Get your beach read on with these five books by Southern authors.
‘The Night the Lights Went Out’ by Karen White
Friendless and frazzled after a divorce, Merilee Dunlap hopes to start life over in the north Atlanta bedroom community of Sweet Apple. She feels like time has stopped around the rustic cottage she moves into with her two kids, but Sweet Apple turns sour when a shadowy gossip blog begins posting about her philandering ex-husband. The author, an Atlanta transplant, dishes on the white SUVs, designer shades and ferocious backbiting of the “Alpharetta Autobahn” with spiteful precision. (Berkley)
‘The Shark Club’ by Ann Kidd Taylor
When people ask Maeve Donnelly, aka “the shark whisperer,” why she loves the reviled ocean predators, the marine scientist replies it’s because one attacked her when she was 12. The encounter left a 13-inch scar and a lifelong obsession. “Among fish, as among humans, there seemed to be two basic schools: the venturesome and the cautious,” she declares. Taylor, the daughter of author Sue Monk Kidd, apparently falls in the gutsy group. Her unusual debut novel manages to check off a lot of boxes: fast-paced romance, family drama, feel-good conservation story — and, surprisingly, a beach-ready read about shark attacks. (Viking, June)
‘The Almost Sisters’ by Joshilyn Jackson
Flannery O’Connor’s famous line about the talent Southern writers have for recognizing freaks practically sums up every book Jackson has written. In her latest, the Decatur author finds inspiration among the geeks of super hero fandom. After lovelorn graphic novelist Leia Birch Brigg gets freaky with a mysterious caped crusader at a comics convention, she’s compelled to conceal a new secret identity from her conservative Alabama family: single mom carrying a biracial baby. (William Morrow, July)
‘Fierce Kingdom’ by Gin Phillips
If your phobias include tight spaces, exotic animals or deserted amusement parks, give this nail-biter a wide berth. Alabama author Phillips (“Come in and Cover Me”) tosses a mother and her 4-year-old son into a chilling game of cat-and-mouse that plays out almost in real time. Joan and Lincoln are savoring the last few minutes before closing time at their favorite zoo when they hear the crack of distant explosions. The novel’s jacket copy stays mum about the exact threat that sends Joan and junior into panicky flight for survival, an odd choice, considering the menace is revealed in the first chapter. (Viking, July)
‘The Reason You’re Alive’ by Matthew Quick
The author of “The Silver Linings Playbook” delivers another engaging and screen-ready dramedy about an irascible misfit on a mission for closure. Aging Vietnam veteran David Granger, newly diagnosed with a brain tumor that may have been caused by Agent Orange exposure, sets out to find his old war nemesis, a Native American soldier he now calls Clayton Fire Bear. Miramax optioned the novel for film more than a year before publication. (HarperCollins , July)
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