The August 2012 Indie Next List Preview

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Here is a preview of the titles on the August Indie Next List flier, on its way to ABA member stores in the IndieBound movement.

A downloadable PDF version of the list will also be available beginning August 1 on and

The August 2012 Indie Next List Great Reads

#1 Pick: The Light Between Oceans: A Novel, by M.L. Stedman
(Scribner, $25, 9781451681734)
“World War I is over and Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia as a lighthouse keeper on remote Janus Rock. His young bride, Isabel, joins him, and they love their isolated life on Janus. Sadness descends, however, as they try unsuccessfully to start a family. A small boat washes ashore carrying a dead man and a beautiful, healthy baby girl whom they make their own, living happily until they go back to the mainland and begin to realize the consequences of their actions. With incredibly visual prose evocative of the time and place, compelling characters, themes of forgiveness and redemption, and a riveting plot that won’t let you put the book down, this is a great debut novel.” —Judy Crosby, Island Books, Middletown, RI

Tigers in Red Weather: A Novel, by Liza Klaussmann
(Little, Brown and Company, $25.99, 9780316211338)
“Pull up a chair, pour a cup of tea — or something stronger — and get ready to travel from post-WWII America to 1980s Martha’s Vineyard. You are about to meet five beautifully drawn characters who will fascinate you and break your heart. Klaussmann brilliantly weaves their lives together and, as the story unfolds, we find that each of them is covering up something. The dynamite ending comes as a complete surprise and yet it is so right. Don’t miss this gem.” —Elaine Petrocelli, Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry: A Novel, by Rachel Joyce
(Random House, $25, 9780812993295)
“‘He walked so surely, it was as if all his life he had been waiting to get up from his chair.’ Recently retired Harold Fry receives an unsettling letter from a co-worker from years past. Queenie is dying in hospice and when Harold sets out to post a return letter, he is seized by the idea that if he keeps walking, Queenie will live. So begins a pilgrimage of personal transformation for Harold — and quite possibly for the reader as well. Insightful and touching, this journey will stay with readers for quite some time.” —Julia MacDonald, The Yankee Bookshop, Woodstock, VT

Shine Shine Shine: A Novel, by Lydia Netzer
(St. Martin’s Press, $24.99, 9781250007070)
“Sunny Mann is nine months pregnant and the mother of an autistic four-year-old. Her mother is dying. On top of all this, her husband, Maxon, is on his way to the moon to colonize it with robots. Yet Sunny manages to pretend that her life is ‘normal’, until the aftermath of a minor car accident forces her to confront her perceptions and redefine who she is. Shine Shine Shine is a love story unlike any you’ve ever read, told in lyrical prose that will have you re-reading paragraphs simply to enjoy the author’s voice and her way with words.” —Carla Ketner, Chapters Books & Gifts, Seward, NE

In the Shadow of the Banyan: A Novel, by Vaddey Ratner
(Simon & Schuster, $25, 9781451657708)
“Ratner’s remarkable debut novel transforms her childhood experiences living through the horrors of the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia into the finest of literary fiction. The story is narrated by the precocious Raami, whose privileged life is shattered when soldiers ravage Phnom Penh and send her aristocratic family to work camps in the countryside. The powerful writing sweeps you along like the broad Mekong River through the years of heartbreaking loss, hard labor, and starvation, and yet somehow, like Raami, you emerge from the book sobered, but with spirit unbroken. A powerful testament to the tenacity of love and family in the face of unspeakable inhumanity.” —Caitlin Caufield, Odyssey Bookshop, South Hadley, MA

City of Women: A Novel, by David R. Gillham
(Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam, $25.95, 9780399157769)
“In this powerful debut, Gillham gives voice to the remarkable women left to defend the home front in war-torn Berlin. He masterfully juxtaposes their courage and determination in the face of opposition with fear, loneliness, and despair. Impeccably told, City of Women is a sensual, suspenseful read filled with extraordinary characters and exceptional moments of resilience, humanity, and grace.” —Anderson McKean, Page & Palette, Fairhope, AL

The Dog Stars: A Novel, by Peter Heller
(Knopf, $24.95, 9780307959942)
“It is 10 years after the end of civilization. Few survived the illness that wiped out most of the population of the U.S. Hig, a pilot, and his dog, Jasper, live in and defend an airport with Bangley, a gun-obsessed gruff man with no second thoughts about killing intruders. Somehow, Hig has maintained his conscience, continues to yearn for more to life, and sets out to find it. Heller has written a masterpiece full of language so beautiful it will break your heart and then fill it back up.” —Hannah Johnson-Breimeier, Next Chapter Bookshop, Mequon, WI

The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns: A Novel, by Margaret Dilloway
(Putnam Adult, $25.95, 9780399157752)
“Galilee Garner needs a kidney transplant. At 31, single, and teaching science in a private school, she breeds roses for pleasure. Dialysis every other day and her roses keep her life busy and organized. Then her 15-year-old niece shows up at school needing a place to live, and turns Galilee’s life upside down. No longer able to think only of herself, she must come to terms with her responsibilities, and eventually realizes that change is inevitable, and could even be for the better!” —Beth Carpenter, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC

A Foreign Country: A Novel, by Charles Cumming
(St. Martin’s Press, $24.99, 9780312591335)
“Thomas Kell is a spy, or at least he used to be. He was ‘asked’ to retire — which means he was forced out — by the SIS, the British Secret Intelligence Service. But then Thomas is called back in because he’s the best person to track down his old partner, Amelia. She is slated to become the next chief of SIS and has disappeared. Thomas discovers Amelia has secretly met up with the son she gave up for adoption many years ago, something that could ruin Amelia’s career. Thomas is out to find her, protect her story, and redeem his life as a spy. As in all good spy thrillers, this one is full of intrigue and suspense, and Cumming is an expert storyteller.” —Leigh Ann Giles, Western Associated Students Bookstore, Bellingham, WA

Broken Harbor: A Novel, by Tana Fench
(Viking Adult, $27.95, 9780670023653)
“I keep wondering how long Tana French will be able to keep up the quality of her mesmerizing Dublin detective series, but they just keep getting better! In Broken Harbor, Mick ‘Scorcher’ Kennedy, the hardline murder detective who made his first appearance in Faithful Place, takes the starring role. A father and his two children are murdered and their mother is in the hospital, gravely injured. What happened in their almost abandoned luxury housing development? Ghosts of both the present and the past haunt the investigation in this atmospheric procedural.” —Susan Taylor, Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, NY

A Hundred Flowers: A Novel, by Gail Tsukiyama
(St. Martin’s, $24.99, 9780312274818)
“The words of Chairman Mao, ‘Let a hundred flowers bloom; let a hundred schools of thought contend’ prove to be a trap for Sheng, a high school teacher who dares to speak out against the Communist Party. He is imprisoned, leaving his wife and young son to make their home with his father, a retired university professor. Sharing their story through alternating voices, Tsukiyama is a masterful craftsman and storyteller, and the reader is quickly caught up in the turmoil of the early days of the Cultural Revolution in China.” —Elizabeth Merritt, Titcomb’s Bookshop, East Sandwich, MA

Vengeance: A Novel, by Benjamin Black
(Henry Holt & Company, $26, 9780805094398)
“If you haven’t yet discovered Benjamin Black (a.k.a. John Banville) and his marvelous creation, Dr. Quirke, then you are missing some first-rate writing and entertainment. Vengeance is the fourth in a series set in Dublin in the late 1950s featuring the good doctor, a somewhat grumpy pathologist, and his drinking and sleuthing companion Inspector Detective Hackett. Quirke is a flawed man of many weaknesses, yet he manages to be in a state of permanent self-deprecation that he takes as a sign of virtue, and that makes him an irresistible and believable character.” —Darwin Ellis, Books on the Common, Ridgefield, CT

The Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life That Follows, by Brian Castner
(Doubleday, $25.95, 9780385536202)
“This meditation on combat and its aftermath is powerful, exhilarating, and sad, all at once. Castner relates wartime experiences that defy belief but are all too real and quickly remove any romance from the world of violence. Like Karl Marlantes and Benjamin Busch, Castner brings our current wars right onto our doorstep and shows that they are always with all of us, not to be hidden away.” —Bill Cusumano, Nicola’s Books, Ann Arbor, MI

When We Were the Kennedys: A Memoir From Mexico, Maine, by Monica Wood
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $24, 9780547630144)
“Wood’s memoir is a compelling tale of loss on many levels. She recounts the tragedy of the unexpected death of her father and also the loss of a way of life with the slow dying of the town’s mill that has sustained its citizens for generations. Her mother’s fascination with the stoicism of the Kennedys after the death of the President foreshadows the family’s ability to deal with the abrupt loss of their husband and father. This book is a moving tale — sad, yet funny, as Monica shares her story of growing up in a small town with all of the various folks who helped shape her life.” —Barbara Kelly, Portland Bookstore, University of Southern Maine, Portland, ME

The Collective: A Novel, by Don Lee
(W. W. Norton, $25.95, 9780393083217)
“In this sometimes heartbreaking, at other times hilarious novel, Eric Cho contemplates the life of Joshua Yoon, the Korean novelist with whom he, along with provocative visual artist Jessica Tsai, once formed the 3AC or Asian American Artists Collective, first in college and later in Cambridge. What may have led Joshua to commit suicide — or was it? — by running into the path of an oncoming car? Lee once again tackles identity themes, but this time through the lens of the college novel. A triumph!” —Daniel Goldin, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI

Home Is a Roof Over a Pig: An American Family’s Journey in China, by Aminta Arrington
(Overlook Press, $26.95, 9781590208991)
“Few authors are able to take us inside the daily lives of the Chinese people and turn a spotlight on both the shades of difference between our societies and, perhaps more surprising, the similarities. Love of family, desires for the future, and hope for growth and advancement are themes found in these pages. But so, too, are the pain of generational gaps, fear of change, and interpersonal prejudices that still lead to harshness and even violence. If you want to look through a window at the real China of today, this is the book to read.” —Linda Bond, Auntie’s Bookstore, Spokane, WA

Battleborn: Stories, by Claire Vaye Watkins
(Riverhead, $25.95, 9781594488252)
“This extraordinary debut collection is the short story form at its finest. Linked by setting, in the tradition of Annie Proulx, these 10 brave tales create a new mythology of the American West in a way that you’ve never experienced it before: From the desperate gold rush of the 49ers, to a tragic experience in a casino hotel, to the small, safe world a heartbroken woman creates in her bathtub. The writing is impeccable, the characters complex, and the stories full of heart and humanity. Do not miss this book!” —Alise Hamilton, Andover Bookstore, Andover, MA

The Sandcastle Girls: A Novel, by Chris Bohjalian
(Doubleday, $25.95, 9780385534796)
“Evil thrives in dark and secret places, spots where the world has turned away and forgotten. In 1915, there are many distractions as a world war rages. While attention is focused elsewhere, the Turks unleashed horrific cruelty and death on the Armenians. A young American, Elizabeth Endicott, travels to Aleppo, Syria, to work with Armenian refugees. Her life will never be the same. Armen has lost everything a man holds dear, his family destroyed in the genocide. He befriends the young American and is moved by her zest for life and commitment to helping his people. These are characters you will root for, full of spirit and a desire to make a difference. Epic in scope, this is on my list of favorites for the year!” —Deon Stonehouse, Sunriver Books, Sunriver, OR

Widow’s Might: A Liv Bergen Mystery, by Sandra Brannan
(Greenleaf Book Group Press, $14.95, 9781608323722)
“Sandra Brannan keeps improving with each Liv Bergen novel. While not as gruesome as the first two in the series, this installment is a true mystery. Brannan’s characters are becoming richer in each new installment. Wonderfully drawn, Liv holds you in thrall, and you can’t wait to see what happens to her next. Just see if you can figure out the killer in this ‘more than a whodunit.’” —Jo Gilley, Blue Ridge Booksellers and Cafe, Waynesville, NC

You and Me: A Novel, by Padgett Powell
(Ecco, $23.99, 9780062126139)
“Experience the utter joy of shooting the breeze on the porch with a couple of crotchety, intelligent old codgers. Inventive, funny, and profound, Powell turns phrases like a dervish in this Southern-styled ersatz retelling of Waiting for Godot. A wonderful book that perfectly captures kicking back and trying to make sense of the crazy world streaming by.” —Josh Cook, Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MA

The August 2012 Now in Paperback

American Boy: A Novel,by Larry Watson (Milkweed, 9781571310958, $15)
Recommended in hardcover by Nancy Simpson-Brice, The Book Vault, Oskaloosa, IA    

The Devil All the Time: A Novel, by Donald Ray Pollock (Anchor, 9780307744869, $15)
Recommended in hardcover by Robert Sindelar, Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, WA

Ed King: A Novel, by David Guterson (Vintage, 9780307455901, $15.95)
Recommended in hardcover by Jane Bowman, Eagle Harbor Book Company, Bainbridge Island, WA

The Homecoming of Samuel Lake: A Novel, by Jenny Wingfield (Random House Trade, Paperbacks, 9780385344098, $15)
Recommended in hardcover by Jill Miner, Saturn Booksellers, Gaylord, MI

If Jack’s in Love: A Novel, by Stephen Wetta (Berkley Trade, 9780425247785, $15)
Recommended in hardcover by Ken Favell, Books & Company, Oconomowoc, WI

The Keeper of Lost Causes, by Jussi Adler-Olsen (Plume, 9780452297906, $16)
Recommended in hardcover by Becky Milner, Vintage Books, Vancouver, WA

The Lost Memory of Skin: A Novel, by Russell Banks (Ecco, 9780061857645, $14.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Karen Briggs, Great Northern Books & Hobbies, Oscoda, MI

Rules of Civility: A Novel, by Amor Towles (Penguin, 9780143121169, $16)
Recommended in hardcover by Matthew Lage, Iowa Book, Iowa City, IA

What Language Is: And What It Isn’t and What It Could Be, by John McWhorter (Gotham, 9781592407200, $16)
Recommended in hardcover by Fran Wilson, Colorado State University Bookstore, Fort Collins, CO

The World We Found: A Novel, by Thrity Umrigar (Harper Perennial, 9780061938351, $14.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Emily Crowe, The Odyssey Bookshop, South Hadley, MA