Nineteen of the latest releases in genres spanning from mysteries to historical and debut fiction, memoir, young adult and magical realism.
A Curious Matter of Men with Wings by F. Rutledge Hammes
One day, Bohicket and Ley Walpole take their little sister, Dew, out on a johnboat to pirate the waterways for beer and loose change. Dew falls overboard and appears to drown, until two men with gigantic wings swoop down and carry her body away into the sky. The news of her disappearance hits the family hard, driving the mother to fashion wings so she can fly after the men who took her daughter. The Walpole boys set off in search of their little sister and discover love and the truth behind the centuries-old tale of the Flying Men, as well as numerous other mysteries native to the South Carolina Sea Islands. Patti Callahan Henry calls it “atmospheric, penetrating, and imaginative … with a story layered in mythology, fairy tales, and Gullah folklore.”
The tragedy of the RMS Lusitania, the world’s largest passenger ship sunk by a German U-boat in 1915, is the centerpiece of three women’s interwoven stories. Southern belle Caroline Telfair Hochstetter and her husband, Gilbert, are first class passengers on the Lusitania’s final voyage from New York to Liverpool. Caroline believes London is just what Gilbert needs to stop focusing on his work and bring some life back into their marriage, but a wrench is thrown into Caroline’s plans when she discovers old friend Robert Langdon is onboard. Working class Tessa, meanwhile, is eager to finally return home to Devon, England. A robber and con-woman, Tessa’s onboard the Lusitania at the insistence of her partner to finish that one last heist, then she’s out of her shady business for good. In the present day, Sarah Blake is a struggling writer whose great-grandfather was a passenger on the ill-fated ocean liner. When she uncovers one of his possessions, Sarah realizes what she’s found has the power to change the way history views the Lusitania.
Nell and Lady by Ashley Farley
In her grand home in Charleston, Willa Bellemore raised two girls during the tumultuous 1970s. One was her daughter, Lady. The other was Lady’s best friend, Nell—adopted after the sudden, death of her mother, the Bellemores’ beloved maid. Willa showered Nell with love and support, all the while ignoring the disdainful whispers of her neighbors. Nell and Lady were sisters at heart—sisters who vowed to never let anything come between them. Then, on the night of Lady’s sixteenth birthday, something went terribly wrong, sparking painful secrets and bitter resentments that went unspoken for three decades. Now Willa is dying, and Lady and Nell—each with a teenager of her own—are brought together after all these years. It’s Willa’s last wish. The time has come to confront what happened on that fateful night.
Our Prince of Scribes edited by Nicole Seitz and Jonathan Haupt
Honoring the acclaimed writer and compassionate man, Pat Conroy (1945-2016), Our Prince of Scribes is a collection of essays by individuals closest to Conroy, providing a multifaceted and organic look into the life of a truly Southern author. This collection is a unique and humanizing tribute to a man who was dedicated to the crafts of storytelling and teaching. Conroy’s was a messy fellowship of people from all walks of life. His relationships were complicated, and people and places he thought he’d left behind often circled back to him at crucial moments. The pantheon of contributors includes Pulitzer Prize winners Rick Bragg and Kathleen Parker; Grammy winners Barbra Streisand and Janis Ian; Lillian Smith Award winners Anthony Grooms and Mary Hood; National Book Award winner Nikky Finney; James Beard Foundation Award winners Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart; a corps of New York Times bestselling authors, including Ron Rash, Sandra Brown and Mary Alice Monroe; Conroy biographers Katherine Clark and Catherine Seltzer; his friends, students, family members and more.
Set List by Raymond L. Atkins
Set List begins in 1970, when Blanchard Shankles and John Covey come together and start making music in a rock ‘n’ roll band named Skyye. They were joined in their quest for fame and fortune by their friends Ford Man Cooper, Chicken Raines, Jimbo Tant, Tucker McFry and Simpson Taggart, and these fledgling musicians set out upon a musical voyage that spanned four decades, 50 states and uncounted miles as they pursued the elusive success that was always just one song ahead of them. The story alternates between present-day north Georgia and the 1970s, with each chapter built around an original song in the band’s repertoire plus an iconic song from the archives of rock and roll. Together, these songs and these chapters form the set list of the band members’ lives.
Tear Me Apart by J.T. Ellison
The followup to this Nashville author’s critically acclaimed Lie to Me has competitive skier Mindy Wright’s promising future taking a grim turn after she horrifically crashes on a downhill slope. Mindy’s parents, Jasper and Lauren, are devastated, fearing this is the end of Mindy’s Olympic dreams, but they are greeted with more bad news at the hospital. During surgery, the doctors discovered Mindy has leukemia and needs a stem cell transfusion. Loving parents that they are, Jasper and Lauren jump to donate to their daughter, but the tests reveal they are not biologically related to Mindy at all. What happened? Was there a mix up at the hospital when she was born? Or could the truth be more complicated than that? Darker, even? What if one parent knows more than the other is letting on? With Mindy’s life on the line, secrets threaten to tear the Wright family apart even as Jasper and Lauren search for a means to protect her.
What Luck, This Life by Kathryn Schwille
In February 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia is destroyed during re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere and debris rains down over the state of Texas. Searchers and reporters descend on the small town of Kiser in the wake of the tragedy. The experiences of Kiser’s inhabitants and the empathetic souls who have come here to sift through the wreckage span over months and years. The bevy of characters in Kiser are grappling with divorce, addiction, parenthood and belonging when the disaster interrupts their lives. In a chorus of voices, What Luck, This Life explores the Columbia disaster’s surprising fallout for a town beset by the tensions of class, race and missed opportunity. “The characters are wild and desperate, but they are also us. For we are all cast out, looking for a return,” says Elaine Neil Orr, author of Swimming Between Worlds.
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
A Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick and called a “painfully beautiful first novel,” Where the Crawdads Sing is both a coming-of-age story and a murder mystery. For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.
Whiskey in a Teacup by Reese Witherspoon
An all-inclusive and colorful guide to Southern living for women, Reese Witherspoon presents her life as a Southern belle of Nashville, Tennessee, in her first book. From style advice inspired by her late grandmother Dorothea to the essential appetizers of a Kentucky Derby party, Witherspoon gives her best tips and advice to achieve that “combination of beauty and strength that made Southern women delicate on the outside and fiery on the inside. “I bring the South everywhere I go with bluegrass, big holiday parties and plenty of Dorothea’s fried chicken,” says Witherspoon. “It’s reflected in how I entertain, decorate my home, and make holidays special for my kids—not to mention how I talk, dance, and do my hair.”
At first glance, the romance between C.S. Lewis, the author of The Chronicles of Narnia, and Joy Davidman seems incredibly unlikely. He an Oxford don and she a married poet and writer, living in New York with her family. But their minds bonded over letters, their correspondence beginning in 1950 when Davidman sent Lewis her first letter. It was bursting with spiritual inquiries, religion being something Davidman and Lewis each held very close to their hearts. Their scholarly discussions brought Davidman to England and back several times until, eventually, she and Lewis married. Becoming Mrs. Lewis is a rich historical-fiction novel that not only explores a romance founded on intellect and faith, but the powerfully independent and passionate woman who captivated the heart and mind of an author who so easily captivated us.
The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain (October 2)
Carly Sears’ brother-in-law is a mysterious presence in her life. He arrived a year ago without friends, family or a story to explain his blank past. He is only Hunter, a physicist. And she an expectant mother and recent widow of the Vietnam War. They easily welcomed each other into their lives, so when Carly learns her unborn child has a heart defect and her doctors tell her that there’s nothing to be done, Hunter thinks he has a solution. A solution that asks for all of Carly’s courage and faith. The Dream Daughter is a genre-bending novel that pushes the boundaries of science and faith as it asks what you would do for the family you have and the promise of a family yet to come. Join our readalong of The Dream Daughter!
Usually, Louisiana isn’t worried by her eccentric granny’s “middle-of-the-night” ideas. But it feels different for some reason when Granny wakes Louisiana up at night, telling her “the reckoning” is coming and they need to cross the Florida/Georgia state line to escape it. Louisiana misses her best friends, she can’t help feeling that she’s destined to say goodbye to everyone in her life. Louisiana’s Way Home is a story about graciousness as Louisiana meets daunting change head-on and carves a home for herself in and with the residents of a small, Georgia town.
The Cards Don’t Lie by Sue Ingalls Finan (October 9)
1814: It’s the third year of the United States second War of Independence. The British are on the verge of capturing the strategically important port of New Orleans. In the midst of the Americans’ chaotic preparations for battle, three women play key roles in the defense of the city: Catherine, a free woman of color, voodoo priestess and noted healer personally summoned by General Andrew Jackson; Marguerite, a pampered Creole plantation mistress prone to out-of-body experiences; and Millie, a plucky, patriotic prostitute inspired by her pirate lover to serve in the most dangerous capacity of all. An intriguing piece of historical fiction, The Cards Don’t Lie follows three powerful and unique women as they navigate their own involvements in the events of the War of 1812. These women must balance their own histories and desires as their lives become increasingly interconnected and consequential.
Every Breath by Nicholas Sparks (October 16)
Hope is visiting her childhood beach cottage in North Carolina for a friend’s wedding, but she is also staying at the cottage as a refuge from the difficulties she is facing: her boyfriend of six years still has the mindset of a college student and left for Las Vegas after yet another fight, and Hope’s father is slowly withering away under the relentless decay of ALS. Tru, a single dad and safari guide from Zimbabwe, is also in North Carolina to meet his father for the first time. The chance meeting between Hope and Tru on the beach leads both to question their positions in life and what they value to be most important. A return for Nicholas Sparks in the tradition of The Notebook and Nights in Rodanthe.
Heavy by Kiese Laymon (October 16)
With this incredibly poignant and relevant autobiographic work, Kiese Laymon discusses his personal experience and life trajectory as a black man in Southern America. Discussing topics ranging from abuse, mental illness and societal progress, Laymon delivers a raw discussion of life in the South and the intersectional consequences of Southern cultural and familial patterns. In Heavy, Laymon writes eloquently and honestly about growing up a hard-headed black son to a complicated and brilliant black mother in Jackson, Mississippi. From his early experiences of sexual violence to his suspension from college, to his trek to New York as a young college professor, Laymon charts his complex relationship with his mother, grandmother, anorexia, obesity, sex, writing and ultimately gambling.
Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver (October 16)
The Knox family lives at the corner of Sixth and Plum in Vineland, New Jersey. Willa and her husband have each lost their jobs and are doing what they can to bring paychecks home to their family and crumbling house. They already live with their fiery, activist daughter, Tig, and Willa’s curmudgeonly father-in-law, but matters are made worse when Willa’s son, Zeke, leaves his newborn in his parents’ care. Willa is exhausted and feels like the weight of the world is on her shoulders. The Greenwood family also lives at the corner of Sixth and Plum … in the 19th century. Thatcher is a husband and public servant, fascinated by the newly published ideas of Charles Darwin, but he is being discouraged from teaching them at his school. Thatcher wants to do right by everyone and keep his new family in their beautiful house, but the friends he’s found in a female scientist and radical reporter push encourage him to speak his truth. The Knox and Greenwood families each feel as if they are facing the end of the world. Here, their separate stories interweave to tell a singular tale about uncertain times and how the foundations we’ve leaned on often have not prepared us for the future.
Sugar Land by Tammy Lynne Stoner (October 23)
It’s 1923 and 19-year-old Dara falls in love with her best friend, who happens to be a girl. To avoid a bleak, terrifying future in their small town, Dara takes a job in the kitchen at Imperial State Prison Farm for men. There she meets real-life blues singer Lead Belly, who sings his way to a pardon from the Governor—but only after he makes her promise to follow his lead. Life outside, however, isn’t all sweet tea and roses. After Dara’s ordinary domestic life falls apart and she gains so much weight she can barely wash herself, she is sent on a journey to accept the secret she’s been carrying. Along the way Dara reunites with her estranged step-daughters, buys a mobile home that she dubs the “Bland Old Opry,” and—to the chagrin of some in her small Texas town—falls in love with the local seamstress, a fellow widower and devotee of Bingo, Mrs. Tanya May Rogerton. Dara must break out of her own physical and emotional prison to become the fabulous matriarch to a family of Texas misfits.
Well-Read Black Girl by Glory Edim (October 30)
An inspiring collection of essays by black women writers, curated by the founder of the popular book club Well-Read Black Girl, on the importance of recognizing ourselves in literature. In this timely anthology, Glory Edim brings together original essays by some of our best black women writers to shine a light on how important it is that we all—regardless of gender, race, religion, or ability—have the opportunity to find ourselves in literature. Contributors include Jesmyn Ward, Lynn Nottage, Jacqueline Woodson, Gabourey Sidibe, Morgan Jerkins, Tayari Jones, Rebecca Walker and Barbara Smith. Whether it’s learning about the complexities of femalehood from Zora Neale Hurston and Toni Morrison, finding a new type of love in The Color Purple or using mythology to craft an alternative black future, the subjects of each essay remind us why we turn to books in times of both struggle and relaxation.
The Lying Woods by Ashley Elston (November 13)
Owen Foster has never wanted for anything. Then his mother shows up at his elite New Orleans boarding school cradling a bombshell: his privileged life has been funded by stolen money. After using the family business to embezzle millions and drain the employees’ retirement accounts, Owen’s father vanished without a trace, leaving Owen and his mother to deal with the fallout. Owen returns to Lake Cane to finish his senior year, where people he can barely remember despise him for his father’s crimes. When Owen and his mother receive increasingly frightening threats, he knows he must get to the bottom of what really happened—and the cryptic note his father sent him days before disappearing. Owen’s only refuge is the sprawling, isolated pecan orchard he works at after school, owned by a man named Gus who has his own secrets. As Owen uncovers a terrible injustice that looms over the same Preacher Woods he’s claimed as his own, he must face a shocking truth about his own past and write a better future.