Faithful: A Novel
"Faithful is compulsively readable and includes all of the traits we have come to love and expect from an Alice Hoffman novel. It is a coming-of-age tale of the emotional journey of a girl overcome with heartbreak after a tragic accident, who is now attempting to redefine herself. It is a hopeful lesson in faith, love, friendship, forgiveness, and opening up to new possibilities. A friendly warning: Expect a craving for Chinese food and a desire to adopt a rescue dog after reading."
— Tarah Jennings (W), Mitzi's Books, Rapid City, SD
November 2016 Indie Next List
Inspired Recommendations from Indie Booksellers
With only hours left before cancer kills her, Joanna DeAngelis is dying badly. Instead of focusing on saying goodbye to her daughters and her beloved dog, she spends her last day cyber-stalking her ex-boyfriend and his Internet-famous new girlfriend. When Joanna draws her last breath, mysterious heavenly powers decide that she needs to resolve a few things before moving on to the next world. What happens when ghost-Joanna returns to New York City bent on revenge is terrifying, funny, and, finally, break-out-the-tissues touching. A gorgeous book about love in all its forms: familial, canine, romantic, lost and found again.
— Hillary Nelson, Gibson's Bookstore, Concord, NH
Zink excels at feel-good novels that, far from being sappy, are incredibly smart and laugh-out-loud funny. When recent college graduate Penny Baker inherits her hippie father's childhood house, she expects to find an abandoned ruin. Instead, she finds a house renovated and inhabited by squatters and falls desperately in love with one of them, something that does not go over well with her family. This deceptively simple premise allows Zink to return to some of her favorite themes of family and identity, as well as love, activism, and materialism, through the lives of unforgettable characters and hilarious situations. This book is a riot!
— Pierre Camy (W), Schuler Books & Music, Grand Rapids, MI
Fans of Gorky Park and other Arkady Renko mysteries are about to be surprised. The Girl From Venice is not a mystery, and it takes place in Venice at the end of WWII, not in countries of the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War. The pace is still taut, however, and the characters still fascinating. Italy in the last days of the war, with the Germans retreating and everyone hedging their bets, is a complicated place to be, one where every future is uncertain and one very fitting for a master of subtlety like Smith.
— Olga Onal (E), Bookmiser, Inc., Roswell, GA
On May 13, 1939, the S.S. St. Louis set sail from Germany to Cuba with many Jewish passengers fleeing Hitler. Despite all best efforts, they were turned away from Cuba, the U.S., and Canada, forcing the ship to return to Europe, where many of the passengers would die in Hitler's death camps. Correa puts a human face on this shameful episode. Hannah Rosenthal, the daughter of wealthy aristocrats, was 12 when she boarded the St. Louis. Seven decades later, Anna Rosen receives a package from an unknown relative in Cuba that inspires her and her mother to travel to Cuba to learn the truth about their family's mysterious and tragic past. A masterful debut!
— Deon Stonehouse (M), Sunriver Books, Sunriver, OR
Orphans of the Carnival is the story of a time when the oddities of nature could be a lucrative path to fame and fortune. Although heartbreaking, it is the wonderful journey of a talented woman who just wants a normal life, in spite of being alternately vilified and celebrated. Filled with many unforgettable characters and amazing writing, this is a book that will stay with readers for a long time.
— Mary McBride, Rainy Day Books, Fairway, KS
I came to this book expecting to be entertained, and it is laugh-out-loud funny. But in the wise and observant ways of Prose, Mister Monkey is more than just a protracted joke. The story begins in the narrow spaces of a theater so to be demolished for condos and widens as Prose shifts points of view from actor to costume designer to writer to waiter to Hindu deity and back to the stage. Adolescent rage, loneliness, divinity, the end of the world, the beginning of love, the way we fail to live up to our dreams for ourselves, the fear of our own mediocrity, the unexpected victories that are the grace that fills the spaces made by disappointment: these are the soul of this novel with an agile, monkey heart. Both deeply moving and light, this is one of my favorite novels of the year.
— Melanie McNair, Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe, Asheville, NC
OK, I'll just admit it up front - I love Jack Reacher! He's big, he's bad, and he's smart. Child always finds a new situation that pits Jack against tricky villains who just might, this time, get the best of him. Night School takes place before 9/11, when Jack is still in the Army. He is sent to a 'school' with an FBI and CIA agent to figure out what a terrorist organization is trying to buy for $100 million. With plot twists and turns that keep readers guessing until the last pages, thrillers don't get any better than this. Always gripping, page-turning, and fun, Jack Reacher novels are awesome!
— Wendy Blake (W), Country Bookshelf, Bozeman, MT
Bored, anchorless, and alone, a man leaves Berlin for a tiny Andalusian fishing village where he plans to write a novel. Instead, he encounters a cranky hotelier, green tomatoes, an Englishman who acts like an American, an American who acts like an Englishman, a very quiet bartender, a mysterious cat, and, possibly, the meaning of everything - or lack thereof. This slim, playful novel will speak to anyone who has ever questioned the path they were on - or whether there is a path at all.
— Sam Kaas, Village Books, Bellingham, WA
IQ is the nickname of Isaiah Quintabe, who, despite being a high-school dropout, is absolutely brilliant and has amazing deductive skills. Living on the rough side of Long Beach, California, he is an underground detective who takes on cases in the city's ghettoes that the LAPD refuses to handle. Beginning with a kidnapping and moving to a case involving the assassination attempt on a famous rapper, IQ represents a positive influence in this tough environment of gang warfare, drugs, murders, and prostitution. A mixture of Michael Connelly's The Lincoln Lawyer, the craziness of Don Winslow's Savages, and the classic mysteries of Sherlock Holmes, this debut will spark interest and open up this particular world to new readers.
— Gerard Villegas (E), Warwick's, La Jolla, CA
In the early 1990s, a grand experiment began in the Arizona desert to determine if human life could be sustained in an engineered, sealed ecological system. The mission failed spectacularly, but fiction gives it another chance in this riveting story of eight scientists who commit to live under glass for two years. They battle hunger, fatigue, and isolation, but the real drama is personal. The story is told through the voices of three distinct narrators - two heating things up on the inside and one nursing resentments outside the glass walls. Master storyteller Boyle entertains, but never slips into schlock. He writes with wit and perspicacity on both human relations and ecology, and this novel is among his best.
— Sharon Flesher (W), Brilliant Books, Suttons Bay, MI
In this delightful book, Maggs introduces readers to amazing women who changed history through their creativity, inventions, and remarkable paths of service in areas overwhelmed by men. From Huang Daopo, Chinese textile pioneer, to Brita Tott, Danish spy and forger, and from Elizabeth and Emily Blackwell, American doctors and hospital administrators, to Bessie Coleman, African-American aviatrix, the intelligence and stamina of these women is amazing. In many cases they had to apply for patents under the names of men or retreat into the background so that men could take credit for their work. In each article, Maggs highlights the dichotomy of what these women did and how they were acknowledged for their work.
— Sally Van Wert (W), MacDonald Book Shop, Estes Park, CO
The Fall Guy, which starts innocently enough, introduces its three main characters as they leave the hustle and bustle of New York City for a calm summer sojourn upstate. Things take a Lynchian turn when Charlie and Chloe's guest, Charlie's cousin Matthew, notices what appears to be duplicitous behavior within and outside their home. Lasdun does an incredible job of slowly ratcheting up the suspense, earning the reader's trust with his spare, pitch-perfect language, and upending expectations on every page. Morally complex characters, a sly and inventive take on the guilt and shame of modern-day banking, and prose as sensuous as some of the novel's sexiest scenes are just a few of the many rewards of Lasdun's latest, and greatest, novel.
— John Francisconi (E), Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT
William Morrow Paperbacks
It's a familiar cast of characters: a single mom raising a spunky kid; an older woman descending into Alzheimer's; the inhabitants of a small town; a nice eligible man. And then comes the twist: the single mom and the older woman aren't related by blood, but connected through the older woman's now deceased daughter. With humor and heart, long-held secrets come to light and special bonds are formed. Inheriting Edith is both entertaining and poignant.
— Jenny Stroyeck (W), The Homer Bookstore, Homer, AK
This debut novel is a page-turner from the very beginning. In a story of a family filled with pain, deceit, lies, and dark secrets across generations, Everhart allows readers to feel everything her young narrator, Dixie, must endure. For me, the mark of a good book is that I find myself thinking about it after I have finished reading, and The Education of Dixie Dupree will be with me for a long while.
— Mary OMalley (E), Anderson's Bookshop, Naperville, IL
Chung offers readers an intelligent, compassionate story that crosses all kinds of divides. The pages turn quickly as the story of two families, their pasts, and the consequences of their current actions are presented. Each character is empathetic and compelling, and the prose is, at some points, heart-breaking in its simplicity. This novel brings a unique perspective to immigration history in the U.S., and the contrasting cultures, as well as the contrast in generations, makes for a fast read and a powerful narrative. Long for This World made Chung a writer to watch, but with this book she should jump right to the top of everyone's must-read pile.
— Abby Fennewald, Book People, Austin, TX
The Gambler vs. the House. Alexander Bruno's journey as a psychically abled, top-notch backgammon player illuminates themes of reward and loss, purpose and fulfillment in this engaging, thought-provoking yarn. Lethem's prose is on point, and his allusions and references resonate strongly. His description of this world - fast, oddly comical, sardonic, and, at most times, without sense or reason - is poignant and heavy-hitting, full of breath without being overly winded. Another winner from Lethem, who has established himself firmly amongst the top dogs of intelligent contemporary literary fiction.
— Blake Smith (E), The Oxford Exchange, Tampa, FL
This is a grueling, soul-searching study of memory and personal pain written in the most soaring prose. To some extent, most of us think we came from dysfunctional families, but this memoir is going to become the calibration standard for dysfunction. How Slouka survived his parents and their scarred Czech pasts, their humiliating years as refugees, and their years of unhappy marriage in America is a small miracle. What's left are some large emotional holes that Slouka attempts to patch up in front of the reader. An absolutely mesmerizing read.
— Darwin Ellis (W), Books on the Common, Ridgefield, CT
From beloved novelist and short-story writer Peter Orner comes a collection of essays on the reading life. Orner considers Chekhov in a hospital cafeteria, Welty on a remote island. He also throws Julian Barnes out the window of a moving car - after all, who would trust a man who only talked about what he loved? Behind and around and between these meditations flit the ghosts of the author's life: his late father, his lost marriage, his self-deprecating take on his own career. The result is a book overflowing with charm - wry, delectable, and laugh-out-loud funny. Orner is a writer's writer, but he is also a reader's reader. Am I Alone Here? is an absolute treasure.
— Mairead Stead (M), Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, MI
This slender tome began as a social media viral sensation. Shortly after the terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015, a husband and father wrote an open letter to the perpetrators of those attacks, stating time and again that they would not have his hate, despite the fact that he lost his wife and the mother of their infant son. This memoir closely follows the hours after the attack, chronicling Leiris' thoughts and emotions for the next several days up through the funeral for his wife. Though brief, this is a powerful meditation on grief and resilience and the importance of building a legacy of forgiveness for his son.
— Emily Crowe (E), Odyssey Bookshop, South Hadley, MA
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