Laurie Perrigin, Editor of Druid City Living:
The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn is an outstanding thriller. It has an old school, Rear Window kind of feel to it. You won’t be bored, and as events unfold, you’ll find yourself staying up way past your bedtime to finish. It was billed as the first big thriller of 2018 – and for me, it certainly lived up to it. Anna Fox is a memorable character, and the story has a big reveal you aren’t likely to see coming – even though I’ve just told you there’s a big reveal.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng is a great drama that addresses some important themes – the haves and the have not’s, the relationships between mother and daughter, and social class. Ng is a gifted writer, and this book, unlike my other recommendation, unfolds more slowly and emotionally. Reese Witherspoon’s production company recently snatched this one up for a series, and given her stellar job with Big Little Lies, I am optimistic for the adaptation.
Allow me to cheat a little and mention a hot new book I haven’t read yet – but can’t wait to: Kaleidoscope Jane and Other Stories by Tuscaloosa author Carolyn Breckinridge. If you loved Tuscaloosa Moon and Tuscaloosa Boneyard, this seems like a sure bet. And also? She was kind enough to offer up a few suggestions for some great summer reads.
Hanson Watkins, Vice President of Druid City Media:
I’m a huge fan of travel-related books and great storytelling, and Deep South by Paul Theroux is a favorite. Theroux has a reputation for being sharp and curmudgeonly about the locations in his travels, but he seems to have fallen in love with the south, and Tuscaloosa, in particular. You have to read his wonderful account of meeting Tuscaloosa’s own Cynthia Burton (director of Community Service Programs of West Alabama, and star of this issue’s Photo of the Month).
Carolyn Breckenridge, Author:
A Girl Like You: A Henrietta & Inspector Howard Novel by Michelle Cox is my top recommendation. For readers who like historical fiction, mystery, and sweet romance, A Girl Like You is a stellar novel set in 1930s Chicago. The author, Michelle Cox, is an award-winning writer who knows the history of her city and who spins a page-turning tale that includes some surprising twists along the way. Ms. Cox has also published her second in the series, A Ring of Truth, which is in my “to-read” stack now. Her third in the series is due out at the end of this month.
Leaving Gee's Bend by Irene Latham is marketed as a novel for young adults, but I found it to be a delightful read, and I highly recommend it for all adults. This novel, set in 1932, features the famous quilting community of Gee's Bend. The story is told through the life of the main character, a girl named Ludelphia Bennett, who must leave her very isolated community of Gee's Bend, Alabama to seek help for her family. It is a story of courage, love, and the importance of family and home, coupled with Ms. Latham's extraordinary research and understanding of time and place.
Tell the World You're A Wildflower, written by Jennifer Horne and published by University Press in 2014, is a lovely collection of short stories. They feature female voices of all ages and backgrounds as they tell their stories about growing up and living in the South. This is a book I keep on my bookshelf and re-read at least once a year. There are always new aspects of this work to discover. These stories confirm that Ms. Horne is a skilled author of prose as well as being Alabama's current Poet Laureate.
The Cistern, by James N. Ezell While it's true he is my husband, Jim's recently published adventure/suspense/crime novel, set in Tuscaloosa and a fictional Black Belt county, has been earning five-star ratings for its clear plot line, endearing main characters, strong action, and interesting local color. It is a comfortable read, and a page-turner that promises readers a firm foundation for the remainder of his series.