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The Southern Bookseller Review 1/24/23

The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of January 24, 2023

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The Southern Bookseller Review: A Book for Every Reader

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The week of January 24, 2023

Make a blind date with someone else’s favorite book!

Snail On the Wall Valentine Blind Date Book Exchange

The Southern Bookseller Review was created with the idea that an avid reader can always trust the recommendation of an independent bookseller. Avid readers themselves, indie booksellers are in the business of matchmaking books to readers. They believe there is a book out there for every kind of reader, and it is their happy lot in life to put the right book into the right hands.

The Snail on the Wall bookshop in Hunstville, Alabama has gone so far as to turn this…shall we say "calling"?…into a kind of love letter to their customers. They have just launched their Valentine Blind Date Book Exchange.

It’s a lovely idea. Readers are invited to purchase a (paperback) book they love on the store’s website, choosing "Blind Date Book Exchange" as the shipping method. They write a little note to go with the purchase that begins "I love this book because…"

It doesn’t have to be a brand new book, just a beloved one. The Snail will take your loved book, wrap it, and send it to someone who they believe will also love it. And in turn they will send you a book someone else loved, that they think you will like. Books are sent anonymously, so you’ll get a beautiful little Valentine’s gift along the happy confirmation that there are readers out there with tastes just as unique as yours.

Deadline to participate is February 4th!

Read This Now | Read This Next | The Bookseller Directory



Southern Book Prize Finalist!

What’s the best Southern book of the year?

Beyond Innocence : The Life Sentence of Darryl Hunt by Phoebe Zerwick

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Beyond Innocence : The Life Sentence of Darryl Hunt by Phoebe Zerwick
Atlantic Monthly Press / March 2022


More Reviews from Malaprops

Southern Book Prize Finalist

Once upon a time, a man was unjustly imprisoned. DNA and dogged work freed him after 19 years. He lived happily ever after. Sorry, that last part didn’t happen. Even with DNA evidence, he almost didn’t get exonerated. Beyond Innocence: The Life Sentence of Darryl Hunt details Hunt’s journey from teen to convicted killer, innocent freed man, and activist with many twists. But the saddest part is what happened to him after freedom, and how it illustrates the plight of most of the exonerated.

VOTE FOR THE SOUTHERN BOOK PRIZE

Reviewed by Rosemary Pugliese from Malaprop’s in Asheville, NC


Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies…

The Boy with a Bird in His Chest by Emme Lund

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The Boy with a Bird in His Chest by Emme Lund
Atria Books / January 2023


More Reviews from Copperfish Books

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

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



Bookseller Buzz

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Spotlight on: Georgie, All Along by Kate Clayborn

 

Kate Clayborn, photo credit Kate Clayborn

I have to be honest—I had a friend fic! It was a notebook I shared with two close friends during my first year of high school. We would write these stories to each other and pass the book back and forth. In Georgie, All Along, she and her best friend do the same, although their version of it is a little more focused than mine was—young Georgie and her best friend are very focused on imagining the perfect versions of their lives once they get to the new high school they’ll be attending. My friends and I, I’m embarrassed to say, were far more focused on our celebrity crushes! But I was really inspired by that hopeful, imaginative experience of my teenaged self—I wanted to think about what that notebook represented about the experience of growing up.” ―Kate Clayborn, Interview, Above the Treeline

What booksellers are saying about Georgie, All Along

Georgie, All Along by Kate Clayborn
  • Clayborn, All Along! She never disappoints. With supportive, but odd-duck parents, Georgie has always had a "soft" place to land and as a result is "expansive", so much so that she has a hard time focusing in on what she wants in her life and her future. Levi had no such parents, with no support network from his family when he needed them most, and as a result has made himself tight and small in his life and his wants/needs. When they meet, they learn to let go of their past and with her as his "soft place to land" and he allows himself to expand into himself and she learns to trust her own self and what she truly wants.
      ―Angela Trigg from The Haunted Book Shop in Mobile, AL | Buy from The Haunted Book Shop

  • Kate Clayborn’s books come with high expectations of an excellent story. She always delivers, and Georgie, All Along is no different. The writing is engrossing and diverting and it’s impossible not to relate to or love Georgie as she finds herself and her way. January is rich with romance, and this is an excellent winter read to curl up with.
      ―Preet Singh from Eagle Eye Book Shop in Decatur, GA | Buy from Eagle Eye Book Shop

  • Kate Clayborn hits a home run with Georgie, All Along. I loved this relatable story about a woman coming home to find herself and reconnect with the dreams she had in high school. She’s a quirky mess who puts everyone’s needs before her own and she meets Levi, the brooding older brother of her high school crush, who also has a past he’s working through. I enjoyed the small town setting, the cast of characters and the nostalgia of revisiting high school escapades.
      ―Jessica Nock from Main Street Books in Davidson, NC | Buy from Main Street Books

  • A charming and witty story about how our pasts can shape us. Unexpectedly, Georgie, a personal assistant that has just lost her job and Levi, onetime town troublemaker, find themselves as roommates. They are both trying to reinvent themselves and use Georgie’s high school diary as a blueprint for their transformation. Georgie did not write in her diary about what was happening then, but her dreams and wishes for the future. Georgie and Levi have great chemistry and of course there is a great dog, Hank.
      ―Pam Crawford from Bookmiser, Inc. in Marietta, GA | Buy from Bookmiser

About Kate Clayborn

Kate Clayborn is the critically acclaimed author of contemporary romance novels. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Oprah Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, Bookpage, and more. By day she works in education, and by night (and sometimes, by very early morning) she writes contemporary romances about smart, strong, modern heroines who face the world alongside true friends and complicated families. She resides in Virginia with her husband and their dog.

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Everything Calls for Salvation by Daniele Mencarelli

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Everything Calls for Salvation by Daniele Mencarelli
Europa Editions / January 2023


More Reviews from Fountain Bookstore

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

Reviewed by Kelly Justice, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia



Someday, Maybe by Onyi Nwabineli

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Someday, Maybe by Onyi Nwabineli
Graydon House / November 2022


More Reviews from Main Street Reads

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

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

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

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One Last Shot: Based on a True Story of Wartime Heroism by Kip Wilson
Versify / January 2023

Novels in VerseYoung AdultYoung Adult Fiction
More Reviews from Parnassus

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

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

Cinderella–with Dogs! by Linda Bailey

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Cinderella–with Dogs! by Linda Bailey
Nancy Paulsen Books / February 2023


More Reviews from Bookmarks

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

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

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

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Seirei Gensouki: Spirit Chronicles (Manga): Volume 1 by Shibamura Yuri
J-Novel Club / February 2023


More Reviews from Fiction Addiction

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

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

Read This Next!

Books on the horizon: Forthcoming favorites from Southern indies…

Begin Again by Emma Lord

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Begin Again by Emma Lord
 Wednesday Books / January 2023

Coming of AgeEmotions & FeelingsRomanceRomantic ComedyYoung Adult Fiction
More Reviews from Bookmiser

An January 2023 Read This Next! Title

Emma Lord brings the feels in her new novel, Begin Again. Andie didn’t get into her first choice college with her boyfriend, but she has a plan. She works really hard and ends up getting in as a transfer student after her first semester at community college. The problem is that she planned her transfer as a surprise for her boyfriend….who did the same thing, transferring to the school Andie WAS at.

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia

Southern Bestsellers

What’s popular this week with Southern Readers.

Hell Bent The Spare Bubble in the Sun
These Precious Days Southern Baby

[ See the full list ]

Parting Thought

“Books are good company, in sad times and happy times, for books are people – people who have managed to stay alive by hiding between the covers of a book.”
– E.B. White

Publisher: The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance / siba@sibaweb.com
Editor: Nicki Leone / nicki@sibaweb.com
Advertising: Linda-Marie Barrett / lindamarie@sibaweb.com
The Southern Bookseller Review is a project of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, in support of independent bookstores in the South | SIBA | 51 Pleasant Ridge Drive | Asheville, NC 28805

SIBA | 51 Pleasant Ridge Drive | Asheville, NC 28805
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The Southern Bookseller Review: The Art of Memoir

The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for January, 2023

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The Southern Bookseller Review: A Book for Every Reader

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January 2023

Our own stories: the art of the memoir.

The month’s special edition of The Southern Bookseller Review is dedicated to the art of the memoir — a genre that is as unique and diverse as each person’s story. Of all the nonfiction books reviewed in SBR, those that come under the heading "personal memoirs" are by far the most numerous and most popular. Perhaps that is because in these stories we see our own stories, with the added comfort that they are not imagined, but real.

“God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December.”
–J.M. Barrie

Read This Now | Read This Next | The Bookseller Directory


Southern Book Prize Finalist!

What’s the best Southern book of the year?

This Boy We Made by Taylor Harris

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This Boy We Made by Taylor Harris
Catapult / January 2022


More Reviews from Blue Cypress Books

Southern Book Prize Finalist

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

VOTE FOR THE SOUTHERN BOOK PRIZE

This Boy We Made by Taylor Harris, (List Price: $26.00, Catapult, 9781948226844, Hardcover, January 2022, Paperback, January 2023)


Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies…

Fieldwork: A Forager’s Memoir by Iliana Regan

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Fieldwork: A Forager’s Memoir by Iliana Regan
Agate Midway / December 2022


More Reviews from Novel

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

Reviewed by Stuart McCommon, Novel in Memphis, Tennessee


Bookseller Buzz

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Spotlight on: Drinking Games by Sarah Levy

 

Sarah Levy, photo credit Sarah Levy

You know, I think that my lies were always designed to make everyone think that I was okay, and to make it seem like I had it all figured out, and that everything was perfect. The meat of the book — the story that I really set out to tell — was the truth. It was that I wasn’t okay, I was not perfect, and that I was struggling. I think that my friends and family, even now, if I say, “I’m fine. Everything is good,” that’s usually when I’m not telling the truth, because I’m a human being, and there’s usually something going on.” ―Sarah Levy, Interview, Shondaland

What booksellers are saying about Drinking Games

Drinking Games by Sarah Levy
  • Drinking Games is an unflinchingly honest look at how alcohol influenced almost every part of Sarah Levy’s life as a twenty-something living big in New York City. Levy shares her experiences like sharing with a friend, sometimes funny, sometimes sad, always with insight and grace. A must read for anyone who’s questioned not only choices about alcohol but about anything that makes their life feel out of control.
      ―Beth Seufer Buss from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC | Buy from Bookmarks

  • I loved Sarah’s very frank and honest recount of her relationship with alcohol. Her self aware and candid writing will be a much needed voice for many who are re-considering the way we look at drinking as a culture. It is also a fantastic memoir about making hard changes for a better life.
      ―Laura Taylor from Oxford Exchange in Tampa, FL | Buy from Oxford Exchange

  • Sarah Levy brings you on her journey of why she got sober, how she found help, and celebrating her new sober life. It felt like chatting with a close friend as she shared her fears about dating while sober and how is she going to celebrate life milestones without a glass of champagne. It was relatable and honest! I would recommend this memoir to anyone that was sober curious and wanted to discuss drinking culture in your 20s.
      ―Juliana Reyes from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC | Buy from Bookmarks

About Sarah Levy

Sarah Levy is a writer based in Los Angeles by way of New York. Her work examines the intersection of sobriety, relationships, and identity and has been featured in The New York Times, New York Magazine/The Cut, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Vogue, Elle, and other publications. She holds a B.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University and pursued a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from The New School. Drinking Games is her first book.

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Unraveling by Peggy Orenstein

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Unraveling by Peggy Orenstein
Harper / January 2023


More Reviews from Bookmiser

While reading Unraveling, not only did I find out about sheering sheep and spinning and dyeing wool, I learned much more about climate sustainability and fire dangers and go bags in California. I also lived some of the pandemic through Peggy Orenstein’s eyes and felt her sadness over the loss of her parents and her daughter Daisy going off to school and all of our eventual aging. This book covered much of the history of women and women’s rights and making clothing from fairy tales to knitting today’s pussy hats. I also learned that we discard 80 pounds of clothes a year per person with most of it ending up in landfills. This book has made me determined to buy less and think about my purchases and our climate emergencies. Rarely have I read a book that has affected me so deeply as I also felt I had made a new friend by reading the author’s story. I look forward to reading this over with friends and my book club.

Reviewed by Nancy Pierce, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia


Weightless by Evette Dionne

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Weightless by Evette Dionne
Ecco / December 2022


More Reviews from Bookmarks

Thank you, Evette Dionne, for being honest, funny, and straight-up real about what it’s like to be not ‘thin’ in today’s world! From doctor visits to being obsessed with reality TV about weight loss, I felt relief knowing I wasn’t alone. Her memoir takes you through her journey with agoraphobia, motherhood, online dating, and living her life to her fullest after being diagnosed with heart failure in her late twenties. I can’t wait for more people to read it!

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

Ducks by Kate Beaton

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Ducks by Kate Beaton
Drawn and Quarterly / September 2022


More Reviews from One More Page

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

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

Once Upon a Tome by Oliver Darkshire

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Once Upon a Tome by Oliver Darkshire
W. W. Norton & Company / March 2023


More Reviews from Oxford Exchange

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

Reviewed by Lena Malpeli, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

B.F.F. by Christie Tate

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B.F.F. by Christie Tate
Avid Reader Press / February 2023


More Reviews from Snail on the Wall

As kids, we focus so much of our time and energy on friendships, and then as we become adults, everything changes. It’s hard to make new friends, and it’s often harder to keep old ones. In B.F.F. Christie Tate bares her soul about female friendship in the same way she did about her therapy sessions in Group. It’s refreshing and reassuring to find out that other women feel isolated, alienated, and hurt by the people they claim as friends. And, though Tate doesn’t have any easy answers, she does let us accompany her on the journey to heal old wounds and become a better friend.

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

Zig-Zag Boy by Tanya Frank

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Zig-Zag Boy by Tanya Frank
 W. W. Norton & Company / February 2023


More Reviews from Main Street Books

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

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

God’s Ex-Girlfriend by Gloria Beth Amodeo

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God’s Ex-Girlfriend by Gloria Beth Amodeo
 Ig Publishing / February 2023


More Reviews from Fiction Addiction

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

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

Parting Thought

“The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It’s the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.”
– Lois Lowry

Publisher: The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance / siba@sibaweb.com
Editor: Nicki Leone / nicki@sibaweb.com
Advertising: Linda-Marie Barrett / lindamarie@sibaweb.com
The Southern Bookseller Review is a project of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, in support of independent bookstores in the South | SIBA | 51 Pleasant Ridge Drive | Asheville, NC 28805

SIBA | 51 Pleasant Ridge Drive | Asheville, NC 28805
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The Southern Bookseller Review 1/17/23

The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of January 17, 2023

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The Southern Bookseller Review: A Book for Every Reader

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The week of January 17, 2023

The journey is as important as the destination.

2023 Southern Book Prize Winner

Deepti Kapoor’s new novel, Age of Vice, appears on the Southern indie bestseller list this week. But it has already received enthusiastic attention of southern booksellers, who chose it at a January Read This Next! title — one of those books they are most excited to put in the hands of customers.

When readers who have voted for The Southern Book Prize are asked to say something about their favorite indie bookstore, the knowledgeable staff and welcoming atmosphere are the two things they talk about most often:

"The staff at Park Road Books in Charlotte, NC are knowledgeable and patient with "a book about…….." queries. I always find at least one more book than I’ve gone in to buy because they obviously know their stuff about books, and about customers. Never too busy to help, and attentive in general. They share their love of books!"

"Liberty Book Company in Rock Hill, SC has an unbelievably knowledgeable staff that is eager to help!"

"The owner and staff of The Little Bookshop in Midlothian, VA provide excellent recommendations!"

"With an expertly curated and expansive selection of both fiction and nonfiction, Righton Books on St Simons Island, GA is one of the best in the South"

"Scuppernong Books in Greensboro, NC brings me so much joy with the large selection of beautiful books and kind people."

"Pomegranate Books in Wilmington, NC is fantastic. Owner Kathleen is so wonderful, welcoming and knowledgeable."

"Annie B. Jones and her crew at the Bookshelf in Thomasville, GA are wonderful; they provide great gift ideas and really care about providing great customer service!"

Every reader is forever traveling on a journey of discovery towards their next favorite book. But you know what they say about journeys — the destination isn’t as important as how you get there.

"One of my first jobs was in an independent bookstore in Delhi, says Kapoor in an interview, "I learned that you could trust an Indie seller to recommend a book that will be real, surprising, refreshing, different, their choice and suggestion uncorrupted by anything except their own unique mind."

Point-and-click is a hollow experience compared to the feeling you get when someone you trust pushes a book into your hands saying, You’ve got to read this!

VOTE FOR THE SOUTHERN BOOK PRIZE

Voting gives you a chance to enter a raffle for a collection of SBP finalist books, and there is also a place to give a shout out to your own favorite indie bookstore. SBR passes along what people say to the bookstores. Nothing makes a bookseller’s day like hearing how much their customers appreciate and love their local bookshop.

Read This Now | Read This Next | The Bookseller Directory



Southern Book Prize Finalist!

What’s the best Southern book of the year?

A Mirror Mended by Alix E. Harrow

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A Mirror Mended by Alix E. Harrow
Tordotcom / June 2022


More Reviews from Quail Ridge Books

Southern Book Prize Finalist

I was enthralled with the impeccable voice of Zinnia in the follow-up to A Spindle Splintered. Harrow’s incredible knowledge of fairy tales really shines through in this installment, without removing the reader from the narrative. I’m happy to put my hands on anything Harrow writes — she is a new favorite!

VOTE FOR THE SOUTHERN BOOK PRIZE

Reviewed by Amber Brown, Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, North Carolina


Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies…

The End of Drum-Time by Hanna Pylväinen

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The End of Drum-Time by Hanna Pylväinen
Henry Holt and Co. / January 2023


More Reviews from Main Street Books

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

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



Bookseller Buzz

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Spotlight on: Hell Bent by Leigh Bardugo

 

Leigh Bardugo, photo credit Christina Guerra

I have never met someone who reads only from one shelf. I don’t think young people read that way and I am always wary of what people may deem “too much” for younger readers because I think they actually have a pretty good barometer of what they can handle and will happily set a book aside when it starts to go places they don’t want to go…I suppose when I’m writing adult, I feel a little freer to take my time with the world and the lore, and to dig more deeply into the grotesque. I also swear more.” ―Leigh Bardugo, Interview, The New York Times

What booksellers are saying about Hell Bent

Hell Bent by Leigh Bardugo
  • Welcome back to the hidden darkness of Yale’s campus, and the magic that soaks its architecture and history. Though society leaders have declared Darlington dead and gone, Alex and Dawes know better – and they will go to any end to save him. Hell Bent is magical, resplendent with fierce characters, a devious and twisting plot, and at its core a deep interrogation of the cost of power and the lengths at which the privileged will go to maintain it.
      ―Jordan April from Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, NC | Buy from Flyleaf Books

  • I don’t think I’ve eagerly anticipated a book as much as I have Hell Bent, and let me just say that the wait was worth every. Damn. Minute. Diving back into the world of Galaxy Stern and Lethe felt like being wrapped up in my favorite childhood blanket while also sitting just a bit too close to the fire. Leigh Bardugo somehow managed to create a story that is both intensely dark and strangely comforting and I look forward to devouring every last book in this series.
      ―Kassie Weeks from Oxford Exchange in Tampa, FL | Buy from Oxford Exchange

  • Imagine if you will, me opening a window and screaming "DARLINGTON" at the top of my lungs. No that’s not my review, I just needed to make my feelings known. Hell Bent is a bloody, brilliant continuation that forces found family on the most ill fitting of individuals that somehow just work. It’s an exploration of grief, growth, and is somehow sexy despite it all. Rife with tension and lore desperate to be discovered, I can’t help but hope that book three won’t be the end. Now, if you don’t mind, I must get back to screaming out of my window about Darlington.
      ―Caitlyn Vanorder from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC | Buy from Bookmarks

About Leigh Bardugo

Leigh Bardugo is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and the creator of the Grishaverse (now a Netflix original series) which spans the Shadow and Bone trilogy, the Six of Crows duology, The Language of Thorns, and King of Scars—with more to come. Her other works include Wonder Woman: Warbringer and Ninth House (Goodreads Choice Winner for Best Fantasy 2019), which is being developed for television by Amazon Studios. She lives in Los Angeles and is an Associate Fellow of Pauli Murray College at Yale University.

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The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell

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The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell
Knopf / Septembe2 2023


More Reviews from Downtown Books

Lucrezia de Medici has been the least favorite child of the powerful Grand Duke of Tuscany since birth and so has been able to grow up almost in the shadows of the royal court in Florence. At thirteen, she is betrothed to the future Duke of Ferrara- in her dead sister’s place. At fifteen, she is married to him and sent away from the only home she has ever known to a troubled court with her new, and older, husband. She has no allies in this new place save one, her handmaid. Day by day, Lucrezia discovers the cruel nature of her husband; the depth of the problems he faces in his new role as Duke; an utter aloneness since she can’t trust anyone and, superseding all else, the immediate need for her to produce an heir to cement the throne of her new family. It is no surprise this is a New York Times best-seller and a Reese’s Book Club pick- it is a wonderful work of historical fiction, and O’Farrell proves once again she is a master at this genre.

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



The Creative Act by Rick Rubin

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The Creative Act by Rick Rubin
Penguin Press / January 2023


More Reviews from The Country Bookshop

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

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

Out of Character by Jenna Miller

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Out of Character by Jenna Miller
Disney-Hyperion / February 2023


More Reviews from Bookmarks

What a delightful YA debut! Out of Character is pitched as Julie Murphy meets Ashley Poston — a high bar to meet, but this book reaches and even surpasses that bar! I adored Cass Williams, who is nerdy, fat, and queer, and completely comfortable with all but the first point. Her parents are getting divorced, she has her first girlfriend, and she’s not doing well in school, but her online role-playing community is what keeps her going — except no one in her real life knows about her online friends. I loved seeing Cass’s two lives come together and watching her grow. I can’t wait to see what Jenna Miller writes next!

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

World Made of Glass by Ami Polonsky

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World Made of Glass by Ami Polonsky
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers / January 2023


More Reviews from Sundog Books

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

Reviewed by Michelle Uhlfelder, Sundog Books in Seaside, Florida

Read This Next!

Books on the horizon: Forthcoming favorites from Southern indies…

How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix

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How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix
 Berkley / January 2023


More Reviews from Epilogue Books

An January 2023 Read This Next! Title

Absolutely fucking terrifying. Hendrix does it again in this hilarious yet terrifying novel that combines generational trauma and denial with a not-your-average haunted house. Honestly, I’m unsure if my sibling and I could survive the level of haunting that plagues Louise and Mark; the characters themselves have you questioning whether they will make it to the very end! I had to read this in broad daylight to get through it all. Unique and horrifying, every detail will send goosebumps up your arms and chills down your neck. Not to mention you’ll never look at puppets or squirrels the same way.

Reviewed by Laney Sheehan, Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Southern Bestsellers

What’s popular this week with Southern Readers.

Age of Vice The Song of the Cell Hamnet
The January 6th Report Peekaboo Love

[ See the full list ]

Parting Thought

“And read… read all the time… read as a matter of principle, as a matter of self-respect. Read as a nourishing staple of life.”
– David McCullough Jr

Publisher: The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance / siba@sibaweb.com
Editor: Nicki Leone / nicki@sibaweb.com
Advertising: Linda-Marie Barrett / lindamarie@sibaweb.com
The Southern Bookseller Review is a project of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, in support of independent bookstores in the South | SIBA | 51 Pleasant Ridge Drive | Asheville, NC 28805

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The Southern Bookseller Review 1/10/23

The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of January 10, 2023

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The week of January 10, 2023

Have you voted yet?

2023 Southern Book Prize Winner

We are coming into the last few weeks of voting for The Southern Book Prize. Southern indie booksellers have chosen eighteen books for the ballot — six fiction, six nonfiction, and six young people’s literature. But they have turned the judging over to you, their customers and avid readers, to pick which book in each category deserves to be called "The Best Southern Book of the Year."

VOTE FOR THE SOUTHERN BOOK PRIZE

During the voting period, the first book review in the newsletter is always one of the books on the ballot, so readers can get a closer look and see why booksellers loved it. A full list of the current SBP finalists, with bookseller comments, is available on the website.

Voting gives you a chance to enter a raffle for a collection of SBP finalist books, and there is also a place to give a shout out to your own favorite indie bookstore. SBR passes along what people say to the bookstores. Nothing makes a bookseller’s day like hearing how much their customers appreciate and love their local bookshop.

Read This Now | Read This Next | The Bookseller Directory



Southern Book Prize Finalist!

What’s the best Southern book of the year?

Hell Followed with Us by Andrew Joseph White

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Hell Followed with Us by Andrew Joseph White
Peachtree Teen / June 2023


More Reviews from Square Books

Southern Book Prize Finalist

Hell Followed With Us is a book that sinks its teeth into you from the first page. Andrew Joseph White crafts a horrifying apocalyptic world that feels at once utterly fresh yet familiar as the narrative grapples with climate change, illness, religious extremism, and LGBTQ issues. It’s a furious novel– but not without hope as protagonist Benji, a young queer trans boy with a monster inside him, falls in with a found-family of other queer teens and embraces the opportunity to fight back against his oppressors who would otherwise use him as a bioweapon for their own violent ends. Hell Followed With Us is an original, unique YA horror debut guaranteed to stay with readers long after the last page.

VOTE FOR THE SOUTHERN BOOK PRIZE

Reviewed by Charlie Williams, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi


Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies…

Lost in the Moment and Found by Seanan McGuire

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Lost in the Moment and Found by Seanan McGuire
Tordotcom / January 2023


More Reviews from Underground Books

The powerful combination of otherworldly magic with this world’s grit gets me every time, in every Wayward Children novella. This one’s for anyone who’s ever experienced loss as a kid, been a lost kid, or lost their innocence—for all of us in one way or another. For Antsy, it’s the loss of her father and all the loss that occurs in its wake, and then Antsy finds the Shop Where the Lost Things Go and a vast series of doors to incredible and unusual places—but it’s easy to lose track of yourself when you’re busy finding new things, new people, and new worlds…

Reviewed by Megan Bell, Underground Books in Carrollton, Georgia



Bookseller Buzz

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Spotlight on: City Under One Roof by Iris Yamashita

 

Iris Yamashita, photo credit Anthony Mongiello

The real isolated town of Whittier, Alaska was something that has been in the back of my mind for over 20 years. I had watched a documentary back when the city could only be reached by train or boat and the tunnel had not yet been open to car traffic. When I started thinking of setting a murder mystery there, I watched a video driving through the two-and-a-half-mile one-way tunnel and it made me think of falling through a rabbit hole where I was going to end up in a strange Wonderland with some odd characters, and then the pieces started to come together.” ―Iris Yamashita, Interview, The Nerd Daily

What booksellers are saying about City Under One Roof

City Under One Roof by Iris Yamashita
  • The setting for City Under One Roof was so intriguing that I immediately looked up whether such a place existed – and it does! Couldn’t help feeling claustrophobic with the closed in atmosphere of the bldg and being cut off from the outside world. Sinister goings-on because almost everyone there is hiding from something, but you don’t know what. Or who to trust. Loved it!
      ―Eileen McGervey from One More Page Books in Arlington, VA | Buy from One More Page Books

  • If Twin Peaks and Fargo had a baby, it might look like this book. Based on the real town of Whittier, Alaska, a crime is committed in this a snowbound burg where everyone lives in the same high-rise and everyone, literally, knows everyone. 205 residents and no one is talking about the severed hand and foot that have washed ashore on Point Mettier. Anchorage detective Cara Kennedy has reasons to investigate the discovery beyond her job. Accessible only by tunnel, the storm traps her in the town with its secrets, a murderer, and a memorable moose.
      ―Kelly Justice from Fountain Books in Richmond, VA | Buy from Fountain Bookstore

  • The setting for City Under One Roof (literally a 205 unit high rise with infirmary, police department, etc. all under one roof) in an isolated area of Alaska that has been cut off from the outside world due to an avalanche in the tunnel which is the only road in or out is only part of what makes this debut novel such a page turner. The mystery, which involves a hand and foot washing up on a beach, and a head found buried in a barn definitely gets your attention. But, best of all are the cast of quirky characters all with background and baggage. Perfect for fans of City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong.
      ―Nancy McFarlane from Fiction Addiction in Greenville, SC | Buy from Fiction Addiction

About Iris Yamashita

Iris Yamashita is an Academy Award–nominated screenwriter for the movie Letters from Iwo Jima. She has been working in Hollywood for fifteen years developing material for both film and streaming, has taught screenwriting at UCLA, and is an advocate of women and diversity in the entertainment industry. She has also been a judge and mentor for various film and writing programs, and lives in California.

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The Hunter by Jennifer Herrera

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The Hunter by Jennifer Herrera
G.P. Putnam’s Sons / January 2023


More Reviews from Garden District Book Shop

It’s a great debut, spooky, atmospheric, with family drama, and full of small town secrets. Gotta love a strong female main character, who is unafraid of danger. There are twists and turns in every moment…the suspense is palpable. This book is impossible to put down.

Reviewed by Amy Loewy, Garden District Book Shop in New Orleans, Louisiana



Bring It On by Kase Wickman

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Bring It On by Kase Wickman
Chicago Review Press / December 2022


More Reviews from Fountain Bookstore

What a fun revisit to a new cinema classic! Wickman covers everything from the creation to the release of this early-aughts star-studded film. I love the behind-the-scenes stories of hi-jinks on set and how each character came to be. Big nostalgic feels here and I am loving it.

Reviewed by Andrea Richardson, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

A Ruinous Fate by Kaylie Smith

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A Ruinous Fate by Kaylie Smith
Disney-Hyperion / January 2023

,
More Reviews from Story on the Square

A Ruinous Fate is an explosion of a beginning of what is sure to be an amazing fantasy series. Calla, cursed with magic she’s terrified of, is now forced to take her friends with her as they try to undo her fate. This has everything a fantasy reader could ever want, authentic-feeling queer characters, found family, love triangles gone awry, charming jerks, and of course, forced proximity abounds! What else could someone need? If you love a good found family story with your fantasy, this is one you won’t want to miss!

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

Very Good Hats by Emma Straub

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Very Good Hats by Emma Straub
Rocky Pond Books / January 2023


More Reviews from Bookmarks

My mom always wears a hat, and has passed that love on to me. Where Very Good Hats goes farther is the creativity of children to make other things hats for objects of the right scale (they missed Bugles for the fingertips, though, sticking to acorn caps). My favorite image by illustrator Bianca Gomez is the accidental soup hat — make sure your hat is empty before you put it on! 

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

The Witcher: Ronin (Manga) by Rafal Jaki

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The Witcher: Ronin (Manga) by Rafal Jaki
Dark Horse Manga / December 2022


More Reviews from The Country Bookshop

I had been anticipating The Witcher Ronin for months and pre-ordered it. I was super excited to see Geralt as a ronin and the book didn’t disappoint in that regard. I loved the new Japanese yokai we got to explore in this Manga but with the familiar storyline we all know and love. I was expecting a little more for the book, so that made me a bit sad, but I overall enjoyed what we did get to see in this first installment.

Reviewed by Cass W, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina

Read This Next!

Books on the horizon: Forthcoming favorites from Southern indies…

Moonrise Over New Jessup by Jamila Minnicks

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Moonrise Over New Jessup by Jamila Minnicks
 Algonquin Books / January 2023


More Reviews from Quail Ridge Books

An January 202 3Read This Next! Title

Romantic love, familial love, and the love of place play out against the background of late 1950s – early 1960s civil rights era. After the loss of her last family member, Alice flees her former home and the overt racial and sexualized violence by the landowner. She disembarks by chance in an entirely Black town – and what is meant to be a brief stop on her way north becomes a new home. New Jessup rose back up from the swamp and from the ashes of a white race riot, and the town carefully maintains a very public anti-integration stance to protect itself from attention from the white side of town. When Alice falls for the son of a town founder, she slowly learns that her Raymond been involved in the civil rights actions in Montgomery – and his affiliation with a group that works towards desegregation elsewhere creates tensions within their love story. A beautifully written exploration of just some of the variety of opinions within the civil rights era Black community on freedom, equality, and safety.

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

Southern Bestsellers

What’s popular this week with Southern Readers.

Lucy By the Sea A Message from Ukraine Legends & Latte
The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2022 Light Lark

[ See the full list ]

Parting Thought

“What better occupation, really, than to spend the evening at the fireside with a book, with the wind beating on the windows and the lamp burning bright.”
– Gustave Flaubert

Publisher: The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance / siba@sibaweb.com
Editor: Nicki Leone / nicki@sibaweb.com
Advertising: Linda-Marie Barrett / lindamarie@sibaweb.com
The Southern Bookseller Review is a project of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, in support of independent bookstores in the South | SIBA | 51 Pleasant Ridge Drive | Asheville, NC 28805

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The Southern Bookseller Review 1/3/22

The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of January 3, 2023

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The week of January 3, 2023

Heard any good books lately?

Read This Next!

A new day, a new month and a new year, along with a batch of new books on the January Read This Next! list. Read This Next! are a list of books coming out this month getting the most interesting buzz and feedback from Southern booksellers. If one of your New Years Resolutions is to read more books, then Read This Next! is the place to start.

Even better, SBR is now including links to the audiobook editions of reviewed titles when they are available. SBR uses the independent bookstore-friendly Libro.fm audiobook service. Readers can buy their audiobooks through their own local bookstore, or support different bookstores. The service allows readers to gift audiobooks as well. Now you can support your local bookstore even when you are listening to a book while on a road trip, stuck in a waiting room, or (an SBR personal favorite) as a way to make some of those really tedious if necessary housecleaning jobs more bearable.

Look for the "AUDIOBOOK" link under each book image in the newsletter and on the website, and enjoy having your next favorite read, read out loud to you.

Read This Now | Read This Next | The Bookseller Directory



Southern Book Prize Finalist!

What’s the best Southern book of the year?

The Hurting Kind by Ada Limón

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The Hurting Kind by Ada Limón
Milkweed Editions / May 2022


More Reviews from Blue Cypress Books

Southern Book Prize Finalist

Reading this collection made me feel like I was standing outside with my bare feet in the grass, scrunching my toes in the soil, feeling the breeze on my face, and pondering the oneness of everything.

VOTE FOR THE SOUTHERN BOOK PRIZE

Reviewed by LeeAnna Callon, Blue Cypress Books in New Orleans, Louisiana


Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies…

The Night Travelers by Armando Lucas Correa

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The Night Travelers by Armando Lucas Correa
Atria Books / January 2023


More Reviews from Book No Further

If you love family epics told across sweeping history, The Night Travelers will engage you from page one. It tells a particular piece of the Holocaust story not often heard, of the small group of Jews who managed to find safety after leaving Germany in the ill-fated St. Louis. Four generation of women struggle to understand both their origins and the loving sacrifice made to ensure their survival. Each woman struggles with decisions they should not be asked to make. The story has just the right number of twists to keep you reading.

Reviewed by Doloris Vest, Book No Further in Roanoke, Virginia



Bookseller Buzz

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Really Good, Actually by Monica Heisey

 

Monica Heisey, photo credit Harry Livingstone Photography

I went through a divorce at a young age myself, and it was quite isolating — most of my peer group wasn’t even married yet, so I didn’t have anyone around me who could relate to what I was going through, and I became desperate to read or watch something about the experience. While there’s no paucity of divorce art in the world, I couldn’t find anything that summed up how specifically ridiculous going through it all at 28 in the late 2010s felt. I also wanted something that didn’t take the whole thing too seriously — a lot of heartbreak art is quite heavy, when it really is one of life’s funnier circumstances. I also knew that I didn’t want to write a memoir — partly because every divorce is two stories, and it didn’t feel fair to commit only mine to print, and mostly because I didn’t think I could be funny about my real-life situation. So I invented Maggie and Jon, and tore up their life plans instead.” ―Monica Heisey, Interview, Entertainment Weekly

What booksellers are saying about Really Good, Actually

Really Good, Actually by Monica Heisey
  • This book feels like it was written exactly to my sense of humor, age group, pop culture knowledge, etc., so I, of course, loved it! Maggie didn’t expect to be getting a divorce at the age of twenty-nine–now she’s left feeling alone and adrift when she expected to have at least one aspect of her life set forever. This book chronicles the lonely, messy, embarrassing year that follows Maggie’s decision to split with her husband as well as the difficult journey to self-improvement in a self-obsessed, social media, millennial ennui-focused era.
      ―Julia Lewis from Fountain Books in Richmond, VA | Buy from Fountain Bookstore

  • Funny and cringingly relatable, Monica Heisey is the Canadian answer to Dolly Alderton and Stephanie Danler. "Messy" is the only word for the 29-year-old protagonist reeling from the end of her marriage, but you can’t help but root for her to make it through her difficult first year post-separation
      ―Kate Storhoff from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC | Buy from Bookmarks

  • This gritty original take on The Breakup Novel is a combination of the age-old human pastime of watching a train wreck happen in front of your eyes (you just can’t stop watching/reading!), and a Jane Austen-level take on relationships and the need for women to have value and identity outside of their romantic relationships. The friendships are hardcore. The slowly emerging self knowledge of the main character is empowering. The stream-of-consciousness style of writing means you’ll want to read it all in one long gulp. Loved it.
      ―Elisa Forshey from Givens Books Little Dickens in Lynchburg, VA | Buy from Givens Books Little Dickens

  • Agreed, Really Good, Actually is perfect for fans of Schitt’s Creek ( author Monica Heisey wrote for the show!) and the recent novels, Ghosts by Dolly Alderton and How to Fall Out of Love Madly by Jana Casale. Funny, tender and so very relatable
      ―Jessica Nock from Main Street Books in Davidson, NC | Buy from Main Street Books

About Monica Heisey

Monica Heisey is a writer and comedian from Toronto. She has been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Vogue, Elle, The Guardian, Glamour, New York magazine, and VICE, among others. She has written for television shows like Schitt’s Creek, Workin’ Moms, Baroness von Sketch Show, and more. She currently lives in London. This is her first novel.

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The Survivalists by Kashana Cauley

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The Survivalists by Kashana Cauley
Soft Skull / January 2023


More Reviews from Oxford Exchange

Cauley cleverly constructs a story about how disenfranchisement cultivates a daunting landscape. Anyone who has been forced to make a decision with limited choices will instantly connect with and root for the main character Aretha. Even if it’s a bit stressful to witness.

Reviewed by Eden Hakimzadeh, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida



I Saw Death Coming by Kidada E. Williams

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I Saw Death Coming by Kidada E. Williams
 Bloomsbury Publishing / January 2023


More Reviews from Bookmarks

In school, we learned that the period of Reconstruction was a failure. In her book, Williams provides the reasons for that failure. With brutal personal testimonies from the Klan hearings of the 1870s and interviews documented by the Works Progress Administration, Williams illustrates the terror of nighttime raids and the trauma that resulted. Following the experiences of several Black families across the South, Williams reveals the extent of the injustices they endured, being robbed of land, family members, livelihoods, community, and their mental and physical health. Williams’ first-person accounts of Post-Civil War America provide a necessary component of our nation’s history, a history every citizen should know.

Reviewed by Lera Shawver, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute by Talia Hibbert

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Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute by Talia Hibbert
Joy Revolution / January 2023


More Reviews from Parnassus Books

Pleased to report that Hibbert’s signature, beloved wit and undeniable charm carries over into her YA debut. Both of these characters are incredibly well-fleshed out. Complex and unique without falling into dreadful cliches, I loved learning more about Brad and Celine as they navigated the turbulent teenage waters of will-they-won’t-they. Spicy, sassy Celine who just wanted the world to be fair and right. Brad, the darling soccer player (excuse me – footballer) who copes with his OCD by needing things to be just so. I loved them both. Their banter was off the charts in a way only Hibbert can achieve. This was one of those books where I blinked and suddenly I was 87% of the way through it. I just couldn’t stop reading about this duo!

Reviewed by Hannah Kerbs, Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee

What’s Sweeter by June Tate

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What’s Sweeter by June Tate
Katherine Tegen Books / December 2022


More Reviews from Fountain Bookstore

One of my favorite picture books of the last couple years, this debut from June Tate is like a warm hug in a book. A playful book about appreciating the smaller things and slowing down, it’s quirky and cute yet modern. The illustrations are my favorite, there’s a nostalgic feeling to the drawing style that just makes this book even better and reminds me of what I grew up with. Lots of love for this tiny treat of a book.

Reviewed by Grace Sullivan, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Captain America: The Ghost Army (Original Graphic Novel) by Alan Gratz

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Captain America: The Ghost Army (Original Graphic Novel) by Alan Gratz
Graphix / January 2023


More Reviews from Page 158 Books

Alan Gratz brings his ability to make young kids want to read to graphic novels, and it’s great! Merging an exciting story with historically accurate information on WII, any fan of history, Marvel, or ghost stories will love this book.

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

Read This Next!

Books on the horizon: Forthcoming favorites from Southern indies…

Age of Vice by Deepti Kapoor

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Age of Vice by Deepti Kapoor
 Riverhead Books / January 2023


More Reviews from Flyleaf Books

A January 2023 Read This Next! Title

This novel will rob you of hours from your life, it will rob you of the need for food or company or sleep. Time the reading of the first pages wisely; you’ll have a sudden need to find a comfy spot where you can commune with these characters and their lush stories of pleasure and pain. A mashup of American PsychoScarface and The Great Gatsby but set in contemporary India, it’s all but impossible to look away from this dazzling train wreck orchestrated by Deepti Kapoor. I was consumed by this novel.

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

Southern Bestsellers

What’s popular this week with Southern Readers.

Our Missing Hearts A Message from Ukraine The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida
Entangled Life Odder

[ See the full list ]

Parting Thought

“A good library will never be too neat, or too dusty, because somebody will always be in it, taking books off the shelves and staying up late reading them.”
– Lemony Snicket, Horseradish

Publisher: The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance / siba@sibaweb.com
Editor: Nicki Leone / nicki@sibaweb.com
Advertising: Linda-Marie Barrett / lindamarie@sibaweb.com
The Southern Bookseller Review is a project of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, in support of independent bookstores in the South | SIBA | 51 Pleasant Ridge Drive | Asheville, NC 28805

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The Southern Bookseller Review 12/27/22

The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of December 20, 2022

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The week of December 27, 2022

A year of really good reading.

A year of really good reading.

On January 3, 2022 at 12:03 pm, The Southern Bookseller Review published its first review of the year for A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw, of which Kassie Weeks at the Oxford Exchange wrote, "This twisty thriller gave me similar vibes as The Village and absolutely kept me on my toes! Shea Ernshaw really hit it out of the park with this brilliant adult debut."

It seems fitting, then, that Ernshaw’s newest book, A Wilderness of Stars, was chosen by southern booksellers to be one of the "Read This Next! most-buzzed-books for December. Read Hallie Smith’s (Main Street Books) review of Ernshaw’s latest book below.

The two reviews are bookends to a stellar year for SBR. 556 books were reviewed by southern booksellers, with an average of 48 reviews published every month. On July 1st, SBR reached a milestone when it published it 1000th book review.

This year SBR also started including reviews of graphic novels, and began publishing an extra thematic monthly newsletter. (The most popular of these was "Harvest," published in August.)

The most-reviewed book of the year was Book Lovers by Emily Henry, currently a finalist for the Southern Book Prize (vote here!). Twenty-three booksellers wrote in to say how much they loved the story: "Henry is the unquestioned queen of banter, but this is probably her wittiest, most laugh-out-loud funny book to date. I had so much fun reading Book Lovers." Cristina Russell, Books & Books in Coral Gables, FL

Here is SBR’s list of most-reviewed books of 2022

1. Book Lovers by Emily Henry (Berkley)
2. Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood (Berkley)
3. Now is Not the Time to Panic by Kevin Wilson (Ecco)
4. Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. Mandel (Knopf)
5. Carrie Soto Is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Ballantine)
6. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin (Knopf)
7. The Bodyguard by Katherine Center (St. Martin’s Press)
8. Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus (Doubleday)
9. I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey Mcquiston (Wednesday Books)
10. I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jeanette McCurdy (Simon & Schuster)
11. Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng (Penguin Press)
12. Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez (Flatiron Books)

Here is to a new year with so many more great books to add to the stack!

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Southern Book Prize Finalist!

What’s the best Southern book of the year?

Lark Ascending by Silas House

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Lark Ascending by Silas House
Algonquin Books / September 2022


More Reviews from Copperfish Books

Southern Book Prize Finalist

The urgency of the opening chapters is breathtaking, and then the source of it is laid bare: this is the imagined not-so-distant future resulting from the chaos and painful transformational change similar to what we’re going through right now in our world. The young man, the dog and the older woman at the center of the story are trying to survive in a world on fire, one burning to the ground with fire and hatred. Each choice they make – big and small – may cost them their lives, or someone else’s. A haunting story, one that makes you really think about the trajectory of our collective lives. I couldn’t put it down!

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Reviewed by Cathy Graham, Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda, Florida


Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies…

Bad Cree by Jessica Johns

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Bad Cree by Jessica Johns
Doubleday / January 2023


More Reviews from Novel

Bad Cree is the perfect mix of mystery, horror, and suspense. Johns uses the importance of dreams in Cree culture to cover several issues involving corporate greed, trauma, and familial grief. Also, her use of symbolism throughout the book makes for an ethereal experience for the reader and she highlights the strength that can come from the female bonds of sisterhood/motherhood throughout the plot. This is an incredibly enjoyable debut that is as creative as it is moving.

Reviewed by Stuart McCommon, Novel. in Memphis, Tennessee



Bookseller Buzz

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All the Dangerous Things by Stacy Willingham

 

Stacy Willingham, photo credit Mary Hannah Hart Photography, LLC

Studying journalism helped me realize that everyone has a story to tell, and it’s usually not the one we expect. Learning how to interview is a skill I still use, even though I don’t interview people anymore. Understanding how to get past surface-level answers taught me how to find the real meat of a story, which now influences the way I create my characters.” ―Stacy Willingham, Interview, UGA Today

What booksellers are saying about All the Dangerous Things

All the Dangerous Things by Stacy Willingham
  • A mesmerizing, jaw-dropping thriller with unforeseeable twists and turns! At first, the story seems to be a mystery about finding Isabelle’s missing son Drake, who was taken from his crib in the middle of the night. However, through Willingham’s exceptional storytelling, we are taken on an unforgettable journey of lies and deception where "we are nothing but what we chose to believe."
      ―Sharon Davis from Book Bound Bookstore in Blairsville, GA | Buy from Book Bound Bookstore

  • Chilling and mind-bending, All the Dangerous Things is a thriller read that will leave you shocked to your core. Isabella Drake’s son went missing a year ago and since then, she has been unable to truly sleep. As memories of her troubled past are dredged up and secrets are being uncovered, Izzy begins to wonder if something more sinister is amiss or if she has finally lost her mind. This novel is a psychological journey with its originality and intrigue, as the plot starts to unfurl and you begin to wonder if you can even trust your own mind.
      ―Makayla Summers from Main Street Reads in Summerville, SC | Buy from Main Street Reads

  • This book ripped me apart over and over. Stacy Willingham has a way of twisting a plot that keeps you guessing until the very end! Isabelle Drake’s toddler son goes missing from his bed in the middle of the night while she and her husband are sleeping. A whole year has gone by and Mason is still missing, Isabelle’s husband has left her, she has not slept a full night since Mason’s disappearance, there has not been a break in the case, and Isabelle’s ex has started a new relationship and seems to have moved on from her and Mason all together. Isabelle doesn’t give up, though. Even when everyone suspects her, blames her, shames her, and pities her. Everyone should read this to find out what happens to Isabelle and Mason, but also read this because Isabelle is a strong mamma jamma who deserves some respect! Thank you for this advance reader copy, I truly enjoyed this novel!
      ―Kait Layton from The Haunted Book Shop in Mobile, AL | Buy from The Haunted Book Shop

  • WOW!! Jaw dropped!! This book had me HOOKED from start to finish. I finished it in one sitting. I had to know what happened next. This story follows a mom trying to piece together parts of her past as well as figure out what happened to her son, who disappeared from his room in the middle of the night. It jumps between past and present and every chapter is a new twist. I LOVED A Flicker in the Dark by this author and was worried how this would hold up and this tops it. Incredibly gripping story that had my jaw dropping by the final reveal and all the turns and twists in between. Bonus points for the Savannah, GA setting and incredible detail making you feel as if you are in the streets of downtown as you read. Highly recommend.
      ―Samantha Culliton from E. Shaver, bookseller in Savannah, GA | Buy from E. Shaver, bookseller

About Stacy Willingham

Stacy Willingham is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of A Flicker in the Dark. Before turning to fiction, she was a copywriter and brand strategist for various marketing agencies. She earned her BA in magazine journalism from the University of Georgia and MFA in writing from the Savannah College of Art and Design. Her work has been translated in over 30 countries. She currently lives in Charleston, South Carolina, with her husband, Britt, and Labradoodle, Mako, where she is always working on her next book.

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We Know You Remember by Tove Alsterdal

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We Know You Remember by Tove Alsterdal
Harper Paperbacks / December 2022


More Reviews from Fiction Addiction

If you like Scandinavian crime novels, you will love We Know You Remember. Eira has come back to her small hometown to join the local police force after a number of years in Stockholm. A new murder brings back old memories and nightmares about the rape and murder of a young girl just a few years older than Eira when it occurred 20 years earlier. A crime that the small town has never forgotten. The story of the long-ago crime is skillfully woven with the current murder and Eira’s is forced to question a lot of things that she was told that may not have been true. It is not surprising that We Know You Remember won the best Swedish Crime Novel of the year award.

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



The Matter of Everything by Suzie Sheehy

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The Matter of Everything by Suzie Sheehy
 Knopf / January 2023


More Reviews from Fountain Bookstore

Look no further for a detailed overview of the carnival that is the history of natural philosophy, physics! Suzie Sheehy does a great job sending readers into the world of personality and interpersonal relationships behind some of science’s most important discoveries. As a casual reader, I found at its center a variety of tales of endurance, innovation, and resourcefulness. In The Matter of Everything you will find that revelations can start with just a piece of glass and an unquenchable curiosity. This is a must-read for anyone looking to dip their toes into one of the most complex topics of human history: the search for understanding the deep mechanics of our own world.

Reviewed by Amanda Depperschmidt, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Nine Liars by Maureen Johnson

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Nine Liars by Maureen Johnson
Katherine Tegen Books / December 2022


More Reviews from Bookmiser

Stevie’s back to solve a new mystery, this time at a country manor in England! Johnson delves right back into Stevie’s world as she navigates her way through a 27-year-old murder and a current disappearance. Stevie’s at loose ends as she’s almost halfway through her senior year. She doesn’t know what she wants to do after high school, and she misses her boyfriend. But when David invites Stevie and her friends to spend a week in England, they immediately develop a plan to get the headmaster to let them go as an educational experience. Once they get there, the mystery finds Stevie, and she’s off.


Reviewed by Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia

What Happened to Rachel Riley? by Claire Swinarski

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What Happened to Rachel Riley? by Claire Swinarski
Quill Tree Books / January 2023


More Reviews from The Flyleaf Books

Reading this book made me step back, rethink my middle school days, and want to wrap my younger self in a hug. Such a tough story, told in such a way where even though the reader and the main character don’t know the full story, you know more than the main character. You are seeing their final report, not just her findings, as she is investigating.

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

Read This Next!

Books on the horizon: Forthcoming favorites from Southern indies…

A Wilderness of Stars by Shea Ernshaw

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A Wilderness of Stars by Shea Ernshaw
 Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers / December 2022


More Reviews from Main Street Books

A December 2022 Read This Next! Title

This is an absolute gem of a book! Part science-fiction, part romance, Shea Ernshaw delivers another YA novel that is a delight to read. For lovers of stars and post apocalyptic literature!

Reviewed by Hallie Smith, Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina

Southern Bestsellers

What’s popular this week with Southern Readers.

Babel Surrender Best American Short Stories
Hero of Two Worlds Five Survive

[ See the full list ]

Parting Thought

“Isn’t it odd how much fatter a book gets when you’ve read it several times?” Mo had said…”As if something were left between the pages every time you read it. Feelings, thoughts, sounds, smells…and then, when you look at the book again many years later, you find yourself there, too, a slightly younger self, slightly different, as if the book had preserved you like a pressed flower…both strange and familiar. -”
– Cornelia Funke, Inkspell

Publisher: The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance / siba@sibaweb.com
Editor: Nicki Leone / nicki@sibaweb.com
Advertising: Linda-Marie Barrett / lindamarie@sibaweb.com
The Southern Bookseller Review is a project of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, in support of independent bookstores in the South | SIBA | 51 Pleasant Ridge Drive | Asheville, NC 28805

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The Southern Bookseller Review 12/20/22

The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of December 20, 2022

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The week of December 20, 2022

Holiday Stories.

Christmas Book Flood

Happy Jólabókaflóð!

During the famous Christmas (or Yule) Book Flood people of Iceland gift each other books in the weeks leading up to Christmas, and on Christmas eve, after opening presents with family, they spend the evening with hot chocolate and a pile of books, reading into the wee hours. Is this not a tradition that should be celebrated by every reader on the planet?

This year there is actually a children’s story about the Christmas Book Flood. Kelly Justice at Fountain Bookstore really likes it:

"I only found out a few years ago that there is a whole holiday in Iceland celebrating books! Jólabókaflóð (yo-la-bok-a-flot) roughly translates to "Christmas book flood". Every year Icelandic folks search the shelves for the perfect book gift to give on Christmas Eve and then they read their treasures all night often curled up with loved ones or joyfully solo! What could be more delightful??? Kilgore’s dancing text and the lively collage art of illustrator Kitty Moss make you want to join in the fun. Start a holiday tradition of your own with this perfect little book!"

"Yule" is a Winter Solstice celebration, traditionally running from December 21st to January 1st.

It is also the time of Hanukkah (December 18 – December 26), Kwanzaa (December 26 – January 1), and of course Christmas. Southern booksellers suggest these for your family’s holiday storybook shelf :

The People Remember

The People Remember : A Kwanzaa Holiday Book for Kids by Ibi Zoboi, Loveis Wise (illus.)

"Ibi Zoboi magnificently weaves the principles of Kwanzaa within the history of Black Americans from the soil of Africa to present day police brutality in our streets and all they endured and all they contributed in between. The brilliant narrative history as a comprehensive explanation of Kwanzaa, a holiday that has been too long discounted, makes this book a standout." ―Jennifer Sauter-Price from Read Early And Daily (R.E.A.D.) in Arlington, Virginia

Latkes and Applesauce

Latkes and Applesauce by Fran Manushkin

"When a blizzard arrives on the first day of Hanukkah, Rebekah and Ezra are afraid it will ruin Hanukkah, but with the love of their family and two little lost souls they will find their own little miracle. Latkes and Applesauce is a heartwarming holiday story to be shared again and again with those you love." ―Gretchen Shuler, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

Tomi dePaola's Book of Christmas Carols

Tomie dePaola’s Book of Christmas Carols by Tomie dePaola

"Christmas Caroling is a beloved holiday tradition in so many homes and communities. This stunning collection of 32 carols includes well known favorites Away in a Manger, Silent Night and We Wish You a Merry Christmas, as well as classics Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella, The Friendly Beasts and the Wassail Song-making this the perfect gift for Baby’s first Christmas, a young musician’s holiday shelf, or even a coffee table gift for a family." ―Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina

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Southern Book Prize Finalist!

What’s the best Southern book of the year?

This Vicious Grace by Emily Thiede

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This Vicious Grace by Emily Thiede
Wednesday Books / June 2022


More Reviews from Haunted Book Shop

Southern Book Prize Finalist

I thoroughly enjoyed how Alessa came into her own as a Finestra too powerful for a single Fonte. The question posed in the book and in this [and our] society: what it means to be selfish and selfless. Is a hero the selfish Ghiotte, or the selfless Finestra, and is the balance necessary to be able to give your best? Can’t wait to see how the next book addresses this! Dante (and Alessa and his banter!) is just the best and I’m anxious to see what happens to him in #2

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


Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies…

Dinosaurs by Lydia Millet

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Dinosaurs by Lydia Millet
W. W. Norton & Company / October 2022


More Reviews from Novel

After reading (and loving) A Children’s Bible, I was not expecting Dinosaurs to be so gentle, so earnest, so attuned to its characters’ flaws and traumas while being even more attuned to the ways their pain has strengthened them with empathy and circumspection. This is a brief and generous novel that begins with our hero’s 2,500-mile journey on foot from NYC to Phoenix and ends with him getting cactus barbs torn out of his back with pliers, with so much good stuff sandwiched in the middle there.

Reviewed by Kat Leache, Novel. in Memphis, Tennessee



Bookseller Buzz

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Spotlight on: Kiss Her Once for Me by Alison Cochrun

 

Alison Cochrun, photo credit Hayley Downing-Fairless

When I first started writing queer books, I was terrified that readers would think they weren’t “queer enough” or queer in the right kind of way. I hadn’t been out long, and in many ways, I was this baby queer in a thirty-three-year-old body. I felt like people would read my book and revoke my gay card. With Kiss Her Once for Me, I was able to mostly move past my queer imposter syndrome—queer people aren’t a monolith, and all I can do is write from my own experiences. That said, it’s important to me to write stories that deal with queerness (or at least what queerness means to me), not simply stories that feature a queer romantic pairing. I like writing about characters who are questioning their sexuality, characters who are fluid and defining things for themselves, characters who are in search of queer community, because these are all things that were critical to my own journey.” ―Alison Cochrun, Interview, Musing, Parnassus Books

What booksellers are saying about Kiss Her Once for Me

Kiss Her Once for Me by Alison Cochrun
  • Alison Cochrun’s new novel is a wintry delight! Ellie’s struggles with real issues – anxiety, fear of failure, parental boundaries, and sexual identity. At the same time, Kiss Her Once for Me is a beautiful, steamy romance with witty banter, a fake marriage, and a love trapezoid. I loved it.
      ―Monica Swofford from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC | Buy from Bookmarks

  • If you’re sitting around this holiday season and you’re thinking, "What I REALLY would like is a sapphic holiday love story with fake dating, forced proximity, baking, crazy grandmas, and lots of snow" then look no further!
      ―Jennifer Jones from Bookmiser, Inc. in Marietta, GA | Buy from Bookmiser

  • If this doesn’t become a Netflix movie I’ll eat all the hats. Funny, thoughtful, relevant, this is a Christmas read with a big brain and a bigger heart. Cochrun has repackaged the rom com troupe of fake coupling and hidden desires, within the setting of Classic Holiday Mansion. For Christina Lauren and Casey McQuiston fans.
      ―Aimee Keeble from Main Street Books in Davidson, NC | Buy from Main Street Books

  • If seeing Bill Pullman lean against a wall and look directly into Sandra Bullock’s eyes in the 1995 rom-com "While You Were Sleeping" fundamentally changed your brain chemistry (i.e., made you a butch lesbian), this is the exact book for you. This novel is a lovely exploration of second chances and accepting failure, even when it feels like failing isn’t an option. I was very charmed by Jack’s weird and wacky family and Ellie’s fake dating scheme! For an optimal experience, read with tea in hand and Christmas music on in the background.
      ―Gaby Iori from Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews in Chapel Hill, NC | Buy from Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews

  • Pansexual demisexual protagonist? Count me in! If you’ve been looking for more queer holiday romance rep with a Hallmark-y feel this is a great choice!
      ―Lana Repic from E. Shaver, bookseller in Savannah, GA | Buy from E. Shaver, bookseller

About Alison Cochrun

Alison Cochrun is a former high school English teacher and a current writer of queer love stories, including her debut novel, The Charm Offensive. She lives outside of Portland, Oregon with her giant dog and a vast collection of brightly colored books. You can find her online at AlisonCochrun.com or on Instagram and Twitter at @AlisonCochrun.

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The Bandit Queens by Parini Shroff

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The Bandit Queens by Parini Shroff
Ballantine Books / January 2023


More Reviews from Sundog Books

It is an accomplishment when a novel can take on heartbreaking situations and also contain so much humor as well. Geeta’s husband left without a trace five years ago. All the villagers think she has murdered him. So when her women’s business loan group members start having problems with their drinking, abusive husbands, they naturally go to her to enlist her help in murdering them. A fun story about the ability of women friends to stick together and the joys of motherhood (not really). I will highly recommend this one.

Reviewed by Kathy Clemmons, Sundog Books in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida



A Giant Win by Tom Coughlin

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A Giant Win by Tom Coughlin
 Grand Central Publishing / December 2022


More Reviews from Fiction Addiction

I am a football fan who happens to adore the New York Giants and the Manning QBs. I have always appreciated Tom Coughlin as a coach and as a person. How can you not admire a man who got frostbite coaching a game and had no idea? Clearly, the book was a must-read for me, and it did not disappoint. The dissection of his first Giants Super Bowl win I believe is a diary any football fan will relish. The little things that every coach will emphasize are explained in meticulous detail. His path to coaching and his stops along the way are well documented, his emotions are poured out onto the page, and he does not spare himself. What shines through on every page is his love for his family, his faith, and the players he coached. They may not have been friends, but they were his football family. The book is a quick read, you feel like you are sitting in the room with a friend talking about their life and career. One of the most engaging football biographies I have read.

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

Heartbreak Boys by Simon James Green

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Heartbreak Boys by Simon James Green
Clarion Books, / December 2022


More Reviews from Bookmiser

This crazy, madcap YA novel is just the thing you’re looking for! Nate and Jack used to be the best of friends. But after Jack came out, they drifted apart. Now they’re at prom and they’ve just discovered that their boyfriends are cheating on them…with each other. So they decide to team up and make the most fabulous, jealousy-inducing social media account of the summer to make their exes jealous. But that turns out to be a little tougher than they thought.


Reviewed by Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia

Snow Horses by Patricia MacLachlan

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Snow Horses by Patricia MacLachlan
Margaret K. McElderry Books / November 2022


More Reviews from The Country Bookshop

In the morning, the trumpets will play and the sun will rise and the new year will dawn. Tonight, however, the rhythmic crunch of the horse hooves on falling snow makes the world a magical place. Absolutely stunning illustrations and a sweet story will surely make this one a new holiday favorite for many families.

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

Why Raeliana Ended Up at the Duke’s Mansion, Vol. 2 by Whale (Original story by Milcha)

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Why Raeliana Ended Up at the Duke’s Mansion, Vol. 2 by Whale (Original story by Milcha)
Yen Press / November 2022


More Reviews from E. Shaver, bookseller

While I’m always here for a slow burn, I can’t help but adore how sweet and tender Noah is towards Raeliana. We often see male romance protagonists in this sub-genre come across as cold, stubborn, and belligerent, which has its own charm, but this is a swoon-worthy change of pace. True to form for this sub-genre, Raeliana is a strong-willed and capable leading lady that never fails to entertain! I can’t wait for volume three!

Reviewed by Lana Repic, E. Shaver bookseller in Savannah, Georgia

Read This Next!

Books on the horizon: Forthcoming favorites from Southern indies…

How Far the Light Reaches by Sabrina Imbler

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How Far the Light Reaches by Sabrina Imbler
 Little, Brown and Company / December 2022


More Reviews from Parnassus Books

A December 2022 Read This Next! Title

Wholly original, astonishingly informative, and powerfully written. Imbler describes marine life with reverence and compelling detail, and deftly intertwines the lives of the sea creatures with stories of their own experiences with gender, queerness, and identity.

Reviewed by Sarah Arnold, Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee

Southern Bestsellers

What’s popular this week with Southern Readers.

Trust And Then There Was Light The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida
Getting Lost Christmas Owl

[ See the full list ]

Parting Thought

“Only a generation of readers will spawn a generation of writers”
– Steven Spielberg

Publisher: The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance / siba@sibaweb.com
Editor: Nicki Leone / nicki@sibaweb.com
Advertising: Linda-Marie Barrett / lindamarie@sibaweb.com
The Southern Bookseller Review is a project of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, in support of independent bookstores in the South | SIBA | 51 Pleasant Ridge Drive | Asheville, NC 28805

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The Southern Bookseller Review 12/13/22

The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of December 13, 2022

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The week of December 13, 2022

A light in the dark.

The Country Bookshop during the country blackout, photo credit The Southern Pines Pilot

On Saturday December 3rd, a gunfire attack on two power substations in Moore County, North Carolina plunged the entire county into darkness. The attack damaged equipment that regulates the power grid, making repairs complicated and slow. And while Duke Energy’s crews worked around the clock, the country was without power for over a week. A curfew was implemented. Schools and businesses had to close. People without power had to go to shelters for food, warmth, and medical assistance. Most disturbing, it was determined that this was not a case of simple vandalism, but a deliberate attack on the power grid.

One of the damaged substations was located near Pinehurst, NC, the home of The Country Bookshop, the area’s long-standing and much-beloved local bookstore. On the Tuesday following the attack, with the lights still out, store manager Kimberly Daniels Taws opened the shop and distributed free children’s books, as well as hot soup, chili, and snacks.

"We wanted today to bring a little spirit to everybody," she said to The Shelf Awareness newsletter, noting that the attack had demoralized the community. Daniels Taws worked with a local bank, which provided the funds to donate the children’s books.

The response from the community was "heartwarming." People flocked to the only open store in downtown Southern Pines, as much to be a part of the gathering as to have a bowl of chili. The store ran out of food, exceeded their donation in books given away. The community rallied around Country Bookshop, which was determined to stay open throughout the blackout as a place for people to come together.

Daniels Taws noted that bookshop staff set out to "remind people of what our community really is and who we really are." They did.

Exhortations to "Shop Local" are familiar to shoppers in the holiday season, and the great "Blackout Book Bonanza" at Country Bookshop last week is an example of why. Country Bookshop is not unique in its impulse as a local business to give back to its community in a crisis. Local businesses thrive and fail as their neighborhoods and towns thrive and fail. When you buy a gift at a local business, you aren’t just giving something to a friend or a family member, you are also giving something to your own community.

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Southern Book Prize Finalist!

What’s the best Southern book of the year?

Child by Judy Goldman

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Child by Judy Goldman
University of South Carolina Press / May 2022


More Reviews from Fiction Addiction

Southern Book Prize Finalist

In her lovely memoir, Judy Goldman reflects on what it was like to be a young Jewish girl raised by a Black nanny in the 1940s and 50s south. Mattie Culp became a part of the Kurtz family: sleeping in young Judy’s bedroom, using the family bathroom, celebrating holidays with them—things unheard of in the Jim Crow south. Now in her 80s, Goldman reflects on what Mattie had to give up—including her own child—in order to make the Kurtz family’s life so much easier.

VOTE FOR THE SOUTHERN BOOK PRIZE

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


Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies…

Animal Life by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir

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Animal Life by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir
Grove Press, Black Cat / December 2022


More Reviews from Bookmiser

Olafdottir takes us to Iceland a few days before Christmas where a midwife, Domhildur, has just delivered her 1,922nd baby. She comes from a long line of midwives on her mother’s side and her father’s family work as undertakers. Her family deals with beginnings and endings, life and death, and sunlight and darkness. “I have come to the conclusion that the one who calls himself the master of all creatures is in fact the most vulnerable of all animals…the most fragile of the fragile on the planet.” These words, written by Domhildur’s great-aunt, are discovered in some manuscripts left in a closet after her death. Domhildur reads her great-aunt’s reflections on humans, life, and loves, while a storm is moving into Reykjavik. Will the prediction in these pages come to be reality? Will mankind be “the most short-lived species on earth”?

Reviewed by Nancy Pierce, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia



Bookseller Buzz

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Spotlight on: Cursed Bunny: Stories by Bora Chung

 

Bora Chung, Photo credit AFP Jung Yeon-je

I think urban legends, myths and folktales constantly tell us that what you know is not all, and you shouldn’t be arrogant enough to think that what your five senses can sense is all there is to feel and perceive and think.” ―Bora Chung, Interview, The Korea Herald

What booksellers are saying about Cursed Bunny: Stories

Cursed Bunny: Stories by Bora Chung
  • Cursed Bunny is a fantastically weird and thought-provoking collection of horror, sci-fi, and fantasy stories that had me ruminating long after I had finished them. Bora Chung takes the bases of human nature (and a lot of the worst ones) and puts them on display like an open wound for the reader. Along with covering individual issues like greed, despair, or love… the stories also tackle societal issues regarding feminism and poverty as well. This book is perfect for horror fans that also enjoy literary fiction.
      ―Stuart McCommon from Novel in Memphis, TN | Buy from Novel.

  • A fantastic, Korean story collection that includes nightmarish tales you won’t be able to put down. Bora Chung is bringing a new depth of not only gore and terror to traditional horror but also something more provocative as well. Tales that range from heads emerging from toilets, body horror that you’ll remember for days, and even some more sci-fi elements as well, this story collection is not for the faint of heart. An unforgettable book that’ll keep you thinking for days.
      ―Grace Sullivan from Fountain Books in Richmond, VA | Buy from Fountain Bookstore

  • Delightfully gruesome, disarmingly weird, and incredibly sharp; Bora Chung’s debut collection Cursed Bunny is an incredibly memorable trip into the mind of an amazing new voice. From a head growing out of a toilet wanting to be free, a snared fox that bleeds gold, or the titular cursed bunny; each of Chung’s amazing stories reads like a dark fable that would give the Grimm brothers a run for their money. With themes of gender, greed, and technology, Cursed Bunny is a must read for those who take their humor black and their ideas big. So very good!
      ―Caleb Masters from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC | Buy from Bookmarks

About Bora Chung

Bora Chung has written three novels and three collections of short stories. She has an MA in Russian and East European area studies from Yale University and a PhD in Slavic literature from Indiana University. She has taught Russian language and literature and science fiction studies at Yonsei University and translates modern literary works from Russian and Polish into Korean.

Anton Hur was born in Stockholm, Sweden. He won a PEN Translates award for Kang Kyeong-ae’s The Underground Village and his translation of Sang Young Park’s Love in the Big City was longlisted for the Booker International Prize in 2022. He lives in Seoul.

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The Rewind by Allison Winn Scotch

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The Rewind by Allison Winn Scotch
Berkley / November 2022


More Reviews from E, Shaver, bookseller

Meet Frankie and Ezra. They’re about to ‘Party Like It’s 1999,’ if they can remember what happened during the last 24 hours. Find out what happens when you mix exes at a wedding, throw in a little college shenanigans, and stir up a decade-old hatred. Filled with ’90s nostalgia (including dial-up, pay phones, the start of Google, and, yes, online dating), you won’t put this down simply because you’ll want to know what exactly Frankie and Ezra did that night. If you’re looking for a light romance to bring in 2023, here it is! (Only thing missing: A curated list of songs mentioned in the book.)

Reviewed by Jenny Gilroy, E. Shaver bookseller in Savannah, Georgia



Whorephobia by Lizzie Borden

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Whorephobia by Lizzie Borden
 Seven Stories Press / December 2022


More Reviews from Fountain Bookstore

A gorgeously done collection of all things stripping and sex work told by those who know it best. With stories told by 20-some contributors to this essay collection, the lessons and experiences recounted in this span decades. Focused first on the strip clubs that populated New York City in the late 80s and 90s, the switch to more modern accounts is refreshing and makes this a current and fantastically well-done anthology on pro-sex work.

Reviewed by Grace Sullivan, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

How to Excavate a Heart by Jake Maia Arlow

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How to Excavate a Heart by Jake Maia Arlow
HarperTeen / November 2022


More Reviews from Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews

This is the book I, a Jewish lesbian nerd with bushy hair and a love of corgis, needed as a teen. How to Excavate a Heart has all of the tropes us hopeless romantics love- a meet-cute, enemies-to-lovers, and kissing in the snow. It also has really great advice that teenage me would’ve benefited from: your partner should add to your life, but they shouldn’t be your whole life. There’s so much beauty in the world, and part of that can be your kind of mean, hot Jewish girlfriend, but she doesn’t need to be all of it! Besides the invaluable lessons in the book, the love story is compelling and well-paced, and sweet. Shani and May are learning about themselves and love and how to deal with parents and fish fossils together, which is what love is really about. Fill yourself with holiday cheer and read this book!


Julia Hirschfield from Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

How We Say I Love You by Nicole Chen

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How We Say I Love You by Nicole Chen
Knopf Books for Young Readers / December 2022


More Reviews from Bookmarks

How We Say I Love You reminds readers there are many ways to show love in your family. The story follows an Asian American girl through a day with her family, who show their love through actions like packing a homemade lunch or doing their best at school. This book is a beautiful way to talk about love and families with even the youngest of readers.

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

Read This Next!

Books on the horizon: Forthcoming favorites from Southern indies…

My Darkest Prayer by S. A. Cosby

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My Darkest Prayer by S. A. Cosby
 Flatiron Books / December 2022


More Reviews from Union Ave. Books

A December 2022 Read This Next! Title

In this novel, readers are introduced to a story where religion, region, karma, and race intersect. Nathan, (former marine and ex-cop) has experienced loss of his own, and he’s dealt his own hand of karma to others. So, when the local sheriff’s office doubles down on corruption, he takes the case of a local minister’s death into his own hands in an attempt to bring peace to the congregation. This novel is full of twists and turns that will leave your jaw on the floor. This novel dissects the weight of loss on a person’s moral compass. In this small Virginia community is where the darkest secrets are revealed–where the darkest prayers are heard. S.A. Cosby is a force to be reckoned with.

Reviewed by Leo Coffey, Union Ave. Books in Knoxville, Tennessee