The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!
This is it! My favorite middle-grade book of 2021. Full of adventure, humor, and friendship, Kiki’s story had me hooked from start to finish. I laughed, cried, and audibly gasped as the story unfolded through the lens of her vivid imagination. I particularly liked the handling and validation of Kiki’s struggles with anxiety. Great for fans of Aru Shah, Inkheart, or anything by Rick Riordan- Kiki Kallira Breaks a Kingdom is not to be missed!
Kiki Kallira Breaks a Kingdom by Sangu Mandanna, (List Price: 17.99, Viking Books for Young Readers, 9780593206973, July 2021)
Reviewed by Mary Louise Callaghan, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Korean American witches! Bulgogi tacos and boba tea portals! This RRP grabbed my attention with the clans of Korean witches and kept it with the strong sister bond and Riley choosing kindness as her strength. There was lots of betrayal and twists and action that made this a fast and exciting read–but it never got overwhelming. The whole cast is great, the world-building is awesome, complex-but-understandable, and the food sounds delicious (I’m REALLY wanting to try bulgogi tacos.) I totally guessed wrong on what the last fallen star was so it was fun that the ending wasn’t predictable. There is a sequel so it ends in a way that makes you want to read the next one, but for the most part, everything is resolved in a way you don’t want to throw the book across the room after the last page.
The Last Fallen Star (A Gifted Clans Novel) by Graci Kim, (List Price: 16.99, Rick Riordan Presents, 9781368059633, May, 2021)
Reviewed by Candice Conner, The Haunted Book Shop in Mobile, Alabama
CECE RIOS is a beautiful story about finding your inner strength and standing up for what you believe in. Cece witnesses the kidnapping of her older sister, Juana, and vows to rescue her from the realm where dark criaturas live. But it’s discouraging when her entire village thinks she’s cursed with a spirit like Water, in a place where Fire is preferred. Rivera’s world-building is marvelous and her writing hits straight to your heart. As someone who was told “You’re too sensitive,” growing up, this story is so important. Cece loves and feels deeply, she cries when she’s upset, and she is strong because of all of these things. Being fearful doesn’t make you weak, nor does being angry make you strong.
Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls by Kaela Rivera (List Price: $16.99, HarperCollins, 9780062947550, 4/13/2021)
Reviewed by Miriam Meeks, Lemuria Books in Jackson, Mississippi
This had me at the edge of my seat from beginning to end. If you love Greek mythology you will love this! Every seven years, nine Greek gods must walk the earth as mortals and the descendants of Ancient Bloodlines hunt them to steal their powers and immortality. Lore ran away from this world when her family was brutally murdered by a rival line. But she comes across her childhood friend Castor and the goddess Athena before a hunt, and after binding her fate with Athena, she enters the hunt to fight a new god and to avenge her family and save her home: New York City.
Lore by Alexandra Bracken (List Price: $18.99, Disney-Hyperion, 9781484778203, 1/5/2021)
Reviewed by Deanna Bailey, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia
This beautifully bittersweet stand alone asks “what would you do if your entire reason for being was built on lies? Your religion, your existence, all of it. Well. Most of it.” Our two main characters follow a terribly sad path where they find their own bits of hope, all leading to an, as I said, bittersweet ending. I thoroughly enjoyed the world building within this book, and would not be disappointed if Megan returned at any point later, following other characters.
Soulswift by Megan Bannen (List Price: $17.99, Balzer + Bray, 11/17/2020)
Recommended by Caitlyn Vanorder, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina