The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

Contemporary

Home Field Advantage by Dahlia Adler

Amazingly talented (and attractive) quarterback who’s new in school cheerleader destined to be captain of the squad = a story we all know. But what if the quarterback is a girl named Jack, and although she’s wildly talented, she’s also loathed by her new team, as well as everyone on the cheer squad — except for Amber, who falls for the new quarterback almost immediately. Coming out to her team risks jeopardizing her chance at becoming captain, so Amber has to think about what truly matters to her. I adored Amber and Jack and I loved their perfect high school romance

Home Field Advantage by Dahlia Adler, (List Price: $19.99, Wednesday Books, 9781250765840, June 2022)

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

The Ballad of Perilous Graves by Alex Jennings

Alex Jennings has absolutely burst onto the scene with this vibrant and completely singular work. Image and sound practically leap off of the page via Jennings’ cacophonous, but specific language. The version of New Orleans he’s created is fantastical, to be sure, but also accurately depicts the very real spirit of this complicated city. Plotting is muddled and over-complicated in parts and one can get a little lost, but it’s undeniable that a special mind produced this work. I’m excited to see what he does next.

The Ballad of Perilous Graves by Alex Jennings, (List Price: $28, Redhook, 9780759557192, June 2022)

Reviewed by Carroll Gelderman, Garden District Book Shop in New Orleans, Louisiana

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

A May 2022 Read This Next! Selection

Y’all, oh my GOD. Akwaeke Emezi has done it again and I love it so much. It is hot and messy and hot-messy and addicting. I thrive on drama and this novel delivers! Forget love triangles, this is a love star, five different points criss-crossing into something bright and beautiful and a little bit hard to look at. As fun and exciting as it is, it also touches on trauma and recovery, self-growth, and love. Utterly heart-wrenching and belly-laughter-inducing.

You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi, (List Price: $27, Atria Books, 9781982188702, May 2022)

Reviewed by Laney Sheehan from Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

She Gets the Girl by Rachael Lippincott

Alex and Molly have grown up in two very different worlds, but they have one big thing in common: neither has any friends. But they’re both starting at the same college and both are determined to change, though for very different reasons. Alex’s girlfriend says Alex is afraid to let anyone in and won’t confess her true feelings. Molly has always been a big ball of anxiety, but has had a four year crush on a girl from her high school who just so happens to be going to the same college. Molly and Alex dislike each other, but they need the other to reach their goals. Overall, this was a very fun, sweet story that simultaneously deals with some heavy issues. I loved it!

She Gets the Girl by Rachael Lippincott, (List Price: $18.99, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 9781534493797,  April 2022)

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia

Book of Night by Holly Black

Holly Black has returned with a darkly enthralling new world where shadows are more than just a trick of the light, and magicians are the thing that go bump in the night. With everything from a kick-ass female lead, grand heists and blood magic, this is an urban fantasy that comes with a bite and leaves with a door slam to the face. I can’t wait to see where Black takes the rest of the series. Readers with a taste for the macabre won’t be able to put this one down. Black’s foray into adult fiction feels like a breath of fresh air for the modern fantasy reader, with a dash of dark academia and a new magic system that begs us to ask the question: what really is a human soul?

Book of Night by Holly Black, (List Price: $27.99, Tor Books, 9781250812193,  May 2022)

Reviewed by Emma June Wood, Main Street Reads in Summerville, South Carolina

Our Crooked Hearts by Melissa Albert

This book had me in its CLUTCHES. I read the last half at break neck speed, bewitched. This deliciously creepy and darkly magical story follows a daughter (now, in the suburbs) and her mother around the same age (the 1990s, in the city) as each encounters an ability that may prove as sinister as it is supernatural. Powerful witchcraft, a (literally) haunting past, and wicked twists will keep your own crooked heart beating as fast as you can flip the final pages.

Our Crooked Hearts by Melissa Albert, (List Price: $18.99, Flatiron Books, 9781250826367, June 2022)

Reviewed by Megan Bell, Underground Books in Carrollton, Georgia

Where the Drowned Girls Go by Seanan McGuire

In this seventh volume in the Wayward Children series, Cora, the resident mermaid of Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children, flees the reach of the Drowned Gods of the Moors by transferring to the anti-magical Whitethorn Institute. Seanan McGuire and her Wayward Children can literally take me anywhere; I will gladly open the door and step through every time! I loved learning more about Cora, was as intrigued as always with the new characters introduced and their doors, and I literally gasped at the return of a character. What more can you ask for?

Where the Drowned Girls Go by Seanan McGuire, (List Price: $19.99, Tordotcom, 9781250213624, January 2022)

Reviewed by Megan Bell, Underground Books in Carrollton, Georgia

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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