The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

Adult Fiction

Spotlight on: Book Lovers by Emily Henry

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I set out secretly thinking of this book as my own homage to You’ve Got Mail, and specifically a bit of a hat tip to Parker Posey’s character. But looking back, I’m really amazed how much more of my love of that movie seeped into the book. The publishing industry, the quaint bookstores, the love for New York, the enemies-to-lovers, and the flirting over email.” ―Emily Henry, Interview, She Reads

 

Book Lovers by Emily Henry

What booksellers are saying about Book Lovers

  • This book was everything I wanted it to be and more. I love the way Emily Henry writes a story. She makes her characters well rounded and adds elements to their story outside of romance. But she writes the romance so well you can’t help but swoon. She makes me laugh, she makes me emotional, and she makes me never want to put her book down.
      ―Emily Bowers from Tombolo Books in St. Petersburg, FL | Buy from Tombolo Books

  • Anything that Emily Henry writes is an automatic buy for me and I know will be popular! Book Lovers was no different. The writing flows, the dialogue is funny, witty, and loaded with emotion. The relationship between the characters is everything you want in a romantic comedy. You’ll find yourself rooting for everyone, including the supporting characters. Absolutely adored Book Lovers!
      ―Emily Lessig from The Violet Fox Bookshop in Virginia Beach, VA | Buy from The Violet Fox

  • Everything I love about the bookstore I own – and the life I get to led – in small town North Carolina is described somewhere in these pages. Most people will laugh out loud while reading. I got teary at the end as I didn’t want to say goodbye to these characters. This book reminded me of Susan Wiggs’ The Lost and Found Bookshop, just sheer delightfulness wrapped between covers consisting of pure love for indie bookstores.
      ―Alissa Redmond from South Main Book Co in Salisbury, NC | Buy from South Main Book Co.

  • Emily Henry has done it again and stolen my heart completely with her two main leads. In this one, a literary agent and a book editor end up stuck together in his tiny hometown, which happens to be the whimsical setting in the bestselling book she agents for– one he gave a scathing rejection to upon their very first meeting. It’s a “we think we’re enemies” but are actually idiots-to-lovers who perfectly fit each other kind of story. Henry is the unquestioned queen of banter, but this is probably her wittiest, most laugh-out-loud funny book to date. I had so much fun reading BOOK LOVERS
      ―Cristina Russell from Books & Books in Coral Gables, FL | Buy from Books and Books

About Emily Henry

Emily Henry is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of People We Meet on Vacation and Beach Read. She studied creative writing at Hope College, and now spends most of her time in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the part of Kentucky just beneath it. Find her on Instagram @emilyhenrywrites.

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White Horse by Erika T. Wurth

Indigenous woman Kari James loves heavy metal, Stephan King novels, and her local bar. When her cousin unearths a bracelet that belonged to Kari’s mother, Kari is suddenly haunted by both her mother and a horrible entity. In order to rid herself of both spirits, Kari will have to face her past and unearth secrets about her family. This engrossing debut blends horror with mystery with a deft hand, and I look forward to what Wurth does next.

White Horse by Erika T. Wurth (List Price: $27.99, Flatiron Books, 9781250847652, November 2022)

Reviewed by Chelsea Stringfield, Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee

Ocean’s Echo by Everina Maxwell

Tennal is a neuromodified ‘reader’ who can read emotions and minds. He’s also a spoiled, rich playboy who’s now been conscripted into the military, forced to sync with neuromodified architect Surit who can control others. But when Surit finds out that Tennal is not there of his own free will, he refuses to execute the illegal sync, and the two determine to fake it until Tennal can manage an escape. Through action-packed missions involving possible traitors, political intrigue, and family secrets uncovered by them both, Tennal and Surit forge a bond that brings them closer to each other than either has been to anyone else — but can it transcend Surit’s principles and Tennal’s desire for freedom? I loved watching both Tennal and Surit’s character growth within Maxwell’s wonderful world building, and the slow burn romance was amazing.

Ocean’s Echo by Everina Maxwell (List Price: $27.99, Tor Books, 9781250758866, November 2022)

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

Offended Sensibilities by Ganieva Alisa

A novel that takes place in a Russian town where officials are dropping dead after a recent law that stifled forms of expression has been passed, following the real-life events of a Pussy Riot church protest. The neo-noir feel that envelopes this political yet humorous novel fits perfectly and makes this a fantastic and original read. Though this deals with conversations on nationalism, religion, and sexuality among others, the light humor and prose kept this novel more digestible and entertaining.

Offended Sensibilities by Ganieva Alisa (List Price: $16.95, Deep Vellum Publishing, 9781646052233, November 2022)

Reviewed by Grace Sullivan, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Spotlight on: Better Than Fiction by Alexa Martin

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I know this is so cliché, but honestly, just write. When I sat down to start writing, I had no idea what I was doing. It took me forever. Just actually starting to write and then reaching out and finding a community. I actually found my first writing partner in a mom group. Neither of us had any idea what we were doing. We were just like, ‘You’re so good. You’re so good too.’ That’s all it was — finding support because it can be really lonely. Sitting down and finding one person that you can trust not to just stomp on you is really important.” ―Alexa Martin, Interview, Medium

 

Better Than Fiction by Alexa Martin

What booksellers are saying about Better Than Fiction

  • Drew isn’t a reader. But she did LOVE her grandma. So when Grandma died and left Drew her bookshop, Drew put aside all her dreams and ran the bookshop. Now, she hasn’t had much luck with men, including her human garbage can of a father, so she’s just put dating out of her mind. But then in walks Jasper Williams: popular romance author and sheer perfection of a human being. She doesn’t stand a chance.
      ― Jennifer Jones from Bookmiser, Inc. in Marietta, GA | Buy from Bookmiser

  • A rom-com that centers around Drew, a woman whose grandmother has just passed and in turn has left her the old bookstore she ran for years. One issue: Drew is not a book lover, and she can’t especially stand romance. And then comes Jasper Williams, the dreamiest romance author, whose mission becomes for Drew to fall in love with reading. It’s fun, steamy, and has a fantastic cast of characters, especially the residential book club The Dirty Birds. I also loved how this portrays grieving, and that adds something so special to this book. Sure to make your heart warm up with just utter joy, this is the cutest!
      ―Grace Sullivan from Fountain Books in Richmond, VA | Buy from Fountain Bookstore

  • An utterly delightful read — how can anyone resist a romance set in an indie bookstore? I loved that Drew Young, new owner of her late grandmother’s beloved Book Nook, is NOT a reader. It was such a fun set-up for Drew’s romance with a romance novelist. It’s catnip for bookstore lovers. I adored that Alexa Martin wrote in so many lovely day trips out of Denver; I felt like an armchair tourist reading this book, and I made a list for the next time I’m in Colorado!!
      ―Kate Storhoff from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC | Buy from Bookmarks

About Alexa Martin

Alexa Martin is a writer and stay at home mom. A Nashville transplant, she’s intent on instilling a deep love and respect for the great Dolly Parton in her four children and husband. The Playbook Series was inspired by the eight years she spent as a NFL wife and her deep love of all things pop culture, sparkles, leggings, and wine. When she’s not repeating herself to her kids, you can find her catching up on whatever Real Housewives franchise is currently airing or filling up her Etsy cart with items she doesn’t need.

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The Sorcerer of Pyongyang by Marcel Theroux

Jun-su, a young boy living through the brutality of the North Korean Famine, comes across a copy of the Dungeons and Dragons Dungeon Master’s Guide and falls deeply in love with the worlds he can now create, enormously different from the life he’s used to under Kim Jong-il. The strange book’s cover and themes land him in a brutal prison camp where he has to fight to stay alive and try to hold on to himself in the face of totalitarianism. A well-researched, well-written and beautifully told portrait of a kid growing up different in 1990s North Korea trying to do more than survive.

The Sorcerer of Pyongyang by Marcel Theroux (List Price: $26.99, Atria Books, 9781668002667, November 2022)

Reviewed by Colin Sneed, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

We All Want Impossible Things by Catherine Newman

Oh my goodness. I never thought any book would have me weeping more than A Little Life, but Catherine Newman’s We All Want Impossible Things broke that record along the floodgates. This is not to say the novel is a depressing one: in fact, its depictions of life-affirming, forever-friendships veritably burst with love and wit. Newman perfectly captures the confusing contradictions that accompany end-of-life care: the emergencies among the mundanity, the darkly hilarious moments that punctuate the slow-motion, eviscerating heartbreak. Some readers who’ve said goodbye to terminally ill beloveds may find that their wounds are too raw for this novel. I, on the other hand, read it a few months after cancer took a very close friend of mine and I found it to be incredibly cathartic. Many moments were eerily—no, magically!—similar to moments I shared with Becky toward the end. I underlined like mad and scribbled in the margins; more than once I started to make a mental note to share certain excerpts with Becky, knowing she’d recognize herself and our friendship in the words, then remembering she’s not anywhere I can reach her. Five stars. Pairs well with Kathryn Schulz’s Lost & Found and/or Janine Kwoh’s Welcome to the Grief Club.

We All Want Impossible Things by Catherine Newman (List Price: $25.99, Harper, 9780063230897, November 2022)

Reviewed by Janet Geddis, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

The Boy and the Dog by Seishu Hase

A pastoral fall pick for dog and animal lovers: this quick read throws you into the 5-year journey of Tamon, a German Shepherd, as he wanders in and out of the lives of his many different grief-stricken, down-and-out owners. This is the first translated works of Seishu Hase, a veteran of the Yakuza crime genre, whose teeth are bared in simple but sweet prose with moments of striking intensity. Struggle, plight, and grief are mirrored between human and animal as each character contends for their own survival and place in the world. Bittersweet, but ultimately a story of returning home in both place and spirit.

The Boy and the Dog by Seishu Hase (List Price: $23, Viking, 9780593300411, November 2022)

Reviewed by Amanda Depperschmidt, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Spotlight on: Trespasses by Louise Kennedy

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I do not deliberately drag my identity to the desk every day, but it turns up. I grew up a Catholic in a small, mostly Protestant town on the shores of Belfast Lough in the seventies. My childhood had a lot in common with that of children in the UK and, in a different sense – the rest of Ireland. But it was stressful in a way I did not understand until later; my generation were reared by nervous wrecks. ” ―Louise Kennedy, Interview, Wasafiri

 

Trespasses by Louise Kennedy

What booksellers are saying about Trespasses

  • I am in awe of everything about this incredible debut. Set in Belfast during the 70s, Trespasses explores the roles of violence and chance through the life of Cushla, a Catholic woman in her 20s who finds herself swept up in a love affair with an older, married Protestant lawyer. The narrative grows with a quiet sense of discomfort until it rushes to a startling conclusion that left me breathless.
      ―Chelsea Stringfield from Parnassus Books in Nashville, TN | Buy from Parnassus Books

  • I am fascinated by the Troubles and all the heartache it caused. Cushla Lavery’s struggles to reconcile her loyalties to community and her love for a man forbidden by that community. The daily drama of living for people caught up in this terrible time seems very real in the characters Kennedy develops. I was mesmerized by this story and couldn’t put it down! A must read!
      ―Stephanie Crowe from Page & Palette in Fairhope, AL | Buy from Page & Palette

  • I am fascinated by the Troubles; it continually boggles my mind that armed occupation of and paramilitary presence in Northern Ireland went on for so long, so recently. So I deeply appreciated the insight into the Troubles that this novel provides, following Cushla, a Catholic schoolteacher living in a small town near Belfast, enamored with an older Protestant barrister who is wrong for her in every way. Louise Kennedy’s story of sectarian violence and tragedy is totally compelling and humanizes this fascinating period of time by focusing on the stories of ordinary people.
      ―Kate Storhoff from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC | Buy from Bookmarks

About Louise Kennedy

Louise Kennedy grew up near Belfast. Trespasses is her first novel. She is also the author of a collection of short stories, The End of the World Is a Cul de Sac. She has written for the Guardian, the Irish Times, and BBC Radio 4. Before becoming a writer, she worked as a chef for almost thirty years. She lives in Sligo, Ireland.

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Ship Wrecked by Olivia Dade

Super passionate slow burn romance with plenty of heart and humor! Maria is the last person Peter wants to see after she’s just left their hotel room without saying goodbye, post-hookup. Fate has other plans when she appears later that day at his final callback for a popular fantasy series, and they both book the roles. They spend the next six years filming together in a remote (and lonely) location but don’t dare blur the lines of their relationship…until the series ends! These two have AMAZING chemistry as well as great friendship and a deep understanding of one another. Loved!

Ship Wrecked by Olivia Dade, (List Price: $16.99, Avon, 9780063215870, November 2022)

Reviewed by Julia Lewis, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

We Are the Light by Matthew Quick

We Are The Light is the book we all need to be reading in 2022. In one headline after another we’ve been reading about mass shootings in our malls, our schools, our small towns, our communities… but what happens to those communities in the weeks, months, years after these tragedies occur- changing so many lives forever? Matthew Quick takes on this subject and explores the question through the eyes of Lucas Goodgame, a Christmas-time movie house shooting survivor who lost his wife, friends and neighbors in a scene that is all too familiar to us now- but shouldn’t be. Worst of all, his Jungian therapist Karl, a tremendous support to him, isn’t seeing patients or responding to Lucas’ frequent calls, letters or visits to his house. So frequent in fact, that the police have had to step in and create some boundaries for him. His wife’s best friend is trying to run the local diner and keep him sane; the shooter’s younger brother, a student Lucas had been helping in his role as the high school guidance counselor, has set up camp in Lucas’ back yard and his dead wife is visiting him every night shedding feathers from her giant wings by the handful. We Are The Light is a book to read slowly, with big inhales, taking in every feeling of every character no matter how painful. It is a book everyone everywhere should be reading – because as we have been reminded all year, what happens in Quick’s book, in the little town of Majestic, PA, can happen anywhere.

We Are the Light by Matthew Quick, (List Price: $27.99, Avid Reader Press, 9781668005422, November 2022)

Reviewed by Jamie Anderson, Downtown Books in Manteo, North Carolina

Tread of Angels by Rebecca Roanhorse

Rebecca Roanhorse is a fantastic world-builder and her skills are razor-sharp in her newest fantasy set in an Old West mining town where angels had battled demons in an ancient war. Main character Celeste attempts to clear her sister from a murder charge but is impeded and manipulated by the Divines — the ruling class who are descendants of angels and dispense justice while wearing white robes and masks. As she searches for clues to free her sister, she stumbles into a bigger mystery that threatens her life and the future of the Fallen, who are the descendants of the demons and are the laborers and miners in the town. A gritty but good read!

Tread of Angels by Rebecca Roanhorse, (List Price: $22.99, Saga Press, 9781982166182, November 2022)

Reviewed by Mary Patterson, The Little Bookshop in Midlothian, Virginia

Now Is Not the Time to Panic by Kevin Wilson

Now is Not The Time to Panic covers that wry space between childhood and adulthood – how we want to be seen and how others see us. Frankie and Zeke ask the questions about the nature of art both to the maker and the viewer, what does obsession really look like, and how do things spin out of control so smoothly. All against an early 90s world that may as well be a thousand years ago. The questions of consequences, family and what lies in front of us through a 90s era time warp. The writing is amazing. Sentences that stop you in your tracks. I loved everything about the novel!

Now Is Not the Time to Panic by Kevin Wilson, (List Price: $27.99, Ecco, 9780062913500, November 2022)

Reviewed by Susan Williams, M. Judson Booksellers in Greenville, South Carolina

The Islands by Dionne Irving

This powerhouse collection of stories brings to vivid life the experiences of a diverse cast of (mostly) women of (mostly) Jamaican descent around the world, from Florida to France to 1950s London to 1960s Panama and beyond. The very first story, “Florida Lives,” about a Black couple who move from San Francisco to Florida only to suffer from the heat, some bats, and their tacky neighbors, is blazoned on my mind and I don’t think I’m ever going to stop thinking about it (or look at tacky neighbors the same way ever again). These stories movingly explore identity, belonging, and home all through the complexities of the Jamaican diaspora, immigration, assimilation, colonialism, racism, sexism, and class—all through a vivid cast of characters who will remain on your mind long after each story ends. I’m not a big short story reader, but this is truly a must-read collection and highly recommended for fans of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies!

The Islands by Dionne Irving, (List Price: $16.95, Catapult, 9781646220663, November 2022)

Reviewed by Megan Bell, Underground Books in Carrollton, Georgia

Meredith, Alone by Claire Alexander

Meredith is a completely lovable and complex character that has faced and survived some unspeakable things. Claire Alexander beautifully creates characters that exude resilience in their own ways. I found myself cheering on Meredith, Fee, Celeste, and Tom…and hoping for their happiness. Meredith, Alone is a quick read that explores the hardships of life and the value of community, family and friendships. While some of the topics are quite heavy, there is also joy and hope and laughter and triumph. I thoroughlyloved this book and have already started recommending it to folks who loved Eleanor Oliphant and Where’d You go Bernadette!

Meredith, Alone by Claire Alexander, (List Price: $28, Grand Central Publishing, 9781538709948, November 2022)

Reviewed by Lynne Phillips, Wordsworth Books in Little Rock, Arkansas

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