The Southern Bookseller Review 1/10/23

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

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The Southern Bookseller Review: A Book for Every Reader

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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."


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


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.


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


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


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.

The Hunter by Jennifer Herrera


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


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


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


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


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


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 /
Editor: Nicki Leone /
Advertising: Linda-Marie Barrett /
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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