Thursday, June 25, 2009

Summer Reading - Part One

Seems it's that time of year when we start seeing Summer Reading Lists all over the place. And - - since I'm one who cannot for the life of me resist a list, I, of course, have my very own summer reading list. ta da!

The one book I'm really impatiently awaiting and tapping my toe for is Pat Conroy's newest. SOUTH OF BROAD. This surprises no one, I'm sure, after the love note to Pat Conroy I left here awhile back. If I were a wealthy woman, I'd buy one of those ARCs available at for somewhere between $50-$75.00. But, big sigh, I'm not. So I'll just continue the toe tapping thing till August 11th when it will finally be released.

This from

"Against the sumptuous backdrop of Charleston, South Carolina, SOUTH OF BROAD gathers a unique cast of sinners and saints. Leopold Bloom King, our narrator, is the son of an amiable, loving father who teaches science at the local high school. His mother, an ex-nun, is the high school principal and a well-known Joyce scholar. After Leo's older brother commits suicide at the age of thirteen, the family struggles with the shattering effects of his death, and Leo, lonely and isolated, searches for something to sustain him. Eventually, he finds his answer when he becomes part of a tightly knit group of high school seniors that includes friends Sheba and Trevor Poe, glamorous twins with an alcoholic mother and a prison-escapee father; hardscrabble mountain runaways Niles and Starla Whitehead; socialite Molly Huger and her boyfriend, Chadworth Rutledge X; and an ever-widening circle whose liaisons will ripple across two decades-from 1960s counterculture through the dawn of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. The ties among them endure for years, surviving marriages happy and troubled, unrequited loves and unspoken longings, hard-won successes and devastating breakdowns, and Charleston's dark legacy of racism and class divisions. But the final test of friendship that brings them to San Francisco is something no one is prepared for South of Broad is Pat Conroy at his finest; a long-awaited work from a great American writer whose passion for life and language knows no bounds."

In the meantime, I have some additional books on my Summer Reading List. These are only some of the novels I'm looking forward to reading - we'll do another list in a week or so. But for today, I'm going to kinda stick with a theme - beach related, and southern. Two of my favorite things, in reading and in life.

Here's another August release. One of my favorite series ever. I look forward to Margaret Maron's newest "Deborah" every August. As soon as I get my hands on one, I race through it to see what Deborah's latest adventure entails, then sit down and read it again savoring each word. I welcome Deborah Knott and her family into my home with open arms and talk about her like she's a real person.

SAND SHARKS takes Deborah to Wrightsville Beach. I'm particularly looking forward to this one. Wrightsville Beach isn't far from Topsail Island, where Donald and Harley and I spent a week in May, and blogged about right here. Twice! I'm still finding myself looking at the pictures we took while there and dreaming about being back. It's a beautiful part of North Carolina, and since no one captures atmosphere, or writes a better sense of place than Ms. Maron, I'm especially excited to see what SAND SHARKS brings us. The series remains at the tippy top of my "auto-buy books."

Speaking of Topsail Island. Diane Chamberlain writes beautifully about this enchanting spot. Her latest, SECRETS SHE LEFT BEHIND, is ABSOLUTELY on my list of Summer Reading.

Surprisingly, I've heard very little chatter about the new Rebecca Wells novel. THE CROWNING GLORY OF CALLA LILLY PONDER will be released in July. I'm thinking perhaps Ms. Wells' last novel, YA-YAs in BLOOM was a bit of a disappointment to some fans of the earlier Ya-Ya novels. I liked it just fine. Mostly, I think I was especially blown away by the fact that Ms. Wells was able to even write that book while she was suffering dreadfully with Lyme's Disease. I'm excited about reading this one. says "The novel is chock-full of Southern charm and sassy wisdom." Sounds good to me. I'm a fan of Southern charm and sassy wisdom, for sure.

Sticking with my whole "wishing I was still at the beach" theme I can't seem to move beyond this year, I'm also looking forward to reading Patti Callahan Henry's DRIFTWOOD SUMMER where three sisters reunite to save the family’s beach-community bookstore.

One of my favorite writers of "All Things Southern" is Dorothea Benton Frank. She has written a sequel to her very first novel, SULLIVAN'S ISLAND. RETURN TO SULLIVAN'S ISLAND promises a return to a breathtakingly beautiful place, with some of the most eccentric, wild and funny characters you'll ever hope to meet. If you're not familiar with Ms. Frank, do check out her webpage and learn how she came to write her first novel. It's quite the story.

Another perennial favorite of mine is Mary Kay Andrews. Her newest, THE FIXER UPPER finds us carrying on with another of her courageous, outrageous southern women characters who is, by God, going to show the world just how strong she really is. And will have everyone falling completely in love with her while doing it.

AND I'm excited about the next Bobbie Faye adventure. Toni McGee Causey's WHEN A MAN LOVES A WEAPON comes out in August. Bobbie Faye is a HOOT and I love her.

You know who is missing from this list? A woman whose writing I love more than I can even say - Anne Rivers Siddons. I haven't seen any mention of anything new from her, but we'll just cross our fingers and hope it'll be soon.

O.K. - that's a partial list of what I plan on reading this summer. Now let's hear what's on your list!


Clea Simon said...

Nice list! I'm waiting for the new Hilary Mantel, which I believe has been published in the UK but not here yet. She's all dark and depressing, but for some reason that's what I look for in summer reading!

Carol Murdock said...

Hey, Kaye, I don't really have a list just a toppling stack of TBR's! I am glad to hear about the sequel to Sullivan's Island! I really need to read some Pat Conroy as I love the area he writes about but the only "gotta get" is Greg Ilse's Devil's Punchbowl which had it's release date moved from june to July. :(

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Clea, hi. Now, I'm not familiar with Hilary Mantel. I'm always on the look-out for a new writer though, so I'm going to check her out. thank you!

Hey there Carol! Ooooh - those toppling stacks of TBR's! But, oh my. Wouldn't we feel sad if we didn't have them?! I recently heard from a friend who has a TBR stack of over 400 books. 400! Yikes!

Anonymous said...


Thanks for mentioning the two beach books. I hadn't heard of either but they sound like wonderful reading -- for summer -- and re-reading when winter sets in.

I've only read one Maron book. I seldom read all of an author's series. Two exceptions are M.C. Beaton's Agatha Raisin series and Robert Fate's Baby Shark series. I never get tired of eirher.

I was equally devoted to Richard Barre's Wil Hardesty series but he got disgusted with the book biz and threw in the towel. I keep hoping he'll resurface one of these days.

Pat Browning

Auntie Knickers said...

I'm very excited about Mary Kay Andrews' new book, I've been wondering when one would come out! And I'm already on a list for Sand Sharks; I also need to buy Chris Grabenstein's latest (and maybe last?boo-hoo) Ceepak novel, MIND SCRAMBLER. I'm thinking that I'll just take some historical novels and "straight" fiction when I go to the Upper Midwest next week, a two-week vacation from mysteries will make the heart grow fonder, and I have some Morland Dynasty to catch up on ... the big historical novels were my mother's favorites, because she could put them down to take care of us and come back later without losing the thread. So I also think they'll be good for time with friends and family that has occasional bits of alone time.

Jenny Milchman said...

I had the privilege of attending a book party at Dorothea's gracious and magnificent home, and found her to be a true Southern belle at heart as well as in her work. I am looking forward to this one, Kaye!

Jen Forbus said...

You already know I'm tappin' my foot right along with you...waiting for Pat Conroy to finally give me another book...I need my fix; it's long overdue! ;)

Pretty Things said...

Pat Conroy -- Here I thought I'd read all of his! I'll have to check that one out!