The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

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Fraternity by Andy Mientus

These chaotic passage of events and writing style reminded me a lot of the novel I Love You, Beth Cooper. Plot-wise, as a YA book, it is extremely insightful in regards to the AIDs epidemic, despite the allure of occult fantasy in this queer coming of age story. It was an entertaining read. I appreciate the tribute to notable gay figures within American history, as well as the representation of queer people of color. In all, it was extremely chaotic, and at times cheesy, but I would still read this and would recommend to those who enjoyed the Haunting of Jake Livingston.

Fraternity by Andy Mientus, (List Price: $19.99, Amulet Books, 9781419754708, September 2022)

Reviewed by Yarah Elshaer, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson

Kate Atkinson has a wonderful way with words, combining laugh-out-loud wit with unexpected pathos. I gobbled up Shrines of Gaiety – which features a motley crew of characters in 1920s London, including a nightclub boss, a chief inspector intent on weeding out corruption in the police, a teenage runaway in search of fame, and a former WW1 nurse in search of said missing teenager – in just a couple of days. Recommended.

Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson, (List Price: $29, Doubleday, 9780385547970, September 2022)

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

Still This Love Goes On by Buffy Sainte-Marie

Beautiful and poignant, this stunning ode to Cree life sings with love for the relations that sustain it—between people, with the land, and the communal practices that have endured through generations. Flett’s warm, evocative artwork is, as always, a treasure, imbuing Sainte-Marie’s lyrics with tender resonance.

Still This Love Goes On by Buffy Sainte-Marie, (List Price: $18.95, Greystone Kids, 9781771648073, September 2022)

Reviewed by Hannah DeCamp, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Muhammad Najem, War Reporter by Muhammad Najem

A Syrian kid living through the Syrian civil war decides to interview other kids his age using his phone to document what’s going on. He shares it on social media like YT Tw and FB. He felt like he was being targeted by bombs for his news videos. Tense, informative, serious, sad, but also has happy moments. Read it all in one sitting. Hard to put down.

Muhammad Najem, War Reporter by Muhammad Najem, (List Price: $12.99, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780759556904, September 2022)

Reviewed by Eliza, Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina

All the Women in My Brain by Betty Gilpin

Hilarious and bittersweet, Betty Gilpin’s memoir about her life as an actress is a bit chaotic at times, but in a funny way. She writes as a very successful actress who also struggles with self-doubt and depression. The reader gets to go behind- the -scenes with Gilpin as she stars in various TV shows and movies, describing her work from a feminist perspective and as a veteran of the entertainment industry. Loved it!

All the Women in My Brain by Betty Gilpin, (List Price: $28.99, Flatiron Books, 9781250795786, September 2022)

Reviewed by Lisa Uotinen, Book No Further in Roanoke, Virginia

Jollof Rice and Other Revolutions by Omolola Ijeoma Ogunyemi

This intertwined collection of short stories is a powerful and engrossing American debut from Omolola Ijeoma Ogunyemi. The stories travel from 1920’s Nigeria to modern day New York and back again, following multiple characters all interconnected by strong women whose choices echo on for generations. Very well paced and structured, each story moves quickly and seamlessly into the next. Romance, power struggles, day-in-the-life: this novel has something for everyone.

Jollof Rice and Other Revolutions by Omolola Ijeoma Ogunyemi, (List Price: $27.99, Amistad, 9780063117044, September 2022)

Reviewed by Alex Einhorn, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Our Last Days in Barcelona by Chanel Cleeton

I didn’t realize this was the 5th book by this author but it was good as a standalone. The family is living in Palm Beach after being forced to leave Cuba because of the revolution. 1964: Isabel is married to Thomas though it is more of a marriage of convenience than one of love. There has been no communication between the family and her sister Beatriz for a few weeks. Beatriz is involved in dangerous spy work with the CIA so Isabel decides to travel to Barcelona to check in on her. When she arrives she finds her sister’s apartment empty and meets Beatriz’s friend Diego. The two of them are concerned for her sister’s safety and start searching for her. Eventually, the two develop a close bond which has Isabel second-guessing her whole life.

1936: Alicia, (Isabel’s mother) travels to Barcelona from Cuba with her young daughter, Isabel, after finding her husband with another woman. While in Spain she reconnects with a man from her past who she once had feelings for. Spain is in the midst of a civil war and violence is erupting. Alicia has to make some quick decisions about her life and her heart. The author does such a great job in weaving the stories of this family together. There is so much going on that you just don’t want to stop reading!

Our Last Days in Barcelona by Chanel Cleeton, (List Price: $17, Berkley, 9780593197820, May 2022)

Reviewed by Trish Peters, Book Bound Bookstore in Blairsville, Georgia

Woman Without Shame by Sandra Cisneros

Woman Without Shame reminds me of Nikki Giovanni’s most recent collection, in that I had a similar feeling while reading each book that these are two poets that get better and better with age. Every bit of Woman Without Shame is saturated in maturity and confidence, right down to the title. When I grow up, I want to be Sandra Cisneros.

Woman Without Shame by Sandra Cisneros, (List Price: $27, Knopf, 9780593534823, September 2022)

Reviewed by Jordan Pulaski, Small Friend Records & Books in Richmond, Virginia

Solito by Javier Zamora

This is one of the most riveting memoirs I have ever read- Zamora captures his experience as a child migrant with extraordinary detail and emotion. It feels special to read a memoir that manages to stay true to the confusion of childhood in a very adult scenario and the uncertainty of migration while also not shying away from the kindness he was shown and the gratitude he so clearly feels towards those that helped him.

Solito by Javier Zamora, (List Price: $28, Hogarth, 9780593498064, September 2022)

Reviewed by Cat Bock, Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee

Witches by Brenda Lozano

Witches, by Mexican writer Brenda Lozano, features quite possibly the most distinctive voice I’ve come across in fiction this year. Feliciana’s narrative, recounting her life as an indigenous healer – or curandera – is hypnotic, elliptical and utterly absorbing. Her story intertwines with that of Zoe, a journalist from Mexico City sent to report on the death of Paloma, Feliciana’s muxe – or third gender – cousin. Their stories combine to highlight the struggles of women striving to be true to themselves and to find their own voices.

Witches by Brenda Lozano, (List Price: $26, Catapult, 9781646220687, August 2022)

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

Frizzy by Claribel A. Ortega

I needed this book so bad when I was younger! From middle school to high school, I hated my curly, frizzy, thick hair. I didn’t know what to do with it other than straightening it to make it look ‘pretty’ and I didn’t have anyone in my life with hair like mine, so my hair always felt like a problem. I loved that Marlene wanted to embrace her curly hair and started that journey for herself without permission. She unapologetically wanted to be her self and it completely warmed my heart. Thank you Claribel A. Ortega for this story! I cannot wait for other kids to read this and learn to love their hair!

Frizzy by Claribel A. Ortega, (List Price: $12.99, First Second, 9781250259639, October 2022)

Reviewed by Juliana Reyes, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland

Moon Fuentez is a fascinating character. I liked the exploration of the psychological effects of pitting two children against each other in a family. This is a book about resilience through a lifetime of pain. It’s sex-positive. It’s a really original story. Moon’s humor carries a lot of the story and keeps it from feeling too dark.

How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland, (List Price: $12.99, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 9781534448674, August 2022)

Reviewed by Lizzy Nanney, Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, North Carolina

Invisible: A Graphic Novel by Christina Diaz Gonzalez

Community service gains a whole new meaning for five middle school students in this must-have dual language graphic novel. Edgar award-winning author Christina Diaz Gonzalez even adds a signature mystery twist to the story that is sure to resonate with any one who ever felt lost in the wild world of middle school.

Invisible: A Graphic Novel by Christina Diaz Gonzalez, (List Price: $12.99, Graphix, 9781338194548, August 2022)

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

Good Night, Little Bookstore by Amy Cherrix

There’s so much to love about Good Night, Little Bookstore! A charming, delightful bedtime story and an ode to the little bookstores that nurture big dreams.

Good Night, Little Bookstore by Amy Cherrix, (List Price: $17.99, Candlewick, 9781536212518, September 2022)

Reviewed by Stephanie Jones-Byrne, Malaprops Bookstore/Cafe in Asheville, North Carolina

One Hundred Saturdays by Michael Frank

Stella Levi is a reluctant narrator. But Saturday after Saturday she allows pieces of her story to begin to form the charming, haunting, lively, tragic, tale of life and loss and art and survival that is One Hundred Saturdays. This is absolutely the best book I’ve read all year, and with the added bonus of Maira Kalman’s brilliant illustrations of life on Rhodes, in Auschwitz, and in New York, it may very well be the best book of the decade.

One Hundred Saturdays by Michael Frank, (List Price: $28, Avid Reader Press, 9781982167226, September 2022)

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

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