The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

Young Adult Fiction

Pudge and Prejudice by A.K. Pittman

Take Pride and Prejudice and set it in the mid 80s at a high school in Texas and you’ve got Pudge and Prejudice. Elyse and Jayne Nebbit have moved to Texas with their parents and three younger sisters. Their new school is obsessed with football and their star quarterback, Billy Fitz. And Elyse finds herself a little obsessed with Billy herself. We’ve all read retellings where the changes are obnoxious and make the story too far in tone and theme from the original. I’m glad to say that one is true to the original, while still updating it for 1980s Texas. This was a sweet, fun story about teens, but which works well for preteens as well.

Pudge and Prejudice by A.K. Pittman (List Price: $15.99, Wander, 9781496442833, 1/12/2021)

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser, Inc. in Roswell, Georgia

Crown of Bones by A.K. Wilder

A. K. Wilder creates a delightful world of savants and phantoms: creatures made to serve those who call them. Ash is a non-savant who somehow gets the attention of phantoms that aren’t even supposed to acknowledge her when she doesn’t have a phantom of her own. Marcus is the heir to the throne Ash serves and she follows him to the mysterious island of Aku where he must tame his own powerful phantom. Their guide to Aku, Kaylin, has his own secrets. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Crown of Bones by A.K. Wilder (List Price: $18.99, Entangled: Teen, 9781640634145, 1/5/2021)

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

Lore by Alexandra Bracken

This had me at the edge of my seat from beginning to end. If you love Greek mythology you will love this! Every seven years, nine Greek gods must walk the earth as mortals and the descendants of Ancient Bloodlines hunt them to steal their powers and immortality. Lore ran away from this world when her family was brutally murdered by a rival line. But she comes across her childhood friend Castor and the goddess Athena before a hunt, and after binding her fate with Athena, she enters the hunt to fight a new god and to avenge her family and save her home: New York City.

Lore by Alexandra Bracken (List Price: $18.99, Disney-Hyperion, 9781484778203, 1/5/2021)

Reviewed by Deanna Bailey, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia

Girl on the Line by Faith Gardner

Growing up is hard. Add social media and an unattainable view of what beauty is and being a teenage girl feels like nothing will change and life is hell. When Journey recovers from her suicide attempt she must figure out how to go forward and how to interact with her family and friends. Achingly raw and beautifully written. A must read.

Girl on the Line by Faith Gardner (List Price: $17.99, HarperTeen, 9780063022300, 1/19/2021)

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

Pumpkin by Julie Murphy

Julie Murphy’s Pumpkin is a delight. I was so happy to return to Clover City and meet brand new characters–twins Waylon and Clementine–and see a bunch of familiar faces, including previous protagonists Willowdean and Millie. Fans of Dumplin’ and Puddin’ will not be disappointed!

Pumpkin by Julie Murphy (List Price: $17.99, Balzer + Bray, 9780062880451, 5/25/2021)

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

A Complicated Love Story Set in Space by Shaun David Hutchinson

Noa wakes up and he’s in a spacesuit, floating outside a ship. In space. But he has zero idea how he got there. Not only that, but inside the ship are DJ and Jenny and neither of them knows how they got there either. I read this author’s The State of Us and LOVED it, so I knew I’d be up for this one. It’s an entirely different genre, but still has the same humor and heart.

A Complicated Love Story Set in Space by Shaun David Hutchinson (List Price: $19.99, Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 9781534448537, 1/19/2021)

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser, Inc. in Roswell, Georgia

With You All the Way by Cynthia Hand

The night after Ada’s failed attempt to lose her virginity to her boyfriend, she catches him cheating on her. But their family is soon off for a 9day stay in Hawaii at a yearly medical conference, so she hopes that will take her mind off things. But she’s in a fight with her older sister and then her stepdad drops the bomb that he’s staying home from this trip and Ada just feels worse. This was a sweet story, full of high drama and I am here for it. I loved how flawed and real the characters were and this compulsively readable story kept me entertained from the start.

With You All the Way by Cynthia Hand (List Price: $17.99, HarperTeen, 9780062693198, 3/30/2021)

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser, Inc. in Roswell, Georgia

The Bright & the Pale by Jessica Rubinkowski

Valeria may have not been trapped by the mystical freeze that stole her family and village away but she never really escaped. She realizes this is true when she’s blackmailed into returning with her best friend she thought she’d lost the year before. In order to earn his freedom and her own, she must go back to the cursed village and hope to survive once more. This story was fantastic! Twisty and terrifying, I tore through it at a ridiculously fast pace. I can’t wait for the next installment!

The Bright & the Pale by Jessica Rubinkowski (List Price: $17.99, Quill Tree Books, 9780062871503, 3/2/2021)

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

Just Our Luck by Julia Walton

Just Out Luck is a moving and absolutely hilarious tale about Leo, a high school boy all caught up in his own anxiety. Leo normally keeps his head down, but a fight with another boy at school starts a strange chain reaction, tangling Leo up in something he thought he never would have been part of by choice. I absolutely loved the character building in this amazing, touching book.

Just Our Luck by Julia Walton (List Price: $17.99, Random House Books for Young Readers, 9780399550928, 12/29/2020)

Reviewed by Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina

How to Pack for the End of the World by Michelle Falkoff

“Everyone thinks they have to save the world, but they have to save themselves first.”

Amina is a new student at the prestigious Gardner Academy. A scholarship student from the Boston area, her parents send her to the boarding school after an attack on their Temple leaves her with persistent nightmares and an unhealthy obsession with the specter of Fascism. She has no interest in leaving home, but once at Gardner she meets a group of like-minded students who also fear a coming crisis. Together they form the Eucalyptus Club and work together to prepare for such events as nuclear holocaust or government overthrow. But someone is targeting their group with malicious intent, and it will take all of them to find out who. In How to Pack for the End of the World, Michelle Falkoff mixes the mundane every day of high school (albeit an elite boarding school) with the very real existential dread that today’s youth must learn to cope with. The concerns of Eucalyptus are based in reality and while the games the students play may seem too direct at times, they will speak to a generation that is growing increasingly intent on speaking out before it is too late.

How to Pack for the End of the World by Michelle Falkoff (List Price: $17, HarperTeen, 9780062680266, 11/10/2020)

Reviewed by Faith Parke-Dodge, Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, North Carolina

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo

In Last Night at the Telegraph Club, Lily Hu and Kath Miller are gorgeously rendered against the glittering backdrop of San Francisco, escaping into the night for The Telegraph Club where they find themselves staring down a sort of freedom that they know they cannot leave behind. From the very first page, this is a novel that feels so incredibly full and rich with historical details and simmers with yearning and tension I simply could not put it down. Delving into the realities of 1950’s Chinese America identity, queer culture, McCarthyism & women in STEM, Lo has crafted a historical fiction novel of the absolute highest caliber.

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo (List Price: $18.99, Dutton Books for Young Readers, 9780525555254, 1/19/2021)

Reviewed by Cristina Russell, Books & Books in Coral Gables, Florida

Roman and Jewel by Dana L. Davis

Fans of Romeo and Juliet retellings will love this especially with the diverse characters! Jerzie Jhames is competing for a lead role for a hip hop Broadway production of Romeo and Juliet–Roman and Jewel. She falls short of her dreams and becomes the understudy for Jewel, while the lead title goes to celebrity actress singer Cinny. As Jerzie wallows in her disappointment, she meets Zeppelin Reid, the handsome lead actor for Roman. It’s love at first sight, and as they get to know one another, they begin their own Romeo and Juliet story. I love reading teenage black girls stories, especially about their first love!

Roman and Jewel by Dana L. Davis (List Price: $18.99, Inkyard Press, 9781335070623, 1/5/2021)

Reviewed by Deanna Bailey, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia

Tales from the Hinterland by Melissa Albert

Albert’s fairytales are filled with the dark beauty and decay of withering roses and fog-filled forests. Many of them are nightmare-inducing but all of them are too enthralling to put down and I wondered if Albert may have bespelled me herself; her prose is that good. Tales from the Hinterland is for girls too covered in thorns for a traditional tale and for all who dream of a dark starless sky.

Tales from the Hinterland by Melissa Albert (List Price: $19.99, Flatiron Books, 9781250302724, 1/12/2021)

Reviewed by Sami Thomason, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

One of the Good Ones by Maika Moulite, Maritza Moulite

Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite have done it again, and more, with their sophomore novel, One of the Good Ones. This book kept me up into the early morning hours, furiously flipping pages, needing to know where things would end up for the Smith sisters. The story takes you on a real journey, jumping through history and back again, dissecting race relations in America with an unflinching eye; it is beautifully written, heartbreaking, disturbing and yet, ultimately, hopeful. I can’t recommend it enough.

One of the Good Ones by Maika Moulite, Maritza Moulite (List Price: $18.99, Inkyard Press, 9781335145802, 1/5/2021)

Reviewed by Cristina Russell, Books & Books in Coral Gables, Florida

Don’t Tell a Soul by Kirsten Miller

I’ll straight up say I’m not much of a thriller girl. I much prefer fantasy and magic over “the true monster is man”. But Don’t Tell a Soul is definitely an exception. It’s called a modern Rebecca, but I cannot attest to the veracity of that as it is one of the rare classics I didn’t read!

Bram is just trying to escape her own secrets when she stumbles into the deep ones of Louth. I personally adored every character in this tale, they’re all extremely well developed and I loved trying to hatch their secrets as I read. Nothing is as it seems, and the twists and turns will have the reader up at night. Highly recommend for any thriller/mystery lover, especially those who like a nice dose of smart and clever teenagers more mature beyond their years.

Don’t Tell a Soul by Kirsten Miller (List Price: $17.99, Delacorte Press, 9780525581208, 1/26/2021)

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

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