Twenty-one of the latest beach reads, mysteries and romances from down South.
And Then I Found You
by Patti Callahan Henry
Kate Vaughan is no stranger to tough choices. She’s made them before, and now it’s time to do it again. Kate has a secret, something tucked away in her past, but she’s getting on with her life. Her business is thriving and she has a devoted boyfriend whom she wants to love with all her heart. But she wants more than the perfect relationship on paper; she wants a real and imperfect love. That’s why, when Kate discovers the small velvet box hidden in Rowan’s drawer, she panics. It always happens this way, yet, for the first time in her life she also knows that she won’t fully love until she confronts those from her past.
A Place At The Table
by Susan Rebecca White
Celebrating the healing power of food, “A Place at the Table” tells the story of three characters whose paths converge in a storied Manhattan cafe: Bobby, a young gay man from Georgia who has been ostracized by his family; Amelia, a wealthy Connecticut woman whose life is upended when a family secret comes to light; and Alice, an African-American chef from North Carolina whose heritage is the basis of a renowned cookbook but whose past is a mystery to those who know her. As the narrative sweeps from a freed-slave settlement in 1920s North Carolina to Manhattan and Old Greenwich, Connecticut, Bobby, Amelia and Alice are asked to sacrifice everything they ever knew or cared about to find authenticity and fulfillment. Chat with Susan July 19 on Twitter from 1-2 CST!
by Carl Hiaasen (releases June 11)
Health Inspector Andrew Yancy has a human arm in his freezer. There’s a logical (Hiaasenian) explanation for that, but not for how and why it parted from its owner. Yancy thinks the current boating-accident/shark-luncheon explanation is full of holes, and if he can prove murder, his commander might finally respect him. But first he must travel from the Keys to Miami to a Bahamian out island with a crew of equally ever-surprising (also Hiaasenian) characters, including the frozen arm’s widow, a voodoo witch and the eponymous Bad Monkey.
Call Me Zelda
by Erika Robuck
“Call Me Zelda” opens with F. Scott Fitzgerald dropping Zelda off at Phipps Psychiatric Clinic in Baltimore in February of 1932. Robuck sets the scene for the portrait of a once loving marriage that’s become controlled by money, fame, alcohol and ambition. This is Scott and Zelda “after the party,” and Robuck portrays it all through the eyes of Nurse Anna, who meets Zelda the day she enters the clinic. Anna, a withdrawn beauty trapped by her own tragic past, is increasingly drawn into their relationship and takes great risks in trying to help Zelda. But in opening her heart and sharing her own passions and fears with Zelda, Anna may end up paying a far higher price than she ever intended. Read our review here & chat with Erika on Twitter June 21 from 1-2 CST!
The Cherry Cola Book Club
by Ashton Lee
With its corrugated iron siding and cramped interior, the Cherico, Mississippi, library is no Antebellum gem. But for young librarian Maura Beth Mayhew, it’s as essential to the community as the delicious desserts at the Twinkle, Twinkle Cafe. Which is why Maura Beth has founded the Cherry Cola Book Club – a last-ditch attempt to boost circulation and save her job. Over potluck dinners, the booklovers of Cherico come together to talk about literary classics. But soon it’s not just Margaret Mitchell and Harper Lee being discussed over chicken gumbo and homemade biscuits. Secrets are shared, old dreams rekindled and new loves slowly blossom.
Dream With Little Angels
by Michael Hiebert (releases June 25)
“Hiebert has an authentic southern voice and his protagonist, eleven-year-old Abe Teal, is as engaging as Harper Lee’s Scout. Dream with Little Angels is a masterful coming-of-age gem,” says New York Times bestselling author Deborah Crombie about this debut novel. Abe Teal wasn’t even born when Ruby Mae Vickers went missing 12 years ago. Few people in Alvin, Alabama, talk about how Ruby Mae’s lifeless body was finally found beneath a willow tree. Even Abe’s mom, Leah, Alvin’s only detective, has avoided the subject. But now, two more girls are missing. Abe watches his mother battle small-town bureaucracy and old resentments, desperate to find both girls and quietly frantic for her own children’s safety.
The Guest House
by Erika Marks
For generations, the natives of Harrisport have watched wealthy summer families descend on their Cape Cod town, inhabiting the massive cottages along the town’s best stretches of beachfront. But when rich Southerner Tucker Moss breaks the heart of local girl Edie Wright in the summer of 1966, an enduring war starts between the two families that lasts for generations. Edie’s youngest child, Lexi, should know better than to fall in love with a Moss, but when she returns home after two years away from the Cape, she finds herself torn once again between passion and family loyalty. Chat with Erika on Twitter June 28 from 1-2 CST!
by Stephen King
Stephen King’s first venture into hard case crime, “Joyland” is set in a small-town North Carolina amusement park in 1973. After realizing his romantic life is not going in the direction he’d hoped, Devin Jones decides to take a summer job. There, he makes friends with the other summer hires at Joyland, which years before had been the scene of the murder of a young woman named Linda Gray whose ghost is said to be seen at the Horror House. He also befriends a young boy and his mother. Their lives all become entwined when Devin decides to investigate the mystery of the unsolved murder by the “Carny Killer.”
by Mary Kay Andrews
Grace Stanton’s life as a rising media star and beloved lifestyle blogger takes a surprising turn when she catches her husband cheating and torpedoes his pricey sports car straight into the family swimming pool. She suddenly finds herself locked out of her palatial home, checking account and even the blog she worked so hard to develop. Moving in with her widowed mother, who owns and lives above a rundown beach bar called The Sandbox, is less than ideal. So is attending court-mandated weekly “divorce recovery” therapy sessions with three other women and one man. When their “divorce coach” starts to act suspiciously, the group decides to have their own Wednesday “Ladies’ Night” sessions at The Sandbox, and the unanticipated bonds that develop lead the members of the group to try and find closure in ways they never imagined.
The Last Original Wife
by Dorothea Benton Frank (releases June 11)
Leslie Anne Greene Carter is “The Last Original Wife” among her husband, Wesley’s, wildly successful Atlanta social set. His cronies have all traded in the mothers of their children they promised to love and cherish — ’til death do they part — for tanned and toned young Barbie brides. If losing the social life and close friends she adored wasn’t painful enough, a series of setbacks shake Les’s world and push her to the edge. She’s had enough of playing the good wife and heads to her hometown of Charleston to reclaim the carefree girl who spent lazy summers sharing steamy kisses with her first love on Sullivan’s Island.
Philadelphia journalist Rod Dreher tells the story of returning back to his hometown of St. Francisville, Louisiana, in the wake of his younger sister, Ruthie’s, death. He was moved by the way the community he left behind rallied around his dying sister and began to wonder whether the ordinary life Ruthie led in their country town was in fact a path of hidden grandeur, even spiritual greatness, concealed within the modest life of a mother and teacher. As a result, Dreher and his wife moved their three children “home” to grow up amidst the rituals that had defined his family for five generations and become part of a community.
by Wilton Barnhardt (releases August 20)
Jerene Jarvis Johnston and her husband, Duke, are exemplars of Charlotte, North Carolina’s high society, where old Southern money — and older Southern secrets — meet the new wealth of bankers, boom-era speculators and carpetbagging social climbers. Jerene presides over her family’s legacy of paintings at the Mint Museum, while Duke, the one-time college golden boy and descendant of a Confederate general, has settled into a comfortable semi-senescence as a Civil War re-enactor. A hilarious narrative of a family coming apart, a society changing beyond recognition and an unforgettable woman striving to pull it all together, Barnhardt’s fourth novel has already received praise from Lee Smith, Joshilyn Jackson, Mark Childress and Alice Sebold.
Looking for Me
by Beth Hoffman
A Southern novel of family and antiques from the bestselling author of “Saving CeeCee Honeycutt,” Beth Hoffman’s latest features Teddi Overman, who’s found her passion for furniture in a broken-down chair left on the side of the road in rural Kentucky. She learns to turn other people’s castoffs into beautifully restored antiques and eventually opens her own shop in Charleston. But her new life is interrupted when signs emerge that her brother may be alive. Teddi is drawn home to Kentucky in a journey that could help her come to terms with her shattered family and find herself at last. Chat with Beth July 26 on Twitter from 1-2 CST!
The Lost Husband
by Katherine Center
Dear Libby, It occurs to me that you and your two children have been living with your mother for—Dear Lord!—two whole years, and I’m writing to see if you’d like to be rescued. The letter comes out of the blue, and just in time for Libby Moran, who — after the sudden death of her husband, Danny — went to stay with her hypercritical mother. Now her crazy Aunt Jean has offered Libby an escape: a job and a place to live on her farm in the Texas Hill Country. Before she can talk herself out of it, Libby is packing the minivan, grabbing the kids and hitting the road.
The Miniature Wife And Other Stories
by Manuel Gonzales
The 18 stories of Austin, Texas, writer Manuel Gonzales’s first book render the fantastic commonplace and the ordinary extraordinary. A hijacked plane circles the city of Dallas for 20 years in “Pilot, Copilot, Writer,” sound can kill in “The Sounds of Early Morning,” and, in the title story, a man is at war with the wife he accidentally shrank. Oh, and there’s unicorns and zombies too. For Gonzales’s characters, the phenomenal isn’t necessarily special, but it’s often dangerous.
by Matthew Guinn (releases July 8)
Dog days and the fresh bodies are arriving once again. So begins the fall term at South Carolina Medical College, where Dr. Jacob Thacker is on probation for Xanax abuse. His interim career — working public relations for the dean — takes an unnerving detour into the past when the bones of African American slaves, over a century old, are unearthed on campus. Out of the college’s dark past, these bones threaten to rise and condemn the present. A Southern Gothic tale of shocking crimes and exquisite revenge, “The Resurrectionist” has been called “a spectacular novel that seamlessly connects fact and fiction, past and present” by Ron Rash.
The Sassy Belles
by Beth Albright
There are only two seasons in Tuscaloosa, Alabama — football and waiting-for-football. When Lewis Heart, football announcer and voice of the Crimson Tide, vanishes after an impromptu romp with Vivi Ann McFadden at the Fountain Mist Motel, Vivi does what any Southern woman would do: call her best friend, Blake O’Hara Heart, attorney-at-law. With the town gossip swirling around them, Vivi and Blake are determined to find out what happened to Lewis and clear Vivi’s reputation. The debut novel of former “Days of our Lives” actress and Tuscaloosa native Beth Albright, “The Sassy Belles” features many of the strong and hilarious Southern women she admired growing up.
The Summer Girls
by Mary Alice Monroe (releases June 25)
Three granddaughters. Three months. One summer house. Set amid ancient live oaks and palmettos, overlooking the water, historic Sea Breeze is Marietta Muir’s ancestral summer home. Her granddaughters once adored vacations there, but it’s been years since they’ve visited. She fears once she is gone, the family bonds will fray. The Muir family is one of Charleston’s oldest, so Marietta drops a subtle promise of loot — pearl necklaces, priceless antique furniture, even the house — to lure her “summer girls” back to the lowcountry. There, three sisters discover the true treasures Sea Breeze offers as surprising truths are revealed, mistakes forgiven and precious connections made that will endure long beyond one summer.
The Time Between
by Karen White
Thirty-four-year-old Eleanor Murray is consumed with guilt for causing the accident that paralyzed her sister — and for falling in love with her sister’s husband. But when her enigmatic boss offers her a part-time job caring for his elderly aunt, Helena, Eleanor accepts, hoping the time away from her family will do her good. On the barrier island of Edisto, a landscape lush with sweet grass and salt marshes, Eleanor bonds with Helena over their mutual love of music. Drawing the older woman out of her depression, Eleanor learns of Helena’s life in Hungary, with her sister, before and during World War II. She hears tales of fiery passion and heartache, defiance and deception. But when the truth of Helena and her sister’s shocking past comes to light, Eleanor may finally learn what will help heal her relationship with her own sister — and set her free.
by Claire Cook (releases June 11)
An epic road trip filled with fun, heartbreak and friendship, “Time Flies” is the story of Melanie, a successful metal sculptor in Atlanta, whose husband has left her for another woman. Having the tools to cut up their marriage bed is small consolation, but when her best friend makes her buy a ticket to her high school reunion and an old flame gets in touch to see whether she’ll be going, Melanie fantasizes that returning to her past might help her find her future … until her driving phobia resurfaces and threatens to hold her back from the adventure of a lifetime.
Topped Chef: A Key West Food Critic Mystery
by Lucy Burdette
Hayley Snow loves her job as the food critic for Key Zest magazine. She’d rate her life four stars, until she’s forced into the spotlight … and another murder investigation. Hoping for some good publicity, Hayley’s boss signs her up to help judge the Key West Topped Chef contest. Stakes are high as the winner could be the next cooking-show superstar. Hayley shows up for the filming only to find Sam Rizzoli, big shot businessman and owner of the restaurant she just panned in her first negative review, on the judging panel with her. When Rizzoli turns up dead, the police assume his killer is one of his business rivals. But Hayley wonders whether someone is taking the contest a little too seriously.
Stay tuned for book giveaways and Twitter chats in conjunction with our Reading List all summer!