The Southern Bookseller Review 11/15/22

The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of November 15, 2022

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The Southern Bookseller Review: A Book for Every Reader

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The week of November 15, 2022

Lights! Camera! Fiction!

The 2022 VIndies

The Oscars may be months away, but tonight people who love independent bookstores can tune in to watch the 2022 VIndies Awards at 7:00 PM Eastern. The VIndies are a celebration of "the best in bookstore video" from indie bookstores from New York to Florida, and from West Virginia to Louisiana.

127 videos were nominated for the 2022 VIndies from stores in the SIBA and NAIBA regions. Taken all together the nominations represent the range of bookseller creativity, ingenuity, and occasionally bookseller silliness. Tonight the winners will be selected from 36 finalists in the categories of Animation, Around the Store, Comedy/Musical, Community Work, Drama, Staff Picks, and Trending Sounds,

The VIndies launched in 2021 as a way to honor the indie bookstore community’s perseverance during the ongoing pandemic lock down. Stores may have had to shut their doors, but they found many ways to reach readers, including having a lot of fun creating videos for their regular customers.

The finalist videos for 2022 document bookseller joy in sharing their love of books, their integral roles in their communities, their resilience in the face of challenges and adversity, and their ongoing devotion to JRR Tolkien.

Come join the celebration of your favorite indie booksellers. Unlike the Oscars, you can attend the VIndies in your pajamas, and no one will make you pose on a red carpet.

Register for the VIndies Awards | See all the VIndies finalists

Read This Now | Read This Next | The Bookseller Directory

Southern Book Prize Finalist!

What’s the best Southern book of the year?

The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb


The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb
Anchor / February 2022

More Reviews from The Little Bookshop

Southern Book Prize Finalist

There are so many captivating things about this novel…the insight the reader gets as to what it takes to be a classical musician, the background on the history of violins (and one violin in particular) and how they’re made, the main character’s determination in the face of struggle, family dynamics and expectations, racial issues that rear their ugly heads, and a mysterious theft of a priceless instrument…I could go on and on. Put all this together, and you get a beautiful story about a boy who loved his grandmother more than anyone in the world…one who persevered to become a classical violinist and prove to everyone that he could do it. Brendan Slocumb effortlessly keeps his story flowing, leaving the reader rooting for Ray McMillian while trying to put the pieces of the theft together. Such a great read!


Reviewed by Mary Patterson from The Little Bookshop in Midlothian, Virginia

Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies…

They’re Going to Love You by Meg Howrey


They’re Going to Love You by Meg Howrey
Doubleday / November 2022

More Reviews from Parnassus Books

I adored They’re Going to Love You so much that a part of me is convinced that Meg Howrey wrote it for me, specifically. This is such a gorgeous novel about being an artist in the modern world, the sacrifices we make and the people we hurt. When I hit the last page, I didn’t want to let these characters go—I adored every word.

Reviewed by Lindsay Lynch, Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee

Bookseller Buzz


Spotlight on: Better Than Fiction by Alexa Martin


Alexa Martin, Photo credit Kristie Chadwick

I know this is so cliché, but honestly, just write. When I sat down to start writing, I had no idea what I was doing. It took me forever. Just actually starting to write and then reaching out and finding a community. I actually found my first writing partner in a mom group. Neither of us had any idea what we were doing. We were just like, ‘You’re so good. You’re so good too.’ That’s all it was — finding support because it can be really lonely. Sitting down and finding one person that you can trust not to just stomp on you is really important.” ―Alexa Martin, Interview, Medium

What booksellers are saying about Better Than Fiction

Better Than Fiction by Alexa Martin
  • Drew isn’t a reader. But she did LOVE her grandma. So when Grandma died and left Drew her bookshop, Drew put aside all her dreams and ran the bookshop. Now, she hasn’t had much luck with men, including her human garbage can of a father, so she’s just put dating out of her mind. But then in walks Jasper Williams: popular romance author and sheer perfection of a human being. She doesn’t stand a chance.
      ― Jennifer Jones from Bookmiser, Inc. in Marietta, GA | Buy from Bookmiser

  • A rom-com that centers around Drew, a woman whose grandmother has just passed and in turn has left her the old bookstore she ran for years. One issue: Drew is not a book lover, and she can’t especially stand romance. And then comes Jasper Williams, the dreamiest romance author, whose mission becomes for Drew to fall in love with reading. It’s fun, steamy, and has a fantastic cast of characters, especially the residential book club The Dirty Birds. I also loved how this portrays grieving, and that adds something so special to this book. Sure to make your heart warm up with just utter joy, this is the cutest!
      ―Grace Sullivan from Fountain Books in Richmond, VA | Buy from Fountain Bookstore

  • An utterly delightful read — how can anyone resist a romance set in an indie bookstore? I loved that Drew Young, new owner of her late grandmother’s beloved Book Nook, is NOT a reader. It was such a fun set-up for Drew’s romance with a romance novelist. It’s catnip for bookstore lovers. I adored that Alexa Martin wrote in so many lovely day trips out of Denver; I felt like an armchair tourist reading this book, and I made a list for the next time I’m in Colorado!!
      ―Kate Storhoff from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC | Buy from Bookmarks

About Alexa Martin

Alexa Martin is a writer and stay at home mom. A Nashville transplant, she’s intent on instilling a deep love and respect for the great Dolly Parton in her four children and husband. The Playbook Series was inspired by the eight years she spent as a NFL wife and her deep love of all things pop culture, sparkles, leggings, and wine. When she’s not repeating herself to her kids, you can find her catching up on whatever Real Housewives franchise is currently airing or filling up her Etsy cart with items she doesn’t need.

The Sorcerer of Pyongyang by Marcel Theroux


The Sorcerer of Pyongyang by Marcel Theroux
Atria Books / November 2022

More Reviews from Flyleaf Books

Jun-su, a young boy living through the brutality of the North Korean Famine, comes across a copy of the Dungeons and Dragons Dungeon Master’s Guide and falls deeply in love with the worlds he can now create, enormously different from the life he’s used to under Kim Jong-il. The strange book’s cover and themes land him in a brutal prison camp where he has to fight to stay alive and try to hold on to himself in the face of totalitarianism. A well-researched, well-written and beautifully told portrait of a kid growing up different in 1990s North Korea trying to do more than survive.

Reviewed by Colin Sneed, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Deadly Triangle by Susan Goldenberg


Deadly Triangle by Susan Goldenberg
Dundurn Press / November 2022

More Reviews from M. Judson

An in-depth look at a true crime story I’d never heard before. Each chapter is a isolated chunk of the narrative- the players histories, the actual crime, the after. While this isolated nature can lead to repeating facts, it makes this book perfect book for people who want to pick up and read a single chapter at a time.

Reviewed by Lauren Kohnle, M Judson booksellers in Greenville, South Carolina

Whiteout by Dhonielle Clayton


Whiteout by Dhonielle Clayton
Quill Tree Books / November 2022

More Reviews from Fountain Bookstore

This adorable YA romance told in short stories from six of the best authors out there is just as good as you hope it will be. Where the previous compilation from these folks took place over the same day in the same city in slightly-related stories, Whiteout is linked together in a more up-front way. A group of friends and partners in Atlanta are working to help a couple reconcile during a city-wide snowstorm that has them trapped in cars, airports, trains, and buildings around town. Inclusive, sweet, and funny, this has it all.

Reviewed by Andrea Richardson, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Chirri & Chirra, In the Night by Kaya Doi


Chirri & Chirra, In the Night by Kaya Doi
Enchanted Lion Books / November 2022

More Reviews from Avid Bookshop

I don’t know how Kaya Doi does it, but even though this is EIGHTH book in the Chirri & Chirra series, it’s still just as magical and enjoyable to read as the first. The formula, rather than being tiresome, is soothing and reassuring—you know from the first "dring-dring!" that you are setting off on a charming adventure with tasty treats and friendly animals. This one, with a full moon festival in the forest, works particularly well for bedtime reading. 

Reviewed by Hannah DeCamp, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Coven by Jennifer Dugan


Coven by Jennifer Dugan
G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers / November 2022

More Reviews from E. Shaver, bookseller

I haven’t read very many Graphic Novels, but I highly enjoyed coven! The story was intriguing and I loved the characters and the representation. I also really enjoyed the illustration style. It was eye-catching and detailed. Coven is a perfect witchy, fall read.

Emma Tara, E. Shaver bookseller in Savannah, Georgia

Read This Next!

Books on the horizon: Forthcoming favorites from Southern indies…

Now Is Not the Time to Panic by Kevin Wilson


Now Is Not the Time to Panic by Kevin Wilson
 Avon / November 2022

More Reviews Fiction Addiction

An November 2022 Read This Next! Title

Your favorite Gods of the Gates stars are back, this time with Peter and Maria’s story front and center! The two co-stars have a rocky beginning, with Maria leaving Peter after a one-night stand, only to run into each other the next day at the casting call. Then they spend six years together filming on a remote Irish island, forming their own little family with the crew — but not in a romantic relationship. They both have baggage, and they both have to face themselves and each other after filming wraps, but as Olivia Dade’s books always are, readers will willingly go along for the ride. Dade’s characters are so much fun and amazingly 3-dimensional in a way that makes you root for them wholeheartedly. And this book in particular carries a lot of emotion that I think will resonate with readers with their own emotional baggage.

Reviewed by Melissa Oates, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

Southern Bestsellers

What’s popular this week with Southern Readers.

The Passenger The Novelist as Vocation West With Giraffes
Braiding Sweetgrass The Luminaries

[ See the full list ]

Parting Thought

“Good books don’t give up all their secrets at once.”
– Stephen King

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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