The Southern Bookseller Review 12/20/22

The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of December 20, 2022

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The Southern Bookseller Review: A Book for Every Reader

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The week of December 20, 2022

Holiday Stories.

Christmas Book Flood

Happy Jólabókaflóð!

During the famous Christmas (or Yule) Book Flood people of Iceland gift each other books in the weeks leading up to Christmas, and on Christmas eve, after opening presents with family, they spend the evening with hot chocolate and a pile of books, reading into the wee hours. Is this not a tradition that should be celebrated by every reader on the planet?

This year there is actually a children’s story about the Christmas Book Flood. Kelly Justice at Fountain Bookstore really likes it:

"I only found out a few years ago that there is a whole holiday in Iceland celebrating books! Jólabókaflóð (yo-la-bok-a-flot) roughly translates to "Christmas book flood". Every year Icelandic folks search the shelves for the perfect book gift to give on Christmas Eve and then they read their treasures all night often curled up with loved ones or joyfully solo! What could be more delightful??? Kilgore’s dancing text and the lively collage art of illustrator Kitty Moss make you want to join in the fun. Start a holiday tradition of your own with this perfect little book!"

"Yule" is a Winter Solstice celebration, traditionally running from December 21st to January 1st.

It is also the time of Hanukkah (December 18 – December 26), Kwanzaa (December 26 – January 1), and of course Christmas. Southern booksellers suggest these for your family’s holiday storybook shelf :

The People Remember

The People Remember : A Kwanzaa Holiday Book for Kids by Ibi Zoboi, Loveis Wise (illus.)

"Ibi Zoboi magnificently weaves the principles of Kwanzaa within the history of Black Americans from the soil of Africa to present day police brutality in our streets and all they endured and all they contributed in between. The brilliant narrative history as a comprehensive explanation of Kwanzaa, a holiday that has been too long discounted, makes this book a standout." ―Jennifer Sauter-Price from Read Early And Daily (R.E.A.D.) in Arlington, Virginia

Latkes and Applesauce

Latkes and Applesauce by Fran Manushkin

"When a blizzard arrives on the first day of Hanukkah, Rebekah and Ezra are afraid it will ruin Hanukkah, but with the love of their family and two little lost souls they will find their own little miracle. Latkes and Applesauce is a heartwarming holiday story to be shared again and again with those you love." ―Gretchen Shuler, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

Tomi dePaola's Book of Christmas Carols

Tomie dePaola’s Book of Christmas Carols by Tomie dePaola

"Christmas Caroling is a beloved holiday tradition in so many homes and communities. This stunning collection of 32 carols includes well known favorites Away in a Manger, Silent Night and We Wish You a Merry Christmas, as well as classics Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella, The Friendly Beasts and the Wassail Song-making this the perfect gift for Baby’s first Christmas, a young musician’s holiday shelf, or even a coffee table gift for a family." ―Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina

Read This Now | Read This Next | The Bookseller Directory

Southern Book Prize Finalist!

What’s the best Southern book of the year?

This Vicious Grace by Emily Thiede


This Vicious Grace by Emily Thiede
Wednesday Books / June 2022

More Reviews from Haunted Book Shop

Southern Book Prize Finalist

I thoroughly enjoyed how Alessa came into her own as a Finestra too powerful for a single Fonte. The question posed in the book and in this [and our] society: what it means to be selfish and selfless. Is a hero the selfish Ghiotte, or the selfless Finestra, and is the balance necessary to be able to give your best? Can’t wait to see how the next book addresses this! Dante (and Alessa and his banter!) is just the best and I’m anxious to see what happens to him in #2


Reviewed by Candice Conner, The Haunted Book Shop in Mobile, Alabama

Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies…

Dinosaurs by Lydia Millet


Dinosaurs by Lydia Millet
W. W. Norton & Company / October 2022

More Reviews from Novel

After reading (and loving) A Children’s Bible, I was not expecting Dinosaurs to be so gentle, so earnest, so attuned to its characters’ flaws and traumas while being even more attuned to the ways their pain has strengthened them with empathy and circumspection. This is a brief and generous novel that begins with our hero’s 2,500-mile journey on foot from NYC to Phoenix and ends with him getting cactus barbs torn out of his back with pliers, with so much good stuff sandwiched in the middle there.

Reviewed by Kat Leache, Novel. in Memphis, Tennessee

Bookseller Buzz


Spotlight on: Kiss Her Once for Me by Alison Cochrun


Alison Cochrun, photo credit Hayley Downing-Fairless

When I first started writing queer books, I was terrified that readers would think they weren’t “queer enough” or queer in the right kind of way. I hadn’t been out long, and in many ways, I was this baby queer in a thirty-three-year-old body. I felt like people would read my book and revoke my gay card. With Kiss Her Once for Me, I was able to mostly move past my queer imposter syndrome—queer people aren’t a monolith, and all I can do is write from my own experiences. That said, it’s important to me to write stories that deal with queerness (or at least what queerness means to me), not simply stories that feature a queer romantic pairing. I like writing about characters who are questioning their sexuality, characters who are fluid and defining things for themselves, characters who are in search of queer community, because these are all things that were critical to my own journey.” ―Alison Cochrun, Interview, Musing, Parnassus Books

What booksellers are saying about Kiss Her Once for Me

Kiss Her Once for Me by Alison Cochrun
  • Alison Cochrun’s new novel is a wintry delight! Ellie’s struggles with real issues – anxiety, fear of failure, parental boundaries, and sexual identity. At the same time, Kiss Her Once for Me is a beautiful, steamy romance with witty banter, a fake marriage, and a love trapezoid. I loved it.
      ―Monica Swofford from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC | Buy from Bookmarks

  • If you’re sitting around this holiday season and you’re thinking, "What I REALLY would like is a sapphic holiday love story with fake dating, forced proximity, baking, crazy grandmas, and lots of snow" then look no further!
      ―Jennifer Jones from Bookmiser, Inc. in Marietta, GA | Buy from Bookmiser

  • If this doesn’t become a Netflix movie I’ll eat all the hats. Funny, thoughtful, relevant, this is a Christmas read with a big brain and a bigger heart. Cochrun has repackaged the rom com troupe of fake coupling and hidden desires, within the setting of Classic Holiday Mansion. For Christina Lauren and Casey McQuiston fans.
      ―Aimee Keeble from Main Street Books in Davidson, NC | Buy from Main Street Books

  • If seeing Bill Pullman lean against a wall and look directly into Sandra Bullock’s eyes in the 1995 rom-com "While You Were Sleeping" fundamentally changed your brain chemistry (i.e., made you a butch lesbian), this is the exact book for you. This novel is a lovely exploration of second chances and accepting failure, even when it feels like failing isn’t an option. I was very charmed by Jack’s weird and wacky family and Ellie’s fake dating scheme! For an optimal experience, read with tea in hand and Christmas music on in the background.
      ―Gaby Iori from Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews in Chapel Hill, NC | Buy from Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews

  • Pansexual demisexual protagonist? Count me in! If you’ve been looking for more queer holiday romance rep with a Hallmark-y feel this is a great choice!
      ―Lana Repic from E. Shaver, bookseller in Savannah, GA | Buy from E. Shaver, bookseller

About Alison Cochrun

Alison Cochrun is a former high school English teacher and a current writer of queer love stories, including her debut novel, The Charm Offensive. She lives outside of Portland, Oregon with her giant dog and a vast collection of brightly colored books. You can find her online at or on Instagram and Twitter at @AlisonCochrun.

The Bandit Queens by Parini Shroff


The Bandit Queens by Parini Shroff
Ballantine Books / January 2023

More Reviews from Sundog Books

It is an accomplishment when a novel can take on heartbreaking situations and also contain so much humor as well. Geeta’s husband left without a trace five years ago. All the villagers think she has murdered him. So when her women’s business loan group members start having problems with their drinking, abusive husbands, they naturally go to her to enlist her help in murdering them. A fun story about the ability of women friends to stick together and the joys of motherhood (not really). I will highly recommend this one.

Reviewed by Kathy Clemmons, Sundog Books in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida

A Giant Win by Tom Coughlin


A Giant Win by Tom Coughlin
 Grand Central Publishing / December 2022

More Reviews from Fiction Addiction

I am a football fan who happens to adore the New York Giants and the Manning QBs. I have always appreciated Tom Coughlin as a coach and as a person. How can you not admire a man who got frostbite coaching a game and had no idea? Clearly, the book was a must-read for me, and it did not disappoint. The dissection of his first Giants Super Bowl win I believe is a diary any football fan will relish. The little things that every coach will emphasize are explained in meticulous detail. His path to coaching and his stops along the way are well documented, his emotions are poured out onto the page, and he does not spare himself. What shines through on every page is his love for his family, his faith, and the players he coached. They may not have been friends, but they were his football family. The book is a quick read, you feel like you are sitting in the room with a friend talking about their life and career. One of the most engaging football biographies I have read.

Reviewed by Jackie Willey, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

Heartbreak Boys by Simon James Green


Heartbreak Boys by Simon James Green
Clarion Books, / December 2022

More Reviews from Bookmiser

This crazy, madcap YA novel is just the thing you’re looking for! Nate and Jack used to be the best of friends. But after Jack came out, they drifted apart. Now they’re at prom and they’ve just discovered that their boyfriends are cheating on them…with each other. So they decide to team up and make the most fabulous, jealousy-inducing social media account of the summer to make their exes jealous. But that turns out to be a little tougher than they thought.

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia

Snow Horses by Patricia MacLachlan


Snow Horses by Patricia MacLachlan
Margaret K. McElderry Books / November 2022

More Reviews from The Country Bookshop

In the morning, the trumpets will play and the sun will rise and the new year will dawn. Tonight, however, the rhythmic crunch of the horse hooves on falling snow makes the world a magical place. Absolutely stunning illustrations and a sweet story will surely make this one a new holiday favorite for many families.

Reviewed by Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina

Why Raeliana Ended Up at the Duke’s Mansion, Vol. 2 by Whale (Original story by Milcha)


Why Raeliana Ended Up at the Duke’s Mansion, Vol. 2 by Whale (Original story by Milcha)
Yen Press / November 2022

More Reviews from E. Shaver, bookseller

While I’m always here for a slow burn, I can’t help but adore how sweet and tender Noah is towards Raeliana. We often see male romance protagonists in this sub-genre come across as cold, stubborn, and belligerent, which has its own charm, but this is a swoon-worthy change of pace. True to form for this sub-genre, Raeliana is a strong-willed and capable leading lady that never fails to entertain! I can’t wait for volume three!

Reviewed by Lana Repic, E. Shaver bookseller in Savannah, Georgia

Read This Next!

Books on the horizon: Forthcoming favorites from Southern indies…

How Far the Light Reaches by Sabrina Imbler


How Far the Light Reaches by Sabrina Imbler
 Little, Brown and Company / December 2022

More Reviews from Parnassus Books

A December 2022 Read This Next! Title

Wholly original, astonishingly informative, and powerfully written. Imbler describes marine life with reverence and compelling detail, and deftly intertwines the lives of the sea creatures with stories of their own experiences with gender, queerness, and identity.

Reviewed by Sarah Arnold, Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee

Southern Bestsellers

What’s popular this week with Southern Readers.

Trust And Then There Was Light The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida
Getting Lost Christmas Owl

[ See the full list ]

Parting Thought

“Only a generation of readers will spawn a generation of writers”
– Steven Spielberg

Publisher: The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance /
Editor: Nicki Leone /
Advertising: Linda-Marie Barrett /
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