The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!
Newsflash: Lynn Painter is The Queen of the YA rom-com! She has grabbed a hold of this reader’s heart and will not let go. The Do-Over brings us Emilie Hornby, an over-achieving people pleasure who is ready for The Perfect Valentines Day. She has her checklist ready to seize her perfectly planned agenda. Things get off to a rocky start when she wrecks her car on the way to school and has to bum a ride with broody Nick Stark, her chemistry partner. Her day goes off the rails when she spots her perfect-on-paper boyfriend kissing another girl. The nerve! The only thing that could make this day worse is to have to re-live it….and the next morning she wakes up to another Valentine’s Day and so it goes. I enjoyed Lynn’s signature witty banter and sweet love story. The Do-Over will be perfect for any YA Rom Com reader and fans of closed-door romances.
The Do-Over by Lynn Painter (List Price: $19.99, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 9781534478862, November 2022)
Reviewed by Jessica Nock, Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina
Poignant, moving, and utterly captivating from the first page to the last, We Deserve Monuments is in a league of its own. Both a riveting exploration of the South’s intrinsic and rampant racism and a love story that revels in the beauty of queer Black girls, Jas Hammonds’ debut should be required reading. A beautifully rendered love story both to the family we’re born into and the family we choose, I know I will be neither the first nor the last to say that this book, and all those who see themselves reflected in its pages, deserves monuments.
We Deserve Monuments by Jas Hammonds, (List Price: $18.99, Roaring Brook Press, 9781250816559, November 2022)
Reviewed by Mary Louise Callaghan, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
The Insomniacs combines the mystery of amnesia with the thrill of a reignited friendship. Ingrid, the main character, works to figure out what she’s missing and how to solve her sudden insomnia in this twisting story. Vance, her best friend from years ago, reconnects. An intriguing read with an unexpected ending. This book explores the uncertainty and depth of relationships along with trauma. In the setting of a high schooler’s life. Overall, a super interesting read!
The Insomniacs by Marit Weisenberg, (List Price: $11.99, Flatiron Books, 9781250257376, October 2022)
Reviewed by Kaylin, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina
We all know the story of the little mermaid who fell in love with a prince, made a deal with a sea witch and needs a kiss so she can remain a human. However, what do we know about the handsome prince? What is his part of this story? In the Prince of Song and Sea, Lindsey Miller shows you the life of Prince Eric. His friends, his adventures, and his curse. If you loved Littler Mermaid, you will be delighted to read Prince of Song and Sea with its familiar storyline, recognizable characters, and a deeper dive into a well-loved story.
Prince of Song & Sea by Linsey Miller, (List Price: $17.99, Disney Press, 9781368069113, October 2022)
Reviewed by Gretchen Shuler, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina
What an incredible book! Giles rachets up the tension immediately in this story of paradise gone wrong. The staff and families living at Karloff County’s most famous resort are living happily in harmony until people start to vanish without a trace. As the world outside starts to crumble, young Jay and his friends try to find a way to get themselves and their loved ones to safety – whatever that may mean.
The Getaway by Lamar Giles, (List Price: $19.99, Scholastic Press, 9781338752014, September 2022)
Reviewed by Andrea Richardson, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia
When I say I inhaled this book…Edie and Violet are twins. And mediums like their mother was. When they were forced between being institutionalized in an 1880s asylum and leaving in the dead of the night, they of course chose to run. And they joined a traveling Spiritualist show—a group of women who buck the oppressive treatment of females (which unfortunately we’re feeling again ??) by hiding their real talents (like oration, doctoring, etc) under the pretense of trances where they commune with spirits. The turn-of-the-century Spiritualism movement has always been a fascination of mine and the sister bond between Edie and Violet is wonderful. Sometimes I wanted to shake some sense into Edie when she treats Violet more like a little sister but of course that added to the suspense & tension. The romance between Edie and Laws was perfect. It didn’t take over the story nor read weird with the feminist vibes.
The Second Death of Edie and Violet Bond by Amanda Glaze, (List Price: $18.99, Union Square & Co., 9781454946786, October 2022)
Reviewed by Candice Conner, The Haunted Book Shop in Mobile, Alabama
Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove is absolutely breathtaking! I had just been complaining to a colleague that I feel like too many books these days have lost a sense of lightness and whimsy in the canon. While this novel would be far from whimsical, there’s a lovely balance of humor and sweetness to the characters that balance out the darkness within the world and the story. Ultimately a story of deciding one’s birth isn’t what’s important, but what you choose to do, I fell in love with all the characters and had to immediately contact everyone I knew as soon as I finished to tell them to put this on their TBR. Katyani is relatable, talented, and has a sense of humor that had me smirking and laughing to myself without even realizing. Don’t miss out on this wonderful Indian inspired fantasy!
Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove by Rati Mehrotra, (List Price: $18.99, Wednesday Books, 9781250823687, October 2022)
Reviewed by Katlin Kerrison, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia
These chaotic passage of events and writing style reminded me a lot of the novel I Love You, Beth Cooper. Plot-wise, as a YA book, it is extremely insightful in regards to the AIDs epidemic, despite the allure of occult fantasy in this queer coming of age story. It was an entertaining read. I appreciate the tribute to notable gay figures within American history, as well as the representation of queer people of color. In all, it was extremely chaotic, and at times cheesy, but I would still read this and would recommend to those who enjoyed the Haunting of Jake Livingston.
Fraternity by Andy Mientus, (List Price: $19.99, Amulet Books, 9781419754708, September 2022)
Reviewed by Yarah Elshaer, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida
Four for the Road by K.J. Reilly is a gut-punch of a novel. Its portrayal of grief is raw and furious and heartbreaking. Following the death of his mother, Asher Hunting rotates through therapists and bereavement groups, trapped in a cycle of anger and pain. He wants nothing more than to get revenge on the drunk driver who killed his mother, but avoided jail time on a technicality. Along with an unexpected group of friends from the bereavement groups–teens Sloane and Will and 80-year-old Henry– Asher embarks on a road trip from New Jersey to Graceland in hopes of revenge and closure. Four for the Road is a moving examination of the anger that accompanies grief and the earth-shattering reality of loss. For anyone who has ever lost someone, Four for the Road holds a mirror up to the jagged edges that are left behind and validates that being in pieces is okay.
Four for the Road by K. J. Reilly, (List Price: $19.99, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 9781665902281, August 2022)
Reviewed by Charlie Williams, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi
This graphic memoir should be put into every middle and high school library in the country! As kids we are often told to do what we love, but there’s so much pressure on kids to succeed before they get a chance to figure out what success may look like for them. In this book Liz Montague documents the stress of trying to become something she wasn’t and how she eventually acknowledged and achieved her dreams of becoming an artist. I loved her illustration style — it is so simple and so effective!
Maybe An Artist, A Graphic Memoir by Liz Montague, (List Price: $17.99, Random House Studio, 9780593307823, October 2022)
Reviewed by Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Uly and Sallie don’t let their differing races (or anything, for that matter) get in the way of their relationship. That is, until the school election rolls around and they find themselves working against each other to benefit their siblings’ opposing campaigns, one of which is built of a bigotry capable of tearing Uly and Sallie–and the entire school–apart. Ivery has managed to craft the perfect mix of funny humor and serious social justice in this engaging read. His entertaining writing style brings Uly and Sallie to life in their dual perspectives. If you’re looking for a lighthearted contemporary read which doesn’t fail to highlight the racial and social injustices that continue to plague our nation, look no further than The Problem With the Other Side.
The Problem with the Other Side by Kwame Ivery, (List Price: $10.99, Soho Teen, 9781641293549, August 2022)
Reviewed by Ethan, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Bernie and Chet stories can seem deceptively simple. Chet’s narration from a dog’s point of view provides humor but insights on how narrow human perspectives can be. Bernie’s ethical code and generosity are lessons in how to be a better human. All this comes into play as the duo seek to help a high school classmate fallen on hard times. Running underneath the mystery is a happy love interest for Bernie and the complications of Trixie for Chet.
Bark to the Future by Spencer Quinn, (List Price: $26.99, Forge Books, 9781250843272, August 2022)
Reviewed by Jan Blodgett, Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina
A modern retelling of Lord of the Flies, set in a trash fire of a hipster festival? YES PLEASE. Rafi is a true-crime podcaster on the trail of a hot story who finagles tickets to the exclusive Fly Fest. The headliner is an adored indie musician who may have had something to do with the mysterious disappearance of his first girlfriend and Rafi is determined to get to the bottom of the case. Arriving on the island, hordes of spoiled influencers realize they’ve been set up – there is no food, no shelter, and (gasp!) no wifi! Can they all get out safely? Can Rafi uncover River Stone’s secrets? Can they survive without the constant reassurance of IG likes? Moldavsky has crafted an ingenious update on a classic mini-society gone wrong and I loved every second of it.
Lord of the Fly Fest by Goldy Moldavsky, (List Price: 18.99, Henry Holt and Co. (BYR), 9781250230126, August 2022)
Reviewed by Andrea Richardson, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia
We all know about Lizzie Bennet and Darcy — but what about Darcy’s sister, Georgiana, and her sordid history with Wickham? If you’re a Pride and Prejudice fan, you’ll recognize several characters in this contemporary spin, but Georgiana Darcy gets the main character treatment. She has to deal with what Wickham did last year that almost got her expelled from prestigious boarding school Pemberley, a brother who’s both more and less absent than he should be, and everyone in school hating her for various reasons. Her one saving grace is her band friend Avery, who is the only one who doesn’t treat her as an outcast and so might be able to help her with her mission to get her life back on track. A fun take on Pride and Prejudice that is familiar enough to be enticing but new enough to keep your attention.
Accomplished by Amanda Quain, (List Price: $18.99, Wednesday Books, 9781250817815, July 2022)
Reviewed by Melissa Oates, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina
This was a fabulous debut! The main character was obnoxious but in an eventually relatable way that you come to love by the end. She’s a strong woman who makes good decisions for herself. The supporting characters were charming. The college campus setting was really inviting. But the greatest thing was the references. SO MANY GOOD REFERENCES! When one of the characters goes to the hospital and is in Room 616 I had to stop reading for a minute because it was just too good.
How to Date a Superhero (And Not Die Trying) by Cristina Fernandez, (List Price: $17.99, Katherine Tegen Books, 9780063114302, August 2022)
Reviewed by Lizzy Nanney, Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, North Carolina