I feel so strongly about this book, I truly think this is the best book I have read this year. A piece of art. The author managed to capture so perfectly the thoughts of sexuality, gender norms, and expressionism in a woman in her 20s. I admired her pushing the boundaries to talk about topics that are considered taboo, such as polyamory, infidelity, and manipulation. The writing was so beautiful, the characters were all so addictive, yet so horrible, and I just couldn’t put it down. Majority of the text is thoughts that the main character has, rather than action, so if you don’t like that, this is not the book for you. I feel like I could recommend this to any girl my age that is vocal about sex, feminism, and love. Truly a book I think everyone should read. I never like to re-read books, but this is a book I can definitely see myself re-reading. I am dying for a sequel, or at the very least, another novel by Lillian Fishman.
Acts of Service by Lillian Fishman, (List Price: $27, Hogarth, 9780593243763, May 2022)
They say truth is better than fiction and with Magic Season I completely agree. Wade and his rigid engineer father had a contentious relationship for quite awhile. When Ted learns he is dying Wade returns home for one final season of the one thing the men share a passion for-The St Louis Cardinals. This is inspiring and heartwarming and told with Wade’s poignant sense of humor. It gives hope to any one suffering from a desire to have a close relationship with a parent. There is always a chance for your team in baseball and a relationship with your parent.
Magic Season by Wade Rouse, (List Price: $27.99, Hanover Square Press, 9781335475176, May 2022)
Reviewed by Suzanne Lucey, Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, North Carolina
After their boss makes a homophobic gaffe and a compromising photo of them goes viral, cutthroat political consultant Thom Morgan and down-on-his-luck data analyst Clay Parker pretend to be in a relationship to salvage this presidential campaign that’s barely gotten off the ground. This fun and heartfelt romcom is great for political wonks who want a fast-paced romp and political cynics who have seen the messy underbelly of campaigns. Thom and Clay’s “will they, won’t they” kept me guessing until the wedding bells rang.
Love, Hate & Clickbait by Liz Bowery, (List Price: $15.99, MIRA, 9780778311898, April2022)
This collection is like a candy bag of sweets that will delight you with bright colors, textures, flavors, and then wash over you with strange childhood nostalgia and pucker the sore parts of your cheeks. Swinging from trivialities like ad jingles and jumping on trampolines to deep observations about love, family, and identity, these poems are able to sweep the highs and lows, silly and serious into folded notes you can keep in your pockets like confetti for all occasions.
When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities by Chen Chen, (List Price: $16, BOA Editions Ltd., 9781942683339, April 2017)
A beautiful and strange novel full of magic, friendships, and hard truths. The search for voice & freedom, the drive to be heard, a reconciliation with past trauma and a future filled with hope weave a story I couldn’t let go of.The city of Budapest and the Danube are integral characters as Csilla discovers her worth. Along with a student revolutionary leader and a kind hearted angel of death, Csilla transforms the world around her into one filled with color.
This Rebel Heart by Katherine Locke, (List Price: $18.99, Knopf Books for Young Readers, 9780593381243, April 2022)
"In Yerba Buena I get to examine adulthood— how the experiences we have when we’re young reverberate through our lives, how we make mistakes and make amends and try to escape the destruction we inherit while also holding onto the good."–Nina LaCour, Author’s letter to bookstores
What booksellers are saying about Yerba Buena
Though the plot of Yerba Buena seems to meander at first, with dark, desperate characters with twisted pasts and wildly uncertain futures, you’ll want to stick around until the end. And you will want to linger in the middle among the luxurious imagery throughout this story. Nina LaCour shines while writing descriptions of art and making–from crafting cocktails to arranging beautiful bouquets of flowers–with great care and attention that makes these moments feel close to magical. In spite of the convoluted secrets and choices these characters makes, there is seeking, growth, and love, too, in a bittersweet pull on their paths towards healing. ― Julie Jarema from Avid Bookshop in Athens, GA Buy from Avid Bookshop
At once full of wonder and excruciatingly real, Nina LaCour’s adult debut is truly a thing to behold. A story of love, food, and the achingly beautiful reality of the human condition, Yerba Buena was, without a doubt, one of the most exquisite books I have ever read. ―Mary Louise Callaghan from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC Buy from Bookmarks
A bittersweet meditation on the lives of two women whose emotional histories so tragically mirror one another that their connection is both painful and undeniable. Sara and Emilie come from different places and different classes, but both of their formative years are marked by grief and dismissal, by losses that keep them unfinished. They’re also, though, both drawn to the beauty of things: in flowers, in food, in design, in each other. In evocative prose and rich settings, LaCour gives us romance in the truest sense: complicated and intentional, lovers choosing each other as the people they are and the ones they are still becoming. ―Miranda Sanchez from Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews in Chapel Hill, NC Buy from Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews
About Nina LaCour
Nina LaCour is the award-winning and bestselling author of six novels for young adults, including We Are Okay, a Printz Award winner and national bestseller. She lives in San Francisco with her wife and daughter. Yerba Buena is her first novel for adults.
One of the most substantial and honest collections of essays about sex and pleasure I’ve ever read. Each author bares it all in order to give the reader permission to tell the truth about their relationship with sex. By centering voices and experiences that typically get left out of anthologies like this, we get to witness a multidimensional sexuality meditation through the lens of discovery, exploration, and joy. What a gift!
The Sex Lives of African Women by Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah, (List Price: $28, Astra House, 9781662650819, March 2022)
Stamper brings his trademark storytelling, full of heart and magic, to his story of 4 boys and one incredible summer. Sal, Gabriel, Heath, and Reese are the best of friends, but they’re all headed their separate ways for the summer. Sal is headed to DC to intern for a senator. Gabriel is headed to Boston to work for a nonprofit and save the trees. Heath is headed to Daytona to work with his aunt and cousin while his parents work out their divorce. And Reese is off to Paris for a summer design school. They’ve always been inseparable, so how will they make it through the summer?
Golden Boys by Phil Stamper, (List Price: $18.99, Bloomsbury YA, 9781547607372, February 2022)
Reviewed by Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia
H Melt’s poetry collection talks about pivotal moments in trans and queer history and honors those who came before them. Beautiful and touching, this collection shows another side to the struggles trans people continue to face.
There Are Trans People Here by H. Melt, (List Price: $16.00, Haymarket Books, 9781642595727, November 2021)
Secrets of Happiness by Joan Silber Counterpoint, May
The characters in Joan Silber’s big-hearted new novel find happiness in mostly small and incremental ways that feel entirely true and resonate with the quiet power of relationship. I was immediately invested in the lives of this extended family-of-sorts, starting and ending with Ethan, a gay lawyer whose father is discovered to have a second family, acquired during his business travels to Asia. In between we meet people whose lives loosely intersect as they travel, figuratively and literally, towards their own versions of joy. Silber’s craft in linking her characters and her themes—connection, openheartedness, money—is seamless, but it’s her great gift for empathy that is sure to make this one of my favorite reads of this year.
This book isn’t insightful, it is affirmative. This book isn’t an echo, it is a cave. It is an experience. Damn near the true story of every queer romance. Casey McQuinston somehow finds a way to once again tell a dauntingly fierce, honest story! With so much detail, presence, and inertia, McQuinston gives us such a fun and crucial experience of love in the queer communities of NYC. A spot on, pleasurable book!
One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston (List Price: $16.99, St. Martin’s Griffin, 9781250244499, 6/1/2021)
Reviewed by Amya Franklin, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi
Every season one or two books seem to come out of nowhere to become the books that everyone is talking about. Except, they don’t really come out of nowhere. In the weeks and months before a book is published, reviewers and booksellers with an early peak start posting their opinions and reviews. That early swell of chatter and excitement is an indication of good things to come for a book.
Among Southern booksellers, the early chatter about Bryan Washington’s new novel, Memorial, was enthusiastic — marking it as one of the books not to be missed this Fall.
What booksellers are saying about Memorial
Washington has achieved something beautiful: a chill novel you want to hang out with. Like a good friend, this novel invites you in, cooks up a great meal, and opens up its heart. –Luis Correa, Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA
Washington’s exploration of the bonds between family and lovers (and between one’s lover’s family) is incredible — super relatable, often hilarious, and deeply touching. I wanted this book to last forever. –Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC
With razor-sharp humor, heartbreaking truths, and multi-dimensional characters that fly off the page, Bryan Washington’s novel is a virtuosic triumph. As I cried through the last pages, I only wished I could live within his story for as long as possible. — Greg Tarlton, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC
I couldn’t put this book down. This world that Bryan Washington created felt so deeply personal that I felt like I was the one living with my boyfriend’s mother without said boyfriend being around. –Aimee Rankin, Lemuria Books, Jackson, MS
About Bryan Washington
Bryan Washington is a National Book Award 5 Under 35 honoree, and winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize and the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. His first book, the story collection Lot, was a finalist for the NBCC’s John Leonard Prize, the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize, the Aspen Words Literary Prize, and the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award. Lot was a New York Times Notable Book, one of Dwight Garner’s top ten books of the year, and on best-of-the-year lists from Time, NPR, Vanity Fair, BuzzFeed, and many more. He has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, BuzzFeed, Vulture, The Paris Review, McSweeney’s Quarterly, Tin House, One Story, Bon Appétit, GQ, The Awl, and Catapult. He lives in Houston.