The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

Women

Mustique Island by Sarah McCoy

Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night meets Fantasy Island in this beautifully written story about family, love, and loss. Set on a private island in the Caribbean during the 1970’s, Willy May Michaels, a wealthy divorcee, moves to the luxurious playground for the rich, engaging in numerous soirées with the likes of Princess Margaret, Colin Tennant, and Mick Jagger. She is later joined by her troubled daughter Hilly, a fashion model whose actions summon Willy May’s oldest daughter, Joanne. Their relationship to date, has been strained, but as the daughters begin to understand their mother and each other, the seemingly glamorous life on Mustique begins to unravel as they face the most difficult storm any of them have ever faced.

This character-driven novel explores many facets of mother-daughter and sibling relationships revealing that it’s never too late to deal with pain of the past. The discoveries that Willy May, Hilly, and Joanne make are precious, and their bond is strengthened through tragedy

Mustique Island by Sarah McCoy, (List Price: $27.99, William Morrow, 9780062984371, April 2022)

Reviewed by Sharon Davis, Book Bound Bookstore in Blairsville, Georgia

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

Such Big Dreams by Reema Patel

This book was beautiful. Rakhi was such a carefully crafted character with such a distinct voice. The novel has a sense of place and identity that is wholly it’s own and immensely compelling. The book speaks to poverty and voluntourism and privilege and hypocrisy while maintaining a focus on character and story. It paints upon a setting that unblinkingly presents both the beauty and the injustice of Bombay, and it presents Rakhi as she is—fiery and smart and insightful and honest. This is a perspective that needs to be heard and is so dignifying to its subject. I can’t recommend this book highly enough—I love a book that speaks honestly to the injustices of the world while completely holding its own as a literary work.

Such Big Dreams by Reema Patel, (List Price: $27, Ballantine Books, 9780593499504, April 2022)

Reviewed by Becca Sloan, Novel in Memphis, Tennessee

Just Like Mother by Anne Heltzel

OMG this book a WILD ride! It is practically a guarantee that I will thoroughly enjoy just about any book that involves cults… but a cult centered out reproduction and motherhood? Holy moly count me in. What really stood out to me about Just Like Mother (and what I believe sets it apart from other reproductive-themed thrillers) was how it features a child-free protagonist and explores the many layers of being a woman who decides to not have children. To a cult of women who deify motherhood as the pinnacle of being, who is a woman that rejects motherhood? A radical, a traitor, and a threat to their entire identity and ethos. The sense of dread and tension that permeates and persists throughout the entire story really is fantastic. Every moment that I was listening to the audiobook, my stomach was turning with the feeling that some horrible, terrible, ever-worsening doom was just around the corner. I definitely recommend this one to fans of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Joanne Ramos’s The Farm, and to anyone who has been searching for a child-free perspective in the reproductive thriller genre!

Just Like Mother by Anne Heltzel, (List Price: $26.99, Tor Nightfire, 9781250787514, May 2022)

Reviewed by Caroline Barbee, Friendly City Books in Columbus, Mississippi

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

The Book Woman’s Daughter by Kim Michele Richardson

A May 2022 Read This Next! Selection

Kim Michele Richardson has given us another wonderful story about the packhorse librarians of Kentucky. In this book, we move forward sixteen years to the early 1950’s and are introduced to Honey Lovett, daughter of Cussy Mary, who must pick up her mother’s library route when her parents are jailed due to the laws prohibiting their mixed-race marriage. Through Honey’s story, we meet new characters and revisit old friends that help her as she delivers books in and out of the hollers, fights for her independence as a young working woman, and struggles to bring attention to the plight of her parents. Kim Michele Richardson writes beautifully about a landscape and a people that has deep and personal meaning to her and that is one of the reasons she is so successful and so loved by her readers. This book is highly recommended!

The Book Woman’s Daughter by Kim Michele Richardson, (List Price: $16.99, Sourcebooks Landmark, 9781728242590, May 2022)

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

The Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner

A delightful read about the unbreakable resolve women must have in order to overcome adversity and thrive!

This novel is a follow-up  to The Jane Austen Society but can be read as a stand alone. The story follows three women who all end up working at Bloomsbury Bookstore in London. All three have faced failure and adversity, but find comfort and strength at Bloomsbury Books. As the story unfolds, readers find how each woman ended up at the store, and how each one begins to change after the store manger suffers a heart attack and is rendered homebound for a few weeks. During his convalescence, the women work together to have one of the most successful events and more sales than the store has ever seen.

Once the manager returns, however, things go back to the same mundane events and the store suffers a sharp decline in sales. Meanwhile, one of the women has found a rare, first edition book that she’s been searching for since her days at University. This discovery allows the women the leverage they need to improve their lives and allow them to bring the store to its full potential.

The Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner, (List Price: $27.99, St. Martin’s Press, 9781250276698,  May 2022)

Reviewed by Sharon Davis, Book Bound Bookstore in Blairsville, Georgia

Sister Stardust by Jane Green

I inhaled this book in a day! If you loved Daisy Jones and the Six you will adore this book based on Talitha Getty and her husband as they lived the sex, drugs and abundantly hippie lifestyle. Told through the naive eyes of a girl who happened on the scene after being thrown out of her home by her evil step-mother, this takes you behind the scenes to what it was really like. “Close” friendships and love affairs are not what they seem and the lifestyle can only burn out. The ride you are on with this book is incredible. Fun introspective read.

Sister Stardust by Jane Green, (List Price: $26.99, Hanover Square Press, 9781335425782,  April 2022)

Reviewed by Suzanne Lucey from Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, NC

The Book Woman’s Daughter by Kim Michele Richardson

Whether as a stand-alone read or for already die-hard fans of The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, The Book Woman’s Daughter delivers! Honey, the original book woman’s daughter, must struggle to stay free against what seem often insurmountable odds against her: from being a “blue” to being fifteen, and unfortunately perhaps most, for being female in a time and place where women were considered property. Amidst loss and persecution, she must forge a path for hersef through the dense woods of Kentucky’s Appalachia Kentucky. Beautiful, evocative, and full of adventure, this book also shines a light on the gifts of friendship, no matter the appearance of the package. I loved this book every bit as much as Troublesome Creek, and look forward to sharing it with eager readers, just as Honey shares her love of books with her reading community… another fine work by Kim Michele Richardson!

The Book Woman’s Daughter by Kim Michele Richardson, (List Price: $26.99, Sourcebooks Landmark, 9781728252995,  May 2022)

Reviewed by Shari Stauch, Main Street Reads in Summerville, South Carolina

The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth

The twists, the turns, the traumas! A family tale of suspense that hooks the reader from page one. Hepworth creates a world of privilege and ease where nothing is what it seems including your own perceptions.

The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth, (List Price: $28.99, St. Martin’s Press, 9781250229618,  April 2022)

Reviewed by Susan Williams, M Judson Booksellers and Storytellers in Greenville, South Carolina

Linea Nigra by Jazmina Barrera

This slim volume navigates Barrera’s pregnancy, birth, and those first shattering days of early motherhood. In snippets reminiscent of the short breaks in between wakings and feedings, Barrera interweaves her reading life and lived life, creating a poignant primer that will be a kindred comfort and stalwart courage to any reader. Linea Nigra is a rich record of a life steeped in feminist art, revealing intersections in the body and the world; the individual and the collective.

Linea Nigra by Jazmina Barrera, (List Price: $21.95, Two Lines Press, 9781949641301,  May 2022)

Reviewed by Hannah DeCamp, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle

Imagine the tragic cancer death of your mother when she is your best friend—the real love of your life…and then imagine you find her alive again and she is happy and healthy and only thirty years old. This happens when Katy travels to Italy on a trip she and her mother Carol planned. How could this be? Katy is utterly devastated when her mom dies and she doesn’t know how she can go on with life without her. Rebecca Serle’s description of the beauty of Postano’s cliffs and ocean views makes the reader join Katy and taste the amazing food at every Italian meal. The sudden appearance of her mother Carol as a young vibrant woman is shocking. Is it really her mother in her youth? Is Katy so heartbroken that she just imagines it? This unforgettable love story will leave the reader thinking about family bonds and wondering how one would react to such an event. It is a story that will stay with you long after the last page.

One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle, (List Price: $27.00, Atria Books, 9781982166793,  March 2022)

Reviewed by Nancy Pierce, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia

Listening Still by Anne Griffin

Simply beautiful! This is the story of Jeanie Masterson, who can hear the newly dead, and it is not cheesy or cliché or gimmicky; it is beautiful in its entirety. I had the pleasure of listening to an advanced copy of this, narrated by Nicola Coughlan, which only elevated my experience with this book. Kudos to Coughlan who incorporated small pauses and breaths and the sound of tears in one’s eyes, during dialogue, creating realistic-sounding conversation. The production studio’s attention to detail was on point as well, as characters who were on the other end of a phone call sounded tinny and small. Really well done!

Listening Still by Anne Griffin, (List Price: 27.99, St. Martin’s Press, 9781250200617, March 2022)

Reviewed by Jill Naylor, Novel. in Memphis, Tennessee

Spotlight on: Weather Girl by Rachel Lynn Solomon

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Rachel Lynn Solomon

"I really enjoy writing girls that aren’t nice. I don’t know what it says about me that they’re easy to write! I just think that girls don’t get as much permission or as much forgiveness to be this range of different things."Rachel Lynn Solomon (via Kirkus)

Weather Girl

What booksellers are saying about Weather Girl

  • Weather Girl has become an automatic cozy romance favorite for me, much like The Ex Talk. Ari and Russell are so lovable, and this story is full of all the heart, nuance, swoons and steam I’ve come to expect from Rachel Lynn Solomon.. ― Cristina Russell from Books & Books in Coral Gables, FL
    Buy from Books & Books

  • Is it too early to say that this will be one of the best romances of 2022? Rachel Lynn Solomon blew me away with this thoughtful romance. I loved the frank yet careful way Solomon dealt with so many real-world hurdles to finding love in adulthood: everything from depression to religion (both characters are Jewish) to single parenthood to having sex with a new person for the first time in a long while. Solomon is quickly becoming one of my favorite romance novelists, and I know Weather Girl is a book I’ll return to again and again. ―Kate Storhoff from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC
    Buy from Bookmarks

  • This sweet romance does a great job of highlighting some areas that you don’t see a lot of in romcoms: Judaism, depression, and a larger man with a smaller woman. Each item doesn’t feel heavy-handed or preachy, but is handled so well, making this a great read!   ―Jennifer Jones from Bookmiser, Inc. in Marietta, GA
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About Rachel Lynn Solomon

Rachel Lynn Solomon writes, tap dances, and collects lipstick in Seattle, Washington. She is the author of the YA novels You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone, Our Year of Maybe, and the forthcoming Today Tonight Tomorrow (June 2020). Her debut adult romantic comedy, The Ex Talk, was published in spring 2021

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Spotlight on: The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina by Zoraida Córdova

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Zoraida Córdova

"Every book I write is for myself. My YA is for my teen self, who hungered for magical stories. My middle grade is for the painfully shy kid I once was, one who wanted adventure. My adult romance is for the version of myself that denies being a romantic (though I am). The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina is for the person I am now. . I wanted to pose the question, ‘What price would you pay for survival?’” –Zoraida Córdova via Bookpage

 

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The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina

What booksellers are saying about The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina

  • Cordova’s writing echoes the great Gabriel Garcia Marquez in this epic family tale that sweeps across countries and time. I loved the atmospheric quality of the book and the incredible beauty of her writing. ― Jamie Southern from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC
    Buy from Bookmarks

  • If you thought your family tree was complicated, wait till you meet the Montoyas. When their grandmother Orquídea summons them to collect their inheritance, they don’t realize they’re about to dive into a family history of magic, loss, and resilience. ―Abby Rice from Foggy Pine Books in Boone, NC
    Buy from Foggy Pine Books

  • I absolutely loved this book from start to finish. I was so intrigued with Orquidea Devina and the magical force surrounding her that I hardly wanted to put this book down, because I needed to hurriedly piece together all of the interconnected pieces. Blending a bit of mystery and fantasy, Zoraida Cordova does an excellent job developing this story with complex multi-generational characters connected by magical roots that make them stronger together than they ever are apart!   ―Nicole Granville, The Snail on the Wall in Huntsville, AL
    Buy from Snail on the Wall

  • A playfully mesmerizing, meaningful story about family! The matriarch, Orquidea Divina, summons her relatives from far and wide to attend her funeral and to receive their inheritance. But the inheritance is not what everyone expected, nor is the funeral anything ordinary. Over the next several years, secrets are revealed and special gifts are given, and each one must figure out how they want to live their lives individually and as a family. Magical, fun and heart-warming! ―Cathy Graham from Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda, FL
    Buy from Copperfish Books

  • The cosmic battle between good and evil plays out, not on the grand scale, but within a family where love, longing and belonging have consequences beyond the ordinary. This enchanting tale of magical realism grabs the reader from the first page and doesn’t let go. With unforgettable characters and surprises twisting like stems and roots throughout the story, this book is almost impossible to put down. (OK, I got so involved, I totally forgot my husband and I were going out, until he came to get me.) For fans of Isabel Allende and Erin Morgenstern. ―Lia Lent from Wordsworth Books in Little Rock, AR
    Buy from Wordsworth Books

About Zoraida Córdova

Zoraida Córdova is the acclaimed author of more than a dozen novels and short stories, including the Brooklyn Brujas series, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge: A Crash of Fate, and The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina. In addition to writing novels, she serves on the board of We Need Diverse Books, is the coeditor of the bestselling anthology Vampires Never Get Old, and is the cohost of the writing podcast Deadline City. She writes romance novels as Zoey Castile. Zoraida was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and calls New York City home. When she’s not working, she’s roaming the world in search of magical stories. For more information, visit her at ZoraidaCordova.com.

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