The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

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The Kindest Red by Ibtihaj Muhammad

So often, when people are asked what they would wish for, they reply “World Peace.” In The Kindest Red, Faizah wishes for “World Kindness,” and isn’t that really the first step to world peace? This simple picture book with a big message is just perfect for families or classrooms looking to celebrate diversity and personal responsibility.

The Kindest Red by Ibtihaj Muhammad, (List Price: $19.99, Bloomsbury YA, 9780759555709, February 2023)

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

Planning Perfect by Haley Neil

This sweet romcom about a girl on the asexual spectrum who tries to plan her mom’s location wedding in Vermont without spiraling out will be just what you’re looking for as a wonderful summer read. Felicity has had a rough time of it. After the incident last year, she’s trying to get back on track with a prime position at her favorite school club. But when her mom gets engaged, she throws all her energy into planning the perfect wedding. And maybe she can connect more with a friend from the summer that she may or may not have a crush on!

Planning Perfect by Haley Neil, (List Price: $19.99, Bloomsbury YA, 9781547607495, February 2023)

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia

Rough Sleepers by Tracy Kidder

I’ve read almost everything Tracy Kidder has written and was inspired, again, by Rough Sleepers. For five years, Kidder followed Dr. O’Connell, who’s been providing compassionate, respectful healthcare to the homeless in Boston for decades. Rough Sleepers brings tough statistics to vivid life and shines light on a complex and often overwhelming subject.

Rough Sleepers by Tracy Kidder, (List Price: $30, Random House, 9781984801432, January 2023)

Reviewed by Sarah Goddin, McIntyre’s Books in Pittsboro, North Carolina

Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett

This book is such an unexpected delight! It’s told in an epistolary style- journal entries, with you, the reader, being an outside observer to events that have already happened. However, Heather Fawcett’s style of writing is such that it seamlessly blends with the narrative and you forget entirely that you’re reading a journal! It’s cozy, heart-warming, absolutely page-turning, and will leave you both satisfied and wanting more. It’s unique, enchanting, and one of my favorite reads of this year, perfect for anyone who loves fantasy and especially the fae!

Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett, (List Price: $28, Del Rey, 9780593500132, January 2023)

Reviewed by Preet Singh, Eagle Eye Book Shop in Decatur, Georgia

More Than Meets the Eye by Iris Johansen

Iris and Roy Johansen are prolific authors whose works remain fresh and engaging. Kendra Michaels is a very unique character. Blind until she was twenty and had a novel operation to restore her sight, she really wants to focus on her music therapy practice. However, her finely tuned senses make her incredibly useful to the FBI. Her morals and care for others make it hard for her to refuse when asked to consult on cases. This one is particularly heinous, a serial killer has agreed to reveal the location of one his victims. As the grave is excavated and a large crew looks on an explosive device is activated. Kendra can’t say no when asked to help untangle this twisted rope of evil.

More Than Meets the Eye by Iris Johansen, (List Price: $29, Grand Central Publishing, 9781538726235, February 2023)

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

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

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