The Southern Bookseller Review 6/14/22

The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of June 14, 2022

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The week of June 13, 2022

JuneteenthFree at Last: A Juneteenth Poem

This Sunday we celebrate our newest Federal holiday, honoring an event that should have been cause for national celebration and thankfulness from the day it happened and every single day hence: the end of slavery in the United States.

All who live in bondage here shall from until be free
After 300 years of forced labor;
hands bound, descendants of Africa
picked up their souls – all that they
owned – leaving shackles where they fell
on the ground, headed for the nearest
resting place to be found. "
–Sojourner Kincaid Rolle

Free at Last by Sojourner Kincaid Rolle,
(List Price: $17.99, Union Square Kids, 9781454943747, June 2022)

Such an important message, beautifully told in Free at Last, A Juneteenth Poem. I hope this picture book depicting such an important part of our history is shared widely in homes and schools. –Jessica Nock from Main Street Books in Davidson, NC

Juneteenth reading lists:

19 for June 19th, The Bookmark Bookstore & Oakland Public Library
Juneteenth at

Read This Now | Read This Next | The Bookseller Directory

Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies…

In Every Mirror She’s Black by Lolá Ákínmádé Åkerström


In Every Mirror She’s Black by Lolá Ákínmádé Åkerström
Sourcebooks Landmark / June 2022

More Reviews from Oxford Exchange

Åkerström invites the reader into the complex and dynamic interior worlds of three Black women, with varying levels of privilege and proximity to whiteness, as they navigate the novel’s locations of America and Sweden. By following each of their unique and dynamic journeys, we learn about how our their intimate relationships reflect back the love and care they have learned to believe they deserve through social cues and cultural reminders. A story that paints landscapes of love and loss invites all readers to consider: if home is a feeling, how will you know you’ve found it? An extraordinary and fast-paced novel that I can not wait to recommend both solo and book club readers!

Reviewed by Eden Hakimzadeh, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

Bookseller Buzz


Spotlight on: You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi


Akwaeke Emezi

I meant to write just like a fluffy romance that didn’t have any heavier themes. Unfortunately, once I started writing Feyi all this darkness just kept unfolding…It shows all the facets of Feyi as a person—you have the version of her that’s doing rooftop parties and hooking up with people in the bathroom. And she’s still the same person who is an artist that’s working through her grief. I think it’s so important to show a Black woman who is all these things, and that you can be profane and promiscuous and that doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve a happily ever after.” –Akwaeke Emezi, interview, Vogue

What booksellers are saying about You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty

You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty
  • This book is chock-full of lines that will pack a punch. Several times I would put the book down and just say, “wow”, out loud to myself. The tension was so masterfully built and whew! The payoff was very very good. Loved this and love that this genre is new territory for Emezi, but they are certainly not showing any novice tendencies. Such a fantastic read! ―Nyawira Nyota from Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, NC
    Buy from Page 158 Books

  • I absolutely loved this book. A sumptuous, sexy, fierce, and fresh romance that makes you feel like bursting out of your front door to take on life and all it has to offer. Emezi never ceases to amaze!   ―Carroll Gelderman from Garden District Book Shop in New Orleans, LA
    Buy from Garden District Book Shop

  • After reading Emezi’s collection of poems, Content Warning: Everything, I knew I had to join this romantic journey of what love after loss could really look like. This book turned out to be one of my favorite reads of all time. Emezi introduces us to Feyi Adekola so that we can explore how desire and grief just might inform one another. I can’t recommend this novel enough and am excited to continue reading Emezi’s diverse and expansive collection.   ―Eden Hakimzadeh from Oxford Exchange in Tampa, FL
    Buy from Oxford Exchange

  • This book is brutal. It is also stunning and heart wrenching and guttural and oh so tender. The story itself is flecked with gold- the prose is strung tightly across each page, unyielding and effortless, and the relationships forged on each page are both subtle and earth shattering. At once a story of grief, love, and a tribute to life and the time we have on this earth, You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty is guaranteed to make you think, cry, laugh, and then want to do it all over again.   ―Mary Louise Callaghan from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC
    Buy from Bookmarks

About Akwaeke Emezi

Akwaeke Emezi (they/them) is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Death of Vivek Oji, which was a finalist for the Dylan Thomas Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the PEN/Jean Stein Award; Pet, a finalist for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, a Walter Honor Book, and a Stonewall Honor Book; Freshwater, which was named a New York Times Notable Book and shortlisted for the PEN/Hemingway Award, the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award, the Lambda Literary Award, and the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize; and most recently, Dear Senthuran: A Black Spirit Memoir, which won the 2022 ALA Stonewall Prize for Best Nonfiction Book. Selected as a 5 Under 35 honoree by the National Book Foundation, they are based in liminal spaces.

Jobs for Girls with Artistic Flair by June Gervais


Jobs for Girls with Artistic Flair by June Gervais
Pamela Dorman Books / June 2022

More Reviews from Friendly City Books

This book felt like it was written just for me. As a queer female artist with some basic tattoo experience, I immediately identified with Gina – her initial timidity, her frustration with being talked over and manipulated by men who should have guided and protected her, and especially her love of the weird. The description of her wild flash and her love for drawing gave me goosebumps. The book’s pacing and tension-building are excellent – the stakes kept getting higher and higher for Gina, until I was ready to leap into the pages and go to war for her. That steady turn of the screw kept the story feeling fresh and dynamic, and the characters kept me invested. Gina is relatable, likeable, and has some great emotional growth. Her brother Dominic is endearing and frustrating. Her mom is a heartbreaking mix of maddening and manipulative but still sympathetic. Every character has their own charm and their own faults. They feel real. You want things to work out for them and you ache when they struggle. Everything about their interactions felt natural and believable. I also have to give major props to the author for all the accurate tattooing details – she knows her stuff! Using autoclaves, calibrating machines, fixing errors (yikes!), practicing on pig feet and oranges, the hazing, the environment, the amount of energy and dedication it takes to make tattooing a career – she nailed it all. Dominic’s shop came to life because it was written by someone who KNOWS. That makes me happier than I can say. Basically, read this book. If you’re into stories of young women fighting for their place in the world, you’ll like it. If you want bisexual representation, here you go. If you’re interested in art and/or tattoos, you’ll love it. If you’re anything like me, you’ll feel seen.

Reviewed by Rachel Derise, Friendly City Books in Columbus, Mississippi

Also a Poet by June Gervais


Also a Poet by June Gervais
 Grove Press Books / June 2022

More Reviews from Fountain Bookstore

Calhoun had a complicated relationship with her famous art critic father Peter Schjeldahl. This book started as an attempt to write a biography of poet Frank O’Hara that her father never finished. Having inherited his obsession with the poet, the author wrestles with creating a narrative with answers when obstacles (time, fire, other people) keep them hidden. I felt the frustration of her and her subjects as it infected me with its incessant whispers of almosts and near misses. Ultimately, the author gifts us with wise lessons of kindness and acceptance. An extraordinary, raw read!

Reviewed by Kelly Justice, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Breaking Time by Sasha Alsberg


Breaking Time by Sasha Alsberg
Inkyard Books / June 2022

More Reviews from Snail on the Wall

Perfect for preteens and teens who want to read Outlander but probably shouldn’t. When Klara accidentally hits a mysterious Scotsman with her car, she has no idea the true intensity of the situation. Callum has stepped out of the 1500s to protect Klara, the last Pillar of Time, at all costs. An evil force is murdering the Pillars, greedy for the powers of the gods, and Klara and Callum are the only thing in his way. This was an amazing story that sucked me in. Alsberg uses imagery that truly puts the beauty of Scotland in your mind. She also writes character development extremely well. She does a great job building Callum’s acclimation to the modern world at the right pace, without making it cringey or a joke. Klara also has great development through the story, and you can see her heal and strengthen bonds she left unattended because of her mother’s death. Klara, despite having a man fated to protect her, is also allowed to be strong and fiercely independent. Throughout her relationship with Callum, she grows stronger, not weaker and submissive, like some YA main characters in a protected/protector situation.

Reviewed by Scarlett, The Snail on the Wall in Huntsville, Alabama

Rosie and the Pre-Loved Dress by Leanne Hatch


Rosie and the Pre-Loved Dress by Leanne Hatch
G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers / June 2022

More Reviews from Books and Books

I love the concept behind this adorable story. We’re big fans of recycling, reusing and giving new life to old things in our household, and I think anyone open to the idea would enjoy having this book in their at-home story time rotation.

Reviewed by Cristina Russell, Books & Books in Coral Gables, Florida

Read This Next!

Books on the horizon: Forthcoming favorites from Southern indies…

Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan


Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan
G.P. Putnam’s Sons / June 2022

More Reviews from Main Street Books

A June 2022 Read This Next! Selection

Five starry-eyed stars for Nora Goes Off Script! Screenwriter Nora makes a living writing Hallmark style romance movies that stick to the formula that all rom com fans know and love. When she goes off script and writes a movie that deals with the harshness of real life, and based on her own heartbreak, she lands a box office movie deal. Next thing she knows, her movie is being filmed on her own property, starring sultry hot throb, Leo. As a recently divorced mother of two, Norah knows she needs to stay focused on her daily life of raising two children alone. This becomes much more difficult when Leo, who needs a mental break from the glare of fame, asks to pay rent to extend his stay after filming ends. My favorite part of Nora Goes Off Script is that I honestly didn’t know how it would end. Pins and needles! I loved the small town setting, Norah’s chance to start over after a bad marriage, and Norah’s children and best friends. Highly recommend!

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

Southern Bestsellers

What’s popular this week with Southern Readers.

Yerba Buena Happy Go Lucky The Love Songs of WEB DuBois
The Splendid and the Vile The Lesbiana's Guide to Catholic School

[ See the full list ]

Parting Thought

“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”
– Audre Lorde

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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