The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

Romance

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

Gabrielle Zevin has written a novel about amazing game developers who the reader will come to know over thirty years. When Sam Masur and Sadie Green meet as children, they become fast intimate friends when playing video games, and as young adults they craft the game Ichigo. Besides seeing the artistry and genius built into designing these intricate and captivating games, we live their lives as they grow and experience loneliness and love, pain and comfort, success and devastating pain and loss. This is ultimately an unforgettable tale of lives finding love and connection in this high tech age and the collaboration in building the worlds of video games.

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin, (List Price: 28, Knopf, 9780593321201, July 2022)

Reviewed by Nancy Pierce, Booksmiser in Marietta, Georgia

The Bodyguard by Katherine Center

A July 2022 Read This Next! Title

This was the perfect sweet, feel good and easy summer read! I fell in love with Hannah and Jack. Watching Hannah grow as a person was real life. It shows real is so much better than fake. Katherine Center did an amazing job meshing the worlds of security service and Hollywood. One of my favorite quotes in the book was, “Love is something you generate. And loving other people really does turn out, in the end, to be a genuine way of loving yourself.

The Bodyguard by Katherine Center, (List Price: $27.99, St. Martin’s Press, 9781250219398, July 2022)

Reviewed by Mandy Harris, Angel Wings Bookstore in Stem, North Carolina

TJ Powar Has Something to Prove by Jesmeen Kaur Deo

Powerhouse debater and soccer star TJ is considered one of the most beautiful girls at her school. But when a meme starts circulating comparing her flawless beauty to her Sikh cousin’s natural hairiness, TJ decides to ditch her hair-removal routines to show herself and the world that it’s possible to be both hairy and beautiful. The world, though, seems determined to prove her wrong — except her debate rival Charlie, who doesn’t seem to care at all. A fun, flirty story that couches a cutting criticism of societal beauty standards, handled in a way that will win over readers regardless of personal opinions.

TJ Powar Has Something to Prove by Jesmeen Kaur Deo, (List Price: $17.99, Viking Books for Young Readers, 9780593403396, June 2022)

Reviewed by Melissa Oates, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

Space Story by Fiona Ostby

This graphic novel combines three different storylines, each designated by one of the primary colors. There is a story of love, a story of loneliness, and a story of longing. Ostby’s unique use of color perfectly mirrors the emotions expressed within each storyline, and the manner in which they are intertwined feels like fitting puzzle pieces together.

Space Story by Fiona Ostby, (List Price: $16.99, West Margin Press, 9781513128757, June 2022)

Reviewed by Grace Quinn, Foggy Pine Books in Boone, North Carolina

Home Field Advantage by Dahlia Adler

Amazingly talented (and attractive) quarterback who’s new in school cheerleader destined to be captain of the squad = a story we all know. But what if the quarterback is a girl named Jack, and although she’s wildly talented, she’s also loathed by her new team, as well as everyone on the cheer squad — except for Amber, who falls for the new quarterback almost immediately. Coming out to her team risks jeopardizing her chance at becoming captain, so Amber has to think about what truly matters to her. I adored Amber and Jack and I loved their perfect high school romance

Home Field Advantage by Dahlia Adler, (List Price: $19.99, Wednesday Books, 9781250765840, June 2022)

Reviewed by Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Happily Ever Island by Crystal Cestari

Madison is a full-on Disney nerd. When she wins a trip to a new, fully immersive Disney vacation full of cosplay and magical Disney magic, she’s beyond excited. But when her girlfriend breaks up with her, she convinces her best friend to come instead. Lanie is not a Disney fan. She’s not a hater, she just is way less familiar than Madison. But she throws caution to the wind and goes anyway. Hopefully they’ll both get their Happily Ever After. This story was fun and crazy and this Disney nerd enjoyed every minute.

Happily Ever Island by Crystal Cestari, (List Price: $18.99, Disney-Hyperion, 9781368075473, June 2022)

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia

Spotlight on: You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi

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Akwaeke Emezi

“I meant to write just like a fluffy romance that didn’t have any heavier themes. Unfortunately, once I started writing Feyi all this darkness just kept unfolding…It shows all the facets of Feyi as a person—you have the version of her that’s doing rooftop parties and hooking up with people in the bathroom. And she’s still the same person who is an artist that’s working through her grief. I think it’s so important to show a Black woman who is all these things, and that you can be profane and promiscuous and that doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve a happily ever after.”” –Akwaeke Emezi, interview, Vogue

 

 

You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi

What booksellers are saying about You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty

  • This book is chock-full of lines that will pack a punch. Several times I would put the book down and just say, “wow”, out loud to myself. The tension was so masterfully built and whew! The payoff was very very good. Loved this and love that this genre is new territory for Emezi, but they are certainly not showing any novice tendencies. Such a fantastic read! ―Nyawira Nyota from Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, NC
    Buy from Page 158 Books

  • I absolutely loved this book. A sumptuous, sexy, fierce, and fresh romance that makes you feel like bursting out of your front door to take on life and all it has to offer. Emezi never ceases to amaze!   ―Carroll Gelderman from Garden District Book Shop in New Orleans, LA
    Buy from Garden District Book Shop

  • After reading Emezi’s collection of poems, Content Warning: Everything, I knew I had to join this romantic journey of what love after loss could really look like. This book turned out to be one of my favorite reads of all time. Emezi introduces us to Feyi Adekola so that we can explore how desire and grief just might inform one another. I can’t recommend this novel enough and am excited to continue reading Emezi’s diverse and expansive collection.   ―Eden Hakimzadeh from Oxford Exchange in Tampa, FL
    Buy from Oxford Exchange

  • This book is brutal. It is also stunning and heart wrenching and guttural and oh so tender. The story itself is flecked with gold- the prose is strung tightly across each page, unyielding and effortless, and the relationships forged on each page are both subtle and earth shattering. At once a story of grief, love, and a tribute to life and the time we have on this earth, You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty is guaranteed to make you think, cry, laugh, and then want to do it all over again.   ―Mary Louise Callaghan from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC
    Buy from Bookmarks

About Akwaeke Emezi

Akwaeke Emezi (they/them) is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Death of Vivek Oji, which was a finalist for the Dylan Thomas Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the PEN/Jean Stein Award; Pet, a finalist for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, a Walter Honor Book, and a Stonewall Honor Book; Freshwater, which was named a New York Times Notable Book and shortlisted for the PEN/Hemingway Award, the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award, the Lambda Literary Award, and the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize; and most recently, Dear Senthuran: A Black Spirit Memoir, which won the 2022 ALA Stonewall Prize for Best Nonfiction Book. Selected as a 5 Under 35 honoree by the National Book Foundation, they are based in liminal spaces.

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Breaking Time by Sasha Alsberg

Perfect for preteens and teens who want to read Outlander but probably shouldn’t. When Klara accidentally hits a mysterious Scotsman with her car, she has no idea the true intensity of the situation. Callum has stepped out of the 1500s to protect Klara, the last Pillar of Time, at all costs. An evil force is murdering the Pillars, greedy for the powers of the gods, and Klara and Callum are the only thing in his way. This was an amazing story that sucked me in. Alsberg uses imagery that truly puts the beauty of Scotland in your mind. She also writes character development extremely well. She does a great job building Callum’s acclimation to the modern world at the right pace, without making it cringey or a joke. Klara also has great development through the story, and you can see her heal and strengthen bonds she left unattended because of her mother’s death. Klara, despite having a man fated to protect her, is also allowed to be strong and fiercely independent. Throughout her relationship with Callum, she grows stronger, not weaker and submissive, like some YA main characters in a protected/protector situation.

Breaking Time by Sasha Alsberg, (List Price: $19.99, Inkyard Books, 9781335284891, June 2022)

Reviewed by Scarlett, The Snail on the Wall in Huntsville, Alabama

Spotlight on: Forging Silver into Stars by Brigid Kemmerer

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Brigid Kemmerer

There are a lot of layers to realistic romance. For me, I always start with an initial attraction. Physical attributes are obvious, and they do play a small role, but what I really mean is something that catches the other person’s attention in a surprising way. Is it an unexpected skill? Their tone of voice? The way they treat animals? All of the above? And then there are the opposites: challenges to overcome. Is someone stubborn? Angsty? Aloof? Are these challenges worth looking past? Just like people are multi-faceted, characters should be, too.”Brigid Kemmerer, interview, Beyond the Read

 

 

Forging Silver into Stars by Brigid Kemmerer

What booksellers are saying about Forging Silver into Stars

  • I loved the Cursebreaker trilogy and was so excited to return to the world! It was so much fun getting to know some of the side characters better from the original trilogy, and as always, the world-building was absolutely scrumptious! I stayed up wayyy past my bedtime to finish this and it was so worth it. ―Catherine Edmondson from Main Street Books in Davidson, NC
    Buy from Main Street Books

  • Forging Silver From Stars is Brigid Kemmerer at her best. Addictive, full of intrigue, twists, and tension. Fans of the Cursebreaker series will find this latest installment to the world to be a more than a worthy addition. To reuse a comment I’ve made about Brigid’s earlier books, which applies well to this one, too: think Game of Thrones for the younger set, infused with 100% more feminism.   ―Cristina Russell from Books & Books in Coral Gables, FL
    Buy from Books & Books

  • I hate to sound like a broken record but Brigid Kemmerer has done it again. Forging Silver into Stars is the perfect mix of characters we know and love from her Cursebreakers series and new characters we get to fall in love with for the first time. Brigid’s characters are ones I want to be friends with even on their bad days because she takes the time to let us get to know them in a flawed, honest, and hopeful way. I regretted every time life forced me to put it down. I couldn’t have enjoyed it more.   ―Rayna Nielsen from Blue Cypress Books in New Orleans, LA
    Buy from Blue Cypress Books

About Brigid Kemmerer

Brigid Kemmerer is the author of the New York Times bestseller Defy the Night, the New York Times bestselling Cursebreaker series, which includes A Curse So Dark and Lonely, A Heart So Fierce and Broken, and A Vow So Bold and Deadly, and Forging Silver into Stars. She has also written the contemporary young adult romances Call It What You Want, More Than We Can Tell, and Letters to the Lost, as well as paranormal young adult stories, including the Elemental series and Thicker Than Water. A full-time writer, Brigid lives in the Baltimore area with her family. http://www.brigidkemmerer.com @BrigidKemmerer

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Melt With You by Jennifer Dugan

Fallon would rather forget about her hookup with her BFF Chloe right before Chloe left for college, but her mom’s ice cream truck business has other plans. Fallon is a protagonist who is easy to cheer for, and I was so invested in the rivals-to-lovers, will-they-won’t-they romance. This is a delightful, perfect novel for summer, made even better by the ice cream puns.

Melt With You by Jennifer Dugan, (List Price: $17.99, G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 9780593112564, May 2022)

Reviewed by Chelsea Stringfield from Parnassus Books in Nashville, TN

Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan

A June 2022 Read This Next! Title!

Five starry-eyed stars for Nora Goes Off Script! Screenwriter Nora makes a living writing Hallmark style romance movies that stick to the formula that all rom com fans know and love. When she goes off script and writes a movie that deals with the harshness of real life, and based on her own heartbreak, she lands a box office movie deal. Next thing she knows, her movie is being filmed on her own property, starring sultry hot throb, Leo. As a recently divorced mother of two, Norah knows she needs to stay focused on her daily life of raising two children alone. This becomes much more difficult when Leo, who needs a mental break from the glare of fame, asks to pay rent to extend his stay after filming ends. My favorite part of Nora Goes Off Script is that I honestly didn’t know how it would end. Pins and needles! I loved the small town setting, Norah’s chance to start over after a bad marriage, and Norah’s children and best friends. Highly recommend!

Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan, (List Price: 27, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 9780593420034, June 2022)

Reviewed by Jessica Nock, Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina

Acts of Service by Lillian Fishman

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)

Reviewed by Yarah Elshaer, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

Tokyo Dreaming by Emiko Jean

Tokyo Dreaming is a breathtaking story that is so vividly written you will feel like you are walking next to Izumi as she navigates imperial life. Izumi has overcome so many challenges since discovering that her father is the Crown Prince Makotonomiya Toshihito of Japan. The transition from normal small town girl to Imperial princess has been difficult. Now Izumi’s mom has joined her in Japan, and they are living the happy family life that Izumi always dreamed of with her father. When Izumi’s father proposes to her mom, everyone is thrilled for the life that is to come. Everyone, except the Imperial council who has their doubts about the match. Izumi decides she will do whatever it takes to make sure her mom and dad have their happily ever after. But what will it cost her? Her future happiest, her friends, or even the true love of her life. Tokyo Dreaming continues the story that began with Tokyo Ever After. Perfect for fans of Sarah Kuhn’s I love you so Mochi, Katherine McGee’s American Royal, or Meg Cabot’s Princess Diaries.

Tokyo Dreaming by Emiko Jean, (List Price: $18.99, Flatiron Books, 9781250766632, May 2022)

Reviewed by Gretchen Shuler, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi

A May 2022 Read This Next! Selection

Y’all, oh my GOD. Akwaeke Emezi has done it again and I love it so much. It is hot and messy and hot-messy and addicting. I thrive on drama and this novel delivers! Forget love triangles, this is a love star, five different points criss-crossing into something bright and beautiful and a little bit hard to look at. As fun and exciting as it is, it also touches on trauma and recovery, self-growth, and love. Utterly heart-wrenching and belly-laughter-inducing.

You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi, (List Price: $27, Atria Books, 9781982188702, May 2022)

Reviewed by Laney Sheehan from Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Book Lovers by Emily Henry

A May 2022 Read This Next! Selection

Emily Henry has done it again and stolen my heart completely with her two main leads. In this one, a literary agent and a book editor end up stuck together in his tiny hometown, which happens to be the whimsical setting in the bestselling book she agents for– one he gave a scathing rejection to upon their very first meeting. It’s a “we think we’re enemies” but are actually idiots-to-lovers who perfectly fit each other kind of story. Henry is the unquestioned queen of banter, but this is probably her wittiest, most laugh-out-loud funny book to date. I had so much fun reading BOOK LOVERS.

Book Lovers by Emily Henry, (List Price: $17, Berkley, 9780593334836, May 2022)

Reviewed by Cristina Russell from Books & Books in Coral Gables, Florida

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