100950, October 2021)

Reviewed by Beth Seufer Buss, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina


When We Cease to Understand the World by Benjamin Labatut

In this fascinating blend of essay and fiction, Labatut explores the nature of scientific discovery and the consequences of coming face to face with what we cannot understand. While there was quite a bit that I didn’t understand (quantum mechanics!!) I was fascinated and transfixed. Labatut’s prose is mesmerizing and I cannot wait to see what he does next.

When We Cease to Understand the World by Benjamin Labatut, (List Price: $17.95, New York Review Books, 9781681375663, September 2021)

Reviewed by Gaël LeLamer, Books & Books in Coral Gables, Florida


Fight Night by Miriam Toews

A Fall Read This Next! Selection

Fight Night brings it. Every corner of human emotion is nudged, awakened, revealed. Nine year old Swiv and her Grandma are comrades and confidantes. While Swiv’s pregnant mother hustles back and forth between home and her faltering acting career, Grandma helps Swiv make sense of the world and their place in it, through vivid, sometimes bawdy, sometimes heartbreaking stories of her past. This novel is a reminder of the full potential of a book to connect us to our humanity and to inspire us to fight another day.

Fight Night by Miriam Toews, (List Price: $24, Bloomsbury Publishing, 9781635578171, October 2021)

Reviewed by Candice Anderson from Tombolo Books in St. Petersburg, FL

The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki

Ruth Ozeki uses her unique style of magical realism to elevate this immersive tale of the chaotic life of a teen-aged boy who has lost his father, and the boy’s hoarder mother, who is also struggling to deal with the boy’s apparent mental illness. This book, which is about the transcendent power of books, has many chapters that are narrated… by a book. You’ll also find talking scissors and a nine-story public library in this novel that deals with serious topics in a charming and redemptive way.

The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki, (List Price: 30, Viking, 9780399563645, September 2021)

Reviewed by Anne Peck, Righton Books in St Simons Island, Georgia

Lean Fall Stand by Jon Mcgregor

Doc Wright leads expeditions to Antarctica. It’s been a hard adjustment for his wife and children to be gone for many months at a time but they’ve had 30 years or more to adjust to someone who is just not ever really around. When his current expedition encounters a sudden storm, he struggles to radio for help and is injured. Wright wakes up in the hospital with jumbled memories and unable to communicate. As he begins a difficult convalescence, his wife and children must help with his caregiving, a role not eagerly embraced by any of them. This is a great read and highly recommended!

Lean Fall Stand by Jon Mcgregor, (List Price: 26, Catapult, 9781646220991, September 2021)

Reviewed by Mary Patterson, The Little Bookshop in Midlothian, Virginia

Dare to Know by James Kennedy

Dare to Know starts with a fascinating sci-fi speculation: what if science could pinpoint the exact date and time of your death? That’s an intriguing proposal; however, this novel isn’t satisfied by simply exploring this question. What could have been a societal sci-fi story turns into something else entirely—a personal and riveting horror story full of terrors like sagging careers and failed relationships, oddly specific Gen X fears (bearded 1970s hippies and Don Henley songs), and universal horrors like death and the end of the world. This novel was frightening and smart and it made me think.

Dare to Know by James Kennedy, (List Price: 22.99, Quirk Books, 9781683692607, September 2021)

Reviewed by Lady Smith, The Snail on the Wall in Huntsville, Alabama

Awake by Harald Voetmann

Awake is a collage of excerpts from Pliny the Elder’s Naturalis Historia, perhaps the oldest surviving encyclopedia, intercut with interior monologues from Pliny, as well as asides from his nephew, Pliny the Younger. Our narrator, of course, is most famous now for having died at the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, which the younger Pliny also witnessed. Yet this climactic scene is relegated to a post-script; what draws the most attention, justly, are memories and recreations of ancient Roman life, which of course deal with all the bigger themes of knowledge and meaning and life, fitting for a classic work. Who thought that a narrative styled after an encyclopedia would be this deeply involving?

Awake by Harald Voetmann, (List Price: 14.95, New Directions, 9780811230810, September 2021)

Reviewed by Conor Hultman, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

Assembly by Natasha Brown

This book is an excellent “gateway” for readers of all kinds to learn about the subtle nuances of being a person of color. From microaggressions to being called out because of race, the main character sees at all and is trying to make a name for herself. On the surface, this short book is about a woman meeting her boyfriend’s parents, but the story dives much deeper and examines differences in race, wealth, and status. Throughout the book, I felt myself questioning how I have been racist without meaning to and ways in which people have done the same to me. This quick read will stay with me for a long time and make me examine my interactions that much closer, with an eye towards empathy and understanding.

Assembly by Natasha Brown, (List Price: $23.00, Little, Brown and Company, 9780316268264, September 2021)

Reviewed by Josie Greenwald, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

The War for Gloria by Atticus Lish

The War For Gloria is a haunting follow-up to Lish’s last award-winning novel. Set in the Boston area, Corey is in high school when his mother is diagnosed with ALS. As he struggles to cope and take care of his mother Gloria, his previously absent father comes back into their lives and upends everything. Corey initially admires his father’s intellect and seeks a connection with him through his mother’s situation. It doesn’t take long for Corey to realize his father is a leech that is absent of empathy and any kind of emotional connection. Corey goes through several stages of growth throughout the novel and he fights (quite literally) for his mother & his sanity… as he’s also fighting an internal war on how to best become a man. Every character’s actions in this story leads to a consequence. Even the most minor of things that they say or do come back to haunt them in some way, shape, or form. I was stuck processing everything about it by the end… and though this book is traumatic at times, it’s a hell of a story.

The War for Gloria by Atticus Lish, (List Price: 28, Knopf, 9781524732325, September 2021)

Reviewed by Stuart McCommon, novel. in Memphis, Tennessee

Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead

Well, that was perfect! Whitehead’s character work here is just beyond. A few short sentences and the whole of a person is made clear. There are lines and phrases that are now etched on my brain! Including “Carney was only slightly bent when it came to being crooked.” (which the pub clearly loves too because they quote this everywhere). I would typically expect a noir novel to be significantly shorter, but I enjoyed every moment I spent with Harlem Shuffle.

Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead, (List Price: 28.95, Doubleday, 9780385545136, September 2021)

Reviewed by Michelle Cavalier, Cavalier House Books in Denham Springs, Louisiana

Hao by Ye Chun

Each story in Hao pulses with life—with all its pain and beauty—and the power of language to transform it. They all, in a way, revolve around Chinese women past and present and their entanglements with motherhood, migration, and trauma. Ye’s prose is searingly honest, paying close attention to those tiny gaps in relationships where loneliness and love reside, and the ways in which we try to bridge those gulfs with communication. Both meditative and fierce, these stories will hold your heart long after you close the book.

Hao by Ye Chun, (List Price: 26, Catapult, 9781646220601, September 2021)

Reviewed by Hannah DeCamp, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Wildwood Whispers by Willa Reece

Once I started this book I did not want any interruptions until I finished reading. The mysticism of Appalachia comes to life on the pages of the book. Mel is in the foster system and has learned all the pitfalls of the system, but cares for no one until Sarah arrives at her foster home. Sarah is otherworldly to Mel, she is kind, timid and becomes Mel’s family. They bond and escape terrible situations together, but Sarah always wants to return home to the Wildwood where she was born and raised. Mel would do anything for Sarah so she grants that wish and begins a journey with a cast of characters she could have never even imagined. I won’t go into detail here as the discoveries are best made when you read this touching and heart-grabbing book.

Wildwood Whispers by Willa Reece, (List Price: 28, Redhook, 9780316591768, August 2021)

Reviewed by Jackie Willey, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

Mrs. March by Virginia Feito

Trying to emerge from Mrs. March’s head was like clawing my way out of a dark, tangled forest of screaming trees… and I loved every second of it. Plus, those mint green kidskin gloves sound f*cking fabulous.

Mrs. March by Virginia Feito, (List Price: 26, Liveright, 9781631498619, August 2021)

Reviewed by Danielle Raub, Itinerant Literate Books in North Charleston, South Carolina

The Show Girl by Nicola Harrison

OH how I loved this book. I am a (proud!!) member of the Slow Readers Club and when I devour a book as fast as I did The Show Girl, it’s a good sign. And this was a GREAT book. I loved City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert, and the minute I saw this cover & tagline I knew I had to read this book too. The Show Girl was phenomenal, and I had NO idea where it was going to go, which I liked. If I have one complaint, it would be that the tagline is a little misleading to what ultimately becomes the central conflict of the book. She ultimately knows what she wants in the decision of performing vs marriage to Archie (granted this ultimatum is a source of some conflict but in my opinion is not the ultimate breaking point), the issue becomes whether or not to tell him about something about her past that will affect their marriage and plans for the future. Now, granted, the tagline is what got me to read the book, so I understand why it is what it is, but it just felt a tad misleading. Outside of that, this book was the most wonderful trip to a New York on the cusp of the Great Depression, an exploration of the Broadway of Ziegfeld, a story full of rich imagery and stellar characters. And best of all, it has a real, true, genuine happy ending that wasn’t predictable. I loved it.

The Show Girl by Nicola Harrison, (List Price: 27.99, St. Martin’s Press, 9781250200150, August, 2021)

Reviewed by Olivia Gacka, Novel. in Memphis, Tennessee

Lightning Strike by William Kent Krueger

Easily one of the best books I’ve read this year. Krueger effortlessly weaves lilting language, thought-provoking issues, and an extremely compelling mystery into a historical, small-town setting. A young boy follows in his father’s footsteps as he searches for “crumbs” to help solve a crime and discovers some much larger truths along the way. The characters are unforgettable, the story is suspenseful, and the writing is beautiful. Especially for readers who enjoy murder mysteries, coming of age stories, Native American stories, and well-written fiction. It is almost Southern Gothic, but maybe not quite dark or southern enough. Some of the theological threads remind me a bit of Marilynne Robinson as well.

Lightning Strike by William Kent Krueger, (List Price: 27, Atria Books, 9781982128685, August 2021)

Reviewed by Angela Rawls, The Snail on the Wall in Huntsville, Alabama

Velvet Was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s newest is a smoky, simmering historical noir following a romance-comic-reading secretary and a lonely henchman, as each becomes ensnared in a search for a missing photographer, set in 1970s Mexico City during the Dirty War, when, backed by the U.S., the Mexican government infiltrated & attacked left-wing protest groups. I enjoyed unlikely heroes Maite & Elvis, the historical context, and the soundtrack of suppressed rock music scoring the scenes throughout.

Velvet Was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, (List Price: 28, Del Rey, 9780593356821, August, 2021)

Reviewed by Megan Bell, Underground Books in Carrollton, Georgia

Where the Truth Lies by Anna Bailey

When teenaged Abi Blake goes missing after a party in the woods the search for her by her best friend Emma slowly uncovers the dark secrets the people of the small town of Whistling Ridge, CO have been hiding. Where The Truth Lies is a disturbing and very atmospheric novel about a town full of abusers, racists, bigots and homophobes, a fire and brimstone preacher, and a congregation of religious zealots who use God as an excuse for all their evil or for the secrets they keep about their abusers. Beautifully written considering the bleakness and sadness that pervade the novel you will not want to put it down in the hopes that at least the young can escape and find happiness and normalcy.

Where the Truth Lies by Anna Bailey, (List Price: 27, Atria Books, 9781982157166, August 2021)

Reviewed by Nancy McFarlane, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

The Woman from Uruguay by Pedro Mairal

There is so much to be said about this book and why it’s so delightful. I was really excited for the English translation and was not in the least bit disappointed by what Jennifer Croft pulled off. What I would say I most enjoy is the decision to let it be as local as it is. It is such a perfectly quintessential porteño novel, and I’m really glad the translator and editor decided to let it be what it is.

The Woman from Uruguay by Pedro Mairal, (List Price: 24, Bloomsbury Publishing, 9781635577334, August 2021)

Reviewed by Charles Lee, Malaprop’s in Asheville, North Carolina

Edge Case by YZ Chin

A thoughtful, incisive, sometimes upsetting look into marriage, immigration, and layered trauma. As Edwina faces the sudden absence of her husband, she also carries the fears of her years-long immigration process, not to mention sexual harassment at work, a mother whose obsession with Edwina’s weight has marked E permanently, and the question of her cultural identity. Chin weaves the complexities of these realities together seamlessly. Edwina moves from meditating on her husband’s strangeness before his departure, to the past-life stories her mom tells, to the mole on her cheek within paragraphs, but it all feels natural. It feels as though we are truly processing, grieving, seeking to understand with Edwina. A unique voice, clear-eyed and honest, while remaining soft to human pain, Chin has written a book somehow chilling and heart-warming at once.

Edge Case by YZ Chin, (List Price: 26.99, Ecco, 9780063030688, August 2021)

Reviewed by Becca Sloan, Novel. in Memphis, Tennessee

Sisters in Arms by Kaia Alderson

Sisters in Arms is the previously untold story of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, the only all-Black battalion of the Women’s Army Corps, originated from the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC), and the first Black women allowed to serve. This is a much-needed novel, perfect for fans of not just World War II fiction but all historical fiction. It would make the perfect selection for book clubs this fall!

Sisters in Arms by Kaia Alderson, (List Price: 16.99, William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780062964588, August 2021)

Reviewed by Beth Seufer Buss, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Radiant Fugitives by Nawaaz Ahmed

Radiant Fugitives covers some big topics – LGBTQ politics, same-sex marriage, religion, Islamophobia, and the Obama campaign, to name just a few! – but it is at its heart an intimate novel, focusing on the ties that both bind families together and drive them apart. Seema, originally from India, has been estranged from her parents and younger sister for over 20 years, after she came out to her father. But the imminent arrival of her baby and her mother’s unspecified terminal illness brings together the three women of the family together for an opportunity for reconciliation. What follows is both tender and utterly heartbreaking – with an ending that will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading.

Radiant Fugitives by Nawaaz Ahmed, (List Price: 27, Counterpoint, 9781640094048, August 2021)

Reviewed by Jude Burke-Lewis, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

Clark and Division by Naomi Hirahara

After Pearl Harbor, Aki Ito and her family, American citizens living in Los Angeles, are sent to Manzanar, an internment camp. Upon release, they are relocated to Chicago — they are not allowed to return to their home in Los Angeles. Rose, Aki’s older sister, is released first, and many months later, Aki and her parents are released. Upon arriving in Chicago, they learn that Rose has died in a subway train accident and further information reveals that she committed suicide. Aki and her parents are filled with grief and shame. Aki, who idolized Rose, knows that Rose would never kill herself, so she begins to investigate Rose’s life in Chicago. As Aki turns over every last stone, she learns important information about herself, her sister, her new city, and her place in this country. This powerful historical mystery is well written and filled with information about the lives of Japanese Americans during WWII. Highly recommended.

Clark and Division by Naomi Hirahara, (List Price: 27.95, Soho Crime, 9781641292498, August, 2021)

Reviewed by Mary Patterson, The Little Bookshop in Midlothian, Virginia

All’s Well by Mona Awad

Miranda Fitch is in agony following a fall that ended her illustrious acting career. When a trio of strange men offers her a method of ridding herself of her pain, she discovers that accepting Faustian bargains come at a brutal and bloody price. Miranda is both deeply relatable and monstrous; her transformation from victim, to villain, to something in between was a train wreck I couldn’t look away from. As with Mona Awad’s first book, Bunny, All’s Well is a quirky, original work that relies heavily on internal monologues and deep characterization – sometimes tilting away from the plot slightly, as the ending of the novel falters somewhat under the weight of Miranda’s unreliable narration. Nonetheless, All’s Well is a treat for anyone seeking an unusual protagonist who enjoys both the drama department and the dramatic.

All’s Well by Mona Awad, (List Price: 27, Simon & Schuster, 9781982169664, August 2021)

Reviewed by Lady Smith, The Snail on the Wall in Huntsville, Alabama

Intimacies by Katie Kitamura

Kate Kitamura’s Intimacies details a few months in the life of an interpreter at The Hague who is looking for belonging to a place and perhaps to a partner. Just as she has to see beyond the words in her work, she has to interpret the actions of her married lover as well as the alleged atrocities of a war criminal she works with at the International Court. This novel is both quiet and thrilling.

Intimacies by Katie Kitamura, (List Price: 26, Riverhead Books, 9780399576164, July, 2021)

Reviewed by Rachel Watkins, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

False Witness by Karin Slaughter

Leigh has a steady life. She works as a lawyer and has a great daughter. Even her divorce is amiable and she still adores her Ex. But when she’s pulled in to work on a rape case with a super tight timeline, her carefully crafted facade threatens to crumble. Slaughter continues to weave a carefully crafted, edge-of-your-seat thriller in this new standalone novel. The twists are surprising and the tension is high!

False Witness by Karin Slaughter, (List Price: 28.99, William Morrow, 9780062858092, July 2021)

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia

A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers

I don’t typically read sci-fi but on a recommendation from a fellow team member on the podcast What Should I Read Next, I read “A Long Way to a Dark Angry Planet”. With this title, I believe that I will read anything Becky Chambers’ writes. This novella was WONDERFUL! It was just what I needed this weekend; engaging but comforting. I cried at the end; it was the release I didn’t know I needed. Al of my friends need to read this because, as the dedication says, it’s “for everyone who needs a break”, and after the year we have had, we all need this break.

A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers, (List Price: 20.99, Tordotcom, 9781250236210, July 2021)

Reviewed by Shannan Malone, The Snail On the Wall in Huntsville, Alabama

The Therapist by B. A. Paris

This book stressed me out in the worst yet best possible way; I don’t know how to explain that I hated yet loved the anxiety it gave me! Alice and Leo have moved into a new home and host a housewarming party. An unknown man appears at the party, and a few days later he reappears with a revelation about the new home and neighborhood she just moved into. Alice becomes determined to discover the truth about her home and what her neighbors are hiding. This was a wild ride that I truly enjoyed.

The Therapist by B. A. Paris, (List Price: 27.99, St. Martin’s Press, 9781250274120, July 2021)

Reviewed by Deanna Bailey, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia

The Startup Wife by Tahmima Anam

Finally the book you have been waiting for. This last year has been tough and we have needed this light hilarious book that needs to be shared with all your friends. Full of stellar observations of life and how people function you will finish and open to the beginning to visit with old friends.

The Startup Wife by Tahmima Anam, (List Price: 26, Scribner, 9781982156183, July 2021)

Reviewed by Suzanne Lucey, Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, North Carolina

A Passage North by Anuk Arudpragasam

Award-winning Sri Lankan author Anuk Arudpragasam’s second novel is a profound meditation on love, desire, war, mortality, and the human condition. Krishan, an NGO worker based in the capital Colombo, receives an email out of the blue from a former girlfriend, on the same day he learns that his grandmother’s former carer has died. The journey that follows – through the heart of a country still recovering from a decades-long civil war – is as much through the mind as it is physical. Highly recommended.

A Passage North by Anuk Arudpragasam, (List Price: 27, Hogarth, 9780593230701, July 2021)

Reviewed by Jude Burke-Lewis, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

City Problems by Steve Goble

Ed Runyan is an ex-NYPD detective who left the big apple for the relative quiet of rural Ohio after a particularly gruesome case involving the brutal murder of a young woman. Now it seems his past has caught up with him when he finds himself in a case of another missing young woman on his own turf in the quiet fields of Ohio. The girl, Megan Beemer was reported missing from the Columbus area and was last seen at a party where a high school band from Ed’s area was performing. Between the band and the local kids who were or may have been at the same event, and with the help of a woman detective from Columbus, Ed has to unfold the story of who was at the party and how they might have interacted with Megan. When Megan’s body is found in a local creek, Ed has to struggle with his past and the demons that have stayed with him from the earlier murder in NY which has been the center of his nightmares for years. Ed Runyon is a damaged character, but one who shows his human side in his empathy and depth of commitment to solve this crime and find justice for the victim. We can only hope we’ll see more of Ed Runyon. This one was a great read!

City Problems by Steve Goble, (List Price: 26.95, Oceanview Publishing, 9781608094431, July 2021)

Reviewed by Brent Bunnell, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina