Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Abduction Novel Quietly Suspenseful, Unsettling

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Keeping track of her "dreamy" daughter has always been something of a challenge for Beth Wakeford.  Now that she's newly divorced, she's even more worried that something will happen to Carmel, an 8-year-old who's easily distracted.  When her nightmare comes true during a trip to an outdoor festival, Beth is frantic with worry.  Has Carmel just wandered off in a daze?  Or has something sinister happened to the capricious child?  As hours, then days and months, go by without a sighting of the little girl, the police assume the worst.  Undeterred, Beth vows to find her missing child, in whose death she refuses to believe.  

When Carmel is first led away from the fairgrounds, she's delighted at the prospect of a novel adventure.  Soon, though, she realizes that things are not what they seem and that the likelihood of her being returned to her mother is slim to none.  As Carmel slowly comes to grips with her new reality, she longs desperately for her mum.  But as the years pass, memories fade, and some children forget who they really are ...

The Girl in the Red Coat, a debut novel by Welsh author Kate Hamer, tells a quietly unsettling story about every parent's worst nightmare coming to pass.  It's a compelling tale that kept me riveted throughout.  Although the reader knows what's happening (sort of) to Carmel from the get-go, the plot remains suspenseful because of its over-arching question:  Will Beth and Carmel ever be reunited?  As mother and daughter are both sympathetic narrators, the reader can't help but root for them ... but will they get the happily ever after they both desire?  Nothing is for certain in this disquieting novel.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of The Disappearance of James by Anne Ursu)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (a few F-bombs, plus milder expletives), mild sexual content, violence, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

Monday, May 21, 2018

Flight Patterns Another Compelling Southern Family Saga From An Old Favorite

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After fleeing the small tourist town of her birth ten years ago, Georgia Chambers swore she'd never return to Apalachicola, Florida.  The 35-year-old has made a life for herself as an antiques expert in New Orleans, where no one knows about her wild child youth or the estranged family members she left behind.  Her past comes calling, though, when a customer brings Georgia an heirloom teacup with a unique pattern she knows she's seen before.  Although the bee motif doesn't appear in any antiques catalogs, Georgia recognizes it instantly—her mother owns a matching piece.  The item has always been shrouded in mystery and suddenly, Georgia is intent on finding out why.  Since "Birdie" no longer speaks, Georgia can't exactly call her mother up on the phone.  As much as she hates to admit it, a trip to Florida is the only way she can get the answers she needs.

To Georgia's surprise, her client—a handsome New York City real estate developer named James Graf—insists on coming along to investigate the history of his teacup.  Irritated, Georgia vows to make the road trip as quick as possible.  Of course, fate has other plans.  

As Georgia hunts for her mother's missing piece of china, she unintentionally uncovers a dark secret from her family's past.  Although she's warned to leave well enough alone, Georgia won't stop until she gets the answers she seeks, even if it means shattering her mother's fragile psyche and breaking the already-frail bonds that still tie her to her family.  When the shocking truth finally comes to light, Georgia will have to decide what to do with the newfound knowledge that could forever change everything, for all of them. 

I've long been a fan of Karen White's Southern novels, but some of them definitely appeal more than others.  Although it is compelling, Flight Patterns falls into the latter camp.  Since I know nothing about beekeeping or antique china, I found those aspects of the story intriguing.  The characters less so.  They are sympathetic certainly, but I didn't feel a strong connection to any of them.  Plot wise, the novel kept my attention, even though certain aspects of it seem contrived and far-fetched.  I appreciate, though, the story's themes of forgiveness and redemption and the fact that Georgia's life doesn't wrap up in a perfect, unrealistic way.  Overall, then, I liked Flight Patterns, but I didn't love it. 

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of other Southern novels by Karen White; also of books by Joshilyn Jackson and Dorothea Benton Frank, although theirs tend to be more R-rated than White's)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for violence, scenes of peril, and innuendo

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of Flight Patterns from Costco with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Cambridge Mystery/"Thriller" Just ... Odd

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Drawn together while studying at Cambridge University, Americans Polly Bailey and Liv Dahl become friends.  They're both enamored of Nick Frey, a 24-year-old grad student in paleobiology.  The trio bond over a shared job, which entails helping a blind professor sort the papers of her novelist mother.  When Nick suddenly vanishes, however, it throws the friends' cozy relationship into a tailspin.  What happened to the charismatic Brit?  

When D.I. Morris Keene and his partner, DS Chloe Frohmann, start digging into Nick's strange disappearance, a tangle of secrets about all of the students start coming to light.  And they aren't the only ones with something to hide.  Gretchen Paul, the blind professor, will make startling discoveries about her own past, which will irrevocably change her future.  As the detectives strive to sort it all out, all the players will realize how little anyone can ever really know another.

I'm not sure what to say about The Whole World, the first installment in the Keene and Frohmann series by Emily Winslow.  It's a strange novel, in many ways.  The characters are almost wholly unlikable, the story plods along very slowly, and when plot "twists" do come, they seem outrageously far-fetched.  Unfocused and dull, The Whole World is just an odd, odd book.  I finished it, but I'm not really sure why I bothered.  

(Readalikes:  Hm, nothing is coming to mind.  You?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language, violence, and sexual content

To the FTC, with love:  I (regrettably) bought a (cheap) copy of The Whole World from Amazon with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

New Romantic Suspense Novel Too Meh For Me (With a Giveaway!)

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Haley Wyatt is preparing to say goodbye to Grisa, her beloved 100-year-old great-grandmother, when a phone call from Germany rocks both of their worlds.  A relative informs them that a body has been found in an old, walled-in room in Baumdorf.  The remains have been identified as those of Ulrich Krauss, Haley's great-grandfather.  Grisa, who thought her husband abandoned her, has always told her family he died in World War II.  Both Haley and Grisa are shocked by the truth—Ulrich Krauss was murdered.  Desperate to honor the man she has been decrying for almost a century, Grisa begs Haley to travel to Germany in her stead and find out what really happened to Ulrich.

Almost from the moment she steps on German soil, Haley feels as if someone is watching her.  Even with handsome Joshua Davison—an old friend of her brother's—by her side, she can't shake the sinister feeling.  The more she learns about Ulrich Krauss' disappearance, the more certain Haley feels.  Someone doesn't want her digging into the past.  That someone will go to great lengths to stop her from finding out who killed her great-grandfather.  The closer she comes to discovering the reason behind his death, the more dangerous her trip to Germany becomes.  Can Haley find what she's looking for before it's too late?  Or will she be the next victim of a killer determined to keep the secrets of the past from ever coming to light?

Romantic suspense has never been my favorite, but there are definitely things I appreciate about the genre.  Like many of its fellows, Unforgettable by Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen is a quick, clean read that shies away from graphic violence, language, and sensuality.  Although it deals with some disturbing subjects, overall its themes of hope, redemption, and love are what really shine through.  I also find the subject of Nazi-stolen art interesting, so I enjoyed that aspect of the story.  Unfortunately, Unforgettable also falls back on some of my least favorite genre staples—flat characters, insta-love, a far-fetched plot line, melodramatic prose, and contrived plot devices.  I didn't feel much of a connection with Haley or any real sparks between her and Joshua.  Also, because we already know "whodunit," there's not a whole lot of suspense to keep the novel interesting.  These elements took away from the story for me, making it pretty meh for me overall.  Still, Unforgettable is an entertaining enough tale, as long as you don't expect too much of it.  If you dig this genre, you might want to give it a chance.

(Readalikes:  I don't read this genre very often, so I'm not sure what would be an apt comparison.  Suggestions?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for violence and scenes of peril

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of Unforgettable from the generous folks at Covenant.  Thank you!

Interested in more opinions of Unforgettable?  Follow along on the book's blog tour by clicking on the links below:

Want to win a copy of Unforgettable, plus a $25 Amazon gift card?  Enter to win using the Rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Just in Time for Mother's Day Comes a Heartwarming Story About the Joys of Motherhood ... Oh, Wait ...

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Desperate for a new start away from her controlling husband, Daphne Marist applies for her dream job as a live-in archivist for her favorite novelist—and gets it.  Not only does she know nothing about how to actually perform her duties, but she's also presenting herself with a false name and credentials that do not belong to her.  Sure she can fake it well enough to fool her elderly employer, Daphne heads to the Catskills with her six-month-old daughter, Chloe, in tow.  Waiting for her is a beautiful stone mansion surrounded by a lush landscape that makes the whole scene seem like something out of a fairy tale.  The lovely refuge is exactly what Daphne needs, even if the insane asylum that lurks behind the home sends shivers down her spine.  

As Daphne starts organizing papers for Schuyler Bennett, she becomes immersed in the author's story, especially her connection with the asylum.  In doing so, she's trying to forget her own troubles, the reason why she fled her home in the first place.  Yes, Daphne was diagnosed with Postpartum Mood Disorder after Chloe's birth and yes, it made her forgetful, clingy, even obsessive.  It didn't, however, make her a danger to her infant daughter.  No matter what, Daphne refuses to believe her husband's accusations—she would never hurt Chloe.  Never.  She doesn't know how to interpret the disturbing memory fragments tormenting her mind, but they can't be what they seem to be.  They can't be evidence that she put her own child at risk.  That would be impossible, wouldn't it? 

The longer Daphne is in the Catskills, the more she comes to realize that something did happen before she left.  Something awful.  It's up to her to mine her troubling memory for the truth before she finds herself the newest resident in an asylum that is conveniently close to her new home ...

Just in time for Mother's Day comes a heartwarming novel about the joys of motherhood ... oh, wait,  this is not that book!  As is indicated by its title, The Other Mother—the newest Gothic thriller by Carol Goodman—is indeed about motherhood.  It's about all the uncertainty, guilt, anxiety, fear, and fierce, mind-warping love that comes along with bearing a child, especially for the first time.  While all of those emotions are perfectly natural, this wouldn't be a Goodman book if those feelings weren't twisted into something decidedly more sinister than just a new mother's paranoia.  Goodman uses these heightened emotions to create a story that is chilling and can't-look-away compelling.  It's the kind of novel that keeps the reader constantly off-kilter, never knowing what is real and what isn't.  In doing so, however, the plot gets confusing and a bit contrived.  Still, it's a tense, twisty thriller that will keep you engrossed until the very end.  The Other Mother isn't my favorite novel by this author, but it's definitely another enthralling story that kept me turning pages long past bedtime.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me a bit of Remember Mia by Alexandra Burt)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (a half dozen or so F-bombs, plus milder expletives), violence, blood/gore, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I received an ARC of The Other Mother from the generous folks at HarperCollins.  Thank you!

Monday, May 07, 2018

"Modern" Pimpernel Novel Offers a Fun, Feminine Twist (With a Giveaway!)

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Lady Scarlet Cavendish, a wealthy English widow, wears many disguises.  At home, she masquerades as a feather-headed, fashion-obsessed debutante.  While in France, she plays a harmless hag, a clever seamstress, a guillotine groupie, even a soldier—anything to aid the innocent victims of the country's bloody revolution.  Her most secret identity, the one she guards with her very life, is that of the Pimpernel.  A daring spy, the Pimpernel is a "man" of mystery who specializes in whisking French aristocrats out of the country right under the noses of their accusers.  No one would believe a moneyed, well-bred society lady like Scarlet capable of such derring-do, which is the very reason she must pretend to be as incapable as possible.  Lives depend on her ability to act a part (or two or three).

When Scarlet rescues the handsome, charming Comte Matteo Durand, she finds the last thing she wants to do with him is pretend.  She would like nothing more than to act on her growing feelings, to allow herself to fall in love and settle down with the man who makes her heart pound and her soul swoon.  She can't be entirely honest with him, though; revealing her identity as the Pimpernel could put them both at great risk.  With powerful enemies and strong motivation to unmask the infamous spy, Matteo could be Scarlet's undoing—in every way possible.  Can she truly trust the man she's grown to love?  Can she risk the lives of innocent people by revealing herself to him?  Will the desire burning in Scarlet's heart cause the unraveling of the bravest, most fearless hero of the French revolution?

I barely know anything about The Scarlet Pimpernel—the fictional hero of a series of novels penned by Baroness Orczy in the early 1900s—but I still enjoyed Jen Geigle Johnson's Scarlet, a "modern" twist on the classic tale.  The story stars a likable couple, whose exploits are marked by action/adventure, humor, and romance.  Scarlet makes a convincing heroine, although her antics definitely get far-fetched.  Although it deals with serious issues, overall Scarlet is a fun, enjoyable novel that is both entertaining and compelling.  At just over 200 pages, it's quick, it's clean (besides innuendo and some passionate kissing), and it's captivating.  If you're looking for a light, romantic tale, definitely give this one a try. 


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for violence, sexual innuendo, and references to prostitution

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of Scarlet from the generous folks at Covenant Communications.  Thank you!


Want more opinions on Scarlet?  Follow along on the book's blog tour by clicking on the links below:

Want to win a copy of Scarlet plus a $25 Amazon gift card?  Enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter widget below.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

TTT: The Early Bird Gets the ARC

One of the perks of being a book blogger is gaining access to books before they become available to the general public.  This is especially exciting if a book's written by a favorite author and/or is creating lots of early buzz in the publishing world.  While ARC availability/distribution has changed a lot over the years I've been blogging, I still get a fair amount of them, which is one of the things that keeps this gig exciting!  I'm not the only one whose greedy little heart beats triple time at the thought of hot new ARCs on my doorstep, as is evidenced by today's TTT topic:  Top Ten Books I'd Slay a Lion to Get Early.

Before we get to that, though, make sure you head over to That Artsy Reader Girl to get the low-down on this fun weekly meme.  You're definitely going to want to make your own list every week and join in—it's always a good time, I promise!  It's a great way to spread the love throughout the book blogging community while adding to your TBR mountain chain (because you can NEVER have enough reading recommendations, amirite?).

I have to say first off that I wouldn't actually slay a lion for the following books because (1) I'm not into animal cruelty, (2) I'm a pretty big wimp (Simba would eat me long before I got anywhere close to him), and (3) I'm not that desperate.  I wouldn't be above begging for the following, though:

Top Ten Books I'd Slay a Lion to Get Early

1.  The Witch Elm by Tana French (available October 9, 2018)—Although details have been pretty hush-hush, Book Riot swears the Irish crime novelist's newest will be appearing in early October.  Supposedly, it's a standalone (French's first) about a boy (man?) who discovers a skull on his family's land while he's in town taking care of his uncle.  Honestly, I don't care if it's about how grass grows, I want to read it!

2.  The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton (available October 9, 2018)—Publishing on the same day as the above, is Morton's newest.  I adore everything I've ever read by her, so naturally I'd be stoked to get an early copy of this one, which appears to follow a similar dual-timeline plot as all her other novels. 

3.  A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult (available October 2, 2018)—I'm a long-time Picoult fan, so I'm excited about this one.  It's about a desperate gunman who rushes into a women's health clinic and holds the people inside hostage.  I'm down for what sounds like another tense, thought-provoking story from one of my favorite authors.

4.  The newest from Kristin Hannah—Yeah, yeah, I know Hannah just barely published The Great Alone.  I loved that book and The Nightingale, so I'm anxiously waiting for her next big, immersive novel.  I snagged an early copy of The Great Alone, so I'll keep my fingers crossed ...

5.  Al Capone Throws Me a Curve by Gennifer Choldenko (available May 8, 2018)—I had no idea there was another book in this fun series coming out until I got an email offering me an early copy of it.  Score!  It's on its way to me as we speak and I'm super excited.  If you haven't read Choldenko's excellent middle grade series about life as a kid living on Alcatraz during the 1930s, you really should.

6.  A Conspiracy of Bones by Kathy Reichs (available August 21, 2018?)—It feels like I've been waiting decades for this one to come out and it looks like the wait isn't over yet.  Reichs just announced that, because of health issues, she's going on sabbatical and won't be releasing the book when planned.  Bummer.  I have to see what happens next to Tempe Brennan, my favorite forensic anthropologist, so an early copy of this one would be especially awesome!

7.  In Her Bones by Kate Moretti (available September 4, 2018)—This one certainly sounds intriguing!  It's about Edie, a woman who becomes obsessed with the families of her serial killer mother's victims.  When Edie is accused of murdering one of them, she launches a desperate search for the truth in an (probably futile) effort to clear her name. 

8.  When the Lights Go Out by Mary Kubica (available September 4, 2018)—Kubica's latest is about a woman whose social security number raises some surprising red flags.  As she tries to figure out what's going on, insomnia plays with her mind making her wonder what is true and what is not.  ARC, please!

9.  The Second Life of Ava Rivers by Faith Gardner (available August 28, 2018)—I've read a few books with this premise, but I still find it fascinating: a person who disappeared as a child returns suddenly as a young adult, leaving their family with more questions than answers.  I'm in! 

10.  White Elephant by Emily Raymond (available December 4, 2018)—This one's a heartwarming holiday tale about an intense white elephant gift exchange in which an ugly vase, which was once used as a murder weapon by one of the participants, comes up for grabs.  Who added the vase to the exchange?  What do they know?  I was just kidding about the "heartwarming" part, but still, this one sounds compelling.  I'd be happy to find an early copy in my mailbox!

So, there you have it, ten books I would be stoked to receive early.  Which ARCs are you most coveting right now?  For which others should I be begging my contacts?  Leave me a comment on this post and I'll gladly return the favor.

Happy TTT!

Friday, April 27, 2018

Exciting and Original, Alternate History Zombie Novel an Engrossing Read

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

The War Between the States was in full-swing when the country got the shock of its young life—its dead soldiers were not remaining dead.  They were rising up, hungry and rabid.  With shamblers turning everyone in their paths, war was derailed and desperate Americans had to learn to fight the growing zombie menace.  An enterprising government came up with a brilliant solution.  To create an army of monster-slayers, it passed the Native and Negro Reeducation Act, which required every Native and Negro child to attend combat school starting at 12 years old.  While certain cities have since been declared shambler-free, these "throwaway" children still have plenty of fighting to do in order to keep their betters from being bitten.

At 17, Jane McKeene is in her third year at Miss Preston's School of Combat for Negro Girls in Baltimore.  Despite being the daughter of one of the wealthiest white women in Haller County, Kentucky, Jane's mixed-race ethnicity destines her for a life of servitude.  Although her fondest desire is to return home to check on her family—from whom she has heard nothing—she's making the best of  her situation.  She's training to be an Attendant, a combination chaperone/bodyguard for rich white girls.  While such a career will hardly give her the freedom she craves, it beats harvesting cotton or slaving away in a hot kitchen.  Besides, she's a skilled fighter.  If she can just manage to keep her mouth shut and her manners in check long enough, a secure future will be hers.

When local families start to vanish, Jane's skeptical of the official "shambler attack" explanation.  Something else is going on, something much more disturbing.  Not one for leaving well enough alone, she launches her own investigation into the strange disappearances.  Before she knows it, she's embroiled in a plan more sinister than she ever could have imagined.  With her bright future, not to mention her very life, on the line, she has to escape and find her way back to Kentucky.  The shamblers aren't the only monsters Jane encounters as she fights for survival in a grim, violent world that considers her—and others like her—very much expendable.

I've been dying to read Dread Nation, a debut novel by Justina Ireland, ever since I heard about it.  I was thrilled, then, when I won a copy of it from YA author Mindy McGinnis (if you like book giveaways, you have to check out her blog).  The story gripped me from the very first page with its intriguing blend of horror, adventure, alternate history, and humor.  Jane's impossible not to like.  She's tough and sassy, but also compassionate and loyal.  It's easy to root for her as she struggles to make her way in a grisly world where her life is valued only for its sacrificial power.  With plenty of action to keep readers turning pages, Dread Nation is an entertaining novel so engrossing you almost don't recognize its allegorical nature.  Ireland definitely has some messages—about race, about individual worth, about the value of all life—that she's trying to get across.  And she succeeds without breaking the story's stride in the least.  In short, I loved this book.  I can't wait to see what happens next to the intrepid Jane McKeene.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of the Ashes trilogy [Ashes; Shadows; Monsters] by Ilsa J. Bick)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (no F-bombs), blood/gore, violence, and sexual innuendo

To the FTC, with love:  I won an ARC of Dread Nation from the always generous Mindy McGinnis.  Thank you!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

New Picture Book Encourages Slumber-y Send-offs With Silly Kisses

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Accepting a book for review is always a risk.  What if the writing is cringe-worthy?  What if you detest the book from start to finish?  What if you hate to post a "bad" review, but can't in good conscience give it a positive one?  What if the author responds to your forthright evaluation by sending you a furious email insulting your intelligence, your writing ability, and your very existence on Earth just because you said her newest book wasn't her best (not that this has EVER happened to me—hee hee)?  

You know what poses an even bigger risk?  Accepting a book for review that is written by not just someone you know, but also someone you like and respect.  I have (no joke) lost friends/blog followers because of something I've written about their precious books 😒, even after they assured me they wanted my honest, unbiased opinion!  It's a relief, then, when I get the privilege of posting a favorable review of a book penned by a friend of mine.

Such is the case with Walrus Kisses Are Scratchy, an adorable picture book by Brent Weight, a man I've known since college.  With bright, colorful illustrations by Mar Fando, the story concerns a little girl who asks her daddy to kiss her goodnight.  In any other household, this would be a pretty straightforward request.  Not in hers!  As her dad runs through a list of different kisses (each of which is named after an animal and comes with a handy how-to graphic), the child waits and waits for her very favorite one.  Which will it be?  A starfish kiss?  A bunny kiss?  A (gulp!) spider kiss?  Which one will your child choose?
Based on the author's bedtime ritual with his four children, this fun, interactive read-aloud is sure to become a family favorite.  Its warm, playful tone sets just the right mood for bedtime.  Prepare yourself for smiles and giggles (some of which will be your own) as well as sweet hugs and silly kisses, all of which will help your little one drift off to sleep feeling secure and loved.  Of Walrus Kisses Are Scratchy, my 9-year-old daughter said, "I liked it 100%!"  You can't get a better review than that!


Walrus Kisses Are Scratchy represents Brent's first foray into the world of book writing and publishing.  Knowing how important reviews are to a book's success, he's very interested in working with bloggers to get the word out.  If you would like to review Walrus Kisses Are Scratchy, please contact Brent at bweight@gmail.com.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Titular Gold in Southern Fiction

Today's Top Ten Tuesday is all about trends in book titles.  Remember the recent feminist uproar over popular mystery/thriller books using the term "girl" instead of "woman"?  That's what I'm talking about.  Titles are important and it's interesting to see how the trends change from year to year and vary from genre to genre.  The topic du jour, then, is Top Ten Most Frequently Used Words In [Insert Genre/Age Group] Titles

Before we get to my list, though, I encourage you to join in the fun.  Top Ten Tuesday really is the best time!  It's easy to participate—just hop on over to That Artsy Reader Girl, read a few guidelines, make your own list, then click around the book blogosphere and enjoy reading other people's lists.  It's a fantastic way to find new book blogs, give old favorites some love, and just enjoy chatting about our favorite subject.

Since I read so many mystery/thrillers, I started brainstorming a list for that genre.  With words like death, secrets, lies, kill, dark, etc. piling up, it quickly got too depressing!  So, I turned to a genre whose lighter nature is reflected in softer, more reflective titles that evoke memories of home, family, and summering by the seaside.  Without further ado, here's my list of Top Ten Most Frequently Used Words in Southern Fiction Titles:  

1.  Home/House—Southern novels are often about the draw of the land and how, in the end, it always lures its children home.  Think Falling Home and The House on Tradd Street, both by Karen White; Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe; A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash; Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler; etc.

2.  Sweet—Must be something in that most iconic of Southern beverages ... Think Sweet Tea Tuesdays by Ashley Farley; Sweetwater Creek by Anne Rivers Siddons; Secrets Over Sweet Tea by Denise Hildreth Jones; Sweet Unrest by Lisa Maxwell; The Sweetness of Honey by Alison Kent; etc.

3.  Girl—Think Welcome to the World, Baby Girl by Fannie Flagg; The Summer Girls by Mary Alice Monroe; The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen; The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg; etc.

4.  Glory—Southern pride being what it is, this one makes perfect sense.  Think The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder by Rebecca Wells; Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood; No Grits, No Glory by Elaine Calloway; etc. 

5.  Sister(s)—Think Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells; The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson; The Hurricane Sisters by Dorothea Benton Frank; Her Sister's Shoes by Ashley Farley; etc. 

6.  Beach/Tide/Island/Ocean/Sea—It's all about the sand and surf in the South, apparently!  Think The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy; Sea Change by Karen White; Folly Beach by Dorothea Benton Frank; The Beach House by Mary Alice Monroe; Up Island and Low Country by Anne Rivers Siddons; Beach Music by Pat Conroy; etc.

7.  Tree—I'm not sure what it is about trees in the South, but they appear to be titular gold.  Think Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns; The Beach Trees by Karen White; Peachtree Road by Anne Rivers Siddons; The Sweet Gum Tree by Katherine Allred; A Sound Among the Trees by Susan Meissner; etc.

8.  Garden—Think Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt; Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen; The Ladies of Garrison Gardens by Louise Shaffer; etc.

9.  CafĂ©—Everyone loves a warm, quirky cafĂ©.  Think Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop CafĂ© by Fannie Flagg; The Ballad of the Sad CafĂ© and Other Stories by Carson McCullers; The Second Chance CafĂ© by Alison Kent; The Calamity CafĂ© by Gayle Leeson; etc.

10.  South/Southern—Naturally.  Think South of Broad by Pat Conroy; The Widow of the South by Robert Hicks; Southern Comfort by Fern Michaels; Bound South by Susan Rebecca White; Five Miles South of Peculiar by Angela Hunt; etc.

I'm sure I've missed tons of great Southern novels.  Do you have any to add to my list?  What genre did you pick for today's list?  I'd love to know.  Leave me a comment and I will gladly return the favor.

Happy TTT!

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