Recommended by Amanda
Coates is one of the brightest stars in social journalism today. This letter to his 15-year old son was prompted by the recent violence against young African American men that prompted his son to say "I gotta get out of here" and prompted the writer to contextualize the experience against his own and centuries of African American exploitation in our country. His focus is on the body, the destruction and conquest and pillaging of the black body from slavery to present day. Highly recommended for anyone interested in learning more about our ethnic history or seeking solutions to the grave problems confronting us.
Recommended by Joe Wesbrook
Winslow gets is spot-on in this violent novel of the Mexican drug War. A stand-alone sequel to The Power of the Dog, with characters you love to hate and hate to love. (You just know they're going to die badly!). This book will make my top 5 this year, if not #1.
Recommended by Chloe
This is the kind of book that hits close to home. Set in a climate distraught future, Water Knife creates a vivid image of what could come. The tale of a drought-stricken Southwest is told through the eyes of three very different characters: a journalist who has thrown caution to the wind, the henchman of a powerful woman, and a refugee struggling to survive in Arizona. I constantly find myself referring to this book because of its relevance to current events. A great read!
RECOMMENDED BY PAT
This writer is known for his dark, harsh stories. But in this new novel, he finds a way to show the darkness, and still leave us with a glimmer of light. The story is told through twelve year old Caitlin, a precocious girl living in Seattle with her blue collar mother. After school every day, Caitlin waits at the aquarium for her mother to get off work. One day an older man befriends her and this opens up a huge spiral of dark secrets, terrifying consequences, and extremely sad stories that throw Caitlin's life into total chaos. Vann creates an enormous amount of tension and does it with detailed imagery and stark, beautiful prose. I had no idea how he was going to end this passion play, but he did it with precision and believability. It was a great read.
RECOMMENDED BY PAT
It is very rare that a young writer makes her literary debut with a collection of short stories, but Ms. Quade has won me over with her amazing eloquence of the human condition. These stories, most taking place in the Southwest and specifically central and Northern New Mexico, deal with the layered complexities of youth, betrayal, disillusionment, and the frailties of the human heart. Mixed in beautifully are the subtleties of our rich Hispanic culture, so specific to this area. A small town girl's fantasies about Fiesta, the bloody Good Friday ritual of a man confused by his entire existence, the sting of economic disparity between the rich and those who serve them, and the heartbreaking allegiance to family, no matter what the consequences, are a few of the themes running through this thought provoking collection. Her ability to see beyond the surface and dig deeply into both character and action left me wanting more, as if any of these stories could become whole novels. Look forward to seeing what this gifted writer does next.
RECOMMENDED BY DEBThe Never-Open Desert Diner is a mystery peopled with characters who’ve lost themselves along a lonely road in the Utah desert. Ben, the character who ties them all together, is a truck driver who brings this cast of fugitives from the law, and life, everything from motorcycle spare parts to butter brickle ice cream. The desert itself is also a character, sometimes hauntingly beautiful and sometimes harsh, even deadly. In this intriguing debut novel, Author James Anderson engages his readers with poetic prose that paints a picture of both the beauty and desolation of the desert, and entertains them by revealing the stories of the unlikely neighbors along Utah highway 117.
RECOMMENDED BY SUSAN
Sensual and provocative, this first book of a trilogy is set in Paris during the Belle Epoque, a time of lavish living. 25 year-old Sandrine Verlain has fled her cruel, manipulative husband in the U.S. and has taken shelter at her grandmother’s home. She decides she must paint but the Ecole des Beaux Arts only allows men students. She lusts for a young architect, Julien, and together they find a hidden room in grandmother’s home full of paintings that date from the 1600s to the current year. Did her ancestor paint them? The Verlain woman are cursed with a passion that is so strong that tragedy happens when they fall in love. Rich with beauty and passion, this story of the Verlain women will mesmerize you with its mystery and intrigue.
RECOMMENDED BY CONNIE
The Dead I Know by Scott Gardner rocks grief from a place in the mind to a place in the heart. It made me ache for children and teens around the world who have lived through violence. It made me ache for families living with dementia, and it made me ache for survivors of death when it comes sliding in silently and steals. The novel also had a heart beat of hope and the subtle knowledge that people can reach out to help and help can be accepted.
RECOMMENDED BY BILLY HANDMAKER
HEAD OF BOSQUE SCHOOL
With fast paced story-telling and compelling characters, Johnston portrays the dissolution and restoration of an American family after a random crime in the mountains of Colorado. Descent is both beautiful and haunting, but beware-it may make you look over your shoulder and jump at every snapped twig you hear as you hike or run through the Sandias, or any other mountains for that matter.
RECOMMENDED BY DEB
The voices, and thoughts, of Miranda July's characters are distinctive. Sometimes funny, sometimes disturbing, and always engaging, this novel grabbed me from the first line to the last.
Recommended by Connie
Before the summer is over, spend a little time in the countryside. Not ours, but the village of Highbury, England. There you will meet an entertaining cast of characters directed by Alexander McCall Smith. You will recognize them as old friends. Emma is indeed Emma still planning ways to make people happier. Who will dance with whom after she has stirred things up in the village and environs, far from the hectic pace of London? Alexander McCall Smith is one of six authors chosen to retell Jane Austin novels in a modern realm.