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Lady Banks Pick of the Week

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October 7, 2020

The dangerous nature of the holiday cookie swap
lady banks roses

Reviewed by booksellers this week: A famous American artist with a secret, a bored housewife in a surreal town, two people who make a Faustian bargain for a more interesting life, and a sharp, sweet look at the ruthless undercurrents of the holiday cookie swap.

Newly available from the Reader Meet Writer Author Series: Margaret Kimberley offers an authoritative exploration of America’s relationship with race and black Americans through the lens of the presidents who have been elected to represent all of its people.

Reader Meet Writer

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her ladyship, the editor

Lady Banks Pick of the Week

Reader Meet Writer: Dianne M. Stewart

Reader Meet WriterReader Meet Writer is a virtual author series sponsored by southern independent bookstores. Check with your local bookstore for the upcoming schedule, or see past events at the Reader Meet Writer playlist


Dianne StewartThu Oct 8th 7:00pm - 8:00pm Black Women, Black Love with Dianne M. Stewart

According to the 2010 US census, more than seventy percent of Black women in America are unmarried. Black Women, Black Love reveals how four centuries of laws, policies, and customs have created that crisis.

Dianne Stewart is an associate professor of religion and African American studies at Emory University, where she created the course Black Love. She earned her MDiv from Harvard Divinity School and her PhD in systematic theology from Union Theological Seminary in New York City. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

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Reviewed by Booksellers

Reviewed by Southern Booksellers

A Snake Lies WaitingFor Beautiful Black Boys Who Believe in a Better World by Michael W. Waters & Keisha Morris
October, 2020

Reviewed by Lizzy Nanney,
Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC

This children's book handles modern black tragedies with such care and understanding that it is a must have for families and classrooms trying to explain what is going on in the world to children. In the book kids ask questions, they draw in, and then learn to come back out of their heads to communicate with their parents about what they're feeling. With subtle religious influence, this book carefully gives steps of what we can all do to make the world better. Includes a discussion guide for parents and teachers using this book as a resource.

The Great Holiday Cookie SwapThe Great Holiday Cookie Swap by Melanie Kyer, Joe Kulka
October, 2020

Reviewed by Kelly Justice, Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA

This is a weird little book by an educator and first time author and I've fallen in love with it. Bakers leave their cookies unattended at a cookie swap and the baked goods immediately start competing for Top Cookie. Bullying ensues! Crumbs are shed! Will they learn the lessons of peace on Earth before they are all destroyed? A wise old shortbread called Nan Khatai teaches them to overcome their hate and live together in love. Newly enlightened, they join together to celebrate Diwali, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Bodhi, and more this special time of year. The text is complimented with little historical asides about where each cookie originates. At the end of the book there is even more information about the eight cookies (kourabiedes, mandlebrot, benne wafers, gingerbread, etc), their recipes and holiday dates to celebrate!

Cursed ObjectsA Measure of Belonging by Cinelle Barnes
October, 2020

Reviewed by Rachel Watkins, Avid Book Shop, Athens, GA

While southerners are famous for their hospitality, the reality for the twenty-one writers of color featured in A MEASURE OF BELONGING ranges from unwelcome to outright hostile. Cinelle Barnes edited this important book of essays featuring writers such as Jennifer Hope Choi, Kiese Laymon, and Nicole Perkins. From M. Evelina Galang's piece on how Miami is like Manila, to Aruni Kashyap's essay on questions potential white landlords in Athens, Georgia asked him ("Are you Muslim?"), you're going to love these perspectives and immediately tell someone about this book.

HenchIndian Cuisine by Vivek Singh
October, 2020

Reviewed by Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC

I love that this cookbook is divided up regionally and that you can learn about the differences between foods from different areas of India and Pakistan. The subtitle isn't just a clever line, it really does seem like it's full of authentic recipes. A necessary addition to to a home chef's cookbook shelf!

HenchThe Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab
October, 2020

Reviewed by Angela Trigg, The Haunted Book Shop, Mobile, AL

An atmospheric fantasy of two people who longed to live a life where others saw them and valued them for themselves, but made Faustian bargains with differing results--those who met Henry always saw what they desired to see in him, and Adie was cursed to never be remembered. Aching and poignant.

The HoleThe Hole by Hiroko Oyamada
October, 2020

Reviewed by Lucia Drinkwalter, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC

Since moving to rural Japan, Asa spends her long summer days waiting for her husband to come home from work. In his absence she naps, cleans, cooks, and listens to the cicadas. Succumbing to restlessness, she decides to explore the town and is faced with an assortment of surreal goings-on. A wonderfully bizarre tale of the insanity of daily life, The Hole is both unbelievable and relatable.

Pale Morning Light with Violet SwanPale Morning Light with Violet Swan by Deborah Reed
October, 2020

Reviewed by Jean Lewis, Copperfish Books, Punta Gorda, FL

What a wonderful discovery. I am in love with this book. I didn't want it to end. A famous American artist with a secret so shaming she never told her husband or son. This could only happen to a woman. Compelling and beautifully written.

More bookseller reviews

The Okra Picks

Okra Picks

Great new Southern books, picked by Southern booksellers.

Dear JustyceDear Justyce by Nic Stone
September 29, 2020

"Middle grade master Nic Stone is at her magnificent best in this ripped-from-the-headlines follow up to her award winning Dear Martin. A powerful look through the eyes of a teen caught up in the fresh hell of the youth criminal justice system. Quan's voice, heard through letters, echoes long after the final page. An absolute must-read for the fall. " --Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC


In the highly anticipated sequel to her New York Times bestseller, Nic Stone delivers an unflinching look into the flawed practices and silenced voices in the American juvenile justice system.

Vernell LaQuan Banks and Justyce McAllister grew up a block apart in the Southwest Atlanta neighborhood of Wynwood Heights. Years later, though, Justyce walks the illustrious halls of Yale University…and Quan sits behind bars at the Fulton Regional Youth Detention Center.

Through a series of flashbacks, vignettes, and letters to Justyce—the protagonist of Dear Martin—Quan's story takes form. Troubles at home and misunderstandings at school give rise to police encounters and tough decisions. But then there's a dead cop and a weapon with Quan's prints on it. What leads a bright kid down a road to a murder charge? Not even Quan is sure.

More Okra Picks

The Southern Independent Bestseller List

southern bestseller list

For the week ending 10/4/2020.


1. The Return Nicholas Sparks, Grand Central, $28, 9781538728574
2. The Evening and the Morning Ken Follett, Viking, $36, 9780525954989
3. The Book of Two Ways Jodi Picoult, Ballantine, $28.99, 9781984818355
4. All the Devils Are Here Louise Penny, Minotaur, $28.99, 9781250145239
5. The Guest List Lucy Foley, Morrow, $27.99, 9780062868930


1. Rage Bob Woodward, S&S, $30, 9781982131739
2. Caste Isabel Wilkerson, Random House, $32, 9780593230251
3. Everything Beautiful in Its Time Jenna Bush Hager, Morrow, $26.99, 9780062960627
4. The Man Who Ran Washington: The Life and Times of James A. Baker III Peter Baker, Susan Glasser, Doubleday, $35, 9780385540551
5. The Deepest South of All: True Stories from Natchez, Mississippi Richard Grant, S&S, $26, 9781501177828

See what's special to the Southern List!

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