The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

Family

Ways to Grow Love by Renée Watson

Ryan Hart is headed to sleepaway camp where she faces some friendship challenges, but even that may be easier than going home to the new baby that’s on its way. Ramona Quimby for a new generation, Ryan Hart is a young, optimistic black girl navigating a changing world with style. This series really has staying power.

Ways to Grow Love by Renée Watson, (List Price: $7.99, Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 9781547609963, April 2022)

Reviewed by Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina

Tokyo Dreaming by Emiko Jean

Tokyo Dreaming is a breathtaking story that is so vividly written you will feel like you are walking next to Izumi as she navigates imperial life. Izumi has overcome so many challenges since discovering that her father is the Crown Prince Makotonomiya Toshihito of Japan. The transition from normal small town girl to Imperial princess has been difficult. Now Izumi’s mom has joined her in Japan, and they are living the happy family life that Izumi always dreamed of with her father. When Izumi’s father proposes to her mom, everyone is thrilled for the life that is to come. Everyone, except the Imperial council who has their doubts about the match. Izumi decides she will do whatever it takes to make sure her mom and dad have their happily ever after. But what will it cost her? Her future happiest, her friends, or even the true love of her life. Tokyo Dreaming continues the story that began with Tokyo Ever After. Perfect for fans of Sarah Kuhn’s I love you so Mochi, Katherine McGee’s American Royal, or Meg Cabot’s Princess Diaries.

Tokyo Dreaming by Emiko Jean, (List Price: $18.99, Flatiron Books, 9781250766632, May 2022)

Reviewed by Gretchen Shuler, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

Hundred Years of Happiness by Thanhhà Lai

Hundred Years of Happiness is a remarkable picture book. Teeming with stunning illustrations and storytelling, this book tugs at the heartstrings. I adored the mixture of family, culture, and food at the center of this story. The inclusion of the recipe at the end of the book was such a fun surprise!

Hundred Years of Happiness by Thanhhà Lai, (List Price: $17.99, HarperCollins, 9780063026926,  April 2022)

Reviewed by Lauren Kean, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

An Arrow to the Moon by Emily X.R. Pan

I picked up this book because 1. it has a full moon on the cover. I’m a complete sucker for a moon and as I have yet to be steered wrong by this, it will continue to be an indicator of a great story to me. And 2. I am adoring this retelling trend YA is on right now. Romeo and Juliet meets Chinese mythology had me swiftly plucking this from the arc box. Other favorite motifs include: unearthly fireflies, a mysterious and magical book, & unexplainable “natural” happenings. The romance between Luna and Hunter is so sweet and swoon-worthy and doesn’t veer outside the plot (which is a pet peeve of mine).The story takes place in the early 90s which I forget until someone mentions a windbreaker, lol. I learned SO MUCH about Chinese versus Taiwanese culture–I never knew there was/is an identity issue and found it fascinating as Pan expertly weaves it into the Romeo & Juliet narrative. And speaking of R&J, the closer I got to the ending, the more anxious I was about how close to the play Pan would go. No spoilers here, but the ending is chef’s kiss.

An Arrow to the Moon by Emily X.R. Pan, (List Price: $18.99, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780316464055,  April 2022)

Reviewed by Candice Conner, The Haunted Book Shop in Mobile, Alabama

I Love You Because I Love You by Muon Thi Van

I Love You Because I Love You is a sublime psalm to the ways in which love manifests and changes us for the better. Love’s soft, expressive illustrations are a perfect match for the heartfelt text, displaying a beautiful variety of relationships in which love abounds. A perfect gift for baby showers, weddings, graduation, Valentine’s Day, or any day—because every day is a good day to say, “I love you.”

I Love You Because I Love You by Muon Thi Van, (List Price: $17.99, Katherine Tegen Books, 9780062894595, January 2022)

Reviewed by Hannah DeCamp, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

The Sea in Winter by Christine Day

When Maisie injures her knee, she is forced to take a break from her one true love…ballet. After she convinces her mom and stepdad that she is recovered enough to go on a family hiking trip, things don’t go her way, and she is left questioning what is truly important in life. Throughout her struggle with priorities, loss, and friendships, her family stands by her side and sees her through it, and she discovers that with a little bit of hope and a different perspective, she can weather any storm life throws at her. A very sweet story!

The Sea in Winter by Christine Day (List Price: $16.99, Heartdrum, 9780062872043, 1/5/2021)

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

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