The Southern Bookseller Review 4/19/22

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The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of April 19, 2022

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April 19, 2022

Be Kind to the Planet

Plant a tree. Pick up litter. Recycle something.

April 22 is Earth Day! To celebrate we’ve pulled out a few recent reviews from booksellers of nature-themed books, and linked to some fun Earth Day reading lists from independent bookstores.


An Immense World by Ed Young

An Immense World by Ed Young
Random House, June 2022

This is such a beautiful exploration of the world as experienced by other animals—here you will learn that there are so many more senses on Earth (and in humans!) than just the Aristotelian basic five (Nociception! Magnetoreception! Proprioception! And so many more!), and Yong’s conversational, wide-eyed tone wriggles readers free of their human Umwelt, even if just for a moment. This is a transformative book, essential for anyone looking open windows in their mind to a wider, more empathic world. ― Hannah DeCamp from Avid Bookshop in Athens, GA | Pre-order from Avid


The Hawk;s Way by Sy Montgomery

The Hawk’s Way by Sy Montgomery
Atria Books, May 2022

I can safely say that Sy Montgomery is one of my favorite nature writers. She spends months with falconer Nancy Cowan and learns in very specific (and sometimes gruesome) ways that hawks are the definition of the term “wild.” The reverence that these ladies have for these birds is romantic and addictive, but never naive due to the fact that hawks will never submit to being pet. ― Stuart McCommon from Novel in Memphis, TN | Buy from Novel


To Change a Planet by Christina Soontornvat

To Change a Planet by Christina Soontornvat
Scholastic Press, August 2022

This utterly gorgeous picture book gave me the chills! To Change a Planet is poignant and poetic and just flat out brilliant. It doesn’t help to hide things from kids, so it’s best to show them both that things are rough, but they can get better, and we can do that together, which this little book does perfectly. ― Caitlyn Vanorder from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC | Pre-order from Bookmarks

Fun Earth ay Reading Lists:

Earthday Picks for All Ages from Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews

Earth Day Reading from Fiction Addiction

For the Trees from Magnolia’s Bookstore

Not Your Obvious Earth Day Books from Reusable Media

Read This Now | Read This Next | The Bookseller Directory

Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies…

Dear God. Dear Bones. Dear Yellow. by Noor Hindi


Dear God. Dear Bones. Dear Yellow. by Noor Hindi
Haymarket Books / May 2022

More Reviews from Bookmarks

This little book of poems is going to haunt me until the end of my days. I don’t know how to describe how important every word in this book is, every beat, every heart wrenching sentence. Dear God is meant to be delivered directly to your face, the speaker’s voice barely a hiss. A question that can’t be answered- just heard.

Reviewed by Caitlyn Vanorder from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC

Sister Stardust by Jane Green


Sister Stardust by Jane Green
Hanover Square Press / April 2022

More Reviews from Page 158 Books

I inhaled this book in a day! If you loved Daisy Jones and the Six you will adore this book based on Talitha Getty and her husband as they lived the sex, drugs and abundantly hippie lifestyle. Told through the naive eyes of a girl who happened on the scene after being thrown out of her home by her evil step-mother, this takes you behind the scenes to what it was really like. “Close” friendships and love affairs are not what they seem and the lifestyle can only burn out. The ride you are on with this book is incredible. Fun introspective read.

Reviewed by Suzanne Lucey from Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, North Carolina

Bookseller Buzz


Spotlight on: Unlikely Animals by Annie Hartnett


Annie Hartnett

"In general, the way that I cope with the world is to try to find the humor in things that are uncomfortable and painful. That’s how I was raised. We tell each other jokes in order to get through the hard thing, or insert something silly into an otherwise painful situation. But I’m not the clown in my family, I’m the quietly funny one. " ― Annie Hartnett, interview in Dead Darlings

What booksellers are saying about Unlikely Animals

Unlikely Animals
  • Unlikely Animals was such a joy to read! The combination of plot and characters sounds kooky and dark, but it’s this combination of darkness and absurdity that makes the book special. ―Johanna Albrecht from McIntyre’s Books in Pittsboro, NC
    Buy from McIntyre’s Book

  • This book is as much brilliant fun you can have with unraveling family and a cemetery full of well-intended if prone-to-wisecracks narrators. No summary can do the plot justice – just know all the plot twists, all the lost souls, and all the animals come together in a wonderful read. Don’t miss it.   ―Jan Blodgett from Main Street Books in Davidson, NC
    Buy from Main Street Books

  • I love everything about this book. I love the Maple Street Cemetery residents. I love Moses and Rasputin. I love the messy Starling family and Clive’s pal, Harold. I love the hand-drawn map of Everton and the historical photographs. I love the frankness and the snark and the wisdom of the characters that come from being imperfect humans. Unlikely Animals is utterly original and touching in the most captivating way possible, and I could not love it more.   ― Jill Naylor from Novel in Memphis, TN
    Buy from Novel

  • In Unlikely Animals, Hartnett has done what she does best: create a brilliant cast of messy human beings that you don’t want to leave. With a hand-drawn map, a menagerie of animals (a fox, a dog, a goat), and beautiful prose, this book is perfect.   ― Rachel Watkins from Avid Bookshop in Athens, GA
    Buy from Avid Bookshop

Annie Hartnett

Annie Hartnett is the author of Rabbit Cake, which was listed as one of Kirkus Reviews’s Best Books of 2017 and a finalist for the New England Book Award. She has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and the Associates of the Boston Public Library. She studied philosophy at Hamilton College, has an MA from Middlebury College, and an MFA from the University of Alabama. When she began writing Unlikely Animals, she was living in the groundskeeper’s house in a cemetery. She now lives in a small town in Massachusetts with her husband, daughter, and darling border collie, Mr. Willie Nelson.

Four Treasures of the Sky by Jenny Tinghui Zhang


Four Treasures of the Sky by Jenny Tinghui Zhang
Flatiron Books / April 2022

More Reviews from Parnassus Books

Bold and breathtaking, Four Treasures of the Sky redefines the American Western novel. Jenny Tinghui Zhang’s debut spans from China to Idaho, following the journey of Daiyu, a young Chinese girl kidnapped from her home and sent overseas to America. In Daiyu, Zhang has given us one of the most memorable narrators I’ve ever come across–even as Daiyu endures the racism and brutality of the American West, she speaks with resilience and grace. Daiyu’s story might be set in the nineteenth century, but it resonates so strongly with today’s world. This is the kind of historical fiction that prompts us to reevaluate what we know of this country’s history and leaves us better for having done so. I can’t wait to see what Jenny Tinghui Zhang does next.

Reviewed by Lindsay Lynch from Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee

Unmasked by Paul Holes


Unmasked by Paul Holes
 Celadon Books / April 2022

More Reviews from Fiction Addiction

I don’t read a lot of “true crime,” and I honestly struggled with this one until I realized that it had completely captured my attention and I was unable to put it down. Paul Holes has lived a life unimaginable to most of us; facing the depths of depravity and the lengths of evil that exist in this world over the course of his lifetime. Clearly it has affected him…he paints himself as a rather unlikable character, single-mindedly focused on his work at the expense of his relationships, his marriage and his family. Imagine obsessing over one single thing (in his case capturing the Golden State Killer) every day of your life for over two decades. It is no wonder his personal life suffered as a result, but so deep was his obsession with this particular cold case, even his professional life was negatively impacted. I almost wonder if he isn’t affected by Autism or some other syndrome that drove his compulsion to pursue this predator for most of his career. This is a fascinating read not just in the steps it takes to catch a killer, but in how it can affect the lives of so many different people in so many different ways. It is disturbing, but compelling and even if it isn’t something you would normally pick up, it was an amazing read.

Reviewed by Brent Bunnell from Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

She Gets the Girl by Rachael Lippincott


She Gets the Girl by Rachael Lippincott
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers / April 2022

More Reviews from Bookmiser

Alex and Molly have grown up in two very different worlds, but they have one big thing in common: neither has any friends. But they’re both starting at the same college and both are determined to change, though for very different reasons. Alex’s girlfriend says Alex is afraid to let anyone in and won’t confess her true feelings. Molly has always been a big ball of anxiety, but has had a four year crush on a girl from her high school who just so happens to be going to the same college. Molly and Alex dislike each other, but they need the other to reach their goals. Overall, this was a very fun, sweet story that simultaneously deals with some heavy issues. I loved it!

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia

Wild Ride by Keith Calabrese


Wild Ride by Keith Calabrese
Scholastic Press / April 2022

More Reviews from Fountain Bookstore

My absolute favorite thing about this book is that it pulls no punches towards its antagonist, a thinly-veiled caricature of the star of a certain Bo Burnham song, and it is oh so satisfying to see him get the kind of comeuppance we can only dream about on this side of the page. Besides that, this middle-grade adventure through Chicagoland has an endearing set of characters who all learn something about the world being a little bigger and more complicated than they think it is, but not so big and complicated that they can’t handle. I also loved how much fun all the locations throughout the Chicago area were!

Reviewed by Akil Guruparan, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Read This Next!

Books on the horizon: Forthcoming favorites from Southern indies…

The Wedding Crasher by Mia Sosa


The Wedding Crasher by Mia Sosa
Avon / April 2022

More Reviews from Bookmarks

An April 2022 Read This Next! Title

I loved this follow up to Mia Sosa’s wedding-themed contemporary romance series. An overheard conversation just before a couple’s wedding makes Solange unable to hold her peace. Instead, she blurts out to the bride not to go through with it just as the couple is saying their “I do’s”. This leads to a chain of events that neither she, nor the stuffy groom Dean, could have thought possible. For one thing, Solange spells danger to Dean. She is unpredictable, feisty, and doesn’t have her life mapped out every single step of the way like he does…and that terrifies him. But, she could prove to be just what he needs to shake things up and finally find love.

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

Southern Bestsellers

What’s popular this week with Southern Readers.

Time is a Mother Bittersweet Dasiy Jones & the Six
The Gates of Europe Tell Me Three Things

[ See the full list ]

sbr shelf

Parting Thought

“To feel most beautifully alive means to be reading something beautiful, ready always to apprehend in the flow of language the sudden flash of poetry.”
– Gaston Bachelard

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