Click here to read this email in your browser.

presented by

Okra Picks are a dozen fresh titles chosen each season that we and fellow indie booksellers across the South are excited to present to our customers. Okra Picks are Southern in nature and cover any genre and subject. For Spring 2018, discover great reads in literary fiction, short fiction, kids and YA, mysteries and thrillers, fantasy and sci-fi, historical fiction, beach reads, and more. We know our readers love regional writers, and we want to be the first to offer you a strong seasonal selection of not-to-be-missed Southern titles. Come in and browse, or order online.

Stay on top of all the literary news around the South and subscribe to Lady Banks' Commonplace Book: your weekly serving of literary news, events, and more. Subscribe

Bearskin by James A. McLaughlin
Ecco Press | 9780062742797 | June 2018
READ THE FIRST CHAPTER

BUY THIS BOOK!

Bearskin by James A. McLaughlin

A gritty and captivating debut about a caretaker of an Appalachian nature preserve who gets embroiled in a dangerous bear-poaching scheme—for fans of Smith Henderson, Ron Rash, and Daniel Woodrell.

Rice Moore is just beginning to think his troubles are behind him. He's found a job protecting a remote forest preserve in Virginian Appalachia where his main responsibilities include tracking wildlife and refurbishing cabins. It's hard work, and totally solitary—perfect to hide away from the Mexican drug cartels he betrayed back in Arizona. But when Rice finds the carcass of a bear killed on the grounds, the quiet solitude he's so desperately sought is suddenly at risk.

More bears are killed on the preserve and Rice's obsession with catching the poachers escalates, leading to hostile altercations with the locals and attention from both the law and Rice's employers. Partnering with his predecessor, a scientist who hopes to continue her research on the preserve, Rice puts into motion a plan that could expose the poachers but risks revealing his own whereabouts to the dangerous people he was running from in the first place.

James McLaughlin expertly brings the beauty and danger of Appalachia to life. The result is an elemental, slow burn of a novel—one that will haunt you long after you turn the final page.

Best Beach Ever by Wendy Wax
Berkley Books | 9780399584411 | May 2018
READ THE FIRST CHAPTER

BUY THIS BOOK!

Best Beach Ever by Wendy Wax

Hoping for smooth sailing the ladies of Ten Beach Road confront choppy seas...

Forced to rent out or lose their beloved Bella Flora after the loss of their renovation-turned-reality-TV show Do Over, Maddie, Nikki, Avery, Kyra, and Bitsy move into cottages at the Sunshine Hotel and Beach Club believing the worst is over. Only to discover just how uncertain their futures really are.

Maddie struggles with the challenges of dating a rock star whose career has come roaring back to life while Nikki faces the daunting realities of mothering twins at forty-seven. Avery buries herself in building a tiny home in an attempt to dodge commitment issues, and Kyra battles to protect her son from the Hollywood world she once dreamed of joining. And Bitsy is about to find out whether the rewards of seeking revenge will outweigh the risks.

Luckily, when the going gets tough, the ladies of Ten Beach Road know that their friendship—tried and tested—can chase away the darkest clouds and let the sun shine in...

Country Dark by Chris Offutt
Grove Press | 9780802127792 | April 2018
READ THE FIRST CHAPTER

BUY THIS BOOK!

Country Dark by Chris Offutt

Chris Offutt's long-awaited return to fiction after nearly two decades, Country Dark is a fierce noir-inflected novel about a good man pushed by circumstance into crime.

Chris Offutt is an outstanding literary talent, whose work has been called "lean and brilliant" (The New York Times Book Review) and compared by reviewers to Tobias Wolff, Ernest Hemingway, and Raymond Carver. He's been awarded the Whiting Writers Award for Fiction/Nonfiction and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Fiction Award, among numerous other honors. His first work of fiction in nearly two decades, Country Dark is a taut, compelling novel set in rural Kentucky from the Korean War to 1970.

Tucker, a young veteran, returns from war to work for a bootlegger. He falls in love and starts a family, and while the Tuckers don't have much, they have the love of their home and each other. But when his family is threatened, Tucker is pushed into violence, which changes everything. The story of people living off the land and by their wits in a backwoods Kentucky world of shine-runners and laborers whose social codes are every bit as nuanced as the British aristocracy, Country Dark is a novel that blends the best of Larry Brown and James M. Cain, with a noose tightening evermore around a man who just wants to protect those he loves. It reintroduces the vital and absolutely distinct voice of Chris Offutt, a voice we've been missing for years.

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
Balzer & Bray/Harperteen | 9780062570604 | April 2018

BUY THIS BOOK!

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

A story of the undead like you've never read before, Justina Ireland's Dread Nation is a fresh, stunning, and powerful meditation on race in America wrapped in an alternate-history adventure where Confederate and Union soldiers rise from the dead at the end of the Civil War.

Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Civil War–era America—derailing the War Between the States and changing the nation forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children to attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It's a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society's expectations.

But that's not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston's School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn't pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose. But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies. And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.

At once provocative, terrifying, and darkly subversive, Dread Nation is Justina Ireland's stunning vision of an America both foreign and familiar—a country on the brink, at the explosive crossroads where race, humanity, and survival meet.

Florida by Lauren Groff
Riverhead Books | 9781594634512 | June 2018

BUY THIS BOOK!

 

Florida by Lauren Groff

The bold new book from the celebrated New York Times-bestselling author of Fates and Furies.

"Lauren Groff is a writer of rare gifts."—The New York Times Book Review

In her vigorous and moving new book, Lauren Groff brings her electric storytelling and intelligence to a world in which storms, snakes, and sinkholes lurk at the edge of everyday life, but the greater threats and mysteries are of a human, emotional, and psychological nature. Among those navigating it all are a resourceful pair of abandoned sisters; a lonely boy, grown up; a restless, childless couple, a searching, homeless woman; and an unforgettable, recurring character - a steely and conflicted wife and mother.

The stories in this collection span characters, towns, decades, even centuries, but Florida—its landscape, climate, history, and state of mind—becomes its gravitational center: an energy, a mood, as much as a place of residence. Groff transports the reader, then jolts us alert with a crackle of wit, a wave of sadness, a flash of cruelty, as she writes about loneliness, rage, family, and the passage of time. With shocking accuracy and effect, she pinpoints the moments and decisions and connections behind human pleasure and pain, hope and despair, love and fury—the moments that make us alive. Startling, precise, and affecting,   is a magnificent achievement.

Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers | 9780316262286 | April 2018

BUY THIS BOOK!

Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes

A heartbreaking and powerful story about a black boy killed by a police officer, drawing connections through history, from award-winning author Jewell Parker Rhodes.

Only the living can make the world better. Live and make it better.

Twelve-year-old Jerome is shot by a police officer who mistakes his toy gun for a real threat. As a ghost, he observes the devastation that's been unleashed on his family and community in the wake of what they see as an unjust and brutal killing.

Soon Jerome meets another ghost: Emmett Till, a boy from a very different time but similar circumstances. Emmett helps Jerome process what has happened, on a journey towards recognizing how historical racism may have led to the events that ended his life. Jerome also meets Sarah, the daughter of the police officer, who grapples with her father's actions.

Once again Jewell Parker Rhodes deftly weaves historical and socio-political layers into a gripping and poignant story about how children and families face the complexities of today's world, and how one boy grows to understand American blackness in the aftermath of his own death.

Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake
Houghton Mifflin | 9781328778239 | May 2018

BUY THIS BOOK!

Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake

For readers of Girl in Pieces and The Way I Used to Be comes an emotionally gripping story about facing hard truths in the aftermath of sexual assault.

Mara and Owen are as close as twins can get, so when Mara's friend Hannah accuses Owen of rape, Mara doesn't know what to think. Can her brother really be guilty of such a violent act? Torn between her family and her sense of right and wrong, Mara feels lost, and it doesn't help that things are strained with her ex-girlfriend, Charlie. As Mara, Hannah, and Charlie come together in the aftermath of this terrible crime, Mara must face a trauma from her own past and decide where Charlie fits into her future. With sensitivity and openness, this timely novel confronts the difficult questions surrounding consent, victim blaming, and sexual assault.

Marabel and the Book of Fate by Tracy Barrett
Atheneum Books for Young Readers | 9781481472067 | May 2018
READ THE FIRST CHAPTER

BUY THIS BOOK!

How Sweet the Sound: The Story of Amazing Grace by Carole Boston Weatherford

An incredibly moving picture book biography of the man behind the hymn "Amazing Grace" and the living legacy of the song Caldecott Honor–winning author Carole Boston Weatherford and award-winning illustrator Frank Morrison.

One stormy night at sea, a wayward man named John Newton feared for his life. In his darkest hour he fell to his knees and prayed—and somehow the battered ship survived the storm.

Grateful, he changed his ways and became a minister, yet he still owned a slave ship. But in time, empathy touched his heart. A changed man, he used his powerful words to help end slavery in England.

Those words became the hymn "Amazing Grace," a song that has lifted the spirit and given comfort across time and all over the world.

I Felt a Funeral, in My Brain by Will Walton
Push | 9780545709569 | May 2018
READ THE FIRST CHAPTER

BUY THIS BOOK!

I Felt a Funeral, in My Brain by Will Walton

From the author of the poignant and provocative debut Anything Could Happen comes an astonishing novel in verse about love, death, and the poetry we find when we most need it.

How do you deal with a hole in your life?

Do you grieve?

Do you drink?

Do you make out with your best friend?

Do you turn to poets and pop songs?

Do you question everything?

Do you lash out?

Do you turn the lashing inward?

If you're Avery, you do all of these things. And you write it all down in an attempt to understand what's happened--and is happening--to you.

I Felt a Funeral, In My Brain is an astonishing novel about navigating death and navigating life, at a time when the only map you have is the one you can draw for yourself.

In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills by Jennifer Haupt
Central Avenue Publishing | 9781771681339 | April 2018
READ THE FIRST CHAPTER

BUY THIS BOOK!

In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills by Jennifer Haupt

In 1968, a disillusioned and heartbroken Lillian Carlson left Atlanta after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. She found meaning in the hearts of orphaned African children and cobbled together her own small orphanage in the Rift Valley alongside the lush forests of Rwanda.

Three decades later, in New York City, Rachel Shepherd, lost and heartbroken herself, embarks on a journey to find the father who abandoned her as a young child, determined to solve the enigma of Henry Shepherd, a now-famous photographer.

When an online search turns up a clue to his whereabouts, Rachel travels to Rwanda to connect with an unsuspecting and uncooperative Lillian. While Rachel tries to unravel the mystery of her father's disappearance, she finds unexpected allies in an ex-pat doctor running from his past and a young Tutsi woman who lived through a profound experience alongside her father.

Set against the backdrop of a country grieving and trying to heal after a devastating civil war, follow the intertwining stories of three women who discover something unexpected: grace when there can be no forgiveness.

Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl
Delacorte Press | 9780399553929 | June 2018

BUY THIS BOOK!

Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl

Enter a realm where fears are physical and memories come alive in this absorbing psychological suspense thriller, from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of Special Topics in Calamity Physics and Night Film.

Once upon a time, back at Darrow-Harker School, Beatrice Hartley and her five best friends were the cool kids, the beautiful ones. Then the shocking death of Jim—their creative genius and Beatrice's boyfriend—changed everything.

One year after graduation, Beatrice is returning to Wincroft—the seaside estate where they spent so many nights sharing secrets, crushes, plans to change the world—hoping she'll get to the bottom of the dark questions gnawing at her about Jim's death.

But as the night plays out in a haze of stilted jokes and unfathomable silence, Beatrice senses she's never going to know what really happened.

Then a mysterious man knocks on the door. Blithely, he announces the impossible: time for them has become stuck, snagged on a splinter that can only be removed if the former friends make the harshest of decisions.

Now Beatrice has one last shot at answers…and at life.

And so begins the Neverworld Wake.

Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore by Elizabeth Rush
Milkweed Editions | 9781571313676 | June 2018

BUY THIS BOOK!

Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore by Elizabeth Rush

"Sea level rise is not some distant problem in a distant place. As Elizabeth Rush shows, it's affecting real people right now. Rising is a compelling piece of reporting, by turns bleak and beautiful." —Elizabeth Kolbert

Harvey. Maria. Irma. Sandy. Katrina. We live in a time of unprecedented hurricanes and catastrophic weather events, a time when it is increasingly clear that climate change is neither imagined nor distant—and that rising seas are transforming the coastline of the United States in irrevocable ways.

In this highly original work of lyrical reportage, Elizabeth Rush guides readers through some of the places where this change has been most dramatic, from the Gulf Coast to Miami, and from New York City to the Bay Area. For many of the plants, animals, and humans in these places, the options are stark: retreat or perish in place. Weaving firsthand accounts from those facing this choice—a Staten Islander who lost her father during Sandy, the remaining holdouts of a Native American community on a drowning Isle de Jean Charles, a neighborhood in Pensacola settled by escaped slaves hundreds of years ago—with profiles of wildlife biologists, activists, and other members of the communities both currently at risk and already displaced, Rising privileges the voices of those usually kept at the margins.

At once polyphonic and precise, Rising is a shimmering meditation on vulnerability and on vulnerable communities, both human and more than human, and on how to let go of the places we love.

Southernmost by Silas House
Algonquin Books | 9781616206253 | June 2018

BUY THIS BOOK!

Southernmost by Silas House

"In Silas House's moving new novel, a pastor wrestles with a crisis not just of faith but of all the apparent certainties of his life: a crisis of marriage, of community, of fatherhood. This is a novel of painful, finally revelatory awakening, of fierce love and necessary disaster, of the bravery required to escape the prison of our days, to make a better and more worthy life."—Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You

When a flood washes away much of a small community along the Cumberland River in Tennessee, Asher Sharp, an evangelical preacher there, starts to see his life anew. He has already lost a brother due to his inability to embrace his brother's coming out of the closet. Now, in the aftermath of the flood, he tries to offer shelter to two gay men, but he's met with resistance by his wife. Furious about her prejudice, Asher delivers a sermon where he passionately defends the right of gay people to exist without condemnation.

In the heated battle that ensues, Asher loses his job, his wife, and custody of his son, Justin. As Asher worries over what will become of the boy, whom his wife is determined to control, he decides to kidnap Justin and take him to Key West, where he suspects that his estranged brother is now living. It's there that Asher and Justin see a new way of thinking and loving.

Southernmost is a tender and heartbreaking novel about love and its consequences, both within the South and beyond.

The Darkest Time of Night by Jeremy Finley
St. Martin's Press | 9781250147301 | June 2018

BUY THIS BOOK!

The Darkest Time of Night by Jeremy Finley

Anchor and investigative journalist for WSMV-TV in Nashville, Jeremy Finley's debut thriller explores what happens to people's lives when our world intersects with the unexplainable.

When four-year-old William vanishes in the woods behind his home, the only witness is his older brother who whispers, "The lights took him," and then never speaks again. With these words, the boys' grandmother Lynn Roseworth fears only she knows the truth. But coming forward would ruin her family and her husband's political career.

As Lynn and her best friend Roxy revisit the secrets of her long-buried past to find clues that will lead to William, they'll get ensnared in a much larger conspiracy. The truth is hidden for a reason, and not even a grandmother's love may be enough to save her grandson from what is coming for them all.

Author Jeremy Finley was inspired to write this story after interviewing so many families of missing people for stories and seeing how far people will go to try to find their loved ones. He combined this experience with that of his mother-in-law, who was a secretary in an astronomy department, like Lynn, for professors who researched UFOs and were featured in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

The Darkest Time of Night is a fast-paced debut full of suspense and government cover-ups, perfect for thriller and alien fans alike.

The High Tide Club by Mary Kay Andrews
St. Martin's Press | 9781250126061 | May 2018
READ THE FIRST CHAPTER

BUY THIS BOOK!

The High Tide Club by Mary Kay Andrews

A delightful novel by the New York Times bestselling author of The Weekenders. When ninety-nine-year-old heiress Josephine Bettendorf Warrick summons Brooke Trappnell to Talisa Island, her 20,000 acre remote barrier island home, Brooke is puzzled.

Everybody in the South has heard about the eccentric millionaire mistress of Talisa, but Brooke has never met her. Josephine's cryptic note says she wants to discuss an important legal matter with Brooke, who is an attorney, but Brooke knows that Mrs. Warrick has long been a client of a prestigious Atlanta law firm.

Over a few meetings, the ailing Josephine spins a tale of old friendships, secrets, betrayal and a long-unsolved murder. She tells Brooke she is hiring her for two reasons: to protect her island and legacy from those who would despoil her land, and secondly, to help her make amends with the heirs of the long dead women who were her closest friends, the girls of The High Tide Club--so named because of their youthful skinny dipping escapades--Millie, Ruth and Varina.

Even at the end of her life, Josephine seems unwilling or unable to face her past, deliberately evading Brooke's questions. When Josephine dies with her secrets intact, Brooke is charged with contacting Josephine's friends' descendants and bringing them together on Talisa for a reunion of women who've actually never met. What follows is a tale of a romance thwarted, friendships renewed, justice delivered and true love found. It's Mary Kay Andrews at her Queen of the Beach Reads best.

The Overstory by Richard Powers
W. W. Norton & Company | 9780393635522 | April 2018

BUY THIS BOOK!

The Overstory by Richard Powers

A monumental novel about trees and people by one of our most "prodigiously talented" (The New York Times Book Review) novelists.

An Air Force loadmaster in the Vietnam War is shot out of the sky, then saved by falling into a banyan. An artist inherits a hundred years of photographic portraits, all of the same doomed American chestnut. A hard-partying undergraduate in the late 1980s electrocutes herself, dies, and is sent back into life by creatures of air and light. A hearing- and speech-impaired scientist discovers that trees are communicating with one another. These four, and five other strangers—each summoned in different ways by trees—are brought together in a last and violent stand to save the continent's few remaining acres of virgin forest.

In his twelfth novel, National Book Award winner Richard Powers delivers a sweeping, impassioned novel of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of—and paean to—the natural world. From the roots to the crown and back to the seeds, The Overstory unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond, exploring the essential conflict on this planet: the one taking place between humans and nonhumans. There is a world alongside ours—vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe.

The Overstory is a book for all readers who despair of humanity's self-imposed separation from the rest of creation and who hope for the transformative, regenerating possibility of a homecoming. If the trees of this earth could speak, what would they tell us? "Listen. There's something you need to hear."

The Secret to Southern Charm by Kristy Woodson Harvey
Gallery Books | 9781501195242 | April 2018

BUY THIS BOOK!

 

The Secret to Southern Charm by Kristy Woodson Harvey

Leaving fans "practically [begging] for a sequel" (Bookpage), critically acclaimed author Kristy Woodson Harvey returns with the second novel in her beloved Peachtree Bluff series, featuring a trio of sisters and their mother who discover a truth that will change not only the way they see themselves, but also how they fit together as a family.

After finding out her military husband is missing in action, middle sister Sloane's world crumbles as her worst nightmare comes true. She can barely climb out of bed, much less summon the strength to be the parent her children deserve.

Her mother, Ansley, provides a much-needed respite as she puts her personal life on hold to help Sloane and her grandchildren wade through their new grief-stricken lives. But between caring for her own aging mother, her daughters, and her grandchildren, Ansley's private worry is that secrets from her past will come to light.

But when Sloane's sisters, Caroline and Emerson, remind Sloane that no matter what, she promised her husband she would carry on for their young sons, Sloane finds the support and courage she needs to chase her biggest dreams—and face her deepest fears. Taking a cue from her middle daughter, Ansley takes her own leap of faith and realizes that, after all this time, she might finally be able to have it all.

Harvey's signature warmth and wit make this a charming and poignant story of first loves, missed opportunities, and second chances and proves that she is "the next major voice in Southern fiction" (Elin Hilderbrand, New York Times bestselling author).

The View From Here by Lynne Hinton
NewSouth Books | 9781588383471 | June 2018

BUY THIS BOOK!

The View From Here by Lynne Hinton

Katie Sinclair climbed up a loblolly pine just to see if she could. And then she stayed, creating a media sensation and more than a little trouble for the folks in Jones County, North Carolina. There is a lot of speculation about why the state employee took to the tree. Some think she is making a political statement about the destruction of forests for urban development. Others believe her recent divorce has driven her to a nervous breakdown.

But the truth is she's living in a tree because she needs a new perspective. She needs a wider view of a life that had somehow become tedious and small. From her perch high above, Katie deals with the deputy who keeps being sent to try and talk her down, a brutal spring storm, well-meaning environmentalists, odd and interesting townspeople, a pair of protective horned owls, a mysterious reporter, and even some dangerous "boys" sent by a local developer whose plans demand removal of her tree. There is plenty for Katie to take in while living in a tree. The View From Here is her story.

Author Lynne Hinton's elegant, effortless prose shows us as if we were on the landing beside Katie what Katie is seeing and learning about birds, sky, wind, her neighbors and other people. But she--and us with her, her reader--is changed primarily by what she discovers about herself, about grief and forgiveness, and about the true love that has been in front of her for most of her life. No reader will be unmoved by the imaginative conceit of this novel or its wise, lyrical, and empathetic telling crafted by a master writer.

Varina by Charles Frazier
Ecco Press | 9780062405982 | April 2018
READ THE FIRST CHAPTER

BUY THIS BOOK!

 

Varina by Charles Frazier

In his powerful new novel, Charles Frazier returns to the time and place of Cold Mountain, vividly bringing to life the chaos and devastation of the Civil War.

Her marriage prospects limited, teenage Varina Howell agrees to wed the much-older widower Jefferson Davis, with whom she expects the secure life of a Mississippi landowner. Davis instead pursues a career in politics and is eventually appointed president of the Confederacy, placing Varina at the white-hot center of one of the darkest moments in American history—culpable regardless of her intentions.

The Confederacy falling, her marriage in tatters, and the country divided, Varina and her children escape Richmond and travel south on their own, now fugitives with "bounties on their heads, an entire nation in pursuit."

Intimate in its detailed observations of one woman's tragic life and epic in its scope and power, Varina is a novel of an American war and its aftermath. Ultimately, the book is a portrait of a woman who comes to realize that complicity carries consequences.

You are receiving this email at @@email@@ on behalf of YOUR BOOKSTORE. If you wish to stop receiving email from us, you may remove yourself
by replying with "unsubscribe" in the subject or by visiting: @@unsubscribe_url@@