The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

Friendship

Clues to the Universe by Christina Li

Benji is a comic-book-loving artist whose dad abruptly left his family. Ro is a list-making rocket scientist whose father tragically died in a car accident. When they team up to build a rocket for Science Fair and Ro becomes determined to track down Benji’s father, the two become friends. I love how one main character is artistic and the other scientific. Lots of fun space science facts in Ro’s chapters. It’s a good blend of personalities and disciplines. The two deal with grief left by their fathers, bullying, and what it means to be a friend to others as well as yourself. I also really enjoyed the plot/character thread of the kids developing a deeper understanding and friendship with a neighbor, Mr. Voltz, who suffers from PTSD as a veteran from WWII & Korean War.Lots of good stuff in this heart-warming story, including Ro embracing her Chinese heritage as a half Chinese, quarter Scottish, quarter Irish, as she describes herself.

Clues to the Universe by Christina Li (List Price: $17.99, Quill Tree Books, 9780063008885, 1/12/2021)

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

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Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses by Kristen O’Neal

A Spring 2021 Read This Next! Title

Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses by Kristen O’Neal
Quirk, April

Oof, ouch, this debut YA yanked me in and I could NOT put it down. Poignant and hilarious, it delves into the mental landscape of chronic illnesses, and brings werewolfism (this should be a word, fyi) into the storyline. I LOVE Brigid’s sense of humor and her and Priya’s friendship is one we ALL need in our lives. Great recommendation for readers who are looking for a solid friendship-themed book. There is a fun hint of romance but it doesn’t shift the story’s focus.

– Candice Corner, The Haunted Book Shop in Mobile, AL

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Gold Diggers by Sanjena Sathian

Inside the shimmering cover of this book is a fascinating modern look at the golden promise of the American Dream, and its dark underpinnings. Neeraj Narayan (or Neil, as he’s known in his Atlanta suburb) feels inferior to his over-achieving Asian American peers and unequipped to meet the expectations of his parents. So, when a magical solution presents itself in the form of a potion concocted by his neighbors, he’s all too willing to try it. This quick-fix has tragic consequences that continue to haunt him a decade later when he’s trying to find his footing in Silicon Valley as a graduate student writing his dissertation on the Gold Rush. This is a fascinating novel about history, ambition, addiction, and the question his sister and friends had to try and answer while competing in the Miss Teen India pageant: “What does it mean to be both Indian and American?”

Gold Diggers by Sanjena Sathian (List Price: $27, Penguin Press, 9781984882035, 4/6/2021)

Reviewed by Lady Smith, The Snail on the Wall in Huntsville, Alabama

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Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses by Kristen O’Neal

Priya has moved all the way across the country from New Jersey to Stanford to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor. But when she gets Lyme disease from a tick, everything is out on hold while she moves back home to deal with her chronic disease. She’s in pain most of the time, bit ends up finding solace in those with similar conditions online. She discovers one friend in particular, Brigid, lives only about an hour away and when Brigid disappears from the group and stops answering texts, Priya steals the family car to visit her. However, she instead of Brigid, Priya finds an enormous dog/wolf-like animal locked in the basement. She accidentally lets it out, but locks it in the bathroom and calls animal control. But all they find in the bathroom…is Brigid. This was a fun story that also shed a light on how hard it is for people who have a chronic illness, but also the great friendships you can find if you’re open to it.

Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses by Kristen O’Neal (List Price: $18.99, Quirk Books, 9781683692348, 4/27/2021)

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser, Inc. in Marietta, Georgia

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All of Us by Kathryn Erskine, Alexandra Boiger (Illus)

This book would make a great bedtime story! I loved the pictures and the simple message of appreciating everyone’s unique contribution to the world.

All of Us by Kathryn Erskine, Alexandra Boiger (Illus) (List Price: $17.99, Philomel Books, 9780593204696, 5/18/2021)

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

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Not Our Summer by Casie Bazay

Becca and KJ are cousins, both about to graduate from high school. But because their mothers are estranged, they don’t know each other at all. When their maternal grandfather dies, they have to come together for the reading of his will. In it, their grandfather has given both of the girls and both of their mothers a nice sum of money. The only catch is that the girls must complete a five-part bucket list before they get the money. The list is a set of things the grandfather always wanted to do, but his mounting agoraphobia wouldn’t let him. I LOVE that we have a story that, at its root, is about friendship. And while there’s a smidge of romance, it’s FAR from the main plot. It took me a moment to warm up to the two girls, but in the end, I enjoyed them, flaws and all.

Not Our Summer by Casie Bazay (List Price: $17.99, Running Press Kids, 9780762472291, 5/11/2021)

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser, Inc. in Marietta, Georgia

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Heaven by Mieko Kawakami

How are two Japanese 14-year-olds to deal with continuous bullying by their classmates and still have the presence of mind to genuinely care about others and question their place in their community? This is more than a story about bullying—it delves into the raw and moral relationships that most people don’t experience until they are adults. Beautiful to read, thoughtful in intent, and worthy of remembering.

Heaven by Mieko Kawakami, Sam Bett (Trans.) (List Price: $23.00, Europa Editions, 9781609456214, May 2021)

Reviewed by Easty Lambert-Brown, Ernest & Hadley Booksellers in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

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Many Points of Me by Caroline Gertler

Georgia’s dad was an artist before he died. Now Georgia struggles with his legacy, with people thinking they know him because of his art. Her best friend Theo is the only one who might understand, except he’s also focused on art, especially his own. And while Georgia’s own art has always been important to her, it’s taken a backseat to figuring out the mystery of what her dad’s last unfinished painting was supposed to be. A heartfelt story about art and grief and friendship for anyone trying to determine where they fit in their own life when everything has changed.

Many Points of Me by Caroline Gertler (List Price: $16.99, Greenwillow Books, 9780063027008, 1/12/2021)

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

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Who is Maud Dixon? by Alexandra Andrews

For those who loved Social Creature and Gone Girl: Florence Darrow, our desperately dark protagonist, has been fired from her editing job and taken on the position of an assistant to the infamously anonymous Maud Dixon. What should be a privileged position turns into something completely the opposite after a horrible work trip to Morocco. Who is Maud Dixon? will keep you guessing ’til the end and even after you’ll still be asking questions (in the absolute best way possible).

Who is Maud Dixon? by Alexandra Andrews (List Price: $28, Little, Brown and Company, 9780316500319, 3/2/2021)

Reviewed by Olivia Schaffer, The Bookshelf in Thomasville, Georgia

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Don’t Hug Doug by Carrie Finison, Daniel Wiseman (Illus.)

This is such a cool book!!! It explains body autonomy perfectly for very young children. Not only that, but it does so in a way that would make kids like Doug feel less alone about their preferences. Will definitely be recommending!

Don’t Hug Doug by Carrie Finison, Daniel Wiseman (Illus.) (List Price: $16.99, G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 9781984813022, 1/26/2021)

Reviewed by Ellen Linville, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

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Marsha Is Magnetic by Beth Ferry, Lorena Alvarez (Illus.)

How does a scientist create a party that people want to come to? In Marsha’s case it takes experimentation and the scientific method to draw people to herself with “magnetic” personality! Or “magnets.” Cheerfully busy illustrations of a delightful young maker at work.

Marsha Is Magnetic by Beth Ferry, Lorena Alvarez (Illus.) (List Price: $17.99, HMH Books for Young Readers, 9780544735842, 1/26/2021)

Reviewed by Lisa Yee Swope, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

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