The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

Young Adult Fiction

One Last Shot: Based on a True Story of Wartime Heroism by Kip Wilson

Kip Wilson’s novel in verse about photojournalist Gerda Tardo captures her passion for revealing truth through photography. It sweeps the reader from Gerda’s school days in Germany to the front lines in the Spanish Civil War. A compelling read.

One Last Shot: Based on a True Story of Wartime Heroism by Kip Wilson, (List Price: $17.99, Versify, 9780063251687, January 2023)

Reviewed by Rae Ann Parker, Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee

Out of Character by Jenna Miller

What a delightful YA debut! Out of Character is pitched as Julie Murphy meets Ashley Poston — a high bar to meet, but this book reaches and even surpasses that bar! I adored Cass Williams, who is nerdy, fat, and queer, and completely comfortable with all but the first point. Her parents are getting divorced, she has her first girlfriend, and she’s not doing well in school, but her online role-playing community is what keeps her going — except no one in her real life knows about her online friends. I loved seeing Cass’s two lives come together and watching her grow. I can’t wait to see what Jenna Miller writes next!

Out of Character by Jenna Miller, (List Price: $17.99, Quill Tree Books, 9780063243323, February 2023)

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

I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston

On the cusp of graduation, being named valedictorian, and escaping her small town, Chloe Green is counting down the days. That is, until her academic rival Shara Wheeler kisses her and then disappears, leaving only pink envelopes in her wake. Full of wit, charm, and heart, I Kissed Shara Wheeler fits perfectly into the pantheon of contemporary YA.

I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston (List Price: $19.99, Wednesday Books, 9781250244451, May 2022)

Reviewed by Chelsea Stringfield, Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee

A Ruinous Fate by Kaylie Smith

A Ruinous Fate is an explosion of a beginning of what is sure to be an amazing fantasy series. Calla, cursed with magic she’s terrified of, is now forced to take her friends with her as they try to undo her fate. This has everything a fantasy reader could ever want, authentic-feeling queer characters, found family, love triangles gone awry, charming jerks, and of course, forced proximity abounds! What else could someone need? If you love a good found family story with your fantasy, this is one you won’t want to miss!

A Ruinous Fate by Kaylie Smith, (List Price: $18.99, Disney-Hyperion, 9781368081597, January 2023)

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

Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute by Talia Hibbert

Pleased to report that Hibbert’s signature, beloved wit and undeniable charm carries over into her YA debut. Both of these characters are incredibly well-fleshed out. Complex and unique without falling into dreadful cliches, I loved learning more about Brad and Celine as they navigated the turbulent teenage waters of will-they-won’t-they. Spicy, sassy Celine who just wanted the world to be fair and right. Brad, the darling soccer player (excuse me – footballer) who copes with his OCD by needing things to be just so. I loved them both. Their banter was off the charts in a way only Hibbert can achieve.This was one of those books where I blinked and suddenly I was 87% of the way through it. I just couldn’t stop reading about this duo!

Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute by Talia Hibbert, (List Price: $18.99, Joy Revolution, 9780593482339, January 2023)

Reviewed by Hannah Kerbs, Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee

Begin Again by Emma Lord

A January 2023 Read This Next! Title

Emma Lord brings the feels in her new novel, Begin Again. Andie didn’t get into her first choice college with her boyfriend, but she has a plan. She works really hard and ends up getting in as a transfer student after her first semester at community college. The problem is that she planned her transfer as a surprise for her boyfriend….who did the same thing, transferring to the school Andie WAS at.

Begin Again by Emma Lord (List Price: $18.99, Wednesday Books, 9781250783363, January 2023)

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia

Nine Liars by Maureen Johnson

Stevie’s back to solve a new mystery, this time at a country manor in England! Johnson delves right back into Stevie’s world as she navigates her way through a 27-year-old murder and a current disappearance. Stevie’s at loose ends as she’s almost halfway through her senior year. She doesn’t know what she wants to do after high school, and she misses her boyfriend. But when David invites Stevie and her friends to spend a week in England, they immediately develop a plan to get the headmaster to let them go as an educational experience. Once they get there, the mystery finds Stevie, and she’s off.

Nine Liars by Maureen Johnson (List Price: $19.99, Katherine Tegen Books, 9780063032651, December 2022)

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia

Heartbreak Boys by Simon James Green

This crazy, madcap YA novel is just the thing you’re looking for! Nate and Jack used to be the best of friends. But after Jack came out, they drifted apart. Now they’re at prom and they’ve just discovered that their boyfriends are cheating on them…with each other. So they decide to team up and make the most fabulous, jealousy-inducing social media account of the summer to make their exes jealous. But that turns out to be a little tougher than they thought.

Heartbreak Boys by Simon James Green (List Price: $18.99, Clarion Books, 9780358617259, December 2022)

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia

How to Excavate a Heart by Jake Maia Arlow

This is the book I, a Jewish lesbian nerd with bushy hair and a love of corgis, needed as a teen. How to Excavate a Heart has all of the tropes us hopeless romantics love- a meet-cute, enemies-to-lovers, and kissing in the snow. It also has really great advice that teenage me would’ve benefited from: your partner should add to your life, but they shouldn’t be your whole life. There’s so much beauty in the world, and part of that can be your kind of mean, hot Jewish girlfriend, but she doesn’t need to be all of it! Besides the invaluable lessons in the book, the love story is compelling and well-paced, and sweet. Shani and May are learning about themselves and love and how to deal with parents and fish fossils together, which is what love is really about. Fill yourself with holiday cheer and read this book!

How to Excavate a Heart by Jake Maia Arlow (List Price: $18.99, HarperTeen, 9780063078727, November 2022)

Julia Hirschfield from Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Seoulmates by Susan Lee

Seoulmates is a fun young adult romance sprinkled with k-pop and k-drama references. Susan Lee gave me a glimpse into a Korean American home through this tender love story between two childhood friends who have grown up. A friends to enemies to lovers story, I couldn’t put it down..

Seoulmates by Susan Lee (List Price: $18.99, Inkyard Press, 9781335915788, September 2022)

Reviewed by Rayna Nielsen, Blue Cypress Books in New Orleans, Louisiana

Never Ever Getting Back Together by Sophie Gonzales

A 2022 December Read This Next! Title

This is one of my top romances of 2022! Gonzales’ YA books are charming and this new adult romcom is a delight. Maya’s cheating ex is about to star on a reality dating show and all of his exes are being called together as contestants – including the other woman that helped break Maya’s heart. Sharing a room with her arch-nemesis can only lead to the best revenge plot of all time, right? This has slow burn, hilarious, sapphic joy on every page. Gonzales does a great job with bi representation and she gets better with every book.

Never Ever Getting Back Together by Sophie Gonzales (List Price: $18.99, Wednesday Books, 9781250819161, December 2022)

Reviewed by Andrea Richardson, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

A Wilderness of Stars by Shea Ernshaw

A 2022 December Read This Next! Title

This is an absolute gem of a book! Part science-fiction, part romance, Shea Ernshaw delivers another YA novel that is a delight to read. For lovers of stars and post apocalyptic literature!

A Wilderness of Stars by Shea Ernshaw (List Price: $19.99, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 9781665900249, December 2022)

Reviewed by Hallie Smith, Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina

A Consuming Fire by Laura E. Weymouth

I will automatically consume anything Laura Weymouth writes after this book, because WOW. Romance, adventure, intrigue, suspense, and a very cute dog: all that and more are found in A Consuming Fire, which showcases Weymouth’s ability to leave you hanging on the edge of your seat for 400 pages.

A Consuming Fire by Laura E. Weymouth (List Price: $19.99, Margaret K. McElderry Books, 9781665902700, November 2022)

Reviewed by Hallie Smith, Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina

House of Yesterday by Deeba Zargarpur

This debut is a compelling family drama about generational trauma and secrets in a large family of Afghan-Uzbeki immigrants. As Sara deals with the impending divorce of her parents and the slow painful loss of her grandmother to dementia, she begins to see ghostly apparitions in a home her family’s construction company is renovating. Sara gets pulled into a web of family secrets and realizes that even though her family has a strong storytelling tradition, the stories she’s been told her whole life aren’t the whole story. At times creepy, but ultimately redemptive, this story is all about confronting literal and figurative ghosts.

House of Yesterday by Deeba Zargarpur (List Price: $18.99, Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR), 9780374388706, November 2022)

Reviewed by Melissa Taylor, E. Shaver bookseller in Savannah, Georgia

Whiteout by Dhonielle Clayton

This adorable YA romance told in short stories from six of the best authors out there is just as good as you hope it will be. Where the previous compilation from these folks took place over the same day in the same city in slightly-related stories, Whiteout is linked together in a more up-front way. A group of friends and partners in Atlanta are working to help a couple reconcile during a city-wide snowstorm that has them trapped in cars, airports, trains, and buildings around town. Inclusive, sweet, and funny, this has it all.

Whiteout by Dhonielle Clayton (List Price: $19.99, Quill Tree Books, 9780063088146, November 2022)

Reviewed by Andrea Richardson, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

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