The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

Thriller

The Project by Courtney Summers

A Winter 2021 Read This Next! Title

The Project by Courtney Summers
Wednesday Books, February

Courtney Summers is back with another electric gut punch of a novel and I couldn’t be more thrilled to have once again found myself a quivering mass of emotion after turning the last page of The Project. Only Courtney can perfectly encapsulate the dueling states of fragility & ferocity that exist within young women when they find themselves alone in a world that isn’t designed to protect them from harm. I dare you to pick up this brilliant novel about two sisters and a mysterious cult–you won’t be able to set it down again.

— Cristina Russell, Books & Books in Coral Gables, FL

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The Push by Ashley Audrain

A Winter 2021 Read This Next! Title

The Push by Ashley Audrain
Pamela Dorman Books, January

Blythe cannot connect with her daughter Violet since birth. Her husband tells her she’s imagining the dislike from her daughter but when she has her son Sam, motherhood is everything she imagined. Tragedy strikes in their family and leaves Blyther wondering everything: Are the women in her family cursed? Is she imagining and being dramatic about Violet? Or is her husband not being a listening partner? This book will suck you in about the beauty and ugly of being a mother. It shook me to my core!

–Deanna Bailey, Story on the Square, McDonough, GA.

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Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam

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.

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Do Not Disturb by Claire Douglas

It’s a new start for this family, after experiencing a near tragedy. They’ve now moved from London to Wales and have remodeled an old rectory, making it into a guesthouse. But the old rectory has secrets, and the village has secrets, and this little family has secrets. And where there are secrets, there are lies. And when a death occurs in the B&B, the police are not satisfied that it’s an accident. Too many suspects crowd this B&B and no one knows who to trust. A captivating, but complex plot, this thriller will grab you on the first page and keep you reading until its last, shocking page. It’s fast-paced, with lots of twists and turns, a bit dark at times, and full of suspense. And you’ll never expect this surprise ending!!

Do Not Disturb by Claire Douglas (List price: $26.99, Harper, 9780063037410, November 2020), recommended by Nancy Humphreys, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

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The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

A Winter 2021 Read This Next! Title

What a great story. This is one of those books that you can’t wait to get back to so you can figure out what is happening. The end will keep you guessing and make you wonder what happened in the end.

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins (List Price: $27.99, St. Martins Press, 9781250245496 January, 2021).

Reviewed by Amy McNabb, Reading Rock Books in Dickson, TN

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Eventide by Sarah Goodman

A Fall 2020 Read This Next! Title
Tor Teen | 9781250224736
October 6, 2020

An evocative YA historical fantasy thriller by debut author Sarah Goodman, for fans of Jennifer Donnelly and Libba Bray

MADNESS, SECRETS, AND LIES

Wheeler, Arkansas, 1907

When their father descends into madness after the death of their mother, Verity Pruitt and her little sister Lilah find themselves on an orphan train to rural Arkansas.

In Wheeler, eleven-year-old Lilah is quickly adopted, but seventeen-year-old Verity is not. Desperate to stay close to her sister, Verity indentures herself as a farmhand. But even charming farm boy Abel Atchley can’t completely distract her from the sense that something is not quite right in this little town. Strange local superstitions abound, especially about the eerie old well at the center of the forest. The woods play tricks, unleashing heavy fog and bone-chilling cold…and sometimes visions of things that aren’t there.

But for Verity, perhaps most unsettling of all is the revelation that her own parents have a scandalous history in this very town. And as she tries to unearth the past, sinister secrets come with it—secrets that someone will go to violent lengths to protect…

A haunting tale of long-buried secrets, small-town scandal, and single-minded vengeance by talented debut novelist Sarah Goodman.

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Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy

He mounts the porch steps and hands me the mail addressed to me as I give him his glass. ‘What shall we toast to tonight?’ He looks up at the house. ‘How about to a new life for the Lawrence House?’

‘Yes, that’s perfect.’ I clink my glass against his. But I avert my gaze, tipping back my head to take a long sip, wondering if he can sense it, too. The wrongness of this place.

Goodnight Beautiful opens with the disappearance of Sam Statler, a therapist who has just moved back to his small New York town with his wife Annie to be near his ailing mother. The narrative then flashes back to earlier that summer, soon after the couple has moved to town and Sam has begun work. What follows feels like a rather straight forward domestic thriller, but nothing and no one is what they seem. Molloy has crafted a novel takes the unreliable narrator and turns the volume up to eleven. Her writing will appeal to both those familiar to the genre as well as novices. Readers may want to avoid learning too much in advance, but even when one knows the twist is coming, watching Molloy execute it is just as compelling.

Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy (List Price: $27.99, Harper, 9780062881922, 10/13/2020)

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

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Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy

A good looking couple from New York City move upstate for a slower lifestyle but things quickly takes a turn when the husband goes missing. Sam Statler is a therapist with a range of diverse clients and when he doesn’t come home, his wife Annie is desperate to find him and suspects one of his clients. As secrets and twists unravel, Molloy keeps the reader excited and engaged in this intriguing thriller.

Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy (List Price: $27.99, Harper, 9780062881922, 10/13/2020)

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

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Confessions on the 7:45 by Lisa Unger

A Fall 2020 Read This Next! Title
Park Row | 9780778310150
October 6, 2020

Bestselling and award-winning author Lisa Unger returns with her best novel yet. Reminiscent of the classic Strangers on a Train, Confessions on the 7:45 is a riveting psychological thriller that begins with a chance encounter on a commuter train and shows why you should never, ever make conversation with strangers.

Be careful who you tell your darkest secrets…

Selena Murphy is commuting home from her job in the city when the train stalls out on the tracks. She strikes up a conversation with a beautiful stranger in the next seat, and their connection is fast and easy. The woman introduces herself as Martha and confesses that she’s been stuck in an affair with her boss. Selena, in turn, confesses that she suspects her husband is sleeping with the nanny. When the train arrives at Selena’s station, the two women part ways, presumably never to meet again.

But days later, Selena’s nanny disappears.

Soon Selena finds her once-perfect life upended. As she is pulled into the mystery of the missing nanny, and as the fractures in her marriage grow deeper, Selena begins to wonder, who was Martha really? But she is hardly prepared for what she’ll discover.

Expertly plotted and reminiscent of the timeless classic Strangers on a Train, Confessions on the 7:45 is a stunning web of lies and deceit, and a gripping thriller about the delicate facades we create around our lives.

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The Keeper by Jessica Moor

Katie Straw worked at a women’s shelter. She was really good at her job because seemed to understand how the residents were feeling as they hide out from, and attempted to recover from their abusive situations. Then Katie is found dead, an apparent suicide, or so the police believe, until they discover that she was NOT who she claimed to be. Told in the voice of “then” and “now” Katie tells her story leading up to her death, and the lead police detective tells his as the investigation continues. This debut novel by Jessica Moor is a challenging read at times as the varying themes of abuse are brought to light and you come to fear that Katie’s killer may just get away with murder!

The Keeper by Jessica Moor (List price: $16.00, Penguin Books), recommended by Sunrise Bookshop, High Point, NC.

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