The Southern Bookseller Review 5/2/23

The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of May 2, 2023

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The week of May 2, 2023

Honoring Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

“Don’t deny the past. Remember everything. If you’re bitter, be bitter. Cry it out! Scream! Denial is gangrene.” — Joy Kogawa

May is Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Read and amplify Asian and Pacific Islander voices this month, beyond this month, and always. We celebrate in May to commemorate the first Japanese immigrants to the United States on May 7, 1843, and the completion of the transcontinental railroad, built with the labor of Chinese workers, on May 10, 1869.

Indie booksellers delight in discovering great stories from under-represented writers and putting them into the hands of avid readers. The Southern Bookseller Review showcases a wide range of AAPI books that Southern indie booksellers loved: Read books by AAPI authors

Read This Now | Read This Next | Book Buzz | The Bookseller Directory

Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies…

The True Love Experiment by Christina Lauren


The True Love Experiment by Christina Lauren
Gallery Books / May 2023

More Reviews from The Violet Fox Bookshop

You’ve heard of book boyfriends, but have you heard of book best friends? Let me introduce you to Fizzy Chen – wickedly smart, unabashedly sex positive, and a bit lost in life. I absolutely adored Fizzy. She is wit and feminism and courage – all with an extra sparkle. She may not have had the best luck in relationships lately, but all that’s about to change…I think I made more noises reading this book than any other – laughing out loud, snorting from laughing so hard, squealing at the cuteness, yelling "WHAT!", and telling my husband approximately 1500 times how amazing this book is! I laughed, I cried, and I laughed while crying.

The True Love Experiment by Christina Lauren is the spicy, hopeful, romance that will leave you bursting with joy.

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

The Collected Regrets of Clover by Mikki Brammer


The Collected Regrets of Clover by Mikki Brammer
St. Martin’s Press / May 2023

More Reviews from A Novel Escape

Clover, our main, character is already a bit of a loner when she experiences her first death at an early age when her teacher dies suddenly while reading Peter Rabbit. She also experiences the death of her parents and is moved to a new city to live with her grandpa who raises her. Shunned by others, because of our society’s fear of death and the fact that no one ever speaks about it, Clover becomes even more of a loner. She finds that her job makes it hard for her to meet and keep friends as speaking of death makes people extremely uncomfortable. This book definitely had me thinking and reflecting on my life, made me cry, and I walked away loving the characters and rooting for Clover feeling very happy with the way the book ended. I really enjoyed the originality of our main ‘ job as a death doula it very much intrigued me and peaked my curiosity to pick this book up definitely would recommend.

Reviewed by Angela Hudson, A Novel Escape in Franklin, North Carolina

Bookseller Buzz


Spotlight on: With My Little Eye by Joshilyn Jackson


Joshilyn Jackson, photo credit Scott Winn

I think it is my theater background. I went to school for that and I have been trained to get into other heads and trying to inhabit other spaces and to fully imagine those experiences in empathetic ways. There are all kinds of work that you do as an actor for that. Oddly enough, if I’m writing a play or an essay, those come from a very different part of my brain than a novel. The piece of my brain that heats up when I’m working on a novel is the same piece that heats up when I’m acting. ―Joshilyn Jackson, Interview, Wraparound South

What booksellers are saying about With My Little Eye

With My Little Eye by Joshilyn Jackson
  • Joshilyn Jackson has long been one of the leading novelists of the 21st Century South, but her recent turn towards well-plotted thrillers that pivot on the interpersonal politics of well to do Southerners and the love of parents for their children (however their family came to be) continues in what might be her best novel yet. Jackson mercilessly exploits the rapid gentrification of Atlanta and the explosion of the film industry here to create a familiar yet fresh setting for her story. She also uses our constant nostalgia for the pop culture of our past to weave her tale of a former teen (well, maybe not so much) second-tier star with a stalker who follows her across the country. Huge props to Jackson in her work crafting Honor, an incredibly realistic tween on the spectrum. Honor all but leaps off the page.
      ― Tracie Harris from The Book House in Smyrna, Georgia | Buy from The Book House

  • Jackson’s newest thriller tells us about Meribel Mills, an actress that has moved as far away from home as she can get to avoid a stalker. She thinks she and her daughter are safe in their new home but when the letters – with their distinguished scented markers – arrive at her new place, she can’t believe it. Who can Meribel trust and how far will she have to go to escape the stalker forever and ensure the safety of her family? Fans of her thrillers will eat this one up!
      ―Andrea Richardson from Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia | Buy from Fountain Bookstore

  • With her newest novel, Jackson gets even twistier with her plots as we read about an actress who moves across the country to escape a creepy stalker who seems to be escalating. Meribel Mills had a popular part in a 90s sitcom and has had steady, though not high profile, work since then. But now she’s got a stalker sending her scary mail and she has a child to protect. So, even though she said she’d never set foot back in Georgia, she moves there from LA for a new TV show. But will that be enough to escape her tormentor?
      ―Jennifer Jones from Bookmiser, Inc. in Marietta, Georgia | Buy from Bookmiser

About Joshilyn Jackson

Joshilyn Jackson is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of ten other novels, including gods in Alabama and Never Have I Ever. Her books have been translated into more than a dozen languages. A former actor, Jackson is also an award-winning audiobook narrator. She lives in Decatur, Georgia, with her husband and their two children.

Cousins by Aurora Venturini


Cousins by Aurora Venturini
 Soft Skull / May 2023

More Reviews from Avid Bookshop

My kinda fare: a colorful palette of characters reminiscent of school days when you mush all the cafeteria food together on the tray then dare your neighbor to eat it. Blush-worthy moments galore, like being shot from an early-oeuvre John Waters canon, to land in a Leonora Carrington net. A gourmet gag-fest, even more chokingly delicious in hindsight.

Reviewed by Ian McCord, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

How to Think Like a Woman by Regan Penaluna


How to Think Like a Woman by Regan Penaluna
Grove Press / March 2023

More Reviews from Union Ave Books.

As a woman in philosophy, not only did How to Think Like a Woman challenge me, but it gave me an overwhelming sense of being known. Regan Penaluna reclaims the conversation surrounding "the problem of women" with an honesty and self-awareness that is unmatched.

Reviewed by Union Ave Books in Knoxville, Tennessee

Fake Dates and Mooncakes by Sher Lee


Fake Dates and Mooncakes by Sher Lee
Underlined / May 2023

More Reviews from Fiction Addiction

Dylan’s life revolves around his family — helping his aunt in their Chinese-Singaporian takeout restaurant, spending time with his cousins, remembering his mom. Then Theo comes into his life, with his private school and Ferrari and uber-wealthy family. The two are nothing alike, made even more obvious when Theo convinces Dylan to be his fake date at a family wedding and Dylan gets a look at the drama in Theo’s family. But there’s something real between them, and Dylan finds it harder and harder to ignore it. A super-cute romance with big YA Crazy Rich Asian vibes. And you’ll want to be sure to have snacks handy because the food sounds amazing, and you’ll definitely get hungry!

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

Mother of Sharks by Melissa Cristina Márquez


Mother of Sharks by Melissa Cristina Márquez
Penguin Workshop / May 2023

More Reviews from Main Street Books

Magical and imaginative, this autobiographical picture book follows a young girl’s explorations under the sea as she observes marine life and our critical need for marine conservation. I loved that Mother of Sharks features a Hispanic woman in STEM!

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

Wolf Girl and Black Prince, Vol. 1 by Ayuko Hatta


Wolf Girl and Black Prince, Vol. 1 by Ayuko Hatta
VIZ Media LLC / May 2023

More Reviews from Quail Ridge Books

I watched this anime several years ago, and I have to say they did an excellent job adapting the manga. I don’t know why I enjoy it so much — the love interest is incredibly toxic, and the main character is a total mess, yet I find myself rooting for them anyway.

Reviewed by Amber Brown, Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, North Carolina

Read This Next!

Books on the horizon: Forthcoming favorites from Southern indies…

The Secret Book of Flora Lea by Patti Callahan Henry


The Secret Book of Flora Lea by Patti Callahan Henry
 Atria Books / May 2023

Adult FictionHistoricalWorld War II
More Reviews from Snail on the Wall

A May 2023 Read This Next! Title

What if a book, written from an imagined childhood story, could unlock mysteries of the past and reunite lost loved ones? That’s precisely what happens in The Secret Book of Flora Lea, and Henry lets it all unfold with expert storytelling. This is a beautiful tale of the powers of stories and love. I loved how this book highlights the use of stories to provide comfort in chaos and create bonds that transcend distance and time. I fell deeply in love with Whisperwood and the characters of this lovely novel. This book is one that, upon finishing it, you close it gently, hold it close to your heart, wipe your tears, and smile before you set it down.

Reviewed by Jess Depew, The Snail On the Wall in Huntsville, Alabama

Southern Bestsellers

What’s popular this week with Southern Readers.

Silver Alert Sweet Enough: A Dessert Cookbook Four Winds
Rooted: Life at the Crossroads of Science, Nature, and Spirit The World and Everything In It

[ See the full list ]

Parting Thought

“Each book was a world unto itself, and in it I took refuge.”
— Alberto Manguel

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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