The Southern Bookseller Review 2/21/23

The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of February 21, 2023

View Online | Unsubscribe | SBR Archive | SUBSCRIBE TO SBR

The Southern Bookseller Review: A Book for Every Reader

facebook  twitter  instagram 

The week of February 21, 2023

Honoring the exceptional people in our lives.

Katie Trocheck Abel and Mary Kay Andrews

Do you know any booksellers who go above and beyond in their local community?

In February 2022, beloved New York Times bestselling author Mary Kay Andrews lost her 39-year-old daughter, Katie Trocheck Abel. Katie had a huge heart for community outreach, lending countless hours of support to organizations such as No Kid Hungry, Atlanta’s Free99Fridge, and Atlanta’s Helping Mamas, which has named a car seat donation program in her honor. Katie was also a fierce supporter of her mom, and of the many booksellers who supported her.

In Katie’s honor, and to celebrate the often unheralded acts of kindness that take place all the time in our bookselling world, the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) will award $500 to a SIBA bookseller who has gone above and beyond in their local community. Booksellers can nominate other booksellers or self-nominate. Nominations can also come from bookstore customers, owners, employees, managers, fellow booksellers, publishing professionals, or authors. Application deadline is May 1, with the winner announced July 3.

The winner will be chosen by Mary Kay Andrews and her co-hosts from Friends & Fiction: Kristin Harmel, Kristy Woodson Harvey, and Patti Callahan Henry.

Nominate your favorite bookseller

Read This Now | Read This Next | The Bookseller Directory

Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies…

Looking for Jane by Heather Marshall


Looking for Jane by Heather Marshall
Atria Books / February 2023

More Reviews from Snail on the Wall

This debut by Canadian author Heather Marshall captured my attention from the first sentence: "It was a perfectly ordinary day when a truly extraordinary letter was delivered to the wrong mailbox." When Andrea finds the stray letter 7 years later, she searches for the proper recipient, connecting events of the past to the present. Because this story is about of the trauma of adoption, abortion or lack of access, and other difficult topics, this book may not be for everyone, but it is well worth reading, especially for those who have an interest in the history of women’s issues and health care.

Reviewed by Amy, The Snail on the Wall in Huntsville, Alabama

Bookseller Buzz


Spotlight on: Murder Your Employer by Rupert Holmes


Rupert Holmes, photo credit Susan Woog Wagner


Holmes rendered the campus in great detail. “I built the world in my head,” he says. “I wanted to know it so well that I could give a guided tour,” which is one reason the book took so long. Holmes started writing Murder Your Employer more than a decade ago and did “exhaustive preparatory.” He was also writing shows, adapting John Grisham’s book A Time to Kill for Broadway in 2013, among “many projects and challenges.” But when the pandemic closed theaters, he had time. “And I needed an escape,” Holmes says. “We all did. So I decided to sidestep into the portal of the early 1950s.” ―via Publishers Weekly

What booksellers are saying about Murder Your Employer

Murder Your Employer by Rupert Holmes
  • I took this book home in self-defense, hiding it from my booksellers and ended up reading it. So fun! It’s got everything! Potter-esque academic setting? Check! Monty Python-like humor? Check! Knives Out suspense? Check! Three students at a school for the homicidal arts want to murder their employers. Who hasn’t fantasized about that, really? (Hopefully, not our booksellers…) Incredibly amusing book. Devoured it in a few sittings. Written by the guy who wrote “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)”? Another check! Bet you didn’t see that one coming. Sorry for the earworm. Not.
      ―Kelly Justice from Fountain Books in Richmond, VA | Buy from Fountain Bookstore

  • What a fun book! Set in the early fifties and written the slightly stilted style of the times this is the story of three people attending a secret school teaching the art of murder. Each has a different reason for being but each has passed the first tenet of the school which is; Does this person truly deserve to die? Three resounding yeses and it’s time to move onto the curriculum… but keep your eyes on your fellow students, they are killer wannabees after all. Great wordplay that had me chuckling throughout, and great characters that grow on you, this is one not to miss.
      ―Pete Mock from McIntyre’s Books in Pittsboro, NC | Buy from McIntyre’s Books

  • Being the boss I was a little afraid to read this. The title was what drew me in. I am usually not a fantasy reader but I am trying to look at new genres. This book fit the bill! It was so fun. Mystery, mayhem and murder make you turn pages into the night. We are introduced to the murders and then the victims and you become invested in them and feel bad that you are rooting for them. Lots of laugh out loud moments.
      ―Suzanne Lucey from Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, NC | Buy from Page 158 Books

  • Death is a sweet release… Unless it’s your own. Darkly enriching…this intriguing tale of mystery, mayhem and murder is the perfect blend of intelligence and intricacy. Slow burn to edge of your seat, this story leaves you guessing and assuming…only to be questioning if what you read was truly fiction, or entirely possible. Written from multiple perspectives, we follow the lives of three individuals on a mission to untangle their lives by order of ‘deletion’ (murder). Is it a justified killing, or simply revenge? As the story unfolds and we uncover what brought these students to learn the art of murder, you find yourself on the dark side, rooting for a killer.
      ―Doloris Vest from Book No Further in Roanoke, VA | Buy from Book No Further

About Rupert Holmes

Rupert Holmes has received two Edgar Awards from the Mystery Writers of America, and multiple Tony® and Drama Desk Awards for his Broadway mystery musicals, including the book of Curtains and his sole creation, the Tony® Award–winning Best Musical The Mystery of Edwin Drood. His first novel, Where the Truth Lies, was nominated for a Nero Wolfe award for Best American Mystery Novel, was a Booklist Top Ten Debut Novel, and became a motion picture starring Colin Firth and Kevin Bacon. His second novel, Swing, was the first novel with its own original, clue-bearing musical score. He has adapted Agatha Christie, John Grisham, and R.L. Stine for the Broadway and international stage. His short stories have been anthologized in such collections as Best American Mystery StoriesChristmas at the Mysterious Bookshop,and On a Raven’s Wing. Holmes’s earliest story-songs were published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and he is also the writer/vocalist of several Billboard Top 10 hits, including his Billboard #1 multi-platinum classic with a memorable twist-ending: “Escape (The Pina Colada Song).”

Every Man a King by Walter Mosley


Every Man a King by Walter Mosley
 Mulholland Books / February 2023

More Reviews from Bookmarks

Joe "King" Oliver gets himself into not one but TWO complicated plots in this new detective thriller from the legendary Walter Mosley. What I love about Mosley’s writing is the cadence of the dialogue and the musical language his characters use. It gives his books a "classic" touch or feel harkening back to the old great noir mysteries. King is a fantastic character whose moral core is something we should all aspire to. He gets himself into so many more problems because of it, but I love that Mosley’s detectives have this strong center that drives them to seek justice.

Reviewed by Jamie Southern, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

The Twice-Drowned Saint by C. S. E. Cooney


The Twice-Drowned Saint by C. S. E. Cooney
Mythic Delirium Books / February 2023

More Reviews from The Haunted Book Shop

Gelethel is a paradise, a city within protective ice walls ruled by fourteen angels whose benisons provide everything the citizens need, but no paradise can ever really be free of darkness. No citizen is allowed to leave, war refugees starve outside the walls in Cherubtown, and the angels glut themselves on human sacrifices provided by the pilgrims petitioning for citizenship. Ishtu is the daughter of the pilgrim that brought cinema to Gelethel and the Garbage Queen of Gelethel, and the secret saint of the weakest angel, Alizar. Her life consists of running the only cinema in the city and having secrets chats with her extravagant, vain angel until a pilgrim’s sacrifice proves to be the sign Alizar has been waiting for. This is the story of the meek inheriting the city, of the powerful learning that what is given freely is always stronger than what is taken, and the value of bad uncles. Cooney’s prose is delicious and her writing reminds me in the best ways of Terry Pratchett. Fun, easy to read, and still manages to stab you in the heart. Highly recommended!

Reviewed by Kelly McLeod, The Haunted Book Shop in Mobile, Alabama

We Should Not Be Friends by Will Schwalbe


We Should Not Be Friends by Will Schwalbe
Knopf / February 2023

More Reviews from Writer’s Block Bookstore

This is one of the best books I read this year. This story is about a friendship between two Yale college students who are members of a secret society they joined as seniors. From there, the book takes us on a forty year friendship that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that when we let people in at the most vulnerable and sincere place where we are in life, that we open our hearts and minds to the possibility that our lives will be enriched by the human connections we make.

Reviewed by Lauren Zimmerman, Writers Block Bookstore in Winter Park, Florida

If I Can Give You That by Michael Gray Bulla


If I Can Give You That by Michael Gray Bulla
Quill Tree Books / February 2023

More Reviews from Bookmiser

If I Can Give You That is a heartbreaking debut from Michael Gray Bulla covering a variety of issues that will tear at your heartstrings. Gael is a high school senior that’s used to keeping to himself. But when his best friend finally convinced him to go to a local group for LGBTQIA teens, he finds himself finally making some more friends. But that doesn’t come without difficulties, especially with his father back in his life and his mother’s problems.

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia

The Swifts by Beth Lincoln


The Swifts by Beth Lincoln
Dutton Books for Young Readers / February 2023

More Reviews from E. Shaver, Bookseller

I read this rollicking debut in one sitting. Who knew that etymology, an Agatha Christie-esque mystery, and a subtle discussion of self-fulfilling prophecy could make for such fun book? Filled with colorful characters who live up to their names, this book has the feeling of a children’s classic.

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

Read This Next!

Books on the horizon: Forthcoming favorites from Southern indies…

She is a Haunting by Trang Thanh Tran


She is a Haunting by Trang Thanh Tran
 Bloomsbury Children’s Books / February 2023

Asian American & Pacific IslanderHorrorOccult & SupernaturalParanormalPeople & PlacesSupernaturalThrillers & SuspenseUnited StatesYoung Adult Fiction
More Reviews from Blue Cypress Books

An February 2023 Read This Next! Title

A gothic ghost story set in Vietnam. A modern family who have been torn apart by time and a house possessed by its former occupants. Haunting is the perfect word for this story. I was engrossed from the very beginning and now that I have finished it I can’t stop thinking about it.

Reviewed by Rayna Nielsen, Blue Cypress Books in New Orleans, Louisiana

Southern Bestsellers

What’s popular this week with Southern Readers.

Remarkably Bright Creatures The Half Known Life In Search of Paradise Swimmer
Here is Flesh The Last Mapmaker

[ See the full list ]

Parting Thought

“A truly great book should be read in youth, again in maturity and once more in old age, as a fine building should be seen by morning light, at noon and by moonlight.”
– Robertson Davies

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

SIBA | 51 Pleasant Ridge Drive | Asheville, NC 28805
You have received this email because you are currently subscribed to receive The Southern Bookseller Review.
Please click @@unsubscribe_url@@ if you no longer wish to receive these communications.

Scroll to Top