The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

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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

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


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

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


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

Olga by Bernhard Schlink

Olga is a brilliant meditation on living through the great moments of history. We now know what it is to live through a moment in history having (hopefully) rounded the corner with this global pandemic. Olga is one of the few characters in WWII fiction that is aware of the moment as she lives it. But she is also caught in the reality of living day-to-day life in that moment of history. I fell into this book on a rainy day with a warm cup of tea and that’s exactly how this beautifully melancholy book should be enjoyed.

Olga by Bernhard Schlink, (List Price: 27.99, HarperVia, 9780063112926, September, 2021)

Reviewed by Annie Childress, E. Shaver bookseller in Savannah, Georgia

Taste by Stanley Tucci

This book is as delightful as you would think. Actually, scratch that, it is 10 times more delightful than you would think. Filled to the brim with Tucci’s signature charm, TASTE amazes with both its storied family recipes and the moving personal journey it takes us on. Tucci recognizes that so often food is more than just a source of basic nourishment; it is a form of self expression and an act of love. This revelation is evident in every word of the book. Read this and you’ll fall in love with the food, the stories, and of course, with Stanley Tucci himself.

Taste by Stanley Tucci, (List Price: $28.00, Gallery Books, 9781982168018, October 2021)

Reviewed by Jessica Baker, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Hamsters Make Terrible Roommates by Cheryl Klein

This should be required reading for any and all roommates (from siblings to college freshmen)! Featuring an odd diametrically opposed hamster duo, this vibrantly illustrated, darkly funny tale will leave even the crankiest readers holding in giggles as they learn all about the art of compromise.

Hamsters Make Terrible Roommates by Cheryl Klein, (List Price: 17.99, Dial Books, 9780593324233, November 2021)

Reviewed by Julie Jarema, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix

It seems like an oxymoron, but The Final Girl Support group is a delightfully dark and very suspenseful thriller, both funny and really scary. It tells the story of six vastly different women–survivors from horrors we can only imagine–who as final girls have been in a support group for 16 years. And, then they start dying! The book pays homage to the slasher films of the 80s and 90s and even if you weren’t a fan of them, if you like Mission Impossible type escapes, and thrillers which go in totally unforeseeable directions (several times) then you will love this book.

The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix, (List Price: $26.00, Berkley, 9780593201237, July 2021)

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

All the Little Hopes by Leah Weiss

Everyone should have a little magic in their lives. This is a story of friendship between Bert and Lucy (and Lucy’s hero from her favorite book Nancy Drew). There’s a OUIJA board (the “spirit” board), a woman who sees into the future, and a missing body, all contributing to the lively imagination of these two best friends. Times are hard in 1943 North Carolina, but Bert and Lucy only see an opportunity to solve a great mystery. You will not want to stop reading once you begin this beautifully written story.

All the Little Hopes by Leah Weiss, (List Price: $16.99, Sourcebooks Landmark, 9781728232744, 2021-07-27)

Reviewed by Karen Solar, Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda, Florida.

Bittman Bread by Mark Bittman

Last winter I decided I wanted to learn to bake bread…then I learned that Mark Bittman was writing a bread cookbook and decided to wait, which was a fantastic decision. Bittman Bread is everything I need in a bread cookbook—clear instructions, plenty of pictures, and a method that seems almost fail-proof. Bittman and co-author Kerri Conan have crafted the perfect recipe for a no-knead loaf that makes whole grains the star of the show and leaves you with a sourdough starter for your next loaf. Going beyond their basic loaf, the pair explore a variety of bread variations as well as recipes to level up the bread-baking game: focaccia, baguettes, desserts, and more. And excellent guide for beginners or more advanced bakers looking for a proven method of quick baking, Bittman Bread is a must-read cookbook that comes just in time for winter baking and holiday gift giving!

Bittman Bread by Mark Bittman, (List Price: $35.00, Mariner Books, 9780358539339, 2021-11-09)

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

This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron

Briseis is out of the school for the summer. Her moms want her to have fun, but all she wants to do is work with the plants at their family flower shop in Brooklyn. See, Briseis has the ability to make things grow rapidly and from the smallest of plant parts. But when they get word that her biological aunt has died (Briseis is adopted) and has left her a vast estate, they head up to check it out. But not everything is as it seems. This quirky story has a little bit of everything: a secret garden, magic, immortality, Greek mythology… And that’s barely scratching the surface!

This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron, (List Price: 18.99, Bloomsbury YA, 9781547603909, 2021-06-29)

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia

The Way She Feels by Courtney Cook

Cook shares her journey with Borderline Personality Disorder and how it affects her life in a funny and heartbreaking graphic novel memoir. She talks about the symptoms and diagnosis in a way that feels so sincere and touching, I had to find and follow her on social media. You will feel for her and root for her, while learning about a disorder that most people “grow out of” as they get into adulthood. This is a beautiful read to understand people that aren’t exatly like ourselves.

The Way She Feels by Courtney Cook, (List Price: 18.95, Tin House Books, 9781951142599, 2021-06-29)

Reviewed by Andrea Richardson, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak

The Island of Missing Trees is a beautiful, sweeping tale of enduring love, grief, and the ways in which we move forward from intergenerational traumas. Split between a cold London winter and the midst of the Cypriot civil war of 1974 and narrated by a fig tree, the story aches with a love for the natural world, giving voice to the voiceless. Its quiet profundity opens a world beyond borders and human conflicts, a world where truths are uncovered and healing is possible.

The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak, (List Price: $27.00, Bloomsbury Publishing, 9781635578591, October 2021)

Reviewed by Hannah DeCamp, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers

The robot Mosscap is the first to return from from the wilds to ask the question, “What do humans want?” The tea monk, despite their vocation of helping others by listening to problems while serving tea, feels unqualified to answer – and unmoored in their own life. This novella is an inspiring meditation on purpose and meaning set in an interesting world with a great first-contact frame.

A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers, (List Price: 20.99, Tordotcom, 9781250236210, 2021-07-13)

Reviewed by Ginger Kautz, Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, North Carolina

Cat Dog by Mem Fox & Mark Teague

A delightfully silly picture book highlighting the differences between cats and dogs, Cat Dog follows a cat who is busy chasing a mouse around the house, while the dog…stays asleep all afternoon. A quirky, entertaining book for all cat and dog lovers.

Cat Dog by Mem Fox, (List Price: 17.99, Beach Lane Books, 9781416986881, October 2021)

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

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows by John Koenig

A hug of a book. Koenig pulled me in with the idea of new words, but I kept reading because this book is more about assigning new words to feelings. It’s about how we are not alone in our feelings or alone in the world. By the end you realize you’ve read a philosophical book on living and all that includes. Very encouraging and needed in this time.

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows by John Koenig, (List Price: $19.99, Simon & Schuster, 9781501153648, November 2021)

Reviewed by Tanya Corbella, Midtown Reader in Tallahassee, Florida


Still Life by Sarah Winman

Sarah Winman’s Still Life is the balm needed to medicate against the last year and a half of the global pandemic. Set in post-WWII London and Florence, Winman creates a lush world full of tangible characters who break your heart in all the best ways. It begins with a chance encounter on a small country road in war-torn Tuscany. There, Ulysses Temper, an idealistic twenty-something English soldier, and Evelyn Skinner, a sextagenarian art historian meet and share an adventurous evening celebrating wine, art, and newfound friendships. The two diverge and set course upon two parallel paths that spiral inward and outward along a trajectory that is never truly separate. During the course of forty years, Winman manages to enliven both post-war London and Florence and captures their resilience and specific beauties with rapturous prose. Within each city, there is suffering, there is collapse, there is pain, there is poverty. But, life goes on, and so do the powerful humans who occupy these spaces. The people are real, you know them and you feel their pain and suffering, joy, and happiness. You root for them and you cry with them. This is a book about chance encounters, magical evenings around Italian tablesides, changing societies, found family, chances taken and missed, grief, forgiveness, and the profoundly sacred space of human connection. Still Life reminds us that, after a year of isolation, we both owe it to ourselves to allow others in from time to time.


Still Life by Sarah Winman, (List Price: $27, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 9780593330753, November 2021)

Joce Mallin, M. Judson Booksellers and Storytellers in Greenville, South Carolina


His Name was Death by Rafael Bernal

How do mosquitoes communicate? What does their society look like– and how would they view ours? “Wise Owl,” thus dubbed by the indigenous tribe he lives with in the Mexican jungle, is a misanthrope disgusted with society at large. When he figures out the language of the mosquitoes, Mosquil, Wise Owl hatches a plan to take ultimate revenge on human civilization. Heavy themes of faith, modernity, free will, and meaning are filtered through an ecological sci-fi sieve. Vonnegut’s Galapagos meets the Island of Dr. Moreau, with even more merited cynicism.


His Name was Death by Rafael Bernal, (List Price: $15.95, New Directions, 9780811230834, November 2021)

Conor Hultman, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi


Seven Dirty Secrets by Natalie D. Richards

This is a great, tight little YA mystery! information is revealed slowly but not too slowly, so you’re drawn into the plot and want the characters to solve the puzzles. The “ticking clock” mechanic is never exactly explained, but it gives the story a sense of urgency that makes it feel more intense than your average scavenger hunt. It touches on sensitive topics (such as domestic violence and parental abuse) but I think the author does a good job of pulling the question of “what would you do for your brother?” all the way through the story. Totally unexpected twist ending, which wasn’t really set up but was entertaining nonetheless!


Seven Dirty Secrets by Natalie D. Richards, (List Price: $10.99, Sourcebooks Fire, 9781728215785, November 2021)

Kate Wilder, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia


Bok’s Giant Leap by Neil Armstrong

Astronaut Neil Armstrong has written a beautiful story about the creation of the Moon and the Earth as told from the perspective of Bok, a very special moon rock. A combination of science, history, Armstrong’s personal story, and vivid, movie-like illustrations, Bok’s Giant Leap will inspire another generation of young readers to dream of the moon!


Bok’s Giant Leap by Neil Armstrong, (List Price: $17.99, Crown Books for Young Readers, 9780593378861, November 2021)

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


The Stranger in the Lifeboat by Mitch Albom

Wow. I loved this book. This is my first time reading something by Mitch Albom, though I’ve shelved him more times than I can count over the years. I initially picked up this because I loved the size. But within three sentences I was fully hooked. What was intended to be a 2 hour beach visit turned into a 5 hour beach stay and I didn’t pack enough sun screen so I got a little burnt. Thanks Mitch. This book is an interesting mixture of lite religious philosophy and thriller novel? Thriller is the wrong word but you cannot put the book down because you have to understand. For anyone who grew up religious and has moved away this will be a compelling book that speaks to longing that many humans have for a god. It will also leave you thinking about the nature of that god for many many weeks after you read it… Ugh. What a great book. I can’t wait to make people read it!


The Stranger in the Lifeboat by Mitch Albom, (List Price: 23.99, Harper, 9780062888341, November 2021)

Reviewed by Annie Childress, E. Shaver bookseller in Savannah, Georgia


The Searcher by Tana French

The Searcher is not a typical Tana French novel. It is a beautifully written literary look at rural Ireland and its people from the eyes of a newly divorced and newly retired and burned-out Chicago police officer. Cal Hooper is the star of this novel as is Ireland itself. Cal really doesn’t want anything more to do with police work but when a young boy asks his help in finding his missing brother Cal can’t refuse. Cal soon finds that small villages often have secrets they want to stay secret and most of all they don’t want any interference in their lives – especially outside interference. This is not a thriller; it isn’t even what I consider a true mystery, but it is a wonderful story about relationships and friendship and the life of villagers in rural Ireland.



The Searcher by Tana French, (List Price: 18, Penguin Books, 9780735224674, November 2021)


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


The Interim by Wolfgang Hilbig

Our “hero” takes us on many liquor-fueled Mobius Teacup Rides between East and West Germany, keeping the limbo bench warm on the sidelines of love and lust, looking for someone, something, or some country to blame for his writer’s block, impotence, and irresponsibility. Told in such a comedic, controlled scatter to keep the reader comfortably teetered on a seat’s edge, if sitting’s a thing said reader’s into.

The Interim by Wolfgang Hilbig, (List Price: 22.95, Two Lines Press, 9781949641233, November 2021)


Reviewed by Ian McCord, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia


Trust by Domenico Starnone

This beautifully translated book, written by Domenico Starnon, picks up after a tumultuous love affair between Teresa and Pietro comes to an abrupt end. Just before their breakup, Teresa gets the idea for them to share their deepest secret, something that could ruin their life if exposed. Their love peacefully ends a few days later. Pietro quickly finds a wife whom he finds extremely different from his past flame. As he gains success as a writer, teacher, and politician, he also has to live with the conflicting fear that at any moment, his life could end if Teresa shared his secret. Pietro will forever and privately be attached to both the person he was with Teresa and Teresa herself. It’s a poignant novel about love and the lengths someone will go to uphold a public persona that contradicts views of one’s own self. I love it, and I think lovers of trauma-bond romance novels should run to order this!


Trust by Domenico Starnone, (List Price: $17, Europa Editions, 9781609457037, October 2021)

Viana Martinez, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia


The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys: California (Deluxe Edition) by Gerard Way

Already being a fan of Way’s work, I very much appreciated his post-apocalyptic masterpiece being compiled into one definitive collection. With afterwords by the creators and a whole lot of concept art included, the deluxe edition is perfect for those who would like to find a deeper connection to this fast-paced story.


The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys: California (Deluxe Edition) by Gerard Way, (List Price: $79.99, Dark Horse Books, 9781506725994, October 2021)

Deion Cooper, Foggy Pine Books in Boone, North Carolina


The Hush by Sara Foster

A horrible tragedy is affecting pregnant women. . perfectly healthy babies are being born but never take a breath. The people of England are finally returning to normal after years of dealing with Covid so when the government starts issuing more and more laws restricting people’s movements in the name of safety most are so used to it from covid that they just blindly obey. And then pregnant teenagers start disappearing. Three generations of strong women and their friends are the driving force behind this amazing work of futuristic fiction which is made infinitely scarier by the realization that everything in the book could already be happening.

The Hush by Sara Foster, (List Price: 26.99, Blackstone, 9781665106856, November 2021)

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


Amos McGee Misses the Bus by Philip C. Stead

I loved the first Amos McGee so much, and admired his clockwork schedule. In this return to Amos’s animal-filled world, though, the schedule goes awry when he stays up late planning a surprise outing and misses his morning bus to work. In the Steads’ gentle, compassionate (and lightly humorous) trademark style, Amos’s friends help him rest and reset, creating a day full of nice surprises. This lovable, heartwarming sequel is just as pitch-perfect as the first.

Amos McGee Misses the Bus by Philip C. Stead, (List Price: $18.99, Roaring Brook Press, 9781250213228, November 2021)

Reviewed by Hannah DeCamp, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia


Smile by Sarah Ruhl

When she is struck with Bell’s palsy after giving birth to twins and suffers from complete paralysis of the left side of her face, Sarah Ruhl realizes the importance of a smile…and the struggle to convey emotions without one. Being a playwright, she recounts her 10-year experience with this mysterious condition through beautiful words, drawing on art and literature to help make sense of her condition. Through unflagging support from her husband and many years of trying a myriad of therapies/treatments, she perseveres through this oftentimes depressing and frustrating condition and offers her readers a raw, emotional look into her story.

Smile by Sarah Ruhl, (List Price: $27, Simon & Schuster, 9781982150945, October, 2021)

Reviewed by Mary Patterson, The Little Bookshop in Midlothian, Virginia

Tink and Wendy by Kelly Ann Jacobson

I love retellings of classic stories, and Tink and Wendy fits the bill to a “T”. A modern tale that completely reinvents the characters, “Tink and Wendy” is both beautiful and heartbreaking all in one. Love is never easy, especially when magic and immortality are at play, and the implied brutality throughout the book makes that clear. Nothing is ever terribly graphic, but it might be enough to make you shiver or cringe anyway. The writing style, split between time periods and perspectives, adds context without confusion. The additional of queerness into any story automatically makes it better (in my opinion), and I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I would recommend it!


Tink and Wendy by Kelly Ann Jacobson, (List Price: $14, Three Rooms Press, 9781953103130, October 2021)

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


Passport by Sophia Glock

As though growing up wasn’t tough enough on its own. Let’s add a sink-or-swim Spanish immersion school that you transfer to years after your classmates start learning Spanish, even if your parents yank you out after their great experiment (you) fails. Add constantly moving house from country to country, AND your parents don’t even tell you what it is they do (because it’s <redacted>). This memoir told in graphic novel is for young people looking for their people, trying to avoid the watchful eye of their parents, and trying to (depending on the sibs) live up to or escape the shadow of the older sibs. Oh and maybe get a first kiss out of the deal. The art conveys much depth to an already affecting story, particularly in the opening chapters where the sense of place is established.

Passport by Sophia Glock, (List Price: 17.99, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780316459006, November 2021)

Reviewed by Lisa Yee Swope, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina


Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

Whether you come to this book for the author, the cover, or the reviews, you will stay for the beautiful storytelling as Anthony Doerr weaves together the stories of three very different time periods and characters. Konstance (on an interstellar futuristic ship), Anna and Omeir (in 1453 Constantinople), and Seymour (in present-day Idaho) are very different, but they are all connected by one ancient story. In his usual gorgeous wording, Doerr makes you fall in love with the characters, and you will not want to put this book down. The character development is nothing short of genius, and the story is full of history, heart, and heroism!

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr, (List Price: $30, Scribner, 9781982168438, September 2021)

Reviewed by Mary Patterson, The Little Bookshop in Midlothian, Virginia


The Perishing by Natashia Deón

From the first page, Natasha Deón is successful in hooking her audience to the strange and unique journey of Lou. Upon waking up naked in an alley, Lou is confused but feels as if this is not the first time this has happened. With no memory, Lou is placed into a foster home where she flourishes and eventually goes on to grow on her own as an adult. From start to finish, this book has readers on the edge of their seat trying to piece together the information they are receiving from both narrators – Lou and Sarah. Extremely compelling, thought-provoking , and deep, Deón has created a masterpiece of a story.

The Perishing by Natashia Deón, (List Price: $26, Counterpoint, 9781640093027, November 2021)

Reviewed by Stephanie Carrion, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida


The Shadow Prince by David Anthony Durham

I thoroughly enjoyed reading every chapter of this book! All the Egyptian gods were fun to read about, and their personalities were unique! And the characters were fun and engaging! It was also brilliant to keep all the villains alive, meaning a hopeful sequel? I will be one of the first in line when the author makes the 2nd book!

The Shadow Prince by David Anthony Durham, (List Price: $21.95, Tu Books, 9781643794280, October 2021)

Reviewed by Mandolin Moore, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia


Girly Drinks by Mallory O’Meara

What an absolute blast of a book! I love these sort of scientific/sociological looks at oft-overlooked parts of everyday life, and Girly Drinks fits the bill perfectly! The author succinctly and hilariously tells the story of how women were originally in charge of the production and distribution of alcohol. She then details how women lost that power and social cache, and ends the book on a hopeful note about modern women who are making big strides towards equality in the new era. I learned about so many interesting, powerful, influential women that I had never heard of before, but I wish I had! I also really appreciated the author’s use of correct terminology – namely, distinguishing biological sex from gender. She takes the time to specifically say that she is referencing cisgender or AFAB (assigned female at birth) women, and even mentions the contributions of trans women! I would highly recommend Girly Drinks to anyone who’s ever been even a little bit interested in the history of alcohol or the gendered constructs surrounding it. Fantastic!

Girly Drinks by Mallory O’Meara, (List Price: $27.99, Hanover Square Press, 9781335282408, October 2021)

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


Shelf Life by Nadia Wassef

Blame it on naivete or my newbie bookseller status, but I did not realize that, culturally, bookselling can vary drastically from country to country, but it can and it does, and thanks to Nadia Wassef, we get to hear first hand how three women got a wildly successful independent bookstore off the ground in Cairo, Egypt, when societal norms suggested that women weren’t meant to open small businesses. A remarkable story!

Shelf Life by Nadia Wassef, (List Price: $27, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 9780374600181, October 2021)

Reviewed by Jill Naylor, Novel. in Memphis, Tennessee


Last Girl Ghosted by Lisa Unger

WOWZA! Was not expecting this! This fast paced thriller will leave you stunned. When Wren falls hard for a man she met through a dating site she is heartbroken when he ghosts her. Was it because she showed her soul? Never read a story quite like this. Can see as a movie. Don’t read alone.

Last Girl Ghosted by Lisa Unger, (List Price: $27.99, Park Row, 9780778311041, October 2021)

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


Do You Speak Fish? by DJ Corchin

What do you do when no one will talk to you? When a young man wants to talk to the bee he gets mad because the bee won’t talk back. The bee chases him. He continues on to the lion who also won’t say hello. He gets mad again. Why is everyone so rude. The tree isn’t rude. The tree says hello and teaches the boy how to talk to new friends in their own language. Soon they are all sharing stories and bringing joy to each other. Great lessons.

Do You Speak Fish? by DJ Corchin, (List Price: $17.99, Sourcebooks Explore, 9781728219226, October 2021)

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


Strange Folk You’ll Never Meet by A.A. Balaskovits

Strange folk populate these dark tales, fevered nightmares, and twisted fairytales. Readers beware, things most definitely go bump in the night here, and sometimes they bite. Lots of body horror and lots of gore, but if you like your stories fairly bloody, this book is for you!

Strange Folk You’ll Never Meet by A.A. Balaskovits, (List Price: $14.95, Santa Fe Writer’s Project, October 9781951631130)

Reviewed by Kate Towery, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia


Bluebird by Sharon Cameron

This provides rare insight into the life of a young German woman before, during and after WWI. Eva left her life in Berlin and came to the US seeking to fiil in the gaps in her childhood and youth. In her quest, fraught with unknown dangers, secrets and lies, she pushes forward to dispel the myths and face the horrors that she was unaware of in her past. A riveting story that reminds us of the cruel depravity that humans are capable of, and society’s responsibility to hold them accountable.

Bluebird by Sharon Cameron, (List Price: $18.99, Scholastic Press, 9781338355963, October 2021)

Reviewed by Belinda Hayes, Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, North Carolina


A Holly Jolly Diwali by Sonya Lalli

When she was unexpectedly laid off from her job, the last thing Niki expected was to take a last-minute trip to India for her best friend’s wedding. She finds herself exploring life without obligations for the first time in her life, which works perfectly until she realizes she’s fallen for Sam, a London musician also in town for the same wedding. But as the trip comes to a close, Nikki finds herself realizing Sam may not want the same thing. I love a holiday romance and really like that Lalli shared Nikki’s Diwali journey with us!

A Holly Jolly Diwali by Sonya Lalli, (List Price: $17, Berkley, 9780593100950, October 2021)

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


Sing Like No One’s Listening by Vanessa Jones

Sing Like No One’s Listening is a unique story with intriguing characters that will keep you interested until the end. Nettie Delaney is accepted into a prestigious school for the performing arts. The only obstacle on her way to success is that she has not been able to sing in public since her mother’s death. Nettie must overcome her grief and other challenges in order to find her voice again.

Sing Like No One’s Listening by Vanessa Jones, (List Price: $10.99, Peachtree Publishing Company, 9781682633311, October 2021)

Reviewed by Lady Smith, The Snail on the Wall in Huntsville, Alabama


When We Cease to Understand the World by Benjamin Labatut

In this fascinating blend of essay and fiction, Labatut explores the nature of scientific discovery and the consequences of coming face to face with what we cannot understand. While there was quite a bit that I didn’t understand (quantum mechanics!!) I was fascinated and transfixed. Labatut’s prose is mesmerizing and I cannot wait to see what he does next.

When We Cease to Understand the World by Benjamin Labatut, (List Price: $17.95, New York Review Books, 9781681375663, September 2021)

Reviewed by Gaël LeLamer, Books & Books in Coral Gables, Florida


All of the Marvels by Douglas Wolk

Review courtesy of my husband, Tim! In this book, Douglas Wolk does something very few would attempt, much less complete: read literally all the marvels. At the beginning, the book seems to be presented as a tour that recaps the last 60 years and a way for new readers to jump in. I don’t think it worked. I think you need to be pretty well versed with at least the characters if not the events to enjoy this tour. But as an insightful look at the various neighborhoods of the marvelverse, it is brilliant! It provides some history for sure, but Wolk finds the heart of what makes each team, family, and character work in storytelling. The only downsides to me were the sometimes incomprehensible jumping around the timeline. Not unlike some marvel stories. And the lack of pictures to go along with his description of the artwork.

All of the Marvels by Douglas Wolk, (List Price: 28, Penguin Press, 9780735222168, October 2021)

Reviewed by Melissa Taylor, E. Shaver, bookseller in Savannah, Georgia


Any Sign of Life by Rae Carson

Paige expects to wake up to her parents, younger brother, best friend, and a promising future in basketball. What she doesn’t expect is for that future to be seized from her, as her loved ones, and every other human on Earth for that matter, have mysteriously perished. This is an exhilarating and unpredictable survival story, realistic with an intriguing sci-fi supplement. There are moments of action, moments of sadness, and moments of banter, all brought to life by Carson’s descriptive writing style and genuine characters. I would highly recommend!

Any Sign of Life by Rae Carson, (List Price: $17.99, Greenwillow Books, 9780062691934, October 2021)

Reviewed by Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina


Jade Fire Gold by June CL Tan

Jade Fire Gold is debut novel from June CL Tan and what a debut it is! Described as a dark romance, I found it to be so much more. I fell in love with Ahn and Alton from the start, and the PINING and ANGST was top tier between the battling and the magic. This is perfect for everyone who miss Avatar the last airbender or other East Asian inspired stories, and will certainly fill in that gap. There’s lots of nice LGBT representation too, no “bury your gays” here, thank goodness! And I’m eagerly awaiting the next installment!

Jade Fire Gold by June CL Tan, (List Price: $17.99, HarperTeen, 9780063056367, October 2021)

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


On Animals by Susan Orlean

On Animals is absolutely hilarious at times and a little heartbreaking at times, but it is mainly filled with love for animals of all kinds. It’s a collection of several of Orlean’s articles that were written for The New Yorker and Smithsonian magazine over the last few decades. She covers backyard chickens, racing pigeons, Moroccan donkeys, and even a real-life Lion Whisperer. If you enjoy animals and conservation, you’ll highly enjoy this love letter to the natural world.

On Animals by Susan Orlean, (List Price: $28, Avid Reader Press, Simon & Schuster, 9781982181536, October 2021)

Reviewed by Stuart McCommon, Novel. in Memphis, Tennessee


The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki

Ruth Ozeki uses her unique style of magical realism to elevate this immersive tale of the chaotic life of a teen-aged boy who has lost his father, and the boy’s hoarder mother, who is also struggling to deal with the boy’s apparent mental illness. This book, which is about the transcendent power of books, has many chapters that are narrated… by a book. You’ll also find talking scissors and a nine-story public library in this novel that deals with serious topics in a charming and redemptive way.

The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki, (List Price: 30, Viking, 9780399563645, September 2021)

Reviewed by Anne Peck, Righton Books in St Simons Island, Georgia

Lean Fall Stand by Jon Mcgregor

Doc Wright leads expeditions to Antarctica. It’s been a hard adjustment for his wife and children to be gone for many months at a time but they’ve had 30 years or more to adjust to someone who is just not ever really around. When his current expedition encounters a sudden storm, he struggles to radio for help and is injured. Wright wakes up in the hospital with jumbled memories and unable to communicate. As he begins a difficult convalescence, his wife and children must help with his caregiving, a role not eagerly embraced by any of them. This is a great read and highly recommended!

Lean Fall Stand by Jon Mcgregor, (List Price: 26, Catapult, 9781646220991, September 2021)

Reviewed by Mary Patterson, The Little Bookshop in Midlothian, Virginia

My Darling from the Lions by Rachel Long

These poems were enchanting and brilliant, forcing you to think and interact with the stories being told. Once you sit down with this book, you won’t be able to get back up until you’ve closed it and long after, too consumed with every single word. Carefully crafted, and perfectly balanced, this book of poetry is perfect for newcomers to poetry, or those well versed in it.

My Darling from the Lions by Rachel Long, (List Price: 16.95, Tin House Books, 9781951142711, September 2021)

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

Mennonite Valley Girl by Carla Funk

After reading the very first page, I knew I’d love this book. Funk’s language is poetic, and the humor is soft and subtle. I braced myself for trauma, but was so delighted to find the interior life of a young girl who wants more out of life than what she sees around her. Universal, old as time, yet fresh and gripping. I saw myself in every page.

Mennonite Valley Girl by Carla Funk, (List Price: 27.95, Greystone Books, 9781771645157, September 2021)

Reviewed by Sissy Gardner, Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee

Dare to Know by James Kennedy

Dare to Know starts with a fascinating sci-fi speculation: what if science could pinpoint the exact date and time of your death? That’s an intriguing proposal; however, this novel isn’t satisfied by simply exploring this question. What could have been a societal sci-fi story turns into something else entirely—a personal and riveting horror story full of terrors like sagging careers and failed relationships, oddly specific Gen X fears (bearded 1970s hippies and Don Henley songs), and universal horrors like death and the end of the world. This novel was frightening and smart and it made me think.

Dare to Know by James Kennedy, (List Price: 22.99, Quirk Books, 9781683692607, September 2021)

Reviewed by Lady Smith, The Snail on the Wall in Huntsville, Alabama

Beautifully Me by Nabela Noor

Zubi is thrilled for her first day at school–until she hears her parents and sister talking about diets and their own negative body image. Should Zubi be ashamed of herself too? In the end, Zubi realizes that only YOU get to define what is beautiful and you are fabulous just the way you are. This book is a perfect way to talk to kids about body image, self-love, and how everyone is different and that’s a good thing!

Beautifully Me by Nabela Noor, (List Price: 17.99, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 9781534485877, September 2021)

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

Circle Under Berry by Carter Higgins

A square or a frog? orange or an oval? The way things seem really is all about perception. For fans of Brendan Wenzel’s They All Saw A Cat comes this fun new story of perspective that will have young readers laughing and thinking and saying ” Again! AGAIN!”

Circle Under Berry by Carter Higgins, (List Price: 15.99, Chronicle Books, 9781797205083, September 2021)

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

The Icepick Surgeon by Sam Kean

This is an absolutely fascinating, if sometimes harrowing, look into the history of science. Fans of Mary Roach will appreciate the unflinching look at the sometimes devastating human cost of scientific progress. The author raises several interesting questions about the use or validity of poorly performed scientific experiments. Particularly, Kean questions whether the knowledge gained from unethical experimentation is valid and what we should do with this information moving forward. I particularly enjoyed his focus on how these actions have affected marginalized communities. I also appreciated his repeated entreaties that we cannot simply wag our fingers at the mistakes of the past and pretend we are blameless and more morally pure than those who came before us. We must constantly remain vigilant and ensure that we are mindful of the ethical and long-term consequences of our actions in the present, lest we repeat our sins in the name of scientific progress.

The Icepick Surgeon by Sam Kean, (List Price: $40, Little, Brown & Company, 9780316496506, August 2021)

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

Awake by Harald Voetmann

Awake is a collage of excerpts from Pliny the Elder’s Naturalis Historia, perhaps the oldest surviving encyclopedia, intercut with interior monologues from Pliny, as well as asides from his nephew, Pliny the Younger. Our narrator, of course, is most famous now for having died at the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, which the younger Pliny also witnessed. Yet this climactic scene is relegated to a post-script; what draws the most attention, justly, are memories and recreations of ancient Roman life, which of course deal with all the bigger themes of knowledge and meaning and life, fitting for a classic work. Who thought that a narrative styled after an encyclopedia would be this deeply involving?

Awake by Harald Voetmann, (List Price: 14.95, New Directions, 9780811230810, September 2021)

Reviewed by Conor Hultman, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

Your Life Has Been Delayed by Michelle I. Mason

One minute Jenny is on a flight in 1995, the next she’s disembarking a plane in the year 2020 to find that everybody she knew is now 25 years older. In a world dominated by technology and social media, Jenny becomes the focus of unwanted attention from FBI investigators, the media, and a growing number of conspiracy theorists. Your Life Has Been Delayed is a thought-provoking examination of how time affects us all and the things that stay constant in life.

Your Life Has Been Delayed by Michelle I. Mason, (List Price: 17.99, Bloomsbury YA, 9781547604081, September 2021)

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

The Pick-Up by Miranda Kenneally

Mari is visiting Chicago for Lollapalooza, a chance to see her favorite singer, hang out with her stepsister and see her Dad. Mari is struggling with personal issues- things are rough at home with her mom, her relationship with her best friend is strained, and she is still dealing with resentment towards her father for ditching her and her mom to go live his best life. And she really, really doesn’t want to date and fall in love. But then a Ride Share brings her T.J. Here’s why I love the title of the book: The Pick-Up is definitely referencing the Uber app, but T.J.’s brother Tyler kind of also comes across as a Pick-Up Artist coach to his little bro. Thankfully, T.J. is too pure. He’s like a sexy cinnamon roll. Mari and T.J. have immediate chemistry, but Mari is wary (hehe)- they’re both from out of state, she’s not looking for a boyfriend, her dad cheated on her mom, and then her mom went off the deep end. Sometimes things are destined, and sometimes you have to make things happen. Absolute love for this book!

The Pick-Up by Miranda Kenneally, (List Price: 10.99, Sourcebooks Fire, 9781492684169, September 2021)

Reviewed by Kate Towery, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Idol Gossip by Alexandra Leigh Young

What would you do if you were recruited to be a kpop idol? When Alice Choy moves from San Francisco to Seoul, she gives up her private studies in music and singing lessons in hopes that she’ll be able to finish school like any other seventeen-year-old. But when she’s scouted at a karaoke bar, her life changes in an instant. Alice is swiftly introduced to a world she’s always wanted to explore in the k-pop industry. But, being an idol doesn’t only entail fame or musical prowess–it also comes with jealousy, scandal, and gossip, all on top of the challenges of training in order to be the best performer possible. This was such a fun read and the perfect book for any k-pop fan.

Idol Gossip by Alexandra Leigh Young, (List Price: 18.99, Walker Books US, 9781536213645, 2021-09-14)

Reviewed by Cat Chapman, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

Assembly by Natasha Brown

This book is an excellent “gateway” for readers of all kinds to learn about the subtle nuances of being a person of color. From microaggressions to being called out because of race, the main character sees at all and is trying to make a name for herself. On the surface, this short book is about a woman meeting her boyfriend’s parents, but the story dives much deeper and examines differences in race, wealth, and status. Throughout the book, I felt myself questioning how I have been racist without meaning to and ways in which people have done the same to me. This quick read will stay with me for a long time and make me examine my interactions that much closer, with an eye towards empathy and understanding.

Assembly by Natasha Brown, (List Price: $23.00, Little, Brown and Company, 9780316268264, September 2021)

Reviewed by Josie Greenwald, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna by Alda P. Dobbs

I read this Fourth of July weekend which was the perfect book to give me a different perspective on what America means to a family fleeing a war-torn country in search of a better life. Dobbs’ great-grandmother inspired this heart-wrenching, incredible story of 12 yo Petra Luna’s “barefoot dreams” of learning to read and write and protecting her family. I loved the earnest determination and bravery of Petra, her closeness with her 2 younger siblings, and how her abuelita taught her to listen to the natural world to survive the harsh desert conditions to make their way to the U.S. border. It was such a beautiful mix of mythology and holding tight to dreams. The war brutality was presented realistically–the danger wasn’t glossed over, but instead presented in a child-thoughtful way. I learned so much about a time in history that I didn’t know much about. My 10-year-old daughter and I highly recommend!

Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna by Alda P. Dobbs, (List Price: 17.99, Sourcebooks Young Readers, 9781728234656, September 2021)

Reviewed by Candice Conner, The Haunted Book Shop in Mobile, Alabama

Three Girls from Bronzeville by Dawn Turner

This beautifully written memoir features the intertwined lives of the author, her sister and childhood friend. Written in fresh, understated prose, the author explores how their lives diverge – in ways heartbreaking and hopeful, despairing and redemptive. Three Girls is one of the best books I’ve read this year and I hope it gets the attention and awards it deserves.

Three Girls from Bronzeville by Dawn Turner, (List Price: 26.99, Simon & Schuster, 9781982107703, September 2021)

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

Treasure in the Lake by Jason Pamment

Iris and Sam are best friends, but where Sam is content to remain in their small town of Bugden, Iris dreams of traveling for far-flung adventure. But one day the lake runs dry and they discover an abandoned town that had been hidden there. There they find themselves on an adventure they never expected and learn the importance of home. This is a delightful story for any kid who has dreamed of traveling to dig for treasure or setting sail for adventure, and a reminder that some of the best adventures can happen right in your backyard.

Treasure in the Lake by Jason Pamment, (List Price: 12.99, HarperAlley, 9780063065178, September 2021)

Reviewed by Faith Parke-Dodge, Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, North Carolina

The War for Gloria by Atticus Lish

The War For Gloria is a haunting follow-up to Lish’s last award-winning novel. Set in the Boston area, Corey is in high school when his mother is diagnosed with ALS. As he struggles to cope and take care of his mother Gloria, his previously absent father comes back into their lives and upends everything. Corey initially admires his father’s intellect and seeks a connection with him through his mother’s situation. It doesn’t take long for Corey to realize his father is a leech that is absent of empathy and any kind of emotional connection. Corey goes through several stages of growth throughout the novel and he fights (quite literally) for his mother & his sanity… as he’s also fighting an internal war on how to best become a man. Every character’s actions in this story leads to a consequence. Even the most minor of things that they say or do come back to haunt them in some way, shape, or form. I was stuck processing everything about it by the end… and though this book is traumatic at times, it’s a hell of a story.

The War for Gloria by Atticus Lish, (List Price: 28, Knopf, 9781524732325, September 2021)

Reviewed by Stuart McCommon, novel. in Memphis, Tennessee

Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead

Well, that was perfect! Whitehead’s character work here is just beyond. A few short sentences and the whole of a person is made clear. There are lines and phrases that are now etched on my brain! Including “Carney was only slightly bent when it came to being crooked.” (which the pub clearly loves too because they quote this everywhere). I would typically expect a noir novel to be significantly shorter, but I enjoyed every moment I spent with Harlem Shuffle.

Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead, (List Price: 28.95, Doubleday, 9780385545136, September 2021)

Reviewed by Michelle Cavalier, Cavalier House Books in Denham Springs, Louisiana

Field Study by Chet’la Sebree

I love anything that blurs genre lines, so I loved the way this book is an experiment of blending poetry and prose, memoir and fiction. There’s a dash of collective storytelling here, too, in the way the author brings in the words of Black feminist poets and writers. A beautiful and earnest exploration of relationships, love, and desire.

Field Study by Chet’la Sebree, (List Price: 16, FSG Originals, 9780374539023, June 2021)

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

Hao by Ye Chun

Each story in Hao pulses with life—with all its pain and beauty—and the power of language to transform it. They all, in a way, revolve around Chinese women past and present and their entanglements with motherhood, migration, and trauma. Ye’s prose is searingly honest, paying close attention to those tiny gaps in relationships where loneliness and love reside, and the ways in which we try to bridge those gulfs with communication. Both meditative and fierce, these stories will hold your heart long after you close the book.

Hao by Ye Chun, (List Price: 26, Catapult, 9781646220601, September 2021)

Reviewed by Hannah DeCamp, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

The Woods Are Always Watching by Stephanie Perkins

I always knew I was more a glamper than a camper, but with The Woods Are Always Watching, I think I’ll go from hiker to mall walker. The first half of the book is filled with the tension and horror of a friendship falling apart as two besties find themselves on opposite paths post-high school. Friends really know how to hurt you the most…Well, maybe not the most. Because the second half of the book is a furious fight for survival as the girls encounter the most evil threat that lurks deep in the woods. No, not bears, but a serial killer. Plan to read this horror novel during the daytime, preferably on a beach and far away from any woods!

The Woods Are Always Watching by Stephanie Perkins, (List Price: 17.99, Dutton Books for Young Readers, 9780525426028, August 2021)

Reviewed by Kate Towery, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Cat & Cat Adventures: The Quest for Snacks by Susie Yi

If my kids were cats and had access to magic they would be Squash and Ginny. We read this cute little graphic novel over a few sittings and they absolutely loved it. The art style is bright and happy and the story is easy to follow while not being too simplistic.

Cat & Cat Adventures: The Quest for Snacks by Susie Yi, (List Price: 8.99, HarperAlley, 9780063083806, September 2021)

Reviewed by Faith Parke-Dodge, Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, North Carolina

Beautiful Country by Qian Julie Wang

Qian Julie Wang opens her heart and bares her soul in this striking memoir about an illegal Chinese immigrant family. Wang does a fine job describing the poverty and sweatshops of Chinatown, her parents’ fear of getting deported, and her determination to make something of herself in Mei Guo, America, the beautiful country. The poverty and prejudice her family faced as well as her parents’ marital difficulties created trauma that Wang today is still determined to break through.

Beautiful Country by Qian Julie Wang, (List Price: 28.95, Doubleday, 9780385547215, September 2021)

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

Wildwood Whispers by Willa Reece

Once I started this book I did not want any interruptions until I finished reading. The mysticism of Appalachia comes to life on the pages of the book. Mel is in the foster system and has learned all the pitfalls of the system, but cares for no one until Sarah arrives at her foster home. Sarah is otherworldly to Mel, she is kind, timid and becomes Mel’s family. They bond and escape terrible situations together, but Sarah always wants to return home to the Wildwood where she was born and raised. Mel would do anything for Sarah so she grants that wish and begins a journey with a cast of characters she could have never even imagined. I won’t go into detail here as the discoveries are best made when you read this touching and heart-grabbing book.

Wildwood Whispers by Willa Reece, (List Price: 28, Redhook, 9780316591768, August 2021)

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

In the Wild Light by Jeff Zentner

In the Wild Light is a beautiful tribute to family, friendship, and the natural world. Zentner handles all three subjects with a gentle hand, weaving magical sentences that left me thoughtful and tearful. This is Zentner at his absolute best.

In the Wild Light by Jeff Zentner, (List Price: 17.99, Crown Books for Young Readers, 9781524720247, August 2021)

Reviewed by Chelsea Stringfield, Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee

Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman

An absolutely incredible, insightful, and clear-eyed look at our limited time on this earth and the ways we use it. I’m not much one for self-help books but Burkeman weaves seamlessly weaves together wisdom from philosophy, spirituality, and science to make the argument that you’ll never have time to do “everything you want or need to” and life is more about choosing what to spend your four thousand weeks on Funny and brilliantly wise, Burkeman has fundamentally shifted the way I think about my to-do list, my aspirations, my “busyness”, my guilt for not doing the things I should have done, and my brief, brief time on this planet. I cannot recommend Four Thousand Weeks highly enough.

Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman, (List Price: 27, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 9780374159122, August 2021)

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

Boogie Boogie, Y’all by C. G. Esperanza

Art is all around us. In the sky, the trees, the faces of our neighbors, and also sometimes in the graffiti sprayed on buildings, trains, and streets. The art world was changed forever by graffiti artists Basquiat and others and graffiti artists were masters of appreciating the beauty and joy all around us. This original book is rhyme and poetry and beauty in motion and is the perfect family read-together.

Boogie Boogie, Y’all by C. G. Esperanza, (List Price: 18.99, Katherine Tegen Books, 9780062976222, August 2021)

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

The Show Girl by Nicola Harrison

OH how I loved this book. I am a (proud!!) member of the Slow Readers Club and when I devour a book as fast as I did The Show Girl, it’s a good sign. And this was a GREAT book. I loved City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert, and the minute I saw this cover & tagline I knew I had to read this book too. The Show Girl was phenomenal, and I had NO idea where it was going to go, which I liked. If I have one complaint, it would be that the tagline is a little misleading to what ultimately becomes the central conflict of the book. She ultimately knows what she wants in the decision of performing vs marriage to Archie (granted this ultimatum is a source of some conflict but in my opinion is not the ultimate breaking point), the issue becomes whether or not to tell him about something about her past that will affect their marriage and plans for the future. Now, granted, the tagline is what got me to read the book, so I understand why it is what it is, but it just felt a tad misleading. Outside of that, this book was the most wonderful trip to a New York on the cusp of the Great Depression, an exploration of the Broadway of Ziegfeld, a story full of rich imagery and stellar characters. And best of all, it has a real, true, genuine happy ending that wasn’t predictable. I loved it.

The Show Girl by Nicola Harrison, (List Price: 27.99, St. Martin’s Press, 9781250200150, August, 2021)

Reviewed by Olivia Gacka, Novel. in Memphis, Tennessee

Phantom Heart by Kelly Creagh

Oh my gosh, this was so much fun! If you’re a fan of Phantom of the Opera, you HAVE to read this modern spin on the classic tale. With references to everything from Ghost Adventures to Silence of the Lambs, this is an awesome read for fans of Phantom. Stephanie (this version’s Christine) is no wilting wallflower – she takes control of her own destiny, and Erik’s tragic tale is spun into an even more heartbreaking story. I could barely put this down to go to bed! Themes of romance that transcends time and space, the shattering of a soul, and love of family spread their fingers throughout this book, and it is beautiful. I loved it!

Phantom Heart by Kelly Creagh, (List Price: 19.99, Viking Books for Young Readers, 9780593116043, August 2021)

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

The Little Wooden Robot and the Log Princess by Tom Gauld

Count on me to fall in love with a quirky fairy tale any day of the week. But I mean, what in the world cannot be achieved by a girl who becomes a log when she’s asleep, her robot brother, a sweet family of beetles, and a clever witch? I adore this graphic novel-style picture book full of sibling love and weird vibes that manages to feel cozy-classic and totally brand new at once.

The Little Wooden Robot and the Log Princess by Tom Gauld, (List Price: 18.99, Neal Porter Books, 9780823446988, August 2021)

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

Lightning Strike by William Kent Krueger

Easily one of the best books I’ve read this year. Krueger effortlessly weaves lilting language, thought-provoking issues, and an extremely compelling mystery into a historical, small-town setting. A young boy follows in his father’s footsteps as he searches for “crumbs” to help solve a crime and discovers some much larger truths along the way. The characters are unforgettable, the story is suspenseful, and the writing is beautiful. Especially for readers who enjoy murder mysteries, coming of age stories, Native American stories, and well-written fiction. It is almost Southern Gothic, but maybe not quite dark or southern enough. Some of the theological threads remind me a bit of Marilynne Robinson as well.

Lightning Strike by William Kent Krueger, (List Price: 27, Atria Books, 9781982128685, August 2021)

Reviewed by Angela Rawls, The Snail on the Wall in Huntsville, Alabama

Names for Light by Thirii Myo Kyaw Myint

Names for Light is a beautiful book, astonishing and profound. Despite some of its heaviness — war, colonialism, racism, death — there is such openness and grace. Even in displacement — or perhaps through it — Myint creates a rich sense of all the places that help form the story of her family, however imperfectly. Almost like an elegant procession of prose poems, Names for Light is often at its most powerful when exploring these imperfections — the memories that cannot be reconstructed, the words that cannot be translated, the ghosts that cannot be conjured or dispelled. This book is an achievement and a gift.

Names for Light by Thirii Myo Kyaw Myint, (List Price: 16, Graywolf Press, 9781644450611, August