The Southern Bookseller Review 7/18/23

The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of July 18, 2023

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The week of July 18, 2023

How do you feel about independent bookstores?

Kimberly Brock, photo by Claire Brock Photography

"I think independent bookstores exist as businesses, but also as sanctuaries in the world."

A new post at a favorite book blog is always a pleasure to see. Advance Reading Copy, written by Jon Mayes, is one of those blogs worth watching and waiting for. Mayes has had a long career in the book industry. His years as a bookstore owner and publisher rep means he knows just about everybody in the book world. He started writing Advance Reading Copy to interview the many fascinating people he would meet in the course of his travels.

This week’s interview is with Kimberly Brock — a favorite author among both Southern readers and Southern booksellers. One of the questions he always asks is "How do you feel about independent bookstores?" Here is how Brock responded:

"I’ve always been shy about declaring myself a writer and I find it difficult to introduce myself that way. It took three tries to walk into my local indie bookstore with my first novel and say hello and when I finally made it to the front desk and opened my mouth, I brought a basket full of gifts, and started to cry. To my great relief, the booksellers were so kind and they embraced me and my book and have been my best champions since that day.

My first novel was published with a small press and the support of the regional indies made all the difference in that book finding its way to readers. I got in my car and drove from Georgia to Mississippi in August that summer, and every store that welcomed me felt like found family. It has been the same with my latest novel. But even over the years when I was struggling to write and publish another book, those indies were a haven for me. I think they exist as businesses, but also as sanctuaries in the world. Inside an indie bookstore, all voices are welcome and cherished. No one is a stranger. No one is alone. We are all readers. In the South, we like to ask who your people are and we can form immediate connections based on distant cousins many times removed. Indie bookstores are that family tree for readers with broad and far-reaching branches." ―Kimberly Brock

Read the whole interview

What booksellers have to say about Kimberly Brock’s new novel, The Lost Book of Eleanor Dare:

The Lost Book of Eleanor Dare

This is a book you want to jump on in and live in. Characters Alice, Penn, Sonder and Doris will win the hearts of readers. Brock deftly weaves in mystery and mysticism to a solid work of historical fiction exploring the descendants of the lost Roanoke colony. I love a good generational epic, especially one focused on strong women; this delivers –and then some– from the 1500s right on up through WWII, and set against the rich southern backdrop of Savannah’s lowcountry… A wonderful and immersive journey! ― Shari Stauch from Main Street Reads, Summerville, SC | Buy


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

Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies…

Good Fortune by C.K. Chau


Good Fortune by C.K. Chau
HarperVia / July 2023

More Reviews from Main Street Books

A fresh adaptation of Pride and Prejudice set in Chinatown, NYC in the 90s. Elizabeth Chen is the heroine we know and love—unyielding in her beliefs and self-reliant. This book both nails the retelling and holds its own with themes exploring class, identity, family dynamics, and community.

Reviewed by Andrea Jasmin, Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina

Bookseller Buzz


Spotlight on: The Woman in the Castello by Kelsey James

Kelsey James, photo credit Jody Soria Photographer

“I think one of the most important functions of art and literature is the way it can help us make sense of or simply cope with our present realities. The Woman in the Castello is about a young actress and single mother who’s cast in a horror movie in 1960s Italy, but at its core, it’s a book about the lengths we’ll go to for family.” ― Kelsey James, via, Publishers Weekly

What booksellers are saying about The Woman in the Castello

The Woman in the Castello by Kelsey James
  • A mystery, some family drama, a romance, all set in a crumbling castle in Italy! Yes please! This debut novel has it all. Read it in a few days and highly recommend.
      ― Suzanne Lucey from Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, NC | Buy from Page 158 Books

  • A crumbling Italian villa with a complicated past of its own seems like the perfect setting for a young actress’s first feature film. When real life starts to mimic the most startling aspects of the horror film being filmed, though, Silvia realizes she may be in for more than she bargained for. The perfect mix of gothic horror, historical fiction, and family intrigue, The Woman in the Castello is a story you won’t be able to put down! Perfect for fans of Rebecca, The Ancestor, and other books with a little more eerie than horror. A must read!
      ― Beth Seufer Buss from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC | Buy from Bookmarks Books

  • Atmospheric and eerie and the perfect way to combat the heat of summer, by hanging out in a damp, dark and crumbling Italian castle in the middle of a movie shoot!
      ― Jill Naylor from Novel in Memphis, TN | Buy from Novel

About Kelsey James

Kelsey James is a historical fiction author and content marketer whose work has appeared in Conde Nast Traveler, Insider, ABC News, and The Huffington Post, among other outlets. A graduate of Dartmouth College with a degree in Creative Writing and Classical Studies, she currently lives with her family outside New York City and can be found online at 

Do Tell by Lindsay Lynch


Do Tell by Lindsay Lynch
 Doubleday / July 2023

Adult FictionFictionHistoricalWorld War II
More Reviews from Union Ave Books

Read This Next!

A July 2023 Read This Next! Title

I absolutely loved this book! Set in the Golden Age of Hollywood we follow Edie O’Dare, studio informant turned gossip columnist, as she sniffs out scandal and witnesses Hollywood close ranks around a repugnant but money-making star. The glittering glamour of late ’30s Hollywood is completely immersive, every character is fully formed and complex, and the writing is truly excellent. I cannot wait to shove this into the hands of customers this summer!

Reviewed by Chelsea Bauer, Union Avenue Books in Knoxville, Tennessee

America the Beautiful? by Blythe Roberson


America the Beautiful? by Blythe Roberson
Harper / July 2023

More Reviews from Bookmiser

Blythe Roberson is a 28 year old writer and comedian who quits her job to take The Great American Road Trip alone beginning in the spring of 2019. In a borrowed Prius, she drives cross-country to National Parks to earn Junior Ranger Badges and to share her experiences with her Instagram followers and readers of this book. Along the road with Blythe, all readers experience the beauty of the natural parks, her humor about life and love, and her despair with Trump politics and devastating climate change. We hear her questions about her future and the future of this country and the world. While writing about Emerson, Dickinson and Thoreau, many thoughts are shared about traveling while being a solo woman with fears and loneliness and feeling horny. Riding each mile with this humorous and thoughtful woman, all readers will reflect about the meaning of life and our freedoms. Are we all living our lives to the fullest? Surely this book will linger in the minds of all readers as we decide how to spend our minutes of our days….do you need a solo road trip?

Reviewed by Nancy Pierce, Bookmiser, Inc. in Marietta, Georgia

The Third Daughter by Adrienne Tooley


The Third Daughter by Adrienne Tooley
Christy Ottaviano Books / July 2023

More Reviews from Fiction Addiction

Elodie was going to be queen, until her youngest sister was born. The third daughter of a third daughter has been prophesied as the second coming of their deity. But there’s tension between the crown and the church, and Elodie, wanting to save her kingdom, accidentally puts her sister into an eternal sleep. The apothecary who sells her the potion, Sabine, is the only one who can help Elodie save her sister and the country, and the two set off to do just that. But while Sabine and Elodie grow closer, secrets have a way of coming out, and all is not as it seems among the clergy. An emotional adventure full of court intrigue that’s sure to appeal to fans of other YA royal reads like Three Dark Crowns and Dance of Thieves.

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

A First Guide to Dogs: Understanding Your Very Best Friend by John Bradshaw


A First Guide to Dogs: Understanding Your Very Best Friend by John Bradshaw
Penguin Workshop / June 2023

More Reviews from Bookmarks

This is a fantastic book to give to a young reader who’s about to get their first dog! This book follows a day in the life of a terrier named Rusty, explaining how dogs live in the World of Smells, how dogs like to greet each other, how they communicate with us, and why they don’t like to be left alone. It’s very cute and fun to read and packed with important information!

Reviewed by Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Arca by Jesse Lonergan Van Jensen


Arca by Jesse Lonergan Van Jensen
IDW Publishing / July 2023

More Reviews from Carmichael’s

The Arca is spaceship filled with the last remaining survivors of the human race as they head off in search of a habitable planet in this fun, new post apocalyptic graphic novel. The elite run the show and reap the rewards, while the young people toil as servants, hoping to one day become elite themselves. Naturally, all is not as it seems, as the mystery behind this oppressive social structure starts to unravel. I blazed through this fun, ground level sci-fi story and loved it. The perspective and the art lend a much more enjoyable indie tone to what would normally come off as a big, dumb Hollywood style space epic. Recommended!

Reviewed by Seth Tucker, Carmichael’s Bookstore in Louisville, Kentucky

Decide for Yourself

Books that appear on PEN America’s list of challenged books.

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas


On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
 Balzer + Bray / February 2019

More Reviews from Novel

Through On The Come Up, Angie Thomas proves she is FAR from a one-hit-wonder. This remarkable story is told through the protagonist Bri Jackson, an aspiring rapper who has the talent to be one of the greats but whose passion is often mislabeled as “aggression” by the white authority figures in her life. It seems like every move she makes; someone is there to knock her down. At home, things are not much better, as the oppressive systems in place seem to ensure that Bri’s mother can’t fully get back on her feet financially after recovering from drug use. Bri wants to make it big as a rapper because it’s her dream, but she is fueled even more by the desire to lift her family out of poverty, forcing her to choose between what is authentic and what will make money. Through this and other sub-plots in the book, Thomas brilliantly demonstrates the ways in which poverty stands as indivisible from other aspects of a person’s life. It dictates choices (sometimes to leave college or start selling drugs), weighs on the brain, fills the stomach with uncooked food, and follows Bri around as closely as possible, down to the soles of her worn-down fake Timberlands. She bears the weight of her family’s financial circumstances alongside trying to negotiate racial discrimination at her school, budding romances, and taking the freakin’ ACT. Despite and because of it all, Bri is lyrical, brilliant, confident, and exactly the kind of role model we need in American literature today.

Reviewed by Olivia Gacka, Novel in Memphis, Tennessee

Southern Bestsellers

What’s popular this week with Southern Readers.

The Librarianist The Art Thief Beach Read
Killers of the Flower Moon The Moth Keeper

[ See the full list ]

Parting Thought

“Reading is departure and arrival.”
— Terri Guillemets

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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