Summer Reads & More with the Charlotte Reader's Podcast

Sally Brewster and Shauna Morgan visited Landis Wade in the studio to talk about bookselling, summer reads, and more.

 

It’s often said that variety is the spice in life. It’s true in running a book store and with books, too. We get a behind the scenes look at the independent book store business and a variety of book suggestions from the book-minded folks at Park Road Books.

Sally and Shauna also discuss their love of books and their commitment to helping customers find the right books.

Click HERE to listen to the podcast.

Here are their recent picks with their references, commentary, and thoughts about each of the books:

A Delicious Country: Rediscovering the Carolinas Along the Route of John Lawson’s 1700 Expedition by Scott Huler

In 1700, a young man named John Lawson left London and landed in Charleston, South Carolina, hoping to make a name for himself. For reasons unknown, he soon undertook a two-month journey through the still-mysterious Carolina backcountry. In 2014, Scott Huler decided to leave home and family for his own journey by foot and canoe, faithfully retracing Lawson’s route through the Carolinas. What he finds are surprising parallels between Lawson’s time and our own, with the locals and their world poised along a knife-edge of change between a past they can’t forget and a future they can’t quite envision.

Michal Sims, author of The Adventures of Henry Thoreau says this about it: “An eye-opening journey through the contemporary South. As he does in his other excellent books, Huler reminds us in A Delicious Country that the present and the past coexist all around us. He writes with great specificity about each topic at hand, but he never loses sight of the larger human story. The book excels as a work of exploration, history, and science. It is also simply what reviewers like to call ‘a rousing good read.’”

 

Growing Things by Paul Tremblay (Out 06/02/19)

This is a chilling collection of psychological suspense and literary horror from the multiple award-winning author of the national bestseller The Cabin at the End of the World and A Head Full of Ghosts. In “The Teacher,” a Bram Stoker Award nominee for best short story, a student is forced to watch a disturbing video that will haunt and torment her and her classmates’ lives. Four men rob a pawn shop at gunpoint only to vanish, one-by-one, as they speed away from the crime scene in “The Getaway.”

This anthology features nineteen pieces of short fiction. From global catastrophe to the demons inside our heads, Tremblay illuminates our primal fears and darkest dreams in startlingly original fiction that leaves us unmoored. As he lowers the sky and yanks the ground from beneath our feet, we are compelled to contemplate the darkness inside our own hearts and minds.

 

Hotbox by Matt & Ted Lee

Join us on Friday, May 17th at 7pm for a talk & signing with The Lee Brothers 

Matt and Ted Lee take on the competitive, wild world of high-end catering, exposing the secrets of a food business few home cooks or restaurant chefs ever experience.

Hotbox reveals the real-life drama behind cavernous event spaces and soaring white tents, where cooking conditions have more in common with a mobile army hospital than a restaurant. Known for their modern take on Southern cooking, the Lee brothers steeped themselves in the catering business for four years, learning the culture from the inside-out.

Whether they’re dashing through black-tie fundraisers, celebrity-spotting at a Hamptons cookout, or following a silverware crew at 3:00 a.m. in a warehouse in New Jersey, the Lee brothers guide you on a romp from the inner circle–the elite team of chefs using little more than their wits and Sterno to turn out lamb shanks for eight hundred–to the outer reaches of the industries that facilitate the most dazzling galas. You’ll never attend a party–or entertain on your own–in the same way after reading this book.

 

I Wish You All The Best by Mason Deaver (Out 05/14/19)

Join us on Thursday, May 16th at 7pm for a talk & signing with Mason Deaver & Amber Smith

It’s just three words: I am nonbinary. But that’s all it takes to change everything. When Ben De Backer comes out to their parents as nonbinary, they’re thrown out of their house and forced to move in with their estranged older sister, Hannah, and her husband, Thomas, whom Ben has never even met. Struggling with an anxiety disorder compounded by their parents’ rejection, they come out only to Hannah, Thomas, and their therapist and try to keep a low profile in a new school.

But Ben’s attempts to survive the last half of senior year unnoticed are thwarted when Nathan Allan, a funny and charismatic student, decides to take Ben under his wing. As Ben and Nathan’s friendship grows, their feelings for each other begin to change, and what started as a disastrous turn of events looks like it might just be a chance to start a happier new life.

Deaver’s debut is a quiet, heartfelt, groundbreaking novel about a nonbinary teen coming out and coming-of-age, with a compelling, witty voice, a nuanced look at teen culture, and wonderfully sensitive portrayals of queer love and anxiety,

 

Magic For Liars by Sarah Gailey (Out 06/04/19)

Booklist (04/01/2019) *Starred Review*. Private investigator Ivy Gamble does her work in the seedy underbelly of Oakland, California, alone and growing bored with adulterers and disability claims until the headmaster of the Osthorne Academy for Young Mages approaches her. A teacher at this magical school has died gruesomely, and the headmaster wants to know if it was murder. Ivy’s twin sister works at the school, though they’re estranged; Tabitha discovered her magic in high school, but Ivy doesn’t have that power. Despite her reservations, Ivy plunges forward into the world that never wanted her. Gailey (River of Teeth, 2017) takes command of this story, from the arresting prologue to the final reveal. Ivy’s relentless drive to solve the crime coupled with the unique setting will propel the reader through the narrative, but the many layers of theme and character set this novel apart. There’s something for almost all readers here: family drama, romance, high-school gossip, fantasy-world building. Above all, Gailey shows us that humans are humans, even when they are magic, and they are still flawed, damaged, and oh so interesting. (Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2019, American Library Association.)

 

Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck & Fortune by Roselle Lim (Out 06/11/19)

Lush and visual, chock-full of delicious recipes, Roselle Lim’s magical debut novel is about food, heritage, and finding family in the most unexpected places.

At the news of her mother’s death, Natalie Tan returns home. The two women hadn’t spoken since Natalie left in anger seven years ago, when her mother refused to support her chosen career as a chef. Natalie is shocked to discover the vibrant neighborhood of San Francisco’s Chinatown that she remembers from her childhood is fading, with businesses failing and families moving out. She’s even more surprised to learn she has inherited her grandmother’s restaurant.

The neighborhood seer reads the restaurant’s fortune in the leaves: Natalie must cook three recipes from her grandmother’s cookbook to aid her struggling neighbors before the restaurant will succeed. Unfortunately, Natalie has no desire to help them try to turn things around–she resents the local shopkeepers for leaving her alone to take care of her agoraphobic mother when she was growing up. But with the support of a surprising new friend and a budding romance, Natalie starts to realize that maybe her neighbors really have been there for her all along.

 

Once & Future by Cori McCarthy & Amy Rose Capetta

In Once & Future, Amy Rose Capetta (The Brilliant Death) and Cori McCarthy’s (Now a Major Motion Picture) first collaboration, the legend of King Arthur is reimagined as a space opera pitting a courageous heroine against the oppressive forces of capitalism.

Once & Future is a gender-bent king Arthur retelling, set in space. Ari finds out from a teenage Merlin (the poor guy is aging backwards) that she is the reincarnation of King Arthur and this is her last chance to defeat the sorceress Morgana. With an unexpected villain (hint: it’s not Morgana), a found family cast of knights, and a brilliant romance, this re-telling is a fun, bright romp through space that touches on many of the tenets of King Arthur’s code.

 

The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas

In 1967, four female scientists worked together to build the world’s first time machine. But just as they are about to debut their creation, one of them suffers a breakdown, putting the whole project–and future of time travel–in jeopardy. To protect their invention, one member is exiled from the team–erasing her contributions from history.

Fifty years later, time travel is a big business. Twenty-something Ruby Rebello knows her beloved grandmother, Granny Bee, was one of the pioneers, though no one will tell her more. But when Bee receives a mysterious newspaper clipping from the future reporting the murder of an unidentified woman, Ruby becomes obsessed: could it be Bee? Who would want her dead? And most importantly of all: can her murder be stopped?

Traversing the decades and told from alternating perspectives, The Psychology of Time Travel introduces a fabulous new voice in fiction and a new must-read for fans of speculative fiction and women’s fiction alike.

 

Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston (Out 05/14/19)

Casey McQuiston’s debut is a fun, quirky romance set in an alternate reality that boasts a more beautiful world after November 2016, in which the First Son falls for the Prince of Wales. With an enemies-to-lovers romance between the First Son and the Prince of Wales, an intricate and well-developed familial bond, and a hopeful political landscape, this book is salve on an open wound.

Heads of family, state, and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: staging a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instragramable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations and begs the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to be? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through? Casey McQuiston’s Red, White & Royal Blue proves: true love isn’t always diplomatic.

 

Tomorrow’s Bread by Anna Jean Mayhew

Tomorrow’s Bread is based on the real Black middle-class neighborhood of Brooklyn in Charlotte, North Carolina, whose residents in the 1960s realize that the city is pushing them out. The story is narrated by Loraylee Hawkins, a young mother who must keep her relationship with her white boss a secret; Eben Polk, a local pastor and caretaker of the cemetery in which many Brooklyn residents have family; and Persy Marshall, the wife of the man leading the city’s efforts, who knows she must do more than stand by and watch. Mayhew (The Dry Grass of August, 2011) leads readers down the neighborhood streets and into its businesses and the lives of its residents and doesn’t shy away from showing the neighborhood as it really was, a mixture of good and bad, but always home. Readers drawn to the well-defined characters of Stephanie Powell Watts and Thomas Mullen will find Brooklyn tugging at their hearts.

Anna Jean (A.J.) Mayhew’s first novel, The Dry Grass of August, won the Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction, and was a finalist for the Book Award from the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance.

 

Substitution Order by Martin Clark (Out 07/09/19)

Join us on Wednesday, July 17th at 7pm for a talk & signing with Martin Clark

From Martin Clark–praised by Entertainment Weekly as “our best legal-thriller writer”–comes a wickedly clever, tenderhearted, and intricately plotted novel about a hard-luck lawyer’s refusal to concede defeat, even as fate, the court system, and a gang of untouchable con artists conspire against him. Kevin Moore, once a high-flying Virginia attorney, hits rock bottom after an inexplicably tumultuous summer leaves him disbarred and separated from his wife. Short on cash and looking for work, he lands in the middle of nowhere with a job at SUBstitution, the world’s saddest sandwich shop. His closest confidants: a rambunctious rescue puppy and the twenty-year-old computer whiz manning the restaurant counter beside him. He’s determined to set his life right again, but the troubles keep coming. And when a bizarre, mysterious stranger wanders into the shop armed with a threatening “invitation” to join a multimillion-dollar scam, Kevin will need every bit of his legal savvy just to stay out of prison. A remarkable tour of the law’s tricks and hidden trapdoors, The Substitution Order is both wise and ingenious, a wildly entertaining novel that will keep you guessing–and rooting for its tenacious hero–until the very last page”

 

Sugar Run by Mesha Maren

In 1989, Jodi McCarty is seventeen years old when she’s sentenced to life in prison. When she’s released eighteen years later, she finds herself at a Greyhound bus stop, reeling from the shock of unexpected freedom but determined to chart a better course for herself. Not yet able to return to her lost home in the Appalachian Mountains, she heads south in search of someone she left behind, as a way of finally making amends. There, she meets and falls in love with Miranda, a troubled young mother living in a motel room with her children. Together they head toward what they hope will be a fresh start. But what do you do with your past–and with a town and a family that refuses to forget, or to change?

Set within the charged insularity of rural West Virginia, Mesha Maren’s Sugar Run is a searing and gritty debut about making a break for another life, the use and treachery of makeshift families, and how, no matter the distance we think we’ve traveled from the mistakes we’ve made, too often we find ourselves standing in precisely the place we began.

 

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faisal (Out 05/14/19)

Set in a richly detailed world inspired by ancient Arabia, Hafsah Faizal’s We Hunt the Flame–first in the Sands of Arawiyaseries–is a gripping debut of discovery, conquering fear, and taking identity into your own hands. People lived because she killed. People died because he lived.

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the sultan. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways. Both Zafira and Nasir are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the sultan on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

This whirlwind Arabian-inspired fantasy by debut author Hafsah Faisal is filled with heart-stopping twists, tight-knit and unbreakable friendships, a slow burn romance, and bright, lyrical prose. Readers of fantasy novels such as Children of Blood and Bone and City of Brass will devour this tale that left me drawn into the story long after it was over.

 

Why Don’t You Write My Eulogy Now So I Can Correct It?: A Mother’s Suggestions by Patricia Marx & Roz Chast

The perfect Mother’s Day gift: A collection of witty one-line advice New Yorker writer Patricia Marx heard from her mother, accompanied by full-color illustrations by New Yorker staff cartoonist Roz Chast.

Every mother knows best, but New Yorker writer Patty Marx’s knows better. Patty has never been able to shake her mother’s one-line witticisms from her brain, so she’s collected them into a book, accompanied by full-color illustrations by New Yorker staff cartoonist Roz Chast. These snappy maternal cautions include:

“If you feel guilty about throwing away leftovers, put them in the back of your refrigerator for five days and then throw them out” and “If you run out of food at your dinner party, the world will end.”

Every child will want to buy this for mom on Mother’s Day!

 

The Wise & The Wicked by Rebecca Podos (Out 05/08/19)

Rebecca Podos, Lambda Literary Award-winning author of Like Water, returns with a lush, dark, and unforgettable story of the power of the past to shape our futures–and the courage it takes to change them.

The Wise and the Wicked is a dark magical contemporary Russian Fairy tale set in a small town occupied by a family of women who see their deaths before they happen. Ruby is a heroine who believes she has no future, holding onto the hope that she can change the outcome of her dark vision. With gorgeous prose, dark secrets, and a beautifully rendered romance with a trans boy, this novel is perfect for fans of Laura Ruby and Anna-Marie McLemore.