The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

Young Adult Fiction

If You’ll Have Me by Eunnie

In her first year of university, kind, anxious, people-pleasing Momo develops a crush on PG, an unattainable player known for her many one-night stands. The two gradually develop a flirty friendship, but can they let their guards down and allow love to bloom? A likable, cute WLW graphic novel, recommended for fans of Heartstopper and other character-driven contemporary YA romance.

If You’ll Have Me by Eunnie, (List Price: 17.99, Viking Books for Young Readers, 9780593403235, October 2023)

Reviewed by Talia Smart, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

With Six of Crows, Leigh Bardugo created a perfect blend of tense, tightly-plotted action and bold character work. The impossible heist the narrative centers around is exciting, and Bardugo’s magical setting sets her plot apart from other heist stories. Her six protagonists, all of whom have their own compelling reasons to agree to such a dangerous job, are dense and rich, and their dynamics with each other are definitely the novel’s greatest strength. The dialogue is sharp and the budding romances are impossible to not root for. Fans of fantasy, romance, mysteries, thrillers, and character dramas will absolutely find something to like in Six of Crows.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, (List Price: $12.99, Henry Holt and Co. BYR Paperbacks, 9781250777904, April 2021)

Reviewed by Sam Edge, Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

The Haunting by Natasha Preston

Just in time for Spooky Season. Preston’s latest pays homage to the Scream franchise in this deliciously thrilling tale. Penny and her friends are still recovering from the serial murders that hit their town last Halloween, and when a copycat killer seems to get going on the anniversary of last year’s tragedies they are determined to stop them. Penny’s ex Nash is the son of the man in jail and she’s not going to stop until she proves Nash’s innocence in the copycat spree. The twists abound until the final haunting night of their search for justice.

The Haunting by Natasha Preston, (List Price: 12.99, Delacorte Press, 9780593481516, September 2023)

Reviewed by Andrea Richardson, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

There’s No Way I’d Die First by Lisa Springer

Horror movie buff and aspiring film critic Noelle Layne is certain that she would be the Final Girl in any slasher scenario but she never expected that her skills would be put to the test when the "pretend" killer clown at a Halloween party turns out to be the real deal. Now, it will take all of Noelle’s know-how to survive the night and hopefully keep her friends alive with her. Lisa Springer delivers a pulse-pounding thriller that readers will not be able to put down– but be warned, you should read this one in the daylight.

There’s No Way I’d Die First by Lisa Springer, (List Price: 18.99, Delacorte Press, 9780593643174, September 2023)

Reviewed by Charlie Williams, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

The Forest Grimm by Kathryn Purdie

Since I started this book I have been completely hooked. I am a big fan of Bon Crier’s Moon Duology but this one has taken first place as enrapturing, fantastical and captivating for me. I LOVE these characters and the way in which it spins off of fairytales. The spin on the fairytales are so unique. I absolutely love the use and importance of Red Rampion and how it ties into the fairytale retellings. I also love the plot in this book, how it tells not only a journey of a group of friends but a growth of the friends and how they have to deal with truth, loss, pain and hardship. I already CANNOT wait to find out what happens next and how they will (hopefully) break the Curse of the Grimm Forest. I could go on and on about this book but mostly I’ll just say, if you aren’t planning on reading this you are missing out on the journey of a life time and the most unique retelling of the classic fairytales I have ever heard of.

The Forest Grimm by Kathryn Purdie, (List Price: 20, Wednesday Books, 9781250873002, September 2023)

Reviewed by Charlotte Beck, Main Street Reads in Summerville, South Carolina

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

The Black Flamingo is a poetic look into the coming of age and coming out stories of a young biracial teen in England. When he goes off to university, he explores who he is through the beauty of drag. This novel is a raw look at the complexity of identity with the beauty of poetry.

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta, (List Price: $15.99, Balzer + Bray, 9780062990303, April 2021)

Reviewed by Nannette Matthews, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia

Those Pink Mountain Nights by Jen Ferguson

My favorite YA book of the year! I went into this thinking it would be a bit like Empire Records with a twist of mystery, but this book is so much more. Three teens are struggling with the disappearance of their friend Kiki, who has now joined a long line of missing Indigenous girls and women. One night at the pizza shop they all work at, Berlin thinks she catches a glimpse of Kiki, and so begins the story of trying to save a girl, a community, and a pizza shop. This book is raw and real and unforgettable, the author lending an #OwnVoices perspective that needs to be heard.

Those Pink Mountain Nights by Jen Ferguson, (List Price: 19.99, Heartdrum, 9780063086210, September 2023)

Reviewed by Kate Towery, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Unholy Terrors by Lyndall Clipstone

Clipstone’s Unholy Terrors takes us to a Wuthering Heights-esque setting, wildly beautiful in its ruin, and drops us off with only the honey and ash prose we fell in love with in her Lake’s Edge duology to guard our hearts and souls against the monsters of truth and generational loyalty that howl in the Thousandfold. A beautiful and haunting read for fans of transforming girls and kissable monsters.

Unholy Terrors by Lyndall Clipstone, (List Price: $19.99, Henry Holt and Co., 9781250887733, January 2023)

Reviewed by Candice Conner, The Haunted Book Shop in Mobile, Alabama

True True by Don P. Hooper

I loved this book. Once I started, I couldn’t put it down. I couldn’t wait to find out how Gil’s story would unfold. I loved the way Gil used Sun Tzu’s The Art of War as a guide to help him navigate the often hostile world at his new, mostly white prep school. It kept the plot moving enticingly and kept me wondering what his next step would be. But ultimately, it was his deep connections to his family, his friends, and his community that made this book sing for me. Wonderful!

True True by Don P. Hooper, (List Price: 18.99, Nancy Paulsen Books, 9780593462102, August 2023)

Reviewed by Ruth Goldstein, E. Shaver Bookseller in Savannah, Georgia

Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson

Monday’s Not Coming is a heartbreaking story of a missing teenager, a community that seems not to notice, and a best friend who will go to whatever lengths it takes to find her missing friend. Tiffany D. Jackson weaves the reader through multiple timelines with increasing tension and emotion until you reach an ending that will haunt you long after you finished the book. This is a difficult but important and timely story highly recommended for teen and adult readers.

Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson, (List Price: $12.99, Katherine Tegen Books, 9780062422682, April 2019)

Reviewed by Beth Seufer Buss, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

The Totally True Story of Gracie Byrne by Shannon Takaoka

Gracie Byrne is a has a real way with words, so when she finds a blank journal in the drawer of her new house, of course she writes in it and the result leaves her, well, kind of speechless. The Totally True Story of Gracie Byrne perfectly captures the perplexing world of high school, the complex nature of families, and the giddy delight of basorexia. I learned a few new words, grooved on the 1980’s vibe, and absolutely wish I had been in High School with Gracie Byrne.

The Totally True Story of Gracie Byrne by Shannon Takaoka, (List Price: 19.99, Candlewick, 9781536228786, October 2023)

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

All That Consumes Us by Erica Waters

An October Read This Next! Book

Erica Waters never disappoints with her dark and queer tales. I loved every bit of this dark academia story. I was on the edge of my seat and couldn’t stop reading. Don’t let this one pass you by!

All That Consumes Us by Erica Waters, (List Price: $19.99, HarperTeen, 9780063115965, October 2023)

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

Night of the Witch by Sara Raasch

My favorite aspect of this book is the way magic works in this world. It takes inspiration from paganism and I love how this book shows the real aspects of witchcraft through fantasy. It’s always very refreshing to see a book portray magic in a way that showcases real traditions and spiritual beliefs. I also loved how this book also stayed true to the historical aspects of when it was written. Even though this is a fantasy it’s set in a world that reflects our own and it takes place in the Holy Roman Empire which means that a lot of history is strewn across the book. I also love how the book doesn’t back down from discussing some of the harsh realities that people had to face during the period, especially when it focused on the catholic church and how its reign murdered hundreds of innocent people by burning them at the stake. It criticized the way the church was corrupted at that time by mentioning how paying the church got on out of accusations, and how the people burned at the stake did nothing wrong, other than be accused. This is a topic that is not often talked about in books like these so it was nice to have such information acknowledged.I loved reading about how magic in this world was used. I’m excited to read more from this series and its authors.

Night of the Witch by Sara Raasch, (List Price: $18.99, Sourcebooks Fire, 9781728272160, October 2023)

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

Alanna by Tamora Pierce

I have loved Alanna since I was a middle schooler. Before I wrote this review, I literally had been pulling out my old dusty copies for my 14 year old goddaughter to read and I’m so thrilled to see that Tamora Pierce is being reprinted once again! Alanna’s story is timeless and portrays healthy relationships as well as bravery and excitement. I cannot wait to welcome a new wave of readers into Tamora Pierce’s world and hope the reprint of the Lioness Quartet is just the beginning!

Alanna by Tamora Pierce, (List Price: $12.99, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 9781665937412, September 2023)

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

Phoebe’s Diary by Phoebe Wahl

Incredibly earnest, honest account (in graphic novel form!) of a teenage theatre kid navigating the move to public high school from an unschooling/homeschool education in a smallish city in the Pacific NorthWest. I love Phoebe Wahl’s art and children’s books (she illustrates and writes), and I adored her peek into the boy-obsessed, music-loving, art-driven world she creates from her own teenage diaries. I laughed out loud, cringed, cried, and cheered. If you loved Judy Blume’s Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret, you’ll love Phoebe’s Diary.

Phoebe’s Diary by Phoebe Wahl, (List Price: 19.99, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780316363563, September 2023)

Reviewed by Adah Fitzgerald, Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina

Scroll to Top