The Southern Bookseller Review 12/07/21

The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of December 7, 2021

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December 7, 2021

SBP: The Children’s Finalists

Children's Finalists

Voting is ongoing for the 2022 Southern Book Prize. Have you cast your ballot for the best Southern books of the year? VOTE HERE

Here are what some booksellers have to say about the finalists in the Children’s category:

Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston

This book has everything! Magic, mystery, a diverse cast of characters, shocking twists, and great humor! Alston manages to deal with tough topics such as classism, prejudice, poverty, and gangs in a way that is relevant and understandable to anyone without losing its lighthearted tone. It’s a wild ride and I cannot wait to continue the series! – Abbie Townshen from Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, NC

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas

This is the book to hand to people who do not understand white supremacy and how it has been institutionalized into our everyday lives. Concrete Rose, the prequel to the incredibly eye-opening Hate U Give, will bring you to tears and have you fighting in your mind for characters who are fighting for their right to a comfortable life. – Olivia Schaffer from The Bookshelf in Thomasville, GA

Ground Zero by Alan Gratz

What causes so much hate and what is the true cost of revenge? Alan Gratz has delivered another brutally honest, compelling look at history that doesn’t shy away from portraying the worst parts of death and destruction while still highlighting the hope that brings people together to help strangers. This is an honest, heartbreaking portrayal of a pivotal decade in history. – Beth Seufer Buss from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC

Kate in Waiting by Becky Albertalli

This one took me right back to high school! I loved the dynamic between the two best friend main characters, who are used to crushing on the same guy but usually from afar and usually it’s safe because the guy isn’t really interested in either of them. But this one is! The drama is not too dramatic, even though they are in drama club! – Kathy Ellen Davis from Bards Alley in Vienna, VA

Keep Your Head Up by Aliya King Neal

Everyone knows Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day. What Keep Your Head Up does even better is how do you deal with the bad in a given day and, even when a meltdown happens, how do you make good decisions going forward. I love Charly Palmer’s artwork and the expressiveness he puts in the faces and postures of his characters. even to the cloud of feeling "a little scrunchy" hovering over the kid. – Lisa Yee Swope from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC

The Key to You and Me by Jaye Robin Brown

Very sweet story about finding the inner strength to be true to who you are and the courage to go after what you want. Positive messages, nice blend of story and romantic elements, an enjoyable queer read! – Jessica Reifsnyder from Reading Rock Books in Dickson, TN

Read This Now | Read This Next | The Bookseller Directory

Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies…

The 1619 Project by Nikole Hannah-Jones


The 1619 Project by Nikole Hannah-Jones
One World / November 2021

More Reviews from Flyleaf Books

The 1619 Project from Nikole Hannah-Jones asserts that to truly understand America today – politically, socially, culturally- and to begin to make repairs, you must move the timeline back to 1619, when the first enslaved people from Africa arrived in Jamestown. In this book – which is 50% more material than the original New York Times project – we hear from all the people who should have been included when initially taught American history and social studies. Herein lies a star-studded collection of thinkers, writers, poets and artists and an attempt to fully understand America’s origin story. Required reading for all who care to create a more just America.

Reviewed by Jamie Fiocco, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Bookseller Buzz


Spotlight on: People from My Neighborhood by Hiromi Kawakami


Hiromi Kawakami

"I have been asked why I rendered the ‘kono atari” in the title as “neighborhood.” I think it’s because, for many of us at least, there is something familiar about its cast of characters. There was a lot of crazy stuff going on, but at the same time it felt like a real neighborhood, I guess, so that’s the word I chose." — Ted Goossen, translator of People from My Neighborhood


The 36 interconnected micro-stories contained in People from My Neighborhood create a world that Kawakami has been constructing, piece by piece, story by story, for over ten years. It is a world, as one reviewer puts it, " filled with equal parts fable and the everyday." Absurd, funny, strange, scary, and beautifully heartfelt, Kawakami deftly threads the wonderful and the mundane into a whole cloth of bright threads.

People from My Neighborhood

What booksellers are saying about People from My Neighborhood

  • The experience of reading the stories in People From My Neighborhood feels just like visiting a friend as they guide you through a stroll through their neighborhood where every corner has a surprise and every home has fantastical tales to tell. Totally charming and refreshing, with plenty of imaginative oddities that kept me walking at a brisk pace. ― Luis Correa from Avid Bookshop in Athens, GA
    Buy from Avid Bookshop

  • Hiromi Kawakami returns with an endlessly charming, quirky collection of interconnected micro-stories about the strange denizens of a Japanese neighborhood. Each story lasts a few pages at most but all pack a delightful little punch with every tale painting a small portrait of a resident – the chicken farmer, a strange diplomat, the woman who owns the shop that no one ever goes into, and many more. People From My Neighborhood is more about the stories we make up about our neighbors – the lives we construct for them with the brief glimpses we catch – and I absolutely adored every page of it. ― Caleb Masters from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC
    Buy from Bookmarks

  • Somewhere between flash fiction and vignettes, this collection creates a neighborhood where the surreal is treated as though it is reality, as though there is nothing strange about people hatching from eggs, a school made of sweets, or squishy doll brains kept in a drawer. Kawakami’s turns are as quick as the prose and the endings are tenuous at best until the larger picture begins to form across characters. These stories require the reader to embrace the weird and enjoy the uncanny, many of the stories floating in the space between nightmare and dream-state. ― Miranda Sanchez from Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews in Chapel Hill, NC
    Buy from Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews

About Hiromi Kawakami

Hiromi Kawakami was born in Tokyo in 1958. Her first novel, Kamisama (God), was published in 1994. In 1996, she was awarded the Akutagawa Prize for Hebi o Fumu (Tread on a Snake) and in 2001 she won the Tanizaki Prize for her novel Sensei no Kaban (Strange Weather in Tokyo), which became an international bestseller. Strange Weather in Tokyo was shortlisted for the 2013 Man Asian Literary Prize and the 2014 International Foreign Fiction Prize. Kawakami has contributed to editions of Granta in both the UK and Japan and is one of Japan’s most popular contemporary novelists.

I Walk With Monsters by Paul Cornell


I Walk With Monsters by Paul Cornell
Vault Comics / October 2021

More Reviews from Foggy Pine Books

Beautifully horrific visuals and genuinely compelling characters, it was a thrilling story that, for better or worse, doesn’t spoon-feed you any extra information and keeps you as in the dark as possible. While this aides the overall foreboding aura the story emits, it also almost tantalizingly keeps it’s secrets just out of our reach. I truly hope to see more in the future, because this collection went by in a flash.

Reviewed by Deion Cooper, Foggy Pine Books in Boone, North Carolina

The Me Tree by Ashley Belote


The Me Tree by Ashley Belote
Penguin Workshop / November 2021

More Reviews from Bookmarks

This charming and fun book emphasizes the value of friendship, even when we’d rather be alone! Bear just wants some space and is frustrated that his brand new house is filled with animal friends. But when he asks them to leave, he realizes he is lonely. Young readers can learn that sharing brings joy to the sharer, too!

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

Sway with Me by Syed M. Masood


Sway with Me by Syed M. Masood,
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers / November 2021

More Reviews from Fiction Addiction

Arsalan is an old soul…which he gets from living with his great-grandfather Nana, who is over 100 and imparts all of his wisdom and eccentricities to Arsalan. When Arsalan starts contemplating how alone he will be when his Nana dies and all he’s left with is an abusive father he hasn’t seen in years, he decides to approach Beenish, the stepdaughter of a prominent desi matchmaker, for help to arrange a marriage. Beenish’s condition is that Arsalan partner with her for a dance designed to scandalize at her sister’s upcoming wedding. Even though everything about Arsalan and Beenish is at odds, Arsalan finds himself drawn in to Beenish’s world, finding friends and relationships he didn’t know he needed — including with Beenish. Fans of Masood’s first book, More Than Just a Pretty Face, will like this one just as much.

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

Five Decembers by James Kestrel


Five Decembers by James Kestrel
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers / November 2021

More Reviews from McIntyre’s Fine Books

What a great cinematic story, starting with a double murder in Honolulu just before Thanksgiving 1941 which eventually took the investigating Detective to Hong Kong where he arrived on December 8th, December 7th in Hawaii, before ending Five Decembers later. Utterly enthralling.

Reviewed by Pete Mock, McIntyre’s Fine Books in Pittsboro, North Carolina

Read This Next!

Books on the horizon: Forthcoming favorites from Southern indies…

All Her Little Secrets by Wanda M. Morris


All Her Little Secrets by Wanda M. Morris
William Morrow Paperbacks / November 2021

More Reviews from Wordsworth Books

A Fall 2021 Read This Next! Title

Ellice Littlejohn is a Black corporate attorney who is promoted after her white boss and lover dies violently, by his own hand or someone else’s? She has secrets, but so do her coworkers. This fast-paced legal thriller hooked me from page one. I so enjoyed having a kick-ass protagonist in a legal thriller which also touches on the challenges of Black women in the male dominated corporate law firm environment. Definitely a book for fans of Stacey Abrams and Laura Lippman.

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

Southern Bestsellers

What’s popular this week with Southern Readers.

Cloud Cuckoo Land The Storyteller Dune
The Best of Me It Fell From the Sky

[ See the full list ]

sbr shelf

Parting Thought

“I’ve always thought that a good book should be either the entry point inward, to learn about yourself, or a door outward, to open you up to new worlds.”
– Taylor Jenkins Reid

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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