The Southern Bookseller Review 4/4/23

The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of April 4, 2023

View Online | Unsubscribe | SBR Archive | SUBSCRIBE TO SBR

The Southern Bookseller Review: A Book for Every Reader

facebook  twitter  instagram 

The week of April 4, 2023

The Florida Book Awards

Florida Book Awards

Florida may have been in the news recently for its heightened scrutiny of books in school libraries but the truth is Florida is a state with a rich and vibrant literary tradition and community which simply can’t be overshadowed by current events or politics. The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, which produces SBR, counts 135 independent bookstores in Florida — which represents only part of the number of bookstores in the state. Florida is home to one of the biggest book festivals in the country, and it is also home to a robust bilingual literary community.

In March the Florida State University Libraries announced the 2022 Florida Book Awards Winners, celebrating the best of Florida literature of the year. To be eligible, authors must be full-time Florida residents, or in the case of the nonfiction winners, the books must focus on Florida.

There are eleven categories, including Spanish-Language publications and (new this year) Poetry Chapbooks. Winning books cover everything from the creation of the Everglades to the history of the Cuban Sandwich, from literary novels to cozy mysteries to exquisitely illustrated children’s literature.

Here is this year’s list of winners. And here are a few of the things independent booksellers have said about some of the winners:

If Your Babysitter is a Bruja

If Your Babysitter is a Bruja by Ana Siqueira (Simon & Schuster)
Young Children’s Literature Bronze Winner

Super cute story that balances English and Spanish! Perfect for Halloween but really you can read this one year-round — witches are cool! And I’m always a fan of any picture book that requires you to rotate the book to see the words. -Kate Storhoff from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC

All Day is a Long Time

All Day is a Long Time by David Sanchez (Harper Books)
General Fiction Gold Winner

This harrowing semi-autobiographical account of a young man addicted to crack and whatever else he can get his hands on and his possible salvation through books and higher education. Riveting, funny, and sometimes gross, Sanchez delivers the goods no matter how uncomfortable or self-deprecating the details may be. Plus, bonus "Florida Man" weirdness! -Seth Tucker from Carmichael’s Bookstore in Louisville, KY

A Dish to Die For

A Dish to Die For by Lucy Burdette, aka Roberta Isleib (Crooked Lane Press)
Popular Fiction Bronze Winner

Lucy Burdette’s cozy mysteries always provide entertainment , with a generous amount of food/restaurant critiques, and this one is no exception as you read about a dead body, an old recipe book, and of course, murder. However, what I truly liked about this book was how Burdette incorporated issues that are transforming Key West…the dispute about big tourist ships at the harbor; the purchasing of property by wealthy speculators and the divide it’s causing for the "locals" regarding their jobs and housing. These are all current, controversial issues. A tough line to draw between traditional and progressive Key West. An insightful, unexpected storyline in a very good cozy mystery. -Karen Solar from Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda, FL

Read This Now | Read This Next | The Bookseller Directory

Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies…

House of Cotton by Monica Brashears


House of Cotton by Monica Brashears
Flatiron Books / April 2023

More Reviews from Underground Books

In this gritty, ghostly Affrilachian gothic debut, Magnolia, in the wake of her grandmother’s death and possibly pregnant, takes an offer to “model” as the late beloveds of the rich at a funeral home run by the strange Mr. Cotton. The voice and the VIBES are all there, and this book has a lot to say about grief, death, race, class, and sex in the Bible Belt South. The writing is strong and beautiful—a writer to watch.

Reviewed by Megan Bell, Underground Books in Carrollton, Georgia

The Thick and the Lean by Chana Porter


The Thick and the Lean by Chana Porter
Gallery, Saga Pres / April 2023

More Reviews from The Violet Fox Bookshop

The Thick and The Lean by Chana Porter is part sci-fi, part speculative fiction, part cookbook, and part love story. At its core, it’s a simultaneous celebration of life’s pleasures – including food, sex, community, nature, and reading – and a critique of the things that plague our modern world – namely corporate greed, classism, and the shame we’ve been taught to feel for who we are and what we desire. The story itself is captivating, the characters are wonderful, and the world-building is incredible. Beyond being a great book, The Thick and The Lean also feels important. It asks big questions like what makes a person worthy or good? And where do our societal values come from? Why do we deny ourselves things like food, ambition, and love? And what happens when we embrace our nature, our history, and begin living in a way that’s not only true to ourselves but also better for our world as a whole?

The Thick and The Lean does deal with a lot of heavy topics, but don’t let that deter you. It’s chock full of hope and beauty too. In a world where reality is quite bitter, it’s a story of human kindness, found and chosen family, and the power of a good book. The Thick and The Lean is a buffet of delicious characters, a story meant to be savored and explored. In a word, it’s umami. Don’t deny yourself the pleasure of devouring this book!

Reviewed by Emily Lessig, The Violet Fox Bookshop in Virginia Beach, Virginia

Ozark Dogs by Eli Cranorn


Ozark Dogs by Eli Cranor
Soho Crime / April 2023

More Reviews from Union Ave Books

Mixing identity conflict and family secrecy with blood-ties and murder, Eli Cranor delivers a literary punch with his newest novel, Ozark Dogs. Set in the Ozarks, this story follows a true crime case involving drug-smuggling Klansmen turned evangelicals and a Vietnam War vet named Jeremiah, who is committed to saving his granddaughter from a dark path, even if it means getting himself into trouble. I absolutely could not put this one down. The prose is immersive, and the depth with which Cranor writes is beautifully nuanced.

Reviewed by Leo Coffey, Union Ave Books in Knoxville, Tennessee

Bookseller Buzz


Spotlight on: Once There Was by Kiyash Monsef


Kiyash Monsef, photo credit Jane McGonigal

"If I had a dollar for every writer who told me of their childhood love for the d’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths…what is it about that book?

Everyone has an illustration that’s stuck with them. For me, it’s the kraken rising up out of the ocean. And for a lot of people it was one of our first exposures to really old stories and a deep, continuous mythology. They’re unapologetically complex, internally referential, and ask a lot of young readers, visually and narratively. When you work hard to enjoy something at a young age, it leaves an impression." ―Kiyash Monsef, Interview, Horn Book

What booksellers are saying about Once There Was

Once There Was by Kiyash Monsef
  • When Marjan’s father is mysteriously murdered, she discovers he was a veterinarian to the kinds of mythic creatures in the stories he once told her…and she inherited his power to care for beasts like griffons and gnomes herself. Once There Was is an emotionally rich, beautifully told story, full of adventure, mystery, and magical realism, with great Iranian-American representation, about the paradox of living—wonder and responsibility, grief and connection—that I’d love for readers of all ages to enjoy and engage with.
      ―Megan Bell, Underground Books in Carrollton, Georgia | Buy from Underground Books

  • I absolutely loved the writing in this book. Not overly stylized fantasy– well-grounded in relatable language and situations, not "high fantasy". The relationships are tender and sweet and cover everything from friendships, to parent/caregiver, to romantic. The plot develops well, the ending is satisfying without being twee. The character development is spot on and I’ve never met a unicorn more fascinating! Monsef’s gentle treatment of the traumatic effects of grief and loss are beautiful.
      ―Elisa Forshey, Givens Books & Little Dickens in Lynchburg, Virginia | Buy from Givens Books & Little Dickens

  • 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.
      ― Melissa Oates, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina | Buy from Fiction Addiction

About Kiyash Monsef

Kiyash Monsef is an Emmy Award–nominated producer and director; a writer of short stories, videos, comic books, and games; and a designer of innovative conversational and voice interface experiences. Once There Was is his first novel.


A Living Remedy by Nicole Chung


A Living Remedy by Nicole Chung
Ecco / April 2023

More Reviews from Main Street Books

I loved Nichol Chung’s debut memoir, All You Can Ever Know, so I couldn’t wait to read her latest, A Living Remedy. Continuing to explore themes of identify and race, A Living Remedy also delves into themes of grief, class and our fractured healthcare system up through the days of the COVID 19 pandemic. I want to spare the reader spoilers because I was riveted by Nicole’s experience of growing up, moving across the country from her adoptive parents and raising a family of her own. Her exquisite writing and tender vulnerability makes this a stand-out memoir for me. Highly recommend!

Reviewed by Jessica Nock, Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina

This Delicious Death by Kayla Cottingham


This Delicious Death by Kayla Cottingham
Sourcebooks Fire / April 2023

More Reviews from Story on the Square

This Delicious Death follows the story of Zoey and her three friends two years after a disease that renders half the general public "hollow" or cannibalistic monsters. Unlike zombies, however, they’re fine as long as they eat regularly and the world has created synthetic flesh for them to get their ghoul on. So going to the Desert Bloom Music Festival in the desert for one last trip before the friends go their separate ways after high school should be perfectly fine, right? Between being in love with her best friend, the glamourous Celeste and one of their friends going missing and possibly feral, this wasn’t the kind of trip Zoey was expecting. Okay, so I have to say, while i love sapphic stories, it had been hard for me to get into them for a while. This Delicious Death had me hook line and sinker from the very beginning. The world building was fascinating and the story itself was gripping. I cannot wait to sell this one in store!

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

The Artist by Ed Vere


The Artist by Ed Vere
Doubleday Books for Young Readers / April 2023

More Reviews from Square Books

A dinosaur book about art, narrated by the dinosaur. Warm and measured, it becomes an instruction manual of sorts, while ultimately transforming into a tribute to an artist, by a dinosaur. Actually, the whole book is by an incredibly good author/artist (not a dinosaur, yet).

Reviewed by Jilleen Moore, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

39 Clues: The Maze of Bones: A Graphic Novel (39 Clues Graphic Novel #1) by Rick Riordan


39 Clues: The Maze of Bones: A Graphic Novel (39 Clues Graphic Novel #1) by Rick Riordan
Graphix / April 2023

More Reviews from Flyleaf Books

This was a series that made my childhood, and the graphic novel truly did it justice! I am so excited for a new generation of kids to be introduced to Amy and Dan Cahill, and the winding mystery of the Cahill legacy.

Reviewed by Jordan April, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Read This Next!

Books on the horizon: Forthcoming favorites from Southern indies…

Yours Truly by Abby Jimenez


Yours Truly by Abby Jimenez
 Forever / April 2023

Adult FictionCity LifeContemporaryFictionHumorousRomanceRomantic ComedyWomen
More Reviews from Bookmarks

An April 2023 Read This Next! Title

Is there such a thing as a meet-ugly? Out of an utterly disastrous first "meeting" (they didn’t actually even meet, just started jumping to wrong conclusions) grew a ten-tissue romance for the ages. I also was delighted that the town of Wakan, the actual seemingly "inanimate" objects in the vaguely magical town, such a huge silent character in Part of Your World, got a bit role in Yours Truly. No one does foreshadowing like Abby Jimenez.

Reviewed by Lisa Yee Swope, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Southern Bestsellers

What’s popular this week with Southern Readers.

The White Lady Poverty, America The Cat Who Saved Books
The Invisible Kingdom The Magician's Elephant

[ See the full list ]

Parting Thought

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
– Rainer Maria Rilke

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

SIBA | 51 Pleasant Ridge Drive | Asheville, NC 28805
You have received this email because you are currently subscribed to receive The Southern Bookseller Review.
Please click @@unsubscribe_url@@ if you no longer wish to receive these communications.

Scroll to Top