The January 2013 Indie Next List Preview

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Here’s a preview of the titles on the January 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 January 1 on and

The January 2013 Indie Next List Great Reads

Y: A Novel, by Marjorie Celona
(Free Press, $24.99, 9781451674385)
Y is a book about the ‘whys’ of two lives. Why did one woman abandon her newly born daughter at the door of a YMCA? Why was it so hard for that little girl to find a real home? Why do we sometimes embrace responsibility, and sometimes run away from it? Why are people cruel to the helpless and the innocent? The characters in this book are flawed and stumbling — in other words, very human and very memorable. The issues of what it means to be a family and the meaning of ‘home’ are challenged, remolded, and puzzled into a story that is not always easy to read, but is difficult to put down and is impossible to forget.” —Jackie Blem, Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, CO

Tenth of December: Stories, by George Saunders
(Random House, $26, 9780812993806)
“Saunders’ stories stretch the boundaries of reality, but his characters are often defined by their limits. He is a master satirist in top form with this collection, but his occasionally outlandish settings never overshadow the humanity of the men, women, and children struggling through each tale. These stories do all the things we hope good fiction will do: blow your mind and break your heart, make you laugh and make you think. They are the kind of stories I feel grateful for, that stick in my head and heart and make me want to be a better person.” —Jessica Stockton Bagnulo, Greenlight Bookstore, Brooklyn, NY

Me Before You: A Novel, by Jojo Moyes
(Pamela Dorman Books/Viking, $27.95, 9780670026609)
“If you are looking for a romantic love story that will leave you in happy tears, this is the book for you! Suspend disbelief and immerse yourself in the life of Louisa Clark, who takes a job as a caretaker for a young, wealthy, disabled man. After a rocky start, Lou and Will become close, and Will urges her to expand her horizons and escape from their stifling small town. Naturally, love blooms, but can there be a happy ending for two such different people?” —Susan Taylor, Market Block Books, Troy, NY

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie: A Novel, by Ayana Mathis
(Knopf, $24.95, 9780307959423)
“Hattie came of age in a state and time when a white man could take anything he wanted from a black man, including his life. Like many others, she fled north with her mother and sister, seeking safety and the chance for a better life. Hattie is just 15 when life teaches her these lessons, and 16 when her twin babies die in her arms. Hattie’s story is told in alternating chapters through the children she raised, the trials they gave her, and her perseverance every time life knocked her down. This is the story of a woman’s strength and determination and the story of a nation as it wrestles with the oppression of blacks and their striving to achieve equality in a world that judged them solely by the color of their skin.” —Deon Stonehouse, Sunriver Books, Sunriver, OR

The Third Bullet: A Bob Lee Swagger Novel, by Stephen Hunter
(Simon & Schuster, $26.99, 9781451640205)
“There is no shortage of books on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, but Hunter has done what no one has previously done: supply a breathtaking new angle on the event. While staying true to the underlying facts of the Warren Commission Report, Hunter adds a layer of historical fiction, creating a new theory of the events of that day. Swagger hunts the mastermind behind a second assassin who supplies the third, and fatal, bullet. As Swagger focuses on the shooter and closes in on the mastermind, the mastermind, in turn, hunts him. A heart-pounding thriller!” —Bill Bauer, Redbery Books, Cable, WI

Finding Camlann: A Novel, by Sean Pidgeon
(W. W. Norton & Company, $26.95, 9780393240153)
“This is a new and gripping look at the history and landscape of Britain and the legend of King Arthur. A linguist and an archeologist search for the truth behind the myth, as they climb foggy hills and glean new meanings from a mysterious poem. We follow them in the throes of love and dread, through long-lost battles and modern feuds, as they look with fascination at the secrets and natural beauty of an ancient land that lives anew. Finding Camlann will please both scholars and poets and will intrigue historians and lovers of romance.” —Daniel Butler, Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA

The Death of Bees: A Novel, by Lisa O’Donnell
(Harper, $25.99, 9780062209849)
“Beginning with two children who bury their parents in their garden, The Death of Bees had me hooked from page one. Streetwise teen Marnie and her younger, socially awkward, violin prodigy sister find their parents dead and attempt to cover up their deaths to avoid foster care, with both help and hindrance from some surprising sources. Told from the point of view of multiple characters, this lively, suspenseful, and darkly hilarious tale transfixed me from gruesome start to wonderfully satisfying finish. Brilliant, delightful, and thought provoking!” —Carol Schneck Varner, Schuler Books & Music, Okemos, MI

Hikikomori and the Rental Sister: A Novel, by Jeff Backhaus
(Algonquin, $23.95, 9781616201371)
“Thomas Tessler is ‘hikikomari,’ secluded, isolated, and depressed, a father so filled with guilt and shame he feels his only option is to lock himself in his bedroom and avoid all human contact. Thomas’s wife, Silke, forced to communicate with her husband through a locked door, is desperate to save her marriage. She enlists the services of Megumi, a Japanese ‘rental sister.’ Her job is to break through Thomas’s wall of isolation. Backhaus does a wonderful job of exploring how these three defeated people reach out to one another and begin the work of healing.” —Beverly Bartczak, The Fine Print, Lakeside, OH

The Intercept: A Jeremy Fisk Novel, by Dick Wolf
(William Morrow, $27.99, 9780062064837)
“This debut by Wolf, the award-winning creator of the television series Law & Order, introduces Jeremy Fisk, a detective in the NYPD’s antiterrorism intelligence-gathering agency. After an attempted airline hijacking is foiled by a handful of passengers just days before the President is scheduled to attend a July 4th celebration in New York City, Fisk and other law enforcement specialists surmise that the hijacking was just a diversion. But then who — or what — is the real target? And how can the plan be foiled without knowing the identity of the real terrorist? Time is of the essence in this well written page-turner.” —Ellen Klein, Hooray for Books!, Alexandria, VA

Truth in Advertising: A Novel, by John Kenney
(Touchstone, $24.99, 9781451675542)
“This funny first novel is an accomplished mix of snark and pathos. Finbar Dolan is nearly 40 and has little to show for it. He is ambivalent about his Madison Avenue advertising job, has a failed engagement behind him, and is emotionally distant from his fragmented and dysfunctional family. What he does have, however, are loyal friends, a good heart, and a razor-sharp wit. This book will not only have you laughing out loud but will also leave you keenly sympathetic to Fin’s plight. It is funny and moving and reminiscent of the works of Jonathan Tropper and Nick Hornby with a little Mad Men thrown in.” —Tova Beiser, Brown University Bookstore, Providence, RI

Cover of Snow: A Novel, by Jenny Milchman
(Ballantine, $26, 9780345534217)
“Small towns have secrets. That’s no surprise to anyone who has ever lived in one, but the depth of those secrets is what Nora Hamilton must explore in Milchman’s debut. Nora’s husband, Brendan, is a police officer in their small town of Wedeskyull, New York. One snowy January morning, Nora wakes up to an awful silence, and finds her husband has hanged himself. She is beyond stunned, and as she tries to make sense of what has happened, Nora discovers that things in Wedeskyull are not as peaceful as she has always believed and that the secrets the town hides go back farther than she could have ever imagined. I love finding debut authors, and Jenny Milchman is one to take note of!” —Fran Fuller, Seattle Mystery Bookshop, Seattle, WA

Snow White Must Die, by Nele Neuhaus
(Minotaur, $24.99, 9780312604257)
“This mesmerizing story comes from one of Germany’s most popular mystery writers. A seemingly normal small town is turned upside down when the body of a young woman is found and the convicted killer of two young girls who have never been found returns home after 10 years in prison. Nothing is as it seems as neighbor turns against neighbor and dark secrets from the past are slowly revealed by the diligent work of two police detectives who fear they have not done enough or worked quickly enough to save lives. Filled with enough twists and turns and motives and means to keep you guessing to the very end!” —Nancy McFarlane, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC

The Painted Girls: A Novel, by Cathy Marie Buchanan
(Riverhead Hardcover, $26.95, 9781594486241)
“At the end of the 19th century, Paris was the center of the world for all arts, and humanity struggled with massive changes in the very structure of society. Degas and Zola were players on this stage as were three sisters who aspired to the world of ballet. Based on historical figures and incidents, this novel delivers great atmosphere and fully realized characters who weave through the harsh yet rich tapestry of the times and tell a story of family, romance, degradation, and fulfillment.” —Karen Frank, Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, VT

The Drowning House: A Novel, by Elizabeth Black
(Nan A. Talese, $25, 9780385535861)
“There is a saying ‘you can never go home again,’ and Black explores this adage in her debut novel. Home is Galveston, Texas, and Clare Porterfield has not been there for ten years. Wracked with guilt and grief over a personal loss that has torn her life apart, Clare is summoned back to Galveston and calls upon what little strength and fortitude she has to face her trip. Black beautifully explores the idea of going home by making Galveston the true main character of this novel that will make readers reflect on their own lives and wonder what it would be like to go home again.” —Lynn Pellerito Riehl, Nicola’s Books, Ann Arbor, MI

Chanel Bonfire: A Memoir, by Wendy Lawless
(Gallery, $25, 9781451675368)
“Lawless has written a compelling, engaging, sometimes funny, and at times shocking tale of her childhood. Her mother, Georgann Rea, was a narcissist of the highest order, and Wendy and her younger sister suffered terrible emotional deprivation at her hands. From a very young age, when her mother attempts suicide for the first time, Wendy struggles to protect her sister and herself from a woman who lived a life of decadence, alcoholism, adultery, and lies. Lawless ultimately makes peace with herself and learns to live on her own terms, a process remarkably recounted in this searing memoir.” —Ellen Burns, Books on the Common, Ridgefield, CT

Gun Machine: A Novel, by Warren Ellis
(Mulholland Books, $25.99, 9780316187404)
“Ellis brings visual storytelling skills honed by his comic and graphic novel work, his obsessions with present and future technology, and his flare for fast-paced dialog to a novel that is part modern police procedural, part CSI drama, part serial killer monologue, and part techno thriller. What starts out as a really bad day for Detective John Tallow as he sees his partner shot dead in front of him suddenly becomes a potentially career-ending day with his discovery of an apartment full of guns that lead back to a host of unsolved murders. The plot moves forward at a relentless pace. I hope that Ellis continues to explore this fascinating cast of characters in future books.” —Scott Stearns, The Book Nook, Ludlow, VT

Little Wolves: A Novel, by Thomas Maltman
(Soho Press, $25, 9781616951900)
“Keep an eye on Tom Maltman. He hit the ground running with Night Birds and has now given us another award-worthy novel. Maltman populates Little Wolves with folks not unlike us, except that they harbor deep secrets and commit horrific crimes. You will be drawn into the intriguing murder plot, of course, but you will also be captivated by Maltman’s lyrical prose, adept storytelling, and artistic rendering of the moody Midwestern prairie of the 1980s. Maltman has done for the Midwest what Steinbeck did for the Salinas Valley.” —Bev Denor, LaDeDa Books, Manitowoc, WI

Kind of Kin: A Novel, by Rilla Askew
(Ecco, $25.99, 9780062198792)
“The nature of this wonderful novel set in small-town Oklahoma is like its characters — raucous, messy, uncertain, and foolishly brave. After a surprise immigration raid on Mexicans that scoops up even some respected citizens, everyone struggles to understand where they stand and how to act. This is a large, kind-hearted story of less than perfect folks caught in a maelstrom while still trying to abide by their ethical and spiritual beliefs. Askew’s story is a most timely look at who is welcome into our lives and how we express and share compassion even when times are tough and language is a barrier.” —Sheryl Cotleur, Copperfield’s Books, Sebastopol, CA

Dr. Brinkley’s Tower: A Novel, by Robert Hough
(Steerforth, $16.99, 9781586422035)
“The people of the tiny Mexican border town of Corazon de la Fuente have lived through a long, bloody revolution and have lost many loved ones. With the building of Dr. Brinkley’s radio tower, they feel they have a chance at reviving their village and bringing prosperity and happiness to their lives. On the eve of the mayor handing Dr. Brinkley the key to their fair city, the village healer shouts, ‘Stop! Can’t you see the man is a liar, a peddler of myths and false hope?’ Brinkley was an American con artist and the inspiration for this novel, but the focus of Hough’s insightful and penetrating tale is the people of Corazon and how their lives are irrevocably changed. Highly recommended!” —Karen Briggs, Great Northern Books and Hobbies, Oscoda, MI

The Colour of Milk: A Novel, by Nell Leyshon
(Ecco, $21.99, 9780062245823)
“Heartbreaking, breathtaking, and very human, The Colour of Milk reads less like historical fiction and more like a memoir. Mary is a hardworking but willful farm girl in rural England until her abusive father ‘sells’ her to the local vicar as a servant. Her new position brings her opportunities for education and wider knowledge than she ever had before, but there are consequences. This gripping story of power, family, and self-determination will pull you right in and stay with you for a long time.” —Caitlin Caulfield, Odyssey Bookshop, South Hadley, MA

The January 2013 Now in Paperback

The Age of Miracles: A Novel, by Karen Thompson Walker (Random House Trade Paperbacks, 9780812982947, $15)
Recommended in hardcover by Jason Kennedy, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI

The Angel Makers, by Jessica Gregson (Soho Press, 9781616951795, $14)
Recommended in hardcover by Kristen Eaton, Phoenix Books, Essex Junction, VT

Believing the Lie: An Inspector Lynley Novel, by Elizabeth George (NAL Trade, 9780451237699, $16)
Recommended in hardcover by Jeanne Regentin, Between the Covers, Harbor Springs, MI

The Dressmaker: A Novel, by Kate Alcott (Anchor, 9780307948199, $15)
Recommended in hardcover by Beth Carpenter, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC

Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection, by A.J. Jacobs (Simon & Schuster, 9781416599081, $16)
Recommended in hardcover by Susan Taylor, Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, NY

The 500: A Novel, by Matthew Quirk (Back Bay Books, 9780316243773, $7.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Nichole McCown, Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA

From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant: A Novel, by Alex Gilvarry (Penguin Books, 9780143123064, $16)
Recommended in hardcover by Catherine Weller, Weller Book Works, Salt Lake City, UT

Gypsy Boy: My Life in the Secret World of the Romany Gypsies, by Mikey Walsh (St. Martin’s Griffin, 9781250022028, $15.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Susan Schlesinger, Books on the Square, Providence, RI

The Lifeboat: A Novel, by Charlotte Rogan (Reagan Arthur/Back Bay Books, 9780316185912, $14.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Annie Philbrick, Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT

The Partnership: Five Cold Warriors and Their Quest to Ban the Bomb, by Philip Taubman (Harper Perennial, 9780061744075, $18.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Sue Fleming, The King’s English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, UT

Stone of Kings: In Search of the Lost Jade of the Maya, by Gerard Helferich (Lyons Press, 9780762782543, $14.95)
Recommended in hardcover by Linda Bond, Auntie’s Bookstore, Spokane, WA

Waiting for Sunrise: A Novel, by William Boyd (Harper Perennial, 9780061876776, $15.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Barbara Siepker, The Cottage Bookshop, Glen Arbor, MI