Our Summer Reading List will debut at the end of May, but we wanted to give you a short list to tide you over until then. All of these 11 books — from original fiction to short story collections, a few memoirs and some thrillers — are either available now or by April 1.
Candyland by Vicki Salloum
In her followup to 2014’s Faulkner & Friends, Vicki Salloum brings us a teenager with a conscience who goes on a harrowing crusade to save a boy’s life. Seventeen-year-old Lázara Maria Soto lives in the Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans. Her parents cook crystal meth in their bootleg lab, Candyland. Her brothers sell it to kids in the high school parking lot. She would love for her parents to live an honest life. She would love for her brothers to stop making fiends out of her friends. Out of fear and complacency, she does nothing to stop them — until one day she overhears her brothers plotting to kill a 15-year-old if he fails to repay his drug debt before midnight.
Delta Flats: Stories in the Key of Blues and Hope by Dixon Hearne
From the piney hills of North Louisiana to the raw, decadent streets of New Orleans, Dixon Hearne records the daily lives of his characters with a poetic rhythm. With language as gritty as the blues, these stories define the hot days and long nights of the Deep South. Hearne juxtaposes the downtrodden with the hopeful and the darkness with the light as each story plays out with deft, lyrical descriptions that will make you “want to sing along,” according to author Tim Parrish.
The Feathered Bone by Julie Cantrell
In the pre-Katrina glow of New Orleans, Amanda Salassi is anxious about chaperoning her daughter’s sixth-grade field trip to the Big Easy during Halloween. And then Amanda’s worst fears come true. Her daughter’s best friend, Sarah, disappears amid the magic and revelry — gone, without a trace. Unable to cope with her guilt, Amanda’s daughter sinks into a depression, and Amanda’s husband turns destructive as he watches his family succumb to grief. Before long, Amanda’s whole world has collapsed. Will Amanda be able to save herself and maybe Sarah too?
Free of Malice by Liz Lazarus
Laura Holland awakes in the middle of the night to see a stranger standing in her bedroom doorway. She manages to defend herself from the would-be rapist, though he threatens to return as he retreats. Traumatized with recurring nightmares, Laura seeks therapy and self-protection in the form of a gun. When she learns that she could have gone to prison for shooting her fleeing assailant, Laura decides to write a hypothetical legal case with the help of Atlanta criminal defense lawyer Thomas Bennett. He proves to be well versed in the justice system but also seems to know more about the night she was attacked than he should. As reality and fiction merge, Laura’s real-life drama begins to mirror the fiction she’s trying to create.
Louisiana Women, Volume 2 edited by Mary Farmer-Kaiser and Shannon Frystak
Showcasing the actions and activities of women who greatly affected the history of Louisiana in profound and interesting ways, the essays in this volume are all on women at the forefront of Louisiana and national events. There’s politician Lindy Claiborne Boggs; sugar producers Appoline Patout, Mary Ann Patout, and Ida Patout Burns; Melrose Plantation owner Carmelite “Cammie” Garrett Henry; musician Lucinda Williams (who graces the cover); author Rebecca Wells; and more. A perfect read for Women’s History Month!
My Mother’s House: A Memoir by David Armand
David Armand has wowed us with his fiction — most recently The Gorge — and has now produced a memoir about his schizophrenic mother. Set in the bucolic, yet brutal South of his youth, Armand recounts his early memories of being given up for adoption, only to be raised in a home with an alcoholic and abusive stepfather. Armand paints his seemingly negative experiences with a sympathetic and understanding brush, and opens up a new world of hope and possibility when he is reunited with his mother later in life.
New Orleans Noir edited by Julie Smith
Akashic Books continues its award-winning series of original noir anthologies with classic reprints from writers like James Lee Burke, Grace King, Kate Chopin, O. Henry, Eudora Welty, Tennessee Williams, Shirley Ann Grau, Ellen Gilchrist, Valerie Martin, Ace Atkins and more. The stories in this edition showcase the “glittering constellation” of writers who have passed through New Orleans and the dark thoughts, crimes and misfortunes that inspired them.
No One Knows by J.T. Ellison (March 22)
Promising the same page-turning suspense as The Girl on the Train and The Husband’s Secret, No One Knows questions whether Aubrey Hamilton’s husband really has returned from the dead or if she’s just losing her mind. After Josh Hamilton has been missing for five years, he is legally declared dead by the state of Tennessee. Aubrey still has more questions than answers, like was Josh murdered or did he run away? And is the new, mysterious man in Aubrey’s life as familiar as he appears, or have years of loneliness and confusion finally driven her mad?
South of Nowhere by Minerva Koenig
Minerva Koenig’s gutsy heroine Julia Kalas is back in this action-packed followup to Nine Days. After being forced to relocate by the Aryan Brotherhood, Julia is working on getting her construction business off the ground. But when a dead body is found stuffed in the upstairs closet of her latest remodeling project, she decides to take private detective John Maines up on an offer to work a missing persons case at the Texas-Mexico border. In South Texas, Julia tangles with Mexican drug lords, shady surgeons and a gang of Native American women with an axe to grind, proof that things are going to get a lot worse before they get better.
The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin
From The New York Times bestselling author of The Aviator’s Wife comes an enthralling new novel about Truman Capote’s scandalous, headline-making and heart-wrenching friendship with Babe Paley and New York’s society “swans” of the 1950s. Paley — known for her high-profile marriage to CBS founder William Paley and her ranking in the International Best-Dressed Hall of Fame — was one of the reigning monarchs of New York’s high society in the 1950s, and this book is replete with gossip, scandal, betrayal and a vibrant cast of real-life supporting characters.
Suburban Gospel: A Memoir by Mark Beaver (April 1)
A tale of faith and flesh, Suburban Gospel offers an inside look inside Bible Belt suburbia, circa Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority. When the deacons at Mark Beaver’s church cue up an evangelical horror flick aimed at dramatizing Hell, he figures he’d better get right with God — and soon. Convinced he could die at age 7 and spend eternity roasting on a spit in the fiery furnace of Hades, he promptly gets “saved.” But once adolescence hits, the straight and narrow becomes a tight squeeze.