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Summer reading picks

So the kids are back in school as of this week, and now parents have time to do their own summer reading.

Or perhaps you're looking for an intriguing new beach read if you've scheduled your sand-and-sea time when schools are in session to avoid summer's crowds.

We asked two local booksellers their recommendations for great page-turners as well as books to watch for this fall. Kelly Flemings, Barnes & Noble community business development manager, and Katie Garaby at independent bookstore Star Line Books, share their favorites.

Current favorites from Kelly Flemings:

1. "The Plot Is Murder" by V.M. Burns.

A great cozy mystery set in a mystery bookshop with a cast of wacky characters that will charm you, plus a mystery within a mystery that keeps you on your toes.

2. "Persons Unknown" by Susie Steiner.

An intriguing mystery full of heart with a great plot, dark humor and unforgettable characters.

3. "Bel Canto" by Ann Patchett.

Prepare to be captivated by the sheer beauty of Patchett's words, the heart of the story and the strength of the characters. Wonderful!

4. "Dreams and Shadows" by C. Robert Cargill.

In his fiction debut, Cargill offers well-crafted characters and an absorbing, intricate plot that will appeal to fans of Neil Gaiman. He'll pull you into a universe of darkness that exposes the magic of monsters in our world and in ourselves.

5. "I'll Give You the Sun" by Jandy Nelson.

For fans of the movie "Love, Simon," this emotional and poetic novel follows the past and present lives of twins. You will fall in love with the story and find yourself binge-reading.


1. "When the Lights Go Out" by Mary Kubica, due out Sept. 4.

Jessie Sloane is on the path to rebuilding her life after years of caring for her ailing mother. She rents a new apartment and applies for college. But when the college informs her that her Social Security number has raised a red flag, Jessie discovers a shocking detail that causes her to doubt everything she's ever known.

2. "Bridge of Clay" by Markus Zusak, due out Oct. 9.

An unforgettable, sweeping family saga from Zusak, the storyteller who gave us the extraordinary best-seller "The Book Thief." The story of five brothers who bring each other up in a world run by their own rules. As the Dunbar boys love and fight and learn to reckon with the adult world, they discover the secret behind their father's disappearance.

3. "The Reckoning" by John Grisham, due out Oct. 9.

Pete Banning was Clanton's favorite son, a returning war hero, the patriarch of a prominent family, a farmer, father, neighbor and a faithful member of the Methodist church. Then one October morning in 1946, he rose early, drove into town, walked into the church and calmly shot and killed the Rev. Dexter Bell.

4. "Every Breath" by Nicholas Sparks, due out Oct. 16.

Hope Anderson is at a crossroads. At 36, she's been dating her boyfriend for six years. With no wedding plans in sight, and her father recently diagnosed with ALS, she uses a week at her family's cottage in Sunset Beach, North Carolina, to ready the house for sale and mull over some difficult decisions about her future.

Tru Walls has never visited North Carolina, but is summoned to Sunset Beach by a letter from a man claiming to be his father. When the two strangers cross paths, their connection is as electric as it is unfathomable.

5. "The Girl They Left Behind" by Roxanne Veletzos, due out Nov. 13.

On a freezing night in January 1941, a little Jewish girl is found on the steps of an apartment building in Bucharest. With Romania recently allied with the Nazis, the Jewish population is in grave danger, undergoing increasingly violent persecution. The girl is placed in an orphanage and eventually adopted by a wealthy childless couple who name her Natalia.

As she assimilates into her new life, she all but forgets the parents who were forced to leave her behind. As Natalia comes of age in a bleak world, traces of her identity pierce the surface of her everyday life, leading to a discovery that will change her destiny.

Current favorites from Katie Garaby:

1. "Treeborne" by Caleb Johnson.

We get a little doe-eyed for great Southern fiction, and Johnson's debut novel is no exception. If you love Charles Frazier or Cormac McCarthy, you will find a home in Johnson's writing about a small Southern town fighting for the future while struggling with the past.

2. "There There" by Tommy Orange.

Orange is an author to watch with this debut novel about urban Native American life. This book is funny, heartbreaking and angry all at once as characters travel to California for the Big Oakland Powwow.

3. "Visible Empire" by Hannah Pittard.

An epic novel based on true events. In the wake of an airplane crash, the city of Atlanta is forced to contend with the loss of many of its most influential citizens. "Visible Empire" makes for a perfect beach read.

4. "Flame in the Mist" by Renee Ahdieh.

This is a Young Adult book that everyone in our shop cannot get enough of. Set in a feudal Japan with elements of magic and tons of suspense, it makes for a perfect summer read. We aren't surprised it won the Southern Indie Book Prize this year.

5. "Indianapolis" by Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic.

The story of the ship that carried pieces of the atomic bomb, and was sunk by the Japanese on its way home, with only a third of its crew surviving. This is a fantastic piece of nonfiction about World War II with a great Chattanooga connection.


1. "In Pieces" by Sally Field, due out Sept. 18.

A beautiful literary memoir from one of America's most-beloved actors. Her journey from a lonely, painful childhood to nearly a half-century in a craft that helped her find her voice as a person and an actress.

2. "Bitter Orange" by Claire Fuller, due out Oct. 9.

A derelict English manor. A peephole. Downstairs neighbors. Fuller's novel is full of intrigue and suspense as readers meet a lonely young woman who finds herself entangled with her downstairs neighbors' lives. As the summer of 1969 hedonistically unfolds, small indiscretions compound and results will be life-changing for the trio.

3. "Unsheltered" by Barbara Kingsolver, due out Oct. 16.

Kingsolver returns to writing with a timely novel that weaves together past and present while exploring our capacity for resiliency and compassion in times of great upheaval. Kingsolver is a master storyteller.

— Compiled by staff writer Susan Pierce


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