The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

Historical

Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove by Rati Mehrotra

Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove is absolutely breathtaking! I had just been complaining to a colleague that I feel like too many books these days have lost a sense of lightness and whimsy in the canon. While this novel would be far from whimsical, there’s a lovely balance of humor and sweetness to the characters that balance out the darkness within the world and the story. Ultimately a story of deciding one’s birth isn’t what’s important, but what you choose to do, I fell in love with all the characters and had to immediately contact everyone I knew as soon as I finished to tell them to put this on their TBR. Katyani is relatable, talented, and has a sense of humor that had me smirking and laughing to myself without even realizing. Don’t miss out on this wonderful Indian inspired fantasy!

Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove by Rati Mehrotra, (List Price: $18.99, Wednesday Books, 9781250823687, October 2022)

Reviewed by Katlin Kerrison, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia

Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson

Kate Atkinson has a wonderful way with words, combining laugh-out-loud wit with unexpected pathos. I gobbled up Shrines of Gaiety – which features a motley crew of characters in 1920s London, including a nightclub boss, a chief inspector intent on weeding out corruption in the police, a teenage runaway in search of fame, and a former WW1 nurse in search of said missing teenager – in just a couple of days. Recommended.

Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson, (List Price: $29, Doubleday, 9780385547970, September 2022)

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

Ithaca by Claire North

Ithaca takes place in a time while Odysseus is away, and is narrated by Hera, the goddess of women. Many suitors have arrived to try and take the hand of a could-be widow. It’s up to Penelope and her band of women to hold things together, not just for her, but for the sake of the entire kingdom. From unexpected visitors, suspenseful skirmishes, and a lust for power, this is the story of the not so quickly told, unsung protectors of Ithaca. What an amazing, gorgeous take on what was going on while Odysseus has been gone. Spoken from the viewpoint of Hera, this captivating story brings up many people that are usually left by the wayside as far as Greek mythology is concerned. There were a lot of characters, and at first it was a bit difficult to remember which person was which. For the most part, North solves this by giving insight into what each one of them is doing whenever mentioned. From traitors of the kingdom, to a coming of manhood for my personal favorite character, Telemachus, the suspense and build up never failed. The marathon of the middle was exactly that for me, but that is North’s beautiful attention to detail, pulp, and background building that I love from her writing. The ending was a shot out of nowhere. Wondering who would come out on top at the end was something I questioned during the entire read. All I know is, like with almost all of her books, the last five or six chapters tie everything together and are somehow always better than the rest of the book, if that’s even possible. All of my questions, answered. All loose ends, tied.Six stars out of five; I suggest everyone grab this book when it comes out if you are a fan of Greek Mythology, fiction, suspense, and all around good writing. This is the setup of a series, and it was extremely captivating the way North went out of her way to have all the geography, gods, and goddesses of ancient Greece historically accurate. She definitely showed the conflict between them and how some, if not all, are more “humanly” than I had considered when I went through school learning about Greece. It was really nice to have a change of pace from North’s usual writing, but this had her style all over it. Will be grabbing a physical copy in September, to add to my collection of Claire North books and I cannot wait to see what happens next in the story of Penelope.

Ithaca by Claire North, (List Price: $28, Redhook, 9780316422963, September 2022)

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

Early Light by Osamu Dazai

These three stories make an important addition to the canon of Dazai translated into English (still too slight!) The title story is classic Dazai autofiction about the effects of Allied firebombing in Imperial Japanese cities. "Villon’s Wife" is an exquisite piece, with all the charm of Japanese folk tales and the perversity of modernity, that echoes Dazai’s classic "No Longer Human." "One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji," however, is the jewel; for readers in English, this may be the first inkling of the author’s sense of humor. Altogether a stunning collection, and a great introduction to one of the masters of 20th century existential literature.

Early Light by Osamu Dazai, (List Price: $17.95, New Directions, 9780811231985, August 2022)

Reviewed by Conor Hultman, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

Die Around Sundown by Mark Pryor

I became a fan of Mark Pryor after reading The Bookseller (and subsequent books) and meeting his protagonist, Hugo Marston. So, what a surprise to be introduced to a new protagonist, Inspector Henri Lefort. Occupied Paris in 1940 was a Nazi nightmare, but even worse, the murder of an SS officer could not be tolerated by "the enemy." The storyline bends and twists while the Inspector has been given 5 days to solve the murder…"or else." The Inspector, with his dry sense of humor, along with the characters (including Pablo Picasso) introduced as the story unfolds, help to create an intriguing mystery. Truly enjoyed the book!

Die Around Sundown by Mark Pryor, (List Price: 27.99, Minotaur Books, 9781250824820, August 2022)

Reviewed by Karen Solar, Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda, Florida

A Strange and Stubborn Endurance by Foz Meadows

The closeted son of a nobleman has his life completely up-ended in one day. After being informed of his betrothal to a noblewoman of a neighboring country to cement a trade alliance, Val is forcibly outed by his abusive ex-lover in the worst possible way. Fortunately for him, the neighboring country is much more accepting than his own and the ambassador’s response to this new information is to switch Val’s intended marriage partner to the brother of the previous woman. The story from there unfolds on two plot lines: the very sweet romance between Val and his husband-to-be and the very bloody political intrigue that erupts due to objections to the political alliance their marriage represents. Overall excellent and I highly recommend it.

A Strange and Stubborn Endurance by Foz Meadows, (List Price: $27.99, Tor Books, 9781250829139, July 2022)

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

The Many Daughters of Afong Moy by Jamie Ford

I finished this book yesterday, and I’m realizing it deserves a re-read or two! This is my first by author Jamie Ford, but will not be my last. His exquisite writing is not only beautiful, but also thought-provoking and cerebral.

Based on the scientific study of Eugenics, in which the research suggests that trauma/fears can be inherited from previous generations, readers are introduced to several descendants of Afong Moy, the first Chinese woman to set foot in America. With settings spanning from 1836-2045, each chapter reveals the tragedies faced by a descendent of Afong, and how each responds due to her genetic response to fear and tragedy.

A mix of history, science and fantasy, this is one of those books that will stay with me for a long time

The Many Daughters of Afong Moy by Jamie Fors, (List Price: $28.00, Atria Books, 9781982158217,  August 2022)

Reviewed by Sharon Davis, Book Bound Bookstore in Blairsville, Georgia

The Good Left Undone by Adriana Trigiani

Adriana Trigiani’s The Good Left Undone transports you through both time and place, moving effortlessly through four generations of the Cabrelli family and from country to country during one of Europe’s most trying times. It not only impresses the importance of family and the love we share with those we choose, but the importance of the stories and heirlooms that are passed down from one generation to the next.

The Good Left Undone by Adriana Trigiani, (List Price: $28, Dutton, 9780593183328, April 2022)

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

Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel

Readers of Kaikeyi will be pulled into this lyrical counternarrative of the reviled queen from the ancient epic Ramayana. Known as a jealous, villainous stepmother who banished Rama and put her own son on the throne, Patel tells a much more nuanced, compassionate tale of a brave woman caught between manipulative gods and a patriarchal society who nevertheless tries to improve the lot of women in her kingdom. Kaikeyi’s voice is stunningly spirited, and Patel’s mesmerizing prose is immersive and inventive. This will definitely appeal to fans of mythological retellings in the vein of Circe.

Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel, (List Price: $28.00, Redhook, 9780759557338,  April 2022)

Reviewed by Hannah DeCamp, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys

Ruta Sepetys tackles the little-known subject of communist Romania with the gut-wrenching, suspenseful story of Cristian. He dreams of writing but instead is blackmailed to turn on everyone he loves. His story explores the endurance of the human spirit even in the toughest circumstances.

I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys, (List Price: $18.99, Philomel Books, 9781984836038, February 2022)

Reviewed by Chelsea Stringfield from Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee


Small World by Jonathan Evison

The only thing that’s small about this book is its title. Clocking in at just under 500 pages, Small World is a continent-spanning, era-hopping epic. In the present day, a group of strangers find themselves bound by fate on a train hurtling up the west coast, while in the 19th century their pioneering ancestors – immigrants, Native Americans and former slaves – struggle for survival. Despite juggling a large cast, Evison handles the multiple narratives with aplomb, creating an engrossing page-turner that also raises important questions about the American dream and what it means to be American.


Small World by Jonathan Evison, (List Price: $28.00, Dutton, 9780593184127, January 2022)

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


The Magnolia Palace by Fiona Davis

The Frick Museum is housed in a building built as the home for the Henry Clay Frick family, full of spectacular art. Two storylines tell the tale of the home and the family who lived there in the early 20th century, and then another storyline set in the 1960’s at the museum. With secrets and betrayals, life was not placid in either era.

The Magnolia Palace by Fiona Davis, (List Price: $27.00, Dutton, 9780593184011, January 2022)

Reviewed by Beth Carpenter, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina

Anatomy: A Love Story by Dana Schwartz

Anatomy: A Love Story is a dark and deadly tale about just how far you’d go to achieve your dreams in a world designed for you to fail. I fell in love with Hazel and Jack. This was a gothic story of resurrection men and women surgeons in disguise that had me guessing until the last moment.

Anatomy: A Love Story by Dana Schwartz, (List Price: $18.99, Wednesday Books, 9781250774156, January 2022)

Reviewed by Katlin Kerrison, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia

Murder Under Her Skin by Stephen Spotswood

What a fun read! A traditional mystery set in 1946 with two female private investigators who are called to a traveling circus to help find the murderer of the tattooed lady from the side show. This case is of particular interest to Willowjean (Will) Parker who has been working for the brilliant and world-famous detective Ms. Pentecost for the past few years) because she lived and worked at the circus for five years and considered it home and the employees her family. I can’t wait to read about more cases that this interesting and witty duo are able to solve.

Murder Under Her Skin by Stephen Spotswood, (List Price: $27.00, Doubleday, 9780385547123, December 2021)

Reviewed by Nancy McFarlane, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

Beautiful Little Fools by Jillian Cantor

What a fun read! This book and the fictional tales of the women surrounding Gatsby actually makes me want to re-read The Great Gatsby with these imagined back stories in mind. Cantor’s writing is both creative and compelling. Her insights about the lives and struggles of women were woven perfectly into this fictional expansion and made me appreciate the characters of Daisy, Myrtle, Catherine and Jordan way more than before. If you are a fan of The Great Gatsby I think you’ll love this book and its ability to help you revisit the world of West Egg. If you’re not a fan of The Great Gatsby, I still think you’ll enjoy this story of three women and what could have led to the murder of Jay Gatsby. Either way, it’s a creative, fun read for both those who have an appreciation for the old classic and those who just enjoy a good period piece of fiction!

Beautiful Little Fools by Jillian Cantor, (List Price: $16.99, Harper Perennial, 9780063051263, January 2022)

Reviewed by Lynne Phillips, Wordsworth Books in Little Rock, Arkansas

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