Local Girls by Caroline Zancan - "The four female friends in this novel grow up in a small Florida town and after high school graduation struggle to find their place aside from the local bar, the beach and the perusal of trashy celebrity magazines. They meet their celebrity crush on the last night of his life and suddenly the reader is swept up in the evolving and dissolving friendships of these local girls in both the past and present. You will identify with more than one of these girls. Not your typical coming of age novel. These Local Girls and their personalities and choices will stick with you." STEFANI
Grace by Calvin Baker - "A war correspondent returns to the United States cynical and disillusioned yet hopeful that if he narrows his focus he will find the one thing he truly craves; enduring love. Baker is poetic and philosophical in his style but not lofty. Harper Roland is like all of us...searching for meaning in his life and someone to share his stories with. Mesmerizing and profound. You'll be surprised at the end and unable to let the characters go.Soulful, philosophical and beautifully written. I really loved this one." STEFANI
Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash - "If you've been to summer camp, had a crush, been heartbroken, not fit in, found someone to love and struggled to understand the onset of adult emotional entanglements....then this graphic novel is for you. Maggie Thrash gives us a love story that is human and resonates with everyone whether gay or straight, man or woman. Read it and get your head out of the beach sand."
Timmy Failure: We Meet Again by Stephan Pastis - (This is the third one, so read the first two first: Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made and Timmy Failure: Now Look What You’ve Done. Or heck, convince your parents that you’ve suddenly become an awesome summer reader and beg for ALL THREE and swear you’ll stay in your tree house and read all summer.)
If you haven’t introduced your reluctant or non-reluctant reader to Timmy Failure…SHAME ON YOU! Pastis is famous for his Pearls Before Swine comic strip and he’s just as engaging and hilarious in his series for kids. Timmy Failure is a boy detective with a Polar Bear partner and a penchant for solving the world’s most heinous crimes. He uses big words, isn’t a great detective and has daily run-ins with his Mom (The Law) and his school. For Ages 8-12 Unless you are a 48 year old bookseller with unrealistic notions of being a famous cartoonist one day. ~Stefani
Factory Man by Beth Macy - Macy does a fantastic job of taking a topic that could be dull and boring and enlivening it with a host of colorful characters right out of a Hallmark Special except with more cursing and football metaphors for business excellence. John Bassett III is a third generation factory man who went up against overseas manufacturer’s to save hundreds of jobs and keep his family’s furniture business alive and thriving. Inspirational, funny and reads like fiction. Loved it! ~Stefani
Stefani with John Bassett III
Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf - Kent Haruf passed away in November 2014. His last novel is one you should read, reread, pass along to friends and make sure to always have a copy on your shelf. His sparse and elegant style tells the story of love found late in life between Addie Moore and Louis Waters. They are both widowed and when Addie wonders if Louis “would come sleep in the night” with her and tell each other their stories, he accepts. Like Haruf’s previous novels, this one is set in the small town of Holt, Colorado. Small-minded neighbors, family and friends talk and make their relationship more complicated than it needs to be. I read this book in a day and cried at the end for the loss of Haruf and his gift of storytelling and heart. Please read this. ~Stefani
I'd Walk With My Friends if I Could Find Them by Jesse Goolsby - "Jesse Goolsby is an Air Force officer that has admittedly never seen combat but nevertheless writes a gut wrenching and thoughtful account of lives forever changed by war. Not strictly a book about the war in Afghanistan, but more about three men and how they cope and live with friends and family after one incident that changes them forever. We had the pleasure of hosting Jesse for a book signing and still have signed copies of this incredible debut novel. ~Stefani
The Star Side of Bird Hill by Naomi Jackson - “In the summer of 1989, sisters Dionne and Phaedra – aged 16 and 10, respectively – are shuttled from their Brooklyn life to their grandmother Hyacinth’s home in Barbados. Dionne is filled with palpable teenage angst and the desire for romance, while Phaedra prefers to experience the mysteries of Bird Hill with her grandmother. Both girls have a tentative curiosity about their mother’s early life on the island, but it is not until their father shows up unexpectedly that they question their very identities and what it means to be ‘home.’ Reminiscent of Jamaica Kincaid, Jackson’s coming-of-age tale makes Barbados spring from the page with humor, beauty and heartbreak.” -- Amanda
Ratscalibur by Josh Lieb – “Soon-to-be seventh grader Joey has a lot to worry about. His mom, for one, who works a ton; his new, unfamiliar neighborhood; and the prospect of a new school and new friends. But all of these worries fall by the wayside when Joey’s bitten by an old rat –and shrinks down into a fuzzy rodent himself! To further complicate matters, Joey manages to pull the sacred Spork Ratscalibur from the scone (yes, like the pastry) and is thusly charged with defeating the evil that threatens the peaceful rat kingdom. Can Joey save his new friends, stay alive, and manage to turn himself back into a boy before his mom has a full-out panic attack? Find out in this hilarious, super fun spin on King Arthur’s famous tale.” Amanda
Armada by Ernest Cline - “If you’ve come in looking for a book recommendation anytime over the past three years, it’s very likely I’ve tried to send you home with a copy of Ready Player One, Cline’s first-and fabulous-novel. Now, he’s done it again! Armada is the story of Zack Lightman, a geeky-cool gamer who witnesses the start of an alien invasion. At first Zack believes he’s going insane, not only because he sees flying saucers, but because those saucers are identical to the ones he battles every night in the hugely popular online game called Armada. And even as the invasion becomes all too real, and the online combatants align themselves against the onslaught, something still seems a little off to Zack. What ensues is another fun, nerdy roller coaster ride through video game lore, sci-fi and pop culture that seems to be Cline’s particular specialty.” Amanda
Troika by Adam Pelzman -- "Gorgeous, mysterious, SCANDALOUS! Troika follows three lives intertwined between South Florida, New York and Russia, and chronicles an unusual love story you won't be able to stop talking about or put down. This is an enchanting, different kind of love story that pushes the boundaries of what we can and cannot accept, and is sure to inspire GREAT discussion for book clubs." Recommended by AMANDA
The Lost Island of Tamarind by Nadia Aguiar –“A bit of a throw-back to when I first started at Inkwood, and one of my favorite book recommendations for all seven years, The Lost Island of Tamarind is about 13-year old Maya, who lives with her little brother Simon and baby sister Penny on a sailboat with their scientist-parents. What seems like a life of adventure to most kids has become tedious for Maya, who prefers a ‘normal’ life on terra firma. But when a huge storm at sea separates the kids from their parents and maroons Maya and her siblings on the fabled island of Tamarind –with pirates and jaguars and evil witches, oh my! – Maya has to use all of her skills from a life at sea to save her siblings and find their parents. This is a wonderful, magical adventure filled with intrigue, humor, and warmth.” — Amanda
Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley - “I could not put this book down! On the cusp of her sixteenth birthday, Aza Ray is conflicted about planning a party. Conflicted because, for as long as she can remember, Aza’s lived beneath the oppressive reality that she could die at any moment. Years of hospitals and illness have yielded no actual diagnosis, and it seems as if Aza is drowning on the very air she breathes. So when she leaves our world and wakes up in Magonia – a place where she can finally breathe – Aza’s life truly begins. Or does it? Haunted by the memory of the family and first true love she’s left behind, Aza must come to terms with who she really is and the powers she possesses. Thrilling, funny, romantic and, yes, tear-jerking.” — AMANDA
How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran - “In Wolverhampton, England in 1990, 14-year-old Johanna humiliates herself on live television. Shortly thereafter, she decides to reinvent herself as Dolly Wilde, a fast-talking, hard-drinking sex-adventurer who writes for the local music rag. Never mind the fact that she doesn’t drink, that she’s a virgin, and that her music collection is comprised solely of The Beatles and the Bee Gees. Armed with eyeliner, a fair amount of Thunderbird 20/20, and pure determination, Dolly breaks onto the scene and makes a new life for herself, only to realize that the hardest — and most heartbreaking — changes are the ones we make within. Laugh- out-loud hilarious, inspiring, and profound, Moran has written the coming-of-age story of our time.” — AMANDA
The Wonder Garden by Lauren Acampora - "A sometimes scathing and equally terrifying novel/related stories on suburban America. These stories are unsettling and disconcerting in the best kind of way. Acampora debunks many of the myths that we still hold with regard to the very epitome of normative American success and security: those pesky suburbs. Each piece reads like a different vision of the same bad dream. Think somewhere in between American Beauty and Blue Velvet. You may forever weep at the sight of a white-picket fences after this book, but it’ll be well worth the insight that it offers. Don’t expect reconciliation and closure, but do expect boatloads of beautiful prose as well as moving and fully-realized characters and relationships. If you grew up in the suburbs, behind the security blanket of a compulsively green lawn and a two-story home, then you have to read this book.
The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison -"Take them in one at a time over a period of weeks or (as I did) compulsively read them in an afternoon or two. Doesn’t matter. Either way, you’ll be lucky to have read these heart-breaking and often funny (and even oftener heartbreakingly funny) essays. The subjects vary from the unbelievable and obscure to the painfully obvious and immediate, all in a style that is totally approachable but always fiercely realized. Jamison is saying some seriously important things about what it means to exist today, and it’s not hyperbolic to say that this book will change the way you see the world when you’re done with it."*- DONOVAN
*Disclaimer: Bookseller not responsible for sudden change of world views at the expense of one’s job and/or marriage.
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka - "If you haven’t read it already, then here’s your chance. Nobody’s judging. We will close our eyes and hum loudly as you anonymously flip through one of the greatest (and one of this blurber’s personal favorite) stories that you should have already read by now. There will be zero snickering and/or eye-rolling* upon your purchase of this item, which, as I’ve stated, you should have already read by now. So about the book. If you’re into people turning into beetles, don’t even think, just buy it. If you liked The Fly, then this is your Bible. If you’re not super into beetles, previously-human or otherwise, than even better. Because *spoiler*, it’s not really about beetles at all. And if you hate it, than at least you have a tidbit of intellectual snootiness for your next cocktail party. But you won’t hate it. Either way, you’re welcome." - DONOVAN*Other forms of belittlement/condescension may occur accordingly.
Sightlines by Kathleen Jamie - These essays wash over you like a warm tide and evoke nature as the big, strange, pulsing thing that it is. If you’re not super into nature, that’s fine. I wasn’t. But be prepared to see it much differently after you finish these really beautiful pieces. Personal example: it turns out whales are not fictional, great white monsters bent on destroying your ship/life but are, in fact, very real and very much still in existence today. (Who knew!) But the book is about far more than just nature. These essays cover the strangeness of human history and isolation while wandering about in the immense unpredictability of the natural world. These pieces will linger in your mind in the days to follow. They will creep up behind you, completely unseen and undetected until the very moment that they explode out of the surface of the water and are upon you; much like whales, which, I repeat, very much exist and are currently creeping around somewhere in the ocean like the big horrible monsters that they are. So beware. — DONOVAN
How To Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid - "Does the spare style reduce the emotional interaction between reader and character, or does it strip away the veneer of prosy writing and allow for a much much deeper one? Kind of depends. If you fancy page-long passages about the way the sunlight looks as it twinkles through the leaves of a glorious beech tree, then this one might not be for you. But if you appreciate a voice that is funny, sharp, and always perceptive, pick this one up right now. Well, not right now. Kindly finish reading this blurb first. With the crisp second-person narration and the faux-self-help framework, this book sucks you in from sentence number one and keeps you dazzled until sentence number… the last one. And the book is as much about love and growing old as it is about globalization and the expanding/shrinking world. Have you ever loved someone and/or once been younger than you currently are now? If no on both fronts, sorry and… you might want to see a doctor. If yes, then there is no excuse for you to not pick this up right now. Yes, you may pick it up now." DONOVAN
A Visit From the Goon Squad -by Jennifer Egan - "A book about a kleptomaniac, a dictator in a funny hat, an aging Lou-Reedish figure, and punk rockers galore. Oh and PowerPoint. If you’re not already purchasing the book, please see me at the front desk. Enough said. But since I’m contractually obligated to say more, here goes: This book is one of my personal favorites and is totally original and inventive and funny and all that great blurb stuff. But the thing is, it really is all of those things. This is not just fluff. This book is important but never preachy, funny but never ridiculous, and moving but never cheesy. You will love this book and come back to it again and again." — DONOVAN
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey - This is one of my all-time favorites! In 1902, a childless couple moves to the Alaskan wilderness to build a new life. After the first snowfall, they create a snow child which then disappears, leaving footprints trailing off into the woods. Based on a Russian fairy tale, it is part historical fiction, part fantasy. Beautiful language.
Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard - "I knew next to nothing about President Garfield nor his assassination before reading this book. He was practically elected by accident and then served only six months into his term. Candice Millard weaves together political drama, a fascinating biography, and the medical and security challenges of the time."
The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly - "A sequel to Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. This book for middle grade readers (and others) focuses on the life of a young girl living in west Texas in the early 1900s. Being the only girl in her family, she struggles against the conventions of the day. I love Calpurnia! She has a wonderful, strong, and witty voice. "
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson - "Two friends have a completely different idea of what the word adventure means as they set off together along the Appalachian Trail. Soon to be a motion picture starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte."
Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova - "If you are a fan of Still Alice, then you will enjoy this book as well. I like the way the author uses her knowledge of brain function and neuropsychology to write informative, gripping family narratives."
Light Between Oceans by M.L. Steadman - "I kept thinking about this book for months after reading it. How can one decision change the course of a life? Are we ever truly forgiven for mistakes made in our past? Beautiful writing and an austere, poetic setting. "