Book Buzz

Spotlight On: So Long As It’s Wild by Barbara Jenkins


Barbara Jenkins, photo by author

I remembered my granny who traveled to Arkansas as a child in a covered wagon, and then spent her whole life scratching a living out of the rocky hills of the Ozarks. She didn’t have more than a cotton dress and a tattered apron, but I never heard her whine about being poor, cooking on a hot wood stove or making 100 biscuits each morning for her large family. Between my new husband insisting I shape up and memories of her endurance, I walked on and kept my mouth shut.
― Barbara Jenkins Interview, Huff Post

So Long As It's Wild by Barbara Jenkins

What booksellers are saying about So Long As It’s Wild

  • So Long As It’s Wild is a book about walking the same way The Odyssey is a book about sailing. Barbara’s story is incredible, and one that many women can relate to – that of being overlooked and sidelined in favor of her male partner. Her voice rings loud and clear in this memoir, telling not only her side of the story but her story alone. The writing is graceful, at times reading like an adventure novel, at times like poetry. I loved this one.
      ― Ellen Woodall, Blacksburg Books in Blacksburg, VA | Buy from Blacksburg Books

  • A fascinating story of the trials and tribulations of not only a walk across the country, but a young marriage finding its way.
      ― Kelley Dykes, Main Street Reads in Summerville, SC | Buy from Main Street Reads

About Barbara Jenkins

Barbara Jenkins grew up in the wild beauty of the Ozarks with no running water and homemade clothes. The first in her family to go beyond an 8th grade education, she received her Master’s from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. She shot to fame in 1976 with her then-husband for their ambitious walk across America. That journey became the inspiration for their New York Times bestseller The Walk West, selling over 12 million copies. She has since published a number of other books, including The Road Unseen, a Gold Medallion Book Award winner. Her writing and entrepreneurship has been featured on Good Morning America, Reader’s Digest and more. Jenkins now travels the country, speaking at universities, conventions, and other events about her story. When she is not writing, speaking, or traveling, Jenkins loves spending time with her granddaughters, Josephine and Lyla. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee.


Spotlight On: Bookshops & Bonedust by Travis Baldree


Travis Baldree, photo by author

Initially, my plan for both [Viv and Tandry] was that they would simply build a supportive, essential friendship and that Viv’s recognition of the value of that relationship was key to her new life. That strengthened over the course of the story and became what it is now, and it felt inevitable to me. It isn’t a romance, really – it’s a friendship that evolved into something more. The book is largely about quiet acts of bravery that don’t involve a sword – and the leap from friendship to romantic relationship was one of Viv’s last brave acts. The kind of risk that most of us can relate to.
― Travis Baldree Interview, Hunger Mountain

Bookshops & Bonedust byTravis Baldree

What booksellers are saying about Bookshops & Bonedust

  • Baldree does it again! I was positively enchanted with this story, just as I was with Legends & Lattes. Seeing Viv in this stage of her life, so different from her time establishing a coffee shop, was a treat. The bookshop setting was perfect, the plight of a bookseller just trying her hardest to get books into the hands of readers utterly relatable. A fantastic read for cozy fantasy lovers!
      ― Hannah Kerbs, Parnassus Books in Nashville, TN | Buy from Parnassus Books

  • This book is so DELICIOUSLY COZY that it CURED my common cold—or at the very least it warmed me all the way up, gave me a kiss on the forehead, and made me feel a whole lot better! Wounded in her first venture as a mercenary, a young Viv washes up in a seaside town with a ramshackle bookshop and ends up finding fiction, friendship, first love, the mutually enriching relationship between small businesses and their community, and a little badass bone-busting adventure along the way! It’s hard to believe, but I loved Bookshops & Bonedust even more than Legends & Lattes and literally hugged this book when I finished it.
      ― Megan Bell, Underground Books in Carrollton, GA | Buy from Underground Books

  • This was a rare stand alone prequel that adds so much to the first book, Bookshops and Bonedust has all the cozy vibes and action I had come to expect from Legends and Lattes. There’s a loveable animal companion, a frazzled bookshop owner, a baker of fine treats, and a necromancer lurking somewhere in the background. If you were wondering why a mercenary orc would want to open a coffee shop, read this, maybe with a nice cup of coffee of your own. This book is the perfect example of there’s a right book for every time, and a right time for every book. Super cozy, super well written (and narrated) Travis has definitely made himself an instant buy author for me after these last two slam dunks.
      ― Charlotte Beck, Main Street Reads in Summerville, SC | Buy from Main Street Reads

About Travis Baldree

Travis Baldree (he/him) is a full-time audiobook narrator who has lent his voice to hundreds of stories. Before that, he spent decades designing and building video games like Torchlight, Rebel Galaxy, and Fate. Apparently, he now also writes books. He lives in the Pacific Northwest with his very patient family and their small, nervous dog.


Spotlight On: African Risen: A New Era of Speculative Fiction


Editors, Africa Risen

Writing and editing is a very cultural thing. Identity plays a huge role in how we process stories, how we tell stories, and how we receive them. It puts us at very different places. It requires a lot of trust and respect….that is also the beauty and the strength of the anthology. This anthology has everything.
― Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki

I know some people have a zero sum idea of the world, everybody’s competition, right? But I have found a lot of times you thrive more when you say, hey., we’re going up against something much bigger ― the white-dominated publishing space ― and if we work together we can make a lot more of a difference.
― Zelda Knight

Working with the magazine in fantasy and science fiction, I’m more aware than ever that I’m also, as an editor, in the world of dream making. I’m making people’s oldest childhood-rooted dreams come true
― Sharee Renée Thomas Interview, SFF Addicts

African Risen: A New Era of Speculative Fiction edited by Sheree Renée Thomas, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, Zelda Knight

What booksellers are saying about African Risen: A New Era of Speculative Fiction

  • An expert array of predominantly science fiction stories, all of which explore Black narratives, with many utilizing African mythology and lore. They are each so unique and groundbreaking in their narratives; you’ll find something for everyone in this collection!
      ― Mallory Sutton, Bards Alley Bookshop in Vienna, VA | Buy from Bards Alley

  • A collection of short stories, in the speculative genre, focusing on the imagination of Africa. I first heard about this book shortly after hearing about Africa is Not a Country (a book that reminds the reader(s) that the many nations make the continent bright and that colonialism isn’t the end-all of Africa. The stories bounce between sci-fi and fantasy and some feel like a perfect blend of both genres. This is a wonderful book to give to someone who is new to speculative fiction or even an oldhead like myself!
      ― Hilton Airall, Carmichaels Bookstore in Louisville, KY | Buy from Carmichaels

About the editors

Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki - photo from authorOghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki is an award-winning speculative fiction writer, editor and publisher from Nigeria. He edited the first ever Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction anthology, the Bridging Worlds anthology and co-edited the Dominion anthology

Zelda Knight - Alton Strupp_Courier JournalZelda Knight is an award-winning author, editor and bookseller. She co-edited the Dominion anthology, and has written numerous short stories and science fiction/romance series and books.

Sheree Renée Thomas - photo from authorSheree Renée Thomas is an award-winning author, editor and poet. Her works include the Dark Matter anthology, Nine Bar Blues, the Marvel novel Black Panther: Panther’s Rage, the story “Timebox Altar(ed)” in Janelle Monáe’s collection The Memory Librarian and Other Stories of Dirty Computer and much more.


Spotlight On: All We Need Is Love and a Really Soft Pillow! by Peter H. Reynolds


Peter H. Reynolds, photo credit Dawn Haley Morton

I’m writing my own story, I make a movie in my head. That’s kind of how I start. I come up with the idea and then suddenly I just imagine that idea, you know, cast with characters and settings, and it becomes a little movie in my head. And I write it down, and I jot down the images that I have in my head, but I think the same thing happens… You know, when I read somebody else’s work, I immediately turn it into a movie, and I could see it in my head as I’m reading. I’m turning your words into characters.
― Peter H. Reynolds, Interview, Good Story Company

All We Need Is Love and a Really Soft Pillow! by Peter H. Reynolds, Henry Rocket Reynolds

What booksellers are saying about All We Need Is Love and a Really Soft Pillow!

  • Written in honor of the beditime story, Peter wrote this with his son. When Peter said “All you need is love,” Henry would add one more thing. A reminder of the things that are important and how much you are loved.
      ― Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, NC | Buy from The Country Bookshop

  • Peter H. Reynolds signature style shines in this endearing ode to love. Because even when it seems all is lost, love survives … and offers a soft landing.
      ― Stephanie Staton, CoffeeTree Books in Morehead, KY | Buy from Coffee Tree Books

  • What a tender story about the things we really need and the reminder that even if we lose “things” we will always have love. Beautiful illustrations, made me think of The Lorax!
      ― Morgan DePerno, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC | Buy from Bookmarks

About Peter H. Reynolds,

Peter H. Reynolds is a New York Times bestselling author and illustrator of many books for children, including Happy Dreamer, The Word Collector, Say Something!, Be You!, and Our Table. He is also the illustrator of When Thing Aren’t Going Right, Go Left by Marc Colagiovanni. His books have been translated into over 25 languages around the globe and are celebrated worldwide. In 1996, he founded FableVision with his brother, Paul, as a social change agency to help create “stories that matter, stories that move.” He lives in Dedham, Massachusetts, with his family.


Spotlight On: Juniper’s Christmas by Eoin Colfer


Eoin Colfer, photo credit author

I was aware that although my own Christmas situation is currently very happy with my wife and boys, a lot of people are not so lucky. I would be willing to bet that most people have had really low Christmases due to grief, illness or that curse of loneliness, so I wanted to portray main characters who are suffering through sadness or desperation or the feeling that their lives have drifted off course and show that maybe things will change or there could be a way back.
― Eoin Colfer, Interview, Reading Zone

Juniper's Christmas by Eoin Colfer

What booksellers are saying about Juniper’s Christmas

  • Juniper only wants one thing for Christmas… to honor her father. As Christmas draws closer and closer, the chance of Juniper getting her wish seem farther and farther away. This tale of finding joy and hope where you can even in the face of grief is the perfect holiday book for fans of Wishtree, Pax and The One and Only Ivan.
      ― Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, NC | Buy from The Country Bookshop

  • This has all the feels of a perfect Christmas classic! I can already see this becoming a yearly tradition to read every December. Juniper and Niko are the perfect pairing of a charismatic young lady and a grumpy old man.
      ― Olivia Schaffer, The Bookshelf in Thomasville, GA | Buy from The Bookshelf

About Eoin Colfer

Eoin Colfer is the best-selling author of the children’s fantasy series Artemis Fowl. His other notable works include The Dog Who Lost His Bark, illustrated by P.J. Lynch, and the novels Half Moon Investigations, Airman, and The Supernaturalist. The recipient of many awards, he lives in Ireland.


Spotlight On: Elves are the Worst by Alex Willan


Alex Willan, photo credit Alex Willan

I constantly have various characters chatting away inside my head. For me, most of my time “writing” doesn’t involve writing down anything at all. By the time I’m able to sit down and type out a manuscript, or even just a few lines of text, those characters have existed in my mind for a good long while. Especially when it’s a character from a series. It’s really kind of bizarre to put into words, but I have spent so much time with Gilbert, in my head, that it’s less about me deciding what Gilbert will say or do, and more about imagining him in any given situation and “seeing” how he reacts. I guess there was some point, when I first thought of these stories, where I created his character, but at this point I feel like he’s steering his own ship.
― Alex Willan, Interview, Children’s Bookroom

Elves are the Worst by Alex Willan

What booksellers are saying about Elves are the Worst

  • Oh, holy night! I love all of Alex W.’s books in this series, and this one is no exception. Elves Are the Worst is the star on top of the troll’s tree with all the right stripes on all the wrong candy canes! Love, love, love another tale of judging a book by its cover.
      ― Stephanie Staton, Coffee Tree Books in Morehead, KY | Buy from Angel Wings Bookstore

  • Super cute picture book for the holidays that is laugh-out-loud funny for kids and their grown-ups. Written in the style of a graphic novel, younger kids will gravitate towards this format that makes them feel like they’re reading a big kid book. Behind all the humor, this book has a great message of appearances aren’t everything.
      ― Jamie Southern, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC | Buy from Bookmarks

About Alex Willan

If it was Alex Willan, and not Gilbert the Goblin, who was in charge of writing the stories, he’d make a book called Anchovies Are the Worst!. Alex is the author-illustrator of Unicorns Are the Worst!, Dragons Are the Worst!, Yetis Are the Worst!, and the Jasper & Ollie series, as well as the illustrator of Got Your Nose, written by Alan Katz. Alex lives in Chicago with his dog, Harley, who is the absolute best. Visit him online at


Spotlight On: A Power Unbound by Freya Marske


Freya Marske, photo credit Kris Arnold

I am writing romance; all of my characters end up happily in love. I am writing fantasy with intrigue; frankly, the characters don’t have time for too much agonizing. They have conspiracies to unravel, and— to veer abruptly sideways into musical theatre (I am queer, after all) and quote Pippin—magic to do.

I made the very conscious decision to scrap crises of faith, uncertainty of one’s sexuality, and self-hatred entirely. I used the need for secrecy to add to the ‘us against the world’ situation that serves a romance plot so well, and also to emphasize the exquisite surprise and delight when a kindred spirit is recognized.
― Freya Marske, Interview, FyneTime

A Power Unbound by Freya Marske

What booksellers are saying about A Power Unbound

  • *Chef’s Kiss* I was really looking forward to Hawthorn’s story and it didn’t disappoint. Marske is such an exquisite writer, deft with her succinct and evocative descriptions! It was great also getting to see the moments with the other two couples as well.
      ― Angela Trigg, The Haunted Bookshop in Mobile, AL | Buy from The Haunted Bookshop

  • An absolutely delightful and riveting end to the trilogy, one that made me overcome my general aversion to e-books so that I could read this immediately. It was everything I could have hoped for and more, providing us with the much-needed perspectives of Jack and Alan. They race against time, their powerful enemies, and the rising sexual tension as the Last Contract comes closer to its end. Both deliciously queer and wholly enthralling, I’ll never not recommend this trilogy.
      ― Jordan April, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, NC | Buy from Flyleaf Books

  • This was the perfect ending to a fabulous trilogy. More of Lord Hawthorne is exactly what I needed in my life.
      ― Melissa Taylor from E. Shaver, bookseller in Savannah, GA | Buy from E. Shaver

  • A satisfying conclusion to Marske’s Last Binding trilogy. I thoroughly enjoyed these stories that have a little something for everyone (historical, mystery, fantasy, romance).
      ― Melissa Oates from Fiction Addiction in Greenville, SC | Buy from Fiction Addiction

About Freya Marske

Freya Marske is the author of A Power Unbound, A Restless Truth, and A Marvellous Light, which was an international bestseller and won the Romantic Novel Award for Fantasy. Her work has appeared in Analog and has been shortlisted for three Aurealis Awards. She is also a Hugo-nominated podcaster and won the Ditmar Award for Best New Talent. She lives in Australia.


Spotlight On: Wreck the Halls by Tessa Bailey


Tessa Bailey, photo credit Tessa Bailey

This is the challenge going into a modern romantic comedy. Readers expect there to be high stakes on the road to happily ever after. We don’t need the path to be easy, simply because the book has humorous situations or a humorous tone. A lot of us deal with the heavier aspects of life by laughing or creating levity. So that is my balancing act—making sure there is depth to the characters and their struggles, while also making sure the champagne bubble, fizzy feeling of romance is on the page.
― Tessa Bailey, Interview, Bookpage

Wreck the Halls by Tessa Bailey

What booksellers are saying about Wreck the Halls

  • I cannot say enough about this book. I finished it in 2 days and it would have been done in 1 day but life got in the way. The perfect hilarious, laugh out loud, feel good, swoon worthy, libido enhancing holiday romance! You fall in love with these characters from the very start and fall even harder throughout this book.
      ― Mandy Harris, Angel Wings Bookstore in Stem, NC | Buy from Angel Wings Bookstore

  • Melody and Beat grew up the children of former bandmates, but they never met before they were 16 because their moms broke up their band just before they were born. But the world is clamoring for a reunion, and when a reality TV show producer comes knocking with a very lucrative deal, Beat needs the money enough that he can’t say no, and Melody decides to go along for the ride (and also for Beat). While they attempt to coerce their moms into performing together again (or even just mentioning each other’s names without the world ending), Melody and Beat develop an intimacy born of knowing that they understand each other more than anyone else possibly could — though the millions of people tuning in to their livestream certainly understand something is going on. I love Tessa Bailey, and this book is no exception. A fun and steamy holiday read about finding your person, with absolutely delightful characters.
      ― Melissa Oates, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, SC | Buy from Fiction Addiction

  • Tessa Bailey just keeps getting better and better! My heart leaped to the music of Melody and Beat as they worked through their issues to reach their HEA! I also appreciated the subplot of their mothers.
      ― Angela Trigg from Haunted Book Shop in Mobile, AL | Buy from Haunted Book Shop

About Tessa Bailey

#1 New York Times bestselling author Tessa Bailey can solve all problems except for her own, so she focuses those efforts on stubborn, fictional blue-collar men and loyal, lovable heroines. She lives on Long Island avoiding the sun and social interactions, then wonders why no one has called. Dubbed the “Michelangelo of dirty talk,” by Entertainment Weekly, Tessa writes with spice, spirit, swoon and a guaranteed happily ever after. Catch her on TikTok at @authortessabailey or check out for a complete list of books.


Spotlight On: West Heart Kill by Dann McDorman


Dann McDorman, photo credit Beowulf Sheehan

Q: Why set the novel in the 70s?
A: The superficial reason is that it was fun! The hairstyles alone defy belief…The zeitgeist of the 1970s felt intensely familiar to me. We’d lost trust in institutions and in each other; the old solutions didn’t work; the new ones seemed inadequate; a creeping disillusionment had overtaken the best of us, while the worst seemed full of passionate intensity. As an era, the 1970s seems extraordinarily relevant to writers and readers today.
― Dann McDorman, Interview, Bloomsbury UK

West Heart Kill by Dann McDorman

What booksellers are saying about West Heart Kill

  • This one is an absolute must read for devotees of the classic mystery genre. Unique in concept while at the same time holding true to the classic formulae that make the mystery novel so intriguing to us. In this tale we join Adam McAnnis, a somewhat sketchy private eye who joins a list of colorful characters on a long weekend getaway to a private hunting lodge. As the weekend progresses and the bodies start piling up we partner with Adam as he investigates the twisted relationships and subtle clues that will help him find the killer (or killers?). Interspersed in the story are vignettes by the author who leads us on an academic study of the mystery novel that at times almost seems to mock both the reader and the genre itself while at the same time crafting an entertaining and thoroughly complex and mesmerizing mystery thriller. If for nothing more than for it’s unique approach to story telling, for true fans of the mystery novel, you owe it to yourself to enjoy this one.
      ― Brent Bunnell, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, SC | Buy from Fiction Addiction

  • Wow! This book is entirely captivating and such an interesting take on the mystery genre. Adam McAnnis, detective and friend of one of West Heart Hunting Club’s founding family members, is allowed to join the Bicentennial weekend at the exclusive club. All seems relatively normal, but with a mystery it never really is normal, is it? Murder, lies, old money, infidelity, and an unreliable narrator voice guide this story, and McDorman bends the book’s structure in a way that I have never seen before, making comments about the genre, plot, characters, and reader as it moves along to make for a fully immersive experience. Loved it!
      ― Kalynn Simpkins, Underground Books in Carrollton, GA | Buy from Underground Books

  • Everything about this novel was new and invigorating. I’ve never come across storytelling in this way especially with mysteries. The author subverts the status quo of mystery point of view. Always have the focus on one person or never give in depth insights into the detectives thoughts. With West Heart Kill, we are integrated into every single part of the story. The use of first, second, and third omniscient POVs was a little jarring at first, but once you get used to it, you can understand the utilization of them. Mysteries lay out the clues so that the reader can solve the crime along with the detective, but with this novel, you’re the detective. You are in the book. You’re being guided by the author as if he was writing YOUR story. You are given quizzes, clues, and questions from the character themselves. Though we do follow the main character, we are also the main character, and that experience made this one of my favorite novels I’ve read this year.
      ― Ae Fuller from Novel in Memphis, TN | Buy from Novel

  • This book is a ball to read. For obvious reasons: because it scratches that edge-of-your-chair itch, because it’s a 1976 period drama, because it’s full of rich people behaving badly, etc. And for not so obvious reasons: because the narrator acknowledges our presence as readers (!), because Mc Dorman offers us a history of the mystery genre (!!), because well it’s so darn funny and surprising (!!!)
      ― Laura Cotten from Thank You Books in Birmingham, AL | Buy from Thank You Books

About Dann McDorman

Dann McDorman is an Emmy-nominated TV news producer, who has also worked as a newspaper reporter, book reviewer, and cabinet maker. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two children.


Spotlight On: System Collapse by Martha Wells


Martha Wells, photo credit Lisa Blaschke

I got this idea for what was going to be a sad, short story that was basically the plot of All Systems Red, about a SecUnit that basically had to expose the fact that it had hacked itself and was now free in order to save the people it was guarding. It was kind of—I’ve heard them called “attack novels” or “attack ideas” or “attack stories”—this overpowering idea that you want to write it right then. So I was just going to jot down some notes on what the story’s plot was but ended up writing five pages of All Systems Red.
― Martha Wells, Interview, Monster Complex

System Collapse by Martha Wells

What booksellers are saying about System Collapse

  • Nothing makes me remember how amazing science fiction is more than a Murderbot Diaries book. It reinvigorates my love for the genre every single time and makes me yearn for more. This installation just reaffirmed my love for Murderbot. The way they care for their humans and mission, and for doing the right thing- which for someone who is a “construct” and learning how humans and the world can be, is so heart warming and endearing. The story is not as fast paced as some of the others, but the way it builds to it is amazing. System Collapse really felt like a diary entry, but also an adventure. I can’t wait for more adventure with Murderbot, ART, and their crews
      ― Preet Singh, Eagle Eye Bookshop in Decatur, GA | Buy from Eagle Eye Bookshop

  • Murderbot! Another great installment in the adventures of our favorite rogue bot. I also enjoyed that it also wasn’t *just* another adventure–murderbot also wrestles with some very human consequences of trauma. As always, we’re huge fans here at the store and look forward to more!
      ― Angela Trigg from The Haunted Book Shop in Mobile, AL | Buy from The Haunted Book Shop

  • There will never be enough Murderbot to make me happy. I could reread these books nonstop and it would never get old. Martha Wells is a genius and if you haven’t been introduced to this series, you do not need to begin with the first to enjoy the majesty that is Murderbot.
      ― Jamie Southern from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC | Buy from Bookmarks

About Martha Wells

Martha Wells has written many novels, including the million-selling New York Times and USA Today-bestselling Murderbot Diaries series, which has won multiple Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and Alex Awards. Other titles include Witch King, City of Bones, The Wizard Hunters, Wheel of the Infinite, the Books of the Raksura series (beginning with The Cloud Roads and ending with The Harbors of the Sun), and the Nebula-nominated The Death of the Necromancer, as well as YA fantasy novels, short stories, and nonfiction.


Spotlight On: Last Girl Breathing by Court Stevens


Court Stevens, photo credit the author

I read and write young adult fiction for the same reason people go to high school reunions — there’s something about figuring out how to be a person that begs us to return. Fiction is a natural place to explore those beautiful themes.

The first time we loved, lost, were heartbroken, broke hearts, made mistakes, had success, won trophies, came in last, found freedom, felt contained by adults, broke rules, were punished, got away with something, cared about people, cared about the world, etc. The first time. That’s the key. You don’t have to read young adult to know that formative experiences are vital understanding humanity on the whole and self-identity. We don’t ask people about the third or fourth time they fell in love. We ask them about the first time so we’ll understand their starting point. If every person is a road map with a marked journey; we want to put a pin in the place they began. Young adult fiction is that pin.
― Court Stevens, Interview, Musings, Parnassus Books

Last Girl Breathings by Court Stevens

What booksellers are saying about Last Girl Breathing

  • am so excited that Court Stevens is back with another small town thriller! Her exploration of family, grief, and truth, all with underlying simmering suspense, is the hallmark of a Stevens novel, and Last Girl Breathing has it in spades. If you loved The June Boys and We Were Kings, don’t miss Court’s newest!
      ― Sarah Arnold, Parnassus Books in Nashville, TN | Buy from Parnassus

  • Once again, Court Stevens has delivered an enthralling thriller. On its surface Last Girl Breathing is a murder mystery, but – as is often the case with Stevens’ novels – the story goes much deeper. This is a book about trauma and grief and family – about the wounds that shape us and the people who help us bear them. All of these themes are masterfully rooted in a sense of place. Stevens deftly paints her Kentucky setting, giving the town and its people a southern vibrancy and authenticity that never once slips into the realm of stereotype.
      ― Kate Snyder from Plaid Elephant in Danville, KY | Buy from Plaid Elephant Books

About Court Stevens

Court Stevens grew up among rivers, cornfields, churches, and gossip in the small-town South. She is a former adjunct professor, youth minister, and Olympic torchbearer. These days she writes coming-of-truth fiction and is the director of Warren County Public Library in Kentucky. She has a pet whale named Herman, a bandsaw named Rex, and several novels with her name on the spine: The June Boys, Faking Normal, The Lies About Truth, the e-novella The Blue-Haired Boy, Dress Codes for Small Towns, and Four Three Two One. Find Court online at; Instagram: @quartland; Facebook: @CourtneyCStevens; Twitter: @quartland.


Spotlight On: Unholy Terrors by Lyndall Clipstone


Lyndall Clipstone, photo credit the author

I’ve always loved to write, and storytelling is an enormous part of how I make sense of my emotions. Especially as a young adult, a time in my life where I felt quite adrift, immersing myself into books and writing provided so much solace. I love the endlessness of possibilities with speculative fiction, and how I can use things like magic, or monsters, or body horror as a lens through which to examine the real world.
― Lyndall Clipstone, Interview, Geeks Out

Unholy Terrors by Lyndall Clipstone

What booksellers are saying about Unholy Terrors

  • A Monsterous boy and a fierce girl, Clipstone delivers another beautiful YA gothic fantasy. From the moment we first cross through the bone wall with Evie, to traveling through the moorland with Ravel, and facing down the Thousandfold. Clipstone takes us on a journey that feels like a Studio Ghibli film crossed with a horror movie. A gripping family legacy that makes you question everything that happens to Evie, is it fate that Evie and Ravel journey together or is it a curse? A curse that has Haunted Evie since before she was born.
      ― Cass W, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, NC | Buy from The Country Book Shop

  • Clipstone’s Unholy Terrors takes us to a Wuthering Heights-esque setting, wildly beautiful in its ruin, and drops us off with only the honey and ash prose we fell in love with in her Lake’s Edge duology to guard our hearts and souls against the monsters of truth and generational loyalty that howl in the Thousandfold. A beautiful and haunting read for fans of transforming girls and kissable monsters.
      ― Candice Conner from The Haunted Book Shop in Mobile, AL | Buy from The Haunted Book Shop

  • Unholy Terrors is the perfect gothic romance fantasy for all your October spooky season needs. For fans of Crimson Peak and Labyrinth and every dark, haunted thing that deserves to be kissed and killed and brought back again. For the ghastly, and the horrifying, and still beautiful despite it all. Unholy Terrors is perfect, full stop.
      ― Caitlyn Vanorder from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC | Buy from Bookmarks

About Lyndall Clipstone

Lyndall Clipstone writes about monsters and the girls who like to kiss them. A former youth librarian who grew up running wild in the Barossa Ranges of South Australia, she currently lives in Adelaide, where she tends her own indoor secret garden. She has a bachelors in creative writing and a graduate diploma in library and information management. She is the author of Lakesedge and Forestfall.


Spotlight on: The House of Doors by Tan Twan Eng


Tan Twan Eng, photo credit Lloyd Smith

In my teenage years, when I first read Somerset Maugham’s The Letter, I was intrigued to discover that he had based it on Ethel Proudlock’s trial in Kuala Lumpur in 1911. She was the first white woman to be charged with murder in Malaya. She claimed that the man she had shot dead had tried to rape her in her home.

The House of Doors is about many things, but at the heart of it all, it is really about the acts of creation: how Maugham had come to hear about the trial, and how he had transmuted it into his story. It’s about the power of stories, how they can transcend cultures and borders, transcend even time itself.
― Tan Twan Eng, Interview, The Booker Prizes

The House of Doors by Tan Twan Eng

What booksellers are saying about The House of Doors

  • I walked the streets of Penang along side Somerset Maugham. I felt the rough paths beneath my feet, as the clatter of Mah jong tiles felll from a doorway. We were on our way to the House of Doors. My fingers caressed the worn wood of its front door. But neither of us gained entry. Entry was reserved for others. This is a rare book. All my senses were captured by Tan Twan Eng. The pages glowed with atmosphere as the story propelled me into the lives of Cassawary House. Best book I’ve read this year.
      ― Trish O’Neill, MacIntosh Books & Paper in Sanibel, FL | Buy from Macintosh Books & Paper

  • Gorgeously written with strong characters telling the tale of Malaysia between the two wars. Who knew I needed to know all of this. We sometimes focus on what happened to us. This story will get right under your skin. I am a huge fan of Somerset Maughn and loved this story that drops him in there. Based on real events you are invited into this world and you won’t be the same!
      ― Suzanne Lucey from Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, NC | Buy from Page 158 Books

  • Nobody transports a reader in time and place like Tan Twan Eng. Bringing the same beautiful, lyrical writing as he did in The Gift of Rain and The Garden of Evening Mists, he sends readers back in time to 1921 when writer Somerset Maugham arrives in Penang at a crossroads in life. The House of Doors reads like a magical look back in time into the life of one of my favorite writers as well as an entirely new story whose layers unfurl one a time, revealing an overlapping web of love, friendship, power and more.
      ― Beth Seufer Buss from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC | Buy from Bookmarks

About Tan Twan Eng

Tan Twan Eng was born in Penang but lived in various places in Malaysia as a child. His first novel, The Gift of Rain, was longlisted for the 2007 Man Booker. His second, The Garden of Evening Mists, was a major international bestseller, shortlisted for the 2012 Man Booker, and winner of the Man Asia Literary Prize 2012 and the Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction. It was adapted into an award-winning film in 2019, directed by Tom Lin. Twan divides his time between Malaysia and South Africa.


Spotlight on: Vampires of El Norte by Isabel Cañas


Isabel Canas, photo credit Photo by Kilian Blum

I am more conscious of writing characters with agency than I am of writing “strong” characters. This is in part due to the fact that many of my early drafts flounder when the main characters lack agency, which I then need to address in revisions! With this story, however, I knew from the start I would intentionally give my main character a voice and a choice in her fate. I decided this for two reasons. First, women, especially those who were not members of the elite, are often silenced in the historical record due to the nature of the sources that survive from the pre- and early modern periods. Giving them a voice in fiction is very important to me. Second, female victims who lack agency is one of the great tropes of classic vampire fiction. Writing vampire stories in the post-Twilight era is a deft game of trope-tipping, and I absolutely wanted to knock that trope in particular on its head in a way that felt organic in a historical setting.
― Isabel Cañas, Interview, Nightmare Magazine

Vampires of El Norte by Isabel Cañas

What booksellers are saying about Vampires of El Norte

  • An epic adventure, gothic love story. The romance of Nena and Nester, torn apart as children, captured my attention in the first few chapters and never wavered throughout the book. A great follow up book to The Hacienda.
      ― Kathy Clemmons, Sundog Books in Santa Rosa Beach, FL | Buy from Sundog Books

  • The rancho and surrounding landscape are so alive that I can easily tell Cañas lived this in a thousand and one nights of storytelling at her abuela and tias’ feet. While I was reading, I wondered why Cañas chose vampires as the monster rather than something like El Cuco. Especially since the MC Nena uses the legend of El Cuco to quickly explain the danger of the situation to her family. Cañas’ author’s note explains this and her choice to keep the vampire/El Cuco separate made the Yanquis approach all the more monstrous and creepy. The romance between Nena and Nestor was fabulous. Loved the ending, and especially the way Nena “dealt” with the vampires in the end.
      ― Candice Conner from The Haunted Book Shop in Mobile, AL | Buy from The Haunted Book Shop

  • Isabel knows the realm of gothic romance like the back of her hand- Like she’s an apprentice to Del Toro himself. Vampires of El Norte is haunting, both in the depictions of vampires, and the history it follows, of continued colonization that’s violent, horrifying, and seemingly never ending. Yet amongst all of it, there is the reminder that above all, love, all kinds of it, is how we fight back against those who terrorize. Love is the strongest force possible to back the fight. Familial, platonic, and romantic. And salt. Lots of salt.
      ― Caitlyn Vanorder from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC | Buy from Bookmarks

About Isabel Cañas

Isabel Cañas is a Mexican American speculative fiction writer. After having lived in Mexico, Scotland, Egypt, Turkey, and New York City, among other places, she has settled in the Pacific Northwest. She holds a doctorate in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and writes fiction inspired by her research and her heritage.


Spotlight on: Sword Catcher by Cassandra Clare


Cassandra Clare, photo credit Cassandra Clare

Usually for me, the first thing that comes in a story is the characters, and then the story weaves itself around them. With Sword Catcher, for the first time the people and the place came at the same time, in a sort of burst of images and color…from the beginning of my working on it, Sword Catcher has been a story about adults rather than about teenagers, so it was always going to be an adult fantasy.

The big difference to me is that in YA, your characters are working on problems of identity: What kind of person am I? What are my values? What does it mean to love someone new? But the characters in Sword Catcher are in their early twenties, and they’re facing a different question: What does it mean to take on the responsibilities of adulthood?
― Cassandra Clare, Interview, Paste Magazine

Sword Catcher by Cassandra Clare

What booksellers are saying about Sword Catcher

  • Get ready to be pulled headfirst into a beautiful, rich world full of life, magic, and history. In Sword Catcher, concepts of identity and loyalty take on new life with characters who are viciously human. (Not to mention, there’s a very healthy dose of spice.) You’ll fall in love with Cassandra Clare all over again.
      ― Tori Finklea, Union Ave Books in Knoxville, TN | Buy from Union Ave Books

  • I thoroughly enjoyed Clare’s foray into the adult book world. Sword Catcher is a fantasy of rich city-states, magic inspired by Jewish mysticism, and characters who find themselves in tangled webs of secrets and loyalty. I was absolutely TICKLED by Lin and Conor’s banter, and appreciated how much character depth Clare gave to Kel. The ending about did me in so I cannot wait for The Ragpicker King.
      ― Candice Conner from The Haunted Book Shop in Mobile, AL | Buy from The Haunted Book Shop

  • I’m utterly obsessed with this book, but, who is surprised! I grew up reading Cassandra Clare, and now here I am as an adult, getting to read her adult debut, a masterwork of world building and beautiful respect for her own history woven through the pages. The queernormativity makes it even more beautiful, setting the stage for every reader to feel comfortable and at home as they dive into a world that promises adventure, love, and lore that begs you to get lost in it. Sword Catcher is brilliant- the next unstoppable force of nature in the world of adult fantasy.
      ― Caitlyn Vanorder from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC | Buy from Bookmarks

About Cassandra Clare

Cassandra Clare is the author of the #1 New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and Publishers Weekly bestselling Shadowhunter Chronicles. She is also the coauthor of the bestselling fantasy series Magisterium with Holly Black. The Shadowhunter Chronicles have been adapted as both a major motion picture and a television series. Her books have more than fifty million copies in print worldwide and have been translated into more than thirty-five languages. Cassandra lives in western Massachusetts with her husband and three fearsome cats.

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