The Southern Bookseller Review 4/11/23

The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of April 11, 2023

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The week of April 11, 2023

April is Poetry Month

character reciting, credit eka panova

"The lunatic, the lover and the poet / Are of imagination all compact" -William Shakespeare

April is always a favorite month among booksellers, the one month of the year when poetry takes over their staff picks sections, their window displays, their reading lists. Their open mics tilt towards verse instead of memoir, their customers — even the ones who don’t read poetry as a rule — will pick up the odd and interesting little volumes bookstore staff leave around in strategic places in the hopes they will be noticed.

For the rest of the month readers will see a plethora of poetry reviewed in the Southern Bookseller Review. But even though April is the month most readers start to notice poetry, the booksellers who love it have been reading and recommending poetry books all year long. Watch next week for SBR’s special all-poetry issue. But in the meantime, why wait? There are 100 posts tagged "poetry" at SBR:

Poetry reviews at SBR

Read This Now | Read This Next | The Bookseller Directory

Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies…

The Best Strangers in the World by Ari Shapiro


The Best Strangers in the World by Ari Shapiro
HarperOne / April 2023

More Reviews from Avid Bookshop

As a near-constant NPR fanatic (my ringtone is "All Rings Considered" from Bojack Horseman and I wake up to Morning Edition) with friends in journalism, really enjoyed this peek behind the curtain of journalism and the human element of stories that cannot always be told on air. Ari Shapiro weaves together stories of his childhood growing up in North Dakota, with the story of meeting his husband, with his journalism, and his cabaret show with Alan Cumming in a way that makes this memoir irresistible to put down. Moments in this collection of journalistic stories made me laugh out loud, while others made me tear up in their poignancy and relevance. A beautiful collection to remind any reader of the importance of human connection.

Reviewed by Mikey LaFave, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Wings Once Cursed & Bound by Piper J. Draken


Wings Once Cursed & Bound by Piper J. Drake
Sourcebooks Casablanca / April 2023

More Reviews from Copperfish Books

This book is A TON of fun! There’s a Thai bird princess (with animal companions!), vampires, werewolves, witches, fae, and a host of other supernatural creatures! Not to mention the adorable (and age-appropriate!) romance between said Thai bird princess and one of the vampires!!! The dialogue is quick and witty, the characters are quirky and delightful, and I absolutely cannot wait for the next book in the series!

Reviewed by Lucy Perkins-Wagel, Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda, Florida

Bookseller Buzz


Spotlight on: What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez by Claire Jiménez


Claire Jiménez, photo credit Damion Meyer

"This novel was originally a short story that I began writing ten years ago. So, it is difficult to pinpoint its exact beginnings, but I know that I was thinking a lot about loss, family, the violence of migration, and identity. I watched a lot of reality tv in my twenties and the short story began with the premise: what if you recognized somebody from your past on tv, somebody who you lost? I’m interested too in the way that women disappear every day in real life and how representations of Black and Brown women are often missing or distorted in pop culture." ―Claire Jiménez, Interview, She Reads

What booksellers are saying about What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez

What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez by Claire Jiménez
  • For fans of Angie Cruz, What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez is at times laugh out loud hilarious while also delivering an poignant account of a young woman searching for herself as she searches for her sister. The first page left me breathless! Jimenez delivers a sophisticated, plainspoken account of a Latina teen grappling with the urge and opportunity to escape her Staten Island family while also recognizing the value of the intense, turbulent bond she has with her mother and sister.
      ―Adah Fitzgerald from Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina | Buy from Main Street Books

  • What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez is the story of a missing Puerto Rican teenage girl living in New York, and the heartbreak that has amplified over the years since her discovery. When her sisters think they spotted their sister as an adult on a reality show, they begin a hopeful plan to find and bring Ruthy home. Jimenez is a talented storyteller, weaving in humor and letting each character shine while exploring a very real, very heartbreaking story. Highly recommended for book clubs and readers who enjoy books like Olga Dies Dreaming.
      ―Beth Seufer Buss from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina | Buy from Bookmarks

  • Two things are true about the Ramirez family: 1. Family is important 2. Family sticks together (right?) For over a decade, the Ramirez family has been struggling with the disappearance of Ruthy (oldest daughter, big sister). With no new information in years, the search feels over, that is until her sister’s see someone who looks remarkably like her on a reality TV show. Hijinks ensue as they attempt to get in contact with "Ruby" aka Ruthy without their mother finding out. But hey, sometimes family is you, your older sister, her baby, your mother, and your mother’s best friend who still dresses in powersuits. Funny, moving, and fast-paced, this is one book I’d recommend for literally anyone.
      ―Jamie Kovacs from Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina | Buy from Flyleaf Books

About Claire Jiménez

Claire Jiménez is a Puerto Rican writer who grew up in Brooklyn and Staten Island. She is the author of the short story collection Staten Island Stories, which received the 2019 Hornblower Award for a first book from the New York Society Library and was named a finalist for the International Latino Book Awards, a New York Public Library Favorite Book about New York, and Best Latino Book of 2019 by NBC News. She received her MFA from Vanderbilt University and her PhD from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In 2020, she cofounded the Puerto Rican Literature Project, a digital archive. Currently she is an Assistant Professor of English and African American Studies at the University of South Carolina. Her fiction, essays, and reviews have appeared in Remezcla, AfroHispanic Review, PANK, The Rumpus, and Eater, among other publications. What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez is her debut novel.

Earth Angel by Madeline Cash


Earth Angel by Madeline Cash
 CLASH Books / April 2023

More Reviews from Epilogue Books

Describing this as “the paperback that swallowed the phone” makes sense because reading this with no comprehension of the current state of existence of being Online for people age 21 to 30 would be like reading the late-night musings of a particularly nihilist alien. Cash manages to satirize the seemingly non-satirical by pinpointing the weirdness of current existence and just rolling with it. Destroying your sister’s leg to give her a better choice at a beauty competition? Yea sounds right. A terrorist organization getting an image makeover by advertising that they’re body positive? Sure why not. The other day I saw a TikTok where the AI voices of Biden and Obama were arguing foreign policy while playing Overwatch. Nothing is real!

Reviewed by Ndobe Foletia, Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

A Brief History of Earth by Andrew H. Knoll


A Brief History of Earth by Andrew H. Knoll
Mariner Books / April 2023

More Reviews from Fountain Bookstore

This short natural history book is a great pick for anybody who liked Sapiens or Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, anybody who likes the work of Mark Kurlansky or even Michael Pollan. It is a look at the four billion-year journey of our planet. The author is a professor of ecology and earth and planetary sciences. This book took him two decades to write but will probably only take you a couple of hours to read. It’s a fun fascinating look at the ground beneath your feet and will give you a sense of perspective and new appreciation of your home in the universe.

Reviewed by Kelly Justice, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Robin and Her Misfits by Kelly Jacobson


Robin and Her Misfits by Kelly Jacobson
Three Rooms Press / April 2023

More Reviews from The Haunted Book Shop

A queer retelling of Robin Hood full of heists, heart, and Florida humidity."Steal from the rich–give to ourselves!" is Robin and her Merry Misfits’ chant as they leave their secret hideout affectionately called Nottingham deep in the north Florida wilderness for fast-speed highway robbery. Each girl has her own secrets and past, and some don’t stay buried for long. I adore classic retellings, especially if they’re gender-bent, full of found family, and set in a familiar setting. Daisy Chain is my favorite character because I enjoyed how she spoke in Shakespearean quotes and only Robin could translate. Also because of how many layers she contained that we weren’t even privy to until we arrived at the chapters in her point-of-view. Jacobson did an amazing job capturing all the nuances of each main characters’ personalities as well as the found family that made Robin Hood and his Merry Men such a beloved classic.

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

Special Delivery by Polly Faber


Special Delivery by Polly Faber
Candlewick Press / April 2023

More Reviews from Bookmarks

A delightful and vibrantly illustrated book about how your favorite books travel around the world to get to your doorstep and all the dozens of hands who handle it along the way. A fun read aloud with lots of interesting facts at the back. Who knew learning about the supply chain could be so charming?!?

Reviewed by Caleb Masters, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

What Happens Next?: Talent Show Troubles


What Happens Next?: Talent Show Troubles
First Second / April 2023

More Reviews from The Country Bookshop

A Choose your own adventure graphic novel with ZOMBIES!!! Can a book actually get more fun than this? Sure to be a hit with graphic novel fans looking for a little something new, What Happens Next may actually be that young readers are clamoring for the next book in this fun new series.

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

Read This Next!

Books on the horizon: Forthcoming favorites from Southern indies…

Once There Was by Kiyash Monsef


Once There Was by Kiyash Monsef
 Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers / April 2023

ChildrenFairy Tales & FolkloreJuvenile Fiction
More Reviews from Fiction Addiction

An April 2023 Read This Next! Title

Marjan is having to deal with a lot for a teenager — her mom died years ago, leaving her with a strained relationship with her dad…but now her dad’s died suddenly, too, and Marjan has to keep his veterinary practice up and running in addition to her schoolwork and basic necessities. Then Marjan finds out that her dad wasn’t just a vet, that the mythical animals from the stories he told her are real, and he would treat them when needed — and now Marjan has inherited that responsibility, as well. It’s a responsibility that Marjan isn’t sure she wants, but she decides to at least see what it’s all about. And her life changes, sometimes for the worse, sometimes for the better, but ultimately in the ways she needs. A story that will appeal to both middle-grade and young adult readers who love myths, about discovering the missing parts of yourself — whether you know they’re missing or not, and whether or not you want them.

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

Southern Bestsellers

What’s popular this week with Southern Readers.

White Cat, Black Dog: Stories Guardians of the Valley The Maid
How the Word is Passed Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.

[ See the full list ]

Parting Thought

“Reading brings us unknown friends.”
— Honoré de Balzac

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