2012 Holiday Fiction Picks

Quirky, magical, and wholly compelling, Holman’s novel tells the story of a young boy growing up in Depression-era rural Virginia in the throes of Appalachian poverty. Raised with the rumors of his mother’s mysterious ways, Eddie Alley is used to life being slightly askew, but when a car accident leads to an impromptu visit from a city writer and photographer, Eddie’s whole world changes. Suddenly Eddie’s view of small town life is shattered and thrown, as he is given an unexpected and expansive look into a different future but not without consequences. Holman interweaves folklore and ghost stories and spins them into this multi-generational tale that talks to loyalty, betrayal, redemption and the way that we cannot run away from who we truly are. There is a deep mystical vein of magic and love that run at the core of this novel that sit with me still.

Reviewed by: 
S.M.C.
Witches on the Road Tonight Cover Image
$14.00
ISBN: 9780802145710
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Grove Press - January 10th, 2012

This is my favorite book, and when recently it went out of print I actually cried. But it has been rescued! Reynolds’ prose is simultaneously delicate and forceful, and this story about ghosts and graveyards and family secrets will stay with you for a very long time. If I could give a copy to everyone in Santa Cruz, I would.

Reviewed by: 
Kat
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A Gracious Plenty Cover Image
$13.95
ISBN: 9781618580313
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Turner - October 2nd, 2012

Liz Moore’s astonishing debut novel is deft and quiet and packs a completely unexpected punch. The story centers around two characters who need each other, and the events that bring them together. It’s about family, biological and improvised, and it broke my heart and put it back together all at once. Poignant, but never cheesy. A must-read.

Reviewed by: 
Kat
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Heft Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9780393343885
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - September 4th, 2012

This is a coming-of-age story with a dystopian backdrop that vividly illuminates the brave clarity of its 11-year-old narrator. One day Julia awakes to find the world irrevocably altered. Somehow, during the night, the world gently slipped on its axis so that the earth’s rate of rotation has slightly decelerated. “The slowing” continues until both day and night are twice as long as they used to be. “The changes in the planet are profound, but the daily changes in Julia's life, which she might be facing even in a normal day, are equally profound… She begins to see cracks in her parents' marriage and must navigate the currents of loyalty and moral uncertainty. She faces sickness and death of loved ones. But she also witnesses constancy and perseverance. Julia's life is shaped by what happens in the larger world, but it is the only life she knows, and Walker captures each moment, intimate and universal, with magical precision.” —Kirkus Review. This is a mesmerizing, touching, and profoundly moving book.

Reviewed by: 
S.M.C.
The Age of Miracles Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780812992977
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Random House - June 26th, 2012

Set in post-WWII in the Yorkshire countryside, a young newlywed couple starts their life among the damp aftershocks of war, with rations and food shortages and a cultural push to simply make do. While Philip loses himself in his work as the town doctor, Isabel is left alone with too much time, feeling adrift in her new life. On an exploration of her flat she finds an old RAF coat and uses it as blanket to stay warm. Soon after, a young man appears at her window and what transpires next is a complex relationship that sets off a series of events with lasting results. This is that perfect winter read that throws you into a foreign landscape that is at once captivating and haunting, where longing and love bleed together in ways that are both natural and supernatural.

Reviewed by: 
S.M.C.
The Greatcoat: A Ghost Story Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780802120601
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Atlantic Monthly Press - October 2nd, 2012

I am not someone who usually reads mysteries, but when I read the best-selling The Boy in the Suitcase last year by this talented Danish duo, I was hooked, and their second book, Invisible Murder, proves to be equally captivating. Following an interweaving tale of two poor boys who stumble across something that will ultimately threaten to blow apart the lives of many people, the chain of events that build this mystery had me suspended in delicious “sign of a great mystery” page-turning anxiety. With great character development, a dab of social commentary, and plenty of plot intrigue added in, this is one of those mysteries that you’ll find yourself wanting to steal back from the person you gift it to.

Reviewed by: 
S.M.C.
Invisible Murder Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781616951702
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Soho Crime - October 2nd, 2012

This is French’s fourth mystery, and it’s her most sagacious and political book yet. Wrapped up alongside a genuinely terrifying mystery are issues of economic upheaval and mental health, and how to care for those who might seem beyond help. French’s writing is, as always, lushly atmospheric and addictive as all get out. This was my favorite mystery of the year.

Reviewed by: 
Kat
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Broken Harbor (Dublin Murder Squad) Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780143123309
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - April 30th, 2013

May We Be Forgiven is a family-centric book that sharply and uncomfortably mimics real life, even when the plot is the stuff of lurid headlines. This is smart, black humor with a compassionate twist, and it will keep you up late turning the pages. The words “suburban dystopia” have been used to review this book… really, need I say more?

Reviewed by: 
Kat
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May We Be Forgiven Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780147509703
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Books - September 24th, 2013

It is hard to believe that this is a first novel—the writing is so deeply rooted with truth and lyrical brilliance. It would be a mistake to view this book as only a story of loss and tragedy, as it is instead a story about growing up, and the sharp beauty that comes with the discovery of how to live truly and honestly. This is one of those books that is not written to just be read, but instead it is a novel that is felt. My soul responded—what more is there to say?

Reviewed by: 
S.M.C.
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Tell the Wolves I'm Home Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9780679644194
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: The Dial Press - June 19th, 2012

There are few novels that leave me in silence—that deep felt silence of profound experience like a cathedral or a sudden clearing among high trees. The Orchardist is a book that, once read, becomes sacred. The story starts in the late 1800’s in upper state Washington. In an orchard a solitary man, broken but slowly healing, lives and tends to his land, when two girls show up, vigilant and slightly feral, and he offers shelter. The setting, the language, the depth of each character take hold, offering moments of profound love, deep awe, grief, independence, surrender, and change.

Reviewed by: 
S.M.C.
The Orchardist Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780062188502
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Harper - August 21st, 2012

 

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