Jessica Philyaw

BOOKSELLER EMERITUS - Jessica now works for Fontana Regional Library 

I've worked part-time at City Lights since coming to Jackson County from Chapel Hill in the summer of 1996. I coordinate the writing and design of our printed newsletter, schedule author events for the store, and (like everyone else on the staff) do whatever I can to match a customer to a book. For my own pleasure reading, I gravitate toward mysteries, particularly those with a strong sense of "place" and character, whether historical or contemporary. My favorite authors are Nevada Barr, Janet Evanovich, Bruce Alexander, and Marcia Muller. In general, if there's an intricate plot (without too much extensively described gore) and good character development, I'm hooked.

Staff Pick Badge
The Sparrow: A Novel (The Sparrow Series #1) By Mary Doria Russell Cover Image
ISBN: 9780449912553
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ballantine Books - September 8th, 1997

This is one of my all-time favorite books, and many friends who have read it also put it in that category. What happens when the Jesuits, known for their contact with unfamiliar cultures (as in 17th-century Canada), go to meet the intelligent life on another planet? This is science fiction with a philosophical heart. Compelling and beautifully written, The Sparrow will leave you thinking (even dreaming!) long after you finish the last page. If you like this one, you'll also want to read Russell's The Children of God, which continues the story.

The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove By Susan Gregg Gilmore Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307395030
Availability: We can probably get this title but the price is subject to change.
Published: Crown - August 17th, 2010

"Readers who like Lee Smith will like Susan Gilmore. Bezillia Grove is an unforgettable character with a unique voice, and we see through her eyes the troubles of class, race, and family in 1960s Nashville."

The Knitting Circle By Ann Hood Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393330441
Availability: Backordered at our warehouse
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - January 17th, 2008

Ann Hood has written many novels, but I had never read her work until I picked up her newest novel, The Knitting Circle. Now I want to read all her other work. I am a beginning knitter, and an occasional one, at that, but this book was an inspiration in more ways than one. Of course I was drawn to the encouraging words her characters have about knitting as a hobby, but it was the richness and texture of the characters themselves that has stayed with me. The women have each experienced something difficult in their lives, and they find solace in each other as well in their shared craft.
-- Jessica Philyaw

The Da Vinci Code: A Novel (Robert Langdon #2) By Dan Brown Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385504201
Availability: No new copies on our shelves but maybe in used, now or arriving soon. Ask us.
Published: Doubleday - March 18th, 2003

Blind Justice (Sir John Fielding #1) By Bruce Alexander Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780425150078
Published: Berkley - November 1st, 1995

Falsely charged of theft in 1768 London, thirteen-year-old Jeremy Proctor finds his only hope in Sir John Fielding, the founder of the Bow Street Runners police force, who recruits young Jeremy in his mission to fight crime. - Jessica Philyaw

Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind: A Novel By Ann B. Ross Cover Image
ISBN: 9780688177751
Availability: No new copies on our shelves but maybe in used, now or arriving soon. Ask us.
Published: William Morrow Paperbacks - August 22nd, 2000

Julia Springer has just been widowed, her life is turned upside down in more ways than one, and the small-town gossips are in a feeding frenzy. But she handles it all with a southern lady's grace and aplomb, mixed with a wit that makes the book great fun to read. If you or someone on your gift list has enjoyed Jan Karon's Mitford books or Joan Medlicott's The Ladies of Covington Send Their Love, then you won't want to miss Miss Julia.

Mom's Marijuana: Life, Love, and Beating the Odds By Dan Shapiro Cover Image
ISBN: 9780375708015
Availability: No new copies on our shelves but maybe in used, now or arriving soon. Ask us.
Published: Vintage - September 11th, 2001

A wonderful collection of essays that make up a memoir. The author, a former classmate of mine at Vassar, was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease at the age of 20. The book chronicles his illness, treatments, relapses, and return to health, but it appealed to me as much for its humanism as for its medical adventures. Here is a man with a rock-solid sense of self, and that sense is almost destroyed by the disease that is killing his body and by the medical system that is trying to save his life. Along the way, the book discusses family relationships, his marriage and children, and faith. A truly inspirational book, but also a book filled with humor in the face of pending disaster. Read the first few pages, and you'll know of you're hooked.

Girl with a Pearl Earring: A Novel By Tracy Chevalier Cover Image
ISBN: 9780452282155
Availability: No new copies on our shelves but maybe in used, now or arriving soon. Ask us.
Published: Penguin Books - January 1st, 2001

The captivating story of a young girl who takes on a job as maid in the houshold of the Dutch master Vermeer. It is a coming-of-age story, a romance, a fine historical novel, and a tale of suspense, all in one. Chevalier blends these seemingly disparate genres into a well-written and compelling tale of life and art in seventeenth-century Delft. Griet, the young maid, is a complex personality in her own right, and she is a fine observer of her new master's character and art. From him, she learns to perceive the traces of blue, green, and yellow in a "white" cloud. From her, he learns that a "low-born" girl can have the intellect and insight of an educated gentleman.

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