The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

Fiction

The Neighbor Favor by Kristina Forest

A February 2023 Read This Next! Title

Lily is stuck in a dead-end job as an editor’s assistant, the one Greene sister who hasn’t managed to make a success of her life. On a whim, one day she emails the author of her favorite fantasy book — and he unexpectedly writes back! They correspond regularly, opening up to each other in ways neither of them has before and becoming close, until Strick breaks things off suddenly. Lily is heartbroken…until she meets her hot new neighbor, who figures out pretty quickly that Lily is the Lily from the emails. But he has reasons for keeping his identity secret, so he agrees to help Lily find a date for her sister’s wedding, even though he can’t get her out of his own head. A fun, flirty, bookish romance that will appeal to anyone who’s had fantasies of hitting it off with their favorite author.

The Neighbor Favor by Kristina Forest (List Price: $17, Berkley, 9780593546437, February 2023)

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

The House of Eve by Sadeqa Johnson

A February 2023 Read This Next! Title

Set in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, The House of Eve by Sadeqa Johnson is a wonderful historical fiction novel that tells the story of two young women who are working hard to achieve their dreams. 15 year old Ruby lives in Philadelphia. She wants to be a doctor but is struggling to make ends meet while living with her aunt. A secret love affair forces an impossible choice upon her. Eleanor is a student at Howard University in D.C. and struggling to pay her tuition when she meets a handsome young man who brings her into an elite world of wealth and privilege. What will she do to fit in and stay in? This novel pulls you in from the first page and doesn’t let go until the very end. Highly recommended!

The House of Eve by Sadeqa Johnson (List Price: $27.99, Simon & Schuster, 9781982197360, February 2023)

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

Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett

This book is such an unexpected delight! It’s told in an epistolary style- journal entries, with you, the reader, being an outside observer to events that have already happened. However, Heather Fawcett’s style of writing is such that it seamlessly blends with the narrative and you forget entirely that you’re reading a journal! It’s cozy, heart-warming, absolutely page-turning, and will leave you both satisfied and wanting more. It’s unique, enchanting, and one of my favorite reads of this year, perfect for anyone who loves fantasy and especially the fae!

Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett, (List Price: $28, Del Rey, 9780593500132, January 2023)

Reviewed by Preet Singh, Eagle Eye Book Shop in Decatur, Georgia

Everything Calls for Salvation by Daniele Mencarelli

Over seven days in a psychiatric ward in 1994 in Italy, the main character Daniele Mancarelli (who shares the author’s name and some life experiences) documents his involuntary committal. We spend most of our time on the ward itself with occasional flashbacks of the six patients’ and staff’s pasts. Mencarelli (author and character) is also a poet, and the language is beautiful and delicately translated by Wendy Weathly. While not dismissing the need for the truly suffering or dangerous to be treated, the author presents much to be considered about the way society categorizes those who are simply different or passing through a difficult phase of life.

Everything Calls for Salvation by Daniele Mencarelli, (List Price: $22, Europa Editions, 9781609458065, January 2023)

Reviewed by Kelly Justice, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

The Boy with a Bird in His Chest by Emme Lund

Owen has an exposed space in his chest where Gail, a wise and chatty java sparrow, has lived since he was a newborn. His mother has hidden him from those who would hurt him because of his difference, but he’s a teenager now and must figure out who to trust and how to be — or even if he CAN be. I really enjoyed this sensitive and heartbreaking coming-of-age story about a queer boy, his bird, and their friends. Though not usually drawn to magical realism, I found myself almost believing in the possibility of Gail, and that was a real joy.

The Boy with a Bird in His Chest by Emme Lund, (List Price: $17, Atria Books, 9781982171940, January 2023)

Reviewed by Serena Wyckoff, Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda, Florida

Someday, Maybe by Onyi Nwabineli

This is such a beautifully written story. The characters are so wonderfully honest and real. You are truly immersed in Eve’s world, you feel her pain and confusion. This is the story of one woman’s journey through grief and guilt after her husband takes his own life. Written like a memoir, straight from Eve’s thoughts and feelings, we follow her through every up and down, her highs and her lows. This is a beautiful reminder about the struggles of mental illness and the hidden pain of those around us. This is a must read!

Someday, Maybe by Onyi Nwabineli, (List Price: $27.99, Graydon House, 9781525899805, September 2022)

Reviewed by Makayla Summers, Main Street Reads in Summerville, South Carolina

The End of Drum-Time by Hanna Pylväinen

Fascinating setting and wonderful characters. This place – where Sweden, Finland, and Russia converge – is defined by the intensely cold climate. The church is converting indigenous Sapmi families, the government is imposing its colonizing laws, and this ensemble cast of characters is wrestling with who they are and how they fit in as change slowly sweeps through. Great writing, wonderful characters, and I learned so much about the cultures and some of the politics of this place during this era.

The End of Drum-Time by Hanna Pylväinen, (List Price: $28.99, Henry Holt and Co., 9781250822901, January 2023)

Reviewed by Adah Fitzgerald, Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina

The Hunter by Jennifer Herrera

It’s a great debut, spooky, atmospheric, with family drama, and full of small town secrets. Gotta love a strong female main character, who is unafraid of danger. There are twists and turns in every moment…the suspense is palpable. This book is impossible to put down.

The Hunter by Jennifer Herrera, (List Price: $27, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 9780593540213, January 2023)

Reviewed by Amy Loewy, Garden District Book Shop in New Orleans, Louisiana

Lost in the Moment and Found by Seanan McGuire

The powerful combination of otherworldly magic with this world’s grit gets me every time, in every Wayward Children novella. This one’s for anyone who’s ever experienced loss as a kid, been a lost kid, or lost their innocence—for all of us in one way or another. For Antsy, it’s the loss of her father and all the loss that occurs in its wake, and then Antsy finds the Shop Where the Lost Things Go and a vast series of doors to incredible and unusual places—but it’s easy to lose track of yourself when you’re busy finding new things, new people, and new worlds…

Lost in the Moment and Found by Seanan McGuire, (List Price: $21.99, Tordotcom, 9781250213631, January 2023)

Reviewed by Megan Bell, Underground Books in Carrollton, Georgia

The Survivalists by Kashana Cauley

Cauley cleverly constructs a story about how disenfranchisement cultivates a daunting landscape. Anyone who has been forced to make a decision with limited choices will instantly connect with and root for the main character Aretha. Even if it’s a bit stressful to witness.

The Survivalists by Kashana Cauley (List Price: $27, Soft Skull, 9781593767273, January 2023)

Reviewed by Eden Hakimzadeh, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

The Night Travelers by Armando Lucas Correa

If you love family epics told across sweeping history, The Night Travelers will engage you from page one. It tells a particular piece of the Holocaust story not often heard, of the small group of Jews who managed to find safety after leaving Germany in the I’ll-fated St. Louis. Four generation of women struggle to understand both their origins and the loving sacrifice made to ensure their survival. Each woman struggles with decisions they should not be asked to make. The story has just the right number of twists to keep you reading.

The Night Travelers by Armando Lucas Correa (List Price: $27.99, Atria Books, 9781501187988, January 2023)

Reviewed by Doloris Vest, Book No Further in Roanoke, Virginia

Moonrise Over New Jessup by Jamila Minnicks

A January 2023 Read This Next! Title

Romantic love, familial love, and the love of place play out against the background of late 1950s – early 1960s civil rights era. After the loss of her last family member, Alice flees her former home and the overt racial and sexualized violence by the landowner. She disembarks by chance in an entirely Black town – and what is meant to be a brief stop on her way north becomes a new home. New Jessup rose back up from the swamp and from the ashes of a white race riot, and the town carefully maintains a very public anti-integration stance to protect itself from attention from the white side of town. When Alice falls for the son of a town founder, she slowly learns that her Raymond been involved in the civil rights actions in Montgomery – and his affiliation with a group that works towards desegregation elsewhere creates tensions within their love story. A beautifully written exploration of just some of the variety of opinions within the civil rights era Black community on freedom, equality, and safety.

Moonrise Over New Jessup by Jamila Minnicks (List Price: $28, Algonquin Books, 9781643752464, January 2023)

Reviewed by Ginger Kautz, Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, North Carolina

How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix

A January 2023 Read This Next! Title

Absolutely fucking terrifying. Hendrix does it again in this hilarious yet terrifying novel that combines generational trauma and denial with a not-your-average haunted house. Honestly, I’m unsure if my sibling and I could survive the level of haunting that plagues Louise and Mark; the characters themselves have you questioning whether they will make it to the very end! I had to read this in broad daylight to get through it all. Unique and horrifying, every detail will send goosebumps up your arms and chills down your neck. Not to mention you’ll never look at puppets or squirrels the same way.

How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix (List Price: $28, Berkley, 9780593201268, January 2023)

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

Age of Vice by Deepti Kapoor

A January 2023 Read This Next! Title

This novel will rob you of hours from your life, it will rob you of the need for food or company or sleep. Time the reading of the first pages wisely; you’ll have a sudden need to find a comfy spot where you can commune with these characters and their lush stories of pleasure and pain. A mashup of American Psycho, Scarface and The Great Gatsby but set in contemporary India, it’s all but impossible to look away from this dazzling train wreck orchestrated by Deepti Kapoor. I was consumed by this novel.

Age of Vice by Deepti Kapoor (List Price: $30, Riverhead Books, 9780593328798, January 2023)

Reviewed by Jamie Fiocco, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Liar, Dreamer, Thief by Maria Dong

A beautifully odd and weird story, full of imagination, obsession, and layers upon layers of intrigue. Katrina Kim is living on the edges of life, barely able to afford her shared apartment, struggling with her temp job, and lowkey stalking her coworker Kurt. There’s something about him and his strangeness that compels her to watch him. Then one night she sees Kurt jump off a bridge, drawing Katrina into the mystery that was his life. I can’t recommend this strange book enough!

Liar, Dreamer, Thief by Maria Dong (List Price: $28, Grand Central Publishing, 9781538723562, January 2023)

RReviewed by Kate Towery, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

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