The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of July 6, 2021

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July 6, 2021

The Summer Reading List, energized!

Read This Next!

Southern indie booksellers have selected the 2021 Summer Read This Next! List: their favorite picks for new summer books. Titles are chosen from books publishing from July through September, representing the full range of reader interests. Each of the fifteen has the enthusiastic support of southern booksellers, marking them as hand-sell favorites for the summer. Read This Next! is the "You've got to read this!" list of the season.

Some of our favorite comments:

"Mott's latest is no joke. Charlie Kauffman-esque in its surrealism that devolves into almost fever dream with the most unreliable narrator I've ever read." -Amber Brown of Quail Ridge Books on Hell of a Book by Jason Mott

"It turns out all those hours I spent watching 1980s (and beyond) horror films weren't wasted. " -Tracie Harris of The Book House on The Final Girls Support Group by Grady Hendrix

"Eerie and chilling to the bone, The River Has Teeth is a razor-sharp novel that had me devouring its secrets late into the night." - Brad Sells from Parnassus Books, about The River Has Teeth by Erica Waters

See all 15 great summer reads here.

Read This Now | Read This Next | The Bookseller Directory

Coming up on the Reader Meet Writer Author Series:

Living Brave with Shannon DingleLiving Brave with Shannon Dingle
Thu Jul 8th 7:00pm - 8:00pm | REGISTER

Shannon Dingle is a disability activist, freelance writer, sex trafficking survivor, and recovering perfectionist. While she knows the societal rules about which topics to avoid in public settings, she breaks them regularly and teaches her six children to get into "good trouble, necessary trouble," in the words of civil rights icon John Lewis. She has written for USA Today, the Washington Post,and Teen Vogue, and her story has been featured on, NPR, and Good Morning America and in The Atlantic, the Wall Street Journal, Daily Kos, Christianity Today, and Slate. She lives in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies...

The Tiger Mom’s Tale by Lyn Liao Butler


The Tiger Mom’s Tale by Lyn Liao Butler
Berkley / July 2021

More Reviews from Bookmarks

Part mystery, part family drama, with a dash of romance, The Tiger Mom’s Tale is a story of two times. Lexa is grieving the death of her biological father, whom she only met once as a teen in Taiwan. Told through flashbacks of that ill-fated meeting, we revisit with Lexa the days spent meeting her father, biological sister, stepmother, and extended family, and the impact it had not only on her life but those closest to her. An impactful story about the power of family and connections.

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

Bookseller Buzz


Spotlight on: The Forest of Vanishing Stars by Kristin Harmel


Kristin Harmel

Like many writers last year, Kristin Harmel found her life upended when the country closed down in response to the pandemic. She had a tour planned in March, and another planned for the summer, and instead she found herself sitting at home, wondering what she should do.

"I was sitting at my desk, head throbbing with guilt," she remembers, "as I called or emailed the bookstores I should have been visiting, asking each bookseller, “Are you going to be okay? What can I do to help?”

One of the things she did was help to launch "Friends & Fiction" with some of her writer friends in the same boat: Mary Kay Andrews, Kristy Woodson Harvey, Patti Callahan Henry, Mary Alice Monroe. They began with a weekly Facebook Live series that brought other authors with canceled book tours in front of the readers they would normally be meeting at bookstores. It also provided a way for authors to advocate for independent bookstores, and talk to their fans about why these small businesses were so important.

Friends & Fiction became not just a book program, but a community. "Maintaining that sense of togetherness isn’t something that happens without our collective help." says Harmel, "I write novels about World War II, so the sense of a shadow sweeping over life as we know it is all too familiar. But I also know—from spending many years researching, reading and writing about the hardest days of that war—that the best thing about darkness is that you have the opportunity to find light, and in doing so, come out stronger and better on the other side."

See Kristin Harmel on Reader Meet Writer

The Forest of Vanishing Stars : How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessons

What booksellers are saying about The Forest of Vanishing Stars

  • This is historical fiction at its best and survivors and descendants have contributed to the significant research that went into the making of this book. A powerful story that I couldn’t put down. -- Stephanie Crowe from Page and Palette in Fairhope, AL
    Buy from Page and Palette

  • Atmospheric with hints of fairy tale, The Forest of Vanishing Stars is a stand out in the WWII Historical Fiction genre. --Jessica Nock from Main Street Books in Davidson, NC
    Buy from Main Street Books

  • Another mesmerizing story from Kristin Harmel. Yona's struggle to come to terms with God's will and her own origins threads through the book. Loved it and cannot wait for wait what KH brings us next! --Laura Taylor from Oxford Exchange in Tampa, FL
    Buy from Oxford Exchange

  • Kristin’s new novel is magical! The isolated, survivalist upbringing of the main character, Yona, provides a rich and intriguing springboard for this story to evolve, an extraordinary story of Jews surviving Nazi terror deep in the forest. Awesome storytelling, terrific writing. --Cathy Graham from Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda, FL
    Buy from Copperfish Books

About Kristin Harmel

Kristin Harmel is the New York Times bestselling author of a dozen novels including The Book of Lost Names, The Winemaker’s Wife, The Room on Rue Amélie, and The Sweetness of Forgetting. She is also the cofounder and cohost of the popular web series, Friends and Fiction. She lives in Orlando, Florida.

How to Break an Evil Curse by Laura Morrison


How to Break an Evil Curse by Laura Morrison
Black Spot Books / July 2021

More Reviews from Story on the Square

The idea of a twisted fairy tale is nothing new, but this book’s “dear reader” style and the changes it chooses to make to the traditional format are absolutely fantastic. I absolutely devoured this book. I was laughing one minute, and holding my breath in terror the next! If you like modern interpretations of classic stories, with curses, ghosts, princesses, with a healthy dose of laughter in between – read this book now!

Reviewed by Kate Wilder, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia

Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead by Emily Austin


Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead by Emily Austin
Atria Books / July 2021

More Reviews from Story On the Square

I started off laughing out loud at Gilda’s inner monologue. The clever writing matches her state of mind and drew me in right away. It took me maybe a third of the book to realize that she was going to get a lot worse. She might lose her mind entirely. I was a little ticked off that this sweet, funny girl was going to be sacrificed to the literary fiction gods for the sake of seriousness. But, then, she wasn’t. I loved this book, then worried for it, then loved it all over again. It’s such a great illustration of what happens to members of a family where all hurts are stuffed, all bad things swept under the rug. Austin weaves the larger narrative into Gilda’s particular story so well that I wasn’t even aware of what she was doing. When that damn cat shows up under the steps, I nearly cheered. Bravo! This may not be an easy hand-sell, but I’m going to give my best shot.

Reviewed by Angela Schroeder, Sunrise Books in High Point, North Carolina

The Cruelty Is the Point by Adam Serwer


The Cruelty Is the Point by Adam Serwer
One World / July 2021

More Reviews from Parnassus Books

I’ve followed Serwer’s articles in the Atlantic for several years. In this collection of his most moving pieces, he’s added a short introduction to each one with new insights and background. Bonus – Kevin Kruse blurbed it.

Reviewed by Sissy Gardner, Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee

On the Day the Horse Got Out by Audrey Helen Weber


On the Day the Horse Got Out by Audrey Helen Weber
Little Brown Books for Young Readers / June 2021

More Reviews from Avid Bookshop

On the Day the Horse Got Out is one of those books that feels like a classic—it’s got the rhythm and nonsensical vibe of a nursery rhyme, and beautifully rendered illustrations that recall Tomie dePaola, Sergio Ruzzier, and Carson Ellis. Perfect for reading aloud, especially at bedtime—it’s a recipe for dreams filled with beribboned comets, giant flowers, and horses leaping through starry, cloud-puffed skies.

Reviewed by Hannah DeCamp, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Read This Next!

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

House of Sticks by Ly Tran


House of Sticks by Ly Tran
Scribner / June 2021

More Reviews from Flyleaf Books

A Spring 2021 Read This Next! Title

With a delicate simplicity to her poetic prose, Ly Tran has crafted a spellbinding memoir perfect for fans of Tara Westover, Celeste Ng, and Jeanette Walls. Ly Tran’s story reached into the depths of my heart and soul, and filled me with overwhelming hope. I can’t wait for readers to be introduced to the singular beauty of her vivid voice. 

Reviewed by Gennifer Eccles from Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, NC

Southern Bestsellers

What's popular this week with Southern Readers.

Malibu Rising How the Word is Passed Mexican Gothic
The Lost Colony Murder Strange Planet

[ See the full list ]

sbr shelf

Parting Thought

“Both reading and writing are experiences – lifelong – in the course of which we who encounter words used in certain ways are persuaded by them to be brought mind and heart within the presence, the power, of the imagination.” – Eudora Welty

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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