The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of May 18, 2021

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May 18, 2021sbr logo

Don't complain unless you're going to be part of the solution.

friendly city books

What they are reading at Friendly City Books

Friendly City Books in Columbus, Mississippi recently joined the SBR family of reviewers. Founder Emily Liner opened the store in the fall of 2020, when the town found itself without a bookstore. "We have a saying in my family," says Emily on the store's website,“Don’t complain unless you’re going to be part of the solution.”

Friendly City Books focuses on Mississippi writers, and also has its own publishing imprint dedicating to identifying new Mississippi voices.

Read the books they are reading at Friendly City | Visit the store

Read This Now | Read This Next | The Bookseller Directory

Coming up on the Reader Meet Writer Author Series:

If or When I Call with Will JohnsonIf or When I Call with Will Johnson
Thu Jun 3rd 7:00pm - 8:00pm | REGISTER

Will Johnson is a musician and songwriter who has played in the bands Centro-matic, South San Gabriel, Marie/Lepanto, Overseas, New Multitudes, and Monsters of Folk. He also releases records under his own name, and makes paintings centering on the subject of baseball and its history. His work has appeared in American Short Fiction. He was born in Kennett, Missouri, and currently lives in Austin, Texas. If or When I Call is his first novel.

The Soulmate Equation with Christina LaurenThe Soulmate Equation with Christina Lauren
Mon Jun 7th 7:00pm - 8:00pm | REGISTER

Christina Lauren is the combined pen name of longtime writing partners and best friends Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings, the New York TimesUSA TODAY, and #1 internationally bestselling authors of the Beautiful and Wild Seasons series, Dating You / Hating You, Autoboyography, Love and Other Words, Roomies, Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating, My Favorite Half-Night Stand, and The Unhoneymooners. You can find them online at, @ChristinaLauren on Instagram, or @ChristinaLauren on Twitter.

Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies...

The Haunting of Alma Fielding by Kate Summerscale


The Haunting of Alma Fielding by Kate Summerscale
Penguin Press / April 2021

More Reviews from Malaprop's

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher was my introduction to Kate Summerscale’s irresistible recounting of fascinating events often lost to history. In The Haunting of Alma Fielding she weaves the true story of a London housewife whose experiences of the supernatural capture the imagination of pre-WWII London, and of the ghost hunter who investigates the poltergeist and discovers a stranger, darker tale. Surrounding Alma, we get a vivid picture of a public captivated by the allure of the supernatural and simultaneously filled with growing anxiety over the prospect of a global conflict. A masterful combination of fact, propulsive storytelling, and atmosphere.

--Reviewed by Clara Boza, Malaprop’s in Asheville, North Carolina

Bookseller Buzz


Spotlight on: Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller

Claire Fuller

Claire Fuller listened to the same two songs for two years when writing this novel, Polly Vaughn (an old English folk song) sung by Tia Blake, and We Roamed Through the Garden, written by her son, Henry Ayling. She thinks this is why the characters in her book become folk musicians. Now that the book is out, she has expanded her playlist, and shared it with her readers.

Unsettled Ground

What booksellers are saying about Unsettled Ground

  • Claire Fuller has gifted her readers with a beautifully wrought tale of how grief can lead to an insular life of loneliness and control.Hidden secrets and lifelong misconceptions rise to the surface in this tender and compelling read. -- Damita Nocton, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC
    Buy from The Country Bookshop

  • Beautifully immersive, Claire Fuller’s Unsettled Ground explores the consequences of decisions and secrets adults make when their children have no agency. This is a captivating, suspenseful book that will end with you deeply wanting to have a conversation with the characters. -- Rachel Watkins from Avid Bookshop in Athens, GA
    Buy from Avid Bookshop.

  • Fuller has developed two wonderful characters, flawed and naive but resilient. I worried about them but thoroughly enjoyed watching them solve the challenges they met. This is a great story and well worth the read. -Stephanie Crowe from Page & Palette in Fairhope, AL
    Buy from Page & Palette

  • Unsettled Ground is truly the perfect title for this book, because no matter how comfy I was in my favorite chair on a cozy night, I never felt truly settled reading this book. And sometimes, that is the reading experience you need. -- Kate Storhoff from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC
    Buy from Bookmarks

About Claire Fuller

Claire Fuller was born in Oxfordshire, England. She has written three novels: Our Endless Numbered Days, which won the Desmond Elliott Prize; Swimming Lessons; and Bitter Orange. She has an MA in Creative and Critical Writing from the University of Winchester and lives in Hampshire with her husband.

Caul Baby by Morgan Jerkins


Caul Baby by Morgan Jerkins
Harper / April 2021

More Reviews from Story on the Square

This was a beautiful book of magic, secrets, betrayal and race in America. I can’t put into words what I just read (in a good way) because the characters are so intertwined with one another and they don’t even know it, which was riveting to read. Sometimes I read so many books that I forget characters names and little innate details, but this is a gripping story that I will never forget. I was so happy about the climax and ending, this is going to be a lot of readers Best Reads of 2021!

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

Edie Richter is Not Alone by Rebecca Handler


Edie Richter is Not Alone by Rebecca Handler
The Unnamed Press / March 2021

More Reviews from Avid Bookshop

I’ve never finished a book and immediately started rereading it, but this is how I read Edie Richter is Not Alone. I’m dazzled by the way Rebecca Handler channels so much noticing and emotion into her carefully curated (sometimes sparse) prose. Handler has written Edie’s interior monologue so that seeing a spider in a church, hearing possums on a roof, or regarding a cockroach in the grass makes you inhabit Edie’s brain. This is a book about the loss of a parent to Alzheimer’s disease that is funny and sad and extremely entertaining.

--Reviewed by Rachel Watkins, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Last Chance Books by Kelsey Rodkey


Last Chance Books by Kelsey Rodkey
HarperTeen / May 2021

Read With Me, A Childrens Book & Art Shop

I really enjoyed Last Chance Books! This book has a quirky main character who full of emotions as her indie is about to go out of business! Perfect for fans of Tweet Cute and Recommended for You, this book will keep readers hooked with witty banter, business-to-business competition, and enemies to lovers!

Reviewed by Brittany Bunzey, Read With Me, A Childrens Book & Art Shop in Raleigh, North Carolina

Kafka and the Doll by Larissa Theule, Rebecca Green (Illus.)


Kafka and the Doll by Larissa Theule, Rebecca Green (Illus.)
Viking Books for Young Readers / March 2021

More Reviews from Flyleaf Books

Based on a true story, this book will melt your heart! Kafka meets a girl who lost her doll and proceeds to tell her that the doll is simply traveling. For three weeks, Kafka writes letters to the girl from her doll. Absolutely precious with a heartwrenching ending.

--Reviewed by Jen Minor, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Read This Next!

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

While Justice Sleeps by Stacey Abrams


While Justice Sleeps by Stacey Abrams
Doubleday / May 2021

More Reviews from Main Street Books

A Spring 2021 Read This Next! Title

Stacey Abrams shows us her genius in yet another way with this heart-pounding political thriller. I was hooked from page one when Avery Keene, a brilliant Supreme Court law clerk is named legal guardian and power of attorney for her difficult, enigmatic boss, Justice Howard Wynn after he slips into a coma. Lives, political careers, and billions of dollars are at stake as Avery works to figure out the clues that Justice Wynn left for her to figure out regarding one of the most controversial cases ever to come before the US Supreme Court. I was sitting on the edge of my seat for this one.

– Jessica Nock from Main Street Books in Davidson, NC

Southern Bestsellers

What's popular this week with Southern Readers.

Great Circle Finding the Mother Tree Such a Fun Age
Braided Sweetgrass Concrete Rose

[ See the full list ]

lady banks bookshelf

Parting Thought

"Books are, let’s face it, better than everything else. If we played Cultural Fantasy Boxing League, and made books go fifteen rounds in the ring against the best that any other art form had to offer, then books would win pretty much every time." – Nick Hornby

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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