Great New Fiction Reads — including three to pre-order (and one memoir, “How to Stay Married” by Harrison Scott Key) – ON SALE NOW

There are so many novels, old and new, no bookstore can carry them all. But we have a lot, older ones, recent ones, brand new ones. Some are on Christian publishing houses (and some of those are quite good) and some are not. As you probably know, we are a bit different than some religious bookstores in that we curate a selection of fiction that includes some New York Times bestsellers, some standard evangelical fiction, and some great books that are pretty obviously faith-oriented, but on mainstream publishing houses. Having just spent an evening with a book club discussing The River Why by David James Duncan, I’m particularly struck by how it is hard to describe creative fiction, and how hard it is to categorize a book as religious, spiritual, or Christian. Sometimes when somebody asks if we have “Christian fiction” I get smart alecky and suggest Dostoevsky or Dante or Cry the Beloved Country. But I digress.

Here are a handful of novels that are recent (or yet to be released) that we wanted to tell you about. Hope you have some extra time these next months to enjoy the pleasures of good writing and a good story in these thoughtful, contemporary tales.

The very first one is not fiction, but I’m so taken with it, I have to tell you about it. And it feels like a novel — whew; what a plot. And then I’ll list three that you can pre-order now, great forthcoming works you really should know about.

Here we go. All are 20% off. You can order by clicking the link at the very end of the column, down by our logo and the instructions about telling us how you want them shipped. Scroll all the way down to see ’em all. Thanks.

How to Stay Married: The Most Insane Love Story Ever Told Harrison Scott Key (Avid Reader Press) $27.99 / OUR SALE PRICE = $22.39

I have to be careful or I could talk about this all day; I will be brief, now. As I noted above, this is not a novel, and I’m sorry (to Key and to gentle readers everywhere) for confusing genres here, but I’m eager to list this now. And, anyway, it feels like a novel, so full of plot twists and character developments and God and sex and grace and cursing and pain and redemption. What a friggin story.

Key is a writer I adore — funny as can be, witty, sardonic at times, and, man, can he craft a good sentence. His writing flows wonderfully, keeping you turning the pages, except when his humor makes you stop and laugh until you cry. And, with this one — the story of a marriage gone sour — you maybe just cry. It’s full of a lot of pathos.

Key wrote the outstanding book about coping — as a sophisticated literature guy — with his dad who cared mostly about God and hunting. It is called The World’s Largest Man and was funny and fascinating, tender and honest. The next one is about his ambition, wanting to live into his sense of calling, to be a published writer, in Congratulations, Who Are You Again? I have written about them both. He is a person of faith, has even been involved in fairly seriously Reformed Southern congregations and I appreciate how he can write about his faith commitments, such as they are, to a mainstream audience. He grips about his big questions, jokes about the odd stuff in the Bible, rejects (but doesn’t despise) his fundamentalist background. In all three books, he is on a journey of formation and discovery.

In this new one, he discovers something pretty awful, which causes all manner of honesty, eventually, in his own soul and with his wife. Both are broken people, more than we realized, and both are trying to figure things out. I have a dozen important things to do and other books I’m happily in the middle of but I stayed up late two nights in a row because I couldn’t stop reading this story about this awful, honest, train wreck, that went from bad to worse to, well, you have to read it yourself to see how in ends. Did I say it is all true? It is not fiction, but you can’t find a better story, complete with some solid nonfiction advice at the end. I loved this book.

Tom Lake: A Novel Ann Patchett (Harper) $30.00 / OUR SALE PRICE = $24.00 / OUR SALE PRICE = $19.20  NOT YET RELEASED – DUE AUGUST 1, 2023  pre-order now

To prepare for some lectures I’m doing in Northern Michigan, I dipped in to a few of the splendid essays in Patchett’s lovely, lovely, These Precious Days that matched (or maybe surpassed) the wonderful collection, This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage. We just recited a coveted advanced copy and, lo and behold, this forthcoming novel is partially set in Northern Michigan on a cherry farm. To see the places we’ll be this very week — Traverse City, Petoskey, and other sites in the “Cherry Capital of the World”  — mentioned in the novel is a blast.

The plot emerges around two young adult daughters who, due to the pandemic in 2020, return to work at their mother’s cherry orchard. They convince their mother to tell her story of her own 24th year. She was an actress, doing Our Town — in a theatre called Tom Lake. It looks to be like a tremendous read.

Sun House David James Duncan (Little, Brown) $35.00  / OUR SALE PRICE = $28.00  NOT YET RELEASED – DUE AUGUST 8, 2023 pre-order now

I do not use this word often — maybe the last time was when there was a whole set of Calvin Seerveld’s books of previously uncollected works being released into the world— but this is a literary event. Truly. Duncan famously wrote the cult-status favorites, The River Why and The Brothers K decades ago. He was said to have been working on a forthcoming novel that, by even cautious standards, might have come out 20 years ago. It has been in the works and many of his fans have been waiting. Geesh, some of them have died. The New York Times did a story a year ago saying a manuscript was in to the publisher and it would come out late in 2022. Nope; it didn’t release.

Now, finally, with a drum roll and what we hope is a lot of attention, the almost 800 page Sun House is coming, due in early August. It is going to be talked about, believe me. It is going to be wild.

There are books that make you a happy insomniac and Sun House is absolutely one of them, like Quixote or Moby or Copperfield, the kind when you wake at three in the morning you remember that beside the bed is a thousand-room mansion of a novel, where every door opens to unexpected weather and a keen sense of appetite. Here is the best part: while these characters come in all shades of funny and searching and rueful and indignant, they are all right there and as wide awake as you are. A new big book from David James Duncan? This is a lucky time to be a reader. — Leif Enger, author of Peace Like a River

“One of the greatest imaginative achievements I’ve encountered in a lifetime of reading.”  — William DeBuys, author of The Tail to Kanjiroba

Hope in the Valley Mitali Perkins (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) $17.99 / OUR SALE PRICE = $14.39  NOT YET RELEASED – DUE July 11, 2023  pre-order now

I know that this is a YA novel (they say for ages 8 – 12), but, as Ms Perkins writers in her own amazingly wonderful adult book, Steeped in Stories: Timeless Children’s Novels to Refresh Our Tired Souls, many of the best children’s fiction writers do books that are so good, adults surely love them to. C.S. Lewis said as much, of course, so let’s celebrate that. Whether you have youngsters on your list of summer birthdays or not, buy this for yourself. I am sure it will be as well done and as provocative as her previous books.

Hope in the Valley is about 13-year-old Pandu, an aspiring Indian-American poet, who, as Publisher’s Weekly explains, “struggles to navigate grief and change in her rapidly gentrifying Silicon Valley neighborhood.” This really is a story about grief (her grandmother has died) and, more, urban demolition, about the loss of refuge, and the conflict between nature preservationists and affordable housing advocates. (Pandu’s older sister works for a city group that favors the development project. As PW continues, “Employing Pandu’s lilting voice and quiet bravery, Perkins crafts an introspective novel about moving on from loss and finding the courage to fight for what one believes in.”

Bastille Day: A Novel Greg Garrett (Raven) $19.99  / OUR SALE PRICE = $15.99

We admire this great author very much — decades ago I raved about his memoir of his own journey from southern evangelical to Texas Episcopalian (Crossing Myself) and have continued to mention his work over the years. He is a professor at Baylor and has written about faith and film, another about superheroes, among others. He has a forthcoming book releasing in September that I hope to write about soon, The Gospel According to James Baldwin: What America’s Great Prophet Can Teach Us about Life, Love, and Identity (Orbis; $24.00 – OUR SALE PRICE = $19.20.) You can get on the waiting list by pre-ordering it now and we’ll send it as soon as it arrives.

Bastille Day is a fabulous read; my wife and I each had copies and were talking to each other late at night as we each kept wondering what would happen next. It is about a seasoned, very interesting, veteran journalist — traumatized first from being embedded in the hell of the war in Iraq and next from a shooting while doing a street story in Texas — who gets another chance at important work by covering the growing terrorism beat in Europe. He moves to Paris and, as the back cover puts it, “the demons of the past follow close behind.”

The main character, Calvin Jones, carries grief and rage with him and drinks a bit too much at Hemingway’s old bar in the Left Bank. He falls in love, but, man, is it an unusual situation. He meets up with some ecumenically-minded Episcopalians at the Cathedral, covers the horror of the attack in Nice (and, yes, notes that U2 is in town) and struggles with faith and meaning, horror and hope, romance and… well, you get the picture.

This is one of those raw books that, if made into a movie, might get an R rating (for language and brief nudity, and smoking, as the streaming services warn, these days. Raven is a bold and artful new imprint owned by Paraclete, who has always published wise books about faith and the arts, excellent, nuanced, poetry, and, now, has an imprint to push the envelope in terms of tone and style. Yet, finally, this is a deeply spiritual book, a contemporary journey about things that matter most. It’s a fun and affecting story — highly recommended.

A remarkable novelist who has the courage to explore in classic terms the great theme of the human soul. — Robert Olen Butler, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain

Garrett writes with intelligence, with wit, with humor, with obvious affection for his characters, with an eye for salient detail. — Elinor Lipman, author of Good Riddance

Search: A Novel Michelle Huneven (Penguin Press) $27.00 (hardcover); $18.00 (paperback)  / OUR SALE PRICES = $21.60 (hardcover);  $14.40 (paperback)  *please tell us which you want

Speaking of realistic fiction set among mainline denominational folks, this is another remarkable story set, in this case, in a Unitarian Universalist congregation — whoever says there is a harsh secular bias in mainstream literature isn’t paying attention. I suspect most of our customers are not UU (I am resolutely Trinitarian, so this is no endorsement of their sort of theology, such as it is.)  Still, to find a novel about a church that gets the details so right is just such a delight.

The “search” in this story may be writ large, and it is a search about how to live well in the world, how to care about different factions with faith communities, the role of institutions in our lives (and, yes, the search for good recipes; you’ll see.) Yet, the plot itself is, in fact, about what most of us call a “search committee.” The pastor of this UU congregation is moving on and some are not unhappy to see him go; others are close to him and frustrated that he’s leaving. Some appreciate his little liturgical innovations, others do not. The main character in this book, Dana Potowski (who wrote the clever, “Preface to the Second Edition” of Search) is, in the story, a woman who went to Methodist seminary for two years, abandoned her desire to be a pastor to take up a career as a food writer and author. She seems less than thrilled with the upbeat style of the current pastor and seems less than vibrant in her faith, of late, yet is invited to be on the search committee.

This isn’t a big spoiler alert, since it is the main pilot device, but Dana, writer that she is, decides to write a memoir about the search process, turning the hard work of finding a pastor (and navigating the notable lifestyle, faith, and personality differences within the search committee) into a book.

And, yes, food writer that she is, there are recipes. Mary Beth Keane, a New York Times Book Review critic says “Huneven’s descriptions of food are the best I’ve ever read.”

This book offers great writing, candid pokes at upscale, church life squabbles, and it is at time pretty funny.

What a great premise for a novel, what a clever and engaging story, and what a good eye Huneven has, for church life and for people and conflict. It isn’t new this month, but the paperback just came out, so it surely should be on this list of great summer reads. We have some of the hardbacks, too, which are nice — if you are ordering, don’t forget to let us know which edition you might prefer.

Michelle Huneven’s Search made me a believer . . . Like Marilynne Robinson with a light vinaigrette, refreshingly candid and transparent . . . We have relatively few novelists willing to write about the role of religion in contemporary life — and even fewer who address spiritual practices with humor, empathy and lived wisdom. Huneven is one of those rare spirits. Religion doesn’t bore or frighten her. She knows what a rich and fraught sanctuary the sanctuary can be. — Ron Charles, The Washington Post

Religious folks of all denominations should find something to make them nod knowingly, laugh out loud and cringe in this telling novel — summer reading at its finest. — Amy Pagliarella, The Presbyterian Outlook

Out of Esau: A Novel Michelle Webster Hein (Counterpoint) $27.00 / OUR SALE PRICE = $21.60

This, too, is a novel that Beth and I both raced through — both so absorbed that we didn’t realize at first the other was reading it. We both enjoyed it very much and found much to discuss. (Maybe I liked it more than she did; I’m not sure of that, now.) I give it four out of five stars, last least.

The story, interestingly, is, again, set in Michigan and is explicitly Christian. Rugged and raw — especially the lines of one foul-mouthed, rough character — it is clear (from the worldview implied in the story but also from the acknowledgements page) that Webster Hein is a church-going Christian. She has an MFA from a fine school in New England but lives in the upper Midwest. The small, nearly rural town in which the story is set, Esau, could be any small town in America. At least anywhere there is snow.

Besides snow, there is great sadness, some kind (and some unkind) neighbors, and a plot that is both tender and chilling. One of the main characters, Robert Glory, is a Baptist pastor of Native descent, who did not know his birth mother, who, curiously, appears in Esau, despite her poverty and ill-health, looking for her long lost son. There is another woman in the story whose faith is ebbing and maybe returning even as she faces the pain of a harsh marriage. Why is the pastor so kind to her? Is she attracted to him, a decent man who cares?

I suppose this is a skewed sort of love story, but much more than that. Published by Counterpoint (a publisher created by, among others, Wendell Berry), you know it will be a finely told story, well crafted, and well worth reading. Neither Beth nor I could put it down.

Out of Esau is a tremendous achievement. A literary page-turner with prose that dips and soars, and characters that leap off the page. I was deeply moved by this tale of love, faith, and family, and I know you will be, too. This wonderful novel is one of the best books of the year. — David Heska Wanbli Weiden, author of Winter Counts

Out of Esau is a wonder of a novel. I fell in love with these characters and found myself continuously astonished by the depth and range of Michelle Webster Hein’s emotional intelligence, lyric touch, and ability to fully inhabit the tender bodies of others. An unflinching look at poverty, place, generational trauma, resiliency, faith, spirit, and love, these pages radiate with compassion and generosity, and shimmer with moments of beauty and insight. Out of Esau is a propulsive and masterfully spun web. — Robin MacArthur, author of Heart Spring Mountain

The Seed Keeper: A Novel Diane Wilson (Milkweed Editions) $18.00 / OUR SALE PRICE = $14.40

This beautiful novel by the quintessentially indie Minnesota publisher of high literature, nature writing, and poetry, is not brand new, but we just discovered it. It came out last year to ringing endorsements, about an indigenous woman’s struggle “for belonging and community.” And to preserve her Dakhota way of life. Rosalie Iron Wing, the main character, a Native woman, is an “orphan, widow, and mother — journalist and gardener.” Her white husband’s farm had been treated first by drought and then by a predatory chemical company, and Rosalie must confront the past and somehow embrace a future.

As it say on the back, alluding to so much, Rosalie learns:

What it means to be descended from women with souls of iron, women who have protected their families, their traditions, and a precious cache of sees through generations of hardship and loss.

Ahh, a “cache of seeds.” This gracefully told story is, finally, about all that seeds might represent. There are book blurbs by the great Winona LaDuke and the only fiction endorsement I have seen by Robin Wall Kimmerer, author of the unforgettable Braiding Sweetgrass.

With compelling characters and images that linger long after the final page is turned, The Seed Keeper invokes the strength that women, land, and plants have shared with one another through the generations.” — Robin Wall Kimmerer, author of Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants

Demon Copperhead  Barbara Kingsolver (Harper) $32.50 / OUR SALE PRICE = $26.00

We have highlighted this a time or two before and we are grateful for those who ordered it. We are big Kingsolver fans (including her two collections of splendid nonfiction essays, by the way.) Her novel previous to this newest one, Unsheltered, set in Vineland, New Jersey, is one of my most-cherished recent novels, if not an all time fav. Beth adored this harsh, remarkable new one, and it is on my list of upcoming summer reads.

By all accounts, Demon Copperhead, is a stunning literary achievement. It is, essentially, a modern day version of Dickens David Copperfield. It has won important acclaim and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2023.

You probably know that the famed black writer, James Baldwin, was decisively shaped by Dickens who, he understood, was filled with rage in a way that made sense, and could perhaps even be redemptive. I only say this to note that this is not a cute or cheery tale of urchins. It is, of course, wonderfully written, but, as the Minneapolis Star Tribune reviewer put it, she is “a writer who can help us understand and navigate the chaos of these times.”

This is a story set in Appalachia and is largely about the opioid crisis and the horrors that descend consequent to that broad, deadly problem.

The flyleaf begins:

Demon Copperhead is the story of a boy born to a teen-age single mother in a single-wide trailer, with no assets beyond his dead father’s good looks and copper=colored hair, a caustic wit, and a fierce talent of survival.

The plot “never pauses for a breath” and is relayed in the sparing voice of the boy named Demon, in the mountains of Southern Appalachian. Beth is still pondering it, unforgettable as it is.

The Year of Jubilee: A Novel Cindy Morgan (Tyndale) $16.99 / OUR SALE PRICE = $13.59

This is a new novel from the evangelical fiction imprint of Tyndale, a longstanding publisher in the religious marketplace. Yet, this story is no simplistic read, full of cliches or sentimentalities. It is tense and serious, set among the hardscrabble life of the working poor, and, finally, a story of inspiration and hope written by a very gifted storyteller. Cindy Morgan, some of our readers will recall, was a popular contemporary Christian music singer-songwriter who was nominated twice for Grammy Awards (and won a breathtaking thirteen Dove Awards.) She continues to do very thoughtful work. In any case, Morgan is a true artist, a notable songstress, a nonfiction writer, and is well suited to crafting a story of nuance, heartbreak and hope. This is her first novel.

This coming-of-age story is about the Mockingbird family from Jubilee, Kentucky. It is set in 1963, revolves around an urgent medical situation when the youngest child falls gravely ill. There are, they say, “swirling, conflicting voices” of those that the main character loves the most, asking her what she really believes.

Some stories are told, others, like The Year of Jubilee are woven into the reader’s heart. With honesty and bravery, a compelling coming-of-age heroine confronts ignorance and racial prejudice in the deep South while wrestling with her own pastor demons — and learning the price of forgiveness. A beautiful story wondrously told.” — Tamera Alexander, author, Colors of Truth

Our Missing Hearts: A Novel Celeste Ng (Penguin Press) $29.00 / OUR SALE PRICE = $23.20

My, my, I’m sure you’ve at least heard of Celeste Ng. Perhaps you have read her stunning Everything I Never Told You or her best-selling Little Fires Everywhere (or perhaps you watched the passionate, well-made TV series.) She is one of Beth’s favorite writers, and she snatched this up the day it arrived last fall, even before we had heard it had been chosen for Reese’s Book Club.

It is a complicated story, I’m told, by an author who is known for being “utterly engrossing, often heartbreaking, deeply empathetic.” She is doubtlessly a confident, compelling author, bold and wise and compassionate. And has deeply attuned sense of the experience of others, a sense of justice.

Our Missing Hearts is a bit different than the previous two, an adventure story set in what is perhaps a nearly dystopian not-to-distant future, with Ng creating a believable space of bigotry and book banning, tracing the lives of poets and writers facing a nearly fascist authoritarianism. It is a story tender with the love of a boy and a mother he has not met and — through an underground network librarians — is hoping to find. The publishers say it is finally a story about “the power — and the limitations — of art to change, the lessons and legacies we pass to our children, and how any of us can survive a broken world with our hearts intact.”

Yellowface R.F. Huang (William Morrow) $30.00  / OUR SALE PRICE = $24.00

I’ll admit it, reluctantly as I hate to be seen as that kind of person: I didn’t like the title or the awful cover of this book, so even though book industry hype was strong and I kept seeing it in my own professional social media feeds, I just wasn’t interested. Then I read a great review. And another mostly good one in the New York Times. My, my, what a fascinating tale. Zakiya Dalila Harris (who wrote The Other Black Girl) says it “is one of the most transfixing novels I’ve read in ages.” She explains that Huang is boldly interrogating “literary hot-button issues like privilege, appropriation, and authenticity, leaving it open for readers themselves to decide where to draw the line”

The plot of Yellowface is crazy. Two women writers, one an Asian-American, are together when one, the popular but private about her drafts and manuscripts, the one of Asian background, suddenly dies. The first woman, less successful in her writing career, takes the dead woman’s manuscript, passing it off as her own.

There it is: beyond appropriation, but theft, dishonesty, and plagiarism. But — satire that it is — the story moves along, offering all kinds of questions about race and authenticity, about greed and truth and art. It raises these questions (what one reviewer called “white performativity”) within the publishing industry, the writing world, the fame of beloved authors and more. Call it a brilliant (or “spicy” as Tracey Lien calls it) satire, it’s surely one heck of a great read.

A History of the Island: A Novel Eugene Vodolazkin (Plough Publishing) $26.95 / OUR SALE PRICE = $21.56

We are grateful for our friends at Plough Publishing for the exquisite taste in publishing and for championing the translations of this remarkable, heavy, genius writer. Eugene Vodolazkin is — get this — a Ukrainian writer (born in Kyiv in 1964) who lives in Russia — and is known throughout Eastern Europe (and beyond) for being a wise and decent voice. A modern Tolstoy or Dostoevsky, perhaps? Perhaps time will tell.

Mr. Vodolazkin is maybe best known for the thoughtful, charming paperback, Laurus, about a medieval doctor, travelling the countryside to offer healing and grace; it won both of Russia’s major literary awards. In 2019, he won the Solzhenitsyn Prize, and now works in the department of Old Russian Literature at Pushkin House. He is an expert in medieval history and folklore.

One customer and friend, a good author himself, appreciates Laurus so, he has ordered several from us to send to those he has ministered to.

We have sold Brisbane, too, a handsome hardback book Beth adored, by the way, when Plough released it last year. To have this peacemaking community (the Bruderhof, who runs Plough) honor this Ukrainian, by releasing it during the war seemed honorable and good. Ends up the novel was rich and deep, as well.

A History of the Island may be even richer and deeper, and just as quirky. It is, ostensibly, the story of a man, and another, telling the story of their beloved island. It seems, through it all, these monks — described as “devious and devout” — are offering a lavish and witty critique of Western civilization and the notion of history itself. Or so the Plough folks say.

This island, by the way, is not on any map. But here is what they say. It is “real beyond doubt.”

Consider this remarkable book endorsement:

“A masterpiece by one of Europe’s finest contemporary novelists.” — Rowan Williams

The Trackers: A Novel Charles Frazier (Ecco) $30.00 / OUR SALE PRICE = $24.00

This is quite recent and has already gotten a lot of national press. I do not recall the last time Frazier released a new novel — he is known for his evocative, well-researched prose (who “elevates the historical fiction genre” as USA Today put it.) Yet, the writing is always large-hearted and vivid and top-notch storytelling. I hope you know his famous

The plot is sprawling and a bit wild. It deserves a soundtrack by somebody like Americana singer-songwriter Bill Mallonee. Here is how they describe it:

Hurtling past the downtrodden communities of Depression-era America, painter Val Welch travels westward to the rural town of Dawes, Wyoming. Through a stroke of luck, he’s landed a New Deal assignment to create a mural representing the region for their new Post Office.

A wealthy art lover named John Long and his wife Eve have agreed to host Val at their sprawling ranch. Rumors and intrigue surround the couple: Eve left behind an itinerant life riding the rails and singing in a western swing band. Long holds shady political aspirations, but was once a WWI sniper — and his right hand is a mysterious elder cowboy, a vestige of the violent old west. Val quickly finds himself entranced by their lives.

One day, Eve flees home with a valuable painting in tow, and Long recruits Val to hit the road with a mission of tracking her down. Journeying from ramshackle Hoovervilles to San Francisco nightclubs to the swamps of Florida, Val’s search for Eve narrows, and he soon turns up secrets that could spark formidable changes for all of them.

In The Trackers, singular American writer Charles Frazier conjures up the lives of everyday people during an extraordinary period of history that bears uncanny resemblance to our own. With the keen perceptions of humanity and transcendent storytelling that have made him beloved for decades, Frazier has created a powerful and timeless new classic.

Reviews have been consistently positive, intriguing, remarkable. It’s on my list for the dog days of later in the summer, for sure.

Frazier deftly blends an historical perspective throughout his fictional tale…Even though it’s set 86 years ago, there are moments that are eerie in their echoes of the present…There’s a lot more worth savoring in The Trackers, including reflections on the meaning of art, the mythos of the American West, and what it really takes to start again. But Val is our narrator and after a transcontinental adventure, the book satisfyingly ends where it began, with Val working on his mural in Dawes, Wyoming, adding a couple final details to complete the painting. — Associated Press

The Book of Susan: A Novel Melanie K. Hutsell (Raven) $18.00  / OUR SALE PRICE = $14.40

We have been wanting to do a nice shout out about this new novel since it first released in the new fiction imprint of Paraclete, Raven. Committed to realistic, artfully told, faith-based stories, Raven is a remarkable new contribution to fiction publishing. In any case, this is an amazing story, a mysterious and moving story written about a character with bipolar disorder. There is, as it summarized on the back cover, “derailment, diagnosis, and the discovery of a lifetime.”

Dr. Susan Huffman is the main character, wife to a judge and a tenure-track, Southern college professor. Her mind’s reliability is, as with all of us, but certainly for a rather up-tight and strategically planning professor, of central importance in her life. And then the visions begin. Is God really speaking to her? How does she know? The great Katherine James (author of Can You See Anything Now? And A Prayer for Orion) says it is “a page-turner of a story and yet a book to be slowed studied for the genuine wisdom it reveals.” The famous Southern novelist Silas House says it is “profound and compulsively readable” and “offers us an unforgettable character in lyrical and accessible prose.”

Another small fascinating, and perhaps how the story can ring so true, is that the author, a poet, novelist, and native of east Tennessee, has been learning to live with bipolar disorder for more than fifteen years. She knows what she’s writing about.  Kudos to her for this brave story and kudos (once again) to the good folks at Paraclete Press.

My Father’s House: A Novel Joseph O’Connor (Europa Editions) $27.00 / OUR SALE PRICE = $21.60

Speaking of historical fiction written with a contemporary style, Joseph O’Connor has been a best-selling author’s storyteller beloved by many, especially those who appreciate international authors. He has won awards across the continent (he teaches literature in Limerick, Ireland) and won awards in places as diverse as Costa Rica and France. His Shadowplay was named Novel of the Year at the 2019 Irish Book Award. Star of the Sea was published in nearly 40 languages!

We discovered this overseas sensation when a customer told us that My Father’s House was one of the best historical novels he has ever read. Publisher Weekly called it “a storytelling tour de force” and a review from the Irish Times said it was “riveting” It seems to bring the “heroism of ordinary individuals thrillingly to life”

It is, quite plainly, a story of resistance to the Nazis, set in 1943 in Rome, showcasing one man’s courage despite the brutality and cost. Wow.

A potent blend of excitement, suspense and intrigue… A gripping World War II-set drama featuring the unlikeliest of heroes, one whom the reader roots for every step of the way… hugely satisfying. — Malcom Forbes, Washington Post




It is very helpful if you tell us how you prefer us to ship your orders.

The weight and destination of your package varies but you can use this as a quick, general guide:

There are generally two kinds of US Mail options, and, of course, UPS. If necessary, we can do overnight and other expedited methods, too. Just ask.

  • United States Postal Service has the option called “Media Mail” which is cheapest but can be slow. For one typical book, usually, it’s about $3.85; 2 lbs would be $4.55.
  • United States Postal Service has another option called “Priority Mail” which is $8.50,  if it fits in a flat rate envelope. Many children’s books and some Bibles are oversized so that might take the next size up which is $9.20. “Priority Mail” gets much more attention than does “Media Mail” and is often just a few days to anywhere in the US.
  • UPS Ground is reliable but varies by weight and distance and may take longer than USPS. We’re happy to figure out your options for you once we know what you want.

If you just want to say “cheapest” that is fine. If you are eager and don’t want the slowest method, do say so. It really helps us serve you well so let us know. Just saying “US Mail” isn’t helpful because there are those two methods, one cheaper but slower, one more costly but quicker. Which do you prefer?


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Hearts & Minds 234 East Main Street  Dallastown  PA  17313

Sadly, as of June 2023 we are still closed for in-store browsing. COVID is not fully over. Since few are reporting their illnesses anymore, it is tricky to know the reality but the best measurement is to check the waste water tables to see the amount of virus in the eco-system. It’s important to be particularly aware of how risks we take might effect the public good. It is complicated for us, so we are still closed for in-store browsing due to our commitment to public health (and the safety of our family, staff, and customers.) The vaccination rate here in York County is sadly lower than average. Our store is a bit cramped without top-notch ventilation, so we are trying to be wise. 

We will certainly keep you posted about our future plans… we are eager, but delayed, for now.

We are doing our famous curb-side and back yard customer service and can show any number of items to you if you call us from our back parking lot. It’s sort of fun, actually. We are eager to serve and grateful for your patience as we all work to mitigate the pandemic. We are very happy to help, so if you are in the area, do stop by. We love to see old friends and new customers.

Of course, we’re happy to ship books anywhere. 

We are here 10:00 – 6:00 EST /  Monday – Saturday. Closed on Sunday.