The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

Women

Sugar and Salt by Susan Wiggs

I so enjoyed reading this book. The story centers around Margie Slinas/Margo Salton and jumps from present to past to see how Margie evolved into a first rate barbecue chef named Margot. She decides to open a barbecue restaurant and names it Salt. Margot shares the building with a bakery named Sugar. She begins a relationship with one of the owners, Jerome. As their relationship progresses and Margot starts to fall in love with Jerome, she know it’s time to tell him about her past as Marjorie Salinas. While some of the parts of the book were a bit rough, it was a great story filled with love and redemption.

Sugar and Salt by Susan Wiggs, (List Price: $27.99, William Morrow, 9780062914224, July 2022)

Reviewed by Pam Crawford, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia

Other Birds by Sarah Addison Allen

An August 2022 Read This Next! Title

A poignant tale of wounded souls and their accompanying ghosts finding each other. Tinged with magic, interlaced with loss and longing, each character’s story unfolds in layers creating an intricate puzzle that teases and delights. A must read for fans of magical realism.!

Other Birds by Sarah Addison Allen, (List Price: $27.99, St. Martin’s Press, 9781250019868, August 2022)

Reviewed by Jan Blodgett, Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina

Acts of Violet by Margarita Montimore

Subatomic super particles, string theory, parallel worlds, metaphysical, OBE—out-of-body-experience and different dimensions…. not many authors take their readers on such a tale as this paranormal story of a magician disappearing during a performance. Violet Volk disappeared a decade ago right in front of her audience and hasn’t been seen since. Her sister Sasha and Violet’s followers are still looking for answers. Is she alive? Was she really a psychic spy for the CIA? Does she exist in another dimension? Readers will not be able to put down this book as they read about the family situations and the magic that entwines this story.

Acts of Violet by Margarita Montimore, (List Price: $27.99, Flatiron Books, 9781250815064, July 2022)

Reviewed by Nancy Pierce, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia

Elsewhere by Alexis Schaitkin

I loved Saint X so when I saw Elsewhere I knew it had to go home with me. This book is masterfully done in her hands. With a similar tone to Handmaids Tale you will follow Vera through her little town where mothers go missing for no reason. It is just the way things are. What happens when she goes? So good!

Elsewhere by Alexis Schaitkin, (List Price: $26.99, Celadon, 9781250219633, June 2022)

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

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

Dele Weds Destiny by Tomi Obaro

Three women have shared a bond for decades. When they are reunited for one of their daughter’s weddings, the past comes back in a rush. The story is told in flashbacks and present day in a way that helps them reconcile where they have ended up and where they once dreamed they’d go. A timeless examination of all the dreams you hold for yourself, the dreams your parents and others have for you, and how much you are able to follow your heart.

Dele Weds Destiny by Tomi Obaro, (List Price: $27, Knopf, 9780593320297, June 2022)

Reviewed by Jamie Southern, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

In Every Mirror She’s Black by Lolá Ákínmádé Åkerström

Åkerström invites the reader into the complex and dynamic interior worlds of three Black women, with varying levels of privilege and proximity to whiteness, as they navigate the novel’s locations of America and Sweden. By following each of their unique and dynamic journeys, we learn about how our their intimate relationships reflect back the love and care they have learned to believe they deserve through social cues and cultural reminders. A story that paints landscapes of love and loss invites all readers to consider: if home is a feeling, how will you know you’ve found it? An extraordinary and fast-paced novel that I can not wait to recommend both solo and book club readers!

In Every Mirror She’s Black by Lolá Ákínmádé Åkerström, (List Price: $16.99, Sourcebooks Landmark, 9781728253169, June 2022)

Reviewed by Eden Hakimzadeh, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

Jobs for Girls with Artistic Flair by June Gervais

This book felt like it was written just for me. As a queer female artist with some basic tattoo experience, I immediately identified with Gina – her initial timidity, her frustration with being talked over and manipulated by men who should have guided and protected her, and especially her love of the weird. The description of her wild flash and her love for drawing gave me goosebumps. The book’s pacing and tension-building are excellent – the stakes kept getting higher and higher for Gina, until I was ready to leap into the pages and go to war for her. That steady turn of the screw kept the story feeling fresh and dynamic, and the characters kept me invested. Gina is relatable, likeable, and has some great emotional growth. Her brother Dominic is endearing and frustrating. Her mom is a heartbreaking mix of maddening and manipulative but still sympathetic. Every character has their own charm and their own faults. They feel real. You want things to work out for them and you ache when they struggle. Everything about their interactions felt natural and believable. I also have to give major props to the author for all the accurate tattooing details – she knows her stuff! Using autoclaves, calibrating machines, fixing errors (yikes!), practicing on pig feet and oranges, the hazing, the environment, the amount of energy and dedication it takes to make tattooing a career – she nailed it all. Dominic’s shop came to life because it was written by someone who KNOWS. That makes me happier than I can say. Basically, read this book. If you’re into stories of young women fighting for their place in the world, you’ll like it. If you want bisexual representation, here you go. If you’re interested in art and/or tattoos, you’ll love it. If you’re anything like me, you’ll feel seen.

Jobs for Girls with Artistic Flair by June Gervais, (List Price: $26, Pamela Dorman Books, 9780593298794, June 2022)

Rachel Derise, Friendly City Books in Columbus, Mississippi

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

It All Comes Down to This by Therese Anne Fowler

A June 2022 Read This Next! Title!

In the forward Therese writes that the book is for everyone, including herself, who needed some brightness during a dark time. At the beginning I felt like there was anything but brightness in this book. First there was the big secret that Marti Geller had been keeping from her family, then her death and subsequent burden she placed on her three daughters and then the obvious unhappiness that each of her daughters had been experiencing. As usual, Fowler’s writing pulls you right in to the lives of the Geller sisters and gives a very believable look at how each sister has lived their lives because they thought that was what was expected of them and because they didn’t understand what it meant to be true to themselves and what they wanted. I loved the very believable scenes between sisters – the jealousy, the selfishness, the misunderstandings and eventually their forgiveness. It is a story of fate, love, second chances and finally realizing that being true to yourself is the ultimate way to happiness. This book was a well-needed breath of fresh air in my reading.

It All Comes Down to This by Therese Anne Fowler, (List Price: $27.99, St. Martin’s Press, 9781250278074, June 2022)

Reviewed by Nancy McFarlane, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

By Her Own Design by Piper Huguley

Ann Cole Lowe was a dress designer to Olivia de Haviland, Jacqueline Bouvier and other high society women. But she was born a black woman in Alabama whose mother and grandmother sewed for high society and learned her trade from them. Finding a white benefactress in Tampa, Ann begins her own design career that eventually takes her to NY. What a great novel of a talented black woman who succeeds through hard work.

By Her Own Design by Piper Huguley, (List Price: $16.99, William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780063059740, June 2022)

Reviewed by Beth Carpenter, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina

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

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