The December 2018 Indie Next List Preview

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Here are the 20 Indie Next Great Reads and 12 Now in Paperback titles featured on the December 2018 Indie Next List flier, which is on its way to stores in the IndieBound movement.

Beginning December 1, these titles will be featured on downloadable fliers and shelf-talkers on and

#1 Pick: My Sister, the Serial Killer: A Novel by Oyinkan Braithwaite
(Doubleday, 9780385544238, $22.95)
My Sister, the Serial Killer is one of the best books to come along in quite a while — fast, funny, and completely engrossing. Oyinkan Braithwaite offers up a tale of Nigerian sisters Ayoola, a beautiful and sociopathic serial killer who destroys boyfriends, aware that all they ever want her for is her appearance, and Korede, a nurse whose average looks leave her continually passed up in preference for Ayoola. Still, taciturn and devoted Korede works hard to cover up her charming sister’s crimes. What will happen when they both fall for the same guy? At once a page-turner and a perversely righteous tale about the emptiness of physical beauty and the superficiality of being charmed by it, My Sister, the Serial Killer is entertaining, provoking, and utterly fascinating!” —Sarah Sorensen, Bookbug, Kalamazoo, MI

Once Upon a River: A Novel by Diane Setterfield
(Atria/Emily Bestler Books, 9780743298070, $28)
“Time to settle down for a story. It begins, as good stories should, with the rescue of a pair of strangers on a winter night. Though all is not as it seems in Diane Setterfield’s latest, as Once Upon a River quickly delves into a mystery. The young girl was dead when she was pulled from the river, but hours later she begins to breathe. As the story of her revival spreads, more than one member of the village feels mysteriously drawn to her. Could she be their missing child, estranged granddaughter, long-lost sister? Setterfield’s work is the closest an adult can come to settling down for story time, and Once Upon a River has the same magic, timeless, and cozy charm of a tale that has been told through the ages. Simply lovely.” —Molly Gillespie, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Cincinnati, OH

A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts by Therese Anne Fowler
(St. Martin’s Press, 9781250095473, $27.99)
“In her lifetime, Alva Smith Vanderbilt goes from being a Have to a Have-Not to a Have-It-All. Not content to just build spectacular mansions and host fabulous high-society balls, she uses her status and immense wealth to help the poverty-stricken, promote racial equality, and advocate for women’s rights in the courts and voting booths. As she did in Z, Therese Anne Fowler digs beyond the sensational and scandalous newspaper headlines and brings depth to her protagonist to show us a life well-lived.” —Nancy Baenen, Arcadia Books, Spring Green, WI

The Dakota Winters: A Novel by Tom Barbash
(Ecco, 9780062258199, $26.99)
“In The Dakota Winters, Barbash delivers a sweeping family saga that transports readers to the New York City of the late ’70s and early ’80s, to Central Park, The Village, the restaurant and club scenes, from The Beatles to The Flying Lizards to your average dysfunctional family living at the Dakota — the Winters. The story follows two conflicting arcs: that of fading father and late-night host Buddy Winter and that of his emerging 23-year-old son Anton. I loved Barbash’s first novel, The Last Good Time, and The Dakota Winters does not disappoint. You’ll want to savor every sentence of this powerful chronicle of the times!” —Bill Reilly, the river’s end bookstore, Oswego, NY

Kingdom of the Blind: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel by Louise Penny
(Minotaur Books, 9781250066206, $28.99)
“Inspector Gamache has puzzled his way through 13 of Louise Penny’s mysteries, and his 14th is an exceptional read. Penny brings us a mystery that will delight old-school mystery lovers (a storm, the reading of a will) as well as those who enjoy a fast-paced thriller (Gamache’s plans involving the opioids he lost). The pacing is swift and the cast of characters from Three Pines is as charming and wonderful as always. The Kingdom of the Blind is easily one of the best of the series. Thank you, Louise Penny, for reminding us that kindness does exist in this mostly cruel world and that when utilized correctly, it can be inspiring and life-changing.” —William Carl, Wellesley Books, Wellesley, MA

The Adults: A Novel by Caroline Hulse
(Random House, 9780525511748, $26)
“What a fun read! Put a copy into the stocking of every adult family member (and rejoice when they all go off to their separate corners to read quietly). Exes, step-parents, vacation hijinks, secrets, and screw-ups — this funny novel has all the right ingredients to entertain and cut the tension surrounding big family holidays.” —Mary Laura Philpott, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN

Vita Nostra: A Novel by Marina and Sergey Dyachenko
(Harper Voyager, 9780062694591, $26.99)
“One part coming-of-age parable and one part psychological horror, this book combines dark fantasy with contemporary magical realism, and I can’t stop thinking about the resulting magnificence weeks after finishing it. Beautifully translated from its original Russian, Vita Nostra brilliantly explores the period in early adulthood where we consider the price we’re willing to pay to discover our full potential, and how we make ourselves vulnerable when we strive for outside approval.” —Ilana Darrant, Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA

Night of Miracles: A Novel by Elizabeth Berg
(Random House, 9780525509509, $26)
“I loved everything about this book — I wanted to live next door to Lucille in Mason and take her baking classes. Berg brought this small town and the characters living there to life. Highly recommended.” —Sherry Fritzsche, Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT

Radiant Shimmering Light: A Novel by Sarah Selecky
(Bloomsbury Publishing, 9781635571806, $27)
“Is it really possible to use all of our devices and social media to create truly grounded, peaceful, meaningful lives? In Selecky’s latest, 40-year-old pet artist Lillian is the one to find out! Incorporating every self-help, holistic, new-age approach there is, she reconnects with her long-lost cousin (and women’s lifestyle guru) to live a life that is truly Instagram-worthy!” —Andrea Jones, The Galaxy Bookshop, Hardwick, VT

The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose
(Algonquin Books, 9781616208523, trade paper, $15.95)
“Fascinating fiction based on the true story of artist Marina Abramović’s 2010 art performance in which she sat face-to-face, eye-to-eye, with museum visitors, one at a time, for 75 days. She sat unmoving, in the same pose every day, her expression unchanged except for occasional tears. The performance had surprisingly deep effects on both visitors who sat with her and visitors who simply observed. The story focuses on several fictional characters’ almost-obsessive attraction to the performance and its subsequent influence on their lives. Not unlike the apparent enchantment of the performance, it was hard to tear my eyes from the page.” —Kay Wosewick, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI

Insomnia by Marina Benjamin
(Catapult, 9781948226059, $18.95)
“I once signed up for a sleep therapy group that was strikingly similar to the one Benjamin attends for her own insomnia in her aptly named book. What was most unsettling was our sleep therapist’s insistence that our individual struggles with sleep were neither as exceptional nor as debilitating as we insisted they were. Writing not just about her own experience but that of fellow insomniacs throughout history, Benjamin illustrates that insomnia gifts as much as it robs, and that insomniacs are, in the end, as protective of their sleeplessness as the snippets of rest they manage to steal. Having finished her book, I am happier to belong to this particular clan. To lie awake in solidarity.” —Lillian Li, Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, MI

Of Blood and Bone: Chronicles of The One, Book 2 by Nora Roberts
(St. Martin’s Press, 9781250122995, $28.99)
“The time has come for an awakening, and it will not come without pain. The world has been brought down by a virus and it awaits redemption, which only the One can deliver. Fallon Swift is nearly 13 and will soon enter into a time of challenge like none other. She must learn to fight, to gain wisdom, and to understand her future. Will she become the woman she is meant to be before the world outside her farm closes in around her? Of Blood and Bone is both entertaining and insightful, so make yourself cozy, grab a cup of tea, and brace yourself for a good ride.” —Linda Bond, Auntie’s Bookstore, Spokane, WA

Not of This Fold: A Novel by Mette Ivie Harrison
(Soho Crime, 9781616959425, $26.95)
“Following up on her debut novel in the Linda Wallheim mystery series, Mette Ivie Harrison’s new novel again ventures into the world of Mormon women fighting for power and a voice. Wallheim is pulled by her friend and fellow doubter, Gwen Ferris, into the investigation of a murder of a Latina mother whose death threatens to reveal corruption at the very highest levels of church leadership. Harrison also deftly handles the side plot of Wallheim’s son’s struggles as an openly gay man on his first mission. Her intimate understanding of Mormonism and carefully drawn, complex characters will show readers a world and a faith in transition, mirroring the struggles of the larger culture.” —Kelly Barth, Raven Bookstore, Lawrence, KS

Hearts of the Missing: A Mystery by Carol Potenza
(Minotaur Books, 9781250178282, $26.99)
“After being forced to move and give up law school, Nicky Matthews is finally doing something she really loves. She is a police sergeant with the Pueblo, New Mexico, police force and the liaison with the Fire-Skye Indian reservation. Nicky has made many friends on the res and is respected by the natives, but she is not liked at all by her boss, who can’t wait to catch her doing something wrong. When a suicide seems to be linked to other missing Fire-Skye people, Nicky defies her boss and investigates. Ancient beliefs and culture, greed, revenge, and modern-day genetics all mix together in this beautifully written police procedural.” —Nancy McFarlane, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC

Witness: Lessons From Elie Wiesel’s Classroom by Ariel Burger
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 9781328802699, $26)
“Elie Wiesel — witness, writer, and humanitarian — wanted to be remembered foremost as a teacher. Ariel Burger, a longtime student, teaching assistant, and friend, has given us an intimate and moving portrait of this extraordinary man and the profound lessons he had to share.” —Dale Szczeblowski, Porter Square Bookstore, Cambridge, MA

Heirs of the Founders: The Epic Rivalry of Henry Clay, John Calhoun and Daniel Webster, the Second Generation of American Giants by H.W. Brands
(Doubleday, 9780385542531, $30)
“Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and John Calhoun dominated Congress from the War of 1812 through the years before the Civil War. They were respectful but wary of each other: fighting over international relations, the Federal Bank, annexation of Texas, and Indian policy, while each tried — and failed — to be elected president. By the end, their relationship fractured, as did the country, when they failed to reconcile the ideal of a democratic republic with the peculiar institution of slavery.” —Mike Hare, Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, VT

The Western Wind: A Novel by Samantha Harvey
(Grove Press, 9780802128287, $26)
“Samantha Harvey’s deeply engaging fourth novel is far more than a medieval whodunnit. In 1491 in a dull, poor village in Somerset, England, local priest John Reve finds himself in charge of investigating the drowning of Tom Newman, the richest man in the village. Was it an accident, suicide, or an act of violence? Newman owned most of the area land and the economy of the village depended on his generosity. Who will benefit the most from his passing? Pressured by his superiors to find a quick resolution, Reve reflects on the lives, beliefs, and superstitions of his parishioners, and his compassionate and humorous observations become intelligent and beautiful meditations on religion and existence. Highly recommended.” —Pierre Camy, Schuler Books, Grand Rapids, MI

The End of the End of the Earth: Essays by Jonathan Franzen
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 9780374147938, $30)
“Exacting and meticulous, Franzen’s The End of the End of the Earth reports on the state of the environment from Africa to Antarctica and relentlessly questions his role as a privileged Westerner in a world of vast inequality. Above all, he puts everything in the context of climate change. Using birds as his moral compass, Franzen evokes the deep joy they bring when he sees them in the wild and delivers heartbreaking accounts of ruined habitats, wanton slaughter of songbirds, and the devastating toll of industrial fishing on seabirds. No less tragic are the stories of impoverished people who live among these birds, and Franzen continually questions the ethics of worrying about avian suffering in the midst of so much human suffering. Ultimately as hopeful as it is anguished, Franzen’s book takes biodiversity as its guiding principle: there’s no one way to save the world, just as there’s no single set of rules governing how to live in it.” —Laurie Greer, Politics and Prose Bookstore, Washington, DC

What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape by Sohaila Abdulali
(The New Press, 9781620974742, trade paper, $15.99)
What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape is a public square for those who know a lot about rape and for those who know little. It is a safe space for survivors and a broad-minded attempt to open the conversation to everyone. It’s a global book, relevant in refugee camps and American suburbs. I can’t think of a book to compare it to. Maybe Silent Spring or Unsafe at Any Speed. I hope the world is ready to accept the change this book could bring.” —Sarah McNally, McNally Jackson Books, New York, NY

Come With Me: A Novel by Helen Schulman
(Harper, 9780062459138, $26.99)
“A gripping, expertly written story of love and fate, Helen Schulman’s Come With Me resonates for all of us who are engaged in our modern, complex families; intrigued and confused by the technology in our lives; and curious enough to wonder how our lives might have turned out if we had made different choices.” —Linda Kass, Gramercy Books, Bexley, OH

The December 2018 Indie Next List “Now in Paperback”

Future Home of the Living God: A Novel by Louise Erdrich
(Harper Perennial, 9780062694065, $16.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Kristin Bates, McLean & Eakin Booksellers, Petoskey, MI

Freshwater: A Novel by Akwaeke Emezi
(Grove Press, 9780802128997, $16)
Recommended in hardcover by Sarah Bumstead, Vroman’s Bookstore, Pasadena, CA

The Ice House: A Novel by Laura Lee Smith
(Grove Press, 9780802128645, $17)
Recommended in hardcover by Cody Morrison, Square Books, Oxford, MS

The Last Equation of Isaac Severy: A Novel in Clues by Nova Jacobs
(Touchstone, 9781501175138, $16)
Recommended in hardcover by Linda Bond, Auntie’s Bookstore, Spokane, WA

Only Killers and Thieves: A Novel by Paul Howarth
(Harper Perennial, 9780062690982, $16.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Bill Cusumano, Square Books, Oxford, MS

Silence: In the Age of Noise by Erling Kagge
(Vintage, 9780525563648, $14.95)
Recommended in hardcover by Laurie Greer, Politics and Prose, Washington, DC

Ultraluminous: A Novel by Katherine Faw
(Picador, 9781250192738, $17)
Recommended in hardcover by Lauren Peugh, Powell’s Books, Portland, OR

The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey
(Soho Crime, 9781616959760, $15.95)
Recommended in hardcover by Lisa Wright, Oblong Books and Music, Millerton, NY

The Wolves of Winter: A Novel by Tyrell Johnson
(Scribner, 9781501155680, $16)
Recommended in hardcover by Eileen McGervey, One More Page Books, Arlington, VA

Young Adult Crossover Favorites

As You Wish by Chelsea Sedoti
(Sourcebooks Fire, 9781492668060, $10.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Carla Ketner, Chapters Books & Gifts, Seward, NE

Everless by Sara Holland
(HarperTeen, 9780062653673, $9.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Kate Towery, The Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA

Truly Devious: A Mystery by Maureen Johnson
(Katherine Tegen Books, 9780062338068, $9.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Melissa Fox, Watermark Books, Wichita, KS