The Southern Bookseller Review 12/27/22

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

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The week of December 27, 2022

A year of really good reading.

A year of really good reading.

On January 3, 2022 at 12:03 pm, The Southern Bookseller Review published its first review of the year for A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw, of which Kassie Weeks at the Oxford Exchange wrote, "This twisty thriller gave me similar vibes as The Village and absolutely kept me on my toes! Shea Ernshaw really hit it out of the park with this brilliant adult debut."

It seems fitting, then, that Ernshaw’s newest book, A Wilderness of Stars, was chosen by southern booksellers to be one of the "Read This Next! most-buzzed-books for December. Read Hallie Smith’s (Main Street Books) review of Ernshaw’s latest book below.

The two reviews are bookends to a stellar year for SBR. 556 books were reviewed by southern booksellers, with an average of 48 reviews published every month. On July 1st, SBR reached a milestone when it published it 1000th book review.

This year SBR also started including reviews of graphic novels, and began publishing an extra thematic monthly newsletter. (The most popular of these was "Harvest," published in August.)

The most-reviewed book of the year was Book Lovers by Emily Henry, currently a finalist for the Southern Book Prize (vote here!). Twenty-three booksellers wrote in to say how much they loved the story: "Henry is the unquestioned queen of banter, but this is probably her wittiest, most laugh-out-loud funny book to date. I had so much fun reading Book Lovers." Cristina Russell, Books & Books in Coral Gables, FL

Here is SBR’s list of most-reviewed books of 2022

1. Book Lovers by Emily Henry (Berkley)
2. Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood (Berkley)
3. Now is Not the Time to Panic by Kevin Wilson (Ecco)
4. Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. Mandel (Knopf)
5. Carrie Soto Is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Ballantine)
6. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin (Knopf)
7. The Bodyguard by Katherine Center (St. Martin’s Press)
8. Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus (Doubleday)
9. I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey Mcquiston (Wednesday Books)
10. I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jeanette McCurdy (Simon & Schuster)
11. Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng (Penguin Press)
12. Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez (Flatiron Books)

Here is to a new year with so many more great books to add to the stack!

Read This Now | Read This Next | The Bookseller Directory

Southern Book Prize Finalist!

What’s the best Southern book of the year?

Lark Ascending by Silas House


Lark Ascending by Silas House
Algonquin Books / September 2022

More Reviews from Copperfish Books

Southern Book Prize Finalist

The urgency of the opening chapters is breathtaking, and then the source of it is laid bare: this is the imagined not-so-distant future resulting from the chaos and painful transformational change similar to what we’re going through right now in our world. The young man, the dog and the older woman at the center of the story are trying to survive in a world on fire, one burning to the ground with fire and hatred. Each choice they make – big and small – may cost them their lives, or someone else’s. A haunting story, one that makes you really think about the trajectory of our collective lives. I couldn’t put it down!


Reviewed by Cathy Graham, Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda, Florida

Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies…

Bad Cree by Jessica Johns


Bad Cree by Jessica Johns
Doubleday / January 2023

More Reviews from Novel

Bad Cree is the perfect mix of mystery, horror, and suspense. Johns uses the importance of dreams in Cree culture to cover several issues involving corporate greed, trauma, and familial grief. Also, her use of symbolism throughout the book makes for an ethereal experience for the reader and she highlights the strength that can come from the female bonds of sisterhood/motherhood throughout the plot. This is an incredibly enjoyable debut that is as creative as it is moving.

Reviewed by Stuart McCommon, Novel. in Memphis, Tennessee

Bookseller Buzz


All the Dangerous Things by Stacy Willingham


Stacy Willingham, photo credit Mary Hannah Hart Photography, LLC

Studying journalism helped me realize that everyone has a story to tell, and it’s usually not the one we expect. Learning how to interview is a skill I still use, even though I don’t interview people anymore. Understanding how to get past surface-level answers taught me how to find the real meat of a story, which now influences the way I create my characters.” ―Stacy Willingham, Interview, UGA Today

What booksellers are saying about All the Dangerous Things

All the Dangerous Things by Stacy Willingham
  • A mesmerizing, jaw-dropping thriller with unforeseeable twists and turns! At first, the story seems to be a mystery about finding Isabelle’s missing son Drake, who was taken from his crib in the middle of the night. However, through Willingham’s exceptional storytelling, we are taken on an unforgettable journey of lies and deception where "we are nothing but what we chose to believe."
      ―Sharon Davis from Book Bound Bookstore in Blairsville, GA | Buy from Book Bound Bookstore

  • Chilling and mind-bending, All the Dangerous Things is a thriller read that will leave you shocked to your core. Isabella Drake’s son went missing a year ago and since then, she has been unable to truly sleep. As memories of her troubled past are dredged up and secrets are being uncovered, Izzy begins to wonder if something more sinister is amiss or if she has finally lost her mind. This novel is a psychological journey with its originality and intrigue, as the plot starts to unfurl and you begin to wonder if you can even trust your own mind.
      ―Makayla Summers from Main Street Reads in Summerville, SC | Buy from Main Street Reads

  • This book ripped me apart over and over. Stacy Willingham has a way of twisting a plot that keeps you guessing until the very end! Isabelle Drake’s toddler son goes missing from his bed in the middle of the night while she and her husband are sleeping. A whole year has gone by and Mason is still missing, Isabelle’s husband has left her, she has not slept a full night since Mason’s disappearance, there has not been a break in the case, and Isabelle’s ex has started a new relationship and seems to have moved on from her and Mason all together. Isabelle doesn’t give up, though. Even when everyone suspects her, blames her, shames her, and pities her. Everyone should read this to find out what happens to Isabelle and Mason, but also read this because Isabelle is a strong mamma jamma who deserves some respect! Thank you for this advance reader copy, I truly enjoyed this novel!
      ―Kait Layton from The Haunted Book Shop in Mobile, AL | Buy from The Haunted Book Shop

  • WOW!! Jaw dropped!! This book had me HOOKED from start to finish. I finished it in one sitting. I had to know what happened next. This story follows a mom trying to piece together parts of her past as well as figure out what happened to her son, who disappeared from his room in the middle of the night. It jumps between past and present and every chapter is a new twist. I LOVED A Flicker in the Dark by this author and was worried how this would hold up and this tops it. Incredibly gripping story that had my jaw dropping by the final reveal and all the turns and twists in between. Bonus points for the Savannah, GA setting and incredible detail making you feel as if you are in the streets of downtown as you read. Highly recommend.
      ―Samantha Culliton from E. Shaver, bookseller in Savannah, GA | Buy from E. Shaver, bookseller

About Stacy Willingham

Stacy Willingham is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of A Flicker in the Dark. Before turning to fiction, she was a copywriter and brand strategist for various marketing agencies. She earned her BA in magazine journalism from the University of Georgia and MFA in writing from the Savannah College of Art and Design. Her work has been translated in over 30 countries. She currently lives in Charleston, South Carolina, with her husband, Britt, and Labradoodle, Mako, where she is always working on her next book.

We Know You Remember by Tove Alsterdal


We Know You Remember by Tove Alsterdal
Harper Paperbacks / December 2022

More Reviews from Fiction Addiction

If you like Scandinavian crime novels, you will love We Know You Remember. Eira has come back to her small hometown to join the local police force after a number of years in Stockholm. A new murder brings back old memories and nightmares about the rape and murder of a young girl just a few years older than Eira when it occurred 20 years earlier. A crime that the small town has never forgotten. The story of the long-ago crime is skillfully woven with the current murder and Eira’s is forced to question a lot of things that she was told that may not have been true. It is not surprising that We Know You Remember won the best Swedish Crime Novel of the year award.

Reviewed by Nancy McFarlane, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

The Matter of Everything by Suzie Sheehy


The Matter of Everything by Suzie Sheehy
 Knopf / January 2023

More Reviews from Fountain Bookstore

Look no further for a detailed overview of the carnival that is the history of natural philosophy, physics! Suzie Sheehy does a great job sending readers into the world of personality and interpersonal relationships behind some of science’s most important discoveries. As a casual reader, I found at its center a variety of tales of endurance, innovation, and resourcefulness. In The Matter of Everything you will find that revelations can start with just a piece of glass and an unquenchable curiosity. This is a must-read for anyone looking to dip their toes into one of the most complex topics of human history: the search for understanding the deep mechanics of our own world.

Reviewed by Amanda Depperschmidt, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Nine Liars by Maureen Johnson


Nine Liars by Maureen Johnson
Katherine Tegen Books / December 2022

More Reviews from Bookmiser

Stevie’s back to solve a new mystery, this time at a country manor in England! Johnson delves right back into Stevie’s world as she navigates her way through a 27-year-old murder and a current disappearance. Stevie’s at loose ends as she’s almost halfway through her senior year. She doesn’t know what she wants to do after high school, and she misses her boyfriend. But when David invites Stevie and her friends to spend a week in England, they immediately develop a plan to get the headmaster to let them go as an educational experience. Once they get there, the mystery finds Stevie, and she’s off.

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia

What Happened to Rachel Riley? by Claire Swinarski


What Happened to Rachel Riley? by Claire Swinarski
Quill Tree Books / January 2023

More Reviews from The Flyleaf Books

Reading this book made me step back, rethink my middle school days, and want to wrap my younger self in a hug. Such a tough story, told in such a way where even though the reader and the main character don’t know the full story, you know more than the main character. You are seeing their final report, not just her findings, as she is investigating.

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

Read This Next!

Books on the horizon: Forthcoming favorites from Southern indies…

A Wilderness of Stars by Shea Ernshaw


A Wilderness of Stars by Shea Ernshaw
 Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers / December 2022

More Reviews from Main Street Books

A December 2022 Read This Next! Title

This is an absolute gem of a book! Part science-fiction, part romance, Shea Ernshaw delivers another YA novel that is a delight to read. For lovers of stars and post apocalyptic literature!

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

Southern Bestsellers

What’s popular this week with Southern Readers.

Babel Surrender Best American Short Stories
Hero of Two Worlds Five Survive

[ See the full list ]

Parting Thought

“Isn’t it odd how much fatter a book gets when you’ve read it several times?” Mo had said…”As if something were left between the pages every time you read it. Feelings, thoughts, sounds, smells…and then, when you look at the book again many years later, you find yourself there, too, a slightly younger self, slightly different, as if the book had preserved you like a pressed flower…both strange and familiar. -”
– Cornelia Funke, Inkspell

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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