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


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.


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


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


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.

Everything Calls for Salvation by Daniele Mencarelli


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


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


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


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


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


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 /
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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