In this utterly captivating debut, Hart manages to weave an intricate, beautifully written novel about three women and their inextricable connection to nature. This intergenerational tale snared me from the first page and wouldn’t let go. If you enjoy complex conversations about legacy, gender and control, nature and witchy-ness, and female power, this should be next on your list.
Weyward by Emilia Hart, (List Price: $27.99, St. Martin’s Press, 9781250280800, March 2023)
If there’s one thing you should know about me – it’s that I adore a book about an unhappy housewife, not because I like seeing women unhappy, but because I love to support women fighting wrongs. Seeing how a woman reclaims her space, life, and situation – even if she goes about it in questionable ways, is a ride I want to be on. Kashimada’s novel is a prime example of all these elements, with the perfect blend of sparse, deeply impactful prose that explore themes of religion, tragedy, identity, and isolation.
Love at Six Thousand Degrees by Maki Kashimada, (List Price: $17, Europa, 9781609458195, March 2023)
This book is a masterpiece!!!!! Where to begin?! From the very first page, the narrator captivates the reader’s attention and affections. She is incredibly passionate and strong, while perfecting a gritty, humorous commentary that was absolutely intoxicating. The story itself shared a vital perspective- specifically that of a queer, Sri Lankan woman. Her story highlighted the perilous, and at times, violent nature of performative activism without the presence of active, internalized antiracism practices. It was truly an enthralling novel. Priya Guns is an incredibly talented author and I cannot wait to read their other novel(s) and rave about them!
Your Driver Is Waiting by Priya Guns, (List Price: $26, Doubleday, 9780385549301, February 2023)
Lavalle’s surprising and singular horror/western will appeal to lit fic and genre readers alike with its peculiar and anachronistic, but captivating voice, and its unique wasteland of a setting. It delivers both blood and monsters (human and inhuman) and an affecting exploration of trauma and guilt. This is one that’ll stick with you.
Lone Women by Victor LaValle, (List Price: $27, One World, 9780525512080, March 2023)
“So many of the characters in Decent People are on a quest for respectability–– their own and/or that of their children. I wanted to show what lengths people would go to just to conceal truths: a child’s queerness, an addiction, hypocrisy. I don’t know that I was going for nuance, exactly. I think I was just portraying people the way I’ve often encountered them. ” ―De’Shawn Charles Winslow, interview, PEN America
What booksellers are saying about Decent People
A complex, engaging story of a small Southern town grappling with racial justice, human rights, religion and murder in the mid 1970’s. Family ties and long-buried secrets are tested as a woman fights to clear the name of her beloved. An absolute page-turner filled with colorful characters in a rich setting.
―Jamie Fiocco from Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, NC | Buy from Bookmarks
Decent People is a compelling mystery that also deftly contends with racism, homophobia, classism and corruption. Charles De’Shawn Winslow’s fluid writing and pacing combine with wonderfully drawn characters–including the glorious busybody Josephine Wright–to make a truly marvelous novel.
―Stephanie Jones-Byrne from Malaprop’s in Asheville, NC | Buy from Malaprops
The shooting deaths of two sisters and their brother, prominent members of the African-American community, set tongues wagging in West Mills, NC. Except for those holding their voice over secrets. Told from alternating perspectives, the mystery unfolds amid lives threatened by the racism and homophobia of the 1960s and 1970s. This is a great read on so many levels, can’t wait to hand sell this one.
―Jessica Nock from Main Street Books in Davidson, NC | Buy from Main Street Books
About De’Shawn Charles Winslow
De’Shawn Charles Winslow is the author of In West Mills, a Center for Fiction First Novel Prize winner and a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, Lambda Literary Award, and Publishing Triangle Awards finalist. He was born and raised in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, graduated from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and now lives in New York.
Creeeeeepy…. A slow, torturous plot unfolding at a pace that will have you reading faster and faster to see what happens next! Dark and with a dreamy haze over it– excellent for dark and stormy night reading.
The Last Tale of the Flower Bride by Roshani Chokshi, (List Price: $30, William Morrow, 9780063206502, February 2023)
After loving the first book in the series (and being quite charmed by Nash), I was eagerly awaiting the second installment in Score’s knock-out Knockemout series. Luckily for all of us, this book definitely lived up to the first. (I think I liked it more!) This is a delicious slow burn with all the suspense elements you come to expect with a Lucy Score novel. Lina & Nash made for great characters, and overall, these ~600 pages flew by.
Things We Hide from the Light by Lucy Score, (List Price: $18.99, Bloom Books, 9781728276113, February 2023)
What an amazing book that weaves historical events based on true story with beautiful fictional characters. This read was both heartbreaking and beautifully triumphant at times. The resilient Librarians Clara Button and Ruby Monroe faced sexism, Bureaucracy , domestic issues and the heartbreak of war while continuing to champion their communities right to access books regardless of age, gender ,and class. It really spotlights how books provide an escape, a safe place and hope in even the darkest of times.
The Little Wartime Library by Kate Thompson, (List Price: $16.99, Forever, 9781538724217, February 2023)
Arrow-sharp and unsentimental renderings of some deeply emotional experiences, all centering unique experiences across the Latin American diaspora, but certainly focusing on individuals who have moved to the US. Engel is a brilliant writer. Her stories snap tight with tension, but she’s also deft at stirring up soft spots and infusing her plots with fairy tale-like twists.
The Faraway World by Patricia Engel, (List Price: $26, Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster, 9781982159528, January 2023)
Stolen is a thoughtful examination of what it takes for a people to maintain cultural traditions in a modern era that is not always very accommodating. Laestadius has written a coming-of-age tale that takes the reader through the pains (as well as the pride) of the Sami and she does so while also highlighting the need to protect the places/animals that represent the last of the remaining true wilderness areas. This book is very well done.
Stolen by Ann-Helén Laestadius, (List Price: $18.99, Scribner, 9781668007167, January 2023)
Reviewed by Stuart McCommon, Novel. in Memphis, Tennessee
“The deeper in the wilderness I am, the higher in elevation I am, the happier I am. It is an unforgiving landscape and so deeply humbling. There’s a quote from the Norwegian philosopher Arne Næss that I come back to over and over, and it’s the entire reason I climb big mountains. He says, ‘The smaller we come to feel ourselves compared with the mountain, the nearer we come to participating in its greatness.'” ―Shelley Read, interview, Alta
What booksellers are saying about Go As a River
This book is beautifully written and will stay with you for a very long time. This is the book that you pass on to your mother, your daughter, your best friend and make them promise to read it. I think we will be talking about this book for all of 2023 and after.
―Mary Patterson from The Little Bookshop in Midlothian, VA | Buy from The Little Bookshop
Phenomenal. As perfect as a homegrown, juicy, sweet peach. I will carry this story with me for many, many, many days to come.
―Jill Naylor from Novel in Memphis, TN | Buy from Novel.
With lush, atmospheric prose, Go As a River is about seventeen year old Victoria Nash who lives on a peach orchard in 1940’s rural Colorado. The only female at home, she is the one who keeps the household running with daily chores and working her family’s land. Her life changes when she meets the mysterious and gentle Wilson Moon, an indigenous boy passing through town. A love story that starts in innocence is shattered by bigotry. Go As a River is about surviving after loss, our connection to the natural world around us, quiet and enduring friendships, and lasting love. This is my kind of historical fiction, and I can’t wait to share this with readers at Main Street Books!
―Jessica Nock from Main Street Books in Davidson, NC | Buy from Main Street Books
About Shelley Read
Shelley Read is a fifth generation Coloradoan who lives with her family in the Elk Mountains of the Western Slope. She was a Senior Lecturer at Western Colorado University for nearly three decades, where she taught writing, literature, environmental studies, and Honors, and was a founder of the Environment & Sustainability major and a support program for first-generation and at-risk students. Shelley holds degrees in writing and literary studies from the University of Denver and Temple University’s Graduate Program in Creative Writing. She is a regular contributor to Crested Butte Magazine and Gunnison Valley Journal, and has written for the Denver Post and a variety of publications.
“I think that all books start out with an irritation in our conscious brain, a bit of sand in the old prefrontal cortex, and then become a collaboration between our front brain, which deals in logic and puzzles and language and things making sense, and our mid- and back brain, which both deal with emotion and sense memory and symbol and metaphor. And those collaborations, depending on what other elements we draw into them, can manifest in very different ways.
For both of these stories, I was thinking about abandonment, of the ways in which women are punished for ambition, of the cruel and unexpected ways in which generational trauma follows us and bites at our heels. I was thinking about the ways in which we are failed by our mothers, and fail our mothers, and fail ourselves. And I was thinking about the solidarity of siblings. And from that, two very different stories emerged, both of which come to very different conclusions. What do I think? It doesn’t matter what I think. The only thing that matters is what the story thinks.” ―Kelly Barnhill, Interview Clarksworld
What booksellers are saying about The Crane Husband
This incredibly eerie and strange book follows a young boy whose mother inexplicably brings home a crane, and tells her two sons to refer to him as father. A retelling of a Japanese folk tale, the industrialist hellscape backdrop does very well to solidify what could be an absurd story. Very well written, great for sci-fi, horror, and folk story fans.
―Alex Einhorn from Fountain Books in Richmond, VA | Buy from Fountain Bookstore
Creepy, melodic, and absolutely haunting, The Crane Husband is a resplendent novella destined to leave you aching. The protagonist, an unnamed fifteen-year-old girl, has to take the responsibility of protecting her family after her artist mother brings home “Father” – a crane who is sometimes a man. Sacrifices abound and love is its central theme, even when it takes wing.
―Jordan April from Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, NC | Buy from Flyleaf Books
A beautifully written retelling of the Crane Wife folktale that focuses on family and sacrifices we make for love.
―Kelley Barnes from Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, NC | Buy from Page 158 Books
One review of Barnhill’s latest work declared her to be the next Angela Carter, which is a strikingly accurate comparison considering The Crane Husband is a retelling of a traditional Japanese folklore story, centered around the experience of the women involved. Similar to Carter as well, Barnhill leaves us in the world of the mystical and strange, often to an unsettling degree, as we follow a family whose mother has welcomed a crane into their home after the passing of her husband. With deceptively straightforward prose that is guaranteed to keep you turning the page wondering where this bizarre story will turn next, The Crane Husband is an excellent read.
― Elizabeth Findley from Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews in Chapel Hill, NC | Buy from Epilogue Books
About Kelly Barnhill
Kelly Barnhill is the author of the adult novel When Women Were Dragons and several middle grade novels, including the New York Times bestselling novels The Girl Who Drank the Moon, winner of the 2017 John Newbery Medal, and The Ogress and the Orphans. She is also the recipient of the World Fantasy Award, and has been a finalist for the SFWA Andre Norton Nebula Award and the PEN America Literary Award. She lives in Minneapolis with her family.
Decent People is a compelling mystery that also deftly contends with racism, homophobia, classism and corruption. De’Shawn Charles Winslow’s fluid writing and pacing combine with wonderfully drawn characters–including the glorious busybody Josephine Wright–to make a truly marvelous novel.
Decent People by De’Shawn Charles Winslow, (List Price: $28, Bloomsbury Publishing, 9781635575323, February 2023)
Hello Beautiful is perfect for readers who enjoy emotionally tender stories about complicated families. Quiet and solitary William Waters is an only child raised by emotionally unavailable parents who finds solace in basketball. He meets bright, headstrong Julia Padavano in college where she decides he is the man to help put her on the path towards her diligently planned life. Along with Julia are her three sisters, with whom she is incredibly close. Tragedy strikes, creating a rift that reverberates within the Padavano family for generations. With themes of grief, mental illness, forgiveness, and loyalty, Hello Beautiful is about the cost of being true to oneself regardless of the consequences, and the gift of those who love us for who we truly are. If you enjoyed Ask Again Yes, you will love this one. I cannot wait to recommend this to my customers.
Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano, (List Price: $28, The Dial Press, 9780593243732, March 2023)
The Wild West meets Mars in this science fiction page-turner! 14-year-old Annabelle Crisp is one of a group of settlers from Earth who’ve formed a colony called New Galveston. The tough, lawless residents are presumably abandoned on Mars, as nobody has heard from Earth in years. The Silence, as they call it, has cut off supplies, news from Earth and, sadly for Annabelle, her mother. Then Silas Bundt and his gang show up to her father’s diner and steal the cylinder with her mother’s voice- her last remaining object of remembrance. Annabell is a feisty protagonist who is on a quest of revenge, travelling across Mars to reclaim the cylinder. She is accompanied by a sketchy group of partners, and an Engine named Watson. Dangers abound in the form of War Engines, ghosts and other settlers who have been taken over by “The Strange.” I enjoyed this page-turner in a genre that I only occasionally read!
The Strange by Nathan Ballingrud, (List Price: $27.99, Gallery, Saga Press, 9781534449954, March 2023)