The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

Fiction

The Light Pirate by Lily Brooks-Dalton

A 2022 December Read This Next! Title

What happens when nature isn’t natural? When in the end, Climate Change is unstoppable? Lily Brooks-Dalton renders a shockingly real depiction of this possibility in the harrowing and beautiful novel The Light Pirate. Florida’s struggle with the aftermath of violent weather has always been a reality, but in this story, the rapidly changing landscape overwhelms the will and stamina of most human beings.Wanda, who was born during, and named after, a particularly vicious hurricane, frequently navigates a new, storm-carved home as the Florida coast shifts and neighborhoods are swallowed by wind, water, and human dereliction. Wanda adapts as nature does, to a strange new world–one dependent not on human infrastructure–but on that which matters most in the end: humility, kindness and bravery. This story is important. This story could happen. This story is happening. A must-read.

The Light Pirate by Lily Brooks-Dalton (List Price: $28, Grand Central Publishing, 9781538708279, December 2022)

Reviewed by Laura Simcox, Sunrise Books in High Point, North Carolina

My Darkest Prayer by S. A. Cosby

A 2022 December Read This Next! Title

In this novel, readers are introduced to a story where religion, region, karma, and race intersect. Nathan, (former marine and ex-cop) has experienced loss of his own, and he’s dealt his own hand of karma to others. So, when the local sheriff’s office doubles down on corruption, he takes the case of a local minister’s death into his own hands in an attempt to bring peace to the congregation. This novel is full of twists and turns that will leave your jaw on the floor. This novel dissects the weight of loss on a person’s moral compass. In this small Virginia community is where the darkest secrets are revealed–where the darkest prayers are heard. S.A. Cosby is a force to be reckoned with.

My Darkest Prayer by S. A. Cosby (List Price: $16.99, Flatiron Books, 9781250867636, December 2022)

Reviewed by Leo Coffey, Union Ave. Books in Knoxville, Tennessee

The Passenger by Cormac McCarthy

I have never really felt like the target reader for Cormac McCarthy, but this one really spoke to me. Alternating perspectives between two siblings in the past and present, The Passenger is the story of Bobby Western, a deep sea diver overcome with grief by the death of his sister whom he carried romantic feelings for. Many chapters flesh out in a very dialogue-heavy interview style with an eccentric cast of characters, some more likable than others. Experts in quantum mechanics such as Dirac, Einstein, and Oppenheimer (who worked alongside Western’s father) take on roles as symbols, legacies, and even characters unto themselves. All the while, Western gets wrapped up in a conspiracy he doesn’t know the questions to let alone the answers. McCarthy writes beautifully of the alchemic fires of devotion and the beyond, and I suspect this is a novel I will be returning to throughout my life.

The Passenger by Cormac McCarthy (List Price: $30.00, Knopf, 9780307268990, October 2022)

Reviewed by Amanda Depperschmidt, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

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

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

Case Study by Graeme Macrae Burnet

Fab. a. suspenseful page-turner; b. hilariously cringey; c. who doesn’t need therapy including your therapist? d. elegantly creepy; e. a novel perfect for these times but set in those times.

Case Study by Graeme Macrae Burnet, (List Price: $17.95, Biblioasis, 9781771965200, November 2022)

Reviewed by Erica Eisdorfer, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Leech by Hiron Ennes

The narrator of this scalpel-sharp and intoxicatingly gross debut is a parasite who is about to meet its match in the battle for control over the human heart, mind, and body. Fans of gothic lit, haunted mansions in ill repair, and biological or medical horror, eat your optic nerve—I mean, your heart—out! I generally don’t consider myself a fan of the above actually, but the incredibly unique narrator, the excellent and atmospheric world-building, and the both chillingly creepy and chillingly cold setting really hooked me. Highly recommended for fans of Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic and T. Kingfisher’s What Moves the Dead!

Leech by Hiron Ennes, (List Price: $27.99, Tordotcom, 9781250811189, September 2022)

Reviewed by Megan Bell, Underground Books in Carrollton, Georgia

Motherthing by Ainslie Hogarth

Someone once told me that laughter is the human response to what makes them uncomfortable. This story is like Shirley Jackson and Christopher Moore had a book baby and Motherthing was the result. Ralph and Abby Lamb move in with his mentally ill mother as caretakers. Abby thinks this is her chance to win over her mother in law. She’s wrong. Dead wrong. The story telling in this book is brilliantly funny at times and deeply disturbing at others. Mark Abrams cover art drew me in but Ainslie Hogarth’s ability to make me cringe and laugh at the same time kept me reading.

Motherthing by Ainslie Hogarth, (List Price: $17, Vintage, 9780593467022, September 2022)

Reviewed by Suzanne Carnes, Underground Books in Carrollton, Georgia

The Hollow Kind by Andy Davidson

You want to read this one. Scary, creepy, a page-turner. Very well written. A family curse. Something in the woods. And something in the house. Read it for Halloween. Read it at the beach. Read this anytime, it is so good. And keep the lights on. Two thumbs up.

The Hollow Kind by Andy Davidson, (List Price: $28, MCD, 9780374538569, October 2022)

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

The Night Ship by Jess Kidd

An enthralling tale of imaginary monsters, human devils, and two children navigating life’s horrors 360 years apart. In turn harrowing, tender, and hopeful, the adventure follows a fearless Dutch girl in 1628 aboard the Batavia, which ultimately wrecks near an island off Australia. In 1989, a sensitive boy goes to live on that same island with his gruff grandfather after his mother’s death. There, he learns how to be himself and discovers a magical connection with the girl from the past.

The Night Ship by Jess Kidd, (List Price: $28, Atria Books, 9781982180812, October 2022)

Reviewed by Suzanne Carnes, Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda, Florida

Station Eternity by Mur Lafferty

Mallory is a self-aware mystery magnet, seemingly causing murders that only she can solve to happen spontaneously around her, to the point that she now feels responsible for the murders. To stymie her mysterious power, she escapes to the space station Eternity to be one of three humans among throngs of aliens. This works for months until a shuttle of humans is scheduled to arrive from Earth and the cycle of murders and mysteries starts anew around Mallory. The world-building is impeccable, with multiple alien species bringing their own biology, culture, and politics into the narrative. Lafferty also manages an intricate, compelling mystery by weaving together multiple viewpoints with a web of connections and "coincidences," yet still wrapping up the mystery without dangling loose ends. I look forward to more tales of Mallory’s exploits in this intriguing world Lafferty built.

Station Eternity by Mur Lafferty, (List Price: $17, Ace, 9780593098110, October 2022)

Reviewed by Kelly McLeod, The Haunted Book Shop in Mobile, Alabama

Hester by Laurie Lico Albanese

Absolutely one of the best books I have read this year. I love the way the author wove Nathaniel Hawthorne’s story of Hester and The Scarlet Letter perfectly into this novel about a woman in the 1800s who embroiders but has synesthesia where she associates certain colors with letters. I love the way she portrayed Isobel as a strong woman- but to men she could be seen as a temptress. A beautifully woven (pun intended) story.

Hester by Laurie Lico Albanese, (List Price: $27.99, St. Martin’s Press, 9781250278555, October 2022)

Reviewed by Olivia Meletes-Morris, Litchfield Books in Pawleys Island , South Carolina

Poster Girl by Veronica Roth

Most dystopian stories focus on life during the fall of a society and the plans for the uprising/demise of a new regime. ‘Poster Girl’ tells of the events after the uprising happens, with the added twist of mystery thriller thrown in (because why not). Tempted with the prospect of earning her freedom from life imprisonment, Sonya investigates the whereabouts of a missing girl. During her journey, long-held secrets are uncovered that will have Sonya second-guessing everything she believes. Overall for how short this novel ended up, there is too much crammed in to leave a lasting impression.

Poster Girl by Veronica Roth, (List Price: $27.99, William Morrow, 9780358164098, October 2022)

Reviewed by Jenny Gilroy, E. Shaver bookseller in Savannah, Georgia

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