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The Wise Hours by Miriam Darlington

Owls, for all their popularity in myths and Harry Potter movies, are elusive and difficult to observe in the wild. But the wild, the reality is what Darlington is seeking and what she brings to this thoughtful account. Her careful descriptions of eight species are deepened by reflections on how much humanity loses when we lose true awareness of the wild. A call for more care of the natural world, protection of spaces needed by our fellow creatures, and a willingness to live with uncertainty, this book offers heart and soul as well as natural history.

The Wise Hours by Miriam Darlington, (List Price: $27.95, Tin House Books, 9781953534835, February 2023)

Reviewed by Jan Blodgett, Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina

Cinderella–with Dogs! by Linda Bailey

Everything is better with dogs, and the tale of Cinderella is no exception. Not only does Cinderella get a fairy dogmother instead of a fairy godmother, but she also gets some nice updates to her story, including a chance to suggest she gets to know the prince first instead of marrying him right away. I loved all the dogs in this book, but there are plenty of cute cats to see on each page, too!

Cinderella–with Dogs! by Linda Bailey, (List Price: $18.99, Nancy Paulsen Books, 9781984813824, February 2023)

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

Seirei Gensouki: Spirit Chronicles (Manga): Volume 1 by Shibamura Yuri

Rio is a young orphan living in the slums of the kingdom of Beltrum. When he is stricken with a high fever, he dreams of a different world where he is called Haruto. When Rio wakes up from his fever, he realizes he is two people in one, both Rio of the slums and Haruto, from the other world. When Rio is forced to rescue a kidnapped princess, his troubles get even worst. When the nobles find the young princess with Rio, they accuse him of kidnapping, but after the princess awakens, she tells of how Rio saved her. As a reward, he is granted acceptance into the Royal Academy of Beltrum. An act that upsets the kingdoms noble people, who feel he does not deserve this prestigious reward. Whether he succeeds or not, is all up to him and his new professor, Celia. Perfect manga for fans of The Irregular at Magic High School, Magic Knight Rayearth, or Snow White with Red Hair.

Seirei Gensouki: Spirit Chronicles (Manga): Volume 1 by Shibamura Yuri, (List Price: $15.99, J-Novel Club, 9781718353442, February 2023)

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

One Last Shot: Based on a True Story of Wartime Heroism by Kip Wilson

Kip Wilson’s novel in verse about photojournalist Gerda Tardo captures her passion for revealing truth through photography. It sweeps the reader from Gerda’s school days in Germany to the front lines in the Spanish Civil War. A compelling read.

One Last Shot: Based on a True Story of Wartime Heroism by Kip Wilson, (List Price: $17.99, Versify, 9780063251687, January 2023)

Reviewed by Rae Ann Parker, Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee

Everything Calls for Salvation by Daniele Mencarelli

Over seven days in a psychiatric ward in 1994 in Italy, the main character Daniele Mancarelli (who shares the author’s name and some life experiences) documents his involuntary committal. We spend most of our time on the ward itself with occasional flashbacks of the six patients’ and staff’s pasts. Mencarelli (author and character) is also a poet, and the language is beautiful and delicately translated by Wendy Weathly. While not dismissing the need for the truly suffering or dangerous to be treated, the author presents much to be considered about the way society categorizes those who are simply different or passing through a difficult phase of life.

Everything Calls for Salvation by Daniele Mencarelli, (List Price: $22, Europa Editions, 9781609458065, January 2023)

Reviewed by Kelly Justice, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

The Boy with a Bird in His Chest by Emme Lund

Owen has an exposed space in his chest where Gail, a wise and chatty java sparrow, has lived since he was a newborn. His mother has hidden him from those who would hurt him because of his difference, but he’s a teenager now and must figure out who to trust and how to be — or even if he CAN be. I really enjoyed this sensitive and heartbreaking coming-of-age story about a queer boy, his bird, and their friends. Though not usually drawn to magical realism, I found myself almost believing in the possibility of Gail, and that was a real joy.

The Boy with a Bird in His Chest by Emme Lund, (List Price: $17, Atria Books, 9781982171940, January 2023)

Reviewed by Serena Wyckoff, Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda, Florida

Someday, Maybe by Onyi Nwabineli

This is such a beautifully written story. The characters are so wonderfully honest and real. You are truly immersed in Eve’s world, you feel her pain and confusion. This is the story of one woman’s journey through grief and guilt after her husband takes his own life. Written like a memoir, straight from Eve’s thoughts and feelings, we follow her through every up and down, her highs and her lows. This is a beautiful reminder about the struggles of mental illness and the hidden pain of those around us. This is a must read!

Someday, Maybe by Onyi Nwabineli, (List Price: $27.99, Graydon House, 9781525899805, September 2022)

Reviewed by Makayla Summers, Main Street Reads in Summerville, South Carolina

Ducks by Kate Beaton

As an avid fan of Kate Beaton since her days slinging snarky, hilarious comics in Hark, A Vagrant!, I have been waiting for her graphic memoir for years!! Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands is a stunningly beautiful story of Kate’s time working in the male-dominated Alberta oil industry to pay off her student loans, full of gorgeous, melancholy art and powerful emotions just under the surface. It’s an exceptional book about loneliness, labor, survival in a male-dominated world, and finding your way home.

Ducks by Kate Beaton, (List Price: $39.95, Drawn and Quarterly, 9781770462892, September 2022)

Reviewed by Rebecca Speas, One More Page Books in Arlington, Virginia

God’s Ex-Girlfriend by Gloria Beth Amodeo

I’m always interested in a good memoir about religious experience. God’s Ex-Girlfriend did not disappoint. Amodeo’s time with Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) was full of revelations about how the movement can trap young people at their most vulnerable time: college and the days beyond. Amodeo seriously adopted the evangelical ideas, but found it wasn’t the support she needed to find her true self. A real eye-opener!

God’s Ex-Girlfriend by Gloria Beth Amodeo, (List Price: $18.95, Ig Publishing, 9781632461476, February 2023)

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

Zig-Zag Boy by Tanya Frank

A harrowing memoir about a mother doing all she can to help her son as he navigates a psychiatric diagnosis. I could feel author Tanya Frank’s desperation and determination to help her child, and I was left feeling her frustration over our flawed mental healthcare system.

Zig-Zag Boy by Tanya Frank, (List Price: $28.95, W. W. Norton & Company, 9780393531886, February 2023)

Reviewed by Jessica Nock, Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina

Once Upon a Tome by Oliver Darkshire

I believe that Oliver Darkshire could turn any non-reader into a bibliophile. Darkshire writes a wonderfully hilarious and witty banter about the unique and rather unknown process of selling rare books. I was traveling to London in the spring anyways, but now Sotherean’s is first on the stop all thanks to Oliver.

Once Upon a Tome by Oliver Darkshire, (List Price: $27.95, W. W. Norton & Company, 9781324092070, March 2023)

Reviewed by Lena Malpeli, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

Fieldwork : A Forager’s Memoir by Iliana Regan

Fieldwork is an exploration into the author’s passion for the natural world and her chosen place in it. She delves into the beginning of her love for food and foraging as a child growing up on a homestead and she expands upon it in the unsteady present as a chef/restaurant owner during a global pandemic. In doing so, she views topics such as her addictions, sexuality, and personal growth through the lens of how her family history and the forests are beautifully intertwined. This memoir is heartfelt, honest, and perfectly written.

Fieldwork : A Forager’s Memoir by Iliana Regan, (List Price: $27.00, Agate Midway, 9781572843189, December 2022)

Reviewed by Stuart McCommon, Novel in Memphis, Tennessee

The End of Drum-Time by Hanna Pylväinen

Fascinating setting and wonderful characters. This place – where Sweden, Finland, and Russia converge – is defined by the intensely cold climate. The church is converting indigenous Sapmi families, the government is imposing its colonizing laws, and this ensemble cast of characters is wrestling with who they are and how they fit in as change slowly sweeps through. Great writing, wonderful characters, and I learned so much about the cultures and some of the politics of this place during this era.

The End of Drum-Time by Hanna Pylväinen, (List Price: $28.99, Henry Holt and Co., 9781250822901, January 2023)

Reviewed by Adah Fitzgerald, Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina

World Made of Glass by Ami Polonsky

World Made of Glass has the exact range of emotions tweens need and crave – sorrow, love, laughter, tears, regret – in deep swings. And more importantly, this historical fiction novel tells a story that few really know – I didn’t – about the prejudice, misinformation, and rampant fear surrounding AIDS in 1987 – told through the eyes of twelve-year-old Iris. She’s a character who experiences life-shattering circumstances beyond her control – yet with the help of her family and friends, she rises to the occasion. Our youth should read this book because it will build empathy and acceptance of marginalized groups of people, educate a new generation about the AIDS epidemic and LGBTQIA History – an area sorely under-represented in literature and inspire people of all ages to use their voices to fight for justice in their communities. As a bookseller in an indie bookstore who sees firsthand so many young adults purposefully seeking out books that provide a safe place to explore a range of emotions and tackle challenging, complex subjects, I cannot wait for this novel to do just that and find so many readers. Ami Polonsky will inspire the upcoming generation to use their voices for good!

World Made of Glass by Ami Polonsky, (List Price: $16.99, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780316462044, January 2023)

Reviewed by Michelle Uhlfelder, Sundog Books in Seaside, Florida

The Creative Act by Rick Rubin

The Creative Act: A Way of Being is a thoughtful exploration of life, how we live, how we think, how we are influence and obviously, how we create. Organized in very readable small chunks- this book is something to appeal to people wanting to shop in the religious section, personal growth as well as arts and music. Profound insights into how we exist are revealed throughout the book wordsmith into attractively consumable bites. By the end of the book, the reader will be inspired and possibly changed forever. This is a book for all ages but also is a book that will be the absolute best graduation gift of 2023.

The Creative Act by Rick Rubin, (List Price: $32, Penguin Press, 9780593652886, January 2023)

Reviewed by Kimberly Daniels, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina

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