The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

Hispanic & Latino

The Town of Babylon by Alejandro Varela

A full-hearted homecoming story of reckoning with the past as it hits you hard and fast all while trying to carve a way forward–when for so long it looked like the only way was straight. Bounces around the lives of late 30s queer Latino and his former classmates and family to map out the landscape of the suburbs and the inner lives America so often pushes aside. Astute, enraged, and charming as hell.

The Town of Babylon by Alejandro Varela, (List Price: $27, Astra House, 9781662601033, March 2022)

Reviewed by Luis Correa, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Spotlight on: How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water by Angie Cruz

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Angie Cruz Photo Credit Erika Morillo

In this moment of despair, while I was waiting on a crowded subway platform – I saw this woman in her late 50s teaching herself English. She held this kind of handbook and reminded me so much of my tías, my grandmother – all these women in my life who were laid off during the Great Recession in 2007. After working in the same factory for over 25 years, they were supposed to start over again. They had a lot to offer, but to go on a job interview is something they’d never done before. Thinking about this compelled me to go online and look up the most popular interview questions. I downloaded interview questions, and Cara Romero came to life. I heard her say, “You want to know something about my life? I’ll tell you about my life. I came to this country because my husband wanted to kill me.” ―Angie Cruz, Interview,Dominican Writers

 

How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water by Angie Cruz

What booksellers are saying about How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water

  • Cara Romero wants to work. She is drawing unemployment but must check in with a job counselor and at each of her meetings she tells of the issues she had and is having in her life which keep her from getting a job. She is truly a good person and helps her neighbors any time she is needed. Stay with this book and Cara’s stories because the end is worth it!―Beth Carpenter from The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina
    Buy from The Country Bookshop

  • Cara Romero wants to work on everything and everyone but herself. She is strident, self-aware, and always always always focused on survival, trusting herself above any other human. She loves hard and takes care of the people she thinks are worse off than herself, often at her own expense. Sbe embodies what it is to live within layers of self-protection, every layer as loving as it is hard, and be confronted with the shortcomings of such an existence. Told in a series of interviews and reproductions of various paperwork (job applications, job openings, aptitude tests, etc), Cruz has created an emotional wringer of a book as unwavering as its protagonist. With an exquisite voice that is hilarious, bleak, and absolutely formidable, How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water is an expertly woven character study so bigger than itself.
      ―Miranda Sanchez from Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews in Chapel Hill, North Carolina
    Buy from Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews

  • I would not have thought Angie Cruz could outdo herself, but I was completely wrong. I loved Dominicana and felt so connected to the protagonist. She’s done it again with a woman in a similar situation but a completely different stage of life. Told through a set of interviews as an aging woman desperately seeks work, this is a story so full of heart you will not be able to walk away unaffected. In parts funny and tragic, this is a gorgeous portrait of life in America.  ―Jamie Southern from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
    Buy from Bookmarks

About Angie Cruz

Angie Cruz is the author of the novels Soledad, Let It Rain Coffee, and Dominicana, which was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize and a Good Morning America Book Club pick. She is founder and editor in chief of Aster(ix), a literary and arts journal, and is an associate professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh.

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Our Last Days in Barcelona by Chanel Cleeton

I didn’t realize this was the 5th book by this author but it was good as a standalone. The family is living in Palm Beach after being forced to leave Cuba because of the revolution. 1964: Isabel is married to Thomas though it is more of a marriage of convenience than one of love. There has been no communication between the family and her sister Beatriz for a few weeks. Beatriz is involved in dangerous spy work with the CIA so Isabel decides to travel to Barcelona to check in on her. When she arrives she finds her sister’s apartment empty and meets Beatriz’s friend Diego. The two of them are concerned for her sister’s safety and start searching for her. Eventually, the two develop a close bond which has Isabel second-guessing her whole life.

1936: Alicia, (Isabel’s mother) travels to Barcelona from Cuba with her young daughter, Isabel, after finding her husband with another woman. While in Spain she reconnects with a man from her past who she once had feelings for. Spain is in the midst of a civil war and violence is erupting. Alicia has to make some quick decisions about her life and her heart. The author does such a great job in weaving the stories of this family together. There is so much going on that you just don’t want to stop reading!

Our Last Days in Barcelona by Chanel Cleeton, (List Price: $17, Berkley, 9780593197820, May 2022)

Reviewed by Trish Peters, Book Bound Bookstore in Blairsville, Georgia

Woman Without Shame by Sandra Cisneros

Woman Without Shame reminds me of Nikki Giovanni’s most recent collection, in that I had a similar feeling while reading each book that these are two poets that get better and better with age. Every bit of Woman Without Shame is saturated in maturity and confidence, right down to the title. When I grow up, I want to be Sandra Cisneros.

Woman Without Shame by Sandra Cisneros, (List Price: $27, Knopf, 9780593534823, September 2022)

Reviewed by Jordan Pulaski, Small Friend Records & Books in Richmond, Virginia

Solito by Javier Zamora

This is one of the most riveting memoirs I have ever read- Zamora captures his experience as a child migrant with extraordinary detail and emotion. It feels special to read a memoir that manages to stay true to the confusion of childhood in a very adult scenario and the uncertainty of migration while also not shying away from the kindness he was shown and the gratitude he so clearly feels towards those that helped him.

Solito by Javier Zamora, (List Price: $28, Hogarth, 9780593498064, September 2022)

Reviewed by Cat Bock, Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee

Witches by Brenda Lozano

Witches, by Mexican writer Brenda Lozano, features quite possibly the most distinctive voice I’ve come across in fiction this year. Feliciana’s narrative, recounting her life as an indigenous healer – or curandera – is hypnotic, elliptical and utterly absorbing. Her story intertwines with that of Zoe, a journalist from Mexico City sent to report on the death of Paloma, Feliciana’s muxe – or third gender – cousin. Their stories combine to highlight the struggles of women striving to be true to themselves and to find their own voices.

Witches by Brenda Lozano, (List Price: $26, Catapult, 9781646220687, August 2022)

Reviewed by Jude Burke-Lewis, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

Frizzy by Claribel A. Ortega

I needed this book so bad when I was younger! From middle school to high school, I hated my curly, frizzy, thick hair. I didn’t know what to do with it other than straightening it to make it look ‘pretty’ and I didn’t have anyone in my life with hair like mine, so my hair always felt like a problem. I loved that Marlene wanted to embrace her curly hair and started that journey for herself without permission. She unapologetically wanted to be her self and it completely warmed my heart. Thank you Claribel A. Ortega for this story! I cannot wait for other kids to read this and learn to love their hair!

Frizzy by Claribel A. Ortega, (List Price: $12.99, First Second, 9781250259639, October 2022)

Reviewed by Juliana Reyes, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland

Moon Fuentez is a fascinating character. I liked the exploration of the psychological effects of pitting two children against each other in a family. This is a book about resilience through a lifetime of pain. It’s sex-positive. It’s a really original story. Moon’s humor carries a lot of the story and keeps it from feeling too dark.

How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland, (List Price: $12.99, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 9781534448674, August 2022)

Reviewed by Lizzy Nanney, Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, North Carolina

Invisible: A Graphic Novel by Christina Diaz Gonzalez

Community service gains a whole new meaning for five middle school students in this must-have dual language graphic novel. Edgar award-winning author Christina Diaz Gonzalez even adds a signature mystery twist to the story that is sure to resonate with any one who ever felt lost in the wild world of middle school.

Invisible: A Graphic Novel by Christina Diaz Gonzalez, (List Price: $12.99, Graphix, 9781338194548, August 2022)

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

Spotlight on: The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

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Silvia Moreno-Garcia

I love genre fiction, and I love horror. Poor horror gets treated like the cousin we don’t talk about. He doesn’t get invited to dinner. On the one hand, I joke that the industry that gave us Crabs: The Human Sacrifice—please look up the 1988 cover of that book—can’t be taken very seriously after going there. And the horror boom of the ’80s produced plenty of dreck. But between possessed children and sewer mutants, there’s sometimes a space to touch on something special and no less poignant than a realistic drama. It’s the space of shadows on the wall that we stared at before we went to sleep when we were children and the frightful darkness around a campfire.” –Silvia Moreno-Garciay, Interview, Pen America

 

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

What booksellers are saying about The Daughter of Doctor Moreau

  • Carlota loves her life in Yaxaktun, nestled in the jungles of Yucatan. She is a devoted daughter, even though her God-complex having mad scientist father is raising animal-human hybrids to work the lands of the Hacienda. Unfortunately, Carlota soon finds out that she is on borrowed time and borrowed land. Carlota must wrestle with being a good daughter and doing what she knows is right. Also, the author did her research! Moreno-Garcia weaves the history of the Caste War of Yucatan as well Yucatec Mayan language and myths into a beautiful story. ―Kate Smith from Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews in Chapel Hill, NC
    Buy from Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews

  • I don’t even know what to compare this book to, it’s just so incredibly unique and wonderful. Yes, it is a reimagining of a classic, but it’s by a WoC about a WoC, where the villain is now white men impeding in Native spaces, and the horror that always follows, inflicted upon the native people and the land. Silvia’s words are sweeping and yet calculated, crafting a dreamy affair where so-called monsters are more human than the actual humans are. Readers who were obsessed with Gods of Jade and Shadow will devour this book!
      ―Caitlyn Vanorder from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC
    Buy from Bookmarks

  • Drawing inspiration from the famous HG Wells novel, Moreno-Garcia has penned a novel that defies genre, mixing elements of historical fiction and sci-fi with a dash of romance. The heroine’s character development from obedient daughter to independent badass was particularly enrapturing, as was the role of the hybrids. I early await Moreno-Garcia’s next project.  ―Chelsea Stringfield from Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee
    Buy from Parnassus Books

About Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Silvia Moreno-Garcia is the author of the novels Velvet Was the Night, Mexican Gothic, Gods of Jade and Shadow, and a bunch of other books. She has also edited several anthologies, including the World Fantasy Award–winning She Walks in Shadows (a.k.a. Cthulhu’s Daughters). She has been nominated for the Locus Award for her work as an editor and has won the British Fantasy Award and the Locus Award for her work as a novelist.

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Woman of Light by Kali Fajardo-Anstine

A June 2022 Read This Next! Title!

I get that the term "transportive" is overused in blurbs, but I don’t know how else to describe this gorgeous novel from Kali Fajardo-Anstine. I was swept away by Woman of Light, which follows five generations of the Lopez family from the nineteenth century into the 1930s, spanning across the Western territories of America. In beautiful, decadent prose, Fajardo-Anstine shows us everything from traveling circus acts and fortune tellers, to turn of the century Denver nightlife, house parties and wedding festivities. This is a love letter to the American West that was left out of the classic cowboy films, to the Indigenous and Latinx communities who have lived there for centuries. I loved every word.

Woman of Light by Kali Fajardo-Anstine, (List Price: 28, One World, 9780525511328, June 2022)

Reviewed by Lindsay Lynch, Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee

Catalina Incognito by Jennifer Torres

Catalina Incognito is the first book in what’s sure to be a charming new chapter book series. Gifted with a magic sewing kit on her eighth birthday, shy and reserved Catalina learns about taking chances and trying again — and also solves the mystery of her aunt’s missing ruby. I loved the way Spanish phrases are mixed in throughout the book..

Catalina Incognito by Jennifer Torres, Gladys Jose (illus.), (List Price: $5.99, Aladdin, 9781534482784,  March 2022)

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

Spotlight on: The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina by Zoraida Córdova

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Zoraida Córdova

"Every book I write is for myself. My YA is for my teen self, who hungered for magical stories. My middle grade is for the painfully shy kid I once was, one who wanted adventure. My adult romance is for the version of myself that denies being a romantic (though I am). The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina is for the person I am now. . I wanted to pose the question, ‘What price would you pay for survival?’” –Zoraida Córdova via Bookpage

 

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The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina

What booksellers are saying about The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina

  • Cordova’s writing echoes the great Gabriel Garcia Marquez in this epic family tale that sweeps across countries and time. I loved the atmospheric quality of the book and the incredible beauty of her writing. ― Jamie Southern from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC
    Buy from Bookmarks

  • If you thought your family tree was complicated, wait till you meet the Montoyas. When their grandmother Orquídea summons them to collect their inheritance, they don’t realize they’re about to dive into a family history of magic, loss, and resilience. ―Abby Rice from Foggy Pine Books in Boone, NC
    Buy from Foggy Pine Books

  • I absolutely loved this book from start to finish. I was so intrigued with Orquidea Devina and the magical force surrounding her that I hardly wanted to put this book down, because I needed to hurriedly piece together all of the interconnected pieces. Blending a bit of mystery and fantasy, Zoraida Cordova does an excellent job developing this story with complex multi-generational characters connected by magical roots that make them stronger together than they ever are apart!   ―Nicole Granville, The Snail on the Wall in Huntsville, AL
    Buy from Snail on the Wall

  • A playfully mesmerizing, meaningful story about family! The matriarch, Orquidea Divina, summons her relatives from far and wide to attend her funeral and to receive their inheritance. But the inheritance is not what everyone expected, nor is the funeral anything ordinary. Over the next several years, secrets are revealed and special gifts are given, and each one must figure out how they want to live their lives individually and as a family. Magical, fun and heart-warming! ―Cathy Graham from Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda, FL
    Buy from Copperfish Books

  • The cosmic battle between good and evil plays out, not on the grand scale, but within a family where love, longing and belonging have consequences beyond the ordinary. This enchanting tale of magical realism grabs the reader from the first page and doesn’t let go. With unforgettable characters and surprises twisting like stems and roots throughout the story, this book is almost impossible to put down. (OK, I got so involved, I totally forgot my husband and I were going out, until he came to get me.) For fans of Isabel Allende and Erin Morgenstern. ―Lia Lent from Wordsworth Books in Little Rock, AR
    Buy from Wordsworth Books

About Zoraida Córdova

Zoraida Córdova is the acclaimed author of more than a dozen novels and short stories, including the Brooklyn Brujas series, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge: A Crash of Fate, and The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina. In addition to writing novels, she serves on the board of We Need Diverse Books, is the coeditor of the bestselling anthology Vampires Never Get Old, and is the cohost of the writing podcast Deadline City. She writes romance novels as Zoey Castile. Zoraida was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and calls New York City home. When she’s not working, she’s roaming the world in search of magical stories. For more information, visit her at ZoraidaCordova.com.

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Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez

Written with sharp humor and a keen eye, Olga Dies Dreaming is one the most exciting debuts I’ve read in a long time. Xochitl Gonzalez has given us an unforgettable cast of characters—I loved unraveling the Acevedo family history in all of its messiness and tenderness. Don’t miss this one!

Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez, (List Price: $27.99, Flatiron Books, 9781250786173, January 2022)

Reviewed by Lindsay Lynch, Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee

Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed by Saraciea J. Fennell

These are the voices. The voices we need to hear, to represent the voices that need to be heard. This collection from fifteen influential Young Adult writers from the Latinx diaspora is the perfect launch pad for conversations and the perfect door to new ideas.

Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed by Saraciea J. Fennell, (List Price: $18.99, Flatiron Books, 9781250763426, November 2021)

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

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