This is the story of Johannes, a wild dog who lives in the park. He runs his round because he is the Eyes for the keeper of the Equilibrium. He decides one day to gain a greater purpose and free his friends the bison. Though for children, I think this story would be enjoyed by anyone who has ever run and felt faster than the sun. Johannes is absolutely endearing, arrogant, feral, and free. Above all else, he’s free and wonderful. I found myself elated with every triumph and breathless with every close call. I loved it and was in tears by the beauty of the writing at the end. I absolutely cannot wait to recommend this to everyone I know. "To be alive is to go forth. So we go forth." Don’t let Johannes slip by you! He’s faster than light, so it might be hard.
The Eyes and the Impossible by Dave Eggers, (List Price: $18.99, Knopf Books for Young Readers, 9781524764203, May 2023)
Any child who has ever been teased will relate to this delightful picture book about a young girl who at first feels embarrassed for being perceived as different and then learns to celebrate her own uniqueness. It also has lovely themes of family and friendship. Interestingly enough, my name Jill inspired a very similar schoolyard rhyme as the one that Anjali experiences in the story.
Always Anjali by Sheetal Sheth, (List Price: 18.99, Random House Books for Young Readers, 9780593648834, April 2023)
What an amazing book that weaves historical events based on true story with beautiful fictional characters. This read was both heartbreaking and beautifully triumphant at times. The resilient Librarians Clara Button and Ruby Monroe faced sexism, Bureaucracy , domestic issues and the heartbreak of war while continuing to champion their communities right to access books regardless of age, gender ,and class. It really spotlights how books provide an escape, a safe place and hope in even the darkest of times.
The Little Wartime Library by Kate Thompson, (List Price: $16.99, Forever, 9781538724217, February 2023)
This is one of the best books I read this year. This story is about a friendship between two Yale college students who are members of a secret society they joined as seniors. From there, the book takes us on a forty year friendship that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that when we let people in at the most vulnerable and sincere place where we are in life, that we open our hearts and minds to the possibility that our lives will be enriched by the human connections we make.
We Should Not Be Friends by Will Schwalbe, (List Price: 29, Knopf, 9780525654933, February 2023)
Filled with a neat balance of relatable humor and serious topics, You Truly Assumed is a memorable coming-of-age novel that touches on the struggles of three black, Muslim women and their fight to create a safe space and a voice to be heard for people just like them. You Truly Assumed is the perfect novel for teens or young adults who feel they don’t have a voice in the face of prejudice and fear, as it features funny, relatable characters and the raw effects of real events.
You Truly Assumed by Leila Sabreen, (List Price: $10.99, Inkyard Press, 9781335428646, February 2023)
So often, when people are asked what they would wish for, they reply “World Peace.” In The Kindest Red, Faizah wishes for “World Kindness,” and isn’t that really the first step to world peace? This simple picture book with a big message is just perfect for families or classrooms looking to celebrate diversity and personal responsibility.
The Kindest Red by Ibtihaj Muhammad, (List Price: $19.99, Bloomsbury YA, 9780759555709, February 2023)
“I have to be honest—I had a friend fic! It was a notebook I shared with two close friends during my first year of high school. We would write these stories to each other and pass the book back and forth. In Georgie, All Along, she and her best friend do the same, although their version of it is a little more focused than mine was—young Georgie and her best friend are very focused on imagining the perfect versions of their lives once they get to the new high school they’ll be attending. My friends and I, I’m embarrassed to say, were far more focused on our celebrity crushes! But I was really inspired by that hopeful, imaginative experience of my teenaged self—I wanted to think about what that notebook represented about the experience of growing up.” ―Kate Clayborn, Interview, Above the Treeline
What booksellers are saying about Georgie, All Along
Clayborn, All Along! She never disappoints. With supportive, but odd-duck parents, Georgie has always had a “soft” place to land and as a result is “expansive”, so much so that she has a hard time focusing in on what she wants in her life and her future. Levi had no such parents, with no support network from his family when he needed them most, and as a result has made himself tight and small in his life and his wants/needs. When they meet, they learn to let go of their past and with her as his “soft place to land” and he allows himself to expand into himself and she learns to trust her own self and what she truly wants.
―Angela Trigg from The Haunted Book Shop in Mobile, AL | Buy from The Haunted Book Shop
Kate Clayborn’s books come with high expectations of an excellent story. She always delivers, and Georgie, All Along is no different. The writing is engrossing and diverting and it’s impossible not to relate to or love Georgie as she finds herself and her way. January is rich with romance, and this is an excellent winter read to curl up with.
―Preet Singh from Eagle Eye Book Shop in Decatur, GA | Buy from Eagle Eye Book Shop
Kate Clayborn hits a home run with Georgie, All Along. I loved this relatable story about a woman coming home to find herself and reconnect with the dreams she had in high school. She’s a quirky mess who puts everyone’s needs before her own and she meets Levi, the brooding older brother of her high school crush, who also has a past he’s working through. I enjoyed the small town setting, the cast of characters and the nostalgia of revisiting high school escapades.
―Jessica Nock from Main Street Books in Davidson, NC | Buy from Main Street Books
A charming and witty story about how our pasts can shape us. Unexpectedly, Georgie, a personal assistant that has just lost her job and Levi, onetime town troublemaker, find themselves as roommates. They are both trying to reinvent themselves and use Georgie’s high school diary as a blueprint for their transformation. Georgie did not write in her diary about what was happening then, but her dreams and wishes for the future. Georgie and Levi have great chemistry and of course there is a great dog, Hank.
―Pam Crawford from Bookmiser, Inc. in Marietta, GA | Buy from Bookmiser
About Kate Clayborn
Kate Clayborn is the critically acclaimed author of contemporary romance novels. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Oprah Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, Bookpage, and more. By day she works in education, and by night (and sometimes, by very early morning) she writes contemporary romances about smart, strong, modern heroines who face the world alongside true friends and complicated families. She resides in Virginia with her husband and their dog.
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)
A Pinch of Love is an adorable picture book about spreading love and overcoming hard times through baking. With diverse characters, an emphasis on community, and a colorful quirky art style that is incredibly appealing, this tender book will be perfect to share with little loved ones with a love of baking (or baked goods)!
A Pinch of Love by Barry Timms (List Price: $18.99, Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 9780711280199, December 2022)
Christina Soontornvat’s graphic memoir depicts the challenges & joys of middle school life as a Thai-American in Texas centering around her dream of making the school’s cheer squad. For fans of Victoria Jamieson’s Roller Girl, Jerry Craft’s New Kid or any of Raina Telgemeier’s many graphic novels.
The Tryout by Christina Soontornvat (List Price: $24.99, Graphix,, 9781338741308, November 2022)
Reviewed by Elese Stutts, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina
A pastoral fall pick for dog and animal lovers: this quick read throws you into the 5-year journey of Tamon, a German Shepherd, as he wanders in and out of the lives of his many different grief-stricken, down-and-out owners. This is the first translated works of Seishu Hase, a veteran of the Yakuza crime genre, whose teeth are bared in simple but sweet prose with moments of striking intensity. Struggle, plight, and grief are mirrored between human and animal as each character contends for their own survival and place in the world. Bittersweet, but ultimately a story of returning home in both place and spirit.
The Boy and the Dog by Seishu Hase (List Price: $23, Viking, 9780593300411, November 2022)
We Are The Light is the book we all need to be reading in 2022. In one headline after another we’ve been reading about mass shootings in our malls, our schools, our small towns, our communities… but what happens to those communities in the weeks, months, years after these tragedies occur- changing so many lives forever? Matthew Quick takes on this subject and explores the question through the eyes of Lucas Goodgame, a Christmas-time movie house shooting survivor who lost his wife, friends and neighbors in a scene that is all too familiar to us now- but shouldn’t be. Worst of all, his Jungian therapist Karl, a tremendous support to him, isn’t seeing patients or responding to Lucas’ frequent calls, letters or visits to his house. So frequent in fact, that the police have had to step in and create some boundaries for him. His wife’s best friend is trying to run the local diner and keep him sane; the shooter’s younger brother, a student Lucas had been helping in his role as the high school guidance counselor, has set up camp in Lucas’ back yard and his dead wife is visiting him every night shedding feathers from her giant wings by the handful. We Are The Light is a book to read slowly, with big inhales, taking in every feeling of every character no matter how painful. It is a book everyone everywhere should be reading – because as we have been reminded all year, what happens in Quick’s book, in the little town of Majestic, PA, can happen anywhere.
We Are the Light by Matthew Quick, (List Price: $27.99, Avid Reader Press, 9781668005422, November 2022)
Meredith is a completely lovable and complex character that has faced and survived some unspeakable things. Claire Alexander beautifully creates characters that exude resilience in their own ways. I found myself cheering on Meredith, Fee, Celeste, and Tom…and hoping for their happiness. Meredith, Alone is a quick read that explores the hardships of life and the value of community, family and friendships. While some of the topics are quite heavy, there is also joy and hope and laughter and triumph. I thoroughlyloved this book and have already started recommending it to folks who loved Eleanor Oliphant and Where’d You go Bernadette!
Meredith, Alone by Claire Alexander, (List Price: $28, Grand Central Publishing, 9781538709948, November 2022)
Gale Galligan is THE BEST! I have been so excited to see her first post-BSC graphic novel and Freestyle surpasses all expectations. It’s quirky, inclusive, inspiring, and so very real. And what a concept! Competitive B-boying yo-yo-ing was fun and interesting to read about and I love the way that Galligan captured motion in her art. This will likely be my favorite kids book of the year!
Freestyle: A Graphic Novel by Gale Galligan, (List Price: $12.99, Graphix, 9781338045802, October 2022)
Reviewed by Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
I don’t know how Kaya Doi does it, but even though this is EIGHTH book in the Chirri & Chirra series, it’s still just as magical and enjoyable to read as the first. The formula, rather than being tiresome, is soothing and reassuring—you know from the first “dring-dring!” that you are setting off on a charming adventure with tasty treats and friendly animals. This one, with a full moon festival in the forest, works particularly well for bedtime reading.
Chirri & Chirra, In the Night by Kaya Doi (List Price: $16.95, Enchanted Lion Books, 9781592703845, November 2022)