Read our latest staff reviews and recommendations featured in the The Southern Bookseller Review.

Surya Bonaly is an amazing Olympic ice skater who astounded the world with her abilities on ice. Fearless Heart tells her story with beautiful illustrations that shows Surya’s life, her challenges, and her triumph. Fearless Heart will inspire the reader to work hard to follow their dreams, and stand up for what they believe in.

Fearless Heart by Frank Murphy, (List Price: $17.95, Triumph Books, 9781629379340, January 2022)

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

The Violin Conspiracy is listed as a mystery and while the theft of a ten-million-dollar violin is at the heart of the book, the story is so much more than the theft and who stole it. It is about music and how someone who is a true musician can forget the terrible things around him and just live for the music. It is a story about the violin itself and what it meant to an enslaved boy who was subjected to horrors we can’t imagine. And most of all it is the story of Ray and how his grandmother, his violin, his mentor, and those few who believed a young Black boy could become a famous classical violinist helped him to become the man and the musician he came to be. I know absolutely nothing about classical music, and there was a lot that went over my head, but this was written in such a way I was moved by Ray’s dedication and how much music meant to him. This should be read by every aspiring musician, especially those who have experienced prejudice as Ray did. It is a lesson in how to transcend slights and injustice and become the best person you can be.

The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb, (List Price: $28.00, 9780593315415, February 2022)

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

The story of Helen Keller is one that will inspire everyone. She Persisted: Helen Keller is perfect for the young reader who is interested in historical figures, or people with disabilities. This book will encourage your young readers to strive to overcome challenges that might arise, and introduce them to challenges other people live with.

She Persisted: Helen Keller by Courtney Sheinmel, (List Price: $5.99, 9780593115695, December 2021)

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

Greenwich Park is a fabulous debut novel. The book starts off with a letter to Helen from someone in prison wanting her to know the truth. So, you know from the beginning that something bad is going to happen, but you don’t know who wrote the letter. Told from three points of view–Helen’s, who hopes to finally be bringing a baby to term after many miscarriages; Serena’s, who is Helen’s college friend and now married to her brother Rory; and Kate’s, Helen’s child hood friend who is her brother Charlie’s on again and off again girlfriend–the story takes time to develop but once it starts going it seems to go in lots of different directions at once. The ending will surprise you, and then the rest of the ending will surprise you even more – and then the last sentence on the last page happens.

Greenwich Park by Katherine Faulkner, (List Price: $27.00, Gallery Books, 9781982150310, January 2022)

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

When a scientific team discover a mummified body of a prehistoric girl buried in the ice of the Arctic, they accidentally release a pathogen that will cause a pandemic that will last for generations, and change the face of humanity forever. As decades go by, people are faced with unbelievable choices when dealing with a searingly unending pandemic. What should they do to preserve humanity? Should they end the suffering of those who are ill? Could they assist the grieving by giving them one more day with their loved ones? What is it like for those infected with the virus? Where did this alien pathogen actually come from? If there is no cure, should they reach for the stars?Each story and character is vaguely interwoven with each other as choices are made on how to help those afflicted with this plague. What is the best answer? Each generation must choose for themselves. How High We Go in the Dark is a thought provoking novel that will show the depths of humanity over generations as they face an unending pandemic.

How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu, (List Price: 27.99, William Morrow, 9780063072640, January 2022)

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


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