The latest reviews and recommendations directly from your favorite Southern indie booksellers
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Current favorites of Southern indie booksellers. [FULL LIST]
Deep as the Sky, Red as the Sea by Rita Chang-Eppig
Chang-Eppig’s debut novel is a thriller from the first page – reading this book is like watching a pirate battle come to life! The perfect blend of action and historical fiction, Deep as the Sky, Red as the Sea is a thriller from the very first page! Rita Chang-Eppig brings Chinese pirate Shek Yeung to life in such vivid detail that you can’t help but feel like you’re fighting alongside this ruthless warrior. The story is so gripping you won’t want it to stop, but you’ll be dying to know how it ends. A must-read for anyone who loves a historical thriller!
Deep as the Sky, Red as the Sea by Rita Chang-Eppig, (List Price: 28.99, Bloomsbury Publishing, 9781639730377, June 2023)
Reviewed by Beth Seufer Buss, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Everything’s Fine by Cecilia Rabess
This one’s complicated. I picked it up with the expectation that I’d read just enough to confirm my guess that it’d be too cringey to stomach – because it’s about a liberal Black woman and a moderate-to-conservative white man who fall in love. But I quickly found that this book is NOT a romance, at least not in any genre sense. There’s romance in it, and certainly some heady chemistry, but it’s way more nuanced than that. Through the lens of this problematic relationship (which will spike your blood pressure and keep it high, I promise), Rabess interrogates identity–both individual and in-group–in a really brilliant, intensely readable, morally complex way.
The big question here is: can someone’s care for you as an individual outweigh their lack of understanding/care for you as a member of an identity group? How does complicity in systems of power–the main character works in finance–play a role in that determination? It’s extremely tangled, and Rabess doesn’t provide answers. Just really adept storytelling.
Everything’s Fine by Cecilia Rabess, (List Price: 27.99, Simon & Schuster, 9781982187705, June 2023)
Reviewed by Talia Smart, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Reproduction by Louisa Hall
A quiet yet fierce meditation on birth and creation. Hall pulls us into her own private darkness- the losses of children and fear of death, the loss of the self, the unknowable countries upon which women set off for once they become mothers. All compared artfully to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; another story of God-power and chaos, love and despair. Freedom and choice.
Reproduction by Louisa Hall, (List Price: 30, Ecco, 9780063283626, June 2023)
Reviewed by Aimee Keeble, Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina
White House by the Sea by Kate Storey
This book is very well written, and does a great job explaining the Kennedy’s family century-long ties to Hyannis Port. The story does a wonderful job exploring the family’s ties to the beach town along with how Hyannis Port helped shape the Kennedy image. Her insights into other residents are beautifully done and some of my favorite bits of the book.
White House by the Sea by Kate Storey, (List Price: $30, Scribner, 9781982159184, June 2023)
Reviewed by Tracie Harris, The Book House in Mableton, Georgia
Better Living Through Birding by Christian Cooper
Better Living Through Birding is a memoir that is very much about birds… but it’s also about so much more. Cooper was thrust into the media spotlight via a viral video in which he was subject to racial threats in Central Park from a dog walker… and he discusses this incident in detail. However, he also discusses growing up gay & black in NYC in the 70’s & 80’s, how comic books and nature saved his life, and how activism against social injustice runs in the family. From Harvard to writing for Marvel Comics & Star Trek to following elusive birds in the most remote places in the world, this memoir is honest, emotionally stirring, and heartfelt. It made me want to go for a nature walk immediately after I finished it.
Better Living Through Birding by Christian Cooper, (List Price: $28, Random House, 9780593242384, June 2023)
Reviewed by Stuart McCommon, Novel. in Memphis, Tennessee
Soil: The Story of a Black Mother’s Garden by Camille T. Dungy
Observed with a poet’s eye, deeply concerned with social justice, history, community, and the natural world, Camille Dungy’s Soil recounts the process of creating a pollinator garden in her Colorado yard, circling around her history and the history of the plants, animals and politics of the West. “I dig up a lot of awful history when I kneel in my garden,” she writes. “But, my god, a lot of beauty grows out of this soil as well.”
This is a smart, beautiful, wide-ranging book that will draw you in and change how you look at the world around you.
Soil : The Story of a Black Mother’s Garden by Camille T. Dungy, (List Price: 28.99, Simon & Schuster, 9781982195304, May 2023)
Reviewed by Robin Wood, Books & Books @ The Studios in Key West, Florida
Someone Is Always Watching by Kelley Armstrong
This book was full of twist and turns and had a bit of a science-fiction vibe, which is a refreshing take on a thriller. It reminded me of Catriona Ward’s Sundial and Delilah S. Dawson’s The Violence where you have children being brainwashed in the literal sense where they no longer remember their past and are raised to be completely different people and when those repressed memories eventually start to come through, violence happens.
When I started this audiobook, I was immediately hooked when Gabby flipped out and smashed a faculty member’s head in at school. I also loved that all of the kids were able to grow as characters because they were able to confront their past lives and accept that they are who they were and are now.
I also enjoyed the mystery. I was guessing and guessing who the person was that was sending the threatening emails. I can typically guess correctly, but this book threw me for a loop!
Someone Is Always Watching by Kelley Armstrong, (List Price: 18.99, Tundra Books, 9780735270923, April 2023)
Reviewed by Kait Layton, The Haunted Book Shop in Mobile, Alabama
Wishtree by Katherine Applegate
A beautiful book that made my heart ache in the best ways. Another masterpiece from Applegate that teaches us a little about ourselves while weaving a tree and the community where it lives.
Wishtree by Katherine Applegate, (List Price: 8.99, Square Fish, 9781250233899, March 2023)
Reviewed by Beth Seufer Buss, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Monster Camp by Sarah Henning
Ghost stories around the fire are almost requisite activities at most summer camps, but what if you realized that the monsters at your camp were actually your fellow campers? That’s just what happens to Sylvie in this hilarious slightly spooky summer sleepaway tale that’s the perfect read for a long summer night.
Monster Camp by Sarah Henning, (List Price: 17.99, Margaret K. McElderry Books, 9781665930055, May 2023)
Reviewed by Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina
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This month’s Southern indie bookseller favorites. [FULL LIST]
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