The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

Adult Fiction

A Half-Built Garden by Ruthanna Emrys

This is a first-contact novel set in the near future when international governments have broken down in the face of climate crisis and local networks built around watersheds (known as the dandelion networks) have grown up to save the world. A member of the Chesapeake network is monitoring things one night when she gets a strange reading and takes her wife and infant daughter to check it out. There they meet with an alien ship that has come to save humanity by taking them away. But what if humanity does not want to leave? The ensuing story weaves together elements of science fiction, Jewish storytelling, politics, and family dynamics into a tale that is as contained as it is sweeping. As a mother of young children there was a lot that really resonated with where I am in my own life, which was an amazing thing to find in a sci-fi novel and also made it difficult to read at times. I absolutely cannot wait to see this out in the world. If this is the future of climate fiction then maybe there is a future beyond the climate crisis as well.

A Half-Built Garden by Ruthanna Emrys, (List Price: $26.99, Tordotcom, 9781250210982, July 2022)

Reviewed by Faith Parke-Dodge, Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, North Carolina

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

Gabrielle Zevin has written a novel about amazing game developers who the reader will come to know over thirty years. When Sam Masur and Sadie Green meet as children, they become fast intimate friends when playing video games, and as young adults they craft the game Ichigo. Besides seeing the artistry and genius built into designing these intricate and captivating games, we live their lives as they grow and experience loneliness and love, pain and comfort, success and devastating pain and loss. This is ultimately an unforgettable tale of lives finding love and connection in this high tech age and the collaboration in building the worlds of video games.

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin, (List Price: 28, Knopf, 9780593321201, July 2022)

Reviewed by Nancy Pierce, Booksmiser in Marietta, Georgia

Any Other Family by Eleanor Brown

Eleanor Brown writes beautifully and compassionately about adoption and infertility in her novel Any Other Family. Three couples, who have adopted siblings from the same birth mom and dad, decide to vacation together in Aspen for two weeks. Each couple comes harboring secrets and soon realize that what they have in common might tear them apart. When the birth mom ends up getting pregnant again, each adoptive family must face whether they want to take on the new baby or if they will choose the new adoptive parents. As an adoptive parent myself, I found this novel hard to put down and marveled at Brown’s ability to get all the emotions surrounding adoption just right. But the focus on family and what it really means will appeal to all readers of women’s fiction.

Any Other Family by Eleanor Brown, (List Price: 27, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 9780593328545, July 2022)

Reviewed by Linda Hodges, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

A Prayer for the Crown-Shy by Becky Chambers

A July 2022 Read This Next! Title

A Psalm for the Wild-Built was a perfect book. So much so that I put off reading A Prayer for the Crown-Shy because I couldn’t imagine a world where it could live up to the flawless beauty and meaning the first novella held for me. But once again, Becky Chambers has crafted a book that is just as philosophically resonant and wonderfully generous as its predecessor. Dex and Mosscap have become two of my favorite characters in all literature and I will love them till my dying day. No matter who you are, A Prayer for the Crown-Shy will speak to you in some way and remind you that the world is indeed full of wonder and that you are okay.

A Prayer for the Crown-Shy by Becky Chambers, (List Price: 21.99, Tordotcom, 9781250236234, July 2022)

Reviewed by Caleb Masters, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

The Bodyguard by Katherine Center

A July 2022 Read This Next! Title

This was the perfect sweet, feel good and easy summer read! I fell in love with Hannah and Jack. Watching Hannah grow as a person was real life. It shows real is so much better than fake. Katherine Center did an amazing job meshing the worlds of security service and Hollywood. One of my favorite quotes in the book was, “Love is something you generate. And loving other people really does turn out, in the end, to be a genuine way of loving yourself.

The Bodyguard by Katherine Center, (List Price: $27.99, St. Martin’s Press, 9781250219398, July 2022)

Reviewed by Mandy Harris, Angel Wings Bookstore in Stem, North Carolina

The Kingdoms of Savannah by George Dawes Green

A July 2022 Read This Next! Title

I loved The Kingdoms of Savannah. It read like a dark, gothic Conroy novel, concerned as much with the grit of the city as the moonlight and magnolias. The Musgrove family are some rare birds. I really hope Mr. Green is planning to bring them back for more.

The Kingdoms of Savannah by George Dawes Green, (List Price: $27.99, Celadon Books, 9781250767448, July 2022)

Reviewed by Ashley Warlick from M Judson, Booksellers in Greenville, SC

Human Blues by Elisa Albert

I wanted to start this review with the phrase “a lot can happen in nine months,” but Aviva, the main character of Elisa Albert’s Human Blues would think that was hackneyed and immediately dismiss me with a sneer. But a lot does happen in the novel’s nine-month trip—just not the baby that almost famous singer-songwriter Aviva Rosner desperately wants. And while fertility and conception (just not IVF, which she’s very vocally opposed to) try to take center stage in this story, Aviva’s career, religion, marriage, and obsession with Amy Winehouse are also along for the ride. And it’s a wild ride!

Human Blues by Elisa Albert, (List Price: $28, Avid Reader Press, 9781982167868, July 2022)

Reviewed by Elizabeth Hardin, Snail on the Wall in Huntsville, Alabama

Spotlight on: Metropolis by B. A. Shapiro

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B. A. Shapiro

One of the things about writing fiction is that you get to learn a lot about things you don’t know. I had always wanted to write a book about people who are from all different walks of life and then, because of a single event, are thrown together … One day, I opened the newspaper and there was an article about this big storage-unit building that looked like a medieval castle and how people were moving out of it. I said, that’s it.” –B.A. Shapiro, interview, Columbus Dispatch

 

 

Metropolis by B. A. Shapiro

What booksellers are saying about Metropolis

  • Shapiro has created six of the most interesting characters I have encountered in quite awhile. Each has a story so intense and intriguing and unique that it is hard to imagine where the novel is going. The magic happens when all six lives intersect at the Metropolis. All of the stories are expertly tied together in one of the best books I have read this year. ―Nancy McFarlane from Fiction Addiction in Greenville, SC
    Buy from Fiction Addiction

  • I can’t remember when I’ve enjoyed a cast of characters more than those whose lives are connected within the walls of the quirky Metropolis. Brilliant, tense, and perfectly paced!   ―Damita Nocton from The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, NC
    Buy from The Country Bookshop

  • I loved the menagerie of characters and the storage-unit setting! Creative, propelling – a pleasure to read!   ―Cathy Graham from Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda, FL
    Buy from Copperfish Books

About B. A. Shapiro

B. A. Shapiro is the author of the award-winning New York Times bestseller The Art Forger, as well as The Muralist, and The Collector’s Apprentice. She has taught sociology at Tufts University and creative writing at Northeastern University and lives in Boston with her husband, Dan.

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Dele Weds Destiny by Tomi Obaro

Three women have shared a bond for decades. When they are reunited for one of their daughter’s weddings, the past comes back in a rush. The story is told in flashbacks and present day in a way that helps them reconcile where they have ended up and where they once dreamed they’d go. A timeless examination of all the dreams you hold for yourself, the dreams your parents and others have for you, and how much you are able to follow your heart.

Dele Weds Destiny by Tomi Obaro, (List Price: $27, Knopf, 9780593320297, June 2022)

Reviewed by Jamie Southern, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Drunk on All Your Strange New Words by Eddie Robson

This book features a young woman who is a translator for an alien species that has come to Earth but that doesn’t have a spoken language. She translates their thoughts into English so other humans can understand them. She finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation and she wants to keep her job and stay out of jail. I found this short novel charming and it’s a real love song to the written word and paper books. For lovers of Douglas Adams and John Scalzi.

Drunk on All Your Strange New Words by Eddie Robson, (List Price: $26.99, Tordotcom, 9781250807342, June 2022)

Reviewed by Kelly Justice, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Spotlight on: One’s Company by Ashley Hutson

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Ashley Hutson

I guess at the end, I want to break someone’s heart. I want to feel like I’ve made something that is beyond just a story. Like when you wake up from a dream, and you can’t remember the dream, but you know you’ve been somewhere, you’ve seen something, and you know it’s important, but you’re only left with a deep question, and maybe you’ll never know, you’ll never truly understand that feeling. Maybe if you thoroughly express that feeling, it would lose something. It would be ruined. That’s what I hope when I write fiction, that’s what I like to communicate. And that’s what I like to read—I like to read stuff that makes me ask a question or makes me feel disturbed, that upsets me somehow. I like being disturbed.” –Ashley Hutson, interview, Berkley Fiction Review

 

 

One's Company by Ashley Hutson

What booksellers are saying about One’s Company

  • Where do I even begin with this book? An original and poignant story of obsession, trauma and the desire to escape into another reality as a means of survival. This is one of the most bonkers books I’ve ever read and one of my favorite books of 2022. ―Gaël LeLamer from Books & Books in Coral Gables, FL
    Buy from Books and Books

  • What a fun, unique concept for a book! Hutson brings us Bonnie Lincoln, left adrift after a roller coaster of personal tragedy and a huge lottery win. Fed up with humanity, she sets out to recreate her ideal life – Three’s Company, her favorite TV show. She builds a world that matches the set, down to the tiniest details, then settles in to forget the rest of society. Between interlopers and gawkers, her peaceful world isn’t meant to last and her already fragile mental health takes a beating. This had me on the edge of my seat, dying to find out how she’d end up. You don’t have to know Three’s Company to enjoy this unexpected story!   ―Andrea Richardson from Fountain Books in Richmond, VA
    Buy from Fountain Bookstore

  • On the surface, the premise of this book sounds ridiculous and hilarious. A woman wins the lottery and decides to recreate Three’s Company and live as the characters. And it is ridiculous, but it’s also raw and sad. Bonnie has experienced an armed robbery in which she was raped and beaten, her unrequited crush was killed right in front of her, and the couple see viewed as adoptive parents are also slain. Unable to deal with the trauma, Bonnie withdraws from the world and takes solace in repeated viewings of Three’s Company. What starts as a comfort becomes an obsession. When she wins the lottery, she is able to live out her dream of being in the show she loves. She soon finds that even this isn’t enough to keep her grief and trauma at bay.   ―Melissa Taylor from E. Shaver, bookseller in Savannah, GA
    Buy from E. Shaver, bookseller

About Ashley Hutson

Ashley Hutson is a writer living in rural Maryland. Her work has appeared in Granta, Electric Literature, Catapult, Fanzine, and elsewhere. Her honors include the 2018 Small Fictions Award, judged by Aimee Bender, and several Pushcart Prize nominations..

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The Scent of Burnt Flowers by Blitz Bazawule

Bazawule swiftly drops you into an immediate and tumultuous love story between Bernadette and Melvin as they escape the States seeking a fantastical refuge in 1960s Ghana. This piece is deeply heartbreaking, yet manages to hold it together through its magical storytelling. “Queen and Slim” fans will love this novel as its deep cinematic influence encourages evocative visuals and sentient understandings of the character’s interiors.

The Scent of Burnt Flowers by Blitz Bazawule, (List Price: $27, Ballantine Books, 9780593496237, June 2022)

Reviewed by Eden Hakimzadeh, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

Girls They Write Songs About by Carlene Bauer

It’s so hard to pin down exactly how I feel about this one. Safe to say, though, to start: I loved reading every page, so there is that! I think part of what makes me feel confused is how close to the bone it could have cut given a few of the similarities between me and Rose and Charlotte. But I was never ambitious. Never really tried to make a go of it as a writer. I was never of New York or the region. Girls They Write Songs About is brilliant, deliciously wry, not afraid to proceed to its destination. It pulls zero punches. It’s mature in a way that is hard to describe. It respects its characters and the reader enough to stay the course on its own terms. And that is a little difficult to accept at times, like real life. I loved it and will have no trouble recommending it to customers. But I’m going to spend between now and June refining my elevator pitch.

Girls They Write Songs About by Carlene Bauer, (List Price: $27, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 9780374282264, June 2022)

Reviewed by Kat Leache, Novel in Memphis, Tennessee

Let’s Get Back to the Party by Zak Salih

It is just weeks after the legalization of gay marriage in the U.S. in the summer of 2015. We meet two men who grew up together in the D.C. suburbs and are at opposite ends of what it means to be a gay man at this time in American history. Both are involved in obsessive cross-generational friendships. Sebastian has a complicated relationship with one of his out and proud high school students. Oscar is spending time with a Stonewall generation novelist on the decline. Sebastian is anxious to settle down and assimilate. Oscar is infuriated by what he sees as the death of gay culture in favor of what he views as colorless banality. I loved everything about this book. It is beautifully written and full of profound insights on what happens when a formerly ostracized segment of society becomes incorporated into the general population and what that means, good and bad, for the individuals that are part of it. Stunning!

Let’s Get Back to the Party by Zak Salih, (List Price: $16.95, Algonquin Books, 9781643752075, June 2022)

Reviewed by Kelly Justice, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

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