A sneak peek at the books of 2014, part deux

2014 is full of debut authors, old faves, and some whom we have all been asking, “When in the hell are they going to publish another book?”!  Here are a few that I think y’all should keep in mind when building your to-read list!

Under the Wide and Starry Sky, Nancy Horan (Ballantine Books, January 21st)

Jacket.aspxI know many of you remember the novel Loving Frank, about the romance between Frank Lloyd Wright and the married woman for whom he designed a house, from way back in 2007. Well, Nancy Horan has finally written a second novel, this time about Robert Louis Stevenson and Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne, the California woman he fell in love with. Being older than Robert, Fanny does not take to him immediately, but after a bit of pursuit she finally succumbs to Robert’s charm. Then the adventure begins.


The Winter People, Jennifer McMahon (Doubleday, February 11th)

winterpeopleI discovered Jennifer McMahon after reading a WSJ review of her 2011 novel, Don’t Breathe a Word. I took it home, read it, and immediately ordered all of her other books. Her stories are very creepy; if you like a dark, literary ghost story then The Winter People will not disappoint you. I finished the book last night and I am already wishing for the next one. West Hall, Vermont has always had its share of secrets, but the most mysterious is the story of Sara Harrison Shea. In 1908, just a few weeks after the tragic death of her daughter, Sara’s body was found behind her house. Now, in the present day, Ruthie and her family live in what used to be Sara’s farmhouse. After Ruthie’s mother disappears, she discovers Sara’s diary hidden in the floorboards while looking for clues. As she reads it, she realizes that the mysterious events in town may be connected and that she could be the one with the key to solving them all.

The Weight of Blood, Laura McHugh (Spiegel & Grau, March 11th)

weightofbloodDeep in the Ozarks, Lucy Dane continues to put up with rumors about her mother, Lila, who disappeared when Lucy was a small child. Now her friend, Cheri, is found murdered and the stories have started again. These events haunt Lucy and, with the help of a friend, she begins a quest to find out what happened to Cheri and whether it could be connected to her mother’s disappearance. She soon learns that it’s not only people who can keep a secret; the landscape itself can hold the key to many mysteries.


Natchez Burning, Greg Iles (William Morrow, April 29th)

natchezburningI’m sure y’all have figured out that this is the “When in the hell is another one coming out?” book! Yes, the rumors are true — Greg Iles has a new book coming in April, and I promise it will not disappoint. We are very excited about it — especially when we found out that it is the first of three Penn Cage novels!!! I am not telling you any more  about the book because I really want to keep you in suspense. Trust me,  Natchez Burning is completely worth the wait!


And finally, a little teaser for a book that is coming out this summer. I am sure that a lot of y’all have heard that Lemuria is publishing a photography book by Ken Murphy on our fair city, Jackson, Mississippi. I have had the best time helping brainstorm locations to include and the great pleasure of getting a sneak peek at all the photographs. I have lived here all my life, yet some of what I have seen has been new to me. I am very proud of this book and I am very proud of my city.

jackson 3




Written by Maggie

A sneak peek at the books of 2014, part one

One of the greatest perks of working at Lemuria is that we not only get to plunge ourselves daily into books that have been written, but we also get to peek into books that haven’t even made it to the shelves yet. This year, I am so excited about several books that will be released in the next few months.

The Orenda, Joseph Boyden (novel, Knopf, May 13th)

The OrendaTo say that this book might already be my favorite for 2014 might sound a bit like I’m jumping the gun, but I cannot sing its praises enough. Joseph Boyden — an author who I recently learned was a Lemuria First Editions Club pick back in 2005 for his book Three Day Road -- has created a narrative in The Orenda that is both moving and exhilarating.

Alternating between the perspective of three different characters, Boyden ushers us into the tumultuous world of early America, when the relationships between the French, Huron and Iroquois were fragile at best, and quickly fraying around the edges. The story follows Bird, a revered Huron warrior still reeling from the loss of his family in an Iroquois attack, Snow Falls, a frightened Iroquois girl who has been taken captive by Bird’s tribe, and the Crow, a French missionary bent on delivering the gospel to the savages who have taken him in.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been so invested in three such seemingly opposite characters, nor do I believe I have ever read a historical novel where the author’s extensive research actually lent itself to the plot, rather than bulking the story up and getting in the way. Boyden’s mastery of character development and pacing make for a novel you won’t soon forget.

We Were Liars, E. Lockhart (young adult, Delacorte Press, May 13th)

We Were LiarsWhen it comes to young adult literature, I am the greatest of the naysayers. I will say nay to almost every dystopian, leader of the rebellion, one-in-a-million teenage girl with a fighter’s will to survive and a heart that almost doesn’t have room for true love — but only almost.

However, in E. Lockhart’s new book We Were Liars, it is vulnerability, not a hardened will to live that makes our protagonist stand out. Surrounded by her wealthy family on their summer island, Cadence is advised never to be vulnerable, always to seem normal, and to look impenetrable to anyone on the outside, including the rest of her family. But a mysterious accident, an outsider, and the voracious desire to love and be loved will change not only Cadence, but everyone else in her family. After finishing this book, I was left reeling, and I would recommend it not only to young adult readers, but full-fledged grownups as well.

The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing, Shelia Turnage (middle grade, Kathy Dawson Books, February 4th)

The Ghosts of Tupelo LandingMo LeBeau is back, and I’ve never been happier to see her. In this new adventure, Sheila Turnage brings back to life all of the characters that we grew to love in Three Times Lucky, and introduces us to some thrilling new faces.

The news is all over Tupelo Landing: Miss Lana has accidentally purchased an old inn, and discovered that a real live (or not so alive) ghost comes with it! Mo and Dale are determined to get to the bottom of this whole ghost business, and along the way they make several alarming discoveries about Tupelo Landing and its inhabitants. The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing is just as good — if not better — than Turnage’s last Mo LeBeau adventure, and I’m so glad that we have it to look forward to next month! (And signed copies to boot!)


Written by Hannah

Elizabeth Spencer: back in action

It was during a summer season Patricia and Boyd were spending together in the North Carolina mountains that Edward reappeared.

A perfect first sentence. There is so much between the lines. You can tell Patricia and Boyd are together, but who is Edward? What does he mean to Patricia and Boyd? Where has he been and why? The story is just full of this subtle suspense — almost dread. A family that can’t really talk about their history, their problems? How Southern is that.

Not only Southern, but specifically “Mississippi Fiction.” Elizabeth Spencer’s new collection Starting Over makes her our hometown girl. Her resume: born in Carrollton, graduated from Belhaven, taught at Ole Miss, and the perfect cover of Starting Over — a painting by Jackson artist William Hollingsworth.

The beloved author of Light in the Piazza and many novels and story collections is back after more than a decade, and oh boy, this will surely be one of the best of the year.

Elizabeth Spencer will be signing her new book Starting Over on Tuesday, February 4th at 5:00, with a reading at 5:30.

New York Times: A Southern landscape

Los Angeles Times: In ‘Starting Over,’ Elizabeth Spencer’s insight endures

Written by Joe

January OZ First Editions Club: Maira Kalman

We are all pretty excited about this year’s Oz First Editions Club. We have been looking ahead and scouring the catalogs for the perfect book for every month. About four months ago I started throwing around the idea that we could pick store favorite Maira Kalman, but I thought it was a pretty big long shot, until my fantabulous Penguin rep Doni Kay made it happen!

Kelly and Hannah have been longtime outspoken fans of Maira Kalman’s work in such books as Food Rules by Michael Pollan and And the Pursuit of Happiness. I fell in love with her art in Daniel Handler’s Printz honor winner, Why We Broke Up. But I think the biggest thing we all worried about was — would THIS book be up to snuff.

With all this rolling around in my head, I dove into Kalman’s newest picture booktj, Thomas Jefferson: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Everything. This nonfiction picture book is longer than your average children’s book. Kalman’s paintings give us a look into Jefferson’s life, starting with his childhood. Monticello makes several appearances, as do many famous people from Jefferson’s life.

Kalman’s writing, however, is what makes this book unique from other nonfiction picture books. While Kalman gives all the historical details of Jefferson’s life, she also humanizes him and those who lived alongside him. She writes that peas were his favorite vegetable, that he could not live without books, and that while he had flaws, he always strived to be the best he could be.

I am not always a fan of this type of book, but if every nonfiction picture book were written like this, I think I would feel differently. Kalman has pulled off what many have struggled to do: she has made history interesting to all readers, regardless of age.

Thomas Jefferson: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Everything is available as a signed first edition here at Lemuria, and is a great way to get started in the Oz First Editions Club (just email emily@lemuriabooks.com for all the deets on how to sign up). Stay tuned for our future picks; we’ve got a great year ahead!

Some more reading for you!

Maira Kalman’s website

The New York Times: a conversation about new biographies for children

Kirkus Review: they gave TJ a star!

Written by Emily

Mary Miller: Mississippian and debut novelist

We at Lemuria always get excited about new voices. There is something thrilling about finding a new author, about cracking open a debut novel with the hope that you could be discovering your new favorite author. And with Southern debut authors, we can’t help but tell everyone about them, to celebrate these treasures. We Southerners are immensely proud of our literary past, but our literary future is why places like Lemuria exist — to help nurture and share with the world Mississippi’s new voices.

Mary Miller is one such Southern debut novelist, but she’s not new to us at Lemuria. We have been following her since she released her short story collection, Big World, back in 2009. Her novel, The Last Days of California, comes out January 20th, and we couldn’t be more excited to add Mary to the growing list of new Southern authors. Mary grew up in Jackson, Mississippi, and at the start of the school year this fall, she will become the Grisham Writer-in-Residence at Ole Miss.

We’ll have more on Mary as her book’s release draws near, but for now, just go ahead and put the date of her signing at Lemuria on your calendar: Thursday, January 30th at 5:00, with a reading at 5:30. This is one of those events everyone will be talking about.

And if you want to know more about Mary Miller right now, here are some of our favorite links:

Mary Miller’s Tumblr

“Southern writing lives online”: an article about the new Southern writer

The Believer Review of Big World a review of Mary’s debut collection of short stories from McSweeney’s magazine, The Believer.


Written by Emily

Cereus Readers Book Club

Night-blooming Cereus Flower at Eudora Welty's House August 28, 2013 Cereus Readers book club  meets on the fourth Thursday of every month. Unless otherwise stated, the book club meets in the Lemuria’s Dot Com building. We always welcome newcomers and no previous reading experience of Eudora Welty is required.

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After we read The Underground Man by Ross Macdonald and listened to a wonderful talk by Carla Wall on Ross Macdonald in February, we decided to read some more mysteries from Miss Welty’s bookshelf. Here are the three we have selected: The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler; The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie; The Blue Hammer by Ross Macdonald.

welty-and-motherTHURSDAY, MARCH 27 AT NOON:

We will have a kind of “free meeting” on March 27th since the Welty House will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Eudora Welty Garden being open to the public.

If you’d like to participate, there are a few ways to do so on your own. The Welty House will be open for tours all day. (Please call the house to reserve: 601-353-7762) The garden will be open for self-guided tours all day. Cereus Readers are also invited to the Welty House Luncheon with Julia Reed. The luncheon will be at the Mississippi Museum of Art. Please note that tickets are required to attend the luncheon. Click over to the Welty House website for all of the details.

ross-macdonaldTHURSDAY, FEBRUARY 27 AT NOON:

We will discuss the Mysteries of Ross Macdonald and his friendship with Eudora Welty. Our reading assignments are Sleeping Beauty and Underground Man by Ross Macdonald and Eudora Welty’s review of Underground Man which can be found in Eye of the Story.

early escapadesTHURSDAY, JANUARY 23 AT NOON:

Patti Carr Black will be talking about her book Early Escapades and Eudora Welty as an artist. No advanced reading is required for this meeting. Copies of Early Escapades will be on hand for Patti Carr Black to sign.

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If you’re completely new to Cereus Readers or would just like a recap, please find a full introduction to our book club and a list of what we have read so far.

The goal of the Cereus Readers is to introduce readers to the writing of Eudora Welty–her short stories, essays, and novels–and then to read books and authors she enjoyed herself or were influenced by her.

We meet at noon in the Dot.Com building adjacent to Banner Hall. Feel free to bring your lunch. All books are available at Lemuria, and be sure to ask for the “Cereus Reader” 10% discount when making your purchase for the book club. Please e-mail Lisa if you plan on attending or if you have any questions: lisa at lemuriabooks dot com.

eudora welty first public book signing at lemuria 1980This is a reading group open to all level of readers–anyone interested in learning about Jackson’s most important writer. Eudora Welty considered Lemuria her bookstore, and we want to honor her by discussing her books and authors she loved–meeting in the store where she shopped and signed her books.

After reading many works by Welty, we will read authors and works she herself enjoyed: Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf, E.M. Forster, Chekhov, and mysteries. Finally, we thought we would read authors who have acknowledged Welty as an influence and inspiration such as Ann Patchett, Anne Tyler, and Clyde Edgerton. It’s a bold undertaking, but we plan to be meeting for a while!

Cereus Readers is led by Carolyn Brown (author of A Daring Life: A Biography of Eudora Welty), Carla Wall, Freda Spell, Lee Anne Bryan, and Jan Taylor.

A look back at our reading in 2013:

January 2013: A Daring Life: A Biography of Eudora Welty & “A Sweet Devouring” from The Eye of the Story

February 2013: The Optimist’s Daughter

March 2013: The Golden Apples, Part 1

April 2013: The Golden Apples, Part 2

May 2013: Two short stories: “Where Is the Voice Coming from?” & “The Demonstrators”; An essay by Miss Welty: “Must the Novelist Crusade?”

June 2013: We listened to an audio/video recording of Miss Welty reading “Powerhouse.”

July 2013: The Ponder Heart

August 2013: The Robber Bridegroom

September 2013: We listened to an audio/video recording of Miss Welty reading “Keela, the Outcast Indian Maiden”.

October 2013: Hunter Cole, friend and scholar of Eudora Welty, was our guest speaker. Hunter Cole read a paper titled “Eudora Welty and Her Bachelor of the Arts.” It details the lengthy friendship of Welty and Frank Hallam Lyell and focuses mainly on their year together as students and chums at Columbia University.

November 2013: No meeting due to the holidays.

December 2013: Lemuria displayed a special collection of Eudora Welty books—from trade to fine first editions. Suzanne Marrs and Carolyn Brown were also on hand to sign their books Eudora Welty: A Biography and A Daring Life: A Biography of Eudora Welty respectively.

Written by Lisa

You’re Invited to a Special Day at Lemuria

one writer's beginnings“It had been startling and disappointing to me to find out that story books had been written by people, that books were not natural wonders, coming up with themselves like grass. Yet regardless of where they came from, I cannot remember a time when I was not in love with them–with the books themselves, cover and binding and the paper they were printed on, with their smell and their weight and with their possession in my arms, captured and carried off to myself.”

-Eudora Welty, One Writer’s Beginnings

welty booksThis Saturday, December 7th, we will celebrate our love of the physical book and the books of Eudora Welty from 2:00-4:00.

Carolyn Brown will be on hand to sign and inscribe her biography of Eudora Welty, A Daring Life. Lee Anne Bryan will also be here from the Welty House. If you’ve never been to The Welty House and Museum, it’s a great time to get some information and plan a tour with some friends.

We will have on display rare editions of Miss Welty’s work as well as some of our favorite trade editions of her novels and stories. Our first edition rooms will also be open for browsing. You never know what you might find!

eudora welty lamar life insurance building MDAHWe’re calling Saturday Welty Day. We hope you’ll join us in the spirit of community, in the very community Miss Welty loved so much.

The idea for Welty Day came from a group called Cereus Readers–a book club that is open to anyone who would like to read Eudora Welty’s work and also the writers she knew and loved.

We will be resuming our regular meeting schedule on January 23rd and we are still open for new people to join. If you’d like to learn more or be added to our e-mail list, please send a note to: lisa at lemuriabooks dot com.

Above: Eudora Welty on top of the Lamar Life Building with the Standard Life Building in the background. (Mississippi Department of Archives and History)

Written by Lisa

Grow Your Heart Three Sizes with the Grinch this Christmas!

That Grinch gets a bad rap, being cuddly as a cactus and charming as an eel.

But this Christmas Season, he’ll be visiting us at Lemuria and helping kids grow their hearts 3 sizes by doing good deeds in your community! While the Grinch’s past misdeeds included a plan to STOP Christmas from Coming, he wants all of YOU to help out, all-the-while humming!

So what does this mean?

1.) Pick up your 25 Days of Grinch-mas Bingo Cards at any time, as they include 25 different good deed ideas for you (and your parents too) such as “Read or tell a story to someone younger than you.”

2.) Finish a row on your Bingo Card and receive a, “I Grew My Heart 3 Sizes!” button and a special Christmas present from us at Lemuria Books.

3.) When you have completed your good deeds, we will mail the Grinch a postcard of 3 of the good deeds you’ve done in your community. We’re partnering with Random House, and for every 3 GOOD DEEDS you accomplish, Random House will donate a book to First Book here in Jackson, MS.

Amidst your fun and good deeds, the Grinch HIMSELF will be stopping by Lemuria to check on everyone. On December 10 at 4 PM he will be in this very store teaching you what the Christmas Spirit is all about by playing BINGO, coloring CHRISTMAS CARDS, TAKING PICTURES and other fun games!

December 20 is your last day to turn in your Bingo Cards, so hurry and be of good cheer because Christmas Day is PRACTICALLY HERE!

Written by Emily

Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer

moonwalking with einstein

Whether you’re young or old, we all know the frustration that ensues when memory fails us. It’s easy to find techniques on how to improve memory, but while researching for an article on memory competitions, Joshua Foer decided to formally train his memory and see if he could actually win the USA Memory Championships.

Moonwalking with Einstein is Foer’s narrative as he trains for the competition, learning ancient techniques that Cicero and medieval scholars used to memorize entire books. I found myself fascinated with Foer’s efforts while also learning about what memory is, what can go wrong with it, how we can improve as well as a history of memorization techniques.

This is book you’ll pass on to family and friends, and don’t be surprised if you end up putting yourself and others to a memory challenge. Joshua Foer did better than he ever imagined; he memorized 52 cards in one minute and 40 seconds, winning the 2006 “speed cards” event while setting a new record for the USA Memory Championship.

Written by Lisa

Secret Pizza Party!


Who loves pizza more than life? Raccoon. Who would eat tacos till the end of the world? Dragons. Join us for story time this Saturday at 11:00, because we’ll be reading two hilarious books by the comical duo Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri: Dragons Love Tacos and Secret Pizza Party! It’ll be a crazy fun time, so bring yourself and your friends!

Written by Hannah

Let's Talk About Books