A compelling book about how our family shapes how we are seen and who we become. Touching on themes of generational trauma, poverty, a feeling of belonging and family conflict, this story focuses on the life of Ever, told through generations of his Cherokee, Kiowa and Mexican family members. Honest and powerful, great storytelling.
Calling for a Blanket Dance by Oscar Hokeah, (List Price: $27.00, Algonquin Books, 9781643751474, July 2022)
Subatomic super particles, string theory, parallel worlds, metaphysical, OBE—out-of-body-experience and different dimensions…. not many authors take their readers on such a tale as this paranormal story of a magician disappearing during a performance. Violet Volk disappeared a decade ago right in front of her audience and hasn’t been seen since. Her sister Sasha and Violet’s followers are still looking for answers. Is she alive? Was she really a psychic spy for the CIA? Does she exist in another dimension? Readers will not be able to put down this book as they read about the family situations and the magic that entwines this story.
Acts of Violet by Margarita Montimore, (List Price: $27.99, Flatiron Books, 9781250815064, July 2022)
Reviewed by Nancy Pierce, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia
Eleanor Brown writes beautifully and compassionately about adoption and infertility in her novel Any Other Family. Three couples, who have adopted siblings from the same birth mom and dad, decide to vacation together in Aspen for two weeks. Each couple comes harboring secrets and soon realize that what they have in common might tear them apart. When the birth mom ends up getting pregnant again, each adoptive family must face whether they want to take on the new baby or if they will choose the new adoptive parents. As an adoptive parent myself, I found this novel hard to put down and marveled at Brown’s ability to get all the emotions surrounding adoption just right. But the focus on family and what it really means will appeal to all readers of women’s fiction.
Any Other Family by Eleanor Brown, (List Price: 27, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 9780593328545, July 2022)
This was the perfect sweet, feel good and easy summer read! I fell in love with Hannah and Jack. Watching Hannah grow as a person was real life. It shows real is so much better than fake. Katherine Center did an amazing job meshing the worlds of security service and Hollywood. One of my favorite quotes in the book was, “Love is something you generate. And loving other people really does turn out, in the end, to be a genuine way of loving yourself.”
The Bodyguard by Katherine Center, (List Price: $27.99, St. Martin’s Press, 9781250219398, July 2022)
A behind-the-scenes look into politics and what goes into keeping secrets even for a good politician. This book is filled with current event topics and the story of a family discovering themselves. Funny and poignant in parts. This is one to read for pure pleasure.
Let’s Not Do That Again by Grant Ginder, (List Price: $27.99, Henry Holt and Co., 9781250243775, April 2022)
Reviewed by Suzanne Lucey, Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, North Carolina
A woman running for the US senate, a son who’s floundering in academia and in his love life, and a daughter who’s off protesting in France and beginning a relationship with a dangerous right-winger–what could possibly go wrong?! It’s safe to say that no one writes family dysfunction quite like Grant Ginder. Hilarious, shocking, and astoundingly entertaining, you’ll read this book in one sitting and be devastated when it’s over.
Let’s Not Do That Again by Grant Ginder, (List Price: $27.99, Henry Holt and Co., 9781250243775, April 2022)
Reviewed by Jen Minor, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Families are messy and imperfect and Anne Tyler has spent a lifetime telling the stories of the most interesting of families. French Braid is no exception and in it we follow the Garretts from the 1950s to the present pandemic. This is a family whose individuals sacrifice and are also selfish, care deeply and chose to ignore. Tyler creates beautifully complex characters that you may not love, but you’ll definitely remember.
French Braid by Anne Tyler (List Price: $27, Knopf, 9780593321096, March 2022)
"…sometimes being around writers is kind of strange. I love them, but sometimes there’s just this sense of impracticality with writing. It’s just such an inefficient system. I feel like I’m always straddling the middle place. I have no desire to write this character that’s a repudiation, because that in and of itself is a stereotype. That is defined by white marketing, I think—the dominant race marketing whatever they think “good Asian people” or “cool Asian people” are supposed to be. I don’t want it to be that tidy. I don’t want people to dismiss Joan—I want them to really stay with her and see how she’s managing this difficult year in her life. ” "–Weike Wang (via Electric Lit)
What booksellers are saying about Joan is Okay
An insightful story about a woman living life on her own less-traditional terms and facing the pushback from society and family as a result. I really enjoyed getting to know Joan and was routing for her throughout the book, which was a compelling and thoughtful read. ― Melissa Summers from Main Street Books in Davidson, NC Buy from Main Street Books
Joan is the youngest child and only daughter of Chinese immigrants, a brilliant intensive care doctor, a workaholic for whom the hospital is the closest she’s ever had to feeling at home – and one of the most different and memorable characters you’re likely to encounter this year. Joan is Okay is full of subtle wit as she navigates both her relationships with her family following her father’s death, and her identity as a Chinese American. Joan may be okay – but this gentle, nuanced novel is most definitely more than okay. ―Jude Burke-Lewis from Square Books in Oxford, MS Buy from Square Books
Joan is Okay is so, so good! I loved this contemporary story about family, immigration, and life expectations. As unique as her experience is, it was easy to relate to Joan’s struggle against the pressures to conform that come at her from all sides. Wang’s smart prose sparkles with spare intensity, just like Joan herself. I can’t wait to tell readers about this book! ―Serena Wyckoff from Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda, FL Buy from Copperfish Books
Like many readers I adored Weike Wang’s debut novel Chemistry and have been eagerly awaiting her next book. In Joan is Okay Wang builds on what made Chemistry so successful — not only her exploration of the intersection of race and gender in spaces predominantly inhabited by men (in this case moving from the chemistry lab to the ICU) but also her ability to capture the quiet sadness underlying the lives of her characters. I won’t be able to stop thinking about this clever, poignant novel for weeks to come. ―Kate Storhoff from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC Buy from Bookmarks
About Weike Wang
Weike Wang was born in Nanjing, China, and grew up in Australia, Canada, and the United States. She is a graduate of Harvard University, where she earned her undergraduate degree in chemistry and her doctorate in public health. Her first novel, Chemistry, received the PEN/ Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction, the Ploughshares John C. Zacharis First Book Award, and a Whiting Award. She is a “5 Under 35” honoree of the National Book Foundation and her work has appeared in The New Yorker. She currently lives in New York City.
"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
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.
“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.
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.
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
Sometimes it’s the mundane that’s the most fascinating. Kristen Arnett’s novel With Teeth takes the everyday marriage challenges of staying in love, being faithful, having patience with an unknowable child, and figuring out what to make for supper, tosses that with a dose of bizarre behavior which gives us what becomes to one queer family’s happily ever after. Arnett’s characters are infuriating and I think you’ll puzzle over Sammie, Monika, and Samson well after you finish the last page.
With Teeth by Kristen Arnett (List Price: $27, Riverhead Books, 9780593191507, 6/1/2021)
I’ve never finished a book and immediately started rereading it, but this is how I read Edie Richter is Not Alone. I’m dazzled by the way Rebecca Handler channels so much noticing and emotion into her carefully curated (sometimes sparse) prose. Handler has written Edie’s interior monologue so that seeing a spider in a church, hearing possums on a roof, or regarding a cockroach in the grass makes you inhabit Edie’s brain. This is a book about the loss of a parent to Alzheimer’s disease that is funny and sad and extremely entertaining.
Edie Richter is Not Alone by Rebecca Handler (List Price: $23, The Unnamed Press, 9781951213176, 3/9/2021)
Set in the Pacific Northwest, What Comes After, is brimming with emotion. A tiny town is rocked by the murder/suicide of two teenage boys who had been lifelong friends and next-door neighbors. As their families attempt to piece together the events leading up to the tragedy, a homeless pregnant girl appears. Author JoAnne Tompkins has created a study of human nature: What elements in life her characters recognize and choose to know, and what lies deeply embedded. This is a beautifully crafted novel, nuanced with suspense.
What Comes After by JoAnne Tompkins (List Price: $28, Riverhead Books, 9780593085998, 4/13/2021)
Leave The World Behind is an interesting take on how people react in the case of an emergency surrounded by unknown causes. Amanda and Clay leave Manhattan with their children to escape to a secluded Airbnb on Long Island for vacation. Late in the evening of their first night, an elderly couple claiming to be the owners of the house knock on the door and ask to stay because of a blackout in the city. And more weird things continue to happen…thousands of deer trek pass the house… a sonic boom of sorts cracks all the windows…live flamingos start showing up in the backyard pool…and Amanda and Clay’s son becomes violently ill with no explanation. This book took me a while to get into because the first few chapters are incredibly dense with metaphors and adjectives. I’m glad I stuck with it though, because once you start getting the internal dialogue of the characters…tension and suspicion abound due to the differences of race/social class between the two families. And the scariest part of the novel isn’t necessarily all the natural phenomena, it’s the fear of not knowing why things happen as they do and what kind of darkness that ignorance might bring out of our human nature.
Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam (List Price: $27.99, Ecco, 9780062667632, 10/6/2020)
Reviewed by Stuart McCommon, novel. in Memphis, TN.