The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of March 23, 2021

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March 30, 2021sbr logo

How does your garden grow?


A year ago, while most people were talking about sheltering in place and toilet paper shortages, something else was also becoming hard to find: seeds. Even under a stay at home order, one can only watch so many streaming movies. People began to rediscover the pleasures of their own yards, and their own gardens. Across the country seed catalogs and websites found themselves selling out of heirloom tomatoes, herbs, peppers, and beans.

It is now planting season again, and while life is slowly returning to normal, perhaps "normal" will now include making time and space for the garden. Here are some children's books recommended by booksellers for the budding gardener:

An ABC of Flowers

An ABC of Flowers by Jutta Hilpuesch
-recommended by Beth Seufer Buss, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC

"...incredibly beautiful in describing the struggle of an everyday citizen in Tehran. It’s a great read to spur discussion for those looking for book-club picks."

Grow Kind

Grow Kind by Jon Lasser and Sage Foster-Lasser
-recommended by Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, NC

"Everyone wants their child to grow up to be kind, but how do you grow a kind child? In this sweet story of sisterhood, friendship and neighbor love, Keiko shares the bounty of the garden she has lovingly tended and finds extra special joy in the delight of others. Grow Kind is the third book in a series that also includes Grow Happy and Grow Grateful."

Thank You, Garden

Thank You, Garden by Liz Garten Scanlon, Simone Shin (illus.)
— Rae Ann Parker, Parnassus Books in Nashville, TN

"Rhyming text and vivid illustrations celebrate the joy of gardening with family and friends."

The Girl and the Witch's Garden

The Girl and the Witch's Garden by Erin Bowman
— Melissa Oates, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, SC

"Bowman's new novel has everything you could want in a middle-grade book: magic, mystery, relatable characters, and a world you can get lost in. Piper will have readers imagining what their own affinities might be and longing for them to manifest, and the Mallory Estate is sure to inspire hidden world fantasies. I loved getting lost in this story and can't wait to share it with fans of other kids' classics old and modern, from The Secret Garden to Harriet the Spy to Three Times Lucky and Nevermoor."

Harlem Grown

Harlem Grown by Tony Hillery, Jessie Hartland (illus.)
— Elese Stutts, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, NC

"A joyful book about community, perseverance and good food. Mr. Tony's spirit and gentle leadership shines through the pages and is sure to inspire young gardeners everywhere."

The Comic Book Guide to Growing Food

The Comic Book Guide to Growing Food by Joseph Tychonievich, Liz Anna Kozik (illus.)
— Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC

"I love how accessible this book is! I think it would be a great first vegetable gardening book for many people. It's quick to read from cover to cover, but it's also easy to look up specific topics. "

Read This Now | Read This Next | The Bookseller Directory

Coming up on the Reader Meet Writer Author Series:

Wild Women and the BluesWild Women and the Blues with Denny S. Bryce
Thu Apr 1st 7:00pm - 8:00pm | REGISTER

DENNY S. BRYCE is an award-winning author and three-time RWA Golden Heart® finalist, including twice for Wild Women and the Blues. In addition to writing for NPR Books and FROLIC Media, the former professional dancer is a public relations professional who has spent over two decades running her own marketing and event management firm. A member of the Historical Novel Society, Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and Novelists, Inc., she is a frequent speaker at author events. Originally from Chicago, she now lives in Savannah, Georgia. Visit her online at

Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies...

A Mariner's ale


A Mariner’s Tale by Joe Palmer
Koehler Books / October 2020

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More Reviews from Main Street Reads

From the publisher who introduced us to JC Sassser’s Gradle Bird and Rebecca Dwight Bruff’s Trouble the Water, this is another evocative Southern tale, set on the Florida coast. Lauded by other Southern gems including Cassandra King Conroy and Nicole Seitz, I was obviously intrigued, and journalist-turned-debut-novelist Joe Palmer delivers. Love the interaction between a crotchety old sailor and the crime-bound kid he takes under his wing. In a world often gone mad, this book was a great reminder that among storms and strife there is genuine humanity.

--Shari Stauch, Main Street Reads in Summerville, South Carolina

Bookseller Buzz


Spotlight on Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers

Morgan Rogers

"I say this all the time, seriously, but I feel like “found family” or “chosen family” is such an important component of the varied queer experience. It’s so hard to be alone, especially with people who are your blood, and may still love you, but can’t really understand something that makes up such a huge part of you and influences the other intersections of your identity." --Morgan Rogers, via She Reads

Honey Girl

What booksellers are saying about Honey Girl

  • Honey Girl was the first romance I read in 2021, and I’m so glad I started 2021 with Grace and Yuki. I loved the oops-we-got-married-in-Vegas start, then following along with these wives as they navigated their way towards their Happily Ever After. --Beth Seufer Buss,  Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC

  • This was a great reflection of how African-American women put an extreme amount of pressure on themselves; and that one must be gentle with themselves and know that everything will be ok. -- Deanna Bailey, Story on the Square, McDonough, GA

  • If Nayyirah Waheed and Rupi Kaur teamed up to write a lesbian contemporary romance, it'd be this. Honey Girl has the most jaw-droppingly beautiful prose I've ever read. --Lizy Coale, Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda, FL

About Morgan Rogers

Morgan Rogers is a queer black millennial. She writes books for queer girls that are looking for their place in the world. She lives in Maryland with her five dogs. Honey Girl is her debut novel.

You Look Like a Thing and I Love You


You Look Like a Thing and I Love You by Janelle Shane
Voracious / March 2021

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More Reviews from Avid Bookshop

Admittedly, I am a robot-fearing Luddite human who tried to buy a flip phone last year. This book quelled my fears about any imminent robot revolution, while also informing me of a different set of fears I should have regarding AI. Through this humorous and accessible book, research scientist Janelle Shane presents the weird experiments humans create and even weirder solutions robots find with pure nerdy enthusiasm that made me laugh many times. While being entertaining and informative, this book also critically points out the harm in programming AI and beliefs surrounding its capabilities. When your robot isn’t falling over or doing the can-can, perhaps you can program it to read this book to you (but you’ll probably still have to turn the pages yourself).

--Julie Jarema, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Gold Diggers


Gold Diggers by Sanjena Sathian
Penguin Press / April 2021

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More Reviews from The Snail on the Wall

Inside the shimmering cover of this book is a fascinating modern look at the golden promise of the American Dream, and its dark underpinnings. Neeraj Narayan (or Neil, as he’s known in his Atlanta suburb) feels inferior to his over-achieving Asian American peers and unequipped to meet the expectations of his parents. So, when a magical solution presents itself in the form of a potion concocted by his neighbors, he’s all too willing to try it. This quick-fix has tragic consequences that continue to haunt him a decade later when he’s trying to find his footing in Silicon Valley as a graduate student writing his dissertation on the Gold Rush. This is a fascinating novel about history, ambition, addiction, and the question his sister and friends had to try and answer while competing in the Miss Teen India pageant: “What does it mean to be both Indian and American?”

--Lady Smith, The Snail on the Wall in Huntsville, Alabama



Lobizona by Romina Garber
Wednesday Books / August, 2020

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More Reviews from Square Books

Inspired by Argentinian myth, this coming-of-age tale is packed with magic, friendship, and adventure as Manu tries to find her place in a world where she has always felt unwanted only to stumble into a new one altogether. Intriguing from the very start, Garber writes a story comprised of lovable characters, relevant social commentary, and just enough mystery to always keep you guessing.

--Asia Harden, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

Jungle Night


Jungle Night by Sandra Boynton, Yo-Yo Ma
Workman Publishing Company / March, 2021

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More Reviews from The Country Bookshop

Nighttime in the Jungle is such a peaceful time. With the Chee chee taaahhh of the Cheetah, the chatter choo of the monkeys and the wheee grunt of the red river hogs, all the animals are sleeping soundly until….. Full of Boynton signature silliness this bedtime book is sure to have young ones calling Again! Again!

--Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina

Read This Next!

Books on the horizon: Forthcoming favorites from Southern indies...

Mother May I


Mother May I by Joshilyn Jackson
William Morrow / March, 2021

More Reviews from Book No Further

Set in Atlanta, Joshilyn Jackson’s newest novel Mother May I is a domestic mystery, filled with kidnapping, mothers’ angst, revenge, and youthful caprice, but the most compelling theme revolves around the parameters of sexual assault, the divergent definitions of such an assault, and the trauma’s lifelong, negative effects on the victim. The novel’s intricate plot commences with a baby kidnapping in Chapter 2, but the heart of the piece slowly, painstakingly unwinds into a decades-old rape that truncated the trajectory of myriad lives, including those of the participants. The characterizations of the protagonists could have morphed into mere stereotypes in the hands of a less skilled wordsmith. However, Jackson molds and shapes her characters into believable human beings. The dramatic lengths to which all of the mothers rabidly pursue their ultimate devotion, loyalty, and unconditional love for their respective offspring are inspirational. Each mother feels justified in her unorthodox, violent , vengeful actions even if the reader, the police, and the legal system may disagree. The plot of Mother May I moves swiftly, employing cunning twists and turns that whet the reader’s appetite for the truth and for an equitable resolution of the plethora of conflicts. The novel is thought provoking and timely in the #MeToo era. 

– Beth O'Brochta, Book No Further in Roanoke, Virginia

Southern Bestsellers

What's popular this week with Southern Readers.

The Paris Library Caste The Glass Hotel
Nomadland Ground Zero

[ See the full list ]

lady banks bookshelf

Parting Thought

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” —Maya Angelou

Publisher: The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance /
Editor: Nicki Leone /
Advertising: Linda-Marie Barrett /
The Southern Bookseller Review is a project of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, in support of independent bookstores in the South | SIBA | 51 Pleasant Ridge Drive | Asheville, NC 28805

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