The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

Women

Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

I loved the characters in this book especially Civil Townsend. She was my hero! I remember reading about the true story this book is based on and feeling what a tragedy that something like this could happen. This story brought to life the real-life trauma of the two young girls the story is based on. I loved the way Civil championed their cause, and I felt her pain when things would go sideways. I recommend reading this book to anyone who is interested in justice.

Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez, (List Price: $27.00, Penguin Random House, 9780593337691, April 2022)

Reviewed by Cheryl Lafaye Lee, 44th & 3rd Bookseller in Atlanta, Georgia

Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult

A thought-provoking and riveting look at the difference between keeping things secret and keeping things private. Mad Honey is told in alternating voices and timelines by Olivia, the mother of Asher, and Lily, Asher’s new to town girlfriend. Both Olivia and Lily are familiar with starting over. Olivia by leaving an abusive husband and Lily by moving for her last year of high school. When Lily is found dead, all eyes focus on Asher as a likely suspect. The layers of both Lily and Olivia’s lives are revealed as the investigation and trial bring long-held secrets to light. This is a page-turner that will leave you wondering how far you would go to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult, (List Price: $29.99, Ballantine Books, 9781984818386, October 2022)

Reviewed by Mary Jane Michels, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

Spotlight on: How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water by Angie Cruz

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Angie Cruz Photo Credit Erika Morillo

In this moment of despair, while I was waiting on a crowded subway platform – I saw this woman in her late 50s teaching herself English. She held this kind of handbook and reminded me so much of my tías, my grandmother – all these women in my life who were laid off during the Great Recession in 2007. After working in the same factory for over 25 years, they were supposed to start over again. They had a lot to offer, but to go on a job interview is something they’d never done before. Thinking about this compelled me to go online and look up the most popular interview questions. I downloaded interview questions, and Cara Romero came to life. I heard her say, “You want to know something about my life? I’ll tell you about my life. I came to this country because my husband wanted to kill me.” ―Angie Cruz, Interview,Dominican Writers

 

How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water by Angie Cruz

What booksellers are saying about How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water

  • Cara Romero wants to work. She is drawing unemployment but must check in with a job counselor and at each of her meetings she tells of the issues she had and is having in her life which keep her from getting a job. She is truly a good person and helps her neighbors any time she is needed. Stay with this book and Cara’s stories because the end is worth it!―Beth Carpenter from The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina
    Buy from The Country Bookshop

  • Cara Romero wants to work on everything and everyone but herself. She is strident, self-aware, and always always always focused on survival, trusting herself above any other human. She loves hard and takes care of the people she thinks are worse off than herself, often at her own expense. Sbe embodies what it is to live within layers of self-protection, every layer as loving as it is hard, and be confronted with the shortcomings of such an existence. Told in a series of interviews and reproductions of various paperwork (job applications, job openings, aptitude tests, etc), Cruz has created an emotional wringer of a book as unwavering as its protagonist. With an exquisite voice that is hilarious, bleak, and absolutely formidable, How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water is an expertly woven character study so bigger than itself.
      ―Miranda Sanchez from Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews in Chapel Hill, North Carolina
    Buy from Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews

  • I would not have thought Angie Cruz could outdo herself, but I was completely wrong. I loved Dominicana and felt so connected to the protagonist. She’s done it again with a woman in a similar situation but a completely different stage of life. Told through a set of interviews as an aging woman desperately seeks work, this is a story so full of heart you will not be able to walk away unaffected. In parts funny and tragic, this is a gorgeous portrait of life in America.  ―Jamie Southern from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
    Buy from Bookmarks

About Angie Cruz

Angie Cruz is the author of the novels Soledad, Let It Rain Coffee, and Dominicana, which was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize and a Good Morning America Book Club pick. She is founder and editor in chief of Aster(ix), a literary and arts journal, and is an associate professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh.

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Sweet, Soft, Plenty Rhythm by Laura Warrell

Sweet, Soft, Plenty Rhythm reads like smooth jazz music, with a full cast of interlocking characters creating a complex harmony that I could not get enough of. Circus Palmer is our main character, an aging and floundering jazz musician who charms and cheats on the women in his life. Never have I wanted so badly to grab a character by the shoulders and shake some sense into him! The women truly take center stage in this story, loved and abandoned by Circus in turns. The narrative was full of angst, but the ending was sweet and redemptive. Fans of Luster and Red At The Bone will love this one.

Sweet, Soft, Plenty Rhythm by Laura Warrell, (List Price: $28, Pantheon, 9780593316443, September 2022)

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

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

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