The best new books this month chosen by us and other
independent booksellers across the country.

This Month's #1 Indie Next List Pick...

My Year of Rest and Relaxation

By Ottessa Moshfegh

(Penguin Press, 9780525522119, $26)

"At first, My Year of Rest and Relaxation feels like the end of something, like a novel about the end of someone's life. But Moshfegh has a way of affirming life unlike any other author. Repercussions of grief, emotional exhaustion, and the general anchors of life hurl a young woman into the warm embrace of the idea of hibernating for a year. Of course, this cannot be so simply done. In true Moshfegh fashion, this journey is brimming with laconic humor, her brand of ne'er-do-wells, and ample substance intake, which all lead to one of the most existentially satisfying reads in recent memory."
--Gregory Day, BookPeople, Austin, TX

This Month's #1 Indie Next List Pick Author Interview

Booksellers have named My Year of Rest and Relaxation: A Novel by Ottessa Moshfegh (Penguin Press) as their number-one pick for the July Indie Next List.

Set in pre-9/11 New York City, the novel is narrated by a woman in her mid-20s who seems to have it all: she is model-thin and pretty, has a degree from Columbia, a job at a fancy art gallery, and a large inheritance. However, both her parents are dead; she's isolated aside from visits from her college friend Reva, who, though obsequious, is jealous and resentful; and she can't seem to leave her manipulative, on-again, off-again finance bro boyfriend.

To escape this psychic pain, Moshfegh's protagonist resolves to sleep for one whole year, aided by an extremely irresponsible psychiatrist prescribing an alphabetical array of pills. Her objective is to wake up refreshed, rested, and cured of her alienation from everyone and everything, but as one might guess, things don't play out as planned.

Moshfegh is the author of the novella McGlue (Fence Press), which won the Believer Book Award, and the short story collection Homesick for Another World (Penguin Press). Her first novel, Eileen (Penguin Press), was shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Man Booker Prize and won the PEN/Hemingway Award for debut fiction. Moshfegh's fiction has been published in The Paris Review, The New Yorker, and Granta, and has won numerous awards, including a Pushcart Prize and the Plimpton Discovery Prize.

Where did the idea for this book come from?

It came from having lived in New York before 9/11 and then after, and it came from spending a lot of time on the Upper East Side, which is where I was when I started writing the book.

I was a senior in college. The short story is that I have a cousin who had worked in one of the Twin Towers, and because it was impossible to reach anybody--I couldn't even call my mother, none of the phones were working that day--I didn't know she had survived until the next morning. So I spent September 11 in this state of negotiating with God, but it wasn't even a negotiation, it was like, oh, ok, I see what's going on: if my cousin is dead, it really means that life is just an absurdly cruel joke and I'm in hell and there is no point. But if she was alive, I would give it another shot and try to have some optimism. And then she made it, so [I felt like] now I have to do something. That was a long time ago, but that was my experience. What I ended up doing was having an existential crisis. I think everybody did.

When you were writing this book, how were you able to get into the headspace of your protagonist and channel her dark, nihilistic, complex thought process?

I thought about the character, about what her experiences have been that would lead her to have certain opinions and attitudes, what her inherent personality is, and then about where the book needs to go. But a lot of the writing is just letting the voice direct itself into narrative and storytelling. [My protagonist] was a character that felt close to me. She isn't the kind of person I knew when I was her age but her interiority felt, in a way, easy to access because she was so vulnerable.

Whereas Reva is more difficult to understand. She's actually a more complicated character. She has different levels of self: she has the self that she has in her private world, she has the self that she has with her family, with her friends, at work; the self that is interested in self-help and therapy, the self when she is walking down the street and having to look a certain way. But the protagonist just exists in the totality of her mission; she doesn't have a life, basically.

Some readers have called your book an existentialist novel. Would you agree with that?

I wouldn't disagree. I think that it's a far cry from [Jean-Paul Sartre's] No Exit, but it certainly shares its central theme, which is people trapped in their own minds. What I wanted to say about this book, though, is it that it has a sense of humor; it's trying not to take itself too seriously--it's not trying to feed existential philosophy through fiction. I think it's the only thing that I could have written about. It's the biggest question that I have, and I also think that it's a ridiculous question to ask and one that we're going to continue to ask. I think I couldn't survive seeking an answer without having a sense of humor and I think it comes through in the book, the absurdity and that it's funny.

Did you do any research on the interactions between and the quantities of all the different pills the protagonist was taking to see if her intake would actually be survivable?

There's a fantastical aspect to the novel, which you find when the medicine I made up, called Infermiterol, comes up. Also, Dr. Tuttle [the psychiatrist] isn't a completely real character either, so I'm sort of employing this creative liberty, which is an awesome thing that you get to do when you're writing fiction. I'm stretching the boundary of what we know in the real world. If you read this novel with no sense of humor, you'd be like, oh, she never could have survived all those pills. And then it's like, ok, well then, the book is over. But it's like the audacity of thinking that she could and what would happen is why the book exists. So I didn't need to research those things because that was not a realist part of the book.

In response to the question "Which book by someone else do you wish you had written?" in the New York Times' "By the Book" column, author Lauren Groff named you among several authors she admires, saying she envies your "ironic snappiness." Same question.

I really admire Michael Ondaatje. I admire Nabokov. I admire Edith Wharton. I don't read a lot of my contemporaries; if my friend writes a book I'll read it, but I don't read a lot of fiction. I read mostly nonfiction and I'm probably more in awe of nonfiction writers who can synthesize gross amounts of information and make arguments. It just feels like such a gift to have access to those books. I don't know if I could do it myself. I might want to control it too much that it would end up being fictional. I'm not a journalist. A huge part of being a fiction writer is having power to create the world, so if I had to just describe the world, I think I would get really frustrated.

What are you working on now?

I'm doing research right now for my next book, which is really fun. I'm reading about Victorian America and California, in particular San Francisco. I'm reading about Chinese history and opium, and I'm reading about the history of prostitution in the United States, immigration--all kinds of stuff. I'm just following the breadcrumbs for this next novel that is going to be, I think, something of a ghost story. So I'm excited.

What have your experiences been like at indie bookstores, both as a patron and an author?

In L.A., I live several blocks from Skylight Books, which is a great bookstore. When I'm in New York, I tend to go to McNally Jackson or the Strand, and when I'm in Boston, there's a really good bookstore in my hometown, which is a suburb of Boston, called Newtonville Books. And those are the ones I know the best. I think the difference between going into an indie bookstore and going into a Barnes & Noble is like the difference between going out to dinner with the love of your life versus going on a blind date with someone you met on OkCupid. At indie bookstores there's so much more human thought put into the way books are arranged and presented. --Liz Button

More Indie Next List Great Reads

Spinning Silver

By Naomi Novik

(Del Rey, 9780399180989, $28)

"In her second standalone fantasy, Novik once again mines the tales we know to create something completely modern yet timeless. This reimagined version of Rumpelstiltskin, set in a tsarist, Eastern Europe-like country called Litvas, is breathtaking. It explores female autonomy, class, Jewish life, and oppression while telling a compelling and richly realized fantasy tale. If anything, I just wanted to spend more time with Miryem, Wanda, Irina, and the story's other vibrant, compelling voices. If you loved Uprooted, don't hesitate to dive into this one. If you haven't read Novik's earlier work, begin here--you'll be hooked."
--Anmiryam Budner, Main Point Books, Wayne, PA

The Great Believers

By Rebecca Makkai

(Viking, 9780735223523, $27)

"This flawlessly written and lovingly told story depicts the immediate toll AIDS took on the Chicago gay community in the '80s and the long-term impact on survivors and their families. Makkai threads it all compellingly together with art world intrigue and institutional drama. I don't want to diminish it in any way with comparisons, but The Great Believers brought to my mind several of my favorite contemporary novels: A Little Life, Three Junes, and The Goldfinch. Rebecca Makkai, in my opinion, has launched herself into a whole new category of literary achievement with this."
--Becky Dayton, The Vermont Book Shop, Middlebury, VT

Bearskin

By James A. McLaughlin

(Ecco, 9780062742797, $26.99)

"This powerful debut is a novel of terrible beauty. Using evocative prose, the author perfectly describes the lush landscape of the Virginia Appalachians while juxtaposing them against a world of primal violence. The caretaker at a private preserve is hiding from a Mexican drug cartel but finds himself drawn back into a life of conflict when he encounters bear poachers. A world of pristine beauty is altered by the intrusion of man-made violence, and the caretaker has no choice but to become part of it himself. The clash of nature and humanity is portrayed brilliantly."
--Bill Cusumano, Square Books, Oxford, MS

Clock Dance

By Anne Tyler

(Knopf, 9780525521228, $26.95)

"Anne Tyler's extraordinary ability to tell a story in the simplest language has helped her become one of our most beloved authors. In Clock Dance, she brings us Willa Drake, who has been seeking something all her life, it seems. It's not until she's reached middle age that she finally opens a new door in her heart and welcomes in the most unusual group of people: an entire neighborhood, ready to bring her a new perspective and an understanding of life that will change her forever. Tyler's newest is one for book groups, one for book lovers, and one for you, too."
--Linda Bond, Auntie's Bookstore, Spokane, WA

The Summer Wives

By Beatriz Williams

(William Morrow, 9780062660343, $26.99)

"When her mother marries one of the wealthy summer residents in 1951, 18-year-old Miranda enters the exclusive world of Winthrop Island. A perfect summer beach read, the story moves from 1930 to 1951 to 1969, when Miranda returns to the island. The year-round residents and the summer people don't mix much, but long-buried secrets won't stay buried forever. Love, scandal, murder, jealousy--The Summer Wives has it all!"
--Susan Taylor, Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, NY

The Cabin at the End of the World

By Paul Tremblay

(William Morrow, 9780062679109, $26.99)

"Wen and her dads are taking a break from everything by visiting a remote cabin for vacation. Wen is studying grasshoppers in their yard when a man comes up and warns her that she and her dads are going to have to make a decision. And that's about all I can tell you without spoiling the story. This book was so creepy, in a very good way. I'd classify this as horror, but very realistic."
--Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser, Roswell, GA

The Secrets Between Us

By Thrity Umrigar

(Harper, 9780062442208, $27.99)

"This wonderful novel--loosely a sequel to The Spaces Between Us--is the rich, moving story of an amazing friendship, one that would never have occurred under the old restrictions of India and in the new India feels its tentative way. The lives of Bhima and Parvati are ones of unbelievable poverty and struggle, but the dignity and richness their friendship manifests took my breath away. A bit Dickensian in the best ways, this novel had me in tears several times. These women are two I will not soon forget."
--Michael Coy, Third Place Books (Ravenna), Seattle, WA

Bring Me Back

By B.A. Paris

(St. Martin's Press, 9781250151339, $26.99)

"A dark, mysterious thriller, Paris' latest novel demands to be binge-read. Through seamless transitions between past and present, the reader learns the ever-darkening love story of Finn and Layla. Fast enough to keep you reading but slow enough to keep you guessing, Paris carefully reveals secrets that build new theories as quickly as they destroy others. Paris is smart, knowing exactly what to tell you to make you believe that you're ahead before you realize you're actually three steps behind. A mystery that keeps you guessing until the end, filled with the ominous imagery of Russian nesting dolls, Bring Me Back is destined to be a hit."
--Levi Arney, Austy's, Salem, IN

The Lost Vintage

By Ann Mah

(William Morrow, 9780062823311, $26.99)

"Reminiscent of Sweetbitter and The Nightingale, The Lost Vintage combines a coming-of-age romance with family and historical drama and a delicious tour of the wines and cheese of Burgundy, France. Switching between World War II and the present, Mah explores what can happen when families--and a nation--keep secrets and fail to acknowledge the tragedies of the past. Part modern mystery and part historical novel, this book will have you turning pages in anticipation of discovering secret passages, missing journals, or those lost bottles of 1939 Côte d'Or white Burgundy."
--Ariel Jacobs, Solid State Books, Washington, DC

The Ruin

By Dervla McTiernan

(Penguin Books, 9780143133124, $16, trade paper)

"Cormac Reilly, an honest and likable 20-year veteran detective recently relocated to Galway, Ireland, is trying to figure out where he fits in at his new police station. Reilly's investigation of a cold case from his rookie days soon intersects with the current case of an apparent suicide that proves to be much more than it appears. With a detailed setting, McTiernan introduces readers to a mystery rife with intriguing characters and tense, suspenseful plot twists. The Ruin will compel readers to keep turning the pages until they reach the satisfying conclusion, which will leave them impatiently waiting for the next installment in this promising series."
--Betsy Von Kerens, The Bookworm of Omaha, Omaha, NE

Indies Introduce -- outstanding debuts as selected by independent booksellers

The Lido

By Libby Page

(Simon & Schuster, 9781501182037, $25)

"What a fun read! Libby Page does a great job telling the story of a small London town pool and the people who make it an important part of their lives. The friendship between Kate and Rosemary, despite their age difference, is so well-developed and plays an integral role in the story. The Lido is a book that every summer reader will enjoy and one that will be great to talk about at book clubs. Very well done, Libby Page!"
--Anna Flynn, Watermark Books & Café, Wichita, KS

An Ocean of Minutes

By Thea Lim

(Touchstone, 9781501192555, $26)

"Polly signs on as a bondswoman with a time travel company to save the life of her boyfriend, Frank. They plan to meet in the future, but Polly is off by five years and arrives disoriented, vulnerable, and alone, with Frank nowhere to be found. This imagined future is as disorienting to the reader as it is to Polly, as Lim leaves us with no hints about who to trust and no understanding of societal rules. I was absolutely blown away by the layered depths of Lim's story. The ending left me reeling and wanting more, and my mind keeps returning to the way Lim describes the power of time to change a person. How many lives do we live in the course of one lifetime?"
--Susan Scott, Secret Garden Bookshop, Seattle, WA

Number One Chinese Restaurant

By Lillian Li

(Henry Holt & Co., 9781250141293, $27)

"Growing up in a small town in the '60s, my first experience of Chinese food served tableside in a grand manner was on our annual vacation to visit family. The Empress restaurant--near the White House!--boasted about its Peking duck, just like the suburban D.C. Duck House in Number One Chinese Restaurant. The Duck House connects three generations of a restaurant dynasty and three star-crossed pairs of lovers, who are about to find out that, like a good stir fry, timing is everything. This is a masterful debut. I came for the fun Chinese restaurant setting, but I stayed for the characters."
--Carla Bayha, Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, MI

From the Corner of the Oval: A Memoir

By Beck Dorey-Stein

(Spiegel & Grau, 9780525509127, $28)

"A thoroughly enjoyable and interesting book that makes public service, working for POTUS, or a job in the White House seem like a worthy occupation. An insider's personal account, From the Corner of the Oval gives details about the president and numerous others, some identified and some disguised, as well as the inevitable personal potholes that make the book a sort of novelization. By the way, who knew that 'stenographer' is still an active job title? Fans of Madame Secretary, political junkies of many stripes, and those longing for a return to a sense of normalcy in the White House will pick up this book with gratitude."
--Susan Thurin, Bookends on Main, Menomonie, WI

Providence

By Caroline Kepnes

(Lenny, 9780399591433, $27)

"Providence, a novel for the Stranger Things audience, is a fun and interesting blend of light fantasy and soft horror themes. I am a huge Lovecraft fan and devour fan fiction or books that reference Lovecraft, and author Caroline Kepnes does a nice job creating a weird and entertaining ride while explaining Lovecraft and The Dunwich Horror to those who may not be familiar. Overall, I found this book to be exactly what I needed: a nice escape from the confines of the horror genre. I'm also happy to see more female writers bringing their own voices to horror in new and interesting ways."
--Guy Lopez, Vroman's Bookstore, Pasadena, CA

The Last Cruise

By Kate Christensen

(Doubleday, 9780385536288, $26.95)

"The vintage ocean liner Queen Isabella is taking her final voyage before retirement, joined by passengers Christine Thorne, a farmer from Maine invited onboard by her friend Valerie, a journalist who is writing a piece on the treatment of cruise employees; Mick Szabo, a Hungarian sous-chef who was supposed to be on vacation; and Miriam Koslow, an elderly Israeli violinist who is part of a string quartet hired to entertain the passengers. When things start to go wrong, we learn a great deal about these characters in how they react to a disaster. Not to give anything away, but the ending will have you booking your next vacation by airplane, train, or car."
--Sharon K. Nagel, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI

If You See Me, Don't Say Hi: Stories

By Neel Patel

(Flatiron Books, 9781250183194, $24.99)

"Neel Patel's debut short story collection is filled with tales of imperfection and longing, of unfulfilled wishes that fight hard against expectations. His flawed characters know what they risk when their actions don't match the standard script of perfection they've been handed, but their need for love and acceptance always prevails, sometimes with heartbreaking results. Patel's empathy toward his characters is palpable, as is the effect of his gorgeously rendered sentences. If You See Me, Don't Say Hi is a wonderful read: necessary, aching, and alive."
--Mo Daviau, Powell's Books for Home and Garden, Portland, OR

A Carnival of Losses: Notes Nearing Ninety

By Donald Hall

(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 9781328826343, $25)

"Reading poet Donald Hall's A Carnival of Losses is like visiting with an old friend. The essays run the gamut, from his opinion on the resurgence of beards to the origin story for his infamous children's book, Ox-Cart Man, which was originally a poem. Anecdotes about dinner parties with T.S. Eliot, driving around Oregon with James Dickey, and how Theodore Roethke was a self-serving operator are in stark contrast to an essay titled 'Losing My Teeth,' in which he talks about constantly losing his dentures. Hall has lived an extraordinary life, and his thoughts as he nears 90 years old are a treasure."
--Rachel Watkins, Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA

Witchmark

By C.L. Polk

(Tor.com, 9781250162687, $15.99, trade paper)

"Magic, adventure, dastardly plots, otherworldly creatures, conspiracies, romance, bicycle chases--all of this and more awaits readers in this dazzling debut. Half fantasy, half steampunk, the enchanting world of Aeland is a place where anything can happen--and does. With dry wit, Polk draws you into the mind of Miles, a doctor who must keep his magical abilities secret as he tries to unravel the mystery of why so many of Aeland's soldiers are returning from war traumatized and murderous. Complicating his search for answers are his high-society sister, a possibly murdered newspaper reporter, and an irresistible but dubious being from a realm beyond the living. Witchmark is magically engaging from the first sentence to the last and will have you turning pages long after you should have gone to bed."
--Holly Roberts, Out West Books, Grand Junction, CO

The Address

By Fiona Davis

(Dutton, 9781524742010, $16)

"Like in her debut, The Dollhouse, Fiona Davis meshes historical fiction, thriller, mystery, and love story in her sophomore novel, moving back and forth between the late 1800s and the mid-1980s and putting her own juicy and highly readable literary spin on classic 'women's' fiction, this time set in New York's storied and infamous Upper West Side apartment building The Dakota. The Address juxtaposes the stories of two women whose lives are disrupted, in danger, and intertwined through circumstances the reader progressively learns more about during the course of the novel. There's illicit love, an illegitimate child, drug abuse, a mysterious murder weapon, wealthy wrong-doers, a severed finger, a stay in an insane asylum, and a guest appearance by none other than famed feminist reporter Nelly Bly! Plus the hulking Dakota, which is gorgeous and lavish and reeking of secrets, many of them deadly."
--Joy Preble, Brazos Bookstore, Houston, TX

Artemis

By Andy Weir

(Broadway Books, 9780553448146, $16)

"Jazz is a porter on Artemis, the only city on the moon, and her job is supplemented by smuggling minor contraband into the city. When she gets involved in a bigger game with a much bigger payout, she is not ready for the lengths to which others will go to get their own payday. Amidst murder, corporate sabotage, and the Brazilian mafia, the moon's crisis brings Jazz to a new perspective: She must be a better person than she has ever been if she and Artemis' society are to survive. Weir has created a great, sarcastic character who will be loved by fans the world over, and a cool and engaging book that is a worthy successor to The Martian."
--Raul Chapa, BookPeople, Austin, TX

Caroline: Little House, Revisited

By Sarah Miller

(William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780062685353, $15.99)

"In Caroline, Sarah Miller recreates Little House on the Prairie from Ma's point of view. An oft-overlooked character, in Caroline we find a rich inner life that rarely breaks her smooth surface. She is constantly wrestling with fears and doubts about this journey and everything that it means (she was actually pregnant during it). Although Caroline seems consumed by caregiving, childbearing, and constant tasks for others, we get a glimpse of her true self through her thoughts on her childhood, her relationship with Charles, and her time as a teacher. Miller draws out the quiet richness of Caroline as a character, showing her to be as integral to the story as Pa or Laura."
--Jordan Barnes, Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA

The City of Brass

By S.A. Chakraborty

(Harper Voyager, 9780062678119, $16.99)

"S.A. Chakraborty introduces a fantasy set in the Middle East that thrusts us into the magical world of Daevabad. The City of Brass follows, in parallel, Nahri, a con artist and naturally gifted healer, and Ali, prince of Daevabad and fiercely trained soldier. Nahri and Ali find themselves learning new lessons on how to survive changing environments and difficult challenges, while trying to figure out the complexities of their lives. I found myself turning page after page, following Nahri's and Ali's story while deciphering the fantastic terminology and the world that is Daevabad. The City of Brass is a wonderfully written, mystical adventure that keeps you guessing about what will happen next."
--Barry Nelipowitz, Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, MI

The Dark Net

By Benjamin Percy

(Mariner Books, 9781328915375, $14.99)

"In The Dark Net, Benjamin Percy's best work yet, the author takes the poorly understood underbelly of the Internet and brings it to terrifying life in Portland, Oregon, in a tale complete with hipsters and homeless people, supernatural beings, hardcore geeks, a journalist, and a blind 12-year-old girl. As a former resident of Portland and a technologist, I was particularly impressed with Percy's nuanced portrayal of downtown Portland and its landmarks, including Powell's Books. Percy does a masterful job of making the Internet scary in a thriller that feels like a combination of American Gods and the Stephen King books I tore through as a teenager. Highly recommended."
--Nathan White, Content Bookstore, Northfield, MN

The Half-Drowned King

By Linnea Hartsuyker

(Harper Paperbacks, 9780062563705, $15.99)

"A fast-paced and harrowing saga of a sibling pair, both trying to do what is right for the other while navigating the physical and political terrain around them. Ragnvald and his sister, Svanhild, are our protagonists, and the book contains alternating chapters about each of their adventures. One fights a war on the battlefield while the other fights a war in the bedroom, and, fighting internal conflicts, each grows into adulthood quickly in this harsh environment. Rich with battles, love stories, and the breathtaking landscapes of Norway, The Half-Drowned King is a must-read for fans of literary fiction, adventure tales, and well-paced storytelling."
--Giovanni Boivin, The Bookloft, Great Barrington, MA

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body

By Roxane Gay

(Harper Perennial, 9780062420718, $16.99)

"This memoir is about trauma and privilege, self-loathing, and a silent fear kept secret for far too long. It's about our obsession with body weight and body image, what happens when we internalize our pain and become self-destructive, and how very, very large people are treated in humiliating ways. The descriptions of addictive behavior and the journey to want to heal make this book more universal than I expected. When you decide that this is the day you're going to change and you get out of bed and fail, that's pretty normal. You'll have another chance tomorrow--just remember to like yourself enough to overcome the fear of healing and try again. Highly recommend."
--Todd Miller, Arcadia Books, Spring Green, WI

The Red-Haired Woman

By Orhan Pamuk

(Vintage, 9781101974230, $16)

"'Beguiling' is the perfect word to describe The Red-Haired Woman, which feels like an entrancing fairly tale, set in a far away, exotic land peopled with fascinating men and women. The story plays out over the life span of one man whose actions and choices over one summer, however fleeting, will turn out to be the formative events that shape his entire life. I particularly enjoyed the summer nights in the quiet town, as the boy stole around the back alleys, hoping for a glimpse of the red-haired woman. This book is unlike any other I've read."
--Jenny Lyons, The Vermont Book Shop, Middlebury, VT

The Rules of Magic

By Alice Hoffman

(Simon & Schuster, 9781501137488, $16)

"In a dazzling, emotive prequel to her bestselling novel Practical Magic, Alice Hoffman brings the reader back into the world of the Owens family. The Rules of Magic takes us back two generations with practical Franny, who must learn how to love; sensitive Jet, who must learn how to persevere; and restless Vincent, who must learn how to be happy. Hoffman's writing is frank, tender, vivid, and elusive all at once. Full of sorrow and beauty and courage, The Rules of Magic is a delicious, satisfying read."
--Heather Herbaugh, Mitzi's Books, Rapid City, SD

See What I Have Done

By Sarah Schmidt

(Grove Press, 9780802128133, $16)

"See What I Have Done is a spellbinding historic reimagining of a Gothic tale many of us grew up knowing about. Schmidt brings to life all the characters in Lizzie Borden's world and takes the reader on an adventure through time and the investigation into the murder of her parents. Schmidt uses context to make the moment in history as much of a character as the people in the story, and the lively characters will keep you transfixed on the murder mystery. It is hard to say that a book about a murder is delightful, but See What I Have Done is a delightful, suspenseful, and satisfying read."
--Steve Iwanski, Turnrow Book Co., Greenwood, MS

Spoonbenders

By Daryl Gregory

(Vintage, 9780525432418, $16.95)

"The Amazing Telemachus Family is unlike any other. Patriarch Teddy is a con man whose adult children possess remarkable psychic gifts (telekinesis, lie detection, and clairvoyance), but the loss of their mother leaves the entire family reeling. Though the Telemachus crew's misadventures attract the attention of everyone from the CIA to a scary local crime boss, Teddy and his children are more threatened by their own emotional damage and sketchy past than anything else. Gregory's characters are sharply drawn and lovable, and he tells their story in a way that's wise, warm, and entertaining throughout. With a strong sense of humor and an amazing climax, this is the kind of novel that's an absolute blast to read."
--Erika VanDam, RoscoeBooks, Chicago, IL

Wonder Valley

By Ivy Pochoda

(Ecco, 9780062656360, $16.99)

"A man running naked among the gridlocked cars of an L.A. freeway is the catalyst for this dark tale set in the rough neighborhoods of a decidedly unglamorous Los Angeles. In this version of the city, it's not only the poor and the powerless who are desperate; even the better-off characters turn out to be broken sinners who crave hope and redemption. The gritty beauty of Pochoda's writing, whether about cruelty and violence or about love, no matter how desperate, pulled me into the characters' lives and compelled me to keep reading all night."  
--Francesca De Stefano, Books Inc., San Francisco, CA