Read our latest staff reviews and recommendations featured in the The Southern Bookseller Review.
Beautiful and unsettling, Elsewhere is a novel I can’t stop thinking about. Not usually one for dystopian fiction, I started and soon was captivated by this haunting, cloud-covered place and close-knit community from which women occasionally disappear. The families who live here wonder about the world beyond, known only as "Elsewhere," especially when a stranger comes to visit. But, no matter how uncertain the future is for mothers in this place, they wouldn’t consider leaving. Why, you’ll wonder, as you’re drawn in by the mystery of this place and its people. How deep is devotion, and much should motherhood require of a woman? I can imagine book clubs debating this one at length!
Elsewhere by Alexis Schaitkin, (List Price: $26.99, Celadon, 9781250219633, June 2022)
Reviewed by Lady Smith, Snail on the Wall in Huntingdon, Alabama
I wanted to start this review with the phrase “a lot can happen in nine months,” but Aviva, the main character of Elisa Albert’s Human Blues would think that was hackneyed and immediately dismiss me with a sneer. But a lot does happen in the novel’s nine-month trip—just not the baby that almost famous singer-songwriter Aviva Rosner desperately wants. And while fertility and conception (just not IVF, which she’s very vocally opposed to) try to take center stage in this story, Aviva’s career, religion, marriage, and obsession with Amy Winehouse are also along for the ride. And it’s a wild ride!
Human Blues by Elisa Albert, (List Price: $28, Avid Reader Press, 9781982167868, July 2022)
Reviewed by Elizabeth Hardin, Snail on the Wall in Huntsville, Alabama
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
Dr. Yungman Kwak, a small-town OBGYN, is one of the most endearing characters I’ve come across in a long time, and I was so invested in the future he faces–when modernity and capitalism sweep in to disrupt his entire existence. Partially a story following Dr. Kwak’s new role as a boutique medicine provider under the tutelage of his ambitious son, and partially a story following Yungman’s Korean upbringing, this book was beautiful and heartwrenching. Marie Myung-Ok Lee will wrap you around her finger with these characters and take you on a journey through time, family, and the future of American healthcare.
The Evening Hero by Marie Myung-Ok Lee, (List Price: $16.99, William Morrow Paperbacks, 9781476735078, June 2022)
Reviewed by Sarah Catherine Richardson, The Snail on the Wall in Huntsville, Alabama
An April Read This Next! Book
It’s more tempting than ever to want to build a bomb shelter and retreat from the upheavals of life. But with this memoir, Mary Laura Philpott convinces us that, like Frank the turtle, we have to poke our heads out from time to time, confront the challenges, and keep going. Thank you, MLP, for making all of us worriers feel seen, and for helping us put into words the emotions (so very many emotions) that go along with being not just a parent but a person.
Bomb Shelter by Mary Laura Philpott, (List Price: $27, Atria Books, 9781982160784, April 2022)
Reviewed by Lady Smith, Snail on the Wall in Huntsville, Alabama
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