The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

Contemporary

Starling by Isabel Strychacz

What would YOU do if a boy fell from the sky into the woods of YOUR backyard? Follow Delta Wilding as this exact event turns her already absurd life into something extraordinary–otherworldly, if you will. As an unthinkable romance unfolds, will the boy, the alien, decide to stay on Earth and live a life alongside the humans? Or will he have no choice but to return to the sky for the sake of Delta’s safety–and happiness? Read to find out!

Starling by Isabel Strychacz, (List Price: 19.99, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 9781534481107, November 2021)

Reviewed by Michelle Kang, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina


This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron

Briseis is out of the school for the summer. Her moms want her to have fun, but all she wants to do is work with the plants at their family flower shop in Brooklyn. See, Briseis has the ability to make things grow rapidly and from the smallest of plant parts. But when they get word that her biological aunt has died (Briseis is adopted) and has left her a vast estate, they head up to check it out. But not everything is as it seems. This quirky story has a little bit of everything: a secret garden, magic, immortality, Greek mythology… And that’s barely scratching the surface!

This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron, (List Price: 18.99, Bloomsbury YA, 9781547603909, 2021-06-29)

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia

The Pick-Up by Miranda Kenneally

Mari is visiting Chicago for Lollapalooza, a chance to see her favorite singer, hang out with her stepsister and see her Dad. Mari is struggling with personal issues- things are rough at home with her mom, her relationship with her best friend is strained, and she is still dealing with resentment towards her father for ditching her and her mom to go live his best life. And she really, really doesn’t want to date and fall in love. But then a Ride Share brings her T.J. Here’s why I love the title of the book: The Pick-Up is definitely referencing the Uber app, but T.J.’s brother Tyler kind of also comes across as a Pick-Up Artist coach to his little bro. Thankfully, T.J. is too pure. He’s like a sexy cinnamon roll. Mari and T.J. have immediate chemistry, but Mari is wary (hehe)- they’re both from out of state, she’s not looking for a boyfriend, her dad cheated on her mom, and then her mom went off the deep end. Sometimes things are destined, and sometimes you have to make things happen. Absolute love for this book!

The Pick-Up by Miranda Kenneally, (List Price: 10.99, Sourcebooks Fire, 9781492684169, September 2021)

Reviewed by Kate Towery, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron

The problem with Kalynn Bayron’s books is that they are so good I never want the book to end. Is it possible to have ten of her books ready so I can read back to back? Briseis has a magical gift of growing plants with just a touch. Her aunt passes away and Briseis inherits an estate which she initially hesitates moving to; however, she discovers she can practice her gift with freedom. Not long after she and her parents move in strange things begin happening and she discovers the reason why she has these powers and how to protect her family. This was such an amazing escape that I could not get enough of!

This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron, (List Price: 18.99, Bloomsbury YA, 9781547603909, June 2021)

Reviewed by Deanna Bailey, Story On the Square in McDonough, Georgia

How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland

Raquel Vasquez Gilliland has written another YA novel that gets to the root of things and unearths the magic that was always there, waiting for us: this is her special power. Where Sia Martinez’s story brought us new worlds, Moon Fuentez’s story powerfully dissects our current one; the everyday magic of fireweed, moths, dragonflies, mulberries, and salt burst off the page in Vasquez Gilliland’s kaleidoscopic prose. How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe is also a story of sisterhood and grief, of trauma and religion, of abuse and mental health, but at its heart lives a romance of epic proportion. Moon Fuentez is the beautiful, artistic, fat, witchy Latinx heroine that we all need and I adore her gorgeous love story.

How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland, (List Price: 19.99, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 9781534448667, August 2021)

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

This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron

A queer, Black book inspired by The Secret Garden and Little Shop of Horrors with a flower-powerful, badass girl at the center trying to unravel a family mystery. I simply can’t love it more. It’s amazing and you need it in your life.

This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron, (List Price: 18.99, Bloomsbury YA, 9781547603909, July 2021)

Reviewed by Rayna Nielsen, Garden District Book Shop in New Orleans, Louisiana

Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury

In a near-futuristic Toronto, blood contains enough genetic material to determine people’s career, their success, and even love life–and for Voya and her family, it also contains an ancestral link to powerful magic. Until, possibly, Voya. As her bloodline hangs in the balance, Voya has to come to terms with who she is, where she comes from, and who she really loves to become the witch she’s always wanted to be. This futuristic fantasy is POWERFUL, to say the least.

Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury, (List Price: 19.99, Margaret K. McElderry Books, 9781534465282, June, 2021)

Reviewed by Cat Chapman, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

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