The Southern Bookseller Review 2/7/23

The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of February 7, 2023

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The week of February 7, 2023

Reading Black Authors

Black History Month

Next week in honor of Black History Month, SBR will publish a special issue for February highlighting new books by Black writers. But there is no reason to wait for February to read more Black writers. There are, however, a great many reasons to always include Black writers in your TBR stack, not the least of which is there are so, so many wonderful books you will be missing out on if you don’t.

A list of books by Black authors can always be found online at SBR. Here, also, are some of the lists created by Southern Indie Bookstores:

Celebrate Black History from The Book Worm Bookstore in Powder Springs, GA

Black History is American History from Cultured Books in St. Petersburg, FL

Martin Luther King, Jr. Booklist from 44th and 3rd Booksellers in Atlanta, GA

Every Book Needs a Home from Cafe Noir in Memphis, TN

The Boosting Black Books project from Novel. in Memphis, TN

Don’t Call Yourself Woke if You Haven’t Read These Books from Baldwin & Co. in New Orleans, LA

Black Art Books from Charis Books & More in Atlanta, GA

Afrofuturism from Firestorm Books in Asheville, NC

Read This Now | Read This Next | The Bookseller Directory

Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies…

The Applicant by Nazli Koca


The Applicant by Nazli Koca
Grove Press / February 2023

More Reviews from Fountain Bookstore

The Applicant is the debut novel I truly think I’ve been waiting to find my whole life. We follow Leyla, a twenty-something-year-old Turkish woman living in Berlin and working at a hostel. Her days consist of cleaning Alice in Wonderland-themed bedrooms, dipping in and out of hazy, techno-heavy clubs, and trying to find a balance of love, all while also trying to retain her German citizenship. Everything is so well done in this, but the themes of immigration and modern love struggles were perfectly executed. It’s raw, it’s real, it’s brilliant.

Reviewed by Grace Sullivan, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Bookseller Buzz


Spotlight on: Don’t Fear the Reaper by Stephen Graham Jones


Stephen Graham Jones, photo credit Gary Iasacs

But really I mean, with kids—they’re small and powerless in the world. They don’t know why things are happening. They’re told what to do, they’re not giving any explanation for why they’re doing this, and everyone is a towering monster to them, you know? And adults are capriciously violent. I think kids live in a world that is really primed for horror. But horror stories allow them to understand that sometimes you can beat the monsters, you know?” ―Stephen Graham Jones, Interview,

What booksellers are saying about Don’t Fear the Reaper

Don't Fear the Reaper by Stephen Graham Jones
  • My Heart Is a Chainsaw was one of my favorite books of 2021; it’s knowing, self-referential tone mixed with its wonderful heroine, Jade Daniels, reminded me of my favorite slasher films of times past. I had high hopes for Don’t Fear the Reaper. As a sequel, it should be bloodier, wilder, and more audacious than its predecessor, with both a new antagonist and a few throwbacks to past dangers. Stephen Graham Jones knew this, and boy, do things go off the rails immediately. While “My Heart Is A Chainsaw had a slow burn to its violence, Don’t Fear the Reaper revels in danger and fear right off the bat. At the center of the chaos is the reluctant Final Girl, Jade, who’d rather just be a supporting player getting her life back together after fighting legal troubles for the last few years. Unfortunately, Jade has to use her wits and horror movie knowledge to get her and her friends out of death-by-hook range, and of course, the horror is happening during the worst blizzard that Proofrock’s ever seen. While buckets of blood drench each page, Jones never forgets to center the violence around the lovable beating heart of the book’s protagonist.
      ―Whitney Sheppard from The Snail on the Wall in Huntsville, AL | Buy from The Snail on the Wall

  • The second book in the Indian Lake Trilogy is even better than the first. Jade and Letha are back in Proofrock along with some other familiar faces, and some new ones as well. During the storm of the century, a convoy carrying the serial killer, Dark Mill South crashes. There is a fraction of a sliver of chance that he survived the crash and is heading toward the nearest town, Proofrock. You all know what a fraction of a sliver of chance means in Proofrock, so our favorite final girls have to swing into action. This book starts out really fast and doesn’t stop until the final bloody end.
      ―Kathy Clemmons from Sundog Books in Santa Rosa Beach, FL | Buy from Sundog Books

  • The long-awaited follow up to My Heart is a Chainsaw does not disappoint! SGJ takes us back to Proofrock, Idaho right after Jade Daniels – now Jennifer – is released from prison for the first book’s events. Brutal, larger-than-life killer Dark Mill South is on the loose in town at the same time as a debilitating snowstorm hits. In keeping with the vibe of the trilogy, grisliness abounds from the first pages and the slasher film trivia doesn’t stop. I can’t wait for the third and final installment in this series!
      ―Andrea Richardson from Fountain Books in Richmond, VA | Buy from Fountain Bookstore

About Stephen Graham Jones

Stephen Graham Jones is the New York Times bestselling author of The Only Good Indians. He has been an NEA fellowship recipient and been recipient of several awards including: the Ray Bradbury Award from the Los Angeles Times, the Bram Stoker Award, the Shirley Jackson Award, the Jesse Jones Award for Best Work of Fiction from the Texas Institute of Letters, the Independent Publishers Award for Multicultural Fiction, and the Alex Award from American Library Association. He is the Ivena Baldwin Professor of English at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Exiles by Jane Harper


Exiles by Jane Harper
 Flatiron Books / January 2023

More Reviews from Fiction Addiction

As usual Jane Harper’s new novel, Exiles, is a slow burn of a read as she so beautifully describes yet another region of Australia, south Australia’s wine region. And, once again gives us a cast of characters so well-developed that you feel like you really know them. The book is about a small town with two unsolved events which have haunted the close-knit inhabitants. One the hit-and-run death of a well-liked accountant and the other the disappearance of a new mother who supposedly left her six-week-old child unattended at the annual wine and food festival and jumped to her death at the nearby reservoir – coincidentally the same weekend and same place as the hit and run. While this is Harper’s third book featuring Aaron Falk it easily reads as a standalone and will make you want to go back and read more about Aaron.

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

Enchantment by Katherine May


Enchantment by Katherine May
Riverhead Books / February 2023

More Reviews from Quail Ridge Books

British author Katherine May knows exactly what I need when I need it. I read her book, Wintering, during the hardest days of the pandemic. She wrote of a time in her life, pre-pandemic, when she felt hopeless, but her words resonated with my feelings of despair during the isolation of 2020. Her newest book, Enchantment: Awakening Wonder in an Anxious Age, is just as timely. Though very personal, she addresses the universality of our shock at the fallout from the pandemic and how we can recover some of our contentment and joy. The book is beautifully written, and there are many lines that will linger with me.

Reviewed by Mamie Potter, Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, North Carolina

Wildblood by Lauren Blackwood


Wildblood by Lauren Blackwood
Wednesday Books / February 2023

Dark FantasyFantasyYoung Adult
More Reviews from The Haunted Book Shop

I devoured this gorgeous novel like I was one of the hungry jungle ghosts. I absolutely adore Victoria’s relationship with Mumma River and how nature speaks to her. Every moment they were in the jungle was absolutely magical. With a super unique magic system, high stakes, untrustworthy men, a lush, protective jungle, and a fierce, loyal main character, Blackwood’s Wildblood is not to be missed for YA fantasy lovers!

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

Simon Sort of Says by Erin Bow


Simon Sort of Says by Erin Bow
Disney-Hyperion / January 2023

More Reviews from M. Judson, Booksellers

Simon has my heart! His spirit, authenticity, and humor make him one of the most compelling characters I’ve met in a long time. Simon, along with his parents, show that trauma changes us in terrible & beautiful ways that create something new. This tough but tender novel shines with hope and resilience. As Dolly Parton says, laughter through tears is my favorite emotion. Please don’t let the subject matter push you away from this wonderful, funny, and important book. It’s a perfect example of its OK to read dark things, our lives are full of dark things and fictional characters working their way towards the light helps us do the same. Simon Sorta of Says is fantastic!

Reviewed by Susan Williams, M. Judson, Booksellers in Greenville, South Carolina

The Ojja-Wojja by Magdalene Visaggio


The Ojja-Wojja by Magdalene Visaggio
Balzer + Bray / March 2023

More Reviews from E. Shaver, bookseller

Ghosts, lost evil deities, and a mean girl hive mind descend upon this small town and two best friends need to team up in order to put this crisis to rest. The pop culture references are quirky and informational for a pre-teen audience not used to common tropes. Also, it offers up an interesting perspective between heroine and villain when it comes to being on the spectrum for its exciting conclusion.

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

Read This Next!

Books on the horizon: Forthcoming favorites from Southern indies…

All the Beauty in the World : The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Me by Patrick Bringley


All the Beauty in the World : The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Me by Patrick Bringley
 Simon & Schuster / February 2023

More Reviews from The Country Bookshop

An February 2023 Read This Next! Title

Patrick Bringley becomes a guard at The Metropolitan Museum of Art after his brother dies and he can’t handle the day to day stress of his former job. Spending his days in the midst of some of the most beautiful art in the world, he slowly heals from his grief. This book provides a behind the scenes look at everyday life in the museum and I loved it. And there is a reference list of the art mentioned in the book which can then be viewed online.

Beth Carpenter from The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina

Southern Bestsellers

What’s popular this week with Southern Readers.

Emily Wilde's Encyclopedia of Faeries Financial Feminist The Love of My Life
The Years When You Trap a Tiger

[ See the full list ]

Parting Thought

“I think that reading is always active. As a writer, you can only go so far; the reader meets you halfway, bringing his or her own experience to bear on everything you’ve written. What I mean is that it is not only the writer’s memory that filters experience, but the reader’s as well.”
– Ruth Reichl

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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