Rosemary's Picks

Rosemary started at Malaprop's in 2018. She's not new to bookstores, having worked for 16 years at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh.  She has a range of book loves, but especially non-fiction, mystery, and children's books.  If you bring a dog in the store, she's sure to offer it a dog treat.  She loves Asheville and Malaprop's. 


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The Blues Brothers: An Epic Friendship, the Rise of Improv, and the Making of an American Film Classic By Daniel de Visé Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802160980
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Atlantic Monthly Press - March 19th, 2024

Daniel de Visé brings '70s cultural landmarks back vividly: the early years of SNL, Animal House, the Blues Brothers, and especially the chemistry between John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd.  What was new to me was the DEEP respect they had for the earlier blues performers, and their dedication to getting them recognized. They may have used 'white privilege' to get the movie made, but Aretha, James Brown, and others saw a well-deserved resurgence in fame because of them. Time to get my Blues Brothers signed T out of the drawer and wear it proudly. 

Oracle By Thomas Olde Heuvelt Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250759580
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Tor Nightfire - April 30th, 2024

Don't wait for Halloween for a delicious dose of terror. In Oracle, Thomas Olde Heuvelt brings back occult specialist Robert Grim from his novel, Hex, to join in the investigation of a sinister and deadly ancient ship that suddenly appears in a Dutch field. Supernatural forces and a secret government agency converge, and civilian witnesses to the Oracle's power may all be collateral damage.  Absolutely riveting! (You don't have to have read Hex, but you'll want to.)

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The Princess of Las Vegas: A Novel By Chris Bohjalian Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385547581
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Doubleday - March 19th, 2024

With her uncanny resemblance to Princess Di and her singing talent, Crissy holds court at the Buckingham Palace Casino with her cabaret show based on Di. Murder, mobsters, a shady cryptocurrency shop, and a crazy, conspiracy-happy congresswoman share the spotlight with family tension as Crissy and her estranged sister try to get their lives in order, and try to ensure they will have lives. Saying ‘no’ to the mob is never a good survival strategy.

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Quantum Criminals: Ramblers, Wild Gamblers, and Other Sole Survivors from the Songs of Steely Dan (American Music Series) By Alex Pappademas, Joan LeMay Cover Image
ISBN: 9781477324998
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: University of Texas Press - May 9th, 2023

Perhaps they can’t buy a thrill, but now Steely Dan fans can buy awareness into the lyrics they’ve debated for almost 50 years. With “Quantum Criminals”, Alex Pappademas and artist Joan LeMay provide cultural context, educated speculation, and bold visuals illuminating the wild rogues and rascals populating the band’s songs. From the famous (Mr. Lapage, Hoops McCann) to the lesser known (Snake Mary, Pixeleen), you’ll have more insight into their memorable cast. Face it, there may not BE just one story behind each song. But “Quantum Criminals” sure is a fun excursion into what may (or may not) have been in Donald Fagen’s and Walter Becker’s minds.

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Democracy Awakening: Notes on the State of America By Heather Cox Richardson Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593652961
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Viking - September 26th, 2023

If you read her daily Letters from an American newsletter, you know Heather Cox Richardson can synthesize current events, and place them in historical perspective.  Frankly, her daily missives have helped keep me sane the past several years.  Democracy Awakening first looks to the past to explain how the country has gotten to its current political state (as the Democratic and Republican parties essentially switched positions policy-wise). Looking back through the Trump administration may be an exercise in PTSD, but Richardson finishes the book on an optimistic note. Throughout, she emphasizes how in times of challenge to democracy, marginalized groups have risen up to respond to injustices. America is not an ideal democracy, but women, minorities, immigrants all have us striving toward that more perfect union.


Blind Spots: A Novel By Thomas Mullen Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250842763
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Minotaur Books - February 20th, 2024

After a virus blinds much of the world, the invention of "vidders" - which "download" sight into the brain-  lets society somewhat recover. But when blacked out spots hamper witnesses to crimes, Detective Mark Owens is left alone to determine if someone is deliberately tweaking what people "see". And if you can't believe what you see, what is reality?  In this intriguing, futuristic noir mystery, Thomas Mullens hits on issues we face today. What IS a human right? Does money determine who can access the basics of life? And do you want a corporation controlling your mind?

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The Crossbow Murders, an Asheville Mystery By Kenneth Butcher Cover Image
ISBN: 9781509251582
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Wild Rose Press - September 13th, 2023

Murder, dirty deals, Asheville landmarks - what's not to like? When a well-known artist is murdered in the RAD, the investigating detectives and their rookie partner find there's much more afoot.  Vortex Donuts, the Western Residence, Grove Park Inn, and even Malaprop's make key appearances. 


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Those We Thought We Knew By David Joy Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525536918
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons - August 1st, 2023

I think this is David Joy's finest novel.  When a young artist returns to her grandmother's rural WNC community with the aim of calling out racial injustice, consciousnesses and hackles are raised. As violence and protests arise, a community's beliefs are challenged. It's also a crackling good mystery. This would make a great community-wide discussion book.

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Holly By Stephen King Cover Image
ISBN: 9781668016138
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - September 5th, 2023

I've been reading Stephen King since the '70s, and Holly Gibney is my favorite character.  She started as a minor character in his Edgar-winning Mr. Mercedes, but he fell in love. She's appeared (and evolved) in the rest of the End of Watch trilogy, The Outsider, and the lead novella in the short story collection If It Bleeds. Here,  Holly carries the book on her own, as she finds a missing person case expanding into way more horrific territory.  The Washington Post acknowledges King with "creating one of the most nuanced, well-realized autistic characters in literature" in Holly. 

Can you read Holly without reading the other works that include the character? The answer is a qualified yes - there aren't any major plot points that require prior knowledge. But if you love seeing a great character develop and establish emotional relationships, dive into the preceding works. 

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Crook Manifesto: A Novel By Colson Whitehead Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385545150
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Doubleday - July 18th, 2023

Crook Manifesto is the second in two-time Pulitzer Prize recipient Colson Whitehead's Harlem trilogy, begun with Harlem Shuffle. Whitehead provides just enough detail on protagonist Ray Carney’s early days to jump into Manifesto without having read Shuffle. Ray is a “retired” fence, now the successful owner of a furniture store. But “retired” is never final, and Ray is pulled back into shady dealings with even shadier associates.

Manifesto covers three scenarios stretching over the ‘70s. In 1971, Ray’s desperate for Jackson Five tickets to fulfill a promise to his daughter. Ray’s sucked into a wild night of murder and robbery with a crooked cop who just might come through with those tickets.


The 1973 section includes Ray but focuses more on his old friend, the morally ambiguous Pepper. Pepper has no problem taking the violent path when needed, but is fiercely loyal to his friends.

By 1976, Ray’s business is bigger than ever. His wife, Elizabeth, is working on a friend’s political campaign. Ray and Pepper start out digging into arson cases in Harlem, and find themselves embroiled in much more.

I’ve come to care so much about Ray, I’m reading Shuffle to find out more, and I’m eager for the untitled conclusion.

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The Six: The Untold Story of America's First Women Astronauts By Loren Grush Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982172800
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - September 12th, 2023

If you're a fan of TV's For All Mankind, you know the drama, tension, and accomplishments behind NASA and in the lives of the fictional astronauts.  Loren Grush's The Six introduces us to the REAL first women astronauts, who faced incredible scrutiny in a less enlightened age as they prepared for their Shuttle assignments.  The awesomeness of space exploration, the tragedy of the Challenger explosion, the sometimes inanity of the press questions - Grush lets us experience it all with this accomplished group.

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The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder By David Grann Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385534260
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Doubleday - April 18th, 2023

David Grann (Killers  of the Flower Moon) can put you in the action like no other writer of historical accounts.  Come aboard the ill-fated The Wager, a British warship of the 1740s. It's "Lord of the Flies" meets "Mutiny on the Bounty". Bring a lime, there's scurvy about.

Feel the Bern: A Bernie Sanders Mystery By Andrew Shaffer Cover Image
ISBN: 9781984861146
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ten Speed Press - December 6th, 2022

Fun, engaging, and humorous mystery as Bernie's college intern gets pulled into a murder in her hometown, and Bernie eagerly joins in.

Murder, maple syrup, a mysterious billionaire (who may remind you of someone), and a yummy "chowda" recipe to boot.

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The Lioness: A Novel By Chris Bohjalian Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525565970
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - May 2nd, 2023

I am astounded by how many voices Chris conveys. The Lioness is a true testament to his writing ability, as he tells the story of a safari trip gone horribly wrong. Alternating chapters are told by ten attendees, with their own perspectives. We get glimpses of both Hollywood glamour and the political turmoil of Africa. 

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White Hot Hate: A True Story of Domestic Terrorism in America's Heartland By Dick Lehr Cover Image
ISBN: 9780063269118
Availability: Not Currently On Our Shelves. Usually Ships in 1-5 Days.
Published: Mariner Books - November 29th, 2022

A brave, ordinary guy agrees to infiltrate a white supremacist group in Kansas for the FBI. What he goes through and what he uncovers is truly amazing.  This is a riveting account of a group of vicious, bigoted men planning mass slaughter of Somali Muslim immigrants in their community.  And yet, it's a hopeful book, showing what a regular citizen with determination can achieve. 

Beyond Innocence: The Life Sentence of Darryl Hunt By Phoebe Zerwick Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802159380
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press - March 14th, 2023

Once upon a time, a man was unjustly imprisoned. DNA and dogged work freed him after 19 years. He lived happily ever after.

Sorry, that last part didn’t happen. Even with DNA evidence, he almost didn’t get exonerated. Beyond Innocence: The Life Sentence of Darryl Hunt details Hunt’s journey from teen to convicted killer, innocent freed man, and activist with many twists. But the saddest part is what happened to him after freedom, and how it illustrates the plight of most of the exonerated.

As the Crow Dies By Kenneth Butcher Cover Image
ISBN: 9781610353618
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Pace Press - June 2nd, 2020

Kenneth Butcher's mystery may get the award for most Asheville landmarks featured in a book.  Set in 2011 (for reasons that soon become apparent), a body discovered in the RAD sets two investigators off on a twisty mission involving government agencies.  12 Bones, the Grove Arcade, even Malaprop's are among locales that keep the plot moving.  Quirky characters, a crow to love, and a tour of the city make this a quintessential Asheville read. 


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Ring Shout By P. Djèlí Clark Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250767028
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tordotcom - October 13th, 2020

This slim horror novel packs a big-sized punch.  Horrors of the Jim Crow South are balanced with horrors of another dimension.  Strange forces feed on the hate of KKK members and sympathizers to turn them into... something else.  A trio of female freedom fighters, backed by those who still believe in Low Counry powers, and supernatural helpers who are reminiscent of the witches in A Wrinkle in Time, are the South's only hope.  This is unlike anything I've ever read.

If It Bleeds: Mr. Harrigan's Phone, The Life of Chuck, Rat By Stephen King Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982137984
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - June 1st, 2021

I'm more a fan of King's novels, but this quartet of stories are the best I've read of his. My favorite King character returns in the title novella (Holly Gibney fans, rejoice!). But of them all, The Life of Chuck is the sparkling, unexpected gem.  What starts out as an apparent apocalyptic tale is instead a poignant celebration of life. 

The Women of the Copper Country: A Novel By Mary Doria Russell Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982109592
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Atria Books - July 7th, 2020

When a bookseller says someone is her favorite author, take that as high praise. The Women of the Copper Country is perfectly timed to today's environment, when women's advancements and the rights of workers are under fire. Russell mixes real and historical characters. I had to resist the urge to look up the fates of Annie and other figures until I'd finished it - which only took two days.

This is rich historical fiction based on many real people and events that history has passed over. Who knew the U.S. had its own Joan of Arc? Once you finish Women, I guarantee you'll be searching out information on Annie Clements.

Night of the Assassins: The Untold Story of Hitler's Plot to Kill FDR, Churchill, and Stalin By Howard Blum Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062872906
Availability: Not Currently On Our Shelves. Usually Ships in 1-5 Days.
Published: Harper Perennial - June 1st, 2021

It may be the biggest, secret story of WWII.  Even before D-Day, German military leaders saw the writing on the wall.  It wouldn't win them the war, but they hoped to get better terms of surrender - by assassinating the three main Allied leaders and throwing the war effort into chaos.  But when might they be together?  Howard Blum creates a breakneck thriller, as German generals slowly obtain info on what became the Tehran conference, and FDR's chief bodyguard tries to prepare security for such a gathering.  How much luck, skill, coincidence and daring - on both sides - makes for fascinating reading.

The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women By Kate Moore Cover Image
ISBN: 9781492650959
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Sourcebooks - March 6th, 2018

Be forewarned: this book will make you very, very angry.  Now we may look at early 20th Century attitudes toward radium with shock (radium toothpaste? jockstraps?). Corporate America knew the danger, even if consumers didn't. And no one was more vulnerable than the literally glowing women who painted the in-demand radium dials of watches and instruments.  Their years of suffering and legal conflicts led to safer working conditions for others.  Think of their legacy when someone proposes rolling back worker protections. 

Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 By Garrett M. Graff Cover Image
ISBN: 9781501182211
Availability: Not Currently On Our Shelves. Usually Ships in 1-5 Days.
Published: Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster - September 8th, 2020

I can’t say this strongly enough – everyone should read this book, but especially those too young to have strong memories of 9/11. 

Graff curates and organizes recollections from those most deeply involved with 9/11 to stunning effect.  The sights, smells, and sounds (especially the sounds – and silences) bring the day vividly, painfully back.  There are even more overlooked heroes than you remember (among them the air traffic controllers contending with the unimaginable, landing thousands of planes safely all at once).

The Line That Held Us By David Joy Cover Image
ISBN: 9780425280287
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons - July 9th, 2019

If you like your novels ominous and suspenseful, The Line That Held Us is for you. 

David Joy does two incredible things in this novel: he creates a uniquely cruel, sadistic villain - Dwayne will truly stand out among the most horrendous human beings you'll encounter in a book.  David also succeeds in making Dwayne a poignant and sympathetic character. You'll hate yourself for feeling sympathy for him, but you can't help it.  

The tension is high from the start, and David ratchets it up as Dwayne and his (sometimes innocent) prey complete their intricate dance.  (Comes out mid-August)

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics By Daniel James Brown Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143125471
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - May 27th, 2014

If you have a poet's heart, you'll be awed by the spiritual connections to rowing expressed by both the crew members and the master boat builder whose philosophy weaves through this historical drama. 

If you're of a more mathematical nature: 


Everybody's Fool: A Novel (North Bath Trilogy #2) By Richard Russo Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307454829
Availability: Not Currently On Our Shelves. Usually Ships in 1-5 Days.
Published: Vintage - January 24th, 2017

I've always loved Russo's pitch-perfect rendition of small-town life, especially in the upstate NY area I know well.  Everybody's Fool goes into the top 10 of my favorite books - ever.  No character is perfect, but when I finished the book, I missed every one of them (well, except Roy. There's no love lost there!)  

So much happens to the interweaving cast, it was a shock to consider that Fool only covers a couple of days in the life of Bath, NY.  You may not want to live there, but you'd want these folks as your neighbors. (Except Roy).