"Gaiman is a magnificent storyteller, creating scenes so complete that you aren't just reading, but rather inhabiting a universe that's thoroughly believable yet truly otherworldly. The story's terror -- the claustrophobia and vulnerability of childhood, the way a child's wants, needs, and fears go unnoticed by adults, and the horrors that can result -- is perfectly balanced against the consolation of books, the magic of the natural world, and the power of those who do listen, understand, and take action to set the universe to rights at whatever cost to themselves. Painful and wonderful, gorgeous and horrifying, truly fantastic, essential and classic, this is a book to return to again and again."
— Carol Schneck Varner, Schuler Books & Music, Okemos, MI
July 2013 Indie Next ListInspired Recommendations from Indie Booksellers
Simon Van Booy's newest novel reminded me simply what it means to take joy in reading again. The story, spanning over a number of decades, delicately intertwines the lives of several characters who at a glance seem like strangers at first, but are in fact are making unforgettable impacts on each others' lives. This marvelously written book sinks its teeth into the hell of war, the pain and unspeakable joy of loving another human being, and what it means to grow up and grow older. With the introduction of each new character, pieces of the story begin to fall flawlessly into place, building upon a truth that Van Booy clings to- that there are no coincidences and the experiences we share with others are vital in shaping who we are as individuals. He has crafted such a delicious story with such believable and personable characters that it was difficult to put this book down!— Hannah Hester, Lemuria Bookstore, Jackson, MS
A letter isn't always just a letter. Words on the page can drench the soul. If only you knew. Told only through letters, author Jessica Brockmole tells an exquisitely crafted story of love and loss, of sacrifice and perseverance in Letters from Skye. The novel tells two stories - one, the relationship between Scottish writer Elspeth, and Davey, an American college student who first writes her after being enthralled by her poetry. The second story is of Elspeth's daughter, Margaret, nearly 30 years later, as she tries to decipher the mystery of her mother's past. The stories meld into one as Margaret comes closer to the answers she so desperately seeks. While not a suspense novel of the mystery/thriller genre, Letter from Skye is no less of a pageturner. The beautiful language and haunting recount of two strangers who form an unbreakable bond despite the uncertainties of war and the impossibilities of life is a story that will be read and read again. (Ballantine Books, 2013. hdc $25) Katie Bedard-oytowski, The Cottage Book Shop, Glen Arbor, MI— Katie Bedard-Oytowski, The Cottage Book Shop, Glen Arbor, MI
Max Barry's newest novel manages to be a gripping, page-turning thriller as well as a phenomenally intelligent dissertation on language's raw, neurological power. Barry manages to maintain a blistering pace inside an ingenious, complex plot structure with seeming ease while he takes the time to explore conspiracy theories, intense paranoia, privacy concerns in an internet era, and countless other frightening ideas for your brain to chew on long after the book is over. Lexicon is simultaneously brainy and muscular, like a Heisman trophy winner who just happens to work as a semiotics professor on the side.— Hank Stephenson, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC
This exquisitely rendered novel captures one character in three distinct and historically significant periods: the flu epidemic of 1918, the wartime world of 1945, and the full-blown AIDS terror of 1985. Greer manages to achieve the near impossible himself in making Greta believable in all three. She suffers and learns in each circumstance, though her hard-won accumulated knowledge is of little help in solving the essential riddle that is life. Stilll, hers is a grand and brave journey that will not soon be forgotten.— Marion Abbott, Mrs. Dalloway's, Berkeley, CA
Fall in love with spunky Starla Claudelle, who runs away from a strict grandmother in 1963 Mississippi to find the mother she hasn't seen since she was three. As she journeys with a black woman named Eula, Starla has her eyes opened to larger issues of race and segregation. This wonderful novel will be devoured by book clubs and will cause every parent who finishes it to immediately find and hug their children. -Jill Hendrix, Fiction Addiction— Jill Hendrix, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC
A once-famed writer, considered the voice of her generation thirty years ago, Amy now teaches creative writing online and lives a hermit's life. However, one day before an interview, she falls down in her yard and gets a concussion, afterward giving a most peculiar and stirring interview - none of which she remembers. While seemingly benign, the interview quietly restarts her career - and within a year Amy is once again the voice of writers everywhere. 'Amy Falls Down' is a wonderful story that explores the business of writing in our modern era. Just wonderful!— Meaghan Beasley, Island Bookstore, Duck, NC
This terrific thriller about a young Cape Cod lawyer ensnared in the political machinations of those in power will bring to mind the best of Scott Turow and John Grisham. Nuanced and subtle, this engrossing page turner takes on themes of guilt, social class and responsibility while remaining 'unputdownable'. It is action-packed and exciting as well as being an intimate reflection on the sin of omission and the ways that our inaction can haunt us and color our lives. Thought-provoking but also great fun, I highly recommend it, especially to readers of Defending Jacob— Tova Beiser, Brown University Bookstore, Providence, RI
I've been thinking about Jeremiah Rice a lot since finishing The Curiosity. In this novel a group of scientists have been reanimating small creatures frozen deep in Arctic ice. Upon discovering a man in the ice, Mr. Rice, they bring him back to their lab and try to reanimate him. Imagine a man from 1906 waking up in the world today. Imagine the scientists who stand to make a lot of money and fame for themselves off of such a man. Imagine also the scientists with a moral compass who try to figure out what is best and right in such a situation. I didn't want to put it down and I keep wondering what Jeremiah Rice might think about the way the world has become both good and not so good.— Diane Grenkow, The Galaxy Bookshop, Hardwick, VT
n the early 1930's, nine young University of Washington students are part of the rowing crew striving to achieve the final pick to become the team to represent the USA at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin as Hitler brazenly builds his Third Reich. Fiercely determined by the hard times of the Great Depression, this is an emotional story of the crew and those who put their trust in them as they put their hearts into 'sculpting— Carol Hicks, Bookshelf At Hooligan Rocks, Truckee, CA
In a narrative voice like smooth bourbon, Matt Bell’s excellent debut novel is a modern folktale of opposing elements; lake and dirt, bear and squid, song and ghost. Told with quiet brutality, Bell finds heart and perseverance in nature red in tooth and claw as the unnamed narrator inexorably strives for the woman he loves and the family life he wants against forces vastly more powerful than he could ever hope to be.— Josh Cook, Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MA
The Sweet Salt Air transported me to the coast of Maine and had me savoring the local cooking, smelling the ocean breezes and falling in love. This is the story of two friends who are trying to rekindle a friendship. Each friend has had their own reason for the space that has grown between them, but they hope over the span of the summer and writing a cookbook together that their actions can help them move forward.— Sarah Galvin, The Bookstore Plus, Lake Placid, NY
Reading Delijani's novel is like peeping into the living rooms of families torn apart by counter-revolution measures in Iran. The intensely intimate moments she depicts and the highly personal struggles she focuses on show life under the regime through the eyes of those most devastated by its vicious tyranny. At the very start my heart was torn to pieces by the woman giving birth in prison-the very act of birth manipulated to be one more form of torture and her child relinquished to her own parents to raise. The struggles of three generations fill the pages, trying to hold their lives together, to find and sustain love, to support their families, to heal from unspeakable wounds, and to live with unthinkable absences. It is a deeply moving story of life, death, persecution, and survival.— Nichole McCown, Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA
Sisters always have special relationships, but identical twin sisters
world unto themselves,especially if they have ESP. 'Sisterland'
us to Violet and Kate as the trajectory of their lives goes from mad
closeness, to fragile separation as they attend different colleges,
finally back to their native St. Louis. Their clairvoyance has colored
their lives, and suddenly Vi is on national news to warn of an
that will strike within a week, wrecking havoc on everyone. Kate,
meanwhile, has tried to ignore her visions, marrying and raising two
children in suburban St. Louis. Sittenfield is a funny and sagacious
chronicler of the world we live in now, and the ways-- sometimes quirky,
sometimes conventional-- we try to order our world for security,
and love. I won't easily leave the enchanting world of
Sisterland— Sarah Bagby, Watermark Books, Wichita, KS
A swashbuckling story is always fun, especially when it includes a gourmet chef on board. Mad Hannah Mabbot, tall, red-headed pirate kidnaps a Lord's chef, Owen Wedgewood, and tells him he must cook for her once a week. Highly entertaining in spite of the cruel methods of the day and the suffering caused by the Opium smuggling between China and England, which Hannah is determined to stop. A supporting cast of characters that will 'shiver your timbers' and Owen's weekly meals for Hannah are an absolute riot - Owen has little in the way of ingredients and his kitchen, or galley, is miniscule and lacking in everything needed to cook gourmet meals. Read this and learn who Mr. Apples, Joshua, and The Brass Fox are and how they play a role in this wonderfully thrilling story of pirates on the high seas and in the kitchen! Exciting and a true delight.— Susan Wasson, Bookworks, Albuquerque, NM
Flunking out of law school was probably the best thing that happened to Fina Ludlow. Ludlow and Associates' most interesting work was not being done by their lawyers but by their lead investigator, Frank Gillis. So Fina learns her trade from Frank, taking over his role when he leaves the firm. Private investigation is an ideal fit for Fina: she can keep her own hours, roam the streets, and carry a gun. Discreet and devious, her favorite combination, gets her through a lot of doors, that and her skill with a lock pick. Fina's family loyalty was strong but even family can stretch the rules as well as the law. When her sister-in-law goes missing and her niece locks her bedroom door at night Fina has to decide which side she is on: family loyalty or the truth. Don't miss this debut novel by an author who actually has a degree in private investigation. Thoft has created a female detective who is tough, fair-minded, determined and possessing a biting sense of humor. Hopefully, Loyalty is the beginning of a gripping new series.— Karen Briggs, Great Northern Books and Hobbies, Oscoda, MI
Nemo Johnston is the head huntsman at the Windsor Plantation when he is sold to the fledging South Carolina Medical College and Physic where he will act as janitor, butler and grave-robbing body snatcher for many years. After all, medical students do need to work on human cadavers.
A century and a half later, when construction workers unearth hundreds of bones of African American slaves in the cellar of one of its original buildings, the administration wants to avoid media coverage at all costs.
Dr. Jacob Thacker is between a rock and a hard place: on two-year probation for Xanax abuse, he has been relegated to working public relations for the school and wants more than anything to return to medical practice. As he investigates the college's past and his own family history, Jacob is forced to decide between his own future and the future of the medical school.
Well-written and suspenseful, The Resurrectionist is a bit of a medical history lesson wrapped up in a story of power, politics, secrecy and revenge.
-Jennifer— Jennifer Gwydir, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, TX
Fin is a charmer. The bright eleven year old boy's life changes when his mother dies consigning him to the care of his older half-sister Lady. Fin leaves behind the bucolic Connecticut countryside and his mother's dairy farm with the sweet cows. Fin along with his loyal dog Gus head to New York City with Lady in her Gharmin Ghia, driving fast, Lady's only speed. Lady is a bright and shining creature, shy of commitment, full of boundless enthusiasms; she is way ahead of her time in 1964 and totally clueless as to how to raise a young boy. Fin's only prior exposure to Lady was six years earlier when Lady left her fiance standing at the alter and escaped to Capri. Their father followed to bring his erstwhile daughter back to the USA, accompanied by Fin and his mother. Fin was instantly smitten with this magical creature who could defy their formidable father. Lady might be older, but it soon becomes clear that Fin is the protector of his spirited sister, a woman beset by unsuitable suitors and prone to impetuous actions. A lot of history takes place over the course of the story; the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War. Set in Greenwich Village New York and on mystical isle of Capri, the places become like characters too. This is a delightful story, a comic romp about the bonds between a brother and a sister.— deon stonehouse, Sunriver Books, Sunriver, OR
Listening to choral music has always been moving for me, but I never realized the profound emotions felt by the chorus members. In this delightful, charmingly self-effacing memoir, Horn explains how singing with the Choral Society of New York's Grace Church has been life affirming, even life saving. Drawing on the reflections of other singers, composers of choral music and scientific evidence, as well as her own experience, she beautifully puts into words the joy of singing with others in harmony. Any lover of choral music would love this book.— Samantha Flynn, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC
What happens to one Irish family living in London during the oppressive 1976 summer heatwave when patriarch Richard Riordan mysteriously disappears when on a seemingly simple walk to buy the morning newspaper? As his three adult children return home to support their mother, Gretta, past resentments and longstanding secrets emerge in this insightful portrait of a family in crisis. I was immediately engaged with all of the characters, who are not only vulnerable, but also endearing. Subtle, graceful writing at its best!— Jane Glaser, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI