Is your summer reading list getting a little stale? You can refresh with these picks from our Research and Readers' Advisory staff, which were recently featured in The State newspaper's Go Columbia section. See if any of the titles spark your interest, and don't forget to grab a copy before that last summer trip!
Relatives of “The Reverend” have a habit of turning up dead right after he takes insurance policies out on them. His charismatic lawyer gets him out of trouble, time and again, until a community vigilante finally puts a stop to his spree. A true-crime investigation into a serial killer, his lawyer, and To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee’s attempt to capture the trial.
Tea Obreht delivers a stunning new epic of the American West with Inland. Laced with supernatural elements, the book follows two seemingly disparate stories – Lurie, the orphaned immigrant outlaw who is haunted by ghosts, and Nora, the no-nonsense frontierswoman struggling to hold her family together in the drought-stricken Arizona Territory. Ever surprising and gorgeously written, the book’s true magic lies in how these two storylines collide. Inland provides a captivating experience that readers won’t soon forget.
What would it take to get you to go cave diving alone - on another planet? What if you’re becoming increasingly sure that your mission controller can’t be trusted? This claustrophobic, science-fiction debut novel is a psychologically intense survival story.
Korede has always been there for her sister Ayoola, even when the men her sister dates turn up dead. How far is too far for family? When the doctor Korede secretly loves begins dating Ayoola, will Korede help clean up another mess, or will she sacrifice her relationship with her sister to break the cycle?
Redemption (Memory Man Series #5) by David Baldacci
Recommended by Chantal Wilson
Amos Decker is back in his hometown of Burlington, Ohio, to mark the birthday of his deceased daughter. At the cemetery Decker is approached by a terminally ill man who he helped convict of four murders when he was a newly-minted homicide detective. Meryl Hawkins is out of prison, insisting on his innocence and wanting Decker’s help to prove it. Decker’s not so sure he got it wrong the first time, at least not until Hawkins is murdered a few hours later. As he starts digging into the old case, Decker finds a startling connection to a present-day crime. Baldacci delivers a fast-paced and thrilling read that can stand apart from the Amos Decker series and will prove good company on vacation.
19-year-old Lara Prior-Palmer discovers a website devoted to “the world’s longest, toughest horse race,” an annual competition of endurance and skill that involves dozens of riders racing a series of 25 wild ponies across 1,000 kilometers of Mongolian grassland. On a whim, she decides to enter the race. This book has been described as the next Wild or Educated.
Stella Fortuna has almost died seven times - eight, if you count the shipwreck. There’s bad luck, and then there’s luck so bad people start to wonder if there’s a curse involved. Follow Stella’s long and frequently unhappy life from rural Italy to America in this book about family trauma, immigration and deeply-held secrets.
Becoming a homecoming queen in Echo Ridge, Vermont, is tough. Some might even say it’s murder. This YA thriller explores several murders and disappearances in the small town by using the alternating perspectives of Ellery, a 17-year-old, true-crime lover who, along with her twin, Ezra, is new to town; and of Malcolm, the brother of Declan - the prime suspect in one of the murders. As a new nominee for homecoming queen, can Ellery figure out this whodunit before she or another member of the court winds up dead?
Nora Roberts’s latest romantic suspense novel centers around Zane Walker and Darby McCray, both domestic violence survivors - he as a child and she as a spouse. Zane has returned home to the high country of North Carolina to settle down and be near family. Darby, following her mother’s death, is looking for a place to plant roots and a business. It’s definitely like, and maybe a little lust, at first sight. As Zane and Darby fall in love, darkness from the past shadows their present. Roberts has once again penned a sigh-worthy love story where family, both the ones you are born into and the ones who you build, are at the core. Longtime fans will know what I mean when I say that after turning the final page, you may have the urge to garden or redecorate.
A Punjabi mother’s dying wish is her British-born daughters make a pilgrimage to the Golden Temple in India to distribute her ashes. Rajni, Jezmeen and Shirina travel together to the holy shrine of the Sikhs and follow their mother’s detailed itinerary for each day. Each sister has a secret to keep and a decision to make. The novel is witty, fast paced, suspenseful and endearing. It reflects on topical social issues and explores the universal themes of love, heritage and family. Enjoy this entertaining and emotional read that explores the beautiful bond between sisters.
Valinda has come south as a schoolteacher for the newly-emancipated children of New Orleans, but she soon finds her work far more dangerous than she expected. Captain Drake LeVeq soon appears to rescue her school… and maybe her heart. This historical romance is the first in a new series.
Alicia Berenson, an artist living in London, heinously murders her glamorous photographer husband and becomes mute with trauma. Theo Faber, a psychotherapist, sees her case as a professional challenge and tries to get her to speak. She gives him her personal diary, each chapter of which reveals new twists and turns that send the reader’s adrenaline rushing and heart thumping. The ending is completely unanticipated and mind-blowing. It’s a must-read, psychological thriller!
Sarah Moss’s Ghost Wall is a slim volume that packs a suspenseful punch and offers fascinating commentary on the dangers of nationalism. Teenage Sylvie and her parents join an “experiential anthropology” expedition in the wilds of Northumberland where they attempt to live in the manner of Iron Age Britons, complete with scratchy tunics and root foraging trips. As the story unfolds, some members of the group begin to take the experiment a little too seriously. Ghost Wall is a unique page-turner that begs to be read all in one sitting.
Emmeline Lake is a young woman in London, trying to do her part during World War II. When she’s not volunteering, she’s surreptitiously answering unpleasant letters at her new job for a stern and uncompromising advice columnist. The likeable Emmy narrates her ups and downs – job troubles, friendship, loss and new love – all while there’s a war going on. Both funny and heartbreaking, this charming debut novel is one you won’t want to miss.