From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at IndieBound.org, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:
Unraveling Oliver: A Novel by Liz Nugent (Gallery/Scout Press, $26, 9781501167751). "Oliver, the titular center of Liz Nugent's chilling debut thriller, will attract and repel the reader as his deep wounds and legacy of destruction are revealed by his own confessions and by the recollections of those whose lives intersect with his. The novel opens with Oliver, a successful writer living in apparent domestic contentment, beating his wife into a coma. Why? As Oliver's crimes come into focus, Nugent's brilliance is in balancing the evil he does with the evil that is done to him. Is he to be reviled or pitied? Or both?" --Anmiryam Budner, Main Point Books, Wayne, Pa.
The Hidden Light of Northern Fires: A Novel by Daren Wang (Thomas Dunne, $26.99, 9781250122353). "In The Hidden Light of Northern Fires, a town on the Underground Railroad secedes from the Union after it becomes fractured by the politics of the American Civil War. As a huge geek on the subject, I'm often skeptical of historical fiction relating to it. While Wang's tale benefits from being based on truth, that is a moot point. His well-developed, very real characters and masterful writing are all that's needed for an incredible debut. Though a novel of the home front, it is nonetheless a war novel focusing on how conflict brings out the best and worst in people. It is one of the best works of historical fiction on the Civil War that I've ever read, and perhaps even that exists." --Carl Kranz, The Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, Va.
Swallowing Mercury: A Novel by Wioletta Greg, translated by Eliza Marciniak (Transit Books/Consortium, $15.95, 9781945492044). "In Swallowing Mercury, nuanced gestures, drop-dead metaphors, and indelible observations coalesce in a series of short, adolescent episodes from 1980s Poland. English-speaking readers possessing no knowledge of the political climate and history of the time, fear not, for Greg's primary concern is one of universality, as many scenes take on that unmistakable relatability of childhood. Stories of high jinks, first love, familial absurdity, and (inevitably) death are the basis of these vignettes, while an excellent note from translator Eliza Marciniak contextualizes the book within the wider world." --John Gibbs, Green Apple Books on the Park, San Francisco, Calif.
For Ages 4 to 8
Professional Crocodile by Giovanna Zoboli, illustrated by Mariachiara Di Giorgio (Chronicle, $17.99, 9781452165066). "Professional Crocodile is a book in which to immerse yourself. Readers will revel in each gloriously illogical yet everyday detail and will delight in the hilarious twist at the end. Perfection." --Hannah DeCamp, Avid Bookshop, Athens, Ga.
For Ages 9 to 12
The Explorer by Katherine Rundell (Simon & Schuster, $16.99, 9781481419451). "Stranded in the Amazon after a plane crash, four tenacious children band together, summoning courage and creativity to find their way back home. Readers will be transfixed as the survivors build a raft, mimic monkeys to harvest honey, discover the unique fishy-chicken flavor of tarantula, and adopt an orphaned sloth. Rundell's story of adversity and friendship is a must for readers who love survival stories like Hatchet, and anyone with an adventurous spirit!" --Sara Grochowski, McLean & Eakin Booksellers, Petoskey, Mich.
For Teen Readers
Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller (Sourcebooks Fire, $17.99, 9781492647492). "When Sal robs an intriguing court lady, it turns out that her purse contains more than just valuables--inside is also a flier announcing auditions to be one of the queen's elite assassins. Sal signs up, entering a Hunger Games-style contest in which the lone survivor takes all. But when the intriguing lady reappears, Sal suddenly has to balance the competing demands of assassination and romance. Featuring a gender-fluid main character and a diverse cast of ruffians, former magicians, and court personalities, this is an exhilarating, violent romp of a read." --Lillian Tschudi-Campbell, The Red Balloon Bookshop, St. Paul, Minn.
[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]