The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

Contemporary

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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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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Whiteout by Dhonielle Clayton

This adorable YA romance told in short stories from six of the best authors out there is just as good as you hope it will be. Where the previous compilation from these folks took place over the same day in the same city in slightly-related stories, Whiteout is linked together in a more up-front way. A group of friends and partners in Atlanta are working to help a couple reconcile during a city-wide snowstorm that has them trapped in cars, airports, trains, and buildings around town. Inclusive, sweet, and funny, this has it all.

Whiteout by Dhonielle Clayton (List Price: $19.99, Quill Tree Books, 9780063088146, November 2022)

Reviewed by Andrea Richardson, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Spotlight on: Bloodmarked by Tracy Deonn

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Legendborn digs into what it means to be the only in a room. In the United States, we’re still in situations where Black students find themselves in a room and being the only Black person. The book that I wrote is about engaging with, deeply understanding, analyzing, holding on to, [and] reshaping your own Blackness in spaces where it’s being challenged or dismissed by other people.

The other theme that I wanted to really engage with is like the types of stories and the type of people that become legendary. Growing up in North Carolina [and] going to [the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill], [the Confederate monument] Silent Sam was up the entire time I was a student there and was the specter of a certain type of racism. How do these things become memorialized and legendary, and Black American people, whose ancestors were enslaved, get put in a position of absence of knowledge?
” ―Tracy Deonn, Interview, Shondaland

 

Bloodmarked by Tracy Deonn

What booksellers are saying about Bloodmarked

  • I’ve thought for days about the review I would give this stunning sequel, but accurate words do not come to mind. I was blown away by the rawness and realness of Bloodmarked. Indeed, Tracy Deonn did not shy away from the rampant institutionalized racism built into the foundation of many influential organizations, like the Legendborn Order. Not to mention the Legendborn’s reaction to the revelation of Bree’s true lineage. Their approach to dealing with the ugly truth? Deny, deny, deny. It’s shameful and disgusting and Bree has to shoulder it along with the rising war between her world and the demons set to destroy it. Bree’s growth as a root user, ether user, and as King is stunning to witness. I truly believe this series should be required reading for young readers, not just because of the extraordinary Arthurian fantasy retelling, but because of the way the characters confront their trauma. It’s amazing, everyone needs to get a copy. I cannot stress this enough- READ THIS BOOK!
      ―Laney Sheehan from Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews in Chapel Hill, NC | Buy from Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews

  • Can my review just be me… screaming incoherently? No? Well. Bloodmarked broke me into a million little pieces and left me a changed person in the end who wanted to chunk my arc at the wall but as I also loved it too much to hurt it, I did not do that. I merely shook it very violently and shrieked. Bree and the crew returned for an even more dangerous, action packed adventure with the truth unraveling around them faster than they can even keep up. I’m obsessed with this story, with the characters, and if I could live in it… I would not because I would not survive. Tracy Deonn has crafted an absolutely perfect story and has left me weeping on the floor, waiting for the next installment
      ―Caitlyn Vanorder from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC | Buy from Bookmarks

  • This book absolutely blew me away. Simultaneously a fast-paced fantasy novel and an expertly crafted meditation on Blackness, Bloodmarked had me hooked from page one. I loved the world building outside of UNC, and I cannot wait for the next book- I hope this series goes on forever!
      ―Mary Louise Callaghan from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC | Buy from Bookmarks

About Tracy Deonn

Tracy Deonn is the New York Times bestselling and Coretta Scott King – John Steptoe Award–winning author of Legendborn, and a second-generation fangirl. She grew up in central North Carolina, where she devoured fantasy books and Southern food in equal measure. After earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in communication and performance studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Tracy worked in live theater, video game production, and K–12 education. When she’s not writing, Tracy speaks on panels at science fiction and fantasy conventions, reads fanfic, arranges puppy playdates, and keeps an eye out for ginger-flavored everything. She can be found on Twitter at @TracyDeonn and at TracyDeonn.com.

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The Insomniacs by Marit Weisenberg

The Insomniacs combines the mystery of amnesia with the thrill of a reignited friendship. Ingrid, the main character, works to figure out what she’s missing and how to solve her sudden insomnia in this twisting story. Vance, her best friend from years ago, reconnects. An intriguing read with an unexpected ending. This book explores the uncertainty and depth of relationships along with trauma. In the setting of a high schooler’s life. Overall, a super interesting read!

The Insomniacs by Marit Weisenberg, (List Price: $11.99, Flatiron Books, 9781250257376, October 2022)

Reviewed by Kaylin, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

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

Moon Fuentez is a fascinating character. I liked the exploration of the psychological effects of pitting two children against each other in a family. This is a book about resilience through a lifetime of pain. It’s sex-positive. It’s a really original story. Moon’s humor carries a lot of the story and keeps it from feeling too dark.

How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland, (List Price: $12.99, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 9781534448674, August 2022)

Reviewed by Lizzy Nanney, Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, North Carolina

Spotlight on: The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean

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Sunyi Dean Photo Credit: Richard Wilson of Richard Wilson Photography

I’ve never (yet!) set fire to a large Scottish mansion as Devon does, nor numbered my body count in the dozens as Devon has. (Though hope springs eternal, as they say.) But I did grow up reading fairy tales and believing in false happy endings, as she did, and my life has been irrevocably altered by parenting, single or otherwise, as hers was.

Out of personal apocalypse and a total collapse of hope, good things eventually came about—for me, and for Devon.

The Book Eaters is both a love letter to fairy tales, and a critical examination of their flaws. Above all, it is a story about family love in the midst of ruination: how we define it and defend it, how we find it and fight for it.” –Sunyi Dean, Letter to readers

 

The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean

What booksellers are saying about The Book Eaters

  • This has definitely become one of the books that I wish I had written! Sunyi Dean manages to perfectly capture the feeling of wanting to devour a good book, in all of its fantastical glory. Between the morally grey characters, English moor setting, and enviable prose, Dean has written a modern fairy tale for the ages, where the girl saves herself and monsters are not the ones you would expect. A truly stunning debut novel! ―Hallie Smith from Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina
    Buy from Main Street Books

  • This dark and at times disturbing debut novel is an exploration of the depths that a mother will go to in order to protect her son. Devon Fairweather is a book eater – a secret race that literally consumes the written word – and has a privileged but strictly controlled life. All that changes when her son is born a mind eater, and she’s forced to rebel against her upbringing to ensure his survival. Perfect for anyone in need of a Gothic fantasy fix.
      ―Jude Burke-Lewis from Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi
    Buy from Square Books

  • A truly dark and fantastical read that is rich with an assortment of literary references and gothic elements. The Book Eaters is a deliciously unique take on vampirism that you’ll really want to sink your teeth into.  ―Kassie Weeks from Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida
    Buy from Oxford Exchange

  • A wonderfully fantastic story about a secret line of people who do indeed eat books, and their unfortunate brethren who are doomed to consume minds. I quickly found myself rooting for the main character Devon, who is a book eater princess and mother fighting to help her mind eater son. There are some creepy bits, but not too bad for this non-horror reader. Inventive worldbuilding and compelling read!  ―Serena Wyckoff from Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda, Florida
    Buy from Copperfish Books

About Sunyi Dean

Sunyi Dean is an autistic SFF writer, and mother of two. Originally born in the States and raised in Hong Kong, she now lives in Yorkshire. When not reading, running, falling over in yoga, or rolling d20s, she sometimes escapes the city to wildswim in lonely dales. The Book Eaters is her debut, and you can find her online @Blind_Nycteris.

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The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna

Mandanna’s novel is reminiscent of timeless stories like Mary Poppins, Nanny McPhee, and Practical Magic. It’s heartfelt, hilarious, vulnerable and cozy. The characters in Nowhere House are sure to make you smile and believe in magic again. It made my nostalgic, witchy cottagecore heart so happy.

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna, (List Price: $16.00, Berkley, 9780593439357,  August 2022)

Reviewed by Miriam Meeks, Lemuria Books in Jackson, Mississippi

Flash Fire by TJ Klune

Nick has gone from writing about an Extraordinary boyfriend to actually having one, and is the best thing ever. Except now more Extraordinaries are showing up in Nova City, and of course it’s up to Nick and his friends (old and new; just wait until you meet Miss Conduct!) to figure out what’s going on and who are good guys and who are bad guys. Not to mention all the family secrets that Nick is uncovering. I love Nick so much, in all his awkward glory, and this book just cements that. If you haven’t read The Extraordinaries yet, do that, then run right out and get Flash Fire, because it is just as good.

Flash Fire by TJ Klune, (List Price: $10.99, Tor Teen, 9781250203694, July 2022)

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

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

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