The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

Young Adult Fiction

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

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

Kings of B’more by R. Eric Thomas

This is truly a novel for both teens and adults. I’m Gen X and saw Ferris Bueller’s Day Off in the theater back in the day and absolutely loved this plot! R. Eric captures the essence of teen friendship – how it really is your whole world once you start getting ready to fly the nest. His characters all have really interesting relationships with both peers and parents – no one is having the same experience yet they are all listening to and supporting one another. R. Eric is the funniest man on earth, and I knew I’d love this book.

Kings of B’more by R. Eric Thomas, (List Price: $18.99, Kokilas, 9780593326183, May 2022)

Reviewed by Sissy Gardner, Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee

These Fleeting Shadows by Kate Alice Marshall

I absolutely adore beautifully written horror. There’s something amazing about taking something that should be absolutely terrifying and finding a way to write it so beautifully that it could be poetry. Yet despite the beautiful prose, I was still chilled to my bones. These Fleeting Shadows was dripping with beautiful pain and chills. This is the perfect release to snuggle up with on a dark and foggy night, but only if you’re sure your house is safe from everything that might go bump in the shadows. Helen and her family are well written as well as intriguing.

These Fleeting Shadows by Kate Alice Marshall, (List Price: $18.99, Viking Books for Young Readers, 9780593405116, August 2022)

Reviewed by Katlin Kerrison, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia

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 Truly Assumed by Laila Sabreen

Filled with a neat balance of relatable humor and serious topics, You Truly Assumed is a memorable coming-of-age novel that touches on the struggles of three black, Muslim young women and their fight to create a safe space and a voice to be heard for people just like them. You Truly Assumed is the perfect novel for teens or young adults who feel they don’t have a voice in the face of prejudice and fear, as it features funny, relatable characters and the raw effects of real events.

You Truly Assumed by Laila Sabreen, (List Price: $18.99, Inkyard Press, 9781335418654,  February 2022)

Reviewed by Makayla Summers, Main Street Reads in Summerville, South Carolina

Our Crooked Hearts by Melissa Albert

This book had me in its CLUTCHES. I read the last half at break neck speed, bewitched. This deliciously creepy and darkly magical story follows a daughter (now, in the suburbs) and her mother around the same age (the 1990s, in the city) as each encounters an ability that may prove as sinister as it is supernatural. Powerful witchcraft, a (literally) haunting past, and wicked twists will keep your own crooked heart beating as fast as you can flip the final pages.

Our Crooked Hearts by Melissa Albert, (List Price: $18.99, Flatiron Books, 9781250826367, June 2022)

Reviewed by Megan Bell, Underground Books in Carrollton, Georgia

The Big Reveal by Jen Larsen

Addie is a fat dancer, and proud of it–not letting her peers or anybody else allow her to feel shame or inferiority because of her body. She has a group of truly excellent friends, who throughout the book are self-affirming, endlessly supportive, and outright hilarious. I wish I’d had anything close to these friends when I was in high school. Scratch that, I wish I had these friends now. Together, they hatch a plan to financially support Addie’s potential post-graduation job with a dance company in Milan that involves an underground burlesque show, and through it, Addie discovers the self-affirming and body-positive power of burlesque, which she and her friends had previously cast aside as creative stripping. But she also has, and does, stand up to misogyny, slut-shaming, and fatphobia from her peers and superiors, and Larsen is truly excellent at illustrating exactly how internalized bigotry can hurt you even when you think you love who you are, just because we live in a world where anything that isn’t the default is constantly assumed to be aberrant. The best YA I’ve read all year!!

The Big Reveal by Jen Larsen, (List Price: $17.99, 9781250252173, December 2021)

Reviewed by Akil Guruparan, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Medusa by Jessie Burton

Burton’s feminist retelling of Medusa is filled with wonderful illustrations, and a story with which we’re all somewhat familiar. Medusa has been exiled to a remote island with her two sisters. But they are immortal and have wings, so Medusa’s existence is fairly lonely. But one day, a beautiful boy named Perseus arrives by boat and he and Medusa strike up a friendship, talking while each is on the other side of a giant rock. They each find themselves heartbroken, telling the other their story.

Medusa by Jessie Burton, (List Price: $19.99, Bloomsbury YA, 9781547607594, January 2022)

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia

Anatomy: A Love Story by Dana Schwartz

Anatomy: A Love Story is a dark and deadly tale about just how far you’d go to achieve your dreams in a world designed for you to fail. I fell in love with Hazel and Jack. This was a gothic story of resurrection men and women surgeons in disguise that had me guessing until the last moment.

Anatomy: A Love Story by Dana Schwartz, (List Price: $18.99, Wednesday Books, 9781250774156, January 2022)

Reviewed by Katlin Kerrison, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia

The Ivory Key by Akshaya Raman

Families are hard to live with, even more so when it seems like everything you do tears you apart further. The Ivory Key opens with a family torn asunder, tossed to four separate lives, yet they’re still as connected as ever, and they need each other, even though they refuse to admit it. I loved every single second of this book, but mostly, I loved the realistic nature of every relationship. I loved that the true backbone of this story was a family, that even though the plot was something much greater than them, they were the most important thing. Raman has a gift for storytelling, and it shines brightly from within the pages of The Ivory Key.

The Ivory Key by Akshaya Raman, (List Price: 18.99, Clarion Books, 9780358468332, January 2022

Reviewed by Caitlyn Vanorder, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

When You Get the Chance by Emma Lord

Millie’s summer is turned upside down when she finds her father’s old Livejournal that hints at her absent mother’s identity. Already obsessed with Mamma Mia! and all things Broadway, Millie tracks down three women and wedges herself into their lives. With a great cast of secondary characters and a slow-burn romance, Millie’s journey of self-discovery and growth is a delightful read.

When You Get the Chance by Emma Lord, (List Price: $18.99, Wednesday Books, 9781250783349, January 2022)

Reviewed by Chelsea Stringfield, Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee

Dreams Lie Beneath by Rebecca Ross

Clementine is a dream warden apprentice to her father until two usurpers show up one day and tear her dreams apart. Now her only concern is getting revenge. But when she finds that the men who stole her role have deeper motives that entangle her father and family, she has to tread more carefully than she ever expected. I absolutely loved Dreams Lie Beneath! This is one of those books that even the minor characters are lively, so much so that I found myself more fascinated with them than the main characters! All in all, this will be perfect for any YA fans of magical mystery.

Dreams Lie Beneath by Rebecca Ross, (List Price: Greystone Kids, 9780063015920, November 2021)

Reviewed by Katlin Kerrison, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia


The Nobleman’s Guide to Scandal and Shipwrecks by Mackenzi Lee

It’s finally here! The third and final installment of the Montague siblings has arrived, and it is well worth the wait! The Nobleman’s Guide to Scandal and Shipwrecks introduces you to Adrian Montague, the youngest of the Montague siblings, and the only one who is completely unaware that he has siblings. When Adrian discovers a partial spy glass that belonged to his mother, questions arise: Where did this spy glass come from And did it have anything to do with his mother’s death?

While searching for answers, Adrian stumbles across Henry “Monty” Montague, the brother Adrian never knew he had. Adrian is delighted and curious to discover more about his brother, but Monty wants nothing to do with him. Yet after some persuasion, Monty decides to assist Adrian on this quest for answers. Adrian and Monty now find themselves embarking on a journey to find their sister Felicity and discover the secrets of the spy glass. But as always, a simple task for the Montague siblings will take a Herculean effort to keep them out of trouble and alive. The Nobleman’s Guide to Scandal and Shipwrecks is one of the best books I have read this year. It’s filled with laughter, very relatable characters, mystery, and ghosts. Mackenzi Lee has created a historical world that takes the reader into the past and gives us characters that we can recognize and relate to.

The Nobleman’s Guide to Scandal and Shipwrecks by Mackenzi Lee, (List Price: $18.99, Katherine Tegen Books, 9780062916013, November 2021)

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

Every Line of You by Naomi Gibson

Lydia has no choice but to turn to her passion for programming when her whole family becomes either dead or estranged. She fabricates an AI, named after her deceased brother, who makes hacking incredibly easier while comforting her when no one else will. However, Lydia could never predict just how advanced–and sentient–her AI would become. Gibson takes a unique approach with the topic of grief in this science fiction novel. Lydia is given great depth as we explore her realistic, complex feelings and motives. This is an intriguing story about coping with personal loss and finding friendship in the most unlikely of ways.

Every Line of You by Naomi Gibson, (List Price: $18.99, Chicken House, 9781338726589, November 2021)

Reviewed by Flyleaf Books YA Advisory Board, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

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