The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

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Catch the Sparrow by Rachel Rear

Catch The Sparrow is a puzzle of a true crime story as Rachel Rear investigates the mysterious disappearance of her stepsister twenty years ago. Through her research, Rear finds that there are more than a couple of people in her sister’s life who could have had a motive in her murder. And as she digs deeper into the police investigation surrounding the case, she also uncovers glaring oversights and corruption within the local police department as well as the legal system in and around Rochester, NY. Every chapter pulls a new fascinating thread and eventually leads the author to the chilling truth, offering her and her family the closure that they’ve always sought.

Catch the Sparrow by Rachel Rear, (List Price: $27.00, 9781635577235, February 2022)

Reviewed by Stuart McCommon, .novel in Memphis, Tennessee

Never Tell by Stacey Abrams

When Erin, a local professor and criminal psychologist, gets drawn into a serial murder case, she wants nothing more than to run the other way. When the clues start leading to her own past; however, she’s got no choice than to fully immerse herself into the investigation – with the help of the charming local newspaper owner desperate for a story that will save his paper. Never Tell is a must-read for anyone who likes romance, mysteries, or a well-drawn out game of cat and mouse. Stacey Abrams’ While Justice Sleeps was one of my favorite books of 2021, so I’m excited to read through her suspense novels, written under the name Selena Montgomery.

Never Tell by Stacey Abrams, (List Price: $16.99, 9781250805829, January 2022)

Reviewed by Beth Seufer Buss, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

The Big Reveal by Jen Larsen

Addie is a fat dancer, and proud of it–not letting her peers or anybody else allow her to feel shame or inferiority because of her body. She has a group of truly excellent friends, who throughout the book are self-affirming, endlessly supportive, and outright hilarious. I wish I’d had anything close to these friends when I was in high school. Scratch that, I wish I had these friends now. Together, they hatch a plan to financially support Addie’s potential post-graduation job with a dance company in Milan that involves an underground burlesque show, and through it, Addie discovers the self-affirming and body-positive power of burlesque, which she and her friends had previously cast aside as creative stripping. But she also has, and does, stand up to misogyny, slut-shaming, and fatphobia from her peers and superiors, and Larsen is truly excellent at illustrating exactly how internalized bigotry can hurt you even when you think you love who you are, just because we live in a world where anything that isn’t the default is constantly assumed to be aberrant. The best YA I’ve read all year!!

The Big Reveal by Jen Larsen, (List Price: $17.99, 9781250252173, December 2021)

Reviewed by Akil Guruparan, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Justice Is… by Preet Bharara

Justice Is… is the perfect introduction to justice for young readers. While the text teaches readers what justice is, how hard it can be, and why it is so important, the illustrations guide the story by portraying key people and social movements from history. With an emphasis on the United States but including world figures like Nelson Mandela and Malala Yousafzai, this book makes a wonderful accompaniment to biographies and stories of history and justice.

Justice Is… by Preet Bharara, (List Price: $17.99, Crown Books for Young Readers, 9780593176627, January 2022)

Reviewed by Beth Seufer Buss, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

The Magnolia Palace by Fiona Davis

The Frick Museum is housed in a building built as the home for the Henry Clay Frick family, full of spectacular art. Two storylines tell the tale of the home and the family who lived there in the early 20th century, and then another storyline set in the 1960’s at the museum. With secrets and betrayals, life was not placid in either era.

The Magnolia Palace by Fiona Davis, (List Price: $27.00, Dutton, 9780593184011, January 2022)

Reviewed by Beth Carpenter, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina

Manifesto by Bernardine Evaristo

To many people – myself included – Bernardine Evaristo’s 2019 Booker Prize win for Girl, Woman, Other appeared to come out of the blue. But, as Manifesto reveals, her apparent overnight success was actually 40 years in the making. Recounting her life and career with the characteristic humor and insight that made Girl, Woman, Other such a success, Manifesto is a passionate paean to the power of persistence.

Manifesto by Bernardine Evaristo, (List Price: $27.00, 9780802158901, January 2022)

Reviewed by Jude Burke-Lewis, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

Fearless Heart by Frank Murphy

Surya Bonaly is an amazing Olympic ice skater who astounded the world with her abilities on ice. Fearless Heart tells her story with beautiful illustrations that shows Surya’s life, her challenges, and her triumph. Fearless Heart will inspire the reader to work hard to follow their dreams, and stand up for what they believe in.

Fearless Heart by Frank Murphy, (List Price: $17.95, Triumph Books, 9781629379340, January 2022)

Reviewed by Gretchen Shuler, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson

Charmaine Wilkerson’s debut novel Black Cake shares the story of a woman who survives a negligent father, an absent mother, racism, trauma, and exile from her home. It’s only after Eleanor’s death that her children Byron and Benne learn just how much they don’t know about their Ma. Full of twists, Black Cake is the story of a mother’s love and the sacrifices she makes to keep safe.

Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson, (List Price: $28.00, Ballantine Books, 9780593358337, February 2022)

Reviewed by Rachel Watkins, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Sea State by Tabitha Lasley

I can’t claim to be in the traditional target audience for romantic memoirs written by women in their thirties, but the cover art was so wonderful that I had to pick up Sea State. I found the story in the book to be a rather skillful balancing act in which Lasley simultaneously profiles an oil industry in crisis and chronicles her own attachments to, and impressions of, the men who work in it. She immediately becomes the mistress of a married oil rig worker, which causes her a significant deal of stress, but also offers her an unparalleled degree of access to the types of men who work on offshore oil rigs. I think she has interesting interactions with these men, treating them with respect and honesty… or whatever else they may deserve at the moment.

Sea State by Tabitha Lasley, (List Price: $27.99, $27.99, 9780063030831, December 2021)

Reviewed by Carter Adkins, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia

The Ice House by Monica Sherwood

I was really drawn into the world of The Ice House, the perfect middle grade novel for kids to read as the pandemic drags on. The dramatic changes and adaptations to an altered world are completely relatable and will strike a chord for everyone stuck indoors with pesky siblings, remote schooling and parents changed by stress and grief. The touch of magic gives both escapism and hope for children, but the book also features relatable, realistic examples of growing up and changing friendships.

The Ice House by Monica Sherwood, (List Price: $16.99, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780316705349, November 2021)

Reviewed by Maggie Robe, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb

The Violin Conspiracy is listed as a mystery and while the theft of a ten-million-dollar violin is at the heart of the book, the story is so much more than the theft and who stole it. It is about music and how someone who is a true musician can forget the terrible things around him and just live for the music. It is a story about the violin itself and what it meant to an enslaved boy who was subjected to horrors we can’t imagine. And most of all it is the story of Ray and how his grandmother, his violin, his mentor, and those few who believed a young Black boy could become a famous classical violinist helped him to become the man and the musician he came to be. I know absolutely nothing about classical music, and there was a lot that went over my head, but this was written in such a way I was moved by Ray’s dedication and how much music meant to him. This should be read by every aspiring musician, especially those who have experienced prejudice as Ray did. It is a lesson in how to transcend slights and injustice and become the best person you can be.

The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb, (List Price: $28.00, 9780593315415, February 2022)

Reviewed by Nancy McFarlane, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

She Persisted: Helen Keller by Courtney Sheinmel

The story of Helen Keller is one that will inspire everyone. She Persisted: Helen Keller is perfect for the young reader who is interested in historical figures, or people with disabilities. This book will encourage your young readers to strive to overcome challenges that might arise, and introduce them to challenges other people live with.

She Persisted: Helen Keller by Courtney Sheinmel, (List Price: $5.99, 9780593115695, December 2021)

Reviewed by Gretchen Shuler, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

Admissions by Kendra James

I’ve loved books about boarding schools since I was a child who romanticized the idea of living away from home with a school full of friends, but as I’ve grown older I’ve become much more interested in what’s hiding beneath the polished surface image of boarding schools. Kendra James was the first Black American legacy student at Taft, a private boarding school in Connecticut, so her perspective on privilege (including her own) was totally fascinating in its layers. I so appreciated the thoughtful and deeply candid telling of her experience at Taft.

Admissions by Kendra James, (List Price: $29.00, Grand Central Publishing, 9781538753484, January 2022)

Reviewed by Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Pride, Prejudice, and Peril by Katie Oliver

Phaedra works as an English professor at the local college, lecturing her students about Jane Austen, while wearing garb from the time period. When a reality show starts filming in town called Who Wants to Marry Mr. Darcy?, she’s hired to consult. But when her best friend’s new husband is murdered (they own the estate where the reality show is being filmed), Phaedra has to solve the mystery before her friend is charged with murder. The first in the new Jane Austen Tea Society Mystery series, Austenites will see plenty of similarities to their favorite author’s stories.

Pride, Prejudice, and Peril by Katie Oliver, (List Price: $8.99, Berkley, 9780593337615, December 2021)

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia

Ear Worm! by Jo Knowles, Galia Bernstein (Illus.)

This fun book about a little worm with a tune stuck in his head is a great way to introduce young readers to the term “ear worm.” I would have been fascinated by this book as a child because I constantly had tunes stuck in my head, and like the little worm, I wondered where they came from. I love the way each animal’s song is illustrated.

Ear Worm! by Jo Knowles, Galia Bernstein (Illus.) (List Price: $17.99, Candlewick, 9781536207835, 1/11/2022)

Reviewed by Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Disorientation by Ian Williams

Disorientation is a book to be read slowly and with care. Ian Williams best-selling author of my staff favorite novel Reproduction (remember the amazing cover???). I also really loved his collection of poetry Word Problems from last year. Using his formidably flexible writing chops, Williams invites us to an urgent conversation on race and racism in this collection of essays that draw directly from his experience of life as a Black man. He covers all subjects from the merely annoying to the tragically deadly aspects of racism from a worldwide perspective having lived in Trinidad, Canada, and the U. S. This book is approachable for all readers and is intended to be a civil conversation about the ugliest of subjects. It’s illuminating, dizzying, and intensely personal. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Also, exceptional in audio: read by the author.

Disorientation by Ian Williams, (List Price: $19.95, 9781609457396, November 2021)

Reviewed by Kelly Justice, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Greenwich Park by Katherine Faulkner

Greenwich Park is a fabulous debut novel. The book starts off with a letter to Helen from someone in prison wanting her to know the truth. So, you know from the beginning that something bad is going to happen, but you don’t know who wrote the letter. Told from three points of view–Helen’s, who hopes to finally be bringing a baby to term after many miscarriages; Serena’s, who is Helen’s college friend and now married to her brother Rory; and Kate’s, Helen’s child hood friend who is her brother Charlie’s on again and off again girlfriend–the story takes time to develop but once it starts going it seems to go in lots of different directions at once. The ending will surprise you, and then the rest of the ending will surprise you even more – and then the last sentence on the last page happens.

Greenwich Park by Katherine Faulkner, (List Price: $27.00, Gallery Books, 9781982150310, January 2022)

Reviewed by Nancy McFarlane, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

MonsterMind: Dealing With Anxiety & Self-Doubt by Alfonso Casas

Casas’ most recent graphic novel is a wonderful, poignant dive into living with mental health issues. Creating monsters out of feelings, Casas gives a visual representation of how trauma, anxiety, fear, and other pests affect daily life, especially in the midst of a pandemic. I really appreciated the hopeful but realistic ending of this. It’s a reminder that though these things will always live with us, there are ways to fight them.

MonsterMind: Dealing With Anxiety & Self-Doubt by Alfonso Casas, (List Price: $19.99, Ablaze, 9781950912476, January 2022)

Reviewed by Grace Quinn, Foggy Pine Books in Boone, North Carolina

The Eye Test by Chris Jones

Jones looks back on a career of studying fascinating individuals for his journalism, and in doing so reveals a truth he’s learned: analytics are helpful, but human passion, experience, and imagination are the things that count in the end. A great storyteller, Jones’s subjects include doctors, sports figures, entertainers, writers, cops, scientists, businesspeople, and more. He found that effective specialists learn, watch, and then act in a way that pushes society towards being better. They use both expertise and their minds. Models and formulas help with this, but they are limited because they rely on what has happened before. Sometimes new and crazy things happen; then they’re kind of useless. My favorite quote: “We do our best work when we remember our humanity, especially when it’s hard to remember it.”

The Eye Test by Chris Jones, (List Price: $29.00, Twelve, 9781538730676, January 2022)

Reviewed by Sissy Gardner, Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee

Mouth to Mouth by Antoine Wilson

As a Patricia Highsmith superfan, I’m always drawn to a sleek novel about the harrowing secrets and misdeeds of the upper class. I’m pleased to say that Antoine Wilson delivers. His latest, Mouth to Mouth, is a compact tour-de-force featuring an intoxicating antagonist with a level of self-delusion that would make Highsmith proud.

Mouth to Mouth by Antoine Wilson, (List Price: 26, Avid Reader Press, Simon & Schuster, 9781982181802, January 2022)

Reviewed by Lindsay Lynch, Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee

Anatomy: A Love Story by Dana Schwartz

Anatomy: A Love Story is a dark and deadly tale about just how far you’d go to achieve your dreams in a world designed for you to fail. I fell in love with Hazel and Jack. This was a gothic story of resurrection men and women surgeons in disguise that had me guessing until the last moment.

Anatomy: A Love Story by Dana Schwartz, (List Price: $18.99, Wednesday Books, 9781250774156, January 2022)

Reviewed by Katlin Kerrison, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia

How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu

When a scientific team discover a mummified body of a prehistoric girl buried in the ice of the Arctic, they accidentally release a pathogen that will cause a pandemic that will last for generations, and change the face of humanity forever. As decades go by, people are faced with unbelievable choices when dealing with a searingly unending pandemic. What should they do to preserve humanity? Should they end the suffering of those who are ill? Could they assist the grieving by giving them one more day with their loved ones? What is it like for those infected with the virus? Where did this alien pathogen actually come from? If there is no cure, should they reach for the stars?Each story and character is vaguely interwoven with each other as choices are made on how to help those afflicted with this plague. What is the best answer? Each generation must choose for themselves. How High We Go in the Dark is a thought provoking novel that will show the depths of humanity over generations as they face an unending pandemic.

How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu, (List Price: 27.99, William Morrow, 9780063072640, January 2022)

Reviewed by Gretchen Shuler, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina


I Love You Because I Love You by Muon Thi Van

I Love You Because I Love You is a sublime psalm to the ways in which love manifests and changes us for the better. Love’s soft, expressive illustrations are a perfect match for the heartfelt text, displaying a beautiful variety of relationships in which love abounds. A perfect gift for baby showers, weddings, graduation, Valentine’s Day, or any day—because every day is a good day to say, “I love you.”

I Love You Because I Love You by Muon Thi Van, (List Price: $17.99, Katherine Tegen Books, 9780062894595, January 2022)

Reviewed by Hannah DeCamp, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

A Fall Read This Next! Selection

It’s a cold winter Irish winter in 1985 when local coal merchant Bill Furlong enters his busy season before Christmas. Claire Keegan’s novel Small Things Like These tells the story of Bill Furlong who has lived in a small, quiet village his entire life. When Bill discovers an injustice, his decision to help brings up his lifelong question of who was his father. This is a quietly beautiful book.

Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan, (List Price: $20.00, Grove Press, 9780802158741, November 2021)

Reviewed by Rachel Watkins, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

White Tears/Brown Scars by Ruby Hamad

White Tears/Brown Scars is an eye opening book for anyone like me who has not experienced racism on a daily basis. As a white woman, I felt I was the perfect audience for what Ruby Hamad had to say. While discussing race and racism is an uncomfortable topic for many people, Ruby shows us the importance of remaining calm, seeing, and hearing the concerns of our BIPOC colleagues, friends and neighbors. I truly appreciated this book.

White Tears/Brown Scars by Ruby Hamad, (List Price: $16.95, Catapult, 9781948226745, October 2021)

Reviewed by Sophie Giroir, Cavalier House Books in Denham Springs, Louisiana

Oona and the Shark by Kelly DiPucchio, Raissa Figueroa

Oona is back! And with sharks! What could be better?! I am endlessly charmed by the gorgeous illustrations in these wonderfully written picture books. Kelly DiPucchio and Raissa Figueroa are a picture book dream team.

Oona and the Shark by Kelly DiPucchio & Raissa Figueroa, (List Price: $17.99, Katherine Tegen Books, 9780063071421, January 2022)

Reviewed by Cristina Russell, Books & Books in Coral Gables, Florida

The Last House on the Street by Diane Chamberlain

Diane Chamberlain’s newest novel couldn’t be more relevant for our current times. It is hard to believe that we are still fighting the battles for the right to vote that were being fought in 1965. Told from two story lines – one in 1965 North Carolina right before the signing of the Right to Vote act and one in 2010 – the separate stories of Ellie and Kayla and what they have endured merge when Ellie comes home for the first time in 45 years and Kayla prepares to move into the house at the end of the street. Despite the personal tragedy and other strange things that have been happening including a warning to not move in that included a death threat, Kayla is determined to make the house a wonderful home for herself and her young daughter. A definite must read for fans of Big Lies in a Small Town.

The Last House on the Street by Diane Chamberlain, (List Price: $27.99, St. Martin’s Press, 9781250267962, January 2022)

Reviewed by Nancy McFarlane, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

The Last Nomad by Shugri Said Salh

Reading The Last Nomad is like sitting with the author at a table with a cup a tea as she tells the story of her remarkable upbringing in Somalia. In candid, compelling prose, she shares her life as a nomad with her clan in the Somali desert, as a town dweller with her polygamous family and as a refugee from the civil war which tore her country apart. The lives of Somali women are the centerpieces of this engaging memoir, inviting us to understand their resilience and strength as they navigate their traditional and shifting roles in Africa and North America.

The Last Nomad by Shugri Said Salh, (List Price: $26.95, Algonquin Books, 9781643750675, August 2021)

Reviewed by Lia Lent, Wordsworth Books in Little Rock, Arkansas

The Ivory Key by Akshaya Raman

Families are hard to live with, even more so when it seems like everything you do tears you apart further. The Ivory Key opens with a family torn asunder, tossed to four separate lives, yet they’re still as connected as ever, and they need each other, even though they refuse to admit it. I loved every single second of this book, but mostly, I loved the realistic nature of every relationship. I loved that the true backbone of this story was a family, that even though the plot was something much greater than them, they were the most important thing. Raman has a gift for storytelling, and it shines brightly from within the pages of The Ivory Key.

The Ivory Key by Akshaya Raman, (List Price: 18.99, Clarion Books, 9780358468332, 2022-01-04)

Reviewed by Caitlyn Vanorder, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

The Paris Bookseller by Kerri Maher

I enjoyed the novel of Sylvia Beach, who founded Shakespeare and Company book store in 1919 Paris and published James Joyce’s initial edition of Ulysses. It is full of the details of Sylvia’s life with Adrienne Monnier, who owns a French bookstore across the street, and the many trials Beach endures dealing with Joyce until she finally lets her interest in the book go.

The Paris Bookseller by Kerri Maher, (List Price: $26.oo, Berkley, 9780593102183, January 2022)

Reviewed by Beth Carpenter, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina

Between the Lines by Uli Beutter Cohen

From the creator behind Subway Book Review, this is the newest Humans of New York, but for book lovers. This is a collection of short interviews Cohen conducted on the subway of New York City, documenting not only everyone’s reading list but also creating a conversation and connection. From beloved classics to niche dog-eared, worn books, this covers just about every genre you could think of. What I really love about this book is that it could’ve just as easily been a book full of tiny book reviews, but it’s something much more intimate. Cohen does a great job of telling these people’s stories all in about 400 words each. There’s representation of everyone; queer, trans, all races, all occupations. It’s raw, gorgeous and executed so flawlessly I can’t get enough of it.

Between the Lines by Uli Beutter Cohen, (List Price: $24.99, Simon & Schuster, 9781982145675, October 2021)

Reviewed by Grace Sullivan, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Orphans of the Tide by Struan Murray

Perfect for middle readers with a sense of adventure, this book is a fun ride from the first page! The mystery of learning the identity and nature of the Enemy is captivating, and the tight bonds between both friends and siblings are explored beautifully. I’d absolutely recommend this book to young readers, and I hope to see more from this author, and in this world!

Orphans of the Tide by Struan Murray, (List Price: $17.99, HarperCollins, 9780063043114, December 2021)

Reviewed by Kate Wilder, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia

The Love Con by Seressia Glass

From friends-to-lovers, mutual pining, and fake dating, The Love Con has all the makings of a superb romance. Kenya and Cam’s sizzling chemistry and wonderful communication elevate this romance novel to the next level. Along with Seressia Glass’s spot-on humor and wit, The Love Con is a near-perfect romance novel.

The Love Con by Seressia Glass, (List Price: $16.00, Berkley, 9780593199053, December 2021)

Reviewed by Gennifer Eccles, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

The Nation on No Map by William C. Anderson

In this inviting, direct manifesto, William C. Anderson outlines the influences and differentiating points about Black anarchism, outlines its necessity, and offers rebuttals to naysayers across the political spectrum. The Nation on No Map is concise, yet powerful and perfect reading if one is looking to charter further ideological horizons.

The Nation on No Map by William C. Anderson, (List Price: $15.00, AK Press, 9781849354349, November 2021)

Reviewed by Conor Hultman, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

Let’s Be Friends by Violet Lemay

Violet represents so many different types of people in this magical picture book. In the end we are more alike than we think. Cute fun illustrations and happiness throughout this book make a a winner

Let’s Be Friends by Violet Lemay, (List Price: $8.99, HarperFestival, 9780063045972, December 2021)

Reviewed by Suzanne Lucey, Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, North Carolina

Honor by Thrity Umrigar

Honor is the kind of book that makes me want to sit for hours and read. Thrity Umrigar transports the reader to India through both the eyes of an Indian American journalist and the subject of her article, a Hindu woman who was the victim of a horrible attack at the hands of her own family. The result is powerful and poignant.

Honor by Thrity Umrigar, (List Price: $26.95, Algonquin Books, 9781616209957, January 2022)

Reviewed by Beth Seufer Buss, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

A Killer by Design by Ann Wolbert Burgess

You probably know the names of John Douglass and Robert Ressler, the mind hunters of the FBI. But it was Ann Burgess who helped develop a more scientific way to interview serial killers and serial rapists in order to catch future criminals. Burgess caught the eye of the FBI because of her groundbreaking research into rape offenders, and she brought her analytical mind to what is now the Behavioral Science Unit. A must read for any true crime buff, and a fascinating look into the early days of profiling.

A Killer by Design by Ann Wolbert Burgess, (List Price: $28.00, Hachette Books, 9780306924866, December 2021)

Reviewed by Kate Towery, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

I’m Hungry!, ¡Tengo hambre! by Angela Dominguez

I’m Hungry! / ¡Tengo Hambre! is a great picture book with two adorable characters at its center. It’s an excellent teaching tool for Spanish or English, and would make for a great introduction to bilingual books for young readers. Easy to follow, clear, and cute as a button, this book is sure to be a beloved addition to any library.

I’m Hungry!, ¡Tengo hambre! by Angela Dominguez, (List Price: $18.99, Henry Holt and Co. (BYR), 9781250779960, January 2022)

Reviewed by Lauren Kean, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Murder Under Her Skin by Stephen Spotswood

What a fun read! A traditional mystery set in 1946 with two female private investigators who are called to a traveling circus to help find the murderer of the tattooed lady from the side show. This case is of particular interest to Willowjean (Will) Parker who has been working for the brilliant and world-famous detective Ms. Pentecost for the past few years) because she lived and worked at the circus for five years and considered it home and the employees her family. I can’t wait to read about more cases that this interesting and witty duo are able to solve.

Murder Under Her Skin by Stephen Spotswood, (List Price: $27.00, Doubleday, 9780385547123, December 2021)

Reviewed by Nancy McFarlane, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

Beautiful Little Fools by Jillian Cantor

What a fun read! This book and the fictional tales of the women surrounding Gatsby actually makes me want to re-read The Great Gatsby with these imagined back stories in mind. Cantor’s writing is both creative and compelling. Her insights about the lives and struggles of women were woven perfectly into this fictional expansion and made me appreciate the characters of Daisy, Myrtle, Catherine and Jordan way more than before. If you are a fan of The Great Gatsby I think you’ll love this book and its ability to help you revisit the world of West Egg. If you’re not a fan of The Great Gatsby, I still think you’ll enjoy this story of three women and what could have led to the murder of Jay Gatsby. Either way, it’s a creative, fun read for both those who have an appreciation for the old classic and those who just enjoy a good period piece of fiction!

Beautiful Little Fools by Jillian Cantor, (List Price: $16.99, Harper Perennial, 9780063051263, January 2022)

Reviewed by Lynne Phillips, Wordsworth Books in Little Rock, Arkansas

Hansel and Greta by Jeanette Winterson

This book felt like a fever dream in all the wildest ways. From comedic to angering, this book covered an abundance of feelings and topics that made it whole. A fun and much needed adaptation to a classic fairytale. Will stay with you a long time after reading.

Hansel and Greta by Jeanette Winterson, (List Price: $17.95, Haymarket Books, 9781642595765, January 2022)

Reviewed by Stephanie Carrion, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

Cooking at Home by David Chang

This cookbook is excellent if you’re ready to level up by learning to cook without recipes (like my husband) or if you are terrible at cooking and just think it’s interesting to read about (like me). Highly recommend to cooks/eaters of all skill levels.

Cooking at Home by David Chang, (List Price: $35.00, Clarkson Potter, 9781524759247, October 2021)

Reviewed by Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Hilda: The Wilderness Stories by Luke Pearson

Hilda: The Wildnerness Stories is a fun journey through a vast world rich with magic and Pearson expertly captures the childlike sense of wonder one might experience within in. Since these stories feature less dark tones than those seen in some other Hilda storylines, they make a great light read which allow you to test the waters before you decide to swim.

Hilda: The Wilderness Stories by Luke Pearson, (List Price: $29.99, Flying Eye Books, 9781838740719, November 2021)

Reviewed by Deion Cooper, Foggy Pine Books in Boone, North Carolina

Bibliolepsy by Gina Apostol

Apostol softly launches you into a landscape of memories and gently reminds book lovers of what it first felt like to envision possibility thanks to literature. Apostol’s reflections on their time during the EDSA rebellion of 1986 teach us just how nuanced and expansive human connections can form if we let them.

Bibliolepsy by Gina Apostol, (List Price: $26.00, Soho Press, 9781641292511, January 2022)

Reviewed by Eden Hakimzadeh, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

A is for Oboe: The Orchestra’s Alphabet by Lera Auerbach and Marilyn Nelson

This is a fun twist on an alphabet picture book, with each letter conjuring up the parts of the orchestra, from the tuning A given by the oboe to the well-earned snoozing after a successful performance. My favorite thing about this book was the way it highlighted so much more than just the instruments of the orchestra—even the music librarian gets to make an appearance!

A is for Oboe: The Orchestra’s Alphabet by Lera Auerbach and Marilyn Nelson, (List Price: $17.99, Dial Books, 9780525553779, December 2021)

Reviewed by Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez

Written with sharp humor and a keen eye, Olga Dies Dreaming is one the most exciting debuts I’ve read in a long time. Xochitl Gonzalez has given us an unforgettable cast of characters—I loved unraveling the Acevedo family history in all of its messiness and tenderness. Don’t miss this one!

Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez, (List Price: $27.99, Flatiron Books, 9781250786173, January 2022)

Reviewed by Lindsay Lynch, Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee

The Year We Learned to Fly by Jacqueline Woodson, Rafael López

When the world is too boring or too hard or too angry for them, a brother and sister are reminded by their very wise grandmother that somewhere in the world somebody else felt the same way. This stunningly illustrated (by Rafael López) masterpiece from Jacqueline Woodson, former Ambassador for Children’s Literature, highlights the power of the imagination and encourages young readers to believe in something, leave troubles behind, and imagine a better world.

The Year We Learned to Fly by Jacqueline Woodson, Rafael López, (List Price: $18.99, Nancy Paulsen Books, 9780399545535, January 2022)

Reviewed by Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina

Silent Parade by Keigo Higashino

Detective Galileo is back in another compelling puzzle-box mystery from the great Keigo Higashino. Whether you are a big fan of the series or a newcomer, Silent Parade is a excellent entry point into these engrossing mysteries. Set in Tokyo, a murder suspect has been able to avoid conviction twice because of lack on concrete evidence. Now the murder suspect has turned up dead during the community’s annual parade and Galileo is on the case to finally uncover the truth. Methodical, full of wonderful characters and an excellent sense of place, Silent Parade is a winning mystery experience.

Silent Parade by Keigo Higashino, (List Price: $27.99, Minotaur Books, 9781250624819, December 2021)

Reviewed by Caleb Masters, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

PEN: An Illustrated History by Carles Torner

PEN International believes as I do that freedom of speech is the fundamental tool against repression, racism, and terror. I congratulate them on their 100-year anniversary! 

PEN: An Illustrated History by Carles Torner, (List Price: 59.95, Interlink Publishing Group Inc, 9781623719029, November 2021)

Reviewed by Jill Hendrix, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

I’m Dreaming of a Chris for Christmas by Robb Pearlman

Winning the award for most asked for stocking stuffer on the Fountain staff! Not just coloring Chrises, but Chris crosswords, Chris mazes, connect-the-Chrises, and more! PG-rated, this collections brings together Chrises from Hollywood, music, and sports. Obviously Hemsworth, Evans, Pine, and Pratt, but also Rock, Rinaldi, Jericho, Walken (in-a-Winter-Wonderland), and more! Seriously, I’m cracking up just looking at it.

I’m Dreaming of a Chris for Christmas by Robb Pearlman, (List Price: $14.95, Smart Pop, 9781637740200, November 2021)

Reviewed by Kelly Justice, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Absence of Mallets by Kate Carlisle

The ninth in the Fixer Upper series has Shannon and her crew plugging away on the tiny home village for veterans. Shannon is starting up a new class for women to learn construction and Mac has a new group of writers coming in for a retreat. But this new group is…something else. They’re nothing but trouble from the start. Fans of this series will love to read more about this crazy cast of characters.

Absence of Mallets by Kate Carlisle, (List Price: $8.99, Berkley, 9780593201336, December 2021)

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia

Ashoka the Fierce by Carolyn Kanjuro

This picture book serves two purposes: teaches about a figure from Indian history and demonstrates the benefit of peacefulness and goodwill over ferocity and conquering one’s neighbors. As Ashoka the Fierce becomes Ashoka the Great, his reign as emperor transforms from one of terror to one of healing. I love seeing more nonfiction picture books for kids that explore different parts of the world.

Ashoka the Fierce by Carolyn Kanjuro, (List Price: $17.95, Bala Kids, 9781611808544, December 2021)

Reviewed by Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

The Last She by H. J. Nelson

Arabella is the last girl on earth, well as far as she knows. A terrible virus wiped out many children and women, and no one’s sure why. When her father tells her to run “back to the beginning” she tries to make her way home only to be captured by the infuriating and handsome Kaden. While she might not like him, she’ll have to ally with him to find what her father wanted her to know. I was pleasantly surprised by this novel! While this book was a quick and easy read, I really enjoyed the plot and find myself looking forward to the next one!

The Last She by H. J. Nelson, (List Price: $17.99, Wattpad Books, 9781989365717, December 2021)

Reviewed by Katlin Kerrison, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia


Yes, You Can Wear That by Abby Hoy

I am forever in search of great body-positive reads and Abby Hoy nails it. This book is a perfect combination of pictures and her memoir. It is inspiring and confidence-building and I immediately followed her on social media to get more gorgeous outfit ideas and self love. Every body is a good body and yes, you CAN wear that!

Yes, You Can Wear That by Abby Hoy, (List Price: $24.99, Tiller Press, 9781982155582, November 2021)

Reviewed by Andrea Richardson, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan

Frida Liu is a single mother who, exhausted and alone, has a lapse in judgment one day parenting her child. That decision leads to a child welfare trial, where the state sentences her to a year at school for mothers, where government educators will retrain Frida and other mothers they deem unworthy how to be good mothers in the eyes of the state. Best described to me as “1984 for mothers,” The School for Good Mothers is a terrifying look at an overreaching government that feels all too real today and the lengths that parents will go to in order to be with their children. It will both disturb you and make you think!

The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan, (List Price: $27.00, Simon & Schuster, 9781982156121, January 2022)

Reviewed by Beth Seufer Buss, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Good Knight, Mustache Baby by Bridget Heos, Joy Ang (Illus.)

I love Mustache Baby! This series is my favorite to gift to new parents, because the stories are hilarious for adults, while kids adore Billy (aka Mustache Baby) — because what is funnier than a baby with a mustache? I loved that this adventure added a pink unicorn to Billy and Javier’s crew.

Good Knight, Mustache Baby by Bridget Heos, Joy Ang (Illus.) (List Price: $17.99, Clarion Books, 9780358434689, 12/7/2021)

Reviewed by Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

All I Want by Darcey Bell

I thought I had this all figured out until the very last page, (that I had to reread several times, mind you), which then made me rethink the entire novel! Now, that’s the sign of a good book. I am still thinking about Emma and Ben and their country mansion…and whose truth I should believe. A compulsive read!

All I Want by Darcey Bell, (List Price: $17.00, Atria/Emily Bestler Books, 9781982177270, January 2022)

Reviewed by Jill Naylor, .novel in Memphis, Tennessee

When You Get the Chance by Emma Lord

Millie’s summer is turned upside down when she finds her father’s old Livejournal that hints at her absent mother’s identity. Already obsessed with Mamma Mia! and all things Broadway, Millie tracks down three women and wedges herself into their lives. With a great cast of secondary characters and a slow-burn romance, Millie’s journey of self-discovery and growth is a delightful read.

When You Get the Chance by Emma Lord, (List Price: $18.99, Wednesday Books, 9781250783349, January 2022)

Reviewed by Chelsea Stringfield, Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee

This Boy We Made by Taylor Harris

This Boy We Made is heart-wrenching. I couldn’t put it down. As a mother I was absolutely enveloped in the author’s journey through this incredibly difficult time in her life. At every turn I was in awe of her grace in dealing with what life continued to throw at her.

This Boy We Made by Taylor Harris, (List Price: $26.00, Catapult, 9781948226844, January 2022)

Reviewed by Rayna Nielsen, Blue Cypress Books in New Orleans, Louisiana

Where the Drowned Girls Go by Seanan McGuire

In this seventh volume in the Wayward Children series, Cora, the resident mermaid of Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children, flees the reach of the Drowned Gods of the Moors by transferring to the anti-magical Whitethorn Institute. Seanan McGuire and her Wayward Children can literally take me anywhere; I will gladly open the door and step through every time! I loved learning more about Cora, was as intrigued as always with the new characters introduced and their doors, and I literally gasped at the return of a character. What more can you ask for?

Where the Drowned Girls Go by Seanan McGuire, (List Price: $19.99, Tordotcom, 9781250213624, January 2022)

Reviewed by Megan Bell, Underground Books in Carrollton, Georgia

Ain’t Burned All the Bright by Jason Reynolds, Jason Griffin (Illustrator)

A beautiful and unconventional book capturing what the year 2020 felt like to the youngest child of a fictional Black American family, told in three long sentences and a notebook’s worth of art. Haunting and gorgeous, the unnamed narrator’s observations speak powerfully to a wide range of emotions, from the despair felt watching the world crumble and seeing the country’s betrayal of its Black citizens, to the balm that family connections can provide in the darkest times.

Ain’t Burned All the Bright by Jason Reynolds, Jason Griffin (Illustrator) (List Price: $19.99, Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, 9781534439467, January 2022)

Reviewed by Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Gastro Obscura by Cecily Wong

For years, Atlas Obscura has been the go-to volume for adventurers who are looking for those off-the beaten-path journeys. Now foodies can join in the fun with Gastro Obscura, a deep dive into the wild and wonderful world of travel food, and with entries like giant Dallah ( Arabic coffee pots) fountains, there’s plenty to keep the curious reading way too late.

Gastro Obscura by Cecily Wong, (List Price: $42.50, Workman Publishing Company, 9781523502196, October 2021)

Reviewed by Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina

The Maid by Nita Prose

The Maid is a cozy mystery the way cozies should be written. It is beautifully written, extremely entertaining, has a great mystery, twists you don’t see coming and most of all one of the most endearing and interesting characters you will ever meet. Molly Gray is on the autism spectrum. She does not react to people and circumstances like normal people do because she doesn’t understand their facial expressions and their emotions. But her Gran has taught her over the years to be honest, to be a hard worker and to be very, very polite. Molly is a maid in a luxury hotel. A job she loves and is very, very good at because she loves order, and neatness, and routine. When she finds a dead body in one of her rooms it is not surprising that the police keep thinking that she is hiding something because, while always answering truthfully, she takes things very literally. It is also not surprising when she is eventually arrested for the murder. What is surprising is everything else that happens. I normally like more thriller type books but this was one of the most delightful books I have read in ages and the mystery was top notch.

The Maid by Nita Prose, (List Price: $27.00, Ballantine Books, 9780593356159, January 2022)

Reviewed by Nancy McFarlane, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

Booze Over Broadway by Tiller Press

Booze Over Broadway combines two of my favorite things: Broadway and fun drinks! Needless to say I was overjoyed to stumble across this book. The names of the drinks are witty, the commentary is deeply amusing, and the content of the recipes are tasty and fun! I can’t wait to buy myself a copy of this book for my cookbook collection.

Booze Over Broadway by Tiller Press, (List Price: $19.99, Tiller Press, 9781982160005, December 2021)

Reviewed by Mary Louise Callaghan, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan

Definitely one of the most lyrical stories I’ve read in a while. The base of Chinese mythology provides a rich world full of color and hidden gems of dragons, demons, and powerful immortals, and the author uses all of them with so much fun and grace. I’m surprised to see this is a debut novel with just how much is here, and with how well developed the protagonist–Xingyin–is. Her journey is handled with care and her growth feels natural and genuine, and I appreciate the fact that she never puts down others to make herself feel better, even when it comes to her romantic interest. I’m absolutely hooked on this story and world, and I’m thrilled to see this is the first book in a duology. I’m definitely keeping my eyes open for the sequel!

Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan, (List Price: $27.99, Harper Voyager, 9780063031302, January 2022)

Reviewed by Lia Moore, E. Shaver bookseller in Savannah, Georgia

Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult

Diana is going to the Galapagos with her doctor boyfriend when the pandemic hits and he tells her to go on without him. Stuck on the island, her life takes a different turn, and then…she wakes up with Covid in a NYC hospital. Both experiences, one real, one not, change her. And she discovers it doesn’t really matter what happened to you in the past, it’s what you do with the rest of your life. This book brings the pandemic up close and personal and yet gives a great perspective to it. I loved it!

Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult, (List Price: $28.99, Ballantine Books, 9781984818416, November 2021)

Reviewed by Beth Carpenter, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina


King of Battle and Blood by Scarlett St. Clair

This book is exactly everything I’ve been craving from a vampire book. Been starving for, even, because I’ve been digging for at least a year now for a vampire book that scratches every itch the vampire academy series gave me many years ago as a young teen, but one that I can really appreciate as an adult. Isolde and Adrian are the most perfect, incredibly vicious pairing of human and vampire, and those twists and turns of the plot just set them up so well. I love that Isolde is heavyset and muscular and confident in her body and sexuality, while Adrian is just so very aware of the monstrosity of his nature, and does not care that people are scared of him. And the fact that Scarlett does queernorm society so well is just, chefs kiss. I felt so utterly comfortable while reading this book. It might sound strange, but reading King of Battle and Blood felt like coming home. A very bloody, very sexy home, but a home nonetheless.

King of Battle and Blood by Scarlett St. Clair, (List Price: $16.99, Bloom Books, 9781728258416, November 2021)

Reviewed by Caitlyn Vanorder, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina


The Tempered Steel of Antiquity Grey by Shawn Speakman

Antiquity Grey is born into the life of an outcast. “Grey-shamed” by the rulers of her city, and bullied by other members of her community, she is determined to prove her worth. With the help of friends and former enemies, she takes on the greatest threat of all; The Imperium. This was a fast-paced thrill ride through a climate-changed world filled with giant robots and bad guys with swords and laser guns. Myth and tech collide, creating the perfect recipe for a science fantasy adventure.

The Tempered Steel of Antiquity Grey by Shawn Speakman, (List Price: $28, Grim Oak Press, 9781944145699, November 2021)

Reviewed by Sophie Giroir, Cavalier House Books in Denham Springs, Louisiana


Dreams Lie Beneath by Rebecca Ross

Clementine is a dream warden apprentice to her father until two usurpers show up one day and tear her dreams apart. Now her only concern is getting revenge. But when she finds that the men who stole her role have deeper motives that entangle her father and family, she has to tread more carefully than she ever expected. I absolutely loved Dreams Lie Beneath! This is one of those books that even the minor characters are lively, so much so that I found myself more fascinated with them than the main characters! All in all, this will be perfect for any YA fans of magical mystery.

Dreams Lie Beneath by Rebecca Ross, (List Price: Greystone Kids, 9780063015920, November 2021)

Reviewed by Katlin Kerrison, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia


Chasing Homer by László Krasznahorkai

Chasing Homer is Laszlo Krasznahorkai’s latest novella, and it is a new turn for the author’s work, and for literature entirely. An unnamed narrator is (possibly) being chased across Europe by people never seen. Every chapter starts off with a QR code for drum music that literally sets the tempo for the barrage of perspective, and pages are often broken up by illustrations of creepy, abstract humanoids. This is a multi-media piece that works like a hand-cranked movie; as always, Krasznahorkai’s writing is innovative and powerful. A must read.

Chasing Homer by László Krasznahorkai, (List Price: $19.95, New Directions, 9780811227971, November 2021)

Reviewed by Conor Hultman, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi


A Rush of Wings by Laura E. Weymouth

This book is all the things I love about Weymouth’s writing: atmospheric, complex characters, compelling narrative, quietly philosophical. Rowenna is a force and I loved her!

A Rush of Wings by Laura E. Weymouth, (List Price: 18.99, Margaret K. McElderry Books, 9781534493087, November 2021)

Reviewed by Lauren Brown, The Story Shop in Monroe, Georgia


Fuzzy, Inside and Out by Zachariah Ohora

SUPER cute book about kindness! Zachariah Ohora does a fantastic job of showing young readers how important acts of kindness are – from how they make people feel to how acts of kindness can impact you as well. Fuzzy is a lovable character that strives to make the world a better place. This is a great book to teach young readers the importance of kindness, discussing feelings, and so much more.

Fuzzy, Inside and Out by Zachariah Ohora, (List Price: $18.99, Abrams Books for Young Readers, 9781419751905, November 2021)

Reviewed by Stephanie Carrion, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

Going There by Katie Couric

Katie Couric—her name brings to mind that fabulous smile and the many times we have all viewed her on CBS Evening News, 60 Minutes, Good Morning America, and the Today Show as well as her own show Katie. What we all knew about her skills and intelligence on air, we knew little of her personal life before this revealing book. Yes, we knew about her husband Jay and his tragic passing from cancer and her successful efforts in cancer awareness. What’s revealing in Going There is the behind-the-scenes Katie—her childhood, her eating disorders, her love life, her daughters, her wishes of what she could have done better and her accomplishments. We also relive the past forty years of news stories with her takes on history. This book is our story of the past forty years through Katie Couric’s knowledgeable view. And after reading this book, we have all spent time with a friend we may never meet personally.

Going There by Katie Couric, (List Price: $30.00, Little, Brown and Company, 9780316535861, October 2021)

Reviewed by Nancy Pierce, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia

Jack Ruby and the Origins of the Avant-Garde in Dallas by Robert Trammell

Holy cow, I love this ‘un! I saw in Ben Fountain’s preface that the author discovered Donald Barthelme during a stint in a Texas prison (marijuana, meh.). Well, I discovered DB while dumpster diving, broke and living in an attic in Tallahassee, so dingdingding I checked it out! The title story reads like a great conspiracy zine from the 70s, about JFK’s assassination (including Jack Ruby’s shooting of Oswald) all being one elaborate work of performance art created by Ruby to introduce internationally acclaimed avant-garde art to stingy Dallas. But that’s just a preview for the main attraction. The bulk of the book is around 20 short stories that all revolve, in some way, around a beer bar (you want liquor, you gotta bring it yourself). The bar is a safe-ish haven in the belly of the beast (1960s Dallas) that lives in the mouth of the king of beasts (anytime Texas). Every style of story lives inside this collection. I’d say it’s equal parts Donald Barthelme, Terry Allen and W.G. Sebald. It comes out in November and I will be talking this one up a ship ton! That’s right: tonnage is different on ships. A ship ton different!

Jack Ruby and the Origins of the Avant-Garde in Dallas by Robert Trammell, (List Price: $16.95, Deep Vellum Publishing, 9781646050499, December 2021)

Reviewed by Ian McCord, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

My Monticello by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson

A black professor uses his own son in a study comparing him to ACMs (American Caucasian Males) in “Control Negro.” A single mother lists what to do when “Buying a House Ahead of the Apocalypse.” A young woman changes herself in an attempt to leave behind her past. An immigrant widowed father finds himself distanced from his children. And, a group of Charlottesville neighbors flee white suprematists seeking refuge in Jefferson’s historic plantation home. Each story examines what happens when “home” is not very hospitable. This collection—the characters and the writing will stay with me. An emotional and brilliant must read.

My Monticello by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson, (List Price: $26.99, Henry Holt and Co., 9781250807151, October 2021)

Reviewed by Kelley Barnes, Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, North Carolina

Like Crazy by Dan Mathews

I don’t know whether to call this an ‘end of life’ story…or a memoir…or a roomie rom-com…or a family saga.. but I do know I couldn’t wait to see what happened next in Perry & Dan’s Great Adventure/Social Experiment. Such wide ranging appeal I’m not sure if it will go in our non-fiction section…or our Pride shelves.. or the memoir table…humor…maybe all of them!! Zaniest, craziest true story of a boy and his momma…and yes, it will bring you to tears—of laughter, joy and a wee bit of sadness.

Like Crazy by Dan Mathews, (List Price: $27.00, Atria Books, 9781501199981, August 2020)

Reviewed by Jamie Anderson, Downtown Books in Manteo, North Carolina

The Nobleman’s Guide to Scandal and Shipwrecks by Mackenzi Lee

It’s finally here! The third and final installment of the Montague siblings has arrived, and it is well worth the wait! The Nobleman’s Guide to Scandal and Shipwrecks introduces you to Adrian Montague, the youngest of the Montague siblings, and the only one who is completely unaware that he has siblings. When Adrian discovers a partial spy glass that belonged to his mother, questions arise: Where did this spy glass come from And did it have anything to do with his mother’s death?

While searching for answers, Adrian stumbles across Henry “Monty” Montague, the brother Adrian never knew he had. Adrian is delighted and curious to discover more about his brother, but Monty wants nothing to do with him. Yet after some persuasion, Monty decides to assist Adrian on this quest for answers. Adrian and Monty now find themselves embarking on a journey to find their sister Felicity and discover the secrets of the spy glass. But as always, a simple task for the Montague siblings will take a Herculean effort to keep them out of trouble and alive. The Nobleman’s Guide to Scandal and Shipwrecks is one of the best books I have read this year. It’s filled with laughter, very relatable characters, mystery, and ghosts. Mackenzi Lee has created a historical world that takes the reader into the past and gives us characters that we can recognize and relate to.

The Nobleman’s Guide to Scandal and Shipwrecks by Mackenzi Lee, (List Price: $18.99, Katherine Tegen Books, 9780062916013, November 2021)

Reviewed by Gretchen Shuler, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

Another Kind by Trevor Bream

Trevor Bream and Cait May deliver an absolutely delightful story with Another Kind. This novel follows the adventures of six cryptid kids who are trying to find their way to a place they can be their selves and call home. I fell in love with these kids and I was rooting for them every step of the way! The art is beautiful and I cannot wait to order this for the story with its wide release. Not only do we have a beautifully diverse cast, we also have some nonbinary representation with one of the kids realizing that is what they are. Handled delicately and honestly without it taking away from the focus of the story, there’s plenty of moments like this that will charm any reader.


Another Kind by Trevor Bream, (List Price: 22.99, HarperAlley, 9780063043541, October 2021)

Reviewed by Katlin Kerrison, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia


Cremation by Rafael Chirbes

Cremation is a stream-of-monologue masterpiece that harkens to Beckett and Faulkner. When Matias, the patriarch of a rich Spanish family, dies, it sets off psychological battles among the surviving members. These spats take the form of unbroken pages-long conversations and thoughts, going beyond the closet-drama scope to encompass architecture, economics, corruption, art, and the consequences of 20th century European history. Towards the end, the fictional town of Misent turns into a character, much after the fashion of Durrell’s Alexandria, but more bitter and disillusioned. By the end of a reading, these incredible speeches come through like blasts of hot air over rivers of concrete.

Cremation by Rafael Chirbes, (List Price: $20.95, New Directions, 9780811224307, November 2021)

Reviewed by Conor Hultman, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi


The Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan

Who doesn’t love Christmas spirit, Christmas decorations and books that transport us to that magical season? The Christmas Bookshop deposits us into the middle of the life of Carmen who is suddenly without a job or place to live. She moves in with her perfect sister Sofia in Edinburgh—into a perfect house with Sofia’s many children. Carmen begins working with a seemingly impossible-to-save failing bookstore. Can she help the bookstore? Can she cope with her sister’s family? Can she ever find love? All these questions are answered surrounded by the promise of the festive season. Jenny Colten has given us a fun holiday journey that you won’t want to leave when the last page is read.

The Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan, (List Price: 16.99, William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780063141674, October 2021)

Reviewed by Nancy Pierce, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia


I Walk With Monsters by Paul Cornell

Beautifully horrific visuals and genuinely compelling characters, it was a thrilling story that, for better or worse, doesn’t spoon-feed you any extra information and keeps you as in the dark as possible. While this aides the overall foreboding aura the story emits, it also almost tantalizingly keeps it’s secrets just out of our reach. I truly hope to see more in the future, because this collection went by in a flash.

I Walk With Monsters by Paul Cornell, (List Price: $15.99, Vault Comics, 9781638490067, October 2021)

Reviewed by Deion Cooper, Foggy Pine Books in Boone, North Carolina


Five Decembers by James Kestrel

What a great cinematic story, starting with a double murder in Honolulu just before Thanksgiving 1941 which eventually took the investigating Detective to Hong Kong where he arrived on December 8th, December 7th in Hawaii, before ending Five Decembers later. Utterly enthralling.

Five Decembers by James Kestrel, (List Price: 22.99, Hard Case Crime, 9781789096118, October 2021)

Reviewed by Pete Mock, McIntyre’s Fine Books in Pittsboro, North Carolina


American Christmas Stories by Connie Willis

So grateful for this collection of 70 diverse and extraordinary stories from our friends at Library of America and editor Connie Willis. This collection features voices from across the American experience an centuries and contains stories of mystery, horror, western, inspirational, fantasy, humor, and more! This would make a great gift and is long overdue. Shirley Jackson and Jack London, Amy Tan and Ray Bradbury, Mark Twain and Nalo Hopkinson. Very excited to put this into the hands of those who celebrate.

American Christmas Stories by Connie Willis, (List Price: 29.95, Library of America, 9781598537062, October 2021)

Reviewed by Kelly Justice, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia


There Are Trans People Here by H. Melt

H Melt’s poetry collection talks about pivotal moments in trans and queer history and honors those who came before them. Beautiful and touching, this collection shows another side to the struggles trans people continue to face.

There Are Trans People Here by H. Melt, (List Price: $16.00, Haymarket Books, 9781642595727, November 2021)

Reviewed by Andrea Richardson, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Do I Know You? by Sarah Strohmeyer

After the puzzling disappearance of her sister when they were teenagers, Jane Ellison’s mission in life is to get answers…at any cost. After being fired from her FBI job as a “super recognizer,” Jane returns to her hometown to retrace the events of the night Kit disappeared and, in the process, begins to question her own sanity and abilities. I enjoyed Strohmeyer’s effortless approach at suspense, by offering pieces to the puzzle slowly and strategically while not becoming cheesy. The multiple POVs were just enough as to not confuse the reader but offer valuable insight into the connected characters. I would recommend this to my “thriller friends” who desire suspense without the violence or darkness that most tend to lean on. I would read another from this author.

Do I Know You? by Sarah Strohmeyer, (List Price: $16.99, Harper Paperbacks, 9780063091290, November 2021)

Reviewed by Lynne Phillips, Wordsworth Books in Little Rock, Arkansas

Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed by Saraciea J. Fennell

These are the voices. The voices we need to hear, to represent the voices that need to be heard. This collection from fifteen influential Young Adult writers from the Latinx diaspora is the perfect launch pad for conversations and the perfect door to new ideas.

Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed by Saraciea J. Fennell, (List Price: $18.99, Flatiron Books, 9781250763426, November 2021)

Reviewed by Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina

An Elderly Lady Must Not Be Crossed by Helene Tursten

Maud is back and better than ever in this second tale of murder and revenge! This collection of stories takes us back to her youth and how she became who she is–and what happened to those left in her wake! Picking up where we left off in her previous collection, Maud is trying to evade the authorities that won’t leave her alone. This pocket-sized book is perfect for the mystery lovers in your life!

An Elderly Lady Must Not Be Crossed by Helene Tursten, (List Price: $14.99, Soho Crime, 9781641291675, October 2021)

Reviewed by Andrea Richardson, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

A Thing of Beauty by Peter Fiennes

I really enjoyed this mashup of travel writing, musings on Greek mythology, and thoughts about climate change and its effect on our natural environment. On the surface, this combination of things shouldn’t work, but it really does. Peter Fiennes drew me in with his study of Lord Byron and from there I was happy to pop in on his travels through Greece, all the more poignant due to his trips taking place during the pandemic.

A Thing of Beauty by Peter Fiennes, (List Price: $27.95, Oneworld Publications, 9780861540617, November 2021)

Reviewed by Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Bombshell by Sarah MacLean

Bombshell picks up a new series where MacLean’s Scandals & Scoundrels series left off. Here, we have Secily, the most scandalous of her five sisters and the only one left un-wed. She’s been pining after Caleb, the business partner of one of her sisters for years. But right now, along with three other amazing woman, she’s taking down the men of the ton, one at a time. But when Caleb comes back from America and finds Secily at work, she isn’t sure what her next move should be. Bombshell has a kick-ass feminist heroine who does what she wants and helps others along the way. We should all be so amazing.

Bombshell by Sarah MacLean, (List Price: $8.99, Avon, 9780063056152, August 2021)

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia

A Dinosaur Named Ruth by Julia Lyon

A fascinating picture book biography of Ruth Mason, a young girl growing up in pioneer-era South Dakota who went on to find hundreds of dinosaur fossils in her family’s backyard. After years of Ruth’s fossil collecting, paleontologists finally made it out to South Dakota and many of her dinosaur skeletons ended up in the natural history museums we still visit today. A great read for any child obsessed with dinosaurs!

A Dinosaur Named Ruth by Julia Lyon, (List Price: $ 17.99, Margaret K. McElderry Books, 9781534474642, October 2021)

Reviewed by Jen Minor, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

The Churchill Sisters by Rachel Trethewey

A fascinating look at the lives of Winston Churchill’s daughters. Diana, Sarah, and Mary each lived very different lives but had a unique bond with their father. Despite their daughters’ difficulties that included divorce, alcoholism, and mental issues, Winston and his wife Clementine remained supportive and loving until their final years. The girls reveled in their father’s triumphs and were by his side through difficult times. Trethewey’s book provides great insight into the family life of a magnificent statesman.

The Churchill Sisters by Rachel Trethewey, (List Price: $29.99, St. Martin’s Press, 9781250272393, November 2021)

Reviewed by Linda Hodges, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

All Fires the Fire by Julio Cortázar

I just spent a guilt-free rainy day with these high calorific, double-stuffed short stories. Located within: A traffic jam turned tribal via survival, some playful narrator juggling, an escapist daydream that turns O. Henry into an R. Serling nightmare, and fiery relationships that literally burn to literal litter. Looking forward to more rain.

All Fires the Fire by Julio Cortázar, (List Price: 15.95, New Directions, 9780811229456, April 2020)

Reviewed by Ian McCord, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Every Line of You by Naomi Gibson

Lydia has no choice but to turn to her passion for programming when her whole family becomes either dead or estranged. She fabricates an AI, named after her deceased brother, who makes hacking incredibly easier while comforting her when no one else will. However, Lydia could never predict just how advanced–and sentient–her AI would become. Gibson takes a unique approach with the topic of grief in this science fiction novel. Lydia is given great depth as we explore her realistic, complex feelings and motives. This is an intriguing story about coping with personal loss and finding friendship in the most unlikely of ways.

Every Line of You by Naomi Gibson, (List Price: $18.99, Chicken House, 9781338726589, November 2021)

Reviewed by Flyleaf Books YA Advisory Board, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Dear William by David Magee

David Magee’s profoundly personal memoir grabbed my attention from the first page and wouldn’t let go. Dear William is part Southern story, part family story, and it opened my eyes to a crisis I didn’t know enough about. My heart broke into a million pieces while reading it, but I’m so glad I did.

Dear William by David Magee, (List Price: $28.00, Matt Holt, 9781953295682, November 2021)

Reviewed by Annie Jones, The Bookshelf in Thomasville, Georgia

The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

The Handmaids Tale meets Lord of the Flies in The Grace Year. I feel like this one flew under the radar but it is truly an amazing coming-of-age story. This is probably the best new YA Dystopia we’ve had in the past few years.

The Grace Year by Kim Liggett, (List Price: $10.99, Wednesday Books, 9781250145451, October 2020)

Reviewed by Katherine Downey, Cavalier House Books in Denham Springs, Louisiana

Beauty Salon by Mario Bellatin

A strange and elegiac little novel, steeped in sadness and decay. A book that’s obtusely about disease and isolation that ties accidentally and snugly into our current world.

Beauty Salon by Mario Bellatin, (List Price: $14.95, Deep Vellum Publishing, 9781646050734, September 2021)

Reviewed by Justin Souther, Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe in Asheville, North Carolina

Refractive Africa by Will Alexander

These odes to African intellectuals by Will Alexander are so rich in imagery and sound that every line has something you’ve never read before. I’m not kidding! Refractive Africa is of the highest caliber of poetry on offer in these times.

Refractive Africa by Will Alexander, (List Price: $16.95, New Directions, 9780811230278, November 2021)

Reviewed by Conor Hultman, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

Sway with Me by Syed M. Masood

Arsalan is an old soul…which he gets from living with his great-grandfather Nana, who is over 100 and imparts all of his wisdom and eccentricities to Arsalan. When Arsalan starts contemplating how alone he will be when his Nana dies and all he’s left with is an abusive father he hasn’t seen in years, he decides to approach Beenish, the stepdaughter of a prominent desi matchmaker, for help to arrange a marriage. Beenish’s condition is that Arsalan partner with her for a dance designed to scandalize at her sister’s upcoming wedding. Even though everything about Arsalan and Beenish is at odds, Arsalan finds himself drawn in to Beenish’s world, finding friends and relationships he didn’t know he needed — including with Beenish. Fans of Masood’s first book, More Than Just a Pretty Face, will like this one just as much.

Sway with Me by Syed M. Masood, (List Price: 17.99, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780316492416, November 2021)

Reviewed by Melissa Oates, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina


New Year by Mei Zihan

When growing up, it is easy to focus on how far you come and how proud you are of yourself, but it is easy to forget how much your parents may miss you and long for your presence. While growing and building your own families, you inevitably separate a little from your own. This book shows readers what a parent may think while their child is off being a grown up – proud but longing for more time with them. Mei Zihan beautifully tells of Lunar New Year and the toll that the holiday season has on him without his daughter at home. Zihan demonstrates how much he misses his daughter while also respecting her growth and being proud of the woman she has become. Beautifully told and illustrated.

New Year by Mei Zihan, (List Price: Greystone Kids, 9781771647311, November 2021)

Reviewed by Stephanie Carrion, Oxford Exchange in Greenville, South Carolina


The Legend of the Christmas Witch by Dan Murphy

The Legend of the Christmas Witch tells the tale of Kris Kringle and his twin sister Kristtorn. Who is the Christmas witch? Is she evil and determined to destroy Christmas, or is she a friend of Christmas who is misunderstood and mistreated. Read the tale, and decide for yourself. The Legend of the Christmas Witch is a wonderfully imaginative tale about Christmas and Yuletide that will delight readers of every age.

The Legend of the Christmas Witch by Dan Murphy, (List Price: 18.99, Viking Books for Young Readers, 9780593350805, November 2021)

Reviewed by Gretchen Shuler, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina


The 1619 Project by Nikole Hannah-Jones

The 1619 Project from Nikole Hannah-Jones asserts that to truly understand America today – politically, socially, culturally- and to begin to make repairs, you must move the timeline back to 1619, when the first enslaved people from Africa arrived in Jamestown. In this book – which is 50% more material than the original New York Times project – we hear from all the people who should have been included when initially taught American history and social studies. Herein lies a star-studded collection of thinkers, writers, poets and artists and an attempt to fully understand America’s origin story. Required reading for all who care to create a more just America.

The 1619 Project by Nikole Hannah-Jones, (List Price: $38.00, One World, 9780593230572, November 2021)

Reviewed by Jamie Fiocco, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina


The Me Tree by Ashley Belote

This charming and fun book emphasizes the value of friendship, even when we’d rather be alone! Bear just wants some space and is frustrated that his brand new house is filled with animal friends. But when he asks them to leave, he realizes he is lonely. Young readers can learn that sharing brings joy to the sharer, too!

The Me Tree by Ashley Belote, (List Price: 4.99, Penguin Workshop, 9780593384824, November 2021)

Reviewed by Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina


Starling by Isabel Strychacz

What would YOU do if a boy fell from the sky into the woods of YOUR backyard? Follow Delta Wilding as this exact event turns her already absurd life into something extraordinary–otherworldly, if you will. As an unthinkable romance unfolds, will the boy, the alien, decide to stay on Earth and live a life alongside the humans? Or will he have no choice but to return to the sky for the sake of Delta’s safety–and happiness? Read to find out!

Starling by Isabel Strychacz, (List Price: 19.99, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 9781534481107, November 2021)

Reviewed by Michelle Kang, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina


O Beautiful by Jung Yun

This beautiful character-driven book set in the American Midwest covers many contemporary topics like racism, fracking, sexual harassment, and the immigrant experience. I loved the messy protagonist Elinor Hanson, a Korean American who grew up in South Dakota. A former model with a new career later in life as a journalist, Elinor has baggage that needs unpacking so badly her clothes are spilling out of her metaphorical suitcase at a rapid pace. Korean American author Jung Yun has written a fantastic novel in O Beautiful that surprised me over and over, especially by book’s end.

O Beautiful by Jung Yun, (List Price: 27.99, St. Martin’s Press, 9781250274328, November 2021)

Reviewed by Rachel Watkins, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia


My Body by Emily Ratajkowski

As a society, we have become wired to see women – especially those in the spotlight – as objects to use to our satisfaction to the point that it is difficult for women to see how we are being used. Emily Ratajkowski has experienced this time and time again as a model and actress – used for her body and being made to feel as though she does not own herself. Throughout these stories, readers are shown how Emily Ratajkowski was and still is treated. This book feels like catching up with an old friend and letting it all out. Ratajkowski discusses important topics that will force you to restructure the way you think of the women who “entertain” you.

My Body by Emily Ratajkowski, (List Price: $26.00, Metropolitan Books, 9781250817860, November 2021)

Reviewed by Stephanie Carrion, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida


The Boys by Ron Howard

The Boys is the best memoir I’ve read in 2021. Ron and Clint Howard’s story of their show business childhoods is mesmerizing. The brothers share in alternating sections about their work with legends such as Henry Fonda, John Wayne, and George Lucas, as well as their zany antics on set. But the real stars of the book are their parents, whose calm guidance and strong example led the boys to find fulfilling lives. A great holiday gift for the classic TV and movie lover in your life.

The Boys by Ron Howard, (List Price: $28.99, William Morrow, 9780063065246, October 2021)

Reviewed by Linda Hodges, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen

LOVE! It’s no small feat to write a 60- page book so immersive that you can read it in a weekend and still feel extremely depressed when you come to the end, like, “That’s all?” C’mon, book two!!

Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen, (List Price: $30.00, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 9780374181178, October 2021)

Reviewed by Kat Leache, novel. in Memphis, Tennessee

Stuntboy, in the Meantime by Jason Reynolds

Move over Dogman, there’s a new kid on the graphic novel shelf and he has things to say. Portico is wrestling with some real big kid issues, finding his footing, and using his super power to making sure all of the special people in his world stay super and stay safe. With a story by the award winning Jason Reynolds and illustrated by the amazing Raoul the Third, Stuntboy is sure to rocket straight to the top of everyone’s list this Fall.

Stuntboy, in the Meantime by Jason Reynolds, (List Price: $13.99, Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, 9781534418165, November 2021)

Reviewed by Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina

Some Things I Still Can’t Tell You by Misha Collins

I loved this collection. Collins lets his reader know that he is writing for himself, fully knowing he is not an established poet. I normally do not read poetry, and I felt relaxed and ready to see what he had to say. It was a treat to see a very public person open up like this.

Some Things I Still Can’t Tell You by Misha Collins, (List Price: $14.99, Andrews McMeel Publishing, 9781524870546, October 2021)

Reviewed by Sissy Gardner, Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee

Squad by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

Move over, Plastics, there’s a new girl squad in town. SQUAD is a high school tale about transformational friendship, belonging, and what we’ll do to fit in. It will absolutely sink its claws into you from the very first page. (Puns ALL intended.)

Squad by Maggie Tokuda-Hall, (List Price: 14.99, Greenwillow Books, 9780062943149, October 2021)

Reviewed by Abby Rice, Foggy Pine Books in Boone, North Carolina

Heard It in a Love Song by Tracey Garvis Graves

I really enjoyed The Girl He Used To Know, so reading this book was an easy decision. Layla and Josh are both adjusting to life as singles rather than couples. They ended up single due to very different circumstances, it’s hard not to understand growing apart when you married as a teen. Layla does not have that situation and is torn over her divorce, but more anguished about her marriage and how she was diminished. Josh has no idea how to be single and the online dating scene is portrayed in frightening detail. As they emerge from the turmoil of separation the evolution as individuals and a couple is charming, poignant and entertaining.

Heard It in a Love Song by Tracey Garvis Graves, (List Price: 27.99, St. Martin’s Press, 9781250235688, November 2021)

Reviewed by Jackie Willey, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina