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
Gabrielle Zevin has written a novel about amazing game developers who the reader will come to know over thirty years. When Sam Masur and Sadie Green meet as children, they become fast intimate friends when playing video games, and as young adults they craft the game Ichigo. Besides seeing the artistry and genius built into designing these intricate and captivating games, we live their lives as they grow and experience loneliness and love, pain and comfort, success and devastating pain and loss. This is ultimately an unforgettable tale of lives finding love and connection in this high tech age and the collaboration in building the worlds of video games.
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin, (List Price: 28, Knopf, 9780593321201, July 2022)
Reviewed by Nancy Pierce, Booksmiser 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)
I wanted to start this review with the phrase “a lot can happen in nine months,” but Aviva, the main character of Elisa Albert’s Human Blues would think that was hackneyed and immediately dismiss me with a sneer. But a lot does happen in the novel’s nine-month trip—just not the baby that almost famous singer-songwriter Aviva Rosner desperately wants. And while fertility and conception (just not IVF, which she’s very vocally opposed to) try to take center stage in this story, Aviva’s career, religion, marriage, and obsession with Amy Winehouse are also along for the ride. And it’s a wild ride!
Human Blues by Elisa Albert, (List Price: $28, Avid Reader Press, 9781982167868, July 2022)
“One of the things about writing fiction is that you get to learn a lot about things you don’t know. I had always wanted to write a book about people who are from all different walks of life and then, because of a single event, are thrown together … One day, I opened the newspaper and there was an article about this big storage-unit building that looked like a medieval castle and how people were moving out of it. I said, that’s it.” –B.A. Shapiro, interview, Columbus Dispatch
What booksellers are saying about Metropolis
Shapiro has created six of the most interesting characters I have encountered in quite awhile. Each has a story so intense and intriguing and unique that it is hard to imagine where the novel is going. The magic happens when all six lives intersect at the Metropolis. All of the stories are expertly tied together in one of the best books I have read this year. ―Nancy McFarlane from Fiction Addiction in Greenville, SC Buy from Fiction Addiction
I can’t remember when I’ve enjoyed a cast of characters more than those whose lives are connected within the walls of the quirky Metropolis. Brilliant, tense, and perfectly paced! ―Damita Nocton from The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, NC Buy from The Country Bookshop
I loved the menagerie of characters and the
storage-unit setting! Creative, propelling – a pleasure
to read! ―Cathy Graham from Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda, FL Buy from Copperfish Books
About B. A. Shapiro
B. A. Shapiro is the author of the award-winning New York Times bestseller The Art Forger, as well as The Muralist, and The Collector’s Apprentice. She has taught sociology at Tufts University and creative writing at Northeastern University and lives in Boston with her husband, Dan.
Three women have shared a bond for decades. When they are reunited for one of their daughter’s weddings, the past comes back in a rush. The story is told in flashbacks and present day in a way that helps them reconcile where they have ended up and where they once dreamed they’d go. A timeless examination of all the dreams you hold for yourself, the dreams your parents and others have for you, and how much you are able to follow your heart.
Dele Weds Destiny by Tomi Obaro, (List Price: $27, Knopf, 9780593320297, June 2022)
Reviewed by Jamie Southern, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
“I guess at the end, I want to break someone’s heart. I want to feel like I’ve made something that is beyond just a story. Like when you wake up from a dream, and you can’t remember the dream, but you know you’ve been somewhere, you’ve seen something, and you know it’s important, but you’re only left with a deep question, and maybe you’ll never know, you’ll never truly understand that feeling. Maybe if you thoroughly express that feeling, it would lose something. It would be ruined. That’s what I hope when I write fiction, that’s what I like to communicate. And that’s what I like to read—I like to read stuff that makes me ask a question or makes me feel disturbed, that upsets me somehow. I like being disturbed.” –Ashley Hutson, interview, Berkley Fiction Review
What booksellers are saying about One’s Company
Where do I even begin with this book? An original and poignant story of obsession, trauma and the desire to escape into another reality as a means of survival. This is one of the most bonkers books I’ve ever read and one of my favorite books of 2022. ―Gaël LeLamer from Books & Books in Coral Gables, FL Buy from Books and Books
What a fun, unique concept for a book! Hutson brings us Bonnie Lincoln, left adrift after a roller coaster of personal tragedy and a huge lottery win. Fed up with humanity, she sets out to recreate her ideal life – Three’s Company, her favorite TV show. She builds a world that matches the set, down to the tiniest details, then settles in to forget the rest of society. Between interlopers and gawkers, her peaceful world isn’t meant to last and her already fragile mental health takes a beating. This had me on the edge of my seat, dying to find out how she’d end up. You don’t have to know Three’s Company to enjoy this unexpected story! ―Andrea Richardson from Fountain Books in Richmond, VA Buy from Fountain Bookstore
On the surface, the premise of this book sounds ridiculous and hilarious. A woman wins the lottery and decides to recreate Three’s Company and live as the characters. And it is ridiculous, but it’s also raw and sad. Bonnie has experienced an armed robbery in which she was raped and beaten, her unrequited crush was killed right in front of her, and the couple see viewed as adoptive parents are also slain. Unable to deal with the trauma, Bonnie withdraws from the world and takes solace in repeated viewings of Three’s Company. What starts as a comfort becomes an obsession. When she wins the lottery, she is able to live out her dream of being in the show she loves. She soon finds that even this isn’t enough to keep her grief and trauma at bay. ―Melissa Taylor from E. Shaver, bookseller in Savannah, GA Buy from E. Shaver, bookseller
About Ashley Hutson
Ashley Hutson is a writer living in rural Maryland. Her work has appeared in Granta, Electric Literature, Catapult, Fanzine, and elsewhere. Her honors include the 2018 Small Fictions Award, judged by Aimee Bender, and several Pushcart Prize nominations..
It’s so hard to pin down exactly how I feel about this one. Safe to say, though, to start: I loved reading every page, so there is that! I think part of what makes me feel confused is how close to the bone it could have cut given a few of the similarities between me and Rose and Charlotte. But I was never ambitious. Never really tried to make a go of it as a writer. I was never of New York or the region. Girls They Write Songs About is brilliant, deliciously wry, not afraid to proceed to its destination. It pulls zero punches. It’s mature in a way that is hard to describe. It respects its characters and the reader enough to stay the course on its own terms. And that is a little difficult to accept at times, like real life. I loved it and will have no trouble recommending it to customers. But I’m going to spend between now and June refining my elevator pitch.
Girls They Write Songs About by Carlene Bauer, (List Price: $27, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 9780374282264, June 2022)
Reviewed by Kat Leache, Novel in Memphis, Tennessee
“I think when you’re talking about queerness at that time and you’re also intersecting it with class or with poverty or social mobility, then the stakes are very different for the characters. You know, they can’t just up and leave and go find a different place where they belong in the world. They really have to face the world outside their door because that’s the only world they know.” –Douglas Stuart, interview, NPR
What booksellers are saying about Young Mungo
Douglas Stuart has done it again with this heartbreaking, breathtaking, and hopeful story of young love between two boys in working-class Glasgow. I will patiently wait for Middle-Aged Mungo and Old Mungo…I want more! ―Gaël LeLamer from Books & Books in Coral Gables, FL Buy from Books and Books
From Booker Prize winner Douglas Stuart, this often bleak coming-of-age story shares some of the themes of his winning novel Shuggie Bain, including the darkly lyrical descriptions of a working class childhood at the mercy of an alcoholic mother. A heart-breaking story, with vividly drawn characters, dangerous situations, and forbidden love. ―Anne Peck from Righton Books in St Simons Island, GA Buy from Righton Books
This is beautiful and hard, a gem hewn from the harshest pressure of Scottish discord and weather. Catholics vs Protestants, children vs adults, adults vs drink, all of them trying to survive under the apathetic Glaswegian skies. Young Mungo drags you down in the mire, and holds your face to the ruin of this community, but also reminds that no matter how dark, there is always love. A brutal, brutal read, but staggeringly empathetic and wonderful. Mungo is our hero, our baby we want to shield, our man we want to see grow up and conquer. He is our queer king whom we want love to keep and to make him greater. I can’t recommend this book enough, I understand know why Stuart won the Booker for Shuggie Bain. This too, deserves the praise it will get, a classic in the making. ―Aimee Keeble from Main Street Books in Davidson, NC Buy from Main Street Books
Douglas Stuart novels have a particular ache to them…you cannot help but love and be in pain for his characters. Poor, alcoholic, living in dire, drab straits, isolated in their worlds, their will to live and love takes my breath away. “Young Mungo” is a tough read, but Mungo himself will tear at your heart…along with lovely James, caring Jodie, violent Hamish and selfish Mo-maw. A sad Romeo and Juliet story for modern times. Violent, tough and absolutely beautiful. ―Andrea Ginsky from Bookstore Number 1 LLC in Sarasota, FL Buy from Bookstore 1 Sarasota
About Douglas Stuart
Douglas Stuart is a Scottish-American author. His New York Times-bestselling debut novel Shuggie Bain won the 2020 Booker Prize and the Sue Kaufman Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. It was the winner of two British Book Awards, including Book of the Year, and was a finalist for the National Book Award, PEN/Hemingway Award, National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize, Kirkus Prize, as well as several other literary awards. Stuart’s writing has appeared in the New Yorker and Literary Hub.
Åkerström invites the reader into the complex and dynamic interior worlds of three Black women, with varying levels of privilege and proximity to whiteness, as they navigate the novel’s locations of America and Sweden. By following each of their unique and dynamic journeys, we learn about how our their intimate relationships reflect back the love and care they have learned to believe they deserve through social cues and cultural reminders. A story that paints landscapes of love and loss invites all readers to consider: if home is a feeling, how will you know you’ve found it? An extraordinary and fast-paced novel that I can not wait to recommend both solo and book club readers!
In Every Mirror She’s Black by Lolá Ákínmádé Åkerström, (List Price: $16.99, Sourcebooks Landmark, 9781728253169, June 2022)
Do you believe in ghosts? The Cherry Robbers is about so much more than the haunting that frightens on every page. In 1950 Iris Chapel has five sisters and lives in a Victorian mansion isolated from much of the world. Tragedy after tragedy befalls every sister after they find love as their mother has predicted. But this story is about so much more than the apparitions that live with this family. Through Iris Chapel/Sylvia Wren, the reader will experience sadness and loss surely but find art and love and sexuality as an essential part of this haunting story. My prediction is that the reader will never truly leave the world of the Chapel sisters.
The Cherry Robbers by Sarai Walker, (List Price: $27.99, Harper, 9780358251873, May 2022)
Reviewed by Nancy Pierce, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia
I get that the term "transportive" is overused in blurbs, but I don’t know how else to describe this gorgeous novel from Kali Fajardo-Anstine. I was swept away by Woman of Light, which follows five generations of the Lopez family from the nineteenth century into the 1930s, spanning across the Western territories of America. In beautiful, decadent prose, Fajardo-Anstine shows us everything from traveling circus acts and fortune tellers, to turn of the century Denver nightlife, house parties and wedding festivities. This is a love letter to the American West that was left out of the classic cowboy films, to the Indigenous and Latinx communities who have lived there for centuries. I loved every word.
Woman of Light by Kali Fajardo-Anstine, (List Price: 28, One World, 9780525511328, June 2022)
“This book was like a gift…it came to me right when I was getting absolutely no work done because my midlife crisis turned out to be not a red mustang but a little black pony. I became a horse-crazy girl in my middle age.” —Geraldine Books, interview
What booksellers are saying about Horse
Wow! Brooks knows how to tell a story and this one weaves many characters that all have one thing in common: The Horse called Lexington, a great racehorse but also the greatest sire of the late 19th Century. Lexington was a real horse, and this novel contains true facets of his life and real people around him, but also fictional characters that cared for him both during his life and after his death. We have a big equestrian community in our county and they will love this, as will book clubs. ―Beth Carpenter from The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, NC Buy from The Country Bookshop
Horse by Geraldine Brooks Brooks has woven an extraordinary adventure about Lexington, a Kentucky thoroughbred. His accomplishments were extraordinary. He won all but one of his races but more significantly his legacy as the most successful leading sire in America during the last half of the nineteenth century makes him unparalleled in horse history. Other figures play into this story: Jarrett, the slave boy groom who loved him, Thomas Scott, the painter who captured Lexington on canvas and others whose contributions were significant. A fascinating story! Brooks is a masterful storyteller! I loved it! ―Stephanie Crowe from Page & Palette in Fairhope, AL Buy from Page & Palette
A compelling and beautifully-crafted story with a mystery at its giant, horse-sized heart. This is a book about the fragility of life, love, and liberty for people of color in this country, in the past and in the present day. ―Maggie Robe from Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, NC Buy from Flyleaf Books
About Geraldine Brooks
Geraldine Brooks is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel March and the international bestsellers The Secret Chord, Caleb’s Crossing, People of the Book, and Year of Wonders. She has also written the acclaimed nonfiction works Nine Parts of Desire and Foreign Correspondence. Born and raised in Australia, Brooks lives in Massachusetts.
Dr. Yungman Kwak, a small-town OBGYN, is one of the most endearing characters I’ve come across in a long time, and I was so invested in the future he faces–when modernity and capitalism sweep in to disrupt his entire existence. Partially a story following Dr. Kwak’s new role as a boutique medicine provider under the tutelage of his ambitious son, and partially a story following Yungman’s Korean upbringing, this book was beautiful and heartwrenching. Marie Myung-Ok Lee will wrap you around her finger with these characters and take you on a journey through time, family, and the future of American healthcare.
The Evening Hero by Marie Myung-Ok Lee, (List Price: $16.99, William Morrow Paperbacks, 9781476735078, June 2022)
How can you not love a book that has a curmudgeonly octopus as a central character? Remarkably Bright Creatures is a heartwarming story about loneliness and grief, community and connection, and a family mystery that must be solved — and soon. With charming but imperfect characters and a very satisfying warm hug of an ending, this novel hits all the right notes.
Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt, (List Price: $27.99, Ecco, 9780063204157, May 2022)