Laurie Perrigin Recommends
Southern Lady Code by Helen Ellis
Helen Ellis grew up in Tuscaloosa – and (full disclosure) she’s also my lifelong friend. This collection of essays is hilarious and will have you snorting sweet tea out your nose you’ll be laughing so hard. I strongly suspect many of us will identify with this one. (Shameless plug: Check out Helen Ellis’ Southern Lady Code podcast for more wit and wisdom.)
Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
There’s a reason this book is a best seller. It’s a fantastic read, and a fun one – especially if you grew up in the 60s or 70s and enjoyed rock music. It’s written as if it’s a history of a real band, and it follows the musicians’ rise to fame and all the complications that resulted from that fame. (P.S.: I totally could see this being Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac back in the day).
An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
I’m a sucker for a great thriller, and this one left me wrung out in the best way. I’d loved this writing duo’s The Wife Between Us (despite the Lifetime TV-sounding title, it’s most certainly not that), so I rushed to get this one. I won’t reveal too much, just check out a summary on Goodreads and you’ll quickly know if this is for you. Have fun and avoid spoilers.
Carolyn Ezell Recommends
The Unseen World by Patricia Correll
If you want to take a vacation within your vacation, this might be the book for you. This author is a highly- skilled storyteller who weaves fantasy and medieval Japanese history together to create a page-turning adventure.
Perhaps this author’s greatest strength is her ability to create characters who could walk right out of the book, as well as her ability to capture universal human emotions very successfully via the written word. Ms. Correll’s writing style is clean and tight as she moves her readers between the streets and Imperial palace of medieval Japan, and a fantasy ‘unseen world’ filled with interesting and dangerous spirit creatures.
“You can’t always change your fate,” the book’s cover says. “But you can rise to meet it.” This is exactly what her main character, a 16-year-old female apprentice potter from a poor, rural village, must do to fulfill her destiny. A captivating novel for both adults and adolescents, it also includes a sweet romance.
Beloved Mother by Laura Hunter
Launched the first of April this year, and set in two coal mining communities in Appalachia, this compelling novel spins a complex tale about the lives of two estranged sisters and one daughter. It is a story that captivates with delightful images of nature to titillate the reader’s senses, Cherokee medicine healing and ways of life, and the harsh realities of mining camp life and poverty.
There are dark, haunting aspects to this novel, mitigated by the natural setting and three interesting characters, Sister Sun, Brother Moon, and Great Spirit. It is ultimately a book about love, hate, lust, regret, estrangement, loss, the evils of ego gone rogue, and ultimately, strength and hope.
Teague Road by Jana O’Brien
This is the third in Ms. O’Brien’s Granger’s Girl series, a saga about two interwoven families who operate a horse farm in Virginia, and a small community bound together through time and family history.
Ms. O’Brien continues to immerse us into the daily joys and struggles of the Granger family, a family that includes all generations, ‘adopted family,’ and even a very assertive ghost. This novel continues in the style of the others, fluctuating between telling the story as though the reader were sitting on the front porch of the old house sipping tea and listening to an elderly aunt’s recollections, and immersing the reader right into the middle of their kitchen breakfast table. It is also far better edited than the first of the series.
If you are looking for a family with significant dysfunction, you will find it here. But Ms. O’Brien weaves magic around her characters and their relationships with one another, demonstrating with remarkable skill that without a doubt, ultimately, family love and acceptance trump all. For those who prefer reading in order within the series: Granger’s Girl (Book 1) and The Other End of the Farm (Book 2).
Vince Bellofatto Recommends
Harold Snipperpot’s Best Disaster Ever by Beatrice Alemagna
This children’s book is a delightful and amusing family read about getting lost in everyday ruts and rediscovering what is important in life. I enjoyed this book as much as, if not more, than my eight-year-old son. The illustrations are splendid and smart. This story can be enjoyed over and over again with the whole family.
Fox 8: A Story by George Saunders, and illustrated by Chelsea Cardinal
A clever, dark short story about mankind and nature that makes you examine how the two think. It’s a quick and thought-provoking read that is really entertaining. The simple but beautiful black-and-white illustrations by Chelsea Cardinal are lovely and tender. This simple, but deep, story will leave you thinking. Enjoy!
Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott, with Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis
This enjoyable New York Times bestselling novel has a Romeo and Juliet theme. Teens with cystic fibrosis try to fall in love while living five feet apart – and while trying to stay alive. I smiled, I laughed, I cried, and smiled, laughed, and cried some more. A sweet story about love and living. This book is better than the movie.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
This bestselling novel lives up to the hype. The engrossing story made me question myself about choices that people must make in life. The unique and diverse assortment of characters has you imagining living in several different people’s shoes.