The latest reviews and recommendations directly from your favorite Southern indie booksellers
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Current favorites of Southern indie booksellers. [FULL LIST]
A delicate coming-of-age story that is both elegiac and an ode to craftwork, womanhood, and friendship. Much like the characters in Cross-Stitch, Barrera and translator MacSweeny have yet again come together to craft another gift to treasure. One of my favorite reads of the year.
Cross-Stitch by Jazmina Barrera, (List Price: $24, Two Lines Press, 9781949641530, November 2023)
Reviewed by Luis Correa, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia
I feel very fortunate to have had read this beautiful book. Autism is so hard and not having anyone in my family with it, I only know what I hear. When these 3 characters come together to help build a boat they bond and learn so much about themselves and each other. People are afraid of what they don’t understand and autism is one of those things we just don’t know enough about. It’s hard enough to be a freshman in high school, compound that with being different. This is a love story for the 3 generations involved. I guarantee you will see the world a bit differently after.
How to Build a Boat by Elaine Feeney, (List Price: $17.95, Biblioasis, 9781771965859, November 2023)
Reviewed by Suzanne Lucey, Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, North Carolina
Yaa Gyasi reinvents the notion of historical fiction in this haunting, sweeping tale of enslavement, colonialism, power, greed, despair, determination, and hope. I was captivated from page one! She brings to life the human cost of surviving the larger, often brutal, forces driving history through the gripping, visceral story of one extended family. Three hundred years of history come to life: from Ghana to Harlem and more as we follow their fates across continents and through time. A very moving book.
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, (List Price: $16.95, Vintage, 9781101971062, May 2017)
Reviewed by Liz Feeney, E. Shaver, bookseller in Savannah, Georgia
I wanted to reach through the pages and hug this little boy who wasn’t loved by his family. Henry was born to Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany. The trauma must have been horrible for them, but a child is innocent. Henry was a funny kid who got away with so much outside his home and was grounded for life always inside it His parents called him dumb dog in German. He had no idea he had dyslexia until his early 30’s but was able to complete college and ended up gettin into Yale Theater Group for his masters. He is not to be kept down. They took a chance on him with Happy Days but what happened on that show and after leaves you cheering him on. I can’t wait to meet him again. Last time he stole my wine and I want it back.
Being Henry by Henry Winkler, (List Price: $30, Celadon Books, 9781250888099, October 2023)
Reviewed by Suzanne Lucey, Page 158 Books in Raleigh, North Carolina
Mary Beard is a legend among historians, and a queen to history lovers. As both, I need everyone to know that this book is the perfect way to explore the psychology of what it meant to be THE Emperor of Rome. What it meant to the historical figures around them. Everything. It’s such a fascinating look at such complex figures that we realistically only know a limited amount about due to how long ago Rome was, and how often their successors attempted to erase them from history, even casually so after their deaths. If you’re looking for further exploration into the archetype of the Roman Emperor, you’ll delight in this book.
Emperor of Rome by Mary Beard, (List Price: $39.99, Liveright, 9780871404220, October 2023)
Reviewed by Caitlyn Vanorder , Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Jointly, The Farmer’s Wife and The Shepherd’s Life (written by Helen’s husband James), provide a unique look at both the travails of small farm life and married life. On its own, The Farmer’s Wife reminded me of Laurie Colwin with deep insights into daily life and the joys of cooking good food. Thoughtful, challenging with delicious recipes and beautifully illustrated, this will be a go-to gift book for me.
The Farmer’s Wife by Helen Rebanks, (List Price: $29.99, Harper Horizon, 9780785290483, September 2023)
Reviewed by Jan Blodgett, Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina
A fun treasure hunt! It reads like an adventure movie – Knives Out with the gang from Scooby Doo. Lily, soon to be 18, literally falls into the birthday cake for her Gram, leaves embarrassed, and finds the next morning that her Gram is dead. She teams up with three others to follow the clues all over town in search of Gram’s fortune. The adults – except Gram – are the “bad guys” in close pursuit as Lily’s gang, chasing them all over Rosetown as they piece together clues Gram left in invisible ink. I love happily-ever-after suspense novels and this didn’t let me down. I hope Reed writes more!
The Rosewood Hunt by Mackenzie Reed, (List Price: $19.99, HarperTeen, 9780063287600, October 2023)
Reviewed by Ashby Rushing, Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee
Gorgeous illustrations and sweet story about a mother and child who grow a winter garden. Complete with instructions of starting your own winter garden. Love this one!
Wintergarden by Janet Fox, (List Price: $18.99, Neal Porter Books, 9780823451012, November 2023)
Reviewed by Jessica Nock, Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina
Fans of Ramona Quimby will love Ella, the unofficial ambassador of Poppy Hill. She’s lived in the building her whole life and knows the ropes, so she’s happy to help new neighbors Cleo and Leo when they move in. This darling book is full of quirky characters and is LGBTQ-positive and really heartwarming. I am already looking forward to more in the series!
The Apartment House on Poppy Hill by Nina LaCour, (List Price: $14.99, Chronicle Books, 9781797213736, November 2023)
Reviewed by Andrea Richardson, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia
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This month’s Southern indie bookseller favorites. [FULL LIST]
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