Very rarely can I say that an artist's death affects me in any real way, but Vic Chestnutt's 2009 suicide was a legitimate bummer. A long career that ended on the verge of very quiet success, the Athens singer songwriter risked becoming a mere memory of minor notoriety. Luckily fellow friend and musician Kristin Hersh has gifted us with a very personal memoir of her often stressed friendship with the brilliantly sincere songwriter and lifelong receiver of the raw deal. Vic Chesnutt was a painfully authentic artist and one of the most influential songwriters that most people have never heard of.— Kyle
Short stories often get ignored in favor of longer works, but that's a mistake when an author is as talented as Kelly Link! Not only are her stories beautiful and exquisitely written, each one is as different from each other as they are from anything else on the bookshelves. She writes about the future, both near and far, and a present day that's stranger than anything I've ever known. But at the heart of all her stories are relatable characters who yearn for love and security. If you are in the mood for mystical, moody stories that you can finish in 20 minutes, but think about for hours, Get in Trouble is perfect!— Lauren
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Love the Dodgers? Hate the Dodgers? Either way, you’ll get a lot out of The Best Team Money Can Buy. In a shallow sense, the Dodgers are portrayed as the most expensive failure in the history of baseball due to early playoff exits in consecutive years. What makes this book exceptional, though, is author Molly Knight’s access and insight into the clubhouse, normally a place of sanctity for players, and the inner workings of a professional baseball club. Personality and ideological clashes abound, important decisions are made on strange whims, and tempers flare at inopportune times. If you’re looking for a story of a dysfunctional franchise filled with overpaid, prima donna players, this book certainly has that in abundance. But more importantly, we get an example of honest sports journalism, a mostly forgotten art, where a group of guys from vastly different backgrounds attempt to come together and bring home a championship.— Danny
Ever since I devoured John Dies at the End I have eagerly anticipated each of David Wong's books. I was not disappointed by this newest tale of mayhem, gunfire and douchebaggery. This time Wong's story features a heroine plucked from the trailer park and whisked away with her stinky cat to the decadent life of her deceased father--a gangster tuned philanthropist. She clumsily navigates the wreckage he left behind with cynicism and good intentions while trying to save the city from a meat head with robotic appendages. When I get right down to it, how can I not love a book where one of the characters wears a suit of live kittens?— Chris
As the subtitle tells us, Pema Chodron's newest book is "wise advice for leaning into the unknown." For example, being aware of what you are saying to yourself, being aware of the breath going in and out, and staying with the feeling - in this case, when you feel that you have failed or made a mistake. Then rephrasing self critical talk so it is more gentle and positive. Pema Chodron is an American-born Buddhist nun whose life experiences have led her to the place of being able to share "wise advice" in a simple and straightforward manner. Tami Simon from Sounds True interviewed Ani Pema for this book and the accompanying CD, which includes a second interview. There is inspiration in these words.— Pinna
I didn’t think Rick Riordan could come up with a character I liked more than Percy Jackson, but I was dead wrong. In his newest series that centers on the Norse gods (you know - Odin, Thor, Loki...those guys), Riordan gives us his most enthralling character to date in the form of Magnus Chase. If the name sounds familiar, it should. Fans of Percy Jackson will remember Annabeth Chase, daughter of Athena. Magnus is her cousin, and yes, she makes appearances in the story. The story is told through Magnus himself and the voice Riordan gives Magnus is far from a Percy Jackson repeat. I thoroughly enjoyed the juxtaposition of snark and humility in Magnus, and actually caught myself laughing out loud in several places. There are definite inside jokes that readers of the previous three series will appreciate, and as always, the writing makes this book nearly impossible to put down. I truly feel that this is Riordan’s best work yet and await the next installment with bated breath!— Scott
Talk about a book that blew me away! Becky Albertalli's debut novel is so skillfully crafted that both teens and adults will be able to enjoy the story of Simon, a closeted high schooler who is blackmailed by a fellow classmate after his secret correspondence with another boy is discovered. This book often had me laughing and sharing passages with anyone who was around me. In the clandestine e-mails to his crush, Simon isn't shy about sharing his opinions (Why is straight assumed to be the default sexuality? Why do only gay people have to come out?), and by the end of this book, you may be rethinking the day-to-day assumptions you might be making of others.— Heather H.
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Several books have been written lately about gods or god-like characters but none as interesting as Carolyn and her siblings. They are not your normal family - they have narcissism, ambition, greed and dysfunction. The difference between them and every other literary family? They have the power and the knowledge of the Universe at their fingertips....if they can only reach it. They race against each other, time, distant relatives and the ever looming threat of Father showing up. The writing is tight, intense and will leave you looking at your neighbors and thinking “Hmmm, I wonder....” And let’s face it, we all judge a book by it’s cover and THIS has one of the best covers ever!— Stephanie
Rios, in Spanish, is “rivers,” and, in this collection by Arizona’s poet laureate, we do indeed find a precious watershed that irrigates a vast territory. Sometimes a torrent, loud and dangerous, sometimes a peaceful stream where birds alight, always flowing with life. It’s all here, all of Arizona is here: our landscape and inhabitants, and our becoming who we are, reflected back in the poet’s own becoming. One of my favorite reads of 2015.— Claudia
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Bill Clegg's book is a masterpiece--quiet at times, loud at others, but brilliant. All his characters, with no exceptions, are fully realized and speak with voices that come from the depths of their being, formed by circumstance, happenstance, pain and joy. The intersection of disparate lives is fascinating and so true to how humans connect, disconnect, and move through the world but Clegg manages to shape and bend the lives to a cohesive whole without compromising the truth of any of their stories. This is going to be my favorite handsell when it arrives in our stores in September.— Gayle
This is my favorite Stephenson novel since Snow Crash. Which is saying a lot, because I think this will be for hard sci-fi what Snow Crash was for cyberpunk: an impressive and timeless example of that particular sci-fi subgenre. So, Seveneves in a nutshell: Neil deGrasse Tyson, Elon Musk, and a large group of diverse badass women do incredibly difficult nerdy stuff in space. Honestly, this book is so intelligent that it hurts. If you're the kind of geek that really wants to read hundreds of pages about what cool stuff people can do with orbital mechanics, swarm physics, hijacked comets, and micro-robotics, look no further. Think of it as Andy Weir's The Martian on steroids, plus some H. G. Wells-style utopia, and a healthy dose of World War Z end-of-the-world horror. Yes, it's really that awesome, I promise.
I picked this book up because I was looking for a quick read, something I could spend an hour with and then never look back. What I got instead was a startlingly potent injection of unease that seeped its way into my veins like a living presence, threading its tendrils throughout my body and haunting me from within. I don’t even know how it managed to affect me so strongly; there is an indefinable malaise in these pages, as if the book itself is plagued by some insidious disease. Nathan Ballingrud is a wonderful author, with beautiful prose, a hypnotic voice, and devastating ideas. I don’t know when I will be able to shake the feeling of dread he has planted in me. Visceral, grotesque, and deeply disturbing, The Visible Filth may be the best horror novella I have ever read.— Jason
I don't want to give too much away, but here goes. If you pick up this novel by Jennifer Niven, you will be beginning a journey where you won't regret a single step (or page as it may be). Violet is the "extenuating circumstances" girl who is stumbling through surviving a tragic loss. Theodore Finch is the captivatingly clever, whimsical, and lost boy who is helping Violet find her feet. Their story, told from both perspectives, is filled with all the thoughts we have held through our lives about doubt, loss, labels, bullying, love, and All the Bright Placesin between. V+F will definitely stay with me. Hopefully, they will with you as well.— Meghan
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In Detective John Skaggs, I have found the real-life Jimmy McNulty. McNulty was the head-strong and virtuous homicide detective in HBO’s The Wire who viewed the gang murders he was assigned to investigate as deserving as any other high-profile case--the victims were human beings, after all. When Skaggs was called to investigate the murder of a black detective’s son in South Central Los Angeles, what envelopes is a microcosm of everything that is wrong with the perception of black-on-black violence in America. In gritty, noirish prose, Leovy lays flat the issues and offers a simple analysis: violence is endemic when police focus is on preventive tactics instead of convicting existing crime. For fans of The Wire, Blood Will Out, and the podcast Serial, pick this up if you want to learn what it is to be a real “po-lice” like John Skaggs, not just another cop.— Jeremy B.
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Since reading Bacigalupi's The Windup Girl, I've found myself continuously wondering about the dangers of corporate-driven crops and the loss of precious biodiversity in the world. Bacigalupi expertly tackles another powerful environmental motif in The Water Knife: water. In the not-so-distant future, Southwest states battle over the ever-dwindling Colorado River and water companies guard reserves like gold. With Lake Mead’s record-low levels and infamous “bathtub ring” as an ominous symbol of severe drought even now, water is more precious than ever. Follow protagonist Angel Velazquez, who works for the Southern Nevada Water Authority as a spy and assassin, as he sabotages water supply and ends up in crumbling Phoenix. Follow Lucy, too, a journalist who stuck around to document the city’s drought-driven descent. Bacigalupi’s passion for legitimate research-based writing and all-too-real possibilities bring this dystopian-style novel to life. With compelling characters and vivid diction, he paints a grim picture of a reality that isn’t too far off if measures aren’t taken to protect the inestimable resource that gives this arid area vibrant life.— Becky
For most, visiting a bookstore is a transcendent experience full of joy and laughter. For me, it is an overwhelming blow to the brain as I stare at the endless rows of books, trying to narrow it down to just a few titles. If you're like me and you often wonder "What the hell do I want to read next?", this witty collection of short stories is for you. Lauren Holmes takes you through a wide range of emotions throughout her various tales, and each will leave you hitting a different spot on the "feels" spectrum. Each story was sharp, creative, and widely enjoyable. An easy read that will leave you craving more!— Jazmin
By the time your senior year rolls around, you are expected to make some pretty big decisions. Will you go to college? What do you want to do with the rest of your life? But that's not the only thing these four seniors have to put the pressure on. Now they have to contend with an asteroid, heading toward Earth. There is a 66% chance it will hit the Earth and obliterate any hope of a future, for anyone. Of course, there is a small chance it wont. Faced with this uncertainty, four seniors from different social backgrounds must decide who they want to be today, rather than tomorrow. However, amid this looming catastrophic event, there is hope. The hope of humanity; the hope of being true to yourself. From beginning to end I was captured by this amazing debut. Tommy Wallach's words are poetry in prose form. We All Looked Up left me feeling light, optimistic and thoughtful.— Brandi