The Southern Bookseller Review 1/3/22

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

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The Southern Bookseller Review: A Book for Every Reader

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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 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


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.


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


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


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.

The Survivalists by Kashana Cauley


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


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


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


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


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


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 /
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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