The September 2012 Indie Next List Preview

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Here is a preview of the titles on the September 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 September 1 on and

The September 2012 Indie Next List Great Reads

#1 Pick: The Vanishing Act: A Novel, by Mette Jakobsen
(W. W. Norton & Company, $23.95, 9780393062922)
“Minou is a 12-year-old girl who lives on a tiny, snow-covered island with her philosopher father, Boxman the magician, and a dog called No-Name. When a dead boy washes up on the island, Minou makes a connection between the boy’s arrival and her mother’s disappearance a year earlier. Using philosophy along with the power of her imagination, Minou tries to uncover the truth behind her mother’s absence. What she discovers is haunting and unforgettable. The Vanishing Act is a charming, fable-like story, beautifully told, and filled with magic!” —Valerie Arroyo, Brewster Book Store, Brewster, MA

The Yellow Birds: A Novel, by Kevin Powers
(Little, Brown and Company, $24.99, 9780316219365)
The Yellow Birds should be required reading for the President, Congress, and the entire Military Industrial Complex. Powers’ novel describes in lyrical language the intensity and the confusion of war. Young men who have barely left boyhood face battle for the first time in Iraq, a country and a people that they know little about. For those fortunate enough to return home, the war comes with them and affects their families as well. In eloquent prose, Iraq war veteran Powers unveils the hidden costs of war for the average American. Truthful and painful, The Yellow Birds will join the classics of war fiction.” —Joan Grenier, Odyssey Bookshop, South Hadley, MA

The Roots of the Olive Tree: A Novel, by Courtney Miller Santo
(William Morrow, $25.99, 9780062130518)
“Set in northern California, Santo’s debut features five generations of strong women who live in an old house on an olive grove. The women know there is a secret to harvesting the last of the olive crop to produce an oil so pure that it seems to enhance longevity. Rich with secrets, this lovely novel winds through the lives of each woman as a geneticist seeks the reason for their youthfulness. Santo gives readers an intimate look into how a family of women cope with tragedy, love, childbirth, and infidelity. Not to be missed!” —Annie Philbrick, Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend: A Novel, by Matthew Dicks
(St. Martin’s Press, $24.99, 9781250006219)
“Imaginary friend Budo has been protecting his human friend, Max, for five years from everything from the class bully to awkward situations in public bathrooms. He worries about the day when Max will stop believing in him, and he will disappear forever. When Max is suddenly in danger, Budo must decide between Max’s happiness and his own existence in order to save his friend. It doesn’t take much imagination to know that this is a great read!” —Grace Firari, The Velveteen Rabbit Bookshop, Fort Atkinson, WI

The Malice of Fortune: A Novel, by Michael Ennis
(Doubleday, $26.95, 9780385536318)
“Ennis brings to life the chaos and mayhem of the Italy that inspired Machiavelli’s The Prince. An unlikely trio teams up to solve the most notorious murder of the Italian Renaissance: the assassination of the Borgia Pope’s favorite son. Niccolò Machiavelli believes he can solve the mystery by studying human behavior. Leonardo da Vinci believes that carefully measuring all the elements of the crime will lead him to the killer. Then there is Damiata, the courtesan, who knows an unhealthy amount of Borgia secrets. This tale will keep you guessing right up to the thrilling conclusion.” —Sarah Harvey, Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, CO

John Saturnall’s Feast: A Novel, by Lawrence Norfolk
(Grove Press, $26, 9780802120519)
“John Saturnall, raised by his healer mother, grows into an extraordinary cook in late 17th century England, where he serves the landed gentry during intense political upheaval. His destiny lies in preserving the art of the ages-old feast at which all are treated as equals at the table. Clandestine love, intolerance, and intrigue are all mixed with recipes and brought to life in lush language. This novel has it all: a great story, writing at its finest, and a beautifully designed presentation!” —Sheryl Cotleur, Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA

The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving: A Novel, by Jonathan Evison
(Algonquin Books, $23.95, 9781616200398)
“What a heartfelt journey we travel in this capriciously tragic story of Benjamin Benjamin Jr., caregiver extraordinaire. His charge, Trev, is a 19-year-old suffering from Duchenne muscular dystrophy, or, as Ben describes him, ‘a pretzel with a perfectly healthy imagination.’ Ben is suffering, too. He is trying to recover from a personal tragedy that has left him without a family or a job. To read this book is to be in a constant, conflicting state between tears and laughter.” —Lynn Riggs, Books & Company, Oconomowoc, WI

The Orchardist: A Novel, by Amanda Coplin
(Harper, $26.99, 9780062188502)
“Set in rural Washington state in the early 20th century, The Orchardist tells the story of Talmadge, who has lived alone since his sister disappeared from their home and orchard when he was a young man. His life is changed when two young pregnant teens, escaping from a horrific situation, arrive at the orchard and he decides to let them into his life. Lyrically written, this is a moving book about a man’s life, the land on which he lives, and the consequences of caring about others.” —Nancy Felton, Broadside Bookshop, Northampton, MA

Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures: A Novel, by Emma Straub
(Riverhead, $26.95, 9781594488450)
“Despite what the gorgeous dresses, extravagant jewelry, and exotic mansions might suggest, movie stars are people, too. Elsa Emerson learns as a nine-year-old in Door County, Wisconsin, that she loves the limelight, and she spends her life both seeking it out and resisting it. Elsa moves to Hollywood, becomes film star Laura Lamont, loves, loses, succeeds, and fails. Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures gives readers a well-crafted, wistful, inside look into the glory days of Tinseltown.” —Hannah Johnson-Breimeier, Next Chapter Bookshop, Mequon, WI

The Beautiful Mystery: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel, by Louise Penny
(Minotaur, $25.99, 9780312655464)
“In the eighth mystery in this popular series, Chief Inspector Gamache finds himself investigating a murder in a remote abbey in the wilds of the Canadian forest. The only clue appears to involve an ancient form of church music, the very earliest Gregorian chant. As usual, Penny’s complex characters and their multidimensional relationships, as well as the unusual setting, make this a fascinating reading experience. Each book in the series is better than the one before.” —Anne McMahon, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI

In Between Days, by Andrew Porter
(Alfred A. Knopf, $24.95, 9780307273512)
“In his debut novel, Porter masterfully presents each of his characters’ experiences with stunning believability: Elton, losing his longtime job as a respected architect; Richard, developing as a poet but struggling with his relationships with other men; Chloe, discovering the consequences of her radical boyfriend’s actions. When Chloe drops out of college and returns home, she sets into motion a chain of events that sparks a reaction from everyone around her. There is an air of secrecy and helplessness that pervades the story, mirroring the hushed secrets and misunderstandings that fuel the plot. Beautifully written and suspenseful.” —Andrea Aquino, Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA

Those We Love Most: A Novel, by Lee Woodruff
(Voice, $26.99, 9781401341787)
“Woodruff tackles a tough subject in Those We Love Most. The marriage of Maura and Pete was rocky before the tragic death of one of their children. Maura can’t get past her grief and guilt from the accident and is struggling to be a mother to her remaining children and a wife to Pete. Her parents, Roger and Margaret, are the epitome of a strong marriage, or so it seems. Can Roger’s compassion and Margaret’s level head steer this family out of grief? Can a marriage survive such a loss? A delicate subject is treated with poise and dignity.” —Kerri Childs, Kerri’s Korner Bookstore, Fairmont, WV

A Killing in the Hills: A Novel, by Julia Keller
(Minotaur, $24.99, 9781250003485)
“Keller makes a powerful entry into the crime fiction field with the introduction of Bell Elkins, a prosecutor in rural West Virginia, who must not only deal with a triple murder but also must constantly contend with a deteriorating society beset by the scourge of methamphetamine. Finely drawn characters, strong plot lines, and keen attention to a growing problem in rural America make this a gripping read.” —Bill Cusumano, Nicola’s Books, Ann Arbor, MI

Fobbit: A Novel, by David Abrams
(Grove Press, Black Cat, $15, 9780802120328)
“Fobbit: U.S. Army employee stationed at a Forward Operating Base who avoids combat by remaining at the base. Abrams tells the tale of the military paper pushers and cubicle workers who take refuge at the base outside of Baghdad during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Fobbit life is portrayed in a witty and realistic retelling of military life, giving the reader a unique perspective on the brutality of war. Funny, captivating, and intelligent, Abrams’ tale is based on his 20 years of experience in the Army.” —Rachel Kelly, Sunriver Books, Sunriver, OR

The Map of the Sky: A Novel, by Felix J. Palma
(Atria Books, $26, 9781451660319)
“Playful and entertaining, this is a thoroughly beguiling read! Featuring narration by H.G. Wells — as in Palma’s previous stellar work, The Map of Time — this is a story rife with illusion and mystery. With appearances by Edgar Allen Poe, Captain Shackleton, and a possible Martian, this shrewd and versatile novel is a joy to read!” —Tova Beiser, Brown University Bookstore, Providence, RI

Shadow Man: A Novel, by Jeffrey Fleishman
(Steerforth Press, $15.95, 9781586421984)
“James Ryan is 52 but can only remember the summer of his 15th year. It was the summer after his mother died, when his father asked James to call him Kurt and mysterious and enchanting Vera entered their lives one night at their neighborhood diner. That summer will play over and over in James’ memory to the exclusion of all the news stories and books he wrote as a journalist in war-torn countries or the life he led with his wife, Eva. Jeffrey Fleishman has written a scary indictment of a life without memory, possessed only with thoughts that are like ether, burning brilliant one moment and then vanishing forever.” —Karen Briggs, Great Northern Books and Hobbies, Oscoda, MI

The Bartender’s Tale: A Novel, by Ivan Doig
(Riverhead Hardcover, $27.95, 9781594487354)
“Always one of the West’s best storytellers, Doig has achieved here the perfect fictional mix: winning, believable characters; an intricate, timely, and surprising plot; and a Montana setting that pivots between the early days of JFK in the 1960s and the 1930s of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. I frequently fall in love with books, but The Bartender’s Tale is no mere infatuation! The love I feel for it will last a lifetime.” —Betsy Burton, The King’s English, Salt Lake City, UT

The People of Forever Are Not Afraid: A Novel, by Shani Boianjiu
(Hogarth, $24, 9780307955951)
“An utterly explosive debut, this novel in stories follows three young women who serve in the Israeli army, and it is not for the faint of heart. Boianjiu is not interested in preaching politics or rehashing battle scenes as a lesser writer might; she sticks to her characters, tracing their often uncertain progress toward adulthood. There are no pat endings here. The army, compulsory to Israeli citizens, is not, after all, some summer camp. No matter how you feel about the conflicts that Boianjiu describes, you will be riveted by her fresh perspective on them.” —Danielle DuBois Diamond, Brazos Bookstore, Houston, TX

The White Forest: A Novel, by Adam McOmber
(Touchstone, $25, 9781451664256)
“Jane Silverlake is a lost soul when Maddy and Nathan find her. Jane is different, however; she can feel and hear the souls of manmade objects. Jane reveals herself to Maddy and Nathan, hoping she can trust them with her burden, so she does not have to be alone with it. She is wrong, and when Nathan disappears, Jane’s world begins to crumble around her. McOmber has delivered an ingenious, haunting tale full of mystery and dread.” —Jason Kennedy, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI

The Other Woman, by Hank Phillipi Ryan
(Forge Books, $24.99, 9780765332578)
“Political scandals, power plays, and deception — the twists and turns in this first of a new series will leave you gasping and wanting more. Jane Ryland, a rising young reporter, is scarred from the fallout of protecting a source, but she still delves into the biggest story gripping Boston: Who is killing young women and leaving them under bridges, and why? And just who is the ‘other woman?’ Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity award-winner Ryan’s writing is compelling, and her insight into the characters creates a gripping page-turner that will leave you eager for the next chapter in the life of Jane Ryland.” —Joan Lang, Front Street Book Shop, Scituate Harbor, MA

The September 2012 Now in Paperback

American Dervish: A Novel, by Ayad Akhtar (Back Bay Books, 9780316183307, $14.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Lynn Riggs, Books & Company, Oconomowoc, WI

The Boy in the Suitcase, by Lene Kaaberbol and Adnete Friis (Soho Crime, 9781616951696, $15.95)
Recommended in hardcover by Margaret Brennan Neville, The King’s English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, UT

Dominance: A Novel, by Will Lavender (Simon & Schuster, 9781451617306, $16)
Recommended in hardcover by Geoffrey Jennings, Next Chapter Bookshop, Mequon, WI

Falling Together: A Novel, by Marisa de los Santos (William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780061670886, $14.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Jill Miner, Saturn Booksellers, Gaylord, MI

The Marriage Plot: A Novel, by Jeffrey Eugenides (Picador, 9781250014764, $16)
Recommended in hardcover by Deon Stonehouse, Sunriver Books & Music Sunriver, OR

I Married You for Happiness: A Novel, by Lily Tuck (Grove Press, 9780802145918, $14)
Recommended in hardcover by Penny McConnel, Norwich Bookstore, Norwich, VT

Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War, by Tony Horwitz (Picador, 9780312429263, $18)
Recommended in hardcover by Bill Cusumano, Nicola’s Books, Ann Arbor, MI

The Orchard: A Memoir, by Theresa Weir (Grand Central Publishing, 9780446584685, $12.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Calvin Crosby, Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA

The Orphan Master’s Son: A Novel, by Adam Johnson (Random House Trade Paperback, 9780812982626, $15)
Recommended in hardcover by Mark LaFramboise, Politics & Prose Books and Coffee Shop, Washington, DC

The Prague Cemetery: A Novel, by Umberto Eco, Richard Dixon (Trans.) (Mariner, 9780547844206, $15.95)
Recommended in hardcover by Conrad Silverberg, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI

We the Animals: A Novel, by Justin Torres (Mariner, 9780547844190, $12.95)
Recommended in hardcover by Shuchi Saraswat, Titcomb’s Bookshop, East Sandwich, MA

What It Is Like to Go to War, by Karl Marlantes (Grove Press, 9780802145925, $15)
Recommended in hardcover by Ed Conklin, Chaucer’s Books, Santa Barbara, CA