The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

Historical

The Midwife’s Secret by Emily Gunnis

A wonderfully written book with an original idea. Weaving together 3 main storylines- you get into the intricacies of what an impact made long ago can do to a family, and what it can do to generations of a small town. The mirroring of the disappearances almost 60 years apart really sold me on the story. A great page-turner for those that love small-town hidden secrets set in the UK.

The Midwife’s Secret by Emily Gunnis (List Price: $12.99, Headline, 9781472272058, December 2022)

Reviewed by Olivia Meletes-Morris, Litchfield Books in Pawleys Island , South Carolina

Hemlock Hollow by Culley Holderfield

Culley Holderfield writes poetically about the magical mountain hollow where we meet Caroline Mc Alister as she mourns her father and her marriage. A college professor, Caroline has just discovered that her deceased father has bequeathed her the family cabin—the cabin which has always haunted her. While restoring the old cabin she finds a century-old journal written by Carson Quinn and the mystery it reveals about the death of his brother haunts her too. This novel has so many facets: Leprechauns and Emerson and Darwin and Socrates and religion and love and death are all found in its pages. The main character is an archaeoastronomy professor and is studying the Grand Octal! This is the most fascinating novel I have read all year and is perfect for a bookclub discussion. I can’t recommend it highly enough as a page-turner that will stay with and haunt the reader.

Hemlock Hollow by Culley Holderfield (List Price: $18.95, Regal House Publishing, 9781646032860, December 2022)

Reviewed by Nancy Pierce, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia

A Consuming Fire by Laura E. Weymouth

I will automatically consume anything Laura Weymouth writes after this book, because WOW. Romance, adventure, intrigue, suspense, and a very cute dog: all that and more are found in A Consuming Fire, which showcases Weymouth’s ability to leave you hanging on the edge of your seat for 400 pages.

A Consuming Fire by Laura E. Weymouth (List Price: $19.99, Margaret K. McElderry Books, 9781665902700, November 2022)

Reviewed by Hallie Smith, Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina

Spotlight on: Trespasses by Louise Kennedy

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I do not deliberately drag my identity to the desk every day, but it turns up. I grew up a Catholic in a small, mostly Protestant town on the shores of Belfast Lough in the seventies. My childhood had a lot in common with that of children in the UK and, in a different sense – the rest of Ireland. But it was stressful in a way I did not understand until later; my generation were reared by nervous wrecks. ” ―Louise Kennedy, Interview, Wasafiri

 

Trespasses by Louise Kennedy

What booksellers are saying about Trespasses

  • I am in awe of everything about this incredible debut. Set in Belfast during the 70s, Trespasses explores the roles of violence and chance through the life of Cushla, a Catholic woman in her 20s who finds herself swept up in a love affair with an older, married Protestant lawyer. The narrative grows with a quiet sense of discomfort until it rushes to a startling conclusion that left me breathless.
      ―Chelsea Stringfield from Parnassus Books in Nashville, TN | Buy from Parnassus Books

  • I am fascinated by the Troubles and all the heartache it caused. Cushla Lavery’s struggles to reconcile her loyalties to community and her love for a man forbidden by that community. The daily drama of living for people caught up in this terrible time seems very real in the characters Kennedy develops. I was mesmerized by this story and couldn’t put it down! A must read!
      ―Stephanie Crowe from Page & Palette in Fairhope, AL | Buy from Page & Palette

  • I am fascinated by the Troubles; it continually boggles my mind that armed occupation of and paramilitary presence in Northern Ireland went on for so long, so recently. So I deeply appreciated the insight into the Troubles that this novel provides, following Cushla, a Catholic schoolteacher living in a small town near Belfast, enamored with an older Protestant barrister who is wrong for her in every way. Louise Kennedy’s story of sectarian violence and tragedy is totally compelling and humanizes this fascinating period of time by focusing on the stories of ordinary people.
      ―Kate Storhoff from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC | Buy from Bookmarks

About Louise Kennedy

Louise Kennedy grew up near Belfast. Trespasses is her first novel. She is also the author of a collection of short stories, The End of the World Is a Cul de Sac. She has written for the Guardian, the Irish Times, and BBC Radio 4. Before becoming a writer, she worked as a chef for almost thirty years. She lives in Sligo, Ireland.

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Tread of Angels by Rebecca Roanhorse

Rebecca Roanhorse is a fantastic world-builder and her skills are razor-sharp in her newest fantasy set in an Old West mining town where angels had battled demons in an ancient war. Main character Celeste attempts to clear her sister from a murder charge but is impeded and manipulated by the Divines — the ruling class who are descendants of angels and dispense justice while wearing white robes and masks. As she searches for clues to free her sister, she stumbles into a bigger mystery that threatens her life and the future of the Fallen, who are the descendants of the demons and are the laborers and miners in the town. A gritty but good read!

Tread of Angels by Rebecca Roanhorse, (List Price: $22.99, Saga Press, 9781982166182, November 2022)

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

Hester by Laurie Lico Albanese

Absolutely one of the best books I have read this year. I love the way the author wove Nathaniel Hawthorne’s story of Hester and The Scarlet Letter perfectly into this novel about a woman in the 1800s who embroiders but has synesthesia where she associates certain colors with letters. I love the way she portrayed Isobel as a strong woman- but to men she could be seen as a temptress. A beautifully woven (pun intended) story.

Hester by Laurie Lico Albanese, (List Price: $27.99, St. Martin’s Press, 9781250278555, October 2022)

Reviewed by Olivia Meletes-Morris, Litchfield Books in Pawleys Island , South Carolina

Cradles of the Reich by Jennifer Coburn

This story of three women shines a light on the existence of Nazi breeding programs during the WW2 era. These maternity homes facilitated the births of thousands of “true German babies” to help repopulate and rebuild the “new Germany.” I had never heard of this! Gundi, Hilde and Irma each had their own reasons for being involved as they were, and for making the risky decisions that would change the path they were on. Engaging, enlightening and well written!

Cradles of the Reich by Jennifer Coburn, (List Price: $27.99, Sourcebooks Landmark, 9781728250748, October 2022)

Reviewed by Cathy Graham, Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda, Florida

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

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