The Southern Bookseller Review 3/15/22

The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of March 15, 2022

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March 15, 2022

When booksellers geek out.

Urban Planning Design One of the most fun things about working in a bookstore is the displays. Not just the "staff picks" shelf or the new releases wall, or even the "books for book clubs" table that is always piled high with paperback fiction — these displays are always interesting even if they are are found in any bookstore.

But somewhere in that store is another display — an idiosyncratic collection of books put together purely because a bookseller thought they belonged with each other. The stories were of a piece, or the covers matched. Or, they were all about one of that bookseller’s passions put together in the hope that they would become someone else’s passions. Passions like…urban planning!

"The very first book I read related to urban planning, probably around 2005, was The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise & Decline of America’s Man Made Landscape by James Howard Kunstler," writes Underground Books, which has a great list of books called "An Urban Planning Geek’s Reading Guide."

The list ranges from classics like Jane Jacobs’ The Death and Life of American Cities and Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction by Christopher Alexander to popular and visionary books like The 99% Invisible City and Streetfight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution.

See the full list here

Read This Now | Read This Next | The Bookseller Directory

Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies…

Saint Death’s Daughter by C. S. Cooney


Saint Death’s Daughter by C. S. Cooney
Random House / March 2022

More Reviews from The Haunted Book Shop

I snagged the book because of the necromancy, but the tagline of “fun, froofy, and glorious: a coming-of-age story” is absolutely correct. The comparisons to Gideon the Ninth will be inevitable, but the tone of this book tends more towards the cheerful morbidity of the Addams family than the grimness I felt at the core of Gideon. The story follows Miscellaneous Stones, a necromancer born with an allergy to violence into a house of assassins and murderers as she grows into her power. As important to the book as her growing necromancy is the way she comes to terms with her family’s legacy and the burden of their sins. Despite the solemnity of the topic, Lanie herself has such a joyous attitude that infects the book and makes me smile even now. I really enjoyed the entire book and look forward to reading her continued adventures. In particular, I can usually predict story beats long before they happen but the author managed to surprise me with the depth and complexity of the characters, especially the antagonists.

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

Bookseller Buzz


Spotlight on: Tobacco Wives by Adele Myers


Adele Myers

"As a young girl growing up in North Carolina tobacco country, I was fascinated by my grandmother’s stories about the women she called the tobacco wives. She was a hairdresser for the wives of the wealthiest, most powerful tobacco magnates in Winston-Salem in the 1940s, and tales of these wealthy, glamorous women captured my imagination."–Adele Myers (via Writer’s Digest)

Tobacco Wives

What booksellers are saying about Tobacco Wives

  • It doesn’t say it’s set in Winston Salem, but it’s totally Winston Salem. I forgot how recently smoking was everywhere, and advertised aggressively towards kids and women, and in the case of these particular ladies, including and specifically targeting the pregnant women, wonderful (and completely healthy) mint-flavored cigarettes…It’s a little bit Cruella, a little bit Hairspray, and a little bit Pelican Brief. I couldn’t put it down. ― Lisa Yee Swope from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC
    Buy from Bookmarks

  • Oh, the tobacco wives! Drama abounds as Maddie works to design and sew ornate gowns for the most influential, fussy women in town. Although the tobacco wives seem to lead a carefree life, Maddie discovers a cover-up scheme about the health risks of tobacco products that affect women, in particular. It is this discovery that puts her in a compromising situation as she endeavors to pursue a full-time career as a dressmaker in a town where everyone depends on Big Tobacco to survive. ―Allison Hendrix from The Snail on the Wall in Huntsville, AL
    Buy from Snail on the Wall

  • Where the Crawdads Sing meets Lookaway, Lookaway (plus a small dash of Mad Men) in this small town NC novel about big tobacco and even bigger coverups — all through the eyes of a young seamstress who sees it all. A fantastic read for anyone who enjoys historical fiction — Myers’ portrayal of the 1950s was spot-on — and the strength of the female characters was truly iconic.   ―Christine Schwarz from Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews in Chapel Hill, NC
    Buy from Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews

About Adele Myers

Adele Myers grew up in Asheville, North Carolina, and has a journalism degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She currently works in advertising and lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband, son and their rescue dog, Chipper. The Tobacco Wives is her first novel.

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. Mandel


Letter to a Stranger by Colleen Kinder
Algonquin Books / March 2022

More Reviews from Fountain Bookstore

As the season changes, I find myself drawn to books that I can pickup, read however much I want whether it be a page or fifty, and then put back down and not worry about losing my spot or anything like that. I want digestible, but not fluff, I still want the grit and strong storytelling. This book is the cure for this predicament. Colleen Kinder sent out an email to authors everywhere, simply asking them to write a letter to a stranger who haunts them. The result is this intimate collection of letters from some of the most beloved authors of our time, and perfect is an understatement. The book is broken up by emotional prompt, which I like but was wary as books similar to this can be sort of repetitive with the themes of stories in them, but this next level. The sections are symmetry, mystery, chemistry, gratitude, wonder, remorse and finally, farewell. This is what makes this book so strong, it’s not just emotions of love or pain, it’s so much more than that. It’s funny, startling,and at times heartbreaking. A book that has earned a permanent spot on my bookshelf, and one I do not think I will ever get tired of skimming through.

Reviewed by Grace Sullivan, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

The Ravenous Dead by Darcy Coates


The Ravenous Dead by Darcy Coates
 Poisoned Pen Press / March 2022

More Reviews from Foggy Pine Books

This next installment of the Gravekeeper Series hasn’t even come out yet, and yet I’m already itching to read the next part of Kiera’s story. This series is the most unexpectedly delightful combination of spooky, action packed, and heartwarming slice of life all wrapped up in a mystery. I find myself falling in love with all of the characters, from the kindly pastor Adage, to the cheery “not a doctor” Mason. However I adore most of all our main character and amnesia ridden ghost whisperer Kiera. I adore this series and cannot wait for the next one!

Reviewed by Ana, Foggy Pine Books in Boone, North Carolina

Wingbearer by Marjorie Liu


Wingbearer by Marjorie Liu
Quill Tree Books / March 2022

More Reviews from Story on the Square

Wingbearer is a beautiful fantasy graphic novel written by Marie Lu. The world is breathtakingly beautiful along with having an enchanting story. I was at the edge of my seat following Zuli’s journey from the great tree to the world she supposedly came from. I loved the side characters and can’t wait to see the full color version. This is a middle reader fantasy that will draw in even the most reluctant of readers.

Reviewed by Katlin Kerrison, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia

Gallant by V. E. Schwab


Gallant by V. E. Schwab
Greenwillow Books / March 2022

More Reviews from Fiction Addiction

Olivia Prior has grown up in an orphanage, unable to speak, the only one able to see the ghouls around her. Her mother’s journal is her only link to her unknown past, until she gets a letter from an uncle she didn’t know she had, summoning her to her family home, Gallant — a place her mother had warned her against in her journal, even as her words spiraled into madness. But Olivia longs for a place to belong, and so she goes. It turns out, though, that Gallant is more than just a house. When Olivia crosses the crumbling garden wall, she finds herself in a shadow Gallant, ruled by death, and she has to decide which world she really belongs in. Schwab has a way of telling stories that really gets to the root of the story — yes, this is a story about family and loss, life and death, a doorway between them, and a girl who can live in both worlds, but Schwab makes it so much more, breathing life and meaning into everything Olivia is and does and wants to be. A beautiful book for fans of Holly Black and Neil Gaiman.

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

Read This Next!

Books on the horizon: Forthcoming favorites from Southern indies…

Beyond Innocence : The Life Sentence of Darryl Hunt by Phoebe Zerwick


Beyond Innocence : The Life Sentence of Darryl Hunt by Phoebe Zerwick
Atlantic Monthly Press / March 2022

More Reviews from Malaprop’s

A March 2022 Read This Next! Title

Once upon a time, a man was unjustly imprisoned. DNA and dogged work freed him after 19 years. He lived happily ever after. Sorry, that last part didn’t happen. Even with DNA evidence, he almost didn’t get exonerated. Beyond Innocence: The Life Sentence of Darryl Hunt details Hunt’s journey from teen to convicted killer, innocent freed man, and activist with many twists. But the saddest part is what happened to him after freedom, and how it illustrates the plight of most of the exonerated. That is not as exclusive a club as you might think. According to author Phoebe Zerwick, “As of May 2021, 2,783 men and women in America have been exonerated since 1989…The National Registry of Exonerations calculate the combined years they lost at 24,915.”

Zerwick wrote about Hunt in the Winston-Salem Journal and has spent years on his case. Hunt was not just railroaded. Police falsified evidence; a judge unbelievably ruled DNA evidence was insufficient to warrant a new trial. A faithful cadre of supporters and the author’s newspaper series resulted in deliberately overlooked evidence being reexamined and finding the true killer. Only then was Hunt released. But Hunt’s case shows how the system continues to fail. Hunt briefly had a foundation to aid released prisoners. Years of prison life and post-release limitations lead to PTSD, depression, and often recidivism. Hunt’s friends realized too late he was leading a double life – calm outside, but in agony inside. They couldn’t stop him from taking his life. But if enough people pay attention to his story, perhaps others can be helped.

Reviewed by Rosemary Pugliese from Malaprop’s in Asheville, NC

Southern Bestsellers

What’s popular this week with Southern Readers.

One Italian Summer Allow Me to Retort Klara and the Sun
Between Two Kingdoms Gallant

[ See the full list ]

sbr shelf

Parting Thought

“Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.”
– Malala Yousafzai

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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