The Southern Bookseller Review 4/25/23

The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of April 25, 2023

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The Southern Bookseller Review: A Book for Every Reader

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The week of April 25, 2023

"Poetry brings people together."

Ada Limon

Ada Limón the 24th U.S. Poet Laureate, has been appointed for a two-year second term. Carla Hayden, the Librarian of Congress, asked Limon to continue in the position to continue her work "to broaden and promote poetry to reach new audiences."

Limón’s priority during her term as Poet Laureate has been to make poetry accessible.

“Everywhere I have traveled during my first term, both nationally and internationally, I’ve been reminded that poetry brings people together. I am looking forward to continuing the important work of celebrating what poetry can do.” –Ada Limón

What Southern indie booksellers think:

The Hurting Kind by Ada Limón
(List Price: $22, Milkweed Editions, 9781639550494,  May 2022)

The Hurting Kind by Ada Limón

Poems of movement, of worry, of a recognized grief and the subsequent small joys that can bloom out of dirt like small flower heads…Limón never, ever disappoints when it comes to understanding the great and terrible spectrum of emotions that is our cross to bear.

–Reviewed by Aimee Keeble from Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina | Buy the Book


Read This Now | Read This Next | The Bookseller Directory

Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies…

Closer Baby Closer by Savannah Brown


Closer Baby Closer by Savannah Brown
Not a Cult / February 2023

More Reviews from Fountain Bookstore

Those who spent a lot of time on the spoken word poetry side of Youtube in the 2010s will recognize Savannah Brown, who’s been bearing her soul for the internet for almost a decade. I was happy to find with this collection, that Brown’s poems have matured while maintaining the same vulnerability, humor, and unabashed desire for attention. Written in free verse and unconventional format, Brown delivers intimacy for the digital age, capturing the feelings of (among other things) being loved and in-love, jealousy and guilt. Skillfully, sensually written and easily digestible!.

Reviewed by Julia Lewis, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

The Soulmate by Sally Hepworth


The Soulmate by Sally Hepworth
St. Martin’s Press / April 2023

More Reviews from Fiction Addiction

The Soulmate is about two couples, Pippa and Gabe and Amanda and Max. It is a story of family, mental illness, and what it means to truly love someone. The riveting thriller is told from the viewpoints of the two wives, both in the past and the present. Pippa, who is very much alive, is trying to understand what has happened and what she can do to protect her family. Amanda, who is dead is trying to discover exactly what happened that led to her death. One of the best domestic thrillers I have read in ages, the short chapters make you want to read “just one more” so you can find out what has happened and what is going to happen.

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

Bookseller Buzz


Spotlight on: Salvage the World by Michael Farris Smith


Michael Farris Smith, photo credit Michael Farris Smith

"What you see in the opening pages is the thing that kind of just sticks in my head that I can’t get rid of….this image of a woman standing staring at thunder clouds, with a kid on her hip and the wind blowing and dust in her hair. Something just grabbed hold of me about that image: who she was, what she was doing, what kind of trouble they might be in.” ―Michael Farris Smith, Interview, Poisoned Pen Bookstore

What booksellers are saying about Salvage the World

Salvage the World by Michael Farris Smith
  • Phenomenal! I read this book in one day. Could not put it down, Very gritty, realistic portrayal of a young woman who ran away with the bad boy, leaving her Dad. Now alone with a young child to protect she must flee her home. With bullets blazing and a dead body in the back of the car she stole she must go back and have her Dad help. Can she repair her relationship with her Dad? Can she escape the men after her.
      ― Suzanne Lucey from Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, North Carolina | Buy from Page 158 Books

  • A gripping tale that grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go until the end.
      ―Rae Ann Parker from Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee | Buy from Parnassus Books

  • Salvage This World presents an apocalyptic vision of a hurricane ravaged south. A perfect setting to test the mettle of an estranged family forced to reconcile all the pain and anger they’ve accumulated over the years in order to escape the coming storm, both literal and metaphorical. Brutal, unforgiving, and utterly compelling to the very end!
      ―Todd Mullins, Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, North Carolina | Buy from Quail Ridge Books

About Michael Farris Smith

Michael Farris Smith is an award-winning writer whose novels have appeared on Best of the Year lists with Esquire, NPR, Southern LivingGarden & GunBook Riot, and numerous other outlets. He has also written the feature-film adaptations of his novels Desperation Road and The Fighter, titled for the screen as Rumble Through the Dark. He lives in Oxford, Mississippi, with his wife and daughters.

The Insatiable Volt Sisters by Rachel Eve Moulton


The Insatiable Volt Sisters by Rachel Eve Moulton
 MCD x FSG Originals / May 2023

Adult FictionFantasyFictionHorrorLiterary FictionParanormalSupernaturalThrillers
More Reviews from Novel.

The Insatiable Volt Sisters is straight-ahead horror, but it looks deeply into struggles of defining one’s own legacy despite a troubled heritage. Told from the perspective of four very different women, Moulton’s characters are flawed and struggling, but also courageous and unrelenting in their choice to face darkness and despair head-on. This book is eerie and mysterious…and I could feel Fowler Island dripping off the pages as the sisters reveal/fight the beast within.

Reviewed by Stuart McCommon, Novel. in Memphis, Tennessee

Planta Sapiens by Paco Calvo


Planta Sapiens by Paco Calvo
W. W. Norton & Company / March 2023

More Reviews from E. Shaver.

In Planta Sapiens, author Paco Calvo invites readers to challenge the notion of plants as static, reactionary organisms devoid of any agency or cognition. Through a mix of historical context, narrative, and research, Paco investigates the microscopic chemical reactions that drive plant biology and behavior – processes that he and a small contingent of his fellows believe may actually point to plant sentience. While the research findings are thought-provoking, I found myself more interested in the personal journey taken by Calvo to shift his own perspective on plant biology, as well as the significant push back his thinking has received from the greater scientific community. Overall, I found this book entertaining, though I suspect that it may only find an audience with those who are already interested in the subject matter.

Reviewed by Elliot Ambrose, E. Shaver, Bookseller in Savannah, Georgia

Blood Debts by Terry J. Benton-Walker


Blood Debts by Terry J. Benton-Walker
Tor Teen / April 2023

More Reviews from Bookmarks

Set in NOLA, this book is full of intrigue, magic, messy family drama and mystery. This book tackles, homophobia, white supremacy, and race in a way I’ve never seen before. I love seeing Chris and Clem’s character development as they find themselves and step into their power. I enjoyed every twist and turn and it kept me on the edge of my seat. Loved it!

Reviewed by Keeshia Jacklitch, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Leeva at Last by Sara Pennypacker


Leeva at Last by Sara Pennypacker
Balzer + Bray / March 2023

More Reviews from Fountain Bookstore

Leeva at Last is the reason I will recommend "kids" books to people of any age. Such a charming, feel-good story of a girl named Leeva, and the journey she goes on to change her community. The illustrations and Sara Pennypacker’s delightful humor tie this precious, yet important book together. Reading this made me feel like a kid again, I cant wait for everyone to enjoy this magical book.

Reviewed by Grace Sullivan, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

The Princess and the Grilled Cheese Sandwich (A Graphic Novel) by Deya Muniz


The Princess and the Grilled Cheese Sandwich (A Graphic Novel) by Deya Muniz
Little, Brown Ink / May 2023

Comics & Graphic NovelsLGBTQYoung Adult Fiction
More Reviews from Story on the Square

Actual chills at the ending of this novel. ACTUAL. CHILLS. Cam and Brie are the absolute cutest in this story. Cam cannot inherit as a girl, so she happily becomes Count Cam and moves to where she’ll only ever be known as a boy after her father dies. But of course she falls in love with the princess herself! After much fashion and adorable hi-jinks, we have an exciting happy story. This is perfect for fans of The Prince and the DressmakerHeartstopper, and the classic Nimona. Don’t miss out on this darling tale that’s a mix of Victorian and modern age and beautiful artwork.

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

Read This Next!

Books on the horizon: Forthcoming favorites from Southern indies…

In the Lives of Puppets by TJ Klune


In the Lives of Puppets by TJ Klune
 Tor Books / April 2023

Adult FictionContemporaryFantasyFictionGayHumorousLGBTQ+
More Reviews from A Novel Escape

An April 2023 Read This Next! Title

An old man and brilliant inventor finds a run down cottage in a forest and decides to live there, far away from the rest of the world. One day he is surprised when a distraught couple who seem to be on the run leave a young boy in his care and ask him to raise the child. Two decades later, the tender-hearted, shy, and brilliant boy finds a broken AI robot and decides to repair it. Shortly after, the world descends upon his family in their forest idyll, forcing the young man to leave on a quest to the world beyond. A place of great danger and risk; but he is accompanied by a small crew of fiercely loyal friends who are determined to help him find what they are looking for. This novel holds all the beautiful, tender sentimentality, found family dynamics, loving humor, and self-discovery that I’ve come to expect from TJ Klune. I absolutely fell in love with every character in this motley crew of creatures. I laughed out loud frequently at the antics of Nurse Ratched and Rambo. I cried when things got tough and painful. I feared for the sweet young man who is trying to find his way. It has all the best parts of a huggable book for me.

Reviewed by Elizabeth DeWandeler, A Novel Escape in Franklin, North Carolina

Southern Bestsellers

What’s popular this week with Southern Readers.

The Trackers You Could Make This Place Beautiful Daisy Jones & The Six
Dopamine Nation A Door in the Dark

[ See the full list ]

Parting Thought

“Literature is the art of discovering something extraordinary about ordinary people, and saying with ordinary words something extraordinary.”
— Boris Pasternak

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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