The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

Mysteries & Detective Stories

The Brothers Hawthorne by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Set in the same world as the Inheritance Games this book focuses on fan favorites Grayson and Jameson Hawthorne. They are in pursuit of a dangerous winner take all game. Less brutal than the Hunger Games it does evoke the eagerness to win and you won’t be able to put it down.

The Brothers Hawthorne by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, (List Price: 19.99, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780316480772, August 2023)

Reviewed by Suzanne Lucey, Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, North Carolina

Threads That Bind by Kika Hatzopoulou

Remixes of Greek mythology abound, but Kika Hatzopoulou brings a fresh entry into the trend with a murder mystery focused on the Fates. Io, a descendent of the Fates, is able to see the life threads of people around her and uses this ability in her job as a private investigator. When a surge of wraiths– individuals with maimed life threads– occurs in the city, Io must locate the culprit before the destruction spirals out of control. Threads that Bind is the next must-read for fans of Lore by Alexandra Bracken and Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo.

Threads That Bind by Kika Hatzopoulou, (List Price: 19.99, Razorbill, 9780593528716, May 2023)

Reviewed by Charlie Williams, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

Beware the Blue Bagoo by Karl Newson

There’s a lot of rumors about the Blue Bagoo, and a young girl sets out to investigate for herself, discovering along the way that the rumors and conspiracies don’t have any root in facts. In an era where children will be exposed to a lot of misinformation spread by social media (or their friend’s older brother’s best friend’s uncle), this is a great way to introduce them to ascertaining the facts for themselves, to dig beyond the scare tactics, and search the truth out when others hide it with their fear and ignorance. Also, the Blue Bagoo is adorable, the drawings are vibrant, and the words are just fun to read aloud.

Beware the Blue Bagoo by Karl Newson, (List Price: $18.99, Happy Yak, 9780711267848, February 2023)

Reviewed by Kate Towery, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

The Swifts by Beth Lincoln

I read this rollicking debut in one sitting. Who knew that etymology, an Agatha Christie-esque mystery, and a subtle discussion of self-fulfilling prophecy could make for such fun book? Filled with colorful characters who live up to their names, this book has the feeling of a children’s classic.

The Swifts by Beth Lincoln, (List Price: 17.99, Dutton Books for Young Readers, 9780593533239, February 2023)

Reviewed by Melissa Taylor, E. Shaver, bookseller in Savannah, Georgia

What Happened to Rachel Riley? by Claire Swinarski

Reading this book made me step back, rethink my middle school days, and want to wrap my younger self in a hug. Such a tough story, told in such a way where even though the reader and the main character don’t know the full story, you know more than the main character. You are seeing their final report, not just her findings, as she is investigating.

What Happened to Rachel Riley? by Claire Swinarski (List Price: $16.99, Quill Tree Books, 9780063213098, January 2023)

Reviewed by Jamie Kovacs, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Nine Liars by Maureen Johnson

Stevie’s back to solve a new mystery, this time at a country manor in England! Johnson delves right back into Stevie’s world as she navigates her way through a 27-year-old murder and a current disappearance. Stevie’s at loose ends as she’s almost halfway through her senior year. She doesn’t know what she wants to do after high school, and she misses her boyfriend. But when David invites Stevie and her friends to spend a week in England, they immediately develop a plan to get the headmaster to let them go as an educational experience. Once they get there, the mystery finds Stevie, and she’s off.

Nine Liars by Maureen Johnson (List Price: $19.99, Katherine Tegen Books, 9780063032651, December 2022)

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia

We Deserve Monuments by Jas Hammonds

Poignant, moving, and utterly captivating from the first page to the last, We Deserve Monuments is in a league of its own. Both a riveting exploration of the South’s intrinsic and rampant racism and a love story that revels in the beauty of queer Black girls, Jas Hammonds’ debut should be required reading. A beautifully rendered love story both to the family we’re born into and the family we choose, I know I will be neither the first nor the last to say that this book, and all those who see themselves reflected in its pages, deserves monuments.

We Deserve Monuments by Jas Hammonds, (List Price: $18.99, Roaring Brook Press, 9781250816559, November 2022)

Reviewed by Mary Louise Callaghan, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

The Ogress and the Orphans by Kelly Barnhill

This beautiful tale is cleverly oozling with allegory–but it boils down to a simple message: knowledge, education, and the written word are power, kindness matters, and together we are stronger. Kelly Barnhill has crafted a masterpiece chock full of mistrusting citizens in a ruined village, an ogress with a big heart, orphans who pay attention, crows with a language of their own, a scarily charismatic mayor who isn’t who he seems, and an unnoticed stone at the heart of it all. This reader was thoroughly bedazzled and charmed by its brilliance.

The Ogress and the Orphans by Kelly Barnhill, (List Price: $28, Algonquin Young Readers, 9781643750743,  February 2022)

Reviewed by Damita Nocton from The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, NC

Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw

A Fall Read This Next! Selection

Well. That was nuts. Khaw threw together a fast-paced ghost story, the bitter lyricism of her writing conveying the complexity of feelings when you have History with someone, as well as the surreal when an offended ghost decides it’s making an example out of you.

Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw, (List Price: $19.99, Tor Nightfire, 9781250759412, October 2021)

Reviewed by Alex Mcleod, The Haunted Book Shop in Mobile, Alabama

The River Has Teeth by Erica Waters

Eerie and chilling to the bone, The River Has Teeth is a razor-sharp novel that had me devouring its secrets late into the night. Unique magic and two girls set on their own quests for vengeance will keep readers turning these pages – and looking over their shoulder for any monsters in the night.

The River Has Teeth by Erica Waters, (List Price: 17.99, HarperTeen, 9780062894250, June 2021)

Reviewed by Brad Sells, Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee

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