The Southern Bookseller Review 10/25/22

The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of October 25, 2022

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The Southern Bookseller Review: A Book for Every Reader

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The week of October 25, 2022

Make a bookseller’s day!

James Patterson, Author Photo Credit Stephanie Diani

There are about 70 Southern bookstores whose staff picks and reviews appear in The Southern Bookseller Review. That represents nearly 400 individual booksellers who liked the book they were reading enough to write a recommendation.

SBR is founded on the conviction that independent booksellers are one of the most knowledgeable and trustworthy sources for the avid reader looking for their next great book. SBR reviews are written not by anonymous avatars with cryptic usernames, but by real people who talk face to face with their customers. If you have ever discovered a new writer or a new favorite book with the help of an independent bookseller, you can return the favor nominating them for the James Patterson Holiday Bookstore Bonus Program.

Patterson has pledged a personal contribution of $250,000, to be distributed in amounts of $500, to 500 booksellers from bookstores who are members of the American Booksellers Association. Booksellers can be nominated by bookstore customers, owners, employees, managers, fellow booksellers, publishing professionals, or authors.

Nominations can be made online by completing and submitting a simple nomination form, which asks one easy question: “In 250 words or less, why does this bookseller deserve a holiday bonus?”

The deadline to nominate a bookstore employee for a holiday bonus is November 16, 2022. Show your favorite local bookseller some love. Nominate them for a holiday bonus:

Read This Now | Read This Next | The Bookseller Directory

Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies…

Case Study by Graeme Macrae Burnet


Case Study by Graeme Macrae Burnet
Biblioasis / November 2022

More Reviews from Flyleaf Books

Fab. a. suspenseful page-turner; b. hilariously cringey; c. who doesn’t need therapy including your therapist? d. elegantly creepy; e. a novel perfect for these times but set in those times.

Reviewed by Erica Eisdorfer, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Bookseller Buzz


Spotlight on: Into the Riverlands by Nghi Vo


Nghi Vo, Photo credit CJ Foeckler

If the Singing Hills stories have a theme, it’s that they’re stories about stories: how we tell stories and why we tell stories, and where we get it wrong and where we get it right, even when the stories aren’t real or true. When the third volume comes out, I think it will help people see the whole scope of the series, because we’re going back and forth in Chih’s timeline, so back and forth in history. I’m asking people to sit with me for about 100 pages, and just trust me that, whatever I’m telling them, they’re going to have a good time. That’s my hope. ” ―Nghi Vo, Interview, Locus Magazine

What booksellers are saying about Into the Riverlands

Into the Riverlands by Nghi Vo
  • I love The Singing Hills cycle by Nghi Vo. Each novella is so short and yet so mythic, intricate, and immersive. In this third in the series, which can be read in any order, the wandering cleric Chih enters the Riverlands, a place haunted by legendary martial artists. I enjoyed the journey and Chih’s new companions—but I did end the book a little unclear about something! I had a little trouble concentrating this time so might just be me!
      ―Megan Bell from Underground Books in Carrollton, GA | Buy from Underground Books

  • Somehow the Singing Hills Cycle just gets better and better, and Empress set the bar high.  ―Rosie Dauval from One More Page Books in Arlington, VA | Buy from One More Page Books

  • This absolutely delightful novella is the third in Vo’s Singing Hills cycle, though the books read very easily as stand-alones. In a high fantasy setting inspired by imperial China, a cleric roams the world looking for stories to write down. This series reads like its own mythology, full of stories-within-stories that help build a rich and multipartite world, and it brings me immediately back to my childhood love of Greek, Hindu, and Norse myths. The stories are imaginative, and the characters’ reflections on them are thoughtful and striking – this book has an impact well beyond its ~110 pages.  ―Akil Guruparan from Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, VA | Buy from Fountain Bookstore

About Nghi Vo

Nghi Vo is the author of the novels Siren Queen and The Chosen and the Beautiful, as well as the acclaimed novellas When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain and The Empress of Salt and Fortune, a Locus and Ignyte Award finalist and the winner of the Crawford Award and the Hugo Award. Born in Illinois, she now lives on the shores of Lake Michigan. She believes in the ritual of lipstick, the power of stories, and the right to change your mind.

Foster by Claire Keegan


Foster by Claire Keegan
Grove Press / November 2022

More Reviews from Avid Bookshop quietly epic works of art. Foster is the story of a lonely child sent to live with relatives one summer, not knowing whether she would return home. The love and compassion shown to her on the Irish farm starkly contrast with the child’s family. Keegan’s prose is gorgeous.

Reviewed by Rachel Watkins, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Dickens and Prince by Nick Hornby


Dickens and Prince by Nick Hornby
Riverhead Books / November 2022

More Reviews from E. Shaver bookseller

This was a quick and fun read about two seemingly incredibly different individuals who actually had much more in common than I knew. Hornby’s writing is engaging and funny as always. I came away with some fantastic trivia knowledge and a greater appreciation for both Charles Dickens and Prince. This will be a hit with the pop culture nerds.

Reviewed by Melissa Taylor, E. Shaver bookseller in Savannah, Georgia

The Luminaries by Susan Dennard


The Luminaries by Susan Dennard
Tor Teen / November 2022

More Reviews from Main Street Books

This dark, twisty fantasy makes the monsters that roam the forest seem to jump straight off the page! I loved the journeys the characters took and this should immediately be given to anyone looking for a fantasy that is filled with tension, intrigue, a little romance, and just overall creepiness. I will be waiting on the edge of my seat for the second book!

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

A Spark in the Dark by Pam Fong


A Spark in the Dark by Pam Fong
Greenwillow Books / October 2022

More Reviews from Midtown Reader

This is a lovely book. Beautifully written and illustrated, it talks about darkness and hope in ways both children and adults can appreciate. And yes, I teared up at the end.

Reviewed by Tanya Eakin, Midtown Reader in Tallahassee, Florida

Freestyle: A Graphic Novel by Gale Galligan


Freestyle: A Graphic Novel by Gale Galligan
Graphix / October 2022

More Reviews from Bookmarks

Gale Galligan is THE BEST! I have been so excited to see her first post-BSC graphic novel and Freestyle surpasses all expectations. It’s quirky, inclusive, inspiring, and so very real. And what a concept! Competitive B-boying yo-yo-ing was fun and interesting to read about and I love the way that Galligan captured motion in her art. This will likely be my favorite kids book of the year!

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

Read This Next!

Books on the horizon: Forthcoming favorites from Southern indies…

Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver


Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver
 Harper / October 2022

More Reviews from Wordsworth Books

An October 2022 Read This Next! Title

Barbara Kingsolver’s Demon Copperhead is a brilliant retelling of the David Copperfield story from the perspective of the poor son of a teenage mother living in rural Appalachia. From the first sentence, Demon’s voice grabs us and takes us on an unforgettable journey through his early life. This novel about a resilient boy develops empathy for families and children so frequently dismissed in the national discourse. It is a masterful American story.

Reviewed by Lia Lent, Wordsworth Books in Little Rock, Arkansas

Southern Bestsellers

What’s popular this week with Southern Readers.

Lark Ascending Long-Winded Short Stories The Sentence
The Need to Be Whole The Island of Spies

[ See the full list ]

Parting Thought

“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”
– Robert Frost

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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